It's a cute little steampunk-esque story about a world where magic exists, and Ceony Twill is just beginning her appre...moreI got this through Kindle First.
It's a cute little steampunk-esque story about a world where magic exists, and Ceony Twill is just beginning her apprenticeship under a master Folder. She's graduated from her magic school in just one year. In this world, every magician bonds to a certain material. Normally magicians get to choose which material to bond with, but because there are so few people who actually want to work with paper, Ceony is assigned. Rather than become a failure, she accepts and goes to live with eccentric magician Emery Thane. And then someone steals his heart, and Ceony goes to save him.
I think the thing that bothered me the most about this book was that it didn't seem too logical that Ceony was that skilled, even given her eidetic memory, and the month she spent training seemed a bit rushed. Her feelings were brand-new to me as a reader because they just seemed to be dropped out of nowhere.
But I am going to keep an eye out for book two because I just found the characters charming. Even the paper dog. Especially the paper dog. I want one. (less)
Which honestly is less terrible than, say, historical romance about Henry VIII, especially consideri...more
It's a historical romance feat. Vlad the Impaler.
Which honestly is less terrible than, say, historical romance about Henry VIII, especially considering (god this is about to get weird) Henry VIII was a lot more brutal. And also pretty inconsistent--your life with Henry VIII would have largely been dictated by the King's feelings at the time. We're all Catholic now! No wait, we hate Catholicism. Kill that guy! I'm going to make up any rule that suits me this week and if you break it you're in trouble.
I got this, I totally did a speech on it in college once.
The Tudor comparison is somewhat necessary considering that there's a lot of Tudor-era historical romance and I'm pretty sure that's what people think. I mean, I picked this book up thinking "oh, it's basically Tudor romance featuring Dracula." And it's really not.
I'm not saying that Vlad Dracula wasn't brutal, because that's not true. He was a brutal guy but also a just one. Was the Impaler nickname earned? Yeah, it was, but it wasn't like he just pointed at random people like "yup, that one today." He was a fearsome ruler, but still kind of seen as a hero in his home country. Remembered for uniting the country, but in a rather extreme way.
There is a story, or maybe a legend, that Prince Vlad left a golden cup on a well in the middle of a town square and that cup was never stolen. It was kind of a symbol of how he reigned--anyone who stole that cup would face the same punishment (death) regardless of birth, social standing, wealth, or closeness to the Prince. That's what I mean by "a just one."
So basically, if you've read The Other Boleyn Girl, I feel like this is much lower on the scale of "weird to be caught reading" because hey, in context? It's really not as bad as it might look at first glance, especially considering that this subject matter is a bit less popular and only a tiny subset of knowledge might be readily available by name. ("I say Vlad, you think Impaler," that sort of thing.)
Now, with all of that said, this isn't a fluff novel, either. It's actually pretty political given that it's a romance, and also switches back and forth between two periods in history, which requires a bit of paying attention. It's not as thorough of a jump as The Historian, though, but rather young!Ilona and older!Ilona. There's not a lot of talk about jewels and gowns and dancing. This is about a war, about alliances and power and loyalty and yeah there's love in there too.
And nowhere in this novel is history sacrificed for a good story. The Impaler parts aren't sidestepped or given any weird sort of justification. They are there, but in a really, surprisingly well-rounded way, neither overshadowing or overshadowed by the rest of the story. It's not glorified, it's not vilified, it just is a fact of life.
I expected less than this, and was pleasantly surprised. It's a good story. Vlad and Ilona (historically his second wife) are both very well-rounded characters--they are flawed, and it's not like you know everything about them from page one; their story unfolds in a very believable and fluid way and they are ultimately both portrayed as so thoroughly human it's fantastic. I really liked her in this story, despite the fact that as a historical figure in and of herself I don't feel like she was either likable or unlikeable.
I would recommend this, absolutely to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and doesn't mind a bit of politics mixed in their romance.(less)
This wasn't terribly written or anything like that. The three stars are because I found it impossible to emotionally connect to the story. It was pret...moreThis wasn't terribly written or anything like that. The three stars are because I found it impossible to emotionally connect to the story. It was pretty good, well-written, I just didn't feel anything.(less)
This was great! You'd never be able to tell by reading it that it's a debut novel. The author does a wonderful job of building and keeping the suspens...moreThis was great! You'd never be able to tell by reading it that it's a debut novel. The author does a wonderful job of building and keeping the suspense and never once do the characters ever somehow have more information than they should. The suspense really keeps the story moving forward. For once, having the alternating past story and present story worked very much in this book's favor. And I really enjoyed the ending, as well. (less)
You know, one of the great things about science fiction is that it’s not always just a fantasy. It’s not always just some random thing that somebody m...moreYou know, one of the great things about science fiction is that it’s not always just a fantasy. It’s not always just some random thing that somebody made up in their basement and it’s not always purely entertainment. I like sci-fi like that—where yes, on the surface you’re reading a book about a bunch of aliens invading the planet, or survival, or colonizing the moon, or you have the entire John Carter series and don’t get me wrong, I find these to be absolutely entertaining. But they also teach you something, or they make you think. That’s what I like the most about sci-fi.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading a handful of Mr. Bertauski’s books and they’re always hard to review, because there’s basically nothing I can say that doesn’t make me feel like I’m spoiling something. Even if it’s an insignificant detail. A few times I’ve found that my favorite character ends up being the antagonist or that I don’t even know who the antagonist really is at the end.
And this book? It falls into both of these categories. It’s science-fiction, sure, and it has quite a few familiar elements that I’ve come to expect from reading this author’s works. I’m not saying it’s repetitive. Quite the opposite actually; I think it’s probably pretty difficult to use the same elements in new ways and he manages. It’s well-written and while a lot of my reading lately has been a page or two between millions of other things, I was able to pick it back up and fall right back into the story with no problem whatsoever.
But the best part is that, even though I finished it over the weekend and I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to sort everything out in my head so I can leave a coherent review that might actually make someone want to read this book, the best I can say is that it’s still making me think.
And any book with that sort of impact has earned its five stars. (less)