I love Numair. I love these books. I love the world that Pierce has built/expanded on in these four books. This reread was just as fun as my first reaI love Numair. I love these books. I love the world that Pierce has built/expanded on in these four books. This reread was just as fun as my first read was 10 years ago.
Just.. wow. This is such a novel. I don't even have the words to articulate how rich, lovely, and special this book is. I knew I loved the first, Wow.
Just.. wow. This is such a novel. I don't even have the words to articulate how rich, lovely, and special this book is. I knew I loved the first, with its blue-haired, quirky protagonist and it's legions of monsters and angels, but this one is better.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a far cry from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but it s a deeply magical and thoroughly unique, beautifully written piece of art.
Really more of a 4.5 but benefit of the goodreads system = 5. Deeper thoughts later. Now: In a setting worthy of Zelazny with its intricate and deadly fReally more of a 4.5 but benefit of the goodreads system = 5. Deeper thoughts later. Now: In a setting worthy of Zelazny with its intricate and deadly familial intrigue, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was a more than pleasant surprise. I expected a typical high fantasy novel: full of magic, scheming, unwitting heroines, dastardly but lovable rogues, you know, the whole usual bit. I think Patrick Rothfuss said it best about this novel when he said, "I have a great love of fantasy that does something a little different, and this book is a little different in a whole lot of ways." I got all that I expected and more, with twists and surprises I never saw coming. The entire novel, from the innovative world/political system to the mythological aspects of the Gods, was a well thought-out, superbly-executed, hugely entertaining-to-read first novel.
The story jumps right off from the first paragraph; we meet Yeine, our Darre protagonist immediately. This novel is much more about her inner struggle, or with her relations, than an epic war or battle; it's more personal and close. The first-person perspective is used very effectively with Yeine: I constantly felt like I was reading/speaking with her the entire time. The narrative is scattered and hesitant; a clever device as she's slowly remembering, constantly re-fitting this story as she's imparting it to the readers (Yeine even occasionally breaks the third wall and addresses the readers directly, but it's appropriate and works for the novel). Her style is very informal and as a "barbarian" of the High North, it fits. The first of many intriguing twists on fantasy cliches: Yeine is not white, nor of the ruling caste, and is from a barbaric matriarchal society. Instead she's described as "darkling" and is constantly reminded of her low status among her pale, cruel Amn relatives.
A lot of themes are touches on throughout the novel. Race (and racism), gender, slavery and even religion are not shied away from. In a world where the ruling race is the pale-skinned Amn, who in turn are truly controlled by a single large, monstrously cruel family (the Arameri, to which Yeine reluctantly belongs) who are regarded as the height of civilization while being the depth of depravity, the "barbarian" Yeine is actually the most humane. The Arameri do not allow slaves on their lands, yet they house four of the most enslaved creatures in existence. This was yet another twist of Jemisin's; this time on the fantasy cliche of a God's War or the Fall of Gods. Enslaved former Gods after the war among the The Three in which the Itempas won. For millennia, the Arameri have caged these expunged-from-history Gods as weapons to ensure their power and a gift from the winning side. There was Nahadoth, the Nightlord and his three surviving godling children Sieh, Kurue, and Zhakkarn. The mythology and origins of the Gods from the Maelstrom was creative and well-planned.
There was almost an East-Asian feel to the atmosphere of the story. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms certainly did not feel Eurocentric or written with the Western world in mind, though Yeine's homeland felt almost Amazonian in its ferocity and independence. This individuality in a time of many medieval-type fantasy novels was a another nice touch I appreciated: these creative ideas can make or break a novel. The novel felt fresh and new, unlike a familiar retread of a much-used storyline. There is no over-reliance on magic to solve the world's or even Yeine's problems; it's more cerebral than that. When the magic does come into play, it's restrained or deftly applied to the characters. (view spoiler)[ I thought that unwittingly possessing a part of a fallen Goddess's fractured soul was uniquely witty way to reinvent the young girl with immense but hidden power stereotype. (hide spoiler)]
The only complaints I had were these: the love scenes between Yeine and Nahadoth. They were a little cringe-worthy and cliche; I think for the next book I'd like to see a little more finesse, perhaps more belief in a relationship before two people (Gods? Swirling masses?) hop into bed. I'd also like to see a wider view of these Hundred Thousand Kingdoms that the Arameri control. Only Sky, center of the Amn, is described at length, though even then only the nobles or privileged Amn are shown with any details. Yeine's homeland Darr warranted an occasional mention and one visit, but that was nowhere near enough to sate my curiosity about the warrior-women society.
