Now I finally understand why everyone seems to like this book so much more than the first. You see, The Thief is a wonderful little book filled with
Now I finally understand why everyone seems to like this book so much more than the first. You see, The Thief is a wonderful little book filled with excellent writing, an interesting protagonist, an exciting fantasy world and a great big twist near the end. The Queen of Attolia had all of this, but it just had more of everything. It was everything I loved about the first book... on steroids.
Every character and every sentence - damn it, every word even! - is important, serves it's own purpose and is never wasted. This is a characteristic in books that is rare but oh so wonderful when you manage to find it.
Being told in 3rd person, unlike book one which was from Eugenides POV, allows the reader to see the bigger picture and to better understand the world that forms the backdrop of this series and the political relationships between Attolia, Eddis and Sounis. But, oddly, at the same time I felt like we also got to know Eugenides far better than in The Thief, and I loved him all the more in this second installment. He's such a perfectly imperfect character, he's flawed, he's brave without being ridiculously self-sacrificing, he's a little devil and yet you can't do anything but be on his side. Whatever happens to him in the next book has suddenly become very important to me.
And it's not just Eugenides... I mean, how easy would it have been for the author to make the Queen of Attolia nothing more than a villain sat on a foreign throne? But that's not the story Megan Whalen Turner is trying to tell. Like I said, Turner doesn't waste characters and her use of 3rd person in this novel lets us readers see the real queen behind that stone mask of cruelty. Of all the qualities I like characters to have, complexity is quite possibly my favourite.
But I think the book was really sold to me when Turner managed to successfully pull off a romance that surprised me, pleased me and just generally worked without being soppy or cheesy. A young adult novel with romance that doesn't make me cringe? Genius. ...more
This book is not going to please fans of nice, twinkly, all-ends-well fantasy, that's for sure. Kathleen Duey has written a very dark and disturbing
This book is not going to please fans of nice, twinkly, all-ends-well fantasy, that's for sure. Kathleen Duey has written a very dark and disturbing tale about the pains undergone for the sake of magic. Young boys are starved, intimidated and abused in a school of magic that intends to separate the potential magicians from those destined to die because they are unable to magically produce their own food.
The story is actually split, alternating between the life of Sadima in a time centuries before we are introduced to the horrors of Somiss' magic academy. In Sadima's time magic is outlawed and it is only through the aid of Franklin that Sadima comes to realise the strength of her gift for mentally communicating with animals. But Franklin is just one half of a team hoping to resurrect magic, the other being the malicious and obsessive Somiss.
Then comes Hahp's story. He's a boy sent to Somiss' magic academy by his cruel father and there he discovers that he must learn to master the skills being taught to him or die. As boys around him slowly waste away, Hahp struggles with guilt when he alone manages to create food, and fear of what the wizards plan to throw at him next. In the dark dingy corridors of the academy, Hahp even starts to wonder if his sanity is still with him.
This is not the kind of novel that you can read by itself and gain any sense of fulfillment or resolution, it is clearly intended to be read as part of a series and the lack of answers means that I will be unable to do anything else. I really enjoyed this book, I often find that I can't resist a dark, disturbing story - not sure what that says about me, but oh well. I could see immediately what wouldn't appeal to the masses: the failure of the two stories to meet, the unresolved feel of the novel, and the abuse of the boys above all else.
But I found this a very refreshing change from the same old "nice" fantasy novels. Not a crowd pleaser but a good book for those readers who are looking for something different. ...more
The goodreads and Amazon descriptions for The Native Star promise so many elements that it's hard to believe the novel could possibly deliver them al The goodreads and Amazon descriptions for The Native Star promise so many elements that it's hard to believe the novel could possibly deliver them all successfully: historical fiction, fantasy and magic, steampunk, western, and romance. And yet, this book is one of the rare cases when an idea that crosses so many genres and brings in many different aspects actually works well.
