It's always hard for me to talk about a later book in a long series, which is partly why I've put off writing this review, and considered not talkingIt's always hard for me to talk about a later book in a long series, which is partly why I've put off writing this review, and considered not talking about the book at all. But it's still a great series and deserves some attention on the blog.
I really enjoyed Shards Of Hope, as I do with all of Nalini Singh's novels but to me it wasn't the most compelling romance of the series, not one I'll go back and read again and again. Aden and Zaira figure out pretty early on in the book that they like being together as a couple and that that is something they're going to make work with their lives. The romance is sweet and mostly easy and mostly takes a back seat to the politics. The psy/changeling world continues to change dramatically and Aden and the other Arrows are trying to help guide Psy with particularly strong volatile abilities to find a place in the new structure where they can be safe and more stable.
Things I particularly liked: Getting to know more about the Arrows and their inner workings; glimpses of a new Changeling pack (who I hope will get a lot more page time in the next arc of the series); a hero & heroine who are fairly equal in both their physical and mental abilities; brief interactions with some of my other favourite characters; the continued developments and backlash from events in the preceding couple of books; the set up of a new background conflict where the instigator is hard to pinpoint.
I really enjoyed the book and of course I'm looking forward to the next one. I'll give Shards Of Hope 8/10. [Review originally posted on my book review blog, link is in my profile.]...more
I’ll start by saying that this is a stand-alone novel set in the same world as Garth Nix’s ‘Old Kingdom’ series, however it’s set several hundred yearI’ll start by saying that this is a stand-alone novel set in the same world as Garth Nix’s ‘Old Kingdom’ series, however it’s set several hundred years before the previous books. So if you’re new to the world, you can start with this one. Having said that you can, though, I personally wouldn’t recommend it - there were several little details in this book that mean so much more when you’re familiar with the other books. I just feel like people will enjoy this book more if they’ve read the others in the series.
It was so much fun to be back in the world of The Old Kingdom again! I really love the original trilogy and it’s one I re-read bits of almost every year. Clariel was fun to read but it wasn’t my favourite of Mr. Nix’s work. Something about the pacing of the novel just didn’t work for me and I wonder if the story was originally either longer or shorter and got changed to fit the stand-alone novel length that it is. This is another reason I don’t recommend it as a starting point. I don’t think this is the best representation of Garth Nix’s writing. One thing I did really like about it was that Clariel is asexual. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a book with an asexual main character and that was interesting and refreshing. It wasn’t just done to make an ‘issue’ either which I appreciated; it’s a central part of who Clariel is (obviously) and ties in hugely to why she wants what she does and acts the way she does.
Yes, I liked this book, but it’s not my favourite in the series and while Clariel was a very interesting character to read about and see the little choices that lead her down her path, the plot and pacing just didn’t quite build enough intensity for me.
My verdict on this one is 7/10.
On a slightly related note, I really want a 'does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?' tshirt. Surely such a thing exists?...more
The tagline for this book (Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.) intrigued me so I thought i would give it a go. In the very first pThe tagline for this book (Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.) intrigued me so I thought i would give it a go. In the very first pages, Nora, the main character, is running through the woods, trying to get to a road, and when she does, there’s some kind of accident - she wakes up in hospital. The book then alternates between the present with her in the hospital trying to piece together what happened, and her recollections. She was invited to a hen party weekend (or a bachelorette party in the States) for a girl she was best friends with in school. She hasn’t been in touch with the girl since Nora abruptly transferred school and moved away. She doesn’t disclose to the reader why but it was immediately clear that Something Had Happened. I made a guess straight away and when the ‘big reveal’ for that point eventually came along, I was right. It did frustrate me a little that it was built up as being a big deal and a big secret when I thought it was really obvious but maybe that’s just me and good guessing.
Anyway, Nora goes to the party, where she meets other random people who have never met before despite all being really good friends with the bride-to-be, Claire. They stay in a big spooky house in the middle of some woods, and because in the hospital Claire knows someone has died, there’s immediately a sinister edge to things. One of the people here in the house is a killer, and one is going to be dead by the end of the weekend. I liked that over the course of the book, I suspected almost everyone of being the killer at one point. However it did narrow down to two in particular that I kept switching between. By the end, it wasn’t that surprising to learn who it was and I was skeptical that Nora hadn’t figured it out sooner.
I did really enjoy this. It was a book I carried around with me, reading whenever I had a spare moment. It was easy to go in and out of that way and kept me up reading while I was in London. It was an enjoyable thriller to read, not too intense and creepy but still suspenseful with nuanced characters who had the potential to be both victims or killers. I’m giving this one 7/10.
