Most of this book gets three stars from me, but the ending gets a solid five.
I found the magic system creative and fascinating. Essentially, each norm...moreMost of this book gets three stars from me, but the ending gets a solid five.
I found the magic system creative and fascinating. Essentially, each normal person is born with a single Breath, which is like a life force, that be given away at will. With many Breaths, a person can invest Breaths into inanimate objects to give those objects a usually-temporary life guided by given commands. Transferring Breath requires drawing some sort of power out of colors in the world. Thus, magic requires a command, color, and Breath. I would have liked the author to explain WHY the magic system works, i.e., how color and Breath are intrinsically related to each other so as to awaken otherwise inanimate objects. But despite this omission, I was easily able to suspend disbelief and see the beauty and creativity of the magic system.
The perspective of the book switched between that of four different characters, Siri, Vivenna, Vasher, and Lightsong. I connected with Siri immediately, and I always wanted to know what would happen to her next. Vasher was immediately interesting, but his character's motivations were not explained until the end of the book. As a result, I did not really connect with him. I wish that the author had given me more hints as to Vasher's motivations. He was too much of a mystery, to such a degree that it was difficult to relate to him. Lightsong was entertaining from the beginning, but his purpose in the book (understandably) was not revealed until the end. So as with Vasher, it was difficult for me to connect with Lightsong and to care about his goings-on, however amusing those goings-on were. Vivenna was just boring for most of the book. I understood her from the beginning, and I found it pretty easy to predict how her character would develop throughout the book. She never surprised me, and, were it not for her interactions with Vasher, I might have preferred to see her perspective eliminated from the book altogether.
At the end of the book, I understood the usage of the shifting-perspective, but throughout the book, I just wanted to read more about Siri. I found myself repeatedly flipping forward to determine when I would see Siri again. At many times, it was a chore to wade through the other characters' stories to get back to Siri. Thankfully, Vasher and Lightsong were entertaining enough to make the waiting somewhat enjoyable, even though I was not truly invested in their stories.
The bulk of the book dragged for me occasionally, as I waited to return to Siri's story. It was clear that the four main characters were involved in the same issues, and I assumed that they would all affect one another directly eventually. In the end, the story and characters came together beautifully. To avoid spoilers, I will not discuss the details of the ending in this review (and if I did, I likely wouldn't do it justice), but it was certainly worth the wait. The ending was truly masterful.(less)
I love Michael Crichton. He introduced me to science fiction and, therefore, holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelves. I've read almost...moreI love Michael Crichton. He introduced me to science fiction and, therefore, holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelves. I've read almost everything he wrote, and I was saddened at his passing. By far, this was my least favorite of his books. It's so bad that it actually mars my opinion of his body of work as a whole. No, it's not the worst book in the world, but it fell well below my expectations.
If you're not familiar with Crichton, please don't start here. Please.
(It's been a while since I read it, and I've tried to block out the details. So please don't ask me for specifics.)(less)
This book was truly marvelous, even better than the first.
A thing to keep in mind when undertaking the reading of The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man...moreThis book was truly marvelous, even better than the first.
A thing to keep in mind when undertaking the reading of The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man's Fear is that these are not your everyday fantasy novels. Throughout these two books, much emphasis is given to the idea of a well-told story. The characters regularly tell each other stories, and Kvothe in particular prides himself on being an excellent story-teller.
Kvothe's story, as told in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, is much like many of the stories told by the characters within. It is a beautiful tale that encourages you to enjoy the journey, instead of focusing only on the end goal. Most books are highways, straight and true, with perhaps a bit of character development from side to side along the way. The Wise Man's Fear is a path through the mountains; it meanders. But there's definitely more to see as you travel, and if you're suited for the journey, it's loads more exciting than a boring old highway.
Kvothe's goal is to find the Chandrian, but unfortunately for Kvothe, the Chandrian are a great mystery. So while the end goal remains the same throughout, we witness Kvothe's life as it progresses. And Kvothe has a very interesting life, including adventure upon adventure, and resulting in Kvothe's ultimate notoriety.
The Wise Man's Fear includes masterful characterization and many many stories within the story. As Kvothe seeks the Chandrian, he repeatedly runs into trouble. His sharp and curious mind encourage him to learn, while also encouraging him to shoot his mouth off imprudently at inopportune moments.
