My appreciation for this trilogy grows every time I read it. There's no way any review of mine could ever do justice to this masterpiece, so I'll just...moreMy appreciation for this trilogy grows every time I read it. There's no way any review of mine could ever do justice to this masterpiece, so I'll just end with: These are some of the most amazing books I've ever read.(less)
Well, now that I've gotten my behind in gear and sat down to write a blasted review...
Right off the bat, this had J.R.R. Tolkien all over it. Terry Br...moreWell, now that I've gotten my behind in gear and sat down to write a blasted review...
Right off the bat, this had J.R.R. Tolkien all over it. Terry Brooks's Four Lands are like Middle-earth on a diet. There's an evil overlord rising back to power, an even more evil object of magic he can't be allowed to lay hands on, a small bunch of ragtags committed to stopping him, and a special sword meant to rally the troops and destroy the bad guy. There's even a Gandalf, an Aragorn, a Legolas, a Gimli, and a mix of Arwen, Galadriel, and Eowyn! I spent some time half-convinced I would see a few orcs or hobbits; negative on the latter, and trolls and gnomes instead of the former...close enough.
Glaring similarities aside, I enjoyed this. It was far less wordy than The Lord of the Rings and it had its more stirring moments as well (but I'll be honest, LOTR hit me harder). I get the feeling that a lot more effort has gone into this as opposed to, say, the Landover series, which I found charming enough to keep reading. Therefore, I'm going to stick with Shannara for awhile. A good bit of it felt derivative (wow, I'm using that word a lot in conjunction with a lot of fantasy epics! It just goes to show how Tolkien set the standard for the genre, doesn't it?) but it was good enough to keep me interested. I did think that the constant battles and skirmishes developed a lot of drag in the narrative and it all but killed the suspense to have the characters' lives in perpetual danger they always just managed to evade, and since this was a prequel, I pretty much knew how it was going to end, but I feel on solid ground for the main body of the series.
The characters themselves weren't as three-dimensional as I would have liked (development is key!) but I got very attached to Tay Trefenwyd, the Legolas in this equation. My first impression of him was of a happy-go-lucky chap I felt certain was going to annoy the pants off me, but it's to Mr. Brooks's credit that Tay became my uncontested favorite, with more depth and dimension to him than I had initially expected. His was the one subplot I felt didn't detract from the main conflict, and in fact supplemented and strengthened it as every good subplot should. I honestly felt for him, and it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears in the middle of McDonald's when his part in the story ended the way it did. I just wish I felt the same about the other characters, and while I see the logic in not expending so much effort on people who won't have any further screen time beyond this installment, I still would have appreciated it even more if I'd gotten to know them half so well.
Let's see, what else...There's not much else, except to say that if you don't feel like devoting yourself to LOTR, you could do much worse than to pick this up. Oh, wait! Almost forgot! After doing some research on the subject myself a few years ago, I can applaud Mr. Brooks's efforts in detailing the art of blacksmithing. But one tiny nitpick: steel isn't cast when forging a sword. Just a minor irritant that gets me whenever I come across it.
Anyway, there were times when it felt like this was a hodge podge of unrelated quests and whatnot, but it all came together pretty neatly in the end. It's definitely one I don't regret reading, unlike other fantasy novels I could name. *coughBrisingr!cough* I look forward to the rest of the series!(less)
This won't be a review so much as sharing memories. This was the very first Harry Potter book I ever read. I bought it at a school book fair in the se...moreThis won't be a review so much as sharing memories. This was the very first Harry Potter book I ever read. I bought it at a school book fair in the second grade and my mom started reading it aloud to us all. I don't remember why she stopped, but I do remember picking it up and finishing it on my own one day. I still remember the exact same spot I started reading at! (Chapter 13; Ron was complaining about having to polish a certain Award for Services to the School) I had no memory of what had previously gone on, or even who was who, but by the time I got to the good parts, I was cheering Harry on with the rest of them. I've been a HUGE fan ever since.(less)
Adorable, but the twisted, eccentric bent in me prefers Tim Burton's adaptation. On its face, you'd think this was just a nonsense book, and to some d...moreAdorable, but the twisted, eccentric bent in me prefers Tim Burton's adaptation. On its face, you'd think this was just a nonsense book, and to some degree you'd be right, but when you dig deeper there's more meaning than you realize. We can certainly sympathize with Alice, flung into a world she doesn't understand, but I particularly admire how she stays Alice throughout her adventure. Her encounters with all the strange and rather inhospitable inhabitants of Wonderland don't change her for the worse in the slightest (she was only dreaming about them, but that's not the point). The greatest wonder to me--no pun intended--is how Carroll wrote these books. Think of it; a grown man in the era he lived in not only possessing such a child-like imagination, but creating with it one of the most beloved children's books of all time. Bravo, sir!(less)
