Wanted to read this before the movies ruin it. I love this book SO MUCH but I haven't read it in 15 years - or maybe more. It was just as awesome as i...moreWanted to read this before the movies ruin it. I love this book SO MUCH but I haven't read it in 15 years - or maybe more. It was just as awesome as it used to be. Maybe more so, because I've read so much more fantasy now. Very curious to see how they're going to do ring vision in the movie, because Bilbo wears it a ton more than Frodo did. When Bilbo is in the elven king's castle he doesn't take it off for like a month. If I had to put up with creepy shadows for that long I would probably go insane.(less)
What a great idea for a book! The early 1800s is one of my favorite periods of history, and...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
What a great idea for a book! The early 1800s is one of my favorite periods of history, and I can hardly believe no one thought of this idea before. It takes all the best parts of Patrick O'Brian and Anne McCaffrey and mixes them together in one great action packed dragon soup. How could you go wrong with that!
The language is the first thing I noticed and loved. It is seamless and easy to understand, but is undeniably old fashioned and perfect for the time period Ms. Novik chose. The gentlemanly airs everyone puts on, and the insults to honor if you but look at someone askance, had me grinning and begging for more. Indeed, a few times Captain Will Laurence was insulted or demanded an apology, and I wasn't even quite sure what had gone wrong. No one is allowed to step out of line on Laurence's watch, no sir.
Temeraire is thoroughly charming, smart and powerful, yet with an innocent naiveté that completely won me over. It made me remember my first foray into the world of Anne McCaffrey, and daydreaming of Impressing a gold dragon. The same emotions overcame me here. You know what I want? I want Sims 3 pets to have a dragon expansion pack. Screw unicorns, give me a dragon. I would play the HELL out of that!
Unfortunately, having a dragon in this universe means you are conscripted into the Aerial Corps without any choice. All dragons are the property of the Crown. It seems like such a waste to use something so majestic as a dragon as a bomber plane. Of course, they basically end up doing exactly that in the Anne McCafrey universe as well...but something about firing a gun at a dragon seems so barbaric. I hope Temeraire doesn't remain in the fighting corps long, I really want him to be happy and retire with Laurence some place warm and sandy. And this is after only one installment of the Temeraire series! I can't wait to read more.
This book isn't perfect, even if I like to gush about it. Not too much actually happened, and the love interest falls flat. However, this being the first in a series, the set up for more happening in this world is ripe. If you like anything about dragons or the Napoleonic wars, this book will be a treat for you.(less)
The climax was AMAZING but way way too short! Plus I was on public transportation while I was finishing it, and I'm sure my grimaces and smiles were s...moreThe climax was AMAZING but way way too short! Plus I was on public transportation while I was finishing it, and I'm sure my grimaces and smiles were simply hilarious to everyone around me. That's how public transportation usually works right?(less)
So far this is my least favorite Wheel of Time book. Not only does not very much happen, but even the climax, up until this...moreAs seen on Stumptown Books.
So far this is my least favorite Wheel of Time book. Not only does not very much happen, but even the climax, up until this point always a high, is pretty shrug worthy. All of the important stuff that happens during the climax isn't ACTUALLY revealed to us right away, such as the identities of the perpetrators. That makes it pretty hard to care about what's happening.
The slog of character names is becoming quite the burden. I now have to constantly reference the Wheel of Time wiki and I am always terrified of going there, because they give information for characters up through book 13, Towers of Midnight. I've definitely had an unwary eye a few times and saw something I didn't want to. Still, though, at this point I would be having a hard time getting on without the wiki - there are just SO MANY people. Half of the time, I've forgotten whether we know they are a darkfriend or not, it's so hard to keep track of what is happening.
Blood and ashes, the seafolk women in this book are so groan worthy.
And even with all those characters, my favorite character managed to be on hiatus for this novel. We left Mat with quite the cliffhanger in A Crown of Swords, and we don't even get to know if he's still alive! He is completely absent. That makes me sad.
Don't get me wrong, I still was completely unable to put it down. I ended up binging on the last 50% of the novel and read it all in one day. I felt dizzy after putting it down I was reading so fast. Even though I have less enthusiasm for this installation, I just love the characters and the world SO DAMN MUCH. I'm trying to keep some momentum so I can get through book 10 (widely regarded as the worst book in the series) and read New Spring, which will be completely new territory for me.(less)
So you made it to book 6! Now that you're here, that means you finished book 5. Have this not really spoiler-y lolCat based...moreAs seen on Stumptown Books.
So you made it to book 6! Now that you're here, that means you finished book 5. Have this not really spoiler-y lolCat based off the second to last page of The Fires of Heaven!
Stolen from this comedy goldmine thread. It is hilarious but beware spoilers.
Rand finally has some real chapters in this book. Since book 2, The Great Hunt, he hasn't figured much as a point of view. Sure he had some chapters in the Aiel Waste, and the climax of book 5, but he was all caught up in becoming a man out of legend and stopped being interesting. He shows us how wrong that feeling was in Lord of Chaos. He is BATSHIT CRAZY in this book and it is awesome. Anytime you're in the middle of a Rand scene and voices in his head start talking to him, I highly recommend trying to picture it from an outsider's view point. He is insane. No wonder all these people tiptoe around his rooms; he mumbles and yells at some dude who has been dead for a very long time. All of the Rand scenes make this book memorable, and I can see why I had it in my head that this was my favorite of the series. (For the record, my favorite of the series is definitely book 4 now) For the first time, you feel bad for him.
The climactic battle of book 6 is one of the most well known and iconic scenes of the series. After how long the book took in getting there, I was hoping it would be longer. Like a lot of Wheel of Time, there's a lot of build up to a very quick pay off.
I understand now why I have read books 1-6 of this series so many times, but 7-9 only once. Though I was just halfway through this book, I wanted to start the series completely over again. I was actually nostalgic for the characters; I just wanted them to go back to Emond's Field and be happy and simplistic. I wanted to watch them grow into their power all over again, instead of having these crazy complicated lives that involve constant fear and death around every corner. Unfortunately, for many readers, this is why book 6 sounded the death knoll of the series. At this point, it is more satisfying to go back than it is to go on.
I still resoundingly argue that this is a great series. It is definitely not for everyone, but if you can find it in you to enjoy it, it is one of the most addicting fantasies out there.(less)
And thus do we enter an amazing stretch of books. I loved The Shadow Rising, I loved the parts of the world we got...moreAs seen on my blog, Stumptown Books.
