I don't know what it is about this book. Frankly, it's a little weird that I love it so much. I'm not British. I'm not a Butler. I've ne...moreDecember 2010:
I don't know what it is about this book. Frankly, it's a little weird that I love it so much. I'm not British. I'm not a Butler. I've never even known a Butler. I'm also young and highly emotional and have no interest in spending my life waiting on other people. Mr. Stevens is none of those things. Maybe that's why it's so sad? I mean, my God. What a waste.
I think the reason this book affects me so much is that I have a deep seated and possibly irrational fear that someday I will be exactly like Mr. Stevens, not the part where he's an old English butler, but the part where he's alone and is only just coming to understand why. So when I read about how much he fucked up his life by playing it safe and doing "the right thing" all the time, part of me is screaming DON'T FUCK UP and the other part is crying hysterically because I totally understand why he did it. Pretty much I think we're both idiots.(less)
[On re-reading it: This book was just as powerful for me the second time, but different. I'm older now, y...moreIf I could give this book six stars, I would.
[On re-reading it: This book was just as powerful for me the second time, but different. I'm older now, yes, but also, the first time I sped through it like a crazy person, needing to know what happened. This time I already knew all the answers, so it was like meeting up with a very old and wise friend. The first time I was crazy with excitement, the second time I cried.](less)
Perfectly structured, from beginning to end. Mean without being nasty, funny without being stupid. Insightful without being preach...more(4.5 stars, really.)
Perfectly structured, from beginning to end. Mean without being nasty, funny without being stupid. Insightful without being preachy. Terry Pratchett has a gift for lovingly pointing out the stupidities of the human condition.
This particular one is quite delightful. It's got dragons, a man named Carrot, and a group of three men who make up the city law enforcement, inept and lovable guardians of the backwards and corrupted joyful logic of the city called Ankh-Morpork.
Let me leave you with this passage from the beginning of the novel: 'The city wasa, wasa, wasa, wossname. Thing. Woman. That's what it was. Woman. Roaring, ancient, centuries old. Strung you along, let you fall in thingy, love, then kicked you inna, inna, thingy. Thingy, in your mouth. Tongue. Tonsils. Teeth. That's what it, she, did. She wasa . . . thing, you know, lady dog. Puppy. Hen. Bitch. And then you hated her and, and just when you thought you'd got her, it, out of your whatever, then she opened her great booming rotten heart to you, caught you off bal, bal, bal, thing. Ance. Yeah. Thassit. Never knew where where you stood. Lay. Only one thing you were sure of, you couldn't let her go. Because, because she was yours, all you had, even in her gutters . . .'
Also, this: 'It's a metaphor of human bloody existence, a dragon. And if that wasn't bad enough, it's also a bloody great hot flying thing.'
And this: 'People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.'(less)
It took me three tries to read The Lord of the Rings the first time through. I tried once after finishing The Hobbit my freshman year of high school,...moreIt took me three tries to read The Lord of the Rings the first time through. I tried once after finishing The Hobbit my freshman year of high school, and I tried again a couple of months later. I kept getting stuck at Tom Bombadil, and the immense amount of detail thrown into the text overwhelmed me. I tried again a third time when Elijah Wood's face called out to me from a shelf on the library. The movie was coming out, I'd seen that epic trilogy teaser, and it was time to finally conquer the thing. (Sidenote: Watching that trailer again for the first time in years put goosebumps over my entire body, and I remembered exactly where I was and who I was with the first time I saw it.) I finally made it past Bombadil, and once I was in Bree and there was Strider, I was done for. That was it. I was in love for life.
The strangest thing about these books is that the first time you read them, it's very difficult. There's names and histories and songs and Tolkien just throws them out there with no explanation. You get the impression that there's this vast world you'll never be able to grasp. But upon re-read, everything is clearer, and the more I re-read them, the more I understand his world. It's like how when you've never been to a place before and it seems to take forever to get there, and everything is unfamiliar, but then every time you return to that place, time moves faster, you recognize your surroundings. That's what it's like to read Tolkien. It feels real and physical, like the geography of Middle Earth is just there, waiting for you.
There's a real sense of history to Tolkien's famously intricate and old-fashioned prose that gives the trilogy a sense of maturity that is missing from almost all fantasy published since. Tolkien's Middle Earth is a real place, where joy is touched by constant sadness, and nothing lasts forever. The Lord of the Rings is as much elegy as it is celebration. The book itself mourns for the passing of an age, but we as its readers are simply sad that it never actually existed in the first place. But perhaps Peter S. Beagle said it best, in his introduction to the book in 1973:
"For in the end it is Middle-Earth and its dwellers that we love, not Tolkien's considerable gifts in showing it to us. I said once that the world he charts was there long before him, and I still believe it. He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either: he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day's madness here in a poisoned world. We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams."
The first time I finished this book I was sitting on my bathroom floor because I couldn't put the book down long enough to move to anywhere better. I...moreThe first time I finished this book I was sitting on my bathroom floor because I couldn't put the book down long enough to move to anywhere better. I don't even remember how I got there. This time I was sitting in my bed eating a brownie.
