I’m a fan of Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, and it looks like they leaned heavily on its success to promote Seven Black Diamonds, but this is an entirely new universe of fae. No Summer/Winter/Dark/High Courts. No invisible fae playing not-so-innocent tricks on mortals. This time, it’s the now-united Seelie and Unseelie courts (though the differences between them are never really made clear) in a war against humanity perpetrated by the Queen of Blood and Rage as vengeance for the death of her daughter.
You won’t know that right away, though. In fact, it’ll take awhile to figure out anything for certain, because the narrative jumps POV between several characters at first and all the information is garbled. This is definitely the first of a series, as it spends most of its time establishing the characters and their roles and relationships without a great deal of plot, or even world building. That’s a shame, because all of those elements were handled much better in Wicked Lovely, and you’d think that Ms. Marr’s skill to that end would only have developed.
This is another one to be taken as-is, because it could have been so much more. In my opinion, it needed to be longer. The Black Diamonds are essentially child soldiers, fae-bloods raised among humans and tasked with killing them. To disobey the queen’s orders means death for the entire group. I would have loved to see more of that aspect than the half-hearted romantic entanglements that were carbon copies of WL. So much emphasis was put on Aislinn’s struggle between mortal life and fae destiny in WL and the synopsis of SBD hints at the same, yet Lily didn’t seem all that conflicted from my perspective. The setting is a school for wealthy, highly privileged children, yet it goes to waste with the characters spending most of their time in a night club (more flashbacks of WL, anyone?) I could have used more from Zephyr and Eilidh, as they were the main source of action, and can only hope they get a bit more attention in coming books.
I’m not going to write this off as a total wash because while I had some issues with it, I did enjoy it, getting into it even more the farther it went along (though I saw the plot twist coming almost as soon as the book started). While it mostly makes me want to revisit WL, I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled for the next book. ...more
Enchanted objects, talking animals, and a treasure hunt. This was charming for sure, and unique, and it threw out any and all cliches you expect with fantasy, adventure, and mystery novels. Unfortunately, it just didn’t sink its claws into me. There was nothing wrong with it, it’s just that it never had the I-gotta that Stephen King sets so much stock in. No urgency to unravel the mysteries and see how it all turns out.
Don’t get me wrong, it had its moments. The setting was an interesting mash up of Southern bayous and Cockney alleys. The characters were likeable, especially LaRue the cat. It wasn’t a demanding read, fairly easy to come back to when convenient. I can appreciate what it is, and accept it as such. The only trouble is that it never really came alive for me. The words on the page were never more than words on a page. There are plenty of books more exciting, thought-provoking, suspenseful, and immersive, but there are a LOT more books that are a lot worse. This one falls somewhere in the middle, and sometimes that’s a good place to be. ...more
I’m writing my review three days after I finished reading, and I’m still feeling the hangover. I’ve seen a lot of muddled reviews on this one, but I thought it was the best YA fantasy I’ve read in a very long time, and I’m in fact fretting right this minute that my review won’t do justice to my feelings.
Let’s start with the concept: Life on earth is only the beginning, and when you die here, your soul goes either to Troika, the realm of light and justice, or to Myriad, realm of shadow and emotion. Life on earth, or Firstlife, is for deciding where you’ll spend your eternity. The undecided ones go to the Realm of Many Ends, stuck in purgatory forever. Sounds cool, right? Here’s the thing, though, that was a much neater summary than what you’ll find in the book. The world building was just as muddled as the reviews. Once I figured out the rules, however, it was (wait for it) one big roller coaster ride and there was no escaping (just guess) all the feels.
I liked Tenley, aka Ten. She was stubborn and tough, resentful of those in authority forcing her to sign with one realm or the other. Her freedom to choose for herself meant everything to her, and she was determined to hold onto it at any cost. Trouble is, persuasion came in the form of Laborers (think recruiters) Archer of Troika, and Killian of Myriad. Each desperate to sign her for his own realm, and soon committed to protecting her from those who consider her indecision a threat in itself. I loved Archer and Killian as much as I loved Ten. The development of the trio, particularly Ten and Killian, moved alongside the action of the story and the best part? NO STUPID TEENAGE LOVE TRIANGLE! IT’S A MIRACLE!
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m an emotional reader, and if a book plugs into my feelings and starts scrambling things around, I’ll be sold on it. This one, for instance, had me curled up in a corner booth at McDonald’s for three hours, biting my nails, tapping my foot, and almost beating the book on the table, I was so wound up. And the ending? I needed a quiet room to decompress afterwards. It also made me think, comparing the vastly different codes of morality represented by each realm and how logic, principle, and emotion often clash, resulting in chaos. Ten’s fascination with numbers made a quirky addition that was a bit charming, and there were several points where I wasn’t quite in tears, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t choked up.
