First, I should say if you want a sweet, innocent Peter Pan story, this story isn't for you. This is nowhere near as dark as Brom's The Child Thief, b...moreFirst, I should say if you want a sweet, innocent Peter Pan story, this story isn't for you. This is nowhere near as dark as Brom's The Child Thief, but while Brom's book focuses on presenting Neverland as a very gray place where all sides do their evil in the name of some "greater good," this is a story about first loves, betrayal, yearning, and heartache mixed in with a bit of action. I think this book and The Child Thief are the only two Peter Pan retellings that have elicited such a strong emotional response from me. I wouldn't even try to write this review before I could stop tearing up about this story.
This story toes the thin line between magic and magic realism. While there are magical things in the stories like mermaids and fairies, many other "magical elements" have more practical reasoning behind them. One example being the belief that the lost boys fly being attributed to an elaborate rope system they've made in the treetops.
Neverland turns out to be an island nestled away in the Atlantic, protected by a treacherous sea that sinks many of the ships that dare to tread too close to Neverland, reminding me a little of the Tristanian Islanders. However, a few stragglers make it to shore from time to time. Most of them die of exposure or by some terror that lives in the forest. Other Englishmen that make it to shore are often cut down by Captain Hook and his ragtag group of pirates who hate their fellow countrymen. But even though most of the inhabitants there have a peaceful existence together on that island (however, peace between the pirates and natives is tenuous at best), they all fear the lost boys who most people never see. They only whisper about their evil deeds, but Tiger Lily learns better.
It is true that people on Neverland didn't age, but it seems that it seems mostly something that happens to the native people and beings on Neverland. It was never fully explained why it happened, but the people on the island aged until a monumental event happened in their life and caused their bodies to stop aging beyond that point and they never moved beyond that physically and perhaps even a bit mentally if we're to judge by Tiger Lily's actions even some 80 years after the events that changed her. And sometimes that meant children out-aged their parents and grandparents. It seemed like the island granted this "gift" to the natives, but not to the outsiders such as Captain Hook. The natives fear catching the "aging disease" from them. However, this could be indicative that nothing of extreme importance has happened to them or if it has, it happened in their lives before Neverland.
I'll be honest, while I did like the idea of a life changing event causing people to stop aging in response, as if this exact moment was the moment they were to remember forever, I don't know if I think it was well executed in the story. It came off a little dubious at best to me. Fortunately, it wasn't something that was talked about much in the story after the initial explanation. There was also bits of the storytelling that seemed a little out of place, and there were a few other places where something should've been explored a little more or explained a little better. But that didn't detract from the story for me.
The story is told through Tink's eyes. Fairies have evolved to be mute, but they learn to observe and listen to the feelings of others, giving them the uncanny ability to be able to look inside others and see all their innermost workings. Unlike her incarntations in other works, Tink is seldom acknowledged by humans, but still she clings to Tiger Lily, hitching rides in her hair or on her clothes as she watches a bittersweet love story unfold between Peter and Tiger Lily, a story that is set into motion when Tiger Lily begins to care for a shipwrecked Englishman who made it to their shores, an event that not only changes her, but her whole village. Tink falls in love with Peter herself, but knowing he can never be hers, she roots for Tiger Lily's love to flourish with Peter because she cares about them both.
Their love does and it doesn't flourish like most first loves. Lack of understanding what the other needs, the newness of a new love, works for and against Tiger Lily and Peter. Tiger Lily, who is an outsider in her own tribe rather than a princess (but still someone of status since the shaman is her adoptive father), has a hard time showing strong emotion even if she feels it intensely. She feels that she has to be as good as Peter, as fast as Peter, as strong as Peter, or he'll outrun her grasp and leave her because she's not his equal. Peter is a swell of emotions and inconsistencies who needs reassurance, who needs to know that she can love all of him, assurances Tiger Lily is unable to give due to not understanding the new feelings she's having, assurances that are given easily by Wendy when she arrives on the island.
As the story wears on it seems as if some of the magic begins to fade. More and more, wondrous creatures and things begin to retreat to safety. The mermaids swim deep within the ocean where they can't be found. Tink's own people move deep in the swamps where men fear to tread. Even people's perception of Tink, and even her perception of herself starts to relegate her to nothing more than a mere bug. All these things are responses to a changing world that magic no longer plays a part in. The world has been conquered, all except Neverland.