[A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Review originally posted on my book blog; link is in my profile.]...more
I love books set during the World Wars, I think it's a fascinating time period and full of very touching stories against a tense backdrop. This book cI love books set during the World Wars, I think it's a fascinating time period and full of very touching stories against a tense backdrop. This book certainly brings it to life. The story is told in two parts, moving back and forth between the past, charting the childhood of both Marie-Laure and Werner, and the 'present' (for them) - a period of a few days when they are both in the city of Saint Malo while it is bombed.
Through Werner's childhood you see the development of Nazi propaganda in Germany and it's effect on his village, including the children in the orphanage. For me that was as scary and sad as the events at the special boarding school he later ends up at, which is indoctrinating boys as it trains them for the army. Marie-Laure shows the changes in Paris as the Nazi's come ever closer and then how her community in Saint Malo overcome their fear and begin resistance work.
I got frustrated with the blurb for this book before I started because I didn't think it hinted enough at the plot but now I'm glad it left things out. There are certain threads that run through the story connecting things and acting as catalysts for events, but I don't want to talk about them because I think it was part of the experience to discover them myself as I went along, and make the connections, without being told what was going to be the connection before even starting. What I will say is that Werner's friendships and encounters shape his life, and you see how one thing leads to another. Similarly, Marie-Laure's relationship with her father, his colleagues, and then the housekeeper and my favourite, her reclusive uncle, change over the story and were beautiful and touching to see.
I really loved this story and I hope you'll give it a try too. The ending did let the book down a little, I think, carrying on for a few chapters past what should have been the end. Despite that, it's one of my favourite books of the year so far and I'm so glad I got to read it....more
I love this one! Great character development, realistic leadership and a fresh way of looking at 'world after the fall of technology/rise again of magI love this one! Great character development, realistic leadership and a fresh way of looking at 'world after the fall of technology/rise again of magic' idea made it one of my favourite reads of the year so far.
In this book, Kelsea has settled in to the role of being queen but she still faces plenty of challenges. So often in fantasy novels, the prodigal young ruler takes the throne and immediately starts dispensing good advice and fair judgements, and is loved by all the kingdom. Kelsea is indeed gaining a reputation as a fair queen, but the decisions she makes and the way she handles things are often met with disappointment or alarm by her friends and advisors. She isn't the most tactful person sometimes. This book really looks at the price of doing what is right and the political ramifications for Kelsea and the Tearling because of what she has done and what she does in this book. People make mistakes and I think Erica Johansen tackles Kelsea's development very well. She's learning to do some things well, but there were points in the book where I was putting my head in my hand wishing she hadn't just said something. If this book held consequences from what happened in The Queen Of The Tearling, I expect book three will also show what has happened because of several small rulings taken in this one.
In the first book, there were hints about the history of the Tearling and it's founding. People talk about 'The Crossing' from the old world and that many things were lost in that Crossing. In Invasion Of The Tearling, readers get to learn more about what happened. I knew as soon as I read it that some people were going to be... shall we say... upset, because of how it's done. With her magic, Kelsea can see back in time into the mind of a Pre-Crossing woman called Lily. Lily lives in our world, in roughly the 2070s in the USA. So of course there is a lot of technology, cars, guns, security. (A lot of security - Lily's world and life are not pleasant ones.) It's a big juxtaposition between Kelsea's world with it's limited technology, building tools, and medical knowledge to Lily's world of modern conveniences and governmental invasions of privacy. I found it really interesting and I don't think it was a big deal, but I'm sure some readers will have issues about the contrast. I do have to say, that while it was really interesting to see the history of the Tearling and the reasons for it's foundation and some of why it is the way it is, with no technology, I'm not entirely sure why there was so much about it - I'm not sure about it's purpose in the story. My guess is that in book three, something that Kelsea has seen in the flashbacks will be very important and I'm looking forward to seeing things tie together a bit more.
I loved getting to know some characters a bit better in this book. It really rounds out the world and shows the positive changes in the castle and the country since Kelsea has taken command. I'm really excited to see how characters like Glee and her sister who has joined the palace guard tie in with the bigger picture of the story. They, and other people you see more of in this book, like Pen and Mace, already have clear important roles in the story but I feel like they are going to have some staring moments in book three.
