One need only look at my previous reviews of Brandon Sanderson’s works to know that I consider the man a genius and at the very pinnacle of fantasy auOne need only look at my previous reviews of Brandon Sanderson’s works to know that I consider the man a genius and at the very pinnacle of fantasy authors of the modern era. This second novel in the massive 10 novel (projected) Stormlight Archive series has done nothing to diminish my view but instead has simply added to my perspective of this truth.
I expected a lot going into this 1310 page (paperback) volume. The first novel, The Way of Kings, ranks among my all-time favorites and my faith in Mr. Sanderson is such that I felt this one would also be fantabulous. I even postponed my reading of it and all my expectations until such time as I had sufficient me-time available to absorb it without distraction and allowing a pleasant wallowing in this world rather than a speedy rush to the end approach. Very glad I did, for this is one series of novels that should be thoroughly enjoyed, taking as long as is needed to live it.
As for the book itself, there is not much that I can add to the overwhelmingly positive reviews posted here and elsewhere. Yes, it’s long. But it is as long as it has to be. To risk stating the obvious, there is a lot happening here. Of course the world-building is incredible, the magic systems thoroughly though-out, and the sheer massiveness of the world that Sanderson is creating as impressive as anything I’ve ever read. That’s what I expect from Sanderson. This second novel continues to build this world and these characters in really cool ways. The plot allows us to learn soooo much more about the way this world works, and really moves us toward what is happening in the bigger picture. There are surprises throughout, betrayal, unexpected alliances, romance, and all those things which make for a wonderfully adventurous tale. But once again, it is the characters that really bring this home. The main characters are so wonderfully complex; they really get challenged here and their continued growth as individuals and in how they relate to one another is fascinating to watch.
OK, you get the idea. Another ho-hum Brandon Sanderson brilliant novel. I will stop the fan boy gushing now.
I know some readers dislike starting a series until all books are complete and published. I tend to be that way too, having learned my lesson several times over with other fantasy superstar authors. But as cool as it is to see how this novel fits in with the first and no doubt with subsequent novels, I really don’t mind a break in between these doorstopper books. I felt no loss of continuity from when I read the first books a couple of years ago. So I recommend plunging full speed ahead now. Don’t wait for the TV series. ...more
I’ve been a fan of the Dresden Files series since book number one, and a super fan ever since book number three. I’ve gushed about howThis isn’t fair.
I’ve been a fan of the Dresden Files series since book number one, and a super fan ever since book number three. I’ve gushed about how the books keep getting better and better and I have urged my Goodreads friends to take a dip into this pool if they have any interest at all in urban fantasy or even if they have no interest in fantasy at all but just want a really great series of stories to read.
I used to think the novels in this series were simply awesome, with great characters that were multi-dimensional and formed a coterie of characters for Harry to work with and advance his larger story. It was far more than just Harry Dresden that we came to care about and root for.
I used to think the novels of this series had cool, creative plots, thoughtful, and full of intricacies that made for great reading fun. There were really cool and powerful fight scenes which drew upon the complex and yet organized magic system that Jim Butcher has created based on our own world’s myths and legends about magic. Creatures of all types can be found in these books, everything from basilisks to vampires to fairies and demons. And then throw in “real world” cops and mobsters and, trust me, it’s all fantastic.
I used to think the novels of this series allowed us to get deep into the protagonist, Harry Dresden through these books’ first person points of view. We have experienced his life, his triumphs, his foibles, his emotions, all through his own particular brand of wry humor. We have taken this journey with him as if it were our own.
My friends, this book is better.
The last book reached the pinnacle and it just could not have gotten better.
But it did.
The title is entirely appropriate as there are many changes that occur over the course of the novel, most of them major. There are aspects of Harry’s life that we have come to take for granted through the first 11 books but much of that is now no more. I can’t get too much more descriptive about these changes without major spoilage so suffice it to say that Harry Dresden’s future will be quite different than his past, in small ways and large ways.
So just when I thought these books couldn’t get any better, they got better. At least this one did and it will be nigh impossible to continue the trend. Fortunately, Jim Butcher knows what he is doing and so I am happy to keep following his work, drooling over the opportunity to read the next, and the next......more
The cover blurb on this novel says, “One gorgeous read”. I could not have said it better myself.
