Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sweet Silver Blues (first novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Sunday, 1 November 2009)

The cover is VERY misleading. I almost refrain from buying this book because of it. As You can see there are some gnomes holding guns (a pistol and UZI). This is absurd. There are NO guns in this book. The only ranged weapons are crossbows. This book is pure fantasy with NO such futuristic elements. I don’t know why they made this cover that way. A very bad idea in my opinion. First when I saw this cover I thought “What a crap. I won’t buy it.”. Lucky me that later I had the possibility to buy it for a very good price. I gave it a try because for such a low price I was risking hardly anything but my time to read it. This book is a classic example of the saying “Don’t judge the book by its cover”.

My rating: 10/10 (high re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.


[Short review]

What’s bad:
1. Nothing. Not a damned thing.

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing.
2. Lots of action, mystery and plot twists.
3. Huge amount of humour (mostly sarcastic humour that makes me smile almost all the time, but there are also some really hilarious scenes that make me laugh aloud).
4. The amount of different creatures (elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs, centaurs, unicorns, trolls, and so on) and the way they are described make this book almost a parody on fantasy books. That’s very good because I don’t like standard fantasy creatures like the ones I mentioned.
5. Pure first person perspective.
6. The story is told as if the narrator was your friend and you were sitting together in a bar, drinking beer, having good time and talking about his adventures.
7. Garrett's home town is diverse and full of life.
8. Although it is fun-oriented the book touches some dark sides of life.
9. The story itself in one moment becomes a kind of horror (not so much laughing there). This part is so well written that it feels really creepy. It makes this book even more original and enjoyable.
10. Many interesting and memorable characters both “positive” and “negative” ones. Overall there are no purely good characters. Even Garrett is not perfect, especially considering the way he looks at women (the kind of look that most men look at women).
11. There is a very interesting background story about the ongoing war. Garrett himself is a war veteran – he served his five years in hell and was very lucky to come back home. In this book and all the later books in this series Garrett learns about things that are currently happening there and talks about how they are influencing the life in his home town. This is a very interesting aspect of this series.

Many people consider the Garrett series as a series of detective novels. Well I wouldn’t call it that way. The fact that the main character is a private investigator doesn’t make a book a detective story. I’d like to point out that in Garrett books there are no clues about how a particular mystery will be solved. I think in a detective story there should be such clues, to enable a reader to guess the outcome. In Garrett books this is not possible. There are many plot twists that could never be foreseen. This is very typical for all of Glen Cook's books.

There is nothing I didn’t enjoy in Sweet Silver Blues. It is very, very, very enjoyable. Pure fun. For me this is a perfect book.
(10/10)


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sweet Silver Blues re-read

(Originally posted on Sunday, 21 December 2014)

My original rating: 10/10
My final rating: 10/10

Re-reading Sweet Silver Blues was as enjoyable as reading it for the first time. A perfect book.

I must admit that the beginning of the novel is not THAT great, but the story gets better and better with every chapter, just like in The Black Company novel. And just like in The Black Company novel there is a HUGE amount of action. Sweet Silver Blues is an example of Glen Cook at his best. Here are my favourite quotes:

    Bam! Bam! Bam!
    „Go the hell away!” I yelled. It left my head feeling like an egg that had just bounced off the edge of a frying pan. I wondered if I ought to feel the back to see if the yolk was leaking, but it seemed like too much work. I'd just go ahead and die.

    (…) Why do they always do this? They bring you in to handle a problem, then lie about it or hide it from you. But they never stop screaming for results.

    The place went silent when I stepped inside. I ignored an arsenal's worth of death-looks as I limped to the alleged bar. Morley's barman gave me once-over. He grinned, revealing pointy darkelf teeth. „You have a knack for making people mad at you, Garrett.”
    „You ought to see the other guy.”
    „I did. He came in for some sprouts. Wasn't a scratch on him.”
    Conversations picked up behind me. The barman was being as friendly as darkelves ever are. That made me a marginally acceptable lower life-form, presence tolerated. Like that of a beer-drinking dog in a human tavern.

    He cocked his head and looked at me like a bird looking at a new kind of bug. “Death wish. Suicidal tendencies. Know what causes that, Garrett? Diet. That's right. Your meat-heavy human diet. You need more roughage. You don't get enough roughage, your bowels tighten up. When your bowels tighten up you get these dangerous, self-destructive mood swings ...”
    “Somebody is going to get his bowels loosened up. You had to go and throw somebody through my window, didn't you?”

