Customer Reviews

24
3.7 out of 5 stars
Earth Made of Glass (Giraut)
Format: Mass Market PaperbackChange
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This one has none of the charm of its predecessor, and the central conceit of the book -- that humans are populating the galaxy with designer cultures concocted by scholarly fanatics -- here seems much less believable. Our heroes, Giraut and Margaret, are assigned to an inhospitable planet to defuse a cultural war, but they mostly just kill time while events take place around them, and their marital problems make a dreary subplot, hinging as they do on a "surprise" that most readers will see coming a long way off.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book is a successor to "A Million Open Doors" with continuing characters: Giraut Leones, Margaret Leones, and Shan (chief of their agency which wants to bring together all the 1000 world societies to meet the aliens whose ruins they keep finding). Giraut and Margaret are on a new world, a high-gravity, hot, hostile environment with two cultures who hate each other. There are two major plots going on at once. In the first, one of the societies had put up a Prophet named Ix who preaches peace between the two cultures. I am not easily impressed by such things, but I had tears in my eyes several times as I read about him and things he said. I thought it was as beautiful as some of Christ's parables. The other plot is about the difficult marriage Giraut and Margaret are having. Barnes ABSOLUTELY avoids any easy answers, and I was impressed with the whole work. The uneveness problem arose from a few things: (1) the plot took a while to get interesting, maybe 100 pages; (2) there are frequent non-grammatical constructs of a certain type: "...to Margaret and I...," for example, and it is a little annoying. But the man is a genius in writing a moving story!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked Barnes work enough to get his entire catalog on the basis of Mother of Storms. Reading this made me consider never buying another one of his books again, as I cannot trust his endings. I found the background interesting, which is why it got two stars rather than one, but the moronic behavior of Margaret and the insipid behavior of Giraut turned an interesting pair of characters into a set piece in which you wanted to shake them both and demand that they grow up.
Marital troubles are nothing to sneeze at, and well used, they can drive a story. He wrote the interaction well enough that I had a strong response, but the response was to want the characters, everyone they knew, and everywhere they went melted to slag. They were less interesting people than in the first book, and became progressively more annoying as time went on.
I could have handled any of the uplifting ending possibilities where character growth took place. Depending on that growth, they could have either worked it out, or not. Instead, they came to a resolution that was thoroughly unsatisfying, leaving me to ask not only why I invested the time to read about these people, but why I spent the time to read the earlier book. I want those hours back!
In consequence, I can reccomend neither as worth your time, since this is the resolution chosen to what was done the first time around.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The one thing that you can unequivocally say about John Barnes is that he has exciting ideas. Great, wonderful concepts that if properly executed would form some classic sci fi novels. The disappointing part is that he tends to fall flat on his face when it's time for execution. Especially disappointing are his endings and how he tends to rush through them.
The concepts of A Million Open Doors were very promising. Humanity spreading out and colonizing worlds. Loss of communication between the colony worlds. New technology making instanteous travel possible. Earth Made of Glass is based on these same concepts, with a subplot of a marriage somehow gone wrong tied in. It's with that whole subplot that this story degenerates from an exciting tale of cultural prejudice and how technology is stirring up the pot into a story of how two people can no longer relate to each other. I'm not saying that this doesn't belong in a sci fi story. I'm saying that Barnes' inability to execute that subplot well drags the entire rest of the book down the drain.
