Vernor Vinge is my favorite author at the moment. Even his less than stellar works, like The Tatja Grimm's World, is so much fun to read that it's hard not to be impressed.
My wife and I, not sci-fi fans, enjoyed watching the first season of the new Battlestar Gallactica when it was released a few years ago. We thought the story lines were interesting, the acting was good, an all around good show. We felt it slumped in season 2 and stopped watching, but the authors employed an amazing technique between seasons 1 and 2, he advanced the story almost a year. All of a sudden the audience was forced to pay attention to understand what happened and how their favorite characters had developed during the time shift. I bring this up because Vernor Vinge does this not just in The Tatja Grimm's World, but does it in all of his novels, and he does it well. Just as the reader is intrigued by the story and the characters, boom! onto the same story but five years in the future. It's like a whole new story is created during that time but with characters who don't have to be re-introduced. It might be necessary to get reacquainted, but not re-introduced.
Another aspect of Vernor Vinge's novels that I find compelling are his larger than life characters. In Deepness in the Sky and Fire Upon the Deep the reader follows an almost god-like Pham Nuwen. In this novel it's Tatja Grimm. Both of these characters have almost super-human intelligence and reading about them, watching the plot unfold, is like watching speed chess . . . but really fun and interesting speed chess (normally I don't like chess, but the maneuvering of the characters, the ambushes and plots all have that type of appeal).
I noted some lines and words below:
"He was wrapped in blankets, his hands clasped and shivering in his lap. Only one eye tracked and it was starred with a cataract. His voice was quavery, the delivery almost addeled."
The description of the eyes caught my eye.
One of the main characters is on a forced road march, the description of the pain was interesting.
"Each step sent bright spurts of pain up Svir's calves. Each breath burned at his lungs."
Finally, although this is a common theme in many novels and stories about combat, I thought this character's thoughts summed up the idea nicely.
"He reflected with some irritation that in general his courage derived from that fear that he might be taken for a coward."
Mendicant – Beggar; a member of a religious order (as the Franciscans) combining monastic life and outside religious activity and originally owning neither personal nor community property : friar.
Soporific - causing or tending to cause sleep; tending to dull awareness or alertness.
Don't like Sci-Fi but love fascinating writing with rich characters and indepth plots? Go read a Vernor Vinge. Don't read this one right away, go get A Deepness in the Sky then read Fire Upon the Deep. You won't be disappointed.