When I started reading ‘Return to Honor’ I expected it to improve my opinion on Vlora, and it certainly helped me to understand Vlora better and feelWhen I started reading ‘Return to Honor’ I expected it to improve my opinion on Vlora, and it certainly helped me to understand Vlora better and feel her pain at the mistake she made. I think what shocked me the most was that almost every single soldier in the army turned on Vlora after learning about her cheating on Taniel. As Vlora herself said, Taniel’s family and closest friends had a right for it, but the fact she had not a single friend left hurt me deeply.
Vlora’s relationship with Olem also interested me, especially since we didn’t have an in-depth look at it in The Crimson Campaign. While this story doesn’t exactly explore it, we still can see what had brought these two together. The simple fact that Olem appears in it makes it even better. I’ve got to say that Olem is among my top favourites in ‘The Powder Mage’ series, and he is totally awesome. In every single scene. What else can I say? I would totally marry Olem if I could, even if he smokes like a steam engine.
Beside the main plot I enjoyed a lot of subtle references to both Promise of Blood and ‘The Crimson Campaign’: the reappearance of Colonel Verundish and her ‘special assignment’, and the number of seventy-five thousand krana....more
There are only two faults I can see in this comic. Firstly, the pacing is rushed. I can’t exactly put my finger on it; a lot of events happen in the sThere are only two faults I can see in this comic. Firstly, the pacing is rushed. I can’t exactly put my finger on it; a lot of events happen in the span of the book, so it’s natural that the things are going fast. Still, I can’t help having a feeling as if the heroes were practically running all throughout the story. Secondly, the artist doesn’t have a hand for dwarves, orcs or trolls – though this artist draws amazing humans, elves and dragons. These dragons are simply breathtaking!
The plot is interesting and engaging, as well as the characters. To be fair, both the plot and the characters are typical for the genre, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable for me. The plot starts as the hunt for a magic object, but quickly goes in an unexpected direction. The characters are somewhat cliché, but honestly speaking it never bothered me; they are very likable, and that’s enough. Kalec amazes me with his loyalty to his friends and allies, Anveena is sweet with her naivety and wide-eyed idealism, and Tyrygosa… she has the sass, and she is the one who knows how to use the advantages of being a shape-shifting dragon – like shifting into a dragon during the fight and burning all your enemies to the crisp. ...more
‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ is such a classic of detective genre that I knew the murderer’s identity even before I started it, despite neither readi‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ is such a classic of detective genre that I knew the murderer’s identity even before I started it, despite neither reading it previously nor seeing any adaptations. Did it make me enjoy the book any less? No, it didn’t. Usually I spend my time trying to figure out the murderer; there I spent my time spotting all the little details pointing at the culprit that I would've missed otherwise. Very often I would even think that due to the way the things were turning out, the murderer would’ve been number one suspect if because of the certain circumstances they weren’t crossed out from the list by everyone including the reader - but not Hercule Poirot. Besides, a lot of things happen aside from the search for the murderer. Almost all of the people living in the great manor of Roger Ackroyd have something to hide – and their personal stories provide a lot of excitement and satisfaction for a detective lover willing to deduce a thing or two....more
Wistala’s story, the story of the Avenger of the Clutch, begins in the same way as Auron’s story, but its course and outcome varies greatly. Dragon ChWistala’s story, the story of the Avenger of the Clutch, begins in the same way as Auron’s story, but its course and outcome varies greatly. Dragon Champion and ‘Dragon Avenger’ both happen in the same time but follow different characters, and that broadens the world by a long way. In ‘Dragon Champion’, Hypatian Empire was mentioned quite often, but it’s only in ‘Dragon Avenger’ that we get to see these pitiful remains of the once great domain. On the other hand, in ‘Dragon Avenger’ we see the Chartered Company a couple of times and the dragons carrying riders – and both are playing the major role in ‘Dragon Champion’. In ‘Dragon Champion’, AuRon faces down Eliam, the younger Dragonblade with scarred face, a sadist who kills chained dragonelles and calls it glory. In ‘Dragon Avenger’ we see how he got the said scars when Wistala crossed paths with Eliam, a youth who would throw a cat into the fire just for the fun of it. Truly, some people never change.
