I stared out the backseat window of the car as my parents drove me to Pendragon University.
I discovered a new book and instantly loved the title: Pe...more
I stared out the backseat window of the car as my parents drove me to Pendragon University.
I discovered a new book and instantly loved the title: Pendragon University. The author is also known as JenKristo on deviantArt, where I’ve mostly known her Transformers fan fiction writings. When I read the summary on the deviantArt Artist Comment that she had included, I wasn't sure whether I'd like it or not simply because it featured a human teen in a school of supernatural teens, and when I'd read stories with a similar premise before, they sounded a lot like each other or not very well written. And everyone who browses a book to read wants to be engaged by the story, which means the writing has to be good, if not great. I am extremely happy to say that I found both the story of Pendragon University and the writing to be great. In fact, if I hadn't known it was her first novel, I would have begun looking for her other books to read them, as well.
The third line reeled me into the story like a fish on a hook:
My sketchbook was on my lap, and I doodled on it unconsciously.
Because I draw and I write, was instantly interested in someone who was doing one of the same things that I do, and wanted to see what was next. The character doing the doodling was Darcy Hill, who turned out to be the protagonist. Darcy applied to a number of colleges, along with Pendragon University, when a pamphlet about their art department came in the mail. She has trouble with her grades in school, but is a marvelous artist – and to her surprise, she is accepted by the university. To add further mystery to the whole process, there is very little information about it aside from the fact that about three percent of all applicants are accepted while the rest are turned away. Most curious!
Within her first day of being at Pendragon University, Darcy is repeatedly asked what she is and her response, “an art major”, only seems to draw amusement. She eventually discovers that she has been accepted to an “inhuman university” – a university for paranormal individuals. The reason for her acceptance to the university, as a human, seems to be connected to Ulrich, a boy that she had encountered on her first day and that she met again in the fitness room. When she recognized the music he was listening to, he left and moments later the song came on over the speakers in the ceiling but he didn’t return. When she tries asking about him, she is not answered.
Darcy quickly learns the dangers of this new world when she runs into a werewolf that’s a member of the Lycan Guild, an anti-vampire pack (sort of like in the Underworld movies) and are going to kill Darcy, except a black shape appears and kills some of the Lycan werewolves, which drives off the rest, thus rescuing her.
This next part was really wild - suddenly we are in Spain of 1498, where a person is created: Pendragon. Pendragon’s first memory is of some young priests and a woman, who are making life from nothing. The woman becomes his mother; she gave him the body of a young man but he has the mind of a child. The woman puts pearls in his mouth and a dead grackle, a bird, on his back. As the pearls melt, the bird is absorbed, leaving two black marks until there is pain and two wings burst from his shoulders. In this snippet of Pendragon’s history, there wasn’t too much, and there wasn’t too little. It was one of those perfect little miniature cliffhangers that leave you wondering just what the heck happens to the character before you’re redirected to the rest of the story and must force yourself to be patient.
Pendragon is the architect who made the school buildings for Pendragon University, as well as Wyvern City and the various statues found in the school grounds. According to what we are told in the early stages of the story, he disappeared a couple of years previously, and all of the staff talk about him in the historical sense. Not a single one will tell the students if they have any clue as to what might have happened to him.
At this point in the story, it seems that all Darcy has to do is survive her time at the school, and possibly find out who Ulrich is and what it is that keeps saving her. Of course, it’s always the easy goals that hide the harder ones from sight.
Ms. Smallwood’s story had just the right bits of this and that to make a story that is completely seamless and refreshingly original, and I could not help but be inspired by her imagination at the same time I was busy admiring what she'd done with it. And while there was some romance in the story, it was not the main focus, and was written in a beautifully subtle way that I could completely believe.
I would like to give Ms. Kaitlin Smallwood a standing ovation, but I’m not sure how many others have read her wonderful book, and I can’t clone myself, so I shall just have to settle for applause. You have a wonderfully creative mind, Ms. Smallwood, and I look forward to your future publications: both your fantasy titles and your fan fiction ones. In the meantime, I shall just admire Pendragon University and its art.
Special thanks to my Aunt for buying this book for me, before it even occurred to me to start either doing my not-so-subtle-indirect asking, or just asking plainly. You're the best, A.K.
And special thanks to my elder sister, Z, for assisting me with the editing of this reivew so that it could look as nice as possible.
