When the graphic novel adaption of New Spring, the prequel to the epic Wheel of Time series, was released on January 18th, it was well received here at the Ranting Dragon. Having loved that, we’re even more thrilled to be able to review the first volume of The Eye of the World Graphic Novel, the comic adaption of the first novel in The Wheel of Time series.
An aesthetic beauty This absolutely stunning hardcover does The Eye of the World justice. The characters shown on the front—Rand, Mat and Perrin—are only part of a full scene that can be fully viewed when you unfold the dust-jacket and see Nynaeve, Egwene, Tam, Moiraine, Thom and Lan as well. It’s a truly amazing piece of art—one worthy of framing on any wall. Underneath the dust jacket, you’ll find a relief of the Wheel of Time symbol—the Wheel and the serpent biting its own tail—which is a very nice touch.
Doing the novel justice We opened the book with very high hopes, and we weren’t disappointed. This first volume in The Eye of the World Graphic Novel opens with the Ravens prologue found in the young adult version of The Eye of the World and not released in the adult version, which was a very nice surprise. With the additional prologue, as well as an introduction to The Wheel of Time series from Robert Jordan himself—written before his death—new readers to the series won’t feel as lost as they might have starting The Eye of the World novel.
Absolutely no scene, no matter how inconsequential, is left out, from Mat and Rand taking the caskets of wine into the basement of the Inn, to seeing a raven that appears to be spying on them and Moiraine subsequently showing up, to the attack on Rand and Tam’s farm—where Narg, the talking trolloc, makes an appearance. Even Moiraine’s telling of Manetheren’s history was given due attention. In the grand scheme of things, this scene plays such a minor role; yet it is a fan favorite, and one of our favorite scenes in the entire series. This part actually works out rather well in the comic, and Robert Jordan would likely have appreciated how true to the original story this graphic novel remains, not leaving any bit out, no matter how hard to translate the images may have been.
A small warning! One thing for fans of The Wheel of Time to keep in mind before reading the graphic novel, however, is that this is the first time that the characters have ever been drawn to be mass-marketed in the twenty-one years since The Eye of the World was first released. Unfortunately, some of these drawings might not live up to the pictures in your head. However, they are drawn consistently, and an exquisite amount of detail is rendered in these pages, so we might as well cut the artist, Chase Conley, some slack, especially considering that he had the absolute approval of The Jordan Estate.
Obviously, we had our preferences as well. For example, Thom looks like a fragile and grumpy hippie. We have always pictured him with longer hair, and while his attitude seems completely spot on, the drawings just don’t match up with how we pictured him for so many years. The style in which Moiraine is drawn provided a big problem for us as well. She doesn’t seem to embody the Aes Sedai presence that she so clearly possesses in the novels. Her height, while accurate, was depicted in such a way that made her seem small and submissive, contrary to the novels. Some of her facial expressions were so very unlike Moiraine and a tad demeaning to the character. Tam, on the other hand, was absolutely amazingly drawn. He seemed very well-represented—the perfect image of a grizzled war veteran who has now settled down to life as a shepherd.
An improvement upon New Spring Unlike the art of New Spring, which was for the most part lively and colorful, The Eye of the World is dark, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of the story. Some minor details were missing for die-hard fans like myself, such as the heron marks on Rand’s sword when it’s first introduced, even though it’s discussed later on. That doesn’t diminish the masterful skill with which this story was drawn onto the pages, however. This is further enhanced by the fact that the same artists worked on the entire graphic novel. Where New Spring had characters that were drawn in a different style every other chapter, the art in The Eye of the World provides us with continuity and consistency.
Epic bonus materials The bonus materials at the end of this volume are simply amazing. Chase Conley’s sketchbook features a lot of characters that we won’t see for another volume or two—if not longer—but the initial sketches being included here further increases the anticipation for future volumes. It is definitely hard to pick out a favorite from the twenty-six character sketches, but it was impressive to see how many were included. The second part of the bonus materials—the cover gallery—is also absolutely stunning. You get to view every cover that was released for the individual issues, and they’re all impressive. These images don’t come directly from the story, but are nonetheless stunning – just take a look at the example on the right.
Why should you read this novel? Overall, The Eye of the World Graphic Novel absolutely did the first part of the book justice. The characters are literally brought to life right in front of you, and the script doesn’t detract from Jordan’s marvelous storytelling. This comic comes together perfectly, from the surprising prologue to the marvelous cut-off at the end, complete with cliffhanger. This comic adaption of The Wheel of Time is a great addition to the collection of any fan of the series, as well as a decent starting point for those that wish to start the series in a lighter way. We definitely cannot wait for the next volume, which is coming in June 2012.(less)
Set ten years after the events in Spellwright, Nicodemus has left the Heaven Tree Valley and is now in the city of Avel, still pursuing the demon Typhon in an attempt to recover the Emerald of Aarahest, which contains the other part of his soul and the cure to his cacography. With it, he will be able to become the Halycon—a prophesied savior of magical language—instead of what he is now, the Storm Petrel—a prophesied destroyer of magical language. He’s determined to let nothing stop him in this quest, but then Francesca arrives and invokes feelings inside him that he’s never felt before.
Francesca is a cleric, no longer attached to the wizardly order, who uses her magic to help her patients. However, when Typhon’s reluctant avatar, Dierdre, dies on her table and then comes back to life, Francesca’s world view is shattered as she uncovers a demon’s secret plot to take over Avel and then the entire continent—not to mention the plans that the demon apparently has for her and her alone, plans that he’s had ever since Francesca first entered the city. It seems that her only hope will be to find the rogue wizard Nicodemus, but to do that she has to tag along with her ex-lover, Cyrus, the Air Warden of Avel.
A diverse and entertaining cast The characters in Spellwright—Nicodemus, Shannon and Dierdre—were absolutely amazing. They were rough, that’s for sure, but they were still very believable and very interesting to me as a reader. In Spellbound, we have those same characters with the two major additions of Francesca and her old lover, Cyrus. There are also two wizards, Vivian and Lotannu, who show up in Avel aboard a warship with motives that no one can guess. Finally, Shannon’s ghost plays a role in the story—although a rather small one—but with the ghost comes an added perspective to the story that wasn’t previously present.
Nicodemus has matured quite a bit in the ten years since the events in Spellwright. Due to the effect his cacography has on the text he writes, he’s nearly abandoned the wizardly languages and has resorted to the kobold’s languages that he writes on his skin and doesn’t misspell. Nicodemus has become almost like a man raised by wolves during the ten years away from civilization—nomadic, untrusting and a bit of a loner.
Humor in epic fantasy? What madness is this?! The writing throughout this trilogy has been above par, almost masterful, but the dialogue goes above and beyond in Spellbound. The back and forth between Francesca and Cyrus made me laugh out loud at multiple points in the novel. Francesca’s dialogue alone is hilarious. She’s a spitfire with a sharp tongue that she isn’t afraid to use on anyone. Francesca and Cyrus aren’t completely hogging the humor in Spellbound, however. Vivian and Lotannu have their banter as well, and Nicodemus has his own moments of extreme wit.
Humor is so rarely used in epic fantasy—at least, not humor that we can actually relate to—and it really adds something to a novel. Most epic fantasy is oh-so-serious and there’s absolutely no time for any kind of humor in such a world where the fate of humanity is at stake, but it makes the story so much more memorable when you give readers something to laugh at. The last time I saw humor used so liberally was in Mistborn; it’s used a bit more, and quite a bit better, in Spellbound. I seriously have to applaud Charlton for his masterful use of humor, which wasn’t overwhelming at all, instead providing just the right amount of brevity to give Spellbound that memorable quality.
Defying the standard trilogy setup We all know the format for trilogies. The first book is an awesome introduction to the story and the world, leaving us wanting more. The second book comes out and we’re just kind of “eh” about it, because it’s obviously a transitory book used for almost solely for plot development and nothing really happens, so it’s boring. Then, the third book comes out and we’re all absolutely wowed by how well it wraps up the story. Granted, this is for most normal “good” trilogies.
In this case, the second novel is so much better than the first. Let me say that again, because I seriously doubt that you read what you thought you read. It’s better than the first. There, I said it. Charlton has seriously delivered in this second-novel-that-doesn’t-feel-like-a-second-novel. Spellbound reads like that first awesome novel that you just can’t get enough of, and it’s an amazing feat.
However… We see Nicodemus in the beginning of the novel, but then only sparingly until about two-thirds through when he steps up his game and plays more of a major role in the story. While I think that introducing new characters is important, failing to highlight your main character is a bit of a misstep when writing a novel. Along the same lines, another small complaint I have regards Cyrus. I found him to be a very interesting character, but once Francesca finds Nicodemus, he seems to only play a bit part, which didn’t do the character justice at all.
Why should you read this book? Well, if you still haven’t raced off to the bookstore to buy it since reading the above, let’s go through a little list of why Spellbound is the best sequel I’ve read this year. Characters that you can really believe are part of that world? Check. Writing that leaves you fully immersed in the story? Check. The most unique magic system I’ve ever read about? Check. Plot twists and character developments galore? Check. Textual dragons, a bit of romance, some badass monsters and an evil mastermind? Check, check, check and check.
Charlton has impressed me more than I thought I could be impressed by an author. I went into this with high expectations after reading Spellwright, and I was still blown away. The Spellwright Trilogy is turning out to be one of the best trilogies of the decade, and I seriously cannot wait for the conclusion, which I’m pretty sure is going to amaze me even more than Spellbound did.(less)
Following the events in The Magicians, Quentin and his friends Eliot, Janet and Julia are living the high life in Fillory as kings and queens of their magical kingdom. They have no real responsibilities, so naturally, they spend their time having as much fun as they can in their new-found utopia. Quentin, as usual, is restless. He wants a real adventure of the kind he read about in the Fillory novels as a child, where he would save the kingdom and become a hero—but no adventure has come. When the opportunity arises to go on a minor adventure to collect taxes from a far-away island, he signs up and sets off for the island with Julia, who shares his restlessness in Fillory.