    Bam! Bam! Bam!
    Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day. A time when the early birds of the world are aflame with their mission of bringing the joys of dawn-watching to the nations. And to me in particular.

    “I'd invite you in if you'd fit,” I said. One is polite to grolls at all times, irrespective of one's prejudices. Otherwise one finds oneself reassuring one's attitude while being squished between warty green toes.

    Dotes said, “Keep Dojango away from the juice and he'll do all right.”
    Everyone knows breeds cannot handle their booze. Dojango's grin became apologetic.

    This old universe hasn't got one notion of the meaning of the world mercy where I'm concerned. I just got to snoozing when the door began shivering like a drumhead again.
    “Going to have to do something about this,” I muttered as I hit the floor. “Like maybe move and not tell anybody.”

    Horses. They are one of the little unpleasantnesses to be endured during any lengthy journey. Unless you want to walk. Morley Dotes had high praise for that sort of exercise, which meant it hurt. Personally, I have very little interest in voluntarily inflicting pain or discomfort upon myself.
    (…)
    “Three, four months is a far piece out and back. Where you going?” He was headed for his stable, where a whole clan of four-legged assassins awaited my advent with malice bubbling in their blood.
    (…)
    We entered the digs of their satanic majesties the horses. Twenty pair of big brown evil eyes turned my way. I could almost hear them sizing me up in their secret language, plotting misery.
    “This is Thunderbolt,” Playmate said, indicating a big black stallion with wicked teeth. “A spirited animal. Partly battle-trained.”
    “No.”
    Playmate shrugged, moved on to a roan. “How about Hurricane, here? Fast and smart and a little unpredictable. Like you. You should get along great. Complementary personalities.”
    “No. And no Storm, no Fury, no nothing with a fire-breathing name to live up to. I want an old mare on her last legs with a name like Daffodil and a temperament to match.”

    “He said (…) was killed during the Venageti thing. Not by the Venageti.”
    “An imprecision due entirely to laziness, no doubt.”
    “Probably. But that's the kind of detail you keep an ear out for. Sometimes they add up to a picture people don't know they're giving you, like brush-strokes add up to a painting.”

    I raised an eyebrow. I do that very well. It's one of my outstanding talents.

    A thought occurred to me. That happens occasionally. He saw it spark.

    Somehow, as we approached, the second vampire broke loose. It hit the ground, then hurled itself through the air in one of those hundred-foot bounds that have led the ignorant to believe they can fly.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Bitter Gold Hearts (second novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Wednesday, 4 November 2009)

My rating: 9/10 (high re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

[Short review]

I will compare it to Sweet Silver Blues (rated 10/10).

What’s worse:
1. The pace is a little slower, but still quite fast overall.
2. The story is a little less exiting, but far from boring.
3. There is no extra spice of horror (which was a nice touch in the first book).

What’s better:
1. Garrett’s home town is even better described.
2. Garrett gets to know (against his will) the crime boss and some of his cronies. Glen Cook creates unique atmosphere about those characters. I could feel the menace emanating from them. Even though they are evil and ruthless, they have some sort of code of honour (especially the boss). They fit this series perfectly.

What’s the same (good):
1. Everything else (see my earlier review).

Bitter Gold Hearts is not as groundbreaking as Sweet Silver Blues, but it is still fresh and very, very entertaining. The story itself is lacking a little something to rate it as a perfect book. It is “only” very good.
(9/10)


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Bitter Gold Hearts re-read

(Originally posted on Saturday, 4 March 2017)

My original rating: 9/10
My final rating: 10/10

The first time I have read Bitter Gold Hearts I read it shortly after the ground-breaking Sweet Silver Blues and I was a little “biased”. This time the break between re-reading these two novels was more than two years and I was able to judge Bitter Gold Hearts much more objectively. It's a different kind of story but on its own it's awesome.

There is a side of the novel that I appreciated much more now, when I am several years older and several years wiser. It's the relationship between average people and the “elites”.

Here are some spoiler-free quotes. Please notice that I use italic type the way it is used in the book – to distinguish telepathic communication of the Dead Man. This is the reason I can't quote everything using italic type, like I usually do.

    We marched off like a parody of a military outfit. Amiranda's companions were clad in uniforms. That seemed to be the limit of their familiarity with the military concept. At a guess I would have said their only use was to keep their livery from collapsing into the dust.