Tink warns in the beginning that the tale would not end happily ever after, so I expected something completely heartbreaking. However, I think the story ended in a way that was best for both Peter and Tiger Lily. What happened between Peter and Tiger Lily is painful yes, but what their lives become after that shows they both needed something different as much as they needed each other. Peter's decision also seemed to be a mix of sacrifice as well. He loved the lost boys. He worried about them, even though Tiger Lily was the only person to ever know that. He made a point earlier in the story that he wasn't a good role model, but that he tried to shield them by being carefree. So, I do believe part of his decision was for them to have something better as well. Despite it all, it doesn't mean that Tiger Lily and Peter stopped loving each other. They see each other in everything and will love each other forever, but every love is different. Every love fulfills a person in different ways. Love makes you do things you'd never expect. (less)
First, I should say that if you enjoy a fantasy story full of action, then, this may not be the story for you. There's more talk of battle and war tha...moreFirst, I should say that if you enjoy a fantasy story full of action, then, this may not be the story for you. There's more talk of battle and war than actual battle. This book relies more on political intrigue, dark family histories, and betrayals. And these are things I enjoyed about the story, especially toward the end of this book.
Something spoilerish this way comes.
I think I appreciated the characters before I really started getting into the story itself. I didn't think story was bad, but it seemed to move along slowly at first. I blame those feelings on my recent GRRM bender where there is something always happening page after page. You can’t start his books without someone dying or someone planning to kill someone. However, I really loved the characters Bujold gave us in this story. Many of them captured my attention the moment they were introduced.
From the beginning, Cazaril proved his strength was in his wits, even before he became somewhat physically frail (in some ways) due to his time in captivity. He has many physical ailments from his abuse, such as his crooked hands, but his true strength had sharpened to be a fine edged sword. Even though we do get to see Caz fight a few times, he’d rather mince words, and he’s very good at it. He doesn’t see any cowardice in using words to start and end a battle. He can formulate plans on the spot and passes on valuable advice to others, often questioning their thought process so they could back up the claims they made.
Iselle and Beatriz, I loved those two separately, together, and as a cunning trio with Caz. Iselle is young, but shrewd. Same goes for her friend and lady, Beatriz. Though, Betriz is a little bit older than Iselle. Both flourish under Caz’s tutelage who manages to help them temper their rashness and learn to observe a situation, to see the small nuances that hide under “courtly behavior, ” and to use these things to their advantage. There was a bit of romance in the story, but it wasn’t a big theme of the story. It was simple, understated, and very sweet in my opinion. I was glad that Iselle wasn’t the object of Caz’s quiet affection, but Beatriz--an affection that she obviously was returning, but he was oblivious, thinking himself too old, too poor, too broken, for someone like her. I thought the simplicity in that was very well done.
I cared about some of the characters who weren't main characters, but provide something to the story that makes it rich. Ista (Iselle and Teidez's mother) is the first one. We're given a brief history of her and of things that happened in her life before the story. Caz remembers her from a time when he served as a page for her father and mother and recalls her being beautiful and taken with the romanticisms of the court. So, he's a bit surprised to see what she's become. Crazy is what they call her, and Caz is willing to believe that until he talks to her and realizes that she is very, very sane. And then her story at the end... I already wanted to know more about her and what happened. I think one of these books is about her, if I’m not mistaken, and I’m dying to know more about her.
Royesse (or am I supposed to call her Royina) Sara was another that piqued my interest. You know something is wrong there with her, and she seems frail, disconnected, broken. She doesn't show much interest in anything, but does betray some fondness for music and is said to employ the best musicians. After Dondo's death when Iselle confides in Caz that Dondo mentioned that he and his brother did horrible things with the royina with Orico's permission (telling her this in an attempt to scare Iselle into not protesting their impending marriage), Sara dresses dazzlingly in quiet defiance of mourning the man she hated with the rest of the kingdom. And she even finds her courage to tell Iselle of the family curse, which Caz had been avoiding.
Umegat was another. I don’t know think he’s as secondary as Sara or Ista since he plays a much bigger part in the story, but I liked that he was from a land that often warred with the people of Chalion, a land who worshipped the gods “strangely.” For some reason, his people made me think of the dothraki because they were described as fierce warriors. Caz had been enslaved by Umegat’s people, and while he has a healthy level of distrust for them, Umegat became one of Caz’s trusted confidants and sounding board. And Umegat was a victim of how fickle the gods could be, or was he? I felt what happened to him a bit unfair when he’d been nothing but faithful. However, maybe I’ll see him again in later books and the opinion will change if there's some lesson to be taken from this.