When they land on the island, he hears a rumor of a mysterious island known as After Island that holds the key to wind up the world, and he’s sure that this is the adventure he’s been waiting for since becoming King of Fillory. However, when an incident leads him and Julia back to Earth, he’s at a loss for what to do, and he has to rely on Julia’s skills as a hedge-witch to navigate them back home.
Characters new and old Lev Grossman has a way with introducing new characters while still keeping us attached to the old. Julia, a hedge-witch, has an interesting past that is revealed in alternating chapters. From how she felt after failing the Brakebills entrance exam—an exam that Quentin passed, opening him up to a world of magic while leaving her feeling abandoned and curious about the gaps in her memory—to how she found a group of magic users and attempted what was thought to be impossible, and the price that she paid for it.
In addition, other characters that were loved in The Magicians reappear in The Magician King. Josh, their friend from Brakebills who didn’t accompany them to Fillory, makes another appearance, and Eliot plays a small part in the novel. Janet, whom I absolutely detested in The Magicians, thankfully shows very little of herself in this installment. We also meet new characters like Poppy, an anal-retentive, dragon-obsessed, knowledge lover who is reluctantly dragged into the wonder of Fillory; Benedict, a brilliant cartographer seems to want to be depressed; and Bingle, a truly badass swordsman hired to protect Quentin as he goes off on his adventure.
This series is Narnia-2.0 In The Magicians, it was obvious that Fillory was a mirror of the Narnia we all know, but with just enough changes to not infringe on copyright. It’s a wondrous world full of talking animals and magic, but it’s distorted and expanded upon to distance it from Narnia, and highlight aspects of the author’s own creation.
With the addition of this novel, I was pleased to see that Mr. Grossman is also attempting to create an actual set of novels, similar to the Narnia series, but with completely different circumstances. Instead of prepubescent children, he inserts emotionally adolescent 20-somethings—not to mention quite a few more adult themes that wouldn’t be appropriate for children’s stories—and we’re thrust into a whole new world, or rather, the same world with a whole new perspective.
Lacks the ‘wow-factor’ In The Magicians, I was completely stunned by how much information was packed into the pages. It was, in fact, multiple stories that somehow coalesced into a single awesome volume. Grossman attempted the same thing in The Magician King, but it was not executed in the same exceptional manner as it was in The Magicians. Nothing really wowed me in this novel, but at the same time it maintained an above-average baseline that kept me wanting to turn the page and find out what happens next, so there’s something to be said for that. There are life-altering revelations, characters that appealed to me, and things that I didn’t think would happen, but nothing that really made me put the book down and go “Holy crap, did that just happen?”
Why should you read this book? The Magician King is a fantastic sequel and one that you should read if you enjoyed The Magicians; and even if you didn’t, I seriously encourage you to pick up the first novel and discover the magic of Fillory. I am curious to see what happens in the next installment, whenever that comes my way. I am hoping that Lev Grossman actually develops this series into a true ‘adult’ Narnia series while still maintaining his own original view of the world.(less)
Island of Icarus by Christine Danse is a gay romance with a bit of steampunk mixed in. The novella follows Jonathan, a man who recently lost a portion of his arm and most of his previous life with it. Jonathan is sent by the dean of his university to recuperate on the Galápagos Islands, as Jonathan hasn’t been himself since the accident. On the boat to the Galápagos, Jonathan falls overboard in a storm and wakes up on the shore of a small island with an unknown man tending him. Soon he learns that this man, Marcus, was also stranded on the island but now prefers to stay on the island in solitude and be true to himself, rather than returning to society and living a lie. Jonathan finds himself attracted to Marcus. Romance ensues.
A touching story This is the perfect novella. It could be expanded into its own novel, but Island of Icarus is also fine as it is. The story of Jonathan’s development and self-realization is executed very well, and I enjoyed how it was well-paced without being too swift, as most novellas tend to be. It was a little risqué at times—in fact, there are two very sexual scenes—but they were tastefully done and I felt that they developed the story well.
Lack of character definition Jonathan is given a wonderful backstory, which makes sense as this story is told from his point of view, but Marcus is given very, very little. There is one point in this story where Marcus says that he preferred to stay on the island instead of living a lie in ‘proper’ society, and he mentions a previous lover—but that’s it. I find Marcus to be an incredibly intriguing character, but the only thing that we really know about him is that he has a fascination with birds and wings, as well as a related desire to fly. It just wasn’t enough for me.
Why should you read this book? Island of Icarus has a very limited audience—unless you’re a person who enjoys gay romance, tinged with erotica and set in a slightly steampunk world, this probably isn’t the novella for you (which is unfortunate, because it pretty much is the perfect novella). It’s beautifully set up and told in a way that made it believable without making it sound sappy, which is a pretty big feat for a romance piece.(less)
Quentin Coldwater is a genius on his way to an assured Ivy League education, but he’s depressed with the way that his life is going. He distracts himself from his misery by dreaming of Fillory, a land that exists in a popular series of children’s novels that he adored as a child and still reads often, wishing that he could add a bit of fantasy to his humdrum life. Well, he’s about to get his wish. On his way from a Yale interview, Quentin stumbles into a magically hidden part of upstate New York, and he is immediately taken off to the school on the grounds for a rigorous examination. Upon passing he learns that the school is a magical college named Brakebills where he will spend the next four years of his life learning magic, making friends, enemies, and lovers, and trying to figure out what exactly he wants to do with his life.
Fast forward to Quentin’s graduation. He’s successfully passed his years at Brakebills, and is invited to move in with friends in New York City. Soon after, an old classmate shows up unannounced and surprises them with a fantastic secret: Fillory is real, and they’re all going.
The Magicians really is two separate stories, the first being Quentin’s journey to learn magic at Brakebills College, and the second story being after Quentin finishes Brakebills and his subsequent journey into Fillory with his friends. They are two completely different novels, but I was glad that they were released as a single volume.
Unabashedly real There were times while reading when I had to put The Magicians down and absorb what had just happened in the novel. In particular, there was a scene where, after transforming themselves into foxes as part of a lesson, the students screw like, well… foxes. Normally this is something that I would find unneeded, as I’m sure you’re thinking upon reading this, but these scenes added an element to the story that’s not normally seen in modern fantasy, and I felt that it was refreshing. There were also some scenes that I felt were needlessly bloody, such as an entire page describing a man getting his hands chewed off, as well as some scenes that I felt could have used a bit more in the way of back story and explanation. Overall, though, I was pleased with how well they were woven together with an almost magical quality that left me dazed.
Characters that you want to smack The characters in this novel are extraordinarily fleshed out. They all have their own story and are presented in a way that makes them believable. However, I want to smack the lot of them. They’re thrust into this world of magic and wonder that most people spend most of their time dreaming about, and they take it for granted, not giving it a second thought. There’s no moment where they simply relish in their limitless possibilities; instead, they quickly lapse straight into a deep depression due to their lack of individuality and the rigorous coursework that is presented to them. They’re all, without a single exception, complete douchebags and I want to smack them all upside the head and tell them to open their eyes and see the fact that they’re freaking magicians. I’m not complaining too much, however, because the way that they were presented made them real characters instead of typical fantasy tropes, but I still think that a little bit of joy before boarding the depression train would have done the novel good.
A new take on Narnia – er… Fillory Did you ever wonder what the Narnia books would have been like if, instead of preteen boys and girls venturing to save an endangered magical land, the land was visited by 23-year-old self-absorbed magicians looking for a fun time? No? Well, I can’t say I did either, but the prospect is certainly engaging, isn’t it? And that’s what this book does, taking you through emotional twists and turns of adolescence – kicking you in the face, and then kissing it better, only to punch you right in the balls with the next page.
When it became apparent that Fillory is basically Narnia with a new name, I was wary and a little disappointed – but it turns out that while Fillory does share similarities with Narnia, there is a lot of fantastic original material as well - most of which are complete spoilers, so I won’t mention them in this review. There are some very obvious references to Harry Potter and a few other well-known fantasy tropes, but Grossman seems to insert these intentionally and exploits them to the max, which actually made for a pretty enjoyable read.
Why should you read this book? I really cannot recommend this book enough as both an urban and epic fantasy, the first half being urban and the second being a mix of the two. Normally I wouldn’t think that this would work very well, but in this case it’s pulled off excellently. The Magicians is full of magical wit and wonder.(less)
This review contains spoilers for the previous book in this series.
Mortals and Deities is the second book in the Genesis of Oblivion Saga by Maxwell Alexander Drake, and is the sequel to Farmers and Mercenaries, which was reviewed here. The sequel starts off right where Farmers and Mercenaries left us.
A multitude of viewpoints Alant Cor finds himself near his old home with no clue of how he got there. His eyes glow red, and he doesn’t know what being thrust into the Essence Node by the Elmorians did to him. He only knows that he is the Mah’Sukai—a being of unimaginable power—and has no idea of where to find the answers to his many questions. When Alant encounters a woman who claims that he can find those answers in an ancient lost city, and after many failed attempts at gathering information from people he thought might have the answers, he clings to the only bit of hope he has left and follows her instructions.