This was my first Gena Showalter book, and it definitely won’t be the last. Anything this intriguing and exciting, with the capacity to reduce me to a basket case in the middle of a restaurant, is worth more of my time. The hardest part will be waiting for the next installment! ...more
I was excited going into this, having seen the comparison to The Cabin In the Woods and expecting something just as trippy and unpredictable. In hindsight, I’m disappointed. File this one under “could have been.” Or maybe “almost there.” The elements were present, but the presentation was lacking.
Where should I start? The synopsis was a little misleading, for one thing. Bachmann’s style was rough and choppy, which kept me from sinking into the story. The threads of the plot only ever remained threads, tying themselves together at the last minute and never weaving into anything substantial. Anouk herself was a major hurdle, abrasive and unpalatable at the start and taking way too long in developing into a sympathetic character.
Those are the nitpicks. And the fact remains that this could have been a really awesome book. Lots of action and suspense, a few really tense moments, and I had to guess my way through the whole thing. The ending was a letdown, and I was left feeling frustrated that the concept never lived up to its potential. It could have been the intense fantasy thriller it promised to be, but by the last page I still hadn’t budged from my “meh” reaction.
Skip this if you want. You’re not missing much. Rad cover, though… ...more
Ugh, FINALLY! I finished this series! I’ll start with this installement, then go over Fallen as a whole.
So, Rapture. Not impressed. It followed Kate’s formula of slow beginning, muddled middle, and exciting ending that doesn’t make up for the rest of the book. There’s unnecessary baggage, not enough attention is paid to details that were made out to be important, and I don’t know if my mind wasn’t where it was supposed to be or if I just missed something, but when the angels are flying from one country to the next to stop Lucifer, you would think a conscientious writer would want to make sure the reader keeps up. Instead, I went through this like it was a long car ride; look out the window and take in the scenery for awhile, then lean back in the seat and take a nap, wake me when it’s over. And I gather I was supposed to be surprised by the major plot twists, but I sniffed those out ages ago, so…no.
Now for Fallen as a series–totally forgettable and easily regretable (is that a word?). It took forever to get through the whole thing, for all that the books were only four hundred pages each and the writing was trite and juvenile. Everything was formulaic and predictable, the characters were unbelieveable and indistinct from one another, and the story lines went from going nowhere to going all over the place and back again in the span of a few chapters. Truth be told, I’m torn between brutal honesty and the need to be polite. As a whole, I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. It could have been really good in the hands of a better writer, and in fact, it is. If you want a fallen angel romance, I’d suggest you skip this baloney and try out Michelle Rodriguez’s Angel and Demon Chronicles....more
Oh boy. Oh my stars and garters. It’s rare that a series concludes as strong as it starts, but Juliet Marillier pulled. It. Off. Child of the Prophecy was everything I anticipated, and nothing like I expected.
Fainne, daughter of Niamh and Ciaran (yes! There’s more to their story!) is intelligent and independent, yet an unwilling pawn in the sorceress Oonagh’s final plot to destroy Sevenwaters and the Fair Folk. She was just as strong a lead as Sorcha and Liadan, but a good deal more nerve-wracking. If I spent Daughter of the Forest in a fit of tears, then I spent this one weaving baskets and scared to death Fainne was making all the wrong choices. I have never been so concerned for a protagonist before!
I think this might be my favorite supporting cast of the series, with Sean’s daughters, Liadan’s sons, the Fomhoire, and Darragh. Ah, Darragh…I’m ranking Ms. Marillier with Michelle Rodriguez when it comes to creating male characters I can’t help but fall in love with. And holy crap, what a villain! Oonagh was bad enough when she was in the background, but as the main antagonist she was awful! Eammon of Glencarnagh was, if possible, even more unpleasant than ever, but he’s one of those bad guys you just love to hate, so it’s all good.
I still can’t get over the magic and majesty of Ms. Marillier’s prose. She’s one of those fantasy writers who understands that the words themselves must cast a spell, and you can see it in her work. More importantly, you can feel it, subtle yet irresistible. Not many authors can do that, but the few who can do it well. I was torn between admiration and envy the entire time I read, thinking to myself that I could write a million words a day for the rest of my life, and I will never be this good. It’s just…wow.
This has been the best series I’ve read all year, and it’s definitely one of the best I’ve ever read, period. My only regret is that I got the books out of the library and couldn’t keep them all to myself!...more
I wasn’t about to pass up anything to do with Elizabeth I, especially not when vampires are involved. It seemed like such an awesome idea, but the execution was…meh. It was all right, but I was nowhere near sold. I wanted to like this one so much and it had a lot going for it! Elizabeth and her court, Arthurian legend, vampire lore, even a gimmick about the author’s pseudonym, but it never came together.
The writing was lovely at times but it tended to go overboard quite often, and the story was at least interesting if predictable. Ms. Weston pulled out all the big names, from William Cecil to Francis Walsingham, John Dee, Robin Dudley, and Kat Ashley. Sadly, Walsingham and Kat were the only ones that were noteworthy. The others ranged from tolerable to annoying–i.e., Robin. Honestly, I didn’t take to Elizabeth, either. I never really believed her as a long-awaited slayer and there wasn’t much to her as a queen. She never made it past two-dimensional. I’m not sure what to make of Mordred…I couldn’t tell whether he was supposed to be a villain or an antihero, and his motives were inconsistent. The only points I’m handing out are for being only the third book I’ve ever read that didn’t make Anne Boleyn out to be a total biatch.
