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Catching up on book reviews

April 29, 2009

I’m a bit behind in posting reviews of my free Kindle books.  Last week I had some business travel, and I took the opportunity to try to catch up (there seemed to be another burst of free offerings around the Kindle 2 release date, so I again have a large number of free books waiting to be read.

On this latest trip I finished Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice (which is actually still available free on Amazon’s site), T.A. Pratt’s Blood Engines (also still available free), and Lee Child’s Persuader (also still free; apparently publishers are lengthening the period during which books are available free).  All the books are parts of series, so the publishers are playing the “first one’s free” game in hopes of hooking you. It’s a gambit that’s worked on me before; there are a number of authors I’ve discovered through free Kindle books whose others I’ve subsequently paid for.

Of the three in this batch, Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice is the best and at some point I’ll likely buy and read the next book in its series. The short version of the plot is that a prince’s illegitimate son is taken in by the king and trained by the king’s illegitimate brother to be the next royal assassin (apparently it’s the family calling for bastards). The kingdom is under assault by outsiders, one of the princes is scheming to gain power, etc. etc. Relatively standard stuff, but well and entertainingly told.  Good brain candy.

Blood Engines is even light candy fare, but is still entertaining.  The characters are pretty flat, but I read it on a six hour flight and it served as a great distraction. Essentially magic is real, and each city is governed by the strongest practitioner that lives there.  The other practitioners spend most of their time scheming to take over. The protagonist has to travel from her city to San Francisco to defeat a takeover attempt by one of her rivals, and ends up also saving their city while she’s at it.  As I said, total fluff, but great to read while traveling.

Persuader is an action thriller (apparently the author, Lee Child, is a former television writer). It’s fun primarily because the writing is pretty tight and because it’s not trying to be anything what it is. I think I enjoyed primarily for reasons of nostalgia; it reminded me of nothing so much as the Mack Bolan books I would occasionally read in middle school. Fun, but intellectually empty.

I’m trying to figure out which of my collection to read next. One of the features it’d be nice to have the Kindle add in the future is a simple synopsis; with enough free books it’s occasionally difficult to remember which one was which. Functionality that provides the equivalent of skimming the blurb on the back would be welcome to help figure out what to read next.  I usually end up reading the synopses and reviews on Amazon instead (so you know Amazon already has the relevant data).

So all three books were entertaining, but Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy (of which Assassin’s Apprentice is the first book) is probably the only one I’ll read further in.

From → Books

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