So I've read every book in this series. It's been fun. I love the world and the Atevi culture, and the characters are great. I love Bren's aishid. TheSo I've read every book in this series. It's been fun. I love the world and the Atevi culture, and the characters are great. I love Bren's aishid. There's just one thing that keeps bothering me.
A little background: A few years ago, when Jean Auel wrote the Ayla series, I read each one as soon as it came out. I was hooked on this character and her grand adventures. My husband read them too and his only comment was that she invented everything. The comment stuck with me, because, of course it was sort of true. Sewing. Taming horses and dogs. Inventing the sling. And a bunch of other species changing events all brought about at the hands of this one woman.
I mean, it's not like Jean was really claiming that this one woman did all those things, or that there even was just one person who did these things. They were works of fiction and she was just bringing to life events that must have happened at some point, conveniently housed in a single, interesting and likeable person. It was just so unrealistic, when you stepped back and looked at it from that perspective. And the thing is, once you did look at it from that perspective, the suspension of disbelief, so critical to enjoyment of the book, was ruined. I couldn't read another book in the series without being a little cynical about whatever new adventure or skill Ayla came up with. And I never did read the last few.
Yeah, there's a point and I imagine you've come to it by now. Bren is truly at the center of his universe. Oh sure, he's not the aiji, but even the supreme leader of an entire race of people defers to his judgement, in most things. After a while, one's willingness to believe begins to suffer.
I think it's a matter of being hoist by her own petard. C.J. wrote about this fascinating species that didn't have emotions in the same way as humans do, and set up a classic confrontation, with the readers empathy inclined to settle on the Atevi side. After all, aside from a few exceptions, we see most humans in these books as petulant, irrational creatures who pursue their own narrow and selfish political interests, even when those interests put their lives and their entire culture at risk. There appears to be no appreciation or gratitude towards the Atevi or even a basic understanding that they exist on an island with limited resources at the discretion of a people who never invited them.
And the Atevi are supposed to be guided by an emotional structure so unlike humans that the very exposure between races creates difficulties in understanding so severe they've escalated to war in the past and could easily do so again, as each side finds it impossible to breach the gulf.
And yet, at this point in the series, some 18 books in, Bren is still the only one who can be depended on to act in a smart and rational way, guiding everyone else to the safe ground. He's navigated the emotional gap so successfully he's become a virtual savior to Atevi, who appear to find him completely reassuring (I would say beloved, but that's supposed to be the problem, isn't it?) It's lovely to read, but there's a corner of my mind that says, "Really? Nobody else would be able to see it from this perspective and do the right thing? Really?!" And that sort of ruins it for me.
Will I stop reading the series, if we get more? No. Not at all. I love the Atevi. They are one of the most interesting alien cultures imagined in science fiction today. I just wish that it had been possible to maintain a bit more of their alien-ness. That their alien emotional structure continued to surprise and catch Bren off guard. That Bren still feels danger not only from the occasional Atevi he doesn't know, but from the ones he loves. And that they would sometimes do things that are incomprehensible to him.
The premise of the story is that there was a reason the humans and Atevi warred 200 years before Foreigner begins. A reason they limited contact between their two races. I can only imagine that at some point in the past, there were other humans and Atevi who felt they'd managed to leap the gap, but who were disastrously wrong. That reason appears to have faded over the course of this series and it leaves behind a drier heart to the story. The Atevi have had their teeth removed somewhat, to everyone's detriment.
Oh, and reading back on this review, and reflecting on the activities of our current legislative branch, I believe I did Ms. Cherryh a disservice. She's nailed human politics and politicians. My apologies....more
So, so happy I stuck out the first chapter of Half a King. When I started the first book of this trilogy, not even realizing that it was one, I wasn'tSo, so happy I stuck out the first chapter of Half a King. When I started the first book of this trilogy, not even realizing that it was one, I wasn't sure. It seemed a little formulaic. Then I gave it to my husband to read, since he was in need of a book. He read it in what for him was record time, and suggested strongly that I had my head in an anatomically impossible position if I didn't like this book. I gave it another try and fell in love. That was the first book.
Then I realized that there was a second one. And a third. And miracle of miracles, they were not just promised, they were printed and available to read, unlike others who shall remain nameless (you know who you are George and Pat). I devoured this book in roughly a day, kicking myself for a fool the entire time, because I knew that once I turned that last page, that was it, I'd be back in my own world. But I didn't care. I had to know what happened.
I'm not a big fan of trilogies where each book is obviously just the opening for the next book. And Joe doesn't do that. You could pick up either Half a King, or Half the World and read it with great satisfaction as a single book. Fortunately, however, you don't have to. I can hardly wait for book 3....more
I can hardly wait for it to be time to re-read this trilogy. I'd start right now except that I know from previous experience that 2 days later is tooI can hardly wait for it to be time to re-read this trilogy. I'd start right now except that I know from previous experience that 2 days later is too soon....more
I just like this series. I like the characters. I like the magic. I like the pace and tone of the story. Is it the best series I've ever read. No. ButI just like this series. I like the characters. I like the magic. I like the pace and tone of the story. Is it the best series I've ever read. No. But I'll read more....more
Living where I live and being who I am, the promise of a book that was going to explain Norwegians, or in fact all Scandinavians, was too good to passLiving where I live and being who I am, the promise of a book that was going to explain Norwegians, or in fact all Scandinavians, was too good to pass up. And Michael Booth didn't disappoint.
Of course no one book "explains" entire countries, but this book was a cross between a Bill Bryson-esque travelogue and a sociological treatise on smugness, with some charming stand-up comedy thrown in, and I was on board from page one.
**spoiler alert** If you know me, or have looked at my shelves, you know I love a good dystopian novel. Throw in some fantasy elements and I'm right t**spoiler alert** If you know me, or have looked at my shelves, you know I love a good dystopian novel. Throw in some fantasy elements and I'm right there! So I read Victoria's book with great interest. I also love it when authors do a good job of re-positioning the classic fairy-tales for a modern audience. And I thought she was doing fine with that. There were a few surprises, some nice prose.
Here's my problem. There is a big push these days to write books in series, because, of course, it makes everybody more money. And that's fine. I get it. What I don't like is the trend towards the incredibly blunt cliff hanger. When it's getting down to the last 30 pages and you still haven't gotten to the big scene, and in fact, the real action is just getting started, I get this sinking sensation. And especially when it's a remix of the classic fairy tale. Because fairy tales end with "and they lived happily ever after." until they don't.
I'm fine with ending a fairy tale on a happy note, or even a sad note that is clearly the end of the story, and then opening the next book with the awful realization that the happiness was an illusion, or the end was just the beginning. But don't make it clear at the end that if I want to know what's going to happen, I'll have to wait until you churn out another book, because that's just frustrating.
You can be a better writer than that, Victoria. Just sayin'....more
I thought this book was brilliant. It makes so much sense. The only part that didn't read true was at the end, when he made some predictions, and partI thought this book was brilliant. It makes so much sense. The only part that didn't read true was at the end, when he made some predictions, and part of that was because the book was published in 2008 and we all know what happened after that. Still, 2008 was a black swan and I'd love to see what he has to say about marketing now.