The Devil's Diadem is a stand-alone novel by the late Sara Douglass, author of the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy. It takes usAs seen on Stumptown Books.
The Devil's Diadem is a stand-alone novel by the late Sara Douglass, author of the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy. It takes us to an alternate medieval Europe, around the 12th century, but contrary to the history books, this Europe lies on the brink of demonic disaster.
I picked this up on a whim. I have not read any Sara Douglass, although her trilogies are on my to-read list, but I thought a stand-alone novel might be a good place to start. This was, I think, a bad choice to start with, but I'll get into that in a moment. This was also the last book she wrote, as she unfortunately passed away only a few months after its publication in 2011.
There is no doubt that this novel starts agonizingly slowly. We follow our heroine, Maeb Langtofte, around as she adjusts to becoming a lady's maid, and making unwitting enemies of just about everyone she meets. This almost could have been a diary format, rather than a confession, as there is A LOT of narration. It is all in first person, and she presents it to us as her last testimony before dying.
The supernatural pops up as a matter of course - Maeb takes no great pains to explain it, as in this world, demons are practically considered no big deal. At one point early on in the narration, she sees an imp crawling up a wall, and although frightened, she doesn't remark on it particularly. Obviously she doesn't want to attract its attention, but she's also not paralyzed by fear or anything.
The first part of The Devil's Diadem revolves around a demon wrought plague that is sweeping across the land. This plague, it is HORRIFYING. Descriptions of dying from sickness don't usually get to me much, but in this case, the symptoms are so cruel and disgusting, I couldn't help but shiver a little.
It then devolves into a boring love story with Maeb constantly questioning herself, and I grew completely bored of the plot. I really wanted it to come out that she was an unreliable narrator, but apparently every word she tells us is as true as she knows it to be. I was disappointed in this, as I feel it was a huge missed opportunity.
So, after being a little bored for a majority of the novel, the words "devil's diadem" are FINALLY mentioned for the first time about 150 pages from the end. From there on out, it actually got really good. Like, really good. The pay off was amazing, and a few of the plot twists I completely did not see coming.
But was that enough?
The first 350-odd pages were shrug worthy at best, and that's a lot to read if your interest is waning.
Overall, I wanted to like it more than I did. I felt the title was misleading, and the narration had a lot of prospects that it never ventured into. After doing some research online, a number of people recommend this book if you are already a fan of Douglass' work - and I have to say I agree. Only pick this up if you loved her other books and want more of the same style. The ending made it ALMOST worth it, but it was too little, too late....more
I quite liked it, but the quick wrap up ending bugged me a little. Really original and great story, although the body count is HUGE. Also, the constanI quite liked it, but the quick wrap up ending bugged me a little. Really original and great story, although the body count is HUGE. Also, the constant mocking of what I thought sounded like a great wardrobe really wore on me after a while, as well as commenting on the looks of just about everyone....more
This book is considered "military fantasy." Who knew that was a thing? I certainly didn't. That might be because I don't coAs seen on Stumptown Books.
This book is considered "military fantasy." Who knew that was a thing? I certainly didn't. That might be because I don't consider Malazan or Song of Ice and Fire military fantasy, I consider those high fantasy. When I think "military," I think guns and push ups and Ride of the Valkyries.
If you also think of those things, this is the book for you. "Black Hawk Down meets the X-Men" is what the blurb from Peter V. Brett says on the cover, and that is a perfect description.
We hit the ground running as we drop in on Britton. He's in the middle of a mission that he is rather upset about. Immediately he questions his superior's orders, and I think all readers would cheer at his reasoning. He has a set of morals and doesn't want to compromise them. We quickly discover his kick-ass magic power early on (as in page 25; this isn't a spoiler), and the opening action sequence with Britton was set at a breakneck pace. We were hardly able to get settled before something else would go wrong, and I really started to feel bad for the guy. He was presenting us with all the problems of the system the U.S. government had put in place to deal with magic users, and I was like Yeah man! Show those guys where the power is! You can take 'em!
Very quickly, however, the action grinds to a dead halt.
We are then subjected to Britton continuing to question his superior's orders so the plot could advance. The amount of sympathy I felt for him dwindled to a pin prick. He was just so stupid. He became a whiny asshole, and that is not fun to read about. Basically, no matter what he was doing, he didn't want to be doing it. That means I don't want to be reading about it. I've read this opinion from a number of people, but for the most part they got over it and were able to enjoy Britton's point of view after a while. I'm putting this here because although I never liked him, you might!
That's Britton. All the supporting characters, on the other hand, I really liked, especially Fitzy. He was the quintessential military hardass with a seldom glimpsed heart of gold. I thought he had some real potential, if Britton would stop getting in the way. The "team" that is created is full of interesting characters, too. They were all unique and powerful in their own way.
This is just a personal preference of mine and no reflection on this book - if you can use magic, you are GOD LIKE. It takes no toll on you. You could cast magic all day long if you wanted to, just like X-Men can. I generally prefer there being something that stops you. A major calorie burn, physical exhaustion, your life force, other people's life force, whatever! If you can cast with impunity, it takes the fun out of it. There has to be a downside to being a wizard, right? In this case, the only downside is that your ass is owned by the government.
