Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Lois McMaster Bujold – Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Despite the great popularity of her Vorkosigan science fiction novels Lois McMaster Bujold has only written new novels when she had the right story for it. As they are standalone stories she can set stories at different places within the timeline of the series although she has to take into account that these do not disturb future events. While the first set of novels had plenty of action, intricate plots and serious themes woven into them she has occasionally also written what can best be described as comedies. These comedy novels are also quite the fan pleasers as Bujold often brings back characters from past novels and adds in romantic elements.

You might already be guessing that I am making notes on these particular novels is because Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (2012) is also one of these comedy novels. One might guess differently from the title and for the first few chapters of the novel I had a different idea as well, but the plot took a quite different direction than I had expected.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is not much of a Vorkosigan novel in the literal sense. This is the story about one of the side characters. It is not the first time that Bujold has done so. The switch provides her with a new character to explore and develop better and she can describe the world in a slightly different way. We do meet familar characters of old again but these now play a different role as their relationship toward the main protagonist is different. As usual, Bujold makes a good job of it.

I may have said that is the story of one of the side characters but this is not entirely true. Only half of the story is told from his viewpoint. The other half is told from the viewpoint of a new character. As she interact intensively with the other main character he still gets much of the center stage. The pairing brings extra focus on the two characters, their relationship and their development throughout the story.

While this is a very enjoyable book for any Vorkosigan fan I have to be honest here that the plot is rather circumstantial. Initially I expected an exciting plot that would see plenty of action. Bujold however steers the plot in a completely different way with very little action. The bit of action that we do get at the end is more of a diversion to push certain developments into a necessary closure. Either way it is fortunate for the novel that Bujold did so because for the larger middle part of the novel the story is somewhat lacklustre in which Bujold follows some predictable course.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is not anywhere close to the best Vorkosigan novels. Is it the worst? Bujold does not write bad novels or poor stories. This book is much of a fan pleaser and as a fan I had no regret reading it. She is still a superb story teller. Telling the story from this particular side character is something that makes the novel very worthwhile reading although it lacks some depth and it does not raise the side character much from his side character position. In a way that is a sad thing to see.

Graeme Shimmin – A Kill In The Morning

Monday, May 4th, 2015

My 300th review is also a somewhat special one as the novel involved is an alternate history, a genre that I don’t read that much. The main reason for that is basically the so-called butterfly effect. From the turning point on the change will have growing side-effects the more time passes and often the author starts adding familiar stuff he likes although the plausibility is rather uncertain or the author simplifies thing in such a way that the complexity of history is pretty much ignored. These are things that annoy me so I am very picky towards such novels. Those novels that I have picked up with some alternate setting simply avoided trying to set up an alternative history. It is simply a different universe. Essentially I only want to pick up an alternative history novel if it is done well.

This particular novel I picked up after reading a review on another site. Usually I am not easily convinced to pick up a book there as I’ve found my taste to differe considerably from the reviewers there. In this case my instinct said I should give it a try. A Kill In The Morning (2014) by Graeme Shimmin is essentially a spy thriller in the mold of James Bond. The main protagonist is a similar hard-assed womanizer who does not refrain from violence. The early parts of the novel seem also to be the pulp-like type of story Ian Fleming wrote. Of course we are here dealing with an alternative history. In this case the Second World War did not really get started and Germany made peace before they got hit back. Shimmin plays his alternative history safe by setting the novel only a decade after the turning point. This allows for better definable possibilities with regard to what could have happened so things remain believable. The one similarity that did not change was that a Cold War does happen as well and that provides the familiar James Bond-like setting. In this case the enemies are not the Communists but the Nazis and unlike the Communists they do have a healthy economy to drive their technology programs, making the competition much harder. Here I should stop on disclosing the background of the novel and discuss some other elements.

The protagonists in the novel all follow familiar molds. Shimmin changes it a little by adding a stronger female element in it, giving it a less old-fashioned flavour and highlighting some different aspects in his alternative history. As I have read all the James Bond novels (with reviews on my site) I can only say he does a good job mimicking the way Fleming set up his characters although there is of course a large difference in style and prose.

Shimmin’s aim is however not to tell a James Bond story in an alternative history setting. To explain that I have to start spoiling a little more. If you are interested already, stop reading here.

