(Aside: I read Cast in Shadow, the first novel of the Chronicles of Elantra series which the author wrote under the name of Michelle Sagara, and I was surprised by the difference in wordbuilding and style of writing between Cast in Shadow and The Broken Crown -- though you can recognize common threads in both.)
The Sun Sword series itself follows the Dominion of Annagar and the Empire of Essalieyan as they seek to keep the Shining Court (where the Lord of Hells presides) from gaining a foothold over the lands of mortal kind. It's very hard not to attribute characteristics of Eastern cultures, for lack of better words, to the Dominion of Annagar and that of Western cultures to the Empire of Essalieyan. It's equally as hard to dismiss the dichotomy inherent in a narrative that mainly focuses on two cultures such as that of Annagar Dominion and Essalieyan Empire.
Despite I think (I hope) the author's intention, The Broken Crown skirts close a couple of times to the pervading portrayal of Western civilization as enlightened and Eastern civilization as backward. When the narrative switches to an Essalieyan setting, there's an overabundance of positive descriptions and a feeling that Essalieyan's softness (kindness) will gentle (save) Annagar's harshness -- a feeling that hasn't been outright contradicted yet.
There's also this: when the narrative is set in Annagar, the pacing is absolute and tightly paced, but when the narrative switches, the pacing fell apart for me. The Essalieyan POVs switch too much for me and this colludes with my feeling that many of the powers behind the Essalieyan Empire is superficial. I felt there is no strength behind those powers (too much tell and no show) and yes, beside a few Essalieyan characters, I found most of them unsympathetic and often times wooden.
But thankfully, a majority of the novel is set in the Annagar Dominion and as starlady said, Annagar is "unabashedly patriarchal". Annagar's patriarchy is not vilified as many Eastern patriarchal cultures have been vilified nor are the female characters portrayed without agency. Serra Diora and Teresa's characters -- and their machinations -- are one of the truly compelling points of the novel for me.
In conclusion: I love the worldbuilding of the Annagar Dominion -- truly awesome worldbuilding, characterizations and portrayals -- and fearful of where the relationship between Annagar and Essalieyan will head.
P.S. Why is there such an emphasis on golden hair and blue eyes?...more
A short, heartfelt piece about a boy connecting with his grumpy, old-fashioned grandfather. Written for a younger audience, but the grandfather's commA short, heartfelt piece about a boy connecting with his grumpy, old-fashioned grandfather. Written for a younger audience, but the grandfather's comment about waiting struck a cord for me....more
The troubles with reading novels based on Asian mythology is lining up mythical creatures and figures with their English names and sometimes the diffeThe troubles with reading novels based on Asian mythology is lining up mythical creatures and figures with their English names and sometimes the different depictions/forms these mythical creatures may take in Eastern and Western cultures.
I was also a bit thrown by the descriptions that the people in this universe commonly have brown hairs and blue eyes. Blue eyes, really?
Aside from that quibble, I thought Dragon of the Lost Sea was a heartwarming tale about an unlikely friendship between a wandering dragon and an orphaned boy. I like that most of the narrative was in the dragon's POV. Also, Monkey appearance for the win!
Warning for open-ended ending as this is the first novel in a series; there are three others left....more
I felt like some of the character developments were sacrificed to that of the plot and that left me a little unsatisfied with Water Logic, book 3 of tI felt like some of the character developments were sacrificed to that of the plot and that left me a little unsatisfied with Water Logic, book 3 of the Elemental Logic series, since the characters were the strength of the series. Still, it's a good book overall, fascinating and absorbing....more
I think Earth Logic is my favorite book of the Elemental Logic series so far. I'm hard pressed to say why exactly. Possibly because I found the shiftiI think Earth Logic is my favorite book of the Elemental Logic series so far. I'm hard pressed to say why exactly. Possibly because I found the shifting point of views between two opposing nations with philosophical differences fascinating, of how two of the main characters came into their power, as leaders to these opposing nations. All I know is: favorite.
I'm a little disappointed that we don't see more Garland though....more
The Elemental Logic series was recommended by skadi in coffeeandink's recs thread:
Laurie J. Marks has a fabulous Elemental Logic series that I've been
The Elemental Logic series was recommended by skadi in coffeeandink's recs thread:
Laurie J. Marks has a fabulous Elemental Logic series that I've been recommending to everyone I know who enjoys fantasy/sf. Most of the characters are white, but Zanja (who is the hero of the first book, Fire Logic, and a big player in the following books) is a character of color. She is amazing. She's an example of a book character you grow to love and respect so much you find yourself forgetting she's not real.