Well okay, that's a pretty big downside. If you manifest - meaning you randomly acquire the ability to cast magic - you no longer have choices. You have a rank. But Britton was already in the army when we plopped down in this whole story, so he should know how the military works. Instead, he makes more drama than any of the other characters combined.
Sorry, I keep going back to Britton. I can't help it. He bugged me.
Let's see...one of my complaints while reading it was the use of TLAs - Three Letter Acronyms. (GET IT?!) It's very military of course, but I quickly forgot what all the letters meant and was soon floundering as characters mentioned them. It wasn't until THE LAST CHAPTER that I realized there was a glossary at the back. Double damnit! Don't be like me. Use that glossary!
The setting and monsters were interesting. We didn't get to see much more than tantalizing glimpses, but I want to see more of the world Cole made for us. There were several twists throughout the story that I completely did not see coming, so bravo on that. I had no idea how the story was going to end until it did.
I also want magic users to live happily ever after. I wonder what he has in mind for the future?
The Bottom Line:
I did give it 3 stars, after all. I just wanted to like it more than I did, as the main character annoyed me too much. The best parts of the book were the opening and closing 60 pages, but the intervening 250 pages left me wanting more. There are some interesting ideas presented here, but after the initial action sequence, it was like reading about Wolverine joining the marines. It was written well enough that I am curious as to where it goes, but I won't be jumping into the sequel immediately....more
This was ALMOST there for me, but damn did I have to FORCE myself to read it everyday. The last 50 pages were a speed trial as I tried to race to theThis was ALMOST there for me, but damn did I have to FORCE myself to read it everyday. The last 50 pages were a speed trial as I tried to race to the end just so I could be done.
Mostly it seemed like fantasy ADD as Cook threw idea after idea at us, sometimes with little or no build up (such as the random wizard tower Hearst entered in - set up and denouement all in about 3 pages).
I might actually try book 4 someday; a lot of people seem to recommend that as a good starting place. Probably good advice that I totally ignored....more
It was chock full of fantasy tropes, but for some reason it just didn't bug me. The story wasn't evenSo I liked this way more than I thought I would.
It was chock full of fantasy tropes, but for some reason it just didn't bug me. The story wasn't even all that interesting - old and new soldiers arrive at a city that is about to be sieged by a horde of a bajillion tribesmen. The siege happens. The end.
There was even a two page passage in the middle told from the point of view of one of the tribesmen that actually brought tears to my eyes. What!? Crazy. I never cry. (I also always tell the truth *shifty eyes*)
I was totally surprised and even though it was a little silly, I really liked this book. Will be checking out the sequels and praying not too many things get retrofitted....more
For the right person, this book will be amazing. It has a lot of really great elements - not just blood and guts, but well-As seen on Stumptown Books.
For the right person, this book will be amazing. It has a lot of really great elements - not just blood and guts, but well-choreographed fight scenes, a sentient weapon, a memorable voice, and enough questions to keep the pages turning.
Look, I can handle fight scenes. Girls don't have to be squeamish anymore, and I can enjoy the bad guy getting his head chopped off as much as anyone. But there is something happening to fantasy lately. It is going on a deep, dark, bloody spiral, each new gritty fantasy book trying to out do the last, trying to make the deaths more gruesome, more bloody, and more detailed.
That is simply not why I love and enjoy fantasy. It doesn't all have to be unicorns and happy endings, but there has to be SOME sort of redemption, a light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to keep on reading. It just wasn't there for me in Scourge of the Betrayer.
We begin by following around a scribe, who is studiously recording these events for posterity, and our enjoyment. Immediately the question is raised - is it all true? If it is all from one bloke's point of view, can he be trusted? His work ethic is only ever mentioned as golden, so I don't think an unreliable narrator is a part of it. His voice is completely over ridden in the first part of the novel, as we get to know the people he's traveling with but not him. Eventually he becomes a little more of a person instead of just a scribe, detailing his thoughts, feelings, and decision making processes. I think this made the beginning rather agonizingly slow. I didn't want to hear about the Captain so much yet, I wanted to get to know our intrepid narrator first. Really, the Captain is the main character more than anyone.
The cast of characters isn't that large but I had a hard time keeping them straight. We're introduced to little more than a personality trait and a name and then off we go. The traits would be quickly forgotten as I tried to keep the side characters straight, and they ended up all being basically the same dude to my inner eye. I don't mind this point that much - I think this is just a simple debut author mistake and I'm not going to hold it against anyone, just making note of it.
So then, the characters who stand out are the narrator, Arki, Captain Braylar Killcoin, and Lloi. Arki started off weak but ended strong, but mostly, the Captain is basically the main character.
Now, I actually quite liked the Captain. He was the most fleshed out - he's a little bit crazy, but inspires loyalty from his followers, and has a kick ass sentient weapon. I am a complete sucker for intelligent/sentient weapons. I don't even know why, I think they are SO AWESOME. You can see him carrying it on the cover, it's that mace with the two chain heads. I love that it's not a sword, but a kick ass mace. Its power is totally crazy and original. I want to know more about this weapon!
For a debut, I think this was a strong entry. Do I think he has a lot of room to grow? Well, yes. Do I want to know what happens? Definitely. If you can get past the blood and guts, I think a reader has the potential of LOVING this book. For me, it was just okay, but I will definitely be checking out the sequels.
