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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by CareOtters, Sep 28, 2018.

  1. CareOtters

    CareOtters Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    This is the series which has grabbed much of my attention lately. It's probably the best example of its particular subgenre - police procedural urban fantasy. It's a great deal classier than most urban fantasy, reading a little like what could happen if Ian Rankin had written the Dresden Files.

    There's a deep and abiding love of the setting built into every aspect of the book, and the characterisation is absolutely excellent. From the mixed-race protagonist's nonchalant exploration of London's multiculturalism to the honest emotional states of the side characters, there's a sincerity about the human aspect of this series which is hard to come by in genre fiction. One of my favourite little pieces of character work is the backstory of the protagonist - before becoming a police officer, he wanted to become an architect. But he's shite at drawing, so he had to abandon the dream. Still, it's a sincere interest of his, and we get a constant narrative about the architecture of the London setting - at one point his old-timey magician mentor mocks him as a city boy for knowing twenty types of brick bond on sight but being unable to name the most common types of tree in England.

    It leans a little more towards the crime end of the spectrum than fantasy, but for once I'm okay with that. The two are twined together, and we get a very detailed look at the nuances of modern policing. There's an ongoing parallel between the old-world street policing and magic versus the new-world technologically integrated police work. Right down to the police jargon, endless acronyms, inside culture and humour, it feels like a lot of work went into researching and creating the background here.

    As far as the magic goes, it's an interesting mix. There's an implication that there is a science behind magic, just nobody knows about it, and Peter Grant spends a fair bit of time experimenting around trying to figure out how it works. He's scientifically literate, as well, and I was honestly delighted when he started chatting to another character about his attempts to introduce randomness to tests, set up control experiments, and so on.

    I read a lot of shit books and enjoy them. Hell, this is a fanfiction forum. But this one is genuinely great and I highly recommend it. I'm not alone, so here, have a (admittedly rather pretentious) review from Beardy McBeardFace

     
  2. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    As an addition to the point about Aaronovitch being a 'proper geek', his credentials on that front should be established by him writing for Doctor Who back when Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor.

    Anyway, yes, this is a brilliant series - one of the only ones that has won over my whole family. I really need to do a reread, because over the last couple of releases, I've found myself a little baffled by some of the secondary characters - have we met them before, or are they just known to the cast? - but that hasn't yet affected my enjoyment or understanding of anything.
     
  3. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Very much enjoy this series and I'm looking forward to the next one. Some great concepts put to use, such as the rivers and ghosts.

    I have one gripe for the later installments. Spoilers for all books:

    The character of Lesley May bothers me, both in terms of magical progression and her reasonings for doing what she does.

    Further to that, I get the feeling she escaped capture in the latest one because the author needed her to escape, not because she outwitted/outsmarted the protagonists. It stank of plot convenience.

    But other than that, a great series well worth reading.
     
  4. CareOtters

    CareOtters Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    Man, me too. Lesley was great in the first book. And for some of the second. But then once she started picking up magic, being inexplicably better than Peter at it (and everything else) all at once, in such a constant stream of condescension really soured me. It kinda fit as a reaction to what happened to her, and I see what the author was trying to do, but it fell really sour for me.

    And then her 'betrayal' and all the convenient plot twists around that to make things work just so were so contrived. The master/apprentice parallel with Grant/Nightingale and Lesley/FacelessMan feels rather tacky all around. It's the one point at which the story feels built out of setpieces rather than flowing naturally.
     
    Joe
  5. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Read the first of this cause Otters got me interested. I'll have to grab the others in the series, it wasn't world breakingly good, but I enjoyed it and I got that feeling I usually do after I read a book that I like of "what am I going to do with myself." Obviously, read the others.
     
  6. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    The audible books for this series are amazing. They are narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who has a smooth voice like velvet, and they these little snatches of jazz music during scene transitions. I really live the Rivers of London series and while the books themselves are good, the narration on the audio version pushes it over the top.
     
  7. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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  8. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    Just finished the latest installment, really enjoyed it. It's well up to the standard of the rest of the series, pacy and action packed, interesting plot and a few surprising twists.

    Didn't see the Faceless Man getting killed in this one, as there's at least one more book to go. And I absolutely didn't see it being Lesley that kills him.

    I'll reiterate my earlier comment, that the recurring cast confuse me a bit, but that's not so much an issue with the writing/story, more the fact that it's been a few years since I read the relevant installment. I suppose Aaronovitch could go the Jim Butcher route and offer up constant recaps, but in some ways I prefer this assumption of familiarity; it's the seventh book, after all, and a reread would be no hardship.