Arderi Cor, Alant’s brother, is sent to the ancient citadel of Bin’Satsu to learn how to become a Tat’Sujen—a group of humans with enhanced abilities to manipulate the world around them. He is given the order to kill the new Mah’Sukai at any costs before the evil being has the chance to wreak havoc on the world. Assuming that the Mah’Sukai must be someone truly evil, Arderi accepts the order without question.
Elith was raised among priests her entire life to be the perfect assassin—deadly, silent, and devoid of emotion. The only purpose given to her in life has been to find the Mah’Sukai and bring him to the head of the priesthood, known simply as the Revered Father. Elith is not the cold-blooded killer she was trained to be, however, and the feelings of sadness and guilt she experiences makes her question everything she knows. Complicated by her feelings of remorse and plagued by sudden bouts of unexplained memory loss, she sets upon her journey to find and capture the Mah’Sukai.
Klain is living with his employer, Rohann, as a bodyguard for Rohann’s son, Charver. When Rohann becomes fanatical about a sudden journey to a long-lost city filled with unimaginable treasure, Klain begins to worry. Ever dutiful, Klain does as he is bidden, and follows Rohann and Charver on the expedition despite his fears for the sanity of his employer.
In Elmoreth, Sarshia, Princess to the Elmorian people, uncovers a plot concerning the human Initiates of their school. When she finds that her brother is the mastermind of this sinister plot, she has no idea how she will proceed with this new-found knowledge.
Characters that grew on me In the first novel, I had a problem relating to the characters. They were all interesting, but I never felt emotionally invested. This time around, my feelings have changed. The feeling of shock and disbelief when a character does something unspeakable, those “I seriously can’t believe that just happened!” moments, were there for me in this installment. I cared about the characters, and they are developing well in the Genesis of Oblivion series.
A rushed plot The first novel, Farmers and Mercenaries, did not feel rushed. In fact, I liked it because it flowed so naturally, instead of having all of the characters do silly things that they normally wouldn’t do just to make the plot more interesting. Unfortunately for the reader, that’s exactly what this book did. There were a few cheap thrills that didn’t really serve any sort of purpose at all—they were just little encounters that one might expect to find in a D&D campaign. “Seven insect-like creatures attack your camp, what do you do?”—and then never spare them a thought again. These devices were inserted to make the plot a bit more interesting, but only served to cheapen it.
Redundant alternating viewpoints A majority of the characters in this novel meet up together trying to explore this lost city where all their answers lie. As mentioned, this novel is told with alternating viewpoints, which normally works very well when they’re separate, and perhaps briefly while they’re together. After a while, though, it becomes redundant, especially near the end of the book. I had the exact same scene laid out for me by four different characters, using almost the exact same language. After the second character, I was like, “Yep, already heard this. Let’s move on.” And the third: “… yes, I’m aware of your surroundings. I don’t need to hear about it.” And the fourth: “You’re in a cave, alright? There’s this glowing blue chick in an egg. That’s all you need to know.” It gets pretty tiring, especially because the way things are described is too similar, and nothing new or interesting is added with the new viewpoints.
A fantastic conclusion The way that this novel ends blew me away. It confirmed the suspicions that I had early on in the novel, yet the reveal isn’t blatantly obvious—and there are quite a few things that shocked me. I became emotionally invested in the characters and cared about their actions. A certain pivotal scene for a character made me gasp and quickly re-read to make sure what I saw was true, thinking, “What the hell just happened?” But it happened, and the character acted accordingly in a feat of seamless storytelling. The ending is set up perfectly to flow right into the third installment.
A great installment in the series Mortals and Deities further explores the world that was revealed to us in Farmers and Mercenaries. We see more of the inner workings of the Elmorians, a fantastic alien-like race of people who are like gods in their ability to manipulate the Essence when compared to mere humans. More cultures are explored, new characters added, and it’s a spectacular read overall.
Why should you read this book? This is a magnificent addition to the Genesis of Oblivion series, and one that begs for additional sequels. The richly developed world leaves me wanting more, just as the first novel did. I can’t wait to return to Talic’Nauth! I hope that Drake will explain the events that took place in the conclusion of Mortals and Deities and dive right into the new challenges that the characters face in the third novel. Overall, this was an incredible, captivating read.(less)
Farmers and Mercenaries, the first book in the Genesis of Oblivion saga, introduces us to the world of Talic’Nauth. Talic’Nauth is ruled by the Essence—the life force that dwells within all things. The Essence can be drawn upon by the Shapers, those with the ability to see and manipulate this life force. Alant Cor, our first protagonist in a set of three wait-and-see-how-they’re-related tales, is an Initiate to the Shapers. Alant finds himself called to the fabled Isle of Elmorr’eth, home to the Elmorians. The Elmorians are an alien-like race who many believe to be beings of the Essence and thus can grasp the Essence better any human alive. However, when Alant reaches Isle of Elmorr’eth, the suspense and mystery is only beginning, and events unfold that cast his formerly held beliefs into question. Soon he discovers a plot concerning himself and the other human Initiates. Are they really there as guests, or as test subjects for possibly disastrous and apocalyptic plans?
Alant’s brother, Arderi Cor, has just turned sixteen and is tested for Shaper abilities. When his test goes inexplicably awry, he flees from home. Arderi stows away with a band of mercenaries, led by Clytus Rillion, a man on the hunt of a legendary beast—a beast whose blood is the only thing that can save his dying son. Yet, Clytus is more than what he appears to be, for he is Tat’Sujen, a member of a small group of humans with an ability similar to that of the Shapers, only far more powerful and rare. Arendi soon finds out that he also possesses this ability, a fact that will change his life forever.
Finally, we meet Klain, who has never known freedom. He is a Kithian, a beastly race of lion-like humanoids, abducted by humans and taught to be a gladiator for amusement. When he learns that his master now intends to have him killed, he resigns himself to fate but refuses to go quietly. However, when he is saved by a mysterious Elmorian, Klain struggles with the concept of his new-found freedom and all that it entails for his life.
These three stories, told in alternating chapters, are presented in a day-of-the-life-in style. The lives of the characters seem unrelated, yet the reader feels an overarching sense that the strings of destiny are being pulled for Alant, Clytus, Arderi, and Klain.
Told by a Master Drake is a master storyteller, crafting an amazingly organic tale. I put the book down and wanted to dive right into the sequel, but I had to come here to write this review first! If I ever started to get a tingle of anticipation hoping that something would happen, it happened. Not because it was predictable, but because the story had reached a turning point and unfolded accordingly. Instead of pressing the story onwards to tell it in the way he wished it to be told, Drake lets the story flow so beautifully that I’m surprised this novel isn’t all the buzz right now. There is no pushing the character in one direction when he obviously wants to go in another, no forcing a character to say something he would never say—it all flows naturally, and that is awesome.
An Amazing, Fleshed-Out World While we do not get to see much of Talic’Nauth, I consistently felt that the author knew exactly where he was going with the story, as if I could ask him to name a random town or village and he would know every single detail about it—who lived there, how they were governed, what they did for income, and everything else anyone could possibly want to know about it. Despite the fact that I had never been to this world or heard of it before, I never struggled to catch up with the people who had lived their entire lives in Talic’Nauth. I find myself incredibly excited to find out more regarding the world, and cannot wait to read the sequel, which I hope more will be fleshed out. The possibilities of Drake’s world seem endless, and I am eager to see how the author continues to shape it.
Info-dumps—Oh no! Unfortunately, there are quite a few info-dumps in this novel, which is one of the things I dislike most when reading. I don’t want to see one character ask another about his day and then have his reply be: “Well, Sam, I had an alright day, but here’s four pages about my past and why I’m fighting this war.” I want the information to come to me naturally, not to have it thrust upon me like a lecture—and that happens in this novel quite a few times. All of the information given to the reader has merit, but it could have been presented in a way that flows better with the story.
There are also few cliché scenes in this novel—such as pounding the ground in frustration or shouting up at the Heavens asking “Why!?”—that felt a little comical to me whenever they popped up. I wanted to just go down and slap some sense into the character and say, “You do know that’s been done like a million times, right?”
Dull Characters While the characters are interesting, I rarely felt myself caring deeply for them. For example, when a certain character died, I felt absolutely nothing – not a tear down my cheek or even a slight tinge of sadness – and I know that I should have felt something, but it just wasn’t there. While I enjoyed reading every single part that included them, I felt that the characters could have been expanded upon a little bit more; for example, I wanted more details about their lives, so we could get to know them as people instead of as actors fulfilling roles in a play.
One exception to this lack of detail, however, is Klain’s character. His story was fantastic and I wished that he appeared more in this novel than Arendi and Clytus, who take up most of the text. I know that the characters will grow on me if they are better developed in the sequels, and if Drake does this while giving us more Klain, I will be one ecstatic reader.
Why should you read this book? Why shouldn’t you is the better question. This novel is a compelling start to an epic series that I will be following devoutly until its completion; a story rich with originality and wonder, whose characters have vast untapped potential. The plot flows with natural, well-crafted rhythm and the vibrant world yearns to be further explored. Farmers and Mercenaries is a completely mesmerizing tale.(less)
Mage In Black picks up right where Red-Headed Stepchild left off. Sabina Kane, recently estranged from her vampire family, is traveling to meet the twin sister she never knew existed, who happens to be the figurehead for the mage race. On the road with Sabina are Giguhl, her demon familiar, and Adam, a mage sent to find and escort her back to the mage capital of New York City.
After a pack of vengeful vampires attacks her in the middle of the country, she finally makes it to New York where she is immediately thrust into the mage life and her sister’s world, where she is absolutely alone. Throughout her stay in the Big Apple, she has run-ins with werewolves, a ‘Demon Fight Club’, and an old flame from the past. Surrounded by political struggle and a mess of things that are out of her control, Sabina must find a way to cope with all that’s happening around her.