I will also point out that I have had no hesitation recommending this book to readers at the bookstore I work at, already sending it home with one young man. So you can see I think the series has potential, this one just got lost on me because of the brutality.
eGalley provided by Night Shade Books via NetGalley...more
That's not a very good track record to continue on with. And yet, I'm still reading them. Some deep dark part of me obviously wants to know how the story is going to end, and whether any of these characters are ever going to bite it. So that does say something for this series. It is very readable. It is so...fluffy. Bad things continue to happen but the characters are never in any real danger, because no matter what, something will save them.
I love fantasy, there is no way around that. There are of course many reasons why I love fantasy so much, but one reason was actually present in this book. Shock! I know, right? I can't help it, I really like it when characters break down and accept their fate. The readers have known it was coming since the end of book 3 (or longer, depending on how quickly you picked up that the titles basically spoil the entire series), but here, it happens. Tavi accepts who he is, and who his dad was. He will never be without responsibilities again, will never be a little boy in Calderon again. I can't help it; even if I don't like the series, that scene was moving and well done. It was a paradigm shift, and the entire rest of the book plays out around his acceptance. Nothing can ever be the same. This is a big deal!
For once, the second half of the book was not taken up by one long, drawn out battle. It is instead a lot more about sneaking around and getting a precise mission completed, rather than throwing legion after legion into battle like all the other books up until this point. A lot of blood still gets shed, of course, but I was getting very tired of half a book of set up just so we could have half a book of battle.
Unfortunately, I find just about every character insufferable.
The evolution of Finduilas is a side story I've enjoyed, up until now. I love it when bad guys become maybe-almost-kinda good guys. Friendship through adversity and all that. In this particular installment, Finduilas' story, or "Marcus," was just ok. His character was great but some of the...let's say the WAY he got his orders was completely ridiculous. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't go into details, but I feel like the nobility in this series has to have better things to do than harass Tavi out in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, that's the only hobby any of them have. Very frustrating.
Amara and Bernard are the worst. I thought their love story stilted from the beginning, while their ludicrous reasons for being married and hiding their marriage is just to create some drama. There was no real reason to write that their marriage had to be hidden, except that for some reason they are considered main characters and must therefore see some face time. Therefore: this marriage must be hidden! Let's talk about how we have to hide our love, endlessly! Plus, their mission in this book is an exercise in ridiculousness. The ONLY reason they are on such a stupid mission is to give them some face time, otherwise Bernard would be up in Calderon doing his count thing. Again, the nobility has nothing better to do than get their own hands dirty and perform their own work. I realize that the nobility houses the strongest furycrafters, but seriously, there's no one else the First Lord could have sent on this absolutely absurd quest? The entire idea behind this subplot was stupid, and then it just keeps on GOING. Walking through the swamp has never been so boring.
The evolution of Tavi has been completely unbelievable to me from the very beginning, but it became a million times worse in, Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera #3). The whole idea of Tavi wresting control of a legion, and then out thinking an entire army, was not only baffling to me, it was also so completely far fetched, I ranted about it for ages over at my review of it. Because of everything that occurred so nonsensically in book 3, book 4 picks up right where it left off, with Tavi having an entire legion so completely loyal they are all willing to do whatever he says at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, I am still in disbelief to the loyalty, as the whole reason it came around was so preposterous.
He then continues to perform death defying acts across the continent, putting himself into one stupid situation after another. I found it all to be worthless - I knew no one would die, no matter how close to death they got, and I knew Tavi would always come up with some crazy scheme, and it would always work out. The whole thing was an exercise in futility for the reader. You know what is going to happen long before it does, so what's the point of reading it? This installation was the most predictable, and I have found EVERY book in this series to be disappointingly predictable. There is no depth here, only fluff.
My last note is: I hate the vord. I have hated them since the croach crater in book 1. I'm not even sure why I dislike them so much, but I really really do. Maybe because they're a Borg-style (or Dalek-style, for that matter) villain but done poorly. Of course, I do feel that both of those villains became caricatures, and were no longer frightening by the end of their respective TV shows. We shall see how I feel after Princeps' Fury (Codex Alera #5), but I have the feeling I am going to hate that one. Big surprise!
Oh, yes! I can't forget to mention how much I hate the word "crow" now. SO MUCH! It's horrible. At least most fantasy books have a few different curse words to choose from. Having only one makes me have eye twitches....more
This was my first foray into the work of Jim C. Hines, but come to find out, after poking around the internet this past week, the guy is pretty awesomThis was my first foray into the work of Jim C. Hines, but come to find out, after poking around the internet this past week, the guy is pretty awesome. I'll admit to being completely ignorant that there was such a Hugo award as "best fan writer" until Hines won it this year - apparently it's for writers of works related to science fiction or fantasy which appear in low- or non-paying publications, such as semiprozines or fanzines (taken from Wikipedia). Now what's a semiprozine, you ask? Good question!
At any rate, Hines is obviously recognized in the genre as being a cool and talented guy. Earlier this summer, he discontinued a Reddit Q & A after discovering a, now infamous, Reddit thread asking about rape from the point of view of the rapist. I'm not going to get into how upset I was when I discovered that thread was a thing. Here's all the details about Hines' reaction and his subsequent withdrawal from the Reddit community. All that happened before I had any inkling I might be picking up Libriomancer soon, but that was an awesome move and go him for pointing out how messed up that thread was.