And thus do we enter an amazing stretch of books. I loved The Shadow Rising, I loved the parts of the world we got to explore here, and I loved the new points of view.
I'm still amazed at how brilliant the idea of "ta'veren" was. I, along with the rest of the fantasy reading world, got sick of the farmer-turned-savior trope right about when the hobbits return to the Shire in The Lord of the Rings. It was fine for Tolkein but man, we all know how done to death it is now. So how do we make a fantasy novel compelling when you really just want your characters to start as farmers? Make them ta'veren! Brilliant! Of course they end up becoming important to the world, the very fabric of reality is weaving itself around them. Of course random people will all of a sudden look at Perrin and say "Now there goes a leader!" even if we the readers know Perrin sucks at it. The Age Lace or Time Tapestry or some other weaving analogy wants it to happen this way! I just love the idea, it makes it impossible for me to be annoyed that a couple farmers are deciding the fates of entire countries.
I already feel so rewarded for sticking with the series this long. The little things, like Egwene (view spoiler)[saying "Be steadfast" when Aviendha has to go through her Wise One ordeal. (hide spoiler)] The echo of Egwene's rise to Accepted brought a huge grin to my face, and it really meant something for her character. I feel like she's put all those crappy visions behind her and accepted her fate. The Aiel call their loved ones "shade of my heart" and that just made me melt, I think it's so sweet and endearing. And then the epic chapters in Rhuidean, where we learn how both the Aiel and the Tinkers started. A sharp eye will pick out all sorts of references in that chapter, and it really is amazing and rewarding if you've stuck with the series.
Although this installment starts out pretty slowly, I love having Rand back instead of just glimpses of him through other character's eyes. I've never been a fan of Perrin but his chapters are really good in this book. Mat, to make up for being a non-entity in books 1 and 2, does something awesome in every chapter he's in. He is by far my favorite of the three farm boys! But everyone's opinions differ on that. The world has become a lot larger for the Emond's Fielders, but it shrinks at the same time. We have characters spanning the continent and traveling quickly becomes more and more simple. It really does give us the feeling that a world and everyone in it is at stake.
Siuan and Egeanin are new points of view and I loved both of them. Really looking forward to more from both of them, especially Egeanin.
Can't wait to start the next one!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
What amazes me to this day about the Wheel of Time series is the masterful way Robert Jordan...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
What amazes me to this day about the Wheel of Time series is the masterful way Robert Jordan works me into a frenzy. When The Great Hunt (book 2) ended, I was whipped into a hurricane of conflicting emotions. I wanted to cry because it was over. I also wanted to cry because I was so excited. I felt like shivering from spent emotion and energy. I wanted to run to my book shelf and pick up book 3. I also wanted to wait because I'm participating in a Wheel of Time read along and I didn't want to get ahead. I settled with walking very sedately to the couch and watching reruns of "Say Yes to the Dress" until I was completely calmed down. Well, I still ended up yelling at some of the brides, but at least I wasn't worked up about the Wheel of Time anymore, right?
Well, The Great Hunt is over. Let's continue on this journey and see what other amazing things are in store for us. Only, the emotions are brought down, not just to a simmer, but to a complete and cold darkness. We read about our characters sitting in camp. Riding across plains. Complaining about prophecies. None of this is exciting, but of course we're completely entwined with their stories now and curious as to what is going to happen. Robert Jordan-isms sprinkle the pages, but we're slowly making sense of the world he's describing to us. He had so much planned from the very beginning I am now in awe at his patience. I always want to get it all out on the page as quickly as possible but he's ok making us wait, for literally thousands of pages if need be.
Slowly...oh so slowly you don't even hardly realize it, things start coming to a head. The net gets drawn closer, and closer, until there I am sitting on that same couch and reading so fast I'm probably missing important details and I turn to the last chapter...
And my boyfriend walks in the room and turns on the TV. I balk, my mouth open, and snatch the remote back from him. "You don't understand," I say, "I'm literally at the climax of the book."
"Can't it wait? I want to fold my laundry. I need to watch some Deep Space Nine while I do it."
"Too bad! Fold it somewhere else!" My indignation should have him backing away with his hands up defensively.
"Well I don't mind, read it aloud to me." He says with a shrug, like I do this all the time.
I start out with another sassy comment but then I think, Why not? He knows enough of the story to know what the phrase the Dragon Reborn means, who Rand, Mat, and Perrin are. So there we are, the climatic battle that occurs at the end of every Wheel of Time book, and I'm reading it out loud. I know my voice caught in my throat a few times because I got all excited and teary (I cry at every emotion, it's crazy!) but when my last "The Dragon Reborn!" faded away, we both just sat there, stunned. We started out in a camp in the middle of back ass nowhere and we ended here. "Wow," he says. "That was actually pretty intense."
Wasn't it just! A lot of readers will tell you that this is the beginning of the highlight of the series, books 3-6, and I couldn't agree more. Just thinking about where we started a mere three books ago is mind boggling - both the reader and the characters have come a long way from sheep herding! The stakes are high and they keep getting higher with every book, but we never feel out of depth. I can hardly wait to start The Shadow Rising - though I hope I can keep this enthusiasm later in the series!(less)
The tone of the series really changes with this second installment. It goes from following a fe...moreThis review also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
The tone of the series really changes with this second installment. It goes from following a few country bumpkins on their first wide-eyed adventure into the world, to what we know and love the Wheel of Time for - a sprawling epic covering an entire continent. From the prologue, we're suddenly bombarded with the styles and personalities of all the diverse regions of the land, and though it will be hammered home so we always know what Jordan is talking about, we're also expected to start remembering all the crazy threads he is beginning to weave for us.
This is also where a number of phrases that Jordan uses ad nauseam really pick up. See the Wheel of Time drinking game for more info - beware spoilers! Braid tugging, skirt smoothing, wool heads, boxed ears, and sword stances (such as "Heron Wading in the Rushes") make me constantly roll my eyes. I got into the habit of shouting out the stances whenever they occurred to my begrudgingly tolerating boyfriend. "Cat Crosses the Courtyard!" I shout across the room. "The Swallow Takes Flight!" I'm amazed at the wide variety Jordan came up with; I don't know if one is ever repeated. I thought it pretty ridiculous that anytime the Heron marked blade came out, so did the fighting stances. For me though, this endears the series to me. All the things that are repeated over and over again can either annoy you or bind you closer to the story, it's really up to the reader. I chose to let them make me laugh every time they're mentioned.
