POV character Ani starts out as frustratingly shallow, shortsighted, and resistant to logic, all of which contradict her stated character. It's a pity...morePOV character Ani starts out as frustratingly shallow, shortsighted, and resistant to logic, all of which contradict her stated character. It's a pity, and seems awfully sloppy. However, we end up with the same ham-flavored but ultimately well-accompanied foreshadowing and rounding out of formerly flat characters all around by the end. The author's command of tension and resolution is much better in this one; it is very difficult to stop reading in the intense bits.(less)
The foreshadowing is occasionally made of ham, and the characters occasionally reveal themselves to be disappointingl...moreMagic! Intrigue! Torture! Jerks!
The foreshadowing is occasionally made of ham, and the characters occasionally reveal themselves to be disappointingly 2-dimensional, but there are enough ham accompaniments for the whole to be made inoffensive, and if you keep reading for long enough the 2D quality turns out to not be entirely what you expected. A worthwhile read.(less)
The writing is really bad. Like, hilariously bad. The style of the first few sections creates the characters as caricatures -- goofy lgbtq drama queen...moreThe writing is really bad. Like, hilariously bad. The style of the first few sections creates the characters as caricatures -- goofy lgbtq drama queens with enough issues to fill hours of therapy, with complete irreverence for but curiously solid mastery of their art. The majority of the exposition is "tell" instead of "show", so you're nearly always completely aware that you're reading a book, and it's hard to get a real feeling for what's going on and whether or why the characters care. It's a total shame, because the story idea itself (the case they solve) is completely compelling. The author lives directly in the community he's set the story in; he shouldn't need to use so many 2x4s to open that world to the reader. There is some real power in many of the character interactions, and in what the blackfriars' church is able to do for people in the story who thought that a church would be the last place they'd be able to find solace. It's just drowned in bad dialogue, mechanical descriptions of rituals and mealtimes and emotional states, and heavy-handed two-dimensional faggy stereotypes.(less)
Spaceships and small gods FTW! Ending is middling, though; I think he got to the end and thought, "Hmm, this isn't confusing enough," so you get this...moreSpaceships and small gods FTW! Ending is middling, though; I think he got to the end and thought, "Hmm, this isn't confusing enough," so you get this sudden whiplash of characters no longer being identifiable by their behavior. I don't mind confusion, just, you know, make up your mind, plan for it, spread it out, foreshadow, show don't tell. Otherwise there's just no way to make the arc of a story feel like it's coming to a natural conclusion. (less)
**spoiler alert** The conclusion of the tale, where our hero has grown into his role as a respected ur-knight, mentor to many, in an epic effort to do...more**spoiler alert** The conclusion of the tale, where our hero has grown into his role as a respected ur-knight, mentor to many, in an epic effort to do what's right and return to his lover.
This and its predecessor form a deeply layered story, with pervasive awareness of the boy's beginnings, and the format of the story as a letter home to a brother who seems increasingly not to exist. A prominent theme is the unknown: stretches of lost time, forgotten time, and sworn-secret time whose shapes are revealed to the hero and the reader -- sometimes together, sometimes separately -- in various degrees of detail. A second theme is the conflated identities of the heros' relatives; his brother Ben vs. his possibly-brother Berthold; his mother vs. Berthold's mother vs. the woman trapped on the Isle of Glas vs. Lady Lynnet. In creating a set of worlds where time is fluid, magic is unpredictable, memory can be clouded, and the paths between worshipped and worshipper sometimes reverse themselves, Wolfe has created an environment where uncertainty in the identities of the characters is not only believable, but manages to hang successfully in the background without obstructing the story.
It suffers a little from being sown with too many characters and too few indications of who must be remembered for later, but this is partially ameliorated by (1) making it clear that the author of the letter is aware of the problem and doing his best, and (2) including (however ham-handed) a cast guide as part of the letter opener of both books.
There were a few name mix-ups in the edition I read, which were either accidents (bad editor; no cookie) or on purpose (bad author; didn't add to the story). I lean towards the former, since there were also some typographical anomalies, italics running on, etc... but with Wolfe you never know, which I find frustrating.
The Wizard has a better sense of character and where the story is going than The Knight, but the Knight is tighter and doesn't drone so much. The two together probably rate 5 stars.(less)
A boy wanders away from the modern-times cabin where he and his older brother had been staying, and finds himself in a fantasy land of fever dreams, i...moreA boy wanders away from the modern-times cabin where he and his older brother had been staying, and finds himself in a fantasy land of fever dreams, inconstant time, fae, knights, and dragons. All wrapped in a letter home, finished in the next book...(less)
**spoiler alert** Wish someone had handed this to me as a kid -- whip-smart family unsuspectingly combats a time-traveling vampire-type creature in a...more**spoiler alert** Wish someone had handed this to me as a kid -- whip-smart family unsuspectingly combats a time-traveling vampire-type creature in a world like our own. Fabulous literary references and small puzzles and puns to feel good about yourself for grokking.
I take small issue with the craft of the story; she spends ages prepping for the denouement, and it wraps up with little more than minor teenage angst. "You let him take advantage of me!" "Well, I'm a magician and put a spell on you ages ago. You were okay." "Oh. Well, thanks then." Gah. C'mon!
Given the world she constructed, though, I'm not sure how she could've made that general process stand up to the rest of the story -- cutting some of the largely repetitive (but oh, how meta) middle content to fit the pace of the final pages, maybe, although there's some good stuff in the beginning I would've been sore to miss.
With a delightful exception or two, these are not sexually charged versions of traditional tales, despite the book's self-labeling as "adult". Rather,...moreWith a delightful exception or two, these are not sexually charged versions of traditional tales, despite the book's self-labeling as "adult". Rather, the reinvisioned stories deal with complex decisions, circumstances, and commentary that adults generally assume children lack the context and patience to understand. However, this is much more in line with the historic role of fairy tales: stories of supernatural horror, evil, and unjustice; how a misunderstanding can run away with you; how memories taint over time; the awful sacrifices made in times of need; the cost of pride; Things Going Wrong. It helps to be familiar with the original tales, as many of the reworkings are told from the point of view of the original characters (generally those less than kindly portrayed in the canonical tale) and half the fun is seeing how generations of telephone might have corrupted the "original" history.
With the possible exception of the Midori story, I'd give this to an appropriately precocious preteen.(less)
Magnetic in that morbidly fascinating way that finds you researching spruce-flavored beverages at three in the morning. That mood is important, becaus...moreMagnetic in that morbidly fascinating way that finds you researching spruce-flavored beverages at three in the morning. That mood is important, because there's an awful lot of spanking in here, and you wouldn't want to get tired of it.
Also ends well, although Beauty gets flighty enough near the end that I think Ms. Rice was getting a bit bored with the character.
To all the Amazon Reviews folks who say "zomg I'm into bdsm and this story is way impossible" -- Dude. Fantasy. Sleeping Beauty was put in stasis for 100 years and came out looking fifteen. I think that universe can handle eliminating a few paltry circulation issues.(less)