August 2004: Book Reviews

This is an archive of my shorter book reviews and notes, which historically have been posted over at the 50 Book Challenge on LiveJournal, but which I’m starting to move over here. I’m posting them with altered date-stamps, but they might show up in my LiveJournal cross-post anyway. Bear with me, please.

Note: Many of these books also have full reviews available in the book review podcast (RSS).


I really enjoyed this sequel to the first book in the series (A Game of Thrones). Martin really does know how to weave together multiple storylines, plots, and character sets into a very rich world without becoming overburdened by character confusion.


I really enjoyed the descriptions of fencing in this novel about fencing and honor and 19th century Spain. However, the plot is deeply invested in the political turmoil, and the protagonist has no interest in politics. That limited viewpoint means that things happen without any real understanding of why they happen, and the protagonist (and the reader) is kind of left wondering what the heck is going on.


The Callahan Chronicals, by Spider Robinson

A really good omnibus edition of the first three Callahan’s Place novels, and a marvelous introduction to the world of Callahan’s. I was deeply moved, powerfully affected, and completely in love by the end of the third short story in the collection. Gorgeous! Friends had warned my that Callahan’s is full of puns so you have to be in that mood, but I felt that the puns, being restricted almost entirely to dialog, were not intrusive into the story, but served instead as a way to highlight the interactions between the various characters. Robert Asprin and Piers Anthony are also veteran punsters in their novels, but theirs fall flat because they make their puns too literal– the puns exist as real things in the worlds of their novels, turning their series into very long, drawn out, excruciatingly painful shaggy dog stories.