Honestly, the movie took all the best parts of this book and made them even better. I can see why the book has kind of fallen to the wayside as a chilHonestly, the movie took all the best parts of this book and made them even better. I can see why the book has kind of fallen to the wayside as a children's classic, in preference of things like C.S. Lewis.
Having finished it, what's the first thing I nonchalantly stumble upon on the internet? Intense Oz creepiness from before the 1939 movie. Check it out
An important question to answer before beginning the Wheel of Time series is when you want to read this prequel. It takes pAs seen on Stumptown Books.
An important question to answer before beginning the Wheel of Time series is when you want to read this prequel. It takes place before The Eye of the World, book 1, but was written after Crossroads of Twilight, book 10. It contains spoilers for up through book 6 or so. If it is the first book of the series you read, a lot of things will be ruined, and it would be confusing, as it assumes the reader is familiar with the world.
In other words, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FIRST. This review contains minor spoilers up through book 6, too, so, fair warning.
I decided to read the series in published order, so I picked this up, begrudgingly, after book 10. Why begrudgingly you ask? Because Crossroads of Twilight was so soul-crushing and boring, I didn't want to pick up another filler book. And that is what this is - filler. There is nothing here that is necessary to the story. Indeed, it is a book full of events we have already had second-hand throughout the rest of the series, mostly being Moiraine focusing on her quest to discover the Dragon Reborn and bonding Lan as a warder.
What is new? Well, we get to see Moiraine again after an absence of... *counts on fingers*... 5 books and about 4,000 pages. I missed her. I wanted her back in my life. We get to experience her viewing of the prophecy of the actual moment Rand is born, and learn a little more of her friendship with Siuan Sanche. A few new Aes Sedai are mentioned but no one that will be important ever again. Moiraine bonding Lan was a lot better told as a campfire story way back in book 2 (so, so long ago now) than actually reading about it.
I'm pretty sure this is the first and only time characters spend any time in Kandor or Arafel, so if you want to know some more about the other borderlands, here's your chance.
My favorite part of New Spring was that we got some chapters told from the point of view of Lan, and he waxes reminiscent about Malkier. I love the whole Malkier story, and love that we finally got to see some of its history and politics. There are two characters introduced in these chapters that will come into play briefly in later books (as in, they are mentioned. That's about it), but they are not absolutely necessary to know about.
So...that leaves me at basically recommending to read the Wheel of Time wikipedia article of Malkier and call it good. If you're a completionist like myself, then perhaps you can get some joy out of finishing a Wheel of Time book really quickly, because it only has 334 pages. Sitting down for an hour and being almost 20% done was its own reward. Otherwise, onward and upward to greener pastures, and book 11!...more
**spoiler alert** All in all pretty enjoyable. Surprised I had never heard of it before, and the (several) climaxes were great. A quick summary would**spoiler alert** All in all pretty enjoyable. Surprised I had never heard of it before, and the (several) climaxes were great. A quick summary would be:
1. We are told the boat sinks, in what we assume must be towards the end of the novel 2. Main characters make their way towards said boat, immediately setting off alarms bells of "No you idiot! Don't get on the boat!" 3. Boat shenanigans, in which varying levels of the conspiracy are unveiled 4. Main character leaves the boat, and thus follows a series of trials and tribulations that were so utterly ridiculous it lost me a. The amazing coincidence machine b. The main character is god like with usage of coincidences c. Love interest 5. Everyone makes their way back to the boat 6. Climaxes
The only part that lost me would be point 4. I hate the amazing coincidence machine. SO MUCH. Otherwise, it kept my interest, the varying cultures were diverse enough that I had no problem keeping them straight, and the magic was cool and original. Would recommend for fantasy lovers....more
What an interesting book! Although fantasy will always be my first love, I'm trying to become more familiar with sci-fi theAs seen on Stumptown Books.
What an interesting book! Although fantasy will always be my first love, I'm trying to become more familiar with sci-fi themes.
