(For those who don't get the reference, it's a line that Voldemort uses in Goblet of Fire - the movie version...more"I must confess myself... disappointed."
(For those who don't get the reference, it's a line that Voldemort uses in Goblet of Fire - the movie version at least. I am using a Harry Potter reference in retaliation to all those people who are somehow comparing this to that series, for the sole reason that there's a freaking magical university. Really, there's very little comparison aside from that. I mean, not even to get into how the whole tone and whatnot is different, but, really, the fact that there's a "Hogwarts like school" seems to be the only unifying focus.
I don't agree that there's a "Snape and Draco clone" in this series because, quite frankly, it's not like the sneering, unfair teacher and the mortal enemy were exactly unique tropes when Rowling used them, either.
And this book has none of the wonder of Harry Potter, and certainly none of the whimsy.
Furthermore, one of the achievements of Rowlings world is that the characters are real and relatable - even secondary characters are given some semblance of depth and personality. Few of the characters in this book really stood out to me as real, living, breathing characters.
Perhaps it is because the vast chunk of this book is written in first person narration - first person, total recall no less - but as we see everything through Kvothe's eyes, we aren't given the glimpses into their minds that we are given in Harry Potter.
In short, I dislike the comparison. For one I liked the Harry Potter series much better. For another, I find the comparisons flimsy and nothing more than a cheap marketing ploy. That so many people do seem to see the comparisons just makes me shake my head in wonder - because either they're seeing things that aren't there, or I'm very myopic when it comes to my beloved Harry Potter. I admit, either could be a possibility.)
As I said, I'm not a huge fan of first person narration, but sometimes it works. I think it works best when I like the person whose head/life I am living in. I found Kvothe generally tedious and annoying and an unbelievable Gary Stu. I also found Denna/Dianne/Deannah/whatever to be far too high maintenance, and not really worth the time and/or energy that seems to go along with her. But, then, we can't really control who we fall for - but, aside from the fact she's beautiful, I can't really see why men fall over themselves for her.
But, then, I prefer a Hermione or a Luna to a Lavendar or even a Cho...
(Ok, I'll stop with the HP references now. Maybe... )
A lot of people seem to feel that the story starts off slow and then picks up when he gets to University. Oddly enough, I'm rather the opposite. I liked the start of the story.
Actually, even before we start his story, I liked the part at the bar and with the demon spiders. I imagine we're going to get back to that in the third book, since I figure the second book is going to be Kvothe's autobiography. Yay...
So, I liked the start of the story.
I even liked the start of the story within the story. I liked Kvothe's early years, his time with his parents and the troupe. I liked Ben, and following the things he was learning. I was interested in sympathy - and how it corresponds to the actual rules of sympathetic magic (well, sort of. You know, it takes the basic magical premise and then applies it to how it would work in a fantasy world, which would be much cooler than how it works in our world.)
Quite opposed to most others, I felt things started dragging horribly once he got to University. I got tired of his effing "brilliance" and just how wonderful he is. I got tired of all the teachers being practically interchangable. And Hemme is no Snape. My gods, Snape is horrible and fascinating - and Hemme is just a silly little plot device to manufacture some arbitrary obstacles to impede our wonderful, fabulous, and did I mention BRILLIANT fucking protagonist. (My gods, at least Harry Potter has some actual flaws, aside from being crap with girls.)
(And yes, apparently I lied about the comparison thing...)
Ditto with the whole thing with being denied access to the Archives. Something so blatantly and *brilliantly* stupid, that it just seems totally unbelievable - just another manufactured obstacle.
I mean, I know every story needs plot devices, and not even my favorite stories are without them. And sometimes they irritate me, too, especially when something is either overly convenient or clearly manufactured. But such things are always better when they seem to happen organically, or through some actual fault of the character, and not as some silly accident that he's not even responsible for because he was drugged at the time (which comes with it's own dose of silliness and arbitrariness.)
So, yeah... where was I?
Oh, so I felt things slowed down for awhile, and then started picking back up again with the music competition. That was pretty cool. And the fire.
And then there's the sheer preposterousness of the ride to catch the Chandrians, which I just thought was silly, and the whole part with the draccus just went on forever.
Now, let's see - what do I like? I liked Kilvin, as much as you can like a bare sketch of a character. I liked Elodin - but, then, I like the archetype of the mad professor. I wished we would've seen more of him and he was more fleshed out, as opposed to just being vague and abstract. And I like Bast, or I think I will like Bast, and hope to see more of him as the story progresses.
I didn't hate the story, but I did find it overly long and thought it dragged in a lot of places, especially towards the last 150 or so pages where I just wanted it to be over...
Oh - and Rothfuss repeats himself and his descriptions too much. Overall it's rather disappointing... And I am never listening to you people again. Ever. So there. :p(less)
**spoiler alert** An enjoyable enough book, but nothing that wowed me. It was generally well-paced, but it also wasn't a book that I couldn't put down...more**spoiler alert** An enjoyable enough book, but nothing that wowed me. It was generally well-paced, but it also wasn't a book that I couldn't put down...
I think one of my complaints was that there wasn't really a lot of character development - it's very much a plot-based book. Which is fine, for what it is - I just, personally, tend to prefer more depth in characters. I felt it was kind of standard "reluctant thief, jovial merc, brat prince thrown into power... Go!"
There were also a few little technical points which annoyed me.
*Might contain slight spoilers*
When the explained how they got the letters, I felt this could've been better if it was more show and less tell. There was that problem in a few places.
The language difference of Esrahaddon, while an understandable and interesting part of the world-building, was a bit awkward. Language would change more in 900 years that a few (sometimes awkwardly placed) thees and thous... and a few altered words. I mean, look at the difference between Chaucer and modern English... and that's, what, a little over 600 years?
And, as someone else mentioned, would a monk whose read a hundred... a thousand books... who remembers everything he reads... really have never come across anything which mentions that horses can be brown, but not blue or green?
I thought the intrigue of who the real traitor was could've been dragged out a bit more... perhaps a less obvious red herring, some more options for who it could've been... Maybe interspersed more throughout the whole story, instead of two or three chapters in succession...
Oh, and one last thing... the whole thing at the end when they attacked the castle, and then Alric reveals himself. I kept thinking how stupid that whole thing was. I mean, they mention that he had his banner or something. How could the people on the gates not know it was him? Or, heck, why wouldn't he try and reveal his identity before releasing arrows on the city? Some sort of parlay, or something? Heck, if he had come in more quietly and revealed himself at the trial, he could've avoided the whole thing.
I just felt that whole part was kind of silly... It didn't make a whole lot of logical sense to me...
