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Walter Jon Williams is a legend in science fiction and fantasy, and writes pretty much the opposite of grimdark swords and sorcery, an excellent tonic when you have read too many depressing fantasy novels. That isn't to say that there aren't rogues and ambivalent characters (Quillifer himself is not exactly a standard hero), but his books are full of adventures, wit, and warmth - and Quillifer is his best book in ages, perhaps ever.
The story is set in a kingdom during quasi-Elizabethian times - there are knights and lords, but also cannon and playwrights and guilds and all of the other trappings of early modernity. There are many parallels to our own world as well, but not everything matches exactly, including the fact that the world of Quillifer had some magic in the past. The story itself is a coming-of-age story of the really likable rogue that is Quillifer - adventurer, scoundrel, and pawn of fate - as he makes his fortune in trade, wars, love,, and the court. I won't give away much, but it is always engaging, the detail level is terrific, and the language sings.
I strongly recommend this book if you like good old-fashioned swashbuckling fantasy with a slight twist. The reader becomes stronger throughout, and this is the first book of a planned series, so I am eagerly awaiting the next!
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
Woof! I'm just striking out left, right and center with my reads lately. QUILLIFER it's yet another book that I just couldn't get through. Maybe it's me. I just don't know anymore.
I got about three quarters of the way through this beast before finally throwing in the towel. After the fifteenth time that I put this book down I feel l finally decided not to pick it back up.
QUILLIFER tells the story of a fop who stumbled he's way from good fortune to good fortune while making a good deal of enemies along the way. It was well written and I actually enjoyed the fop quite a bit. The problem for me was the storyline itself. It was just all over the place. For having so many enemies, tragedies and drive Quillifer's story lacks urgency. He basically drifts from plot point to plot point and for me it got old after a while.
I usually give DNFs a straight one star rating but I'm giving this a extra for Quillifer's likability.
RECOMMENDATION: Probably Pass On It.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by Walter Jon Williams or narrated by Ralph Lister?
Maybe, but not because of this book.
I bought this book because I thoroughly enjoyed the author's short story in the anthology "Songs of the Dying Earth". "Quillifer" was a huge disappointment, but everyone deserves a second chance.
What will your next listen be?
"For We Are Many", by Dennys Taylor. This is the sequel to "We Are Legion", which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
He was irritating too.
What character would you cut from Quillifer?
Any additional comments?
"Quillifer" isn't a terrible book, but it wasn't for me.
The book is written in the first person. This is an approach which can work well, but often doesn't . In this book it doesn't.
I found the protagonist to be unlikable. A priapic, self-obsessed and self-important blowhard who, despite his tender years (eighteen) and lack of experience and training, possesses talents, abilities knowledge and social skills to shame James Bond. These awesome abilities allow him to best the most talented of opponents in any field of endeavor, no matter how many years or decades they may have devoted to honing their skills.
Quillifer stumbles from one tight spot to the next, achieving triumph after triumph, ravishing every attractive woman he chooses and rapidly growing wealthy and powerful. He commands armies, saves the Kingdom and moves in the highest circles in the land. A butcher boy does all of this - in the course of a few short months. At the end of the book he is still only eighteen years old. One hesitates to wonder what he might achieve in the next three days of his life, let alone the next thirty years.
The story is tedious and laboriously told. The prose is padded by massively over-detailed description. Rambling, irrelevant descriptions of geography, architecture, Quillifer's always-irritating opinions - and, most of all, unending descriptions of the politics of this dull land. Politics, politics, politics. Then, more politics. The author has obviously spent a great deal of time on the backstory to this book. And he is determined to demonstrate this. Ad nauseam
Similarly, the reader is treated to irrelevant details of history, ships, horses, artillery manufacture... every little aspect of the story. The author has studied these things and he is damned well going to let you know it.
This book's storyline is easily summarised; Quillifer gets into a tight spot. He then emerges triumphant, having bedded a great looking woman, made lots of money and gained power and influence. Then he does it again. And again. And again... whilst being extremely tedious, pretentious and irritating about it. Always irritating.
I usually like to persevere with a book series once I have started it. However, in reading the first book of this series I think that I have also read the sequels; I expect that they will all follow the pattern of my preceding paragraph.
As I said at the beginning of my review, this isn't a terrible book. I expect that many will enjoy it. But I didn't.