The moment I finished reading The Thief I wanted to begin reading it again. It is a wonderful adventure story that is multilayered and has many twists...moreThe moment I finished reading The Thief I wanted to begin reading it again. It is a wonderful adventure story that is multilayered and has many twists and turns to keep the reader fully engaged. This is especially impressive as the novel is a first person narrative. Mystery and suspense are difficult to infuse in a story that is told to us by the progtanist but Turner accomplished the deed with masterful artistry.
The narrator, Gen, is a master thief who has been locked in the King's prison but is given an opportunity to earn his freedom by stealing a priceless treasure the King desires to further his political plans. The story carries us through Gen's journey with the King's Magus and their three other companions as they seek to obtain the treasure.
Reflecting on the experience of reading this book I am most amazed at how real the characters became and how invested I was in the outcome of their adventures. An experience like that does not occur with just any book. (less)
I really enjoy reading this novel. It is my go to novel whenever I need something guaranteed to put a smile on my face. It is not entirely simple to r...moreI really enjoy reading this novel. It is my go to novel whenever I need something guaranteed to put a smile on my face. It is not entirely simple to read the first time through. The plot is a giant jigsaw puzzle and you are handed a piece at a time. At the end you are finally like, "Oh, I see it now." Then it is time to go back and read the best parts. It also contains a thoroughly quirky and amusing love story. Don't let that deter you if it's not your thing. There is nothing mushy or romantic about this book.(less)
This sequel to The Thief doesn't equal the greatness of its predecessor. It surpasses it. Ms. Turner deserves much praise for what she has accomplishe...moreThis sequel to The Thief doesn't equal the greatness of its predecessor. It surpasses it. Ms. Turner deserves much praise for what she has accomplished in creating the world of Eddis, Attolia and Sounis. She brought out of her imagination three small countries, gave them histories, cultures, traditions and religions. She manages to convey all of this without getting bogged down in descriptive prose. The pantheon of gods and goddesses she created for the story, while inspired by Greek mythology, are unique. Like in The Thief she uses the stories of the gods as insight into the plot and the characters' motivations. The political intrigue in this story is complex but in no way boring or difficult to comprehend. All of this is done while maintaining a fast paced plot. I was impressed yet again by how real the world of the story is.
Eugenides is a hero the likes of which you can't help but love. His charm and guile balance in equal measure to create a wonderfully flawed character. He has depth and many dimensions which make him, and therefore the book, hard to predict. His nemesis, the Queen of Attolia, is just as fascinating and mulitlayered. Their interactions and the way each deals with the consequences of their clashes create a story that is impossible to put down. Even when I had finished it I couldn't leave it and went back and read several sections over again. I have now read it over several times. (less)
The only thing I can say about this book is that it is absolutely wonderful. I loved it for all the reasons I loved the previous two books in the seri...moreThe only thing I can say about this book is that it is absolutely wonderful. I loved it for all the reasons I loved the previous two books in the series. This one is my favorite though and that is all I am going to say because to give a synopsis or analyze too much would require spoilers of the other two books. Read them all, you will enjoy them! Oh, and I am absolutely in love with Gen.(less)
Rosemary Sutcliff's work had been recommended to me by several different sources. I am grateful to all for introducing me to this wonderful author. I...moreRosemary Sutcliff's work had been recommended to me by several different sources. I am grateful to all for introducing me to this wonderful author. I hate that I have been missing out all these years.
The Eagle of the Ninth is historical fiction set in England during the Roman occupation. It is the story of a young Roman soldier stationed there whose career with the legions is brought to an abrupt end. Looking for a purpose to fulfill him afterwards he goes on a mission that takes him from southern England to the north of Scotland to find the Eagle lost by the missing legion his father commanded and discover the truth about what happened to them.
The language of the book is beautiful and it would make a great read aloud. The history is well researched, the characters fully developed and the plot engrossing. While this book technically falls into children/YA category it is equally engaging for adults to read. (less)
The Perilous Gard is a reworking of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin. Or it might be more accurate to say the ballad of Tam Lin is worked into this stor...moreThe Perilous Gard is a reworking of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin. Or it might be more accurate to say the ballad of Tam Lin is worked into this story which stands on its own merits beautifully.