Definitely a good read for escapists. I did, however, have problems believing that any girl of this period behaved the way Gemma Doyle does. She's des...moreDefinitely a good read for escapists. I did, however, have problems believing that any girl of this period behaved the way Gemma Doyle does. She's described as sardonic; I think a better word for it is snarky (though to be honest, I've always found that to be an entertaining quality). Libba Bray seems to be trying to break free of stereotypes here, but she puts her foot in it big time. Gemma is a bona fide outcast even among her family, Felicity Worthington is your typical catty, superficial rich girl, Pippa Cross is the tragic beauty valued only for her looks, and Ann Bradshaw is the downtrodden pauper. Altogether not the group of girls you'd expect to become friends. What you really notice about this book is the bitter taste it leaves in your mouth. It's not a bad book, but very little hope permeates it. It's gothic in every sense of the word. Bray does throw off the image of Victorian girls as docile, doe-eyed porcelain dolls that have to be careful lest they smash, and you have to give her credit for that. Stereotypes aside, these are modern girls in an era that doesn't take kindly to spirited females. There are several predictable plot turns, and things get a little steamy with the local Romany men for a Victorian-based story, but I repeat: definitely a good read for escapists.(less)
This is a little harder to read than Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and it's also a good deal more depressing. If you can keep track of all the cha...moreThis is a little harder to read than Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and it's also a good deal more depressing. If you can keep track of all the characters entering and exiting, who's enemies with who, and what everyone is calling himself at any given moment, it's another good tale from Middle-earth.(less)
I could read Les Misérables in just over a week or so, yet I couldn't finish this in under two months...Well, I broke off reading this to read Les Mis...moreI could read Les Misérables in just over a week or so, yet I couldn't finish this in under two months...Well, I broke off reading this to read Les Mis. and at least a dozen other books, and I have read this one only a billion times, so...
Anyway...on to the review.
Oh my goodness, this woman is AMAZING! The detail she puts into her work, the love, the emotion; there's no way you can call this a series that's just for children. You'd think that after reading a certain book over and over again, it would start to lose its charm, but that's not the case here. I still laugh, fume and choke up every time. There's so much brutal honesty beneath the action...it's like sticking your hand into a bucket expecting to touch the bottom, only finding that it's deeper than you realized at first. The lesson Ms. Rowling has to teach us about love and loyalty is as enjoyable (and heartrending) as it is profound.
Small wonder, then, that Harry Potter has become a household name the world over.(less)
I think I'll tackle this one with a few main points of discussion. - I despise Terry Goodkind as a person. - Either I'm a prophet, or this series has...moreOy.
I think I'll tackle this one with a few main points of discussion. - I despise Terry Goodkind as a person. - Either I'm a prophet, or this series has just gotten that predictable. - I no longer care that much for Richard.
I think that will work for the time being. Here we go: I despise Terry Goodkind as a person. I've never met the man, and I'm not sure I want to. As others have pointed out before me, these books are all filled with the same graphic, horrendous acts of violence, namely rape and torture. I mean it, if the shock of it hadn't worn off clear back in Stone of Tears, then this would have made me physically sick just to read about how eight out of ten female characters were treated. As I've seen it put elsewhere, when the men are killed, they're cut in half and they die. When the women are killed, they're raped, mutilated, raped after being mutilated, mutilated and raped some more, then they die. I'll say it again, plot elements such as these are best used in moderation, and with good reason. For one, they wear out with use and lose whatever shock and horror value they possess. For another, if you repeatedly fill your books with this kind of misogyny and torture porn (hey, I'm just calling it like I see it), it's in disgusting taste and really makes your audience start to wonder about you...I'm just saying...at this point, though, it hardly registers as it should with me. I'm not so much outraged on behalf of the characters as I am annoyed that it's popped up AGAIN. It's like mildew, really.
And I just realized that I said I viewed the whole thing as an annoyance as opposed to the horror that it is. Now I really despise Terry Goodkind as a person. I hope he's gotten himself a better editor since this was published, as he still tends to ramble off on tangents that have little to nothing to do with whatever happens to be going on in the story and he manages his characters better this time around, but the best ones get even less screen time than ever. That's the REAL annoyance.
