I obviously kickstarted all of this with Seth Dickinson's Great debut.
I had lots of thoughts about this book, but not very clear headed nor systematic, so I refrained from commenting on it when I finally read it two months ago. Here are some of them, fragmented as they may be:
English is not my first language, and thus I am not a good critic of its usage in the aesthetical sense. Nevertheless, I could only feel its total mastery at the helm of the entire book. I loved several things in it. I loved the intrigue, obviously, but the politics as well. I loved this notion of power dynamics overwhelming human relationships to the point of demanding discipline in all human behaviors to the point of oppression, in order for something as powerful as the masquerade empire to function.
I loved the Herbert elements in it, basically exchanging magic for "Mentats" in a fantasy medieval setting, and the whole book almost reads like science fiction: what would happen if you could have such incredible knowledge about economics and sociology (at perhaps even better levels than our actual world currently), so that you could dominate colonies and foreign territories with mere brains and very subtle, systemic interference?
Related, my favorite part of the book is when Baru carefully explains how she is going to destroy the entire first rebellion.
Spoilers ensue, so beware. (no, I hate spoiler tags, so beware again.)
The plot moves fluidily through the various themes of the book, apparently never letting anything insightful out of the hook. I'd suggest that the way the empire is constantly portrayed as this evil thing from the get go, makes it slightly less nuanced and interesting. Surely this object should have some benefits for its existence, but they're never even referenced, as far as I remember (I can be awfully wrong, ofc).
And then there's that final bit. I can't quite put my finger on exactly why I kinda disliked it, but the word that comes to mind is "tired". Hyperboling a bit, it's as if at this point, the story is just going through the motions which were long before decided, but no longer really believed. I won't say it's a Shyamallanian twist, because that would be too harsh, but I can't but feel this weird turn of events reeks of some ... lack of restraint.
I know, the overall trilogy plot needed this twist, I know. I just don't feel it works that well. And it sort of kills the main character for me going further. Why would I care about this character which is utterly destroying everything in her path, in order to get herself into maybe, possibly, perhaps, in a position where she can do some harm in the Masquerade? It looks a tad ridiculous. Why wouldn't the Masquerade just kill her on the spot right there at the end? Are they so naive they don't know her intents? How can such an empire read through all of what she accomplished in that last rebellion, knowing full well she was on their pocket all the time, and then fail to understand her to the end?
I dunno, I feel all of this was not well set up for me. Nevertheless, on the whole I really loved reading it, and it was a breath of fresh air, coming out of a celibacy of this stuff right into a great book as it is.
My second book (books) were the Three Body Problem trilogy.
Wow. I had no idea what I was going to get myself into. It blew me away. But my time is up here, so all I can really say about it is how incredibly powerful most of its ideas were, and I'll never forget the picture of a flattened bunch of planets as a landscape of glooming impending final doom. Just delightful books. I cannot recommend them more, but I'm also sure most of you already have read them a long time ago. Oh well.