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December 16, 2010

Two new book reviews

There's been a bustle of activity over at Curled Up With a Good Book, with two of my reviews getting posted.

Both of them are in the SF field, with one great book and one disappointing one. It's especially bad because it's from one of my favourite authors.

The good one is Lamentation, by Ken Scholes. Scholes is a new author (or was, as this is his first book, though the second and third books are now out). Part one of "The Psalms of Isaak," it's a fantasy novel about the caretaking of knowledge, and those who would destroy it.

"Some ancient technology or magic has destroyed the city of Windwir, home of the Androfrancine Order and the collected knowledge of most of the world both before the cataclysm hundreds of years ago and today. Sethbert, Overseer of the Entrolusian City States, glories in the results of what he has done, but others are also quick to react. A former member of the Androfrancine Order comes to see for himself the destruction that was wrought. Rudolfo, Lord of the Ninefold Forest Houses, comes to exact justice for the perpetrator of this foul deed, and other leaders of the Named Lands do as well. War is brewing as all sides play the game of politics. These leaders will have to choose which side of the game they will join."

It's definitely a political novel in the sense that we see the maneuverings of all sides in the conflict and there's only a little bit of magic involved (though there is some). I love this type of book, especially when the characters are well-written and deep, as those that inhabit this book are. Granted, I wish a little more had been done with the primary female role, but that could very well happen in the next couple of books.

Omnitopia Dawn: Omnitopia #1The second book is by Diane Duane, and it's called Omnitopia Dawn. This book uses the concept of Massively Multiplayer Online games, such as World of Warcraft, and turns it up to 11. The tech in this novel is quite futuristic, which is interesting considering that it takes place only a few years in the future.

It really is a fascinating concept, especially for a gamer like me. A game where you can truly immerse yourself, where you actually are acting out this stuff in the virtual world. There are various different kinds of worlds that can be created within the Omnitopia universe, everything from something really benign to something as fantastically magical as Lord of the Rings.

"Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games have been around for awhile now, but in the first quarter of the 21st century, they’ve become even hotter. Millions are playing Omnitopia, a game with thousands of different universes, some user-generated. Billionaire Dev Logan created the most popular game in the world, and he’s about to roll out a huge update for it as well. But forces are working against him. A rival (and former friend) will do anything to make Dev’s huge splash something that sinks like a stone. Organized hackers and thieves will use it to try and steal millions of dollars from Dev, as well as getting access to players’ accounts. Will Dev be able to hold off the hordes arrayed against him?

A book already has a strike against it going in when the cover copy spends more time describing the game than the actual plot. Despite Duane’s usually guaranteed mastery of character, the people in this book are more types than characters. Dev is the Bill Gates of the Omnitopia world, a master programmer and businessman who wants ensures his employees’ loyalty by making a wonderful working environment. He’s got a heart of gold and loves his family but also loves the game. He’s altruistic to a fault, something that former friend and current rival Phil Sorenson finds almost insulting. Phil is the prototypical “evil businessman,” though Duane does occasionally give him some second thoughts (mostly through bad dreams)."

I left a little bit more in there than I normally do in a quote, mainly because I wanted you to see just why I really disliked this book. The characters are very thin and not very interesting to read about. It was a slog getting through this book, and I love Duane! Thus, the major disappointment.

Go ahead and check out the reviews and let me know what you think. Or, if you've read either of these books, let me know whether you agree or disagree.


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