Emily Edwards is the local witch in a small town in California. The year is 1876, but this isn't quite the past that history books tell us about. Instead of being false accusations, it turns out that the witch trials were actually attempts to out real witches and warlocks, but in this alternate universe witchcraft has been legalized and magic is now an important part of the United States. However, not everyone is so accepting of it, and magic is also used illegally for criminal purposes or to manipulate people. Emily starts the story by deciding that the only way to save her and her father from their financial problems is to cast a love spell on a wealthy local man. Unfortunately, things don't go quite to plan, and before Emily can put things right she finds herself with a strange magic-absorbing stone embedded in her palm that prevents her from using magic and reversing the love spell.
Reluctantly teaming up with the insufferable warlock, Dreadnought Stanton, Emily must set out across the country to have the stone removed so she can eventually put things right again. However, the stone is far more valuable than Emily could have foreseen, and it turns out that just about everyone wants to get their hands on it. As Emily and Stanton flee for their lives, their relationship goes from barely tolerating one another to a begrudging friendship to something a little deeper. It's the kind of romance I enjoy reading, the kind that is built up slowly and steadily and had me caring about the characters first.
This is a really good fantasy historical steampunk western romance. The world Ms Hobson has created is vivid and easily imaginable. I like how she has cleverly woven magic into history and mixed it up with a touch of real life events and people - like President Grant - but kept it very fresh and exciting at the same time. The tone is mostly light-hearted and the pacing felt just right, I'm really really glad that I already have The Hidden Goddess waiting for me....more
"Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the
"Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark."
It's been a long time since I've felt this excited about the opening of a new series. I'm not yet prepared to give it 5 stars as it's only just begun... but, you know, I'm thinking this could potentially be a 5-star series. Hurray for the aussies again who, after dazzling me with a series of awesome realistic fiction, have now provided an exciting fantasy world.
And yeah, that's right, fantasy. Sorry to break it to you but the only reason this is marketed as dystopian fiction is because that seems to be what everyone's hooked on right now. There are some vaguely political elements to it like rules v. anarchy... but it's mainly a novel that straddles the line between fantasy and urban fantasy. So, just don't expect dystopia and you should be fine.
I should warn you, the plot takes some time to get going in this but, like Darkfever, it wasn't a problem for me. I found the author used the initial lack of plot well and successfully built up her world and characters (who I really loved); the writing and the introductions to Retra, Suki, Markes and Lenoir kept the book interesting and made the story all the more exciting when it did get going.
As the cover would suggest, the book is quite dark, but also the author manages to keep up a continuous feeling of darkness throughout so by the end you can't imagine any of the characters existing in a place with sunlight. There's also this very sexual element to the writing:
"As they walked along, the warm air played over Retra like a wet tongue, making her skin pimple."
And there are plenty more phrases like that one. Though, no in-your-face love. No instalove. No obsessive love. No forever love. Just a whole lot of lustiness, and I like books that create a sexy atmosphere without being overtly sexual.
As for the protagonist, she interests me a lot. Retra comes from a place where men make all the rules, women wear veils, the 'wardens' watch everything you do and punishments are severe (I suppose you can see some parallels being made between this and some strict religious societies today). Anyway, Retra arrives at Ixion (a place of freedom and pleasure) with only one goal: to find her brother who ran away from the constraints of where they used to live.
It soon becomes apparent that Ixion is not as it seems, that even anarchy has unspoken rules, and that there are creatures in the darkness far worse than any of the wardens back home. It's creepy, exciting and original... I really can't wait to read Angel Arias. ...more
1) This story is wonderful. 2) It has nothing to do with the Grisha trilogy. 3) I don't particularly like the Grisha trilogy - first one was okay but the second was disappointing, IMO. Haven't read the third. 4) This is a little folk tale about a fox who survives by outsmarting others - but has he finally met his match? 5) It's just the right amount of dark. 6) Just read it. You don't even have to spend anything :)...more
Edit 04/04/2013: I read this almost a year ago now and it still haunts me in the best possible way. So I just wanted to share this song with you beca Edit 04/04/2013: I read this almost a year ago now and it still haunts me in the best possible way. So I just wanted to share this song with you because it reminds me of this book so much.
"Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we're only what we've done and what we are going to do."
