Today's reviews are both the first books in a long series. Neither hit the mark for me and I'm trying to decide if they're worth continuing.
Master and Commander
by Patrick O'Brian
Set during the Napoleonic Wars, a navy man Jack Aubrey and a surgeon, Stephen Maturin, form a friendship based on their shared love of music. As so many others have noted, the greatest things about this book (and from what I’ve heard, the whole series), is their friendship. While I did love that aspect of the novel, I struggled with the technical side of the rest of it. No one can say O’Brian didn’t pay attention to the details of the British navy in the 1800s. I love that Jack is a bit of a hot head, while Stephen is cautious and patient. They balance each other out. Stephen is new to the naval side of things, but is motivated to become the ship’s doctor when he realizes the new species he will be able to see on his travels.
The series has become a classic for good reason. O’Brian spares no detail in describing ship life during that time. The politics of each promotion or judicial case are like walking a tight rope. For me, I felt buried in the details at times.
BOTTOM LINE: Honestly, I really wanted to love this one more than I did. I struggled to stay interested in it and felt a bit relieved when I finished it. I think I’ll wait a decade or so and then maybe give it a try again.
(The Dark Tower #1)
by Stephen King
Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower saga begins here, with Roland, a gunslinger in a futuristic wild west. Through flashbacks we learn about his childhood and upbringing. In the present day scenes we travel through dusty towns and desert lands in pursuit of the “man in black”.
The book just felt so stilted to me. At no point did I feel really connected to Roland or invested in his journey. It felt more like a string of short stories to me. They all lead to the same place, but not in a way that made me want to go along on his journey. I felt more like Stephen King had been challenged to write a western and this was the result.
I've heard and read quite a few reviews that say the first book is not a great representation of the series as a whole. I'd love to hear from others who have read the whole series. Is it worth continuing because it gets better or should I give it up if the first one didn't click for me?
BOTTOM LINE: I didn’t love it and I’m not sure if I should give the next book a chance.