Just like The First Tom Holt Omnibus: Flying Dutch & Faust Among Equals (Tom Holt Omnibus), this one, "Tall Stories," is a mismatched set. Again, like the "First Tom Holt Omnibus," the first story, Expecting Someone Taller, is very good. While the second story, Ye Gods, is merely OK. As with that other Omnibus, I'm rating this one at the truncated average of the two books: an OK 3 stars out of 5. Below are my individual reviews for each of the books:
- "Expecting Someone Taller:" Having just recently discovered Tom Holt, I'm wondering why he's flown below the radar for so long (as of this writing, the book is almost 2 decades old -- yet, there are only 11 reviews here). "Expecting Someone Taller" doesn't contain the intertwining storylines that his Flying Dutch does. But, the writing is still very good and the ending stays more in character right through to the end. In this book, Holt's working with Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung" as a basis of the story. Interestingly, near the beginning, he summarizes Wagner's work so well that I began wishing that I knew of a decent, updated novelization of that opera so I could read it. In this book, the plot is pretty linear. But, the writing is always well-done and humorous. It's also a fairly light read that keeps the reader's interest throughout. So, overall, I rate it at a Very Good 4 stars out of 5.
- "Ye Gods!:" "Ye Gods!" is one of Tom Holt's merely OK stories (this is the fourth of his stories I've read and they're running 50% Very Good and 50% OK). The weakness of the book can be nicely summarized by Holt, himself (this is on pages 310 and 311 of my copy of Tall Stories: Contains Expecting Someone Taller and Ye Gods! (Omnibus) (just after the main character (Jason) meets Prometheus)). Prometheus asks Jason what he thinks of the morality of the situation. With the following ellipses being mine, Jason replies:
"...'Think?' ...'Morality?' Jason's brow furrowed, and he considered long and hard. 'Dunno," he said at last.... 'It's not something I think about a lot... in my line of work. I'm more, you know, blue-collar. Mine not to reason why, that sort of thing.... The way I see it is, somebody somewhere knows what's going on, so who am I to make difficulties?'"
Now, I realize that I don't read Holt for depth. I read him for light, clever humor. But, that exchange is Jason (the main character, mind you) in a nutshell. There's almost nothing in the book about what Jason thinks of anything, why he's doing things, what he wants, etc.. He just reacts to things. Usually, people complain about lack of character DEVELOPMENT in a book. Well, in this case, we don't get any character AT ALL. Essentially, we get a lot of actions and events, but nothing that makes them MEAN anything. To make some modifications to Macbeth:
"... [Jason's] but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage....
...It is a tale...
...full of sound and fury,
That said, the events, actions, and situations in the book are described with Holt's usual good wittiness and technical writing ability. If he had just done the same for the motivations behind them, this would have been another very good book. But, unfortunately, I'll have to rate this at merely an OK 3 stars out of 5.