The first scene in Libriomancer had me giggling and mumbling with incoherent joy. The second we're plopped down into a world where the magic is based off of readers beliefs - I was sold. Normally, intense amounts of modern or genre references really get on my nerves, but for some reason, this time I was okay with it. It never came across as smug or neck beardy, just a genuine love for nerdy stuff. It helped that the protagonist was a 30-something librarian who just loved books a ton, and there was not much else to it. He basically got a wish granted that every reader would kill to have - the ability to reach into the pages and remove an item. As long as it would fit through the pages, of course.
Wow! What an amazing idea. The possibilities are practically endless. Soon I was imagining all the swords you could remove, the laser guns, the mechanical toys and gadgets. At one point he even mentions reaching into a book where a character has access to a library that holds all books, past, present, and future. Just like that, you have access to every book. EVER! The reader in me practically fainted at the possibility.
The magic system was obviously very well thought out. Hines had considered a number of possibilities, such as the One Ring, and made a safeguard against them making it into our world. Books lose their power if you abuse them, and using magic wears you out as much as going for a run does, that sort of thing. It's important to have little things like that planned for, otherwise your characters become unstoppable machines way too quickly.
A friend on Goodreads brought up a good point - what about e-readers? Does it work if the words are there but the book is not? I am leaning towards no, because of a few ground rules Hines lays down. Like you can't just print a book to be bigger and therefore be able to remove a bigger item. But reading the words on an e-reader still creates a common belief system. I've read the exact same Twilight that everyone else did, it was just on a different screen. So then what about the internet? A monitor is just a more complicated e-reader, after all. So what, by proxy, about TV or movies?
That got complicated really fast. But e-readers are a valid point, and a lot of modern readers are moving away from bound books. I will be interested to see if he takes this anywhere in the sequels.
So, the magic system was AMAZING. What about the story and the characters?
I enjoyed the roller coaster ride of the story. We fling around the Midwest, trying to defeat bad guys. All the time we glean more information about the magic system, while Isaac slowly learns more about the shadowy society he's always been a part of. The stakes get higher quickly, and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. I was also constantly interested in what new toy he was going to pull out of some random sci-fi novel, of course, but he only does so because shit starts to go wrong. It got to the point where I couldn't wait for an action scene because I wanted to see what he would pull out. That is the exact opposite of how I usually read books, where I often dread long action scenes.
Isaac has a familiar, and he is awesome. It's a little fire spider named Smudge that Isaac had libriomanced out of some fantasy book or another. He was unable to put the spider back in because Smudge would burn the book whenever he came close. Heehee! I love it. He was an awesome little sidekick and I look forward to hearing more about him in the future.
Now, the love story...therein lie all my issues with this book.
It was uncomfortable at best, and unrealistic and insulting at worst. Without getting into it too much, basically the love interest is a nymph whose powers stem from her ability to become whatever her love interest wants her to be.
Let's go over that again. The libriomancer, Isaac, has the super power to pull whatever the crap he wants out of a book and do some awesome shit with it. The love interest, the nymph, has the super power of sexual wish fulfillment.
Why, when he had the entirety of human knowledge and fantasy at his fingertips, is THAT the love interest he went with? Anything she did, I felt dirty reading. She's not her own person, she's only whatever her current lover wants her to be. She has no thoughts or actions of her own.
Alright, so she spends a large part of the book explaining that and hoping and wanting to change her nature. It doesn't matter, she is CREEPY, and she can't change who she is. Even the way that storyline resolves itself is an uncomfortable fantasy fulfillment. Now, when I say that, I mean it is a fantasy fulfillment ONLY FOR MEN. And especially for nerd men, who might have issues with relationships. Problem solved! Give them a female who will actualize their every fantasy.
Sure, Isaac professes to have issues with it, but it doesn't matter. He still wants her to be his.
If anyone needs an example as to why nerd men fail at writing women, this is it. That's not to say they all do. Sometimes it can be great. But this particular romance is the exemplar of what nerd guys do wrong when writing women. It's unhealthy to look at women this way, folks. That should be a no-brainer.
Goddamn I hated this part.
Okay, deep breaths.
Setting the love interest aside, very carefully.
After that rant you're probably asking why I gave this 4 stars. Seriously, besides the love interest, I enjoyed everything else about this book. Maybe future novels will fix my issues with that part. In the meantime, this was a really fun ride. Anyone who enjoys reading will love it, and especially if you are into sci-fi or fantasy....more
This was published as Red Star Rising in the UK, a much better title in my opinion. I guess it didn't scream BUY ME I'M ABOAs seen on Stumptown Books.
This was published as Red Star Rising in the UK, a much better title in my opinion. I guess it didn't scream BUY ME I'M ABOUT DRAGONS enough to the American audience.
Every Pern book I read, I wonder if it is going to be the last. I want to be able to finish the series, mostly because I like completing things. It is becoming a chore of epic proportions to get through each successive novel; this one was by far the worst yet.
