ex libris reviews
1 April 2006
All work and no play makes Will a dull boy.
This is a little embarassing. After eight years of publishing Ex Libris, I have reached a new low--there's only one (1) review in this issue.
It's not that I didn't read any books this month; I did. I read a lot of books. It's not that I didn't have any time; I did. I spent it reading and playing video games with and without the kids. What I didn't have was much in the way of creative juices.
I don't propose to make excuses; but I spent this month putting the finishing touches on the first release of a software project that was no more than a twinkle in my project manager's eye a year ago. I'm the lead (and for the most part the only) developer on the project; and work-wise, this has been the most intense year of my life to date. I don't mean to imply that I was overworked, or that my boss should have brought in another developer; if he had, we wouldn't have finished in time.
A single skilled programmer can move much faster than a team of programmers, and the project we had in hand was just small enough that a single skilled programmer could pull it off in a year. I'd spend the previous six years of working with (and eventually managing) a good-sized team, moving at the speed a good-sized team necessitates. Starting this project, I was cut loose. I could run ahead at my own speed, and make progress in leaps and bounds. It was exhilarating, and pretty much the most fun I've had in my working life.
But it was also something like a long-distance sprint. I was working 40 hours a week...but I was spending most of those 40 of those hours actively developing the software: defining, designing, implementing, and testing code, rather than attending meetings. And I was doing it in Tcl; which is a remarkably quick, efficient language to implement and test code in. Writing software is creative work, and being creative for eight hours a day, five days a week, will exhaust anybody's creative juices.
So now that the bulk of the work is done, and all that remains is dotting a few I's and crossing a few T's (or possibly vice versa) I've simply got nuttin' left.
Anyway, enjoy the review; and with luck I'll be doing better next month.
This is the final book in Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy, and although it took me a long time to get through it I enjoyed it very much, and stayed up late on Saturday night to finish it. This is fairly typical for Hobb's books: they are very long, and slow to get started; and the problems the characters face are painful enough and develop slowly enough that I usually prefer to read them in small doses. But constant acceleration can build quite a bit of momentum, and I usually end up reading the last couple of hundred pages in one or two big gulps. The effect is more pronounced when the book is the last in a trilogy, as this one is.
It would be difficult to say much about the plot without spoiling the earlier books, so I won't; but I will say that the ending is quite satisfactory. It resolved the major conflicts (of which there were many), tied off the loose ends, and left me wanting more. Not too shabby, all things considered.
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