If you enjoyed the Harry Potter books, or the Keys to the Kingdon series by Garth Nix, you will love this story, too. And the link to the Amazon page can be found by clicking on the cover at the top of this post.(less)
My favorite characters had to be the griffins, Opio, Rolin, and Gannon, though the warbler was also very amusing. My aunt...moreThe non-professional review:
My favorite characters had to be the griffins, Opio, Rolin, and Gannon, though the warbler was also very amusing. My aunt bought a signed copy of the book for me, and when she left, I started reading. I still haven't had sleep, but it was worth it. This book is a real page turner, and once I've let my grandmother finish reading it, I am going to lend it to a friend of mine immediately. The plot was freaking fantastic, and the writing was really good. At first, I would have compared it to J.K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien, but now I'm not sure who I could compare it to. In my humble opinion, it's a must read! Now I must figure out how to get my hands on a copy of the next book A.S.A.P. If nothing else is available, I just might have to steal it. XD
The "professional" review:
The main character for this story is a boy named Rolin, he is the son of a bee keeper called Gannon (not Gannondorf from the Legend of Zelda games). Rolin lives alone in a cabin with his father, since his Grandmother Adelka and his mother Janna both died. The circumstances were mysterious though, Adelka ran off into the woods when people started chopping down the beech grove where she had lived when she first appeared around Beechtown. Janna died in that same grove, after telling Rolin and Gannon to mind the box and the beech tree she’d planted in the front yard. The box that Adelka had owned was lost for a time, and the beech tree was gnawed down by a beaver.
Rolin rediscovers the box at the start of the book, and takes what looks like some odd sort of medalion from it, and decides to wear it when they go to market. He leaves the box behind, and they set out. When they run into Rolin’s aunt, she starts arguing with Gannon about how he should live in town and get a new wife so that Rolin has a mother. Rolin goes off in search of some mushrooms to give them time, and after reporting back, went off to look at “starglasses” (telescopes). When the lense accidentally fell out of one and he went to pick it up, the “medalion” fell out of his shirt and he suddenly had Greencloaks (odd men who everyone had as little to do with as possible) chasing him.
A man in white appears and leads him to a tree, and climbs up it. When he doesn’t reappear, Rolin considers going home. Instead, his curiosity gets the better of him and he climbs it. When he climbs down, he finds himself in fog, with the only tree he can recognize being the one he climbed. This is where the story really takes off, in my opinion. Rolin meets two Greencloaks who decide to take him to someone called Bembor. On the way, they save him from something that is a mix of bat and wolf, a yeg (the full name was yeggorin I think).
As the story progresses, Rolin learns he is in another world, called Lucambra (his own being Thalmos), and he reached it with a torsil tree. To get into the valley where the oak clan lived safely, they used a tara-torsil (made when you split a torsil tree acorn in half and plant the halves at different locations). The overall idea is that Rolin is the heir of the last Lucumbrian king, the last true one at any rate. The current man who calls himself king is a sorcerer with an ashtag as a sythan-ar (a life tree), and he wants to destroy all the torsil worlds he discovers. He’s a good villain, and the way he disappears at the end of the book leaves you with the question of whether or not he’s actually dead. Even though the sorcs (griffins) weren’t there immediately, I still liked the first part. How they found the clapper for the bell that would summon the sorcs to Hallowfast was amusing. To me, if not to anyone else. Out of all the sorcs in there, Windsong and Ironwing (the ones we see the most of) are my favorites. I even like them better than the king of the sorcs! Though if I actually met him in person, I might have to say otherwise to save myself. I love a lot of books, and this isn’t as long as some I’ve read, but it’s going onto my shelf of favorites, and could stand alone as far as I am concerned (lots of books that stand alone have endings where you are left wondering about things). This book actually makes me interested in finding out how to identify different trees (because if I don’t, whenever I think “forest”, I’ll probably think up a whole army of pine trees), and it made me relatively interested in bee keeping. I don’t like bees, yet I’m interested in bee keeping? Does that make me a hypocrite?
In the short, “non-professional”, review I dashed off on Goodreads upon finishing the book (I’ll be putting it in italics when I’m finished with this one), I compared the writing of The King of the Trees to J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. Now however, I’m not sure who to compare it to. It is like, yet unlike, plenty of pretty extraordinary books I’ve read by wonderful authors, but doesn’t really seem to fit in enough with any one style enough to be compared to it the way that I think it should be.
If I am correct, the language the Lucumbrians use is Welsh. I looked up a couple of the phrases and words on Google (“what does such and such mean?”) and so far, most of them came up as Welsh to English. There was a whole Prophecy which the Tree of Life (the name started with a W….) made, and helped fullfill. I find the idea of trees being sentient; very, very cool. Yes I’ve read about sentient trees in lots of different books, but different authors have different ways of describing the ways trees talk. The way Mr. Burt did it has to be one of my favorites. The ashtag’s personalities in particular were interesting, as was the idea of trees falling asleep in winter. Yes I know that they lose their leaves and don’t grow during winter, but still! The idea that if they had minds, they would be sleeping in winter, still amazed me.
