*closes book* Now what? I've been reading these things since last September, and they've become a habit!
All moaning and groaning aside, let's get on with the review, and I'll do my complaining first. Whatever happened to chapter headings being named after the character...by proper name? It's confusing! And it can't ever be the same nickname, because how boring and conformist is that? No, that's why we have the Kraken's Daughter/The Wayward Bride/The King's Prize, etc., along with Cat of the Canals/The Blind Girl, The White Knight/The Queen's Hand, you get the idea. I still feel like Dorne is just deadweight, even more so here. The subplot with Quentyn Martell just seemed so...pointless. And for the love of God, Martin had better get some good mileage out of Young Grif before he inevitably kills him off!
I think that's most of the complaining done, so I'm onto the rest of it. I'll skip Bran because there wasn't much action on that front. So how about Dany? The situation with Hizdar feels like a step backward from the unbreakable queen she's developed into. And while I wish she would hightail it back to Westeros already (you have your army of fearless soldiers! What are you waiting for?!) I get it. She set the people in Slaver's Bay free, and she wants to make sure they stay that way. Were she any different, I wouldn't love her so much. I loved the bit in the fighting pit and with Drogon; it felt more like the warrior queen I had gotten used to.
Jon Snow...OMG! WTF? How could you leave me on a cliff hanger like that? How? I think I prefer Jon Snow to Lord Commander Snow--think Richard Cypher vs. Richard Rahl--but still, the poor guy's in a tight spot with so much opposition and having so many different factions to put up with. I wonder if he's stopped evolving as a character...he developed nicely in A Storm of Swords but looks like he lost a lot of forward momentum. And in light of that cliff hanger...I don't know, man. I really don't.
Tyrion has gotten to be a little more self-serving, but that makes sense under the circumstances. I liked his interactions with Ser Jorah and Penny, but my favorite bits were in the beginning--"Where do whores go?" And Martin has messed with my emotions yet again! I don't WANT to root Cersei on, damn it! The man has a knack for turning the villains inside out and showing you their humanity, forcing you into their corner whether you want to be there or not. I don't know if I'm ticked off about it, impressed that he pulled it off, or jealous of the skill it took. Maybe all three. It was the same story with Theon, or Reek, or whatever we're supposed to call him now.
Theon. Those were the moments that kept me in the most suspense, even though he had more names than Gandalf the Grey. I spent most of the second book wishing he would fall off the face of the earth, but what can I say? He became sympathetic, and I became a fan. I'm curious as hell to see what happens next there.
All in all, this was better than the last one but nothing tops A Storm of Swords. Now, everyone join me in saying WHERE THE BLOODY F**KING HELL IS THE WINDS OF WINTER?!
I would have liked this a lot better had it not come after A Storm of Swords. I needed a breather after all that action, but Martin seems to have responded here with a lack of action. Don't misunderstand me, a lot happens (in a book over 900 pages long, something better happen) but it was more plots and intrigues and searches than the battle scenes that were all over Book Three.
Quick rundown: The escapades in Dorne were the hardest to get through; they felt like deadweight. I get how they could be important later on, but at the moment...and Cersei's plotting against Margaery, while fascinating, slowed me down. I'll say this, though, I loved learning more about Cersei herself through her eyes. While I still don't like her, I understand her a little more. My favorite political machinations were among the ironborn and the kingsmoot. Asha Greyjoy shot up to the top five as far as my favorite characters go. Brienne of Tarth is up there as well, but number one is definitely Jaime in Tyrion's absence. I'll be damned, the Kingslayer does have honor!
Quick question: What the hell is Arya doing in Braavos? And when is she going to be reunited with Nymeria?!
