If you're reading this book, and thus, this review, I will assume that you've already read the first book in the series, and I won't bother explaining...moreIf you're reading this book, and thus, this review, I will assume that you've already read the first book in the series, and I won't bother explaining who the characters are and how we got to that point. That's what my review of the first book was for. :)
For the most part, I enjoyed this second book in the All Souls Trilogy even more than the first. Yes, there were a lot of things about our main characters to learn, and new information about who they are and why they are significant popping up around every corner, but for the most part, this world of vampires and witches and demons and humans has been well established by the time this book starts, so this book feels more about character development and adventure than introductions and world building.
I love that much of this book is set in 1590-1591, and documents Diana's adventures in the past with current Matthew. We get to know even more of his famous friends and family, and get to love them even more than we thought possible. Diana fought hard to be accepted by (view spoiler)[Matthew's father, Philipe, and when he finally not only accepted her, but made her one of his blood children and presided over her marriage ceremony to Matthew, I wanted to hug him and then put him inside a safe little box where the Nazis couldn't get to him. Knowing Philipe's future was almost as tortuous to me as it was to Diana and to Matthew. Almost. (hide spoiler)] My other favorites from the past were Henry Percy, who was always there to offer his loving support in any way he could, and Gallowglass, Matthew's nephew and one of Diana's many protectors. I'm hoping we get to see a lot more of Gallowglass in the third book, because I'm curious to see how the intervening centuries changed him.
As much as Diana will miss them, I will also miss the other friends she made in the past. Mary Sidney, with her sharp intellect and ability to Not Ask Any Questions. Goody Alsup, Susanna Norman, and the rest of the London witches, with their constant support and knowledge. Sweet Annie, crazy Jack, and Mop, the beast of a puppy, who became like children to Diana and Matthew during their months in the past. These are friends that won't be making a return engagement, unfortunately.
As frightening and tense as it was, I loved Diana and Matthew's interlude in Prague, and their twisting interactions with Emperor Rudolph. (view spoiler)[Finally finding Ashmole 782 was pivotal to the story, and now that book creeps me out more than I ever thought possible. A book made with the skin, bones, and blood of witches, vampires, and demons? Ick. Double ick. (hide spoiler)] The way Diana evaded all of Rudolph's advances was inspired, and I appreciated the tricky dance until the very end, when they cut their losses and split town.
The downside to the past, of course, was Matthew's perpetual stalker, Kit Marlowe, who hated Diana instantly and constantly sought to destroy her. I don't know why he thought that would ever earn him Matthew's favor. Blame it on his demon craziness, I suppose. There was also creepy, controlling cult leader Father Hubbard, and imperiously controlling Queen Elizabeth (Lizzie, to Matthew!).
I also loved seeing the little ways evidence of Diana and Matthew appeared in the future: the cameo portraits, the journals, the first telescope. The little glimpses into the future were nice, too, though I am really curious as to what has been going on there for the past 6 months, most specifically (view spoiler)[how exactly Em died. Sounds like she was killed while someone came to try and take Sophie and Nathaniel's baby, Margaret. I need more details, though, please! (hide spoiler)]
Regarding Diana's confusing magical abilities, I will admit that the first part of the book, where she couldn't really do anything, was very frustrating to read. Obviously Diana herself was very frustrated, and it almost felt like their journey into the past had been pointless. I was relieved, then, when Diana finally met Susanna, and then Goody Alsup, and there was finally someone there to explain what exactly Diana was and what she could do. (view spoiler)[I loved meeting her little fire drake, Cora. And I love that she ran into her father timewalking on the streets of London, and finally got to spend some quality time with him. I can't imagine how hard it was for him, seeing his grown daughter and knowing he would die before she grew up. (hide spoiler)]
I am greatly looking forward to third book, though it apparently doesn't even have a release date yet. Eep! Here are some very spoilery notes, so that I am not totally confused when book 3 finally does make an appearance: (view spoiler)[Diana and Matthew have finally returned to the present time and Sept-Tours, where Ysabeau, Sarah, Marte, Sophie, Nathaniel, Marcus, Miriam, Gallowglass, and baby Margaret have been waiting for them. Margaret, the daughter of two demons, is indeed a witch, as Sophie foretold, and she seems to have some sort of connection with Diana, because she told them when Diana was coming. Diana is pregnant with twins! She had lost a baby in the past, so this is pretty exciting news, especially since Matthew is the father. Em was killed in some sort of battle protecting Margaret. Last we