I took an extended leave from the fantasy genre; yesterday afternoon, I decided to come back to the world of witchcraft and sorcery. Highly recommende...moreI took an extended leave from the fantasy genre; yesterday afternoon, I decided to come back to the world of witchcraft and sorcery. Highly recommended by fellow peers, I chose Garth Nix's well-known 'Sabriel'. Frankly, I was so impressed and drawn into the story that I finished it in two days and rushed to write an amazingly complementary review.
The plot was fantastic and fast-paced; there wasn't a moment I wasn't on the edge of my seat. Exhausting chapters of worthless garble is a common trait in many 'classic' fantasies. Nix has created an extremely believable and well-versed world, without the fluff. Poetic, dark, and forbidding, the heroine and companions are worthy of the world they are placed in. I could simply close my eyes and fly across the borders of what is called the Old Kingdom, in all its dangerous beauty. We are foreign visitors, as is the daring Sabriel. The plot was clear, concise, yet not overly simplistic. It begins as a search and rescue mission, and ends in a rich battle to save both the old and new aspects of this odd world.
Characters - wonderful. As rich as the world they reside in, Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget fully impressed me. They all read amazingly like living people, rather than a work of fantasy. Mogget, especially - his duel personalities clash wickedly, and he is not always what he appears to be; a cat? free magic?
To end this tiring review of a not-so-tiring story, I will add that this work is new, creative, and bold. There is a striking combination of modern technology and medieval swords and bows; a wall divides the two areas of the world. Many embrace magic, and others fear it - rightly so, for the wall does little to hold back the Greater Dead, a fearful object of the Old Kingdom.
Following in her father's footsteps, Sabriel will not fail the reader in a quest for a good read.(less)
Mistborn: The Final Empire is a 2006 fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson. It is part of the Mistborn trilogy, but is a complete story on its own (altho...moreMistborn: The Final Empire is a 2006 fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson. It is part of the Mistborn trilogy, but is a complete story on its own (although not everything is wrapped tidily at the end) and can be read as such. In the Mistborn world, an immortal tyrant has ruled the empire for a thousand years. Now, a group of thieves and magic users undertake a plot to overthrow him.
Mistborn's magic system is refreshingly novel. Most magic users have access to one of eight special abilities, which they activate by ingesting trace amounts of the appropriate metal. The more powerful Mistborn have access to all eight metal-based abilities, plus more, making them in essence a poor man's hybrid of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Mistborn's main character is Vin, a sixteen year old petty thief who has just discovered that she is a Mistborn, and who has joined this conspiracy to overthrow the empire.
Most of Sanderson's supporting cast has been drawn from the bin of generic, flat, cookie-cutter fantasy characters. His treatment of Vin, though, makes us wonder what he was thinking. Particularly early on, both Sanderson as the narrator and his characters point out repeatedly that she is timid and has low self-confidence. But Sanderson doesn't write her that way - Vin is headstrong, stubborn, nosy, fussy and sarcastic. This is not the only time that what the characters do and what the narrator says about them do not agree. Either way, Vin isn't a particularly interesting or likeable character.
Sanderson's writing keeps him from getting the most out of his story, which is a shame because the magic is interesting and the plot is perfectly good. The story develops slowly. Sanderson spends the first 150 pages of the novel belaboring the magic system and having his characters speak in stiff, expository history-lesson paragraphs, almost as though he were writing this so it could be followed by small children. At 530 pages, Mistborn is at least 100 pages too long, and it's often tough to get through.
Mistborn does get it together over the last 100 pages and has a genuinely solid and reasonably satisfactory climax. There are flashes of brilliance here, but it may be too little, too late to persuade readers to read the sequels.
In On Writing, Stephen King said, "The adverb is not your friend." But the adverb is Sanderson's very good friend indeed. He flings them liberally, distractingly, throughout the novel, and not only are there too many, he often makes some jarringly curious choices. And Sanderson's dialogue throughout the novel is wooden and clunky - bad to a degree one typically finds only in world-building genre fiction like this.
