Yay! Not only have I finished reading this behemoth, which took me forever (not entirely the fault of the book, I should make clear), but I’ve even, finally, finished writing a review of it!
But, first, a WARNING! – I always try to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but I found that really hard this time. I have still refrained from any detailed or specific spoilers about the plot, particularly its conclusion. However, I have assumed that after 173 years of high publicity, literally hundreds of stage, film, TV, graphic novel and musical adaptations (IMDB lists 200 screen works with “Monte Cristo” in the name; some are allusions or individual episodes or coincidence, but then there’ll be a bunch of other adaptations without that specific name in the title (Japanese versions ususally call it something else, for instance); even Wikipedia lists nearly 40 notable ones), not to mention sequels, prequels, and reimaginings, in dozens of languages (there have been 116 years of Japanese adaptations alone!)… well, I’m hoping that the broad, general, no-names-mentioned outline of what the novel is about will not be a spoiler for most of you. That said, if you want to remain completely, utterly, unimpeachably unspoiled and an entirely blank slate for your first reading of the book, read no further! And, I’d suggest, go and live in a cave somewhere until you get around to reading it, because otherwise I don’t know how you’re going to avoid these spoilers…
Having left it far too long from my initial reading, I didn’t feel I could write a proper review of this. However, for the sake of completeness I have jotted down a few sparse remarks on Goodreads, so, for the first time ever, I’ll copy my review from GR to here rather than vice versa… again, sorry if this isn’t the fully-fleshed out review some might be expecting of me. Perhaps I’ll be able to do that at some point in the future, after a re-read; for now, you’ll have to make do with the bare-bones outline of my thoughts…
A lot of people don’t like Assassin’s Fate. A lot of people hate it. A lot of people say they’ll never read another Robin Hobb novel ever again.
I sympathise. I felt exactly the same thing… way back when I read Fool’s Fate for the first time. Quite a few people think the same when they read Assassin’s Quest, for that matter. This is all not just a coincidence. Hobb’s trilogies don’t end where the conventions of the genre tell us they should end. They turn into different stories, ones that we don’t want to hear.
The God Killer, published in 1991, is the third in Simon (R.) Green’s series of Hawk and Fisher novels, following on from Hawk and Fisher itself and its sequel Winner Takes All, both of which I’ve already read.
Not a lot has changed.
It’s tricky to know just how to review The Blade Itself, because, I must confess, I didn’t exactly come to it expecting just a novel. I came to it expecting what’s widely considered a foundational text for the (relatively) new subgenre of Grimdark. I have read the occasional book that might be considered to be within that area (like Hurley’s God’s War, though that’s science fantasy rather than straight fantasy), but the big names of the movement – Abercrombie, Lynch, Lawrence and company – I’ve never gotten around to. So in reading this… yes, of course I wanted an enjoyable experience, and to see what this popular author was like, but I also wanted to see what grimdark was really like in the flesh, outside of the polemica and caricature for and against. What is grimdark? What makes it different from non-grimdark?
And, to be honest, I come away a little puzzled.
Sorry for the lack of updates in recent months. You know how it is – stuff. Also, I’ve been working at two massive blog projects that will probably never see the light of day. And I have two book reviews I need to do.
For now, though, it’s just a snippet of Øynduyska again – this time, how its noun declensions have developed over time. And yes, this does contradict (and supersede) the information in my last series about the language. Sorry!
Thought I’d have another (typically belated) go at Tough Travelling. This week, we’re dealing with Assassins:
Assassins are ubiquitous throughout fantasyland. Sharp-eyed readers (or even dull-eyed ones) will notice that their hooded forms often adorn book covers, and that they frequently appear – rather improbably – not to mind being the sole focus of our attention. Whether they’re spotlight hogs or camera-shy and brooding, most assassins will have trained for years and are very, VERY good at their job (i.e. killing people for money).
Tough Travelling – the fantasy-trope-based blog challenge, is back! I only took part once or twice in the individual version, and I don’t see this being a weekly thing for me. But what better time to join in than for the inaugural edition of the new version? (now operated by Fantasy Faction)
This week, the theme is “beginnings”, and refers to the common trope of fantasy novels beginning: “in rather poor circumstances in an unimportant corner of the continent; a kitchen menial, perhaps, or a blacksmith’s apprentice. From there, the Guide advises that ‘you will be contacted by your TOUR MENTOR (normally an elderly male MAGIC USER with much experience) who will tell you what to do, which is almost certainly to discover you are a MISSING HEIR.’” (the inner quote is from Diana Wynne Jones).
I’m largely going to ignore that. Well, I’m not, but for my response to that, see the bottom of this post.