Anyway, some of them are minor quibbles... some things distracted me while I was reading, 'cause I kept focusing on how awkward or odd something was, instead of being truly invested in the story...
That and I didn't particulary care that much for any of the characters... and I never really felt they were ever in any real kind of danger...
But, um, yes... Still generally entertaining. I didn't dislike it... I just wasn't all that impressed with it, either... I will probably read the next in the series, though, in the hopes that the characters will be fleshed out more as the series continues... (less)
I'm being generous by giving this book 3 stars. I think it's probably more of a 2 1/2, and that's only because it did get better at the end.
The keywor...moreI'm being generous by giving this book 3 stars. I think it's probably more of a 2 1/2, and that's only because it did get better at the end.
The keyword for this book is slow. Everything about this book is very slow paced. Now, I don't always mind a slower pace, as long as we're given something to fill up that time. If it's a slow book plot wise, but has interesting characters and character development, then I can be ok with that. But we don't really learn a lot about the characters. What we do learn a lot about is landscapes. And what kind of flowers are in a garden. And lots of irrelevant information.
This book is a bad one for grocery lists. What I mean is that we can't can't pass a garden a remark that it's a beautiful garden with varied flowers - no, the author has to give a grocery list of the types of flowers. We can't pass through a village and see different types of people - we get another list. We get detailed descriptions of what a place looks like - and yet even this is done in such a way that I can't really say I ever got a clear visual, because I just didn't care.
Aside from that, there's also the problem of the fairly standard plot and characters of the story. There's the Chosen One who is unaware of her powers, the strange, but interesting, mentor, the long lost sibling, the mentor's mentor. I mean, really - could we get more cliche?
And there's a lot of tell in this book. We're told that Maerad feels a certain way, but we never really empathize with her. We're always kept at a distance from what's going on. As I read in a different book recently. "No, you're telling me about Paris. I don't want to hear about Paris, I want to experience Paris." I didn't experience this story - I was told this story...
As I said, it really deserves 2 stars, maybe 2 1/2 - but it did pick up pace at the ending, and I'm feeling generous. That said, considering the next book is more questing/travelling, I fear coming across many more grocery lists before getting to the story. (less)
This is one of those books that have been recommended to me multiple times by multiple people, and yet I've avoided it even while I kept thinking...more3 1/2
This is one of those books that have been recommended to me multiple times by multiple people, and yet I've avoided it even while I kept thinking "I should pick that up some day". Even after I finally bought it, it took awhile for me to actually read it - I think I was afraid it couldn't live up to my expectations.
And, well, it didn't. Not quite, anyway.
The whole first half, or maybe more, of the book felt very slow. I grinned or chuckled a bit at some of the allusions and names and things. I enjoyed Richard III being played like Rocky Horror, and a few other little touches - but the story and the characters themselves weren't really doing much for me.
** some minor spoilers - maybe, kinda, sorta**
I would've liked Hades to be a little more than a slightly more literary version of Snidely Whiplash. Thursday seemed a bit dull to me, too, and never quite believable. It was like he tried to make her a mix of strong and vulnerable, but it didn't quite work.
And I got kinda of annoyed with the obsession with marriage and kids (and wasn't quite happy with the pat resolution of that, either). But I also admit that particular aspect might be a complete issue of personal bias and, as my beloved would say, that's my own little tacky cross to bear.
Once Jane was kidnapped, and things picked up speed, I was really enjoying it for awhile. I liked how the resolution of our mystery 'changed' Jane Eyre, and I liked seeing Rochester "off-book".
Ultimately, I did enjoy it, but I didn't love it. That said, I know that the bulk of my complaint - i.e. the slowness of it starting and the characters being thing - has a lot do with with it being the first in the series, having to set-up the world and whatnots, and, hopefully, flush out the characters in due course. I did feel that it had enough of interest, and has the potential to develop into something more, so I'll probably definitely look into continuing the series at some point, and see how it goes.(less)
When this book first came out I was instantly attracted to the name and the cover, vacillated a bit on the blurb, but then the rec of a friend put it...moreWhen this book first came out I was instantly attracted to the name and the cover, vacillated a bit on the blurb, but then the rec of a friend put it into the to-read camp. Then it came up as a book of the month in a group I'm in, so it seemed like as good a time as any.
Overall, I did like it. It had a very readable style, with those sort of mini-cliffhangers in each chapter that makes you want to turn the pages and keep reading. The world was interesting, though I'm not sure I'd gush about how original it is like some people do. I mean, ultimately, the Gisha are like magicians of a sort, even though they don't call it magic, focusing on either the material world, making things, the corporal world, healing or "heartrending", or the ethereal world, summoning elementals and the like. (And here's one minor nitpick - the terms used were Materialki, Etherealki and Corporalki... and I really wished she'd used Corporealki instead. It means the same thing, but just fits into the word-scheme better. Also, since the story deals with the army and war and stuff, every time I read Corporal I thought of an Army Corporal, and not "body".)
Like I said, overall I did enjoy the story, though I had some issues with it, too.
I wished Alina had a bit more muchness, to borrow from Burton's Alice. I don't mind that she starts the story obsessed with her plain looks (brown hair is bad, mmkay), or lamenting her lack of strength and sickliness, and I do think this is sort of explained, a bit, in the story in an interesting way... but I just didn't like the focus on looks. I'm not saying it shouldn't be there at all, but when Alina started coming into her own it would've been nice if there was more focus on her finding her inner strength and less on "oh, wow, now I'm pretty and a boy finds me attractive!"
I mean, I know how much some girls can focus on their looks, and have self-esteem issues because they live in a world very much focused on physical beauty and they find themselves lacking. I get it. I live it. And maybe that's why I prefer stories where the main characters finds confidence in themselves because of some inner traits they have that they can hone - intelligence, cleverness, perserverance - whatever.
And there is some of that, as Alina learns to tap her power - but the biggest benefit still seemed to be that, once she was able to do that, she became prettier.
Also, I get the sickliness thing because, again, this has a cause which is address in the story - but I couldn't stop asking myself "How did this girl ever get through basic training if she's in this bad of shape?"
I mean, she was in the army, right? And I know she was a cartographer and not a soldier, per se, and I've never been in the army so maybe I'm working from a false premise, but don't all soldiers have to go through some sort of basic training, even the admin types? And yet Alina somehow has absolutely no self defense knowledge or abilities before she starts training as a Gisha? Say what now?
Which leads me to the issue of world-building. Like a lot of YA stories the world-building is more sort of incidental - we're told what we need to know for the story to make sense, but it doesn't go into a whole lot of depth. And, honestly, I'm totally ok with this, because one reason I prefer YA stories over adult epics is because a lot of the adult ones go into so much detail that I find myself bored with it.
