Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett:
With 38 Discworld books published, some of the later ones are bound to be better than the earlier ones, but I like to approach bodies of work from the beginning. This fantasy parody tells the tale of Twoflower, Discworld's first tourist, who accidentally causes the city to burn down after introducing the populace to the concept of fire insurance. A fun read, with artful use of the English language.

Final Grade: B

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett:
Book #2 is really the second half of the previous story, and picks up right where it left off, with Twoflower and Rincewind falling off the edge of the world. I lost interest about halfway through, and it wasn't quite as intriguing, but now I can watch the Color of Magic miniseries with Ben Ahlbin's twin brother, Sean Astin, and Tim Curry.

Final Grade: C+

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett:
From the opening text, Book #3 is a polished, enjoyable read:

This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn't pretend to answer all or any of these questions.

It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author's control. They might.


This book is less about making fun of fantasy tropes (which isn't that hard to do) and branches more into general satire and humourous language usage. By tradition, a dying wizard passes his powers on to the eighth son of an eighth son, but dies before learning that it's actually a daughter. It loses focus a bit towards the end, but I think it's a good starting book if you're intrigued at all by Terry Pratchett.

Final Grade: A-

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card:
This is a classic sci-fi novel complete with star fleets and insect-like aliens -- to prevent the destruction of the human race, the military locates genius children and train them to become the next commander. I tend to think most sci-fi is ridiculous and stupid (Star Wars and Starship Troopers), but don't mind it when it's used merely as a backdrop for another story (like Janny Wurts' short stories about Private Jensen, and Firefly). Although it does have some boilerplate sci-fi elements, it spends more time on the psychology / strategy side of things. It's also a little hard to believe the protagonists (who range in age from 5 to 16) are atually children -- apparently being a genius also means you never act or speak like a child at all.

Final Grade: B

Prison Break: The Final Break:
This is a 90-minute straight-to-DVD movie that fills the gap in the final season -- after the ending, the TV show skips ahead four years and gives each character an epilogue. The Final Break fleshes out the events that happened during those four years, giving added weight to some of the events which might be misinterpreted based on just the epilogue. The plot is "somewhat okay" and mostly unnecessary, and it feels like they tried to fit four episodes of material into two episodes of time. It's a so-so diversion if you're a big fan of the show, but doesn't really add much to the story -- at times it almost feels like they were using it to pitch a new show idea: "Prison Break with Chicks".

Final Grade: C

Jerks actually reduce the risk of traffic jams
Addiction therapists signing up for World of Warcraft
Police find train "suicide" woman in bed

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