Once again we're traveling across the face of the world, but instead of being chased, our young heroes are the chasers. The stakes are high and they never back down, although many readers will find the middle slow moving. There's a lot of information being given that doesn't come into play right away. The climax of The Great Hunt, however, is shiver inducing, as all the story lines come together for one great release of tension.
The Great Hunt is really just a warm up for the pure awesomeness that is books 3-6, but if you're uninterested in keeping the stories and vast cast of characters straight (and I don't blame you), this is where I suggest stopping. For myself however, I'm remembering why I fell in love with fantasy in the first place. The Great Hunt became harder and harder to put down with every chapter that I finished, and it took all my willpower to not run immediately to my bookshelf and pick up book 3, The Dragon Reborn. I can hardly wait to read more!(less)
Speeches were never my favorite part of high school, but it was something they made all of us...moreThis review can also be read on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Speeches were never my favorite part of high school, but it was something they made all of us do and I dealt with it. Even while sitting at my desk at home writing the speech, I would start getting antsy and jittery, knowing that I would have to get up in front of everyone and hold these note cards and geez I hope I don't stutter. My solution was usually to go on a walk, which would clear out the nerves so I could sit down and concentrate on writing about To Kill a Mockingbird or whatever the subject was. Actually giving the speech wasn't nearly so bad as thinking about it. Epic fantasy does the same thing to me. Within a few chapters of The Eye of the World, my heart was beating too fast and my palms were sweaty. I got so antsy thinking about what was going to happen to Rand, I wanted to skip ahead and just get there already.
There I said it. Epic fantasy makes me anxious. I get so worked up in the story, and I know not all the characters are going to make it, and I just become a nervous wreck. You don't even want to see me thinking about George R.R. Martin, I practically shake apart.
The Wheel of Time is an amazing fantasy series, and any fantasy fan worth their salt must read it. I do not think it is worth it if you are only so-so on fantasy. It is simply too complicated, and you really need to care about the world Jordan has created for us in order to get any joy from this series. Yes, it does start off copying Tolkein, but I genuinely feel Jordan takes it and makes it his own. This series just wouldn't be so popular if it didn't hold up on its own and not held against the light of The Lord of the Rings. No, it is not perfect, and there are a number of oft-repeated phrases that I can never hear again without shuddering a little ("smooths her skirts," "wool head," "crosses her arms beneath her breasts" just to name a few). None of this makes it anything less than it is, which is EPIC fantasy.
I know exactly what I'm getting into. My tapping foot and clicking nails is a testament to that; I love it and I want more. I can't say anything more positive than that!(less)
Even though this is a veritable tome, weighing in at almost 900 pages (and my Kindle estimat...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Even though this is a veritable tome, weighing in at almost 900 pages (and my Kindle estimated 1200 for some reason...I had balls of steel the day I decided to read this), I was tired of starting fantasy series and getting so behind in my reading. I wanted something self-contained, so I settled on The Mists of Avalon. Joke's on me - this is merely the first chapter in a seven part series. D'oh! I haven't yet decided whether I'll ever look into any of the sequels.
I am completely torn on this book, and after reading about it online, it seems to be very polarizing. I fall in the middle: on the one hand, I couldn't stop talking about it with family and friends. On the other, I felt it was overly long and after a while I began to suspect that not very much had actually happened, though of course I carried on. It left me feeling rather unfulfilled.
It is impossible for me to write about Mists without some mention of religion, but nothing here is meant to be inflammatory or insensitive. So much of Arthur's story is caught up in both worlds - the Old Ways, where we get Merlin, Excalibur, and the Lady of the Lake; and Christianity, where we get the Knights and the Holy Grail. My brother is a Latin teacher and teaches a section on the Bible, so we had a number of vociferous discussions. Of course, I realize this is a fantasy book, but Bradley did an amazing job of making Arthur's court - and the Old Ways - seem just out of reach. Women were so much more appreciated before Britain became pious, and the centuries of sexism following just made me feel deflated and depressed. It's not anti-Christian by any means, as Merlin constantly points out, he feels that all gods are one god and all should be left to worship in peace. It's not the teachings of Christianity that Morgan, the main character, is opposed to, but rather the people of the church who insist on banishing all mentions of other gods.
Mists diverts wildly from normal Arthurian legend, but Morgan la Fey has always been one of my favorite characters and I've always had this niggling suspicion that she was just misunderstood. Bradley took this thought and ran with it, and now Morgan will always be my favorite character. Gwenhwyfar (side note: I totally didn't know that this is how her name is classically spelled. I associate the name "Gwenhwyfar" with Drizzt's cat in R.A. Salvatore's novels *blush* ) is a bit of a silly child, but you still can't help but feel bad that she loves someone who isn't Arthur. Nimue wasn't in it nearly enough for my tastes. I've always been partial to the vengeful priestess version of Nimue and that's just not how she is here. Igraine and Uther's love story was very well portrayed I thought, and I quite like what Bradley did with their history.
Time moves strangely. The first 3/4s of the book takes us up until Morgan is about 28 or so, then the remaining quarter goes lickety split through the rest of her life. The quest for the Grail is smushed in there somewhere and the last 100 pages felt rushed. I remember saying "There's no way I'm going to be happy with this ending, there's just not enough pages left." And there definitely wasn't. I felt rather cheated with how she did a little epilogue with Morgan at Glastonbury - I would have liked to know a lot more about how Lancelot, Gwenhwyfar, and Arthur ended up. There was simply no closure, and for how long the book was, there should have been.
Overall, I love Arthur, and I am very glad I read this. It's still a powerhouse in the fantasy genre today, but I can recommend it only if you are rounding out your fantasy knowledge. Even though I could hardly stop talking about it, the whole experience left me flat.(less)
I discovered this book my senior year of high school, when a couple of my friends in drama c...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
I discovered this book my senior year of high school, when a couple of my friends in drama club were reading it. Having always been a fan of fantasy, I ran to the library and picked it up, although I remember being rather surprised that it had been published in 1995. The Harry Potter craze was in full swing in 2003 and I thought Sabriel was riding on its coattails, like so many books are still doing today. But no, not only is it incredibly original, it is also unique and scary.
