I have to say at first I was hesitant about reading the book. I generally mistrust books (or things in general) that everyone likes. After reading it,...moreI have to say at first I was hesitant about reading the book. I generally mistrust books (or things in general) that everyone likes. After reading it, however, I had to change my mind. The first volume of the series gripped me from the first (or say tenth) page to the last and I simply had to get the other volumes. It's mysterious, in times slightly humorous, and of course has a love story. What more could a girl wish for?(less)
After I first picked this book up in our local library I had it lying around for quite a few days before I began reading it but after I had started I...moreAfter I first picked this book up in our local library I had it lying around for quite a few days before I began reading it but after I had started I couldn't stop. This is actually one of the few books I read in little more than one session (it has been some time now but I think I read it in one afternoon/evening), which says a lot about the book's quality. Nowadays I usually can't afford to read for a long stretch of time because my studies take up most of the time.
The book tells the story of Katsa, a Graceling, that is a person with special abilities. In Katsa's case it's the ability to be a very good fighter and to kill. Thus King Randa uses her as his henchman. After having served her king in this for years Katsa beginns to doubt her actions and during the course of the novel she undergoes quite a change.
What I love most about Kristin Cashore's books are the characterizations. Even if one doesn't feel like the characters one can understand them and relate to them. Katsa might be a physically very strong and nearly unbeatable character, but she has her mental doubts and issues which make her vulnerable and an interesting character.
Although some parts of the plot are predictable others aren't and near the end Cashore had me very surprised because that was actually an ending I didn't predict or even suspect in the least.(less)
Becky Brandon's newest adventure also features her two-year old daughter, who seems to have inherited some of her mother's traits and most prominently...moreBecky Brandon's newest adventure also features her two-year old daughter, who seems to have inherited some of her mother's traits and most prominently her love for shopping. As usual Becky gets herself into tense and absurd situations and how she gets out of them is simply hilarious. Her family has to live through the great financial crisis and through all of it Becky is resolved on giving a splendorous surprise party.
I liked this latest adventure of Becky. She has grown up since her first book, but can't help herself but to get into one fix after another, which is probably the reason why we love her so much. However, I'm sometimes missing the brilliant wit of the first book.(less)
The Immortals series has grown on me since I first read it in younger years. In this third installment of the quartet readers finally meet the Emperor...moreThe Immortals series has grown on me since I first read it in younger years. In this third installment of the quartet readers finally meet the Emperor Mage Ozorne and travel to his realm, Carthak. The tension and threat is palpable from the first pages on, but there is also some comic relief.
I particularly enjoyed Daine's relationships with some of the Carthaki characters and learning more about not only Carthak itself but also Numair's past and the Emperor Mage, whom one could call a man with two faces.(less)
As a huge fan of Tamora Pierce's books I also loved this one. Finding out more about Daine's parents is fun and there are again some very adorable sce...moreAs a huge fan of Tamora Pierce's books I also loved this one. Finding out more about Daine's parents is fun and there are again some very adorable scenes in this book.
The audiobook version in particular is great. Full Cast delivers an outstanding performance (narrated by Tamora Pierce herself). The CDs conclude with an interview with Tamora Pierce about how the quartet was written and on whom some of the characters are based. Very interesting.(less)
I just finished another re-listening of First Test and realized once again how much I love Kel's story (I tend to forget this in regular intervals bec...moreI just finished another re-listening of First Test and realized once again how much I love Kel's story (I tend to forget this in regular intervals because my very first impression of Kel was that I didn't like her as much as Tamora Pierce's other heroines, probably due to the fact that Kel was so very different from Alanna, the absolute hero of my early youth). I also finally get around to write a review.
In this first part of a quartet (the third series set in Tortall after the books centered around Alanna and Daine) a young girl called Kel decides to become a knight. The rules had been changed years before so that girls now could officially go through training as pages and squires to become knights. However, no girl has chosen to do so so far and Kel is the first. She is disappointed when she learns that she has to pass a year under probation first. Although nearly giving up her plan she stays with her decision all the same and has to prove her worth to the strict and conservative training master. She also has to endure the taunts and verbal as well as physical attacks and tricks from a group of other pages, who don't want a girl among them.