I thought the first 100 pages of this book were GREAT! Very exciting, getting to learn about new cultures and how the instantaneous travel technology was affecting their relations. Then, Barnes goes into his standard "I will philosophize them relentlessly and they will understand the world better" mode. For example, three pages of the prophet Ix explaining while it is better to love rather than to hate is a bit much.
I wish that Barnes would collaborate with someone who would teach him to take himself a little less seriously. Also, it would be great if he could get an editor who would correct his grammer and style. My pet peeve, in addition to the grammer gaffs noted in other posts, is that Barnes uses parentheses in the speeches given by characters... how the heck does that make it past an editor? We're not talking about a character whispering an aside to someone during his conversation -- we're talking about an integral part of a speech given by a character!
All in all, the most disappointing part of this novel is the rushed ending. Barnes rolls out all kinds of different technology, revelations about the personal lives of characters, etc, etc in the last few pages to wrap up some dilemmas.
I love that Barnes doesn't take the easy way out for his characters -- not everything is beautiful in their lives at the end of the book. I just wish that he could do a better job in writing about his ideas.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Earth Made of Glass, a sequel to A Million Open Doors, Giraut and Margaret are sent to the hostile planet Briand, where two artificial human cultures have been forced to live together. One is based on Tamil literature, the other on Mayan culture. The two peoples hate each other bitterly.
Giraut and Margaret's team try to work with some of the "good people" with the on-planet culture, people who are trying to work for peace. But at the same time serious stresses are showing in Giraut and Margaret's marriage. The two crises come to a head at much the same time.
The novel is full of neat inventions, and the cultures are intriguingly portrayed. I also felt that the depiction of a decaying marriage was very well done, and very believable. I found the depiction of the cultural difficulties a bit less believable: dependent on people established as good acting quite evilly. Perhaps I am simply too much of an optimist, but I was not convinced.
Interesting, ambitious, but not quite successful.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to say, after reading "A Million Open Doors," I had high hopes for this sequel. And sorry to say, I was disappointed. Maybe I'd just read too many of Barnes's book in a row (this was about the fifth), but I just wanted Giraut & Co. to get on with it--and I just couldn't believe he was so dense about his relationship with his wife.
The cultural stuff was interesting, and more to the point, convincing, but the story dragged a lot.
But I'm still a fan of the author, no doubt about it.
When it comes to re-reading books, this one isn't likely to make it on my list.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on September 19, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As I moved through John Barnes' "Earth Made of Glass," I gradually reduced in my mind my rating of it. Nothing happens through most of its 416 pages. The first third of it describes in agonizing detail the architecture, philosophy, and arts of the Tamil culture on the subject planet. The second third does the same for the Maya culture. The main characters do nothing but wander around and talk. Probably the worst bits of those two thirds of the book are the bits highlighting the protagonists' marital troubles (interspersed with graphic "intimate" scenes out of the blue). The final third of the book takes the cake, though. Finally some things start happening. But, the protagonists aren't the ones doing them. Instead, between the almost constant material on their marital woes and "intimate" life, we basically get news reporting on what the plot should be. It's all talk and description. What finally pushed the book over the edge down to an Abysmal 1 star out of 5 rating is the ending. I don't know what Barnes thought the point of the book was, but this ending makes it all moot. Four hundred and sixteen pages of gossip/travel magazine and hundreds of pages of personal problems with a painfully obvious denouement for a "plot" ending like this. Don't bother. I'm going to see if I can borrow the remaining books in the series to see if they're worth reading. But for this one, just read the wikipedia summary. And that's only if you want to continue with the rest of the series.