Fast-Paced and Kick-Ass This is an incredibly fast-paced and exciting novel that I devoured in a day. The characters are interesting and the plot just keeps throwing out twists for Sabina and her crew to face. Sabina Kane isn’t the type of woman to roll with the punches—when someone punches her, she punches right back, most of the time maiming – if not killing - the person who annoyed her. She’s willing to bend to an extent, but only for the people she cares about.
More romance In Red-Headed Stepchild, we got a glimpse into the personal life of Sabina—she didn’t have any romantic attachments, instead sleeping with the occasional guy to fulfill her need for sexual company. Adam lit a bit of a spark in her, but it was nothing serious in Sabina’s eyes. In The Mage In Black, she’s torn between two men: Adam, who she finally realizes that she has intense feelings for, and Slade, her partner-turned-rogue from her past.
The romance is handled very well in this novel. It’s an undercurrent throughout the entire novel, never taking precedence, which makes sense considering all that Sabina has been through in her life. She has so many trust issues that overcoming them shouldn’t be an easy thing, and I’m glad that Jaye Wells didn’t take the easy route of giving her an instant romance, but instead continues Sabina’s romantic struggles through the book.
Political Strife Finding out that you’re the daughter of a hero-mage and the sister of the head of the mage race can be pretty daunting, and even Sabina Kane balks at the thought of all that awaits her. The politics and the interpersonal relationships between characters involved are masterfully delivered. Most urban fantasy rarely takes into account the fact that while their novels are supernatural in essence, they still have to play by the rules of the real world, and I felt that the way Jaye Wells handled the politics in The Mage In Black was fantastic and real.
A lack of passion I never became terribly invested in this novel. There were exciting and interesting parts, but I never felt the same passion for Sabina Kane that I did in the previous volume. I felt like an outsider looking into her life, and I had absolutely no investment in how things turned out for her—and that’s really disappointing when reading a novel. I want to be able to feel for the character and get upset and happy when things happen to her, but that just didn’t come through for me in this book.
Why should you read this book? If you enjoyed the first installment, then you definitely won’t be disappointed with this one. I daresay that it’s a little bit better, with the mistakes I found in the first novel being cleared up well in the sequel. It’s not remarkable, but it is a fun read that will entertain you for a day or two. I look forward to reading the sequel.(less)
Sabina Kane is a half-blood in a world where half-bloods are not allowed to exist. Raised by her cold grandmother, the head of the Dominae—the governing sect of vampires—who has filled her with a constant longing for approval, she does the only job that she’s qualified for: killing people who oppose the Dominae, whether they be friend or lifelong enemy of the vampire race.
When Sabina is asked to infiltrate a growing threat opposing the vampire race, she accepts, ostensibly to defend her race, but more in the hope of gaining her grandmother’s trust and respect. But when her beliefs are challenged, and when the secret of who she is comes out, she’s forced to rethink everything that she has ever known, and she eventually comes to a shocking conclusion that will change her life forever.
Interesting characters One thing that struck me about this book was the fact that all of these characters were new and interesting. When you deal with the generic supernatural creature story—vampire, mage, werewolf, or whatever— you have to either twist everything on its head so it’s utterly unrecognizable or make interesting characters who drive the novel from chapter to chapter. Jaye Wells has created exactly that driving force with her characters. The people in her novel are fresh and fascinating, and they are very well fleshed out as people. From the beginning I felt myself empathizing with Sabina as she is faced with difficult realities and shameful truths. Later on in the novel, when Adam is introduced, I felt even more strongly for him. I praise Jaye Wells for that.
One problem that I did have was how quickly Sabina started to grow fond of Gighul, the demon summoned to watch over her early on in the novel. One would think that having a demon invade your personal space and charge money to your credit card would make you want to get rid of him, but for Sabina it just made her grow fond of him, which is something that I just never really believed or got into.
“Book Porn” There was never really a moment when I wanted to put this book down. Everything about this novel made me want to keep finding out the next bite of the story. Red-Headed Stepchild is definitely going on my ‘Book Porn’ shelf as a nice, quick read that doesn’t demand a lot from you intellectually but gives a whole lot in return.
Predictable at times Unfortunately, this novel was a bit clichéd in how the plot progressed; in fact, it was almost painful at times. There are a few betrayals (which you can see coming from a mile away, or rather, fifty pages away), mistakes made that will obviously come back to haunt people, and pretty much everything in between. Very little of this book was a surprise to me, which is a huge let-down when reading something.
To somewhat make up for this, there are a few points that genuinely did surprise me, which is good. I’m not saying that this completely compensates for the rest of the novel’s predictable parts, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
A lack of world-building World-building is one of the most important things for a novel. In urban fantasy, where you don’t have an entirely new world to build, it’s important to flesh out the history of the fantasy aspects that you do have. That didn’t happen with this novel. There are four distinct ‘races’—vampires, fae, demons and mages— but there’s very little history given surrounding them, which left me confused at times and wanting more explanation.
I find the concept of all four of these races being related in some way interesting, but I’d really like a bit more information regarding where they came from, what they all have in common, what exactly it means for a vampire and a mage to mate or have children and why that is so strictly taboo. It is constantly mentioned that Sabina’s very existence is an abomination, but it never gives any reason other than the simple fact that she’s a half-blood.
Why should you read this book? This is a very fun read if you’re not looking for a huge intellectual commitment in your reading. It’s perfect for casual fantasy readers looking for something fresh and interesting and for urban fantasy lovers. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and there are some original aspects concerning the vampire realm—which, let’s face it, has been overdone so much in the past ten years that it’s ridiculous. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel and am going to dive right into the sequel.(less)
Harry Potter is a soon-to-be eleven-year-old boy living with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and Cousin Dudley (The Dursleys), who treat him as a constant bother in their otherwise “normal” lives. Since the day he was mysteriously dropped off on the doorstep of the Dursleys as an infant, Harry has never known a place to belong. Little does he know that his eleventh birthday is going to change his entire world.
Harry is accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he’s sent to learn how to perform magic and become a wizard. If this abrupt change isn’t enough, he also learns the secret of his parents’ death and that he has an enemy—a supremely evil dark wizard whose very name is feared by all magical folk! Once at Hogwarts, he meets Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, the first friends whom he has ever had in his life. When Harry uncovers a plot to steal an important magical artifact and none of the school’s authorities believe him, it’s up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to save Hogwarts—and their lives.
Slightly Unbelievable (and not in the good way) While this is an incredibly thrilling tale, you’re going to have to be prepared to suspend disbelief to fully absorb it. No eleven-year-old, no matter what House he’s in, has such a well developed sense of right or wrong. And personally, as an eleven-year-old, if I found out that I had an arch-nemesis of unfathomable power who was hell-bent on killing me, I would run far, far away. We’re all happy to root for the underdog, but there’s a point where a hero stops being the underdog and starts being just plain stupid. In this novel, Harry Potter crosses that line.
Amateurish Writing This is obviously the first attempt at a novel by the author. With any novel that attempts to encompass an entire school year, there are challenges: how to make it seem like time is flying by without making it jumpy, how to make sure that enough things are covered that it doesn’t just hop around from plot point to plot point. J.K. Rowling doesn’t really pull that off structurally with this novel. The book is just far too short to encompass such a long period of time (she later remedies this in her works that are twice as long as The Sorcerer’s Stone).
There are a few details that never really add up (why are there three broomsticks in the Test for the Stone?), and sometimes the lines just felt staged in an attempt to further the plot. Another thing to mention is that it’s very difficult for the reader to get into the mentality of an eleven-year-old boy, especially when dealing with such heavy themes (death, murder, trauma, etc). If you are able to get into Harry’s head, it’s an excellent novel.
Fantastic Story Assuming you’re able to suspend disbelief as previously mentioned, this is an amazing story and one that we all know if we’ve opened up a newspaper or clicked a link on the Internet. There’s something about rooting for the underdog, despite everything that he has going against him, that makes this novel great. There are so many other things in this novel that make it a wonderful read. There was never a moment when I wanted to put this book down. Even if you’re someone who’s already seen the movies and read articles and summaries about Harry Potter, reading the books is a truly unique experience.
A Start to an Epic The Sorcerer’s Stone marks the start of Harry Potter’s journey. Not only is this novel set up perfectly for a sequel, it begs for one by entrancing the reader and making us constantly want more. There are so many aspects of Harry Potter that can be fleshed out, and as a reader, I want to know every single thing about the world—a huge accomplishment for a novel.
Why should you read this book? Everyone who has an affinity for YA Fantasy should read this book. I think that anyone should give this book a try. However, as I mentioned, it is a bit difficult to get into the mentality of an eleven-year-old. Since most people do know the story of Harry Potter, if you’d like to start at a later book (I’d recommend the fourth, check back for a review at a later date), you won’t miss out on a whole lot by reading through some summaries of the first three books.(less)
Cassandra Clare’s latest novel, Clockwork Angel, is set in the same world as her Mortal Instruments series and is a spectacular beginning to a new spin-off trilogy. Set in Victorian London, Clockwork Angel follows Tessa, a girl who has just lost her last living relative in New York, as she is forced to travel to London to find her recently estranged brother. Once she arrives in London, however, she’s abducted by The Dark Sisters, two warlocks who mentally torture her in an attempt to train her to use her power. Tessa learns she is not a human being—she has power that even she doesn’t understand; power that, prior to The Dark Sisters not-so-gentle prodding, she didn’t even know could exist.
