As with any compilation of short stories, The Book of Cthulhu is hit-or-miss. Fortunately, there are more hits than misses, although some of the stori...moreAs with any compilation of short stories, The Book of Cthulhu is hit-or-miss. Fortunately, there are more hits than misses, although some of the stories are short and confusing. Some, namely by T.E.D. Klein, Brian Lumley and Ramsey Campbell offer intricate, involved stories with interesting characters. On the other hand, some authors seem more interested in trying to portray a Lovecraftian world at the expense of actual Lovecraftian horror. It's not enough to include tentacled monsters--there is a certain feel you get when you read Lovecraft H P that are just absent in the lesser works.
That being said, this is a great collection. It gets four stars for the simple fact that the quality isn't consistent. If I were rating it based on half the stories in here, it would be much different, but the good ones tend to outweigh the bad, much like other collections in the Cthulhu mythos. The Book of Cthulhu is a solid enough read for anyone interested in the Mythos, and can (probably) be enjoyed at a certain level even if one isn't familiar with the works of Lovecraft.(less)
I first came across H. P. Lovecraft and his fiction more by accident than anything else. I was listening to a fiction writing podcast, and the casters...moreI first came across H. P. Lovecraft and his fiction more by accident than anything else. I was listening to a fiction writing podcast, and the casters mentioned that his writing can be purple, but any of the bad is well worth getting to the good. Boy, they were right.
Let's start with the good: Lovecraft is able to set an atmosphere of uneasiness and fear like nobody else. Whether the story is set in a mythical sunken city or a haunted house in Arkham, we can get a sense of the genuine fear that the characters feel when they begin to understand the immensity of the horror they're involved in.
Second, the type of horror Lovecraft wrote is much better than the stereotypical stories in the horror genre nowadays. It's not slasher fiction, thank the heavens! Instead, it's got more to do with regular people who encounter thing that are so horrific that there's no way to deal with it--rather, they just have to run. And although most of the stories follow this same pattern and the end is telegraphed early on, you find yourself brought through the story regardless.
Now for the less appealing parts. Lovecraft's style is a lot older than the time he wrote in. His style--even in his later work--is reminiscent of Poe in its complexity, which isn't always a good thing. Sometimes he goes over the top with it, and the prose turns purple like a blushing smurf. And a couple of his stories tend to stray into xenophobia, although I didn't notice it being as severe as some people have suggested.
In all, this particular book brings many of Lovecraft's best stories, and a couple of lesser quality. But the good far outweighs the bad, and is well worth a read if you're interested in horror, giant/old monsters or classic American literature. (less)
I really enjoyed this book. There isn't much I can say about H.P. Lovecraft that hasn't already been said a bajillion times, but I can take a stab at...moreI really enjoyed this book. There isn't much I can say about H.P. Lovecraft that hasn't already been said a bajillion times, but I can take a stab at it.
The Road to Madness is a collection of Lovecraft's stories, but it feels like the collection's quality is hit-or-miss. Some of the earlier works are there, and are fun to read, but when you look at some stories, they are clearly better than others. However, this does give a good insight into some of the progress that Lovecraft made as an author, and the changes his style underwent.
That being said, I don't think I'd read it again. For one, the cover art is really freaky, and I'm worried that it'd give my kids nightmares. The stories are good ones--and ones you see less frequently that others--but there are certainly better collections out there. (less)
Frequently, second books (or, in this case, second volumes) are just that--second books. They tend to ride in the first book's shadow, and never reall...moreFrequently, second books (or, in this case, second volumes) are just that--second books. They tend to ride in the first book's shadow, and never really live up to its original mastery. The Ryira Revelations is a series that bucks this trend. Like The Empire Strikes Back, Rise of Empire takes the characters into situations that sets a perfect stage for a satisfying third book.
The plot is well-constructed, and feels like a natural continuation from the first book. But that's not to say that it's like a middle child. Rise of Empire is able to stand on its own quite well, although you probably wouldn't want to read it in a vacuum. If you did, the author provides some background on some of the events that took place earlier, but you might still be at a loss about the characters' motivations and personalities.