Shimmin’s plot is far more cunning. Events unfold much more rapidly then expected and at about two thirds of the novel he kicks in the major twist of the plot. It comes with total surprise and while some would say it is not realistic it does fit perfectly within the Jamed Bond themes. What follows in the last third is a lengthy finale in which Shimmin crafts an engaging and exciting turn of events in which he carefully fits the pieces of the puzzle in place which will leave the reader with great satisfaction. In the end he adds a more than fitting last Bond cliche with a twist as a dessert.

A Kill In The Morning is based on a cunning idea which is executed perfectly. Shimmin manages to lull his readers into a familiar atmosphere by using typical James Bond elements to tell his story until he throws them into an unexpected plot twist at a point when they thought the story would follow the usual hectic but entertaining course over some rapids. Instead he gives them a major waterfall. I am actually unhappy that I am disclosing this in this review. It is more fun not to know there is a grand twist but without it I would have a hard job convincing others to read this novel. For that reason I gave the warning above. I can only say that this novel is very much recommended.

Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom – The Lazarus Effect

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

The sequel to The Jesus Incident takes place several centuries later. This is something that is not uncommon for Frank Herbert to do as he likes telling his story within a larger framework. It automatically makes The Lazarus Effect (1983), the second book of the Pandora Sequence, a relatively standalone work with a plot that could be read without knowing what went before. There are some minor references but most of the story could be told independently.

While The Jesus Incident had many of the trademarks and style of Frank Herbert, this is much less present in The Lazarus Effect. Bill Ransom is again the main writer who now handles more of the narrative flow in the traditional way. With this I mean that the scenes are less jumping from one event to the next, although perhaps it was a bit too extreme in The Jesus Incident and the two authors decided to tone things down a bit, although that would not seem very typical of the Frank Herbert in his later years. It is for that reason that one can say Ransom has taken the lead in the writing with Herbert adding spice.

Thematically the novel has a strong focus on ecology with additions of religion and terrorism. This would certainly resonate with today’s events in the world would it not be so that the terrorism is not connected to the religion at all and that religion is the victim in a certain way.

Like the previous novel the story is set on the threshold of great changes to the society of the world of Pandora. Much of the story deals with the convergence of several developments. The story is told through the eyes of several characters of which only a few have center stage. Of the others we learn little about while Ransom uses the early parts of the story to set the background of these characters. In that way the novel is set up similarly as the previous one as it only allocates time on the characters to set them up after which the plot takes over and developments follow rapidly, leaving no space to explore how the characters handle the changing situations. It has thus the same kind of unbalance. In the beginning the story seems character driven but before we get halfway it becomes plot driven.

What I am missing in this novel is exploration. Herbert and Ransom have created a unique world with several unique societies and they are only developed to their basics. The reader is very interested to see more but the plot dominates too much.

The Lazarus Effect has a far less dark and terrible atmosphere than The Jesus Incident. Humanity has created a better world, at least on the surface. The terrorism theme does hit when it does although it is not taken to any extreme. The story turns to a more positive vibe and ends in a way that closes the story. The Pandora Sequence could just have ended there. Originally there was only a setup for two novels. As the novels hold fairly standalone plots there is always room to write another story if there is success and we know Herbert and Ransom decided to do so.

The Lazarus Effect can best we described as a Ransom novel with a strong Herbert flavor. Herbert sets the themes and the course of the plot but it is Ransom who makes the journey. While I attributed the dark nature of The Jesus Incident to him I would now do the opposite and attribute the lighter nature to him in this novel. Of course I can only guess this based on the Herbert novels I have read. What struck me after I finished the novel, which I mentioned before, is that the buildup of the story is very similar to The Jesus Incident. As Ransom is foremostly a short story writer I can only assume he followed the same template for the story now that he had a greater hand in the writing. The similarity is too peculiar that it can’t be explained by something else.

So is The Lazarus Effect a better or worse novel than The Jesus Incident? It is less complex and is more enjoyable to read. Despite the similarities there is a very different flavor which makes it hard to compare them as it depends very much to what you are in the mood for. The novels are related to each other and are part of a story sequence but have to be judged on their own. So in this case I will not judge. I do will say that I left The Lazarus Effect with a better feeling although it is not bad if a novel returns a disturbing feeling once in a while and makes you think. As such I enjoyed them both in very different ways.

