It's funny, the copy of this book that I have in my hands has the exact same cover illustration, but the title reads "The Ties That Bind." Same differ...moreIt's funny, the copy of this book that I have in my hands has the exact same cover illustration, but the title reads "The Ties That Bind." Same difference, I guess?
Anyway, this is a fascinating little story about three blood-sucking chimeras, a banned book, an old friend of Roy's, and how they all tie together. It dips into the backstory regarding the Ishvallan/Ishballan war, and does well to expand on the series' themes of regret and guilt, circulating around the state alchemist veterans of the Ishvallan rebellion. It also explores a further aspect of biological alchemy.
I had fun putting together the pieces of the puzzle during the book's initial mystery-like setup (it all culminates, of course, into a nice big battle at the end), although I might have done it more quickly than I should have. Overall, I got what I came for: another fun adventure with Ed, Al, and Roy. I recommend this for FMA fans 12 years and up.(less)
An entertaining little side-story that gives you a glimpse of Edward and Alphonses' adventures during the 3-year time skip in the animes and manga. At...moreAn entertaining little side-story that gives you a glimpse of Edward and Alphonses' adventures during the 3-year time skip in the animes and manga. At the beginning I had a vague feeling of deja vu, as the setup of this story is similiar to the Lior arc at the beginning of the first anime and the manga, and it does little to distinguish itself from that arc, even later on in the story. However, characterization is intact, as well as the series' overarching themes of morality, fairness and the principle of Equivalent Exchange.
The ending was a cop-out that bumped it down from four to three stars for me. Characters that were previously staunch in their beliefs and ideals changed at the drop of a hat, and it rushed to tie up the loose ends into a neat little bow much too quickly, colouring all the interesting grey areas it had previously created black and white.
The writing is a little awkward at times, but not nearly so much as other reviews might lead you to believe, and it's not as juvenile either. Overall a fun read, though it doesn't contain anything of substance and does not add much to the series as a whole. I would recommend it to FMA fans ages 12 and up.(less)
Every once in a while, I come across a short story that actually carries a vital message. This is that story.
I pick up novellas or short stories like...moreEvery once in a while, I come across a short story that actually carries a vital message. This is that story.
I pick up novellas or short stories like this to get a taste of a series and see if I want to read the first or next book in the lineup, so as I was reading this I was trying to piece together the details of the 'verse. It goes something like this: In the future, there are two main castes, the Luddites and the Reduced. The Reduced are the servants and slaves of the Luddites. One day, something called the Reduction occurred, and the children of the Reduced ("Posts") from then on began to change, began to stand up for themselves.
This story is about a boy named Kai, a Post, who's in a poor living situation and escapes his home to seek a better life; but as he explores the world, desperately trying to keep himself fed, he realizes that he was really privileged all along. I think that this kind of integral message is the best of all, especially when marketed to spoiled people in First World countries. It shows us that however little or much we have, there are always people out there who have less, and that once again, we take too much for granted.
Anyway, great short story, definitely recommended. The mental letters Kai writes to his friend are an interesting method of indirectly communicating Kai's thoughts and feelings. I'll probably be reading For Darkness Shows the Stars.(less)
Hmm...there's something very amusing about watching a girl pretend to be a boy, isn't there? Although, I've never seen anyone attempt the inverse; hea...moreHmm...there's something very amusing about watching a girl pretend to be a boy, isn't there? Although, I've never seen anyone attempt the inverse; heaven help a male who disgraces himself by wanting to be a girl, right? I mean, who would ever want to be female? What a silly thought.
I've recently come off reading another Robin Hood retelling - Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen - in which Will Scarlet is actually a girl, disguised as a boy, in love with Robin, and secretly the fiancé of (view spoiler)[Gisborne! And her real name is Marian, as in the Maid Marian from the original legend (hide spoiler)] - so I was doubly amused when I got into this story to find that Robin had now become the girl, Marian was now her sister, and her love interest was now (view spoiler)[Little John(hide spoiler)]. It's ironic because in Scarlet, his affections towards the heroine were unrequited. The flexibility of retellings is really something; it starts to seem like a mix-and-match game in which you can arrange all the pieces to your liking, doesn't it?
Between the two, I have to say I liked this one less. The trope of a tomboyish noblewoman who rebels against femininity and all that represents it is getting to be a tired and overused one, and the Robin of Locksley in this book adds nothing new to the cliché. I guarantee you that 99.9% of all women in arranged marriages during those times had no other choice but to acquiecse and marry their grooms, whether or not they actually liked them. It's just wishful thinking of the modern feminist that wants women like Robin to have existed; and besides, putting a bow and sword in a girl's hands does not automatically make her a champion of Survivor, nor does it make her a strong and believable female character. Although this is not fantasy, feminism seems to be most prevalent in fantasy, but not always effectively, and any aficionado who's familiar with fantasy tropes will tell you the same. I'm a realist and I have very little regard for wishful thinking, even within that genre.
Also, despite this being a feminist trope, it's actually a contradiction of what true feminism stands for. It implies that to be strong, a woman must be masculine, which is not true. I would like to see more female characters a la Jane Eyre - Jane was ladylike and plain, a veritable paragon of feminine propriety as the society of her time dictated, but she was intelligent, thought for herself, had an indomitable sense of integrity. She was strong without ever having to even touch a weapon or wear breeches.
I think it's time for everyone, not just authors, to understand that strength and self-worth comes from your character, not from your skills, or what clothes you wear, or the shape of your body, or your income.
Philosophical mumbojumbo aside: maybe I'm a little cynical, but everything in this book is too happy. Like a children's show that never manages to rack up any real tension because the experienced viewer knows that everything will end well, with no casualties, no quandary that the heroes in this book encountered ever had me worrying. Once, twice, three times something bad happened without any consequences, and suddenly I become very bored. And there's no overarching plotline to propel you to the ending, either. This book focuses on the adventures of Robin and company while living in their forest abode, and each time they shrug off whatever bit of trouble they've encountered, they're back to dallying happily in the forest, unmolested.
And I can't forget the cheesy avowals of love that sprung out of nowhere near the ending. After a long period with no mention of the "romance," out of the blue Robin's love interest confesses love to her, and then proposes to her, all in less than a minute. Oh my god. Maybe a seasoned actor could pull that off believably, but coming out of anyone else's mouth, it's just cringe-worthy. I don't even want to talk about it.