heard from Peter Knox, he was planning to ambush Sept-Tours with the help of Gerbert and his vampire buddies, but we don't know if that already happened yet or not. Ashmole 782 is still in the Bodlian Library in Oxford. The page depicting the alchemical wedding is in Matthew and Diana's possession. The page depicting the two dragons either fighting or embracing was sent to Father Hubbard by Edward Kelly, crazy demon ripper-apart-of-books. The third missing page, of the tree of creatures, might be in the possession of Benjamin, Matthew's estranged son whom no one has seen in hundreds of years. Diana is a weaver, meaning she can use her magic to make her own spells, and is extremely powerful, but she still hasn't really been tested in battle, and lots about the future is still unknown. Diana and Matthew are now both married and mated, and regularly share their minds and secrets with each other using the vampire's kiss and witch's kiss. (hide spoiler)] Here's hoping book 3 comes sooner rather than later! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Inside this book is a world of mystery that readers are easily sucked into. The Roaring 20s are a perfect backdrop for all the creepy crawly monsters...moreInside this book is a world of mystery that readers are easily sucked into. The Roaring 20s are a perfect backdrop for all the creepy crawly monsters and magic that are such a big part of this universe. A key part of this is the excellent world building by Libba Bray, who manages to create an intricate and interesting world for us to inhabit. I will say, though, I wish there was less confusion regarding the exactly nature of that world for us as readers. More specifically, I want to know the rules regarding magic in this world, how characters can interact with it both positively and negatively, and the possible consequences for those interactions. But maybe I'm asking too much from the first book in a series? :)
The strongest part of this book, however, is the complex characters. Though Evie is clearly the prime protagonist, the shifting perspective allowed us to get to know the other characters as well. Even the most simpleminded character had hidden depths of sadness, pain, or rage. They are allowed to make mistakes, say stupid things, and still have compassion and heart. Evie can seem like a dumb, devil-may-care, flighty girl who only thinks of herself. That might be partly true, but a lot of her excesses stem from wanting to escape her own head, her memories, her loss. Yes, Evie wants to be rich and famous, living the good life in Manhattan, but she would trade all that for a chance to see her brother, James, again.
The rest of the characters are equally intriguing. Jericho is the strong, silent, and occasionally boring hero, who ends up being more than meets the eye (view spoiler)[when his childhood sickness and subsequent crazy-experiment-mechanized-insides are revealedthe mother that he lost, long presumed dead by all but him. She clearly also had powers of some sort, so I'm curious as to what her connection is to Evie's Uncle Will (hide spoiler)]. Theta is another girl who could have come across as vain and self-centered, with her singing, dancing, and quest for fame. In reality, Theta's life is more accurately about (view spoiler)[survival: she survived a childhood in which she was abandoned and then raised on the road; she survived a drunken and violent young husband; she survived living hungry on the streets; she survived a crazy ghost trying to murder her to fulfill a dark ritual. Of course, the thing that scares her most is also what helped her in her most panicked moments: the strange power that comes out of her hands. It is maybe heat, maybe fire, but it somehow melted a door open and I suspect it also killed that abusive husband (hide spoiler)]. Memphis is an attractive, smooth-talking guy, but he has the soul of a poet, and a history that includes (view spoiler)[an absent father, a gifted brother, a dead mother, and a power to heal that left him when he needed it most, and didn't return until it was absolutely necessary (hide spoiler)]. Evie's best friend, Mabel, seems a little sheltered. Her most identifying characteristics are her activist parents, whom she can parrot at will, and her obsession with Jericho, who is clearly not interested in her. Henry, Theta's best friend, also has some sort of power, though the nature of it is still mostly a mystery. There are other random characters that we've been barely introduced to, but will likely play bigger roles in future books.
The shifting perspective I mentioned earlier also allowed us to see all pieces of the puzzle before any of the characters could. In fact, there is still a lot that we know that they don't, and that itself can be very frustrating. These characters trend toward being particularly secretive. If they would all just get together and share their knowledge, they wouldn't all feel so lost and confused. Many of them share the same dream of the man in the stovepipe hat, and even if no one really can figure out what it means, at least they would feel less alone. There is already proof that knowing someone is going through the same thing as you bonds you together: Theta and Memphis, Evie and Jericho. Both of these couples were already feeling an attraction, but the knowledge of shared mysteries drew them even closer together.
