Book Review: The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright

9781429948302

(This is Book 2 of the Eschaton Sequence, and the sequel to Count to a Trillion, which I reviewed in the past.)

The Eschaton Sequence, these five books published by Tor and written by John C. Wright, are interesting and imaginative. There’s a lot to sort through, and a vast amount of world-building not easily summed up in one blog post about a single volume in the series.

But I’ll do my best.

This book is fantastic for those who don’t mind large swaths of information dumped on you within the first three chapters. Ultimately, I enjoyed it towards the end, finding some of the best writing towards the latter half of the book. Some of the personal accounts, as they were relayed from specific characters’ points of view, struck me as either a A Canterbury’s Tale or Hyperion type of influence (Hyperion was itself influenced by A Canterbury’s Tale). The editing is awful, however, as obvious spelling errors seemed to fly by the editor’s watch; I expected more from Tor for this volume (of which I paid for the hardcover full price to treasure on my shelf).

The Hermetic Millennia is a direct sequel to Count to a Trillion, so if you hadn’t read that one yet, I recommend stopping here. Spoilers ahead! You have been warned. You can skip ahead to where it says “Spoilers Over”.

This book jumped quickly from the mid-third millennia of the first book (2050ish AD?) to the year 10,000 AD (with a couple slight stops on the way). Menelaus is trying to maintain control of human history and evolution while being thwarted by the Hermeticists every step along the way. Multiple evolutionary off-shoots of humanity spring up over time, and the reasons for their specific focuses are explored early on and later in the book. It’s an interesting element.

As far as the characters go, Menelaus himself is as fascinating as he was before, but the Blue Men, the main antagonists in the book, are lifeless and boring. The younger of their group, and a female that’s introduced later, are interesting, but by the time they got development it was too late. Likewise, the Chimerae, the militaristic group of caste-based genetically-created humans, have interesting elements to them, but not enough time to develop and I honestly forgot about the characters, since they faded away in the story over time.

The build up in the book is towards the mystery of the Blue Men as they dig into a tomb of Menelaus’ design, while searching for the person they refer to as “the Judge of Ages”. This is the mythological term for Menelaus himself. All of this builds to the ending of the book, and…

…nothing happens. The planning for an attack, a revolution, goes nowhere. The book just ends. I get that it’s essentially part two of a five part series, but a complete story would have been nice.

Spoilers Over

Despite this, Wright’s writing is on point. He’s a fantastic writer with a great handle on metaphor and imagery. I love the use of dialogue to tell the story, especially in interviews of specific characters.

I would recommend this if you liked the first book.


 

See if you like my other posts!

Book Review: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

gaiman-norse-mythology

As I mentioned in my Ocean at the End of the Lane review, I am a fan of Neil Gaiman. The man is a fine writer, and creative beyond most authors currently writing. Tackling the Norse myths seemed like a match made in heaven for him.

This was a fun book to read. I enjoyed the entire thing, and especially appreciated the way he told the tales of old with new language. Don’t expect him to use modern slang or euphemisms; Gaiman is solidly in the old ways in this story.

I think that’s what I love and hate about it.

There’s a lot that just felt like a direct translation of old tales. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it sort of stands out when Loki tells Thor to “shut up” twice in a row. Also I felt like we never truly understood Loki’s motivations, but that seems to be the fault of the source material rather than any fault of Gaiman’s.

Honestly, I would recommend this version to anyone unfamiliar with the old tales. It’s a perfect introduction to Loki, Thor, Odin, Baldur, Frey, and the others. I think it should be used in middle school to introduce these old stories. There isn’t much in the tales that could be too obscene (apart from a mention of Loki’s privates being tied to a rope).

I think he’s done a great job, but would have liked a little more of the environment present; maybe more that is distinctly Scandinavian? The salty scent of the sea, or the coastal cut of the fjord? I’m not sure.

I don’t give grades in my review, but I expect that Gaiman’s stories in this book will be recognized for the skill they were crafted with. This is definitely a book worth picking up.


If you liked this review check out some of my others:

Book Review: Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin

Book Review: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Or maybe you’d like some of my posts about writing?

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Write What You Like

Please make sure to follow me on Twitter: @FrankOrmond