I think it bears repeating that I would have liked this better if it didn't follow Book Three. I didn't exactly need a whole book to illustrate how everyone in Westeros is picking up the pieces after the War of the Five Kings, and while the last book was so good I was prepared for the next to fall short, I at least expected more from it. The series is still amazing, but whereas its predecessors came across like a sucker punch, A Feast for Crows was more like a nudge. When stacked up against A Storm of Swords, I really want to give it just three stars, but to be fair I'll tack on the last one anyway. It's still a good read, and I've wasted my time with worse.(less)
Well, the good news is, Davos survived. The bad news is, a lot of other people died. Like, a LOT of other people. I knew about a few beforehand, being dumb enough to read the appendices at the back of book five ahead of time, and you would think having forewarning would lessen the shock a bit, wouldn't you? Yeah, no. It doesn't. And yes, I'm talking about the Red freaking Wedding. It's not a spoiler to mention it by name, because there are so many weddings and betrothals going on in this book you won't know which one is THE one until you read it, so I haven't ruined it for anyone. See?
This book was a lot worse than Mockingjay for messing with my emotions, since Martin is a much better writer than Collins (hey, I call them as I see them). In fact, I can safely say that Martin is the best writer I've read in a long time. Rich world building, characters so vivid and true-to-life they really do feel real, more suspense than I could cope with, twists and turns so unpredictable I couldn't see them coming to save my life, and a certain ruthlessness that makes it impossible to stay rational while you read; you cannot--CANNOT--get attached to anyone, because the odds are excellent that Martin will kill him/her off at some point in time. And trust me, it's going to hurt. I lost count of how many times I burst out "I can't handle this! Holy God and Jesus at Olive Garden, I can't handle this!"
The Red Wedding wasn't the only thing that shocked me. Another bombshell came in the form of Jaime Lannister. Remember him? Through books one and two, he's the Kingslayer, the man who bangs his own sister, sires evil malicious bastards through aforementioned incest, throws children from towers, breaks oaths that are binding for life, ambushes good guys in the street, kills a few more good guys in battle thus stirring other good guys into vengeance, stands back while innocent men are cooked alive in their own armor, and generally has shit for honor. All that is turned on its head here, and I started to see what motivates this guy. Finally hearing his side of the story went a long way towards understanding him, and by the time I finished the book, I liked him as much as Tyrion.
Tyrion! Holy crap! I've seen a few people complain about the turn his character takes in the last few chapters, but I think that's only a natural progression given *cough* events. A Lannister pays his debts, after all. He's still my favorite of the series so far, and I'm the most anxious to see what's going to happen with him over the other characters...except perhaps Jaime. And Sansa, now there's a nice mess if I ever saw one. Daenerys really started coming into her own, and I finally made up my mind about Jon Snow. He's still far from my favorite character, but I liked him a lot better once he stopped being so freaking perfect. If I'm allowed a nitpick, I would have liked to see Ygritte stay in the action a little longer. After what happens to Jon in the Night's Watch, it would have been interesting to see what came about if that relationship carried on. Oh well. It's your universe, Mr. Martin, and you're doing well enough without my advice.
Wonder what I'm going to do when I catch up with the series and the sixth book isn't out yet...(less)
Overall, the sequel was every bit as good as A Game of Thrones. In fact, it was better! If I could give it a 4 1/2 star rating, I would...moreOne word: whew!
Overall, the sequel was every bit as good as A Game of Thrones. In fact, it was better! If I could give it a 4 1/2 star rating, I would. There was more action, more of my favorite characters, and more suspense than I was prepared for. Martin pulls no punches, so there really is no telling what's going to happen next, and I felt compelled to stay objective and avoid getting too attached to anyone. It's like being on safari; you can't interfere under any circumstances, you just have to let nature take its course. My only complaints: the chapter length was infuriating (not enough time with my faves while other POVs seemed to never end) and there were a few--only a few!--red-light green-light moments when things seemed to slow down unneccesarily. Other than that, I'm only an amateur in awe of a master.