Kel is a very different heroine from Alanna, who had to disguise herself as a boy to become a knight. She also doesn't have magic and doesn't share Alanna's temper. Instead she is determined but usually calm outside, even though a whole storm of feeling may be raging inside of her. She doesn't befriend her fellow pages at once but has to earn their friendship. Kel has a very strong sense of justice and at the age of ten already stands up against bullies. She works hard to be as good if not better as the boys and takes whatever is thrown at her. She is in every aspect a strong character and her fears and "weaknesses" don't really make her weak. She is determined to succeed in spite of her fear of heights, for instance, and gives her best to earn the right to stay after her probation.(less)
As with all Tamora Pierce books I loved this one. Page is the second volume in the Protector of the Small quartet. It continues the story of Keladry o...moreAs with all Tamora Pierce books I loved this one. Page is the second volume in the Protector of the Small quartet. It continues the story of Keladry of Mindelan, the first girl officially trying for her knighthood. After she has gained the right to continue her training in the first book, First Test, she now has the last three years of a page ahead of her. Her life becomes more settled and she gains new friends. But her lessons also increase in difficulty. Lord Wyldon especially seems to make sure that she gets a more difficult task every time she masters an exercise. She also has to live through ordeals outside of the training yards, including fighting bandits and facing her fear of heights. And at the end of her three years stand the Big Examinations that are to decide if she is made a squire or fails.
Again Kel is a strong heroine and her compassion for her friends and helpless animals are great. She conveys values that seem to be missing in our modern society all too often, where people rather look away than help. I also loved Lord Wyldon's development. His last conversation with Kel at the end of the novel is one of my favorite in the whole book. Of course it also helped that he has a soft spot for dogs.
The unabridged audiobook is a great experience. It enables you to listen to Kel's story while doing housework or other tedious tasks. Bernadette Dunne does a wonderful job at narrating the story. I think her voice suits the book very well.(less)
I had very very high expectations for this book and I think that this might be the reason why it sort of disappointed me in the beginning. My expectat...moreI had very very high expectations for this book and I think that this might be the reason why it sort of disappointed me in the beginning. My expectations were just a little too high. Once I really got into it, however, it more than lived up to my expectations.
The perspective is shifting between Grace and Sam, the protagonists. While the first few chapters are fairly short, they later become longer. This might also be a reason why I had misgivings at the beginning. The short chapters just didn't allow me to get into the characters. Once they got longer, I got a feeling for the characters and really began to enjoy myself. I even reached the point where I couldn't lay the book down again and finished the last 350 pages or so in just a matter of a few days.
While Sam and Grace developed a reasonable amount of depth, most of the secondary characters remained a bit too flat for my taste. I didn't really get a hang on Rachel or even Olivia and Jack for instance.
I loved the relationship-build between Sam and Grace. It made me feel all fuzzy and warm, so sweet are they. It's certainly a very good comfort-read. I'd give it four stars with a tendency to five (so probably make it 4 1/2 stars).(less)
I'm writing this directly after finishing the book, so this are fresh impressions and I might decide to change some of it or add to it later on ...
On...moreI'm writing this directly after finishing the book, so this are fresh impressions and I might decide to change some of it or add to it later on ...
On the first pages (actually around the first third or half of the book) I felt that something was missing that Shiver had, but then I really got into it and once again couldn't put the book down. This time there are two new narrators: Isabel, who has already appeared in Shiver, and Cole, one of the new wolves Beck recruited. I was surprised by my own reaction to them, because they are not the sort of characters I usually like (not even when reading about them), but somehow they grew on me just as much as Sam and Grace and I had a strong surge of feeling when Isabel cried and Cole played the piano. I'm also very impressed by Isabel's change in personality or at least how she presents herself and even though I normally would have been on Sam's side I liked her telling him to wake up. Her initiative at the end was a great thing to witness, as was Cole's role and how he finally seemed to deal with his past.
Sam and Grace of course are cute together and one can really feel with them. Grace's reactions are totally understandable, even when she defies her parents, who never cared for her before and now start acting up.
Some vague impressions about the end: I expected some of it and knew fairly certain from the beginning that a part of it would happen, but I was surprised by other elements. I'm only halfway satisfied with the end, because it seems too much of a cliffhanger for my liking.
All in all I'd give it 4 stars with a very huge tendency to five, so probably rather 4 1/2.(less)
This review and rating relates solely to the German audiobook edition. My review of the novel itself can be found here. Diese Bewertung bezieht sich al...moreThis review and rating relates solely to the German audiobook edition. My review of the novel itself can be found here. Diese Bewertung bezieht sich allein auf die deutsche Hörbuchausgabe. Meine Rezension des Buches an sich ist hier nachlesbar.