This is one of those books that when you read the finaThe cover blurb on this novel says, “One gorgeous read”. I could not have said it better myself.
This is one of those books that when you read the final page, you close the cover, lean back and just say “ahhhhh”. It’s a total novel, in every way. I felt wonderful after completing my reading but at the same time, sad that it had come to an end. It’s one of those novels that will stick with you; I will think about it tonight when I am trying to go to sleep and tomorrow when I am at work, and likely next month and next year. It’s that brilliant.
I’m not the type of reviewer to provide an in-depth plot summary and in this case, I don’t think I could anyway. It’s the proverbial onion of a book with so many layers that you never quite get done peeling them all back. The main storyline begins in 1945 with a young lad named Daniel in Barcelona, Spain. His father takes him to “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books”. (That alone was enough to capture my attention).
“This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
Tradition holds that the first time someone visits the place, he must choose a book, whichever he wants, and adopt it, making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive. That’s just the setup for the actual story to come of course but everything leads from there.
I’ve noticed quite a few of my Goodreads friends have this listed on their TBR shelf. My advice is to not leave there any longer. Move this one to the top of your list, but do not begin until you are assured of a nice quiet place to which to retreat and enjoy hours of absorbing story.
Great characters come alive throughout this book and, interestingly, each one has their own story, a subplot that when told contributes mightily to the larger plot. It’s partly a coming-of-age novel as Daniel grows into a young man but it’s also a story of mysterious intrigue with shadowy figures, a romance in the tradition of Rebecca and a thriller filled with danger and shocking revelations. But ultimately, this is a novel for booklovers, those of us who understand what it is to read an amazing novel and discover its soul.
This is the 51st Stephen King book I’ve read so I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan. Before I get into the book itself, I will pause for a moment to saThis is the 51st Stephen King book I’ve read so I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan. Before I get into the book itself, I will pause for a moment to say…this one is among his very best works and ranks among my all-time favorites. It’s that good.
I’ve always been enamored with King’s ability to craft a story that works on multiple levels. This novel is just such a success and for exactly that reason. At its most basic core, it is really three novels all intermixed as one. Obviously, first and foremost, it’s a time-travel novel, involving a man travelling back through a time tunnel to 1958 so that he can be in position to stop the JFK assassination in November of 1963. That alone would make for an intriguing novel considering the massive amounts of background information that is available on the subject, and given the wide world of conspiracy theorists that keep most of us wondering about it all still to this day. And King comes through in spades on this front, allowing us to spy on the movements of Lee Harvey Oswald and his circle of family and cohorts. I can’t say much more about this without spoilers…so I won’t other than to say the build-up and anticipation of what may or may not come is edge-of-your-seat stuff.
But in the end…it’s not really about that.
The second aspect of the novel is about life in the late 1950’s and early 60’s in small town America. The idea of living in simpler times has often appealed to me even though, as King certainly acknowledges, while life was good for many, it wasn’t so good for others (minorities, women, etc.). The book spends a lot of time letting us sink our toes into the sweet times of the small town of Jodie, Texas. King has sometimes been criticized for excessive wordiness and I suppose some readers may make that claim about this book as well, especially through this part but I wouldn’t have wished for one less word. These scenes allowed me to come to know the main characters like few others in all of the fiction I’ve read. I came to love them, and hope for them, and absolutely care what happened to them…a great set-up for the other intriguing aspects of the novel.
The third theme of the novel is pure romance. Rarely have I come across such a completely enthralling romance between two characters as I enjoyed in this novel. I don’t mean the bodice-ripper style of romance with the cheesy covers but rather a true, bonafide, realistic, and totally absorbing romance. This, above all, is what launched this book onto my all-time favorites list. Strange, I admit, but there it is.
This is a lengthy novel but, to me, it was worth every sentence. If King’s literary writing abilities were ever doubted and for those who still judge King only by a single reading of Cujo or The Tommyknockers, please read this novel. I would say this is definitely one of his more “literary” works but there are still plenty of “Kingisms” along the way; some truly eerie coincidences, some horrific situations, and plenty of thrills. But overall, this one transcends genre. A masterpiece. ...more
I am going to do my best to explain why this one made it into my favorites list which is not easy to do giveThis, ladies and gentlemen, is why I read.
