Jo Walton (papersky) wrote,
Jo Walton

Scalzi meme: Amazon 1 star reviews

I'm pretty sure I've linked to some of these before.

The weird thing is, that only two of my books have got any 1 star reviews, but they've both got loads. I wonder why this is? Oh well, here you go.

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal and Boring, August 25, 2002
By wysewomon "wysewomon" (Paonia, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King's Peace (Sulien) (Mass Market Paperback)
_The King's Peace_ is another one of those books that a number people seem to have truly enjoyed. I however, just can't grasp how they managed to do so as it left me so cold that I could barely manage to get through it. Reading it was a horrific chore and not one I would urge on anyone.

Told through the eyes of woman warrior Sulien ap Gwien, _The King's Peace_ is a part of the history of the "fictional" land of Tar Tanagiri during the reign of its King, Urdo. The King bears a striking and less than coincidental resemblance to the legendary Arthur and the land is remarkably similar in politics and history to 6th century Britain.

Now, I generally enjoy any and all re-imaginings of the "Matter of Britain." Unfortunately, _The King's Peace_ was less a re-imagining than it was a re-naming. Although the introduction specifically states "this is not our world or our history," there is nothing at all to differentiate Urdo and Tar Tanagiri from Arthur and Britain, aside from the names. Likewise, every detail is pulled directly from our world and simply renamed. The long-haired raiders are no longer Saxons, they're Jarns, and their god is not Odin but a remarkably similar one-eyed personage called Gangrader. The toga-wearing conquerers of former times are not Romans but Vincans, and their language, which consists entirely of Latin words, is Old Vincan. You have the Morgause Character and the Gawain Character, the Guinevere Character and the Lot Character, but no person or situation that is newly interpreted or that stands alone. I found this not only annoying but incredibly tiresome, as it contributed to the book's being predictable and one-dimensional. There was no spark to catch the imagination.

The main character and narrator is neither a deep nor subtle thinker. Content with being a soldier and having as little real responsibility as possible, she is one of those bluff and hearty souls who often appear as supporting characters in fantasy novels. The Captain of the Guard, the Master of Horse, the King's Father-in -Law. You know the type. They make really good supporting characters, but abysmal main characters because they have no real opinions or insights; in fact, they shy away from them wherever possible. This allows Sulien to undergo a brutal attack in the first chapter and never allow it to affect her thoughts or personality. It allows her to have unreasoning and inexplicable devotion to a king who is utterly devoid of personality. And it turns a 500-odd page novel into an excruciatingly boring chronicle of the details of feasts and battles without ever demanding that the characters develop or display any motivation for their actions beyond the obvious.

Read this book if you're looking for something long that never explores much of anything with depth or orginal insight. Otherwise giveit a miss -- unless you're looking for a cure for insomnia.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Plodding and just outright boring, April 10, 2005
By Seth_Saoirse (Jacksonville,FL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King's Peace (The King's Peace, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I suppose it's unfair of me to write a review of a book that I could barely finish, however if it prevents someone interested in good fantasy from picking up this monotonous work so be it. I must state that I wholeheartedly enjoyed Ms. Waltons "Tooth and Claw" this novel however lacks imagination and thoughtfulness. The main character Sulien lacks the dimension to carry this story she is raped and then finds friendship with her rapist, we are to believe that she has a child, loves him but then leaves him in the care of people she dislikes and who practice a religion she does not respect.

Time passes in chunks, background that would have been helpful in fleshing out the story is overlooked for the next battle. Sulien is hostile to her mother but we are never told why. She at one point in the story is granted lordship and land but refuses it (guess she forgot about her son being cared for free of charge by those monks) to continue serving Urdo, a lifeless, uninspiring king who spits out the necessary reassuring platitudes.

I cannot imagine how Ms Walton stretched this god awful story into multiple books while cutting out so many details that would have made the story a worthwhile read.

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Ghost writer wanted, December 17, 2002
By Joan Weinstein "Book Worm" (Webster, NH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King's Peace (Sulien) (Mass Market Paperback)
Now I know why people who try to write their autobiographies are better off getting a ghost writer. Jo Walton should have gotten a ghost writer for her main character, Sulien ap Gwien. This story had such a good start and the potential for a great book was there, but Ms. Walton obviously chose to write it from the point of view of an aged, unimaginative, female, retired soldier.

Sulien is raped by invaders and after watching her would-be rescuer, her older brother Darien, get killed, she also is left for dead. She is sent by her father to plead for help from the king. On her way, she comes upon a skirmish between the invaders and soldiers of her country. With her anger at the invaders so fresh, she proves herself a more than worthy opponent and fighter. Lo and behold, King Urdo himself is the leader of this band of soldiers! He is so impressed by Sulien's fighting capabilities that he makes her a part of his personal pennon. The king goes back with her to her father and pledges to give aide. That is as exciting as the story gets!

