The book started off well enough. The escape from the prison was exciting, and I liked Grim and Blackthorn as POV characters. Unfortunately, as I keptThe book started off well enough. The escape from the prison was exciting, and I liked Grim and Blackthorn as POV characters. Unfortunately, as I kept reading, the plot stayed at a standstill until page 300. Once the mystery-solving got underway everything moved much quicker, but it was too little too late. About 100 pages of the story could have been chopped and the book would have been much better. I might have been able to forgive this sort of weird plotting in a debut author but not from someone who's been writing as long as Juliet Marillier. I won't be reading on in this series....more
Falcio was once the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, but since the death of his king, he’s been stuck making a living as a glorified bodyguardThe Story
Falcio was once the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, but since the death of his king, he’s been stuck making a living as a glorified bodyguard. When he and his companions stumble upon an assassination (that they are then framed for), they are forced to go into hiding. They join a caravan which, unfortunately, only serves to get them further entangled in a dangerous scheme involving a princess, vile dukes, and the final destruction of everything the Greatcoats once stood for.
I’ve always loved stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and swashbuckling swordsmen. Traitor’s Blade is a perfect addition to the classic tales of knights and outlaws because it’s rolled all of them into one glorious romp BUT added a dash of The Princess Bride-type humor. It’s that humor that keeps Sebastien de Castell’s novel from descending too deeply into a melodrama about honor, duty, and the first rule of the sword.
Falcio made a great main character. He was very damaged yet blessed with a sense of humor and a dashing outward persona. His companions–Kest and Brasti–were also fantastic, but I didn’t see nearly enough of them. I can’t wait for the second book in the series so I can get to know more about all of the characters (including Aline and Valiana) as well as more about the world and its serious problems.
I highly recommend Traitor’s Blade to anyone who loves a dash of the devil-may-care swashbuckling in their fantasy. It’s fantastic!...more
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is an epic fantasy novel about Fitz–a young boy whose very existence jeopardizes the security of his country. He’sAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is an epic fantasy novel about Fitz–a young boy whose very existence jeopardizes the security of his country. He’s the illegitimate son of the king-in-waiting, but unfortunately for Fitz, his father’s queen cannot bear a legitimate heir. The ruling king worries about the line of succession and fears that his grandson could be a danger in the future. To keep Fitz in line, it’s determined that he will train to be the king’s man–an assassin. Fitz must now prove himself useful and loyal or his very existence might just prove to be too much of a liability to his family.
The court intrigue really dragged me into the story of Assassin’s Apprentice. Fitz’s arrival causes upheaval in the court, and it’s fascinating (and occasionally frustrating) to wait for the fallout. I’m hoping the drama between countries and ruling parties will be upped in the sequels. Assassin’s Apprentice was more of a coming-of-age story than a tale of backstabbing court intrigue. (I definitely could have done with some more poisonings and assassinations.) This novel, though, was a great starting place for the Farseer series. It succeeded in getting me wrapped up in Fitz’s world. I want to know more about the Skill, the Forgings, and the other people that exist outside of the Duchies.
I’d definitely recommend Robin Hobb’s novel if you’re looking for a new fantasy series to try. It’s got some slow moments, but overall, it’s a really great read....more
Abigail Rook longs for adventure. Her parents, both rather traditional, want her to get educated and get married. Feeling as if she has no otThe Story
Abigail Rook longs for adventure. Her parents, both rather traditional, want her to get educated and get married. Feeling as if she has no other choice, Abigail runs off with an archaeological dig to the Ukraine. Her brash attempt at adventure goes badly. Determined not to return to England (and her parents) in shame, she takes a ship to America in the hope that, this time, her adventure-seeking won’t disappoint.
Her first day in America doesn’t prove entirely auspicious at first. Without cash in her pocket, she’s forced to seek work immediately. Unfortunately, no one appears to be hiring. She finds no job leads at all until she stumbles upon a listing for an Investigative Assistant at the post office. Feeling that she meets the criteria for the position, Abigail heads to the investigative service’s office.
From the moment she steps foot in the office, her life will never be the same.
Thanks to the nature of the detective service and it’s unusual detective, Jackaby, Abigail encounters ghosts, ducks who used to be Investigative Assistants themselves, banshees, and many other otherworldly creatures.
Much to both her chagrin (and fascination), Abigail Rook is dragged into a very dangerous murder investigation. This time, her desire for adventure might just have lead to her untimely death.
The book jacket sells Jackaby as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock.” The association left me skeptical until I started reading. Jackaby definitely has a lot a similarities to both series. If the Doctor had the ability to “see” mythical creatures rather than travel through time and space, I imagine he’d be very like Jackaby. I found it especially amusing that Jackaby seems to have the style sense of the 4th Doctor–complete with absurdly long scarf, eccentric hat, and raggedy coat.
(Side Note: I’m very interested in the appearance of the knit scarf and hat. I’d be tempted to make myself one or the other if I could figure out what they looked like. They just sound so comfy and eccentric!)
