Willingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this se...moreWillingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this series very well, especially as the Adversary is expanding his takeover of the Fable lands into the Middle Eastern worlds now.
I think that it would be impossible to integrate all of the encompassing Arabian Nights lore into one volume, and I don't think Willingham ever intended to try. Instead, he uses this story as an introductory volume, and it has some elements that really stand out in the 1001 Nights lore. One well done example was the Jinn that the Arabian delegation brings alone with them. I think that perhaps that shows you the powerful motifs of the Arabian Nights in one large sort of concentrated burst at the audience. And of course, the Fables of Fabletown have to account for the power of such a force of nature, and counter-attack or at least attempt to neutralize it, much as one would consider taking on a nation with a stockpile of nuclear weapon that you want to maintain peaceful negotiations with. Never fear, Fabletown has some potent tools in their own toolkit.
Another effective aspect of this volume was the addressing of cultural differences that the Middle Eastern worlds had from what I would consider the European Fableworlds. Prince Charming is a big buffoon, and is completely unequipped to handy any diplomatic relations, thus his predecessor King Cole is called in to do this important job. I did find myself agreeing with Charming on one aspect of the Middle Eastern Fablelands culture though. Sinbad is a diplomatic leader of the Middle Eastern contingent, with a very wicked advisor who might open a few cans of worms that need to be dealt with.
Not related so much to the Arabian Nights storyline but to the overall Fables arc was a story about two wooden creations of Geppetto who fall in love for each other and wish to be human, but will have to pay a hard price. This story reveals Willingham's wonderful storytelling skills and the bittersweet tone and content of this volume in a nutshell. He shows that the opposite side has players that can also evoke the sympathy of the readers, even though their acts and methods might be reprehensible or just neutral morally in the scheme of things.
I'm sure there are some heavy underlying themes in this graphic novel, and I have only scratched the surface. I feel that I would love to reread all of these and revisit the whole series at my leisure, which is why I definitely want to get copies of these for my collection one day.(less)
I found this book a bit hard to get into at times, which is why I didn't rate it higher. But I did like some things about it:
*Lou--I loved him. He's n...moreI found this book a bit hard to get into at times, which is why I didn't rate it higher. But I did like some things about it:
*Lou--I loved him. He's not just an ifrit, he's a dog, and he's adorable in his dogness. *Good humor bits. It had me laughing out loud, which is good! *Interesting magic system *The musical aspects were authentic, enlightening, and fascinating. *The look at San Francisco, which is a beautiful town that I have had the pleasure to visit and would love to go back to. And soon!
Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars. I'll definitely be following this series.
**spoiler alert** This is one book that I have mixed feelings about. There were some aspects I really liked...and some, not so much.
I'll go into the n...more**spoiler alert** This is one book that I have mixed feelings about. There were some aspects I really liked...and some, not so much.
I'll go into the negatives first:
Quite frankly, this book read like Eugenie's Adventures in Paranormal Dating to me. I am just not a fan of chick-lit, and that whole aspect was sort of a turn off to me. I felt that there was too much emphasis on Eugenie's sex/dating life, and her status as a highly sought-after sex partner, for whatever reason. That left me cold. In theory, it was interesting to delve into Eugenie's secret heritage as the Storm King's daughter, but for the focus to be on who could get her pregnant and who wanted to have sex with her so often seemed to limit her importance as a whole person. Also, I wasn't really comfortable with the fact that she was having relationships, or should I say, sexual relations with two different men in this book, and the interval wasn't that far apart. I know that life happens, and people drift apart. And this is real life for a lot of women to be in these kinds of relationships, but it's not something I prefer to read about. Her choices don't make sense, and don't seem very rational to me. She had gotten burned by jumping into intimacy so fast with Kiyo, it seemed to me to be foolhardy to have sex with Dorian so soon. And she would have had sex with Dorian sooner if her issues with the gentry (faerie) hadn't been so fervent. I am very torn about this, because I liked Kiyo and Dorian very much, and I could certainly see the appeal. I think I would have liked it better if she had kept things at the flirting level with one of the guys, and explored a sexual relationship with the other in a different book. I've been called a prude, but I won't make any apologies for how I process things.
My other big issue was there was a little too much showing and not telling. As a big action fan, I like to see the action sequences show a lot of intensity. I didn't feel that way with a lot of the ones in this book. I felt like it was a bit too static. A good action scene puts the reader into the story, and that didn't happen to me with many of the ones in this book.