What makes the world of this series so real is how diverse it is. In some books, you got dwarves, elves and humans having cultures different from each other but all the same inside the race – but there you can see different groups in the same race. There are dwarf mercenary clans and dwarf trading guilds; elf bandits, elf scholars and elf landlords; human farmers, human barbarians and human nomads and more, too much to list.
One of the main differences, though, is between Wistala and Auron themselves. They are far from each other opposites, a scaleless grey dragon and a lone dragonelle in the world full of enemies, and both of them survive and thrive through cunning and not brute force. Still, the ways they think differ greatly: Auron is prone to head-on advances, while Wistala always uses more subtle approach to the problem. Both Auron and Wistala lost their family – but Auron put the past in the past and lives on while Wistala craves vengeance. Still, Wistala is the one who has more qualms about killing hominids since she sees them as people, while Auron would kill without a second thought. If you see how many hominids the two had killed with only their teeth and talons, Auron is far ahead of Wistala – but no one lays waste on the whole cities better than her.
‘Dragon Avenger’ has a very interesting and original take on the theme of revenge. I admit I have a love-hate relationship with this topic, and Wistala’s choice appeals to me. After seeing her mother and sister butchered and skinned, after nursing her father back to life only to see him killed before her eyes, Wistala makes those who did it pay. But her heart isn’t burning with all-consuming hatred, neither does she have a cold, sick and twisted mind focused entirely on her revenge.
‘She’d kept her promises but felt little satisfaction in were-blood. Avenging her own was a grim duty, like breaking a bullock’s back in a dive so that you could eat, and just as necessary to survival. Ignoring those who kill others in the hope they won’t get around to you only means that when they appear to take your head and scales, they would apply all they learned in other victories, making your chances against them so much the worse.’
Wistala views revenge as something that just has to be done. Sometimes it’s making sure that her enemy is in no condition to kill any more hatchlings. Sometimes it’s putting your pride and arrogance aside and settling old scores once and for all – as it was done with the Dragonblade.
The Dragonblade is one of the most complex and controversial characters I’ve encountered, both a villain and a hero in his own right. He’s a mercenary dragon-slayer who kills hatchlings and dragonelles – but he also takes on full-grown dragons himself. He makes his living by killing for money and selling bodies of his victims – but he believes in what he’s doing. The dragons are the main heroes of the story, but let’s not forget that they do tend to be the scourge of hominids, whether by burning villages or just by stealing cattle. To hominids, the Dragonblade is the hero who believes that all the dragons must be slain for the hominids to prosper. And he’s not without honor, the most prominent example when he was hired by Hammar to kill Wistala. After seeing for himself what a black-livered scum Hammar is, Dragonblade slaps him full in the face, turns round and walks away with the words, ‘Keep you **** money, I’m out of this, and you can kill your **** dragon yourself.’ That’s why I’ve been dreading seeing the battle between the Dragonblade and one of our heroes since ‘Dragon Champion’: I didn’t know for whom I would’ve been cheering. Can you imagine my reaction when the feud between the Dragonblade and Wistala resolved the way it did?
Unlike Auron, who spends a large part of ‘Dragon Champion’ wandering, Wistala settles down early and builds up a tight adopted family of her own: Rainfall and Dsossa, mean-tempered Avalanche, Yari Sunwarm Fourth Orangedaughter, a true cat from nose to tailtip, and others. It just makes me glad to see how Rainfall and Wistala managed to rally people and turn Mossbell from a poor half-ruined estate into a lively and bright place. One of the most wondrous is that Jessup immediately became Wistala's friend after meeting her instead of being scared and terrified by the dragon. The first thing he says to Wistala is how beautiful she is, which genuinely surprises her: out of her family, her sister Jizara was graceful and beautiful one, while Wistala was a thick-bodied and short-limbed one. However, DharSii is there to bring her down on the earth, since he doesn’t hesitate to tell Wistala that her wings are too wide and her tail is much longer than her neck. But though DharSii may be rude, he is certainly honest and open-minded. I wonder if he and Wistala may meet again?...more