It is a familiar story at this point. Thread is on the way, and one holder, Chalkan of Bitra, doesn't believe it's coming. The "pass" this time is the second one ever in the history of humans on Pern. Landing was made about 250 years ago, so there are still some remnants of the knowledge of the First Crossing, but a lot of it has faded. They still have access to a few decrepit old computers (a computer that ran for 250 years?! Who made it? I want one) and solar panels, for example, but everything from Earth is becoming more and more rare. Weyrs are set up, and most of the holds the readers have become familiar with over the course of the series are there. The southern continent is completely abandoned and things like craft halls have not yet become the norm. There is no Harper Hall yet, for example.
Dragonseye essentially tells us the story of how Pern started down the path to become the Pern of Lessa and F'lar about 2,000 years/turns in the future. The creation of the star stones is explained so no one can doubt that Thread is on its way. The craft halls are formed so vital information is not lost to the rigors of time.
The problem is, I was okay leaving those mysteries to a simple "our ancestors sure were smart now let's go ride our dragons into the sunset." That is how these things were always explained away before. Well, I thought, I'm going to continue giving this a shot because maybe the characters will be memorable. Unfortunately...no. Every character is a lesser version of their counterparts in the original trilogy. The bad guy is TIRED, and I was completely disinterested in his multitudinous villainies. He is the exact same creep as the bad guy in every other Pern novel, with a slightly different name. I was bored with that formula ages ago, when Toric became the villain.
The other characters are introduced so quickly and haphazardly that none of them were the least bit memorable. Dragon riders and their mounts are thrown at us in list form, and then we are supposed to remember not only which rider has which dragon, but also what color that dragon is and which Weyr they hail from. If you introduce 15 characters within a chapter, I'm not going to remember every detail, that's just how it is. Where's the editor here? Check out this list of all the characters. It's gigantic. And there is never another novel set in the second pass, so most of those characters are wasted. I would have vastly preferred getting to know a handful rather than be bombarded by a million nonessential and inconsequential redshirts.
I give it 2 stars only because it is Anne and she has a warm place in my heart. I consider myself a HUGE fan of Pern, but this simply didn't cut the mustard. Do not read unless you are more fanatic of Anne McCaffrey's works than I am....more
I was in the mood for some simple farmboy-to-prophesied-savior fantasy. Usually I save this sort of thing for the winter, wAs seen on Stumptown Books.
I was in the mood for some simple farmboy-to-prophesied-savior fantasy. Usually I save this sort of thing for the winter, when I want comfort food, but, well, the reader's heart wants what it wants. So I picked up the first book of what is generally considered one of the pulpiest fantasy series ever made, Pawn of Prophecy, book one of The Belgariad.
With the knowledge of exactly what I was getting into, it fulfilled exactly what I wanted. Maybe someday if I read the entire series, I'll look back and think it was a great series, but right now, it's just derivative fantasy. There's just no way around that. The story is full of cliches, from a mysterious "ring wraith" black shrouded character, to everyone in the adventuring party magically being either royalty or on par with royalty, to Garion, the main character, being a orphan living on a farm. There are no surprises here, this has all been done before.
I would only recommend this if you are looking at it the same exact way I was. It's not ground breaking or even particularly good fantasy, but it does fulfill a particular niche. If you can find it in you to somehow like R.A. Salvatore novels, you'll probably like this. Sometimes I just want to read some brainless fantasy that I'm not going to get upset at the characters dying, and here it is! I might even read the next one next time I want some chicken soup/comfort food book....more
2 stars because it's a self published debut and that shit is hard to do. Negative a million stars for the endless exposition. Seriously, the entire bo2 stars because it's a self published debut and that shit is hard to do. Negative a million stars for the endless exposition. Seriously, the entire book was paragraphs upon paragraphs of exposition. Also many typos. I might write a full review but I feel bad, I apparently hate fantasy debuts because I always give them 1 or 2 stars. Who knew I was so mean :(...more
When I first read through this series about a decade ago, I loved Elayne. She was beautiful, a princess, and she was a redAs seen on Stumptown Books.
When I first read through this series about a decade ago, I loved Elayne. She was beautiful, a princess, and she was a red head like me. I was not the critical reader I strive to be today. Reading through any chapter voiced by Nynaeve or Elayne has become an absolute chore - much like they CONSTANTLY say to each other, I just want to pick them up and shake them. Why are all the women in these books so bloody stubborn? I'd almost like to think that I learned what NOT to do in my life based off these absolutely terrible role models, but who are we kidding here? At least I don't jerk my braid, smooth my skirts, or even know what it means to box someones ears. That sounds like a bully to me. Although I have been known to cross my arms beneath my breasts because NEWS FLASH! That's the only place to really put your arms when you cross them.
While a lot of this book is frustrating (read: anything involving Nynaeve and Elayne), a number of pretty awesome things happen. The problem is there's so much to wade through to get to them, and endless descriptions of characters we'll never see again really bog it down. Or maybe we will see them again, but we won't remember because we were introduced to 400 other characters in the interim. I wish I were exaggerating.
First of all, Mat is a point of view. He has never failed me yet at being awesome, and there is an amazing scene involving him and Birgitte. 'Ware spoilers in the link. I would be even happier with Mat if he stopped following the Wonder Girls around, but in the desert, the man with the bottle of Evian is king. Or...something like that.
