Posts in category 'books'

  • Review: Night Watch

    Review of Night Watch (Discworld #29.0) by Terry Pratchett (9781472537232)★★★★★

    This review is a re-post of my 2015 Goodreads review of this book.

    Cover for Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

    This morning, Commander Vimes of the City Watch had it all. He was a Duke. He was rich. He was respected. He had a silver cigar case. He was about to become a father.

    This morning he thought longingly about the good old days.

    Tonight, he's in them.

    Flung back in time by a mysterious accident, Sam Vimes has to start all over again. He must get a new name and a job, and there's only one job he's good at: cop in the Watch. He must track down a brutal murderer. He must find his younger self and teach him everything he knows. He must whip the cowardly, despised Night Watch into a crack fighting force -- fast. Because Sam Vimes knows what's going to happen. He remembers it. He was there. It's part of history. And you can't change history . . .

    But Sam is going to. He has no choice. Otherwise, a bloody revolution will start, and good men will die. Sam saw their names on old headstones just this morning -- but tonight they're young men who think they have a future. And rather than let them die, Sam will do anything -- turn traitor, burn buildings, take over a revolt, anything -- to snatch them from the jaws of history. He will do it even if victory will mean giving up the only future he knows.

    For if he succeeds, he's got no wife, no child, no riches, no fame -- all that will simply vanish. But if he doesn't try, he wouldn't be Sam Vimes.

    And so the battle is on. He knows how it's going to end; after all, he was there. His name is on one of those headstones. But that's just a minor detail . . .

    This, right here, is a Discworld novel for Discworld fans. The Watch have always been my favourite characters, and Vimes is certainly my favourite of the bunch. So obviously an origin story about the man is going to go over well. But this isn’t lazy fan service, and is replete with Pratchett’s beautifully incisive writing, teaching us about what it means to be a “copper” when the world is falling to pieces.

    Continue reading...
  • Review: The Magicians

    Review of The Magicians (The Magicians #1.0) by Lev Grossman (9780670020553)★★★
    Cover for The Magicians by Lev Grossman

    Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he's secretly fascinated with a series of children's fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

    The book is slow to start and it often feels as though Grossman is going through the motions. But the driving second half more than makes up for it. And with choice quotes like:

    “Look, who’s the talking bear here?” Quentin snapped. “Is it you? Are you the talking fucking bear? All right. So shut the fuck up.”

    The meta-fiction is downright entertaining.

    Some might find the book needlessly angsty, and there’s some merit to that complaint. But its an interesting alternative look at what it would mean to discover a magical world embedded in our own.