The character that frustrated me the most is Evie's Uncle Will. Will clearly knows something about what is going on with their powers, yet he refuses to share any of that information or experience. His insistence that Evie return to Ohio is ridiculous and dangerous. Through her work on the John Hobbs case, Evie more than earned right to stay, and I don't blame her for (view spoiler)[going public with her powers to the reporters in an attempt to cement her place in the city. For a person who kept insisting that Evie keep her object-reading ability a secret, Will let her spill the beans quite easily. If Will had said, "It's ok, you can stay," Evie never would have mentioned it to the reporters. (hide spoiler)]
I enjoyed the creepy danger of the main murder mystery in the story. I listened to the majority of this book in car, and at times, I found myself clutching wheel in anticipating, or gasping out loud. The first time Evie went in the house, I was so afraid Hobbs was going to be inside, and when they were racing to the theater to save Theta, I just kept saying, "Not Theta. Not Theta, Not Theta." John Hobbs is truly evil, and Evie is truly heroic, full of bravery and spirit. (view spoiler)[I don't know of many 17 year old girls who could have faced off with a ghost-killer and had the quick wits and fortitude to actually stop him. Of course, even as Hobbs was being defeated, we were reminded that we don't really know what's going on. Most of the book, I was thinking that the big evil that was coming was just Hobbs, trying to bring about the apocalypse. But right before he vanished, he implied that there was a bigger bad on the way, and that big bad had something to do with Evie's brother James, who supposedly had been killed in the war. (hide spoiler)]
There are so many unanswered questions: (view spoiler)[Who is man in stovepipe hat? When the old ladies that live in the Bennington said, "they are coming," who are they actually referring to? It's clearly not John Hobbs. Sidenote: poor kitty! I'll never look at old cat ladies the same way. Where do the "gifts" come from? What is their purpose? Why are there so many more ghost sightings lately? How are the Diviners all connected? What is the mysterious danger ahead? Is James even dead? When will Will spill the beans about Project Buffalo? What exactly is Project Buffalo? Is the name that Sam got in the bar of the person he should ask about his mother actually Will's name? Or someone else they know? (hide spoiler)]
As much as I enjoy a good love story, I appreciate that this book wasn't all about the romance. It was mentioned every once in a while, but never really focused on. Romantic relationships developing were treated in a manor similar to plantonic relationships developing, and that is something I wish we saw more of. It was sweet to see the relationship between Evie and Jericho slowly develop, from "what a bore" to "I like him, but not that way" to "I want to run my hands over his chest and please don't let him die." Sam is a fun guy, and has hidden depths, but Jericho seems like the steadfast, solid presence Evie needs to help ground her. There are going to be some big issues with that relationship, though. (view spoiler)[Mabel is going to be crushed, even more so than when they were arrested in that speakeasy. I also get the feeling that Evie is going to downplay their connection, and Jericho is going to be hurt by that. I can imagine her saying, "it's just a kiss. I've kissed lots of fellas," to diffuse the seriousness that lies at the core of their relationship and attraction. The last corner of this love square, Sam has already noticed something is up between Evie and Jericho since they returned from Brethren, and he will not be pleased to see the new developments. Evie and Sam's relationship might be teasing and flirty, but I think he cares for her more than he is willing to admit, even to himself. (hide spoiler)]
There are still a lot of things I don't understand, and I'm just hoping the next book starts illuminating them, otherwise this world might get old fast. For now, I'll trust in Libba Bray not to steer me wrong, and look forward to the next installment. In a year. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This. Right here. This is how a trilogy should end. I'm happy. There were a few expected moments of sad, but lots more of joy. And then, the epilogue....moreThis. Right here. This is how a trilogy should end. I'm happy. There were a few expected moments of sad, but lots more of joy. And then, the epilogue. It was more than I hoped for.
Let me back up a little bit. Some might say this one wrapped up too neatly and easily. Yes, most of the people end up paired off and happy, but not everything is sunshine and roses. Tough choices must be made, and those choices have consequences.
Let's talk about the love triangle first. I usually hate it when a heroine claims to love two guys at the same time. It has always seemed indecision and wishy-washy to me. I'm not talking about liking two guys, and trying to figure out which one you can fall in love with, but literally loving two guys. Most of the time when you have a love triangle, the girl ends up picking the one she loves more, her true love, and the poor other shlub has to suck it up and move on, because she doesn't "feel that way about him." Even when a girl claims to love both guys, eventually she has a revelation and picks one, or one of them can't handle her loving both of them and gives up. And it's true, you have to make tough choices in life, and you can just live your life in love with and stringing two guys along. The Tessa-Will-Jem triangle is unique, however, in that it's a true love triangle. All 3 love each other equally, and would give their lives for each other. So what it comes down to is honor and the circumstances. Had Jem found out first that Will loved Tessa, there is absolutely no doubt that he never would have declared his love for her and asked him to marry him. But Jem didn't find out first; Will did. And loving Jem as they did, both Tessa and Will knew that they would sacrifice anything, even their love for each other, so that Jem could be happy.
