I’ve read a few books over the last 3 months. Here’s my ultra-short reviews (in no particular order).
Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander, Post Captain and H.M.S. Surprise: Good, but not outstanding.
O’Brian has a tendency to massively understate keys parts of storyline and I find that some sub-plots just do not come to a satisfying conclusion.
Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Market Forces: Great reading, but extremely violent.
Morgan writes reasonably hard SciFi set in the far future (in the case of Altered Carbon/Broken Angels) or some kind of near alternate future (Market Forces).
Altered Carbon and Broken Angels are a series, so read them in that order. Market Forces is an unrelated work and probably a good place to start.
A short anecdote about Market Forces (from an interview with Morgan: Market Forces) was originally written as a film script, but rejected because the central character was too morally ambivalent for Van Damme or Stallone to pick up.
If you find Market Forces too violent then don’t read the other books. None the less – you won’t want to put these books down.
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Deception Point: The Da Vinci Code is an outstanding read, and highly recommended. The others are average thrillers, and nowhere near the same standard.
Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: a pretty sad story from the point of view of and Autistic boy (and math genius) growing up. It’s an interesting read, but I’d hesitate to recommend it unconditionally.
Woken Furies Mini-Review
I’ve just finished Richard Morgan’s “Woken Furies”. This is the third book in the Takeshi Kovacs series (the previous two books were “Altered Carbon” and “Broken Angels”).
In this book we see Kovacs back on his home planet of Harlem’s World dealing with assorted bits of intelligent military hardware, religious fanatics, gangsters, the immortal first families, a couple of Envoys and the ghost of Quellcrist Falconer.
I think this is perhaps the least shockingly violent of Morgan’s four books (“Market Forces” being the other book outside the Kovacs series). However, it still manages to make something like the “dark” Revenge of the Sith look like a children’s Christmas carol.
After all this is a Richard Morgan book, so the body count is high and the violence is extreme. If Kovacs appears perhaps a little less morally ambivalent than in previous books it is only because the justification for some of his more extreme behavior is explained to us in more detail than before.
As we expect from his previous books, the story is very fast paced. My impression is that the was it seemed shorter than “Altered Carbon” or “Broken Angels”, although this doesn’t appear to be true in reality – Amazon says it is 400 pages while “Broken Angels” was 484 pages.
Perhaps it is that “Woken Furies” doesn’t create quite as deep a universe as the previous books did. For instance, while “Altered Carbon” added depth to the storyline by using prior events and “Broken Angels” explored the Martian civilization, “Woken Furies” had little back-story that wasn’t directly related to the plot.
Morgan hasn’t become any less imaginative, though. The use of diseases as a substitute for recreational drugs is a device that I have never some across before and the evolving abandoned military machines were also unique.
Overall, I found “Woken Furies” an enjoyable read, but not quite to the same amazing level as “Altered Carbon”. I’d give it 4 stars.