That said, there were a few things which I felt could've been a bit more thought out. There just seemed to be some inconsistencies (which, of course, I can't think of right now off the top of my head, I just remember noticing them at the time), and issues like the above where Alina should've freaking had some training as a solider, damnit.
ETA: In the realm of inconsistencies, I remembered one weird thing that bothered me, which was that the journey from the Fold to the castle, in carriage and then on horseback, seemed to take longer and be more difficult than the reverse journey on foot.
Also, as to the world, I'm nowhere near familiar enough with Russian culture to know that kvas is not an alcoholic beverage, but something like soda, or to know that a lot of the Russian sounding words used in the story either a) don't mean anything or b) mean something different from what they're said to mean in the story... and I wouldn't have known those things if I hadn't read some other reviews.
(I did know, however, that female surnames end in an a.)
But, even lacking that knowledge, the story didn't really feel Russian. It was like the author wanted to give her American centric writing an exotic flair, so just peppered it with Russian (sounding) names and words, but didn't bother to actually try to make the culture feel Russian in any meaningful kind of way. Not even stereotypically Russian - which, honestly, is about my level of knowledge. I mean, sure, they're throw in a reference to the ballet and hot springs, but that does not a culture make.
And then there's the twist. I admit, I didn't quite see it coming - maybe because I didn't want to - and I wish it never happened. I was enjoying the story a lot more before it happened, and I sort of found myself checking out a bit afterwards. I kept hoping it was going to be a feint, and it would be some sort of intrigue within intrigue... but, nope. All of a sudden - megalomania.
As to the characters - they're kinda generic, but well written enough. I mostly liked the Darkling, but, then, I do often go for the dark, brooding types - more shame on me. I didn't really feel the romance between Alina and Mal, or even Alina for Mal. I mean, we're told it's there and all, but I never felt it. I much more felt the sexy vibes between Alina and the Darkling. And I liked Genya. The rest are sort of cut-outs and forgettable.
Even the evil vizier wasn't used to full strength.
And I would've liked a bit more focus on the training - both as the Sun Summoner and the martial aspects - and less on the social/gossip/mean-girl stuff. And I would've liked for Alina to be more active in the training and less "ugh, why do I have to do this, it's so hard!"
But, wait - I did say I liked it, right?
Yes, yes I did. Like I said, it was very readable and it kept me turning pages, even when it irritated me. Though, with the issues I did have with it, I'm not sure I liked it enough to continue with the series. I have heard Alina is far more badass in the sequel, though, so, who knows? (less)
This is another book which is, in a way, hard for me to review. The book was not without its flaws. In many ways I can think of more negative thi...more3 1/2
This is another book which is, in a way, hard for me to review. The book was not without its flaws. In many ways I can think of more negative things to say about the book than positive ones - but, despite that, I still liked it. I didn't love it, and I wouldn't rave about it or say that it's a must read... but it is interesting, and I wouldn't suggest you not read it, either.
The book started with promise, and I was enthralled. It was texture and sumptuous, as we journied with Edward through his first murder and his reaction to it. We get into his head - his madness and paranoia - as we see things unravel, even as he seems to think himself calm and rational. The first couple hundred pages were excellent.
But then we get to the backstory, and here things slow down a pace. Some parts were interesting, some less so, but it seemed to drag. I think the biggest problem was that we learned some of the same things multiple times from different sources. It's supposed to be pieces here and pieces there, putting them together to get the whole picture, but the whole picture was frustratingly obvious and it took far too long for the narrator to put them together! I always hate it when the "detectives" (and here I use the term loosely) are so much stupider than their audience.
It's a failing, to be sure - but whether it's a failing in that the author made the protagonist too slow on the uptake or whether he gave the audience too much information at the outset is left up to the reader. I think fixing either would've made it a better read, but since it is supposed to be a mystery I would've liked it if the reveals - and there were a few of them - weren't so bleeding obvious. And I have to say that I'm usually a bit slow on the uptake myself, and can often get taken for a ride by something which should've been obvious but wasn't, so if I saw the 'twists' coming a mile away, I'm sure others saw them from several hundred miles...
The ending did get better, though. Instead of drudging through various backstories and histories, we get back into the narrator's head - the best place to be in the story. Yes, the backstory is important - how can we sympathize with our aspiring murderer if we don't know the reasons for it, and hate his enemy even more than we might hate him. But far more interesting are his emotions and mental state.
The language wasn't off-putting for me, though I'm not sure I really got a feel for the era. It was well researched to be sure, but the footnotes became a distraction. It wasn't that important that I know where a certain restaurant was, or when some famous or important person mentioned was born and died. I wanted to skip over them, but, being the mildly obsessive person that I am, couldn't. They didn't provide humor, like Pratchett's footnotes, and they didn't provide layers of world building like Clark's footnotes. They just offered trivia - trivial trivia - and were generally unnecessary.
The facts of the story, and its overall plot, were fair to middling. As I said, the mystery is easily solved and the narrator's amount of lacking on this point was frustrating.
But if you are someone who can enjoy a story for the journey, and not the destination... if you care more for how something comes about than the obviousness of what's going to happen... then perhaps you will enjoy it. If you are all destination, tho, then you won't.
I'm a bit of both. I enjoyed the how. Even when I could see the impending betrayal coming from a mile away, I was still curious as to how and when it would happen, and, more importantly, what the reaction would be. Even though you know how this book will end, it's the getting there that matters.
I know I seem to be contradicting myself - but I'll elaborate by saying it's the mental getting there, not the factual getting there. The latter part was still too drawn out.
But for those times when we were in the mind and heart of the narrator... when we don't get get the facts that he knows... but when we are brought into how he thinks and feels. Oh, these times are wonderfully and wickedly delicious. It's like a taste, almost - a decadence of the mind that lingers in the memory.
It's just a pity that it didn't all live up to to the same standard.
One final note - this is a book that you have to read when you're in the mood for it, for it does require a certain mind-set, in a way. It's not something that's easily taken in drips and drabs - for a few passing moments here and there. This is a book that you need to take your time with, to really immerse yourself into. I kept being interrupted, annoyingly enough, which I think hampered my enjoyment somewhat.
It's not a quick meal... it's something you want to have time to savor... so you should partake when you have the time and inclination to do so.(less)
Several reviews describe this book as quirky, and I'm certainly not going to argue there. It plays with tropes to the level of parody - a witch cursed...moreSeveral reviews describe this book as quirky, and I'm certainly not going to argue there. It plays with tropes to the level of parody - a witch cursed with beauty (and a hunger for flesh), a demon in the body of a duck, a thoughtful troll, a wistful broom, and a true White Knight.