Maybe I've become cynical in my old age (I am a ripe old 32-year-old, after all), but I don't really believe in the whole concept of "one true love." That doesn't mean I don't believe in true, deep meaningful love. I just don't think there's only one person out there for each person, their perfect match, and no one else would do. I believe that you can fall in love with someone, choose to make a life together, and then work to make your lives together the happiest they can be, fighting to stay together through thick and thin. If anything, the fact that it is your choice to stay together makes love more meaningful. Instead of being magically drawn together, you wake up every day, look at each other, and say, "I love you, and I choose to be with you. I may not like everything about you all the time, but that's ok. I'm committed to us and to our love."
Why am I talking so much about love and whether each person has a "one true love"? Because at it's core relationally, that's what this book is about. (view spoiler)[Tessa and Jem love each other deeply. Tessa and Will love each other deeply. Jem and Will love each other deeply (though in a different way than they love Tessa, obviously). Jem and Will and inextricably linked, their hearts entwined with one another, before they even meet Tessa, and it makes total sense that they would both love her and she them. Jem is Tessa's True Love in exactly the same way that Will is Tessa's True Love. Each one is willing to sacrifice things for each other. Will sacrifices his love for Tessa so that Jem can be happy and marry Tessa. Even though the idea of them marrying makes his heart breaks into pieces, he loves them enough to want them to be happy. Tessa sacrifices her love for Will, not telling Jem that she loves him, or even Will himself, so that life will be easier for him. For the love of Tessa and Will, Jem sacrifices both an extended life -- by taking all his yin-fei so he could be more lively and vibrant for the time he is with Tessa, but quickening his inevitable death -- and the true death he really wanted. Jem would have preferred to die a quick, honorable death, but because he loved Will and Tessa, he chose to try and become a Silent Brother, so he wouldn't leave them alone. When Jem is dying and eventually finds out Will loves Tessa, too, he is understandable a little jealous, but it makes sense to him. Of course Will would love Tessa. And of course Tessa would love Will, too. I love that Cassandra Clare planned out this kind of love triangle specifically. Her tumblr has a lot of great q&a responses, and if you are interested in her thoughts on the whole "one true love" situation, you should read this one for sure.
When Will and Tessa think Jem has died, they naturally comfort one another. It is natural for them to be together, to take care of one another, to mourn Jem together. And of course, when it turns out Jem has been transformed in a Silent Brother, there is no way for Tessa to marry him anyway, despite the fact that she still loves him. Yes, as an immortal, she could wait, knowing that, because of his unique situation, he might not be a Silent Brother forever. But Jem would have never wanted that of her. Jem wanted Tessa and Will to find happiness together, and once she and Jem had finally broken their engagement, they can be. I love that we get to see a summary of the happy, long life Will and Tessa get to love together. And it's icing on the cake that, 70 years after Will is dead, Jem has found a way to stop being a Silent Brother and become mortal again, and gets to live a long life with Tessa, too. Best of both worlds, right? I might squealed a little when I got to the epilogue. :) (hide spoiler)]
Now to talk about some things that are not love-related. I'm happy we finally got all the answers we wanted about Mortmain. I get why he was angry about his parents' death, and why he wanted revenge against the Shadowhunters, but he took it to a very extreme place: (view spoiler)[joining with faeries to steal Starkweather's granddaughter, sending a demon to impregnate her, manipulating her daughter. Also, I was close to being right about what was up with Starkweather in the first place! I thought maybe Tessa looked like his granddaughter, but it was his daughter she looked like, Tessa's real grandmother. (hide spoiler)] At the end, Mortmain really doesn't have a better side, no matter how much Tessa tries to find one. (view spoiler)[Mortmain had one of the best death scenes ever though. I love that something he put in place, the clockwork angel essence to protect Tessa's life, ended up being the cause of his own death. The battle scene up to that point had been pretty epic, but the Shadowhunters were clearly at a disadvantage, so when Tessa transformed into the angel and just squishes him to death in one stroke, it was amazing! Squish! And at that, the battle was over. (hide spoiler)]
I love every time we get to see Magnus Bane. Even though it's against his policy, he can't seem to not help certain Shadowhunters. I love it. Love seeing him, no matter what book he's in.
And of course, this book has a wonderful supporting cast of characters, each with their own charms. (view spoiler)[
Sophie is very resistant to Gideon's advances at first, which totally makes sense, given their situations. I'm so glad that, in the end, he spoke up for her ascending to become a Shadowhunter, and so glad he proposed. And of course, the fact that he kept ordering scones from her, just so he could see her, and then hiding them under his bed, is so adorable.