Which brings me to my next thought. Characters in these books are very well thought out and developed. You can't necessarily guess what they will do before they do it, but you can understand why they do things based on what you know about them. That's not to say that you are going to pick this up and get a life-changing character drama. You won't. That's not what this series focuses on. However, you will get well-written characters in a compelling plot that fits into the overall story quite well. It's the kind of part-two book that makes you want to instantly pickup the third installment.(less)
**spoiler alert** It's hard for me to think of much in regard to House of Many Ways because it's a very forgettable book. But I'll give it a shot.
As a...more**spoiler alert** It's hard for me to think of much in regard to House of Many Ways because it's a very forgettable book. But I'll give it a shot.
As always, story is key for me. If something doesn't have a compelling story, it's not going to get far on the Bookometer. This one stagnated at the bottom. Don't get me wrong--it's not on the same level as Pride and Prejudice, but the story drags from page one. In addition, it seems that certain aspects--such as the main character's magical abilities--are painfully underdeveloped. I get it. She's got some sort of magical ability. Are you going to do anything more with that? No? Well, okay.
Normally, the lack of meat in the story can be made up for with well-written characters. But, well... it just didn't happen. The main character basically bumbles her way into situations (not always bad) but doesn't seem to take any action on her own throughout the book. Her upbringing was such that she never really did anything except read because things "weren't respectable," so it can be argued that she, as a character, can't take action on her own. Regardless of the reason, I felt like she was a weak character. The others aren't any better. They're whiny and cotton-headed, except for those that we know from Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air.
The final and primary complaint that I have about this book is that it almost feels like the first two were successful, and the author (or publisher) just wanted to push more out and make more money regardless of the literature's quality. In the foregoing books, there are some significant deus ex machina moments at the end, but this one takes the cake. What I mean by that is that there is nothing to tip you off that certain things are going to happen, and then for some reason, it happens, and everything is tied up in a neat little package. NO! The first two had one or two that didn't affect the overall climax of the book, because the characters were still doing something in order to bring the story's resolution. There was none of that in House of Many Ways. One moment, everything is going badly for the characters, and all is lost! Then BAM! The dog saves the day because it turns out that she's the magical thing we've been looking for the whole time. Seriously? That just strikes me as lazy.
I hate to say it, but if you've read Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air, you should probably go ahead and read this one. But don't expect to be floored. There are so many aspects that are lacking, annoying or copied from the first two books that it just feels like a jumble of aspects that don't quite fit together. Add to that the fact that the book finishes with one giant bolt from the blue, and you get something that has the opposite of the intended effect. Instead of blowing me away, I just felt disappointed. It could have been so much better with better execution.
Castle in the Air is a very interesting book to come after Howl's Moving Castle, mainly due to the fact that it feels like a different world entirely....moreCastle in the Air is a very interesting book to come after Howl's Moving Castle, mainly due to the fact that it feels like a different world entirely. But I'll get more into that later. In general terms, this is one that lives up to expectations set out in the first book quite well!
First, the story. I used to be of the opinion that most mid-readers were a little light on story in general, but that there were a few that had really engaging plots. I've been reading them on-and-off for a long time, and books like Castle in the Air are one of the reasons that my opinion is changing. The storyline in this is quite deep, and many aspects of it have multiple layers that you can peel back and enjoy on their own. While the story does have one main thread that ties it all together, the smaller stories that come from it are no less interesting. It's particularly enjoyable when small things that seem to be mentioned in passing end up playing a fairly big role in events. However, with so many story elements there are bound to be a few that fail to resolve or that feel like they were done in a deus-ex-machina way. I won't go so far as to say that it's like Scooby-doo and everything reveals in an anticlimactic way, but some aspects are just unsatisfying. But the thing that keeps me going is the thought that maybe everything will tie together in the next book.
Characters are quite good. Diana Wynne Jones is terrific at giving us characters with specific motivations and foibles that we as readers can all identify with. Characters seem to be able to think and see what will happen as a result of their actions and can adapt, but we can also tell that they have reasons whenever they happen to make a bad decision. Sometimes it can get a little frustrating, though because characters only seem to have one or two motivations that drive them throughout the entire book. While this can be good sometimes, I feel like it would be served better if there was some break in the character's primary motivation. Let's be honest: a person can't fixate on one idea forever, and it seems that the characters have a tendency to fall into that trap. However, since this is mid-reader, I figure we have to give Ms. Jones the benefit of the doubt.
