Another full-immersion experience and, once again, strictly for addicts.


From the A Song of Ice and Fire series , Vol. 4

Another gargantuan entry, the fourth in the Song of Ice and Fire series—indeed, while writing it Martin found the undertaking growing so vast and unwieldy that he spit the action into two novels, so A Dance with Dragons runs concurrently and features characters and locations barely mentioned here. The action picks up directly following the events of A Storm of Swords (2000).

The setting resembles a Medieval Europe where magic works, and every petty monarch nurses ambitions of empire—and behaves accordingly. Narrative complexity is an end in itself, with the plot unfolding from a dozen different points of view. Some of the highlights: In King's Landing, following the murder of young King Joffrey Baratheon, Joffrey's eight-year-old brother Tommen now rules, although the real power is his scheming mother, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. Having successfully intrigued her way to power, however, Cersei proves a less than effective ruler, drinking heavily, surrounding herself with sycophants and becoming estranged from her brother and former lover Jaime. Another brother, Tyrion the dwarf, who apparently murdered both their father Tywin and Joffrey, has escaped the dungeons and vanished. In the Iron Islands, the priest Aeron Damphair calls a Kingsmoot to elect a successor to King Balon Greyjoy; Damphair's brother, Euron Greyjoy, ignites the Islanders' perennial dreams of conquest by claiming that he can control dragons. Sword-maid Brienne of Tarth pursues her quest to find the missing Sansa Stark, while Arya Stark arrives in Braavos and drifts to the House of Black and White, a temple dedicated to the Faceless Men assassin cult. One of Martin's real innovations is his willingness to kill off important characters—but don't worry, with a cast of thousands, there are always thousands more. The best characters are carefully nuanced, though too many others blend into the backdrop, so the near 60-page-long who's who is little help in sorting them out; still others indulge in long, intricate, mannered conversations that serve to advance the plot—if you have the faintest clue what's going on in the first place.

Another full-immersion experience and, once again, strictly for addicts.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-553-58203-1

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Spectra/Bantam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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