During 16th century England Kate Sutton is exiled to a mysterious fortress called Elvenwood Manor but historically referred to as the Perilous Gard. As soon as she arrives she is drawn into the life of another of the castle's inhabitants, Christopher Heron the younger brother of the owner. He is haunted by the disappearance and presumed death of his niece which he feels is his fault. Kate and Christopher soon discover that the young girl is not as dead or lost as presumed. When Christopher trades his own freedom and life for that of his niece, Kate also finds herself a captive and in the position of having to rescue them both.
As a work of historical fiction this novel is wonderful. It accurately depicts the time and the personalities of historical figures while never once losing the magic of the story to historical reality. As a tribute to a very old and cherished folklore the book also excels. I enjoyed the ambiguity of the true nature of the Faerie Queen and her minions. Were they truly Fae or simply an ancient race who had managed to preserve their way of life by shrinking into the shadows?
Kate Sutton is a heroine of tremendous strength and ability. She is practical, sarcastic and uses her intellect to see her through trials. She is not a cardboard character though. She has plenty faults to go along with her better qualities. I love the relationship between her and Christopher and how each describes their view of it at the end of the book (funny and romantic stuff there).
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction or retellings of old fairy tales. (less)
Honestly, if I all I had known about this book was its premise I probably would have disregarded it as silly and never read it. However, it was writte...moreHonestly, if I all I had known about this book was its premise I probably would have disregarded it as silly and never read it. However, it was written by Elizabeth Marie Pope and as I love The Perilous Gard I gave it a go. And I am so glad I did.
The book is about a girl named Peggy who has just been orphaned and comes to live with her uncle at her family's ancestral estate in upstate New York. During her first meeting with her uncle he loses his temper and kicks out a perfectly nice young man who has assisted Peggy in reaching her home. After this less than auspicious beginning Peggy is promptly ignored and becomes lonely as she wanders about with no direction or companions. Into this loneliness enter four ghosts from her family's past from the time of the Revolutionary War. As they share thier stories Peggy's present situation begins to take on new and interesting forms.
I was suprised at how much I loved this book and how engrossed I became in the lives of the characters, particularly the four dead ones. The historical setting was genuine and interesting. It makes the reader think of the Revolutionary War in terms of the lives living it rather than the battles and dates that have historically marked it.
The character of Peaceable Sherwood is my number one reason for falling in love with the book though. I love characters who are conniving, snarky and charismatic and he has it all. If you enjoy reading characters like The Scarlet Pimpernel, Gen from the Queen's Thief series and Lord Peter you will enjoy reading this.
Overall, I found The Perilous Gard to be the better of the two but this one is definitely a keeper as well. I am sad that there are no more books by Elizabeth Marie Pope to discover. Why did she only write two books????? (less)
The Graveyard Book is the 2009 Newbery Award winner and is worthy of the honor. In my opinion, this is the best one since Holes won ten years ago. The...moreThe Graveyard Book is the 2009 Newbery Award winner and is worthy of the honor. In my opinion, this is the best one since Holes won ten years ago. The book opens with a man slinking through a house in which he has just murdered three of its occupants. The fourth occupant, an eighteen month old boy, toddled out the open front door and up the street before the man could finish his job. The baby finds himself in an old graveyard, now a nature reserve, where the residents give him protection and aid. Going by the name Nobody Owens (Bod) the baby grows up in the graveyard protected by the ghosts that surround him and is provided for by his guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead. Bod is not permitted to leave the protection the graveyard gives him as the people responsible for his family's death are still determined to finish the job. The book follows Bod's adventures in the lands of the dead and the living as he grows into manhood. As he matures Bod is torn between the people who have been his family and the living world in which he truly belongs. He also has to come to terms with the threat to his lilfe and the longing to avenge his familly.
Gaiman's prose bring the graveyard to life and capture the complexities of Bod's situation brilliantly. I will warn you that if you like your plots all tied up in a pretty package by the end of a book you will not enjoy this one. While there is a resolution to the main conflicts in Bod's life almost all of his questions remain unanswered. In fact, more questions come out of the resolution than are answered by it. I like this element because it causes the book to haunt the reader in a way that is most appropriate given its subject matter. I am torn between wanting Gaiman to write a sequel and wanting to be left with the mystery.