‘City of Glass’ is definitely one of the best book of the trilogy. Firstly, it actually has a plot – yes, I’m looking at you, City of Ashes, which cou‘City of Glass’ is definitely one of the best book of the trilogy. Firstly, it actually has a plot – yes, I’m looking at you, City of Ashes, which could’ve been cut down to two or three chapters without losing anything. There, the plot is interesting and it has some unexpected twists: we have Clary desperately searching for a cure for her mother and Simon in trouble with the Clave because of him being able to withstand sunlight – all that while Valentine is advancing on the city of Alicante, determined to have the Clave at his mercy. Besides the conflict with Valentine, there is also the never-ending feud between the Clave and the Downworlders – the blood between them never rises as high as with Valentine, but it’s still an ever-present, nagging reality. The way it is dealt with is interesting by its originality, and I was satisfied with the decision Clary came up with. (view spoiler)[It was noted by the other readers that the Alliance rune is pretty much a one-sided deal: the Shadowhunters get to share the powers of the Downworlders, but what the Downworlders get? I don’t quite agree; the whole matter could’ve been detailed more, but the deal isn’t exactly one-sided. The Downworlders get their seats in the new Council; they get to be listened to and counseled with; they get the centuries’ old strife ended. That’s what is important. How the agreement is carried out is the entirely other question, but the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders get a new start. (hide spoiler)] And what about Valentine? The final confrontation with him was a thing right to my liking. (view spoiler)[Cassandra Clare introduced the dues ex machine – very literally. I like the ‘even your deity is furious with you’ motive, and since Valentine had spent the whole series raving about how he is so much more righteous, better and holier than the Clave that it was a great pleasure to see the Angel himself tell him how much of a miserable, hypocritical and bigoted nonentity he is. (hide spoiler)]
Secondly, it has amazing side characters. Yes, side characters, because I found myself not caring in the least for the main characters. The only thing I like about Clary is her talent with runes. That was an interesting and original idea, and her solution to the eternal problem of Shadowhunters and Downworlders really appealed to me. For two and a half books, I used to like Clary for her loyalty to her mother and her determination to save her. That was a trait I respected her for. Not anymore. Because when Jocelyn is finally awake and safe, what does Clary do? Hugs her mother? Cries because she is saved? Asks about her health and well-being? No, Clary lashes out at her mother and yells at her for hiding the truth about her Shadowhunter origins and her real family. Never mind that Jocelyn had spent the last 16 years doing everything possible and impossible to keep Clary alive and safe from Valentine. Excuse my French, but Clary is an ungrateful dog.
And how creepy and unnatural Clary and Jace’s relationship is? They believe themselves to be a brother and sister and still kiss passionately. Especially when Jace tried to explain his attraction to Clary by the fact (view spoiler)[he had demon blood and she had angel blood… (hide spoiler)] which makes no sense at all.
What I really loved is the origins story for Clary and Jace. Finally we learned who is related to whom and what the source of Clary’s rune talent is. That was a very good explanation – the story unfolds in an interesting way, and all ties up well… if you overlook a couple of things that wouldn’t stop bothering me. (view spoiler)[Like, how is it even possible for a Shadowhunter to capture a freaking Angel? Angles are the agents of God. They are simply too powerful to be thrown around like minor demons. Actually, it was the Angel who created Shadowhunters and gave them the runes in the first place. You want me to believe that they couldn’t overcome the very runes they created? Also, why the Wayland manor collapsed after the Angel imprisoned in it died anyway? Clary said that the manor was ‘tied’ to the angel. Why would someone ever do such a stupid, dangerous and unnecessary thing? It’s a minor thing, but it has no sense at all. (hide spoiler)]
Now, speaking about Jace’s origins… (view spoiler)[Clary having angel blood is plot-related and well-done, but Jace having it as well seems to be redundant. Sure, it justifies Valentine raising him as his own son, but Jace’s powers are almost nonsexist and have zero effect on the plot. If you give the character such an unusual origin, wouldn’t it be better to use this opportunity to make something interesting out of it? Something to set him a challenge or to aide him in his quest? (hide spoiler)] But the most annoying is that everyone wouldn’t stop talking how sensitive, delicate and emphatic Jace is… which he is not at all. Sure, this is mostly said by ‘Holier-than-you’ Valentine and ‘I’m-evil-and-I-like-it’ Sebastian, and anyone would be an angel next to them, but still. Isabelle, Alec, Clary – seems like everyone thinks Jace to be so sensitive and fragile. Jace is a person who like being rude to other people because it makes him feel better. Jace goes to rescue Simon not because an innocent person was thrown in jail and left to die, but because Clary would blame him if he doesn’t. He does it for Clary, not for Simon. Jace does nothing but moon over Clary and whine about how much his Dad didn’t love him. Jace keeps saying how much he regrets not killing Valentine in City of Bones, but when he finally has a chance to kill him, he just talks and shows off till it’s wasted.
