I can't get over how disturbing the evil twins of the Justice League are. I mean just the Triad is bad enough. Ultraman is a sleazy, psychopathic, cruI can't get over how disturbing the evil twins of the Justice League are. I mean just the Triad is bad enough. Ultraman is a sleazy, psychopathic, cruel bully. Owlman is like a demon-possessed Batman (or maybe if Batman was the Antichrist). Superwoman is a little more developed in this than in Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever Heroes, and I what I know, I definitely don't like. She's playing Owlman and Ultraman off each other, and I think she hates both of them (but feels more lust for Owlman). She's sadistic and psychosexually deviant. Yeah, it's just bad. More disturbing is that Earth 3 is the opposite of Earth 2. Evil is the predominant value, given free reign.
I think that the science seems too implausible (or at least was so nebulously explained, I didn't believe it was plausible), and I didn't get how the day was saved in the end. I feel that Crisis on Two Earths Justice League movie (which I suspect this is based on) explains the situation a lot better. It's worth watching as an adjunct to this graphic novel. I re-watched it again last night and I liked the further insight into the characters.
It was pretty good, and kept my interest. Surprisingly adult and dark in content. It's kind of fun if you want to see the dark side of the triad of the Justice League and Lex Luthor as a good guy.
In my opinion, this is the best volume in this run of Justice League. I feel after volume two, they just got better, but this is definitely the best sIn my opinion, this is the best volume in this run of Justice League. I feel after volume two, they just got better, but this is definitely the best so far. The strength of it is telling the story of the dark versions of the Justice League. They are absolutely bone-chilling. I think that horror is not always supernatural aspects, but delving into the psychological heart of darkness. In this care, seeing what an Evil Clark Kent/Superman, Batman, and others would be like. What if the Justice League was merely a syndicate of super-powered, super-evil villains who have plenty of agency to do whatever they want? That is not a world we want to live in, trust me. Unfortunately, the Crime Society have gotten a foot into our world.
I think that I really liked this volume because it's so high on character development. It shows how Earth 3's version of Batman, Owlman is really like the evil side of Batman. He has all Bruce Wayne's strengths, but also a twisted, sick lack of morality that allows him to make methodically evil choices. You really don't want an Owlman when you can have a Batman. Same to be said for Kal-Il/Clark Kent/Ultraman. That's a case of nurture versus nature. Both sets of parents were evil, if not twisted. Kal-Il received all the teachings of his father as he traveled to Earth-2, and they were about the worst conditioning you could give a child, unless you want them to be absolutely twisted morally. Teach a child to hate weakness and to believe that strength is everything, that strength allows someone to take whatever they want with impunity. Earth 3's version of the Green Lantern is rather like the flip-side of the whole ideology of the Green Lantern Corps. Instead of being powered by will, how about your fears and pain being used against you to power the ring? And let's not talk about Johnny Quick and Atomica, a pair of thrill killer/criminal lovers who happen to become super-powered when they are about to commit suicide after a botched escapade. One shortcoming is that we don't learn much about Superwoman, other than she's a piece of work. I am intensely curious about her, and I hope that we get her backstory in the next volume.
This whole adventure is narrated by The Grid, the computer virus/AI consciousness that takes over the super-powered machinery of Vic Stone, Cyborg and expels his human part. I like the way that Vic deals with The Grid and the group of unlikely crime-fighters he recruits.
"Forever Heroes" left me wanting more of this series. High on adventure, suspense, and character development, it was a page turner.
I wasn't expecting much from this volume, but the Superman story was quite innovative, with a narrative angle I wasn't expecting at all. It's really kI wasn't expecting much from this volume, but the Superman story was quite innovative, with a narrative angle I wasn't expecting at all. It's really kind of a scary what if about Superman's origins. He is not the man we know but that doesn't mean he doesn't come into his own as much as he's able. I liked the theme of villainy not necessarily starting from a place of pure evil or self-interest. To my mind, some of the worst villains are true believers or fundamentalists. Their intense belief in their cause can lead to committing atrocious acts in the course of the mission. In this case, it makes for a disturbing story. I really loved Lois Lane. Normally, I'm not a fan, but the Flashpoint situation seems to bring out the best in her character.
The Booster Gold story was interesting, and I think it shows him as heroic in ways I haven't previously encountered. In other words, he doesn't come off as inept and fixated on looking heroic. He has to deal with well-meaning military who decide to harness Doomsday as a weapon, but fail to realize that he cannot be controlled. It wasn't the strongest volume here, but it was pretty good.