Anyway, the entire series is very philosophical in how it deals with war, peace, love, and the families that we make (and aren't born into). It's also extremely gay friendly, which is something that I really appreciate. I can't recommend these books enough.
For some reasons, the word Elemental recalls to me the cartoon series, Avatar: the Last Airbender (not for any specific reasons, but just a random word association) so I decided to pick up the series.
The Elemental Logic series (not finished with one last book to be published) is not without any racial stereotypes, I don't think, but it is obvious that all the characters in this series are written with care, respect and love. Fire Logic is about the individual's journey and triumphs, of finding oneself and partnership, but as the series progresses, it concerns itself with more familial ones. The characters, those born with elemental powers, are guided by their elemental logic: fire prescience, air truth, water time and earth healing. Their lives are consumed by the turmoils of war between Shaftal, a country who are devoted to the land, and Sainnites, a nation of refugees who only remembers how to conquer.
The series is absorbing and addictive to read with wonderful character development. However, some of the inventions and customs, their developments felt like cop-outs to me, being too similar to that in our real world. I would have prefer to see how the path to these developments have been diverted between our world and theirs. I was also jarred by a particular stiff and blunt phrase, but I think this reaction is more of a result of my personal hangup than anything....more
Res mentioned off-handedly about Mixed Magics having a story that made her want to read Cat/Tonino and with that intriguing rec, I added the book to mRes mentioned off-handedly about Mixed Magics having a story that made her want to read Cat/Tonino and with that intriguing rec, I added the book to my to-read list. In the end though, I just skimmed through the book and only read Stealer of Souls, the one that involves Cat (from Charmed Life) & Tonino (from The Magicians of Caprona) and that does indeed contain the making of a slash story, and The Sage of Theare, a story about the Sage of Dissolution and a bit like Small God in tone now that I think about it. Both are enjoyable to read, but I wouldn't recommend Mixed Magics to those who are not fans of the Chrestomanci series or of short stories....more
This has been on my to-read list for ages (about two years now? *sheepish*) and I've only finally gotten around to it. The characters are compelling,This has been on my to-read list for ages (about two years now? *sheepish*) and I've only finally gotten around to it. The characters are compelling, but I don't know how I feel about A College of Magics. One thing you have to consider is that the plot doesn't really move until the second-half of the novel when the heroine's "magic" is revealed; the first-half just feels like exposition. Then there's also the feeling like the author doesn't know to which audience she wants to address - or rather like she tries too hard to make A College of Magics different things: a satirical and unconventional romance comedy; a political satire; an action-adventure mystery; a historical fantasy with sinister overtones, political intrigue and a feminist bent; and a light-hearted romp. This really shows in a somewhat sloppy executed B-plot, the Menary one, imo. And yet, for all its flaws, I still want more from this universe....more
I didn't comment on this in my review of Point of Hopes, the prequel to Point of Dreams, but I like how subtle and understated the authors are about tI didn't comment on this in my review of Point of Hopes, the prequel to Point of Dreams, but I like how subtle and understated the authors are about the details and structures of their world, like they are taken for granted being so much a part of Chnedolle's society that one doesn't notice them. Details like Chnedolle is a mostly matriarchy society or as I mentioned, Boston marriages, for females as well as males, are legal and common or Gargoyles are living creatures, guarding houses as well as being a nuisance. As I said, I like that quality of the Points series, but it can make for a confusing reading at times and you know, your mileage may vary caveat.
As for Point of Dreams itself, I was a bit disappointed that the author decided to move Eslingen and Rathe straight to being in a romantic relationship (what I would give to read the build-up to), but I quickly got over that disappointment. It's hard not to be charmed in face of their domesticity and new relationship awkwardness. There are so much win there.
What's not so much win is the A plot mystery. After reading the A plot mystery from Point of Hopes, where I could guess what was happening, but not the how, this one just didn't compare; I could see the who, the how and the why miles off. Still, it's not a bad rainy day read and the world and character building make up for it....more
Recommended by acchikocchi during the GCADoD '09 as an overlooked, but well-done sci-fi/fantasy series with an OMG!Gay!Woobie!Hero and so far, the serRecommended by acchikocchi during the GCADoD '09 as an overlooked, but well-done sci-fi/fantasy series with an OMG!Gay!Woobie!Hero and so far, the series lives up to its promises. Some things of note:
- The Kingdom of Chnedolle is a Renaissance-like world ruled by stars; astrology influenced one's career and choices (hour to hour even)
- As best as I can described it, Boston marriages (for females as well as males) are legal and very common in Chnedolle
- There are some groundworks laid for a relationship between two of the main characters, Nicolas Rathe, Adjunct Pointsman (think Sam Vimes of Discworld), and Philip Eslingen, former Lieutenant, in later novels (there is one sequel so far), full of banters and some nice USTs moments
While Point of Hopes is not without flaws (e.g. sometimes the shifting POVs can be confusing, repetitive information, etc.), the novel is still an excellent and engaging read.