Overall, I absolutely loved this story. I read it over just a couple of days, I could barely put it down - I just had to know what happened next! Lily's story was just as gripping, and for me a lot scarier, than Kelsea's, and I enjoyed seeing Erika Johansen weave the two of them together. I adore the character development in this book, the changes in Kelsea were so well done and believable. She's growing up and adapting to leadership at a realistic pace, making the mistakes you would expect for a young woman and a new ruler. I really can't wait for book three. I'm giving The Invasion Of The Tearling 9 out of 10 stars.
Let me know if you've read this one because I would love to talk about it with people!
~Ailsa [A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Review first posted on my book blog - link in my profile.]...more
I did not like this book. At all. I will go so far as to say I hated it.
It's not the writing. It is a well written book. My complaint is with the ch I did not like this book. At all. I will go so far as to say I hated it.
It's not the writing. It is a well written book. My complaint is with the characters. The book is narrated primarily by Rachel, who it quickly becomes clear is an unreliable narrator. Within the first few pages readers realise she's an alcoholic and as the story goes on there are other reveals here and there that show other things that have been omitted, which paint her in a more and more unflattering light. The other two women who narrate are Anna, who is married to Rachel's ex-husband and 'Jess' (actually Megan), the woman Rachel watches from the train.
Primarily the narrators annoyed me for their idiocy. The three of them make silly choice after silly choice. In particular I had no sympathy for Rachel, who doesn't seem to be doing anything to help herself. I couldn't care about the characters or what happened to them because they were too idiotic. Rachel drinks and does silly things; Megan makes stupid choices and can't seem to grow up, and Anna sees everything as revolving around her.
I forced myself to keep going and I'll admit that I didn't guess how the book was going to end but the characters drove me up the wall. They made it irredeemable in my opinion. I will give this 2/10, based on the fact the writing was actually fine. [This review was first posted on my book blog, link is in my profile.]...more
I'd heard good things about this author for both this series and his newer fantasy series, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the books. I knew the auI'd heard good things about this author for both this series and his newer fantasy series, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the books. I knew the author was Scottish and the books were set in and around Edinburgh, so that boded well for it painting Scotland & Edinburgh accurately - not something that always happens. I was right - James Oswald begins the story with Inspector Tony McLean stopping at a violent crime scene in one of the affluent areas of the city. Right from the start, Oswald brings Edinburgh to life - or rather death, as Inspector McLean goes from one crime scene to another, interspersed with time at the frantic police station and several visits to the morgue. While at first each crime seems straightforward and isolated, with a killer being found soon afterwards, Tony knows it isn't that simple and tries to untangle all the threads before someone else becomes a victim.
There is a hint of something supernatural in the story and readers are left guessing as to whether there really are ghosts involved, or whether the 'supernatural' events are simply coincidence and imagination. I thought it was a good story and I liked the cast of characters and their developing professional and personal relationship. I do plan to read the next book in the series when I can find it. So, if you're in the mood for some Scottish crime solving with a frustrated Detective Inspector and a hint of something supernatural, I can recommend this one. I'm giving this one 7/10.
~Ailsa [Review first posted on The Book Bundle, link in my profile.]...more
This is one of the most action-packed stories I've read for a while. The first chapter sees Cassidy and her colleague Teag hearing about a haunted gueThis is one of the most action-packed stories I've read for a while. The first chapter sees Cassidy and her colleague Teag hearing about a haunted guest house which someone wants their help with. To simplify the story a little I'll say that they also have to deal with a variety of 'haunted' objects which cause Cassidy, with her magical gifts, to go a bit funny. Teag & Cassidy both think all the hauntings and negative feelings around these objects are linked together and connected to a string of brutal murders which are happening in the city but they can't figure out how.
I thought it was an incredibly spooky story - a lot of the danger & fear in the books comes from shadowy things seen out the corner of the eye, or things moving in mirrors if you look at them long enough, which is exactly the sort of thing that creeps me out. I get paranoid and jumpy and this book really uses that kind of fear to crank up the tension of the characters in the story. They know that there are bad things watching them but they have a hard time getting a clear look at them and figuring out what it is.
Aside from the action and the creepy bad guys, I really liked the voice of it and the way Gail Z Martin paints the world. I believe she has written several short stories set in this world, and although this book is the first in a series you can really tell, reading it, that those other stories exist. For instance, Teag has some magical powers of his own and it says those are a recent discovery for him. The way it's talked about, I'd be willing to bet there are stories with Teag learning about this gift somewhere. The back cover description also emphasises the vampire Sorren but he actually comes in to the story later on and seems to be more in the role of 'big back up they call in an emergency'. Again, I expect he has more of a role in other stories. For all that it's obvious this world has been built up over other stories, I think it works very well and it doesn't affect the telling of this particular story. I didn't feel like I needed to have read the other things first, but it did make me want to read them now!