So I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read with griffins in it, and Prophecies that have the creator of all life coming and talking to the main hero. Or even if they’re just looking for a good book and don’t enjoy fantasy, I’d still recommend it. XD(less)
**spoiler alert** Reading books like this late at night somehow seems to amplify the emotions I get from them. I was horrified when Redrought died, an...more**spoiler alert** Reading books like this late at night somehow seems to amplify the emotions I get from them. I was horrified when Redrought died, and I found myself crying. After that it seemed that would be the only scene that drew that reaction. That was not to be the case, three times towards the end of the book, I cried again. And strangely enough, I found myself muttering foul names for Scipio Bellorum. The book was extremely well written, and I loved the mix of myths that was chosen. If only they did exist and were waiting to be called into view. My favorite characters would be Redrought (seriously, who doesn't love a terrifying warrior king with a fondness for fuzzy slippers?), Grismak Blood-drinker, Tharaman-Thar, Taradan, and Thirrin. Their characters were extremely well done, and there was plenty of character building. Tharaman would be my favorite in the character building department though, this is probably because he's a giant, extremely nice snow leopard. The book ended well, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one, in which Scipio will hopefully suffer a painful death. If he doesn't, I'll be severely dissapointed.(less)
Reason: … This book is so well written and the characters are genius! S.G. Rogers did such a fantastic job of this story. And lucky me that...moreRating: 5/5
Reason: … This book is so well written and the characters are genius! S.G. Rogers did such a fantastic job of this story. And lucky me that I am, I actually won my own copy on GoodReads, thank goodness!! No waiting to read it! Well…. maybe a little bit, but not that long because the postal system is simply outstanding in their delivery times – I have nothing but good things to say about those folks, too! I so love the characters, the world, and how much of a genius S.G. Rogers is to think up a horrible, brilliant character like Elfysian…. I absolutely must get to the story, now.
I think most people would have described me as a normal, ordinary kid before my dad disappeared. When I say that he “disappeared,” I mean that literally. He vanished in a flash of light, with a sound like distant thunder. And because I was the only witness, I automatically became the suspect. That sort of suspicion tends to make you edgy, especially when you’ve just turned sixteen.
The above excerpt was how the story opened, and it totally grabbed my attention and made me curious about what happened next and what this story was all about; this is just what a good writer can accomplish quite easily with openings such as this. From reading the book’s summary on Goodreads, I was pretty sure I’d like it. However….. I was unaware of just how much I would… heck, I’d found out how many pages there were and was thinking “That doesn’t seem long enough to encompass everything mentioned in the summary.” Oh but it was, and it wasn’t rushed at all. When you read it for yourself, you will see what I mean and be equally impressed by this writer’s skill. Here’s a few of the things from the book that I especially liked:
The ring and transporter cuff Jon needed to be wearing at the same time so that he could transport himself. The fact that his drawing something while wearing Ophelia (his dragon ring) made it become real. The whole idea of Yden. The fact that those who live in Yden think of “Yrth” as a sort of Hell, seeing as it has no magic. The delightful evilness that is Elfysian. Before I go giving away most of the book (including the ending), I’ll stop here. The story follows Jon’s father disappearing, his going to Yden the first time, going to a public school instead of the art one he’d been going to before, having this Nomad princess and a drained wizard coming to warn him about Elfysian and the rest (as they say) is history. Of course, you’ll have to read the book so you actually know this history, but hey, reading is good for you. If asked if I’m going to lend it to friends so they can read it, the answer is “Of course!” And to say that I’m greatly excited about the idea of a sequel is an understatement of epic proportions. Of course, I was told a little while ago (by the author) that she’s working on book three. At the time, she was working on the last chapter, if my memory serves me correctly.
It is so wonderful in this day and age to be able to communicate directly with authors whom one admires, and that amidst all that writing and creating, they still make time for their readers and respond so kindly.(less)
Reason: Great story, great characterization, great world-building and a really cool concept!
Before we get started, you should be aware that...moreRating: 5/5
Reason: Great story, great characterization, great world-building and a really cool concept!