Sabriel kicks some serious butt. She is already powerful when we meet her, so there's not much in the way of starting off powerless and learning in a safe environment (like a school). Although she quickly discovers she has barely scratched the surface of the amount she has to learn, at least she's not bumbling. She's strong, willful, and smart; overall a great heroine. Mogget the sometimes-cat is hilarious, much more so than I remember from high school. Touchstone takes some getting used to but he gets much better as the book goes on.
The magic system is awesome. A lot of the magic is done with music, like whistling, or the seven bells that Sabriel wears, all of which serve a different purpose. The bells were rather confusing; I recommend bookmarking the page in the beginning where she lists each bell and describes its power, because from then on all she ever does is mention the bells name, not what its good for. The benign Charter magic is a vast unknown entity that I would love to know more about. The book never really touches on what it would mean to be a full fledged powerful mage, but I bet it would be awesome.
I'm just gonna say it. I'm kind of a wimp, especially when it comes to stuff that should be dead. I could never in a million years handle Sabriel's job of casually crossing the border into death and dealing with the spirits of the angry dead. I was never scared for myself though, which is why I can still call this young adult. If I read a horror novel, I start thinking hands are going to pop out of the couch or DID I lock the front door? or don't turn your back while you walk upstairs. Ugh. I can't handle that stuff at all. Give me a zombie movie and I am scared for weeks, if not longer. Maybe because Sabriel never features any high pitched violins or bad guys jumping out at you from the darkness, but the zombies here are only terrifying because Sabriel has to deal with them, not because they are scary to us, the readers. So even if you're a wimp like me, you can read this book and totally handle it.
One of the things that has really started to bug me with young adult fantasy is that authors seem to be unable to make drama based on their story alone, so they add in extremely irritating stupid people to be purposefully antagonistic. It annoys me to no end. In Sabriel, however, there are multiple times when I thought "Here is where a lesser author would make some cheap drama," and Garth Nix never falls for the bait. The side characters are supportive and understanding, even if they want to say no to her, they let her go on her way. I really appreciate that. Readers aren't dumb, we don't need dumb drama.
A great quick read, even if you wouldn't normally consider picking up a young adult novel. It transcends that label into good fantasy.(less)
Everything that was awesome about the first installation of the series, Sabriel, got complete...moreThis review can also be read on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Everything that was awesome about the first installation of the series, Sabriel, got completely muddled and lost in this sequel. I loved the first book, and had high hopes with following it up. Those hopes have been dashed. Mercilessly.
We begin with Lirael, only 14, a daughter of the Clayr. She decides the best way we could possibly be introduced to her as a character is for a wallowing in self pity depression session and contemplation of suicide. I don't know about you, dear readers, but that is not a good way for me to get on our lovely heroine's side. I'm much more likely to say, Fine, jump off the cliff, it will at least put ME out of my misery. Now you may think this sounds heartless. And, well...you have a good point, that's pretty mean. While I suppose the whole "feel sorry for me" schtick was to allow us to see her grow as a character, all it managed to do for me was make me want to slap her, followed by throwing the book down. I managed to not do either, intent that the book had to go up hill from here.
How wrong I was.
We're introduced to the second character, Prince Sameth, and he starts off pretty strong. I'm convinced at this point that the chapter introducing him was written first, because it's the only time in the whole book that he's ok with taking charge. He's the son of Sabriel and Touchstone and destined to be the new Abhorsen. Great, I think. Now we're in for some action! The good feelings don't last. He quickly falls even deeper than Lirael in the self pity pool; I was secretly wishing he would die. Seriously. Two main characters that go around bemoaning their terrible fates of not fitting in. If only someone out there understood how unique they are! Ugh, spare me.
Sabriel and Touchstone are unfortunately only background characters, but Mogget makes a reappearance and as per usual, the animals are the best part of the book. We're introduced to the Disreputable Dog, who quickly becomes the best character, and she's a dog! Any conversation involving either of the two animals is bound to be chuckle inducing, so at least that didn't change from Sabriel. Honestly I would have been way more excited with the adventures of Mogget and the Dog than I-have-no-backbone Prince Sameth and no-one-understands-my-pain Lirael. But I digress.
Besides the animal characters, the best part of the book was exploring the Clayr's library. Something about the thrill of exploration in crazy magical buildings always gets my jollies going. It was like exploring Hogwarts again, only a lot more deadly. I would have been happy with more exploration except that it was from Lirael's point of view, and that left me with laryngitis from heavy sighing.
I will be regretfully reading the next in the series, hoping that the payoff is worth it. Otherwise, read Sabriel and leave it at that.(less)
In 2005 I was full flung into my love of the young adult genre. I've basically outgrown it n...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
In 2005 I was full flung into my love of the young adult genre. I've basically outgrown it now, which is pretty unfortunate really. There are a lot of good books in that genre, but I just can't get into them like I used to. That aside, for some reason this series completely passed me by. I saw the trailers for the movie and that still didn't convince me. So here we are, the books have been out for years, and I literally knew next to nothing about them besides the lady from Kill Bill had a teaser poster posing as Medusa.
I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was sucked into the story. I sat down and all of a sudden 50 pages had flown by. However, I feel that those first 50 pages were the strongest part of the novel, and about the time Percy Jackson arrived at Camp Half-Blood, my pace had slowed down quite a bit. The origin story is always my favorite! I start to get annoyed when 12-year-olds are sent on epic, death defying quests, and in this case all of the adults were like "Yup, you'll probably die. Sucks to be you." But that's just how the the Greek gods did things (i.e. were major dicks), so the age discrepancy didn't bug me all that much.
I don't know much about ancient Greece, and its mythology, and I learned quite a bit about it reading this book. For example, I had never heard of Procrustes, but quickly ran to Wikipedia to find out who he was when he was mentioned in the story. A few other reviewers have mentioned how annoyed they are when Medusa is portrayed as a monster, but hey you know, it's a mythological creature, I don't mind if we differ on opinions of what they "should" be. Like...oh I don't know, VAMPIRES. They sure have changed recently!
Honestly its obvious similarities to other recent powerhouses in the young adult genre did not bug me one bit. I found the idea to be in itself original and interesting enough that I probably let a few other things that usually bug me slide under the table. But hey, there's nothing wrong with just enjoying a book for the sake of it, not because I have to contrast and compare it to other books I've read.
All in all it was a rip-roaring read and I quite enjoyed it. I will definitely be picking up the sequels.(less)
Although this installment was easier for me to read than Furies of Calderon (my groans were cut down by about a third, I'd...moreAs seen on Stumptown Books.
