The First Book of Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1-4)

By Fritz Leiber

Rating: 3 stars

This Fantasy Masterworks volume compiles the first four books of the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, each book being itself comprised of various short stories and novellas written at different times (the Wikipedia article has a rundown of all the stories, when they were written and in which book they can be found). The titular characters are Fafhrd, a giant barbarian from the frozen north and the Grey Mouser, a small roguish man with some sorcerous training. The first two stories of the first book contain origin stories for each character, with the third showing their first meeting and how they became firm friends.

The stories all have a fairly similar structure to them, often being tales in which the dynamic duo are questing for treasure or independently end up on the same quest. While certainly enjoyable, one problem that I had with the books was their treatment of women. When female characters do appear they are often quite strong, but mostly their appearance is purely cosmetic, something for the two protagonists to ogle or fight over which can be somewhat uncomfortable at times.

Enjoyable, but best read with a suitably barbarian mindset.

Book details

ISBN: 9781857983272
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2000

Ring for Jeeves (Jeeves, #10)

By P.G. Wodehouse

Rating: 3 stars

I must say that I was somewhat disappointed with this novel. For a Jeeves and Wooster book it was missing a very important element – Wooster. Bertie is mentioned a few times but remains off the page, with Jeeves temporarily ensconced with Lord Rowcester of Rowcester Abbey and his attempts to make enough money to marry his love, with the usual Wodehousian mishaps.

The humour in this book felt a little forced to me. For a start it is set in the 1950s, and talk of the War, the atom bomb and the Social Revolution sits uneasily with Jeeves’ world as we have come to know it. I can see what Wodehouse was trying to do, but it didn’t quite pull off for me, however, now that I know what to expect, it’s probably worth a re-read. The book really did feel the poorer for its lack of Wooster, who is the perfect foil to Jeeves – himself, I feel, in this book becoming a parody of himself, I fear – and his lack is felt.

Book details

ISBN: 9781585675241
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Year of publication: 1953

Moonfleet (Wordsworth Children’s Classics)

By John Meade Falkner

Rating: 3 stars

This is a children’s adventure story that reminded me somewhat of Treasure Island. It’s the story of John Trenchard, an orphan who takes up with a gang of smugglers (or ‘gentlemen of the Contraband’, as the book puts it) in his home village of Moonfleet and his search for the legendary lost treasure of ‘Blackbeard’ Mohune. I first read this story in English class at school and when I saw it going cheap, I picked it up, having forgotten everything whatsoever about it.

It’s a fairly simple story all in, with a strong message of love and family bonds, while its sympathetic treatment of the smugglers and general derring do made me smile. The protagonist was generally sympathetic and fairly believable most of the way through the book, but the events that led to the climax of the book had me shaking my head at his stupidity, although this may have been intentional and intended to link in to the idea that Mohune’s treasure was cursed and would bring misfortune on those who bore it.

Book details

ISBN: 9781840221695
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions
Year of publication: 1898

Count Zero (Sprawl, #2)

By William Gibson

Rating: 3 stars

I think that the three stars I’m giving to this book are provisional at the moment, since, through no fault of the book itself, the story here never really gelled for me. The problem was that I was reading it in a very bitty way, with a chapter here or a few pages there, which never gave me enough time to hold enough of the story in my head to make things slot into place. At some point, I’ll have to read it again more thoroughly and re-review it then.

Having said that, there’s still a lot to admire here, from Gibson’s marvellously imagined Sprawl, to his characters, tough and vulnerable. And the idea, pretty cutting edge for the time, of the (potentially quite literal) deux ex machina, the gods (well, AIs) in cyberspace, which are (maybe) remnants of the ├╝ber-AI Neuromancer/Wintermute, that was formed in the previous novel in the sequence, Neuromancer. A lot of good ideas but a book that definitely requires more concentration than I gave it.

Book details

ISBN: 9780006480426
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year of publication: 1986

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