In regards to old characters, there was more of Arya (yay!) and not much of Dany, but Dany wasn't up to anything that was all that interesting this time, so I was fine with that. There was also more Sansa, and I'm still holding my breath for that girl. As far as character arcs go, I'm ranking hers as one of the most interesting. She's definitely not the hoity toity, castles-in-the-air little twit that first left Winterfell! She's growing up, and while she's still got a long way to go, I really hope she makes it through the series. Tyrion is still rolling strong, and was once again my favorite character, no contest. It's weird how that happened, considering I'm in no way rooting for the Lannisters and Tyrion is doing his level best to keep that (unprintable) Joffrey on the throne. I skimmed a lot of Jon and Bran and Catelyn was stop-and-go through most of the book, but the scene at Riverrun with Jaime was excellent.
New characters! I really liked Davos, and I hope the cliff hanger he was left on is resolved *cough* properly. *glares at GRRM* Melisandre scared the hell out of me, I'm not going to lie. I'm predicting a lot of trouble out of that one farther down the road. Brienne of Tarth, while being rather minor so far, has enough promise that I hope to see more of her in the series. And then there's Theon Greyjoy...hmmm. No sympathy on my end, buddy boy. You made your own damn mess! The general rule is that you don't have to like a character, you just have to be able to live with them enough to get through the story, and Theon is a prime example.
I discussed themes and potential messages in my review for the first book, but I'm not going to do that here. I'm way too involved in the struggle and the turmoil to search for deeper meanings. Dare I commit fantasy-nerd heresy and say I like this BETTER than Lord of the Rings? You're forced to question everything, second-guess everyone's motives, and don't you dare think someone is trustworthy! It bears repeating; I'm only an amateur in awe of a master!(less)
A friend recommended this to me, and I enjoyed the prequel a bit, but...it's a no-go for me. Felt too much like a copy-cat. If I want to read Lord of...moreA friend recommended this to me, and I enjoyed the prequel a bit, but...it's a no-go for me. Felt too much like a copy-cat. If I want to read Lord of the Rings, I'll stick with Tolkien. (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)
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)
Terry Goodkind needs to get himself a better editor...
Apart from that, this one was MUCH better than Stone of Tears. The plot still wandered, but it g...moreTerry Goodkind needs to get himself a better editor...
Apart from that, this one was MUCH better than Stone of Tears. The plot still wandered, but it got back under control in time for a much more exciting, much more detailed climax. This one would still be a 3.5 by my reckoning, but again, the good stuff was just that good. You'll notice, though, that this time I rounded up.
Two things that are becoming an annoying trend in this series are the oh-so-convenient prophecies being made left and right, and the eve-more-convenient Wizard's Rules that are revealed at the most useful of times. I've got it pegged like this: Wizard's First Rule, people will believe anything (first book following how Richard and Darken Rahl worked to deceive each other to gain victory), Wizard's Second Rule, the greatest harm can result from the best intentions (in trying to defeat Darken Rahl, Richard nearly set loose the Keeper), and Wizard's Third Rule, passion rules reason (everyone and his pet dog's emotions lead them into disasters that could have been avoided had they stopped to think things through). My take on it is that the rules establish the theme, and the instant the rule of focus for a particular book is revealed, the whole story becomes predictable.
It would be easier on me if I didn't like other parts so much. Gratch and the Mord-Sith are high on my list, for one thing. I could have done without a few subplots, or at least I think the way they were handled could have been better, but as it was I thought it dragged through the parts narrating Tobias Brogan and Emperor Jagang. They were both nasty characters, but Goodkind could have gotten so much more mileage out of them as villains. (Unless he ended up using that as a window to cram some more rape and torture in there, in which case they're best left as they are. We get it, man, they're the bad guys. Quit ramming it down our throats.)
The movers and shakers keep moving around, as well. First book, the focus was on Richard. Second, it was more on Kahlan. This time, most of the story was about Ann, Nathan, and Verna. And it's weird, but whenever Goodkind narrows in on any particular character, the rest are less appealing, even if they were awesome in previous installments. *cough*Richard!*cough* Character development is key, but come on, you have to balance it out! If there are too many people running around to give them a fair voice, then someone has to get cut! This is where a better editor is called for!