I am going to do my best to explain why this one made it into my favorites list which is not easy to do given the total number of books I've read. First, I will say that I am a relative newcomer to Sanderson's work. I read the Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set last year and Elantris earlier this year. I knew after just reading that first Mistborn book that Sanderson would be one of my must-read authors and by the end of that trilogy I had vowed to read everything he writes, even if it means traversing the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan just to get to those final volumes by Sanderson.
I had not actually intended on reading Way of Kings next, mostly because of the sheer size of it. Size, in and of itself, doesn't bother me and I've read numerous "doorstoppers" before. But they can sometimes seem too drawn out and slow moving and I was simply worried that the same might happen to my beloved Sanderson.
But no, it was not to be. Sanderson has written the near perfect novel here. His world building, as incredible as always, is beyond my ability to describe adequately. While complicated, the cultural, religious, and political systems upon which the plot is developed makes sense and yet still does not divert the reader from where his/her attention should be focused: upon the plot and the characters. Same goes for the magic system that we get to explore with the characters, discovering its nuances at the same time as the characters.
And speaking of characters, many other lengthy books or series in the fantasy genre that I've read suffer from too many characters, too many points-of-view. And there are a lot of characters here as well, but Sanderson chooses to focus on a select few so that we readers don't get bogged down, flipping back pages to try and remember who so-and-so is. And each of his focus characters is intriguing in their own ways. They have complex backgrounds and motivations and none of them are all good or all bad. They are real. And each time a new chapter opened and returned me to that particular character, I would instantly sink into their part of the story.
And the plot. I won't rehash that here; I could never do it justice. Suffice it to say that all the elements of good story-telling are here: intrigue, peril, action, romance, noble honor, dastardly betrayal...I could go on and on. But to put it all together and make it soooo enjoyable requires the genius of Brandon Sanderson. Usually when I read a long work such as this, I churn through the final hundred pages or so to get that feeling of finally conquering that mountain of pages. But with this one I found myself stalling, not wanting it to end, despite its page length. As I write this I actually am feeling a little in withdrawal about the whole thing. And this is the beginning of what is reportedly a 10-book series? I don't know how I will wait until the next volume is out.
I know this sounds like total fanboy gushing but reading this novel really did effect me more than 99% of the novels I read. And I'm the type of reader who likes most of what he reads. So if you haven't discovered Sanderson yet, I suggest you still start out with Mistborn: The Final Empire and work your way through from there. For me, I still have several of his other books that I still get to enjoy and by then, hopefully, Book 2 of this series will be ready.
This is, hands down, the best overall collection of short stories I have ever come across. And that's quite an admission for me because up until now IThis is, hands down, the best overall collection of short stories I have ever come across. And that's quite an admission for me because up until now I have only been a so-so fan of Sherlock Holmes. I've read all of Conan Doyle stories years ago but never became a super fan. But after this marvelous collection by some extremely well know authors (and favorites of mine) like Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman, Naomi Novik,Stephen King,Tanith Lee, Laurie R. King, and Stephen Baxter, I'm feeling all fanboy now. FYI, these are not the traditional Sherlockian-type stories but rather tend to deal with aspects outside traditional Victorian England...like alternate histories, time travel, Steampunk, and the supernatural. Very cool.
Short stories, in general have never been great favorites of mine, as I prefer to really get into my characters but since this is all about Sherlock, Watson, et al, it's more like reading separate chapters of a longer book. Altogether, there are 28 stories in this collection, most of which are re-printed from other collections. But that is what makes this group truly remarkable. It seems like most of the time when I try to read a short story collection of numerous authors, I find that the editor has selected certain stories that will make him/her look good. "Look readers, I've collected all the forgotten bits that have here-to-fore been neglected or otherwise failed to find an audience. And now, in one massive volume, you too can be exposed to the most elite, hi-brow crap that everybody else has not found worthy to re-publish." Well, there's often a reason that it has remained hidden. I usually only find 2 or 3 really good stories in the typical collection, a handful of mediocre stories, and a bunch that should never have been published in the first place. Not so with this collection as I literally enjoyed every single one and was absolutely blown away by at least half. Also of note, there are several stories here that are original to this collection.
