As Roland and his drawn two enter a steampunk world of cowboys and evil machines with an appreciation for riddles, it's definitely clear that King wroAs Roland and his drawn two enter a steampunk world of cowboys and evil machines with an appreciation for riddles, it's definitely clear that King wrote this book without perceiving how it would end. I miss the individual character-driven perspectives from the last novel- with the exception of Jake, whose journey is lively and he is easily the favorite face to revisit here.
I found this novel's storyline a little scattered, but I look forward to how the series continues. ...more
I am completely amazed by King's ability to psychologically analyze the minds of those who do not function in, shall we say, the same socially accepteI am completely amazed by King's ability to psychologically analyze the minds of those who do not function in, shall we say, the same socially accepted ways as we do. The Prisoner, Lady of Shadows and Death are such characters. I was most impressed with the interactions Roland has with these three, despite his fatalistic outlook on the eventual turn of things. So, although this book does not really move the plot much further, the character analyses are worth the amount of pages. He really does marry fantasy with realism in an exceptionally believable way. ...more
If Tolstoy is the lecturing father figure, Dostoyevsky is definitely the drunk, sarcastic and darkly philosophizing uncle. (Who blames women for all tIf Tolstoy is the lecturing father figure, Dostoyevsky is definitely the drunk, sarcastic and darkly philosophizing uncle. (Who blames women for all the problems in Mother Russia. Being from that part of the world myself, I think I can at least laugh that one off.)
It is a matter of preference which one you'd rather listen to. Perhaps even both, if you're in the right mood.
For me, I'll drink with Dostoyevsky any day.
This book. I mean, seriously! His writing is easy to flow through, surprisingly - the difficulty does not rest in the narration, but I recommend taking a few months to read it just so you can absorb the expansiveness with which he treats human nature.
Nothing in this epic story is ever a clear dichotomy of right and wrong. Unlike Tolstoy, whom I think you can see align himself with certain characters and philosophies in his writing, Dostoyevsky paints himself (and all the rest of human experience) as much in the villain as in the protagonist. Lofty ideals of right and wrong exist and can be argued for, but so can everything else. Not to mention he spends an entire novel making the argument of nature vs. nurture and spirituality vs. religion.
This novel has so much depth that I could not possibly do it justice by discussing it at length. I loved it, yet sometimes I hated how deeply it touched me; it made me reconsider certain truths that had been presented as absolute in the past, and it made me reassess my thinking process during certain periods of confrontation.
After all, there is a little Alyosha, Ivan and Dmitri in all of our hearts. ...more
This is not what I would consider a self-help book by any means - I would vote this as more along theSelf-help books are bullsh*t. They seriously are.
This is not what I would consider a self-help book by any means - I would vote this as more along the lines of "wake up and smell the spiritual coffee, and stop wandering what you'll do when you finish the cup". A novel that transformed my life in a day by merely expanding on ideas I found to already be following, but was unsure as to why they were so ingrained in my thought process.
The main theme here is "acceptance", a la Shakespeare: "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." When you are getting really angry at a coworker having a loud conversation while you're attempting to do your job, what makes it unbearable isn't your coworker's behavior at all, but instead your reception of it. A Stoic allows that reception to happen, be internalized and pass, without your creating a judgement that is simply based out of your perception. Burkeman points out the difference between a terrible situation and merely an undesirable one by challenging you to consider the worst possible scenario instead.
The Stoic-con-Buddhist approach to ideas he takes here expands to say that "...they all embody 'negative capability'. For the Stoics, the realization that we can often choose not to be distressed by events, even if we can't choose the events themselves, is the foundation of tranquility. For the Buddhists, a willingness to observe the 'inner weather' of your thoughts and emotions is the key to understanding that they need not dictate your actions. Each of these is a different way of resisting the 'irritable reaching' after better circumstances, or better thoughts and feelings...It is also the skill you're exhibiting when you move forward with a project--or with life--in the absence of sharply defined goals; when you dare to inspect your failures; when you stop trying to eliminate feelings of insecurity; or when you put aside 'motivational techniques' in favor of actually getting things done." (pgs. 207-208)
This book doesn't tell you how to get things done, or when you will accomplish these things. It's meant as an open suggestion, to take as much or as little as you can, and see how it can apply to your thoughts and your life. It won't solve your problems, nothing will, and there is no 10-step way to happiness - it really is all in the "how" and the welcoming of the mystery of the unknown. Most importantly though, it gives credibility to why you should choose to experience the full spectrum of life, the good with the bad, and relish in it. The yin cannot exist without the yang, and if you are simply a hamster spinning the wheel to your next goal or achievement, you will never be satisfied, no fulfillment will leave you feeling fulfilled.