Sanderson has done a good job constructing his world and his magic system, but he's done a terrible job actually telling the story, making Mistborn: The Final Empire a frustrating and disappointing work. (less)
The Great Book of Amber is trippy people! Roger Zelazny is unlike any other author I have ever read before. He is disinterested in details and gives c...moreThe Great Book of Amber is trippy people! Roger Zelazny is unlike any other author I have ever read before. He is disinterested in details and gives cursory descriptions of areas and people. Instead he focuses more closely on plot and the thoughts of the main character. The plot always centers around the search for answers. The setting is quite unique and interesting to learn about. Zelazny never makes his reader go through info-dumps and I found it interesting to puzzle out the workings of his world, Amber.
The first five books star a man named Corwin, one of the nine princes of Amber, who wakes up with a strange case of amnesia. In the first book Corwin staggers through Zelazny's version of earth looking for answers. I enjoyed the first book the most, mainly because the beginning was killer!
SPOILER - Corwin wakes up in a hospital and finds he is being forcefully sedated. When the doctor tries to put him under yet again Corwin clobbers him with a crutch! (Now that's what I call a hook.)
The first five books where well written but upon reading books six through ten I began suspecting Zelazny of doing drugs. His plots for the character Merlin start taking erratic turns. Don't get me wrong these peculiar parts are fun to read. Made me wonder what he was taking when he wrote them.(I'm speaking of the Corridor of Mirrors and the in-between shadow chapters here) He even had one of the side characters slipped acid. They then promptly descended into an Alice in Wonderland dream-scape to wait for the effects to wear off. Despite these bemusing plot decisions I still liked the Great Book of Amber. I don't think I'll be rereading it for a while though...(less)
Raymond E Feist may have earned himself a name but for me his writing is nothing more than mediocre. From the beginning of the first book I could tell...moreRaymond E Feist may have earned himself a name but for me his writing is nothing more than mediocre. From the beginning of the first book I could tell the Saga would be fairly dry but, like any devoted reader, I soldiered on. These books aren't all bad mind you, there are some saving graces; though the captivating battles and torture scenes are sparse. Mainly, the book sports a cacophony of pointlessness. Pointlessness chiefly due to vapid, sophomoric writing and the inconsiderate use of cliches. Considering the potential for scale in this saga Feist did a horrific job conveying the magnitude of the events unfolding. The character development was so weak and without any zeal that I was in fact repelled by many of them. I found myself not caring who lived or died. In fact, I would have preferred if the author had started killing people off just to start spicing things up. To Feist's credit a few of the characters were interesting like the thief boy Jimmy, and the dragon rider Tomas who inspired Paolini's Eragon.
In summation these books are worth a brief skim but nothing more. This saga is not endearing in any way. (less)
This has got to be one of the darkest books I have every read. It's scary and disturbing but don't let that dissuade you from reading it. Dostoyevsky...moreThis has got to be one of the darkest books I have every read. It's scary and disturbing but don't let that dissuade you from reading it. Dostoyevsky is one of those authors who flawlessly captures the characters thoughts and mental state on paper. Dostoyevsky easily ranks among the titan's of Russian literature for the simple way the suspense is allowed to build up and how Raskolnikov changes throughout the story. Raskolnikov's moral state is akin to ethical nihilism; the effect of his over-reasoning the situation. Moral's hold no ground when put up against soulless reason and so he commits crimes he knows are wrong but cannot understand why. This is not a light read but I would recommend it to anyone over fifteen years of age who is mature enough to handle some pretty graphic content.(less)
The Chronicles of Narnia is one of those series you can read over and over again and always get something more out of it. The story changes as you mat...moreThe Chronicles of Narnia is one of those series you can read over and over again and always get something more out of it. The story changes as you mature and as a child I remember reading it and enjoying it merely because of the beautiful imagery. Now as a young adult I realize it's about more than that. Lewis's journey into Narnia is a journey into himself, a spiritual journey. The books are so well written that they are timeless classics with great character development, plot line, world building, and deeper meanings that can appeal to people of all ages. This Series is definitely reread worthy. (less)
