How did I not notice this novel until now? Shame on me! Go buy it, all of you! Go now and get the whole set! I'm in process of getting the rest of theHow did I not notice this novel until now? Shame on me! Go buy it, all of you! Go now and get the whole set! I'm in process of getting the rest of them into my hot little hands.
The book opens with a marvelous "Note on the text", explaining that these folk tales from the Annaren society have not ever been translated into English before. The legends of the Edil-Amarandh people are therefore being here presente for the first time by the author. This intro lends a bit of historicity to the book. It is of course utterly fictional, but still, a delightful device.
Maerad, our heroine, is a lowly slave in her mid teens, living in a pretty depressing mountain stronghold at the beginning of the book. She's considered a bit of a witch, and has only a few memories of her mother to console her in her lonely life. An accidental encounter in a barn changes everything: or was it accidental at all? Escaping her life of sorrow and drudgery with a strange man named Cadvan puts her on a road filled with danger and surprises, but also many delights.
They must first escape the evil that holds her in her mountainous prison. Along the way, Cadvan begins to suspect there is far more to Maerad than even she knows. He is a Bard, a musician and teacher. All Bards in the land of Annar are teachers of some kind, or makers, of everything from music and writing to swordplay and carpentry. The Barding schools, scattered across the country, have traditionally been places of learning, hope, and service.... but a darkness is spreading through the land, and Cadvan is out to find out where it comes from. As he begins to know more about Maered, he begins to suspect that she is of an ancient and important line, and may in fact be the Foretold, who will save the world from being engulfed in evil.
Vast and sweeping like Tolkien (it even has an awesome hand drawn map at the front, so cool!,) I found it easier to read overall. There's considerable backstory added at the end, an explanation of the "ages" of Annar. The charmingly imperfect female lead character visibly grows in her maturity as the book progresses, and her slightly mysterious but likable male guide Cadvan has a back story that is only just getting revealed as the first novel ends. The good guys are complex and often aggravate one another but they are connected and they know it, simply because they love the good. The bad guys often appear to be good: "demons appearing as angels of light", if you are Scriptural. But the evil they do is centered on selfishness and the darkness that grows from that is threatening the entire land.
I was utterly charmed by the beautiful lyrics to the songs in this book, and am dying to hear them sung aloud. (I had the same feeling about the songs from Anne McCaffrey's glorious Pern series, and finally managed to get my hands on a CD called MasterHarper of Pern.) If anyone knows whether or not the songs from this series have been recorded, I would be eternally grateful.
I loved this. LOVED it. Read it in two days flat. Have already ordered the rest of the series. The writing is so good, with descriptions that are beautiful but not TOO long: (I recently dragged my way through most of the first Gormenghast book, so long descriptions are OUT for now.) She avoids cliches and heavy handed foreshadowing, and (rare for me) I did not often know ahead of time what was going to happen. The bit with Hem was a great twist to the story. The characterizations are so wonderful, I feel like I know some of the people in this book as real persons.
Regarding this book for children: I highly recommend it. The book contains no sex and the only romance present is shown between married couples, aside from one poignant and gentle kiss which Maerad receives, and which baffles her. Scary monsters/ evil creatures like weyrs and wights, so appear, however, and there are several instances which refer to bad guys doing terrible things to innocent people, especially towards the end as Maerad's memories return. But I would say, nothing a 6th grader (say age 11?) cannot handle, especially if they have already read Tolkien or Hunger Games.
Put it in every school library and push it at your children. Make them listen to the audio CD in the car. This is a great book for young adults ... and for us regular ones, too. ...more
I got this on Kindle for a very low price, and read it for a light entertainment. It was great fun! Clever ruse to set up the story, fleshed out and bI got this on Kindle for a very low price, and read it for a light entertainment. It was great fun! Clever ruse to set up the story, fleshed out and believable good characters along with a handful of not so good folks you love to hate, and I really loved Mr. North. I was delighted the entire read. It's not great literature but it is very well done fun romance. ...more
The thing about war is there is never a winner. Both sides lose; the winner is the one that loses the least.
