I read this book for the first time quite a while ago, when I sank my teeth into fat epic fantasy quite often, and it has been a while.
This re-read wa...moreI read this book for the first time quite a while ago, when I sank my teeth into fat epic fantasy quite often, and it has been a while.
This re-read was spurred on by the Vaginal Fantasy book club, and I feel like while I liked the book on the first read, I have really been moved by this book on the second read, and it has shot straight to my favourites list, and I am keen to read the rest of the series, which I haven't done so before.
This book has many challenging themes, but it is in the strength of the characters and the beauty of the world that has been evoked by the author that renders the challenge of the themes as meaningful rather than frustrating or hollow.
The overarching lesson of this story is what we do with the opportunities or ills that are bestowed upon us, and the grace in which we choose to deal with those challenges.
I just want to talk about this book to someone, so I am so looking forward to the book discussion!(less)
This book was okay but the beginning was terrible and incredibly cheesy. I don't read a lot of this genre but I burned through it pretty quickly. As m...moreThis book was okay but the beginning was terrible and incredibly cheesy. I don't read a lot of this genre but I burned through it pretty quickly. As more of the story was fleshed out, it became a bit more readable. I liked the main character, Anya, and I loved the way myth was sort of melded in with the story.
The curse on Anya had some odd undertones to it and it wasn't the most consistent narrative device. The tension was great but a little forced and predictable at times. Lucien, the main character, was painted out to be totally mindless and very old fashioned and possessive of Anya which was a bit icky.
I haven't read the first book in the series but I made do without it. I don't know if I would read more by this author unless I was looking for something awful to read by a pool on holiday.(less)
Having read and reviewed Gede Parma's first book, Spirited, I was keen to read whatever he came up with next. He is a refreshing and youthful voice on...moreHaving read and reviewed Gede Parma's first book, Spirited, I was keen to read whatever he came up with next. He is a refreshing and youthful voice on the neo-pagan author 'scene' and he has a lyrical style that is honest, genuine, and connected. What's more, his presence as a BNP in the community intrigues me and I would love to meet him in person and attend one of his workshops. I've had this book in my pile for some time and it took me a long time to get to this book, and I've finally made my way through it.
This book was a disappointment in some respects as it is more of the same that is found in Spirited, complete with more anecdotes of high school stories such as observing teacher's auras in front of a white board. It is not a graduation of the teen witchcraft presented in Spirited but more of a continuation, and it presents very much as a Neo-Wicca 102 primer.
Parma describes himself as having a personal path that is "a blending of Celtic, Balinese, Greek and Faerie traditions." Given this, and the fact that this is based upon the "Celtic realms of land sky and sea" and he has oft-touted Celtic heritage himself, I was hoping for more content that focused on the presence of these realms in Celtic lore and how they translate into Shamanic practice. I do not profess to know a lot about Shamanism, much less Celtic Shamanism, and I do not feel I know any more about it having read this book. In fact, this book presented almost nothing new to me, as it is rather a mish-mash of various Neo-Wiccan practices and mostly an indulgent regaling of Parma's own UPG Wildwood tradition compounded by a series of interviews and anecdotes and quotes with those he has initiated into his coven who are cut from the same Neo-Wiccan cloth. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and admittedly I enjoyed this book the most when he discussed these personal asides, activities and conversations. It reminds me of some of the Fiona Horne and Phyllis Curott content of the 1990s which was also much criticised at the time, and nowdays almost summararily dismissed. This book is not much different, not at all surprising given it was bread and butter to our generation, except the Gede Parma has grown up in a more Internet-wary age where fact-checking is instant so no assertions are made without the contextualisation within the framing of myth (both personal and intra/interpersonal) or constant disclaimer that he is a witch rather than a scholar.
It is not that Gede Parma professes to be anything more than an eclectic witch and priest of a voluminous tradition of his own crafting, and there is absolutely no doubt that he walks his talk and he has a practice that is rich, deep and fulfilling. For this reason I still enjoyed this book and would perhaps recommend it to someone who is younger or newer to the path. The book centralises around the three themes of Land, Sky and Sea and these themes loosely tie different meditations, mostly revolving around trance and astral projection. He presents many exercises and meditations that are fairly decent, and the reader might even enjoy his anecdotes of getting bubble tea and sushi in the city and wandering down the aisles in Myer on a city date with a buddy and discussing astral travel with his compatriots. The book becomes a bit of a mess in some parts with cut-and-paste rituals and a section that is directly channelled 'wisdom' giving it little cohesiveness and making me wonder if he could have sat on some of these ideas for a little longer and combined them with his third installment. Perhaps there is some sort of contract with Llewellyn involved.