Although this installment was easier for me to read than Furies of Calderon (my groans were cut down by about a third, I'd say), I liked this second novel no more than the first one. It has been two years since the events of Furies, and we're plopped right back into the action without so much as an update, which at first had me a little miffed. The problem with plowing through novels so quickly is that proper nouns quickly find their way into the oubliette, so even though it's only been about two months, I was still playing catch up trying to remember who the characters were. On second thought, the names just aren't very memorable. I was 3/4s of the way through this book and explaining it to a friend and I had to grope for the main character's name. T...t...it's T-something I swear! Tavi? No wonder he's powerless, he sounds like a pussy.
From the first page, Butcher sets up the story, and from there on out it is non-stop action. I like a good action scene as much as the next bloke, but in this case it really started to grate on me. The characters are never given a chance for introspection, besides sparing a thought or two for "I wonder where this other character is right now? No matter, off to another near death situation!" So once again, one of my main problems is the lack of character development. I know what the author wants the characters to be, but they never seem to get there on their own. We're just told they do, and I am baffled at people who say these characters feel "alive." Only alive in the sense that fire is alive; expanding the story and going new places but leaving nothing behind to appreciate. Honestly the only character I felt became a little more interesting in this novel was Fidelias, who I hated in the first book, so that's saying a lot. Making bad guys likable is always a plus in my book.
What really interests me about this series is the weak (well, relatively) main character. Tavi uses his brains and quick wit to talk himself out of - or into - situations. Usually in fantasy novels, any sort of magic is regarded with suspicion, à la X-Men. Someone with crazy powers and inhuman strength is usually incredibly frightening to the layman. In these novels, however, Tavi is the only weak character without magic, and he's the weirdo and regarded with suspicion. This flips my thoughts on magic and powers on its head, and I like that. I can't help but be gut wrenchingly involved whenever Tavi is in the middle of the action. I always want THIS to be the moment when his powers manifest.
I could have done without the weird women's right storyline. I know I know, I'm always touting about how sexist fantasy is and give me my strong female characters dammit. But in this case, it just came across as schmaltzy and a thoroughly fake storyline to throw some pretend politics into the mix. Without it, there would have been next to no politics in the novel, and Butcher obviously wants us to be aware of the political situation in the realm.
The love story between Amara and Bernard was uncomfortable at best and gag worthy at worst. Here's my favorite quote from page 453:
Amara let out a nervous little laugh, and her cheeks flushed hot. She took two steps to Bernard and leaned up to kiss him again. He returned it, one hand touching her waist, a possessive gesture.
Please! That's so stilted it made me flush hot too. Hopefully it picks up a little in subsequent books.
Pick this up if you want a fun romp with non stop action, with little consequence but also small reward. It definitely improves on the first novel, but not enough for me to legitimately like it on its own.(less)
**spoiler alert** This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
I have yet to actually like any of the books in the Codex Alera. Why do I...more**spoiler alert** This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
I have yet to actually like any of the books in the Codex Alera. Why do I keep reading them, you ask? Good fucking question. I guess at some point I couldn't tear my eyes away from the train wreck and I love a good groan as well as the next bloke. At this point I'm in gaped mouthed awe at how angry these books make me, and I just have to know if they continue to be so bad. Prepare for maximum bitchiness.
I'll begin with the title. Once you figure out the naming scheme for the Codex Alera books, where the series is going becomes pretty obvious. The sixth book is called First Lord's Fury. Damn Jim Butcher, spoiler that shit! At this point I can only hope I'm wrong, but I really do hate nothing more in the world than being spoiled so I'm not going to read the synopsis of the last book to find out. I'll come back and edit when I get there.
For now though, Tavi is a Cursor in the aptly named Cursor's Fury. This is the farmer-turned-savior trope taken to a whole new level, as from the first chapter, Tavi does not go to the First Lord. No no, the First Lord comes to him. Like Tavi is seriously busier than the First Lord? Come on now. And what does Gaius Sextus immediately do? What every good emperor would. Ask about his agent's LOVE LIFE. "Hey Tavi I thought I'd come to see you since you're obviously a busy man, hey by the way how goes shagging the ambassador?" What?! You, my good sir, were just written off as ever being a viable leader. I could now care less that the rest of the book is all about people throwing their lives away to protect YOUR kingdom, when you obviously do not deserve as much. You spent the last book complaining about being overworked, and your brief foray in this book you come personally to give a soldier orders any old servant could have done, thoroughly destroying any sympathy you might have had from me in the process.
That is what begins what I eventually realize is a complete lack of a chain of command or any sort of military knowledge. Tavi is always able to go directly to the top with no repercussions. True, this is not a modern day army, but if there was ever an army that loved discipline, duty, and knowing your place, it was the Romans. He can waltz into the general's tent and no one bats an eyelid, even though we're the only ones who are supposed to know he's not actually that low on the totem pole. He is placed as a logistics officer, assisting in keeping the army running smoothly, well geared, and well fed. This is a RUSE so that we are cowed into believing one iota of thought went into how a army is run. He is sent to go buy grain off local farms but as SOON as the battle started, the problem of feeding the army was never mentioned again. "An army marches on its stomach" is a saying for a reason, and supply lines are serious business when it comes to defending a town. They're never mentioned.
Then, HOW CONVENIENT, the entire officer's corps is wiped out. WHOEVER WILL SAVE US?! Thank God one officer wasn't there. Yes, TAVI TO THE RESCUE. At this point, he has only been in school for two years, and he's going up against soldiers, sometimes with years of battle experience, and they just shrug it off and say, "Boy is that kid clever." He manages to come up with several deus ex machina; particularly I'm thinking of the Knights Aeris bending light to make a gigantic lens of fiery death. No one has ever thought of this before? Seriously, you left it up to the kid with no furies? Any battle that does not employ this tactic from now on is wasting lives. And I'm positive the world is going to pretend like it never happened, and this innovation will be forgotten. If it does continue to get used, I'll eat my words, but there's basically nothing an army can do against that, which doesn't make for very interesting battles.