Before we get started, you should be aware that there are some spelling and grammatical errors in the book. However, don’t be distracted by this because the story is amazing. I am inclined to believe that the errors only exist because there were time restrictions for the book’s publishing so it couldn’t be edited properly or some other perfectly reasonable explanation, but it most certainly wasn’t the author’s fault. Now, on with the review! ^_^
Our main character is married, and has one of those “normal” lives where everything seems to have been drifting along at the same pace ever since they can remember. Of course that’s not true, but it seems that way to her. Her name is Caroyln, or Carli (her name for most of the story). She has weird dreams that she can only remember fragments of. She paints these fragments and is convinced that once she has all of them, they’ll fit together like a puzzle and her life will suddenly have meaning and be exciting. This doesn’t really happen of course, but you can’t blame a girl for dreaming. Except that she’s different from most people. Yes, I know that most main characters seem to be like normal people but they just happen to transform into a lizard or they just happen to be able to make things blow up just by waving their hand. However, Carli has to be one of my favorite not-so-normal main characters. You see, when she gets up to start her day at the beginning of the book, she starts having daydreams of a sort. She’s suddenly at this place with a sandstone building and a pool that has a mosaic of Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper in it. She keeps flickering back between the apparent daydream and her ‘real’ life. She feeds the cat and does other typical daily living tasks, flicks between the two realities, then goes outside to have a smoke. She sees some deer and then, “SHAZAM!” (sorry, just had to say that), she’s suddenly back in the world with the sandstone building. This time though, there’s a hole in one of the garments in the mosaic in the pool, and it’s shooting a beam of light up into the air. At first I thought that it was possibly some aliens sending a message to other aliens to say ‘We are here! You can land now so we can destroy this place, etc.,’ but no. It’s for something far more sinister…. if you can call what the beam is actually for, sinister. Which you can’t really…. unless you think that a ____ actually is sinister, which I find almost impossible to comprehend. Notice how I tried to be clever by inserting a blank? Yeah.
So then these missiles go to intercept the beam for some reason or other, and at first Carli thinks they are around five feet long. Then, as they get closer, she realizes that they’re around the length of half a football field. For some reason my brain was not registering that there was still a good many pages left for me to read, and was worrying about the main character’s sense of self-preservation before we really learned her importance to the plot… and before we actually learned what the plot was.
The plot involves a girl who’s got a portal as part of her, seeing as she was born at a specific time when lunar activity was high and there was an eclipse or something. That’s what gave her the portal. This portal makes her a crossover, but even in that area she’s special, because she’s supposed to stop this group called the riders, and she got combat training in her dreams (is that not so cool that you are having a lot of trouble vanquishing the green-eyed monster?) so that she’d be able to do that. Only, she’s got her teacher from the dreams, Nicholas (or just Nick) looking after her. And he’s got a gun. Why that fact makes me grin in a maniacal manner I’m not quite sure, but it does. So they flee from the Riders, but then it turns out that they’re also fleeing from this group called The Union, because Nick abandoned them so he wouldn’t have to kill Carli. To hide from the Riders, they hide in a mirror which The Union set up ages ago, which is accessed by them pushing their hands into a hole on a beech tree. Riders can’t find them there, but Revenants and animals can. ‘Yipee!’ Or ‘Oh no!’, Whichever you prefer.
My favorite character was, I’m sorry to say, Haiden, even if he was an evil, evil dude and didn’t care about what he did around the end of the book. I still find the way she wrote about the character cool. What can I say? I’m mostly into anti-heroes and heroes, but I do fall for the occasional villain. The story ended in a way I honestly didn’t expect, with all the other stuff that happened. Purple lazer beams, weird ways of travel, cool creatures like Thambusches, and the whole ‘it’s nothing but sandstone and mirrors’ thing combined to make what is most certainly going to be my favorite book of the month when the time comes to answer the RTW prompt about the favorite book from October. This opinion is not at all influenced by the fact that I won a copy of this book, the fact that Ms. LaFontaine signed it (and there was a note to go with the signature, which made me very happy), or the fact that she’s a very nice person and agreed to become my friend on Goodreads.
If there is a sequel for this book, I am definitely going to read it – I love coming across stories that are so unique and intriguing and well-written that the story just stays with you, and you simply must re-read it from time to time. I am also going to ask Ms. LaFontaine for any tips she might have regarding character creation, world building, and the various other candy that goes into the making of a story. Whether or not that candy is sour depends on the idea that is the driving force behind the words. Oh, and did I ever mention that I love the cover? I want to walk on that path and just admire the view… and hopefully meet a few Thambusches. Ones that don’t have a reason to possibly attack me. :D Another thing….. did I ever mention that this is her debut novel? Please, please let there be more! I promise to read them. *smiles as encouragingly as possible*(less)
How to describe "As You Wish"? In one word, it is stupendous! In another... outstanding! In yet another, it's outrageous (but only because Viola actuall...moreHow to describe "As You Wish"? In one word, it is stupendous! In another... outstanding! In yet another, it's outrageous (but only because Viola actually got mad at Jinn in the movie theatre). Using more than one particular word though? Give me a minute to tap my chin and attempt to look thoughtful.