Yet for all the complaining I'm doing, I'm still giving this one four stars. That's non-negotiable. It was predictable, occasionally sluggish, and just perplexing--not always in a good way--but what I liked, I loved. Take it or leave it.(less)
It took awhile for this one to get going, and I never really did warm up to Mistaya. She was too...precoc...moreI think I'm having a review burnout lately...
It took awhile for this one to get going, and I never really did warm up to Mistaya. She was too...precocious. She just knew everything, and she only went along with the grownups' wishes because it was her obligation, and she was just so special and *raspberry*. It was pretty predictable, even more so than the others in the series. I mean, I KNEW who Rydall of Marnhull was the first time he showed up at Sterling Silver! There was no point in dragging it out!
In the end, this one got three stars for three reasons. 1) There was plenty of Strabo, and I love Strabo. 2) Abernathy's dilemma of being transformed back into a man, only to have to face becoming a dog again to save everyone just made me love him even more. 3) Finally! We got rid of Nightshade! At last!(less)
I'm glad Terry Brooks took that time from the series before coming back to it, because this one feels much better than Wizard At Large. There's more d...moreI'm glad Terry Brooks took that time from the series before coming back to it, because this one feels much better than Wizard At Large. There's more depth of character and more care in the whole kit and kaboodle, and thank God he's broken away from his usual patterns!
Horris Kew, an exile returned to Landover through the magic of an evil being called the Gorse, manages to trap Ben Holiday, along with Strabo and Nightshade (will that old witch EVER clear out of here?!) in the mysterious Tangle Box, a prison of sorts filled with fairy mists where imagination is reality and your worst fears come to life. Willow can't help him, as she's off on a mission to prepare for the fairy birth of her and Ben's child. And Questor Thews and Abernathy can't help either, as they've got their hands full trying to keep Landover from falling apart in the King's absence. There's quite a bit going on, but each plot line remains distinct while still keeping in time with the others.
Abernathy is once again my favorite character, but I'm also growing fonder of Strabo. Stripped of his identity (as everyone is in the Tangle Box), we get to understand him more. And I was also happy to see Edgewood Dirk, the prism cat, make an appearance again, though he wasn't around long enough, in my opinion. What pleased me most with this one was that even though Ben lost himself--yet again--he had companions for the ride that added new complications and food for thought as I watched them interact with each other. And three cheers for someone other than the goshdarned Paladin saving the day!
The only thing that annoyed me was the way Willow's story was handled. For being such an important event, she felt like an afterthought between everything else, and in the end it felt too anticlimactic for me. Oh well, can't have everything.(less)
It's good to see that this series has remained consistent so far. I can think of a few that have gotten more and more disappointing as they carried on...moreIt's good to see that this series has remained consistent so far. I can think of a few that have gotten more and more disappointing as they carried on, but that's not the case with this one. If anything, it gets to be even more fun.
That's the good news...the bad news is, this thing is starting to feel formulaic. Uh oh! Ben has somehow lost the medallion again! We have to get it back! There's an evil creature on the loose in Landover! We have to stop it! Nightshade is making trouble again! Something must be done about this! We must call... *moment of breathless suspense* the Paladin!
What kept this from dragging down for me was the focus on Questor and Abernathy. When the attempt to turn the scribe back into a man backfires catastrophically, the wizard tries to set things right, and it's HIS turn for some self-discovery (which is good, because if I had to sit through Ben trying to figure himself out again, it wouldn't have ended well. It's getting old.) And we finally learn a little more about Abernathy, and that information just popped him up to the status of my favorite character so far. He's only in this mess because a long time ago, he tried to do the right thing. Now he's stuck as a talking dog on Earth in the company of his worst enemy. Not good!
Strabo made another appearance, and while I like the dragon's sarcasm and irritability, I could see that surprise coming just by reading the summary. I'll admit, I was cheering Questor on in his attempt to persuade Strabo to help him save Ben and the others, and frankly that scene was the highlight of the whole book for me. It was just too funny! The other bit that stuck out was the climactic battle in which we may or may not have seen the last of Nightshade. Really, it's too soon to tell. Anyway, how she was defeated was pure genius.
