Have you ever read a book and thought: "I'd love to travel to or live in this universe"? From all the books that come to mind, the "A Song Of Ice AndHave you ever read a book and thought: "I'd love to travel to or live in this universe"? From all the books that come to mind, the "A Song Of Ice And Fire" series by George R. R. Martin is probably not the first one you thought of. On the contrary, this book should be high on everyone's lists of world they do not wish to travel to.
This however is exactly the premise of "The Pen Is Mightier". Labeled as both satire and homage, Andy C.F. Crawford takes on Martin's famous universe in this book, including both non-subtle references to the original ASOIAF plots and characters, fans, and even George R. R. Martin himself. This is the story of Sed, an avid fan of the fantasy series, who miraculously figures out a way to travel to the universe of "Those Accursed Chronicles" (as the "A Song Of Ice And Fire"-series is called in this book). He even convinces the author that this is not a hallucination, and both fan and author are left to face their conscience: is it right to create and enjoy a bloody and violent fictional world, if it suddenly ceased to be fiction?
This book I would definitely only recommend for fans of GRRM's original series. None of the characters in this series are particularly fleshed out, unless you can link them their "A Song Of Ice And Fire" counterparts. The representations of the author and the fans aren't in as much luck. There's little depth to any of these characters, though they would probably pass several of Tumblr's diversity standards. The lack of depth is an issue throughout the entire book I think, it was all fairly basic, and it already starts with the maps: the Kingdoms are called Marsh, Stone, Sand, Forest & Sea Kingdom, which are, if you ask me, the most basic possible names, and they never really developed beyond this status.
The good thing is however, that the plot is more driven by action than character development, so this didn't really lessen my enjoyment of the book. Though not as flowery as GRRM's prose, the book did captivate me more than I had expected. The format of many POVs with short chapters worked well for its set-up, and I loved the inclusion of Reddit discussions and Wiki-pages. The only downside to this was that the Wiki pages detailed the character's adventures in the books, and a lot of these excerpts described the same happenings. Again. And again. Sadly, I don't think we ever learned more than the basics of these events despite the repetition, but I loved the way the story was told and how the modern media were incorporated into the writing. In a story set in the modern day, it doesn't make sense to include the internet after all, especially if the protagonist is both in college and an avid fan of something.
My favourite part of the book was Paul, the author, and the struggle with his conscience. After all, Paul - and his real-life counterpart, GRRM - put their characters through some truly cruel events, so it's interesting to see them react to it. I think GRRM's made of slightly stronger stuff than Paul, but all the same, throughout the entire book I was reminded of one particular interview with GRRM about the "Game Of Thrones"-tv show, whose quote I think deserves a mention in this context:
"At the premiere, I found myself talking to three very nice actors, at one point, who were very pleasant, and I was having a great time talking with them and drinking with them, and then I suddenly realized that I had killed all three of them, at various points in the series, and that they would all shortly be unemployed actors. And I had a moment of horrible guilt, but it’s already done." (x)
An entire book on GRRM's guilt, multiplied by ten. Fantastic! I also loved that GRRM's slowness in writing these books was taken into account, because seriously, I think that's what *every* fan of these books can relate to. I just hope GRRM doesn't have to take Paul's way out.
Overall: a decent book, that I think is more homage than satire. Though it could've been a bit better fleshed out, the book was captivating as it was, and it was definitely enjoyable in its own way.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review....more
Parzival is one of the more famous medieval German works out there. The work has so much depth that some medieval scholars devote most of the researchParzival is one of the more famous medieval German works out there. The work has so much depth that some medieval scholars devote most of the research in their life to this work. My professor used to say it's a work that grows with you, and that you never tire of during your life. Of course, she was one of those professors who has devoted her life to medieval research, but the point stands: Parzival is a book that can inspire amazing devotion.
But, it must be said, Parzival is not a very easy read for our times. The book is, understandably, written in a different way than books are written nowadays, which makes the book both hard to translate and comprehend. Students reading Parzival at university generally get an entire course to help them understand the epos. Not everyone however has this chance, and I'm assuming that's where this book comes in.
The title of this book very much emphasizes that this well-known medieval work is retold for a modern audience. I think this is misleading. While I can see where Lindsay Clarke modernized the story, for most people this might not be the case. The text doesn't exactly read like a modern novel, and as the story has only been changed minimally, the book really doesn't have a modern feel to it. As such, I wouldn't say that this book is a grail romance "retold for our time".
What this book is however, is a version of the story condensed to the main plot of the original medieval work, told in prose instead of poetry. If you don't have the chance to take a class on the Parzival, then the story of Wolfram von Eschenbach may at first be rather confusing. For those people, this book might be very good. You get the chance to get familiar with the story, in a relatively light read. Once familiar with the story, a translation of Wolfram von Eschenbach's original epos should be easier to understand. Even if you just want to get familiar with the story of Parzival without wanting to plough through medieval poetry, this is a good book for you.
