Let me start by saying that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I've been working my way through his catalog ever since I read American Gods aLet me start by saying that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I've been working my way through his catalog ever since I read American Gods a couple of years ago.
Although Stardust will not go down as my favorite of Gaiman's works--that honor still probably goes to American Gods--I still enjoyed it thoroughly. Neil Gaiman has a way of telling stories that really appeals to me. He has a way of capturing magic and making it seem like the most natural thing.
He can also take well-used themes and retell them in unique and delightful ways. And that's what Gaiman did with Stardust. Stardust is a fairytale complete with unlikely heroes, damsels in distress, and wicked witches, and, despite all that, it's still a very charming story.
It's hard to put into words just how much I loved this novel. Neil Gaiman has an exceptional talent for writing what I like to think of as fairy talesIt's hard to put into words just how much I loved this novel. Neil Gaiman has an exceptional talent for writing what I like to think of as fairy tales for adults. He writes these stories that are so deeply imaginative and yet are so real, they just resonate with me like few other stories.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a simple, yet incredibly moving story. It was simply elegant storytelling. It took me back to my childhood and made me appreciate it in ways I never have before. It also made me insanely jealous of people that got to grow up in big, old houses on quiet country lanes.
I listened to the audio of this novel and I have to believe that was the best way to experience it. Neil Gaiman is not only an amazing writer, but he really is a great narrator as well. I had hear him narrate The Graveyard Books so I knew what to expect, but I was still incredibly pleased with the result.
Honestly, this novel was just excellent. I would recommend it to anyone, not just science fiction or fantasy fans. Brilliant....more
I decided to pick up Warbreaker, because I had read several of Brandon Sanderson's other works including the Mistborn trilogy, Legion, and The EmperorI decided to pick up Warbreaker, because I had read several of Brandon Sanderson's other works including the Mistborn trilogy, Legion, and The Emperor's Soul, and I really enjoyed them all. In each of those works, I was incredibly impressed with Sanderson's world building and magic systems.
I found the same was true in Warbreaker. The magic system was probably the novel's greatest virtue. It was complex, strange, and fascinating. Basically, every person is born with a breath, but can accumulate more to do interesting magic, such as animating a rope, clothing, or a corpse to do one’s bidding. There’s a lot more to it that than and learning about the intricacies of the system was perhaps my favorite part of the book. It’s clear that Sanderson has quite a talent for developing unique magic systems.
The world was also pretty interesting, though not terribly complex. I liked how history played a role in the story. I actually would have liked Sanderson to tie in the history a little more. It ends up being fairly important, but Sanderson never truly gives a good history lesson. Instead, he chose to deliver it in bits and pieces so, even at the end of the novel, it wasn't completely clear how everything fit together.
I also thought it was interesting how gods played an integral role in society and were even part of the government. The only thing I didn't like was that it was a little difficult to figure out how the magic of the gods worked. Sanderson never really laid it all out and sometimes I would wonder how a god was able to do something or why they couldn't.
And that leads me into my biggest issue with the novel. I did not care for the storytelling. I've enjoyed Sanderson's writing in all of my previous experiences, but I felt like he simply was not at his best in Warbreaker. The story was not terribly complex and yet it felt like many details were left out until the very end and then just explained in a rush.
The other complaint that I had was regarding the characters. They just seemed kind of flat to me, kind of two dimensional. The motives of characters like Denth and Vasher were not well explored and many of the others lacked the substance necessary for me to really connect with them. I actually think this novel should have followed Vasher. He was by far the most interesting character in my mind and he just didn't get enough attention. His story was just screaming to be told.
I also listened to this on audiobook and, frankly, I did not particularly care for the narrator. I don’t know that I would say that he was bad, but I didn't think his style was a great fit for the novel. My only real complaint was the voice he used for Lightsong. I’m not sure how Lightsong was meant to sound, but I have it feeling that “surfer dude” was not it. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the novel more if I had actually read Warbreaker myself, but I can say for sure that the narration did not heighten my experience, as it has with other novels.
Overall, I thought Warbreaker was pretty good. It’s not Sanderson’s finest, but it still has some upsides. If Sanderson writes a sequel, there’s a chance I would read it....more
I read Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I've been meaning to read some more of his work since then andI read Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I've been meaning to read some more of his work since then and I finally decided to pick up Red Country because it was getting a lot of praise.
I liked it quite well, but I don't think I liked it as well as the First Law trilogy. It was really very good in many ways, but I didn't think the story was quite as interesting. It certainly wasn't bad, but it felt a little aimless at times.
The characters were solid. I liked Shy, Temple, and Dab Sweet all well enough. They were fairly diverse and interesting. Lamb was my favorite of course. I don't want to give anything away, but those who have read the First Law trilogy will be thrilled by Lamb I'm sure.