My last issue was the over-inflated importance of Eugenie, almost from the beginning. It was too much for me. She was the strongest, and most powerful, and she could kick some serious butt, and everyone in the Otherworld was afraid of her. I would have liked it better if this was shown to me through the unfolding plot, as opposed to pre-assumed. I think it would have made this book pop a lot more if I got to see how kick-butt Eugenie was without the editorial, and it raised questions for me why she was so freaking badass. Then, when I found out she was the Storm King's daughter, I would have been like, no wonder.
What I liked:
I loved the concept of the Faerie otherworld. Big fae fan here. I really got a kick out of all the kingdoms and the denizens within. Faerie is so interesting to me, with the complexity of character-dark and light. They are not so easily categorized as good or evil. That appeals to me as a reader, because their actions are by nature unpredictable and fascinating.
I think the use of various mythological creatures from different cultures was pretty awesome. I love it when I read a book and it encourages me to go and look up a creature that I'm not familiar with, such as the fachan, a Celtic creature who resembles a hairy cyclops.
Eugenie's shaman abilities were interesting. I think there could have been more impact if there was more showing here as well. I felt somewhat disconnected as the narrative explored how Eugenie opened up the portals to the Otherworld and to the land of the dead. But overall, I liked the idea.
Dorian really got my attention. Something about him just appealed, big time. I'm leaning towards Eugenie choosing him. He has this enigmatic, refined, but dark depth aspect that is calling my name. I like the way he lays his cards on the table with Eugenie and treats her as his equal. He's honest about who he is, so I don't see him resorting to treachery to get what he wants from Eugenia. I respected that about him.
Kiyo was also a nice love interest. There's something about him that doesn't click with me, which surprises me, since I love that he's a Japanese kitsune fox-shifter and that his father is Mexican. And he's a veterinarian. I love how he will protect Eugenie, no matter what. He's clearly crazy about her. He might be a little too eager for me. Maybe that's what it is.
All in all: This was a pretty good book. I had some issues with the focus of the story. I will admit I don't like urban fantasy where the main plot emphasis is on sex, and this book falls in that category. For what it was, I was drawn in and I enjoyed reading it. Despite the major-ish flaws, it was still a strong read, hence the four star rating. I have to see where this story goes, but I really hope Thorn Queen doesn't have Eugenie going back and forth between both men sexually, and horrors, doesn't introduce yet another sex partner. I might have to jump ship then.(less)
Blackbringer is well done fantasy fiction with faeries. The storyline is intricate and inventive. I never thought I'd read a book that was able to com...moreBlackbringer is well done fantasy fiction with faeries. The storyline is intricate and inventive. I never thought I'd read a book that was able to combine faerie lore with djinn lore, but it was done very successfully here. I liked the characters, including Magpie, the lead heroine, and her murder of crows who she travels with. They love her dearly and their love is reciprocated in spades. And there is also Talon, a Prince of a faerie warrior clan of Dreamdark, who was born with underdeveloped wings and who has always desired flight. Not only are there faeries, djinn, and talking crows, but there are also hedge imps (mostly benevolent, animal-type creatures) and devils (not benevolent--somewhere between mischevious and annoying to downright malevolent). The narrator, Davina Porter, beautifully illustrates the vitality inherent in the various characters in this novel.
Ms. Taylor has crafted her own creation myth in this story, and it was quite interesting. In this novel, the world was created through the dreaming of the djinn--which forms a tapestry which includes everything that exists in this world. However, the tapestry is unravelling through the dark methods of one who has the form of utter darkness, the Blackbringer. Fortunately, Magpie has a special ability that has kept the world tapestry together, and the potential to save it and everyone within the tapestry from the Blackbringer.
I enjoyed listening to this novel on audiobook. The creativity impressed me, and I thought Ms. Porter's narration was spot-on. Although it seemed a bit long towards the end (of course I had some long days in which I was pretty exhausted, so I can't blame that on the book alone), it was a worthwhile experience. Although this was written as a young adult novel, I think older fantasy readers would enjoy it. I am an admitted fan of YA literature, but I can fairly say that this story has elements that would appeal to older readers as easily as younger ones. I would recommend it to faerie fiction lovers, and fantasy fans in general.(less)
Heat Stroke begins chronologically almost immediately after Ill Wind. It starts out rather like a paranormal romance. A lot of time is devoted to Joan...moreHeat Stroke begins chronologically almost immediately after Ill Wind. It starts out rather like a paranormal romance. A lot of time is devoted to Joanne's relationship with David, who has made her into a djinn, since she died horribly in the last book. Although they don't come out and say it, there's definitely a strong emotional tie between them that I'd call love. David seems a little more committed than Joanne, and I'm not sure how I felt about that (Joanne is still sorting out her feelings). They spend a lot of time getting to know each other, with the major objective of David trying to teach her to be a djinn.