    The Hill is a good deal more than a piece of high ground looking down its nose at the sprawl of TunFair, the beast upon whose back it rides. It is a state of mind, and one I don't like. But their coin is as good as any down below, and they have a lot more of it. I register my disapproval by refusing jobs that might help the Hill tribe close their grip even tighter on the rest of us.
    Usually when they try to hire me it's because they want dirty work done. I turn them down. They find somebody less morally fastidious. So it goes.

    Amiranda said, “Mr. Garratt, Domina.”
    The woman looked at me like I was either a potentially contagious disease or an especially curious specimen in the zoo. One of the uglier ones, like a thunder lizard.
    There are times when I feel like I belong to one of the dying breeds.
    “Thank you Amiranda. Have a seat, Mr. Garrett.” The “mister” left her jaws aching. She wasn't used to being nice to people like me.

    “How much did Amiranda tell you?”
    “Enough to get me to listen.” She tried to stare me down. I stared back. “I don't usually have much grief to spare for uptown folks. When the fates want to stick them I say more power to them. But to kidnapping I take exception.”
    She scowled. I give the woman this – her scowl was first rate. Any gorgon would have been proud to own it. (…)

    Morley's place was jumping – as much as it ever does. Which means it was packed with dwarfs, elves, trolls, goblins, pixies, brownies, and whatnot, along with the curious specimens you get when you crossbreed the races. The boys looked at Amiranda with obvious approval and at me with equally obvious distaste. But I forgave them. I would be sullen and sour too if I was in a place where the drinks were nonalcoholic and the meals left out everything but the rabbit food.

    “Watch yourself, Garrett. You're playing with rough people.”
    “I know. But so are they.”
    “They probably know who you are and might know you're poking around. You don't know who they are.”
    “I've had plenty of practice being paranoid.” (…)

    The Dead Man was trying to sleep when I stepped into his room. He was long overdue for one of his three-week naps, but now wasn't the time. “Wake it up, Old Bones. You're supposed to have some suggestions for me this morning.”
    He had several, but none of the first few was fit to record. (…)

    A guy came charging through the doorway just as Saucerhead got there. His nose and Saucerhead's fist collided. No contest. (…)

    “You figured there might be a connection, eh?”
    Of course.
    But you didn't bother to mention it.”
    You have become too dependant upon me. You need to exercise your brain yourself.
    “The reason you're here at all is so I don't have to strain my brain. We humans are born bone lazy. Remember? With innate ambition and energy levels only slightly above those of a dead Loghyr.”

    Dean scowled and grumbled, not at all inclined to let me take matters into my own hands. He prepared the tea with such care and deliberation I was ready to do without before he finished. Tea is tea. Making a religious ceremony of fixing it doesn't improve it a bit.

    I started to express my incredulity, but it struck me that I might learn a little more a lot faster with my mouth shut. I admit that I don't often have these epiphanies.

    I went around the front of the horse and looked him in the eye. He looked back. I saw none of the tribe's usual malice. He obviously hadn't heard of me.

    It was coming together beautifully. I just hoped I wouldn't be in the middle when it crushed.

    I made the mistake, for a short time, of thinking I saw a chance for the big hit. You don't want to fall into that trap. It can shatter your perspective. It can narrow your focus until the rest of the world slides out of touch.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Cold Copper Tears (third novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Wednesday, 4 November 2009)

My rating: 10/10 (high re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

[Short review]

Even though it is the third book in the series Glen Cook still introduces more and more interesting elements to the Garrett world. His imagination is amazing. What is more important it suits my taste perfectly. This book was a real page-turner to me. I enjoyed it even more than Sweet Silver Blues, which I also rated 10/10 (see my earlier review).

For me Cold Copper Tears is the best book so far in the Garrett series. It’s perfect.
(10/10)


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Cold Copper Tears re-read

(Originally posted on Sunday, 14 May 2017)

My original rating: 10/10
My final rating: 10/10

Cold Copper Tears is a roller-coaster of action. Overall the novel is so fantastic that again (like the first time through) I ignored two minor things that actually annoy me.

The first thing is that Morley Dotes does some very ruthless things (for reasons that are greatly exaggerated) to cover one of Garrett's undertaking and Garrett contradicts himself while judging Morley's actions on the spot. Thankfully at the very end of the novel Garrett admits that it was kind of his fault (for taking Morley along) and feels bad about it.