I thought the dy Jironal brothers were fitting antagonists, but I felt the pretense of how they betrayed Cazaril prior to the events in this book a little shallow. I appreciate and understand that even the slightest thing would set off an ambitious person like Dondo, but it never really scratched below the surface for me. I didn't encounter Dondo enough to truly loathe him as I should. Most of his misdeeds with the exception of his failed attempt at bribing Cazaril and his thwarted rape attempt (of Betriz) and public shaming stemming from that incident were all secondhand or hinted at through murderous stares. I thought Dondo was a disgusting man, but Dondo more than his brother felt like plot fodder just to keep the story going. There was no real depth of character there for me other than the fact they were not good people and someone had to take the villain’s fall.
The story started getting really interested to me once Caz left Valenda for Chalion. Outside the safety of Valenda, that’s where the real intrigue began. Bujold crafted a very engaging tale that wasn’t heavy handed on the fantasy, which is something I prefer in fantasy books I read. I really love how she explored “sainthood” in this story, making it both an honor and a curse, which is often what it seemed like for people who claimed to hear the gods/God in history. The saints truly are the vessels of the gods, and while their strength of character certainly make them good candidates, it's their willingness to submit in total supplication to the gods' wills, even at the risk of their own livelihood, that cause them to be god-touched. They will allow the gods to work through them in whatever ways the gods deemed worthy. It was like a little exploration of what a life like that might be like.
Also, I did feel that parts of the story, important parts of the story in my opinion, were glossed over or important events were tied up too neatly and without much fuss or consequence. I have nothing against Danni, the young boy that Cazaril helped during his captivity, being the Ibran heir that Iselle so desperately needs to help her thwart dy Jironal’s plans for her, but it was just so obviously convenient rather than subtly convenient. Even if Iselle hadn't hit it off with the royse, how likely was it that the boy who Caz had helped in captivity, a boy he protected from being raped, a boy who (he later found out) he died for and was granted mercy by the goddess who restored his life for that act, would deny Caz? Even if he hadn't accepted the marriage, he would've pledged his support since it would've been to his advantage.
And there were many instances like that in the story. But at the same time, it did cause me to ask myself how much of this course was laid out for Cazaril and the Chalion family by the gods and how much was happenstance. That was actually a question that asked in the story as well since free will is supposed to play a large part in things. Umegat made the best case for that when he surmised that maybe many men are set loosely on the same path, but their choices and circumstances ultimately led them away from their destination, that maybe Caz (and himself) were the only ones who made the right set of choices to fulfill the god's will for their particular goals. Umegat seemed to believe that if they failed at the tasks the gods gave them, there would be others the gods would employ to see it through.
Despite the little things, I enjoyed this story more I thought I would when I first started reading it. I was so happy to see a male protagonist who wasn't brandishing his sword everywhere and bedding all the women. I'd definitely recommend this for people who want more intrigue than outright violence in their fantasy story.(less)
2.5 stars. This was an ambitious first novel at best. Downum clearly has a beautiful way with words. Passages like the following really resonated with...more2.5 stars. This was an ambitious first novel at best. Downum clearly has a beautiful way with words. Passages like the following really resonated with me:
Excitement hummed in her blood, dizzied her worse than any wine. And that was the true reason she was here, the reason she would go where she was sent, no matter how ugly the mission. Not for king and country, not even for Kiril, but because danger sang to her like a siren, and after the first giddy brush with death, the rush of knowing that she was still alive, she’d known she could never stop.
However, while I don’t doubt this played out wonderfully in her head, she forgot about her readers. This book wasn’t really written in the way that you’d expect of a first book in a series. It felt like I was jumping into the second or third book in a series, as if everything that was being said was information that I should’ve already known. I think she was trying to craft it in a way to be mysterious, feeding readers information piece by piece until the big reveal. But it just felt confusing and like I was missing out on a whole story.
The first 70 pages or so of this book could’ve been removed. The little information that we did get from those pages could’ve been woven into the story. Most of those first pages seemed rather fumbling and didn’t offer much useful more than seeming to pad the book to take up the reader’s time. Totally unnecessary, and it nearly made me put the book down. If I hadn’t stuck with it for one more chapter, and the next chapter did prove to be interesting, I wouldn’t have ever picked up this book again.