I wasn't that excited about Cosca though. He was also in the First Law trilogy, but to a lesser extent. He was just such a repulsive character, I really got tired of him by the end.
Perhaps the best part of the novel was the setting. It definitely had a "wild west" feel to it even though it was set within the same world as the First Law trilogy. I thought that was pretty cool.
Regardless of all of the connections to the First Law trilogy, this novel is a standalone and I don't think you would need to read the trilogy first. If you have, then there will be a number of connections that you'll get, but if you haven't, I don't think it would really matter.
Overall, I liked Red Country. It was an interesting and entertaining read. It was definitely a bit different than other fantasy novels that I've read, largely due to the setting, and that was kind of refreshing. Recommended....more
The more I read by Brandon Sanderson, the more I respect him as an author. In fact, at this moment in time, I think he is probably the best fantasy auThe more I read by Brandon Sanderson, the more I respect him as an author. In fact, at this moment in time, I think he is probably the best fantasy author in the business. His work is consistently of high quality, his characters are realistic, his world building is outstanding, and his magic systems are unique, imaginative, and very well considered. On top of that, Sanderson is fast writer, meaning that he publishes multiple novels a year.
With all that said, I really enjoyed The Rithmatist. It is technically a young adult novel, but I hardly noticed. The only real differences between it and Sanderson's adult fiction is that it's shorter in length, the protagonist is 15 years old, and there's no romance. None of that bothered me in the slightest.
It's hard for me to pick my favorite thing about the novel, because I really liked it as a whole. However, the magic system was absolutely fantastic. In The Rithmatist, magical energies can be used for attack or defense by drawing shapes with chalk. I thought that was a really cool idea, but I also really liked how Sanderson took it another step and developed a dueling system complete with rules and strategies.
Beyond that, I thought that Joel was a really good protagonist. Sure, he fits the typical "unlikely hero" motif almost exactly, but it's a classic trope that never gets old if done well. Joel is full of youthful exuberance and is easy to relate to. I liked how it was his intelligence that was his true asset and not magic.
The world that Sanderson created was really interesting as well. The story is set in a alternate United States somewhere around the beginning of the 20th century. I don't recall if an exact year was given. It seemed like the story was going to fall into the Steampunk genre, but instead the world relies on magnets and magic for technological innovation. I really liked that, because, to be honest, Steampunk just isn't my favorite.
Overall, the story was not overly complicated, but had enough mystery and suspense to move the plot along at a brisk pace and keep things interesting. I liked this so much, I would recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in speculative fiction....more
Prior to starting Trumps of Doom, I was a little concerned that it may not live up to the grandeur of the preceding five novels which followed Corwin,Prior to starting Trumps of Doom, I was a little concerned that it may not live up to the grandeur of the preceding five novels which followed Corwin, a prince of Amber. Starting with Trumps of Doom, the rest of the series follow's Corwin's son Merlin, who is half of Amber blood and half of Chaos.
Despite my trepidation, I was immediately appeased by the opening sentence:
"It was a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to try to kill you."
That line pretty much sold me.
It is also a wonderful little caricature of Zelazny's writing style in general. I love the way Zelazny writes. He gets to the point and doesn't waste words. He's also a great world builder. Amber is such a fantastic setting, but I also really enjoy when the story moves to other shadows like our own version of Earth.
Perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to write imaginative and compelling stories with rich, believable characters that you can somehow relate to despite their totally fantastic lifestyles. The man truly amazes me and he's definitely working his way into my list of favorite authors.
So anyways, Trumps of Doom was really good. I really liked Merlin as a character. He reminded me of Corwin (which I think is good), but he was also he own unique person.
I also loved the setup. The fact that the story starts off with Merlin trying to avoid a murder attempt means that, right out of the gates, we've got action, suspense, and mystery. And it really sets the stage for the rest of the novel, because it never really slows down. For every answer Merlin uncovers, a new question emerges.
I kind of want to rank Trumps of Doom against the previous novels in the series, but I really can't. It was really good, but so were the other novels.
If you haven't read the first five novels, I think there's a possibility that you could start here without too much confusion, but, personally, I would go back and read the other novels first. Either way, I highly recommend Trumps of Doom....more
The fifth novel in the Amber Chronicles marks the conclusion of the Corwin arc. The story primarily follows Corwin as he makes his way to the Courts oThe fifth novel in the Amber Chronicles marks the conclusion of the Corwin arc. The story primarily follows Corwin as he makes his way to the Courts of Chaos to help stop Random from destroying Amber. I found it to be a very fitting finale and enjoyed it considerably....more