Weeks has a different voice from most other fantasy authors. He's more casual, contemporary, and young, which I almost found jarring. (Characters say...moreWeeks has a different voice from most other fantasy authors. He's more casual, contemporary, and young, which I almost found jarring. (Characters say f*ck and talk bluntly about defecation.) They're really good stories, though. (less)
Book 1 in this series was well written, as always with Robin Hobbs, but a bit of a disappointment. It felt like a long introduction. Here are all the...moreBook 1 in this series was well written, as always with Robin Hobbs, but a bit of a disappointment. It felt like a long introduction. Here are all the characters, now let's watch them set out on a quest. Book 2 was a pleasant surprise. The action is here! Things happen! And this story - which is a complete, stand-alone story in addition to being a series novel - feels unusually optimistic and positive for Hobbs. Highly recommended. (less)
I love Robin Hobb's writing and I enjoyed visiting the Rain Wilds. And I've read lots of series titles; I don't expect everything to be wrapped up in...moreI love Robin Hobb's writing and I enjoyed visiting the Rain Wilds. And I've read lots of series titles; I don't expect everything to be wrapped up in the first installment in a series. But I do expect each novel to have its own story arc and I didn't feel like this one did. I enjoyed the trip, but I kept waiting for the story to start. I got through the interesting introduction, and then, suddenly, the book was over. I'm sure I'll pick up book 2 at some point, but I found myself frustrated at the way this novel didn't read like a finished story.(less)
I enjoy Sanderson's writing. My only complaints with the first installment in his new epic fantasy series are:
a) This is a tough one to read as an ebo...moreI enjoy Sanderson's writing. My only complaints with the first installment in his new epic fantasy series are:
a) This is a tough one to read as an ebook because the maps and illustrations would have been helpful. (They're included but too small to really see clearly. I did find them online eventually, but found going back and forth to my laptop clunky.)
b) Sanderson's voice is fairly contemporary and casual, which is fine, but is a bit jarring when he's speaking as a middle-aged, old-fashioned knight who lives by ancient, chivalric codes. When male characters are wearing armor and female characters are wearing constrictive dresses (and roles) I like the language to sound a bit . . . higher, more formal, slightly old-fashioned. And more grammatically clean.
c) Sanderson mentioned in the introduction that he's been working on this series in his head for decades. I think that shows in this book, in both good and bad ways. The good: there's a ton of originality here and definitely a lot more backstory and science/world-building than we see on the page. The bad: there's a lot more backstory and science/world-building than we see on the page. I was confused about many significant details. Fortunately, there's a wiki!
I am looking forward to the next installment, and am very glad that Sanderson is such a fast writer.(less)
Butcher's writing improves with each novel in this series, and COLD DAYS is my favorite installment to date. I'm bummed to be done with it and am anxi...moreButcher's writing improves with each novel in this series, and COLD DAYS is my favorite installment to date. I'm bummed to be done with it and am anxiously awaiting Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden's next adventure.(less)
The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series, was published in 1990. The final volume, A Memory of Light, was published in 2013. T...moreThe Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series, was published in 1990. The final volume, A Memory of Light, was published in 2013. These books - all 14+ of them - are huge, epic tomes. I didn't see how any wrap-up novel, especially one not written by the original author, could be a fitting capstone to the series. This one was. Sanderson (the new author) is not Jordan (the original author). Sanderson's voice is too casual, too modern, too cinematic for Jordan's epic saga. But he did a really great job finishing up the series (as the last book became 3 huge books in order to tie up all the loose ends and take us all through the Last Battle).
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW.
The above was my first reaction, before I read the epilogue. And while I still think this was a fitting end to the series, I find myself annoyed by who lived and who died. In the middle of The Last Battle, it seemed like everyone I loved was dying. This was devastating. Then I really became OK with it. I appreciated that the characters were making such sacrifices; it made the story seem more real. I compared tWoT to the Twilight universe, where, as I understand it, when you meet your fated true love, you know it immediately. And from that moment, nothing can separate you. People in partnerships like this will never fall in battle. True love makes you immortal. Unlike The Wheel of Time.
Or so I thought. Eventually, I came to realize that The Wheel of Time is exactly like Twilight in this way. If your lover survives, so do you. If your lover falls, so do you. Many, many, many of the secondary characters - including beloved secondary characters - fell during this novel. But almost none of the primary characters did. I transitioned quickly from feeling like too many important characters were dying to feeling that not enough did. So very many people died in the last battle, it seems . . . unlikely, fantastic in a bad way, that none of the main characters did, save one.