G.W. Dahlquist – The Chemickal Marriage

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The Chemickal Marriage (2012) by G.W. Dahlquist is the second sequel to The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters. I call it such because the trilogy does not have a real name and I don’t want to invent a name of my own, although the Glass Books Trilogy would be fairly appropriate. On the other hand the series is not a trilogy in the traditional sense. With this I mean a trilogy of three connected standalone books that form a kind of unity or one that tells one great story in three parts. Neither applies to this “trilogy”. The first book is not exactly a standalone story as it leaves plenty open ends although the majority of the mysteries are resolved and most of the antagonists seem to be out of the game. One could live with the story ending there. As I mentioned in my review of the second book, The Dark Volume, it could only play out the remaining open strands of the plot and in a way it does do so. In fact the greater story arc could just as well have ended with that novel. Dahlquist chose however to create a more dramatic ending with much of the future unclear. Who did really survive or die? And so one could say that The Chemickal Marriage is a second sequel.

The great problem with The Chemickal Marriage is that although some mysteries remained unclear in The Dark Volume, it did resolve pretty much all the open strands in the greater story arc. The Chemickal Marriage thus creates a new threat as a result of the finale of the second novel. The story could stand almost on its own if the reader would not have needed to know and understand so much of all that happened before. Unfortunately to me it seemed as if Dahlquist tried to revive some of the elements of the first novel including the complex plot. I say unfortunately because the complexity is actually contrived. From early on events, informations and clues are placed deliberately into the hands of the protagonists. At first they seem somewhat strange but oddities are a typical element of the style of the story. It is however clear that they are pieces of a puzzle and it takes to the finale of the story to make them fall into place at the right moment to resolve all that was apparently wrong. It is this that annoyed me to some extent. In the previous novels Dahlquist managed to fit in the bits of information in a natural way so that they came available at the right moments during the development of the story. That is how it should be. I quite dislike a plot that is set up in such a way that everything peculiar that happens is obviously designed to have a purpose towards the conclusion as they fall out of place within the natural flow of the story. Although some characters die during the story others are kept alive for unclear reasons except for the necessity of the plot that needs them later. It is because of this that The Chemickal Marriage’s plot is the weakest of the three.

After this long complaint I have to get back to what is good about The Chemickal Marriage, because there is much to enjoy. Like the previous novels it is a well-crafted steampunk novel set in a supposed alternative England in which things are different while it is unclear how it came to be. We are only given the now and there is barely any background covered throughout the series. The lack of “infodump” can be considered as refreshing as most of the settings can only be derived from the places visited and mentioned. The novels are despite the complex plots very character driven. Dahlquist keeps a powerful focus on his three main protagonists. They are not perfect and they all have their own goals and means to achieve it. Although they supposedly work together this rarely actually happens. Nevertheless they all have a strong heart that connects with the reader.

Dahlquist repeatedly shows his great skils by creating captivating and engaging scenes in which there are no simple choices and all characters involved make good or bad choices intentionally or by chance. The plot of the novel may be rather contrived it does not take away the vivid and powerful moments that give the story color and momentum.

The Chemickal Marriage does bring the series to real final conclusion that will satisfy the reader. As mentioned before it is not really required for me. A story can end well while many things remain unresolved. Like real life nothing really ends. It is not a bad thing to stop after The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters. Doing so while knowing there are two sequels is however a hard effort. I do not regret reading them as I enjoy a good read and despite my complaints they are still above average novels of great quality that provide a different reading experience that is reminiscent of the nineteenth century mystery novels written in a modern way.

Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom – The Jesus Incident

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Frank Herbert is most famous for his Dune novels but of course he wrote more. The Jesus Incident (1979), the first book in the Pandora Sequence got written by pure chance. It is a peculiar anecdote that I like to share. The first idea for the novel was a short story contributed to a collaborative project with other science fiction authors taking place on the same planet. Herbert did not have the time to it all and asked his neighbour Bill Ransom to do it for him so he only needed to revise it for him. Their collaboration pushed them to do something serious. So they took that story and used it as a concept to write a sequel to Destination : Void, an earlier work that Herbert had just revised. What came to be was a world that was in a way the opposite of Dune: a waterplanet instead of a sandplanet. While Dune was the results of millennia of human society in space the planet Pandora was newly settled. However, Frank Herbert remains Frank Herbert. His works cannot be without some greater and provocative themes. Like Dune, Pandora is a planet of dangers and although one half comes from the planet environment the other half comes from the humans.