The ending, though it what was expected even foretold throughout the novel, had quite the surprise attached to it. While completely concluding and resolving the stories and plots within this first novel, it managed to be the perfect cliffhanger for the next in the series, The Broken Kingdoms. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I loved this. I need want a sequel(s?) now. Just amazing. Seraphina is a delightful mix of awesome and charm, wrapped in win. I will be buying my owI loved this. I need want a sequel(s?) now. Just amazing. Seraphina is a delightful mix of awesome and charm, wrapped in win. I will be buying my own copy as soon as this is published.
Actual review, with real thoughts to follow....more
In this, the second of her planned Inheritance trilogy, Jemisin once again delivers another captivating and wonderfully different fantasy story. The iIn this, the second of her planned Inheritance trilogy, Jemisin once again delivers another captivating and wonderfully different fantasy story. The introduction takes place at the time of the Gray Lady's birth at the end of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and then abruptly the narrative skips forward ten years. The perfect world, the structured monotheistic religion and city of Sky that the Amn, and the Arameri have crafted and perfected over millennia, all have changed drastically. As evidenced by the World Tree entwined completely around the city and even palace of Sky, the symbolic power of Bright Itempas and His chief devouts the Arameri, there is no longer one supreme God. The other Gods and godlings, held back from the world for centuries by the Inderdict of Itempas, now dwell among their human kin in Shadow-under-Sky. Ten years have passed since the events in book one, but now someone in that sheltered city has figured out how to assassinate the immortals.
Instead of fierce, fighting-for-her-life-and-country Yeine, this time around the female main character is more docile and unassuming; seeking only to survive on her own independence in a fierce city. A blind artist named Oree Shoth, she has the astounding ability to "see" magic. A city full of magical godlings lured her from her mother and home of Nimaro in Maroneh after the ascension of the Gray Lady and the Lord of Dark Shadows. Once again, Jemisin stands fantasy stereotypes on their heads: Oree is a dark-skinned character from an Amn/Arameri-vanquished culture. She's a strongly sympathetic character, warm and obviously kind-hearted. Oree might be blind (most of the time) but she sees the world for how it is in a city of people who'd rather lie and deceive themselves. She's rather more proactive than reactive, a fact that is easy to appreciate in a genre populated with more than enough Damsels in Distress. Her rapidly expanding magical repertoire over the events of the novel seem a bit like a deux ex machina until the BIG reveal towards the end of the novel. I will say that Oree had all the elements and knowledge long before she put them together, which seemed out of character for such an intelligent and capable woman. But my minor grumbles aside, Oree was another well-written, likable, strong female character.
Once again, this novel told in the first person perspective, that of Oree dictating, remembering her story. The question obviously then is: who is the intended reader? From the diction, and the smooth, conversational flow, it is not the reader. Unlike the previous protagonist Yeine, Oree does not break the third wall: her message and story is for another. There is a more relaxed, easy going tone in this book than the first. Perhaps this is simply because Yeine struggled openly and interpersonally and so much of Oree's fight is within herself, or Shiny. Oree has to deal with less pressure than Yeine, who knew she was going to die and tried to protect an entire country, whereas Oree fights for herself and just those few she loves.
Another grumble I had from the first novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was that hardly any of those Kingdoms were shown, described or even named. Many more details about this innovative world emerge in book two. We learn that there were originally three continents (High North, Senm, and the Maroland). The Maroland (ancient home of the Maroneh and thus Oree's people's native land) was destroyed by Nahadoth at the behest of an Arameri during a rebellion. Details, such as those mentioned above, about this rich, diverse history of the many peoples in this world have allowed Jemisin to create a layered, intricate world, with unique and vivid customs ("triples" are slyly mentioned instead of couples, the Maroneh people "name their daughters for sorrow and their sons for rage"). Originality and innovative are the key words I would use to describe this book, series and author.
