The ending of such a long series is always bittersweet, but the story was resolved in a better manner than I expected. I appreciate that little hints...moreThe ending of such a long series is always bittersweet, but the story was resolved in a better manner than I expected. I appreciate that little hints and glimpses of the future have been dropped throughout the series, reinforcing the final message about time continuing on and leaving the readers with a sense of contented hope. I will definitely miss all these characters!(less)
I have a great deal of love for competent characters, especially female ones, and the protagonist of this series is certainly that. It was nice to be...moreI have a great deal of love for competent characters, especially female ones, and the protagonist of this series is certainly that. It was nice to be back in London town. I enjoyed the romp through the Continent in the last episode but I love having the gang all back together. It was so refreshing to see a female character being very clearly pregnant and still kicking ass, and the males around her rolling their eyes but helping her get stuff done rather than cosseting her.
Also, whoa REVELATIONS AHOY. If I did not already love Professor Lyall to bits, the backstory we get here would have done it. POOR PROFESSOR LYALL. (Though I feel like I need to make a chart to keep track of the complicated relationships between our merry band.) I felt sorry for Biffy, and I like that the author gives his situation the attention it deserves. Lord Alkedama is brilliant and sly as always.
Just realized that I have at least three 'ships in this fandom, and the amazing thing is that THEY'RE ALL CANON. This is VERY EXCITING to me, okay. Again, so much respect to Gail Carriger for the well-executed representation of LGBT characters in this universe. Being bisexual myself, I don't think I've ever come across a bisexual character in a book who is not only lovely and badass and HAS CHARACTER DEPTH, but whom I also loved long before finding out he was bi. (Which basically makes him my hero. Seriously, it's like admiring someone and wanting to be like them and then discovering a part of yourself in that person OMG I TOO CAN BE BADASS THROUGH COMPETENCE. Okay I'll stop before I get into a rant about validation of social identity.)
I was a tad disgruntled by the sudden changes at the end, because sometimes there can be such a thing as too much change too soon, but it's still pretty cool and doesn't exactly lessen the sheer LOVE I have for this beautifully constructed alternate history. Can't wait for Book 5 in March!
PS - Additionally, this book has made me very excited for the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series that's scheduled to come out in '13 or '14.(less)
This book was most definitely an Adventure! Highly enjoyable, especially now that the reader has become familiar with the characters and the fascinati...moreThis book was most definitely an Adventure! Highly enjoyable, especially now that the reader has become familiar with the characters and the fascinating societies in this alternative history. I really enjoyed how each book has a clear Mystery or goal-to-be-achieved, and yet the journey is different each time. I get bored with books where I can predict the before I get there, so it has been exceedingly fun to be surprised by plot twists and unexpected developments.
I also enjoy how the group supporting the protagonist is a little different in each book, but the minor characters who aren't with said protagonist still get a bit of 'on-screen' time and contribute to the plot in some way. I have grown especially attached to Professor Lyall, whom I would not mind reading a spin-off book of, especially based on his pre-Moccan years.
In my review for Book 2: Blameless, I mentioned that I wanted to see more of Professor Lyall, Lord Alkedama, and Biffy working together. And Carolina to WAIT AND SEE and OMG DID THIS BOOK DELIVER. I seriously did not seen that coming. DO YOU KNOW HOW UNUSUAL IT IS FOR ME TO BE SHOCKED BY A PLOT TWIST. I'm already anticipating ALL THE DRAMA.
(And it cannot be said enough, how refreshing it is to see LGBT characters not just represented well but also being BADASS AWESOME.)
One of my favorite parts about this book is getting to see the protagonist isolated from familiar surroundings and usual support system. And yet Alexia proves herself to be overwhelmingly capable. She's turning out to be my favorite female character EVER.
"No time for pleasantries, Alexia, my dear. Isn't it just like you, to be already escaped before we had the opportunity to rescue you?" Madame Lefoux flashed her dimples.
