Friday, February 24, 2012

The Road - Reviewed

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It seems that I'm very much out of the majority in my opinion of this novel. It came recommended, and I had high hopes. This was also my first McCarthy novel, and it will be my last.

The Road is short, which is why I finished it despite my many misgivings. Even to those who adore it, is one long black trudge through a devastated world. We never know why all the animals and plants have died, only that the unnamed boy and unnamed man are traveling through what had once been North America.

This is the darkest book I have ever read. I usually reserve such exposure to bleakness in my non-fiction reading. Why would I subject myself to it in novel form, when it simply comes from the mind of one author? It is rife with cannibalism, including such an awful scene toward the end that I wish I could unread (I won't even describe it here, it was that disturbing to me). I don't know why this novel was written, nor why it is so beloved.

While I do appreciate some of the writing style, much of it was distracting. How can McCarthy be lauded for his 'sparse prose,' and yet deliver a quote like this:

“Ten thousand dreams ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts.”

That's prose, but it is anything but sparse.

I wish I hadn't read this book, and I would never recommend it.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Kahn - Reviewed

Conqueror: A Novel Of Kublai KhanConqueror: A Novel Of Kublai Khan by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the Advanced Reading Copy, received through Goodread's giveaways program, so I will not comment on formatting or syntax, since any issues there will be cleaned up come the final version.

This is book five in the Conqueror series, and it picks up where Empire of Silver left off. My review for book five is very similar to book four, the series is only getting better. Iggulden does a superb job of breathing life into the likes of Guyuk, Batu, and, of course, Kublai. That he can make these leaders of such a brutal people so sympathetic is amazing. His prose is never over-wrought, and his dialogue never stilted. He takes some liberties with the historical record, but not enough to warp your understanding of this era of history. Quite the contrary, you'll emerge on the other side of having read this book (and its predecessors) very much enriched.

This is what historical fiction (and least of the militaristic type) is all about. Highly recommended.

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