One Review to Rule them all!
It seems, for most folks, that Goodread ratings are worth more than Amazon ratings - people trust them more. (A 3.5 on GR is a good book, a 3.5 on Amazon is an OK book)(and I still keep thinking that GR is me when people mean Goodreads... does wonders for my ego, all this talk of me).
Some people do read reviews though a significant number only after they've finished a book. Almost everyone prefers a review which discusses the shortcomings as well as the positives; a review too glowing is one not to be trusted appears to be a theme.
Many readers use Goodreads as an aide memoire, rating a book to note that they have actually read it. I can understand that more and more as I age and age.
How do I know these things?
Well a lot of it is common sense and the rest, I asked on Facebook, Reddit and Fantasy Faction. There were, and still are, some great discussions going on.
So, to save you all from having to trawl through review after review I have done the work for you. I'm kind like that.
I've taken a line from many of the reviews (which just goes to show I need some more... hint hint) of The Stone Road on Goodreads, Amazon and Librarything and combined them into one. I haven't edited the lines at all (except to correct a spellling or two) and I've included the positives and the negatives to create One Review to Rule them all... Mwahahahahahahaha!
Well what a fantastical ride... set in a world with a very Far East feel, ‘The Stone Road’ is an interesting personal journey, as well as a rather surprising political one; traditional sword and sorcery meets the House of Flying Daggers. Like learning a different language through living in a country, we learn the ways of this place by osmosis as we journey through the story.
Prologues don't do anything for me, especially when they're intentionally vague and just serve to make you go "Oh, there are bad guys in this book. Okay." But, I decided that I was going to give this book a really solid try, rather than just drop it. And then the book got totally friggin' awesome.
He keeps the cast small enough for them to be memorable and intimate, yet large enough to allow readers to really explore this world he’s created, as well as the intricacies of it. It took me a while to get into it, because it's set in (an alternate) China, and the habits, rules, and some things that I bet are really normal but I'd never heard, are quite different.
I really liked the two main characters - as they are on opposing sites, and Matthews manages to make you cheer for both of them. Depending on what part of the story you're in you will change your opinion of who's the bad guy, or if there really is a bad and a good guy at all. I really enjoyed that, as I hate "all black or white" stories.
The differences between Haung and Zhou led to a conclusion that deep in the recesses of each character’s soul there is similar motivation and burning desire fuelling them both to their fate. It is a complex relationship that I am looking forward to exploring in more detail.
The magical subsets of the book are unique to me. I have not encountered them before in other paradigms of magic in SF. I liked the magic in that it felt very fresh, but also familiar. It was a seamless part of the story and world that felt like it belonged, without feeling shoehorned in just so the story can have magic. If that makes sense. For me, this was one of the stronger parts of the story.
I would like to have read more on Haung's training but that's only a minor criticism because I like him so much.
Everything pays off well and sets up for the next book, without making it so painful that it is obviously leading into a next book.
I can't wait to get stuck into the following novel, to see where the build up and coming war will take me.
What do you reckon?
A good review?
Worth buying the book and giving it a go? Of course it is... but I would say that, wouldn't I?