Can I just say that I might have predicted by the end of the book that Questor would suggest trying to change Abernathy back again? I think I'm too attached to him as a dog to want him changed back.(less)
See? I TOLD you we hadn't seen the last of Nightshade! And I knew there would be more with Strabo and Meeks! I knew it!...moreEven better than the first one!
See? I TOLD you we hadn't seen the last of Nightshade! And I knew there would be more with Strabo and Meeks! I knew it!
It might be a bit premature to say this, but it's good to know that Ben Holiday is still on a character arc. Even after all the lessons he learned in his efforts to secure his throne in the original, he still has that much more to discover about Landover and especially himself. The fairies might have sent him Edgewood Dirk, the prism cat, to help him out a bit, but Dirk's not about to just give him the answers. That was the best part for me, for Ben, once-lawyer and now exiled king, to have to work out the truth of the magic Meeks had used on him.
Was it just me, or did there seem to be even more magic in this one? Missing unicorns, spells of deception, dancing wood nymphs and a strange cat from the fairy mists? I liked it! Right up my alley! All that's missing are a few mermaids, but I think the River Master and his ilk still fill that void.
Well shucks, what else is there I can say? It was just as much fun as the first one, and again, I liked it even more. Now onto the next one!(less)
I would probably give this one more like 3.5 stars if I had the option. Where it was good, it was great, but the only trouble I had with it is that Go...moreI would probably give this one more like 3.5 stars if I had the option. Where it was good, it was great, but the only trouble I had with it is that Goodkind spent way too much time wandering around before he finally remembered there is in fact such a thing as plot and he'd better get back to his in a hurry. All the crap I heard about there being so much more sadism and near-misogyny wasn't nearly what I'd been led to believe by a long shot.
So...Richard is a wizard and needs to follow Verna, a Sister of the Light, to the Palace of the Prophets to learn to control his magic before it kills him. Fine and dandy, but they have to cross all of creation to get there, and Goodkind drags us along for the entire trip. Only about a quarter of the book, if that, took place in the Palace of the Prophets. The Stone of Tears, the only thing holding the Keeper of the Dead in the underworld, is in the land of the living, and if it falls into the wrong hands, the usual hell will break loose. Sounds great, but the Stone itself was more of a minor detail until the very end of the book, so that fell flatter than crepes. Kahlan needs to get to Zedd in Adyndril, the city of wizards and Confessors, to see if he can help Richard escape from the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad Sisters of the Light. All right, but she gets sidetracked fighting wars with the army of the Imperial Order and spends more time killing renegade soldiers wearing nothing but warpaint than she does in Adyndril. Zedd himself is after Adie the bone woman for her knowledge of the underworld. Cool beans, but they were attacked by a skrin and need to visit these healing sorceresses or whoever they were to be cured from the taint on their magic.
And so on and so on and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........
Yeah, it just drifted along for nearly all eternity, but there were some things I liked, like Richard's friendship with Gratch, for one thing. That was just adorable. And at first I was a little put off by Kahlan's one-eighty into a remorseless warrior queen since I thought the Mother Confessor was supposed to be the soul of compassion, but I guess she's also the guardian and protector of her people, so when they fell under threat, she only did what was necessary to defend them. Denna had also become my favorite character by the end of Wizard's First Rule so I was glad to see her again here, though I just wish I could have seen more of her. She's one of the more complex and intriguing villains I've seen recently, and I love her as much as I'm sickened by her. (Speaking of Mord-Sith, I spent the entire book looking for Cara! She was more important in the TV series, and nonexistent in the book! I kept thinking to myself as I read, "Where's Cara? Where's Cara?.................There's Cara!")