If you're looking for your typical novel in which the protagonist makes noticeable strides toward his goal at every turn, then this may not be the story for you. (Also, if that is the case, then I regret that you are stuck in your little close-minded box.) On the other hand, if you are a true lover of stories, and you might enjoy a beautifully told tale of a marvelously fascinating young man who meets a new adventure at every turn, then read this book right away!
The Wise Man's Fear has earned a place on my "favorites" shelf.(less)
Mistborn is a truly super-awesome and fantastic book, with the masterful sort of ending that I have come to expect from the genius that is Brandon San...moreMistborn is a truly super-awesome and fantastic book, with the masterful sort of ending that I have come to expect from the genius that is Brandon Sanderson!
At the beginning of the book, we meet Vin, a street urchin just trying to survive as a member of an oppressed socio-economic class. One of the ways that Vin survives is by using what she thinks of as her "Luck." Her use of luck is detected by some very bad guys, as well as by some questionable guys.
Among these questionable guys is Kelsier, who brings Vin in as part of his thieving crew and explains that her Luck is simply one of the eight basic forms of Allomancy. Allomancy is the burning of various Allomantic metals, where each metal provides an associated ability to the person burning it. "Mistings" can burn exactly one basic Allomantic metals, and "Mistborns" can burn all Allomantic metals, which includes a few additional metals on top of the basic eight. Vin and Kelsier are Mistborn, and various other members of their crew are Mistings.
The Lord Ruler is a mysterious god-like bad guy who oppresses everybody, especially the lower class, while asserting his rule. So of course, Kelsier and Vin seek to bring down the Lord Ruler and pretty much the entire government, all the while being hunted for their abilities.
One of things I adored about this book is that we, the reader, get to learn all about Allomancy and how metal-burning works, as Kelsier breaks it down for Vin. So in a beautiful, non-contrived manner, we are introduced to the magic system.
The characterization in the book was great. I understood Vin and Kelsier. Vin is stubborn survivor trying to find her place in the world, and Kelsier wants vengeance and justice for his wife's death. The Lord Ruler has his own super-secret motivations that remain a mystery as the book comes to a close. I can't wait to read about this in the later books! I really hated (i.e., the way a reader should hate the bad guy) the Lord Ruler and his minions, who were pretty freakin scary. I think further development of the other crew members would have been nice, but maybe I'll see more of them in the later books of this trilogy.
Throughout a great deal of the book, the crew is working their "job," which is a multi-layer plan to give themselves a fair shot at taking out Lord Ruler. In the end, some parts of the plan succeed and some fail miserably. Despite the failures, the crew members forge ahead against the Lord Ruler . . . whom they have no idea how to kill.
Congratulations, Laini Taylor! It's official: You are now one of my favorite authors, and all of your books in my reading list will now and forever be...moreCongratulations, Laini Taylor! It's official: You are now one of my favorite authors, and all of your books in my reading list will now and forever be placed on my favorite-authors shelf. Please email me for my address, so that you can drop by my house and pick up your award, and so that I can follow you home and stalk you mercilessly. (Just kidding! Please don't call the cops on me. I'm just trying to say that I think you're pretty swell.)
This book is beautifully written. Every word appears to have been carefully chosen to breathe beauty, life, and intensity into every moment. The book contains three separate stories, and there are likely few authors who could accomplish what Ms. Taylor accomplished within these stories. As the book progresses, the stories increase in length and complexity. But none of the stories is particularly complex or action-packed. Despite this, I was engaged during every moment.
The first story, Goblin Fruit, consists almost entirely of a girl meeting a boy, going shopping with the boy, having a picnic with the boy, and then (view spoiler)[kissing the boy (hide spoiler)]. During the story, I heard a voice screaming inside my head at the girl to, "Run away!" It was only at the end of the story, when I was finally released from it, that I realized little had occurred. And then, I became even more amazed by this story that kept me interested despite not much actually happening to the characters.
Spicy Little Curses Such as These was another story in which little actually occurred, and yet my inside-voice continued to scream warnings at the main characters.
