I gave up on this book the first time I tried to read it, but I'm glad I persevered the second time because I found it compelling. It would be a rathe...moreI gave up on this book the first time I tried to read it, but I'm glad I persevered the second time because I found it compelling. It would be a rather typical 'nice heroine heals scarred, brooding hero,' except for the danger, the magic, and the emotional impact. Occasionally, I got a little annoyed that the H&H didn't try to communicate things better, but then, really, how short do we actually want our novels to be? The relationship developed rather well, the villain actually managed to surprise me, and the sex was rather briefly described. Long story short, I liked it and I'll probably read the next two in the series soon.(less)
Although a markedly different narrative from her Tortall series, I enjoyed learning about the four children of the Winding Circle temple. I was surpri...moreAlthough a markedly different narrative from her Tortall series, I enjoyed learning about the four children of the Winding Circle temple. I was surprised to find that although this is Sandry's book, the story revolves around all four of them as they learn to use their powers not only individually, but also as a group. All four are outcasts for differing reasons, and it becomes quite hard for them at times to live and work together. But it becomes really easy when they have to depend upon each other for survival. A fun read.(less)
It took me a while to start this series because I became so frustrated with his writing while reading "A Ruby in the Smoke." His writing was much bett...moreIt took me a while to start this series because I became so frustrated with his writing while reading "A Ruby in the Smoke." His writing was much better in this novel, but I still had some problems with how he chose to structure the timeline of his narrative in the first fifty pages. Lyra was a strong character, determined to save the world, though ignorant of her destiny. I've heard some say the series was anti-Catholic (or even Christian), but I didn't see it in this novel: Pullman simply created a world. It was worth the read and I will definitely read the rest of the series.(less)
While definitely not as good as the first novel of Beka, it was interesting to see her grow more as she works on her own in another town, much more co...moreWhile definitely not as good as the first novel of Beka, it was interesting to see her grow more as she works on her own in another town, much more corrupt than her home. We may miss some of the characters from the first novel, but a new cast of engaging characters is very welcome. It's fun to see Beka pretend to be a greedy, flirtatious lady as she ferrets out information about the thieves and government, trying to put the town back to rights.(less)
The story picks up after the war with Tira, as Enna and friends journey to Tira as ambassadors of peace between the countries. This tale centers aroun...moreThe story picks up after the war with Tira, as Enna and friends journey to Tira as ambassadors of peace between the countries. This tale centers around Razo, the oft-ignored runt of the King's Own, who cannot fathom why he was invited to take part in the entourage. Upon entering the kingdom, the party begins to find burned bodies, specifically placed within their proximity to rouse rebellion in the beaten country and throw suspicions on Enna, the fire-witch. Razo must use all of his latent, undiscovered talents and growing friendships among the town's citizens to discover the truth behind the burned bodies, the growing interest of the ambassador's daughter, and the clumsy attempts on the Bayern ambassador's life.
It was fun to read about Razo's development and growing attraction for another gifted girl, but I had a hard time understanding the motivations of the other familiar characters.
The last of the Bayern books follows Rin, Razo's younger sister, as she learns to harness her own powers and play a role in saving the country. Believ...moreThe last of the Bayern books follows Rin, Razo's younger sister, as she learns to harness her own powers and play a role in saving the country. Believing that she has lost her ability to communicate with the trees, Rin decides to leave home to serve in the castle for a while. She watches over the young prince (Isi and Geric's child), protecting him from those in the castle who would do him harm. When the prince is kidnapped, she joins the Fire Sisters in a quest to save him and her new friends.