Everything about the appearance and description of this book it seems is geared towards the wrong audience. If it hadn't been for Crowinator's review I would have written this off as another cheesy romance that's okay when you're eight years old and watching a disney film but should otherwise be avoided. There are a number of readers I can see picking this up: romance enthusiasts, those who enjoy novels that are like disney films, or those who've read Anderson's other books (girl scouts and teen troubles). They will probably be disappointed.
How best can I put this? I know, I'll use TV shows! Let's take 90210 first of all. This is a show about rich people, celebrities, first world problems and a lifestyle with glitter on it. It's about life in Los Angeles. You know what else is about life in LA? Angel (Buffy spin-off). But Angel tells a different story, one of dingy backstreets, prostitutes, drug addicts and criminals. It's the same city but it's the story of lives that don't sparkle. If you're wondering how this is at all relevant, well, Peter Pan is 90210, and Tiger Lily is Angel.
This novel tells the tale of the dark underbelly of Neverland where the good guys don't always win and love doesn't always triumph. It's so much darker and sadder than I could have possibly imagined. Even though we are told from the start that this is a love story, it is more than that. It's about loss and loneliness and fear of change. Because who would fear change more than those who'd never had to experience growing up and dying?
Tiger Lily is one of the loneliest characters ever. Her other tribe members believe her to be cursed and she has long battled against the torment of not quite being accepted. After one misstep too many, she is told she must marry Giant - a violent oaf of a man who mistreats her whenever the chance presents itself. It is only natural that when she discovers a boy out in the forest who's almost as lonely as she is that she would fall in love with him.
By telling the story from Tinkerbell's point of view, we are able to hear it on a very personal level and get a close look at all the characters individually whilst having a wider scope than normal 1st person allows. The story itself is cleverly woven with elements of the one we know from disney and the original book. Did you ever wonder how a crocodile came to be hanging around with a ticking clock down his throat? Well, now I know.
The villains in this story are as complex as everyone else and Anderson offers new and interesting traits for familiar characters. James Hook is a sad, old man who came to Neverland on dreams of staying young forever - but his mission failed. He has since then lost himself to drink and his obsession with Peter Pan; Hook's hatred for himself and the world around him is all channelled into his hatred for Peter. Also, Smee (remember him?) is a strange case who murders those he admires for their strength and beauty but then mourns their deaths.
I don't know how deliberate it was, but I found myself comparing the "Englanders" in this book with the settlers in North America that made every effort to change the religion and culture of the natives. Tiger Lily's tribe rescue an injured Englander and nurse him back to full health, but once he is back on his feet he begins "educating" the tribe in the rules of God and what is appropriate dress and how those who don't fulfill their purpose will not go to heaven. You can see how easily it would be to change people through fear of eternal punishment, how to easily put what-ifs in their mind and make them question what they've always believed.
So, this is not the story I expected to read. But it's beautiful, I loved the writing style and the characters. The people in this book have their strengths and they have their weaknesses, and sometimes those weaknesses are too much for them to handle. The ending is both happy and sad, it isn't the one you wanted but I guess that's life for you.
It is probably for the best that I didn't realise this book was written by the same author as a book that recently disappointed me - Code Name Verity
It is probably for the best that I didn't realise this book was written by the same author as a book that recently disappointed me - Code Name Verity - because, although everyong else seemed to enjoy this WW2 story of friendship, I found myself bored. The Winter Prince, on the other hand, never lost my attention for a second. This is exactly the kind of fantasy I love and, though I know this is a very bold statement to make, I'd almost go so far as to favourably compare this book to such as The Thief and Finnikin of the Rock. Perhaps not quite as flawless, but very good.
Do you like historical fantasies based around ancient legends with kings, queens, jealousies, backstabbing and scandals all perfectly executed with a cast of colourful and exciting characters? Yeah, me too. This is that kind of book, a wonderful mix of action and multi-layered characters. But be warned, there are not so many likeable characters, they are complex individuals. The protagonist and narrator directs the story at the mother who abused him - a woman who is truly one of the most despicable characters I've ever come across - he is a confused man, torn between the possibilities of vengeance and of love and acceptance.
