The Dreaded Second Novel, in which the author must prove himself to not be a fluke, has been the downfall of many.
“Fox’s Bride” is Marling’s sophomore...moreThe Dreaded Second Novel, in which the author must prove himself to not be a fluke, has been the downfall of many.
“Fox’s Bride” is Marling’s sophomore work, and it lives up to it’s potential. In it, we return to Marling’s Lands of Loam for another adventure with Enchantress Hiresha. The author’s slightly exotic use of the language works well, and I find it gives the work a certain flavor that’s hard to describe, but is far from unpleasant, and may feel familiar to those who spend time around folk for whom english is a second language.
The storyline is slightly less inventive as his initiatory work, but is no less entertaining and barrels along at breakneck speed. It’s packed full of action scenes, with one leaping right into the next, but the fast pace suits the plot quite well. We also get a bit more of Marling’s interesting magical system, as our heroine seeks to use what is almost by definition a passive force in an aggressive way in order to save herself, the city she’s in and a certain mischievous little Fennec Fox (Note to the author: Keep the Fox, it’s a great device) from the control of an undead sorcerer.
Character development is a bit thin on the ground here, but it’s not badly missed. I for one, however, would like to see more details of this world filled in around us. The fast pace pretty much prohibits leisurely descriptions and illuminating character interactions. Personally I feel it as a lack, but i’m quite certain there are many who enjoy not having to slog through miles of purple-prose descriptions… a flaw common enough in this particular genre.
Overall, I’ll recommend this one as an enjoyable read for lovers of the fantasy genre, but I think Marling hasn’t given us his best work yet. Keep an eye on him, because considering the scope of the world he’s building, I think we have plenty of time.
Really, I’ll repeat my statement from my review of his “Brood Of Bones” and state again that if this man was sent away by the Big Six they’re stupider than I thought.(less)
I admit I approached this novel with some reservations. Despite the fact that my own husband's work is "self published" and that a few friends of mine...moreI admit I approached this novel with some reservations. Despite the fact that my own husband's work is "self published" and that a few friends of mine have gone the "small publisher" route, there is still a nervousness in stepping away from the taste-makers at the Big Six. Not that they don't publish plenty of lousy stuff, but at least you wont get something written by two goldfish via translation through a Kazoo.
Random House, Penguin, if you sent this man away you are bigger fools than I thought you were.
"Brood Of Bones" has the most original premise I've seen in fantasy writing in a decade. It starts a little rough, perhaps only because I've grown so accustomed to gentle introductions to new fantasy settings. Marling doesn't pander in that way. He pitches us into the deep end right off the bat, confident that we can all swim by now, and gets right to the storytelling.
The writing could use a touch more polish but not outstandingly so- It's unclear if the slight formality of the language is a style choice, the lack of an editor or inexperience. Also, chapters are short enough that they're jarring* to those accustomed to more traditional formatting. The pace however races like a bullet train, pulling you along faster and faster until you find it nearly impossible to put the book down. This is not your fluffy wizards and woe novel.
Overall I strongly recommend this novel, and cant wait to see what Marling offers up next, and how he expands upon this universe.
* This might have had more to do with the epub version I read. My Sony Touch PRS600 had some formatting trouble with the decorative elements used at chapter headings, and it would lock a few seconds at each chapter break.(less)
When I first saw this it was billed as a "Harry Potter for the college crowd" and so I picked it up when I saw it. And I was seriously disappointed. I...moreWhen I first saw this it was billed as a "Harry Potter for the college crowd" and so I picked it up when I saw it. And I was seriously disappointed. It's written well enough, Grossman has a reasonable amount of skill. But for the first time in a while I just hated the actual story.
Grossman's characters are a bunch of whiny, self-involved Hipsters-in-training who repeatedly make me want to line them up neatly in order to whap them all upside the head with a board in an efficient way. The goal (of the few characters who actually have a goal beyond getting drunk and/or laid) is apparently to escape their world into a fictional one they obsess over- a thinly disguised version of C.S. Lewis' Narnia.
One saving grace of the book is a sequence where our moron-squad are transformed into geese for a long journey, and that sequence is magnificent, with a depth missing from the rest of the novel. I'd excerpt it here to save you the cost of getting the whole lousy book, but that'd probably break copyright law somehow. If not now, then it will next week. So unless you're a lawyer willing to protect me you're on your own.
The whole thing feels like either a bad attempt at "updating" Lewis' masterpiece, or at savaging it. I cant decide which. Either way the work fails with me on such a massive level I was surprised to find there's actually a sequel.
A light, easy fantasy, this one's a ball of cotton candy that keeps from being cloying by using just a hint of something darker. It starts out fairly...moreA light, easy fantasy, this one's a ball of cotton candy that keeps from being cloying by using just a hint of something darker. It starts out fairly comedic. I did have to re-align my expectations as the bumbling fool gave way to a more solid, real character, and I dont think it's detrimental.
The plot and characters are nothing revolutionary, but the writing is well crafted and the dialog is fun. The author is using a lot of broad strokes and generic backdrops to tell the tale, but again, it's not bad, in this use it's more like... shorthand.