Four stars for now. (I reserve the right to change my mind once I've read the whole series.)
I loved seeing all my favorite characters again, but like...moreFour stars for now. (I reserve the right to change my mind once I've read the whole series.)
I loved seeing all my favorite characters again, but like in A Clash of Kings, this one felt more like it was putting pieces into place for the next two. As much as I loved seeing Dany and Jon and Tyrion again, the whole time I was reading, I kept waiting for things to happen, and I feel like they just didn't. It was also jarring to essentially have one book's storylines dragged across two giant books. I feel like Martin could have cut a lot of the fat off this one (although, again, I reserve the right to change my mind about this once I've read the next two; some of the "unnecessary" stuff might actually turn out to have been necessary).
Mostly, though, I think I'm just impatient. I waited six years for this book, and now I have to wait who knows how long for the next two. Normally waiting is an excruciating pleasure, but this book just made me want more without actually sating anything. I have no idea what is going to happen next, and that is both exciting and annoying. So listen up, George Martin: if (view spoiler)[Jon Snow is actually dead, (hide spoiler)] I'm going to motherfucking kill you, you old hatted fart. You think I'm kidding.
Starting the great ASoIaF re-read in preparation for the HBO series and for A Dance With Dragons in July. I will probably post a more detailed review...moreStarting the great ASoIaF re-read in preparation for the HBO series and for A Dance With Dragons in July. I will probably post a more detailed review of books 1-4 when I get through A Feast For Crows. For now, I just want to say that this book is just as good the second time through, if not better, because I know where these characters will be years/books from now, and it's kind of amazing to see that kind of large-scale character development in action.
Downgrading this a star because I'd forgotten that this was my least favorite of the four published in the series so far. It takes me forever to get t...moreDowngrading this a star because I'd forgotten that this was my least favorite of the four published in the series so far. It takes me forever to get through, because nothing really happens, at least not until the last 200 pages (which seems a ridiculous thing to say, but honestly, the thing is nearly 1000 pages long, so 200 pages ain't that much). It's still enjoyable, but it just feels like Martin is moving all the pieces into place in this one, or cleaning up the mess of the last book. Either way, this one acts more like a linchpin than a novel, and it features some of my least favorite to read about events (Theon's whole sack of shit or whatever he's got going on, Arya stuck in that awful castle, that damn red witch lady, and a bunch of men just waving their swords around all, 'I'M KING OF THE CASTLE, I'M KING OF THE CASTLE,' etc.) I do love the possibilities that the events of this book open up, especially for Dany and Bran and Jon Snow. If I'm recalling correctly, book three (A Storm of Swords) is my favorite, so it's worth it to push through the tough parts of this one.
Definitely the best of the series so far, this thing is absolutely massive (and I mean that in terms of both size and scope). It hurt my brain to read...moreDefinitely the best of the series so far, this thing is absolutely massive (and I mean that in terms of both size and scope). It hurt my brain to read it, and it hurt my hand to hold it. Where A Clash of Kings felt like it was setting things in place, Storm of Swords got things moving, and it got them moving fast. Plot, character development, world building, and foreshadowing, all of it starts moving at lightning speed in this book, and it doesn't let up until the very last word. This is the book that put this series on my favorites shelf, because this was the book that made it clear that Martin isn't just out to write gritty fantasy that breaks all the rules. He's writing a damn good story.
It is one of my favorite things in the world (and something I'll elaborate more on in my review of A Feast For Crows in a couple of weeks) to experience a truly good character arc, one in which a character transforms naturally from one thing to another, and actually changes in real and believable ways, and for real and believable reasons. Martin is a master at this, and it's only book three. I can't wait to see where he'll take all these people by the end of book seven (those that don't end up dead, that is). It's going to be delicious.
Sigh. There's nothing really wrong with this book, for what it is. The problem is what it is, because what it is is half a book. Half of a VERY VERY L...moreSigh. There's nothing really wrong with this book, for what it is. The problem is what it is, because what it is is half a book. Half of a VERY VERY LONG BOOK, at that. If you add the pages of A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons together, you have approximately 2,100 pages, and that is actually the size of like TEN BOOKS, and with just as much story. So automatically, A Feast For Crows is not a complete experience. Not only is it missing half the characters (practically the best half, minus my boyfriend Jaime Lannister), but it doesn't even have a real ending, because it's real ending is at the end of A Dance With Dragons .
That said, even while I was wishing book five was just HERE ALREADY, I did like getting into the heads of several new POV characters, and seeing parts of Westeros (like Dorne and Oldtown) that we haven't seen before. Brienne and Cersei in particular are interesting to me. I like what Martin does with Cersei. She is still 100% contemptible, but her line of reasoning makes sense, in a twisted vengeful sort of way. She is narcissistic, impatient, and so desperate for power and respect that she makes stupid decision after stupid decision, plus she has less foresight than a blindfolded horse. Plus plus also, she's a giant bitch.
Yeah, that's a good place to end this review. CERSEI IS A GIANT BITCH. WOOOOOO!