While the last of the three, Hatchling, had some action it, it did not have nearly as much action as one might expect, and most of the action occurred in flashbacks. In Hatchling, a mother and her child fight for their lives, while a demon fights for his soul and the soul of his love. Most of the story was filled with flashbacks of how the mother's and the demon's lives progressed before the mother's child was born, and how their lives became intertwined. I know I'm repeating myself, but yes, it was beautiful, and I remained engaged despite the lack of present happenings.
At the end of the book, I am mildly impressed with the stories themselves and overwhelmingly impressed with the author. But since the stories would have been completely different and likely less engaging if written by a different author, it's unfair of me to separate the stories from the author. So let's just say that I am overwhelmingly impressed overall.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
To sum up my feelings about this book: It was really good, . . . but I am disappointed.
I admit that it may be unfair of me to be disappointed. Brandon...moreTo sum up my feelings about this book: It was really good, . . . but I am disappointed.
I admit that it may be unfair of me to be disappointed. Brandon Sanderson has simply set the bar too high in the previous books of his that I have read. I now think of Sanderson as an author who writes phenomenal, mind-blowing endings, and in my opinion, The Well of Ascension simply did not fit that mold. (view spoiler)[I love the idea of an entity who changed the Terris prophesies in order to free himself. That part was brilliant. But then there was a lot of ridiculousness going on: Marsh apparently turning evil without explanation, Vin's ability to control the kandra and the koloss, and Elend being a Mistborn. Elend's a Mistborn? Seriously? Elend is a great character, and I really enjoyed his being great without being an Allomancer. Furthermore, I thought that the contrast between Elend and Vin sent a great message about how one can make a difference in the world regardless of which natural talents are possessed and about how two very different people can make a relationship work. But Sanderson ruined that for me by making Elend a Mistborn! It could be that in that, in the next book, explanations will be proffered that make these occurrences seem less ridiculous. I truly hope this it the case. (hide spoiler)]
Sanderson added a good deal more supernatural-ness in The Well of Ascension than there was in Mistborn. There were blue monsters, religious prophesies, and a new Allomatic metal that essentially made Vin super-powered (as if she were not super already). It was a lot--perhaps too much.
My primary complaint about the book was Vin. Vin was still trying to figure out who she is and was trying to make her peace with being the significant other to a king while also being a Mistborn killing machine. Her most difficult struggles were internal. Externally, she kicked ass all day, all night, and all the time. Frankly, I got a tad bored with watching Vin kick ass. When Vin was around, her friends were safe. Vin would win the fight with some injury to herself, but no one important would die when Vin was present. Eventually, I started to think: "Okay, I get it. She is powerful." I would have liked to see her fail at protecting someone.
Now that I've complained, please note that my rating for this book is four stars. So I really did like it a lot. Allomancy is still a brilliant concept. Sanderson is still a brilliant writer. Elend is a fantastic character, as are Ham and Breeze. Elend's transformation from a scholar into a king was believable, as was his internal struggle regarding his relationship with a powerful Mistborn. I greatly enjoyed getting to know Breeze better; he's a good man who does not want to appear as though he cares about others as much as he does. I also really enjoyed the introduction of a second kandra (i.e., a being that can take the body of a deceased other being). I did not predict how that was going to turn out!
I look forward to reading the next book, which I hope clears up some of my issues with this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Foul, wretched, dirty, freakin' cliffhanger! Are you kidding me with this? I want an ending! Give me a freakin' ending! I'm tempted to say a slew of a...moreFoul, wretched, dirty, freakin' cliffhanger! Are you kidding me with this? I want an ending! Give me a freakin' ending! I'm tempted to say a slew of awful things about this book to reflect how mad I am by the fact that its final words are "to be continued." But that would be wrong, because this book was beyond phenomenal.
At the open, we meet Karou, an artsy, blue-haired young woman with a troublesome ex-boyfriend. Karou's family is a tad untraditional, consisting of a group of chimaera, each appearing to be a mix of various animals. Karou doesn't know how she came to be in the care of these chimaera, as she is not one of them. Her adoptive father, Brimstone, a chimaera, is a collector of teeth. Humans come to his shop to trade teeth from various species, and Brimstone grants them wishes in return. Karou has no idea what Brimstone does with the teeth.
