John Scalzi did it in Redshirts. He poked fun at a beloved symbol of geekdom, and we loved it. Frey has done the same for the sacred fantasy tropes anJohn Scalzi did it in Redshirts. He poked fun at a beloved symbol of geekdom, and we loved it. Frey has done the same for the sacred fantasy tropes and it's fantastic. An empowered woman of color, thrown into the chauvinistic world of the epic fantasy today's geeks were weaned on, serves as the perfect narrator for a critical and wonderful look at fantasy in the modern world.
To be honest, I bought the book for the cover, even though the description left me feeling "meh." It sounded like it was going to be too formulaic, orTo be honest, I bought the book for the cover, even though the description left me feeling "meh." It sounded like it was going to be too formulaic, or too insta-love, love triangle, whatever.
I was pleasantly surprised to find more depth and nuance in the book, and that the plot, while centered around teen love or lack thereof, was different enough to be compelling. And she pulled on the feels, which is most important to me in a book. I need to care, and she made me care.
The biggest problem I had with this, mostly, was that at times the voice or dialogue sounded too modern or anachronistic. That was probably what held me back from the last star, because I did end this one on a "NOOOOO!!!! It's not over yet!" note, which is always a win. ...more
I find myself agreeing with both those who loved it and those who hated it. Robin Hobb is hands down one of the authors who has affected my life the mI find myself agreeing with both those who loved it and those who hated it. Robin Hobb is hands down one of the authors who has affected my life the most, and it was with Fitz and the Fool that she did it more than any of the other series.
That said, this did have a verrrrrryy slow start. It's a weakness I've seen in her books before, much like the first book of the second Fitz and Fool trilogy. Though this one was worse. It's actually less of a slow start and more of a slow book in its entirety where not much happened until the last third of the book. The addition of the second POV character saved it for me, even though for the first few paragraphs of the switch I was Not Happy. The other new secondary characters were just awful and I hated them (as I was meant to) but as there was little else redeeming going on it wasn't added drama and complexity so much as an added annoyance.
When it came to the end, I felt cheated and at the same time almost involuntarily moved and hooked. The Fool wasn't even in this book. Oh, the character showed up at the VERY end, but it was so brief, and so much had happened to him in the intervening years, that he didn't feel like the Fool. The cliffhanger was super unfair, after hundreds of pages of setup. It was like the story was just starting and then: Oops! Books's over. Time to wait a year or so to get to actually read this story.
All that said, there's no way I'm not picking up the next one. ...more
The first book in this series, Promise of Blood was a great read. This one's fantastic. Both the writer and the plot have grown since Book 1. This booThe first book in this series, Promise of Blood was a great read. This one's fantastic. Both the writer and the plot have grown since Book 1. This book does what you hope every second book in a trilogy will do: advance the plot, not just fill space. The characters grew as needed (or refused to, which is progression in itself.) New heroes and villains were discovered and/or dealt with. I don't think this book had the same weakness I perceived in PoB, that of resolving some of the crises too quickly. The few times it started to seem that way were more of a "gotcha" or just a necessary step in the crisis getting even worse! All in all I hated every time I had to put it down. I can't wait to see what happens next. When's Book 3 coming out? ...more
I've said elsewhere that Brian McClellan is writing some of the most original fantasy today. His blend of magic with technology has a fascinating twisI've said elsewhere that Brian McClellan is writing some of the most original fantasy today. His blend of magic with technology has a fascinating twist. It's not about how they learn to fit together in the world, or the fall of magic to technology, they're actually evolving together. A new class of mage is born entirely out of a technological advance: gunpowder. It's simply fascinating. His writing is clean and enjoyable to read, his characters vivid and sympathetic. I also like the way he pulls the gods into the world as real characters, both as more and less than your traditional meddlesome god, a la the Greek and Roman pantheons.