One thing keeping me from giving this a perfect score is that there is no hint of romance (except between Teag & his boyfriend but they're very solidly a couple already) and I am partial to just a little bit of romance. However, it's not necessarily a bad thing at this stage in a series and it gives me hope that this will go the way of my favourites and gradually bring in a little hint of romance over several stories, building it up realistically. Although the book takes place over the time of a couple of weeks, there really wasn't any time for Cassidy to be thinking romantically, after all!
As one of the best starts to an urban fantasy series that I've read in the last year, I'm giving this one 7/10. I hope there's a sequel soon and I imagine this series can grow in to 10 star ratings as it goes on.
~Ailsa [Review originally posted on my book blog, link in my profile.]...more
If you read science fiction and haven't heard of this book yet, I'm not sure where you've been. I only dip an occasional toe into the SF side of SFF bIf you read science fiction and haven't heard of this book yet, I'm not sure where you've been. I only dip an occasional toe into the SF side of SFF but I've been hearing about this book since it came out and started winning awards all over the place. My friend has a copy so I jumped at the chance to read it.
The book follows the starship 'Justice of Torren', an artificial intelligence. The story goes between the past where Justice of Torren was based on a planet, with hundreds of bodies (ancillaries) she controlled simultaneously, each functioning alone and able to function together as one, and the present, where she has been cut down to just one body and is using the name 'Breq'. The past sections paint the events leading up to the betrayal that led to the loss of all her other bodies and eventually the betrayal itself. The present follows Breq as she reaches (she hopes) the end of a twenty year quest for something that will give her vengeance on her betrayers.
The story is in first person from Justice of Torren/Breq's point of view which I think works very well. There were times when it was hard to get my head around how she could be controlling all the bodies at once, performing so many different tasks, having multiple conversations, but generally it was fine. One interesting side-effect of her narrating the story is that because the people who built her have no concept of gender, she refers to everyone as 'she'. Occasionally there are characters who she knows are on their planet male or female but she never actually reveals it in the narration - it's just "I used the correct gender pronoun for the language". I found this interesting but I've heard some people got annoyed with it.
I found the story really interesting, with plenty of 'oh crap now they're really in trouble' moments. It was very interesting to have the story told by an AI (artificial intelligence) and focussed around them and the nature of their ability to choose things, have feelings, express things while still being neutral, a computer built to obey. I'm definitely going to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.
Overall I'm giving this 8/10.
~Ailsa [Review originally posted on my book blog, link in my profile.]...more
I love this series and I'm glad to say that this one lived up to its predecessors. However, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I really enjo I love this series and I'm glad to say that this one lived up to its predecessors. However, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed it, some things make it one of my favourites from the series, but there are other things that I think could have been done slightly differently or explored slightly more which I think would have made it even better. In some places it felt rushed.
Let's start at the beginning - I was eager to read about Lili, who has been a political match/trophy wife to a pretty horrible guy before escaping to Sector Four. She'd shown she was pretty determined and I hoped that with her links to the Sector politics she would be a very interesting character to read about. She was but not quite as much as I'd hoped - it's definitely Sectors vs. Eden politics in this book.
Kit Rocha matches Lili up with Jared, who has been floating around the edge of the O'Kanes since the start of the series. While we know a bit about him at this point, I was curious to know more. I couldn't quite imagine how they were going to get to know each other, especially when I read the first couple of chapters, where Lili is running out of her brain-numbing drugs and gradually being forced to start feeling things again. She first sees Jared at one of the O'Kane parties and they talk - he's dressed smartly, like men she's used to seeing, which is something familiar in a place that is so different from everything she's known. It was a good first meeting but then I was disappointed with how quickly things escalated from there. It felt a lot like insta-love, which I really hate in books. I just don't believe that these two could become that interested in each other and that close so quickly. I especially don't believe it with how numb Lili had been and how timid and frail she's made out to be in the first few chapters of the books.
