I thoroughly enjoyed this series - the political maneuvering, the complex plotlines, the multi-dimensional characters. In a way, this was a protractedI thoroughly enjoyed this series - the political maneuvering, the complex plotlines, the multi-dimensional characters. In a way, this was a protracted happy-ending for the first trilogy. It is difficult to express what I love about this series without giving the plot away. Suffice to say, I found the Fool's gift to Fitz from the Girl on the Dragon a philosophical and profound answer to some of the unanswered questions in the first. I am not too certain who did the growing up, I, the reader or Fitz of Hobb's writing: but this series was a lot more melancholic and introspective than the last.
I fall short of giving a complete 4 for the series, because I thought the last book was a tad mangled. Too much was happening, all at once. It was also in this book that I found the characters have stopped developing, too comfortable as it is in their own moulds. Still, all in all, a worthy read. ...more
I did hesitate as to whether I should give this a 3 or a 4 - I did not like the random appearance of the phoenix, which formed such a pivotal role inI did hesitate as to whether I should give this a 3 or a 4 - I did not like the random appearance of the phoenix, which formed such a pivotal role in the book's climax that it is hard not to be affected by that one sequence alone.
Still, at least this book is still in the realm of children's fantasy. ...more
This'd be the last book I'd consider giving a 4 star too. I know some folks think that the books become better and better in the last four books, butThis'd be the last book I'd consider giving a 4 star too. I know some folks think that the books become better and better in the last four books, but I think the Quidditch Cup marks the end of Harry Potter as a children's fantasy series and the beginning of the adult alternative-universe genre. I generally prefer children's fantasy because they do not make a pretence of bridging the reality we know with the book-reality created for the fantastical behaviour. It calls for a suspension of belief, which adults often lose the capability to do.
Granted, I suppose, kids, or some adults for that matter, probably won't know enough of our own reality and thus do not build those bridges - therein lies Rowling's genius, catering to different audiences simultaneously. However, I do draw the connections and frankly, it spoilt my enjoyment of the story. From this point on, the books are really about a badly managed power struggle. The twists and turns, I suppose, thrill some folks because yes, Rowling is fantastic with her plots - but I find that often times she builds up to a climax only to let it down with shabby treatment.
The book I probably enjoyed most was the very first. I liked Chamber less the phoenix and Azkaban for its new characters, and Goblet for the first bit on the Quidditch Cup. Thereafter, I have to calibrate my expectations.
A reminder of the idealist I once was, I say. The book hasn't quite hooked me, three chapters on - which I suspect is a result of the very historicalA reminder of the idealist I once was, I say. The book hasn't quite hooked me, three chapters on - which I suspect is a result of the very historical narrative of the formation of a world government (or at least a semblance of a world government). Not a book for someone who is already attuned to the history of the UN.
I was rather hoping that the blurb at the back of the book held true "Ultimately he shows why, despite its fallibility and its foibles, the UN remains utterly indispensable to our future". But at this point, I am not seeing an argument yet. ...more
**spoiler alert** I am so tempted to give this a 2-star but I did finish reading it, which is more than what I can say about some other fantasy books**spoiler alert** I am so tempted to give this a 2-star but I did finish reading it, which is more than what I can say about some other fantasy books on the market these days, so I stopped short.
I hated the ending. It was too messy and quite honestly I am not certain what all the character deaths are supposed to achieve - largely because there has not been any build up. To quote another reviewer for an earlier HP book, the climax came with a sense of "Oh are we here already?" as opposed to "Oh, I have been waiting for this!" A thin line divides plot twists from poor plot management. All the DB bits are ill-placed, because, he is dead! There are recaps, which is all fine and dandy, and then there are speaking portraits - which had immediately spark off n exasperated "Oh come on" from me.
The one thing still haunting me is, why did Fred have to die?
Wait, a second thing. Harry was deposited at his aunt's place as a baby! How on earth does he ride around on a toy broom as a one-year old??! Illogical if you ask me. Logical lapse.
