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A few more book mini-reviews

Dune Messiah, Frank Herbert

The second Dune novel. About half the size of the original. I Always thought the first one ended abruptly with Paul Atreides becoming supremely powerful in a few chapters right at the end. It was as if Herbert got bored and finished it quickly. So I half-expected this short sequel to contain the events that maybe should have gone into the end of Dune. It doesn't. In fact not that much does seem to happen, and all the epic sense of scale from the first book is gone. Disappointing.



The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

Sequel to The da Vinci Code. Now I liked that and I'm not too snobbish to admit it. The sequel isn't bad (and is a big improvement on the rather lightweight first book in the series 'Angels and Demons'). It's more of the same really, only this time it's about Freemasons rather than the Illuminati or the Priory of Sion hoax. Another page-turner, although you wonder if there are any conspiracies left for Brown to write about. No doubt his publishers hope he will find some...



2010 Odyssey Two, Arthur C. Clarke

The sequel to 2001, although you knew that. What you might not have realised is that this is the sequel to the film, not the book (which was actually a novelisation of the film). It's very good, and I have to tip my hat to Clarke's talent as a writer and an imaginer, if that is a word. Compared to the first book, there is just one problem - it's difficult to keep up 2001's weird what-the-hell-is-going-on-ness when Mr Clarke actually tells us...




The Neutronium Alchemist, Peter F. Hamilton

Another sequel (I vowed to read only sequels this year - I have a tendency to start series and then leave them because I start another series). This is the sequel to The Reality Dysfunction. It's high-concept space opera on a truly massive scale. In truth, rather too massive - the sheer scale of each volume is somewhat off-putting at 1,200 pages plus. Can't deny that it's really very good though. Very thoroughly thought-out setting, and a sense of humour which doesn't seem out of place despite all the bad things that happen. But it's not an easy read, and the number of point-of-view characters (which seems close to one hundred) makes it the sort of book you will have to keep flicking backwards to remind yourself who x was or what y was doing when we last saw her.