Joanne loves her connection with David, and likes being a djinn, although it's very intense--their perceptions are a lot more intense than humans, and it throws her for a loop. Rahel, a djinn that Joanne had a few run-ins with in Ill Wind shows up. Her task is to escort Joanne and David to David's friend, and the most powerful djinn in the world, Jonathan, where she finds out the enormous price David paid to save her life. Jonathan is not too happy with Joanne, but out of his loyalty to David, he gives her one week to learn to exist as a djinn without drawing on her connection to David. If she can't adjust, then her number is up.
Unfortunately, learning to be a djinn doesn't turn out to be the biggest of Joanne's problems. There is a huge imbalance in the forces that control the weather, fire, and the earth, causing potentially major catastrophes to occur. With some odd anomalies in the aetheric, which is sort of an intangible layer in the upper spheres of the atmosphere where the Wardens and djinn manipulate the earth forces to control them, that turn out to be very dangerous, especially to the djinni. And then, there's a very wicked woman who wants control of David, and is willing to use Joanne to get that control. Yikes. Things get pretty wonky in this book.
Admittedly, Heat Stroke started out slowly. Don't get me wrong. I love my romance, but not as so much of the focus in an urban fantasy book. Frankly, I was starting to wonder when the action was going to start. I suppose that Ms. Caine planned it that way, because I was thrown for a loop with what happens next. Joanne finds out the hard way the worst part about being a djinn, when she gets claimed by a very troubled teenaged boy, under the guidance of the stepmonster from Hell, a woman that David hates with a burning passion.
Ms. Caine manages to skillfully weave this story with a rich mix of action, angst, sensuality, and the power of loves lost and found. Joanne is a good protagonist. She has some aspects that lend her narrative voice to chick lit, but at the same time, she has the credibility to be a good action heroine. She's quick thinking, and courageous, dealing with some pretty hairy situations, and trying to work around her new master, Kevin, who inspired a complex combination of sympathy and disgust within me (he has very poor hygiene, but it's for a reason which made me very sad).
I really liked the djinn aspects. It brought to mind the sly wit of "I Dream of Jeannie", but also the origin folklore of djinni (which I appreciate even more). The humor is good, and I liked the biting sarcasm, wry humor, and fashion-oriented voice of Joanne. Of course, I love David. He's quite a co-star in this book--with the potential to steal the show. Lewis (who I also love), Joanne's old flame and friend, and the most powerful Warden on Earth, has a big role, which looks like it will play out heavily in the next book.
So, despite the slowish start, and the fact that some of the atmospheric lingo and physics went over my head (although it was kind of interesting at the same time), this turned out to be a very good read. Ms. Caine more than delivers the goods with this second installment in the Weather Warden series. I'm not quite sure where she'll go with this story, but I'm definitely invested. The next book is definitely going to deal with some huge implications, based on the crazy cliffhanger in this book. I like the science and folklore aspects, and the message about how great power has even greater consequences, both in the right and wrong hands. I'd recommend this book to urban fantasy fans, but don't give up if the beginning drags a little.(less)
I simply had no idea how much I would enjoy this book. First of all, it was very creative. Urban fantasy is full of powerful women. But Joanne stands...moreI simply had no idea how much I would enjoy this book. First of all, it was very creative. Urban fantasy is full of powerful women. But Joanne stands out. She's a Weather Warden, meaning she can control an aspect of the weather. I thought the concept of Weather Wardens was really cool. That would be an awesome major and career path. If only. Also, this story starts with her in an very vulnerable position. The latest trend is to have heroines who can kickbutt and take names. Joanne can do that, but she is on the run for her life for most of this book. Actually she has a supernatural contract on her head. It's great fun to read this book and see how she will get herself out of this mortal fix she is in. Then there's the fact that the scenes in this book are so vivid and dramatic that they could be from a blockbuster action/sci fi movie, except Hollywood doesn't make movies this cool. Then there are the two sexy guys in Joanne's life. I can't decide which one I am most captivated with. The flashback scene where Joanne loses her virginity.... I mean, wow! Then there's the scene with David. Okay, it's not THAT kind of book. Those scenes are tastefully sprinkled and not at all distracting. Don't let me forget the djinn. How cool. Djinn are underutilized in urban fantasy. It's all about the faeries, the vamps, the witches, and the weres. But the djinni are the red-headed stepchildren of folklore when it comes to urban fantasy, although their powers are probably more than most of the other mythical beasties combined. And they are just intriguing to this folklore geek. Simply put, I just loved this book. The Weather Warden is definitely another series that I have to keep reading.(less)