But enough of the bad. As I started to say, the secondary characters of the story are great and appeal to me more than the main ones. Simon had the greatest character development. He started a light-hearted and funny guy, not a fighter but always by Clary’s side, and then he has to go through more than a person can handle. Simon is strong enough to remain his good-natured self, but he also becomes stronger and wiser. In this war, Simon is the one who can see ahead for more than a few chess moves, and he is the one making sacrifices for the good greater than his life, even if it can doom him to something worse than death.
Alec’s character continues to deepen considerably. The eldest of Lightwoods, he carries the most responsibility and often has to act as the head of the family – and in the end, he is the ultimate eldest brother to the whole team. It’s that responsibility and maturity that makes him remarkable. Alec’s relationship with Magnus is extremely sweet. What I especially like is how understanding Magnus toward Alec. Magnus is always ready to step up for him – or step back if he wants some personal space; he is always nice and never urges him if he wants to take their relationship slowly, and the only time Magnus snapped was when he told Alec how tired he was to be viewed as nothing more but a ‘safe variant’. At the end, it just felt so right when Alec finally introduced Magnus to his parents – and Magnus got accepted by them.
Even Sebastian, a character that was first introduced only in this book, was well-written. When I met him for the first time, he felt so refreshing because he was everything Jace wasn't - nice, polite, good-natured, calm and decent guy. Then you see him again and start to notice that something is off: he's too curious, too persistent, asks too many questions. (view spoiler)[Finally, when his true colors are revealed, he is truly scary in his ability to fake kindness and morality. And even though at the end Sebastian goes over the top with his role of ‘chaotic evil’ that’s even eviler than Valentine, that is what makes him especially terrifying. (hide spoiler)]
The only character that was wasted miserably is Maia. She was an important character in ‘City of Ashes’ with an interesting backstory and a great potential for her friendship and possible relationship with Simon. But there she barely made a couple of token appearances – she could’ve as well never appeared in this book.
P.S. Why Cassandra Clare has such hate for authority figures? In ‘City of Bones’, the mentor of the heroes was a traitor. In ‘City of Ashes’, the Inquisitor was a fine character, but she still got branded as a villain because she did her job and arrested a suspect. In this book it started well – the Clave was portrayed as reactionary and backward-thinking, but Consul Malachi was determined and steadfast, and Inquisitor Aldertree was sharp and competent, and I could respected them for it. But then it turned out that (view spoiler)[the Consul was Valentine’s agent as well, and the Inquisitor turned into hysterical bumbling idiot who doesn’t do anything but shout ‘I’m the Inquisitor!’ (hide spoiler)] Frustrating. Real frustrating.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Bella and Leashed Dogs had learned to survive in the wild, but they meet a vicious competition in the face of the Wild Pack, led by a cruel half-wolf.Bella and Leashed Dogs had learned to survive in the wild, but they meet a vicious competition in the face of the Wild Pack, led by a cruel half-wolf. Leashed Dogs had to leave the forest or fight for it, and so Bella devises a plan to help her pack – a plan that may cost Lucky’s life…
There is deliberate contrast between Alpha's highly disciplined pack and Bella's ragtag group, and I’d choose the pack of Leashed Dogs anytime. I know that hierarchy is very important in a dog pack, but hierarchy doesn't mean that you should treat everyone with lower rank as dirt. In Alpha’s pack, though, there seems to be just this principle. It seems that hierarchy and fear of Alpha are the only things keeping the Wild Pack together. Sure, there are episodes of the dogs simply playing or chatting together, but they are overshadowed by fierce rivalry and jealousy between the dogs because of their status in pack. Status is always of the utmost importance, friendship and attachments are not.
