The Books on My Shelf


I Like Books.


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BOOKS ON MY SHELF – A Game of Thrones (George RR Martin)

A Game of Thrones

Was on my list of book series I wanted to read.  But the list just gets longer as more and more books are added, and few get read.

And so it was when I heard that HBO was making a television series based on the books.  Of course, I found this out because I was looking to see what the next thing coming from HBO would be, and had secretly (maybe not secretly) wanted them to try their hand at science fiction or fantasy.  Give it their quality edge.  So, I released that I’d have to actually read the books.  Time passed, and I became aware the series was about to start and I still hadn’t got around to reading it.  So I set out to buy the books.  Four bookshops it took me to get it and trips all over town.  But I got it.  And managed to remain about 2 episodes ahead of the show (and it was pretty obvious where the episodes where going to end).

But that’s about me, not the book.  A Game of Thrones isn’t your usual fantasy.  It’s not a hero with a sword defeating dragons and finding magic items.  It’s history brought to life in a fantasy setting.  As any fan will tell you you never know who’s going to die next.

Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character (or rather a different one of a handful of characters).  The ability to inhabit different characters lets you see the world and events in a multitude of ways.  It allows things to be hidden and revealed and conflicting unreliable narrations.  At first when everyone’s at the Stark’s castle Winterfell the books tells the story passing from POV to POV to tell the next part.  But as the main characters separate the story jumps around a bit more.  And although Martin uses the format well, this is where the book really annoys.  Chapters start slow a build to a crucial point, then stop and move on to the next character.  And frustration hits.  You’re not interested in this character’s story right now, and anyway, it’s a bit slow.  You want the hear what happens to the last character.  You can’t skip ahead to the last character’s next chapter – what if you miss an important bit of the puzzle.  But then the current character’s story becomes interesting again and… next chapter.  It’s a trick, and annoying trick to leave the reader wanting more.  And it works so darn well.

~ DUG.

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THE BOOKS ON MY SHELF – The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fford)


This is a book for people who love books.

It is set in a world where books dominate popular culture, where children are named after writers and poets, where religious/political movements are based on theories of who wrote Shakespeare’s plays and where the police have a special department for literary crimes.

It’s a wonderful world for the book lover.  However, it goes beyond that it’s a world where the Crimean War was still ongoing in the 80s, Dodos and Mamoths have been cloned and Wales is a communist state, all of which drag the reader further and further away from being able to relate.

Thursday Next is a police officer with the literary crimes department, with the growing realisation that she has the power to enter (and change) fiction and with a super-villain arch-nemesis.  She also has a awkward relationship with an ex and his role in he brother’s posthumous condemnation for a major military blunder.

The book is fun – almost Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett-esk – but with a bleak undertone which rather than making it deeper detracts from the fun.  The time travel is cliche and obvious, the romance forced and unwelcome, and it never seems to come to terms with the idea of entering fiction instead becoming enamoured with the usual conflict with the super-villain.

But despite the flaws there is such imagination, wacky characters and potential here that you just have to seek out the next book to find out what else happens to Thursday Next.

~ DUG.

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