Traci 13 is not a character I'm familiar with, but this story was very good. Traci finds herself in an adversarial relationship with her father, who both want to save the world, but in vastly different ways. Very intense look at how grief can tear a family apart.
"Canterbury Cricket" was pretty weird. Closest to horror in this volume out of the stories. A bunch of antiheroes have become guerilla warriors for the cause of England, including Cantubury Cricket, who has a very checkered past. I liked it, but it ended a bit too abruptly for my tastes.
This is even darker than the Flash volume! Batman isn't the Batman we know and love. He's a much more driven, more morally compromised version. What wThis is even darker than the Flash volume! Batman isn't the Batman we know and love. He's a much more driven, more morally compromised version. What would happen if a man's child was killed in front of him and he was powerless to prevent it. The Joker is probably even more twisted, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you. That's just the Batman story.
Then there's the story about the biggest jerk in the DC-Verse, Deathstroke, and his crusade to find his lost daughter. I can't call him a hero, because he's not. He's ruthlessly selfish and murderous. I feel bad for anyone who throws in with him. He's not a man I'd trust as far as I could throw him. This is non-stop action, a world in which the seas have become a lawless place of pirates, and the Atlanteans kill humans with impunity.
The story about Dick Grayson and his family tells us how things might have gone if Bruce Wayne had not been there in his life after the death of his parents. Also shows a Europe that has been decimated by the Atlantean-Amazonean war, and where various DC-verse figures have become freedom fighters (even ones who were once villains).
My least favorite was Secret Seven. It was pretty gruesome and twisted, and while I see the point of it all in terms of the Flashpoint story arc, I didn't really appreciate the story at all.
I would still give this four stars because I thought it was pretty interesting, and frankly, nightmarish....more
I will confess I watched "The Flashpoint Paradox" Justice League movie prior to reading this, and let me tell you, I was blown away at how dark this sI will confess I watched "The Flashpoint Paradox" Justice League movie prior to reading this, and let me tell you, I was blown away at how dark this story arc is. This is like "What If?" on steroids.
The movie goes into some explanations I won't get into, and I tried to forget I knew that, because I haven't read The Flash, Vol. 2: The Road to Flashpoint yet, which I think is probably the backstory. All I know is, I don't want this life for any of the DC characters I know and love. One of the interesting things is seeing what this crazy world does to the various characters as you know them. Villains end up on the other side. Sometimes, they stay just as villainous. Sometimes, they are worse, unchecked in a world where the Justice League as we know it never existed or has fallen by the wayside. Where Wonder Woman has become an autocrat who leads ruthless, murderous Amazons who delight in killing humans.
This one isn't for the kiddos. Very violent and has some disturbing imagery. Probably the most disturbing in the story about Gorilla Grodd, who has pretty much taken Africa and claimed it for his own, and it ain't pretty. I couldn't look away. I'm starting to wonder why AU seems to be so dark and dreary. Maybe so that the reader will repeat, "It's only a book. It's only a book. It's only a book," and wipe their foreheads. While the first story is about Flash, this is really more like an anthology featuring different characters from the DC verse in the aftermath of Flashpoint.
Flash is a cool character. I like him more all the time. Interesting that this is my first official solo Flash graphic novel. I'll be reading more....more
Oh, dear. I shouldn't have put off writing this review for so long. There is a lot going on in this book, because of the complexity of the storyline.Oh, dear. I shouldn't have put off writing this review for so long. There is a lot going on in this book, because of the complexity of the storyline. It revolves around Rick Jones, a sort of honorary human sidekick of the Avengers who has some very traumatic moments, as well as having saved the Avengers himself a time or two. Immortus, a villain from the future fixates on him Rick Jones with the intention of killing him, and Rick uses his mental abilities to pull various Avengers from different time periods to help him, because helping him will save time itself.
This is my first official Avengers comic book. That was a good and a bad thing. It was good in the sense that it gave me a crash course in Avengers history. It was bad in the sense that there was so much information, I can't really say what is canon and what is specifically part of this storyline and the fact that Immortus can manipulate timelines.
This was a long book. I checked this out of the library, but regardless, I can definitely say I got my money's worth. The stories are quite different from my exposure to the Avengers from movies and TV shows, and I ended up getting introduced to a lot more members than I would have if it focused solely on the traditional team.