I have not read any original works by Bill Ransom so I cannot say what he may have contributed to the story but I have read a fair number of novels, outside of Dune, by Frank Herbert, so I can indicate what seems out of odds with the Herbert composition. What strongly resonate in the novel are the religious, ethical and ecological themes that are very typical Herbert. They provide a depth and complexity that give the story many layers. Another typical Herbert feature is the usage of focused scenes. We jump from scene to scene, from character to character view point where they matter and anything in between is simply left out.

As noted in the introduction of the novel much of the actual writing was done by Ransom. Herbert is clearly the leader who sets the content and the direction, revising where necessary. I have to say that is not entirely balanced out. The earlier chapters are slower in which the characters are more inward looking, while the later chapters are faster and more rushed, with less time for introspection where more insight might be more interesting for character exploration. Many scenes are also lacking character interaction. That does not need to be a bad thing but the characters that Herbert and Ransom present are all such different types that they would create great interaction. They however choose to avoid much of them. I am not saying there is a lack of character development because Herbert and Ransom keep their focus on a limited number of characters who each have their own ordeals, showing them to be of a rather grey flavor, neither good or bad, depending on the perspective.

One trait of Herbert, as mentioned before, is to avoid connecting scenes. There are thus sudden jumps in time. This does not have to be an issue if the reader can follow the chronology of the story; one just has to add a minor reference. Unfortunately the chronology seems to go a bit haywire in the latter half of the novel. Some things seemed to go rather slow while other events rapidly progress. For example one of the big developments appears out of nowhere as it is only referred to in the past while the story is already trying to deal with the effects of the development. As the novel isn’t that long it wouldn’t have been bad to add a few chapters to build it up better. Finally, one of the main events at the end of novel is rather unexplained and only stated as a fact while I kept wondering why and how it was supposed to occur.

The thing about the novel that in my point of view is probably a great contribution by Ransom is the haunting atmosphere of the novel and the brutal depiction of certain scenes. Herbert usually takes a more clinical approach. He can write about some nasty things happening while you don’t get attached; you simply are captivated. In this novel such scenes were taken to greater extremes and at times I could feel a shiver as I responded to what I was reading. Pandora is supposed to be a bad place and Ransom brings that vibe to the reader. It is not a thing I related to Herbert, that’s for sure.

The Jesus Incident is a peculiar novel. It is a very condensed novel although it starts relatively slowly and it has many introspective scenes. There are many themes interwoven into the story and they create a layered plot in which the reader will certainly have his own thoughts and reflections. On the other hand I think some things were rather rushed. Despite the layers the plot is eventually fairly straightforward and I think it could have been developed better. I see room for improvement to make it into something more powerful. In the end the messages Herbert and Ransom try to convey get somewhat simplified and that is something Herbert has not needed to revert to. Nevertheless I did enjoy this novel for all its haunts and terrible themes.

Frank Herbert – Destination : Void

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

With regard to the novel Destination : Void (1966) by Frank Herbert there is one thing that can be put into discussion and that is its publication year. Although I give the year as 1966 here the story was revised and edited in 1978, partially to accommodate it as a prequel to the Pandora Sequence. The later edition is the most common version and finding the original version will be much harder. To make it even a bit more complicated is that the story was published as a series in an science fiction magazine in 1965. However, the original bookform of the story was published in 1966 and although it was revised later on they are in essence still the same story. I have not read the original version but as both versions are not considered to be different novels I follow the original book publication year with the note that it is the 1978 version.

With that behind us I can focus on the novel itself. Destination : Void is a traditional hard science fiction novel. The core of the story is actually a thought experiment. Telling what it is will give away the plot and it is more fun to discover it while reading. I intentionally did not read the backcover to avoid giveaways. It is not a long novel, so there is much to give away. The thought experiment is a ‘what if’-idea and Herbert aims to develop it in a rational way, having the main protagonists discuss concepts and the development of the issue while telling the story. In that sense the title of the novel can be interpreted in different ways but it is nice to think about it afterwards.