You never get to explore any character's personality. The story drones on and on about where Sulien goes and about her battles. But even the battle scenes are dull and glossed over. I am not one to put a book down even if it is dull, but this is one of the 4 books I could not finish in my life and that life has not been short!

I'm sorry Ms. Walton, but I do not agree with Robin Hobb and Poul Anderson who gave you great reviews.

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars What a slog., July 23, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The King's Peace (The King's Peace, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I'm not qualified to write this review because, try as I might, I just couldn't finish this dreary, aimless, meticulously written chronicle of events about which I couldn't care less. I read about 60% of it and, when my brain begain to ossify, I had to stop. I love fantasy, including Tolkien, Watt-Evans, Donaldson, etc. This lacked any of their charms, being instead a kind of diary kept by a soldier who allies herself for no apparent reason not to a cause, but to a king. She reveres him to the utmost, yet her independent character makes this unlikely in general, and unexplained in particular. She's a kickass combatant and successful leader, so I guess a certain audience (yes, them) will go for it. I wouldn't call it a feminist book or even a "woman's" book (whatever that might be), per se, though there is the occasional whiff of horse-worship rising from its pages.

My problem with it is, as detailed and solidly plotted as it is, there's nothing at all to interest a reader here.

Haldeman's "Forever War" captured the grinding monotony and pervasive emptiness that war can inflict on the warriors. This book only inflict those things on the reader, with battles against enemies we have no real reason to dislike, descriptions of antique martial systems we have no way to understand, and political intrigues we have no cause to find intriguing. It's as though it's all about someone else's war, not mine.

The protagonist starts off credibly, but I sensed that a certain message, delivered in the way she deals with the life-long consequences of early events, was a bit too dear to the author. It left me thinking that this character was living someone else's ideals, but not her own, while her entire persona seemed based on the principle of self-determination. She ends up being a puppet, when nothing could be less like her. And, there's that bizarre devotion to the king, totally unexplained (in the first 60%, anyway), but rammed into your consciousness every few pages. Again, it just doesn't make sense.

I won't go into the extensive local vocabulary used except to say I didn't understand much of it (what's a "sequifer?"). A glossary would have been a fine idea. I've seen it noted elsewhere that this book seems to have suffered from poor editing. I don't know who to blame, editors or someone else, but there were more missing periods and unclosed quotations in this book than I've seen since getting back my high-school typing assignments.

I once read a book called, "Of Gods and Fighting Men," which was a compendium of Irish mythology. It had no story either, but recited the deeds and battles of a long line of fantastic beings. If you can find it, read that instead; it has the advantage of being a real mythology, if that's not a self-contradiction, while this book is just a made-up bore.

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed in indiana, September 26, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The King's Peace (Sulien) (Mass Market Paperback)
I have never reviewed a book before but this one I couldn't pass up. This was not only the worst fantasy I've ever read it's the worst book period. I couldn't get to know any of the characters and the story line kept jumping from one thought to another. I've read some of the other reviews and peaple either loved it or hated it. I love fantasy and have read it for 30 years. I don't know if I will ever read Jo Walton again...

By Ben Klausner (Redmond, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Farthing (Mass Market Paperback)
The good thing about this book is the detail view of upper class British society circa 1948. The bad is that the characters are lame, the plot is contrived, and the "alternate history" angle hangs completely unsupported. Finally, the murder mystery is never satisfactorily explained, the guilty partys' motivation is nebulous, the results of the murder are improbable, the frame is so weak it would be thrown out of a British court, and the ending is a complete dud.

Other than that, it might be worth it if it only cost a farthing.

4 of 21 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars not for traditional mystery fans, February 18, 2007
By Immigrant "E.D." (USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Farthing (Hardcover)
I don't recommend this book for traditional mystery fans, although the plot centers around a murder in an imaginary 1948 England. The political and sexual/homosexual undertones take the place of a hard to solve case. In fact, the solution is handed to the (gay) inspector on a silver platter, so to speak. I also wonder why almost every main character in the book is either homosexual, bisexual, or an adulterer/adulteress (or a combination of these). Was this supposed to make the characters well rounded, or complicate the case, or just show a picture of British upper class? I don't think it added to the book's value in any case.

2 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Farthing worth-less, September 30, 2007
review is from: Farthing (Mass Market Paperback)
The dialogue is so badly written I couldn't force myself to get past page 10.
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