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The Philosophical Strangler by Eric Flint

The Philosophical Strangler

by Eric Flint

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Joe's World (book 1)

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304636,791 (3.27)4
  1. 00
    Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David (DemetriosX)
    DemetriosX: Very similar senses of humor and narrative viewpoints.

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Reading this book was sort of like sitting across a table from a madman or a drunk who’s trying to tell you a story. Well, to be honest I’ve never had either experience, but reading this book is what I imagine that experience might be like. The story is told in a rambling, conversational manner, and the narrative jumps back and forth in time as the storyteller interrupts himself to go off on random tangents. The stories have many preposterous elements to them, and occasionally even the narrator will say he can’t explain how certain things happened. And yet, in spite of all this, the story really wasn’t confusing. It was just… odd.

The narrator of this story is an agent for a strangler. A strangler in this setting is basically like an assassin hired to kill people, and he usually accomplishes the job by strangling them. The narrator, his agent, is responsible for finding clients and negotiating the fees. The agent himself is a tiny, wimpy guy who usually isn’t much use in a fight but, since the strangler is ridiculously strong, he doesn’t really need help anyway. The strangler is infatuated with philosophy, much to the agent’s dismay, hence the name of the book: The Philosophical Strangler. The story is about the various jobs they take, and random other adventures they find themselves caught up in. Or the story is about hanging out in a bar. It kind of depends on which part of the story is being told.

After the darker things I’ve been reading lately, I decided I should read something lighter in tone. I’ve had this e-book for several years, originally downloaded from the Baen Free Library, but I kept putting off reading it because I’ve been skeptical about it. I thought the book looked like it would be overly silly, but I’ve read a few books by Eric Flint that I really liked, so I figured I should at least give it a try. Overly silly, often crossing into complete absurdity, pretty much describes this book. It occasionally made me laugh, but everything was just too silly for me to really lose myself in the story or become invested in the characters. I love it when books have humor, but only if that humor is in a believable context.

I didn’t expect to like the book at all, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would once I resigned myself to the fact that the story would be ridiculous. It certainly supplied the desired change of pace from what I’ve been reading, but I started to lose interest by the end. It was a quick read, which is good because I would have lost patience with it if it had gone on much longer. There’s another book that’s set chronologically in the middle of this book, apparently telling a story that’s frequently referenced but always glossed over in this book. I already have that e-book since it too had been available from the Baen Free Library a few years back, but I’ve decided not to read it. ( )
  YouKneeK | Nov 15, 2015 |
My absolute favorite book by Eric Flint, and he is in my top five authors, so yes I really do love this book. This is the first in the Joe's World series, of which he has lamentably written only two thus far.

Now I understand that there is not as much of a following as for his other series, that the high humor in Joe's World is truly only savored by a few. I understand the cries of the masses, the myriad of intriguing projects, the wonderful authors that are just clamoring to work with him. So he works on other books. But Joe's World is a priceless gem that can only be told by Eric Flint! No one else has the twisted imagination, the dripping satire, the ability to drown on and on and on and on and on and on till just before the point that one screams and throws the book across the room. In no other fantasy series have I ever had to look up words every few minutes. No other fantasy cries forth with such interesting, intriguing, demented, unforgettable characters. These books are after all one of the very few series that I have actually purchased multiple copies and then inflicted upon others (And yes inflicted is the right word). I have even read chapters of the books over the phone.

So do I love and recommend this book? Yes, yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes! Ignace and Greyboar are a charm to read, and Benvenuti Sfondrati-Piccolomini (admittedly only a minor character in this first book) is not to be missed. And as the wise man says 'Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity.'

A fun read for those demented few souls who are able to understand its high humor (and much easier to read than Forward the Mage or even A Desperate and Despicable Dwarf which you can only find as a work in progress online). ( )
  dlcooper | Jul 6, 2015 |
baen ebook
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
I love Eric Flint's writing - he is humorous and entertaining, and manages to bring serious topics into a book without making it a serious book. However, this particular book didn't carry me through it. I read somewhere that many of the chapters of this book were in fact written completely independently as short stories, and Mr. Flint cobbled them together into a novel. The result is a novel without much of a plot. Its appeal is in its cleverness and sometimes off-color humor, but you had best find that cleverness and humor immensely entertaining and repeatedly so, or you will grow tired of the book and not finish it - as was the case with me. The lack of consistent plot leaves no reason to want to finish the book when you lose interest.

Still, some people will love it. My brother thought it was absolutely hilarious through to the end. I did, in fact, find it highly enjoyable up until about half-way through, when I got bored with it. I'm giving it 3 stars for enjoying it half-way through, and a little extra for my brother's two cents.

I would recommend reading some of the author's other books that actually have well-considered plots rather than choosing this one, but if you wind up with a free copy somehow, it's worth starting it to see if you like it. The nice thing about a book without much plot is you can quit when you want to and not feel like you're missing out. What you can get out of this review is knowing, if and when you become tired of it, that there is no reason to force yourself to read further, because it's not going to change for the better. So, you've nothing to lose by trying it. Maybe you'll be like my brother and enjoy the heck out of it. Nothing risked, nothing gained! ( )
1 vote bibliojim | Nov 2, 2009 |
Tries too hard.

GreyBoar is a professional assassin/mugger, a strangler by preference with stupidly excesively developed musculature. His duly registered agent is Ignace, who is the narrator of this tale. He thinks he's funny.

The narrative tone is supposed to be some coniveal pub like gossipy session of telling stories. It quickly grates and doesn't get any better as the book progresses. One incident leads ot another which reminds me of when .... you never actaully get a reason. It is almost a collection of short stories. There is just about an underlying theme.

All fo the characters are ridiculously exagerated, Ignace is a midget, his girlfriends are dykes (their words), the sister equally over the top straightlaced, the bishops totally venel. For instance, there his Hell, and then 'The Place Worse Than That', without any normal for balance, it just fails.

The attempts at philosophy aren't any better - particularly the corruption of famous names, without linking to their underlying thoughts that they are famous for. It could have been funny, but without more actual philosophy to show that the author understood what he was trying to satirise, it isn't. The concept is all good, the execution just doens't work well enough to make it worth struggling through.

I did finish it, without having laughed at any point, and the ending was predictable. Is that all? I thought. ( )
  reading_fox | Aug 23, 2009 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eric Flintprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hickman,StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roach,RichardMapsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russo, CarolCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To David and Fred and Richard;
To Joanie, who fed us beer and spaghetti;
To Steve, on his couch;
And to the memory of Jerry O'Connell
First words
"To the contrary," demurred Greyboar, toying with his mug, "the secret lies entirely in the fingerwork." (prologue)
But that was all in the past. Ancient history. Forgotten unpleasantness.
It was bad enough when Greyboar was wasting his time (and my patience) searching for a philosophy of life. But now that he's found one, he's impossible.
GREYBOAR - Strangleure Extraordinaire

"Have Thumbs, Will Travel"

Customized Asphyxiations

No Gullet Too Big, No Weasand Too Small

My Motto: Satisfaction Garroteed, or
The Choke's on Me!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743435419, Mass Market Paperback)

When Greyboar, a professional strangler, discovers the Supreme Philosophy of Life, he becomes a new man--but how can a villain in good standing pay the bills with his philosophical exploration getting in the way? Then Greyboar's long-lost sister asks him to help persecuted dwarves escape their human oppressors.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:19 -0400)

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