Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.
The ancient giant
leaned against his stone-tipped spear.
Nearby, mammoths grazed.
littlewashu's pick for Eleven-Books Club. So this is...well, I didn't like it. I like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea a lot, which...which I thought would mean I would like this, but instead all that happened was that I got a chance to see Verne use the same fomula over, to less effect. Or well, Journey to the Center of the Earth came first chronologically, so I guess I should phrase it as a less refined version of the same formula. Our protagonist-- Axel "Rose" Lidenbrock-- is a vacant character, little more then a viewpoint with legs, in both cases. The problem comes when you look to the rest of the cast. There is no Captain Nemo analogue, for one; Professor Otto "Slash" Lidenbrock's "mad scientist" act just reads like buffoonery, rather than the dark bipolar attraction of Nemo. Where as Ned Land provides a lot of colour in Twenty Thousand Leagues..., complete with striped sailor shirt & harpoon, his opposite number Hans is defined by being a cipher. What! That is terrible! What Journey... does have though is a rune puzzle! Rune puzzle! All day, every day. & some pretty stunning vignettes-- the ichthyosaur versus plesiosaur fight, the ball lightning-- placed in a couple of vibrant scenes. Unfortunately, the bits that stitch it together are dull, & the characters are banal & absent of any hooks; I thought Hans would be cool, as the eider down collection was a neat idea but then...nope. The weird Earth theories & the technobabble were way less compelling than in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea too. That comparison is damning. As it the other comparison, of course: to the play that I was in, Cocktails at the Centre of the Earth.