Also, she used many words native to the characters that the reader is unfamiliar with, words that most of the time didn’t even have a hint as to what they really meant, words that needed at least a dictionary in the back. I like when a book has a language that is its own (or some amalgam of real language), but it does no good when I’m sitting here hoping that this word means something honorific and just isn’t some random word that means “girl.”
Then, there was the confusing POVs. I’m a reader that doesn’t mind “head-jumping,” but it’s not implemented well here. Sometimes, I didn’t even realize the POV had changed until I read some information that made me realize that this had to be one of the other characters, and it was more than a bit frustrating at times, considering how much I wanted to like this story.
I did enjoy the intrigue, mystery, and supernatural aspect that Downum tried to use. I think her characters have potential to be amazing and praiseworthy, but I just don’t think this was executed as well as it could’ve been. And I have to admit that I thought the ending was sublime and really showed what this story had the potential to be. I will give the second book a chance and hope that Downum found her footing a little better because this does have so much potential to be an amazing series.(less)
I'd give this a 3.5. I chose to go with the official 3 star rating instead of the 4 for a few reasons that I'll go in...moreThis is long and spoiler filled.
I'd give this a 3.5. I chose to go with the official 3 star rating instead of the 4 for a few reasons that I'll go into a bit later. This book chronicles the fallout from The Red Wedding and the deaths of Joffrey and his grandfather, Tywin, following various characters as they continue to try to survive and navigate their way through the treacherous expanse of Westeros.
This book is very character driven, and I think many of the characters went through a few defining moments in this book. This book also introduced a few new faces and POVs that provided some insight into parts of the story. I enjoy stories that really try to delve into the machinations of the characters because I like to know how people, even fictional people, tick. A story can't always be constant action. Well, it could, but what would be taken from that? The stories that stick with us are the ones that have unforgettable stories with unforgettable characters. There's something in them that touches us on more than just a shallow level. There needs to be a time for characters to morph, to adapt, to grow in response to what's going on around them--especially for a story as epic as this one. If characters didn't change in response to all this upheaval, this would be disappointing. There's so much going on that we do need this downtime to see how the characters are changed (or are being changed) by the events surrounding them.
Jaime. I'd already started mentioning to friends as early as book two that the deconstruction of Jamie Lannister is one of the best parts of the story for me. In this book, I compared him to a phoenix trying to be reborn from the ashes. He's not quite ready yet, though. He still needs to make peace with various areas of his life such as his relationship with Cersei. To watch him go from having everything to having nothing (in his mind), watching him breakdown in his own way and face the hypocrisies and tenuous privilege and respect that rule his life, and watching as he tries to forge himself anew has been a really refreshing. Captivity cowed him a little, left him with time to think about things, and losing his hand teaches him that battles can be won with simple actions and words rather than swords, a notion he'd never entertained before losing his hand.
Cersei. Wandering through her meanderings was like watching a train wreck. Her paranoia causes her to make some truly bad decisions backed by ludicrous, shaky logic. Aside from her paranoia, Cersei forgot how to scheme like Cersei and tried to become her father when she truly doesn't understand what made him a capable ruler. She becomes entrenched by petty concerns while ignoring the true problems. One fascinating thing about her is her struggle with sexism. She hates men for thinking they can run all over her because she doesn't have a penis, but at the same time, she calls herself the greatest of Tywin's sons, believing herself to be a ruler as great as--nay, greater than--her father. She laughs at the thought of one of her ships named after her father being referred to as "she." Yet, she derides other women for showing womanly weaknesses, but often says a woman has to use the weapons she has to triumph. So, this internalized sexism created an interesting dichotomy.
Brienne. Everyone who knows me knows that Brienne is one of my favorite characters. And right now, she's the one I fear for the most because it seems it's always the "good" characters who meet their doom first. The characters who are honorable, honest, kind, and just are the ones who end up having those same virtues become their downfall. So, I worried about Brienne a lot during this book. Even though she is 100% warrior maiden, behind all her brawn there lives a sensitive woman trying her best to hide the bruises on her ego, who doesn't take joy at the thought of having to kill another person. She knows that many think her to be an abomination for her looks as well as for her decision to be a soldier rather than what is expected of a woman. Her resolve to see her mission through to the end, even if it means her death, is admirable. And learning more about her life before leaving to become a soldier made me love her more.