And of course, after a cop-out of an ending, the 19-years-later bit aggravated me even further. Let's imagine this. As a child, I had to be sent to Muggle world because I am world-famous for being the only one to have survived a death curse. I was so famous, everyone recognised me from my scar. Now years later, I was not only the One-who-Survived, I was the Chosen One who killed You-Know-Who. Which part of that will allow me to happily stand on a platform to send my children to school, without getting stares?! And why on earth will my own children, and my best buddies' children not know why they are being stared at? Well, if they have been cocooned away at home in Muggle World, that makes sense, but my elder son is already in school! On come on.
The problem with a complicated plot is, if you don't manage it well, it falls flat and it becomes a "I am trying to be clever" moment. It runs away from you. The reader reads it once, reads it twice and goes, she's a genius! when it could have been, the reader reads it once and goes, "AH! Tell me more!" I'm done with the series, and I still think, as great as Rowling is, she does not measure to the likes of her inspiration and E Nesbit least of all....more
The writing style is at times too simplistic, or rather, superficial for my liking. It is rather like a more grown-up version of Hardy Boys, albeit seThe writing style is at times too simplistic, or rather, superficial for my liking. It is rather like a more grown-up version of Hardy Boys, albeit set a few hundred years before. But this book tickled my fancy because it took an inexplicable event in history (King Alexander of Scotland's untimely death) and ran with it.
Although I wish the plot could be more sophisticated, and characters more dimensional, it serves well as a random on-the-bus-journey read. ...more
So obviously all I have been doing in my free time these last couple of days was to read children fantasy. I had been meaning to pick up Spiderwick foSo obviously all I have been doing in my free time these last couple of days was to read children fantasy. I had been meaning to pick up Spiderwick for the longest of time - if only for the pretty illustrations. I like my illustrations, now more than ever. It was a tad disappointing because the plot ran all over the place and I did not quite like the writing style. I can't put my finger on it, but I suppose the language simply is not wrought well. Philip Reeve in Larklight and Starcross has a marvellous way of speaking to the reader, while J K Rowling can tell a story with a richness of details. Spiderwick however is written as a collection of serial columns, which means the writing tends to be more economical and the plot lines truncated.
Which is to say, I still prefer British authors I think. ...more
I haven't updated my Goodreads for so long, I think I have a backlog, but this is the most memorable book among my more recent buys/reads. It is wellI haven't updated my Goodreads for so long, I think I have a backlog, but this is the most memorable book among my more recent buys/reads. It is well written even if the Hitchens is anything but balanced. It is thought provoking but garners only three stars because after a while his rants get a tad repetitive and he throws all intellectual tradition out of the window. His examples are too anecdotal for my liking, but he has them well articulated. Read this, if only just for the debate.
Now I am Catholic, but I think it does our faith good when more people read what the atheists and the agnostics say and accept that they do have their points. I obviously subscribe to the apologists tradition. ...more
It started out funny - but I reckon, too much of a good thing is not necessarily better. I did have a few laughs at some of the most random examples LIt started out funny - but I reckon, too much of a good thing is not necessarily better. I did have a few laughs at some of the most random examples Lederer quoted. I have a few friends who are teachers and will definitely love this book, if only to lift examples and entertain their English classes.
Still, if you read it, read it in small doses. ...more
I was being ironic with the recommendations bit, by and by. Wolf, I reckon, is a classical economist: it's the invisible hand - and if the economy/marI was being ironic with the recommendations bit, by and by. Wolf, I reckon, is a classical economist: it's the invisible hand - and if the economy/market isn't working, blame the interference of politics. This is a writer after Ben's heart: he argues that the very existence of the nation-state prevents progress - not that it is a complex argument, anyone could have told you that a truly integrated economy is made impossible by the concept of territorial integrity and sovereignty.
For all my political misgivings, Wolf is however most erudite on the need to prevent protectionism. He swung me over on that point. This is a decent book for any civil servant (we are born to be defenders of globalisation), anyone who is tired of Stiglitz (and his many books of the same subject) and anyone who wants to understand globalisation without the economic mumbo-jumbo. ...more