Just describing a thought experiment as a story can be quite boring. Herbert makes sure there is a plot that keeps the reader engaged. From the very beginning the characters find themselves in a position of crisis, forcing themselves to the so-called thought experiment as a ways to survive. During the development of the experiment they are confronted with ethical issues, conflicts and threats that spice up the story but also provide a way to give the experiment a direction. The plot thus does not fall away into boredom but that could also partially be so because it was originally published as a serial, forcing Herbert to make each chapter engaging and interesting.

On the part of character development Herbert has made the perfect setup to do so. There are only four characters and each fits a specific profile and position within the story. Each struggles with the situation in a different way and tries to obtain the objective in the way they want it to. Throughout their thoughts and interaction with the other protagonists it is impossible not to get connected with them.

Herbert provides a strong plot that keeps the reader going forward to find out where it will lead to. The voyage seems clear but the destination is murky. It is at the destination that Herbert goes a bit astray as the final is rather sudden and strange. That is partially one of the defects of a thought experiment. The journey forms the core that drives the story. The destination brings all kinds of complexities and choices are plenty. It is here where the characteristic flavour of Herbert’s science fiction emerges as just writing a somewhat regular suspense plot is not his way. There has to be something bigger. As such I am somewhat divided about the finale. It is provoking but not all together fitting to the down-to-earth atmosphere of the story.

Some parts of the story may seem outdated, especially on the technology field, but much remains very readable. That is always the issue with old science fiction as current technology jumps ahead on concepts that were unimaginable at the time. Even so I like to read things like it because they express the ideas of the time. Most of the future technology is even now of present interest, using ideas that in today’s world is a matter of discussion as well. In that sense it remains a timeless story until all ideas have been put into reality.

G.W. Dahlquist – The Dark Volume

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

What can I say about a sequel that should not have needed to be written? The Dark Volume (2008) by G.W. Dahlquist picks up the story shortly the great finale of The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters. Although that novel leaves some strands of the plot open it does round off the majority of the plot. I was actually surprised how many of the mysteries were resolved by Dahlquist. As I knew there were two more novels I expected very little to be resolved. So when I was done with that novel I had no immediate desire to continue further as I had plenty to absorb and think about after the first novel. My main question after reading such an astounding and marvellous first novel was if he could pull off something of the same quality in the sequel. With so many characters dead and so few of the conspiracies of the main antagonists intact I was not sure what Dahlquist could pull out of his hat.

As as good reviewer I will immediately give the answer. The loss of antagonists and the unravelling of many of the conspiracies left a rather limited amount of material to work on. The intense density of the first novel was impossible to attain. Instead Dahlquist picks up the few strands that remain and adds in a few new ones to blow life into the plot. He does pull out a few rabbits from his hat. Some are a logical continuation that could be expected while others are rather odd.

Dahlquist uses the same approach as the first novel: long chapters told from the point of view of one of the three main protagonists and each point of view provides the reader with more insight with what has occurred as the storylines evolve partially simultaneously as before. This works well for the first part of the story in which some new mysteries are introduced which immediately throw the reader into an exciting development of events. Unfortunately the events are of a relatively minor importance compared to what the reader has been used to. When the events do become important later on the tension is much lower as the events are farther apart from each other and have less influence.

The plot itself is far less complex and more straightforward as the different storylines quickly converge again. The great trouble I had with the plot that far less is explained. This is in great contrast to what the bookcover claimed that it would include ‘great revelations’. I saw very few revelations and much remained unclear. Of course one can leave it to the reader to guess or to do the puzzle himself but compared to the first novel which had a great number of revelations there is hardly any here. The lack of revelations caused also certain events and developments feel odd and not in place. I missed some kind of explanation for the how and why. The motives of the characters sometimes felt unnatural. All in all I was a bit dissatisfied with the plot. The finale was rather abrupt and not very powerful. It felt rushed and left no time to feel any emotional impact.

Is The Dark Volume then such a poor novel? The problem is that I am comparing it to a predecessor that is of very high quality. The Dark Volume still has the same great atmosphere and engaging prose of the first novel. It is an exciting read that entertains and holds many of the charms of the first novel. It does however lack the substance, complexity and twists I had gotten accustomed to. There are still twists but they are of a lesser nature. The drive to defeat the enemy and the dangers set upon the protagonists are much weaker. This is, as mentioned before, mostly because so much has already been done in the first novel. What remains are the lesser strands that now are getting resolved.