Just like the first one, there was no over-reliance on the magic of the world to move the plot forward or to solve all the problems faced. The magic, though different types are introduced than the magic described in Yeine's story, is more of an accent to the story than the main point. In addition to Oree's "Sight", there is mention of "bone-bending" and "shadow-sending", among the displays of magic that other characters possess. The many and varying types of magic within this story are intriguing and creative, showcasing Jemisin's unique type of fantasy.
High marks across the board. A few things might need to tweaked, but Jemisin has clearly grown as an author. The Broken Kingdoms continues the tradition proved in book one: these are excellent, entertaining and fresh fantasy novels from a vividly imaginative creator....more
-told in inimitable and thoroughly cheeky prose brimming with deeper meaning
-filled to the brim with adventures
-creative with new fairytale creatures
-a wonderful mix of classic fairytale staples blended with new interpretations
This book is not:
-just for children
I've had my eye on this particular book for a while - with that cover, it's not hard to see why - and, thankfully, it is that rare novel that holds up to hype, expectation, and hopes. From the first page with the cheeky omniscient narrator to the last with its hints to a sequel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is delightfully absurd tale of magic, corrupted power, friendship, and perseverance. Catherynne Valente can spin a tale like no other (as I learned reading the heartbreaking Deathless earlier this year), and her adaptation of the fairytale genre is like no other I've read.
One part Persephone myth, one part Alice in Wonderland, and one part odd and wonderful, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is not just a children's story. With darker elements and themes subtly wwoven into the episodic frame, Valente creates a story that will resonate with readers of all ages. While I wouldn't say there is an exces sof plot - or even much of a general one, as the story weaves its way around the Fairyland - the Wyverary, Gleam, Saturday and September herself will more than keep the audience firmly tuned in.
With sly humor, and subtle allusions to other famous novels, this weirdly charming, occasionally quite funny little book balances wisdom with adventure, creativity with evil, and the modern with the fantastical. It's a highly original novel, full of some of the best prose I've had a chance to read in some time. Nearly perfect, engrossing and lively, I can't really express how much I loved my read of this. Without a doubt, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is more than worth a read. It's a winner from beginning to the too-soon end.
"But luck can be spent, like money; and lost, like a memory; and wasted, like a life."
"All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. [...] (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.)"
"Only because you are small. You are young and far from your Death, September, so I seem as anything would seem if you saw it from a long way off — very small, very harmless. But I am always closer than I appear. As you grow, I shall grow with you, until, at the end, I shall loom huge and dark over your bed, and you will shut your eyes so as not to see me."
"Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow."
(I also think it's delightfully fitting that I read this book in September.)...more
2014 Reread thoughts: Five stars now, five stars always.
2013 Reread Thoughts: I finished my reread! And though it took me a lot longer than I thought,2014 Reread thoughts: Five stars now, five stars always.
2013 Reread Thoughts: I finished my reread! And though it took me a lot longer than I thought, it was well worth it. This is one of the very best fantasy novels I've ever read - even on a third run-through. Detailed, complex, highly original worldbuilding complemented by nuanced, three-dimensional characters with a strong plot and a decent pace - especially for a 1,000 page tome. I can't wait for book two....more
I absolutely loved this. Ismae's inner monologue was enjoyable and oh, boy do I have a bookcrush on Gavriel Duval. Full review to follow but this oneI absolutely loved this. Ismae's inner monologue was enjoyable and oh, boy do I have a bookcrush on Gavriel Duval. Full review to follow but this one definitely lived up to all the hype for me.
Assassin nuns sound like fun, and in Grave Mercy, they definitely are....more
Even better then Eon. Complex, intricate worldbuiling, with obvious Asian influences, a strong, conflicted and above all, realistic main character madEven better then Eon. Complex, intricate worldbuiling, with obvious Asian influences, a strong, conflicted and above all, realistic main character made this easily one of my favorites for this year. I'm seriously impressed with Alison Goodman and how much she grew as a writer over the course of these two novels. I was so riveted, wracked with emotional whiplash over the course of the novel that I finished this 630+ page novel in one day. It's consumingly readable.