After escaping from The Dark Sisters with the assistance of a couple young Shadowhunters, Will and Jem, she takes refuge in the Enclave, the London home of the Shadowhunters, a group of part-angels sworn with protecting humans from demons, and with keeping the peace between the half-demons we know as vampires, werewolves, faeries and warlocks. It’s here that she learns more of who she is, who the Shadowhunters are, and the mystery behind her brother’s disappearance.
A definite page turner As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, certain books fall squarely into the category of ‘book porn’—easy reads that don’t require much mental involvement from you, but give a whole lot of enjoyment. Clockwork Angel is one such book. I found myself only able to put the book down once, and that was after searching for an hour for a page where I could actually convince myself to find a stopping point. Cassandra Clare is a master of suspense, and to be honest, I never wanted to put this book down. There were too many mysteries to be solved, too many interesting things that I wanted to know, and too many characters that I wanted to see more of—Clare’s handleing of it all is masterful.
An awkward resemblance to the Mortal Instruments series I couldn’t help but notice when reading this novel that the cast seems to be exactly the same as what you see in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. Tessa takes the place of Clary, a girl thrust into a world that she knows nothing about; Jace and Alec are replaced with Jem and Will, two boys who treat her in completely different ways, yet she likes both of them; and Isabelle is replaced with Jessamine, a reluctant and rebellious girl who wishes that she could be doing something else. The only two principle cast members that are different are the heads of the London Institute, Charlotte and Henry—a charming couple who seem to complete each other in odd ways. I was rather disappointed with this because it seems like the same story is being told with different names and a few minor tweaks. The Shadowhunters are truly one of the most original and fantastic paranormal groups that YA Fantasy has seen in awhile, and different characters could have made it a completely unique, better story.
Sadly, the characters weren’t the only things in this novel that resembled the Mortal Instruments series. Cassandra Clare truly did find her niche in her writing style when she started the Mortal Instruments, and the themes present in those books are also quite prevalent in this new series as well. Teenagers questioning their parentage, teenage orphans mad at the world, and endless betrayals are featured prominently in both series.
Still fantastic characters Despite all of of the similarities, the characters in Clockwork Angel are fantastic. There’s a depth to them that few YA authors manage to accomplish, and I love reading and hearing about them. Their stories are heartbreaking, wonderful, and beautiful, and they all evoke emotion in me. I’m rather curious to hear more about Will’s story in particular, since, aside from the few enticing tidbits we are given, it remains a mystery.
Not very Victorian In the beginning of the novel, it’s established that this is Victorian London simply by the time-period and the method of travel. However, once that is established, there is almost no mention of it again aside from references to books that are considered ‘new’—A Tale of Two Cities, for example. I think that it could have done the novel a world of good had it been more firmly planted in Victorian times, as it would have added another layer of depth that this story desperately needed.
Why should you read this book? If you enjoyed the Mortal Instruments, there’s no reason for you not to read this novel. It’s a fantastic addition to the series despite its flaws. If you’re someone who has never read YA fantasy before, I would suggest that you start with the Mortal Instruments, as it is by far a better and much more fleshed out version of this novel. The Shadowhunters are one of the most unique and fascinating creations in recent years and I simply cannot praise them enough, but their power shows through quite a bit more in the Mortal Instruments series.(less)
Any time a spell is cast, bramble will sprout up somewhere in the world. Bramble that cuts and promises a poisonous sleep to any who don’t give it a wide enough berth. There’s no way to predict where the vines might pop up, it might sprout on your house or a thousand miles away. This bramble has slowly wrought decay upon the world, overrunning cities, destroying farms, and killing people.
Tara lives in this bramble-filled world and has recently taken up her father’s mantle as an executioner out of necessity to feed her family. After Tara’s first kill as an executioner, raiders savagely attack her city and take her sons, leaving her with no one in her world to care for. Instead of retreating into grief like other mothers with captured family members, she sets off with only her ax in hand to save her children, and in the process she gives birth to the legend of the Executioness.
A new type of heroine The introduction to The Executioness reveals that Buckell once heard a fellow author, Maureen McHugh, make a comment about how there were no middle-aged women like herself getting the lead role in fantasy novels; instead they were passed up for the “next hot thing”. Buckell took that as a challenge and, with Paolo Bacigalupi, came up with this story and beautifully laid-out world. The character of Tara is pulled off flawlessly. I could see my mother in her, but at the same time Tara has a savagery about her as a result of her being raised in such a brutal world. I strongly wish fantasy had more characters like Tara, and I hope that The Executioness will show fantasy publishers, authors, and fans alike that there is a desire and need to have these types of characters introduced into the typical fantasy fodder.
An unexplained magic system… which is a good thing When I read a novel with any sort of magic system in it, I want to know exactly how that magic system works and I want it to make sense. The magic system in The Executioness wasn’t exempt from my normal questions. Why is it bramble instead of shards of rock? Why does it sprout up when you use magic? What does the bramble actually have to do with anything? However, after finishing this novella with those questions unanswered, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I prefer it that way. This story is told from Tara’s point of view, and, being a peasant woman who is barely able to feed her own family, she wouldn’t understand anything about the bramble. Like everyone else in the world, she just has to deal with it and make the best of what’s available to her – and that’s what she does. She doesn’t encounter any sage magic user whose sole purpose in the novella is to go off on a long monologue about what bramble is and why it affects the world. If Buckell had attempted anything of the sort, this novel would have definitely suffered. This is Tara’s story, from her perspective and no one else’s.
A fantastic fantasy debut Before The Executioness, Buckell had only published novels in the science-fiction genre. While I imagine that he dabbled in fantasy in the past, this is still his first published work in the genre, and it’s a truly astonishing debut. Novellas are not something that I particularly enjoy reading, normally because I feel that they could always work out better as novels, but The Executioness was a great read that left me wanting a bit more in the same way that most good novels do, but not to the extent that I felt that the novella didn’t do its topic justice. It was perfect as a novella, and it would have been bogged down in details had it been a full novel.
Why should you read this book? If you’re looking for a nice, light read and you have an hour to kill, head over to your local bookstore and plop down in a chair to read this fantastic novella. It really is a great read, and one that I will probably purchase just to say that I own it.(less)
Kameron Hurley’s stellar debut novel follows the bloody life of Nyxnissa, commonly called Nyx, a bel dame (government-funded bounty hunter) trying to survive in a world consumed by a holy war that’s been raging for centuries. When she’s relieved of her duties for doing black work of her own to earn extra cash for herself, she has to adapt and find a new way of living.
To survive, Nyx has created a team of independent bounty-hunters that are willing to take any bounty that allows them to survive another day. Suddenly, she’s summoned into the Queen’s presence to accept a note that could retire her team from the business altogether. Charged with hunting down a missing alien who may be the key to solving the war in her country’s favor, she risks her life, as well as the lives of her team, to capture the alien. In the process Nyx and her team are entangled in a spiral of chaos and political intrigue fueled by hatred and distrust.
Strong Characters James – God’s War accomplished what very few fantasy novels are able to do—create believable and in-depth characters. Each character got his or her own story, and in each of those stories the reader is brought closer to what makes that character his or her own person. Truly, this is something that astounded me more than anything else in this novel, and it’s something that deserves a great amount of applause. In the end, there were characters that I felt closer to than others, but they all had their strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what made them such a pleasure to read.
Caitrin – The characters were definitely one of the main strengths of the novel. Nyxnissa, our heroine, is not a character that is immediately likable or relatable. Though you may finish the novel disliking her, Nyx is a real character. She is complex; she isn’t afraid to be anything but herself, she does what she wants when she wants, and she is willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish her goals. Her character arc over the course of the novel is subtle but the changes in her character are always a result of her own will, never of circumstance or other people. Nyxnissa wasn’t my favorite character but she was the most well-fleshed out character and the perfect heroine for the story.
Masterful Cultural Parallels James – I was amazed with how well Kameron Hurley incorporated cultural parallels with our own world without turning the novel into her own political statement. The problems facing the planet of Umayma are similar to our own. Homosexuality is grudgingly accepted but still culturally despised, similar to how it’s dealt with in many parts of our world. As well, Hurley’s ability to transform the war into a character of its own is phenomenal. You can feel the war’s oppressive hands clamping down on everyone in this novel, and shivers went down my spine as I realized the effects that war can have on people.
Caitrin – The political connotations weren’t as obvious for me as the religious parallels were. The history of the people who landed on Umayma has been lost in the sands of time as the different nations that populate the world were created thousands of years before the novel begins. In my mind, though, I could easily see this as a far-flung future where different followers of God escaped Earth and settled the world. The nations of Chenja and Nasheen had an Islamic feel, while Ras Tiegans and the aliens seemed to follow an evolution of Christianity. I’d love to learn more about the beliefs of Mhoria and Tirhan. Religion is hugely important to all aspects of the novel as it pervades and influences everything. I loved creating theories as I read and learned more about the cultures of the countries of Umayma.
Amazing World-Building James – The world that God’s War is set in is one vastly different from our own, yet still relatable on quite a few levels. There’s a definite Islamic feel to the world, the two sects being divided into two countries—Nasheen and Chenja—and surrounding those two cultures are previously established civilizations that have been forced to deal with the intrusion of these new people on their homeland. I felt like every single culture was fleshed out beautifully, and because of that, the world was plausible and could be sustained for generations.
Caitrin – Hurley definitely gives the impression that she knows every minute detail of Umayma and it gives the whole universe of the novel a rich and deep feel. She doesn’t pull you out of the story by explaining things that the character would already know. This is a strength but it is also a weakness. You are thrown immediately into the world without a lifeline. I found myself scrambling to understand things like: What exactly is a burnous? Was a bakkie a bug, a vehicle or some weird mixture of both? Were the sisters chasing Nyx actually related to her? Maybe a dictionary in the back would have helped me. Once you get into the swing of things though, you are fully immersed in the story and world of Umayma and it’s a fantastic read.