As for the Sherlock-y-ness of the book, Jackaby has bravado and awkwardness akin to that of Sherlock Holmes, and his unconventional behavior and bluntness creates a very familiar animosity between the police and himself. The interaction between Jackaby and Marlowe are especially similar to Sherlock’s and Lestrade’s–which was, truthfully, kind of fun to witness is a very different sort of story.
With it’s “Doctor Who meets Sherlock” claim, this book did set up very lofty and nerdy expectations for a reader like me, and surprisingly, with most things, it delivered. I liked Jackaby and Abigail as characters and the book only left me wanting to know more about them. I would love to read their further adventures, and thankfully, this is the first in a series so I’ll be able to.
In addition to the main two characters, there was a wide and interesting cast of minor characters. I liked the duck-who-used-to-be-a-person and Jenny especially. I think it would be cool for those two to team up for a side adventure somewhere down the road.
While the slightly Whovian set-up and characters made this story a fun, little romp, the main focus of the plot–the murder mystery–was fairly weak. I knew the killer VERY early on and one of the major twists could be seen a mile off. (Subtle this book was not.) Still, I enjoyed myself thoroughly following Jackaby and Abigail on their road to the same conclusion so I wasn’t as annoyed with lack of a good mystery as I otherwise might have been.
I’d definitely recommend this book in spite of this weakness. It’s an amusing read, and I hope the series will only get better from here on out....more
In alternate Britain, where paganism is rampant and the royal family is protected by druids, the country is in dire straits. Queen Victoria’s Rules haIn alternate Britain, where paganism is rampant and the royal family is protected by druids, the country is in dire straits. Queen Victoria’s Rules have been stolen and without them all Briton is in danger from foreign magic and other threats from beyond Bran’s Wall. Desperate, the queen seeks out two non-magical men whom she believes she can trust—Brihtric Donne and John Weston.
Donne, a renowned consulting detective, and his sidekick, Weston, agree to assist the queen in finding her Rules and protecting her from the evil Kitchener (who stole them from her). Things, however, do not go easy for the duo as bodies begin to pile up and the druids begin disappearing. Kitchener appears to be having help from foreign magics--beings much more powerful than our heroes have dealt with before. Will they succeed in rescuing the queen or will Briton fall into the hands of a mad man?
In Druid's Blood, Friesner blends fictional characters with historical throughout the novel. I’m not a huge history buff, but I was very pleased to see Ada Lovelace and the princes in the Tower make appearances. At times, though, the history did get a bit confusing since characters who would have been dead at the time the novel takes place are alive and kicking. That’s fine, but it did throw me off a bit until I got more used to the flow of the book.
Really, the more I think about it, the novel did have me waffling between confused and pleased quite a lot. There were occasionally jumps in the narrative that were a little jarring, and it took a long time to center myself in this alternate world because nothing was explained. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it took me a very long time to care about any of the characters or to know what the heck was going on. I think it might have taken a bit too long since it probably wasn’t until halfway through that I actually started getting caught up in things.
Still, I did enjoy the book. The ending was very satisfying and I did love seeing what Friesner did with her versions of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I would recommend this book to people who like 19th century history and literature. It’s a treat to read so long as you stick it out. ...more
A man returns to his childhood home. While driving around, he finds himself drawn to a farm at the end of a lane. He can remember vaguely traveling thA man returns to his childhood home. While driving around, he finds himself drawn to a farm at the end of a lane. He can remember vaguely traveling there as a child and visiting with it’s inhabitants, the Hempstocks. A girl lived there, several years older than himself, with her mother and grandmother. He remembers that Lettie, the girl, called their duck pond an ocean.
He goes up to the door and is greeted by a woman he presumes is Lettie’s mother. She offers him tea, and he accepts. First, however, he wants to pay a visit to Lettie’s ocean.
He goes back to the duck pond and sits down. Interestingly, all sorts of memories begin coming back to him. He remembers Lettie and their frightening adventure into another world.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the sort of book I enjoy but don’t love. I experienced no fireworks, lightening, or other signs of love at first read when working my way through this book. The characters were pleasant but not especially interesting, the language was not as snappy as Neil Gaiman’s sometimes can be, and the story was just fine. There was nothing inherently wrong with The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but, for me, there just wasn’t that spark.
With Neil Gaiman’s books, I’ve come to realize that different people like different things. He is one of my favorite writers, but I couldn’t make it through American Gods and I was completely underwhelmed by The Graveyard Book (I know it won an award but I still think the plot kind of got away from itself at the end). Neverwhere and Anansi Boys, however, are two of my favorite books of all time. They are funny, insightful, and have amazing plots. They suit me. The Ocean at the End of the Lane does not suit me. It’s really too literary for my taste. I think people who love The Night Circus and The Golem and the Jinni and all sorts of books like that will love this one. If, like me, you love story more than language and insight, this book will probably just be so-so for you. ...more