Terry Pratchett is one of the most famous British writers and his Discworld series has been read by millions. He has been praised by many as one of the funniest writers and master of the fantasy genre. His books have been hailed as literary classics and it has even been said that Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet.
So naturally hearing such praise (and being a fan of Douglas Adams and fantasy), I gave it a go. While I found them enjoyable, I wasn’t blown away. They were good but nothing great. So, I thought maybe I was missing something and wasn’t appreciating him fully (Pratchett hardly has critics so the problem must be with me). Or maybe I just haven’t got to the best book yet. So, I kept reading and in total, I’ve read 13 Discworld books, 7 in the City Watch series (up to Thud!), 3 in the Death series (up to Soul Music), the first 2 of the Moist von Lipwig books and Small Gods (also Good Omens which half counts).
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely brilliant elements, clever ideas and hilarious moments. I have a taste for absurd humour and I love political commentary, so there’s a lot I did like about the books. Yet, I began to suspect that Discworld might be overrated. Such a thought is blasphemy, so I kept it to myself until I read enough books to see that while there are some very good books, there are also plenty of mediocre ones. Continue reading “Are The Discworld Books Overrated?”
When The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch was released in 2006 it was a massive hit. Not only did it become a bestseller, but it is also considered something of a modern classic. It won high praise and Lynch was counted among the most promising writers in the fantasy field, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss and Joe Abercrombie. This was an amazing achievement for a first novel, so expectations were high for the rest of the series. Did we have a new classic before us?
Yet, the follow-up books were something of a disappointment. Instead of soaring high, the rest of the series went downhill. Complaints began to pile up about the flaws in the newer books and even fans admitted some problems. Something was missing, some of the brilliance had been lost. Of course, all opinion is subjective and there are probably those who really liked the follow-ups. Yet no one would claim that they are as good as the first one.
Myself, I absolutely loved Lies and consider it one of my favourite novels, yet I was underwhelmed by Red Seas Under Red Skies and Republic of Thieves (although the names are fantastic). The original magic was gone and the plot seemed to wander directionless. A fourth book will soon appear and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll bother to buy it.
So, what happened? Where did it go wrong? Continue reading “What Went Wrong With The Gentlemen Bastard Series?”
Esperanto isn’t a common discussion topic, certainly not in the English speaking world. There’s rarely articles and hardly any books about it, so naturally I was excited about the new history of the language, “Bridge of Words” by Esther Schor, which is billed as the first book about the whole history of Esperanto. The book narrates the history of the language, the ideas behind as well as the personal experience of the author who spent years in the Esperanto community.
Hopefully this will generate interest in the language and provide a valuable resource to people who want to learn more about the language. So far, there have been some reviews in leading journals which will introduce the language to many people for the first time. However, these reviews are written by outsiders who know little about Esperanto (so there is a lot of the inevitable ‘Esperanto failed’ nonsense) and in fact the author herself was an outsider before she wrote this book. So I decided to write a review from an insider’s perspective, from the view of a committed Esperantist. Continue reading “An Esperantist Reviews “Bridge of Words””
Four years ago, I sat at the desk in my bedroom and wrote my very first blog. Little did I know that over the next four years I would write another 324 posts and that my blog would be viewed almost 900,000 times and now average around 1,000 views per day. So I would like to take a moment of reflection of the journey so far. Continue reading “Four Years of Blogging”
Milton Friedman is one of the most famous economists that ever lived, yet reading his most famous book, Capitalism And Freedom; it is hard to see why. The book is surprisingly basic and doesn’t offer much of an argument. Friedman merely states things (such as the minimum wage causes unemployment) without offering any supporting evidence. It is as though simply saying it was enough to make it true. There are hardly any references or citations in the book, which makes it very difficult to know if any of what he says is actually true. There is no reference to history or current affairs or if any of his ideas have worked before or if his criticisms reflect reality. Continue reading “Capitalism And Freedom”
WARNING SPOILER ALERT. DON NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE FINAL EPISODE OF HOUSE OF CARDS AND WANT TO DISCUSS THE ENDING. If you haven’t seen House of Cards I recommend you stop reading and go watch it now. It’s a political drama starring Kevin Spacey and unique in that it is only available online and not on television.
Continue reading “House Of Cards Review”
To a neo-classical economist zero is just another price. To the average consumer it brings the magical connotations of free. We are always trying to get something for nothing so if something is free then consumers impulsively take the option. Ariely shows how this impulse comes with hidden costs that debunk the myth of rational consumers. Whether it’s from eating too much free food or accumulating worthless free pens, clickers etc, people are always trying to get a free lunch. Continue reading “Predictably Irrational Chapter 3 – The Cost Of Zero Cost”
If you like epics, you’ll like The Casual Vacancy, author J.K. Rowling’s first book after the Harry Potter series. It is a story of a town rather than an individual. Rowling paints a broad canvass of many different intersecting lives set in a small English town. The plot revolves around the aftermath of the death of local councillor Barry Fairbrother. An election is held to fill his seat on the local parish council. It is set in a small town racked by division and conflict, between parents and children, husbands and wives, rich and poor. Then someone starts posting secrets onto the internet. . . Continue reading “Review Of The Casual Vacancy”
I have just finished reading How Rich Countries Got Rich . . . And Why Poor Countries Stay Poor by Erik Reinert. The book is interesting for it engages what should be the main question of economics, why are some countries rich and other countries poor? This crucial question is woefully under researched and barely discussed in mainstream economics. I have completed two years of economics study in university without yet having heard an explanation for this phenomenon.
Reinert’s main argument is that the wealth of a nation is based upon the economic activities it specialises in. Poor countries are poor because they specialise in agriculture and the production of raw materials. This is an economic dead end as it does not allow for increases in productivity or innovation, which is how countries get rich. On the other hand, rich countries got rich by industrialising and building up a manufacturing base. Continue reading “How Rich Countries Got Rich . . . And Why Poor Countries Stay Poor”