I kinda hope that the literary community doesn't kill me for only giving this three stars. But let's be honest: I've probably been rating things too h...moreI kinda hope that the literary community doesn't kill me for only giving this three stars. But let's be honest: I've probably been rating things too high all along. And I have reasons for rating this one lower.
The Book of Three was entertaining. I liked the main character, and thought that the story was brilliant in its sheer simplicity. It was a really basic hero cycle, except that the reason he left his home was because he was chasing a magic pig. However, on a side note, I would say that any pig is magical, because BACON! But I digress.
While the hero cycle is all fine and dandy, I personally tend to like a little more meat on those bones. But...not so. Again, before the internet verbally (or textually) abuses me, I understand that it's juvenile lit. I'm not saying that it's a bad story. Just a little light. That makes it perfect for even seven to eight year olds to pick up and enjoy, which is great.
Despite the relative lightness of the contents, the main thing that bothered me was the cast of characters. Each one of them seemed less a character and more a caricature of what a person actually does and says. This doesn't usually bother me if it's a fairly isolated thing or if it's just one of the characters. But it's all of them. It wasn't noticeable at first, but started feeling like a stumbling block as the story progressed.
That being said, I enjoyed the escapism and new ideas that the book brought to my own literary culture. I've been told that the story really starts to pick up after this book, so I'm excited to move on to The Black Cauldron. If indeed the story does improve after this, I will just figure that this one is a quick introduction to the world.(less)
Having seen Hayao Miyazaki's version of this story before I read the book, my reading of Howl's Moving Castle might have been a little bit tinged by w...moreHaving seen Hayao Miyazaki's version of this story before I read the book, my reading of Howl's Moving Castle might have been a little bit tinged by what I already knew of the world. That being said, it was still quite an enjoyable ride.
The first thing that one should know going into this is that it moves fairly slowly, especially for juvenile lit. There are a lot of aspects of the story that are fairly deep, and I assume those will be explored more in the next book. This shows us that the world is more expansive than most others in most Mid-reader fantasy books, and gets us excited and ready to move on to Castle in the Air. Yay! The way most things work is not explained, which kind of irritated me, but I guess you can't have your cake and eat it, too.
I think characters are where Diana Wynne Jones really shines, though. The cast is fairly small, consisting mainly of Sophie, Howl, Michael and Calcifer (forgive me if I misspelled any of the names, as I listened to the audiobook.) This lets the reader get more in touch with each one of them, in contrast to grown-up fantasy epics like The Wheel of Time. More than that, each character is quite distinct, and has their own reasons for doing what they do, which I feel is also something that lacks in some juvenile lit.
In all, the lack of real action is what kept me from rating this five stars. It was good, but it didn't move me to the point of jumping up and down wanting to read the next two. I will read them, but I'm willing to read other things and come back to them.(less)
While it wasn't the best example of Brandon Sanderson's work, The Alloy of Law is an exciting book. It's much shorter than his other books, but that d...moreWhile it wasn't the best example of Brandon Sanderson's work, The Alloy of Law is an exciting book. It's much shorter than his other books, but that doesn't mean it loses any of its depth--quite the opposite, as it builds upon the foundation that the Mistborn trilogy set down. However, that doesn't mean that you have to read them in order to understand what's going on. If you [i]haven't[/i] read the Mistborn books there will be a fairly significant learning curve, but one that isn't so big as to render Alloy of Law unreadable. Pretty sure.
Like always, we can expect the best from Sanderson, and he never fails to deliver. (less)
Usually, when the main character of a book is fifteen years old, my knee-jerk reaction is to figure that it's a Young Adult title, and adjust my expec...moreUsually, when the main character of a book is fifteen years old, my knee-jerk reaction is to figure that it's a Young Adult title, and adjust my expectations. Not only is Furies of Calderonnot a YA book, but my expectations were totally blown out of the water.
The story is a fairly run-of-the mill "the kingdom is in danger!" story with a twist. The world is very different from our own, and basically everybody has access to some sort of elemental magic—Fury crafting. What sets the characters apart in this book is that the main character doesn't. In my experience, that's the general opposite of most Epic Fantasy. So for novelty value alone, it's really interesting.