The other annoying thing is that the plot revolves partly about religions and priests and there are some things about the way people believe and think about gods (or a god). On its own it's not so bad and to some extent it is even thought-provoking, but Glen Cook seems to be a very strong atheist and uses the novel to make some digs at religions on purpose. Thankfully a non-fanatical religious person like me can take it rather well. Well, a religious person should never be fanatical, otherwise it fuels the negative opinion of the other side. But I digress.

Please notice that the things described above don't lower my perfect rating. Yes, this novel so THAT awesome! The action is non-stop and the plot is overall cool and mysterious. On top of that there are some truthful and/or quite positive things to be found in the novel. Perfect!

Here are some spoiler-free quotes:

    I looked at the blonde. She looked at me. I liked what I saw. She had mixed feelings. (…)

    I've been poor and I've been poorer, and the practical side of me has learned one truth: money runs out. No matter how well I did yesterday, the money will run out tomorrow.

    My street was always a carnival, like TunFair itself. But it's all darkness grinning behind a party mask.

    (…) “You're going to get more than you bargain for if you keep trying to do something for those kids.”
    “They need a friend in the grown-up world, Dean. They need to see there's somebody decent out there, that the world isn't all shadow-eat-shadow and the prizes go to the guys who're the hardest and nastiest.”
    He faked a surprise. “It isn't that way?”
    “Not yet. Not completely. A few of us are trying to fight a rearguard action by doing a good deed here and there.”

    (…)
    “That's sad. I'm sorry. It isn't fair.”
    “Life isn't fair, Maya. I've learned to live with it. Mostly, I don't think about it. I don't let it shape me or drive me.”

    I had a thought. That happens. So do lunar eclipses. (…)

    It was the kingpin's man Crask, looking uglier and meaner than ever because he was trying to be friendly and courteous. “Chodo says he'd consider it a big favor if you'd come out to the house right away, Mr. Garrett. He said to give you his assurance that it's important and that you'll be compensated for your trouble.”
    I was getting compensated by everybody in sight without having the slightest notion what was going on. I'd get rich if the mess never sorted itself out.

    I'm a guy who doesn't understand intangible stakes. I know some would argue that I have a set of values I take pretty seriously, but if I can't eat it or spend it or make it go purr in the night, I don't know what to do with it. It's a weakness, a blind spot. Sometimes I forget there are guys willing to get killed over ideas. I just go bulling ahead looking for a pot of gold.

    “You know how dangerous that is?” (…)
    She gave me the look the look the young save for old farts who say dumb things. “What did we have to lose?”
    Only their lives. But kids are immortal and invulnerable. Just ask them.

    “(…) What's happening is, I've disappeared. Maybe run out of town. You aren't seeing me. You're seeing some guy who came down here to gawk.”
    He lifted an eyebrow. Damn, I hate it when people steal my tricks.

    Maya frowned and gave me a searching look. “I don't know. But you're more an expert on people than I am.”
    I snorted. Me an expert? I can't even figure me out, let alone the rest of the world.


Monday, 22 February 2016

Old Tin Sorrows (fourth novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Wednesday, 4 November 2009)

My rating: 10/10 (high re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

[Short review]

Old Tin Sorrows is significantly different from any other book in the Garrett series. This novel has an intimate feeling about it. Almost all action takes place in an old countryside estate. Garret spends several days there, trying to solve a case which at first looks very simple. In time he learns more and more about all the men and women living there. During his stay somebody starts killing people. Garrett’s life is also in danger. Moreover the house seems to be haunted by a ghost.

All this elements are only a frame for a tremendously enjoyable, yet very dark story. Many deaths and other creepy things doesn’t make this book a comedy. There is some humour classic to the Garrett series, but not as much as in previous novels. All the rest is as good as in any other Garrett book (see my earlier reviews).

For me Old Tin Sorrows is the best book so far in the Garrett series. It’s perfect.

(10/10)

P.S.
I rated the first book of the Garrett series a perfect 10/10 and already two of the next three books are considered by me as even better. Unbelievable, isn't it?

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Dread Brass Shadows (fifth novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Friday, 12 March 2010)

My rating: 7/10 (low re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.


This book is clearly weaker than previous books in the Garrett series, but it’s still good. Just good - previous were brilliant.The style is the same, but some parts were a little too confusing. I’m talking about some action scenes which I had to read very carefully.

The main problem for me was the fact, that many things happened around Garrett, but HIS actions didn’t make anything happen. The things just happened and he was caught in the middle.