My one complaint is that I felt like the characters sometimes got out of trouble too easily, that the Big Awful happened but then would be resolved within the chapter. Now, this could be in part due to the contrast with the real torture fantasy writers are putting their characters--and readers!--through these days, but I don't think that can entirely be blamed. He certainly didn't always fall short there, and with so many character lines, even when something seemed a little too convenient there was always someone else in seemingly insurmountable trouble, so there was no feeling of a linear plot.(He also improves in this respect in book 2, so this is not a fatal flaw.)
This is simply a must read for fantasy writers. ...more
TRIGGER WARNINGS for pretty much anything to do with sex, but especially involving children. It certainly wasn't the theme or the point but, by the enTRIGGER WARNINGS for pretty much anything to do with sex, but especially involving children. It certainly wasn't the theme or the point but, by the end, there wasn't just violation of children, but brutality. I won't lie, there were times I felt dirty for not throwing the book away.
That said, the world and story were fascinating enough that I was too sucked in to walk away. I could point to weaknesses in the style (the way we were in a different person's head from paragraph to paragraph) or the characters (who were compelling and surprising and then at times completely predictable) and the plot devices that felt convenient not essential (WHY can't they get Lucivar?????) but I still read all the way through and plan to get the next one.
I loved this so much, the characters were rich and complex, the concept of the white hell was fascinating, and the world well-fleshed and vibrant. SoI loved this so much, the characters were rich and complex, the concept of the white hell was fascinating, and the world well-fleshed and vibrant. So beautifully done and so full of emotional twists and turns.
I'd have given it five stars if it weren't for what I felt was a lack in the editing more than anything. There was a lot of stuff we just didn't need to know, that didn't inform or advance the plot any, and that dragged at the pace and was a frustrating buffer between Interesting Things Happening. I'm a writer myself, so I don't fault the writer for this, more the editor for not pointing it out and eliminating it. That's their job, not ours. ;)
That said, I'm probably pickier about that than most. And don't let it make you pass this one up. ...more
What struck me over and over again through this trilogy is what a brilliant and original worldbuilder Bear is. In this world, the sky is different depWhat struck me over and over again through this trilogy is what a brilliant and original worldbuilder Bear is. In this world, the sky is different depending on what nation you're in, and it changes if the land is conquered. The whole sky. The sun, the stars, the moons. One sky has a moon for each prince of the ruling line. When one dies, there goes his moon. A new one is born? You have a new moon that night. One nation has no night at all. Just the rise of the big sun (Hard-day) and as it sets, the rise of the much smaller sun (Soft-day.)
I'm just blown away at the imagination that goes into something like this. Not just because it's interesting, but because, usually, magic and mythology in fantasy tends to be true to physics and astronomy and biology in general, so long as you account for certain things we can't do now, like, well, magic. But with a little bending of the rules, you can see how it works according to our understanding of the universe.
This isn't like that. Yet it's internally consistent and logical within itself. It doesn't need our science. It's a reality and truth of its own. Even more fascinating is that beside this complete diversion from astronomy as we know it, magicians operate their magic in a very scientific manner, and study the physical world relentlessly. And it all works together somehow.
Elizabeth Bear is the writer I want to be when I grow up.
Come to the trilogy for the excellent characters, storyline, the satisfying ending. It has all that. But it does so much more that I was left in awe of her craft as much as the story I'd just experienced. ...more
I can't say this one blew me away, but I think it was more for the lack of that sort of love triangle ANGST you come to expect in YA. And that's a gooI can't say this one blew me away, but I think it was more for the lack of that sort of love triangle ANGST you come to expect in YA. And that's a good thing, so I'm sorta disappointed in myself that I can't gush more about it. (Honestly, it may just have been a bad time of the month for me to pick up anything...)
The whole plot and premise was wonderful, and I loved the way disability, lgbt, and class issues were all tackled without that ever being The Point. It was a great, imaginative, original story that included those themes so seamlessly that you often forgot it was even going anywhere controversial.
Just from a pure emotional reaction point of view, at the end of this, had it been any other book, I'd have given it three stars. But it took us places other books are afraid to go, and did it so well, and those things are SO IMPORTANT for teens to find in books aimed at them, that it easily got a star for that alone. ...more