Review Updates

by Bob Roman

Two years ago, I posted a review of Walter Jon Williams’ Quillifer, the first volume of a sword-and-scorcery pseudo-historical fantasy. I liked the book very much, thank you, or I would not have done a review of it. The second book in the series, Quillifer the Knight, came out late last year. The Chicago Public Library serendipitously had both the first and second volumes available together so I was able re-read the first before reading the latest. If you like the first volume, I’m pretty sure that you’ll like the second.

In this second volume, the protagonist, Quillifer, begins a climb in the feudal hierarchy. As someone who is very much an outsider to that class and as someone who has something of an ego, his adventures have a “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” quality to them, albeit without Mark Twain’s humor.

In my original review, I complained about Quillifer being the narrator of the story. Who is his audience? Not the reader. This becomes more of a feature in the second volume, but for my part, my complaint is answered by a growing doubt about whether Quillifer is a reliable narrator. Can you really believe all that he is relating? I’m probably just slow, but this disorientation didn’t arise for me until maybe the last quarter of the volume. In My Humble Opinion, this was just the something needed to make this second volume almost as interesting as the first. But if you are inclined to read this series then you really should begin with the first volume. Don’t skip it.


Back in June of 2019, I posted a review of Tade Thompson’s Rosewater trilogy. The final volume, The Rosewater Redemption, had not yet been published, but I was pretty enthusiastic about the first two in the series. The third volume finally popped up on the shelves of the Chicago Public Library this February. This final installment isn’t bad but at the end, I found it really hadn’t added much. Over the decades of being a reader, I’ve come to the conclusion that conclusions are a tricky business for writers. So many stories, so many plots seem to go SPLAT! against the windshield of “The End”. In My Uriah Heepishly Humble Opinion, Thompson does okay with this last book, but you’ll be glad to be back on the ground and at the debarking gate. If you feel the need to bail out before then, there should be no regrets. While the trilogy is something of a metaphor for the experience of being on the receiving end of Western colonialism, it didn’t seem like this last volume contributed to that discussion.

That’s my opinion: keep in mind that I can’t abide most of William Gibson’s work and furthermore (IMHO!) The Matrix movie trilogy is very nearly worthless after the first installment. With that kind of attitude, Thompson’s Rosewater trilogy is, for me, heavily burdened for a take-off in thin air. That the first two volumes flew so well was a marvel and a wonder and a thrill to behold, even with my allergy to the cyberpunk elements. But if you like the cyberpunk sub-genre, you should get through all three volumes and profit from having done so.

Author: rmichaelroman

... whatever ...

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