Category: Book Review

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks – Review

The Player of Games

The Player of Games is the second book in the Culture series, a space opera series that deals with utopian concepts and philosophies. And of course, this Player of Games is about, well, games.

A certain Jernau Morat Gurgeh, a master player, got tricked into participating in a tournament held by a less advanced space empire. The stake of the game doesn’t seem high at first, but everything will rush towards a destructive conclusion. The purpose of the Empire here is to be in contrast with the Culture. One is a civilization based on competition, aggression and personal property (sort of like our current lifestyle). The other is a socialist utopia with no scarcity and no rules or governments per se.

Plot and characters

To be honest, the plot and the characters are acceptable but they impress little. On the other hand, reading about a utopian society where things cannot go wrong was more fun than I expected. The book compares the Culture and the Azad Empire, the latter being easier to understand for our limited human minds that live in a constant struggle with nature and other people. A post-scarcity world is hard to envision. A post-scarcity world where there are still interesting things to do is even harder to imagine.


Review – Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

One damn thing after another

In my reviews, I don’t mention characters’ names or any other names because I cannot remember them when I’m writing, or if I remember them, I would definitely spell them wrong. I tend to focus on emotions, surprises, themes, and character development (as in growth, so names are not so important). Needless to say, the Malazan Book of the Fallen has a huge cast of characters. And this huge cast is very noticeable even starting with the first book, Gardens of the Moon. All of them are in one way or another characters we follow in their converging journeys. Conclusion: I will not mention any names except one: Anomander Rake, a certain non-human lord that strangely doesn’t have a point of view scene in this book, and yet, his name as well his attitude put a lasting impression on me.

Steven Erikson managed to create character development in just a few lines of text spread over chapters devoted to other characters. A remarkable feat in itself. Alas, while the other characters are all distinct, we don’t have enough time to spend with them I couldn’t relate to many events in the world. And when I don’t relate to the characters, I don’t feel engaged in their struggles. Potential result: boredom.


The Eisenhorn Omnibus

I think by now, when people hear Warhammer 40K, they hear Space Marines. But if they hear Warhammer 40K novels, they must hear Horus Heresy or Eisenhorn. He must be one of the most famous characters who originated in novel form. If we’re looking at a book as the Eisenhorn Omnibus, it must be the book most people recommend to their friends fresh into the Universe. The one that has a little bit for everyone, veterans, as well as newcomers.

And I am here to tell you I disagree partially. Or I agree partially. It’s up to you if you want to see the glass half-empty or half-full.

Book Info

The Eisenhorn Omnibus is a collection of 3 novels and several short stories concerning Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, written by Dan Abnett and published for the first time in 2004 (the omnibus, not the individual novels). The original trilogy consists of the novels Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus, but in this omnibus are included as well the short stories Missing in Action and Backcloth for a Crown Additional.


Fulgrim (Horus Heresy #5)

If you remember the previous book from the Horus Heresy series and my thoughts about it, you would surely remember how I praised the second half of the book. You also must remember how I said it was a half too long, very predictable, and boring in the first half with no substance to its core. Well, will I say the same about Fulgrim? Well… Sort of. Read on.

Book Info

Fulgrim is the fifth book in the Horus Heresy series that deals with events happening in the 30th millennium of Warhammer in space. Fulgrim is the name of the Primarch of the III Legion, the Emperor’s Children. He’s also somewhat of an arrogant jerk. And a perfectionist. That’s what I meant. A man who strives for perfection in all things. If you have to remember one thing about him, remember this.


Darth Bane: Path of Destruction

Have you ever wondered how it is like to train in the Dark Side and experience life in a Sith Academy? If you’re coming from Star Wars movies, then maybe you’re wondering what I am talking about. There’s no such thing as a Sith Academy. The Sith are few, trained in secret and used as weapons by the Darth, the Sith Master. But why is that?

A long time ago, in the same galaxy, there was a war between Sith and Jedi. And the Sith and Jedi were many, and both had schools and whatnot.

And if nothing of what I say makes sense, go watch any Star Wars (though some movies are awful) – I heard it’s a very famous part of Disney palette nowadays.


Flight of the Eisenstein (Horus Heresy #4)

Well, this was weird.
And awesome. A page-turner.
And boring. A snooze-fest.

What is going on? You might ask. I think this book is known in the Warhammer universe as the Half-heard. Because I was genuinely surprised with the second part but bored to tears with the first part. This is weird because being written this way can make you lose readers. But I guess, I was also guilty of reading reviews before, reviews which praised the quality of the story in the second half.

The story in the Flight of the Eisenstein continues the story from the main trilogy by focusing on the escape of Nathaniel Garro in his attempt to deliver news of Horus’s betrayal to Terra. I like how the first three books set so many potential new storylines that you care about (even a little). So it feels natural to continue reading about a new character doing new stuff, but still connected in some way to the events in the galaxy. It’s different than the normal Warhammer 40K novels where you don’t really know the timeline even if you’ve read them all. (Don’t cheat and use some sort of internet Wiki)


Galaxy in Flames (Horus Heresy #3)

Another generic Warhammer science fantasy that is MANDATORY reading for those of us who already have read the first 2 books of the Horus Heresy trilogy (Horus Rising & False Gods). I am being overly critical but it is rightfully so. When you start a trilogy, you expect the quality to stay the same, or drop a little bit, but not drop so substantially that it feels you’re reading another book.

But again, I’m being too harsh, because after all, I’ve finished reading it, and it kept me going. I almost forgot what sleep is reading this book, even if I was rolling my eyes so much they almost fell from my orbits.


False Gods (Horus Heresy #2)

An angry guy
I’ll pretend to choose my own way
More angry guys

If you’ve read my thoughts on the previous entry in Horus Heresy, you know it really saved the Warhammer 40k universe. It was such a good book that let other authors continue the series in a very big way.

So the second author in the series is Graham McNeill and what does he do first?

He makes Horus a really angry guy, because why not mess with the personality of someone intelligent, rational, and diplomatic? Why not make him angry and recalcitrant all the time?


The Brain – the story of you

For the short review of this book, check out my Goodreads review.

Who are you? No, seriously, who are you? Where in your body is that part that is truly you, the one that has control and decision power?

Tell me. Is it the brain?

But how do you know that? How can some grey matter that stays inert in your skull be you? Are you a brain in a vat, dreaming the daily life? Again, whatever your answer is, my question is how do you know? Do you trust your senses and your intuition?

David Eagleman invites us to discover the mysteries of the brain. And when I say discover I want to say marvel at the things we don’t understand. We don’t know all the answers, but we are on the way to ask the right questions.


Horus Rising (Horus Heresy #1)

The very beginnings of the fall of Horus
Philosophical and political topics about the position of humanity in the galaxy
Religion practiced in secret in the age of illumination

There are two types of readers. Those who know Warhammer 40K and those who will know. So, let’s start with the boring introduction. Warhammer 40K is a miniature hobby board game released a long time ago in the UK that has gained an international audience ever since. The game has an extensive lore and plenty of books, audio drama, and games (board games or video games) have been produced about its Universe. Soon, this year as of writing, Warhammer will delve into the video format and give us a streaming service and some animations movies, and someday in the future probably even a live-action movie.

Anyway, I have zero interest in the 40K video games (most of them are mediocre anyway) or in the board games or in collecting miniatures (though they look badass in the hand of a skilled painter). I’m also not interested in military SF books that describe battle scenes in excruciating detail. So what am I interested in?