Sam. One day Sam will realize that he's stronger than he thinks he is. He's proven that time and time again already. He continues to refer to himself as craven when he he's doing and saying things the old Sam never would. I don't expect Sam to turn into a svelte, skilled swordsman. Sam knows you can't win a fight with steel alone, but he doesn't seem ready yet to acknowledge the fact that not slaying the most men in battle doesn't mean you're not a warrior and an asset. Sam does seem to be starting to find his courage, though.
Arya and Sansa. If there is one thing that can be said of the Stark children, they can adapt despite their privileged upbringing, and they adapt in the ways that are true of their nature. The Stark girls are shining examples of this.
Arya becomes something of a drifter, relying on and honing her scrapper instincts, fighting and using her wits to get her out many situations. She's tenacious, crafty, and quick to learn. She's hurls insults as easily as she takes them. She becomes Cat of the Canals, an orphan girl who sells oysters and mollusks, who hides a dagger in her sleeve and has a tongue sharp enough to draw blood.
Sansa uses her grace and sweet nature to charm and sedate. She relied on this while living with the Lannister's and continues to rely on this while she poses as the "natural" daughter (read: bastard) of Petyr Baelish. Even at her young age, she knows how to care for a large household. She understands courtesies. She even "befriends" Prince Robert, managing to calm him where so many others fail.
Minor characters. Okay, I really hate to call them that because most of them are not truly minor characters. They add a lot of depth and new angles to the story, especially Arianne in my opinion. It was nice to see the story told from the perspective of totally different characters.
Another thing I liked about this book is how insular each part felt. Each POV, when pieced together with its various parts, could serve as a story all its on. And while I'm largely talking about the main players in the story. The chapters from the other somewhat minor characters POV (Arianne, Asha, Victarion, etc.) could serve as short stories in their own right. What I mean is that, while the stories are interconnected, they're not so dependent on one another that you have to read them in sequence for fear of missing something. It felt like each character was telling a separate story and depended less on other POVs. Parts of Cersei's and Jaime's converged, but most of the other characters told a more personal tale.
I loved all the character near-misses such as Brienne arriving into Maidenpool just as Arya sailed from there to Braavos. How Sam is rescued by Arya in Braavos with Sam none the wiser. Little things like that that make your heart go thump and wish these characters recognized one another.
Now, the things that I'm not crazy about in this book.
The revelation that Petyr and Lysa are the true orchestrators of Jon Arryn's death didn't sit well with me. Not because they did it, but because of the shaky hope of the chaos it'd create with the help of their blame misdirection. It's a bit too much for me to give them credit for starting a war on an action that could've not worked as intended.
How could Petyr have known that Catelyn would've acted in the manner that she did? Yes, he'd been close to her at one point, but what made him think, after years of not seeing her, that she'd respond in exactly the manner he wanted? That was a high gamble to leave to chance, hinging the start of a war on Catelyn's impulsiveness. What if she hadn't acted? What if she'd acted much differently (since I do think she would've done something)? We'd be seeing a very different fallout, and maybe this why I've never made my peace with how Catelyn took Tyrion captive, which never felt "right" even if I did understand the motivation behind it.
But then, when I thought about some other instances with Petyr, many of his schemes depend a bit too much on certain characters acting or responding in a certain way. There are a million other rational and irrational ways for them to act, but somehow, it always works exactly how he wants it. It's starting to feel a bit too convenient for me, and really is starting to make me not appreciate Petyr for his scheming as much as I once did.
Adding Maggy (maegi) the Frog to the story sort of disrupted the flow of reading for me. The introduction of this character seemed a bit sudden. When Cersei randomly thinks that Olenna looks like Maggy, I was left asking, "Who?" She was introduced in the story as if she was someone that I should already know, and I joked that maybe she was the product of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy's affair. I tried to chalk it up to Cersei's paranoia causing disjointed thoughts, but it continued to feel a bit silly to me even after that detailed dream about what happened. I think the prophesies angle is great in fantasy stories, but... I guess that element of the story just never gelled with the rest of it for me.
I guess both of those grievances boil down to questionable execution of plot elements. I don't think he needs to get rid of them, but it would've been nice to see these things better executed in context of the story. I think in general there were many more instances in this story where I just detached from the story due to some left field revelation or something equally as jarring to my reading experience. And once I'm jarred from a story, it takes a while for me to get back into it. I can't say that I've experienced moments like this with earlier books in the series.