Apart from the insta-love it was a pretty good story. I do have to talk about the other bit that frustrated me though. Lili is trying to convince Jared that she can help him in his ventures in to Eden. She's got a background of being arm candy at important political events and being the perfect show wife. Who else do we know who knows how to play political games with rich people? Particularly rich Eden people? So I thought "Yay, we're going to see more of Noelle proving her worth! And getting more page time apart from as a sex partner!" But no. A little later in the book, there was a similar situation. I thought, "So now she's going to go to Noelle for advice and make a great new friend!" Again, no. I'm disappointed that given how much this book works around Eden politics, we don't see Noelle giving any input. I also thought that given their somewhat similar backgrounds and how shy Noelle was at first that there would be on-page evidence of a friendship forming between the two women.
All that aside, I do think that this series is getting better and better. I hope the political games continue in the next instalment of the Beyond series. I'm going to give this 7/10.
[A review copy was provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review. Review originally posted on my book blog, link in my profile.]...more
I love this book! I read it first a year ago and could have sworn I'd reviewed it then, but apparently not. Having just re-read it cover to cover I geI love this book! I read it first a year ago and could have sworn I'd reviewed it then, but apparently not. Having just re-read it cover to cover I get the chance to talk about it now instead!
The book starts with shy nervous Cath moving in to her college dorm and resenting the fact that her sister is moving away from her, to a dorm across the campus with a girl she's already made friends with. Meanwhile Cath has the grumpy Reagan, a girl a couple of years older than her as a roommate. The story follows Cath as she adjusts to university life. I really wish I had this book in my first year of university, because it would have helped me so much seeing a character experience the problems I was. Because my first year sucked - I massively struggled to make friends, and I stayed in my flat a lot of the time when I wasn't in classes or studying at the library. Gradually, Reagan drags Cath out of her shell a bit to face things like the dining hall.
There are a couple of other big things happening in this book for Cath. She's writing a long fanfiction, essentially her version of the last 'Simon Snow' novel (about a boy at a school for magicians) which is releasing at the end of the class year. Cath is determined to finish her version of it before the real one is published, and she has thousands of readers wanting to know what happens next in her story. She's taking a creative writing course and working on assignments with Nick, who loves to write as much as she does, and they are each helping each other to improve. But Nick never walks her home from the library at midnight. Levi, Reagan's (maybe) boyfriend comes to do that, or Cath runs back by herself. So she likes Nick, but....
Then her sister is getting drunk at parties, worrying Cath. And her Dad seems to be struggling having the house to himself without his daughters around. And their mum, who left when they were younger, wants to get back in touch with them. Why now, thinks Cath? But her twin wants to see their mum, and Cath just can't understand why.
All these threads are woven together really well. So although the story is following Cath through her year, it's never boring. The decline and then mending of her relationship with her sister was really well told. Her adjustments to life at university were something I could really relate to and it shows that even if you struggle at first, which lots of people do, you'll figure it out, you'll adjust, and then university really can be a great place. Cath changes over the book, in some ways quite a lot, but it is all believable change because you can see the various tipping points in the story that impact her. And if you needed any more reasons to love it, the end of each chapter has an 'excerpt' either from the 'real' Simon Snow stories, or from one of Cath's fanfics about the characters, which are all fun to read and give a snapshot into the world Cath loves so much.
This is a wonderfully told story with characters who are all believable. If you've ever been a fanfiction writer, a fangirl or boy for a series, a struggling uni student, I highly recommend this book. And if you weren't any of those things, read it anyway, because it's great. There's a gradual romance, family drama, drama with Cath's classes... so many great things.
I really love this book, and I'm absolutely giving it 10/10. [Review originally published on my book blog, link in my profile.]...more
When you read a series over a number of years, there are always mixed feeling as you hold the last one in your hands. I had hopes, expectations, sadneWhen you read a series over a number of years, there are always mixed feeling as you hold the last one in your hands. I had hopes, expectations, sadness that it would soon be done, and a little fear that it might not be a 'good' ending, tying things up well. Of course, this is Kim Harrison, and after reading this series for the past 10 years or so, I should know I can trust her.
The main conflict of this book is that Cormel, vampire leader of Cincinnati wants Rachel to solve the problem of vampires keeping their souls in their 'second life'. And he wants her to do it NOW. Rachel's learnt to stand up for herself, but Cormel knows her weak points: her friends.
Things quickly escalate, and soon there are elves and demons mixed up in the problem too. There is some lying, some double crossing, and some very cute moments. Even with all the rushing around in the books, Rachel gets some time alone with Trent and their relationship continues to grow and change. You get to see pretty much all of Rachel's friends and family in this book, including the werewolves, the elf children, Jenks' family...
