Category Archives: Craig’s Book Reviews

What Craig thought about the books he’s read

Song of Ice and Fire (so far) Review

A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons; Martin. Yes. This series has been around for so long, and I have been only peripherally aware of it, so when I saw the four-volume paperback boxed set at Costco, I thought “Hey, I guess it’s complete; why don’t I just pick up a set?” Only to find later that not only is there a fifth volume recently released, but there are two more books to come. And each of the last two has taken more than five years in the writing! If you have seen the books, you have seen that they are not thin, either: each is in the neighborhood of 1,000 pages. So I hope that by the time I retire, I will be able to have the last volume beamed into my brain by whatever device Microamazoogle has created for that purpose, and that the embedded ads don’t give me a stroke.
But on to the books themselves. I like them. They do not have break-neck pacing (as you might expect just from the page count), but they did keep my interest (volumes three and four do suffer somewhat from middle-game syndrome: you have all these pieces to get into place for the end game, and it’s hard to keep all their movements vital and involving). Martin does a good job with more point-of-view characters than one customarily sees, though I think I could do without the fanciful naming he introduces in (I believe) volume four.
In some ways, Martin is the anti-Tepper here: where Tepper’s characters are sometimes tiresomely black or white, Martin’s are almost all shades of grey, and in many ways that was refreshing.
Now let’s hope that the success of the TV series is enough motivation to get the last two books out (and not so much motivation that the series expands again).

Dead Mann Walking Review

Dead Mann Walking: A Hessius Mann Novel, Petrucha. Yes. Petrucha has created a unique (to my knowledge) first-person narrator in Hessius Mann. I am looking forward to the next installment to see if he can maintain the level of interest, given Tana French’s rationale in giving each of her Dublin Murder Squad books a different protagonist: it’s hard to justify life-changing events happening to the same person over and over. Some aspects of DMW resonate with another recent work I also enjoyed; I think it rather validates Petrucha’s vision that a different group of talented writers went in a similar direction given a related premise. The only passage that pulled me out of the narrative was the improper (and strained) use of “to coin a phrase.”

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit Review

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!, Garant & Lennon. Non-Fiction. This is a ruthlessly practical guide to selling screenplays to Hollywood studios. It also provides appalling and entertaining insight into what is required of a writer in order to make a living doing that. If you are at all interested in the business of writing Hollywood studio movies, I encourage you to read this book. Even if you’re not, it’s probably worth a look.