Teleporting Sam. There were two points in his story that I thought that I might've missed something because Sam was suddenly places that he wasn't when I left him. It happened when he suddenly appeared in Braavos, and I was under the impression he would still be on the boat. And it's not so much the fact that he's no longer on the boat, but the way that's it's written that we should know this. Duh. It starts with telling what he's currently doing in Braavos instead beginning with a simple transition that shows he's no longer on the boat. For a second there, I actually asked myself, "Why is Sam making a fire on the boat?"
The incessant need to always remind readers that darker skinned people, especially the Summer islanders, are darker skinned just started to annoy the hell out of me. I understand they're black people. Really, I do. It's only been said a million times that they are dark people. This book just went into black/brown description overkill. If the word Summer Islander even so much as appeared, it's immediately followed by some description of brown/black skin such as ink, night, teak, mud, or tar. Except for that one time the men were black and the women were wanton-colored. And this complaint is coming from a woman of color who wants to see more diversity in fantasy and sci-fi.
But I do have to say that I liked how we learn a little more about them in this book. They're shown to be a vibrant, colorful people, who revere the dead, but believe celebration of life is how death is truly honored (think of a traditional New Orleans funeral that ends with dancing and celebration after the dead are laid at their final resting place).
Overall, I thought this was a great book as far as seeing how the characters are changing in response to the trials that they're going through, but I wish there'd been better transitions and introductions of some of the new elements that Martin has introduced.(less)
I am so pressed right now. Just take my tears, Jemisin. I don't know what the hell to feel right now. Too many different emotions... I'm going to have...moreI am so pressed right now. Just take my tears, Jemisin. I don't know what the hell to feel right now. Too many different emotions... I'm going to have to find something else to do or read to calm myself now.(less)
Spoilerish. Hm. Where do I start with this? I really enjoyed this book. I would be lying if I said that part of the reason I picked up this book wasn’...moreSpoilerish. Hm. Where do I start with this? I really enjoyed this book. I would be lying if I said that part of the reason I picked up this book wasn’t because the writer is a woman of color. It’s so rare to see people of color writing and representing ourselves in high fantasy stories. I’m starting to see more urban fantasy novels featuring, and being written by, PoC, but high fantasy still sometimes seems a little taboo for PoC. And maybe I’m wrong, and I just haven’t been pointed in the direction of the plethora of fantasy novels written by PoC because they’re hidden away in the AA sections and rarely mentioned if ever mentioned.
I found out about this book through Tumblr when people were posting fanart for the series, and the little information that I was able to glean about series piqued my interest. Once I started this book, I couldn’t stop reading. Yeine was a great narrator, not one of those narrators who spends too much time turning over every single detail they’re taking in and making a story feel convoluted with unnecessary information. I also liked that she wasn’t perfect. So many heroes spend a bulk of their story saying why they’re not perfect while being basically perfect with such irrelevant flaws that are really more like strengths. Yeine doesn’t have to remind readers she’s not perfect, you see it in her actions, her choices, and her responses. She's a woman doing the best she can in a precarious situation and it shows.
I also liked this world that Jemisin created that seems to be a blend of so many cultures and religions. I found the history of the gods fascinating. Their perception and understanding of things differ so much from how a human experiences these things, and I think Jemisin captured their dichotomy between them and humans, even between each other, so well. I loved the “oh-so-human-yet-not” angle she played with the gods. They often remarked that humanity’s flaws were their flaws because they created everything.
I couldn’t help loving Sieh, Nahadoth, Zhakka, and even Kurue and Itempas. While I squealed all over Naha, Sieh, and Zhakka, Tempa (Itempas) was so fascinating to me, even though he didn’t make a real appearance until the end of the book. Just the nature of how humans and other gods spoke about him made him feel omnipresent and powerful--and even a bit terrifying. Because while Naha outwardly showed his danger, Tempa came off as cool, calm fury. When we finally “met” him, I wished we’d had more time to get to know him.
What I really liked about Jemisin’s book sort of falls in the same vein as how I feel about G.R.R.M.’s books in his A Song of Fire and Ice series. While these stories are set in fantasy settings where magic is present, there’s something real and visceral in how they portray characters. They manage to capture a lot of human nature in their characters and make it something more than just a fantasy novel. These stories really know how to make you relate to the characters and ruminate on their machinations.