I was more than a little annoyed that the resolution of those infinite plot lines was rushed on all counts, and irritated that it took forever to learn what Wizard's Second Rule was only for it to turn out so trite and stale, and while it wasn't as graphic as I'd expected it to be based on the reviews I read, hearing about seventy-five percent of the female characters being raped every time you blinked got...old. Was Goodkind going for shock factor? He wore it out awful fast. Is he really some kind of perverted sexual sadist? He played it pretty safe, considering the subject matter. *shrug* There was some other seriously weird stuff going on, like bestiality with a creature from the underworld and more of that ritual sacrifice from the first book. It seems Goodkind can't decide whether he wants to tell a story or make people vomit!
And I liked Richard a lot in the first one but here, well, he just got on my nerves way too often.
I'd call this one about 60/40 so far as waste/valuables goes, but those good parts were worth it. I think...I'm almost positive...I'm putting this series on the low-priority section of my wish list.(less)
I was intrigued by the premise of buying a fairy world (kingship included!), and thank God I was, because it took a few chapters for this to take off...moreI was intrigued by the premise of buying a fairy world (kingship included!), and thank God I was, because it took a few chapters for this to take off for me. Once things got settled, this was a pretty fun and entertaining read for me.
Ben Holiday, lawyer and widower, came across as mopey and unbalanced at first. I can't say he didn't have his reasons, though. His wife was dead, and he was contemplating buying the kingdom of Landover for one million dollars, all on a whim. He was full of doubts for being a successful thirty-something, but given the situation that seemed logical. Within ten minutes of setting foot in Landover, he had to escape the demon known as the Iron Mark and the dragon called Strabo, then ran across the would-be wizard Questor Thews, who wasted no time in demonstrating his ineptitude. Good start! I like how whenever Ben was in over his head trying to validate his claim to the throne, he fell back on his courtroom experience and stayed cool. It was training that served him well.
It's hard to say who I liked best out of the secondary characters. Questor was well-meaning, Abernathy the talking dog (who was once human) was often sarcastic, but he had a level head and gave some good advice, even if Ben didn't take it. Willow the sylph wasn't a main player until about halfway through the book, but she was so steady I couldn't help but come to like her.
There's problems in Landover, and that's for sure. The magic that keeps the land alive is failing, and the only way to save it is for a King to establish himself. But first Ben has to win over the people he'd be king to, and that's not going to be easy. Before the Lords of the Greensward will pledge to him, they want him to get rid of Strabo. Before the River Master will pledge to him, he wants Ben to stop the humans from polluting the river system. To get rid of Strabo, he'll have to convince the witch Nightshade to help him (and I doubt we've seen the last of her yet!). To top it all off, the Iron Mark has challenged him to a duel, and the only way he could possibly survive that is through the help of the Paladin, the King's protector and champion of old. Just one problem: no one has seen the Paladin in twenty years.
If it weren't for the occasional swearing, I wouldn't have been able to guess that this was aimed at adults. It didn't take itself too seriously and it was at times light-hearted and, well, just plain fun. I also appreciated the old school fantasy characters as opposed to the generic ones we're stuck with today, and I can only hope that's a trend that continues through the series. Overall, I'd say Mr. Brooks is off to a fine start as far as I'm concerned. The only thing that kept this from getting a five-star rating was the way the pacing took its sweet time in a few places. Other than that, I can't complain!(less)
Oh dear. Add this to the list of authors Christopher Paolini ripped off for his Inheritance series, and do it fast. Seriously.
Moving away from that, I...moreOh dear. Add this to the list of authors Christopher Paolini ripped off for his Inheritance series, and do it fast. Seriously.
Moving away from that, I'm conflicted in regards to this book. It had a few things I genuinely liked, and a lot of things that I didn't. It had the absolute WORST prologue I've ever read, just pummeling you with names, places, events, incidents, ideas, histories, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, and expecting you to somehow find some way to muddle through it before you even have a chance to dig into the story and the world that's being created. What sucks, though, is that it's a nice, vivid world that's being created. I expect it's like being pushed into a tank filled with sharks, jellyfish, electric eels and a giant squid to learn to swim...