Honestly, I feel like it's a full time job for Marvel comics developers to keep track of the massive Marvel universe. So much happens, and it impacts the Marvel characters more or less across the board. I think writing this book was probably a huge challenge and it may have caused some serious migraines as the authors worked to keep it straight. At the same time, it was clearly a labor of love and a loving homage to the Avengers to people who really care about the stories and the characters.
The artwork is bright and descriptive, a bit dated looking compared to newer books, but still appealing. Clearly a lot of effort was put into drawing the same characters from different timelines as related (as in same character), but different due to their different experiences. There are some scenes that must have taken a long, long time to draw in all the characters, so that was a wow for me. Also, I like that there were footnotes that described the characters involved in the panels and when they first appeared and referenced which book they were featured in; as well as and the major events related to the various panels. That why I said earlier that this was like a crash course in Marvel history, Avengers and otherwise.
While I am quite sure that I prefer the newer artwork, and I think I will probably stick with the newer graphic novel publications for that reason, this book energized me to dive in headfirst (even more) into the Marvel Universe. I'm quite happy my library had this and I gave it a chance, even though it was a bit older book....more
This graphic novel is about the day that Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch, changed mutantkind forever. It happens after a sequence of upsetting eventThis graphic novel is about the day that Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch, changed mutantkind forever. It happens after a sequence of upsetting events break her fragile mind, and put others at risk due to her incredibly powerful, world-shaping powers.
The X-Men and Avengers have to decide what to do about Wanda. With her mental breakdown and her intact powers, surely she will continue to pose too much of a danger to others around her. Her brother, Quicksilver, desperate to save his sister, convinces her to do something to distract the various superheroes and mutants from what she has done and is capable of doing. As a result, the world changes into what seems like a better place, but some mutants cannot believe in its false promises. Particularly Wolverine.
Wolverine and a powerful mutant child named Layla seek out various mutants and superheroes and recruit them for a mission to go to the seat of the throne of of the House of Magnus (Magneto aka Eric Mangus Lehnsherr, from which he rules over a world in which non-powered humans are second class citizens, and mutants are superior. They know this is a dangerous mission, but the world cannot stay in its broken state.
"House of M" reads like a "what if" set of stories. Some characters have a much happier life, and it's devastating to them when they realize things aren't as they seem. But they know that doing the right thing means sacrificing their own seeming happiness.
The end is even more devastating, and it sets up the events that lead to future events that unfold in various other Marvel titles. I've been reading a lot of Marvel lately, and it's enlightening to see the puzzles come together. Reading this book wasn't exactly an uplifting experience. It was quite sad and bewildering. I guess I could fully empathize with the characters and their heartbreak as they navigate through a terrible situation that only gets worse.
This is a pivotal story arc in the Marvel Universe, so it's good that I was able to read this from my splendid library, even if it was a downer overall....more
Ruse is a graphic novel series that is perfect for readers who love the Victorian-set adventure vibe. There is a paranormal element that felt very ligRuse is a graphic novel series that is perfect for readers who love the Victorian-set adventure vibe. There is a paranormal element that felt very light in this volume, but it's there for readers who like a bit of the weird (admittedly myself). For readers who can't get enough of the sometimes obnoxious Sherlock Holmesian character, Simon is going to appeal. At the same time, with this edition, we see more vulnerability and the less confident person beneath the know-it-all exterior. Emma's loyalty to the often maddening Simon is much like Watson. It serves to make you like Simon more because you feel that if Emma likes him, then there must be something to like/love about him. Emma is definitely long-suffering. Simon gets her into many a dangerous situation, and he isn't very nice to her. Much like Watson is treated by Sherlock. The arch-nemesis adds a twist that reminds the reader of Moriarty, but takes the character in a much more interesting direction, although I admit I am rather tired of that character. At the end of this volume, the author teases at a game-changer, so we'll see what happens next.
The chapters in this volume have some interesting story-arcs, especially the small village that our two leads end up staying in. That was really kind of cool. Not what I expected at all. The other stories tie closer together to the overarching theme of this volume, and they bring to mind the high adventure classics of Victorian literature in a very pleasing fashion.
The art is well-done, but as I said for the previous volume, I find the panel progression confusing. Instead of moving left to right down the page, they often go willy-nilly from page to page and often across the page. I find myself having to backtrack and catch the flow of the story, especially last night, when my brain was fried. That is the major detractor for this series.
