A friend of mine was reading this book while she was staying at my place for a couple days. Out of interest, I asked her what it was about and the mor...moreA friend of mine was reading this book while she was staying at my place for a couple days. Out of interest, I asked her what it was about and the more she explained, the more I wanted to read it for myself. Kindly she left the book with me and I devoured it over the next few weeks.
Not being an avid reader of biographies of any kind, I was surprised that I was immediately drawn into Fitzsimons' style of writing. He makes the reader interested in wanting to find out more about the people he is writing about and this was the case with Nancy Wake and I.
Nancy Wake, for those of you who aren't aware, was a character that came out of WWII. An Australian woman who loved travel and adventure, found herself working against the Nazis and Gestapo in France and Germany. She was pivotal in saving many lives and foiling the plans of the Germans. She was trained as a nurse, then a spy and then a mercenary.
The book details Nancy's childhood and the issues with her parents and family that lead her to New York and then onto London and Paris and the events that followed which saw her embroiled in England and Frances most secret and deadly services.
'Nancy Wake' reads like an adventure but one needs to remember that Nancy saw and experienced many horrific and terrifying things during the war but Fitzsimons has captured what I believe to be her spirit and attitude (the typical Australian and New Zealand "fair go" attitudes as well as those of mateship, not to mention sheer bravery and balls) to bring to life this amazing woman.
The dire subject matter is made very palatable by Fitzsimons so even someone who doesn't appreciate biographies like myself can easily read it. And I recommend that you do, it's a great introduction to one of Australia's lesser known war heroes.(less)
Let's get one thing straight... I am a hardcore fan of Terry Goodkind. I was in high school when Wizard's First Rule came out and it was a real eye-op...moreLet's get one thing straight... I am a hardcore fan of Terry Goodkind. I was in high school when Wizard's First Rule came out and it was a real eye-opener for me. The years following were plagued with fights over who would read the next book first when it came out and my mother bought it (for the record, they're all now living on my shelf).
I have loved the Sword of Truth series forever but with each book, I have also felt the characters get weaker and the story get slower than the previous one. There is no describing the torment and disappointment I felt at how Goodkind wrote Jagang's demise... which was all in the space of a paragraph. We'd just got through about eight books that detailed the horribleness of the world of the Emperor and the dream walkers and then.... well, that's for a completely different review.
So, The First Confessor WANTS to be a great book but I found it to be very obvious. It was like reading a bunch of dot points...
*First Wizard dies, leaving widow (our heroine) to fend for herself *Bad guy makes himself apparent *Gruesome and bad stuff happens *Heroine (stubborn, troublesome wench-type) gets help *Heroine becomes a Confessor *The good guys win - for now.
I'm not really giving any spoilers away, here. It's pretty obvious that Magda Searus becomes the first Confessor from the title alone. But that's the problem with the whole book. I knew what was going to happen the whole way through. There was no guessing, no surprises.
I had a real problem with someone who was fairly pivotal to the tale in the beginning of the novel simply vanishing for the rest of the story. Literally.
And... this is probably the only real spoiler in my review - I really wanted more detail as to how Magda was changed into a confessor. I was BITTERLY disappointed.
On the whole, if you've read the rest of the Sword of Truth series, I would probably give this one a miss. If you haven't then my advice would be:
1. Wizards First Rule (Book 1) 1a. Debt of Bones (Novella/short story) 1b. The First Confessor (Prequel)
.. and then every other book in the series in the order to which they were written. It will make more sense to you and at the same time you will be pleased that you'll be riding the crest of the wave for the rest of the way through the story.
Sorry Terry, you missed the mark with this one. Might be time to start on some new material.
A lot of people seem to be upset that this book doesn't follow the storyline of Katsa and Po. Well DER! It's title is "Bitterblue", the main character...moreA lot of people seem to be upset that this book doesn't follow the storyline of Katsa and Po. Well DER! It's title is "Bitterblue", the main character is Bitterblue... It takes place some years after the last time we saw both Katsa and Po in Fire.
As a story, I did like this book but goodness, it took a long time to warm up. It's a very slow burn of a story with tension/mystery building up to the last few chapters of the book where Bitterblue finds out the dark history of Monsea when it was under the rule of her father (Leck). A lot of of the story beforehand is her trying to find out, unsuccessfully, and investigate the city over which she rules.
You do get a foreboding sense as the tale continues that Leck's (now Bitterblue's) advisers were more involved in the evil king's doings than initially thought.
I liked the romance aspect of the book between Bitterblue and Sapphire, as brief as it was. (Awwww... look, their names are both blue! Squee!) I hope we see both of these characters return in more happy circumstances.
The first thing that turned me off about this book was Cashore's approach to gay couples. I just didn't think it was necessary to frame it in that way... Bann and Raffin are gay. So is Brenn. And? So? Who really cares? It seems that we cannot get away from reality in a fantasy novel. One would have hoped that being gay would not be an issue in a fantasy story. Oh well.
Secondly, and this has nothing to do with the story but more the acknowledgements at the end of the book, Cashore apologises for giving Po some sort of super-human ability to overcome his disability - thus implying that "he couldn't be a whole person and also be disabled". WHAT ROT! Po's Grace of being able to see with his mind after he loses his real vision is hardly superhuman and not without it's limitations as clearly written in the story. Cashore's advisers in this were clearly having an overly politically correct day.
On the whole, Bitterblue is a great read and a great continuation of the world that Cashore created.(less)