Die Hörbuchfassung ist im Vergleich zum Roman deutlich gekürzt (zum Vergleich: diese Ausgabe zählt 6 CDs mit ca. 448 Minuten lt. Rückenangabe, während das englische Hörbuch (ungekürzt!) 11 CDs umfasst und eine angegebene Laufzeit von 12 Stunden und 30 Minuten hat). Entsprechend geht viel dessen verloren, was die Geschichte ausmacht und was mir Kristin Cashores Bücher immer so positiv hervorhebt: Die Beziehungen zwischen den Charakteren. Cashores Bücher sind einfach nicht dafür geschrieben gekürzt zu werden. Beim Lesen/Hören der ungekürzten Fassung genieße ich jedes Mal aufs Neue jede einzelne Seite/Minute. Hier sind mir die gekürzten Stellen jedes Mal unangenehm aufgefallen, haben mich einige wunderbare Szenen vermissen lassen und dem Buch ein ganz anderes Gesamtgefühl gegeben (weniger Charaktergetrieben als auf die Handlung bezogen).
Die Sprecherin macht ihren Job im Großen und Ganzen ganz gut. Sie ist anfangs etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig, aber gegen Ende fand ich sie ganz angenehm. Sie hat es trotz der Kürzungen geschafft dem Hörbuch einigermaßen das Gefühl zu geben, dass auch der Roman vermittelt (wenn auch nicht ganz). Allerdings ist die Lesung unregelmäßig laut, was es insbesondere im Auto schwierig macht. Das dürfte aber nur solche Leute wie mich stören, die ihre Hörbücher oft im Auto oder anderweitig bei einer gewissen Geräuschkulisse hören.(less)
This review specifically relates to the German audiobook edition, which is an abridged reading. Diese Rezension bezieht sich speziell auf die deutsche...moreThis review specifically relates to the German audiobook edition, which is an abridged reading. Diese Rezension bezieht sich speziell auf die deutsche - gekürzte - Hörbuchausgabe.
DE: Das Buch an sich mochte ich sehr und habe ihm in meiner Rezension der ungekürzten englischen Hörbuchversion auch fünf Sterne gegeben. Als ich die gezürzte deutsche Fassung in der Bibliothek entdeckte, habe ich beschlossen es einmal damit zu versuchen, obwohl ich eigentlich nicht sonderlich angetan bin von gekürzten Lesungen. Trotzdem wollte ich sehen, ob diese besser war als sonst, da ich durchaus der Ansicht bin, dass das Buch auch an ein paar Kürzungen nicht allzu leiden würde. Allerdings fand ich heraus, dass diese Produktion keine wirkliche Ausnahme zu meiner allgemeinen Meinung bildete. Ich vermisste insbesondere zwei Szenen: Einmal die Stunden im Trainingszentrum, ohne die einige der späteren Szenen aus dem Kontext gerissen schienen; die andere Szene ist das Lied, das Katniss für Rue singt. Davon abgesehen habe ich allerdings nichts wirklich im Hörbuch vermisst, insofern war meine ursprüngliche Einschätzung also korrekt und diese Produktion ist gar nicht mal so schlecht.
Die Sprecherin hatte ich vorher noch nie gehört, sodass ich mich erst an sie gewöhnen musste, aber nach einigen Titeln habe ich sie nicht mehr als störend wahrgenommen.
Alles in allem kriegt also selbst das gekürzte Hörbuch noch eine solide vier-Sterne Wertung. Es hätten sogar noch fünf Sterne werden können, wenn zumindest noch ein bisschen der Trainingsstunden dabei gewesen wären (zumindest die Trainingspunkte und Katniss' Pfeil in Richtung der Spielemacher).
EN: I enjoyed the book as a whole very much and gave it five stars in my review of the unabridged edition. When I found the German audiobook at my local library I gave it a try. Usually I'm opposed to any abridged readings. Still I was interested to see if this fared better, as I actually think that the book wouldn't be too bad being a bit shorter. However, I found that this is no exception to my general opinion. I especially missed to passages: one being the training sessions before the arena, without which some of the later scenes are quite out of context; the other is Katniss' song for Rue. Apart from that I didn't actually miss anything in this audiobook, so my original assessment was right that this production isn't too bad.
The narrator was new to me, so I needed some minutes to get accustomed to her, but after the first few tracks I didn't mind her much.
So all things considered I still give this a solid four-star rating. It might even still have been five stars, had at least some of the training session (like the training score and Katniss' arrow at the gamemakers) been included.(less)