Rin was an interesting character, more afraid of her gifts than blessed by them, despising herself much of the novel. It was great to finally explore the gift of people-speaking and its ramifications, but I thought she worried just a little too much throughout the book. (view spoiler)[I find it very odd that this is the only book in the series where the heroine does not find love by the end and it made me wonder why the author would choose not to do that here when she'd already set the precedent. Is there going to be another book or is she finished with the series? I found it extremely unsatisfying that not only does she not find love, but she again returns to her home with very little different from when she left. (hide spoiler)] It just wasn't my favorite of the books.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This continues "The Goose Girl" series with Enna as her brother discovers the ability to fire-speak. Bayern is at war with a neighboring kingdom and t...moreThis continues "The Goose Girl" series with Enna as her brother discovers the ability to fire-speak. Bayern is at war with a neighboring kingdom and the forest-born children willingly place their lives on the line for the country and monarchs they love. Enna's brother helps the army in the first battle, but loses his life because the fire consumes him. Most of the novel is about Enna's struggle to learn the art of fire and help her country while trying not to repeat the mistakes of her bother.
I thought the book was good, without being as outstanding as The Goose Girl. The story was more intense, though, because it also dealt with the darker side of responsibility and power. Both Enna and Isi (from the Goose Girl) are fighting against their new abilities, trying to harness their powers and live normal lives. Like life, the girls had to find a balance for their powers in order to function.
I'm glad that Enna was able to develop talents as well, but it bugged me that Enna would completely disregard the army's orders and do things on her own; I tacked that up with the need to grow up. I also didn't understand how serious a relationship she had with the captain: it sounded harmless but it was hard to discern. Overall, I found Enna less interesting than Isi and the narrative less moving, but I liked the heightened consequences of war and looming death.(less)
Based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm (they really earned that name, didn't they?), The Goose Girl is a story of a beautiful princess who journe...moreBased on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm (they really earned that name, didn't they?), The Goose Girl is a story of a beautiful princess who journeys to another kingdom to be wed, only to have her servant take her identity and (try) to take her life. In order to survive, she takes the job as goose girl to the king. One day as she is talking to herself, the king overhears and discovers she is the real princess and the impostor is executed, Grimm style.
Shannon Hale has taken this simple tale and added quite a lot of back story and depth. Princess Ani is the eldest in her family, but she doesn't feel comfortable doing royal tasks. Her aunt trained her in the ways of swan-speech and is constantly frustrated that her family, gifted only with people-speech, does not understand her. In a way she is relieved to be sent to another kingdom, though her enjoyment doesn't last as her escorts' unease and restlessness grow. Days from the Capital, events come to a head and Ani flees for her life into the forest. She is rescued by an old woman who allows her to go with her son to market day so she can get to the city. Originally her plan is simply to meet with the king and tell her of her maid's treachery, but once in the throne room she realizes that's a stupid plot and instead asks for a job. As goose girl to the king's gaggle, she makes friends among the Forest Born, a lower-class of individuals despised by the townspeople. Geese are a lot harder to understand than swans, but eventually she gets the knack, even developing a talent for wind-speech. When she learns the prince's wedding to the impostor is imminent, she decides to rally her friends and try to make the royals see her as the princess she is.
I may read many books in one sitting, but few absorb me like this. The characters were so real to me that I had to see how it ended before I could sleep. I laughed, I cried, I gasped. I was drawn into Hale's take on the power of language and the possibility of conversing with others outside the human race. I was actually glad I had waited so long to read this book because that particular idea meant so much more to me after taking a class in American Romanticism from Edward Cutler at BYU. One Romantic idea that we discussed for a while (and that I particularly liked) was the idea that everything has a name and a language, but man has forgotten all of it. This made sense to me when I thought back to the creation story where God speaks and the elements obey him. This simple idea made me look at the book in a new light and enjoy it all the more for the possibilities it offered. I'm not saying that I'm going to run out and start trying to speak to the wind, but it was fun to think about.
I am a sucker for fairy tale adaptions, but this book was exceptional. The characters were well-drawn and intriguing (though the prince could have had a bigger role) and the story was beautifully embellished by Hale. Do you ever have that truly happy, exultant feeling when you read something truly beautiful and moving? I've had it a few times, but rarely in a novel like this. Few books have that kind of overwhelming power for me and I look forward to her other novels, for I love books that touch me on multiple levels.(less)