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Profile for Julia Steinberg > Reviews


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Julia Steinberg RSS Feed (Baltimore, MD USA)

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Mighty Hammer Down
Mighty Hammer Down
by David J. Guyton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.99
15 used & new from $5.00

13 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Mighty Hammer" needs a mighty editor, March 21, 2009
This review is from: Mighty Hammer Down (Paperback)
This may be a good story. I didn't get far enough to tell.

I gave up part-way through Chapter 2 because I couldn't deal with the author's consistent misuse of pronouns. Sometimes I could figure out from the context who the pronoun was referring to, but more often I had to go back and reread the sentences several times.

For example, on page 9: "He wondered what this Alana was like. He wondered if she would show up when she was supposed to meet someone at a certain rock by a certain sea. The hot rains of irritation fell within him as he shook his head. She had done this to him so many times." The first `she' is Alana. But since he has just met Alana, the second `she' must be referring to someone else. (In this case I could figure it out from the context. The second `she' is Mirra, who has just stood him up. Other paragraphs were more challenging.)

I also had problems with incorrect or lack of punctuation. When one character says "I'm afraid he has Red Master" before any of the characters have been named, the logical interpretation is that someone has stolen `Red Master' (if it is an object) or kidnapped `Red Master' (if a person). But the next sentence identifies the person being addressed as the Red Master. So the dialog should be "I'm afraid he has, Red Master."

I enjoy fantasy books, in part because they pull me into another world. In this case the writing stopped me from being pulled in because I had to keep stopping to ask "Who does `he' refer to this time?"

Mr. Guyton should find a good copyeditor and try again.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2011 9:44 PM PDT

The Blessing Stone
The Blessing Stone
by Barbara Wood
Edition: Hardcover
67 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not up to her usual standard, February 9, 2003
This review is from: The Blessing Stone (Hardcover)
I have read and enjoyed several of Barbara Wood's previous novels. My favorites have been Domina, Green City in the Sun, and Virgins of Paradise. Those books have held my attention with interesting plot development and settings which enhanced rather than detracted from the story telling.
In contrast, The Blessing Stone is a series of vignettes set in different periods of human history. It reads like a novelization of an anthropology textbook. The first several stories illustrate specific developments in human history, with the emphasis being on why certain changes in societal organization took place. The characters were one-dimensional and did not hold my interest.
I did enjoy the stories of Lady Amelia, set in the Roman Empire, and of Abbess Winifred in pre-Norman Conquest England, but these didn't come up until halfway through the book.
The use of the stone as a unitary device between the stories seemed contrived. The connecting sections were very choppy and didn't contribute to the stories, other than to open up the possibility of untold stories. For example the two page interim section between the story about Mother Winifred in 1022 C.E. and the next story, set in 1520 C.E tells us that the stone went from a Viking raider to an English soldier to the Caliph of Baghdad to another soldier to Francis of Assisi to a baker's wife to a pickpocket to a Medici prince to a traveling scholar. We never meet any of these characters.
I hope that Ms. Wood returns to writing full-blown novels with less of the expository language that made The Blessing Stone bog down.

The Man in the Iron Mask (Oxford World's Classics)
The Man in the Iron Mask (Oxford World's Classics)
by Alexander Dumas
Edition: Paperback
52 used & new from $0.01

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story - Read the Whole Thing, February 5, 1999
I was inspired to read The Man in the Iron Mask after seeing the movie (the one with DiCaprio). I hadn't realized that the Musketeers were part of the story and was very intrigued. Which plot lines were in the original and which were developed by Hollywood? Wow! Was I in for a surprise! The movie and the book tell different stories, but both are excellent, entertaining, and thought-provoking.
I appreciate books/series which show how the characters have aged and developed. Dumas does this with the musketeer series. D'Artagnan is no longer the wide-eyed "Gee, what could happen to me next?" hero of The Three Musketeers. He has to deal with questions of loyalty vs. friendship, support for the king vs. honor vs. love of his friends. There are still adventures and swordfights, but also more character conflicts. There is no simple nasty villain for the "good guys" to fight.
When I first read The Man in the Iron Mask (the movie tie-in edition), I was confused about who many of the characters were. The beginning didn't make much sense since it came in part-way through the story. The first line of the first chapter in particular confused me since it referred to events which I as the reader knew nothing about. The book makes a lot more sense when read as part of the whole series (The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere, The Man in the Iron Mask).
I STRONGLY suggest reading the Oxford World Classics edition, which starts with earlier chapters than other published versions and includes scenes that make the story more understandable: Athos confronts the King, Aramis reveals himself as a Jesuit and scopes out the Bastille, D'Artagnan confronts the King... These are some of the best scenes in the book, and it is a shame that other publishers don't include them.

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