The books in his "Thousand Cultures" series are:

1. A Million Open Doors -- Kindle version not available
2. Earth Made of Glass - Kindle version not available
3. The Merchants of Souls (Giraut)
4. The Armies of Memory (Thousand Cultures)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This sequel begins twelve years after the end of the first volume (in what now appears to be a planned series of five). Giraut and Margaret have been professional diplomats for more than a decade, on a number of worlds, and in situations that varied from tedious to way too exciting. They specialize -- officially -- in culture and tourism, and they know how to do their jobs, but this time that won't be enough. Because they are also agents for the Office of Special Projects, a shadowy bureau whose job is to reunite far-flung humanity in preparation for the inevitable first contact with aliens (whom two dozen known artifacts demonstrate are definitely out there). Briand is a frontier world with only two cultures, both of them "artificial": A Tamil city filled with ornate temples where everything revolves around the traditional medieval literature of south India, and a Mayan city, also filled with temples, where everything is as close as possible to the traditional subsistence agricultural society of ancient Central America. No problem -- except volcanic eruptions have forced the two to share a much small space than originally intended and centuries of increasingly violent ethnic hatred are proving impossible to overcome. The story gets darker as it progresses and the not-happy ending is extremely pessimistic. Or maybe just realistic. In addition to Barnes's proven anthropological talents, there's a lot of personal psychology here, too, as Margaret finds she can't come to terms with her husband's nostalgia for his lost youth and seeks solace elsewhere. (Which comes as a shock to Giraut, though it was telegraphed to the reader pretty early.) In fact, one of the overarching themes of this volume is betrayal: Personal, professional, political, and ethnic. I'm happy to say, in any case, that this one doesn't suffer from "sequelitis." And I've already started on the third volume.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on March 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just finished re-reading Earth Made of Glass and then the third book in the series, The Merchants of Souls.
Both are compellingly written and readable. The author is very good at telling stories through the viewpoint of the main character. Giraut's viewpoint is an interesting place to be.
Giraut's marriage with Margaret is in trouble, and he doesn't understand why. Previous reviews characterized Margaret's behavior as irrational and irritating. It didn't strike me that way at all.
She seemed to be behaving very reasonably by what was actually wrong: she didn't want to be married to Giraut anymore, but she still loved him as a friend, and she recognized that he still was in love with her, though she was insecure enough to consider that being in love with her was stupid of him.
Both characters were very clearly of their cultures, which the author describes and delineates beautifully so that when they are being what we might think of as obtuse, they're using different cultural markers. It might have seemed obvious to us what Margaret was doing, and how everyone else knew, but in Giraut's culture it was a duel-worthy challenge (and worse, as he would put it, "ne gens") to doubt someone's word or faith. Not something he would willingly ever do. Also in his culture, women were expected to act irrational and flighty toward men whether or not that was their nature. So he didn't really see anything peculiar about how Margaret was acting; what had been strange was her earlier Caledonian candor and straightforwardness. If he'd thought of it, he would have realized she was acting weird; he didn't think of it because, to him, her behavior seemed natural.
Barnes is a tremendous writer and I enjoy almost all his work. The sequence that Earth Made of Glass is part of is tied for my favorite of his series. I dislike star ratings but I can't bring myself to give the book less than 5 stars, although in an ideal world I'd be able to give it a less linear-scale rating or ratings on several axes of quality.
I agree with earlier reviews that putting parentheses in characters' speech is jarring. I also think that in the edition I read, the grammatical errors were fixed: I didn't notice any.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Barnes tries to do a lot of things in this book and I found it essentially engrossing. It got better and better as it went along. A welcome change from a lot of fare. I have not read _A Million Open Doors_ , and therefore was not familiar with Giraut and Margaret's personalities. Like another reader I found Margaret very irritating for more than half the book. That reviewer called her a "revenge" character and I agree. Poor, without-a-clue Giraut. Of course her affair with the Tamil assistant was obvious. Even the other characters found Giraut's obtuseness disgusting. Barnes finally does give us some more believable explanations for Margaret's behavior.
I found the Ix character to be a bit too conveniently Christlike. As for the woman he ruins his Messiah mission for, well she did everything but take center stage and sing, "I don't know how to love him." Barnes' description and interplay of the two societies in conflict is the single riveting aspect of the book for me even though the Israeli/Palestinian parallels were pretty obvious. I admit I could not fathom welcoming ceremonies held outdoors in such a climate, plus that architecture must have been made from something amazing to remain like new under centuries of constant solar inferno and savage weathering.
I had recently read _The Doomsday Book_ and _In the Garden of Iden_. Although those were based on real historical periods, I still found parallels. _Earth Made of Glass_ also has this hugely superior human group essentially viewing the studied cultures as primitive in outlook and ultimately expendable. At the same time the tiny number of "visitors" who actually interact with the individuals in these "lesser" societies form inevitable attachments, and acquire valuable insight despite their condescension. There are small hints that somewhere in the series(?), Barnes' will have his Council of Humanity at least explore the idea that a totally homogenized human society isn't necessarily the stronger entity they see as better prepared to face a superior alien culture. There might just be some essential knowledge, skill, or zest-for-life they are eradicating with their methods.
Like another reviewer, I look forward to Barnes exploring the discovered alien sites, or encountering the aliens themselves, (preferably before Barnes' creativity runs out of steam). I suspect we are at least going to visit that group of societies on the rim who have also refused a Springer.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Orbital Resonance
Orbital Resonance by John Barnes (Paperback - 1992)

A Million Open Doors
A Million Open Doors by John Barnes (Hardcover - Oct. 1992)

The Merchants of Souls (Giraut)
The Merchants of Souls (Giraut) by John Barnes (Hardcover - November 1, 2001)
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.