Another fabulous New Crobuzon book from Mieville. It touches on a lot of the same themes as his previous books. If you found those too depressing, you'll find the same from this one - if, like me, you loved Perdido Street Station and Scar, you'll love Iron Council, too. One of the things I like about the New Crobuzon books is how Mieville deals with a fantastic world full of magic. When power first arises, it's a source of mystery and social change. Before that change can make a real differene, though, it's co-opted by the social power structure, and incorporated into the subjugation of the populace. The lesson? Magic, like technology, is not power, and it is not morality. I like Mieville because his writing reflects the world the way I see it, and nothing is so reassuring as being told that we're right.
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
This took me a lot longer to read than I thought it would (I finished it yesterday). Thanks to the timely birthday intervention of the fabulous corbet, I had my own copy to work through, though, and finally made it. This was a great book, but very informationally dense. Aside from the definite real life applications of the books's material, it's also a great resource for anyone who wants to write complex politcal scheming (or run an Amber game). It's also full of interesting historical bits - I'll wait until neeuqdrazil reads it to find out how accurate thie history is. This was my "serious" book for this cycle.
WorldWired by Elizabeth Bear
The third and final in Bear's genre-straddling series. I was very happy with this book. I find Bear's writing flows just right for my head - I found myself getting irritated with other authors for not being as smooth. WorldWired deals with a lot of characters, as does the Martin book below. I think both do a good job of keeping many balls in the air at once, but of the two, I think I may have been more satisfied with WorldWired. Bear would be my favourite author of 2005, except that I reserved that space for Charlie Stross after Iron Sunrise's description of a supernova.
A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
The very long awaited next book in Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice. Apparently, the book grew too large to publish in one volume, so Martin pulled out half the chapters, and this is the result. The next volume should be out shortly. The books in this series change POV character from chapter to chapter, so A Feast for Crows only covers half of the characters - the other half will be their story for the same time period in the next volume. While I liked the book, I think Martin is overdoing it. He's spending a lot of paper on characters who aren't directly important - while thier actions are significant, I think it would be better if, rather than 5 or 6 chapters, they got a paragraph or two explaining thier actions. The series doesn't need more emotional involvement with more characters - the focus is starting to get blurry. The fact that the book was pulled in half shows in spots - there are bits that come across as a little awkward, or where the character's personality doesn't quite seem right. While still better than all the other Massive Unending Fantasy series, I think A Feast for Crows may be the weakest of the lot. Which isn't to say that I didn't like it, or that I'm not eagerly awaiting the next volume so that I can FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!