It starts out being a sort of revenge story, but it's really more a coming-of-age/romance kind of book. And there's definitely more in the way of romance than I was expecting. Not that I mind, as it's the "story book" kind of romance that I like (as opposed to the euphemistic kind), I just wasn't really prepared for it.
I think my overall verdict is "cute". I liked the characters in a "hey, they're pretty cool/funny" kinda way, but never really connected with them. Part of this is the narration, I think, which, while written in first person, is also rather distant.
That said, there was a fair bit of wry, slightly twisted humor, which I certainly enjoyed. I never laughed out loud, or anything, but I did find myself smirking from time to time.
As to the quest, I would've liked for their to be more at stake. The witch is nigh immortal - ageless and also very hard to kill. I never really felt like there was any real peril, until the end, and even then it was sort of short lived.
The focus, to me, definitely seemed to be on the romance and the coming-of-age stuff. The quest is sort of a vessel for that more than anything.
So, yeah, cute, quirky, darkly wry, and mostly sweet with a side dish of wistful longing.(less)
This book was one of those books where I kept checking how much I had left to read, and kept motivating myself with "just 150 more pages" "just 7...more2 1/2
This book was one of those books where I kept checking how much I had left to read, and kept motivating myself with "just 150 more pages" "just 75 more... " so on and so forth.
In other words, not exactly a compelling read.
I sort of liked it at first - I liked the writing, and even some of the purpley descriptions. But then they kept going. There were some, though I don't remember specifics and am less than inclined to go through the damn thing to find them, but, anyway, some which were so jarring that it took me completely out of the story. Like one simile that I remember, though without details, seemed like a contradiction and I was like "wait, don't those thing mean opposite things." Towards the end she used 'overcast' as a noun, which just seemed really odd.
Anyway, the writing did get better and the pace picked up a bit, but there was also a lot of repetition. Don Simon "murmured, almost inaudibly" at least once every other page he was present, while his "pale, fine hair draped over his collar".
Ultimately, though, the real failing of this book, for me, was that I just didn't give a damn. I didn't care about the characters, or the whodunit. The only character I liked was Lydia, and mostly just because I liked that she was scientific and rational, but still emotional. I liked the part where she was worried, and kept reminding herself it was irrational fear, but couldn't stop being worried anyway. I can relate to that.
I also liked Brother Anthony - disgusted with himself for living, but terrified of dying.
I didn't relate to any of the others. Grippen wasn't frightened, he was just annoying. Ysidro was too "distant and impassive" to actually have much of a personality, unless that counts as one. Most of his dialogue, especially if the first half of the book, was expositionary info dumps. Well, he did get better towards the end when he "opened up", but then it got ruined at the end.
And while I did not guess the who, I did, mostly, guess how he would be dispatched. I wonder if I was meant to be surprised. *yawn*
Regarding Ysidro, I didn't like the sort of veiled threats at the end. The whole "you could hunt us, but do you want to devote years" thing. I mean, it seemed, throughout the book, that Asher and Ysidro became, well, not friends - but respected frenemies. Couldn't their mutual respect and appreciation for what they've been through together sufficed?
I picked up this book because it was the read of the month for the Sci-fi/Fantasy group here on goodreads. Time travel tends to hurt my head, and...more2 1/2
I picked up this book because it was the read of the month for the Sci-fi/Fantasy group here on goodreads. Time travel tends to hurt my head, and this was no exception, but that's not what dragged it down.
Honestly, I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like it - but I'll try.
To start with, I felt like it took a long while for the book to actually start. I guess there was too much set-up, or it was belabored too much. I didn't feel like it really got going until well into 200+ pages.
Another thing was that I just didn't get how this book was "hilarious". It was mildly amusing, what with the comedy of errors and the little snark on Victorian mannerisms, but it was also belabored to the point of being repetitive and overdone.
I kept reading because I wanted to finish it, not really because I was compelled to keep reading. I was curious as to how it would all work out - of course I was never in any doubt that it would all work out somehow.
I give it an extra half star because I like how the end sort of wrapped up everything nicely, while at the same time leaving a little dangling question, and I like how the romance between Verity and Ned was handled in juxtaposition to the saccharine Tossie and St. Trewes thing. Oh, and I did like the part with Baine, and Tossie, and the river...
So 2 stars overall... 2 1/2 for a satisfying conclusion... (less)
**spoiler alert** I finished. I did not let it beat me!
As I was trying to give the gist to Darkk he said "So, like 'National Treasure', but with vamp...more**spoiler alert** I finished. I did not let it beat me!
As I was trying to give the gist to Darkk he said "So, like 'National Treasure', but with vampires." "Sort of," I said, "but not as entertaining." (Which is bad enough, since I sort of liked 'National Treasure' despite myself.)
**Mild Spoilage throughout**
Anyway - where to start? First and foremost, it was so slow and tedious. Endless details about architecture and food and what someone was wearing, and what arm they had their purse on. If this wasn't absurd enough in and of itself, these minutae are presented to us in letters supposedly written in haste, 20+ years after the events took place!
And then there was the bouncing back and forth in timeframes - and once something started to get interestinh with Helen and Paul, we would jump into what I started thinking of as "the present", for no real reason! As I mentioned it to Darkk he was like "it's like a commercial break", and that's exactly what it felt like.
The characters were paper thin, and all the letters were written in the same voice. If they didn't have the little tell-tale signs to know who was speaking, you'd have no way of knowing them apart.
And the romances! No real lead up or development, but in three days a sheltered village girl is sleeping with some random dude, a 16 year old, also sheltered girl, is getting hot and heavy with a college boy... and in 23 days Paul and Helen are engaged to be married. I mean, really? If I believed the romances at all, I might've felt more for the characters, but I didn't, and I don't.
And the coincidences. Let's sit in this random cafe and just happen to have some guy, who just happens to have also received a book, start talking to us for no reason, and we can all find out we're all part of the same hunt. Or, let's talk to the only other native-English person at a conference, and find out that he's involved, too! Oh, what are the odds? Heck, even the characters seemed distrustful of these coincidences...
And the reasoning.
This whole thing - all this drama and people being warned and disappearing and being attacked - all because Dracula can't organize his own damn library? Really!? That's what you're giving me?
I actually quite liked the scholarly, aristocratic Vlad. Since Kostova gives him such a bad shake throughout the book, as he's nothing but "the fiend" and "the evil", I quite liked the quiet, almost debonair Dracula. The fact that the whole purpose of the thing so stupid, though, was just a little annoying, especially after slogging through hundreds of pages of pointless minutae to get there.