(Please there be good Eslingen/Rathe fic out there?)...more
The Tales of Beedle the Bard: is definitely one of those books recommended for fans of the series only though non-fans might enjoy it too, but doubtfuThe Tales of Beedle the Bard: is definitely one of those books recommended for fans of the series only though non-fans might enjoy it too, but doubtful. The tales are a little bit too far out even for the fairy tales/fable genre, I think, and I didn't find the footnotes and Dumbledore's commentaries as charming as the author probably hopes. I did enjoy The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, however; as the opening tale, it is effective. Unfortunately, I didn't have the same connection with the rest of the tales....more
**spoiler alert** Fandom osmosis at work again. I like the premise and there are so many awesome qualities from The Dresden Files universe, but the he**spoiler alert** Fandom osmosis at work again. I like the premise and there are so many awesome qualities from The Dresden Files universe, but the hero's, Harry Dresden, lack of communication skill was the deal breaker for me. How hard is it to say, "Look. You have to understand that there are some things I can not tell you. It's not that I think you can't handle it or for any chauvinist reasons, but because I'm bound by the rules of my society/order/whatever (the supernatural/magical one). There are some things I can't disclose to outsiders." His continued inability to express that sentiments makes me think that it is because of chauvinist reasons that he couldn't disclose any of the important info to any of the female characters and I couldn't continue reading past midway through the second book....more
Sometimes I really mourned my having discovered reading so late in my childhood, because I think I would have enjoyed reading A Wrinkle in Time as a kSometimes I really mourned my having discovered reading so late in my childhood, because I think I would have enjoyed reading A Wrinkle in Time as a kid, but as it is, the innocence and I guess in a way, naiveté of A Wrinkle in Time grated on me. I couldn't really get into the book nor enjoy it....more
Thinking back, the incorporation of magic and music is genius. To tell you the truth, I don't think I can write a legitimate review of The MagiciansThinking back, the incorporation of magic and music is genius. To tell you the truth, I don't think I can write a legitimate review of The Magicians of Caprona, because when I think of this book, my mind automatically connected to Shalott's Madrigals and Misadventures, which also incorporates magic and music, but I don't think it would make sense to anyone who is not in fandom, so to speak. <3 fandom....more
**spoiler alert** When I finished Deep Secret, I didn't know if I'd liked it. I didn't really connect with the heroine and wasn't sure I really like t**spoiler alert** When I finished Deep Secret, I didn't know if I'd liked it. I didn't really connect with the heroine and wasn't sure I really like the rest of the cast. Their portrayal was, I wouldn't say harsh, but it wasn't nice either. However, random thoughts about Deep Secret kept popping up and it turns out that it's one of the books that stayed with me the most. I keep thinking of the chant - Luck, luck, luck." *flicks, flicks, flicks* "Break the dream. Luck, luck, luck." *flicks, flicks, flicks* - the main cast used to dispel bad luck....more
I can safely say that Cat Chant is my favorite character from Chrestomanci universe, but I don't know whether it's because The Pinhoe Egg is narratedI can safely say that Cat Chant is my favorite character from Chrestomanci universe, but I don't know whether it's because The Pinhoe Egg is narrated by another character, Marianne, or what, but Cat felt a bit two-dimensional and that dwindled my enjoyment of the book a bit. However, The Pinhoe Egg was still enjoyable as most Diana Jones' books and I devoured it....more
I'd already read and reviewed Charmed Life, but since I had originally read it from a borrowed copy and was going on a trip, I decided to purchase thI'd already read and reviewed Charmed Life, but since I had originally read it from a borrowed copy and was going on a trip, I decided to purchase the first volume of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci series to read The Lives of Christopher Chant and to re-read Charmed Life if I ran out of things to read. In any case, I didn't know what I think of Christopher Chant when I first met him in Charmed Life], partially because of his vagueness, but at the same time, sort of detachment to life. The Lives of Christopher Chant goes a long way to help me understand him, but I can't say that I actually like him....more
The novel about the Dog Star who is wrongly accused of murder and speculated to have been the inspiration for J.K. Rowling's character Sirius (and toThe novel about the Dog Star who is wrongly accused of murder and speculated to have been the inspiration for J.K. Rowling's character Sirius (and to my thinking, Remus) from Harry Potter. Dogsbody is not exactly for the faint of heart, especially those who cry at the merest implication of animal cruelty or human cruelty for that matter. This novel is very much bittersweet for although the ending is happy and hopeful, the characters - and you by extension - are still grieving at the end....more
