Hey Genius!

You forgot to wear pants!
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August 14, 2005

Short book reviews

8/14/2005 01:50:00 p.m.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
J. K. Rowling

Like everyone else on the net, I found this to be a darker work than what came before. There were fewer descriptive passages this time around, which allowed a greater focus on the action. I understand that, at 1Gsec+ of age, I'm not the target audience for this book, and that the target audience probably has read the preceding five books multiple times apiece, but there were sections where I was confused by the way previous events and minor characters from the preceding books cropped up without announcement or explanation. Oh well.

My other major complaint is that, for all that the books seem to be about personal growth, etc, Harry Potter doesn't seem any more mature at the end than he did at the start. It's like he's willfully remaining an obstinate child for plot purposes. Then again, he is seventeen years old, so maybe it's not that far-fetched...

I'll read the seventh one, too, to see how it all turns out, and then I'll probably set them all on the shelf and let the dust collect.

Going Postal
Terry Pratchett

Rescued from ceratin death by a most unlikely angel, Moist von Lipwig* is offered a job. And not just any job, either: a government job. Lord Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, is offering Moist a choice: he can take on the mantle of Postmaster General for the city, or he can step out a door that leads to a thousand-foot fall. Lord Vetinari believes in choices.

Moist takes the job, planning to return to his swindling ways as soon as he can. What he doesn't count on is his "parole officer", a golem named Mr. Pump, and a whole assortment of odd characters that peoples this novel.

In short order, he's inventing stamp collectors, tripling attendance at local temples, and challenging the man who runs the clacks** to a two-thousand-mile delivery race.

I thoroughly enjoyed this outing into the Discworld's unique universe. The characters were sharply drawn, major and minor alike, be they human, golem, or otherwise. Vetinari, long one of my favourites, plays a significant role, and it's fun to watch him work. ("I'm a tyrant," he tells one character, who protests that the Patrician has overstepped his authority. "It's what I do.") Along the way, old familiar faces crop up: Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson of the Watch, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully and the various other wizards of Unseen University, Hex the thinking machine, and others.

A lot of fun, and under the laughs, there's a fairly serious look at some of the troubles that plague the our-world version of the clacks system.

* His real name.
** An internet analogue, with semaphore towers.


At Monday, August 15, 2005 11:52:00 a.m., Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

I'm a big fan of Vetinari, too. Loved the back story Pratchett gave him in Night Watch.

Pratchett is one of my favorite authors because he provides such satisfying entertainment -- humor, great characters, some action, and poignancy. I think Night Watch is his masterpiece, from the 6 or 7 (or 8 or 9) Discworld books I've read. Sometimes the stories sprawl and meander -- I seem to recall that Hogfather suffered from that.

At Monday, August 15, 2005 1:20:00 p.m., Blogger Pat said...

I think I've read most of the Discworld books, and to be honest, while there are some than shine brighter than others, I've found something in every single one that I love. In Hogfather, for instance, it's the conversation between Death and Alfred, just after Death has stolen the rich men's suppers and distributed them to the poor. (And in the interests of disclosure, I have to say my favourite character in the series would have to be Death incarnate.)


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