Not to mention so easy to kill. My gods, was that last confrontation anti-climactic, or what? Of course, as we find in the epilogue, is it really 'the end'? Dum-bum-bum!
So, some people who liked it say, "Well, it's about 'historians' - what did you expect?" Well, considering that the back of the book said it was "sinister and suspensful" and "exciting and will keep readers enthralled", I didn't expect to be monumentally bored through most of the book. I would also expect to be a little bit enthralled, excited, or have some vague feeling of suspense. Nadda.
Perhaps part of this is because it's all told in past tense. We have no fear for the daughter or the father. We pretty much can guess how Rossi's gonna end up. And we don't care enough about Helen, or, well, anyone, really.
I was also irritated that while Paul will give begrudging respect to the Ottomans for their strange mix of barbarism and aesthetics, they give no such equal treatment to Vlad.
Even going as far back as the 1800s, there have been different depictions of the reign of Vlad Tepes - sadistic tyrant or horrific hero. In present day Romania he is a folk-hero. He sided with them against the Saxon merchants who taxes them heavily, and he defended them and the land from the invading Turks. Yes, he was brutal - but the story glosses over the fact that he learned his brutality from his imprisonment with the Turks.
There are some who argue that the pamphlets so heavily referenced in the book of his barbarism are propaganda - things written by his enemies to paint him in the grimmest light possible, overstating his barbarism.
And the Garden of the Impaled (which happened once in recorded history - not the common occurrence the book suggests it was) was a stroke of tactical genius. Here he is, his little army severally outnumbered by the encroaching Turks, and then up goes the Garden, made of predominantly Turkish prisoners-of-war. The Turks, already battle weary from getting as far as Targoviste, are horrified are the brutality of it. Oh, yes, it was brutal, make no mistake. But it was also a brilliant tactic - a use of psychological warfare.
And, yes, the boyars hated him. But the book makes it out that he was hated because of his brutality - and he didn't exactly treat them well. He did kill many and put the rest to hard work, which killed them. The book glosses over the fact that these people buried his elder brother alive, and he was getting his revenge while securing his position. It also doesn't mention that one reason the boyars hated him is because he tried to give more power to the peasant, and less economic adventage to the boyars.
Oh, yes, I know - he's the master villian of the story... you can't paint him at all sympathetic. You can't see him as anything less than a tyrant. Many have said that even if the story is long, the history is interesting - but how much more interesting is the strange dichotomy of this brutal, cunning, and oft-times charitable man?
Also, speaking of history, there is much emphasis placed on the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks; however, the story, once again, glosses over the fact that Constantinople was at less than its height during the Seige because the Sacking that took place some too hundred years prior during the Fourth Crusade, in which the Latin Church overthrew the Orthodox church and took over. Some sources even argue that the Byzantine peasantry was just as happy losing their political independence to the Ottoman Empire because at least then they got to keep their religious obsevances - something not so leniently granted by the Holy See. Ironic that the Turks would be kinder to them than their Christian brethren, no?
But we get no taste for the complicated politics in the book.
We also get a glimpse of non-existence ruins on Snagov - which is a tiny spit of an islet. Pretty place, to be sure, but I can find no record of there ever having been a prison there, so I'm not sure where that came from.
So to those who say "but the history is interesting", I suggest actually reading up on the history, because I'm not sure you can really trust this book as an accurate source. That is, after all, why it's called historical fiction.
I would say it got more readable towards the end, but I'm not sure if that's because I walked away from it for awhile or not. I was also rather annoyed at how this whole thing was about finding Drac and Helen, and then once everything's tied up in a neat little package, and you don't really care who has died and who has lived, and who will die. I mean, the narrator hardly seems to care when she rather blasely drops some information to come, so why should we?
The only reason I'm giving it two stars instead of one is because I still do think the premise was interesting, even if the execution was terribly boring, and I did quite like the portrayal of the scholarly Dracula, if not his lame motivations.
This is one book that might actually be improved on when it gets turned into a movie. Since one of the things that bogged the book down was all the travelogue details, the movie could certainly become much better paced. Hopefully they'll also change it around so that it's told more in present tense, and maybe actually raise the stakes a little (i.e. create suspense) and make you care about the characters some. (In my opinion, they could actually drop the whole daughter part of the story. They could make it a present-tense story of Paul and Helen searching for Rossi and Dracula, interweave Rossi's tale, and cut out the parts with the daughter entirely, since it didn't really add anything to the story to have the three different threads going on at the same time.)(less)
I was mostly saddened as I read this book. I didn't really get a lot of the light-heartedness or humor that it's purported to...more**spoiler alert** 2 1/2
I was mostly saddened as I read this book. I didn't really get a lot of the light-heartedness or humor that it's purported to have. Some have said that the ending seemed dark compared to the rest of the story, but I started being kind of depressed by what was happening as soon as Abdiel started meddling, and it just got progressively worse from there, and I had no hope for a happy ending, because we all know how this story ends. Though I was more pleased with the ending than I would've been had it gone a few other possible ways.
I was expecting a lot more wit and snarkiness. Instead of a waffling Satan, I think I was expecting a sort of Al Pacino in 'Devil's Advocate' or Lucifer from 'Sandman' and/or 'Lucifer'. Still a sympathetic character, but one who brazonly chooses rebellion, not one who's half-tricked and half-forced into it.
I did like that he distinguished between Satan, Lucifer and Beelzebub since a lot of stories sort of conflate the names, and that always kind of irritates me. And Beelzebub was definitely one of my favorite characters, though it took me awhile to not get annoyed by his speech. I liked Ariel's poetry, too.
So, yeah, I was mostly sad... but I was also happy when Yeshua was destroyed, even though it was sort of noble, I guess - because he was almost as big a douche as Abdiel. I also sort of wish that the falling out happened more honestly, without all the behind-the-scenes machinations. Even if Satan wasn't a willing rebel, it would've been nice if he disagreed with Yahweh, and Yahweh pitched a fit, and then it dissolved from there. I would've preferred to have both sides be sort of wrong and sort of right on their own, without all the string-pulling. It sort of cheapened the story, somehow.
Oh, though I was glad that Michael stood on some sort of principle at the end, since he disagreed with Yahweh a lot but went along with it, anyway.
