The Road to Oz: Uninspired and repetitive

The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum

OK. It’s obvious what’s going on here. As L. Frank Baum explained in the foreword to one of the OZ books (and I’ve seen such sentiments in some of his other forewords, too):
It's no use; no use at all. The children won't let me stop telling tales of the Land of Oz. I know lots of other stories, and I hope to tell them, some time or another; but just now my loving tyrants won't allow me. They cry: "Oz — Oz! more about Oz, Mr. Baum!" and what can I do but obey their commands?
I think it’s sweet that Baum wanted to satisfy his readers, but these stories are starting to feel like they were quickly and thoughtlessly thrown together just to satisfy those loving tyrants.

In The Road to Oz, Dorothy and Toto meet the Shaggy Man who carries a love magnet so that everyone wi... Read More

Streams of Silver: Not great, but good enough

Streams of Silver by R.A. Salvatore

Streams of Silver, the sequel to The Crystal Shard, breaks no new ground for THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT, and to be honest I’m finding it difficult to review because there is so very little to say about it (having already reviewed the preceding works). Like The Crystal Shard, Streams of Silver has issues with wooden dialogue and cluttered prose but almost makes up for it on the basis of swift-moving action and a general sense of enthusiastic fun. It’s, again, a popcorn novel, and neither the best nor the worst of that category. While it feels a bit less vibrant and imaginative than its predecessor, it does manage to introduce at least one interesting new character and works out as a pretty decent little quest narrative (so long as the reader is kind enough to focus on the quest’s journey and not its destination). So… not great, not bad. Not much... Read More

The Fires of Heaven: Amazingly little happens

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

For being such a long book (nearly 1000 pages in my trade paperback copy), amazingly little happens in The Fires of Heaven, and this is why so many readers have abandoned this otherwise interesting story. Approximately the first third of the novel contains so much recap and repetition that, if I'd had "my hair in a proper braid," I would have been yanking it as often as Nynaeve does.

The formula for the first 100 pages or so goes something like this:  One or two lines of dialogue, two paragraphs of backstory, another line of dialogue, another couple of paragraphs of backstory... It felt like the proverbial "one step forward, two steps back!"

I managed to stick with it, though, only because I was listening to it on audiobook (and therefore only half listening while I accomplished something else at the same time) and because I wanted to write a review. Be... Read More

Memory and Dream: Passes the most important test

Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint

“In the world of fairy tales, what was strange was also invariably trustworthy. One quickly learned to depend upon the old beggar woman, the hungry bird, the grateful fox.”

I didn’t realize how much I’d missed Charles de Lint’s urban fantasies until I borrowed Memory and Dream from a friend on a whim. I haven’t been reading much of his stuff for the past couple of years, and I’m not even sure why.

I do know that the landscape of urban fantasy has changed. Memory and Dream, published in 1994, is vastly different from the novels that are in vogue now. In de Lint’s work, and in the work of other writers publishing in the subgenre at the time, the Otherworld is both a metaphor for being out of place in mainstream society and a place where the wounds that set one apart can be healed. T... Read More