From their first meeting, it was obvious that Cecily and Gabriel were going to fall in love. She was just figuring out how to be a Shadowhunter, and in a strange way, so was he. The fact that Cecily never know Gabriel as the super-arrogant, Will-hating bastard he was for so long certainly worked in his favor. Gabriel slowly changed and became a true, trustworthy part of Institute family, and Cecily's faith in him had a great deal to do with that. I loved when Will and Cecily take Tessa and Gabriel home to Wales meet their parents. The though of Will and Gabriel ever getting along would have seemed unthinkable in previous volumes, but they both changed so much over the course of this last one. Will slowly became more open and loving towards everyone, and Gabriel learned to forgive himself for his family's mistakes and strive every day to be a better man. Also, the Lightworm joke never ceases to be amusing. Poor Benedict Lightworm.
It's totally fitting that Charlotte became Consul after the previous one's death. She is fair and just and strong, and it's hard to believe she's only, like, 23 or something. Also, as sad at is that Henry was paralyzed during the battle with Montmain, he seems totally cool with being it. After all, it's excuse to design and make a totally pimped out wheelchair, with all the bells and whistles anyone could want! Also, I loved Henry's bonding session with Magnus over his genius designs.
I was so sad that we barely got to see Jessamine in this volume, and it seemed such a pity that she barely made it back to the Institute before dying such a violent death. I'm glad she finally got through to then what she meant by Idris, though, because otherwise, they never would have found Tessa. And of course, I was overjoyed when Jess popped up as the Institute ghost! Hopefully she will be there, guarding the Shadowhunters, for years to come. (hide spoiler)]
If you've read Clare's other series, the Mortal Instruments, it was also cool to see the origin of some of the stuff we know from that series: (view spoiler)[the portals, not just used by Magnus, but partially designed by him as well; the Herondale star birthmark caused by the clockwork angel, which, now that I think about it, might spoil some TMI stuff if you read TID first; the Lightwood red necklace, give to Will by Magnus, passed on to Cecily, and then eventually down to Isabelle; and of course, why Alec Lightwood looks shockingly like Will Herondale - his great-great-great-great-grandmother was Cecily. (hide spoiler)]
I am, of course, bummed that this series has come to a close, as I actually prefer this setting and story to that in the Mortal Instruments, but it ended in such a perfect way, I can't be too sad. I'll happy pick up the next Mortal Instruments book when it comes out next year, and hopefully we'll see (view spoiler)[Tessa and Jem (hide spoiler)] pop up in it again. Also, I heard a vague rumor that Clare might do a series about the next generation of Shadowhunters after these guys, set in the early 1900s, and that sounds awesome. One can hope!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Review to come later. This was a bad time to happen to be reading a book about kids killing kids, even if they are all 15 year olds instead of 20 year...moreReview to come later. This was a bad time to happen to be reading a book about kids killing kids, even if they are all 15 year olds instead of 20 year olds attacking 5-10 year olds. :(
Most if the time when I'm reading, my brain automatically censors itself, and allows me to believe what I can process more easily. Most of the time while ready this, the characters seemed older to me, in their late teens or twenties. Not that that makes all the forced killings better, but still. Not kids. But every once in a while, when I force myself to see it, I am once again saddened and horrified. I have a niece who's 15, and the thought of her being sent to a place like this is mind-boggling and heart-wrenching.
A fantastically epic tale that draws you into a strange world. It may look like ours from the past, but as the story goes on, it proves to be more mag...moreA fantastically epic tale that draws you into a strange world. It may look like ours from the past, but as the story goes on, it proves to be more magical and mysterious than you could have even imagined. I decided to pick this one up after hearing how great the new tv based on it is, and I'm glad I did. Apparently, the show runners have kept very close to the book, even using dialogue word for word. Case in point: "I want to make the little man fly!" :P
One of Martin's greatest strengths is his ability to develop strong, engaging, and interesting characters. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you can't make me care about your characters, it doesn't matter what they are doing and where they are going. Martin succeeds in making me care about his characters, so much so that when he ruthless kills them off, it is shocking and devastating. That being said, I feel my review needs to focus on the characters that are so important. It took a while to get used to the perspective switching between characters, but eventually I really appreciated it, as it let me get to know more characters to a better degree.