Let's take a look at how the battle was laid out. I never fully understood it, and even after looking at the Butcher approved map over at his website, it made even less sense. The entire battle was over a city that spanned two sides of a river, and the bridge connecting the two. Based on the map, you can see the town, Elinarch, over on the western side. Ok. Let's think about this. The Canim had a fleet that was hundreds of ships, and they all landed in the same place. Let's make our best estimate and say it's about 50,000 troops because I can't find anywhere that says how many it was. They all make landfall in Founderport, to the southwest, and they all head for Elinarch. That bridge doesn't even look that important to me, especially because it's to the north, when everything important to the kingdom is to the east. Now, why, WHY, if they really wanted the bridge, couldn't they have landed half the forces up the coast 50 miles, and surrounded the town? Or send a few thousand troops up river 10 miles, so that they can cross over and start attacking the other side? Maybe mess up those supply lines that didn't exist? It is even mentioned at one point that directly below the bridge, Canim troops try to swim across, but are thwarted by a defense Tavi put there. So...go a mile up river where that defense doesn't exist? I simply don't understand. The entire battle was completely useless because the Canim obviously should have won. Of course I want the good guys to win, but if the only reason they did so was because of a bad setting and bad writing, then the victory is senseless.
The women...ah the women. I don't like any of them. Kitai is barely ok, but the whole "bonding" thing with Tavi completely turned me off her. How about Isana, who doomed who knows how many soldiers to death because she selfishly chose to only help Fade? And she is busy healing him for literally over a month, the entire time a battle raging a mere mile from her apartment. Seriously, there are so many things wrong with that picture. Isana gets absolutely no sympathy from me ever again. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, that's just how it is.
Certain things started to annoy me so much I thought about keeping a scoreboard of how many times I rolled my eyes. The word "crow" shows up 132 times, according to my Kindle search, including all instances of "crowspawn" and "crowbegotten," and this book is only 450 pages. That's a crow at least every three pages. I HATE the word crow SO MUCH now. I seriously never want to read or hear it again. Everybody has flashes of insight, instinct, intuition, and amazing eyesight to see movement out of the corner of their eyes so they can roll away at the last second. If there's a swordsman, he will always be "the best" or "one of the best" in the realm. All the women arch their back whenever their kissed, and Bernard always kisses Amara on the eyes and "full on the mouth." UGH.
I was interested in discovering why Tavi has no furies until we actually do find out, and that was a major let down.
For the first time, I could not find any redeeming features in this book. The best thing about it is that it is very readable. I openly admit to not being a fan of the first two installments, and this book is more of the same, but even worse. There are so many good fantasy series out there, don't waste your time on this one.(less)
Short stories, I have decided, are simply not my favorite medium. They don't offer up enough...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Short stories, I have decided, are simply not my favorite medium. They don't offer up enough satisfaction or closure, and there's that obscurely frustrating first couple pages of a story when you don't know what is going on, and that happens over and over again. Thankfully all the stories in this case take place in one area, the city of Newford, with a cast of characters that show up repeatedly. Jilly is a great character and I can't wait to see her again, as well as Geordie the fiddle player.
De Lint has this "magic is just out of the corner of your eye if only you knew how to see it" philosophy, which I suppose makes it urban fantasy, but it felt more like folklore. There was no hard-boiled detective making snarky comments, just simple people with problems like the rest of us, turning to fantasy to take care of them. It struck a chord with me that most urban fantasy does not. A few of the stories became rather disturbing, and the best I could compare it to were the heart wrenching passages in Infinite Jest. Sadly abused young girls and women forced into prostitution telling their childhood stories; they were pretty horrifying. It definitely means Dreams Underfoot is meant for adults, not young adults.
I was so-so on the book until the third story, Time Skip, that had me sobbing into my burrito at Chipotle. Cilantro and tears: turns out? Not so tasty! Unfortunately I felt that it turned so-so again, and none of the other stories have really stuck with me like that one. I didn't have a desire to go reread any of them immediately. Time Skip has a resolution later on in the book but I didn't like that story nearly so much. It robbed me of some of the original poignancy.
This was my first foray into the magical world of Charles de Lint, and although it will not be counted among my favorite books ever, I still enjoyed it.(less)
Although this was a quick and easy read, it was still interesting and I read it in only two s...moreThis review can also be read on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Although this was a quick and easy read, it was still interesting and I read it in only two sittings. De Lint himself has classified The Dreaming Place as more of a novella, as it is only 134 pages long, but it is a nice little introductory to his creation of Newford. This was the first book de Lint wrote that took place in Newford, but now it is classified as the second because of the recommended reading order. It is considered young adult, along with only one other Newford book, so this is a good place to start if you're unsure about some of De Lint's more...graphic tendencies.
A lot that goes on is, unfortunately, troped and stereotypical. This is why I only gave it 3 stars, as the characters just aren't that original, but that is to be expected for a young adult novel. Traveling to another world is always cool though, and that is, as per usual for de Lint's work, the best part of the story. The two main characters, Ashley and Nina, go through logical character progression even if it has been done before, and there's not a bunch of sidelines or digressions to lose the reader's interest. I surprised myself when I discovered I was worried about what was going to happen to them.
This is never going to be a life shattering read, but it is quick and interesting, and a must if you want to delve into the world of Newford.(less)
I had an odd sense of déja vu when I picked up this book. I sat there staring at the cover u...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
I had an odd sense of déja vu when I picked up this book. I sat there staring at the cover until finally I realized this book had sat on my shelf when I was a kid. Immediately I wondered if I had ever read it when I was younger, and set to ferociously. Unfortunately no memories swam to the surface, and I'm forced to reconcile that the boxed set must have sat there forlornly on my bookshelf for years until I moved out for college. Poor unloved books.
Over Sea, Under Stone is aimed for a younger audience than I normally enjoy reading, but Goodreads insisted that I would love it and gave it to me as a recommendation again and again. It read quickly, being short and simply written, and would probably work well to read aloud. I love Arthurian legend and I had no idea that was where the book was headed when it started, but the whole mystery and chase fell flat for me. I have major issues with the Disney way of telling kids stories - the kids are forced to figure out the mystery or magic by themselves, adults never believe them, and often stand in their way. The evil forces were so evil with no reason to be. I find it extremely frustrating and untrue to reality, but I guess it makes drama. Just not the type I want to read.
Honestly the Arthurian bit of the story was completely forgettable, and this is coming from someone who loves anything Arthur. I wouldn't recommend this book unless it is nostalgic or you have a younger reader who finished The Chronicles of Narnia and wants something else along the same lines. Having said that however, I have heard that this first book is the weakest of the series, so I will be begrudgingly trying the next one.(less)
Once again we are following the adventures of Lirael and Prince Sameth as they fight to with...moreThis review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Once again we are following the adventures of Lirael and Prince Sameth as they fight to withhold the darkness from taking over the world. Once again the story is too drawn out and the little things that came rapid fire in Sabriel are left with exhausting descriptions in Abhorsen, and yet we never get a true feel of the world or the people who inhabit it. It took me forever to read this book because I simply didn't care about what was happening. If I don't even care about the destruction of the entire world, then we probably have some issues to resolve here. I just wanted it to be over.
