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For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ernest Hemingway
Tad Williams
Sorcerer & Gentleman
Elizabeth Willey
Toll the Hounds: Book Eight of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Steven Erikson
Island in the Sea of Time - S.M. Stirling I give credit to Stirling for making such an accurate time travel story and for clearly doing his research, making it as realistic as possible. However, that's one of the only satisfactions I received. Eventually said research became overbearing, and instead of letting his readers learn and come to understand the world through the lives of their characters he resorted to info-dumping in excruciating detail, and often in the most annoying places. There would be numerous times in the middle of character interaction he would pause and proceed to explain in one to three long paragraphs things happening that were of no real interest (how a machine works, how a ship is built, what's needed to feed a couple thousand people, etc.), taking you briefly out of the story. There were also times where he would dedicate an entire scene to characters talking about how such-and-such works. No relevance to the story whatsoever.

You don't get a whole lot of feel for the characters either. They're all pretty much shadowed by this drivel. Except, perhaps, Marian Alston, which I found to be a likeable character. The rest of them were boring with no inner dilemma to make them seem more real and even less outer drama with each other. Unless, of course, you were a "bad person". The "bad people" were basically anyone who disagreed with the main characters, whether it was to an extreme and they wished for physical harm, or if they just had different beliefs. Please. I only buy into the black and white characterization with children's book because it's something children can understand. I let that pass. By the time you're writing adult fiction, however, I think you should have enough experience in life to be able to write characters who are not all good or all bad. People have faults and make mistakes, even if they do good things. And guess what, not all people who oppose them are evil.

It's sad because I think he could have done a lot with the story itself and the characters had it not been something of a "circle of friends" with a lot of unnecessary information crammed in.