Book Review: Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear (Four Stars)

Book Review: Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

Four Stars out of Five

“It’s not a sacrifice if it doesn’t mean anything to you.”

Attention to detail evokes a world and culture similar to ours, yet not. Details large and small meld with details realistic, mythic and unlikely to suck the reader into the spell of her story. Sprinkled with aphorisms. (Too bad she italicizes them; heavy handed.)

“Different skies, different gods.”

Excellent depiction of the impact of beliefs on perceptions. Most modern fantasy dismisses all religion with a wink and a smirk. Bear takes it seriously. Religion doesn’t just impact how we perceive the world; it impacts the world perceived. Her portrayal adds depth to the characters and the story.

“Women are as capable—and as dangerous—as any man.”

No stupid girls with high-heeled shoes and samurai swords. These women are Continue reading

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The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Five Stars)

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Five stars out of five

I assume that few readers have not read the book (the second-best selling English-language novel of all time) or seen the movie series (the biggest, most expensive film project to that time). If you haven’t; do. Even those who don’t like fantasy will find thought-provoking drama and character development.

(There be spoilers beyond, though nothing none of you don’t already know.)

This is my fifth reading of this epic fantasy classic. It improves with age. I first read it in the 1960, skipping the poems and appendices. When I read it again in the 1970s I slowly went through the whole. For my 1980s reading, I read the story of each set of characters (after The Fellowship of the Ring is broken at the end of the volume by the same name) straight through until they were reunited. (That was a spoiler.) Read straight through, the trials of Frodo and Samwise leave a different impression read consecutively than if dispersed among the tribulations of the others. Just before the first movie was released, I read the entire volume through again—poems and all—as I did this time.

I have to admit, Continue reading