There's the same get up and go attitude that Sabriel had. We're on a time constraint with the undead on our heels and sleep deprivation comes as a matter of course. Instead of a grand sense of adventure and discovery this time though, I just found it exhausting. Might be part of the reason that it took me so long to read, I just couldn't read more than a chapter or two at a time.
We do discover the true natures of Mogget and the Disreputable Dog finally, and I still enjoyed those two characters. The revelation could have come a little earlier in the book and that might have made it more interesting, but as it stands it was filed under "do not care" like a lot of the book.
Better than Lirael, but not by much. I still recommend reading Sabriel and stopping there.
Addendum: Apparently a 4th Abhorsen book is scheduled to be released in 2013, named Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen, about the Abhorsen who became Chlorr of the Mask. I might still have to check it out when it is published just to see if the series is redeemed.(less)
My feelings are split. Overall, I really liked Graceling, but it ended with me wanting to love i...more**spoiler alert** As seen on my blog, Stumptown Books.
My feelings are split. Overall, I really liked Graceling, but it ended with me wanting to love it more than it gave me. It is was very readable, even if the story was a bit predictable, but I could hardly put it down. I wanted Katsa to win so bad, and I always like getting that invested in a character. However, the political undercurrents left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
I just loved the idea of Graces. I especially like where Ms. Cashore went with both Katsa's and Po's Grace, where you don't always immediately know what your Grace is, nor do others. You just have to wait and see what you're exceptionally good at. I would kill to be Graced with cooking! Embroidery...not so much. Pretty soon I had out my Advanced Dungeons and Dragons manual and was looking at all the skills a character can have there. Here's a list of all the Dungeons and Dragons proficiencies, and as far as I could tell, anything from this list could be considered a Grace (although not ones that are obviously fantastical). So then I had to decide which one I would choose, and this degenerated into all sorts of arguments with my friends over the pros and cons of different skills. So good job Graceling for making all my friends think about you! I think I'd go for some sort of language knowledge, if that could exist in the Graceling world. Like taking the language right out of someone's brain or reading the dictionary like from that movie Phenomenon. Others that my friends said were musical instruments, oration, and gambling.
Here's where we get into it. I really disliked all of the talk of "anti-girl" things. You know what, I like pink, what's wrong with that? A lot, if you're Katsa. Any mention of even brushing her hair or a glimpse of a dress and she's liable to throw a fit. I tried not to let it bug me too much, but you really get bashed over the head with it. Katsa is independent, see? And being in a relationship, well that means you're not your own person, you "belong" to someone else. She doesn't like marriage and doesn't want kids! That makes her ~*special*~! After a while I couldn't decide just what the author wanted to do with her. She doesn't like brushing her hair, but wants to feel beautiful; doesn't like the idea of a relationship, but casual sex is great. Have a quote!
Graceling, page 159:
She couldn't have him, and there was no mistaking it. She could never be his wife. She could not steal herself back from Randa only to give herself away - belong to another person, be answerable to another person, build her very being around another person. No matter how she loved him...
[Katsa] understood three truths. She loved Po. She wanted Po. And she could never be anyone's but her own.
The end of that is disturbingly like the famous quote from Twilight ("About three things I was absolutely positive..."), which is particularly why I bookmarked that page. I certainly don't desire a heroine that reminds me of Bella, and Katsa thankfully does not. She just gets a little whiny.
Ok, I'm gonna level with you. I think Katsa is a female character written as a male. Now, think of her as a boy. How cool is it that he is able to murder people on secretive missions, has best friends that think he's amazing and hot, and a foreigner who is immediately drawn to him because he's so reclusive and mysterious? His Grace enables him to kill people effortlessly, he has emotional issues when it comes to relationships or commitment, and he really just wants to fuck some wenches and go on an adventure. Did the male pronoun make it more believeable? That sounds like any fantasy story. Is that what I wanted? Hell no, I want a strong female character damnit. This book tries to be feminist but in actuality it just reinforces masculine ideals. This is a strong female writer trying to convey a strong female character, yet her own misconceptions color the story.
As it stands, however, we get a bunch of readers angry over the bizarre not-quite-feminist views that Katsa supports. I don't want to come across as all for the institution of marriage, because I'm definitely not, but I feel Katsa's attitude just perpetuates stereotypes. Po really just wanted to be trusted, and although Katsa eventually comes around, her thoughts leading up to it are what stuck with me, and many other readers.
The bad guy was seriously more Katsa's own thoughts rather than the actual "bad guy." Leck (the bad guy) was in it for like a page and a half. Marriage was more of a villain than he was; he was completely forgettable, albeit terrifying when he had the upperhand. He simply wasn't around for long enough.
Po was great and I feel he got the short end of the lover boy stick. I felt his story ended on a bittersweet note that wasn't entirely necessary. Why couldn't Po and Katsa just be happy together in fairy tale land?! Alas, his tale made me feel heartsick, but not in a particularly good way. Katsa was so determined to be independent, so...how do we fix this? I know, we make Po completely dependent on her!
This book was very close to being 5 stars for me. It just couldn't quite make it there with all the rants against marriage and children. However, we must also remember that this was a debut novel! Which means it was really well done for being a debut and still totally deserves its popularity. I will definitely be checking out the sequels.(less)
Let me start by saying that I find this series very readable. It is basically fluff, doesn't require much brain po...moreAs seen on my blog, Stumptown Books.
Let me start by saying that I find this series very readable. It is basically fluff, doesn't require much brain power, and it was easy to pound out in a couple of days. I love the idea of a druid as hero, and I quite like the "Gods are around but are just out of reach" idea that has become pretty popular recently. I even learned a few things about the Norse pantheon; I knew little about it, but now I know a bit more.