For example, I had never heard of a von Neumann machine. It's an important point to know about before going into this book as it's never really stated. Von Neumann machines are a sci-fi idea that originated in lectures from the late 1940s, given by John von Neumann, where he postulates about a robot that self-replicates with materials taken from its environment. Cylons are considered a form of von Neumann machines, for example. A lot of the time, von Neumanns are referred to as enemies, sent off into space because humans thought it would be cool to send out self-replicating space probes, but they come back smarter, bigger, and angrier, within a few years.
The vN (as I shall refer to them from here on out) in this book are completely humanoid robots. They eat all sorts of materials just to keep themselves running, like plastics and metals. At a certain point, if they eat enough, they will "iterate," that is, replicate, a baby form of themselves, which then goes out in the world to do the same thing. It seemed like this had been going on long enough that there should have been some sort of global crisis at the lack of materials, but that's not really what the book is about. Although there are a lot of unemployed humans because vN come in and do the same job for cheaper, the main focus of the novel is about Amy evolving into a different kind of vN.
It was interesting to read the decisions the author made when it came to her evolving. For example, Amy is considered a "Portia" model, as Portia was the first vN of her line. There are now hundreds of Portias running around, as they iterate and spread around. All sorts of crazy ideas are thrown at us - if Amy eats a piece of another model, she gains some of their special quirks. This was an especially questionable idea when she realized that eating her granny - the original Portia - made her a part of Amy's mainframe. Oops.
I'm a huge fan of the Three Laws of Robotics and all the crap that can go wrong with them, and they are employed with gusto here. A question that was raised for me is that the robots in this case are as intelligent as any human - so the three laws severely limit them. It felt inhumane. It felt like the robots needed more human rights, really, and that's a big deal to make your reader feel that way. The vN will always want to help a human, for example. Even if that human is a pedophile. I wish this concept had been explored a little more, it was really intriguing to see how Amy reacted to these ideas.
Amy is a great character. She's an adult, with all the privileges and responsibility that go along with that, but she was a kindergartner literally last week, with all the wide-eyed innocence and inherent trust that goes along with that. It was interesting to see her thrust into the world, but we get the chance to learn it along with her, since she started so young. Nice use of a plot device there, it worked quite well.
Javier was probably my favorite character, as he showed us all the ways vN aren't human. His morals are askew compared to Amy's, but it sounds like he's more the norm than she is. It was nice to be able to contrast two different vN models, and I would have liked getting to know some of the other models as well. Maybe the next book!
The world-building was also well done. It had a lot of elements of our world, just slightly different, so it was easy to identify with and imagine. It takes place in the year...2060 or so I think, and besides having a million vN running around, the world hasn't changed that much.
So why only three stars?
I did enjoy it, obviously. I liked the characters and the setting. It was shaping up to be a solid 4-star book - not my absolute favorite of the year, but a book that I would recommend without hesitation. Unfortunately, the ending completely lost me. Amy stops being the character we've come to empathize with over the course of the novel. There's a random digression into something that was only hinted at once or twice throughout the whole book, so I just didn't care all that much. The ending was a big disappointment, and it colored my enjoyment.
Overall, a book that explores a lot of interesting robot concepts while keeping it completely human. I will be reading the sequel when it is released.
A note on the physical copy - the typeset was crazy huge for some reason, and every time I opened it up to read, it was jarring. It looks like a middle grade novel, all the letters are that large. And this is sooo not meant for young adults. It seems an odd choice for a sci-fi novel....more
I picked this book up because I planned on reading Huntress. This book was written first, so I thought, "Sure, I'll give itAs seen on Stumptown Books.
I picked this book up because I planned on reading Huntress. This book was written first, so I thought, "Sure, I'll give it a try, even if this is not my normal bag."
The first thing to note is that this is a fairy tale retelling. Ask yourself: do you like fairy tale retellings? They usually take elements of a story that you know and love and change them. Sometimes that in itself is enough to turn some people off. I am not one of those - I dislike fairy tale retellings for entirely different reasons, not the least of them being I just find them boring. The end is always a foregone conclusion. The story follows trials and tribulations right up until the moment where they kiss and then BAM, the book is over.