What matters with this sequel is the same thing one sees in many Hollywood movies. Because it is just a great success producers decide to make a sequel because people will try it because they liked the first. I am not saying that this novel was written because of the popularity of the first novel. I mean that because the reader will have enjoyed the first novel so much that he cannot resist reading more although he is pretty certain it won’t be as good as the first. Just because of the familiar setting and characters the reader will still find much joy in the book and that is also the case with me, I have to admit. And to be honest, Dahlquist made sure that this sequel ends in something that is much more of a cliffhanger, leaving certain things too open that it will lure the reader into reading the third book. And in that he found success again, because I could not resist finding out how the story would conclude.

G.W. Dahlquist – The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Usually I ignore the promotional blurbs on the cover of a novel since they are always superlative and a recommendation from an author I like does not mean that I like what the author likes to read. However, for a very few numbers of novels these blurbs do hit their mark. This is the case for The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters (2006) by G.W. Dahlquist, the first book of a nameless steampunk science fiction trilogy. According to Wikipedia the booksales were disappointing so this review will aim to give the series a new spin forward.

So yes, I am already giving away that this novel totally hit it home for me. I picked it up because it looked interesting but I had no idea if it was. As often I took it on gut instinct which is usually quite right.

The novel contains a number on ingenuities that make it different from other steampunk stories. The setting of the story is somewhat ambivalent. Many things indicate that the story takes place in London, England around the turn of the nineteenth century, but city and nation are never mentioned and very few of the names and places mentioned seem to match with reality. It seems like an alternative universe instead of simply twisting the technology as most steampunks do (although I have to admit here that I have not read that much steampunk to be an expert). This ambivalent settings already creates its own atmosphere of mystery.

The story is told through the eyes of three main protagonists. Each has a limited view of the events and to provide the reader with a greater picture Dahlquist tells certain events multiple times from very different perspectives. The plot is carefully crafted so that most events are not simply retold. The perspectives touch the events where necessary or simply take over where they touch. This way the reader knows much more but never everything.

Another ingenuity is that Dahlquist only uses a limited number of very long chapters, each following one perspective, which are each about 60 pages in length. This provides focus and allows for plenty of space to develop each of the characters. A special side-effect is that after perspectives change and the events start to overlap (or rather run chronologically simultaneously) the tension rises to great levels as each chapter ends in a cliffhanger and the reader has to read quite a bit before events get back to that point. You see things coming but it is never what you have expected.

Dahlquist turns in a huge and intense amount of twists. The long novel only covers a few days of time in which a great deal happens. The main protagonists change from pawns to players to game changers and back continuously. The lack of information and the ploys by the antagonists keep the reader guessing with little clue of what is really going on. It is an exhilarating ride and almost impossible to put the book aside. At times it felt exhausting because events became crazier in which the protagonists face many dilemmas and choices. Sometimes they make the right one or the bad one. You get frustrated with them or chear them on.

The novel is written in a modern classic style. Dahlquist has given his prose a flavor that is similar to that of the authors of the late nineteenth century, like Dickens, Collins, Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle but he avoids the tropes that can make their prose longwinded or old-fashioned. Instead he focuses on details and keeping a strong intensity in a strong pace while many scenes are reminiscent of the aforementioned authors.

So do I have any criticism on The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters? All the things I have mentioned before can be considered negative as they are unusual and reader can be put off by the style and the plot structure. The book is certainly not easy. The reader has a limited point of view and not all information provided is clear or explained. Often the protagonists themselves are guessing. Within a relatively short timespan a lot of things happens, so much it almost seems impossible that it can. It must have been a great juggle, or at least an extensive write-out, of the whole plot structure to keep all simultaneous events coherent and believable. For the reader it is even harder to do so. You simply have to accept it and go with the flow. There are no clear flaws or plotholes but that is also because the density of events is so great that it is hard to discern them. That said I do have to say there are a some moments in the plot development that are hard to believe as I call them lucky coincidences. Even so I consider the fact that this vast and complex plot is constructed so well and never loses ground that a few minor glitches are not very noteworthy. It is actually a challenge to notice them.

The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters is all that the blurbs on the cover make it to be. It is certainly my surprise find of the year. I do not think any other unknown work can top it as the novel will be highly ranked among the greatest novels I have read. For anyone who loves a complex plot, iconic and powerful characters and an intense reading experience, within a classic late nineteenth century atmosphere this is a must read. Highly recommended.