Third in the series. I loved book one, liThe thing about war is there is never a winner. Both sides lose; the winner is the one that loses the least.
Third in the series. I loved book one, liked book two, and fought my way to the end of book three, which I did like but found increasingly difficult to read.
Todd and Viola continue their battle with Mayor Prentiss, who is also fighting Mistress Coyle and of course The Spackle as well. Add to this a new voice, that of 1017, and we begin to get a view into the alien world of the Spackle/ The Land. More yelling in this book that in the previous two combined. I got rather sick and tired of Todd and Viola constantly calling out each other's name across the thought waves. Todd! Viola! TODD! VIOLA! ok ok we get it.
Spoiler alert here: I had hoped that we would get some insight into what made Mayor Prentiss such a spectacularly awful human person, but we never do. I saw the value of the peace that is formed at the end but also felt a bit disappointed that after a 3 book build up, things just "get resolved" and everyone agrees to stop being so mean. I understand Ness' point here but admit to feeling deflated by the ending. I, like 1017, wanted some punishment to be meted out.
That said, I love the way this book brings up many of the difficult ethical questions we face in war times. I would value having great conversations with young men and women who have rad this and discussing with them how different characters acted, and why that might be right or wrong.
Recommended for youth over 8th grade only, way too much violence for younger kiddos. The depiction of slavery is particularly harrowing here.
In The Ask and The Answer, the story from book one, The Knife of Never Letting Go, continues. Todd and Viola must come to terms with the New Order, seIn The Ask and The Answer, the story from book one, The Knife of Never Letting Go, continues. Todd and Viola must come to terms with the New Order, set in place by the terrifyingly well-written villain character of Mayor Prentiss, whose smarmy politician-styled control of the city seems virtually unbreakable. Look ye and see, what charisma can do in the hands of a madman.
Todd is separated from Viola at the start of the novel, and more or less imprisoned by Mayor Prentiss, who seems to take an unhealthy interest in the young man. Viola is carted out of the city and ends up with a resistance movement made up of women who are fighting back against Prentiss' creepy control, and its many religious-fanatic overtones. Both Todd and Viola are forced to make uncomfortable choices, and in their dilemmas we begin to wrestle with the themes of this book: slavery, free will, appropriate and inappropriate societal rebellion against unjust rulers, and the fundamental ethics of social orders. Are you a terrorist or a hero if you fight back against the oppressive powers that be? Does it depend on the powers that be and how bad they are, or upon what YOU do to fight back?
War is on. The novel has many battles, ranging from small two-person struggles to giant warfare carried out on a grand scale. More colonists are coming, and whose side will they be on? At last, we get to meet the Spackle, and hear THEIR thoughts, which I really liked. While alien and different from humans in many ways, they are sentient and clever, and perhaps far wiser than we are.
This book is tremendously different from the first. Book one was a journey tale, and slow unveiling of hidden truths. This novel takes place almost entirely in one spot, and asks some much more difficult questions about war, ethics, slavery, free will, trust, and the limits of human endurance.
Again, though written as a YA novel, I would reserve this for older students, beyond 8th grade in most cases. It raises many interesting themes. ...more
Tree Ear is an unlikely hero, a homeless orphan in ancient Korea, living quite literally in the mud. But he has a burning desire: he is fascinated witTree Ear is an unlikely hero, a homeless orphan in ancient Korea, living quite literally in the mud. But he has a burning desire: he is fascinated with the work of the local Potter, Min, a man of poor temper and questionable kindness, who reluctantly agrees to take Tree Ear on as a worker. The Potter has created an astonishing new glaze in a pale celadon green shade. (Historically this is accurate: celadon did come out of ancient Korea and was highly prized in the centuries before the Renaissance, and the secret to making it was closely guarded.) With no status of his own, the only way Tree Ear can hope to improve his situation is to learn the trade, and he applies himself diligently, putting up with drudgery and back breaking chores for the Potter.