If you can't stand the kind of book where there are no heroes or heroines, then this isn't the right choice for you. It's an interesting story that makes you think, that makes it impossible to choose sides, you will probably find yourself despising every character at some point or other. But it's also very powerful and it's about the choices people make and whether it's more important to be someone or to be loved by someone. Most of all, I see this as a novel about looking for the wrong things in the wrong places, when what you needed all along was right there with you. And no, this is not a romance.
I think this is a great book. But I can tell you now what a lot of people won't like and I admit I thought it was too much - the copious amount of incest. It is not romanticised, it is not seen as okay, but it happens an awful lot. Nearly every character in this book has either been raped by a relative or had an attempted rape by a relative. Some of the abuse was an important part of the plot and a way of understanding the characters, but a lot felt unnecessary. I really, really don't want to turn anyone off this book, but I see no point in not being honest. I hope readers can overlook it and enjoy this wonderful, well-written fantasy. ...more
I'm sorry to my co-blogger, Brandi, and all my other friends and non-friends who gave this book five stars. Which is basically everyone.
I won't playI'm sorry to my co-blogger, Brandi, and all my other friends and non-friends who gave this book five stars. Which is basically everyone.
I won't play stupid. I can see why fans of epic fantasy might like this book and I admit to being picky when it comes to the traditional fantasy genre. And I'll also say that I can see on some level that this book is well-written. I say "on some level" because I judge quality of writing not only by the author's ability to spin a nice phrase, but also by their ability to write a compelling and engaging plot.
That was missing for me.
I suppose I should also mention that I didn't read the last quarter and I'd already started skim-reading by the third quarter. So maybe... just maybe... the last part of the story takes a turn for the epic and would have kicked my indifference for this book right where it hurts. But I don't have the patience or the reading time to waste on finding out. What I did read was - and I'm sorry again to all the book's fans - so so fucking boring.
Actually no, I'll give credit where it's due - the prologue was fantastic. It was a short, brutal and horrifying opening that had me feeling glad I'd taken a chance on the book. It was all downhill from there. So, as I said, I am so so picky when it comes to “epic fantasy” - my attention span isn’t a great partner for the generally slow pacing of these kinds of books. But I've found ones to love like The Name of the Wind and Half a King, so there's always some hope left for me.
Part of me wants to say this book is slow because hell, did it feel like it! But stuff was constantly happening. Action scenes were frequent and bloody. People died. Others were betrayed. Secret feelings of love are revealed. Everything is at stake... and I just didn't care. The action scenes were so dry and lacking in suspense. Sure, they had gory descriptions; but there was zero investment in the story or characters on my part.
The three protagonists all have their own stories to tell and, despite the differences between their individual experiences and situations, I could hardly tell them apart. They never moved me, never got me to care. I'm already forgetting about them. And, even though the book is made up of constant scenes of action, the actual main plotline had made hardly any progress by the halfway point of the novel. The new emperor was still stuck in the same place he was at the beginning. I felt like I was trying to wade through thick mud while reading this book.
With such a high average rating and a million dazzling reviews from my trusted friends, it seems it must just be me. But I couldn't stop my eyes from running ahead on the page and wanting it to just be over.
Oh my god, what an entertaining and enjoyable read about adventure, hope and never giving up even in the most dire circumstances. I don't really know wOh my god, what an entertaining and enjoyable read about adventure, hope and never giving up even in the most dire circumstances. I don't really know where to start with the story, there is so much going on and you as the reader really feel like you're right there in the adventure with Twig (who is a lovable little character), you follow him through impossible situations that he always manages to get out of because he's so filled with hope and spirit. This is one of those wild imagination books, the kind of magical fantasy world that doesn't come along too often, but it is so beautifully crafted that you simply cannot wait to explore more of the Edgeworld. It becomes a very real and frightening place to the reader, told in such a vivid way that you can just imagine every piece of it. You can feel the centuries old suspicions about certain creatures and places on the map, and if you aren't afraid of the Gloamglozer then you aren't human. The creatures are incredibly varied and often surprising... why isn't everyone reading this book?...more