I'll be looking at the next in the series to see if it goes somewhere interesting. it's not must-have hardcover material, but it's solidly crafted prose worth picking up. (less)
Saladin Ahmed has been generating a lot of noise in certain quarters, and I am utterly delighted to find that the book lives up to the buzz.
"Throne o...moreSaladin Ahmed has been generating a lot of noise in certain quarters, and I am utterly delighted to find that the book lives up to the buzz.
"Throne of the Crescent Moon" is a throwback to the casual, light-but-not-stupid fantasy novels which I fell in love with in my misspent youth. And best yet, he does what I think a lot of us have been hoping for... he throws away the Western European model and gives us a whole new playground. One that doesn't involve a single entity used by Tolkien. HALLELUJAH.
The text is well written, not overly peppered with made-up-foreign words, and right from the start I felt at home in this pseudo-arabic world. There's a shocking amount of setup here considering that not once did I think "ok, setup setup setup... back to the plot pleeeease". Clearly we're in for a long haul here and I eagerly anticipate the next entry.
I can only hope that Ahmed doesn't fall into the trap I've seen so many (coughLackeycough) fall into (coughGoodkindcough) before, starting off with a solid, clever premise and then simply repeating it ad nauseum in new settings with new dialogue. But even writers I love and respect have tripped over that one (coughFeistcough), and that's just borrowing trouble anyway.
For now, I heartily recommend all Fantasy lovers just grab this novel and run with it right back to your favourite book chair. Now. (less)
A cute, light read "The False Princess" will likely appeal most to the younger female end of the Young Adult set. It has a simple switched-at-birth pl...moreA cute, light read "The False Princess" will likely appeal most to the younger female end of the Young Adult set. It has a simple switched-at-birth plot, but is nonetheless engaging, with a slight twist tossed into the mix to keep it interesting. O'Neal doesn't sink to condescension, but keeps the language simple enough that preteens should happily devour this.
Our setting here is your average generic anglo-european fantasy world, this one salted rather sparingly with magic handled by wizards. For our central character we have Sinda, who is raised as the princess, only to be told suddenly that she is only a stand in... and the real princess is returning tomorrow. Sinda is sent away from the palace and now must find not just her place in the world, but who she actually is, if she isn't the Princess.
The basic teen-reading tropes of kind-but-thoughtless parental figures, stern disciplinarians and batty-but-lovable teachers all make appearances here. But all in all it's a fun little story, with just the right mix of romance, adventure and light fantasy. (less)
To be honest, I find myself reluctant to review Lackey's work at all at this point, despite the fact that I still pick up most of them. Usually off th...moreTo be honest, I find myself reluctant to review Lackey's work at all at this point, despite the fact that I still pick up most of them. Usually off the sale rack or as a library loan at this point, where once I would rush to get my hands on the newest hardcovers as they were released. So I'm doing the latest three as a trio in one. Considering I read the three of them over two days while resting in bed (I've been a bit off lately) I think that's fair.
"Unnatural Issue" is another typical piece from Lackey, although admittedly I find this series more appealing than current entries into her other series. This time out we get our heroine running from an absentee father on the brink of WWI. And Dad has taken up necromancy. The usual glimpses of other characters from the series, and these are all carefully tied one into the next.
Maybe it's just that I'm older now, and my tastes have changed. The simplistic writing, arch-typical characters and familiar plotlines don't have the same appeal as they once did. The Valdemar series has become a sadly repetitive set of coming of age stories, fairly formulaic. "Changes" stays right on the road, with the exception that this time she hasn't closed the arc on the third shot out.
"Beauty and the Werewolf" from the The Five Hundred Kingdoms Series is fairly predictable as well, although retellings of classic fairy tales are always welcome.
So why do I keep coming back? I guess for the same reason people like Twinkies. They're sweet, fluffy, simple, and remind us of simpler, happier days. Misty Lackey writes novels that are the equivalent of comfort food for me. And in that they excel.
Because while these days I appreciate dark chocolate Tiramisu, sometimes you just want a twinkie.(less)
First, for everyone who saw the tag "fantasy" and went "ewwww, elves" sit yer butt back down. This is not that type of fantasy fiction. You people and...moreFirst, for everyone who saw the tag "fantasy" and went "ewwww, elves" sit yer butt back down. This is not that type of fantasy fiction. You people and your silly boxes. *shakes head* This is more closely related to "Urban Fantasy" but even that isn't bang on. What we have here is an interesting little hybrid of UF, Historical Fiction, Romance... oh hell, just go get this one and read it.
The plot pits two young magicians against each other in competition, basically Art versus Science. The rules haven't been explained to either of them. Indeed, they aren't even told who their opponent is. Our setting is the Circus, and the goal is merely to win. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Too simple. It's always easiest to get lost where there arent any landmarks.
The descriptions are lush without going overboard. The author leaves just enough room in them to let your mind conjure the images to suit your own tastes. We're paced at a slow stroll, giving us all the time needed to look around, imagine, and admire the settings, and believe me, you'll want to. However, it may turn off folks who prefer to see a lot of plot pushed, young adult readers may find it drags for them.