I was expecting a bit more wit, more snark, more sass... and mostly I was left feeling kind of sad and disheartened. That said, it was a quick read and a bit of a page-turner, so I can't say it was bad - it just wasn't what I'd bargained for.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is a hard book for me to review, mostly because, even while I was reading it, I was unsure about whether I liked it or not. On...more**spoiler alert** This is a hard book for me to review, mostly because, even while I was reading it, I was unsure about whether I liked it or not. On one hand I didn't like it all that much - I didn't like Willie, I thought a lot of the set-up felt contrived and unrealistic. On the other hand I felt compelled to keep reading it. I enjoyed the way Groff writes - what some people felt to be heavy-handed I actually quite enjoyed... the way she set the imagery and some of the weird, almost poetic lines she threw in there.
One thing I liked the most is what some other people didn't like - the alternative perspectives from the past. These were my favorite parts of the book, and I often longed to sometimes skim past the present to get back into the stories. Some of these were far too short.
Of course, not all of them worked. Some were too long, or just not that interesting. But I felt that Groff maintained the different voices very well - I could believe these were different people writing at different times. At least most of the time...
Some people also didn't see the point in the Running Buds. I found them to be a bit amusing and didn't mind them. The thing I did mind, however, is that it was clear from the beginning that one of them would end up being Willie's father... because, really, there is no reason to include them repeatedly if not for that reason.
But, even tho I was mixed about the book... there was one thing in particular which sealed it's fate and which made me really dislike it. The "fake" pregnancy... Ugh!
For awhile there I was really happy with how the pregnancy was being handled. Yes, we can argue that an intelligent woman in this day and age shouldn't get herself knocked up - but it does happen. (Of course trying to kill the dude's wife with the plane was just a little OTT... *roll eyes*)
But, anyway, for awhile I liked how they broached the "a-word" in a realistic and straightforward manner. Willie's mom - who I sometimes liked and sometimes found entirely unrealistic and annoying - really shone in the notion of "I may be religious, but I'm also practical... and you're not ready to have a baby". Here was a book that dealt with the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy in a modern way - neither really pushing for keeping it, or for pushing for aborting it... but just laying out the options and watching as Willie came to make up her mind. And I wouldn't have minded either option - whether she chose to keep it or abort it, it would've been a story of her choice...
And then it becomes an hysterical pregnancy and she never has to make the choice! She never really has to take responsibility either way... she's absolved. I couldn't help but feel that the author was nervous about choosing... she possibly knew that people would be angry with her either way (the pro-lifers if she chose abortion... and perhaps some childfree would be annoyed if she did the after-school special thing of how having a child is really always wonderful and makes you a better person... ) - so she just cheated.
I don't know - maybe it was her intention all along, since I guess the pregnancy wasn't really the point of the story (which was another thing I liked about it, actually. That the whole story didn't revolve around the oops... that it was just part of the larger picture... ) - but I felt the absolution of choice was a total cop-out, and anything else I might've liked about the story was crushed in my annoyance...
Well, except that I did still like the writing... so it gets 2 stars instead of 1... (less)
A decent little adventure story which explores, a bit, the power of stories to shape people's perspectives - both for the good and ill.
The titular Violet is an ugly princess who, early in the story, is told that "real princesses" have to be beautiful. At least in stories. But when things start going wrong, she starts thinking that maybe it's because she's not a "real princess".
Overall the story reminded me a bit of the Care Bears movie - the part where (view spoiler)[an evil spirit plays on Nicholas' internal fears and doubts and magnifies them. In the end good triumphs, and we learn that what's inside matters more than what's on the outside. (hide spoiler)]
But, while it has a nice message and I'd maybe recommend it for the younger folken, it's pretty standard stuff and nothing about it makes it really stand out in any way.
One thing that was kinda cool, though, was how it was written as a sort of memoir of a secondary character who has no problems pointing out how weak-willed he was. That was kinda different.
ETA: I will add that, in the first half of the book, I was a bit worried our princess was rather too wishy-washy for that which is suggested by the title, but I really like how she grows and takes charge by the end.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Allow me to start by saying I am not coming to this book fresh, as I have seen both movie versions. I quite liked the more modern...more**spoiler alert** 2.5
Allow me to start by saying I am not coming to this book fresh, as I have seen both movie versions. I quite liked the more modern one, though I know it's an unpopular movie. The older one, which follows the book more, I always found rather silly, actually. Probably doesn't bode well for my review. Heh.
Anyway, I had a hard time getting the actors from the newer movie out of my head, and get transposing them into the book, trying to rewrite a bit my notions of the characters so they matched the book instead of the movie.
But, in a way, that wasn't entirely a good thing, because I really didn't like any of the characters, except maybe Nell, who I couldn't decide whether I liked or not. Really, I just didn't like any of them - though I felt some sympathy for the doctor when his insufferable wife showed up, since I hated her the most.
The dialogue was weird, and the character interactions were just awkward and all-over-the-place. I imagine part of that, at least, was by design, but it made it hard to really care about what was going on. They were all petulant children, and the doctor was a patronizing git.
It was interesting to watch Eleanor slowly go insane, though it was so jumpy I wasn't sure what was going on half the time. Again, this may have been by design, but I didn't feel it really added anything to the ambience for me.
One thing I like better about the movie is that the types of activity varies. In the book, it seemed repetitive to the point of tedium in places.
It present some interesting ideas. How much is real and how much in her mind? How much is she causing to happen, and how much is happening because of her - for her.
Oh, another thing I preferred about the movie is the way they changed the backstory, and how Eleanor was actually connected to the house instead of just the vagueries of this story.
Perhaps it's bias of first exposure, which I'm rather prone to, but I did like the movie 'The Haunting', and I preferred some of the things the movie changed over the way it was in the book.
Ok, now that I'm done hating - there were a few good things about the book.
To whit - I liked the scene where Nell and Theo were both in the one room, and they hear the noises, and Nell thinks she's holding Theo's hand, 'cause it's all dark, but then she realizes Theo was asleep and there's the whole "Oh God, whose hand was I holding?"
That was pretty cool.
One thing I did not like was the scene where the four of them are together, and Tweedle Dum and Dummer are off doing their thing, and Nell falls asleep, and when she wakes up it's the next morning and Luke's shirt is in tatters, etc, and she's like "what happened?" and they're like "we'll tell you later", and then we never hear the damn story!
Another thing I liked was the poltergeist stuff. The doc picked Nell because of poltergeist experience when she was younger, even though she doesn't remember it. Well, there's a theory that poltergeist activity is less a haunting a more a psychic phenom caused, generally, by teenagers going through emotional turmoil.
Add that into an insane house that Nell has a connection to, and you being to wonder how much she's causing to happen, and how much of it is the house reacting to her, and how much is her reacting to the house.
I mean, it's pretty clear it's not just her. But, in the book, it's not a straightforward haunting, either. Not like in the movie. It's like a psychic sympatico between the insane house and the poltergeist girl, and they feed off of each other, and it's hard to sort of tell where one starts and the other begins. That was pretty cool.