Eventually, he is sent to the far-away City, to show the celadon pottery to Royal officials in hopes of earning for the Potter (and himself) a royal commission. This becomes the journey part of the story, the coming of age tale when Tree Ear must decide what he is willing to do to become a real man.
A well-crafted tell that shows history rather than telling it, and a likable and unusual hero for us. I loved it. ...more
The Dark compilation is a series of stories with a similar space opera type theme or setting: most take place in the deep dark reaches of outer space,The Dark compilation is a series of stories with a similar space opera type theme or setting: most take place in the deep dark reaches of outer space, far from Earth. Each story is followed by a short author’s interview, often with some surprising questions. I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about each author, especially those who were new to me.
Story One: Containment. By Susan Kaye Quinn. A beautiful and thought provoking tale about the transformative power of art, even upon manufactured intelligence (robots). I was driven to read this one all the way through, and then to re-read it again, right away, more slowly. I think it’s an important commentary upon our need to be creative beings, as well as a fun robot story, and also serves as a great jumping off place from which to discuss the age old sci-fi question, “At what point does an artificial intelligence becomes sentient -- and human?”
Story Two: Nos Morituri Te Salutamus (the ancient Roman gladiators used to say this before each battle in the various coliseums: it means “We who are about to die salute you!”) by Annie Bellet. Fast paced action tale about a military extraction team facing a terrifying arachnid enemy, whose main weapon is flesh eating acid. Beautiful insight into military morale and teamwork, as well as some good old fashioned thriller moments.
Story three: Protocol A235: By Teresa Kay. A very short story about a colony ship, with a profoundly deep and mounting sense of dread that is crystallized in the last few lines. I lost sleep after this one.
Story four: Winner Takes All. By Elle Casey. A story about a high stakes card game in a space station between a handsome but jaded space ship’s captain and a cocky young lady. The captain has some – I’ll go with “uncomfortable”--- prejudices and thoughts, and I was left wanting to know more: more about him, and the world, but mostly more about the girl, Cass. (I was glad to learn in the author’s interview that there is more: a whole series in fact.)
Story Five: Carindhi, by Jennifer Foehner Wells. After a plague wipes out almost everyone aboard a ship in deep space, no one is left except an alien navigator encased (enslaved?) in a huge box of water, which she/he breathes, and a child, trapped and also protected in a bio armor suit. Though it is primarily a story about sacrificial love, I also noted with great interest its treatment of gender. I especially enjoyed this story as I am currently halfway through a wonderful novel by the same author, Fluency, and this story connects to the novel.
Story Six: Animal Planet, by Patrice Fitzgerald. To be honest, I saw the punchline for this story coming WAY too soon. Colonists on a planet discover an unusual animal with a recorder strapped to its head. A recorder THEY built…
Story 7: The Event, by Autumn Kalquist. If humanity is given a second chance on another planet…. Do we deserve that? And who gets to decide? A very short story about judgement, second chances, and free will.
Story 8: Dragonet, by Sara Reine. Is it morally acceptable to kill the unprotected offspring of your deadly alien enemy? And is it a betrayal to your own race to protect such offspring? An excellent ethical question, handled well. There’s a series of novels that she is in the process of writing, centered around the concepts and situations in this short story: I can’t wait. I love dragons. Who would have thought there would be dragons in a space opera tale? I love the juxtaposition!
Story 9: LuLu Ad Infinitum, by Ann Christy. If your personality, skills, learning, and memories could be saved, digitally, and downloaded into a new biological body whenever the old one died or wore out, would you be immortal? That way, if an accident wiped out everyone else on the ship, you could replicate your younger, digitally saved self a sufficient number of times to crew the ship and finish the mission. But if you do…. Which one of you is YOU? And how well will you get along with no one but a lot of yourselves walking around? I’m a huge fan of this author already. This story did not disappoint.
