Naturally, I have a lot of opinions about the various books I've read. Here I will share those opinions, mostly because I can, but also because you never know, it might help someone. Perhaps I might help you decide whether to read a particular book. Maybe a review will pique your interest in a book you've never heard of before. Who knows?
This series includes six books now, of which I've read the first four (Wizard's First Rule, Stone of Tears, Blood of the Fold and Temple of the Winds).
I find the author's name ironic, because there is nothing good or kind in any of these extremely weighty tomes. Although the first book has an interesting and new idea in it (rare enough these days), the idea isn't worth the book's hundreds of pages of senseless carnage. Goodkind is quite comfortable with atrocity on any scale, from the individual up to entire populations at once. The frequency and brutality of his atrocities increases as the series progresses. I only kept slogging through the series as far as I did because I thought book 4 was the end, and I was hoping to finish and get some resolution. But just as I finished book 4, book 5 came out, and I realized that he was going to milk this series indefinitely, so I cut my losses.
Before you venture into any of these books, ask yourself whether there is anything one human being can do to another that disturbs you or turns your stomach. I assure you, it's all in there somewhere; and once you've read it, you can never un-read it. I sure wish I could.
Imagine one person, one mind...in two bodies. The Paratwa series is about genetically modified humans, called paratwa, who consist of two human bodies. I don't mean two minds that are linked; I mean one intelligence, one personality, one consciousness, housed in two bodies.
Hinz's world is post-apocalyptic; humanity destroyed the earth in a ferocious war hundreds of years ago. The paratwa were developed as weapons for that war. Consider: One mind controlling two bodies has a whole list of terrific advantages as an assassin. The bodies can be split up and sent into a situation separately, yet what either body sees, both bodies know and can act on. The bodies can watch each other--essentially, the assassin can provide his/her own cover. And what other assassin can be simultaneously behind and in front of a target? And the list goes on.
What impresses me most about this series is that Hinz really develops the idea of the paratwa. He seems to have an understanding of what it would be like that is uncanny at times.
With all that said, the world he sets the story in is bizarre, surreal, and sometimes even disturbing, so it's not all a happy trip (as you might expect in a post-apocalyptic world where a species designed as assassins are main characters).
The first book, Liege-Killer, is the best of the series, in my opinion. It starts slow; the first couple of chapters aren't exactly riveting. But there's an excellent come-from-nowhere shocker of a twist, which I always like. The other two books, Ash Ock and The Paratwa, get downright odd at times, but are still very enjoyable reads.
This ought to be a review of the entire Mars series, of which there are two more books (Green Mars and Blue Mars, shockingly enough). However, I can't bring myself to read the other two; reading the first one was such an interminable grind. They're still in the queue, and I have good intentions, but realistically, I doubt I'll ever find myself in straits sufficiently dire.
But I'm not writing this review because I want to trash Red Mars. On the contrary, I'm writing it because I want to avoid steering people away from it who might enjoy it. You see, it's only me who doesn't like it. Everyone else who reads this book, and indeed the entire series, loves it.
My problem with the book is, quite simply, that I don't like any of the characters in it, I don't care about their stories, and I don't care if they die, which hinders my ability to take any interest in the storyline. The characters range from evil to implausible, their interactions from dull to annoying.
But as far as the technology goes, this book is great. It details a permanent colonization/terraforming expedition to Mars--what it would need, how it could be done. That part of it is enthralling, plausible, and very impressive. Anyone who enjoys a hard SF book, or can read a book purely for the techno-toys and ignore the plot and the characters will have a great time with this book. If the characters had just sent their stuff to Mars and left themselves behind, I'd have enjoyed the book a lot more.
So, don't let the "1" rating I gave Red Mars put you off. Go read it! You'll like it; it's just me.
|Copyright © 2001 Lisa Nelson.||Last Modified: 18 November 2001||Back to Top|