Maybe it was Cook’s goal to show that a person sometimes has to go with the flow and is somehow helpless. If that’s so, than he did it a very good job. Even the surrounding is described as if there was doom coming on everybody, not only Garrett - thunder lizards flying over the city, MorCatha fighting among themselves in the night sky and the war in the Cantard at its peak. In fact I enjoyed such little things more than the main plot, which had some minor logical flaws.

One more thing. The humour is there, but the book isn’t as funny as the previous ones.

Overall it’s a good book, but its re-reading value is low because it comes after brilliant first 4 Garrett novels.
(7/10)

Friday, 19 February 2016

Red Iron Nights (sixth novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Friday, 12 March 2010)

When I was looking for this book I found out that this and the next book in the Garrett series had not been reprinted, even though the 8th book had already been reprinted. I wanted to read the whole series in an appropriate order, so I bought this book translated to my native language. The cover is pretty good, except that Garrett looks older than he is and his index finger is ridiculously short. Please compare it with the original cover.

My rating: 6/10 (low re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing, but I must admit that it is weaker than usual. As always this book was a fast-read and I didn’t have to force myself to keep on reading even though I saw some obvious problems.
2. Introduction of Belinda Contague – a daughter of Chodo Contague.

What’s bad:
1. The plot is about a psychopath – a serial killer who cruelly kills women. I don’t like books (or films) about psychopaths, especially serial killers.
2. The plot becomes kind of repetitive and I am not talking about subsequent murders. In one moment I thought to myself: “What? This happened again? Oh, come on!”
3. There is not so much fighting.
4. There is very little good humour. I realised this fact much, much later and it struck me like a lightning. The first three books in the Garrett series were almost a comedy. Fourth had some less humour, because it was darker, but it was probably the best book in the whole series. The next book had the feeling of doom coming on everybody and that low mood is still present in this book. There is even less humour and it's not as fresh and light as in the first three books.
5. The action at the end of the book is somewhat disappointing.
6. Some characters don’t behave the way they used to. Garrett himself is not the same Garrett we know from the first four books. I know that this is true in real life: people change. Some more radically than others. But from my point of view all the characters in the Garrett series change for the worse. Even Garrett.

Overall the whole book was a disappointment to me. I was hoping that after Dread Brass Shadows the series will again reach the heights of the first four novels. Sadly it is not the case here. This book is even weaker. Maybe the translation was not so good, but it doesn’t explain the main issues I had with this book. Interestingly this book was still kind of gripping and I can’t explain it. Overall it’s a little more than average and its re-reading value is low.

(6/10)


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Deadly Quicksilver Lies (seventh novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Saturday, 13 March 2010)

When I was looking for this book I found out that this and the previous (6th) book in the Garrett series had not been reprinted, even though the 8th book had already been reprinted. I wanted to read the whole series in an appropriate order, so I bought this book translated to my native language. The cover is pretty good. I think it’s much better than original. Please compare both covers.
My rating: 4/10 (low re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing, but I must admit that it is weaker than usual. This book was easy to read even though I saw some obvious problems.

What’s bad:
1. Garrett manages to escape from a place he should never be able to escape.
2. There is not so much fighting action.
3. The old characters still change for the worse (see my previous review).
4. One new female character starts out quite strong, but totally falls apart at the end of the book.
5. There is still too little good humour (see my previous review).
6. Some fight toward the end of the book makes little sense for me (maybe the translation is not so good, but I wouldn’t bet on it).
7. The ending is just terrible. I literally missed it! The conclusion about an important bad character is summed up in a couple of vague sentences. After that the Dead Man wakes up and reveals some facts which make the whole story pointless! When I realised it is all over I read the ending again and still couldn’t believe that this is it.

It was hard for me to rate this book. It was easy to read, but I didn’t find any good fighting action and the ending was just terrible. I am a great fan of Glen Cook but this book is not even average. It’s BELOW average and its re-reading value is low.
(4/10)

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Petty Pewter Gods (eighth novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Saturday, 13 March 2010)

My rating: 3/10 (low re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

What’s good:
1. A lot of action (but waaay too crazy).
2. Glen Cook’s style of writing (except for the lack of logic and overall craziness).