"Downfall, brings us to the ground, facing the nitty-gritty, things as they are with no glitter. Success cannot last forever. Everyone's time runs out. Achievement solidifies us...believing we are invincible, we want more and more. To see and feel things as they really are, we have to crash. Only then can we drop through to a more authentic self. Zen transmits its legacy from this deeper place. It is a different kind of failure: the Great Failure, a boundless surrender. Nothing to hold on to, and nothing to lose."...more
A dark ending to an overall mediocre series. The problem I found with this particular epic is that often the adventures and the conversations served mA dark ending to an overall mediocre series. The problem I found with this particular epic is that often the adventures and the conversations served more to fill up space than to actually advance the storyline (for example, the 2nd book in this series could have probably been made a part of book 1 & 3, with calling it a day). He attempted to fully flesh each character, but they just ended up being more despondent than anything in the end. So you try to reverse the typical fantasy trope by making fun of it, sure, but utter hopelessness in the motives of each character leaves them each..well...fairly underdeveloped.
I got the sense that he was trying hard to show how circular, endless, and uncontrollable life is, even when we think we're at the helm. But for some reason, with the exception of his excellent personification of Logen and perhaps Glotka, no one else really went anywhere. There was no embracing of the good and bad notions of self, no relief during any sort of monumental happening, good or bad. Definitely an underlying tone of overall jadedness in the series.
Buuut I did appreciate the answer of some particularly pressing questions left over from previous character interactions and the tie-up of loose ends. Not to mention he leaves an open ending that circles right back to the prologue of Book 1, begging the question...when's the next fight? ...more
I enjoyed this more than book 1, but I feel that I can't give this an honest review without finishing the trilogy. Character development continues, alI enjoyed this more than book 1, but I feel that I can't give this an honest review without finishing the trilogy. Character development continues, albeit slowly, and I appreciated the few chapters of backstory. I feel like the myth of Juvens and his brothers, and how magic came into the world, was an origin story worthy of its own novel. It also gave the series an extra dimension, leaving the reader uncertain as to whom to trust. On to the 3rd for a complete review......more
I think I need to finish the whole series before I give this a review - much of what has already been said about this book already applies. It is basiI think I need to finish the whole series before I give this a review - much of what has already been said about this book already applies. It is basically a setup of characters and their future interactions, with some very well-written violent scenes and the occasional witty repartee.
What I DIDN'T like about this book is how much it borrows from ASOIAF by Martin. The personalities are stuck in a different landscape perhaps, but the warring nations are parallel, as are some of the characterizations (Jezal = Jaime? possibly? perhaps? etc). I felt that this distracted me from the plot setup at times, since I was always searching for the next reminder of the series I loved. And although I have my favorites when it comes to novels, I get disappointed when writers whose prose I enjoy and whose writing style is captivating, rehash those favorites to tell their own story.
On the other hand, I have hope in Logen Ninefingers and Glokta the Inquisitor. Their storylines (and multiple personalities) are interesting enough to make me turn the pages.
PSS. this would work well for the not-so-into-fantasy reader who prefers less detailed descriptions and a faster plot. Five hundred pages of writing here introduces a lot more than most epic fantasies would have managed....more
I'll preface this by saying I don't usually touch books about the Holocaust. There are too many books on the subject to choose from, and it is never aI'll preface this by saying I don't usually touch books about the Holocaust. There are too many books on the subject to choose from, and it is never an upbeat or hopeful read- on the best days, it's difficult to take in such stories because of the deep pain associated with the horrific event.
So in this case, it was lucky chance that I didn't read the novel summary, and just picked this up based on a recommendation. I will say it is heavy, but it is light as well, because it is written from the perspective of Death observing a little German girl named Leisel, between the ages of 8 to 14, as her life spans through the Hitler regime and WWII.
Despite the fact that her family hides a Jew in their basement, her life might seem very regular to the average eye, and that is what this book is brilliant at describing- the everyday, regular acts of heroism. There isn't one spectacular or heroic act in this novel that defies Hitler or trumps the belief system of the Germans at that time; it is mainly a description of how little actions play out in the integrated web of life, and can have drastic consequences, for both good or ill. It is a story about small connections and small saviors enacting small defiances that betray the big hearts and big hope there is for humanity.
To put it plainly, this novel celebrates being human in a time when entire nations are acting like anything but. And Death himself is boggled by our race, when he states "Humans are always haunting me."
It is incredibly relating to everybody and anybody out there, with an overwhelming message for the belief in innate goodness. ...more
I don't mean to go all Atlas Shruggian on this novel, but am I the only one who felt like the Raven King's story may have made aWHO IS JOHN USKGLASS?
I don't mean to go all Atlas Shruggian on this novel, but am I the only one who felt like the Raven King's story may have made a better 900-page novel than this one?
I guess maybe, I just don't like historical fiction very much.