But you shouldn't go in expecting a modernized version of the Parzival, because that's definitely not what this book has to offer. The story is still a good and influential one, but probably more enjoyable if you're not expecting a modern romance!...more
Me and Terry Pratchett did not get off to a good start. I absolutely hated the first solo Terry Pratchett book I'd picked up, "The Color Of Magic". ThMe and Terry Pratchett did not get off to a good start. I absolutely hated the first solo Terry Pratchett book I'd picked up, "The Color Of Magic". The second book I read by him was "Good Omens", about two years later. I liked that one, but not as much as some people seem to do, and thus I figured I liked the book mostly because of Neil Gaiman's influence (who is in fact one of my favourite writers). As such I was never really inspired to pick up another Pratchett book, as none of the books I'd read before convinced me. But then they started releasing Discworld books in these lovely new editions, and I... am weak to beautiful covers. Don't judge a book by its cover, yes, I know. But I am weak and so I somehow ended up in possession of this book.
But why would I buy "Hogfather" if I don't like Pratchett? Well, one afternoon I happened to see the movie made of this book and actually liked it.... also, this particular book featured Death, which according to my friends are the best books in the Discworld series. So after three years, I decided to give Pratchett a chance again.
And hated it. Again. I tried to start this book in September and disliked the first 50 pages so much I put it away for 2 months, which is when I started thinking this was ridiculous. It's just one book, surely I could finish that. I'd paid more than 10 Euros for it! And so I picked it up again.
Why am I writing all this? Simply to show how incredibly biased I was against Terry Pratchett's writing. I just mean to say, that books can be better than you think they are, if you just give them a chance. Not every book will be to your liking, but sometimes you should look past preconceived ideas and test them. Again. Writers that don't work for you now may interest you a few years later. I should certainly keep this in mind.
This isn't to say that I was overly wowed by this book. Terry Pratchett's style of humour will never be completely my own, though it is clever and he references so many things that I'm not sure I quite understood all of them. But honestly, it felt like this book took a long detour to come to the actual plot. The way it's written is very random with a lot of little scenes added in, as well as very many characters we never really get to know. It's just a personal preference, but I like getting to know the characters a bit more than we did in this book.
But there's a lot to like in this book. "Death" is indeed a brilliant character, Susan's great (remembering Michelle Dockery in this role every time I read about this character totally enhanced the experience, A+ would recommend), Pratchett's imagination knows no bounds and really, the footnotes are genius.
I know these are more ramblings than that it is a proper review, but I hope you got the gist of it. My advice to you would be: Try some books you wouldn't normally read. They might surprise you....more
Let's be honest - not a lot happens in these 400+ pages that make up 1q84 book 1. Some things the characters say are repeated a few times, which is slLet's be honest - not a lot happens in these 400+ pages that make up 1q84 book 1. Some things the characters say are repeated a few times, which is slightly problematic as character building and exposition is about all that happens here.
But I give it four stars anyway. Part of that is due to Jacques Westerhoven, who is an excellent translator and whose additional notes were really interesting and helpful. I'm usually not a big fan of footnotes, but in this case, it totally worked.
Most of it is due to the characters. Aomame, Ayumi and the Old Lady are absolutely kickass. I absolutely loved reading about them and their lives. So, you're a virgin until 26? Who cares! And now you occasionally just want to have sex? That's totally fine! Yay for sexual freedom and no judging!
Fukaeri is also super interesting. I really like what Murakami does with dyslexia when it comes to her character: it's always nice to see that people don't equate dyslexia with dumbness. Many teachers seem to do this, with bad consequences for the students involved.. my cousin and niece have hated school because of this reason. True, Fukaeri (or should I say Eri?) doesn't really attend school either, but at least it's clear it's not her fault, as she's really clever. You go Eri, four for you Eri. Maybe school systems will be changed soon that they can deal with dyslexia and similar problems more efficiently in the future.
Of course the whole sect plotline is creepy and worrisome, and one that I don't necessarily care about so much, but in that this is just a typical Murakami book for me: characters > plot.
And my, the female characters in this book are all fantastic. Can't wait for book 2....more
I'm notoriously bad at finishing series. I tend to lose interest long before I finish reading them (even with trilogies), so I've pondered why I endedI'm notoriously bad at finishing series. I tend to lose interest long before I finish reading them (even with trilogies), so I've pondered why I ended up finishing the Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. The series is quite long, not particularly brilliantly written, nor is it groundbreaking. So why?
