Star rating is a disappointing average between two very important factors. For sheer wonderful imaginative storytelling? A++. Bradbury is incomparableStar rating is a disappointing average between two very important factors. For sheer wonderful imaginative storytelling? A++. Bradbury is incomparable as always.
For history? F-. To the point that I can't finish it because the Celtic section hits a deeply-ingrained pet peeve and pulls me straight out of the story. I was feeling a little skeptical up to that point anyway, but:
"Mr. Moundshroud, let us be!" "Shut up." Someone knocked Tom's elbow. Mr. Moundshroud lay on the earth beside him. "That's not me. That's--" "Samhain," cried the voice in the fog. "God of the dead."
No. No, no, no. Does the holiday have ties to modern Halloween? Sure. Did ancient Celts worship Samhain, the "druid god of the dead"? All reliable information I've ever seen on the issue says no.
And I know. It was 1972. I'm sure the information available has changed since then--I've honestly got no idea whether that's a factor here, but it could be. But I just... I do know better, and that's kind of really interfering with my enjoyment of the piece. Which is a shame, because as I said, if you can ignore the historical fallacies it's really pretty great. But I can't....more
I should say up front that I've probably rated this higher than I otherwise would have because it's the last Discworld book, because the author has paI should say up front that I've probably rated this higher than I otherwise would have because it's the last Discworld book, because the author has passed away. However--that's not because I don't want to speak ill of the dead, or even because I know that if he'd lived longer he would have refined this more and I can see the potential.
Lemme back up and explain.
As a Discworld book, as a Tiffany Aching book, as a Witches book... it's a good story. It isn't the kind of good story that made me love Discworld or Tiffany Aching or the Witches, though. It has plot, it moves along well--but there's a depth, a tendency to look into the dark spaces and the blinding lights of life and the world around us, that just never quite connects. That's been the case with several of the recent Discworld books, and it continues here. It's a good story--but that's all it is.
That said, this is more than a Discworld book or a Tiffany Aching book or a Witches book. It's the final book. It's less a chapter in the history of Discworld or Tiffany or the Witches than it is an epilogue. And in that sense I like it quite well. It feels like something coming full circle, like a graceful leavetaking. Like a goodbye. There is a small afterword that tells us Pratchett had more plans for Discworld; he didn't intend for this to be The End. If he'd been able to continue on and The Shepherd's Crown had remained in basically this form, it would have been disappointing. As it is, it gives the sense of a completed series--which is unusual when a series is ended by the author's death. I'm grateful for and appreciative of the closure....more
How did Ophelia spend her girlhood? According to Clarke, Polonius was appointed a diplomatic emissary, at which point Ophelia was fostered with her foHow did Ophelia spend her girlhood? According to Clarke, Polonius was appointed a diplomatic emissary, at which point Ophelia was fostered with her former wet nurse's humble family until her parents' return to Denmark. It was a sizeable portion of her youth, and this path was chosen for her with an eye to physical development, with refinement and ladylike manners to be studied later.
Much of the book takes place in this setting, and frankly it's fairly unremarkable. I'll give this portion three stars--neither particularly bad nor particularly good. It seems to have a bit of a tenuous connection with the character we meet in Shakespeare's work.
Once Ophelia is retrieved by her birth mother and returns to Elsinore, however, things start to get interesting. Clarke does a much better job of laying the groundwork that would lead to the events of the play here, and since it begins to involve more characters we recognize it's easier to be interested in the intricacies of their interactions. Four stars for this part.