I guess I just click with Mr. John Joseph Adams, the editor of this collection. I plan to seek out more of his collections pronto....more
This one has everything I enjoy in a big ol' historical novel: lots of interesting characters that are fully fleshed out, an interesting panoramic setThis one has everything I enjoy in a big ol' historical novel: lots of interesting characters that are fully fleshed out, an interesting panoramic setting, a nice complex plot (but not too complex), unexpected plot twists, characters who are killed off unexpectedly, characters who live unexpectedly, good guys/gals and bad guys/gals, intrigue, romance, swashbuckling action, and of course, well-researched history.
A well-written novel, indeed.
But what made this one truly a masterpiece in my mind is the fact that I listened to it on audio CD. I commute for 2 hours each day for work and still, it took me a good solid month to make my way through this one. It was a huge undertaking (32 CDs) but what a month it was! I was really sucked into the narrative, not only due to the quality of the book itself but also due to the fantastic reader, Mr John Lee. He is simply one of the best in the business and his softly British accent is just perfect for this novel. I was totally swept away. One hears of the great oral tradition, before they had the ability to write down stories and history, when people passed along those stories via the spoken word. This was like that somehow for me...and as much as I liked the novel, listening to this one was just that much cooler.
Time to get your Geek on. This book was so much fun to read, I hesitate to review it. The concept, that of an on-line world in the pretty-near futureTime to get your Geek on. This book was so much fun to read, I hesitate to review it. The concept, that of an on-line world in the pretty-near future that has become so prominent as to change the way the majority of citizens live their lives, has certainly been done before. But the author uses that concept to build an absolute joy-ride of a read.
The main character of the novel is Wade Watts, a young impoverished orphan who prefers to escape his real life circumstances and spend as much time as possible in the on-line world of OASIS. Turns out the original creator and developer of the OASIS has passed away and has developed a treasure hunt game within OASIS so that the winner of the treasure hunt can claim the full ownership of OASIS and the multi-billion dollar inheritance that goes with it. Sort of like a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory scenario. The story that follows could have been rather predictable but the author marvelously twists and turns and believably guides his characters into a downright awesome story filled with danger, emotion, wit, and imagination.
But that's not all. What makes this novel so interesting (beyond the great plot, setting, and characters) is the cultural connections to the decade of the 1980s. The OASIS creator grew up in the 80's so all of the clues to the treasure hunt are found in 80s trivia: movies, books, music, and mostly importantly, electronic/computer/arcade games.
No doubt I am the target audience for this novel so I suppose that is one reason I liked it so much. I also grew up in the 80s and remember almost all of the hundreds of 80s references. But I've also never grown out of my geekdom as I still spend hours playing computer games like World of Warcraft, reading fantasy/sci-fi, etc, because I enjoy it as well as trying to keep up with my own kids.
Is this a perfect novel? No...I noticed a few instances where the plot was a bit contrived in order to make things work out properly. And there were a couple of fairly long information dumps but I, for one appreciated them and I can imagine a reader less familiar with the 80s would appreciate them even more. But those are rather nit-picky observations.
All in all, a great, fun read and this will absolutely compete for my best-of-the-year awards....more
One of my all time favorite Science Fiction novels. I've also read the original novella from which this novel grew out of...another totally awesome reOne of my all time favorite Science Fiction novels. I've also read the original novella from which this novel grew out of...another totally awesome reading experience....more
I am new to the author, Robert McCammon, but he came highly recommended from another blog I follow so I thought it worthwhile to give him a shot. TheI am new to the author, Robert McCammon, but he came highly recommended from another blog I follow so I thought it worthwhile to give him a shot. The results? Speaks the Nightbird will be a very strong competitor for my best-of-the-year list and now that I think about it, will probably make my best-of-all time reading list.
Yes, it's that good.
This is an historical novel set in the Carolina territory in 1699. Mathew Corbett is a clerk to a magestrate (judge) based in Charles Town and together they travel to the village of Fount Royal where the magistrate must have a trial for a reputed witch. Of course, the townspeople all firmly believe the witch is guilty and there is no need for a trial, and indeed, the evidence is damning. In fact there are even eye witnesses to her devilish acts. What follows is a rather complicated and intriguing mystery in which we watch our protagonist uncover the truth of the matter, using his keen powers of observation and deductive reasoning much like Sherlock Holmes would do. But there is far more to this novel than the mystery for this author has mastered the arts of setting, pacing, characterization, and plot. The book is a rather large one, coming in at 792 over-sized paperback pages, and yet it did not seem like a "long" book. I kept wanting to read and then read some more, cutting short some of my other well-loved hobbies (and sleep) just to get more reading time in. And thankfully, there are two more novels featuring Mathew Corbett following this one. Delightful!...more
This first of four (so far) novels in Wilbur Smith's Ancient Egypt line is simply a great fun read. I have just enough knowledge of ancient Egypt to kThis first of four (so far) novels in Wilbur Smith's Ancient Egypt line is simply a great fun read. I have just enough knowledge of ancient Egypt to know that the events of this novel take place in a time that we know little about and yet the story is a plausible one. He gets the religious aspects right, he gets the technology right, and he gets the warfare right. But there is more than just a story about ancient Egypt and that is what makes it so much fun.
