Review: A Storm of Swords

This is the beginning of a biweekly book review series I’ll be doing. None of my reviews will feature plot summaries or spoilers; instead, these reviews will focus on what I refer to as Continued Education, which is how I internally breakdown books and extract lessons from them (lessons in story telling, prose, and style). I list out my overall impression of the book and then I break down what was good about it and what was bad about it. I then rate each book in the 1-10 scale. So without further ado:

What can I say? A Storm of Swords is the big payoff for the first two books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s hard for me to review this book as I would for all others because I didn’t read it in a conventional manner: instead, I read each character all the way through before moving on to the next . . . and I must say, “Wow.”

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O V-2, Where Art Thou?

Somehow I managed to tackle Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow—or I should say, was tackled by Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Because, I mean, who really tackles Pynchon? Some superior intellect that would talk circles around me—that’s who. Or maybe even that person would be kidding him or herself.

Overall, I don’t know if—or how—I can comment on the plot of the story. Is there a plot? I’m sure there is but it’s about as unconventional as any other out there. I think Richard Locke wrote it best with the title of his 1973 New York Times review: One of the Longest, Most Difficult, Most Ambitious Novels in Years. You can read the review here. It’s worth the read. Locke did a much better job than I ever could at breaking down the book and its themes.

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Quick reviews of a few books

Recently (meaning over the course of the past month) I’ve finished a few books that I would like to quickly comment on. The first being, A Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet, which is a richly written tale about a Dutch merchant who falls in love with a Japanese mid-wife, who incidentally is sold to a cruel abbot and held captive. The story follows Jacob, as well as several other characters introduced through his plot line, and has a unique ending that I found very satisfying, if not a bit emotional (don’t ask me to explain why). Although it was just under 500 pages, the read took me longer than most because of the foreign setting, names and language. The author, David Mitchell, did his research and wrote a wonderful historical novel that I recommend to anyone looking for an enriching experience.

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

The novel I’m currently engrossed in reading is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. I simply want to share a review written about the book by Alexander Linklater.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

A love story from 18th century Japan confirms David Mitchell as the most dazzling British novelist of his generation

by Alexander Linklater

Does it matter what books a novelist has written before? Should readers need to know an author’s preceding works fully to grasp the new one?

It might simply have been a parlour game for fans and critics, but a subsidiary pleasure of David Mitchell’s four previous novels lay in his weaving together of motifs, both within his stories and between them. In a typical manoeuvre, an incidental character from his first book, Ghostwritten (1999), would become a major one in his third, Cloud Atlas (2004). His fourth novel, Black Swan Green (2006), though more conventionally autobiographical than either, was littered with recurrences from, and clues to, both – as if worlds, both real and fictional, were endlessly intersecting.

Read the full article here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/09/thousand-autumns-jacob-zoet-mitchell/print

Review of ‘The Divine Invasion’

The Divine Invasion is book two in what is known as the Valis Trilogy (a name given posthumously to P.K. Dick’s last three books). Even though TDI is considered the second volume of this trilogy, it bears next to no resemblance to Valis (book one) other than that it deals with God’s place on Earth and a divine device created by God known as Valis that transmits beams of enlightenment to specific people.

In case you haven’t read the book, which I imagine many have not in recent times, I will spare you the book summary and just address the major theme of the story, which is the concept that God has been pushed out of our world by the forces of evil and literrally has to try to sneak back unnoticed in order to wage war against Satan. It’s a concept I’ve never crossed before and wholly found interesting.

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Ready Player One

I read a review in The New York Times about Ready Player One written by Ernest Cline and found the book to be intriguing. I love nostalgia, especially ’80s nostalgia. The review wasn’t the most favorable, but the book will still (possibly) end up in my list of many things to read, assuming I ever make it out of Infinite Jest.

Read the full article here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/books/ready-player-one-by-ernest-cline-review.html?_r=1&ref=books