Special thanks to my cousin (who's name i wont use as I dont know her preferences in these things) for recommending this one to me.
His Grace, Commander Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh, is off to take a vacation at the country estate.
And of course, he finds himself knee deep in fertili...moreHis Grace, Commander Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh, is off to take a vacation at the country estate.
And of course, he finds himself knee deep in fertilizer.
Once again PTerry is poking at the social constructs that shape our lives. We return to what seems to have become a reoccurring theme in his Discworld, the equality of all sentient creatures and the ridiculousness (and danger) of social class systems. Spiked with his pithy commentaries and the expected plethora of sarcastic footnotes, Mr Pratchett once again delivers as he puts the eyebrows on microcosmic small town incestuous legal structures.
In shorter words, it's funny, fun, and full of adventure, sarcasm, excitement and excrement. Oh and a Riverboat. Go grab it.(less)
The last two novels of the Emberverse series seemed to not flow as naturally as the previous works, perhaps due to the increasing complexity as the sc...moreThe last two novels of the Emberverse series seemed to not flow as naturally as the previous works, perhaps due to the increasing complexity as the scope of this world expands from the Northwestern US to include more and more of the world. However, in the last, we return to the Willamette Valley, and so in this newest episode we find ourselves anchored again among familiar characters and locations.
The transition from post-apocalyptic alternate-worlds fantasy into Arthurian legend rework has been a tad rocky, but this series has matured with the writer from a fairly simplistic "what-if" plotline to something rich and full. The old guard previously established fills out in time to begin exploring the issue inherent in such a massive generation gap, with the use of an "inbetween" character on the timeline neatly displaying the differences between them.
Stirling's managed something that I honestly haven't seen since Pern. A coherent spec-fic series that has successfully managed the generation shift in a gradual fashion (as opposed to the "Twenty years later, the son of our hero..." style often used in fantasy) without becoming jarring or confusing (IE: MZB's "where-are-we-in-Darkover's-timeline-again?" chaos).
All in all, I still definitely recommend the series, and find myself hoping that Stirling will decide to revisit the flip side of this group and bring the Nantucket series up to match Emberverse's timeline.(less)
After five (or is it six now?) years of waiting, Martin delivers the next book.
And it's almost all setup for the finale.
Yanno, I didnt want to start...moreAfter five (or is it six now?) years of waiting, Martin delivers the next book.
And it's almost all setup for the finale.
Yanno, I didnt want to start this series, despite the rave reviews, until he completed it for just this reason. The waiting for "what happened next" drives me BATTY. I started it in 08, when amazon put it up, and I was into the third book by the time the consensus that the listing was bogus was arrived at.
Still, its a positive review. It is. Not enough Arya and Tyrion, and way too much Meereen, but its a deft handling of the bridging phase that all such series must endure. And one must give Martin props for figuring out to get himself out of whatever corner it was he'd painted himself into. (Im of the opinion that that's why so much Meereen- he had to stretch his timeline out.)
Still, lets just hope he got himself back on track well enough that the six and seventh novels come along at a reasonable speed. (less)
Elizabeth Bear is one of those names I've been seeing on the shelf in the bookstore forever and never managing to pick up. Always there's something el...moreElizabeth Bear is one of those names I've been seeing on the shelf in the bookstore forever and never managing to pick up. Always there's something else to tempt me away from taking on a "new" established author to follow. Usually a new title by someone I'm already following. My husband, however, has a few of The Promethean Age novels and has been recommending them to me, so when I wanted a taste of new fantasy, I just went to his shelf.
In Blood and Iron Elizabeth Bear throws you into the deep end of the pool and expects you to swim. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Elements of both really, which ironically enough mirrors the themes of the novel, duality, conflict and balance.
The writing is dense, and well crafted, but there is much confusion in the continually switching between the three POV characters, all in the first person. Perhaps part of the problem lies in the fact that for the ebook edition I have, I was forced to convert formats to one my reader prefers. Occasionally that causes formatting problems that can cause confusion when things like decorative dividers are lost. You have to work at this one, and you have to be willing to leave control of the story in the hands of the storyteller, and let her keep you in the dark a while.
Another factor is actually the meat of the story... Ms Bear takes up the threads of a number of myth and legend cycles of the British Isles and weaves them into a neat whole. Folklore purists will twitch, and folk unfamiliar with the conventions of the Gaelic languages will flinch, but mostly it works. Perhaps this work is best appreciated by those with at least a passing familiarity of the legends of the Good Neighbours as opposed to those who think the Fae folk are cute little pixies with teardrop shaped wings and pastel tutus.
The plot includes a number of mechanics I havent seen in use before for the war between man and fae, and that always pleases me to no end, having read as much fantasy as I have. Generally authors lose points with me for dragging out the Arthurian legends, but it's well handled here as a subplot.
It's a strong novel, if confusing here and there. If you have the time to spend for slow, careful reading, and enjoy more adult, Celtic based depictions of the Fae it's not a bad choice at all. (less)