I really enjoyed the way the author chose to tell the tale. The narrator, Taita, is a fascinating character and his narrative style leads one on and on, always wanting to read just one more chapter. He is a slave in the upper echelons of power and trusted advisor in all aspects, thus in a perfect position to tell the story. From the beginning the reader cares greatly for the characters and what happens to them, always the mark of great fiction. The author is known for fun novels full of swashbuckling action and unpredictable plots. If there is such a thing as swashbuckling Egyptian adventure, this is it....more
I approached this one out of loyalty to friends whose book recommendations I highly respect. The Repairman Jack series is always at the top of their lI approached this one out of loyalty to friends whose book recommendations I highly respect. The Repairman Jack series is always at the top of their lists. But frankly I was a little apprehensive because up to this point I had found the series to be good but not outstanding. I knew from reading various reviews that there is a large supernatural element to the series but it was fairly minor (monster of the week) in the first book (The Tomb) and non existent in the second (Legacies). It's almost as if Mr Wilson was struggling with exactly what kind of novels these were to be...supernatural? horror? mystery? other?
I need not have worried though. This novel was different, a super read in fact. Now I know why so many others swear by this series and this character. These books are very difficult to genre-classify, containing elements of mystery, thriller, horror, sci-fi, and perhaps even fantasy. This book really gets the overall series story arc going, letting us in on "the otherness" and whatever that might exactly be. Couching the secret behind-the-scenes mystery in the middle of a convention of conspiracy theorists is masterful and Mr Wilson pulls this off brilliantly. We are just as skeptical as Jack is when confronted with the very real happenings taking place all around him and, apparently, with himself in the center of it all. And just like Jack, we're not sure who are the good guys and who are the bad. I found this book to be marvelous and I very much look forward to further adventures of Repairman Jack as I get to experience more revelations of the supernatural aspects of the story. And to top it all off, it's a very good mystery novel as well! ...more
Patrick Rothfuss has written a masterpiece, or at least the first third of a masterpiece, in "The Name of the Wind". This book is the first part of aPatrick Rothfuss has written a masterpiece, or at least the first third of a masterpiece, in "The Name of the Wind". This book is the first part of a projected trilogy, called the Kingkiller Chronicle, and unlike other fantasy authors lately, I believe this to be a true trilogy. From the way the story unfolds, it is obvious that the author has the entire story well planned. It won't be one of those series that keep on growing as the author/publisher sees best seller revenues pile up.
The author himself says the story is about the myth of a hero seen from backstage. The protagonist of the novel, Kvothe, (pronounced Qwothe) is essentially telling the story of his life to a chronicler although we do occasionally cut back to snippets of the present. We know he is a hero of some sort at the beginning but how that came to be is a mystery. This novel has everything that makes a fantasy novel (or any novel for that matter) great. It has great characters who we profoundly care about. It has a great, well thought out setting, a complete society that fits together logically. It has a steady pace with highs and lows of action. It has comedic moments as well as tragic moments. It has mystery, particularly with the characters of Dianne and Bast. The protagonist is very intelligent but does make mistakes and must deal with the consequences. We are caught up in the emotions of the characters as they interact with all that happens. And the prose itself...it is written in such a way that is easy to understand and yet is not "simple"; the words paint the proverbial picture we always look for in a good book. It flows and that, along with the rest of the aspects of this book, makes us want to keep on reading and ignore our bedtime.
Patrick Rothfuss is considered one of the bright new fantasy authors out there and I can easily see why. He resists cliches and even makes fun of them. Whenever the second book comes out, I will have great difficulty in following my "no hardback purchases" policy and trying to wait for the paperback. It's that good!...more