Not a Page Turner James – This book was not a page-turner, and that was unfortunate. The world was written beautifully, and the story was definitely interesting, but I felt like there just wasn’t enough suspense in this novel. There was no reason why I couldn’t just stop at the end of a chapter to set it down for later.
Caitrin – I agree that while the book is very well written, until the last third of the book, I could easily put it down and pick it up later. The ending for me, though, was stellar. The action and stakes ramped up and I spent three hours finishing the book because I couldn’t put it down. I never felt cheated by how things turned out. Events didn’t unfold like I thought they would and I was surprised by how emotional I became when a character died. I had to put the book down for a few seconds to fully absorb it. Nyx is never spared a bad experience because she is the heroine, and her story and the overall plot had a complete end. The story could have very well ended there, with the lives of the characters continuing on without the reader ever learning more. I was satisfied by the ending but I wanted more; I wanted to see what else happened in the lives of the characters. I was very happy to learn that two more novels are going to be published. Some of the threads of the story that weren’t wrapped up into a neat bow will get resolution! I can’t wait until December!
Why should you read this book? While this isn’t your standard fantasy novel, if you don’t mind a sci-fi twist to your reading, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t pick up this book. If you’re looking for an interesting, fresh story that marries fantasy and science-fiction in an original way, then this is the book for you. This beautifully crafted novel is truly a work of art—bloody, brutal, bug-filled art.(less)
Jo Walton’s Among Others, set in late 1970s Wales, is the story of Morwenna (Mori for short), a fourteen year-old girl with the ability to see fairies and perform magic. She recently lost her twin sister in a fight they were both involved in to save themselves, and possibly the world, from their insane mother. Having run away from home after this, she eventually finds her way to her biological father’s house, where he, along with his three sisters, sends her away to boarding school for reasons that she doesn’t quite understand.
While there, she does her best to cope with day-to-day life, finding solace in science-fiction books but still feeling pangs of loneliness. In her desperation she does a bit of magic, creating a karass to bring her friends. It’s successful and she finds some of happiness in the local science-fiction book club and with another few outcasts at her school. Despite this, however, she’s not able to completely push aside the troubling thoughts of her past and the consequences it may have on her future.
A magic system that makes you think In Among Others, the concept of magic is approached in an innovative way not seen before. When magic is performed, it doesn’t mean that something is created out of nothing as seen in most novels. Magic is a means to alter the past in a way that suits your wishes. For example, had Mori never performed the magic to give herself friends, the book club might never have existed. The people who work at the library might not have existed to create the book club. The people she befriends at school might never have been born. Essentially, because Mori did that bit of magic, there’s the possibility that she created all of those things herself to suit her needs.
This is an obviously an incredibly deep way of thinking, and it takes you awhile to wrap your head around what it means and all of the possibilities and consequences that sprout from it. Mori has to constantly worry about whether or not her seemingly meaningless actions are the product of someone else’s magic in the future, or whether or not her very existence is the product of someone else’s magic. It is truly a daunting thought, and one that I’ll be pondering for quite some time.
A unique style of writing This story is told through Mori’s diary entries, and it does seem like the diary of a fourteen-year-old girl, even though she has the ability to see fairies and do magic. Mori has to deal with things that every fourteen-year-old has to deal with, and I’m glad that the fantasy aspects of the novel didn’t detract from that. There were quite a few moments when I felt bogged down with information—a few pages of family ancestry that play no real part in the novel come to mind—and it was difficult for me to bring myself to keep reading at times, but in the end I’m glad that I did, because this is a very rewarding read.
Jo Walton has an ability to completely capture your mind and entrench you in her novels. There’s a whimsical melancholy in Among Others that fully engrossed me in the novel and, at the same time, made me want to set it aside so I could think about the concepts that it shows me with every page. I have never encountered a novel like this.
A stale start Early in the novel, before I adapted to the unique writing style, I found myself bored. Mori is at school—and that’s basically all that happens. She has day-to-day problems that every fourteen year-old girl has in school, as I mentioned earlier, and sometimes that’s just not very interesting to read about—even if she does have some supernatural tendencies. I’m sure that upon a re-read I won’t even notice these things since I’ll be fully engrossed and used to the writing style, but upon my first read it was difficult to adapt to.
A lot of SF/F references There are hundreds of science-fiction and fantasy novels referenced in this novel as Mori reads them, and there is absolutely no way that you could have possibly read all of them unless you’re the most hardcore of speculative fiction readers. This didn’t necessarily detract from the novel, because Mori talked more about what the books meant to her than what the books are actually about, but sometimes I felt a little lost, having read only a few of the titles mentioned. It’s not necessarily a fault, but it’s something for me to mention.
Why should you read this book? Not only is Among Others one of the most deep and thoughtful novels I’ve ever read, it was crafted in such a beautiful way that I will be thinking about it for a very long time. There are going to be so many re-reads of this book that I will probably have to buy another copy, simply because it makes me think. This is really one of the most provocative novels of our time, and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t read it.(less)
The Gods of Myth have been reduced from their power and turned into a shadow of their former selves. Living in exile among modern-day humans and being forced to rely on their technology, they live a stagnant life. Many have an affinity for a certain magery. Some can talk to beasts, others can make plants grow. There is, however, one type of mage that is killed on sight for fear of their awesome power—the gate mage.
Fourteen centuries ago, Loki sealed off the gates to Westil (the home world), leaving the gods powerless to travel back to their world and refresh their power. To prevent further harm, any gate mage able to create a gate is killed. Danny North has recently discovered that he is a gate mage and is now on the run from his family. In truth, Danny was secretly bred with the hope that he would become a gate mage and restore honor to the North family for Loki’s centuries old treachery.
A Haphazard Plot While Orson Scott Card’s writing has been praised for being unique and original, I was disappointed in this novel. The story jumped around far too much for my liking, and some things seemed completely implausible when they were put into the novel. Several scenes seemed to be edited in simply to move the story along without much thought to how it would actually fit into the story, which was unfortunate when considering that this came from such a prolific author.
Also, I realized while preparing this review that the basic premise for this book makes no sense. Yes, gate mages have enormous power and they could potentially create a lot of havoc, but they’re also the key to the gods regaining their lost power. So the fact that they would be killing gate mages makes no sense to me, as there’s no more harm they could do than has already been done, whereas if one of enough power came along, they would be able to restore the gods to their previous power.
A Convoluted Magic System In the beginning of this novel, the rules surrounding the creation of gates are fairly straightforward. The gate mage wills himself to be somewhere else, thus creating a gate—which is something that I appreciated, as it gave more attention to the characters rather than the magic system. However, later on in the story, the magic system becomes confusing and backwards and incredibly hard to follow. Not only does this detract from the story, I had to re-read the passage several times trying to understand exactly how the author had ‘explained’ it, and I never did fully understand. I’m all for expanding upon a magic system to give it new possibilities for the characters, but the addition was far too complicated for a young-adult novel.
Diverse and Fantastic Characters While the plot and the magic system were lacking, the characters helped make up for it. Orson Scott Card truly does know how to write an amazing cast, and I really was impressed. Not only does he make his characters believable, but he brings them to life off the page. This is something only a few authors are capable of, and it is a fantastic quality to have in a novel.
I particularly enjoyed the character of Wad, a gate mage living in Westil, the primary character from the alternate point of view introduced in the novel. I do wish that the author spent more time on that storyline, as it was far more interesting than Danny’s and full of political intrigue and fantastic plot twists, but the little bit of insight that I got into Wad’s life was worth it.
Why should you read this book? Overall, this book could have been a lot better. More thought put into the plot and the magic system, as well as a few other tweaks could have done this story a world of good. But despite it all, the redeeming quality is the story itself. Orson Scott Card is a great storyteller, and the story itself is what drew and kept me reading. A worthy read.(less)
Troubled Waters is set in a world where people believe that their lives are ruled by one of the five elements – Air (Elay), Wood (Hunti), Fire (Sweela), Water (Coru) and Earth (Torz). The elements also coincide with physical traits – Air with soul, Wood with bone, Fire with mind, Water with blood and Earth with flesh. They each draw traits from each element, and they are identified by the element that they choose to describe themselves as at adolescence. This novel follows Zoe, who has been in exile with her father for the past ten years and is now brought back to civilization to marry the King, and her subsequent realization that she is the Coru Prime – the head of all people who identify as Coru, and the person who has the ability to control both water and blood.
An original ‘magic’ system
Elemental stories have been popular in the past few years, and this is one of the best that I’ve read in awhile. The fact that the elements have physical correspondents within the body is something that I find very interesting and fitting. Shinn has crafted a truly wonderful and intricate way of making the elements something new and interesting instead of the same old “Ooh, look. I shoot flames out of my hands.” that we see all the time.
A fantastic heroine
So often in fantasy books if there’s a female lead, there’s also a man beside her that’s of equal power to her and that balances her out. Personally, I hate that. I want to see a woman who has an extreme amount of power and doesn’t need a man in her life telling her what to do. With this book I got that. Yes, there’s still romance (after all, a romantic subplot is what Shinn is known for), but it’s not an integral plot of the story. Zoe is her own woman, and she makes that point known with everyone that she encounters. She’s a strong person who doesn’t stand up to other people’s nonsense, and she doesn’t give any of her own. Personally, I admire her. I did notice one problem with her, though. After finding out that she’s the Coru Prime and that she has an unimaginable amount of power, she completely changes. There’s no grace period where she adapts to it, no time where she’s uncertain of who she is and what this change in her life means – and that was something that really confused me. If you find out that you have control over an entire element, then you’re going to pause and say to yourself, “Well, holy crap, what does this mean?” – you don’t just relish in your new powers and never confront the fact that you have responsibility.