Characters are solid. They all feel like they're living, breathing and—most importantly—thinking people. People in real life don't ever do something for no reason, so why should a character? Jim Butcher does a great job in making all the characters feel right.
The world is deep and interesting, with a history, geography, science and myriad cultures to populate it. This adds to the epic-ness of the feel, and it lets us feel that there is always going to be something that we don't know that the characters do. When you add that to characters that come alive and a fairly basic story with a funky twist, it brings you into the book all the more.(less)
I was quite impressed with Theft of Swords. Despite some minor shortcomings, the story and characters are compelling, which are the two most important...moreI was quite impressed with Theft of Swords. Despite some minor shortcomings, the story and characters are compelling, which are the two most important factors in any book for me.
The story is a fairly common one: a fantasy setting, which revolves around a small group of people living outside the law. They get called on for a job, which turns out to be much more than they bargained for. Pretty basic. I believe I heard somewhere that this is actually two smaller books put together, and you can certainly tell, but I'll touch on that later. The two stories that Theft of Swords tells are both interesting and we can tell that there is something larger that will happen in future installments.
Characters are good. They're not one-dimensional, but I don't think I would really go so far as to say that they are fully fleshed out and realized. It could be that the author didn't feel it necessary to go into details, and it could be that he wants to keep us guessing as to the origins of certain characters. In either case, it doesn't make much of a difference since that's not what is keeping our attention.
As mentioned earlier, the downsides are fairly minor. Since it feels like two different books combined into one, the transition between the two can be a little jarring. It's kind of like the first story was to test the waters so the author could tell if it was going to be successful. It is a complete story in and of itself, but leaves a few questions unanswered, which allowed for a sequel--in this case, the second half. That's one thing that I noticed as being a little odd. The second and more pervasive is the world itself. My wife said that it felt like somebody's tabletop RPG in book form--I wouldn't go that far, but I will say that the world feels like a carbon copy of Dungeons and Dragons. Elves, dwarves, magic and all the bells and whistles seem essentially untouched as far as the basics of each, and the only thing that is different is the relations between each group. Except for elves and dwarves. They always hate each other. This can be particularly irritating to a nerd like me, because many of the revelations that are supposed to be shocking in later chapters are all things that I guessed halfway through. Once we were both done, I told my wife that I had such-and-such figured out before I started the second half, and she was shocked. But then again, she never really played D&D.
In all, there are more pros than cons to this book. But the size of each is the reason I feel good in giving Theft of Swords four stars. It's entertaining and moves quickly. You won't find any mind-shatteringly new ideas or worlds like are fairly prevalent in the Fantasy genre nowadays. Just the tried and true stuff. (less)
One of the first issues that I noticed with Name of the Wind is the style. It starts out as an omniscient narrator, and sticks with that style for a while, jumping between characters. Once two of the characters meet, the main protagonist starts relating his own life story, so it switches into a first-person point of view. Throughout the "narrative," there are several interludes where it switches back into the omniscient point of view. This leaves the read as jarring and confusing at times, though you can get used to it.
The second issue is the characterization: the main protagonist is a real ass sometimes. This is annoying at the best of times, and makes you almost want to put the book down at the worst. Had I not committed so much time to the book already, I might have.
What the writing lacks, the story makes up for...mostly. I don't really know how long the Kingkiller Chronicle will be, but for how slowly this story moves, the rest will have to be amazing. It is a LONG read, and not to be taken lightly. It's slow, but gives you the idea that it might be leading to something great. Let's just hope that Rothfuss delivers.(less)
Thick and exciting. Those are the two best words to describe this book. At 1001 pages, Way of Kings adds a lot of heft to your library. And with that...moreThick and exciting. Those are the two best words to describe this book. At 1001 pages, Way of Kings adds a lot of heft to your library. And with that newly acquired weight, you get the beginning of an incredible story. In my opinion, Brandon Sanderson is one of the very greatest authors writing now, and Way of Kings is proof. Each character is distinct, and the storylines associated with them are each intriguing. Some characters we grow to love, others we grow to hate. As I have said with other books, Brandon Sanderson has the ability to change our perceptions and feelings about a character, a talent that the takes advantage of repeatedly. This is the mark of an exceptional author.