Ruse is a graphic novel series that I count as a major find, as such a huge fan of Victorian genre literature, and know-it-all sleuths and their long-suffering companions. The action is really good and it keeps me guessing what will happen next. I'm excited to keep reading this series. ...more
Non-stop adventure and intrigue with very poignant human drama. Like a good spy/adventure novel with a healthy dose of weird/supernatural/sci-fi fictiNon-stop adventure and intrigue with very poignant human drama. Like a good spy/adventure novel with a healthy dose of weird/supernatural/sci-fi fiction thrown in.
While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn'tWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
I listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. II listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. I found it hard to visualize some concepts. I honestly have no brain for mechanical concepts, so listening to descriptions of the mecha devices was difficult for me. I decided to stop analyzing and go with it. Not worry about trying to get a crystal clear image of those parts of the story, but just enjoy what I could understand. The ideas were interesting, but I was a bit clueless about what exactly made Clare what he was, and the exact interplay between his physiology and his abilities. At the end, I determined that he was heavily depending on the continual processing of information for his well-being, but he could think too much and end up in trouble. Perhaps he also has some enhanced sensory abilities which also make him susceptible to different environments.
While the magic system was very intriguing, it took me a long time to understand it or get a handle on it. I absolutely loved some parts. They were darkly beautiful. They inspired a deep sense of unease with the arcane natures of the magical acts and the beings perpetuating them, but also a sense of awe. While I have no real life interest in magic whatsoever, I do love reading about magic in this kind of fictional setting. And I thoroughly enjoyed the fact magic is so intrinsic to the fabric of Great Britain in this novel. It was very cool that the present monarch is a host for the spirit of Britannia. I haven't encountered that concept before.
As far as characters, Emma really came to life for me. She's such a complex person. She's a mix of good and bad, and her manner of interacting with others can inspire winces as often as wows. I loved how vigilant and fierce she was. She took her role as a Prime sorcerer very seriously, and her vow to protect Britain. And it often cost her personally. The scene near the end brought shivers down my spine. I also loved Mikhail. He was luscious. The way the moderator spoke his parts was utterly appealing. Especially the way he spoke to Emma and called her Prima. It sounded like a verbal caress. I was surprised at the direction that the author took with Emma's relationship with Mikhail. It added to the complexity of her character. I wish I had more answers about what Mikhail is. I have to be honest that he is a big draw for me right now, although I also find Emma very appealing as a heroine, although not always laudable in the way she acted towards some characters. Clare was interesting. I enjoyed his deductive reasoning and analysis of the very strange situations he encountered after being recruited by Emma as the sole surviving unregistered mentath. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't always 'get' what he was doing and how it affected him. I hope that will change with later books. I also liked Valetinelli. I have a fondness for roguish characters who are insanely good at being lethal. That's definitely him. The moderator made his voice very fun. He spoke with a blatant Italian accent that was lyrical and appealing.
I think the major reason why I didn't give this a higher rating was that I had a hard time getting a grasp on the story to the extent that I desired. I had a lot of questions. As far as the writing having an appeal and impact on me, that was very well done. Saintcrow has a way of bringing magical and arcane elements to vibrant life that stays with me. That imagery was very well depicted. As a visual reader, I could feel and experience the powerful magics that the characters employed, although some parts were just plain weird and my brain didn't know what to make of those. I also give this book points on having such a distinctive heroine. Not always pure in her motives, but underneath, driven to do what is right. That's a hard thing to conceptualize in a novel without polarizing your audience.
I have to give this 3.5 stars because it was flawed in some ways, but in others a very good book. I will continue this series with the hopes I will be enlightened on some of the world-building particulars and to explore more of Emma, Clare, and Mikhail, and not to mention, Supernatural Victorian Great Britain.
Time travelers, Alice and Edmund Windsor of the British Royal Family from the Present of 2011, and Alice's fiancé Grayson, from the VictorianSynopsis
Time travelers, Alice and Edmund Windsor of the British Royal Family from the Present of 2011, and Alice's fiancé Grayson, from the Victorian age, travel back to 1855 to make right changes that have occurred in the future due to their interference in the past. They are followed by Edmund's brother, Richard, who is the Guardian of the Time Machine, and who is determined to keep them from messing things up in the past. Jonas Byron, the son of the time machine's inventor, beat them to the past, and he is working with an inventor of the time to develop a windmill machine, which will alter the future if the trio cannot prevent him from helping Sir John Russell to win a contest for alternative energy sources put on by Queen Victoria.