What’s bad:
1. The plot is very, very, very crazy. Sometimes it’s really @#$%^& up.
2. There are numerous logical flaws in the plot. Sometimes Garrett himself behaves illogically.
3. There is no detective case to be solved in this book. Garrett is forced to do something for some “gods”. There is some kind of mystery in it, but the book never really explains it.
4. Garrett is no longer a regular guy, with whom the reader can try to identify with. Now he is the only person who sees “gods” and is supposed to decide on the future of some of them.
5. This book is an open mockery of any religion. I can understand that some people criticize priests for their faults and sins, but I hate when people make fun of religion in general (any religion). I knew that Glen Cook is an atheist, which was apparent in the books of the south of the Black Company series and in some previous Garrett novels. I didn’t mind that then, but here he crossed the line. It seems to me he doesn’t understand what religion is all about and behave like this: “I don’t understand it, so I make fun out of it”. To me religion is mostly about becoming a better person and about finding inner peace. Making fun out of such things is unacceptable to me.
6. There is some humour of really bad taste. For example there is a small cherub, who is smoking weed and when he needs a new joint he takes it out of his diaper. Oh, man. I think Glen Cook was smoking weed himself, when he was writing this.

This book has no side plots connecting with other books of the Garrett series, so it may be skipped without any consequences. That’s my advice: Skip it !!! Maybe some teenagers would really enjoy this book, but I will never read it again. This book is BAD.
(3/10)

PS. I have read 4 more Garrett novels and they are all much better than this one. So, don’t be afraid to continue reading this series.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Faded Steel Heat (ninth novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Thursday, 8 August 2013)

Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

My rating: 7/10 (low re-reading value)

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing – he is back to his usual, great form.
2. There is some good and sarcastic humour. Maybe not too much, but still much more than in the previous 3 novels together.
3. The action is really interesting and gripping.
4. Glen Cook finished (at last) a crappy side-plot from previous novels about a rebellious, racist-like movement. I didn’t mentioned it in my previous reviews, because it was so strange I just didn’t know how to judge it.
5. There are shape-shifters. Don’t worry - it’s not a spoiler because it is clear very soon into the book. I mentioned it because Glen Cook is a master of handling shape-shifters. They are always background characters, but very memorable and climatic.
6. This novel is like an all-star game for the Garrett series. There is almost every important character from ALL of the earlier Garrett novels.

What’s bad:
1. Two Garrett’s enemies – Crask and Sadler – at one moment are described as if they were supernatural beings (like vampires) radiating some evil energy. It makes no sense, because they are normal people without any magical abilities. Yes, they were very cruel and tough, but nothing more.
2. There is some strange encounter during a night that Garrett spends in a mansion outside his home city. It is never really explained and makes no sense to me.
3. I hate what Glen Cook did to one of the characters. He acts totally out of his usual character, almost pathetically. I don’t want to spoil anything so I can’t name him. It’s not a main character, but I liked him anyway (previously).
4. The ending is somewhat disappointing considering a great build-up of tension throughout the book.
5. The fight at the end of the book is described as totally chaotic, but I don’t see any logical reason for it. Yes, there was a very powerful and dangerous monster involved, but only one. He couldn’t attack everybody at the same time.
6. The ending for one of the villains was not understandable to me.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I can’t explain.

Faded Steel Heat is much more light-hearted than the previous three Garrett novels. It’s far from perfect and the ending is somewhat disappointing, but the series is back on the right track. Overall I rate it as a good (solid) book, but its re-reading value is still low.
(7/10)

Monday, 15 February 2016

Angry Lead Skies (tenth novel in the Garrett P.I. series)

(Originally posted on Friday, 9 August 2013)

Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

My rating: 8/10 (high re-reading value)

Reading Angry Lead Skies was a real pleasure. To me this is by far the best Garrett book since the 4th one (Old Tin Sorrows, rated 10/10). Among the novels numbered 5 through 10 this is the only one I want to re-read.

I was afraid to start reading Angry Lead Skies because I had read many negative reviews of this novel. To me, however, this book was very enjoyable.

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing.
2. Significant amount of good, mostly sarcastic humour. Not as much as in the first three Garrett novels, but quite close.
3. A lot of fighting and exploring, both inside and outside the city.
4. Very good and enjoyable mix of fantasy and science fiction.
It may seem strange, but Glen Cook pulled that stunt perfectly.
5. It’s interesting to see how “fantasy people” react while discovering highly sophisticated, electronic equipment and the alien creatures themselves (sky elves). Glen Cook describes it in a very believable way. In particular he never uses “modern words” – for example a TV screen is described by Garrett as a “window to a different place”, or something like that.
6. Garrett is, finally, maturing – getting smarter and more thoughtful about other people and himself (in a positive way). Glen Cook surprised me very much with Garrett getting older, because in some of his other novels it seemed to me that all the characters were changing for worse.
7. Nice touch on economy and money making in Garrett world, bearing a strong resemblance to what is going on in our world.

