Wow! This book blew me away with its magical combination of alternate history, science fiction, theology/philosophy, and a whole lot of adventure.
It's...moreWow! This book blew me away with its magical combination of alternate history, science fiction, theology/philosophy, and a whole lot of adventure.
It's 16th century England. Edward is on the throne, but Protestantism's hold on the people is still tenuous. Alchemists are seeking the philosopher's stone, distilling elements. Physics (doctors) know very little, but some are seeking to know more through the still-illegal practice of dissection. (So far, so historically accurate.)
Parris, doctor and alchemist sympathizer, restlessly seeks more knowledge to atone for his guilt over his son's death. When he hears of a ship that has gone to the end of the world (which is flat) and returned with mysteriously preserved corpses, he can't resist, and ends up embroiled in an epic attempt by Sinclair (alchemist, adventurer, and amazing leader) to go back to the end of the world and discover Quintessence, the very essence of life.
This novel is gripping from page one, with lots of complex characters who come to blows with each other often, fantastical creatures with amazing properties, and more exciting plot sequences than seems possible.
I would recommend it for readers who like large-scale adventure or fantasy or historical stories, as well as for readers who like to consider transcendent themes like the role and ethics of science, the nature of true faith, and guilt/forgiveness. The author's Christian faith comes through as he tackles these themes, but not heavy-handedly, tritely, or didactically, so it should appeal to a wide audience.
**Spoiler alert--Some events I want to remember for when the sequel (!) is published, and some questions I have-don't read if you want to read the book!---
--Joan and Parris end up reconciling at the end. They realize each was focusing on Catherine, not being selfish. (I'm not sure this is a truly great focus either.) --The alchemy is fascinating--it's like a puzzle where they figure out all the properties and apply them to useful purposes. --The bishop (Matthew's dad) ends up portrayed more positively by the end. --Sinclair gives up his life to save the bishop, and says "it's worth it." Is this a conversion? --The scenes with the void haunted me A LOT, especially the 1st times they created it. Walton is a really good writer. --Sinclair's power over people is amazing. --We agreed that the least likely event was the Spanish ship getting there so easily when it was so hard for their ship to get there. --Catherine is pretty consumed by the desire to be like a man; how will this go when she is married? --Can you really make a life at the end of the world? Is that how the colonists felt?(less)
This book was really fun but it could have been better. A very smart teen figures out that terrorists are posting codes on a reality show. After a bom...moreThis book was really fun but it could have been better. A very smart teen figures out that terrorists are posting codes on a reality show. After a bombing, she knows she's right so she goes to the FBI, who eventually kidnaps her to keep her safe, which leads to criss-crossing the country to stay safe. Great premise. Unfortunately SO many things are SO unrealistic. It was still fun to read and will appeal to Heist Society fans, but is not as good due to the issues listed below.
Things that didn't ring true: They are locked in a small room to be safe--but they can waltz out to the fire escape anytime. She has major social difficulties (Aspergers I think), but is able to successfully pretend she cares about fashion enough to be part of the popular crowd. Her FBI kidnapper falls in love with her and jeapordises his entire career to date her.
Those are the worst ones. Also, I wish her shirt on the cover were higher-necked; I was embarrassed by it. It's old-fashioned of me, I know, but the cover does make a difference, and when recommending it to people that will be the first thing they see, so I wish it weren't so revealing.(less)
Fun story similar to Pride and Prejudice that fans of historical romance will love.
Althea's father was a romantic and built a castle on the edge of th...moreFun story similar to Pride and Prejudice that fans of historical romance will love.
Althea's father was a romantic and built a castle on the edge of the sea, with a moat and everything. He dies, and so everything falls into disrepair and the family has no money to fix it. They are determined to "keep" it though, for the sake of her younger brother who stands to inherit it.
The only solution? Althea must marry well. At the beginning, she has just received a very favorable marriage proposal, but she lets slip that she is in it only for the money. Although the man agrees that he wouldn't marry her if she weren't beautiful, he says being money-hungry is just too unbecoming and withdraws the proposal.
Fortunately, a handsome AND rich young man moves in nearby. He also has a mysterious friend, handsome but not obviously nice at first. Among the other characters are a gambling noblewoman, a friend who's hiding a BIG secret, a Duke, and lots of horses.
The twists and turns in this one kept me guessing to the end; it was well written. My only issue was that Althea was a bit hard to like because she is SO mercenary and always commenting on people's fortunes.
I was determined to read a manga book all the way through, and I did it. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I can now (most of the time) figure out...moreI was determined to read a manga book all the way through, and I did it. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I can now (most of the time) figure out which panel to read next. :)
It was pretty interesting, about a high school girl who's obsessed with studying who meets someone from a fashion group who thinks she'd make a good model. After considering her options, she decides to join them. She also ends up giving up her long-term crush for the beautiful but mysterious George of the fashion group. There are enough twists and turns and interesting characters to keep your attention, but perhaps a little too much adult content for me to be very excited about continuing to read the series. Glad I read this one though!(less)