I don't want to talk too much about the plot, so let me focus instead on the questions I had before starting. Yes, this is a great final book of the series. It wraps up the big issues and it has a story of its own without being a book-long epilogue. There will be other issues for Rachel and her friends after the book finishes, but we don't see them, and I don't think we need to. This series for me has been a perfect example of excellent writing: characters who grow and change in a clear but gradual way over the series; an overarching plot connecting all the books; individual plots distinct to each book; an engaging romance element; well developed secondary characters; and now - a good, rounded off ending.
If for some reason you haven't read this series yet, feel confident that you can go straight from one book to the next with no waiting now, and that there's a good ending. If you've been holding off reading this last one: it's safe, I promise! Go out and buy it now! :)
I give this book, of course, ten out of ten.
~Ailsa [Review originally posted on my book blog, link in my profile.]...more
I'm a big fan of Gail Carriger's so I had high hopes for 'Prudence', the first book in her latest series. Thankfully, Ms Carriger did not disappoint.I'm a big fan of Gail Carriger's so I had high hopes for 'Prudence', the first book in her latest series. Thankfully, Ms Carriger did not disappoint. 'Prudence' focusses on Rue, the daughter of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate series. Rue is approximately 20 years old in this series, and begins the story by stealing a snuff box at a party then shape shifting into a werewolf to get away. Rue has the power to steal supernatural forms by touching the owner - for example, touching her 'uncle' Biffy the werewolf turns her into a wolf until morning, or touching her adoptive father Lord Akeldama turns him mortal while she becomes a vampire. It seems like a pretty cool power to me and I got the impression that Rue had been a bit of a terror growing up.
Lord Akeldama, apart from being a prominent member of vampire society and one of the best dressed men in London, is a bit of a spy-master, always knowing the gossip and news from across London. It's for him that Rue acquires the snuff box, only to find it contains a new kind of tea - from India. When he gives Rue a dirgible, she takes it to India to set up a venture for him with the tea. Of course things don't turn out as planned, and even before they arrive in India, a lioness has tried to steal Rue's parasol and her Navigator and Chief Engineer are refusing to get along.
I loved the group of Rue's friends who end up on the ship with her. There is Quesnel, very French and very flirtatious, who throws Rue in a duck pond at the start of the book. Her best friend is Prim (daughter of Ivy, for those who've read the Parasol Protectorate series, but very unlike her mother) is the perfect hostess and has been involved in all of Rue's best scheme. And there is Percy, Prim's twin brother, who can never get his nose out of a book, even (shocking!) at the dinner table. I can't wait to see what other adventures the four of them get up to. There are some other interesting supporting characters, too, and as the series goes on I suspect some will have bigger roles to play (Lyall, for one).
Although it's set in the same world as Ms. Carriger's other books, you really don't need to have read them before you start this series. I think the story is different enough from the other books that it's definitely going to keep me interested. It also builds up the world very well - I think it's a fine place to start for new readers of Gail Carriger.
Overall, this was a very fun book. I'm already really looking forward to the next book in the series. I'll give this one 8/10. ~Ailsa [Review originally posted on my book blog, link in my profile.]...more
I read Tamora Pierce's 'Immortals' series multiple times in high school, so I was really happy to spot some of her other books at the library the otheI read Tamora Pierce's 'Immortals' series multiple times in high school, so I was really happy to spot some of her other books at the library the other day. Something I admire in Ms. Pierce's work is that she manages to capture the feelings of a fantasy book and fit the world building, characterisations, and plot you'd expect into an adult novel into a much shorter book aimed at teen readers. 'First Test', the first in the 'Protector of the Small' quartet proves that this is a trait for all Tamora Pierce's books.
The story starts with the king talking to Lord Wyldon, then man who trains the pages & squires to be knights, discussing admitting Kel to the training program. Lord Wyldon is strongly against it even though the law says she must be allowed, and they compromise by putting her on probation for her first year. Kel arrives determined to prove that girls can do just as well and sure that she will be able to convince him in the first year that she should be allowed to stay. 'First Test' covers that first year of training, as she deals with bullies, prejudice, difficult classes and a stubborn horse in her quest to become a knight.
I loved being back in the world of Tortall, in the aftermath of the Immortal Wars. This book starts just a few months after the last one I read finishes, so it's interesting to see familiar characters from a new perspective and see how the kingdom is doing. There are still many creatures which escaped from the Immortal Realms wandering around, and yes, Kel encounters a couple.
This was a fast, enjoyable read for me, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series. I'll give it 7/10. ~Ailsa [Originally posted on my book review blog, link in my profile.]...more