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Read: Pyramids

Terry Pratchett’s novels are all just hilariously funny (at least the ones I have read so far). That is why I like to read them; especially on long trips or on the train to the office. They brighten my mood and sometimes they may even be instructive in one way or another. Pyramids definitely has instructive elements. It is a blend of physics, philosophy, politics, and ancient history. There are references to ancient Egypt (obviously), Greek, and Rome sprinkled with references to modern culture.

The references are so plentiful that – I have to admit – I most certainly did not “get” everything. Luckily, others already (ok, the book is some twenty years old) provide some annotations

Read: Gates of Creation

Farmer’s second World of Tiers novel, The gates of Creation, is a bit of a disappointment. Its brevity and, admittedly, its innovative ideas for a number of artificial universes / planets that do not adhere to the common understanding of what planets are or should be speak in its favor. The novel’s characters are, however, underdeveloped, without personality and easily exchangeable. Without the first World of Tiers novel this novel’s protagonist would remain a total enigma.

This is quite a pity. There are a some good ideas that could be hammered out in more detail. However, whenever there is an opportunity for adventure and character development Farmer skips ahead advancing the rather weak plot. The few twist and turns do not help to make this whole sad and sorry little book more interesting. Instead, they feel like a last effort in showing some story telling skills. Famer’s Riverworld series is definitely his better work.

Read: The Maker of Universes

After the imaginative Riverworld series it was only a matter of time for me picking up another Farmer novel. The World of Tiers series seems to be rather closely related as, again, there is an artificial world, some alien überlords playing gods and a bunch of underlings gifted (?) with relative immortality. They can get killed, though they will not die of old age or illness.

Considering when Maker of Universes was written, Farmer sure shows some imagination and original ideas – at least others who came later (like Stargate) seem to have borrowed from him. Compared to more modern works Maker of Universes is short. Too short actually, part of the story advances so fast that you wonder what happened in between, when the protagonist learned something that he should not yet know, that the reader did not know so far. Despite this discrepancy between length of the novel and progress of the story this first novel in the World of tiers series will certainly not be the last one that I read.

Read: A Princess of Landover

After almost 15 years Terry Brooks wrote a new installment of his Landover Series that started with Magic Kingdom for Sale / Sold. A Series that – back then – I liked very much. The series, or at least this novel, is not really aimed at adults. It is much “lighter” than, for instance, any of the Word/Void novels. The plot is rather simple and obvious. Yet, it is still a page turner and I enjoyed reading it. Indeed, I enjoyed it much more than the “adult” Angel Fire East.


Read: The Gathering Storm

It was quite sad news when a friend of mine told me about Robert Jordan’s death in 2007. I started to read the Wheel of Time series in the mid-nineties, then it was the German translations that were split up in two or three books for each of the original books. Since each of these shorter books costs about as much as one of the originals I soon switched to the original English version. International book imports just became affordable and I discovered my preference for original versions of books and movies… So I started over. And now, a decade later the series was about to suddenly end without a conclusion. Sad news, indeed.

So it was quite good news when the publisher Tor Books announced that their will be a conclusion nevertheless. Jordan had left enough material so that another author could take over the task to write the concluding volume. A kind of licensed fan-fic. And it is certainly better than most fan-fic I know. Brandon Sanderson – I had never read anything by him before – did a great job. Though he did not try to imitate Jordan – thank you! – his style keeps true to the spirit of the series. There is less of the Tolkienesque descriptions of the environment, there is definitely a faster pace than in the other installments. This faster pace may, of course, be due to the looming conclusion of the series. Yet, finally some loose ends are tied up. This is rather satisfying. Jordan seemed not to be able to round off any of the many sub-plots. There was always another twist that prolonged the story.

As I was not following any of the discussions and (p)reviews when the imminent publication of The Gathering Storm finally was announced – I did not want to spoil my own reading experience of the book – I was rather surprised when I learned that this last book is not the last book. There will be another two installments of the Wheel of Time series coauthored by Sanderson as there was too much material to cover it in just one book. And indeed, The Gathering Storm does not leave the impression that Sanderson needed to pad the story.

Read: Angel Fire East

With Angel Fire East Terry Brooks continues his rather dark pre-apocalyptic fantasy series of The Word and The Void, a kind of prequel to his Shannara cash cow. It tells basically of the same characters and the same struggle as the two novels that came before: Running with the Demon and A Knight of the Word. While there was a significant development of characters in the first two installments, no such thing happens here. Also, the female protagonist’s commendable community service pales against the worthy cause that was the center piece to which Brooks directed the readers’ attention in A Knight of the Word.

Though still a work that provides some diversion and, yes, entertains it is all too skillful and leaves an impression of mass production. Indeed Brooks seems to re-cycle ideas from his other contract work. Angel Fire East ends with an understanding that there will be a child born of magic, a savior to The Word who will bring balance to the Force. The same year Angel Fire East was published, 1999, Terry Brooks published the novelization of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as well. And this joint theme is just too much of a coincidence.