Archive for alternative history

THE SUICIDE EXHIBITION By Justin Richards – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2015 by stanleyriiks

Hmmmm…. Where do I start with this? Should I start with the title, which is good and what drew me to buy the book but is barely mentioned? Do I start with the fact that this is the first part of a series and barely has enough of a story for one episode? Do I start with the potential this series has, but that it fails at the first instalment?

This book makes me angry. The first half of the book is pretty slow and boring as the various characters are introduced. If these were great characters, if we were given some insight into them, if the background of the second world war was convincingly portrayed, you might forgive a slow start.

The second half does ramp up the action a bit. We have a secret government organisation usurping Foreign Office officials, army personnel, Bletchley Park code-crackers, and American female pilots, attempting to infiltrate a secret Nazi conspiracy to use ancient burial grounds and UFOs against the British. The first half merely hints at this and introduces the characters, the second half of the four hundred page novel (it seems like so much more!) sees our intrepid team venturing into enemy territory and making some headway in their investigation into the Nazis’ obsessions.

Just as everything starts getting exciting, there a reasonably entertaining climax, left open-ended obviously, and we’re expected to stump up the cash for the second instalment.

I’m afraid I won’t be there. I’m assuming this will be a trilogy, but there’s not enough of a story in the first book to fill the whole of it. Pretty much the first two hundred pages of this book could have been covered in a quite interesting prologue.

Barely memorable characters, a half-baked plot, and loads of potential do not make for a good read. This took me a month to finish because I was just so bored of it. Towards the end I was reading loads just to get it out of the way.

Another failed attempt at a world war two alternative world series. I wish someone would just write a damn one-off novel for once. I don’t want to have to read three books to get a single story.

Unimpressed and disappointed.

DROOD By Dan Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This is Wilkie Collins’ journal of some of his adventures with Charles Dickens during the last few years of the great writer’s life, including the mysterious encounters with Drood, and Wilkie’s increasing dependency on opium.

The authenticity is the book’s downfall, this reads very much like a mid-nineteenth century novel, it’s over-wordy and over-long, and yet you’re enveloped in a fog-filled London full of opium dens, whores and private policeman.

Drood is either a dangerous criminal mastermind, a mesmerist, or a figment of either Wilkie’s or Dickens’ imagination. At the end of the novel you’re still not sure.

Massively detailed, and perfectly acceptable as an alternative history, the book fits perfectly into the real world of facts we have about both writers. Its entertaining, in its way, but suffers for being so long, and wrapping itself, as well as the reader, in circles of mystery that there is no escape from.

Fascinating, but ultimately too much like hard work, for those willing to sacrifice the weeks needed to read all seven hundred pages you will feel faintly rewarded. Not one of Simmons best book, his Hyperion quartet is amazingly brilliant, and this suffers, like Ilium, from being over-written.

A brilliant writer again not at his best.

TRIUMFF: HER MAJESTY’S HERO By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Set in an alternative England, where Queen Elizabeth the first married Spain’s King Philip the Second, setting in motion a series of Queen Elizabeths to follow, leaving England and the Empire to discover the joys of magic, but not those of the industrial revolution or mechanisation.

Sir Rupert Triumff is an adventurer who has recently discovered Australia for the Queen, but refuses to give her back his letter of passage and return the country back to her.

This is used by plotters to set Triumff up as a traitor in their own attempts to kill the Queen and take over the Empire in the name of Spain.

Fans of Dan Abnett’s gamesworkshop novel should be made fully aware this is nothing like the full-on action-packed adventures of the Space Marines. The king of battle-writing tones down the action for much of this novel, although the intrigue and scheming are ramped up to compensate.

The style of the writing also shows Abnett’s depth, as our narrator, one William Beaver, continues to pop up at odd moments and imbues the proceedings a little light relief.

The plotting is well worked, and the tension continues to grow as the plot to kill the queen gets closer, and Triumff and his friends get closer to discovering the truth behind it.

Although not as action-packed as Abnett’s 40K Universe books, and despite a swashbuckling start, the novel is heavier on machinations and tension. Abnett’s talent doesn’t go to waste, and the world he creates is cleverly portrayed with many layers. Nothing like his tie-in novels, but providing an equal amount of enjoyment and entertainment.

If there is a sequel, I’ll be there.