Now, when I found out about Jackson Pearce (I still forget how that happened exactly but I don't particularly care) I had mislaid my library card. So seeing as I couldn't read her books, I watched her online videos. Not only do they make me laugh but they also impart wisdom on occasion. So when I found "Sisters Red" in my local bookstore when I went there for my birthday this year, I got it and read it and loved it! Two Little Red Riding Hoods running around waving a "Kill the Werewolves!" banner (okay I exaggerate, just one did that). Who wouldn't be interested in this literary jewel? Yesterday morning for Christmas I unwrapped "As You Wish" and immediately started screaming!
Why? Because I had been looking for it forever ... (maybe not forever but since I found out about Jackson Pearce a short while ago) and read that it was about a genie and a girl falling in love and that most certainly sounds fantastic to me. For some unknown reason, I seemed to think it would be like "Sisters Red". It's a good thing time machines haven't been invented yet because if they had been, I'd have gone back to give my past self a kick in the pants. With "Sisters Red" I was hooked pretty-much immediately but "As You Wish" started with me feeling curious about the first sentence. By the end of the first paragraph, I was laughing as was my Aunt, my Grandmother, my Mom, and basically anyone else I showed it to. I couldn't really read during the visit but I did manage to get one hundred and eighty pages in before my sister and my Mom mainly finished with what they wanted to say to our Christmas company. In those first hundred and eighty pages, I found that not only is "As You Wish" drastically different (what with the whole absence of any one-eyed sisters in red capes running around trying to kill characters) but I loved it even more than "Sisters Red" which I had not thought humanly possible. Even though I have never been in a situation that Viola has been in, I connected with her quite well with most of my internal dialogue during the book being "oh you poor girl, come here, let me give you a hug then let's go out for some hot chocolate with whipped cream".
Of course, I did have my moments where I got upset with Viola but if I told you those parts this would be a review containing spoilers, so let's switch to Jinn. Otherworldly Jinn. Handsome Jinn. Mouthwateringly gorgeous Jinn... before I go on with the titles and possibly embarrass myself if I haven't already, I should probably take an axe to that particular branch of this review. Jinn was not (to me at least) your typical love interest character. I mean sure, the genies you usually read about are either lamp-bound, stuck in some other world where they're all the same and they love annoying magicians (think Bartimaeus) or other such stereotypes. Bartimaeus did create what Disney didn't with what I thought of genies but I think Jackson Pearce replaced Disney so Bartimaeus is now balancing against Jinn. Jinn is funny and impatient to head home but even better...he is a florist! Or rather, someone who works for the florist. The way his friendship with Viola and Lawrence developed and how his feelings for Viola grew, were very well written. I find myself wishing that I had just so happened to sidle into the book and knock Viola into a cupboard so I could get a kiss from Jinn or something while his eyes were conveniently closed so he wouldn't notice the switch.
The plot, the execution of the plot, the character growth and the overall moral theme was coupled with my previously monumental respect and admiration for Jackson Pearce and it skyrocketed into one of the tallest buildings in my head after completing this book!
All I can say is that I fervently hope there will be a sequel and that seeing as I have loved these two books, I can't wait to see what her next book, "The Damn Historical Novel" turns out to be like.
I'm almost apprehensive about the idea of reading it, seeing as it would take away the mental images I have formed of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus. Howeve...moreI'm almost apprehensive about the idea of reading it, seeing as it would take away the mental images I have formed of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus. However, I don't think I'd mind seeing an illustration of Jabor, so I just might crack the covers open for a peek inside. :P(less)
It was awesome! The only part I didn't like though was the description of inside Ergent Seth's head. Yuck. But I liked how Daniel Transformed into an...moreIt was awesome! The only part I didn't like though was the description of inside Ergent Seth's head. Yuck. But I liked how Daniel Transformed into an elephant, after making Seth beg him to get out of his head. XD Sweet justice. ^_^(less)
I love this book a ton, for thecharacters are very real, and you get attached to them. I actually cried when Shardas 'died'. The writing also left me...moreI love this book a ton, for thecharacters are very real, and you get attached to them. I actually cried when Shardas 'died'. The writing also left me wanting to find out what happens next, which is always a good thing.(less)