I thought the idea of a lesbian Cinderella intriguing, and I dislike that anyone would find that in itself shocking. Why do fairy tale retellings have to stay in the archaic medieval mode that heterosexuality is the only accepted norm. Don't lesbians deserve a happy ending and someone to sweep them off their feet? Of course! How many stories can I name where that happens?
Yeah I can't come up with any either. It's rather sad, isn't it? There are so many young girls (be they straight, gay, or undecided) and all they get to read about is crappy vampire romance where no one is gay, ever. I know, I'm making sweeping generalizations here. Please, if you know any good titles, share them with me. The best part of the fantasy genre is that anything goes. So why is the genre, as a whole, afraid of GLBT relationships?
While I liked the idea, it could have been so much more. There was no conflict. I enjoyed there was none of the "You can't do that, you're a GIRL!" or "You can't love her, she's a GIRL!" Her sexuality was accepted and not a word was said. I like that it was accepted, I just wanted there to be SOME sort of conflict, a question, an uncomfortable situation, ANYTHING. She falls in love without ever really questioning herself. There is no rocky relationship start; everything falls into place just about perfectly. There was never any question that the two would end up together.
Getting through the years of 12-15 years old is hard. That's why there's so much awesome literature about coping with adolescence; that period of life sucks. How much harder is it when you are also coping with sexual identity? When the entire world is telling you that heterosexuality is the only way you will ever be accepted, it is a seriously big deal. So to brush it off like it isn't a big deal...well, that's one way of telling a story, I guess. While I want more GLBT relationships in fantasy, and I want young girls to be able to read literature that will help them become strong women who accept themselves, this is simply not the book to do it.
Of course, the climax of the love story did still manage to make me feel happy for Ash. I couldn't help it, that part was nicely done. That was the only time the two characters felt alive to me - the entire rest of the book they felt wooden and boring.
Ash spends the first part of the novel going through the well known, but modern, Cinderella origins, with dead father and evil step mother and all that. Once she actually becomes a servant, the story essentially stops being Cinderella. The prince is still a character and he goes through all the normal Cinderella stuff - which was pretty hilarious actually. He's running around in the background trying to find the mystery girl he danced with, and Ash is all "Who wants a prince when I could have that awesome Huntress." I really like that Malinda Lo decided to make it the Huntress and not a princess. Princesses and damsels in distress are not only a heterosexual fantasy, they focus on the men swooping in. So, high five Malinda.
Overall, this book left me feeling completely neutral. I didn't hate it, but I found nothing to love....more
Last week I started planning for a Wheel of Time themed Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I got a few friends, most of whom haAs seen on Stumptown Books.
Last week I started planning for a Wheel of Time themed Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I got a few friends, most of whom have read at least a few Wheel of Time books, all fired up about the idea. The possibilities of story lines came at me faster than I could write down bullet points; there would be so many awesome things I could do with this world. And having a Dungeon Master who is passionate about the material he or she is working with is the first step to having a successful DnD campaign. If the DM believes it will work, it mostly likely will.
I am obviously a DIE-HARD Wheel of Time fan to be passionate enough about it that I want to spend hours every week writing story lines and acting out characters for the enjoyment of my players.
And yet even I couldn't stand this book. It was that bad.
I never thought I would advise to read chapter summaries instead of reading a book, but I'm doing it. It is more important, to me, that someone continues to read the series than allow any sort of love that might have been slowly growing over the first 9 books to wallow and die in book 10. Unless you blindly love this series even more than I, that is what is going to happen. It is why so many Robert Jordan fans departed the ranks after Crossroads of Twilight. Don't let this happen to you! Read chapter summaries and power through to book 11 (I also recommend skipping New Spring). Hell, you could probably get away with reading the last 10 pages and calling it good.
On the bright side, it's only up from here....more
That was strange. Funny and depressing. I liked it though, and would be great to read out loud. Also, there are recipes at the end of every chapter, aThat was strange. Funny and depressing. I liked it though, and would be great to read out loud. Also, there are recipes at the end of every chapter, and they are AWESOME. I seriously want to try cooking all of them. Especially the butterscotch chow mein noodle cookies. YUMMY!...more
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
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