Not very well paced
The start of the story is good; we get some interesting character development and we find out what the main strife in the novel is going to be. So far, so good. The next hundred pages after that? Not so great. I grew bored and restless wanting something to happen. There were a few times when I thought something had a possibility to become part of the actual plot, but it ended up being nothing – and every time it made me want to put down the novel. But once you hit a point about a third of the way in (which is the amount of time I give every book before I put it down), you’re just totally sucked into the book and there’s no going back.
Lots of political intrigue
If you’re someone that loves political intrigue, this is definitely a book that you’re going to have to pick up. I’ve read plenty of novels that attempt political intrigue as a sub-plot, but it ultimately fails because the author doesn’t put enough effort into it. This book is pretty much all about the politics of the court where Zoe spends a lot of her time. Thwarted assassination attempts, poisons galore, secret trysts, and so much more make this novel incredibly alluring.
Why you should read this book
Sharon Shinn is a master storyteller and I’ve always been a fan of her work, but she truly outdid herself with this novel. The intricate tale is something that will leave you breathless in places, and it was something that I truly enjoyed reading. Not only is the heroine interesting, but the plot and all other characters are fascinating as well. Shinn took a lot of risks with this novel, simply because elemental stories are something that people get tired of after awhile, but it definitely paid off. I’m eagerly awaiting a sequel so I can see more of Zoe (or possibly some of the other elemental primes).(less)
**spoiler alert** Written by James for rantingdragon.com
This review contains spoilers for the previous volumes in this series.
Last Sacrifice is the la...more**spoiler alert** Written by James for rantingdragon.com
This review contains spoilers for the previous volumes in this series.
Last Sacrifice is the last novel in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The series is set in a world where vampires exist and are kept secret from the rest of the world. There are two kinds of vampires: Strigoi, which are the immortal, evil, bloodthirsty vampires that we are all so familiar with, and Moroi, "good" mortal vampires that are focused on living in peace with human life. There are also dhampirs, half vampires that have the best of both races in them and are used as guardians for the Moroi to protect them from any danger.
The story takes off immediately where the previous volume, Spirit Bound, left off. Rose Hathaway is in jail, accused of murdering Queen Tatiana and facing immediate execution as soon as the late Queen is buried and a formal trial can be set. The only thing in her prison cell is the note that Tatiana wrote prior to her death which states that Lissa, the Moroi vampire that Rose is bound to, has a sibling that can give Lissa the chance to be the new Queen. After taking a chance to break out of prison with a few of her comrades, she sets off on a journey to find the illegitimate sibling and give Lissa the chance that she deserves.
A very fast-paced story
I call these types of novels 'book porn' simply because they're enjoyable and don't take a lot of effort on your part. They don't have to be perfectly written, but they do all have one thing in common - they're quick reads. The story is enjoyable, although not something that you have to think a whole lot about, and it's a fun page-turner. It was hard for me to put this book down. I loved how quickly it flowed from one scene to the next and didn't waste any time with a lot of narratives or long-winded description.
Not so great storytelling
This series has always been told from Rose's point of view, and has primarily been about her relationship with Lissa. They share a bond, created when Lissa saved Rose from death, that gives Rose the ability to look into Lissa's life through her eyes. Now, while I enjoy the idea of this and it's originality, it's basically an easy way of giving the story two points of view without having to actually develop the second character. I think that while it was a good idea to include it, it could have been developed a bit more instead of just having random moments where Rose 'slips in' to Lissa's life so we can see her point of view.
A slightly disappointing end to the series
Previous volumes in this series have had a lot of action and generally a whole lot going on throughout the story. This one... didn't. There was the main plot point of finding out who Lissa's relative was, and who actually killed the previous Queen, but that was it. There was no giant epic battle as there was in several of the previous volumes, and generally speaking, the story just wasn't all that interesting or appealing to me. There were a couple of "Oh, wow." moments, but they just weren't enough to make up for the fact that the story was lacking overall.
Why should you read this book?
Despite all of the things I pointed out, this is still an enjoyable read, and it does give closure to the series. It's a quick page-turner and something that I did enjoy reading. Obviously, you shouldn't jump right into the series by reading its last volume, but if the premise sounds interesting, I encourage you to read the previous volumes leading up to this one.(less)
The Amulet of Samarkand is set in a world where Magicians rule in public, but not by their own arcane power. All of their power comes from that of the demons they summon (in degree of potency: imp, foliot, djinni, afrit, marid) who they force to carry out their tasks – something that they don’t admit to commoners for fear of rebellion. This novel is set in London and follows two characters: Nathaniel, a talented and ambitious 12 year-old magician, and Bartimaes, the demon that he summons to perform a deadly task.
An intriguing and ambitious plot:
The plot of this book isn’t all nice and cozy like the Harry Potter series has a tendency to be. Nathaniel doesn’t have any friends, isn’t a secret prophetic master of all demons, and he doesn’t have a wise mentor to help him along. What he does have is a plot for revenge upon someone who humiliated him in public and the ability to summon a powerful demon to carry out that revenge. I was really surprised when I initially read this book, simply because the main character, Nathaniel, seems to have a lot of malice in him that’s fueling his rage. Eventually, Nathaniel’s disposition is explained and it makes a lot of sense.
One of the best fantasy duos the genre has seen in many years:
Bartimaeus is one of my favorite main characters in all of fantasy, and probably my favorite in the genre of YA fantasy. He’s witty, intelligent, and he always has something to say. He ranks up there with Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, Dumbledore from Harry Potter and Moiraine from Wheel of Time in how much I enjoy reading about him. Granted, he’s nothing like those three in that he’s not kind and nurturing and he will rarely lend a helping hand unless forced to (in fact he’s quite the opposite). If given the chance, Bartimaes would devour anyone who dared to summon him.
Initially, I thought that Nathaniel was just a whiny little kid who thinks he’s been wronged and does something stupid as a way of getting even. However, when I learned about his past in which he was seriously wronged and treated unfairly, I felt for him. He’s human and he’s acting like humans do. He’s flawed, yes, but realistically flawed characters are something that I appreciate when reading a novel. Nathaniel is young and impressionable, and the juxtaposition of him with a 4,000 year old djinni demon is just one of the best things I’ve read in a long time.
I have nothing bad to say about this novel:
While this novel isn’t a perfect five stars, it’s very close. There were scenes in here that made me laugh out loud due to their hilarity, and other scenes that really made me empathize with Nathaniel, simply because he’s had to go through so much at a young age. Nathaniel is definitely a character that you will pity – but later in the book he will stun you with his bravery and undeniable will. In the next two books (reviews coming soon), I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how he progresses as a character.
A promising start to an epic series:
The novel ends pretty perfectly, leaving space for the story to continue without its scope being totally overwhelming. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel. I will not spoil to much, but suffice it to say that we’ll definitely be seeing more of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus in the next two books.
While Nathaniel may be the one that summoned Bartimaeus, he’s certainly not his master. Bartimaeus of Uruk, Djinni of the 4th level, has no master aside from himself (well, technically he does, but he likes to think otherwise). Throughout the novel he generously provides readers with his thoughts in the form of footnotes, all of which are exceedingly insightful (and often hilarious). Something that’s not seen a lot in fantasy novels is humor, which is truly unfortunate because it always adds a lot to a novel. The fact that this novel has a lot of it is what makes it so enjoyable for me.
Why should you read this book?
If you enjoy a lot of humor in your fantasy, then this is definitely a book to pick up. Don’t let the fact that it’s YA stand in your way because there’s something that even fans of epic fantasy will love in this story. It combines political intrigue, an overcoming of obstacles, and a fresh new face in fantasy.(less)
Blake Charlton’s Spellwright is set in a world where the ability to understand the written word is the key to being a Spellwright – a person who can wield magic. Nicodemus Weal was once perceived to be the Halycon, a savior for the people, although not all Spellwrights believe in the prophesised Halycon, and others believe there to be an Anti-Halycon, who will work against the savior to destroy the world. However, all hopes of Nicodemus being the Halycon are dashed when it’s found that he’s a Cacographer, meaning that he jumbles up words and cannot properly read – and therefore cannot produce magic. When murders and suspicious start floating around Starhaven, the school where Nicodemus takes residence, he and his master, Agwu Shannon, are the prime suspects.
A new and refreshing, if confusing, magic system: Spellwright isn’t set in a world where there are wizards who wield vast amounts of arcane magic like many other fantasy epics of the past and present. The ability to write words and have them be transformed into power is one that I think everyone finds exciting – if only we had that ability. I praise Mr. Charlton for how inventive he was with his magic system, because it truly was refreshing. There were times, however, that I felt like I needed an English degree to understand some of the ways that the Spellwrights wielded their magic, but by the end of the book I understood nearly everything, so at least it is explained.
A hero you can’t help but root for: Nicodemus Weal is someone who’s at the center of all of our hearts: he’s an underdog who’s had to go through a lot in life and has been pushed around and frowned upon by his peers and teachers because of his disability. His mentor, Agwu Shannon, has helped him along throughout his life, but he still has a hard time because of his disability. He longs for the chance to be more than what he is now, and he will do nearly anything to get it.
Prophecies and legends galore: Normally, when I pick up a book and hear the word ‘prophecy’, I immediately put it down. They’re overdone, overused and far too typical for fantasy epics. However, I decided to give Spellwright a shot because of the magic system, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that while yes, there is a prophecy (multiple prophecies, in fact), it doesn’t play a huge role in this book until later on, which is something that I enjoyed. The prophecy itself is rather confusing, and I had to re-read the passage twice to figure out what exactly was going on, but when I figured it out it was rather breathtaking.
