I can only describe this as a Celtic historical fantasy. Some of the characters such as Bridei, Broichan and King Drust are based on historical figure...moreI can only describe this as a Celtic historical fantasy. Some of the characters such as Bridei, Broichan and King Drust are based on historical figures of the 6th century. Add in elements of the Otherworld, and of course I'll love it! Juliet Marillier hasn't written a book yet I don't like. (less)
Currently about half way through this one. Thus far, it gets 4 stars from me. I don't know exactly what it is about Juliet Marillier's book, but they...moreCurrently about half way through this one. Thus far, it gets 4 stars from me. I don't know exactly what it is about Juliet Marillier's book, but they ALL resonate with me. I love her writing style. It's descriptive, rich and evocative without being overblown and pretentious. I identify with at least one character, and the same is true here. I find Eile's plight to be foreign and yet somehow still familiar, and I sympathize with her. Faolan's character just keeps getting deeper and more complex, moreso even than Bridei or Tuala's characters did in the previous two books in this series.
EDIT: Now that I've finished this one, I give it a full 5 stars. Again, I just really identify with Marillier's books. She creates characters I honestly care about. I think Faolan was my favorite character of the Bridei Chronicles, and so I was delighted to see that he got a whole book of his own. I also loved Eile. She's strong and broken, vulnerable and pragmatic. One of the best characters I've encountered yet. (less)
**spoiler alert** A retelling of the Celtic myth of the children of Llyr. Six brothers are turned into swans by their evil sorceress stepmother. The s...more**spoiler alert** A retelling of the Celtic myth of the children of Llyr. Six brothers are turned into swans by their evil sorceress stepmother. The seventh child, the girl Sorcha, escapes the curse. The Good Folk teach Sorcha how she can reverse the spell, but the cost is high and nearly impossible for a young girl to do on her own. I loved this story for the wonderful descriptive language, the creativity and originality of the rendition and the emphasis on the old gods.
EDIT 11/6/08: I'm re-reading this in review because I just got Marillier's new book in the Sevenwaters series, and it occurred to me that I can't remember most of the actual plot of the original trilogy, beyond "wow, it was awesome!"
EDIT 2, 11/12/08: I just finished this for maybe the 4th time. I've lost track. I still love it as much as the first time I read it. Possibly more. The complexities of Sorcha's experiences are so well written, multi-layered and intense. I like how Marillier doesn't gloss over the bad parts of her trial. It always bugs the shit out of me when people seem to expect everything to be all hearts and flowers, and still have the same outcome. Right. Life experience, much? Sorcha's rape went to show the strength of her will to save her brothers, for she didn't utter a peep, even though she was horribly abused. When John died, her friend, she was silent. When she was nearly burned at the stake, she was silent. All these horrible things happened and she maintained her silence through sheer force of will out of devotion and love of her brothers and her determination to save them. It makes it that much more intense when she does finally break her silence to save Red, even though she thought it meant she lost her brothers as a result. It shows how very much she loves him, even though she didn't realize it herself at the time. So yes, I like that the bad was shown as well as the good, because without the one, you can't appreciate the other. Without the full range of emotions and experiences Sorcha endured, she would not have been able to grow enough to fulfill her task, save her brothers and love Red. It would have been for nothing, a complete waste, and that is far worse than anything else she went through. (less)
Okay, it took me maybe 100 pages to really get into this one, but once I did, I simply could NOT put it down. This was the first book by Philippa Greg...moreOkay, it took me maybe 100 pages to really get into this one, but once I did, I simply could NOT put it down. This was the first book by Philippa Gregory that I'd read. I found her writing style to be academic and intelligent without being at all dry or pedantic. Her research seems to be accurate enough to create a realistic story, and her understanding of the time allows her to write the thoughts and motivations of her characters in a believable manner. Telling the story of the rise and fall of the Boleyn family from the point of view of Mary, rather than a more expected character like Anne, or their father, really brought to life the twisted intrigues and political machinations that went hand in hand with the Tudor court. It gives a different slant to a well-known history. And I have to say that I didn't know a lot about Mary, so I was reading as much to see what happened to her life as I was to see how Gregory portrayed the documented events. This is a book that anyone even remotely interested in Tudor England would love. (less)
It's been a long time since a book touched me enough to make me cry, but this one did in more than one place. It's the story of a young woman, Tami, w...moreIt's been a long time since a book touched me enough to make me cry, but this one did in more than one place. It's the story of a young woman, Tami, whose parents manage to get her a visa out of Iran to stay with her sister in Tucson, AZ for three months. She is on a quest to find a husband so she doesn't have to go back to oppressive Iran. It has ups and downs and tears and laughter. This is Laura Fitzgerald's debut book, and I will be keeping an eye out for any new books she publishes. (less)
**spoiler alert** I really don't know how to review this book. On the one hand, I think it was very good and something that everyone should read. On t...more**spoiler alert** I really don't know how to review this book. On the one hand, I think it was very good and something that everyone should read. On the other hand, I think it was a terrible book and shouldn't take up space on the shelf.
To start, I did really enjoy reading about pre-Soviet rule Afghanistan. I thought the culture was shown to be rich and complex, and it was interesting to learn a bit about it. Of course, I'm the first to admit that I don't know a thing about Afghani culture, so Hosseini could have glamorized or demonized the hell out of them and I wouldn't know the difference. But it seemed like an honest depiction, given that he was both kind and critical in various places.