This book is my favorite. Read it if you like adventure, searches for treasure, dwarves, elves, spiders, and dragons! The riddles with Smeagol and the...moreThis book is my favorite. Read it if you like adventure, searches for treasure, dwarves, elves, spiders, and dragons! The riddles with Smeagol and the way the dragon was portrayed made this book one of the best for me. The riddles were fiendishly clever and I still can't believe Tolkien came up with those on his own. The dragon Smaug was so powerfully delineated and so intelligent it was incredible. Truly a force of nature. Read it and when you're done read it again! (less)
The Lord of the Rings is nothing if not epic. In fact, it's the very definition. Still, I feel could have enjoyed it more if it wasn't so goddamn long...moreThe Lord of the Rings is nothing if not epic. In fact, it's the very definition. Still, I feel could have enjoyed it more if it wasn't so goddamn long! I remember reading the Hobbit right before I started LOTR and I was excited because I loved the Hobbit. But comparing the prelude to the sequels is like comparing day to night. The Hobbit was faster paced and shorter! Shorter! (Pun definitely intended) I felt like Tolkien could have shortened the LOTR series by 200 pages at least if he stopped being so descriptive and trying so hard to explain the scale of the world. I can appreciate the work he put into this and how he tried to make it realistic but I wasn't reading this EPIC fantasy series for a shot of reality...It certainly does begin to ramp up toward the middle and end and I would totally recommend the LOTR series to any hardcore fantasy buffs. If you're not such a strong reader or have a short attention span I recommend skimming, a lot of skimming. These books are definitely reread worthy if for nothing more than to memorize more of your favorite Gandalf quotes. Gotta love Gandalf!(less)
This is one of my favorite fantasy trilogy's of all time. These books are in the small category that have ever utilized something as simple as footnot...moreThis is one of my favorite fantasy trilogy's of all time. These books are in the small category that have ever utilized something as simple as footnotes to add so some much more depth and personality to the story. This epic tale is about an ambitious boy magician named Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, his wise mouth demon. Stroud's depiction of London, and its more sinister and secretive underside are perfect; while reading it you can clearly see the plot unfold in your minds eye. The connections you will develop with the character's are astonishing;(I almost cried man!) and I found myself actually being emotionally invested in these books.
In summary I highly suggest these books to anyone who loves fantasy and a darker kind of humor. Hell! I'd even recommend The Bartimeaus Trilogy to people who don't like fantasy or humor. These book are THAT good.(less)
Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy is one of my favorites. Her style is so unique and the underlying themes in her books are powerful. She has this...moreUrsula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy is one of my favorites. Her style is so unique and the underlying themes in her books are powerful. She has this way of saying a lot without saying much...if that makes any sense.
If you love wizardry this is the book for you. Ged is the name of the Archmage in this series and unlike Gandalf, who is presented as incorruptible, Ged must battle his own demons to gain redemption. The story is from Ged's point of view so he seems more human than the classical representation of the wizard seen from afar as a powerful figure cloaked in mystery. The second book changes the point of view from Ged to Tenar "The Eaten One". The story goes on to describe a tale of suffering, mercy, and the love that can be felt for strangers even in the the darkest of places. This trilogy is so full of imagery and meaning that I would recommend it to anyone that loves a truly fine fantasy. I would also recommend you read the accompanying Tales from Earthsea and the final book in the series The Other Wind.(less)
WARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you...moreWARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think everything you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.(less)
To all those people who love history here is the Nobel prize winning history of the Balkans. Andrić's style and precision are staggering and his book...moreTo all those people who love history here is the Nobel prize winning history of the Balkans. Andrić's style and precision are staggering and his book covers the history of his homeland over several centuries. The book is much better in the original language but the English translation is well done and succeeds in capturing the mood of the region. For you history students out there this is a must read. (less)
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
I learned something today from the new National Geographic issue. Mockingbirds are one of the most aggressive birds and will actively protect their nests or territory. Methinks Harper Lee never had a close encounter with one of these bad boys in the midst of the wilderness. If she did maybe she would've wrote about another type of bird. Like a goshawk or something.
Fun fact: Attila had the emblem of a Goshawk on his helmet.