I picked this up as a Kindle deal, because I know the author, and he suggested that it might be something I'd like. I didn't really know what to expecI picked this up as a Kindle deal, because I know the author, and he suggested that it might be something I'd like. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised!
Maltman's fantasy concept is refreshingly creative, especially in the current literary atmosphere where so many magical fantasies seem to blend into one another. Most stories in the same vein follow the familiar Hogwarts homage: the protagonist discovers a latent ability and enters training with the existing experts. Instead of repeating this common trope, Maltman's characters find themselves rediscovering a lost craft, so they explore the scope of their powers along with the reader. This cleverly escapes the plot holes that often leave the reader wondering why the novices (rather than the experts) are always the ones fighting the ultimate evil, and why their mentors rarely teach them a fit-for-purpose set of skills.
The decidedly-Roman fantasy world of Pazh is well thought out, and leaves the reader with a twinge of wanderlust, wondering what the other parts of the empire will be like. The prose gives enough hints for the reader to understand the basic geography and culture without needing to extensively refer to the map and notes at the back of the book.
My only criticism is that at certain points the plot felt overly rushed. I had trouble buying into a few of the characters' more emotion-driven decisions and felt that the timeline was a bit too short to be believable. The female lead in particular seems to fluctuate between extreme feelings at a somewhat unrealistic rate. While this wasn't a serious problem, it was enough to strain my suspension of disbelief a few times and pull me back to reality out of an otherwise extremely immersive novel....more
As an origami enthusiast and avid reader, I really wanted to like this book, and I went in with low expectations. Unfortunately it still managed to diAs an origami enthusiast and avid reader, I really wanted to like this book, and I went in with low expectations. Unfortunately it still managed to disappoint me quite a lot.
The concept is vaguely interesting, and normally I give a book a token star just for a clever idea, but this one was not well executed. As a competent folder, I was disappointed by the trivial examples used in the book (even many of those used by the master paper magician). I would expect anyone who chose to write a book dealing with origami to have seen something like Robert Lang's masterful work, which demonstrates that incredible models can be created even from a single piece of paper (the few exciting paper sculptures in the book are all described vaguely and comprised from multiple sheets).
Setting aside my origami background and evaluating the book purely on its literary merits does not improve my opinion at all. The characters are so shallow and poorly developed that I found myself disliking them all by the end, not because they were unlikable, but because their actions and opinions were never backed by any kind of evidence. I found their decisions jarring and unrealistic. (view spoiler)[ When Ceony arrives at Thane's home, she finds him quite strange. However, the reader is expected to believe that in the course of a few weeks (during which even disappears for an extended period), Ceony falls so deeply in love with him that she's willing to risk her life for him? By this point I was starting to write my own explanation in my head. Maybe his death would mean the end of her apprenticeship and magic career, so she goes gallivanting off to save him for her own sake, and only starts to develop feelings as she traverses his heart. But no, the book won't even let me insert a bit of realism, because by the time we end the story, he's just as smitten with her, and everyone will live happily ever after.
The love story in general seemed contrived and forced. It almost felt condescending, as if one can't possibly read a piece of paranormal fiction with a female protagonist that doesn't involve romance. I read the initial chemistry between Ceony and Thane as fatherly, especially given his clear role as mentor. Without much build-up at all, the introduction of the romantic element was extremely uncomfortable to read, since I had already placed the characters into a completely different context.
The framework for a lot of the character development seems to be there, but it's never filled out. Why did Thane put up the scholarship money for a complete stranger? Why is Ceony so intent on bonding with metal and creating enchanted bullets? These seem like they would be interesting insights into who these characters really are. (hide spoiler)]
I kept feeling like I picked up this book in the middle of a series, and I was expected to already know the characters. The author never introduced us, and none of my background questions were ever answered. In fact, I set the book down with less than one page to go, and I had no idea that I was so close to the end, since so many questions remained.
My other major criticism is that the attempt at historical fiction was incredibly distracting. The attitudes, dialogue, and situations were all so anachronistic, that aside from an occasional reference to carriages and telegraphs, the book read as completely contemporary. I simply don't understand the point of trying to place it into a historical context at all. The overall story would have lost nothing by being set in a modern time frame, and it wouldn't have suffered from all the awkward "Wait, isn't this supposed to be Victorian London?" moments.
Overall, the book seems like an unfinished first draft. It feels like there are huge sections missing, and it has not yet passed in front of an editor. It would never be a great book (the plot is too trivial), but it could have been much better.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Although Lafleur's first book could certainly benefit from professional editing, there's no question that she writes with a unique voice and a fantastAlthough Lafleur's first book could certainly benefit from professional editing, there's no question that she writes with a unique voice and a fantastic sense of humor. At varying times inspiring, insightful, and informative, above all else her narratives make the reader laugh out loud and admire the strength it takes to find humor in some of life's most desperate situations.
I eagerly await her next collection and would love to see what she could produce with the help of a good editor....more
I love the concept of this book, and I appreciate the collection of different anecdotes, since everyone responds to things so differently. It's easy tI love the concept of this book, and I appreciate the collection of different anecdotes, since everyone responds to things so differently. It's easy to make assumptions based on a single experience, and reading so many varied opinions and stories underscore the idea that everyone needs an individual approach.
The book does seem to have a noticeable bias towards alternative healing, which is not surprising, given that this seems to align with the author's preferences.
Overall, it was a short and thought-provoking book, but it's more of a title to read part of and keep on your shelf in case you need the rest. Unless you are very involved in a serious illness, it's unlikely that you would find all of the chapters useful....more
Enjoyable, but forgettable. The premise for this novel is great, but unfortunately the writing is a bit hit or miss. It's not terrible, especially forEnjoyable, but forgettable. The premise for this novel is great, but unfortunately the writing is a bit hit or miss. It's not terrible, especially for a first book, but it did detract from the overall effect. While some of the characters are spot on, others feel forced and disappointingly artificial.
Overall, I simply wanted more from this book. The concept and the characters are exciting and innovative, but the novel as a whole fell a little flat.
I will offer accolades for a realistic portrayal of programming in fiction. Unlike many authors, Stephens clearly has some experience with the subject. Printing source code and reading it in hard copy may be rather exceptional, but considering I've done it once or twice myself, I can't be overly critical!
I cannot be as positive about the Brilliance Audio narration. I've seen people rave about it, and the pace and clarity were excellent. Luke Daniels does a great job in the narration, but while he manages to give each character a unique voice, some of them were extremely distracting. His interpretation of Foster constantly sounded like a buffoon, and Katarina was a complete brat. I felt that one of the strengths of the novel was its multi-layered characters, and this performance undermined that....more