My favorite characters:
Jon Snow - The fact that he's a bastard immediately garners him some sympathy votes. But his strength of character, honesty, loyalty, sense of fairplay, and love for his family, both blood and oath-sworn, are what really make Jon someone to admire and love. He and the rest of the Black Guard seem to be the only people aware of the threat from the North. I hope they can make it! And incidentally, I hope Benjen is ok. We didn't really get to know him, but Jon loves him, so I have to, as well. :)
Tyrion Lannister - What a fantastic, sympathetic, devious character! I almost called him "little man", which is true, and he would own, but he doesn't deserve to be called that. Tyrion is a full-grown adult. He is smart, funny, realistic, and quite lovable, underneath that cynical exterior. He's had to put up with a lot in life, from being unappreciated by his father to general mockery from the rest of the public, but he's held his own. Now that he's getting a little more respect, I hope he can continue to thrive, though without killing any Starks, please.
Arya Stark - What a fantastic, strong, bold little girl. Arya is fierce and fiesty and full of life, and isn't going to be told what to do. She won't stand for being treated like just some girl, and she's going to learn how to defend herself if it kills her. Which it might. But I hope it doesn't.
Robb Stark - It's not easy for a 14 year old boy to suddenly have to take on the role of man of the house. Especially when the house is a castle, and you are a Lord now, too, and have men looking for you to lead them. Robb assumes his role with grace, intelligence, and bravery, and deserves the undying support of the men who follow him. With his new role in the upcoming battle (view spoiler)[as King of the North, which his followers have named him (hide spoiler)], I hope he continue to display the intelligence and honesty he learned from his father.
Bran Stark - Bran is the character I most want to hug. I want to shrink him to mini-size, and keep him in my pocket, so he'll be safe and no one else will hurt him. My heart just broke for him. What he loved most is to climb, be free, be wild, and (view spoiler)[when he fell from that building, and then woke up without being able to move his legs, (hide spoiler)] I just couldn't believe that his fate was so sealed. I am curious to see how he develops as he grows older. With Robb on the warpath, it might not be long before Bran is heir to Winterhall.
Eddard, Lord Stark - Too honest and upright for his own good. He really should have been King instead of Robert, but like many times in politics, those who have the best sense of it also have the sense not to get involved. If only he could have stayed out of it. The best part of Stark is that he truly loved and cared for his children. He wanted them to be happy, no matter what. But despite his intelligence and wariness, his trusting nature was his downfall(view spoiler)[, and cost him his life and his head. A very tragic loss, both for the Stark family and us (hide spoiler)]. I'll also mention Sansa here, who I don't really like, but I can't bring myself to truly hate. She was innocent and deluded and just plain stupid, but she's learned her lesson, and I have a feeling things are going to get very hard for her in the future.
Characters I hated:
Jaime and Cersei Lannister This (view spoiler)[incestuous (hide spoiler)] pair gets lumped together because they are equally gross and frustrating. They deserve each other: heartless and cold, bloodthirsty and powerhungry. Now that I know Martin is willing to get rid of major characters, I would like point him in the direction of Jaime. That is all.
Petyr Baelish - What a creepy, slimey, lying little man. Ugh. If I could kick him off the castle, I would. This guy deserves a swift beheaded.
Joffrey Baratheon - (view spoiler)[Or should I say Lannister? (hide spoiler)] Joffrey may be just a boy, but so was Robb, and look how wonderfully he turned out. I suppose Joffrey was set up for failure - he was taught to be spoiled and petty and vindictive by his family, and so it's not surprising he turned out to be a terrible man-boy and ruler.
Lysa Arryn and her son - Crazy lady and creepy, creepy boy. They are very strange.
Characters that confuse the heck out of me:
Daenerys Targaryen - Half the time I really liked Daenerys. She really comes into her own as a woman and as a ruler once she marries Drogo, and really takes what she wants while embracing her new culture. But towards the end, she seemed more and more crazy-like. And the last part, with the fire, and the dragon eggs, it just has me baffled.
So, to sum up: yes, I enjoyed this book. Yes, I will read the second one. But first, I'm going to go watch the TV show, now that I know all the things that would have been spoiled! :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
There is no lack of novels featuring vampires, witches, and other creatures, especially lately, but the world created in this series is particularly r...moreThere is no lack of novels featuring vampires, witches, and other creatures, especially lately, but the world created in this series is particularly rich and steeped in it's own lore.
In this book, there are 3 classes of creatures: witches, vampires, and demons. At one point in their history, the 3 groups decided that they are completely distinct species, and though they have to work together to some degree to make sure the humans don't start to notice them, in all important ways they need to stay separate. That means, no interspecies dating or mating, and the species stereotypes are built up, and much hatred for other species develops, especially between the witches and the vampires. A Congregation, made up of 3 people from each group, was established to make sure everyone kept to their promises.