It's been awhile since I read Going Postal, the prequel to this novel in this series within a series that follows Moist von Lipwig, "former arch-swindIt's been awhile since I read Going Postal, the prequel to this novel in this series within a series that follows Moist von Lipwig, "former arch-swindler and confidence man," and so I have forgotten about half of the characters that appears in this book and the former one. I wasn't exactly lost, but it took so adjusting and I kind of forgot how much I love this universe. Solid, humorous and clever....more
I would totally recommend anyone who wants to crack the Chrestomanci series to start with Charmed Life like the author, Diana Wynne Jones, recommendsI would totally recommend anyone who wants to crack the Chrestomanci series to start with Charmed Life like the author, Diana Wynne Jones, recommends instead of going by chronological order. The novel is engaging and is an excellent introduction to this universe, I think. I feel very sympathetic toward the main protagonist, Cat Chant and his relationship with his sister just breaks my heart....more
So I understand the hype now. I'd made the mistake of picking and reading Anansi Boys first as it sort of hits my embarrassment squick and I was forcSo I understand the hype now. I'd made the mistake of picking and reading Anansi Boys first as it sort of hits my embarrassment squick and I was forced to abandon/skim the book. As a result, the American Gods universe didn't hold my interest as it should. It didn't help that the back flap had created a first impression that American Gods was more of the horror/thriller genre (which it is not, btw). But the book was on sale at the library so I decided to give it a try nonetheless as Neil Gaiman is one of those authors whose narrative and storytelling I trust (see 1602) and really, who am I to resist books on sale?
I don't know what I'd expect, but the tone of American Gods and Anansi Boys is decidedly different - there is no doom and gloom in the latter, for example - and for me, that's difference is enough to get past, I don't know, the baggages of Anansi Boys? American Gods's narrative is definitely more engaging for me. It's probably because I rather like the protagonist of American Gods, Shadow, than I do of Anansi Boys and also because of the encompassing storytelling feel of the book, that American Gods is a myth itself. I love the various stories within a story and interludes in American Gods and how it eventually connects with the main plots. And obviously, I love the interweaving of, as Wiki said, Americana, mythology, fantasy, and everyday life....more
On the surface, Wildwood Dancing looks like a re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it's not quite so. It's rather a mixture of The TwelveOn the surface, Wildwood Dancing looks like a re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it's not quite so. It's rather a mixture of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Frog Prince, Transylvania folklore and a dash of the author's own fairy tales.
Juliet Marillier has a talent with storytelling, a way with words and weaving a story within a story. Her fairy tales are never easy - even if Wildwood Dancing is less dark than her previous novels - and as one of the favorite sayings in novel, Nothing comes without a price....more
**spoiler alert** There are quite a few gaping holes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most of them, I felt, are of the technical nature like f**spoiler alert** There are quite a few gaping holes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most of them, I felt, are of the technical nature like for example, the workings of the Fidelius Charm or the connection between Harry and Voldemort. The situations with Harry being the last Horcrux, Voldemort being the one that must kill Harry, and the ensuing duel, resurrection, and duel left me in circles. I hadn't felt this way since The Matrix: Revolution and I'm not sure whether that is insult or not since I'm rather defensive of The Matrix series.
I felt the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was rather weak, less engaging than Rowling's usual standard of storytelling, but perhaps I missed the days when the Dursleys were held more prominence in the opening chapter.
I was also rather dismayed by the return of some of the Order of the Phoenix's characterizations of Harry. However, I was pleased by the character developments in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows overall from Kreacher to Snape to Dumbledore - although the ending, when he was all "woe is me"? I didn't felt sympathetic toward him at all like I was supposed to - and I love the glimpses of Luna and Neville, so faithful and loyal to the friendship that they all shared. I love Hermione for her planing and preparations, for sending her parents to Australia to live as Wendell and Monica Wilkins. I love Ron and his Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches and Harry's "he knew you'd always want to come back" and toward the end, to Draco, "And that's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two-faced bastard!" I love Draco for wanting to save Goyle and I love Harry for wanting to save them both. I love Snape for not being afraid of death.
I guess what I'm trying to say, even with glaring plot holes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is worth reading for the characters only, especially if you love them and have struck with them this far along. And for once, in my life, I rather wish the author didn't stick an Epilogue at the end. Very surprising, indeed....more