I take it this is supposed to be the first book of a series? If so, there wasn’t much to entice me to keep reading. The mix of Elizabeth, Arthur and vampires was sloppy, the characters irritating, and the writing patchy bordering on purple. What’s killing me most is Elizabeth! I have such admiration for her, and there is nothing about this characterization that is even likeable! I can overlook everything else if the protagonist is a strong, solid lead I can believe in and relate to, and it didn’t work out that way. I was expecting something better, but was sorely disappointed. Feel free to skip this one; in fact, I urge you to....more
I remember feeling the same way about Fallen and Torment: they both started slow, got muddled towards the middle, and the ending was good but not goodI remember feeling the same way about Fallen and Torment: they both started slow, got muddled towards the middle, and the ending was good but not good enough to make up for the rest. The same applies to Passion. I spent the first half completely confused while Lauren Kate seemed to have no idea how to pace events to allow the reader to keep up, catch up, and make sense of what's going on. I got the feeling important stuff was happening, but it ran together in a garbled mess. Time travel was an important element, yet the language used as Luce went further back was inconsistent, modern one minute then archaic the next. In particular, the phrase "hocked a giant loogie" stuck out like a sore thumb in a pinkie factory. And I have to wonder, what was the point of Shelby and Miles being there at all? They were only in one scene, and completely dispensable in that scene.
Onto something positive. Daniel was all right! I wasn't sold on him through books one and two, but he wasn't so stiff here and we finally saw how far back his love for Luce goes. And then there's this: What on earth did you do with your hands when the one thing they wanted to hold was suddenly, gruesomely gone? Seeing Daniel throughout time was one of the good parts about the whole thing, learning how true and deep his love is. Don't know why it took two books to make it clear, but that ship has sailed.
All right, wait a second! Here this whole time I thought this series was about a doomed teen love affair with some supernatural stuff thrown in for good measure! If the outcome of the battle between Heaven and Hell depended on it, why not bring that in sooner? It's mentioned before, but halfway through the series isn't the time I would have chosen to finally make it sound important. It's a tad off-setting to go from such a narrow view to a huge sweeping vista, and it would have made more sense to bring it in a lot sooner.
Come to think of it, I've spent this entire series as uninformed as Luce. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind (i.e. when the writing is top-notch), but I'd like a little something every now and then to convince me it's worth the effort to keep reading. I haven't been in a rush to finish this series, and at this rate I'll be relieved when it's over....more
Well, I think I prefer Daughter of the Forest, but Son of the Shadows lived up to my expectations. The writing was consistent, the story engaging, and the characters just as vivid as the original.
One major difference, as far as the writing goes, this one isn’t so relentless. I count that as a small mercy, as I spent the majority of book one a sobbing, blubbering, emotional wreck, and I attribute the change to book two’s focus on courage in the face of uncertainty rather than in the face of suffering. Ms. Marillier didn’t let me off easy, though; I still shed enough tears that people started to ask me why I was upset.
Liadan, while not quite such a tragic heroine as Sorcha, is still her mother’s daughter in that there are no lengths she won’t go to for those she loves. I didn’t quite love Bran as much as Red, but that’s more indicative of my strong partiality to the one than anything less likeable in the other. I loved how they interacted with each other, clashing wits and opinions, and while they have a bond that transcends the norm, it differed from Sorcha and Red. Theirs was a match of souls, whereas Liadan and Bran are all heart. Liadan defied everything and everyone, even challenging the Fair Folk in her determination to keep her love. Eammon reminded me a lot of Wildwood Dancing‘s Cezar, not to give too much away. I guessed Ciaran’s origins right away, and I’m curious how his and Niamh’s story will play out. For the rest, I loved seeing so many characters again! One in particular, but I can’t say more…that would really give it away.
A feature I love about Ms. Marillier’s work is the balance of hope and helplessness. Her heroines face impossible odds, circumstances are taken far beyond their control, and they are put to the ultimate test, yet they never give up. They persevere through the worst trials and often discover the depths of their own strength and courage along the way. They might have a guiding, Otherworldly hand every now and then, but the tenacity, wit and bravery is all their own. I love that quality and the magic of her writing more than anything. She moves farther up the ranks of my favorite authors with every book I read, and I’m anxious to see where it all goes from here, from Sevenwaters and beyond....more
*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....more
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......more
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 wouldOne 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!...more
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 ofA 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. ...more
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 hasOy.
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!...more
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 BrWell, 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!...more
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 gTerry 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....more
It took awhile for this one to get going, and I never really did warm up to Mistaya. She was too...precocI 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!...more
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 dI'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....more
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 onIt'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....more
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!Even 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!...more
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 GoI 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....more
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 offI 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!...more
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, IOh 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. ...more