I loved the main characters: the children - Taran the pig-headed assistant pig keeper, and Eilonwy, the bubbly and feisty princess who reminded me a lI loved the main characters: the children - Taran the pig-headed assistant pig keeper, and Eilonwy, the bubbly and feisty princess who reminded me a lot of Hermione in Harrry Potter. Also the friends – Gurgi the cowardly creature, Fflewddur Fflam the incompetent bard and Doli the grumpy dwarf – are fun comedy companions, and good value, and their bickering dialogue is great and keeps the tone of the adventure light and breezy. The quest itself, and some of the other adult heroes and wizards, come across a bit flat, and their dialogue and actions are sometimes a little too Lord of the Rings in flavour. I also wish there had been a bit more jeopardy in the middle, and that we'd seen more of the Horned King and the Caldron-Born - because they have such great potential as a villains. But overall it's a good Middle Grade fantasy, with fun characters, and if I was a kid it would've definitely got four stars....more
The life of Achilles told from the point of view of his lover Patroclus and focusing on the love between them. The book takes in some episodes of AchiThe life of Achilles told from the point of view of his lover Patroclus and focusing on the love between them. The book takes in some episodes of Achilles childhood and youth, as well as creating a story for Patroclus, and then goes on to the siege of Troy and the events of the Iliad.
The dialogue and some of the scenes are a bit cheesy. The scenes between Achille's mother and Patroclus in particular, feel like they're from a modern soap or gay character drama, as well as a few other scenes with modern analogies -such as the celebrity scene where Achilles arrives to meet the Greek army.
I really enjoyed the early chapters, about Patroclus's past and his developing love with Achilles. Later when it gets to the Trojan war and there is some overlap with the Iliad, I wasn't quite so into it, the Iliad is not one of my favourite stories. Though Madeleine Miller give a great slant to the events with Patroclus's anti-war sentiment and attempts to save people vs Achilles sudden blood lust and moody teenage behaviour, I didn't feel that Achilles character really developed into more than the movie-star-hero object of affection and the relationship with Patroclus didn't deepen as much as I hoped. Having said that, the way that both characters change is done well and is also in keeping with the stories of the iliad, which have to be accommodated. There were also some great scenes with Odysseus and I hope that after this she writes an update of the Odyssey too....more
Eleven year old orphan, Silver Rivers, and her uncaring Aunt, Mrs Rokabye, live at Tanglewreck a run down country house that once belonged to Silver'sEleven year old orphan, Silver Rivers, and her uncaring Aunt, Mrs Rokabye, live at Tanglewreck a run down country house that once belonged to Silver's father. In nearby London time tornadoes are sweeping the city, dragging people into the past and throwing the past into the present. Only one thing can stop the disintegration of time: the Timekeeper, an ancient broken clock that was once owned by Silver's father. Silver must find the clock and repair it before it is discovered by the villainous Abel Darkwater and Regalia Mason who plan to steal the clock and control time itself.
I had mixed feelings about this first children's novel by Jeanette Winterson but if I was a child I think I would love it. It starts off nicely with the Dickensian Mrs Rokabye giving Silver the Cinderella treatment. Mrs Rokabye is a character Jeanette knows well, another version of the legendary Mrs Winterson. Abel Darkwater is also an intriguing villain. He owns a watch shop in Spitalfields (probably right next door to Jeanette's own shop!) and Silver visits him there and is hypnotised. The first half of the book also introduces a group of underground mole-like people and a lot of intriguing story ideas around the time tornadoes ( ideas that are sadly never returned to).
In the second half of the book the fantasy and sci-fi landscapes and tropes really kick in and the relentless fast pace and the lack of descriptions of anything, particularly the sci-fi world, started to annoy me. Contrasting this, there is quite a lot of talk about quantum physics, time travel, and the real Schrodinger's Cat - Dinger - even puts in an appearance! All this and a bunch of Popes in space (how do those things go together?) made it come across like a mixture of His Dark Materials, Neverwhere, and a Doctor Who episode....more
It has been eighteen years since I read a Pratchett book, and so I haven't kept up with the recent goings on in Discworld, but I picked this book up iIt has been eighteen years since I read a Pratchett book, and so I haven't kept up with the recent goings on in Discworld, but I picked this book up in the library on a whim. Tiffany Aching is a great young heroine and, although the main story takes a little while to get going, once the supernatural villain arrives and threatens Tiffany's life it becomes a very enjoyable read. After finishing it I wished it was a hundred pages longer, and then wondered why I hadn't read a Prachett book in eighteen years, and then thought I should probably read some more of them. ...more
I struggled for the first chapter to get into Perdido Street station, but after that, there was so much interesting stuff going on in the first half oI struggled for the first chapter to get into Perdido Street station, but after that, there was so much interesting stuff going on in the first half of the book that I enjoyed. The grotty detailed descriptions of New Crobuzon had a strong flavour of Mervyn Peake, crossed with Pratchett's Ankh Morpork. Naked Lunch Insect headed people, and a crime lord who is a hulking lump of remade flesh - a mountain of angry mouths and various animal parts. The tender, but frankly weird interspecies relationship between Isaac and Linn. The way that this is a fantasy novel full of creatures and yet it has a real city feel about it because our heroes go out to yuppie restaurants, get drunk in bars and talk about their job, or go to the fair, or take cabs, or wander round parts of the city etc. And all this feels such a different direction from the average quest story of a fantasy novel, it seems as if the story will be low key and political - about the crime boss and his machinations or the Maxist magazine and the riots of the Vodyanoi, Yagharek and his crime, those kind of things.