Enter the main characters of this story: Diana, a witch, and Matthew, a vampire. Diana is a powerful witch, though she hasn't knowingly used magic since she was 7. She attributes this to her parents' deaths and her decision to reject what she saw as the cause of their deaths. What Diana eventually finds out is (view spoiler)[that her parents actually spellbound her before knowingly going to their deaths in order to protect her from the Congregation. Diana actually has more power than any witch in generations, and they would have taken her to study and use her. Her mother foresaw that Diana would meet Matthew eventually, and that he would protect her and help her learn how to use her powers, and only then would she start to be able to access them (hide spoiler)].
Matthew is a centuries-old vampire who is focused on figuring out creature genetics and how they are interrelated. When he meets Diana, he is instantly drawn to her, but in a protective way, not a predator-wanting-to-eat-you way. He knows that Diana is important, both because of the power he senses in her, and eventually because of her (view spoiler)[unique genetic code, which is something he had never seen before (hide spoiler)]. Of course, Diana and Matthew fall in love, and the Congregation freaks out. Of course, it's more than just the fact that they are breaking all the rules. (view spoiler)[It's that Diana has powers that they don't understand, and the witches don't want Matthew to have access to it. And once they found one of the lost pages from the Ashmole manuscript, the depiction of the chemical wedding that clearly showed Matthew and Diana as the bride and groom, it became clear that there were more ramifications to their relationship than Matthew and Diana getting to be together. There is something cosmic and predestined about them, and it all somehow ties into Matthew's genetics research, and his hypothesis that the creatures will die off if they don't start to evolve. Part of that evolution seems to be the for creatures to start having children together. There's the other missing page from Ashmole, which likely depicts the chemical conception, and implies Matthew and Diana could have children together (despite the fact that all evidence says that vampires cannot physically have children). And then there is Nathaniel, a demon, and his wife, Sophie, a demon born into a witch family, who is pregnant and expecting a child that will be a witch (Sophie can tell). (hide spoiler)]Things are changing, and there are always people who fight against progess and change.
There are lots of other great characters in this book, and the length of the book allows us to really get to know them and love them (or hate them, too). Though everyone says she is cold and heartless, Matthew's mother Ysabeau really embraces Diana once Matthew officially marries her, and she treats Diana as if she were her daughter as well. Not a bad person to have on your side. Ysabeau's housekeeper and companion, Marthe, welcomes Diana into their home with open arms, and is continually on her side, despite the fact that it took Ysabeau a while to warm up to Diana. You can tell that Marthe loves her family more than anything, and despite the fact that she is soft and kind, she would do anything to defend them. Sarah and Em, Diana's aunt and her partner, are both strong in their own ways, and forever supportive of Diana. Sarah could be annoyingly argumentative at times, which I found rather off-putting, but eventually, she seems to accent the inevitability of Diana and Matthew's relationship. Matthew's son, Marcus, is a fun-loving jokster, but eventually he has to get serious when it becomes time for him to take over the (view spoiler)[Knights of Lazarus while Matthew travels to the past with Diana. He is the youngest of the vampires, and doesn't seem to embrace that sort of leadership role, but he seems reluctantly willing to step up when he is needed (hide spoiler)]. Miriam, Matthew's old friend and lab assistant, can be rather bratty and condescending, but in the end, she is on their side. Despite the bitterness Miriam still seems to hold on to regarding her husband's death, she is willing to support Diana and Matthew and their quest. I loved hearing from all the ghosts living in the Bishop house, especially Diana's grandmother and Bridget Bishop. And you can't forget the house itself - how awesome that the house had it's own character, and could grow to accommodate more guests, and hide things when needed. I also loved hearing about all the people from history Matthew was friends with or knew, from politicians and scientists to artists, poets, and writers. Those personal connections really helped cement Matthew's relationship with the past.
Of course, there were some characters you couldn't help but hate, and pretty much all of them had something to do with the Congregation. There's Peter Knox, witch and member of the Congregation, who followed Diana as a child and repeatedly threatened her as an adult, after she found the Ashmole manuscript. Then there was Satu Järvinen, another witch and member of the Congregation, who (view spoiler)[kidnapped Diana from Sept-Tours and tortured her, trying to find a way to see her magic. (hide spoiler)] Pretty much as evil as you can get. Then there's Gerbert, a truly evil vampire that we didn't get to spend much time with, but you can just tell he is evil to the core. Both the creepiness of his meeting with Diana and hearing about how he "created" the damaged Juliette as a lure for Matthew is enough to convince me that this guy is not to be trusted in any way.
