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Rivers of London (A Rivers of London novel) Paperback – September 1, 2011
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“Fresh, original and a wonderful read. I loved it.”—Charlaine Harris
“Midnight Riot is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz. It is a hilarious, keenly imagined caper.”—Diana Gabaldon
“Filled with detail and imagination . . . Aaronovitch is a name to watch.”—Peter F. Hamilton
“The perfect blend of CSI and Harry Potter.” --io9.com
“Aaronovitch has created a fun and funny character in Grant, who displays wit more than snark (a welcome attitude) and shows he can think on his feet. . . . It's a great start to what will hopefully be a long series of adventures.”--SFrevu.com --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
About the Author
Ben Aaronovitch was born and raised in London and all his work has reflected his abiding fascination and love for what he modestly likes to refer to as the 'Capital of the World'. He works as a bookseller when he is not writing novels and TV scripts.
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However, over time the story started progressing too quickly, often skipping over lots of detail that would have made it more coherent. It felt like the author knew what was going on but forgot to let the readers in on the whole story. One day, Peter Grant is a middling probationary police constable, then he learns he is a wizard. He reads a few books, kills some nasty creatures, learns a couple of spells, and poof, he is put in charge of planning a major police operation. All in a span of a few months. He is a very likeable character, but he was developed way too quickly to feel believable.
I will try the preview of the next book in the series and read reviews of it, but it will take a lot for me to actually pay for the whole thing.
What I loved about the book was its atmosphere: this is Londoner’s story, set in London and written by Londoner. I really appreciate that American version kept the British slang and made no changes at all. The only change that was made was the book’s title, which I actually I think is more appropriate to the story than the original: River of London.
I also liked the main character. I liked that he was just a guy, not particularly extraordinary or exceptionally standing of. The only reason he became what he became, was him being in a right moment at a right place. I actually enjoyed the concept quite well.
I also liked Peter’s background, I loved that he wasn’t typical white guy from good family sort of character.
I liked the plot quite a lot. It was very British, and undeniably unique. May be a bit too much on a gory side, but not overly depressing or graphic, so it was OK. I actually appreciate when bad things are really bad and not played down for the sake of reader’s sensibilities.
What I didn’t like was the pace. The story was too slow, too relaxed… So relaxed, that the plot twists just didn’t work. Also two sub-plots were so unrelated, that all the surprises were totally lost on me. And more than once I found myself bored by the book. I think shorter, more dynamic story could be a winner.
I had problems with the magic system as well. From one side I liked Peter’s attempt to apply scientific approach, from the other side the magic system felt somewhat messy. I feel that when character’s explanations to contradictions are “we just know too little about magic” is just a sloppy world-building on the author’s part.
Also I had problems with relations between the characters. They all feel a bit emotionally flat and too unrelated. The interaction between Peter and various side characters suffered from the same lack of dynamism.
And lastly, I was deeply annoyed that the only capable female character, who was not sexy, clueless River, was the one to end deformed, disabled and future-less.
I will probably continue the series one day, but not very soon.
The novels in Ben Aaronovitch's "PC Peter Grant" (or "Rivers of London") series are:
1. Midnight Riot (PC Peter Grant Book 1)
2. Moon Over Soho (PC Peter Grant Book 2)
3. Whispers Under Ground (PC Peter Grant Book 3)
4. Broken Homes (PC Peter Grant Book 4)
5. Foxglove Summer (PC Peter Grant Book 5)
6. The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London)
Peter Grant is a fresh new constable with the London Metropolitan Police. He seems to be your average constable destined for average desk work until one night, while guarding a crime scene, he has a chat with a ghost. This odd ability brings him to the attention of one Chief Inspector Nightingale, and Grant suddenly finds himself swept into a world where magic is real and very, very dangerous.
I really enjoyed this book. I still haven’t read The Dresden Files (my bookworm friends will understand the unstable sand that is a TBR list), but from what I know of the series, this is built in the same vein. As always, first books always have the awkward getting-to-know-you-and-the-worldscape stage, but Aaronovitch manages to get through that with a minimum of sacrifice for pacing. There is a good amount of action, and quite a few scenes that were genuinely creepy. Add that to the fact that the book is so firmly set in London that you can follow the action on Google Earth (I absolutely did this), and this is vastly entertaining, incredibly realistic fantasy read.
Fans of Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, and other urban fantasy series should absolutely check this out. The best part is, since I’m coming onto this series late, I can binge!