Unfortunately, the list of problems that I have with this series is much more lengthy. My main issue stems from the old aphorism, "You can't write smarter than you are." Now I'm not calling Kevin Hearne dumb or anything, but Atticus is TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD. That's pretty damn old. You would think in that time he would have picked up some wisdom or something. I like that he is lighthearted about being that old, but apparently all the things he knows about occurred within the last decade or so, with an occasional throwback to Star Wars and Star Trek. Almost all of the jokes came from some faction of nerd knowledge, including movies, TV shows, and internet memes. At one point Atticus has an angel and devil on his shoulders, and they took the form of Kirk and Spock. He mentions "pulling a Yoda." But when Atticus started speaking in "lolcats" for a quick laugh, a line was crossed. I think I threw up a little in the back of my throat.
Nerds love nothing more than being in on a joke. The joke doesn't even have to be funny - a lot of memes aren't actually funny, they're only funny once you're "in the know." They are also only funny on the internet. Taken outside of that, the only people in real life that are going to laugh at your inside joke are other people "in the know." In effect, it's like any circle of friends where you look at one person and say an inside joke. Of course others are going to feel left out. It's like that guy at the party who quotes South Park/Family Guy/The Simpsons/what have you, and that's the extent of his humor. Nothing really gets added to a conversation, he's just pointing at something and hoping you get his regurgitated joke. It's lazy, and it's more annoying than funny.
I used to work at a bowling alley that played music videos constantly, and the first week I worked there, the video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up" came on. I cracked up laughing and said to my co-workers, "Damn, we just got rick rolled!" They all gave me startled looks. I grinned sheepishly and mumbled, "Umm...nevermind." Lesson learned! No quoting nerd stuff around people who aren't nerds, got it. Just like you can't share an inside joke, because it doesn't make sense unless you're included on the inside.
The thing about the internet is that it moves so fast, and memes that everyone knew last summer are no longer funny. Saying "Honey badger don't care!" anywhere on the internet nowadays will only earn you shouts of "So last year man!" Any meme is this way; they have a lifespan. A book...well, let's just say a book is forever because we all want them to last that long. If the majority of your jokes are pop culture references, or even worse, internet references, it is going to be dated incredibly fast. At one point Atticus makes a joke, saying "his voice and rugged good looks reminded me of that guy from the Old Spice body-wash commercials." (he was talking about Jesus here, by the way. page 107) That's already dated, that guy isn't the spokesperson anymore. Sure, we all get the joke now, but give it a few years and it won't be funny anymore. Not that I did anything except groan when I read that line.
So we have this 2,000 year old druid who smugly reports he must leave behind his Chewbacca action figures in the original packaging...oh and he can also defeat GODS. Not singular either, he takes care of several over the course of the series. But the Norse pantheon...well, they're kind of a big deal. The scale just seems out of balance here, and if we're trying to make it believable, gods should be more powerful. A werewolf, vampire, or druid, should not be equally as strong as a god. Overcoming some weaknesses somewhere might have been entertaining, but instead we just get some bloody battles. Character development is given to us in the form of switching narratives instead of meaningful interaction. It was all very lacking, and I felt that the humor was supposed to make up for that.
Essentially, I feel that the Iron Druid Chronicles is not creating new content. It just points at pop culture references and says, "Hey, wasn't that funny!" It's regurgitating jokes, and while a lot of people enjoy being those people who are "in the know" and laughing at those jokes, I'm simply not one of them. There's definitely a market for this series, but I couldn't shake the feeling of reading lazy, premade content, with an exclusive sense of humor in place of character development.(less)
This is the first Wheel of Time book I'm giving less than 5 stars to. The story here starts to become repetitive and tediou...moreAs seen on Stumptown Books.
This is the first Wheel of Time book I'm giving less than 5 stars to. The story here starts to become repetitive and tedious, and for the first time, I was annoyed at certain narrators. Many groans ensued whenever it came time for their point of view.
Because I didn't feel particularly inspired to write a review at the time when I first finished The Fires of Heaven, it has now been a couple months and the details are already fading. Were the wonder girls (Nynaeve and Elayne, of course) in Tanchico in book 4 or book 5? When was Siuan deposed? What cities has Rand taken over? The Wheel of Time series is infamous for this detail gradient that occurs. I can always remember the climax of each book, but the details in between drop between the lines pretty quickly. It doesn't help that the readers are bombarded with a lot of useless information that either never becomes useful, or doesn't come into play until several thousand pages down the line. It becomes very hard to keep track of what you need to remember when you don't know if the information will ever be repeated, or if it is even the least bit important.
The character of Birgitte becomes more solid in this installation, and I really like her. She has some rough shit happen to her but she's a fighter, both in the physical and psychological sense. Unfortunately, Birgitte only appears when the wonder girls do, and holy shit are they annoying. I've never wanted to slap a character as hard as I want to slap Nynaeve, she is SO dense sometimes. Everyone in the Wheel of Time always complains about how many secrets they always have to keep, and how they never know who they can trust. So many problems would be solved if they just TALKED to each other, and Nynaeve definitely falls victim to this. Her relationship with Elayne is cringe inducing every single time it is mentioned. Which, as you may guess from this novel having the named Robert Jordan on it, is a lot. To generalize for story purposes, because like I said, it all starts running together, book 5 has the infamous circus scenes.
Rand, on the other hand, is awesome in this book. He does all sorts of crazy shit but now he has an entire army that will follow him anywhere. All of a sudden he's not a farm boy flailing about, hoping things work out. He starts forming legitimate plans for the future.
Asmodean becomes one of my favorite characters too. I really want to hear more about him!
Now I know all of that sounds pretty negative. Honestly though, I could NOT put this book down. I don't know what it is about this series that keeps me so captivated, but it does. This book definitely slows down the action, yes. The series continues to lose momentum for every book now up until book 11, but I still love it so much. I still don't recommend this series for anyone except hardcore fantasy fans but the payoff is so worth it if you can stick with it.(less)
If I were a 13 year old boy, this book would be awesome. As it stands, I think I've just grown out of Redwall books a bit. It was all food, action, ki...moreIf I were a 13 year old boy, this book would be awesome. As it stands, I think I've just grown out of Redwall books a bit. It was all food, action, kill someone, food, action, kill another someone. Rinse and repeat.(less)
Much of the charm of His Majesty's Dragon was completely lost in this second installment. In that book, it was a gradual bu...moreAs 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.(less)
When I first read through this series about a decade ago, I loved Elayne. She was beautiful, a princess, and she was a red...moreAs 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.(less)
I was in the mood for some simple farmboy-to-prophesied-savior fantasy. Usually I save this sort of thing for the winter, w...moreAs 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.(less)