Anyway...then some shit happens to Elaida that actually made me feel a little bad for her. In the very beginning of the book, so no spoilers, she has a Foretelling. Try to keep the Foretelling in mind whenever Elaida comes up for the next few books, because we all know she simply can't succeed. Right? I hope? I've only read up through book 9 before so I'm almost into new territory here! It's going to be frightening when I don't know who's going to survive.
You're right, now that I've thought about it, Nynaeve does redeem herself a little in this book. A very memorable scene happens to her, that I remembered all these years later when the rest of the books have faded to obscurity. It doesn't matter too much yet but I have always loved Lan. I just want the guy to be happy!
Once again it was a long book with a very quick and unsatisfactory pay off. This is also the first time Jordan wrote the ending as ambiguous - we're never really sure if the Forsaken Rand fights is dead or not. It was strange and left me only halfheartedly excited for the next novel.
hah, who am I kidding, I can't put this shit down....more
Much of the charm of His Majesty's Dragon was completely lost in this second installment. In that book, it was a gradual buAs seen on Stumptown Books.
Much of the charm of His Majesty's Dragon was completely lost in this second installment. In that book, it was a gradual build up to the awesome end action scene against Napoleon's armies. In this novel, we get to ride a boat and talk about food and clothing for about 300 pages before anything interesting even happens.
Some of my favorite parts of the first book were the completely endearing and sweet conversations between Temeraire and Laurence. For example, “I should rather have you than a heap of gold, even if it were very comfortable to sleep on." BEST DRAGON EVER! I wanted more of the exact same interactions, but unfortunately, most of the book it seems Temeraire and Laurence aren't even speaking. Whenever they do speak, it feels like they are always on the verge of cross words. Most of their conversations revolve around 19th century politics, bringing up slavery and bigotry, and Temeraire is even forced to ask if he owns himself - or is he the king's property. Some of it was interesting, but by the end of the ship voyage I was tired even of these miniscule conversations Temeraire and Laurence had, as it was invariably going to be brow beating us with politics.
They spend 8 months on a boat, traveling to China. And boy, do we really get to FEEL those 8 months. The entire ship storyline took an insanely long time, and it was just straight up boring. I wanted some action in China damnit. We eventually arrive in China, sure, but only about the last 100 pages of this 400 page novel is devoted to that. Talk about feeling rushed. We are bombarded with new characters who we never really get to know, and then a deus ex machina ending is thrown at us out of the blue. And then...it was just over.
I was completely disappointed by this novel. I will be continuing the series but I hope it returns to its roots....more
This was a strange one. I feel like I am exactly the target audience: I was a quiet girl in high school aAs seen on Stumptown Books.
Actual rating: 3.5
This was a strange one. I feel like I am exactly the target audience: I was a quiet girl in high school and was never without a novel to read, and also kept a diary. This book was made for the 15-year-old me. And yet, it still didn't quite hit the mark it was going for.
It is essentially a love letter to classic science fiction. If you have more knowledge of that genre than I do, I can definitely see getting a lot of enjoyment just out of recognizing all the books Mori mentions. Here's the complete list of every book mentioned in Among Others - it goes on and on! I got a lot of awesome recommendations, as I had only read a mere fraction of all the books paid tribute. Unfortunately, that means my eyes inadvertently glazed over a lot when lists of books were being rattled off. I couldn't help it. They simply didn't mean anything to me besides titles. So to enjoy this book as you are meant to, I feel like you have to be very well versed in some pretty obscure sci-fi. Otherwise a lot of the book will simply pass you by, like it did me.
So if you are like me, and many of the titles were just that - mere titles, with no story that you're aware of. There was still something that came across that said "You are a reader. I am a reader. We have something in common, even if it is only that." No matter what happens in life, no matter where you go, there will always be books. Even if you have no one to talk to them about, someone, somewhere, has read that book and loved it as much as you did. The reader community is one I hold near and dear to my heart, and there is nothing I like more than talking about books to people. Anyone who considers themselves a "reader" can identify with this, and understand some of this book simply because of that fact. Reading sci-fi and fantasy makes me feel so hopeful for the future - and this book set a tone that reminisces on what it was like to remember discovering sci-fi and fantasy for the first time.
The novel is in diary format which I enjoyed, because that seemed very real and made the characters close. I can totally see Mori alternately scribbling down everything that happens in her life, going to class, and spending any free moment reading. Thankfully she is very thorough. Sometimes when books are written as diaries it is easy to fall victim to the "Oh I haven't mentioned this person yet but we met last month and now I'm going to talk about her/him." Everyone important was always acknowledged as they appeared. Unfortunately, that meant that while we got to hear about Mori's mother every once in a while, she was never actually there, and her evil influence was not tangible enough. The climax felt rather dismal because of this.
Overall, the characters were strong but the story was weak, and it was more about the books Mori was reading than the book Among Others. I'm honestly not sure who I would recommend it for, as I feel like I was the exact right person but I still thought it was missing something.
Among Others won the 2012 Nebula Award for best novel and was also nominated for the 2012 Hugo Awards - congratulations Jo!
On an unrelated note, Jo Walton is a blogger for Tor.com, and I HIGHLY recommend her blog. It's awesome; she's a great writer!
Also, I didn't know who Cory Doctorow was upon reading the blurb on the front cover. I have now remedied that. I am ashamed....more
Another awesome cover. Look at that haircut, man. LOOK AT IT.
