All 2023 reviews - Shastrix Books

2023

All reviews

Call for the Dead

Call for the Dead

John le Carré

22nd January 2023

This is John le Carré’s first Smiley novel, published in the early 1960s, and setting up a series that would continue for 56 years yet only contain 9 novels.

Smiley is a burnt-out member of the Security Service, having served pre-war, during WW2, and post-war. He’s just doing routine things, when something goes wrong.

Amongst other things, it’s a fascinating glance back in time - at surface level to pre-decimal coinage, and deeper into plot-affecting elements like the lack of constant mobile communication.

But it’s also a great mystery story, and an interesting first look at a character who feels like he shouldn’t be compelling, but nonetheless is.

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Fearless

Fearless

Jack Campbell

22nd January 2023

This book, the second in the Lost Fleet series, has been sat on my shelf for quite some years since I read the first novel, and I was really nervous about picking it up. Hard military sci-fi is not normally my thing.

And yet somehow immediately I fell into the flow of this novel and found it incredibly gripping. The narrative is not complex - we follow the fleet captain as he goes about the business of organising his mission - flipping between character moments inside his head, and epic space battles.

I really like how the space travel and combat feels very real - the author has clearly spent a lot of time considering the real physics of how spaceships and fleets would really move and communicate - and hasn’t cut corners with magic tech solutions but instead made them keep elements of the plot.

I will certainly try not to wait so long before book three.

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The Fifth Elephant

The Fifth Elephant

Terry Pratchett

22nd January 2023

In my gradual re-read of Discworld’s Watch novels I’ve reached The Fifth Elephant, which is one that I have the least memory of from my previous reading which must have been around 15 years ago.

It’s a tale of diplomacy, as Vimes is sent to Uberwald for the coronation of the Low King. As such, it does that classic Vimes thing of putting him in an awkward situation and letting his character flow.

I found it a bit harder to get going than some Discworld novels, and it wasn’t until around halfway that I properly started to accelerate through. I don’t think it has quite the relaxed readability of some of the novels - there’s a lot starting to go on at a deeper level in this part of the series, and fewer quick surface level jokes.

Overall though, it’s a solid mystery story, with a fantastic amount of world building and proper exploration of several of the favourite Discworld characters.

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Top books

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  2. Fearless
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  4. The Fifth Elephant
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  6. Call for the Dead