Then the story take a U turn into a fantasy quest/bug hunt, and add in a load of new characters - mercenaries and criminals, who are more suited to this kind of narrative, and who you don't care about at all - to bolster up the team ( now definitely a team rather than a bunch of selfish city types) - and dropping the most interesting characters like Linn, who don't fit this new storyline. As the story becomes a straightforward action adventure, I felt like all the descriptions and the new characters like the Mayor and his deputies, are just clogging up and slowing down what needs to be a fast paced story. Especially towards the end, when characters like Pengefinches, who have barely been mentioned, suddenly gets a whole POV chapter, and there are chapters about random characters literally laying cable, for the Big Plan. And so what should be a relatively pacey third act, just seems to drag with endless detail and characters. I suppose it deserves more stars for the amazing opening half of the book, but by the last third it was a struggle to get to the end.
I don't think I'm going to finish this one it's rambling and boring. It seems really thrown together as a story everything is flat and none of the epiI don't think I'm going to finish this one it's rambling and boring. It seems really thrown together as a story everything is flat and none of the episode develop the cardboard characters or blossom into interesting asides. I did like the dialogue of the dufflepuds - all agreeing with their leader – which I thought was a nice gimmick, other than that it feels like an endless sequence of one note ideas. ...more
I think I preferred the movie version, it was much better plotted than the book, eschewing the book's flashback structure and sitting around for a parI think I preferred the movie version, it was much better plotted than the book, eschewing the book's flashback structure and sitting around for a parallel stories that ran together with a lot more action and excitement. The characters – the Penvensies (who I cannot stand in the books) and Caspian (who is little more than a cypher) – had some facets in the film where as in the book they are totally one dimensional. I don't particularly like the insidious black-and-white morality that pervades everything, the undertones of sexism, racism and classism. The laboured moral lessons slapped in the middle of each story, here about faith, Lucy is the only one who can see Aslan etc. There's also a mixing of cosy fireside-ness (the bolgy bears??) with war treated as a cricket match, where the private school heroes beat the oiks. There's a weird mixing of Roman god Bacchus with Aslan where they all dance through towns righting wrongs, and generally having a bacchanal – but obviously a very morally respectable and restrained one. Oh, and there are also walking trees – like Ents, but then I guess this and LOTR were written at the same time in the same group. A lot of this is so tonally wacky you can see why they dropped it from the film in favour of the main adventure story which I think they strengthened to great effect. So far my least favourite Narnia book, although still three to go.
A last tribe of Neanderthals (the People) arrive in their Summer home – a rocky outcrop near the top of a large waterfall. Peaceful hunter gatherers wA last tribe of Neanderthals (the People) arrive in their Summer home – a rocky outcrop near the top of a large waterfall. Peaceful hunter gatherers with an earth-mother religion, they do not understand tools, nor can they formulate complex thoughts, they speak simply and also they communicate telepathically through pictures. One day they smell strangers nearby and gradually the become aware of a tribe of Homo Sapiens (the new people) who have come up the river in dug out canoes and are camping on a river island. The new people steal the Neanderthal children and kill the tribe elders, only Lok and Fa, a man and woman, are left, and they set out to rescue the children.
Despite being written in simple language this is quite a difficult book to read. This is because WIlliam Golding has chosen to tell the story in style that suggest a Neanderthal mindset. Though it’s written in the third person the narration is skewed to suggest the protagonist - Lok’s - view. As he spies on the homo sapiens a lot of their behaviour is alien to him. He also has a strange way of describing everything — from the geography of places to interactions between characters — there is sometimes no distinction in his observations between the real and unreal and this gives the story a dream like quality that is often hard to follow.
The Neanderthals in the book are verging on that cliché of the simple, peaceful tribal people who, once again, represent humans before the fall, before consciousness. Where as the homo sapiens are more badly behaved, drinking, killing, beating etc. Stylistically it is an interesting device to use the writing to suggest the Neanderthal mind, I think it works really well but throws up lots of issues. At two points the narration jarred for me, when Lok used the words: ‘make love’, which sounded too twentieth century and also at another point when Golding stepped away from Lok’s view to give an authorial comment, and I can’t remember why, otherwise the style works really well. One of the other strange side effect though was that at the end when the narration switches to a Homo sapiens man’s view, he is suddenly starling sophisticated by comparison in the way he formulates ideas. The distinction works well but also makes the Homo sapiens feel very advanced.
The book's introduction suggests that Neanderthals didn’t have language, which makes sense, language is what separates us from other animals, it is the start of abstract thought and duality - separating and portioning everything out and printed words suggest that so strongly too, so maybe it would be impossible to use written language to create a Neanderthal view of the world, but Golding has given it a damn good try! ...more