Well, I finally got my hands on a copy of the reprint of John M. Ford's The Dragon Waiting , the book lauded by Slate as a "...rare thrill that one gets from the work of Gene Wolfe, or John Crowley, or Ursula Le Guin."
It was fine. The writing was fine. The story was fine. I wouldn't not recommend it, but it didn't stand out to me in any particular way. I didn't hate it. It was enjoyable. I just found nothing about it that was particularly noteworthy. Which is also fine. I think that Isaac Butler's story of how he accidentally got this book back into publication is more interesting than the book itself, but that's also fine.
I will say that I don't give a shit about English history in any way shape or form. I know that the whole Song of Ice and Fire is GRRM's War of the Roses fanfic (hilarious coming from a guy who proclaims to hate fanfiction), and Ford's book sticks a bit more with Real Life insofar as character names and locations, so it incidentally showed me a lot of the parallels in ASoIaF to the real English history that I have never and will never care to delve into on my own. So that part was fun and interesting.
I don't not recommend it. And I think if you are either into alt-history (I generally am not), or into Anglo-European history (I am not), this could be a book that you would get a lot more from than I did.
I solidly mark it as entertaining. There isn't anything overtly sexist or racist or homophobic in it, which is the low bar by which I judge any media pre-2000. It's written well enough, which is more than I can for the godawful intro written by Scott Lynch. Good god if that's how he writes his own books I don't know how anyone can stand them and yet THEY ARE SO POPULAR. But Ford's writing is not on par with Wolfe, let alone Le Guin or Crowley. I find this particularly interesting because Wolfe himself said the book was incredible.
Idk, I think the thing that put me off the most was that the way the story was framed was as one that was 1) more artfully written, and 2) waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more pulpy. I didn't find this book pulpy at all. Which, again, is fine, but I just had expectations that weren't met? That's the rub though, I suppose.
Setting expectations aside it's a book that's written fine and tells a fine story and I didn't hate it but I also didn't love it. It filled 2 days and kept my attention (without duress) and I am not sad I finished it. But I am for sure next going to read something that I know will meet expectations.