I didn't finish this solely due to the pacing. I liked where Robert Jordan was going, but he really could have gotten there a lot faster (well, maybe he got there eventually, but I never found out about it). In all honesty, this could have been at least two hundred pages shorter if unnecessary speeches...*glares at Moiraine and Lan*...unnecessary journeys...*glares at Rand, Mat and Perrin*...and unnecessary exposition and descriptions...*glares at Jordan*...were cut. It all just seemed to be filled with a seemingly random string of events that just barely had a trace of plot to them, only remembering what plot was on occasion. In that, I was reminded strongly of The Phantom of Manhattan and Stone of Tears, and I really prefer not to remember those two. I had to deduct a lot of points for that.
But as I said, I'm conflicted, and I'll tell you why. The characters! Sure, they were a tad cardboard to me (how many times must I say it? Development with a capital D! Stereotypes won't cut it!), but I really liked Nynaeve, Moiraine, and Perrin. The rest were OK, but Mat started to bug me after keeping that stupid knife--and boy oh boy, was that part ever drawn out--and while I didn't stick around long enough to see more, I think I would have liked Elayne, Gawyn, and Loial. It's just...either too much happens all at once, or absolutely nothing happens for too long! It drove me bonkers!
I see there are plenty of other people who disagree with me, and I'll leave the majority of the complaining to the people who flat-out didn't like this, but I'll make it clear one more time. I did like certain parts of this book, and I might have finished it had it not taken me months to get halfway through it only to stop and realize that I was having to make myself keep reading. I hate quitting on a book for any reason, but I also read for pleasure, and this one felt too much like a chore towards the end.
I've spent ages searching for my next epic fantasy fix when I'm on break from Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I tried Paolini, Goodkind, Brooks, and Jordan, and none of them panned out. Then, then, I found Martin.
It doesn't seem right to call this "fantasy," though, as there is hardly any magic present at all. The prologue snagged me, but that seemed to be where the mystic stopped and the intrigues began. Plots, subplots, counterplots, and all the scheming, backstabbing, secrets and betrayal you can fit in over eight hundred pages (count 'em! Eight hundred!) The best part, it was all so swiftly executed, there was no way I was able to guess what would come next. I haven't made so many wrong predictions since Rebecca!
There are a LOT of perspectives used, but each is so interesting and distinct from the others I had no trouble keeping up with them. I admit to skimming a lot of the descriptions, though...GRRM seems to be as fond of describing things as Robin McKinley. I adored Arya and Dany and only wish there could have been more chapters with them. I began by disliking Sansa quite a bit, but my love for her evolved as the story progressed; I just couldn't help myself, and I can't explain without including spoilers! Tyrion Lannister didn't take long to become my favorite, sarcastic, clever underdog that he is (no pun intended, I promise), and he tied with Catelyn Stark as the most complex character of the piece. I'm still not sure about Jon, though...I could go either way with him, depending on how he evolves. As for Ned Stark, I liked him so much I knocked a star off my rating on his behalf. Confused? I'll leave it with this: Martin is a much better writer than Suzanne Collins, and that makes pulling a stunt like she did in Mockingjay that much more unforgivable.
I appreciated the book's human aspect most of all. It's not black-and-white, good versus evil. There's gray matter. We're a flawed species, and Martin sure as hell didn't neglect that detail. Honorable men sire bastards, good warriors make bad kings, the best intentions have the worst consequences. It's not that the lines between right and wrong are blurred, but that humans in general always tend to see themselves in the right, which leads to no end of trouble. One of my favorite quotes was from one of my least favorite characters, "The things I do for love..." Again, I can't say more without spoiling it, but it serves as a good example of what I'm talking about.
A Game of Thrones was gritty, brutal, intense, and occasionally offensive. It was true to life and preached nothing, but rather seemed to hold up a mirror and say "take a look at yourselves" while still providing an excellent escape. If the rest of the series is up to this standard, I'll be more than satisfied.
But I'm still not giving out that last star. (less)