All entries for Tuesday 18 July 2006

July 18, 2006

Bright Young Things from Gollancz: 3/3

5 out of 5 stars

And here we are, with the third and final new author from Gollancz. This book comes plastered with favourable comments from George R. R. Martin, Richard Morgan, and Hal Duncan, no less, and for once it lives up to them. Lynch has delivered a excellent book, written in an engaging style, with a fine cast of characters.

Locke Lamora is the leader of a gang of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards who pass the time in intricate plans to rob the nobles of the city of Camorr, a Venice ten times more impressive than the orignal. The careful balance between the underworld and the nobles is threatened by new faces, and Lamora is caught up in a frantic battle to keep on top of a growing web of plots and nefarious doings.

For a first novel Lynch has delivered a remarkably well polished work. The style is nicely suited to the work, not too serious, but still capable of packing a punch. There were one or two passages that made me laugh out loud, but this book is clever, rather than slapstick. Characters are well rounded, albeit in the "lovable rogue" mould. Lynch is not afraid to kill them off, either, and twists and turns in plot took me by surprise. There's barely a wasted moment in the book, and although the interspaced flashbacks to Locke's earlier life sometimes feel a little clumsy, the pace easily carried me through 300 pages in one sitting.

This is not great literature, but it's highly entertaining, and reasonably original, at least for a fantasy novel. I just hope Lynch manages to maintain the tone for the rest of the series, a predicted 7 books. I'm already looking forward to the second. Five stars.

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

3 out of 5 stars

This book is actually the sixth in a series, but can easily be read out of sequence. It features Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's foremost lady detective, investigating a linked series of mysteries. A strange intruder in her house, her huband's apprentice involved with a married worman, and a wrongly imprisoned pharmacist all vie for attention against a backdrop of African domesticity.

This is a very nice book, something you could safely reccomend to your maiden aunt. Everyone is very polite, no blood is shed, and everything ends happily. It makes for a pleasant, undemanding, read. This is not great literature, but it whiles away a lazy afternoon. Three stars.

Turkish Gambit

4 out of 5 stars

This is Akunin's second book featuring Erast Fandorin, his 19th century sleuth, and sees him caught up in a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Varya is a young girl who finds her fiance accused of espionage, and Fandorin seems her only hope. But he is soon caught up in a web of politics and war, and Varya is pursued by amorous foreign correspondants.

This is another fascinating and entertaining read from Akunin. Fandorin is as entertaining as ever, as clever as Poirot, but somehow more human. Minor characters are fleshed out, the plot weaves in twists and turns that keep the reader gripped. This is perhaps not quite up the standard of Fandorin's adventures in mruder on the leviathan but well worth reading. Four stars.

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