Either I'm a prophet, or this series has just gotten that predictable. All right, now I'll admit that there were a few things that took me by surprise, but they were few and far between. I was surprised, for instance, that the big conflict was something as mundane as a plague instead of yet another bad guy intent on conquering the free world (but maybe that's because Richard hasn't offed Emperor Jagang yet). But from that point on, I could just about see everything coming, from who was going to get the plague to what was really going on with Shota to the identity of the Jack the Ripper-esque serial killer that sliced up half the prostitutes in Aydindril (did I spell it right this time?), you get the picture. Where are the surprises lurking in this mess of almost-bombshells? I can't see them! I can't see them!
I no longer care that much for Richard. I liked him better when he was Richard Cypher the Seeker, the stereotypical young hero that still had a lot to learn and had something endearing about him. Now who is he? He's Richard Rahl, lord and master of the D'Haran empire! What he says, goes! He doesn't know everything there is to know about everything, but he's the final word on everything anyway! Obey or die! *raspberry* Really, he's not terribly likeable anymore. Kahlan hasn't slipped that bad, but she's getting less and less interesting. The best characters are the ones who don't get enough focus, such as Zedd, Ann, Verna, and the Mord-Sith. Granted, Cara, Berdine and Raina had a much bigger part to play here, but I fail to see why Goodkind even bothered including Zedd, Ann and Verna this time around, they did so little. Now, don't get me wrong, the little they did was important, and I wouldn't have missed Zedd and Ann acting like lunatics to avoid being sacrificed for the world, but so much more could have been done with them! Yet they go to waste! Travesty!
My closing statement after venting a lot of spleen...if there was so much for me to complain about while reading this book, why, then, will I bother with the series any longer? Because the good stuff was just that good, gosh darn it! When it's bad, it's bloody awful, but when it's good, it's pretty freaking great! For the sake of the great stuff, I'm willing to endure the other unpalatable stuff! Curse you, Terry Goodkind!(less)
I saw the movie before I read the book, and find that the book is better. Where to start? The action scenes were delicious enough to get me past the l...moreI saw the movie before I read the book, and find that the book is better. Where to start? The action scenes were delicious enough to get me past the little details that weren't so palatable. Several characters could be summed up in only a few words: Eragon: new Dragon Rider, always reminding people of it, kinda whiny, means well but doesn't use his head Saphira: dragon, wise beyond her years, spews a lot of archaic dialogue Brom: grouch with a good heart Murtagh: very tense individual, complains a lot about his shadowy parentage Mr. Paolini has clearly read Lord of the Rings. More than a few details just smack of Middle-Earth. He did a good job of making it seem as though you really went on this journey with his characters, though, so kudos for that. The first few chapters roll along a little slowly, but things pick up once the Ra'zac arrive on the scene. Hopefully, there's more of Angela in Eldest--she was my favorite character.(less)
This one won't replace Ella Enchanted for me, but I loved it all the same. Ms. Levine is doing another retelling here, this time of "Snow White", and a...moreThis one won't replace Ella Enchanted for me, but I loved it all the same. Ms. Levine is doing another retelling here, this time of "Snow White", and again she's telling her story from a rather inventive angle. This book inspires more in-depth thinking than Ella does: What would you do to become "beautiful?" Several things are addressed here, such as how we view ourselves, how focused society is on appearances, what truly makes a person beautiful, and my personal favorite, how even mirrors tell lies (but then I've always thought of mirrors as tools of deception as opposed to truth, anyway). Again, the magic is in the details. The inept but well-meaning Lucinda makes a cameo appearance, the narrative is permeated with song, and gnomes play a large part. It's really not fair at all to compare this book to Ella Enchanted; they're both amazing in their own ways.(less)
I searched for this book for years, and when I finally found it in the library, I read it in one night. As a matter of fact, my search for it was simi...moreI searched for this book for years, and when I finally found it in the library, I read it in one night. As a matter of fact, my search for it was similar to Mr. Goldman's (fictional) search to buy a copy of the (fictional) Morgenstern's book. After seeing the movie for the first time when I was a kid, I was convinced that I had to read this book-- though I looked for one written by S. Morgenstern.
Now that I've FINALLY read it, I can truly appreciate how good it is. The Morgenstern trick that I fell for as a nine-year-old is employed to greater extent, to the point that I was wondering again whether he really did exist. Stories within stories within stories! The man is a genius! The characters of Inigo, Fezzik, and Vizinni are told in greater detail, there's much more humor, and I can't tell you how hilarious it was to find that the clergyman's dialogue was actually in the book. I couldn't keep myself from reciting along with Inigo: "You killed my father. Prepare to die." (I get goosebumps just thinking about that line!)
Haven't read it? You should. If the movie was good, there's even more goodness in here. (less)