THIS BOOK. This book right here. It just... It wrecked me. It played with my emotions. It gleefully tossed me form the height of happiness to the depths of despair. You know that saying "heart wrenching"? That is Crown of Midnight in two words. I get it now. I am wrenched; my heart is so wrenched it may never recover.
I wasn't expecting to have such an emotional, visceral reaction to this book. I readily admit that I went into it with a lot of trepidation. Though there were things I enjoyed from Throne of Glass (Chaol, strong female characters, hints of magic, Chaol), there was a lot of room for improvement as well. Celaena herself was a bit of trope, she didn't assassinate nearly enough people to back up her incredible arrogance, the mystery tied into the plot was overt and way too obvious, and don't even get me started on the love triangle. But, here in the series' second outing, almost none of those issues reappear. Maas has grown into a much more deft and subtle author; I understand and can empathize with her characters better; Celaena's romantic life is an important facet of the story but not a main focus.
Crown of Midnight may not be technically perfect. I can see some of the technical issues others will have, but my rating is 4 stars for the writing, plot, characters and another star for how much I was engrossed and captivated by the entire novel. This book left me feeling so very many things. Vindication because I called it - a big reveal. Despair because Maas whiplashed me from joy to despair so many times in just 440 pages. Anxiety because I don't have a sequel in my hands waiting to be read. Excitement because Celaena kicks so much more ass in this installment. Hope because I refuse to give up. Envy because this book is so good and I know I will never write like this. Worry because I absolutely can't predict where the story will go from here.
The plot of the novel is more straightforward than the murder mystery/race to the finish at the heart of Throne of Glass. There are some minor questions that Celaena has to work out, but she does, and not dozens of pages after readers have already figured it out. The mysteries are less intrinsic to the plot, and the more subtlety Maas writes with, the less predictable her books and plots become. The solid hints about Celaena's past are also woven into the story with more care, and though I had that figured out before the start of the book, the big reveal at the end was set up very neatly and works well to hint at future plots in the next books.
Celaena was a big obstacle for me in Throne of Glass. I didn't exactly sympathize or identify with her before. Thankfully, I was directed to read the four prequel novellas before embarking on this heartbreak of a book (thank you, Gillian!), and it really adds to Celaena's depiction. I understood her better going into Crown of Midnight, and Maas took more time to flesh out her protagonist into a truly three-dimensional person. I like a flawed, human character better than any paragon of perfection, and oh boy is Celaeana flawed. She's stubborn, arrogant, tends to underestimate anyone without the last name Sardothien, and she makes a lot of mistakes. However, for all her imperfections, this is a great, strong female character. She might make mistakes, but she learns from them too.
Let's talk about love triangle, because it's still hanging on here in Crown of Midnight. Happily, Maas doesn't jerk her main character from love interest to love interest as she did before. Both Dorian and Chaol may have tender feelings for the deadly Celaena, but for all her flaws, the girl isn't indecisive. She makes a choice, and though there are complications between the two, it isn't about what man Celaena wants to be with. I can't say the love triangle is entirely dead (this is YA, after all) but Maas handles it with maturity and I didn't mind how it was used for tension amongst the three principles.
I may have been a tepid fan before, but no longer. I'm fully on board this ship (and the Chaol + Celaena ship), and will be buying copies of this series. I was so entertained by this actiontastic thrill ride; I was heartbroken at some of the twists and turns; I was emotionally whiplashed as Maas kept the reveals and betrayals coming. For better or worse, I am invested in this series, these characters, this world. It's going to be a long hard wait for book three, but I am counting down the days. This is an author that has grown into her story and really impressed me with her sophomore effort.
If you're on the fence like I was, if you liked but didn't love Throne of Glass -- don't give up. Read the prequels. And then read the second because you won't be disappointed. Crown of Midnight is the rare sequel that exceeds expectations and surpasses its predecessor. This is YA fantasy - with a female main character! - done so right....more