Way of Kings starts out quickly. The prologue grabs at you with the assassination of a king, and then fast-forwards to six years after. Once into the body of the story, the characters are all interesting. Each character is developed differently. With one character, we see her developing based on her semi-introverted broodings. With another, his history is told by skipping into the past. So on, and so on. With all of the character development, sometimes story lags behind. Not so! Brandon Sanderson has the ability to actually use the character development to further the story. This makes the narrative seem to move quickly, and it stays exciting.
It constantly amazes me that Robert Jordan was able to get anything published in his later years. The first two or three books in the Wheel of Time we...moreIt constantly amazes me that Robert Jordan was able to get anything published in his later years. The first two or three books in the Wheel of Time were quite good--it set up an interesting world, a straightforward yet complex magic system and a story that really promised to be epic. But in book 11, I realized that I stopped giving a damn about four books ago.
Knife of Dreams, like all the books, supposedly focus on the core four characters: Rand, Mat, Perrin and Egwene. Although Knife does it better than the previous two, nothing seems to happen with any of them. Egwene is stuck in the White Tower. Perrin is trying to rescue his wife. Mat is hitting on the Seanchan princess and Rand is trying to keep himself together. There is so much possibility in the story, but I feel that none of it was taken advantage of.
Oh, you want me to talk about plot? Well, there isn't much to say. Knife is sandwiched between previous boring books, and is supposed to lead into the final chapters of the series. It's supposed to be exciting! Rather, we get a long-winded explanation about nearly everything in the world that doesn't really matter. There are literally so many story threads in this series (and consequently, this book) that you 1)can't keep them all straight, and 2)you get to the point that you forget what's happening with a character. Some main characters don't even make an appearance in some of these books.
I couldn't finish this book. It took me nearly a year to get to the point I did, but I have to put it down for the sake of my own sanity. As this is the last book Jordan wrote, I am hopeful for the final ones that Brandon Sanderson wrote. It's a good story if you can cut through all the layers (and pages) of total crap.(less)
Nowadays, I'm never sure just what I think of the Wheel of Time series. There are times when something happens, and I just can't wait to move on to th...moreNowadays, I'm never sure just what I think of the Wheel of Time series. There are times when something happens, and I just can't wait to move on to the next chapter, book or what have you. But then there are times when it takes me MONTHS to read one of them. Crossroads of Twilight is the perfect example of this.
The book is SLOW. Most of the book splits its time between Mat, Perrin and Egwene. I don't recall Nyneave even being mentioned, and Rand (ostensibly the main protagonist in the series) only shows up in one or two chapters. Elayne is all but absent, save for about three chapters. I could stop here, and you'd have a pretty good picture. But when do I just stop there?
Although the writing isn't as messy as it was in earlier books, it lags. I don't usually take three months on a single book, but this one was almost relegated to the boneyard. I normally like to praise the story that runs through the series, but this one seems to have missed the boat. I can't really think of anything really important that happened in it, other than what you get in the last ten pages or so. Sure, there are things that will come into play in later books, but come on! When the important events take up about ten percent of the total mass of this book, something is wrong!
Characters are the same as always. They're either made of wood, or they're one-trick ponies. Don't get me wrong; some of those ponies can change tricks (and have) but they still only focus on one trick at a time. It gets a little tiring. In addition to the characterizations, there are just too many characters doing too many things at a time. Based on my reviews of the previous books, you can surely tell that this certainly an event-driven story, but that shouldn't exclude good characters. Phrased another way, please don't simply pay lip service to main characters in your books. When two or three main protagonists are all but completely absent from one of the volumes, you should cut down on the number of characters you have. It doesn't make sense that these characters only show up in a couple of chapters so that the reader knows that they're still alive.