In the end, I think the books had a lovely charm to them. Scott incorporates many historical and mythological figures in the books, which may seem odd at first, but adds so much to the story. I can't say I was, at any point, a big fan of the Newman twins or the Flamels. For me, the side characters stole the show. Scathach was cool, William Shakespeare hilarious, I loved Billy The Kid for his optimism, Machiavelli was surprisingly nicely written. These side characters provided the laughs the main cast often couldn't produce. Seeing as the side characters got more and more screentime as the books progressed, I think that's one main reason for me finishing the series. Some people may think there were too many side characters, but I actually enjoyed all of them, and they all had some role to play, so I wasn't bothered by the amount of relevant side characters.
I said before, the books weren't particularly brilliantly written. I stand by that statement. There's nothing special about the writing. It was aimed at a ya (or younger) audience, which made these books quick, and relaxing reads. The plot itself never has a moment of peace, there's a ridiculous amount of events crammed into one week (that, thankfully, the characters themselves also point out). The result however, is that there's always something happening. Maybe too much when you think about it, but while reading, I always felt a twinge of excitement. Both of these things combined created what was for me the biggest plus about these books: they so easily takes your mind of things.. and also manage to infect you with a love for the historical and mythological, like mentioned before.
This last book in the series wasn't a particular masterpiece. If I had to compare it to something, I would say the 8th Harry Potter movie. This book is just fights fights fights and deaths deaths deaths (but unlike Harry Potter, here it takes place in two different worlds in two different times). Also like that movie, what happened *after* the fighting is over, is only quickly summarized in an epilogue. Only this epilogue felt rushed, and didn't finish things off neatly. It leaves you hanging a bit, which is a shame. I wouldn't have minded a few extra pages..!
So not the best ending the series could have had, and not the one I hoped for either. All the same, it was a fun ride, and I enjoyed reading it. For hestitant readers, book 1 is definitely my least favourite of the bunch, but if you can get past that, I think you will enjoy the rest of the series. After all, not every book needs to be a masterpiece, sometimes we all just want to sit back and relax. These books do just that....more
This little novel of Gaiman's lives up to the expectations. It is, in every sense, a true Neil Gaiman book: the world-building is definitely from hisThis little novel of Gaiman's lives up to the expectations. It is, in every sense, a true Neil Gaiman book: the world-building is definitely from his hand, his dry wit is obvious, and the combination of an amusing story with captivating quotes and life lessons are definitely Gaiman's trademark.
But my thoughts on the novel on the whole aren't as straightforward. It's because I somehow didn't connect with it as much as some of Gaiman's other works (most notably The Graveyard Book). I truly enjoyed it, but except for a few quotes, I don't think this effort of Gaiman's left a particularly lasting impression on me. And that's okay - it was still a fun read, and moving at times. There are true little gems in this book, most notably when it comes to describing the difference between childhood and adulthood, but also the ponderings on what it means to be human. Without a doubt, I've found what must be my favourite Gaiman-quote in this book:
"Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world."
Which, you know, is a good thing to remember sometimes.
So why, why did this story not leave an impression on me? I can only come up with the conclusion that the story felt too short, somehow. I never really bonded with it. I read it all within two to three hours, and that was just too short a time to spend with this book. There was too little tension in there, some things seemed to be solved too easily, too quickly.
But in the end, the story was amusing, there are some amazing quotes in this book, and it's without a doubt a solid new addition to Gaiman's bibliography. Definitely worth reading (it won't take that long anyway). It just won't be my favourite of the bunch....more
This book was so typically Murakami. That's the first thought I had upon finishing reading this novel. But what does that mean, how is it typically MuThis book was so typically Murakami. That's the first thought I had upon finishing reading this novel. But what does that mean, how is it typically Murakami? It's in the similarities of the characters, it's in the type of plot. Somehow Murakami recycles a lot, the constant emphasis on music, the disappearing wives or girlfriends. In many ways, his books are far too similar. And yet, and yet, none of his books become boring to read. At least, not to me.
This book was a sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, which means that we once again become reacquianted with those gorgeous ears of his previous girlfriend's, and the Sheep Man makes another appearance again as well. But overall, this book definitely stands on his own, and is by far the most fun of Murakami's book that I've read. Any book that makes me laugh out loud on a bus is a good, fun book.
It was also full of interesting characters. Gotanda especially is one of Murakami's richer characters, I think, a highly talented guy who is trapped in the web of life. I thought Murakami caught him brilliantly. Yuki, a younger, remarkable girl was also fascinating to read about. Interesting female characters, Murakami has a certain rule book for them. And yet they're still interesting to read about.
Overall, the book was just a lot of fun. Despite all the oddness of everything that happens, there are some wise lessons you can take home from the book:
1) You need to keep dancing through life. 2) Everyone has a talent. The main character of this book was particularly good at making coffee, for instance. Basically: everyone has a talent. You just need to find yours. 3) Feeling guilt about things you should've done while someone was still alive is useless and insincere. 4) Clint Eastwood really, really should smile more in his movies.