His daughter, Lady Keira, has not faded from Edmund's memory of his last trip to the past. He hopes that he can renew their bond, and perhaps convince Keira that they belong together. Since her invention of a natural gas compressor is actually the progenitor of the energy sources used by the United Kingdom in the future, the trio will work hard to make sure that Keira wins the competition, even if they have to resort to some dirty tricks. Richard is determined to stay removed from the past, but he has to go incognito as the assistant to Jocelyn Dunkirk, an unusual woman who helps her father in his inventions. His determination to stay unmoved is tested when he begins to fall in love with Jocelyn. A lot is at stake on the Windsors' return journey to the past, both the future and their hearts.
A Gentleman and a Rogue actually took a while to get going for me. I didn't get fully engaged in this story. The writing is technically well-executed, although it's not as engaging as I would have liked. The story itself was a good idea, but I questioned why the focus was placed on the technicality of building the inventions instead of something more exciting and interesting, considering the subject matter of time travel, which is ripe with possibilities. It slowed down the story for me, because I didn't find it all that interesting. The romance was a strong point of the story, and there was technically three for the price of one. I did feel that some of the interactions between the modern time travelers and their historical counterparts didn't ring true fully, as far as the mores of the time. I could understand the future travelers making social faux pas, but I expected something more in keeping with the Victorian sensibilities for the characters of this time period in their interactions with the time travelers. As far as moments that stood out, I definitely appreciated the cameos of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Overall, A Gentleman and a Rogue is technically well-written, but I didn't find the story that engrossing. The romance makes up for the lack of an exciting storyline, and the time travel concept is interesting. End verdict, this series might appeal to readers who like time travel romance, but I wouldn't call this book a stimulating must read.
Let me be transparent in advising readers to think twice about experiencing this book as an audiobook. I'm not sure it works that well. It could be meLet me be transparent in advising readers to think twice about experiencing this book as an audiobook. I'm not sure it works that well. It could be me. I am a very visual person when it comes to higher level concepts, especially mechanistic disciplines, such as geometry, architecture, and engineering. The geometrical descriptions were hard to visualize and my mind started to wander at the beginning of each chapter when Sanderson uses the metafiction device of reading from a textbook of rithmatics. Honestly, that was the major reason I didn't rate this book highly. Secondly, I didn't care for the narrator. His voice was too bland, almost monotone or robotic. I feel that if you are going to narrate a book, you need to give it a vitality, and this book lacked that.
On the positive end, I can see why Sanderson is a lauded author, and I can certainly see why he is qualified to teach writing. I think that his craft is evident. The characterization is sound, and instead of settling for thinly veiled archetype, he endows characters with added depth. You know the ones that feel very familiar like the boy who grows up to be the hero, the spunky female sidekick, the mentor, and the dark lord? Thus he gives each one a distinctive life that works very well to make this more than just the typical coming of age fantasy novel. Additionally, the idea of this story is intriguing. A look at wizardry and coming of age school story becomes something different when the concept is built around a magical art of endowing chalk figure-drawing with life.
His view of the United States as an archipelago was interesting. He doesn't describe why it's that way. It just is. The story has a steampunk-light feel. Enough to give the vibe, but it doesn't take over or define the story. Instead, the focus is on the school and the low-level magic at work.
I liked Joel a lot as the main character. He is the kind of hero you end up rooting for. He's normal and the underdog, and you want him to buck the system. Sanderson does something pretty clever here, in that the hero doesn't get his dreams come true. Instead, he's going to have to work for what he wants. That felt more realistic, and also strayed away from the expected archetypes of fantasy where the lead is the one who has the unexpected greatest power of all time. Melody is a fun character. She won me over with her love of unicorns and pegasi. Her feelings of being a failure and feeling forced into a mold she doesn't fit resonated with me. Yeah, she felt like someone I know, maybe myself, and I could feel her youthful angst to a nearly uncomfortable level. It was such a cute touch how her abilities end up being strengths that were taken for granted. I also loved Professor Fitch. His nervousness was rather endearing, and I do have a fondness for nerdy professors.
The chalkings were fairly unnerving and the accompanying villainous element was quite effectively sinister. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but as I listened, I was drawn into this world and it became very real. The end has a very good twist, well, I should say two piled on each other. Sanderson surely got me!