Hosseini's writing style bugged me a bit. I didn't mind just the straight descriptions of dialogue. But it was distracting when he'd toss in a random Farsi word, then translate it, then go back to what he was saying. Either stick to English, or use some Farsi but assume that we're intelligent enough to figure out the meaning from context.
I hate Amir. I don't know if Hosseini was trying to make his readers sympathize with Amir or what. If so, he shouldn't. It's hard to sympathize with a person who is such a coward and does such underhanded things. If we are supposed to sympathize with him for his feelings of guilt and self-loathing after the way he acted, it isn't going to happen. At least, not with me. I tried to be forgiving. I really did. Like when Hassan was being raped, as horrible as it is, I can sort of understand why Amir didn't try to help. He was just a child, and he was outnumbered in more ways than one. It doesn't make it right that he didn't try to help anyway. But it's at least a little bit understandable. But not to help Hassan after the fact, or to tell his father and Ali what happened, is despicable. All his other actions after that can be seen as sociopathic.
If, on the other hand, Hosseini was trying to portray Amir as a man who is tormented by his actions, or inaction, it is a little easier to swallow. I like the idea that Amir saw his pain and guilt as his due, his penance for lack of a better term, for being such a yellow-bellied loser. Similarly, his beating at the hands of Assaf could be viewed as something long due, and he walked into it with his eyes open. He deserved it and he knew it.
But nothing can atone for going back on his promise to Sohrab. You just do NOT make a promise to a child and then go back on it. Not for any reason. You especially don't do it if the child in question has been sexually abused and is rightfully in mortal fear of his life if you go back on your promise. I think Sohrab should have able to find a long-lost cousin or something who was better to stay with than Amir. It would have been a deus ex machina, but the book was full of unlikely coincidences anyway, so what's one more?
Also? I **hated** how Soraya just gave up on trying to engage Sohrab when he came to America. The child was traumatized and depressed! Let's give up on him instead of getting him into counseling and continuing to try to show him he's loved and wanted! Jesus. She didn't deserve to have babies of her own. That was Darwinism at its finest right there.
Given how much I couldn't stand Amir, I think the book ended on a strangely hopeful note. I hope, for Sohrab's sake, that things will get better and that Amir and Soraya turn out to be good parents to him rather than continuing the craptacular job they'd done by the end of the book. I like to think that maybe Amir got a spine beat into him at last, and that he will be a good person now and be to Sohrab what he should have been to Hassan. I suppose it's better late than never. (less)
Oh my god, this book... I did something I haven't done in years. I quit. I couldn't finish it. Maybe I'm just stupid or something, but I did not see t...moreOh my god, this book... I did something I haven't done in years. I quit. I couldn't finish it. Maybe I'm just stupid or something, but I did not see the point of this story. I can see how it could be partly just a fictionalized narrative of Eric the Red's founding of the settlement on Greenland, and later, the coming of Christianity to Viking civilization. But I couldn't find a consistent thread of narration to follow. The writing was choppy, due in part to jumping back and forth between two and three different perspectives. Many other writers have done this sort of narration effectively, but I didn't like Lindbergh's way of doing so. Her sections were either too long per character, or too short, and most just felt schizophrenic to me. Half the time, I thought Thorbjorg was on drugs or something because I couldn't figure out what the hell she was doing.
Katla was all right, but I got tired of her. I can't blame her for hating Bibrau, because she was just a grotesque reminder of the horrific experience she endured. I actually found her to be the most real of the characters. She hated Bibrau, but at the same time, still had maternal protective instincts about her, even if they were against her will. I thought that sort of ambivalence was very realistic.
I hated Bibrau, too. I think she should have been drowned at birth. Maybe she filled an important role somewhere, but I quit reading before the end so I don't know. She was just an evil person and had no redeeming qualities that I could see.
This book seemed like it would be interesting, so I am very disappointed in it. Like I said, it's been YEARS since I gave up on a book and didn't bother to finish it. But after about 2/3 of the way through, I just couldn't tolerate the sense of helpless boredom the book instilled in me, and I decided that my time is too valuable to waste being bored by a book that I'm not required to read. I spent enough time reading boring things in college and grade school. I don't need to do it on my free time. (less)
While I prefer Penman's pure historical fiction more than the medieval mysteries, this was a terrific read. I blasted through it in about 2 days. Fast...moreWhile I prefer Penman's pure historical fiction more than the medieval mysteries, this was a terrific read. I blasted through it in about 2 days. Fastest I've ever read one of her books, LOL. Of course her others are no shorter than about 600 pages. =)
I liked Justin de Quincy. He had a lot of courage but wasn't arrogant. He knew his limits and wasn't afraid to say when he was over his head, even if it was difficult for him. I wasn't sure his conversations with Eleanor of Aquitaine would have really been like that. They seemed a little informal for a guy she barely knew, who was bastard-born, and she one of the most intimidating women in all of history.
Overall I really enjoyed this, as I do all of Penman's books, and I look forward to reading the rest. I hope her publishers let her do more mysteries eventually.(less)
I liked this book, but it started to lose my interest about halfway through. It's too bad, since Katherine of Aragon is such a wonderfully interesting...moreI liked this book, but it started to lose my interest about halfway through. It's too bad, since Katherine of Aragon is such a wonderfully interesting person.(less)