Now, Jemisin works with the high fantasy and magic way more than G.R.R.M does, in my opinion, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that these are people--and gods--making mistakes, acting on emotions, and not just a “magic made ‘im do it!” scenario, which I highly appreciate.
There are characters I would’ve loved to explore in more depth like Scimina, Dekarth, and Relad. I felt like some of the revelations we came to about Dekarth and Viraine happened a little too quickly at the end there like it would’ve been better if more of this unfolded throughout the story instead of everything getting the big reveal near the end of the book, even if you pretty much suspect that’s how it will end. And I really wish we'd learned more about Darr. These are a couple of reasons that I didn’t give this a full 5 stars, but more like 4.5 stars.
Helluva story overall. I started the next book almost immediately, though I haven’t gotten in very far. Usually when I realize that the next part of a series won’t necessarily follow the characters that I’ve come to love, I feel a little apprehensive, but Yeine’s story mostly felt complete. (And I’m sure the gang will still factor in.) Did I feel Jemisin could’ve dragged this story on for a couple of books? Maybe, but only if she’d stretched out the story told in this book. But I’m actually excited to read about another character’s adventures in this world. (less)
Basically, this is a violent retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or not, but she’s...moreI don’t even know anymore.
Basically, this is a violent retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or not, but she’s in a strange world where the inhabitants of Wonderland are locked in civil war and just about everyone she meets loves her with a few exceptions. She believes this world is a product of her loneliness. This is a wholly ridiculous story, but I like it for some reason. I think it has everything to do with the characters and how cheerfully violent most of them are.
Favorite character so far is the punked-out Cheshire cat, Boris Airay, who is basically the opposite of a catgirl and dons many piercings and a skirt over his pants. There’s also the gleefully violent Peter White (the White Rabbit) who is a rabbit-boy who is completely obsessed with Alice—whom he kidnapped—and the perpetually pissed off Elliot March (the March Hare). Vivaldi (the Red Queen) was introduced as a woman who refers to herself as “we” and seems very detached from everything even though she is cordial toward Alice.
There’s Ace (Knave of Hearts) who’s directionally challenged and too oblivious to realize that Elliot really is trying to kill him, but he’s an awesome fighter. Elliot and Ace’s interactions are GOLD just because they are total opposites, and Ace seems unable to genuinely not understand that Elliot hates his guts. He seems to sincerely like Elliot much to Elliot's dismay and even went as far as to tell Elliot’s boss—who I am getting to—that he wasn’t offended by Elliot shooting at him.
Blood Dupre (the Mad Hatter and Elliot’s boss) is a boredom disliking Mafia boss who is the thorn in Gowland’s (a gender-swapped Duchess) because he’s told the whole country that Gowland’s first name is “Mary,” which sends Gowland into a rage. There’s the bloody twins Dee and Dum who Elliot also hates because they’re always calling him a “newb” hare and goofing off. And last we have Nightmare Gottschalk (the Caterpillar) and Julius Monrey (an original character, I think, but seems to be a representation of “time”) who seem a bit immune to “loving” Alice and seem to know more about why she’s there but are very cryptic about it.
While this is obviously shojo (manga marketed toward females), it’s ultra-violent which isn’t typical of shojo. I don’t think it is anyway, but I tend to read more shounen than shojo. I can’t say the story is very strong at this point, but it has done a bang up job on reimagining these characters and giving Wonderland a harder, satirical existence. At first I thought I was going to take issue with most people loving Alice, even Vivaldi hints toward loving her, but looking at it as a woman who’s created this world because of her own loneliness and betrayal, it makes sense and works. (less)
Without giving too much away, the story is this. Jacob’s grandfather has always told him fantastic tales about monsters and an orphanage for “peculiar...moreWithout giving too much away, the story is this. Jacob’s grandfather has always told him fantastic tales about monsters and an orphanage for “peculiar” children. When Jacob grows older, he dismisses his grandfather’s stories as fairytales. Then, Jacob receives a strange call from his grandfather, and when he checks in on him, he finds him on the cusp of death after an attack. His grandfather’s last babbling words to him send him on a journey to a town called Cairnholm to find out more about his grandfather.
While he is able to fill in the gaps of his grandfather’s life during this trip, he also finds out something important about himself.