What’s bad:
1. There are several inconsistencies considering the whole series. First of all two grolls named Tris and Marsha, who were not able to speak Garrett language before, now talk to Garrett without any problems and he is not even surprised. Some readers claim that their size is also different, but I am not sure.
2. A much bigger and much more disturbing inconsistency to me is the race of Tinnie Tate – Garrett’s love throughout the series (with some breaks). I am sure that she was a gnome. She was sexy,
red-haired and short, but she was a gnome. In this book I got a very strong notion that the whole Tate family are treated like humans. I’ve got a similar notion in the previous novel, but I thought that I have misunderstood something. I can’t believe that Glen Cook forgot about Tates’ real race.
3. The sexual side of this novel is a little too weird to me. Getting laid with sky elves by Garrett would be enough, but the fact that Pular Singe (a rat girl living in Garrett’s house) gets jealous about it was
too much. Nothing happened between her and Garrett, but my imagination is too strong for such ... unusual ideas.
4. At the end of the novel the economy side-plot gets more important than the sky elves themselves. It makes the end of the main story a little lacklustre. On the other hand it couldn’t have been much different, for obvious reasons.

To me Angry Lead Skies is somewhat similar to Bleak Seasons from the Black Company series. There are many people who hate it, but to me it’s very enjoyable. Not perfect, but definitely far from being bad. Overall I rate Angry Lead Skies as a novel more than just good, with high re-reading value.
(8/10)

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Whispering Nickel Idols (eleventh novel in the Garrett P. I. series)

(Originally posted on Saturday, 10 August 2013)

Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

My rating: 7/10 (low re-reading value)

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing.
2. There are even more positive things happening in Whispering Nickel Idols than in the previous Garrett novel. Still, not too much but clearly more than in the 6th, 7th and 8th Garrett novels.
3. There is less venom put into describing religions. Glen Cook even gives an example (somewhat hidden example) that a religion handled in the right way can in fact help people in their lives, something he totally ignored in his earlier novels.
4. There are some little things that make Garrett more like a normal person than some hero. I am talking especially about a heavy illness. Yeah, it sounds silly, but Glen Cook handled it so skilfully that I really enjoyed reading about it. Gritty, in a totally different way.
5. A wonderful description of a really hard winter. Glen Cook gives a great example of what an outstanding writer he is. This description felt so real and was so beautiful that I couldn’t believe it. Amazing stuff, really.

What’s bad:
1. Glen Cook goes over the top with positive thinking. At one moment Garrett with the help of the Dead Man gives a very detailed information about a criminal network to the police. On one hand
I liked the idea because I am a lawful person, but even to me it seemed like a wishful thinking.
2. The main plot is a little inconsistent. To me some things that happened in the beginning didn’t make much sense in the end.
3. Garrett himself doesn’t do much in this novel. He is more like a spectator to what is happening.
4. There are magic kittens. At first I really enjoyed that some cute, little kittens somehow got into Garrett house, but it got strange very fast. The biggest problem to me was the fact that these kittens made people practically stop thinking and act as if they were high on drugs. Weird.
5. The ending is somewhat disappointing. The main story slowly dissolves into nothing concrete and in the very end some side-plot about family issues plays the main strings.

Whispering Nickel Idols is by far the softest novel by Glen Cook I have read so far. There is some fighting action and some usual grittiness, but less than in his other novels. Nevertheless it is a good novel that is easy to read and quite enjoyable. It’s worth to read Whispering Nickel Idols just to see how a soft book by Glen Cook looks like, but its re-reading value is low.
(7/10)

Friday, 12 February 2016

Cruel Zinc Melodies (twelfth novel in the Garrett P. I. series)

(Originally posted on Saturday, 10 August 2013)

Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

My rating: 8/10 (high re-reading value)

Well, it turns out that I didn’t write a review of Cruel Zinc Melodies earlier, even on paper. But I did write down the title and my rating (8/10) next to it. I remember exactly how great this book ended and how much I enjoyed it overall. After reading some reviews (with spoilers) it all came back to me. I still can’t remember the details, but the frame of the story is really good.