There were some things that felt over the top and ridiculous. Matthew could be really overbearing at times, with his demanding to be in control, and have everyone acknowledge that he is the leader and head of the house. His insistance that Diana listen to what he said was rather annoying at times. I understand that he lived through many different eras, most of which were very patriarchal, but having an equal relationship with someone involves trusting their decisions and judgment as well. It will be interesting to see how Diana and Matthew's relationship changes as they get to know each other more and as Diana grows in her power. I also found a little ridiculous how important their particular relationship is. It's a little too far-fetched that their relationship and potential future has sweeping ramifications for the future of their whole community, but I guess the book wouldn't be about them if they weren't so important. There were also some pretty theatrical makeout/non-sex scenes, which gave this book more of a romance lean than I expected from a book that had the critical acclaim this one did. It's not that the scenes felt out of place necessarily, it's just that I wasn't really expecting them. Also, the whole everyone's-in-love-with-her and she-doesn't-see-how-beautiful-and-appealing-she-is thing ALWAYS annoys me. If people are really falling in love with you left and right, you notice. Full stop. End of story.
I'll admit, there are times when I'm still confused, especially when they talk about chemical things and the alchemical process. That whole thing at the end with the dripping fire place and mercury and blood went right over my head. I know it must mean something significant, with the whole house sighing and all, but I really didn't get it. Hopefully they'll explain it to me in the next one!
I looking forward to the next book, which I'm sure takes place in the 15th century, and we get to meet Christopher Marlowe and other long-dead people, and will hopefully see Diana finally taking control of her powers and her life for once. I should be getting the next one from the library in a few days, but in case I forget, here is where book 1 left off. (view spoiler)[Matthew and Diana had timewalked (a power passed down from her father, but that she really got from her twin brother than she absorbed in utero through vanishing twin syndrome) back to the 1500s in order to give Diana time away from the Congregation in order to develop her powers and in order to find a more powerful witch to train her. Matthew was able to get a letter and book to Sarah to reassure her that they actually made it into the past safely. He had written in a book and left it with his things, which Ysabeau forwarded to him at the house. Yes, it's all very confusing. Sarah and Em left the house ostensibly on a road trip with some witch friends, but eventually they will separate from those friends and head to Sept-Tours to stay with Ysabeau and Mart under their protection. Marcus and Miriam headed back to Oxford, and will eventually meet up at Sept-Tours, too. Marcus was made head of the Knights of Lazarus, and will work to convince other vampires that they need to fight against the Congregation. Sophie and Nathaniel headed back to Sophie's home in South Carolina, and Nathaniel accepted a role in the Knights of Lazarus, as their official hacker, to fight the good fight online. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book was long. And by long, I mean looooooooooooooong. Don't get me wrong - lots of this book was fascinating. But the inevitable problem with de...moreThis book was long. And by long, I mean looooooooooooooong. Don't get me wrong - lots of this book was fascinating. But the inevitable problem with detailed books like this is you just can't care equally about the whole story. It you be perfect if you could sit down and say, "Tell me about his childhood, family life, personality, presidential life, and just a lite bit of wartime and politics." Unfortunately, books don't necessarily work that way; things tend to be more interconnected than that, and if you were to skip sections that seem less interesting, you might end up missing something important. So I listened to every word. It took me 4 months, but I did it.
Washington's life seems most of all a tale of "Be careful what you wish for." Throughout his teens, twenties, and thirties, he was aggressively ambitious, buying land, pursuing business ventures, and trying to promote his military and political career. By the end of his life, though, Washington has become so central and essential to America that he barely had time to himself. His dream was to live a quiet, peaceful life at Mt. Vernon, and he never really got to enjoy that. Despite his outspoken desire to leave political office, he appeared to be the only man for the joy at the country's inception. Though Washington didn't perhaps want the power that came with being president, he recognized that unless he stepped in, there was no one else to uphold the ideals he had worked and fought so hard for. Though a Federalist himself, no one else could have balanced the two parties as well as Washington did during his two teens as president.
His relationship with his wife, Martha, was interesting to read about, and I wish she hadn't burned all their letters to each other after his death. Though they were devoted to each other their whole marriage, it doesn't seem like theirs was a particularly passionate marriage. Maybe it was just their pragmatic personalities, but their relationship seemed more matter-of-fact than a union full of love. Not that that is out of place in that time period, but still. Part of me wanted more, especially since Washington seemed like such a romantic ladies' man most of his life, always commenting on the number of ladies at gatherings, and having close friendships with several women.
If I talk about everything in this book in detail, I'll be here forever. The last thing I have to mention, though, is Washington's poor, poor teeth. I have bad teeth myself, so I definitely sympathize, and the pain Washington went through his whole life makes me SO glad that I was born in this time instead of that one.
Bottom line: definitely detailed and interesting. Be prepared to invest some time.(less)