Overall, if the characters weren't so bloody annoying and the dialogue so unbelievable and awkward, the ideas of the book would've really shone much more.(less)
Those who have read the Holmes stories are, no doubt, familiar with the Baker Street Irregulars, the group of "Street Arabs", as they are called in th...moreThose who have read the Holmes stories are, no doubt, familiar with the Baker Street Irregulars, the group of "Street Arabs", as they are called in the Doyle stories, who sometimes provide help to Holmes via spying. No one notices them, you see, so they're free to see and hear many things on the streets.
In the stories, though, they're often mentioned in passing, and never really dwelt on. Well, this book seeks to set that record straight but claiming that Watson was jealous of the kids, which is why he always gave them such short shrift. (Watson, in general, is portrayed in a very negative light in this book. Perhaps understandably so, considering the premise, but I always feel like Watson gets short shrift and don't really like to see another book doing so.)
That aside, the kids are a cool little group, lead by Wiggins and seconded by Osgood, who is, himself, no slacker and a great admirer of Holmes and his method, to the point of emulating it.
The book also does a good job of setting the scene, and discussing some of the more unsavory facets of Victorian life, such as the workhouses, which the boys feared above all.
As is necessary to the story, Holmes is more a background sort of character, while the story follows the kids to the circus as they investigate the deaths of a troupe of tightrope walkers. Instead of just looking and listening, though, they actively investigated, questioning the various members of the circus, and getting themselves into a bit of bother along the way.
At the circus they are joined by Pilar, a headstrong Gypsy girl and fortune-teller, who is bored of the circus and follows the boys back to Baker Street to join in the investigation - much to everyone's chagrin, but proving herself useful (if a bit conveniently so).
Overall, it was definitely an entertaining story, though missing a little something in the telling that could've pushed it to a higher rating. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there's just something missing. I think it might've been one of those ever present telling vs showing things, but I'm not entirely sure.
I'll keep an eye out for the next in the series, though, the next time I'm idly browsing at the library.
Oh, also, the story is purported to be told by someone who was there, and we are given clues, in the form of overlarge letters every few pages, to his identity. I guess it pretty early on, but can't say the conceit entirely worked for me. I mean, it was an interesting idea and all, but there are too many logistic questions that would be open for such a thing to be true.(less)
Nine Princes of Amber: It was an ok story. Not great, but not bad. I sort of got annoyed with the faux-medieval language towards the end, and I didn't...moreNine Princes of Amber: It was an ok story. Not great, but not bad. I sort of got annoyed with the faux-medieval language towards the end, and I didn't care that much about the characters, but the cliff-hanger ending did leave me curious and wanting to read the next in the series.
I was a bit annoyed that none of the sisters are relevant characters.
The Guns of Avalon: I just finished this yesterday, and had to think a minute to recall what happened. It was anti-climactic in itself, and generally set up for the rest of the story.
Hand of Oberon: Didn't expect that particular twist, though I did think there was something fishy about "him".
The Corwin Arc
So last night I finished book 5, completing the Corwin Arc of the story.
First off let me state that this is one of those series/arcs which is really one story which is split into parts, and not a series where each book is self-contained. I don't mind this in the least, but I think it's good for people to know so they don't think they can just jump in anywhere. Though each book does have a sort of "reminiscence" of past events, it is something you really need to read in order.
I would say that, overall, this is a story whose whole is better than the sum of its parts. The first two books were a bit slow, books 3 and 4 were rather good, and book 5 and its ups and downs - but since it really is one story, it's best, I think, to take it as a total and not as parts, which is why I aborted my above attempt at per book commentaries.
That said, I give it 3 1/2 stars.
There are two major downfalls to the story. 1) Secondary characters aren't really developed, and it's hard to get a real feel for them. Above I'd mentioned this mostly with the sisters, but, really, it's all of them with few exceptions. But, even those exceptions are scatter-shot. 2) The descriptions of the journies through Shadows were rather dull and hard to follow. I sort of started zoning in these places, and would perk up again once we got somewhere and something of interest started happening.
Actually, I'll add a third, which is related to the first, but also simply a by-product of it's first person narration - there's a lot of exposition. There's a lot of stuff that happens off-stage because it doesn't happen to Corwin directly, and so we find out about it in dialogue as it's being related to Corwin. This adds to the mystery and intrigue aspect, but also smacks of telling instead of showing. Of course, conversely, this added greatly to the brevity of the story, because if we 'saw' all of the events, the book would probably be at least twice as long. So that's sort of a pro and a con.
There were parts, such as with Corwin and Random, and Corwin and Hugi, where I truly felt for Corwin - where I felt for his plight, empathized with is pain, or was amused by conversations. There were other parts where I felt distanced from the story, such as when a major character died who he loved, but whom you never really see much of in the story, and so are left able to sympathize, but not empathize. It's hard to care about the fate of a character you hardly see, even if the narrator has some ununderstood affection for them.
The parts that worked, as I said, were mostly the intrigue. I was often as confused as Corwin, and as equally desirous of learning what, exactly, was going on and who, precisely, was betraying whom. Also some of the action sequences were quite good. Some of the best parts, though, were being inside Corwin when we truly felt his pain or pleasure, his triumphs or despair. It didn't always work, but, when it did, it worked well.
3.5 - 4 stars
I am now putting this book aside, and will return to Merlin's arc after I've finished off some other stuff I want to get to.
So, I finished the Merlin arc last night. Overall, I didn't think it was as good as the Corwin arc. I think the biggest drawback, for me, was that there wasn't as much as an empathic connection with Merlin as there was with Corwin.
While we're following Corwin's story, we get a lot of insight into him as a person and how things are affecting him. With Merlin, while there's a little bit of this, it's mostly just one thing after another thing after another. So much happens, with so many different people and things wanting a piece of him, that we don't get a lot of time for real in-depth character stuff.
I mean, I liked Merlin, but I only felt I knew him superficially. And what we do know of him we learn mostly through his actions.
At times I really felt for Corwin. I only remember one time where my heart went out to Merlin.
Going back to so much happening, at times the story was confusing and hard to follow. There was an odd jerkiness to it in places, again, and I would flip back a page to see if I skipped something. It was hard keeping people and motives straight, and some of it didn't really make a lot of sense (like most of the Julia thing.)
Other parts were slogging. I think most of book three and about 1/2 of book 4 were just painfully slow. I had to sort of force my way through.
It picked up a lot at the end, which was good, and things were moving along at a good pace - and then things just ended. It's a very open-ended ending, and there are a lot of loose threads which could be picked up, which could be fine, except this is all there is. (Well, there were sohrt stories written, but I don't think they're collected anywhere, and Zelazny died before it was all completed.)