I feel bad because I am likely underrating this book. But I have to say that the choice of medium was a big factor in affecting my reading experience, so I have go with what I know for now. I will probably continue this series because it was an interesting read. I think I'll go with the print version of the next book.
This took a long time to finish because I was listening to this at night before bed and I would often fall asleep and have to rewind it the next nightThis took a long time to finish because I was listening to this at night before bed and I would often fall asleep and have to rewind it the next night! I finally finished it early this morning. While I didn't like this one quite as much as the first book or the last (I had to read book 3 a few months ago for review), it was still a good read, and I was drawn into the world of our intrepid young hero. I just love Rossamünd. He's like my honorary little boy. Just a sweet kid. When he hurt, I hurt, when he was lonely and uncertain, I wanted to hug and comfort him. I was proud of him when he triumphed. He has a lot more honor, bravery, love, and heart than a lot of grown men, and he is a very humane person, which counts for a whole lot in these books. He alone makes this book series worthwhile.
I wasn't as enamored of the lifestyle of a lamplighter. Perhaps a bit too regimented for me. I believe that Rossamünd is about ten or so, but he is treated like a grownup, like an army recruit in a dangerous job that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Mind-numbingly boring, and unnecessarily dangerous. Not a good mix at all. Basically folks risking their lives on the roads to keep the highways lighted, way out in the boondocks (because that's so important), for the glory of the Emperor of the Half-Continent. The grunts are hard-working folks, and some of their superiors as well. But as always, you run into useless bureaucrats like the Master of Clerks who appear to want folks to end up dead. I couldn't figure out if he was just clueless or deliberately evil. I am leaning towards the latter since he is in cahoots with one in this book who definitely is evil.
As always, Rossamünd struggles with the moral conflicts of killing monsters or stepping aside in this war, when innocent humans' lives are at stakes. He knows quite well that not all monsters are bad and not all humans are good. He has to make the choice to fight or not near the end when things come to a head. And he chooses rightly. But for his troubles, he has to deal with enemies that are high in the government's workings. Good to know he has a powerful person or two on his side like Europe.
I have to be honest that I spent a lot of this book looking for Europe when she wasn't around. It's because I love the relationship between her and Rossamünd. I think that she is the mother that he never had, and he is her child in all but birth. But beyond that is a mutual respect and an essential aspect to their relationship that challenges them both to be better in the ways that are unique to each as an individual.
Threnody, a young girl that also joins the Lamplighter corp is much as I would have imagined Europe as a girl. Very haughty, yet unsure, her social superiority much like armor against the hurts of the world and the fact that she can't ever live up to her highborn mother's expectations. It was not surprising that she and Europe didn't get along at all. No doubt due to a sort of jealousy for Rossamünd's attention that Threnody feels, and perhaps some projection on her by Europe for the young Europe that she sees in the girl. Threnody was a bit annoying for most of the book, but at the same time, she grew on me, because I could see how she connected to Rossamünd and depended on a relationship with him to be 'normal' and perhaps feel human. And that is a bit of irony in itself.
Cornish has a way with imbuing this work with characters of distinction, even if their roles are quite small at times. I loved seeing Masters Fransitart and Cramupalin again. And I liked some of the fellow lamplighters and authoritative figures that Rossamünd engages with. The bad guys are quite unlikeable, be it evil monsters or evil beaurocrat humans. But the good thing is no one is cardboard or lackluster.
As far as world-building, this book has a complexity that makes it a more difficult listen than read. However, it was distinct, creative, and interesting. This world of monsters against humans isn't all black and white, but very much in shades of gray, which works well when you have a lead figure like Rossamünd who doesn't fit especially perfect in either world.
Although I didn't enjoy this as much as book one or book three, it was still enjoyable. More than anything, this is due to an unforgettable and utterly endearing main character. My beloved Rossamünd stands out to me. What a sweet kid he is. Equally fascinating is our Lady Europa, The Branden Rose. A woman of power and authority who has a surprisingly tender heart when it comes to Rossamünd. I love her for that.
I am sad to see this series come to an end as far as my reading pleasure. I would love to see more of Rossamünd and Europe.
This won't work for every YA or even older reader, but I like that it is a bit off the beaten track and challenging in the subject matter. I feel that the writer put a lot of energy and effort into building this world, and his characters will linger long in my mind, even though I have finished this book. A sign of a good book indeed for this reader.