Tag Archives: World Building

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24)The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captain Samuel Vimes, policeman and reluctant duke of the city of Ankh-Morpork, loves the thrill of the hunt he experiences every day as chief of the City Watch, but finds his role as a member of the aristocracy insufferably boring. Therefore, he is despondent when the lord of the city sends him off to be a diplomat in the far-off land of Überwald—but perks up considerably when the king of that region allows him to investigate the theft of a precious royal artifact. The Fifth Elephant, one of many Discworld novels following the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, is also one of the best. Vimes’ adventures in the gothic-style countryside of Überwald are a refreshing change from the usual urban setting of these books. Although he uses the clichéd characters of vampires and werewolves, the author gives them enough personality to differentiate them from the monsters of other modern novels. In addition, he gives the reader occasional comic relief by returning to Ankh-Morpork, where Vimes’ incompetent second-in-command struggles to keep control. Anyone who has already read the four preceding City Watch novels will enjoy this short excursion to a new, unique setting in the ever-entertaining Discworld. – Andrew R. ‘17

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Ringworld by Larry Niven (review by Meilan S. ’17)

Ringworld (Ringworld #1)Ringworld by Larry Niven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Considered one of the classics of science fiction, Ringworld follows the journey of Louis Wu, an aged explorer bored with life on Earth. On his 200th birthday, an alien named Nessus (whose race has supposedly been extinct for centuries) invites Louis to join an expedition to a new world. After recruiting two other crewmates, Speaker To Animals (a huge, carnivorous cat) and Teela Brown (a young human), the motley group sets out towards a strange, ring-shaped world. Ringworld is science fiction at its best, with an enticing and unusual concept and a richly detailed world. Its three-dimensional characters and constant surprises make Ringworld more than just another exploration story. A twist ending forces readers to reconsider the entire book. Niven is fastidious about tying up loose ends; seemingly inconsequential details often end up being instrumental to the plot. Ringworld’s pace can be slow at times, but for stylist reasons rather than bad writing. All in all, Ringworld is a fantastic read, and well worth the time it takes to track down in a used bookstore (or your local library).

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A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (review by Shivani A. ’17)

A Face Like GlassA Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Caverna, a land underground our own, live the most skilled artists. They create wines that reveal truth, cheeses that can tell the future, and many more delicacies. However the one downside to living in Caverna is the people there are incapable of forming facial expressions. Facesmiths teach the people how to display their different emotions, at an expensive cost. It is here that Neverfell appears, with no memory, and a face so unlike the others she is forced to wear a mask, and never leave the safety of her home. One day Neverfell, thirsty for a glimpse of the outside world, strays away from her safe haven and is sent on a wild journey. This book is a good read if you are looking for a novel with a bit of childish innocence, revolving around a darker force. This book will cause you to shake and snicker both as you travel with Neverfell on her journey. Neverfell is immature and gullible. At times I felt the storyline was forced. However towards the second half of the book, the plot picked up pace and I found it much more enjoyable. If you are looking for a book different from the popular dystopian society novels on the shelves right now, yet still want a good book for the weekend, I would recommend A Face Like Glass. – Shivani A. ‘17

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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (review by Elisabeth S. ’16)

Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a novel that practically invented its own genre, Stephenson brings to life the engaging, fast-paced Metaverse, Hiro Protagonist’s virtual reality. The world-building is top-notch, set in some pocket of a distant time ahead that remains unstilted — unlike dystopian classics such as Brave New World. Snow Crash is refreshingly free of cloying allegory or philosophy, which seem to accompany any novel set in the future nowadays. It teems with energy that casts a vice-like hold on readers and refuses to let go. Hiro and YT (Yours Truly) make brilliant, edgy and flawed protagonists that truly have no parallel. Recommended to budding science fiction or cyberpunk fans. And – if you are already a hardcore fan of either but still haven’t read this — where on earth have you been? – Elisabeth S. ‘16

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A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (review by Akshay B. ’16)

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, set in the land of Westeros in times of magic, dragons, and knights. The story has several lead characters, each with their own story, yet everything they do is connected. The major characters fight for their lives, either against enemies who would slay every living creature, or against enemies who compete for the Iron Throne. Martin’s brilliant writing allows the readers to feel the emotions of the characters and care for them. As the queen of Westeros says “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” If you watch or plan to watch the mini-series, you’ll want to read A Game of Thrones first. – Akshay B. ‘16

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A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (review by Huck V. ’14)

A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

George R. R. Martin has rebounded with A Dance with Dragons, the fifth installment in The Song of Ice and Fire series. Many a die-hard Martin fan will rejoice as they reunite with their favorite characters. Jon Snow struggles with his new post of lord commander of the Nights Watch while Dany watches her dragons approach adulthood in the overseas city of Mereen. Martin’s vivid writing makes for what might be the most chilling set of character arcs that have appeared in the entire Song of Ice and Fire. While not all plot developments in A Dance with Dragons are interesting or relevant to the central action and main characters, the storyline is moved forward and will leave fans re-reading their favorite chapters to sate their hunger for Martin’s latest material. Those who endured the fourth book – which explored a tangential plotline – will be pleased that their favorite characters have returned. Multiple story lines end with cliff hangers all of which are underscored by an impending doom. The notorious and the long awaited winter, it seems, has finally come. Martin is back on track. – Huck V. ‘14

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