Brimstone's shop may be entered through various portals throughout the world. A beautiful male seraphim, with a strong distaste for Brimstone and the portals, comes into Karou's life when he sees her exit one of the portals. The seraphim, with whom Karou has an undeniable connection, helps Karou discover who she really is and how she came to be with these chimaera. And that's all I can tell you without getting all spoiler-y!
Let me just say that Ms. Taylor is a magnificent writer. The tale that she spins with her beautiful words is easy to see and feel. I was completely entranced by this book. It is a beautiful story of life, war, love, loss, and then love again. Bravo!(less)
Sanderson is one of my favorite authors--right up there with Patrick Rothfuss and Laini Taylor. The Alloy of Law is not my favorite of his books, but...moreSanderson is one of my favorite authors--right up there with Patrick Rothfuss and Laini Taylor. The Alloy of Law is not my favorite of his books, but it did not disappoint.
Returning to the Mistborn world was like coming home again. You probably shouldn't read this book if you are not already familiar with that world. I recommend reading all three of the original Mistborn trilogy before picking up this one. Sanderson didn't waste any time giving readers a tutorial on his magic system. Instead, he dove right in, expanding on the foundation set by the prior Mistoborn books. While I was thrilled not to have to read an explanation of the magic system with which I am already familiar, I imagine the magic would have been difficult to follow without having read the other books. Also, the book makes numerous references to religious beliefs and religious figures that would be lost, and probably confusing, to those who haven't read all three of the original trilogy.
The magic used in The Alloy of Law includes primarily two types: Allomancy and Feruchemy. Both of these magics are based on the use of metals, where each of sixteen various metals provides a distinct power in each of the two magics. An Allomancer is capable of "burning" one type of metal inside his body, which provides the Allomancer with the power of that metal. A Feruchemist is capable of tapping the power of one type of metal, which he wears in contact with his skin.
In the original Mistborn trilogy, the most powerful of Allomancers were "Mistborn," each of whom were capable of burning every Allomantic metal. And Feruchemists were endowed with the ability to tap the power of Feruchemical metals. In The Alloy of Law, there are no Mistborn; each Allomancer gets only one metal. Likewise, each Feruchemist gets only one metal. "Twinborn" are those who are both Allomancers and Feruchemists, but they get only one metal for each magic.
Sanderson introduces new metals that were unknown at the time of the original trilogy. Combining the concept of Twinborn with new metals (and corresponding new powers) provided an exciting twist to the magic system that I already new.
At its root, the plot was your typical steampunk mystery. The main character investigates a serious of robberies and gets into loads of trouble along the way, running into a nearly immortal bad guy. There was a bit of romance thrown in, as a young woman taken hostage in one of the robberies develops a fondness for our hero. This was just an exciting book with numerous action sequences involving a creative and original magic system.
I gave this book four stars, instead of five, because there were a number of points in the book that I caught myself skimming. Throughout the book, there were sections in which the thoughts of the three main characters were described. Their thinking didn't change much throughout the book, and thus, this eventually got old. Yes, I know what Wax is thinking because it's the same thing he was thinking the last time you told me. Yes, I know what Wayne and Marasi are thinking too.
Another place I skimmed was . . . the climax, which is a particularly bad place to catch oneself skimming. The action sequence at the climax was really really long. Action is good, but I thought this bordered a bit on overkill. Someone else might think that all that action is truly fantastic, but I was ready to move on to something else well before it came to a conclusion.
I have only a vague idea what it's about. But it's by Sanderson, so *cue droning robot voice* . . . I will read it. I...morePre-read reaction, October 2011:
I have only a vague idea what it's about. But it's by Sanderson, so *cue droning robot voice* . . . I will read it. I must read it.
If an author came to me and said: "I have a great idea for a magic system. These guys called Rithmatists draw in chalk on the ground, and their chalk drawings have power. They can draw chalklings, which can be given instructions. Some chalklings can actually injure people, especially the wild chalklings. Those guys are dangerous!" I would tell this author: "Have you lost your mind? Chalk bad guys? Ooooh scary. I'm shaking in my boots here. Oh wait, I'm actually not. And I'm also not wearing boots—cause it's summer."
And I would be wrong.