Story 10: To Catch an Actor: By Blair C. Babylon. The complications of police detective work when people can travel in space, where times passes more slowly, while those left behind on the planet live life at “normal time”…. A very interesting concept. Well written too. And a secondary idea is also explored, briefly: what if, instead of acting, we could implant people (by their choice) with emitters that hormonally and chemically “force” them to actually feel the emotions that actors once pretended to feel? What would that do to stage craft? To police interrogations?
Story 11: 2092, by Rysa Walker. What if aliens came to Earth not to conquer us, but because they needed a tool we had in order to win a war with another alien race? And what if that tool were a form of time travel? I am, as yet, unfamiliar with this author’s CHONOS world and the Kindle Chronos files that her fans have contributed to: but after reading this story, I intend to find it and read them all.
A rollicking good short story compilation, well worth the price. Get it and read it! ...more
This is a dystopian novel for youth, considerably more plausible perhaps than most, and there is much to like in the story, though I also had some conThis is a dystopian novel for youth, considerably more plausible perhaps than most, and there is much to like in the story, though I also had some concerns. Overall a good read, but it hits one of my worst personal pet peeves: books that end with a cliffhanger on the last few pages, forcing you to move forwards and read the sequel or the rest of the trilogy. (I also hated Maze Runner for the pulling the same crap.) That said, this is WAY better than Maze Runner or than most current dystopian fiction for YA.
In this world, a political battle and nasty civil war have led society to this idea: rather than punishing criminals, let's wipe away their memories and personalities and give them a blank slate (get it? "slated?") These people then have a second chance to become good citizens. In the meantime, the slated are kept in control by the Levo they wear, a non-removable device on the wrist that measures emotion and literally knocks you out if you get too depressed or riled up. This is supposed to prevent criminals from being able to hurt people again.
Kyla is told she was a criminal. Kyla is our heroine, and she's pretty likeable as a character, (though I do think we are shown her thoughts waaaaaaay too often, and she relies on her gut feelings too much too, given the very real danger she faces.) She's living in Britain and has recently been sent to live with her "new" family, as she is a "Slated".
Glimpses of the truth are gradually revealed, and Kyla dreams unexplainable dreams, begins to wonder who she really was before, sees several people in her world simply disappear, and discovers that the battle is not really over: terrorists and protestors are commonplace in her world. The political battle that she cannot even SEE at the beginning of the book grows in importance until, by the end, it is all that matters. Some adults who claim to be helping her are not, really, and others who seems dangerous might actually be on her side. There's a romantic interest in Ben. He is problem #2 for me. For the first 2/3 of the book he is compliant, forgetful, nice but a bit stupid even: then in the last third he suddenly becomes this interiorly- hard-driven, risk-taking decision maker. I did not buy the change.
Things I liked: complex characters abound. He new "parents" are perhaps my favorite example: Dad becomes more and more sinister, and Mom begins to reveal that she is more than we think at first. The teachers are also fascinating, both those who play along and those who rebel. The art teacher is my favorite. The use of art in the book is also well done, and new and interesting. It's one of the ways Kyla begins to figure out who she was and is.
The premise of the novel is interesting, and of course the opportunity for abuse is obvious: if we can rewrite people, let's start with our enemies and political opponents right? The writing is above average as well: I think that may be why the small problems bothered me so much. Potential was there for a GREAT book, but was not fully realized: Strong writing and an original idea, but not polished, and it used the cliffhanger trick.
Parents of middle-schoolers should know this has violence (not as violent as Hunger Games, but in some ways more sinister) but not sex, aside from a kiss. I had to force myself to finish, but this is not uncommon in YA novels: they are written to intrigue a 14 year old, not someone my age, so that's normal really.