Specific spoilers: I was happy to see Gawyn go, but I'd have given up almost anyone else before Egwene, whom I thought was perfectly positioned to lead the recovery. I loved Moiraine, but her return didn't work for me. She and Cadsuane (whom I also love) felt redundant. And Faile? Please. I mean, yay for Faile and Perrin, but her survival doesn't make any sense. A lot of the epilogue felt . . . a little too feel-good to me, and not quite faithful enough to the rest of the battle. (less)
For next month my book club is reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. And that was my choice. But there's another reader ins...moreFor next month my book club is reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. And that was my choice. But there's another reader inside me, too. And that reader likes to read fun books that are quick and consumable and exciting and pulpy and fun. Also, did I mention, fun?
That reader discovered Harry Dresden a few years ago. What's not to love? In Jim Butcher's contemporary urban fantasy series, Chicago looks much as it does today. Except that, in the Yellow Pages, there's a single listing for a "Professional Wizard." That's Harry Dresden, and he's an old-school private investigator who solves problems with little help from modern technology (electronics don't do so well around magic).
The novels might start like classic noir detective stories but soon the missing artifact or other de rigueur case turns out to have an occult twist. To sum up the awesomeness here, so far we have: 1) Funny series novels set in Chicago 2) Classic mystery set-up 3) Magic.
What's not to love? That's harder to put my finger on. But I found that I don't want to read two Dresden novels back-to-back. Butcher's voice grates on me after that and little . . . flaws? stylistic choices? character idiosyncrasies? . . . in the writing begin to call attention to themselves and draw me out of the story.
So I read the books one-at-a-time, with space between, because I really like to enjoy each one. These stories have it all: wizards, magical politics, faeries, goblins, trolls, zombies, vampires, werewolves, angels, priests, fighting, battles, war, romance, you name it and it's probably somewhere in this world. As an added bonus, the main characters are geeks.
Another benefit to the slow-read approach is that I didn't catch up to the author for a long time.
But when I finished Ghost Story (Book 13, naturally) last week, I was stuck. The next novel isn't due until next summer! And only one per year after that! Alas.
If the above description captures your interest, let me underscore that/reassure you in two ways: Butcher's writing improves as the series progresses, and the novels are better than the short-lived Sci Fi Channel series loosely based on the books.
If you've tried just one or two of the novels but haven't gotten hooked, I'd recommend perseverance. I was shocked - shocked! - at what happened in Changes (Book 12). It sent me scrambling for Side Jobs, an anthology of short stories and a novelette set between various novels in the series, as well as a novella set immediately after Changes. Then I rushed right into Ghost Story, which left me hanging deliciously.
I'm looking forward to book 14 - and it's worth noting that the author does have a planned story arc for the entire series, including an ending - but I think the first 11 novels, fun as they were, were worth reading as prelude alone for all the changes in books 12 and 13.
I spent much of this book hoping there was some "metaphysical" explanation for why all the main characters kept stopping the action to philosophize ab...moreI spent much of this book hoping there was some "metaphysical" explanation for why all the main characters kept stopping the action to philosophize about their personal relationships and the universal differences between men and women. Alas, no such plot point developed. Since when does *Edward* babble on about nothing?
Edward, on the phone from a crime scene: Here's a probing question about your personal relationships? Anita: What are you talking about? Edward: I have no idea.
Reader: OK, now I have no respect for you two scary killers. Can we get back to the hunt, please?
Other notes: 1) Is it now a requirement that we add a new lover with every book in the series? I wish some of them would start dying off. 2) There are better ways to deal with including back story in a series novel. As a reader I find it really annoying when one character says the blatantly obvious to another, e.g.: "What would your mother, Matilda the werepenguin, think of that?" I bet the character knows that his mother is a werepenguin named Matilda. Perhaps that bit of intel could have been shared with the reader as an aside. 3) I learned a lot about what one particular (insignificant) character looked like and wore, and what those features might indicate about her personality. Then we never saw or heard from her again. And I barely "saw" the action during the big climax scene. If I were an editor I'd say that about a third of this novel could have happily remained as author's notes, leaving more room for other bits and speeding up the pace in places. (less)
I find myself engrossed, as I would with a Dean Koontz novel. It does feel rather odd to read this novel on my new nook, the same way I recently read...moreI find myself engrossed, as I would with a Dean Koontz novel. It does feel rather odd to read this novel on my new nook, the same way I recently read Jane Eyre and several Magic Treehouse novels with my 4-year-old. Wish I were reading right now . . .