Book Reviews 2006 (13-15)

One big fat book amongst this trio has slowed me down, but I have an interesting and diverse trilogy of books this time.
Deadhouse Gates, by Steven Erikson (His second Malazan novel)
Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett

Deadhouse Gates : Book Two of The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Malazan Book of the Fallen)by Steven Erikson
The second in the Malazan novels that are slowly making their way from England to America, Deadhouse Gates continues in the tradition of the first novel in presenting a rich fantasy world where even the putative protagonists are clothed in shades of grey. Strange magics, alien elder races, and dark shaded fantasy very much in the vein of Glen Cook. The Malazan novels are very much as if someone took the Black Company novels and supersized them with lots of worldbuilding goodness. Like its predecessor Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates is not always an easy read. If anything, with the story of the Malazans and their refugees retreating from the forces of a religious fanatic (on a different continent than the first novel) is grimmer. Characters die. Disasters occur.
Still, since this IS my cup of tea, I enjoyed it. It may not be yours, and I recommend, for anyone interested, to try Gardens of the Moon : Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Malazan Book of the Fallen) first.
Recommended with Reservations.

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
Patrick Nielsen Hayden pimped this book hard, hard enough for me to pick it up. And its been nominated for a Hugo.
And now I know why. Wilson has been moving up in my estimation for some time, from Mysterium, through Darwinia, to the wonderful Chronoliths. I somehow missed Blind Lake, but I suspect that, connecting the curve, that Spin is still better than that novel (it, too was nominated for a Hugo, however).
The plot is simple. One day, some force puts up a shield that blacks out the moon and the stars. It quickly becomes clear it is not a shield, but a bubble, and that the subjective time of those on Earth is slower than the outside universe. In other words, in 40 years, Earth Time, the sun and solar system (and the rest of the universe) will have aged 4 billion years, and the swollen red giant Sun will engulf the Earth…
Like other RCW novels, the character interplay is first and foremost, more so than the science itself. Oh, we see some really cool things, and the idea of the Spin itself is a Neat Idea, but Wilson focuses heavily on Tyler, Jayson, and Diane and makes their struggles in this world come alive.
If you’ve read and enjoyed previous RCW novels, don’t hesitate in picking up this one. If you haven’t, this is, IMO, better than any of his previous ones, so starting here is a good choice, if you like your SF with a heavy dose of character development as well as cool geeky stuff.
Highly Recommended.

Lords and Ladies (Discworld, Book 14) by Terry Pratchett
Finally comes the 14th Discworld novel, which means I’m still way behind on my “Read Discworld Project.” Lords and Ladies returns us to Lancre and the trio of witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg,and Magrat Garlick. In this one, an invasion from Faerie, the wedding of Magrat to the King, and a visit by the Archchancellor make for yet another Discworld stew.
I think the book picks up steam and momentum as it goes along, being a little too short on plot at the beginning (with a heavy hand on the humor). Once things get going and Pratchett hits his stride, he hits it well. So while its not my favorite of the Discworld novels, its a pretty good one. This one, unlike any of the others I’ve read, specifically warns the reader that this is not the best novel to start with in Discworld, since it not only follows characters best seen first in previous novels, it falls right on the heels of Wyrd Sisters.
For the Discworld fan who is, like me, working their way through the canon, this one is Recommended.