As always, I'm hoping the next one will be better. I would have rated this one 2 stars rather than 3, but I have to admit that part of the reason it took me so long was because I listened to Les Misérables, and a lot of the time I would have spent reading this book went there instead. I have to give the author the benefit of the doubt.(less)
Let's be honest. The Wheel of Time has slowed down dramatically. But as prepared as I was, I couldn't believe how much. Becky had told me that there w...moreLet's be honest. The Wheel of Time has slowed down dramatically. But as prepared as I was, I couldn't believe how much. Becky had told me that there was a book where only one important thing happened--and this is it. Coming in at 600+ pages, Winter's Heartshould have more than one thing in it that moves the overall story forward. Was he scraping the bottom of the barrel? Did he just want to play around with the world? Possibly both. It is painfully obvious.
This book mainly follows Rand and Mat—both interesting characters, but they spend most of the time in this one wandering around and preparing to do something big and grand. Mat never really does, but the book actually makes it somewhere with Rand. The overall Wheel of Time story is good, and that's what kept me going through this one. If I had read this when it was released, I think I may have put it down and given up on Robert Jordan.
Characters are much the same as they've always been in this one; there doesn't really seem to be any progression in any of them. That is, the ones that even make an appearance. Many do not, though they are referred to. Jordan's writing remains much the same as it always has: bad. Because of all of these things, I found this book one of the hardest to get through. It wasn't that it was boring the whole way through. There are interesting bits. Like the last chapter. But that final chapter where everything comes together is not enough to carry you through the foregoing 610 pages.
To those reading this who've put it down: if I survived it, you can too. Pick it back up, because we know that the end is going to be much, much, much, much, much better than this one.
To those of you who are sitting on the fence about reading the Wheel of Time: Seriously. The story is worth all of it. The world is fantastic, and Jordan is great at putting characters' motivaions in conflict with one another. That's what has kept me and so many other people reading through it all.
To those of you who are reading the series prior to Winter's Heart: you've been warned.(less)
While not the best book I've ever read, this is certainly one of the best in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Many of the issues that plagued pre...moreWhile not the best book I've ever read, this is certainly one of the best in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Many of the issues that plagued previous books seem to be reduced quite a bit, while Jordan continues to pique our interest with things that we aren't sure will ever be resolved.
Many improvements were made in this volume. Typos and/or weird phrasing were almost gone, which improved the book considerably. I didn't have to go back and re-read the same passage over and over again to figure out what was happening—the text just flowed better. Annoying things that characters did (mainly Nynaeve) were not as present/noticeable. With those two things being better, it was much easier to ignore the foibles that made it through to the printed page.
The story keeps getting more complex, as is generally good in an Epic Fantasy of this type. But this is book eight. I feel like with all of the layers of complexity still popping up, the main story—preparing for the Last Battle—is getting lost. Point-of-view characters disappear for whole segments of the book, and one doesn't even make it into this book at all. Which is strange when one considers how many minor characters get a chapter for themselves. With so many characters, locales and stories, it makes it hard to keep track of who is where and what is going on.
In all, this is a much better book than the few previous, but is also a good book in its own right. The text flows well, and the story is really interesting if you can keep everything straight. I think that this marks a turning point in the series for the better. Not necessarily in the content of the books, but in how well they are written. For me, this makes the contents much more accessible, no matter how many layers you add into the story.(less)
A Crown of Swords is probably one of the best in the Wheel of Time series so far. Writing and caracters still haven't developed as well as I'd like, b...moreA Crown of Swords is probably one of the best in the Wheel of Time series so far. Writing and caracters still haven't developed as well as I'd like, but the story is able to carry you through even if many other aspects of the book don't. However, there are fewer typos in this book than in previous ones, so that's a plus.
Robert Jordan's story is compelling. Events in the book don't necessarily move very quickly, but each event feels like it has a lot of lead-in time that allows a reader to really savor when something is actually finished. All of which leads readers to enjoy the story throughout its progress, and keep going into the next book.
As good as the story is, there are certain aspects of the Wheel of Time that really bother me. Number one is the fact that Jordan's style is complicated, unclear, wordy and just hard to understand sometimes. I've caught myself having to re-read paragraphs or whole pages because I can't wrap my head around the sentences inserted to sentences in parenthesis that were inserted mid-sentence. That'd be like (I'm saying this—not completely so—fecitiously) me doing this. But imagine that the inserted part is a whole sentence unto itself. It gets confusing!! You would think that by book seven that some intrepid copyeditor would have mentioned that he wasn't making any sense. But they didn't, and the whole thing suffers for it.
