Friday 22 July 2016

Reviews - Bleakwarrior, Sparrow Falling & Zen in the art of writing

3 reviews

In no particular order

Zen in the Art of Writing
By Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on…

Bradbury is instantly recognisable of course and a book of essays from him, his thoughts on the craft, of much interest. However it is a bit of a mixed bag, as the essays have been written over a long period of time and there is quite a lot of repetition. When he's good he's very very good, but often he's mediocre. At the end of the book are a set of poems, which was a little unexpected.

Essays like - 'How to keep and feed a muse" and "On the shoulders of giants" were of most interest. I could see that if you were a big fan, getting an insight on how he developed the ideas that became Dandelion Wine, or Fahrenheit 451 would also be great reads, but I was less interested in them.

Overall - a so-so book about writing, one for the fans

Sparrow Falling by Gaie Sebold

Sparrow Falling by Gaie Sebold

Make no mistake you need to have read the first book to get the most from this, the second in the series. However, although there is no precis of the former I was soon back into the swing of Sebold's Dickensian steam and gas London. This is more a function of being back with instantly recognisable characters like fox-spirit Liu, the brilliant Ma Pether and, of course, Evvie Sparrow herself.

In this installment the plot revolves around the school and an unsavory sort called Stug. When Evvie suspects Stug of doing something wicked with the children of families he houses as a slum landlord she becomes embroiled in the workings of the Fair Folk.

There is plenty here to enjoy, I wish Sebold had done more with the flying machine (although I'm guessing she's setting that up for next time) and the plot charges you along without you really noticing. Until the last few pages are gripped and released.

Overall - Thoroughly entertaining steampunk

Bleakwarriror by Alistair Rennie

BleakWarrior by Alistair Rennie

"The Folly of Brawl is a tower of disproportionate girth, besmirched at the base with festering lichens and nettled clumps" - so starts one of the most idiosyncratic books I've read for a while. Bleakwarriror is a metaphysical romp disguised as swords and  sorcery disguised as a metaphysical romp.

The Bleakwarrior of the title is a meta-warrior - a 'physical expression of natural states that serve no purpose beyond their immediate function.'  a wandering masterless killer seeking his purpose. Each dense chapter is stuffed full of memorable characters (all the meta-warrirors are great, it's a real shame when some of them kill others because some deserve larger parts) and along the way he is helped or hindered (mostly hindered) by others of his kind.

This is foot to the metal, balls-out, foaming at the mouth prose and yet at the same time lush dense verbiage that deserves to be fondled and savoured. How Rennie achieves such a dichotomy is beyond me. This is not for the squeamish or prudish - there is much gratuitous violence and even more gratuitous sex. It is also a book that you need to put your brain in another gear before reading - but what a pleasure it is once you are on the same plane.

This is like Hunt Emerson meets Gormenghast. Very much in the weird and very much a book that defies quick review.

So please make your way to the nearest convenient source of books and purchase a copy

If you are still not convinced read this great review which does it more justice than I ever could.

Overall - Highly recommended but treat with approrpiate care, it's not an easy book but it is a good one

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