The book is steeped in Celtic mythology and British follklore and also gives an interesting view into the history of the English countryside. There are some sinister scenes and many mature themes explored. I would recommend that parents read it before, and along with, their children. In the acknowledgements at the end the author mentions the debt he owes to Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Reading the synopsis, the parallels should be obvious. Gaiman took the skeleton of Kipling's story and built a body around it that is fantasticall. I think it would be fun to read both books together and do a comparative study. My kids now have that to look forward to in a few years. (less)
Megan Whalen Turner is one of the foremost talents currently writing fiction. She is a wordsmith of the highest caliber and creates books that are wit...moreMegan Whalen Turner is one of the foremost talents currently writing fiction. She is a wordsmith of the highest caliber and creates books that are witty, complex and display a materful manipulation of point of view . A Conspiracy of Kings is no exception.
A Conspiracy of Kings is the fourth book in a series which begins with The Thief. In order to fully appreciate the plot and characterization of this novel you should start at the beginning of the series. This book is mainly about Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, and the obstacles and decisions he must face as he chooses what to do with his life and country. The shifting of the focus to Sophos means that there is less of Eugenides seen in this story than the others, but he is still there in all his snarky, tempermental, conniving, ruthless brilliance. It felt, to me, like Sophos's story is an integral part of Gen's and this book is a bridge to the next part of Gen's story. There are reportedly going to be two more books, so we shall see. I could be way off base. This is not my favorite book in the series but I still loved it. And now excuse me while I indulge my inner fangirl for one moment:
"My queen and I sleep with a matched set under our pillows, as well as handguns in pockets on the bedposts."
Wildwood Dancing is a fairytale retelling two for one. It combines elements from both The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince. Add to that t...moreWildwood Dancing is a fairytale retelling two for one. It combines elements from both The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince. Add to that the traditional folklore of the Transylvania countryside where the story takes place and it makes for a compelling novel.
I loved every aspect of this novel. The setting of the wildwood, lake and the castle of Piscul Dracului were brought to life in beautiful prose that were never weighed down with too much description. The plot was intricate but never hard to follow. I particularly enjoyed how the author melded the realms of the mortal and fey world. They are separate but also the same, completely interconnected and requiring balance. In the hands of a lesser author conveying the complexities of this world would have been disastrous but Juliet Marillier makes it seem simple and renders it beautiful at the same time.
The novel is told in first person by Jena, the second eldest of five sisters who cross over to the world of the fairies to dance every full moon. Jena is the sensible practical sister. She is unique in that she has a constant companion in a frog named Gogu. She can hear Gogu's thoughts and he is her closest friend and most wise adviser. Jena, at fifteen, is learning what it means to be a grown woman. The readers is able to share in this remarkable journey with her and becomes invested in the outcome. There were times I wanted to yell at her (only a few) but mostly I loved living her life through her story. I loved Gogu too and was seriously concerned for his continued well being at many times.
Despite being a fairytale retelling the book was not a simple one. Happily Ever After is not attained easily and is not absolute. Forces for good and forces of evil are both present in the story and while the distinction between light and dark is made there is some ambiguity and confusion for the characters to sort out, nothing is made easy. And that to me makes a good book any day. (less)
My experience with The Hero and the Crown was disappointing. I felt the story was disjointed and the plot did not flow well. I never quite got a feel...moreMy experience with The Hero and the Crown was disappointing. I felt the story was disjointed and the plot did not flow well. I never quite got a feel for the world of Damar. It felt as though the author had a huge story to tell but was only given a limited space to tell it in and the result is choppy.
I may have been able to overlook all that but then there was Aerin, the main character. I felt she was very much a caricature of the girl warrior. But that was as far as she went. Her character had no depth. She endured tremendous physical challenges and conquered seemingly insurmountable odds. However at the end of the book her character seemed to have grown not at all. I saw her as a self consumed character at the beginning and she was only slightly less self consumed by the end.(less)