Joel, the main character, has always wished he were a Rithmatist, although he knows he can't be. He's studied Rithmatic lines and knows more about them than many Rithmatists. So when a few Rithmatists are kidnapped, Joel inserts himself into the investigation and proves helpful.
The kidnapping mystery, though interesting, wasn't even the best part of the book. And I don't believe there was enough information given to the reader (at least not for this reader) to figure out what was going on before everything was revealed toward the end. I would have preferred to have a chance at guessing the ending. But that's fine; I still loved the book. The ending did a good job of tying up all the threads in the story, and introducing a new thread to be explored in a sequel.
Throughout the book, without overwhelming the reader, Sanderson presents Rithmatic principles that help us understand his magic system in better detail. the book includes renderings of some Rithmatic defenses, as well as chalklings drawn by some of the Rithmatist characters. While I imagine some people might flip right past the renderings (which I don't think would make the book any less enjoyable), I examined each one. Sanderson put so much thought and detail into this magic system that I couldn't help being dragged along for the ride.
Even before reading this book, I was a fan of Sanderson's. Now I'm just awed.(less)
This was a short sexy story about a woman who finds love when she's out seeking revenge. I loved a lot about it. It was hot. It was sweet how quickly...moreThis was a short sexy story about a woman who finds love when she's out seeking revenge. I loved a lot about it. It was hot. It was sweet how quickly people's feelings changed. Unfortunately, it also stretched beyond the believable with how quickly those feelings changed.
In a span of a week, a complete alpha man goes from bachelorhood to being deeply in love and willing to wait years for the woman of his dreams. A woman who has stewed over being wronged for years allows herself to develop affections for the man who wronged her.
It's a nice story. It's also a bit ridiculous.(less)
I just adore Ilona Andrews. They're a phenomenal team with great writing and great ideas. I didn't love this particular installment because it felt li...moreI just adore Ilona Andrews. They're a phenomenal team with great writing and great ideas. I didn't love this particular installment because it felt like a novel-length story in a novella-length package. The story was just too big, and as a result it seemed rushed.
A body is missing, so Andrea and Raphael hunt it down, battling a humongous three-headed dog along the way. (No spoilers here. You learn this much in the opening scenes.) A navigator of vampires joins the fun, bringing with her a few vamps. Andrea has to stop the navigator. Another monster pops up, and they have to battle that one too. Along the way, we get Andrea's backstory in large blocks of dialog when she confesses her feels to Raphael. And their relationship shifts dramatically in the span of a single scene.
I could handle all that if it was drawn out over a novel. In this novella form, it felt rushed, under-developed, and even unbelievable in how quickly things happened. But I adore this series, and I look forward to reading later installments!(less)
This is the third novella I've read in the Kate Daniels world, and for me, by far, it was the best of them. The plot had just enough complexity to pro...moreThis is the third novella I've read in the Kate Daniels world, and for me, by far, it was the best of them. The plot had just enough complexity to produce a fast-paced novella that didn't seem rushed.(less)
I felt like the writing style in this novella was a bit awkward as compared to most of Ilona Andrews works. Perhaps it was a matte...moreI love Jim and Dali.
I felt like the writing style in this novella was a bit awkward as compared to most of Ilona Andrews works. Perhaps it was a matter of lesser polish. In that respect it was more like Magic Bites than the others I've read by this author team. But I loved learning more about these Dali and Jim, and the plot was short and sweet. So overall, very enjoyable.(less)
This was a wonderful, quick, original story. The main character, Stephen, has a unique condition. he has hallucinations o...moreAn Audible Audiobook freebie!
This was a wonderful, quick, original story. The main character, Stephen, has a unique condition. he has hallucinations of various other people--his "aspects." Each of his aspects has its own personality and skill set--skill sets that Stephen doesn't have on his own. With his aspects in tow, Stephen has a huge range of skills.
When Monica (not an aspect) tells Stephen she had a camera that could see into the future, and her camera was stolen, she and Stephen go on a journey to recover it. Along the way, we see Stephen's aspects in action, which is pretty cool. The aspects especially come in handy when Stephen needs to learn new skills, and when he's held captive.
I think the most fascinating thing about this story is the original concept. In such a short story, that concept is enough. The plot itself doesn't have much meat to it, but that's just fine. It works as a novella.(less)