Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Dwarves by Markus Heitz

The original German version of this book spawned a best selling series on the continent and we can now enjoy it in a flawless English translation by Sally-Ann Spencer.

The tale itself is not particularly original. Think of a cliche about dwarves and Heitz has probably managed to cram it in: Small, stocky, stubborn, feisty bearded artisans living in underground cities who hate dwarves and elves. The list goes on. Indeed the novel borrows as much from the world of mmorpgs as it does from Tolkien and the main quest line to forge a legendary axe could have been lifted straight from World of Warcraft. For all that this is still a very entertaining read set in a well drawn world with lots of detail and sympathetic heroes. If the sequels ever get translated I will probably try to pick them up.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Gradisil by Adam Roberts

At one level this is a piece of hard science fiction about mankind's first tentative expansion off this planet and into space. In Robert's vision of the future these steps are not taken by Governments or large corporations but by individual pioneers flying up to low earth orbit in their own makeshift way. Robert's contempt for all things government and military is a dominating, almost suffocating theme of the book but his vision is credible and well drawn none the less.

The other side of this tale is a sweeping saga tracking three generations of one of these pioneering families, the titular Gradisil being the middle generation. A common theme of revenge runs through every generation and drives most of the plot (plots) of the book.

Good but not particularly easy reading. If you are looking for space adventures then the complex emotional drama may be off putting. If you reading for emotional drama then the space stuff may not suit.