I also enjoy the fact that there are many Gods in this book. It seems like they existed as an afterthought, which again is something that I enjoy. They don’t play a huge rule, but they are important, which is what I think a God should be – not directly involved in someone’s life but they can play a very active role if you let them.
A lack of minor characters: This is only a small issue, but it is big enough for me to bring up. There were almost no minor characters in Spellwright, which was a bit of an issue for me. What I thought was originally going to be a minor character comes to play a huge part in the end of the book, and the other possible minor character has such an insignificant role that I can’t even really call her a minor character. In future installments I’m really hoping that there will be an influx of characters, because they’re sorely needed.
Why you should read this book: This book has a new and interesting magic system, which is the biggest draw for me. The main character is likable, as are the other characters who get a point of view. The plot is interesting, although incredibly intricate and detailed, and it’s going to need a lot of fleshing out in the sequels. If you’re looking for a fresh, new type of fantasy epic, then this is a book for you to read. No English degree required.(less)
I’m going to preface this review by stating that I’ve already read the original Bartimaeus Trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed it (reviews will be coming soon), and I’m going to be referencing those books a couple times since The Ring of Solomon, a prequel, was published after the original trilogy. Now to the review.
The Bartimaeus Saga is set in a world where magicians secretly rule – and have done so throughout history. Magicians have no power of their own, but instead summon demons of various levels (imps, foliots, djinni, afrits and marids) into slavery to do their deeds for them.
Bartimaeus of Uruk, millenia old djinni of mid-rank (fourth level, if it pleases you to know), is a master of all things wit. He has faced spirits far above him and triumphed (though most of the time it’s just from sheer luck and maybe a couple well placed detonations in the nether-regions). He’s served countless masters of great renown, and other masters that he refuses to mention out of sheer humility. This time, however, he serves a very oppressive master – Khaba the Cruel. Not only that, but Khaba serves Solomon – the greatest magician in the entire world. And Solomon possesses a ring of extraordinary power. A ring by which Solomon has bent nations to his will by the very thought of what the ring could do. Add into this situation a young guard of Sheba named Asmira, sent by her queen to perform the most horrific of deeds: kill Solomon and take his ring.
A Mismatched Cast of Characters: Bartimaeus is one of my all time favorite fantasy characters. His witty repertoire leaves absolutely nothing to be desired and his countless antics make me laugh every single time I read one of the novels in the series. He’s a very likable character, although he does things that would make you want to strangle him at times, and he’s generally an enjoyable read. His point of views in the novel are something that I always look forward to and am rarely disappointed with.
Asmira, the character sent off to kill Solomon and take his ring on behalf of her Queen and country, never really came alive for me. I understood her reasons for doing what she did, and I understood her passion for her actions. However, she herself never really became a real person to me until the last fifty pages or so, and even then she paled in comparison to the rest of the cast. If she could have come alive just a bit more, it would have really made this novel.
Solomon and Khaba both had interesting story lines, and it would have been nice to see more of them – but unfortunately, each one only gets a single point of view and neither features much in any of the other character’s stories.
An Interesting Plot: The idea that there is such a thing as an ultimate Ring of Power isn’t a new one – in fact, it’s rather old and overused. However, the ring itself doesn’t come much into play in this novel, and for that I was grateful. The thing that I love about the Bartimaeus novels is that they’re told from multiple points of view, which always makes it interesting for the reader. I enjoy reading about things as they happen from different perspectives, and when done well (and this is one of those occasions), it makes the plot come alive for you. You feel the emotions that each character is experiencing and it’s really a fantastic tool used by Jonathan Stroud.
Less Than Worthy of the Bartimaeus Name: As I’ve stated a few times, I’ve read the original Bartimaeus trilogy and enjoyed it quite a bit. When comparing this installment against those, it pales in comparison. It still has all of the technical aspects – a witty Bartimaeus, an interesting plot, a bit of suspense – but it just wasn’t there for me. I didn’t laugh out loud at most of the footnotes like I did with the original trilogy (although some did make me smile). The plot twist at the end wasn’t even that much of a twist at all, which was incredibly disappointing. The end scene was good, but it just didn’t make up for the first 300 pages.
Why You Should Read This Book: If you enjoy the Bartimaeus novels, you’ll have fun reading this book. It probably won’t live up to your expectations, but it’s still a worthwhile read. There’s a lot of humor in here, as well as some more serious plot points, so there’s a bit of something for everyone. It’s really well researched and I was impressed with how well Jonathan Stroud writes. Overall, it’s a good book, but it was just a bit of a let-down for me since I definitely had high hopes for this book. I’m probably going to have to take a second look at it in a couple months to see if my opinion changes, and if it does I’ll post something about it here.(less)
The Child Thief is a dark retelling of the story of Peter Pan. He’s no longer the playful forever-young child that we know in Disney stories, but instead he is a haunted boy with a troubled past who will do anything to protect the Fae world of Avalon and its Goddess, the Lady Modron. Filled with bloodthirsty battles, crude language, hauntingly twisted characters and a few touching scenes, The Child Thief is an amazing book, and here’s why.
A Twisted Main Character When the book started, I didn’t like the character of Peter. In fact, I thought he was an incredibly selfish child who didn’t care about the children he was recruiting to fight for him. But as the novel progressed, Peter grew as a character and subsequently grew on me. He changed from a boy who just wanted what he wanted for his own reasons to a boy who slowly realizes that his decisions affect others. Very rarely do I see a character change so much in a book, and it’s very refreshing.
An Amazing Backstory Normally when I read a novel, there’s a little bit of backstory for the main character – a few reasons as to how he acts the way he does and what’s happened to him. In The Child Thief, I got much more than that. I saw how Peter grew up, the trials that he experienced, how he thought he found a savior in the Lady Modron, and why he eventually started stealing children to fight for the land of Avalon. I honestly expected there to be a few words on Peter’s history, how he came to be, what his origins were, maybe a chapter or so in length, but Peter’s history is told throughout the novel in flashbacks. Some made me cry out in joy when he did something truly spectacular, others made me hate him for being so selfish, but all of them made me feel something, and that’s very impressive.
A New Villain Going into this, I expected to see the Captain as a horribly bloodthirsty man who just wanted to gut some children to feed his own twisted mind, but instead I got a Captain who ended up in Avalon with no way to escape doing his best to survive. Yes, he wants Peter dead, but only because he views Peter as the cause of all of his problems. Instead of the Captain being the same old villain from every other Peter Pan story, we get Ulfgar, the son of the Horned One, perished God of Avalon, who thinks he’s entitled to his father’s place in the world and despises Peter for being loved by Modron. Ulfgar is a truly twisted character, and it surprised me how much I felt for him.
Amazing Artwork Now, this isn’t something that I normally mention in novels, simply because it has nothing to do with the story – most of the time. Each chapter starts off with a black and white sketch, and they’re truly magnificently done. In the middle of the book are eight full color drawings done by Brom of the main characters, and they’re fantastic. I was as impressed by the artwork as I was with the novel, simply because the descriptions of the characters given by Brom match the drawings exactly, and that’s something that rarely happens simply because most authors can’t draw worth a damn. It’s a great touch to the book.
Why you should read this book? If you like dark fantasy, then you’ll love this book. I appreciated the new take on Peter Pan, simply because it’s something that I haven’t seen before. This book isn’t perfect – it has a few flaws, but not enough to detract from the story. I applaud Brom for writing this, because it must have been a huge undertaking on his part. I look forward to reading this book again and again.(less)
Fire is set in a world where there are beautiful creatures with fantastic colors, called monsters, that have the...moreWritten by James for RantingDragon.Com
Fire is set in a world where there are beautiful creatures with fantastic colors, called monsters, that have the ability to influence peoples minds and make them more susceptible to attacks, since what they want most is flesh – especially the flesh of other monsters. The world is already torn apart by an impending war, and the balance of that war can be tipped by Fire, the last human monster.
An interesting world:
I was very impressed by the world building used in this book. It wasn’t very advanced, but what little that there was, is very interesting. The idea of a race of creatures who are identical to a species except for their coloring having the power to influence people is very interesting, and the idea of having a human creature like this is pretty awesome. Unlike all of the other monsters in the world, she can communicate with other humans and can use her powers for good since she possesses a conscious and is driven by more than her bloodlust.
A likable character:
Fire is a gorgeous woman with fiery red hair and the power to read and influence people’s minds. This, in my mind, makes her a pretty awesome character. She’s insecure, but that’s to be expected. Unfortunately, she is the only likable character in this book. The rest of the characters are either too boring, or if they’re supposed to play a big part in the story, they aren’t mentioned enough, so that when their big part comes around, you feel like you should care more, but there just wasn’t enough about that character for you to actually care.
A see-through plot:
Everything that happened in this book I could call 100 pages beforehand, which is sad. There were absolutely no surprises, no moments where I had to re-read a section to make sure I read it correctly, because surely, that could not have just happened. The story was enjoyable, but there just weren’t any plot twists at all, which I think is a must for any fantasy book.
A horrible start:
The first hundred pages of the book were an incredible struggle to get through, and absolutely nothing happens until Chapter 9, which is unfortunate. After that, it does pick up, but it’s a huge struggle to get to that point.
Why you should read this book:
You shouldn’t. The first book in the series was fantastic and I loved it, but this book, while set in the same world, is horrible in comparison. The characters were weak, the plot was exceedingly bad, and while the world was interesting, it just doesn’t live up to expectations.(less)