There were so many good points to this book, yet I still didn't like it, or at least they weren't enough to remedy my overall impression. The descriptions of England, the dry humor throughout in the honor of the classic writers - all these were executed very well, I thought. The beginning and end of the novel had beautiful elemental storytelling and great buildup/release of the plot.
However, a good 400-500 pages were superfluous to me, focusing on characterization that didn't need to happen, and building up to a whole lotta nothin'.
As a reader of epic fantasy and a reader of other genres too, I didn't have a problem with the lack of magic and the focus on the periodic events of the time, I just don't think Clarke DID anything with those events.
With the inclusion of certain more "flashy" magical acts, it was like a pre-Pride and Prejudice-and-Zombies attempt made way before its time.
In summary: 5 stars - a must-read Gaiman, never a boring moment, pays homage to books and imagination as a child, reveres the nostalgia of childhood,In summary: 5 stars - a must-read Gaiman, never a boring moment, pays homage to books and imagination as a child, reveres the nostalgia of childhood, and spins a fable around it.
This book is actually a Gaiman short story that ended up being long enough for a book. Doesn't mean it was long enough to satisfy the Gaiman fans who, like me, are always clamoring for his story to never end.
It connected with me on an even more personal level than most of his other novels- not only providing a glimpse of his best and worst childhood memories, but also depicting details of those memories in sensory details: the wide-eyed quiet child's perspective, the child who takes in the moment fully and with enough imagination to suspend disbelief and trust intuition.
The most poignant moments in the book are the discussions of death, and how he grows to accept the full circle of living, where death is not the quiet monster we fear as adults but instead a part of the endless giving and returning of things, most especially life.
The only other book where he really touched on this subject in the same manner, was American Gods- and if you have read that book, you will notice a lot of moments in this one where Neil parallels Shadow in analyzing his place in life, in the world and outside of it....more
Forget the first book in the series. Honestly, forget it. Throw in a few chapters of Kvothe's upbringing into this novel, and it would speed up some oForget the first book in the series. Honestly, forget it. Throw in a few chapters of Kvothe's upbringing into this novel, and it would speed up some of the slower parts here and explain more than anyone needs explaining, without the grievous disappointment of reading a YA novel.
To be honest, it was as if Rothfuss went from the 3rd grade into high school with quality of writing and the pace of the novel. While Kvothe was still annoying, the BEST developments in the series happen with the characters around him, who are finally starting to take shape, and through their shape, you can see Kvothe's lessons being learned. He is able to judge his successes and failures while appreciating the true humanity of those around him, something that he was utterly incapable of doing in book 1.
He is still utterly irritating in his infallibility, or at least what is regarded as infallibility, but the best parts of the novel and the most important lessons are his own shortcomings brought to light. Kvothe does get bitch slapped quite a bit by life, and oh my, is it written well. Also Auri, Devi and Elodin easily become some of my favorite characters, as all of them start to pull at Kvothe in different ways and teach him how squinting too much makes you blind to the truth.
In this second installment, the simplicity of being versus the burden of thought - what a great topic for a fantasy author to tackle. Rothfuss' examples of how cultures are different, and how knowledge can be both power and yet an utter isolator unless one has street smarts and lessons that can only be learned from living outside of what you already know and are comfortable with- all those things serve not only to humble, break down, and eventually rebuild the protagonist, but also to truly make him a protagonist.
Of course, I reserve my criticisms, as some of my least favorite parts include Kvothe's "cavorting" with Felurian and also the long stretches of his time spent both in the woods hunting bandits as well as in Adem. I found that the fruit of Kvothe's labors were very wise and would be eventually utilized in the story arch, but otherwise the hundreds of pages dedicated to those adventures reminded more of myself playing Fable on the Xbox and killing time with senseless quests, just because, really...
Overall, great unexpected twist at the end, subtle shifts from past to present are very well executed, much improved in imagery and description, even coversation, and I really did enjoy it.
Of course, I am skeptical that all will be resolved in just one more book, but we shall see, won't we?...more
My favorite thing about Nersesian's contemporary female protagonist? She thinks like a man. She talks like a man. And she acts like a man. She might mMy favorite thing about Nersesian's contemporary female protagonist? She thinks like a man. She talks like a man. And she acts like a man. She might make some extremely stupid moves (like all of us) in her early 20s, but she accepts them fully and works through the consequences. I can't say how much I can appreciate a female protagonist who truly stands alone in a novel, written without a focus on romantic entanglements, without a search for acceptance from her peers, and with a sheer will and determination to do exactly what she wants. That's not to say Hannah has no emotions, as she is very impacted by her surroundings, her past lovers and events (911 especially), but they are not the drivers of her own plot. In that way, she reminds me of Roark. (Sorry Rand haters.)
5 stars for writing, 4 stars for characters, and 3 stars for the actual plot, since 3/4ths of the book was buildup and the other 1/4th set fire to that buildup and burned a bit too quickly, in my opinion. ...more