Second issue I have with it is that the characters (Nynaeve in particular) don't have as much depth to them as I would like. Things happen to characters in this book that have been building for a long time, and next to nothing is mentioned of it once they are out of the situation. I don't know if it's because Jordan was trying to focus on other storylines, but it feels like it was a major idea that just got tossed away.
So given these two big complaints, why do I give this book four stars? Is it because I'm generous? No. Is it because the scope of the book is so incredible? No. Is it because the problems aren't really that bad? Heavens, no! The reason I give this book four stars is because the story really is that good, and with six books of lead-up to Crown of Swords, it has a lot of groundwork laid for it before you even pick it up. Several important events take place in this book that you can tell will have a significant impact on the rest of the series. Lastly, even though the book isn't what you'd call action-packed, it is quite suspenseful at times and can keep you turning pages.(less)
This book wasn't as good as it could have been. Jordan seems to make a habit of including so many different viewpoints that it either ends up being in...moreThis book wasn't as good as it could have been. Jordan seems to make a habit of including so many different viewpoints that it either ends up being incredibly confusing, or a character doesn't show up for half of the book. Or longer. Other characters feel so one-dimensional that I can't stand reading about them. She just pulls at her hair and gets pissed. That's it!!
However, one thing that I really like about Jordan's work is that he puts all of the characters' plans and views in conflict with one another. It winds up being entertaining despite all of the flaws and other authorial quirks that wind up in the book (I've never seen so many grammatical mistakes, misprints, or confusing passages in ten books than in just one of Jordan's. It's almost like nobody was paying attention when he did things like put two or three ling sentences inside one pair of parenthesis. It gets hard to follow!).(less)
Lots of fairly two-dimensional characters in this book. Particularly women. Basically, if you're looking for an interesting story, this is a good seri...moreLots of fairly two-dimensional characters in this book. Particularly women. Basically, if you're looking for an interesting story, this is a good series, but if you're looking for compelling characters and lots of growth, you may want to read something else. That being said, here we go.
The Shadow Rising is book 4 in the Wheel of Time series, and because of that can't really have much of a beginning or an end. The events in the book do work together quite well to lead to a fairly good climax for the book. The main characters are doing certain things in the beginning, and the book follows what the groups of characters are doing. If you've read this far in the series, you're used to that. Each story is interesting, and you can tell that they are all related to the core story of Rand getting ready for the Last Battle. So that's nice.
Another thing that I noticed while I was reading this was that there are not a lot of descriptive words. They can be overdone, sure. But they can be underdone, too. There is a middle ground, and Robert Jordan just seems to be on the lean side of it. That the book is 1000+ pages tells you how much writing is in it, but perhaps some more flowery language could have made it an even more interesting read. And it is a pretty good read.(less)
While I think back on this book, I am struck by two words. Not. Bad. The story of The Wheel of Time series is quite interesting, and keeps on getting...moreWhile I think back on this book, I am struck by two words. Not. Bad. The story of The Wheel of Time series is quite interesting, and keeps on getting interesting. Robert Jordan is a good author, being able to weave politics, religion and legend into a good story that keeps the reader engaged in what is happening. You do want to keep reading because of the story.
The part of Jordan's writing that breaks down is the character development. Each character has their own problems, so they are unique in that sense. However, all the women act a certain way, and all the men act a certain way. In The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt, it was easier to overlook, or maybe a little more difficult to notice. But in this book it starts to become more apparent that Jordan has no clue how women act. It seems that all of the women that he writes are pissy and have a healthy dislike (or disrespect) of men. They're always crossing their arms under their breasts, and/or tugging on their hair. I understand that they may be common things to do, but write some variety!!! Not every woman is a man-hating shrew that is constantly crossing her arms! I've chuckled a few times at the fact that he does have the male characters down - boys in their late teens/early twenties are constantly thinking: "If my friend were here, they'd be doing better with the women." And they think that about each other. So, the men have more variety, so I think we can chalk it up to the fact that Jordan had no insight into the female mind.
In all, the story is good, but I feel that the characters (particularly the female ones) could use more depth.(less)