There is a lot of eclecticism in here that will piss a lot of people off, and sloppy referencing, appropriation and regurgitation that will annoy others even more. It doesn't bother me too much and one day when my to-read pile gets a bit slimmer I might even read his next installment on Ecstatic Witchcraft. The freedom and poetry in his style is what makes his teachings so appealing, and I think he probably would not care one iota what critics would make of his work. (less)
While this series never quite compared to the Liveship series for me (And the Assassin series which were my favourite), maybe it was more so to do wit...moreWhile this series never quite compared to the Liveship series for me (And the Assassin series which were my favourite), maybe it was more so to do with the charm and magic of reading them when I was much younger and first being introduced into this world that I love. I really did enjoy these books. I wasn't massively invested in the characters, though. Perhaps it doesn't completely deserve the 5 star rating, but what the hell. I was glued, I was engaged, and I was happy with the ending- I just love Robin Hobb's works. (less)
This is a brilliant psychological romp that had me turning the pages right to the very end. I loved the writer's style and the surprises kept flowing...moreThis is a brilliant psychological romp that had me turning the pages right to the very end. I loved the writer's style and the surprises kept flowing all the way until the conclusion that made me a little mad at first, but quite satisfied upon reflection. If I was to do a feminist reading of the book I would probably tear my hair out, but... it's just too much fun! (less)
I finally finished it! I'm ashamed to admit how long it took me to read this. The first few chapters were pretty awful and I was rolling my eyes too o...moreI finally finished it! I'm ashamed to admit how long it took me to read this. The first few chapters were pretty awful and I was rolling my eyes too often to be really turning the pages and it became a bit of a chore.
I found it rather excrutiating at first, and it's not until halfway into the book that the author hits her stride and you start to feel at least a little bit invested in the characters, or at least enough to finish the story. If I care enough to read the remainder of the series remains to be seen, but the fact that the saga is pretty popular and they are cranking out a movie of this one might be enough to keep me reading so I can stay abreast of the zeitgeist.
There are a couple of problems with City of Bones for me. Firstly, the main character, Clary, is more than a little bit annoying. She is very difficult to relate to with no obvious personality traits, and beyond apparently being good at art and being a bit oblivious to obvious things like the huge torch her friend Simon carries for her, (and a few other things which I won't spoil) she is rather unlikable. It's hard to go back to a book with a main character who is boring and seemingly uncaring to the important people in her life. For example, **minor spoiler** her mother is kidnapped early in the story- and she spends very little time worrying about her, and a little too much time mooning over the demonhunter heartthrob, Jace. Ugh. Considering what Pixar recently managed to do with the movie Brave which is about another red-haired pocket rocket and her quest to save her mother, I couldn't help but think about how awful Clary was and how much better she could have been written. Why are teen heroines so consistently self-centred and unlikable? Why can't they kick more ass and spend a little less time being the damsel in distress? It felt like she spent a lot of time clutching to Jace, whose buff chest is so illustriously illustrated on the front cover like a Mills and Boon novel; he even has Fabio hair! Do I have unreasonable expectations coming from the Buffy and Xena (or even Sabrina!) generation? This is helped a little bit by the end of the book as she shows a bit more emotion and drive, but by then, it is too late.
I wish Jocelyn, Clary's mother, had more of a role to play in the story. Perhaps this is something they will fix in the movie adaptation, as to my mind, she is one of the most interesting characters in the book especially once you learn a bit more about her back story. Again, more missed opportunities here. I wish more time was spent on Luke (a father-like figure) than the annoying Cullen-family-esque clique who kick around the Institute, a stand in for Hogwarts.
Something that was supposed to really define the story was the New York City setting. I found it difficult to really get a feel for this world, and the author could have really used more descriptive language to identify the distinctive NY flavour in a more evocative way.
The other problem with the story is it is a little derivative, and there have been a lot of criticisms that it is too reminiscent of the Harry Potter and Twilight series. I don't think this is a particular issue as she doesn't quite achieve what either of those monoliths of YA fiction do. The HP world provides an entire, comprehensive sworld to sink your teeth into- CoB isn't able to do this. Twilight is a little more one-dimensional but due to the focus on the romance it is more successful in achieving the page-turning bubblegum factor. The problem with City of Bones is that the author tries to do too much, and her writing is not always strong enough to keep on top of it all. A couple of factors could have been subtracted (like some of the surplus characters and silly sub plots) to hone in on crafting the main characters so they are a little more multi-faceted. But maybe that is what the kids are into these days, so they can easily slot their own fantasy personalities into the scenarios!
It does have a little whiff of fan fiction stink, but it was fun, especially towards the end.