What’s good:
1. Glen Cook’s style of writing.
2. An intriguing plot.
3. Giant bugs, ghosts, a youth gang, families of sorcerers, rat people, a troll, dwarves and some other things are combined into a very thought out story.
4. To me the ending is very enjoyable, because it connects to one of the best Garrett novels - Old Tin Sorrows (the 4th one in the series).
5. Garrett is getting more and more mature and thoughtful (in a good way).

What’s bad:
1. I believe the ending can be enjoyable rather to mature readers. Most teenagers will probably hate it.
2. The fighting is mostly about dealing with an infestation of giant bugs. Again, it may be not enjoyable to some people.
3. A silly, tiny side-topic at the end of the whole book. Maybe it was supposed to be gritty in a different way, but it ended up just silly. Something about the lack of toilets in a theatre. Oh, man. It’s just a couple of sentences, but it comes out of the blue and I will remember it forever. Damn it.

Overall I enjoyed Cruel Zinc Melodies very much and it’s another Garret novel I want to re-read. I can’t remember exactly, but there must have been some good humour, because I don’t remember this book to be sad or depressing, rather the opposite. I rate Cruel Zinc Melodies as a novel more than just good, with high re-reading value.
(8/10)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Gilded Latten Bones (thirteenth novel in the Garrett P.I series)

(Originally posted on Saturday, 10 August 2013)

Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

My rating: 5/10 (low re-reading value)

I read this book long time ago and I can remember only the outlines of the main plot. It was quite interesting at first, with hints about very powerful and creepy enemies. The ending however was a little strange to me. Yes, the enemies were powerful, but more like powerful alchemists than sorcerers. Why the Dead Man was
at some moment paralyzed by them is beyond me.

SPOILERS about Garrett's private life !!!
SPOILERS about Garrett's private life !!!
SPOILERS about Garrett's private life !!!
SPOILERS about Garrett's private life !!!
SPOILERS about Garrett's private life !!!

OK, you have been warned.

I can’t remember the details of the main plot, but I remember exactly how I felt when I finished this book. I felt sad and pissed off about the way Garrett (or should I say Glen Cook) treated Tinnie Tate.
It was much worse than killing her.

Tinnie Tate was Garrett’s love throughout the series. Yes, Garrett had some other women, but he always came back to Tinnie. At the end of the previous book (Cruel Zinc Melodies) Garrett and Tinnie got engaged (sort of) and it was great. I felt proud of Garrett – he finally realized that being forever a single is not a good idea.

At the start of this book Garrett and Tinnie had already lived together for some time. After Tinnie Tate was almost kidnapped and Morley Dotes got badly cut Garrett returns to his previous job. But suddenly he behaves like he is really fed up with Tinnie. Just like that. Glen Cook just states that her behaviour was bad, without ever giving any examples. That’s no way to handle a character who was really well described in earlier books. Tinnie Tate was never a harpy. She was a woman with a typical, unpredictable behaviour, but never a harpy. She loved Garrett and was caring about him. Obviously every serious relationship has its ups and downs, but it takes two people to handle a relationship, not just one.

What’s worse throughout the book Garrett hangs out with another woman – a sorceress from the previous book. At first there are only some hints that Garrett cheats on Tinnie, but in the second part of the book it is clear that he really does that. Without ever talking with Tinnie about their problems. And without breaking up with her, first. Garrett behaves like a moron and an asshole. I hated it. I REALLY hated it.

I hated even more the behaviour of other characters who are close to Garrett. They all approve of or simply ignore Garrett’s affair. All of them: the Dead Man, Pular Singe and even Dean – a family kind of guy. It makes no sense to me. They ALL approved of Tinnie before, so why they should change their minds so quickly is beyond me.

I was REALLY pissed off when I finished Gilded Latten Bones. What kind of example does Glen Cook give to young people about relationships? That you can easily give up and run away when some problems arrive? That you can cheat on your woman? That you can break up a relationship without even talking to your partner? Unthinkable to me.

I was doubly disappointed, because the end of the previous Garrett book signalled a totally different continuation. I thought that Garrett finally matured up, but in this book he reversed to being a teenager, not even a young adult.

I try to retain some objectivity and that’s why I rate Gilded Latten Bones as an average book with low re-reading value. No way I could rate it any higher.
(5/10)

PS. I’ve read some reviews of the next Garrett book – Wicked Bronze Ambition. Some people point out that this new novel is mostly sad and dark.