Even though this book came highly recommended by many people, when I first got into it, I was little skeptical that it would be as good as everyone says it is because the beginning was a little slow. However, after making it past the first few chapters, I was engrossed with this world. Personally, I didn’t think story was scary or “haunting” as the description said. It’s more along a fantasy mixed with sci-fi with some bits of intrigue. I don’t think I’d quite call this a young adult story, either. Even though the characters were young, it didn’t have that YA feel to it.
This plays out more like a mystery as little bits and pieces are revealed to the readers, and there was one major part of the story that I figured early on. But that didn’t make it any less of a great read. Also, I think part of the reason this was a four-star book for me is because of Rigg’s creative use of pictures throughout the book. All the pictures are real pictures (and some admittedly touched up for the book) that he borrowed from collectors, giving the book an almost eerie vibe.
It’s really hard to talk about this book without spoiling all the things that made it enjoyable, so I’ll end on this note: Bronwyn is my hero, and you’ll see why once you read the book. (less)
While I think from just reading the summary, most people know they are not walking into a completely black and white, good vs evil, story. Y...moreSpoilers.
While I think from just reading the summary, most people know they are not walking into a completely black and white, good vs evil, story. You know that it will be somewhere in between, that there is a lot of gray area in this story. And boy was it ever.
Brom took this fairytale and crafted such a complex, dark story of two sides who essentially want the same thing, but both going about their own misguided way of doing it, doing what they feel they need to do to survive and win. And while Peter's side is arguably the right side, the other side led by The Captain (and "led" is used loosely here because the Captain actually came to be a likable, competent character who is helpless against greater forces at work) isn't as simple and as evil as you'd think they'd be.
Wonderful book. I expected a very dark tale, but I didn't expect to get so emotionally invested in the story of Peter, his Devils (the Lost Boys), Avalon (Neverland), or the flesh-eaters (the Captain and his crew). I shed more than a few tears and laughs with this book. Brom weaved such a wonderful world to explore. I wished the story would've gone and followed them more after their big battle, but then again, I'm glad Brom allowed my imagination to decide what happens next.
Easily a favorite. And Brom's illustrations were breathtaking. I loved his Sekeu the best and that's definitely how she appeared in my mind.(less)
I started reading this for the same reason that many other people read this book for—I liked the show. I’m not much of a fantasy reader, but not becau...moreI started reading this for the same reason that many other people read this book for—I liked the show. I’m not much of a fantasy reader, but not because I dislike the genre. It’s hardly my least favorite genre to read in. I’m just more of a science fiction woman than a fantasy woman. You can blame that on a healthy, if not obsessive, love of comics and cyberpunk.
This book isn’t one that I would call high fantasy. There aren’t many elves, magic, and all that. There are hints of magic and fantastic elements of course. But mostly, this book is written about men and women who find themselves in precarious situations because they’re humans making human mistakes and not because of some magical interference, which I appreciated.
There also doesn’t seem to be any real “heroes” in this book. Oh, there are characters I love, and characters that I hate. But they’re all multifaceted and have flaws as if they were real people. They make mistakes. They doubt themselves, and sometimes, their decisions ultimately lead to a bad end. No one is completely white or completely black—even the characters that many despise. Take Cersei, a woman who many people dislike as a character. Think about how she asked Ned if he loved his children and if he’d be willing to do anything for them. When he says he would, she basically tells him what makes her any different. She would do the same thing for her own. Sure, her means were messed up, but the logic behind it is not.
There are no pillar of virtues who can do no wrong and show that being honorable and virtuous is what will win over the bad guys in the end. Things like loyalty and honor don’t protect the characters from the evils of men. While Ned isn’t a complete pillar of virtue, he’s probably the most honorable character in the book to a fault, and we see where that got him. And it’s things like that that made me like the book. It shows depth of character. No one is always what they seem, and don’t think that being a so-called “good” character means that nothing bad will ever to them.
The book made it a lot easier for me to keep up with characters than the show, and maybe this is because it was fleshed out and since I had an idea of who the characters were because of the show, the details presented in the book made it easier for me to make connections and remember them. And this book was written in an engaging, relaxed way that made it easy to follow along and get into.
Now, I will admit that I started getting twitchy toward the end and felt as if some POVs could’ve been omitted because it just started to get plain redundant, but over all I enjoyed the book. (less)