Didn't hold up that well, I thought. The clothes and music are incredibly 80s, and now thAnother awesome cover. Look at that haircut, man. LOOK AT IT.
Didn't hold up that well, I thought. The clothes and music are incredibly 80s, and now the "I'm a normal person recruited into the dark underworld of FAERIE!" is so overdone. I know this was one of the first, kind of ground breaking in that respect, but now it's kind of dated.
I loved that it was written by a woman. There's never any "But you're a GIRL, you can't do that." All the sexuality is really tastefully handled.
I keep wavering on whether to give it 3 or 4 stars, but honestly I think I'm being bullied (metaphorically) because it has so many die hard fans. So 3 it is....more
I didn't think this was rave awesome awesome like a lot of the reviewers on here, but it was alright. I generally love Arthurian stuff. I've read a shI didn't think this was rave awesome awesome like a lot of the reviewers on here, but it was alright. I generally love Arthurian stuff. I've read a shit ton, and this was an interesting take on Mordrid. The part at the end where (view spoiler)[they're walking through the woods as prisoner/generic douchebag (hide spoiler)] drug on for way too long and I got bored of it....more
Well, I'm pretty sad about this. Not going to be continuing, the writing isn't evocative enough for me. Lots of telling me exactly what someone is feeWell, I'm pretty sad about this. Not going to be continuing, the writing isn't evocative enough for me. Lots of telling me exactly what someone is feeling/doing instead of letting it occur naturally. I really wanted to like this too :(...more
I honestly don't even know where to begin with this review. I LOVED this book. And if you look through my review history, you'll know that's a rarity. How do I even write 5-star reviews? I don't get much practice!
The story presented is a simple enough concept: Dev is a smuggler of magical goods. He crosses the Whitefire Mountains in order to smuggle these goods into a neighboring kingdom. This time, his cargo isn't merely a few trinkets or amulets, but a young man, Kiran. Hijinks ensue.
Sounds simple, right? I thought it was going to be, too. I thought it was going to be formulaic, but immediately I was caught off guard - the narrator changed to Kiran, the young man paying to be smuggled across the border. Not only does it change to him, but it shifts from Dev's first person narration, to Kiran's third person. That means that while we get to listen in on Dev's thoughts and get to know him intimately, Kiran remains a mystery for much longer. I'm pretty sure Dev only swears in his thoughts, never out loud, but I can't find my notes now. Have some examples! These are each character's opening lines.
I knew right from the moment I opened Bren's back room door this job was going to be trouble. See, here's how it should go: Bren, waiting, alone, with a packet on the table and my advance payment in his hand. Simple and no surprises. So when I saw Bren, waiting, not alone, and no package on the table, I got a little twitchy.
Kiran shifted from foot to foot beside a trellis covered in night-blooming jasmine. For the hundredth time, he stared up at the pattern of stars visible above Lizaveta's courtyard wall. The hour of his rendezvous with Dev was fast approaching. Yet without Lizaveta's promised aid, he dared not leave Ninaval.
You can already tell so much about the characters just from those few lines. Dev is abrupt and a little uncouth, Kiran is educated and cautious.
So just the simple act of reading is an enjoyable experience. You jump back and forth between the two narrators, but it is never jolting, it is always a fluid transition. You never get to see the same scene twice, for example. If something happens during Kiran's chapters, Dev's will pick up right where it left off.
This book was character driven. I fell instantly in love with both characters for completely different reasons, but I HAD to know what was going on.
Like most fantasy novels, we're dropped in the middle of a setting and expected to play catch up. This novel REALLY expects you to play catch up, as the characters drop hints to their back story that we do not get to see until they say it to each other. This might drive you crazy. I thought it fit in perfectly. Why would Dev be thinking about his past in simple black and white terms for us to understand? That's not how thoughts work! We only get to see his past when he starts explaining it to Kiran.
A lot of fuss has been made about making the mountains in this book approachable. I live in the PAC NW (obviously, by the name of my blog!) so I get to see beautiful mountains a lot. Driving over the I-405 bridge on a clear day is an amazing treat, offering a view of both Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. I think they are very pretty mountains.
And that's about where my knowledge of mountains ends!
Trust me, you do not need to know anything about mountains to still find them majestic, gigantic, and deadly in this book. They are the background for the journey part of the novel, but they are just as easy to imagine as any well-written fantasy setting.
Honestly, the first part of the book, being the actual "crossing" part, is a little slow. Everything I said earlier about loving that we don't get the character's pasts right away also means we have to stay interested without much to show for it for a while.
Trust me my friends, it is worth it!
The bottom line:
One of my favorite novels of the year so far. The character voices are unique and memorable, without any unnecessary romance, blood, or evilness mucking it up or forcing the characters into stupid decisions.
I loved it.
Check back in October for an interview with Courtney Schafer, as well as her Non-European Fantasy by Women recommendations!
Also please note that this book is only $3.99 on the Kindle right now. How can you say no to that? YOU CAN'T....more
I am so happy I discovered the list of Non-European Fantasy by Women and made it a goal to read as many on the list as possible (hence the shelf name)I am so happy I discovered the list of Non-European Fantasy by Women and made it a goal to read as many on the list as possible (hence the shelf name). So far it has been full of absolute gems, and this book is no exception.