Overall, I liked the Merlin arc well enough, just not as much as the first cycle.
Maybe it was because I'd seen the movie based on this book before I read it, but I didn't really feel a lot of tension for the characters. Or maybe...more2.5
Maybe it was because I'd seen the movie based on this book before I read it, but I didn't really feel a lot of tension for the characters. Or maybe it was because most of them seemed to be there to fill space... (The most empathy I had in the entire story was for a cougar. Poor cougar... )
I thought the book started well, with everyone being rounded up and the horrible randomness of it all. Perhaps, too, that's why the ending didn't seem to work as well. It was the randomness that made it frightening. (I'm trying to be vague so as not to have to add spoiler tags. Yeesh.)
Anyway - towards the middle, whatever tension and sense of urgency seemed to dwindle and then die completely, as we got backstory on top of backstory, only some of which seemingly relevant. Some of it was interesting, some not so much.
And I don't think I'd mind the God-stuff so much if we didn't spend so much time sitting around discussing it like it was some sort of philosophy course, instead of impending death and terror. And it was very circular. I mean, sure, a lot of theological discussion is circular, but did I mention that whole 'supposed to be in immediate fear for our lives' thing?
I think it would've been a lot better if it was about 200 pages shorter. As it was, I was just kinda bored.
It picked up again at the end, but it was a bit predictable. Of course, as I said before, some of that could've been from the fact that I knew the overall gist of the story, even if I'd forgotten most of it until I was reading it. But I don't remember being exactly wowed by the movie, either.(less)
After reading Neverwhere for the second time, it remains one of, if not thee, favorite book of mine by Gaiman. There really aren't many flaws to this...moreAfter reading Neverwhere for the second time, it remains one of, if not thee, favorite book of mine by Gaiman. There really aren't many flaws to this book. I love the world and the idea that the people who 'slip through the cracks' exist in this other world beneath the world. I even love the slight ambiguity that it could be that Richard is actually just crazy, through I prefer to think of it as real.
I love the way the story unfolds. We are given information piece-meal, receiving it as our protagonist receives it, and, like our protagonist, we just sort of go along for the ride and start taking the craziness for granted, because it's told in such a convincing way that you don't really ever stop to think it couldn't be true.
I love the characters. Richard is a bit dull and gets annoying sometimes. Door is interesting though, in a way, oddly underdeveloped. The Marquis de Carabas is one of my faves, though, and who doesn't love the creepy, funny insanity of Croup and Vandemar?
I love the wording. Gaiman is evocative without being overly desriptive or trite. The story moves along at a good pace, and the words wrap around you, creating the world and the story, with turns of phrases that just linger on the tongue and in the mind.
And, lastly, I love the ending. There are many self-referential nods to Wizard of Oz throughout the story. It's obvious - the journey to the angel to get knowledge, or power, or to go home. Even Croup and Vandemar as a substitute Witch, as they hound the heroes with threats throughout the story. But in this Oz, which I still choose to think of as more than a dream, the theme is that getting what you want, what you think you wanted all along, isn't necessarily the best thing for you. I always thought Dorothy was better off in Oz, just like Richard truly belongs in London Below.
There are few perfect endings to books, but I think this is one... I always sigh happily to myself when it's over...
Ok - I lied, that's not the last thing I'm going to say. I also really like how Richard, our bumbling hero, isn't always the hero. Yes, he passes some ordeals - but he still has to be saved from his encounter with heights. And he doesn't really rescue to damsel, even though it seems that's how it's going to turn out. Rather the damsel rescues them all, through cleverness.
And I also like how it doesn't become a romance between Richard and Door. I don't have anything against romances, as evidence by my reading list, but it's nice that it doesn't have to be that way.
Overall, there's not really much to dislike about this book - unless you're just a big curmudgeon or something ;)(less)
I'm not quite sure I'd give it 5-star this time through. I'm thinking more 4-stars - but I think most of that has to do with the fact that I read it not that long ago, so it didn't have that freshness to it it did on the first and even second reading. (I read it to refresh myself for a group discussion, else it would've been awhile before I reread it.)
I read a different version this time, though. I think. I got the ISBN number that's listed as the "author's preferred text", but the cover's different from the one linked here, and I didn't get any kind of intro or explanation of the differences, so I'm not 100% sure. And there's some talk about the American version having a second prologue, but I never read a second prologue, so I don't effing know anymore which is what. I did notice a few lines here and there which I thought might be different - but, then, I might just not have remembered them.
Anyway... this is still one of my faves of Gaiman's and I highly recommend it, and my other review that I linked is much better and more actually about the story. ;)(less)
I seem to have a pattern of getting books I really look forward to, only to be somewhat disappointed in them. Perhaps if I had not had such high hopes...moreI seem to have a pattern of getting books I really look forward to, only to be somewhat disappointed in them. Perhaps if I had not had such high hopes and expectations I would've liked it more?
The pacing was a bit slow, and it was definitely not one where I couldn't wait to get back into it. I did like Shandy and Davies and Skank. I think my favorite part was watching Shandy turn into a pirate and accept his role, and to find that they were, despite their wicked ways, actually good guys. Honor amongst thieves and all that. And I liked the magic and how it was explained, again I liked Shandy's development in this area, and I liked how the different types of loas where described and understood. He seemed to do a fair bit of research in this regard.
But beyond that, the characters were mostly flat, the romantic plot-line, while a driving force, felt sort of tacked on - but perhaps that's because Beth was such a damsel in distress, and I would've preferred a bit more Elizabeth Swan.
Overall it was an enjoyable enough action story, though a bit ponderous in places, but it just didn't grab me overmuch.(less)
This book was recommended to me as a proto-Steampunk. Since there are one, maybe two, elements remotely Steampunkish (i.e. clockwork musicians), an...more2.5
This book was recommended to me as a proto-Steampunk. Since there are one, maybe two, elements remotely Steampunkish (i.e. clockwork musicians), and they are mentioned only in passing, I'd say it's very "proto".
So much for what it's not. What it is is a pretty decent story that reminded me of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, what with the multiple character perspectives, and the politics and intrigue, and this one's conning that one who's tricking that one, so on and so forth. Except this one reads slightly better than Swordspoint, which I gave a 2 star rating.
The world was interesting enough, and I liked Sera and Skelbrooke, 'cause I just have a thing for willful, independent girls and rogues with good hearts, respectively. But, for a book that's less than 300 pages, I still felt it was a bit slow in places.
I might pick up the continuation at some point, but I have no pressing need to get to it in the short term.(less)