Alpha and his Beta are especially insufferable. I got the impression Alpha is the leader just because he is the strongest, not the most experienced or the smartest member of the pack. We had seen him lead the pack only once - during the fight with Bella's pack. All he does is humiliate and demean other dogs, and claim merits that aren’t his (view spoiler)[- like he took the claim for saving the patrol dogs from the Longpaws while he wasn’t even there(hide spoiler)]. He does literally nothing – he doesn't even leave the camp to hunt or patrol. What’s even stranger is that Lucky’s attitude to Alpha changes from ‘I fear this cruel brute who killed (view spoiler)[Alfie (hide spoiler)]’ to ‘I respect him as a strong leader’, though Alpha did nothing to earn such respect, and Lucky seems to forget about (view spoiler)[Alfie’s (hide spoiler)] death pretty soon.
Beta is even worse because she is a total hypocrite. She is cruel to other dogs, and yet she always says that’s just because it’s her job to establish discipline – yet she always draws blood when she bites other dogs for as much as speaking out of turn. She scorns Leashed Dogs for being 'disorganized mutts' even though she herself was in their position before she had joined the Wild Pack. Beta just enjoys being needlessly cruel – and the most exasperating is that Lucky starts to develop feelings for her!
Only middle-rank dogs are very likeable and decent characters - Fiery is just and fair third in the pack, and he would’ve made an excellent leader. Snap is optimistic and doesn’t even hold grudges against those who challenges her, Twitch and Spring are good-natured and kind as well, and Moon is wiser than most. Except for Omega who is a low-moraled manipulator hating all of his packmates.
However, the plot and its unpredictable twists overshadow all the problems I'm having with the Wild Pack society. There is a huge tension between Bella's and Alpha's packs, and it only rises when Lucky had to risk his life in spy games to help his friends. Moreover, he got tangled in the pack intrigues coming from a pack member one would suspect the least of all – and he has no choice but comply. To add insult to injury, his own pack is holding something out from him…
The final was very edgy and thrilling, but not quite realistic. For me personally it's very hard to believe that (view spoiler)[a pack of foxes would attack a dog pack and wouldn't run when they fight back. Yes, there is a scene in the first book when Lucky is attacked by foxes, but then it were four very hungry foxes against one wounded dog with a juicy piece of meat. In this book, though, the odds are definitely not in the foxes’ favor. Foxes are known for their high adaptability and survival skills, and fighting a pack of dogs for such a slim reward as they got is suicide. I think this scene would've worked better with rogue/stray/trash dogs instead of foxes (hide spoiler)].["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
‘White Night’ is currently my favourite Harry Dresden book, replacing Blood Rites on this post and moving it to the position of the second favourite.‘White Night’ is currently my favourite Harry Dresden book, replacing Blood Rites on this post and moving it to the position of the second favourite. There are two main reasons for that: Thomas Raith and the White Court of vampires. I can’t pin down when exactly Thomas climbed up the ranks of my favourite characters from ‘likable’ to ‘second favourite’, but he did. I enjoy seeing Harry/Thomas relationship develop, and in this book it is one of the key plotlines as Harry wonders how well does he actually knows Thomas and how far Thomas is ready to.
Besides, the presence of the White Court itself makes the book interesting. Unlike the Red and Black Courts, the White Court isn’t united and consists of the three powerful and independent families who are constantly on each other’s throats. Open confrontation isn’t their style – to sow discord and strife, to set their enemies after each other and to manipulate others into doing their work is more to their liking. So you can be sure there are plenty of lies and deception and false threads and unexpected twists. The lovers of battles and action won’t be disappointed either: while the whole book is nothing but the web of intricate backstreet intrigues and power play, its final started as an honest duel and then turned into an all-out head-bashing and limb-tearing battle with no rules and a mass of participants.
Not only the main plot, but side threads were a pleasure to read as well. I especially like the way Molly’s apprenticeship is going: as a mentor, Harry doesn't concentrate on magic techniques or on power control; first of all Harry teaches Molly to think, to understand the consequences of both action and inaction and to make decisions - not any decisions, but right decisions. Since it was Molly doing what she wants instead of what is right to do what almost doomed her in the past, she really needed to learn her lesson before moving on to studying how to use her magic abilities.
Now, I’ve got to say that I don’t like Lasciel – it’s actually not hard to dislike a several thousand years old demon whose only purpose is to corrupt souls and enslave minds. However, I was pleasantly surprised with an unpredicted turn this sideline had taken. And, similarly, while Elaine isn't one of my favourite characters, she makes the story quite interesting. That’s not to mention seeing the old favourites like Karrin Murphy, Mouse and Carlos Ramirez. ...more