The first 50 pages read like a level in Dynasty Warriors. I was so pumped up and wanted Tomoe Gozen to keep on fighting. It was rad. Of course, like all good samurai stories, it is not the fighting that is the center point, but some point of revenge or honor. It was kind of about revenge, but mostly about bushido and lost honor.
Her being a woman was never a point of contention and there were never any leering drunks saying "Hey cute warrior lady come sit on my lap." It was just accepted that she was one of the best samurai in the realm.
I did think the last third dragged a little. But the culmination of the story actually occurred in the epilogue, and it was a pretty awesome fight.
The sequel has been a little difficult to find - according to my Inter Library Loan search, there are only 49 copies within the nation's library system. Hopefully I will get it soon, though....more
I talk a lot about the journey of the hero, because it is a story format I will love over and over again. It is used ad nauAs seen on Stumptown Books.
I talk a lot about the journey of the hero, because it is a story format I will love over and over again. It is used ad nauseum in the fantasy genre, and lately a lot of authors are trying to subvert the old stereotypes to bring out fresh stories. I admire their tenacity. I also admire the journey of the hero though, especially when it is done right.
Oh! questing reader, constantly searching for a story to love, may I introduce you to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon? Not only does it do the journey right, but it's a heroine! And, my friends, she is awesome. Minli is a great role model for any child - she is tenacious and clever, coming up with quick fixes to otherwise scary situations. And of course makes a number of friends along the way.
Chinese folk lore and fairy tales are woven in seamlessly as characters sit down and talk not just about their past, but also how the love of stories affects and teaches us. I loved this! The stories meant so much coming from each separate character. Eventually, the information we're given through stories comes together with the Minli storyline. I was happy making the discovery as an adult, so I can only imagine a child enjoying this read would take great pleasure it discovering the story lines twisting together.
I read this short book in only one sitting, I loved it so much. I then immediately texted my cousin, a fourth grade teacher, telling him I had a book he absolutely needed to read to his class.
"What book?" He asked.
"It's called Where the Mountain Meets the Moon! By Grace Lin! It's this eastern fairy tale woven in with..."
"Oh, yeah." He interrupted. "We read that school wide last year. Grace Lin came by and talked to the kids, it was great."
Well fine! Take the wind out of sails why don't you. He said Ms. Lin was really gracious and all the kids went wild when they realized who she was. He loved it, the kids loved it, I loved it - that means, you might love it too! I highly recommend it as a quick, simple, but great, adventurous read....more
"Every cat is an echo of the first cat I knew, the little nun, Shisutako."
"And it was twilight one day in the ninth month, and the world was shades of"Every cat is an echo of the first cat I knew, the little nun, Shisutako."
"And it was twilight one day in the ninth month, and the world was shades of dim purple, like my subtlest robes. The little nun stepped slowly off the veranda to a stone, and then to the round gravel of my courtyard, her fur taking on the same lilac tones as the air. She made her unsteady way toward the mossy shadows beneath a copse of red and white pine in the gardens. "Wait-" I said to her, but she was well beyond the sound of my voice, and had never attended me in any case. She paused for a moment at the copse's edge to carefully sniff some small bush; and then she stepped tidily into the darkness, and did not return."
I can't handle this book, everything about cats is making me cry.
Finished now. The passage I quoted above is still the best part of the book. The first third was the best, but the tortoiseshell's storyline got pretty boring. I also was waiting to hear more about Domei, but it never happened. At the end I thought it was rather unsatisfactory, but I think she was going for a "we end up regretting more in our life than is ever resolved and you're not gonna get an epiphany with this book cause death isn't like that." I KNEW that, but I still wanted it. I wanted there to be some tearful gathering of old friends before going on the final journey.
The first 60 pages or so are brilliant though....more
Both of these novels (I'm including Fudoki) were just a little flat for me. I thought the medieval Japan was really cool (and a little terrifying - IBoth of these novels (I'm including Fudoki) were just a little flat for me. I thought the medieval Japan was really cool (and a little terrifying - I mean the ladies could never leave their house, like, ever. Kill me now). But I never felt like any of the characters actually loved each other.
The writing was beautiful and evocative, and everything was totally imaginable even if it was so foreign to me....more
Strangely anti-woman. Cija hates every woman she comes across, but thinks she herself is pretty awesome. Somehow, this became endearing as she was paiStrangely anti-woman. Cija hates every woman she comes across, but thinks she herself is pretty awesome. Somehow, this became endearing as she was painted quite well as both ignorant and innocent. Basically everyone in the novel, women included, are constantly telling her she needs to wise up, and she blissfully ignores them.
For some unknown reason, somewhere along the line, this first book was divided into two volumes. It's easy to come across the entire book as it was originally published, or the first half, but the second half, published as The Serpent, Part 2: The Dragon, is incredibly difficult to track down.
This is the last line of my copy, the DIVIDED version. If this is also the last line of your copy, I have bad news for you.
(view spoiler)["His eyes were not fixed, staring glassily into space as the governor's had been; Smahil's eyes sought mine, and his were vivid with life, triumphant, tender, mocking." (hide spoiler)]
Hopefully this will help your search, as I couldn't figure out for a long time whether the copy I had was divided or not.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more