This was a very fun and entertaining read! It took me a couple of chapters to really get into it; the writing was good but the over-the-top approach f...moreThis was a very fun and entertaining read! It took me a couple of chapters to really get into it; the writing was good but the over-the-top approach felt like it was trying too hard to emulate literature from a particular period. The Mystery was very well executed, however, and I enjoyed the cast of characters, Professor Lyall in particular. There's a lovely charm to fiction set in a world populated by supernatural creatures that seeks to be funny rather than brooding and angsty. It definitely left me amused enough to go on to the next book.(less)
A very friendly and informative guide to reading "great works" of Western literature. I admire the author for managing to sketch out the history of ea...moreA very friendly and informative guide to reading "great works" of Western literature. I admire the author for managing to sketch out the history of each genre (fiction, historical writing, autobiographies, plays, poetry) in a concise manner that still captures the main themes and developments over the course of history. Only for English literature, mind, which she points out early on. (To study French, German, Russian traditions, etc, both author and reader would need to be fluent in the language to do it proper service.)
Author acknowledges the common obstacles to reading classical literature - distraction, trouble with comprehension, long-standing issues with the reading process itself - and recommends ways to tackle them, including step-by-step guides and handy comprehension questions.
I especially liked the suggestion of buying cheap copies in order to write notes in them - I used to write notes the length of essays along the margins of the poems we studied for GCSE English. I'll be attempting the lists, or at least those of it that I haven't read yet, for a clearer understanding of the history and development of literature.
Favorite piece of advice: "Some books speak to us at one time of life and are silent at another. If a book remains voiceless to you, put it down and read the next book on the list." (p. 51, Chapter 4)(less)
The writing was decent, and the three stories offer a range of premises that are at least different from the usual offerings in this genre. I liked "A...moreThe writing was decent, and the three stories offer a range of premises that are at least different from the usual offerings in this genre. I liked "Agent Provocateur" (by Liz Maverick) the most, as it features a strong woman character who, though goes through the usual oh-no-must-not-develop-feelings for the male protagonist, at least approached the physical part of the relationship in a very matter-of-fact way.
I didn't like "Unrequited" (Kimberly Dean) or "Victim of Deception" (Lynn LaFleur) quite as much, though props to Victim for attempting a somewhat unusual premise. I think it was mainly because I didn't really feel the tension in the situations depicted there, nor particularly empathized with the female characters.
There was also misogynistic language and underlying sentiments in all three that made me uncomfortable. The sad part is that they (intentionally or not) reflect the contemporary cultural landscape.(less)
A fairly engaging read, overall. I don't usually read first-person narratives, so it's a good sign of how convincingly Hobb conveyed her protagonist t...moreA fairly engaging read, overall. I don't usually read first-person narratives, so it's a good sign of how convincingly Hobb conveyed her protagonist that I had to keep turning the page in order to find out what happened to him. I also enjoy political intrigue and complicated societies, which this story has a hearty dose of. The minor characters were layered and intriguing - my favorites were Burrich and Chade.
There were some parts where the pace lagged, particularly in the middle, but it seemed partly necessary in order to give a sense of time passing and the establishment of a routine. I commend Hobb for being willing to let her characters be hurt (or killed), which upped the tension in the last handful of chapters.(less)
I enjoyed this a lot more than the first book. It became addictive about halfway through, because the Mystery in here was so intriguing. And what a cl...moreI enjoyed this a lot more than the first book. It became addictive about halfway through, because the Mystery in here was so intriguing. And what a cliffhanger! I absolutely had to start into the next book right away.
(Um. That sounded suspiciously like the narrative style used in this series.)
The narrative style is actually quite charming once one gets used to it. I also feel like the author was not trying quite so hard with this book, and had settled more comfortably into her wonderfully imagined steampunk alternate universe.
Absolutely loved the ensemble of characters here. Ivy and Felicia are the sort of characters that would usually leave me gritting my teeth, so it's a mark of the author's skill that I just chuckled every time they provided Alexia with a new cause for irritation. Lefoux was deliciously ambivalent and badass. I really want Professor Lyall, Lord Akeldama, and Biffy to work together more - they'd probably take over England and outlaw the improperly dressed.
Many tips of the hat to Carriger, Gail for her LGBT characters and LGBT-friendly narrative. I am very impressed. NO REALLY THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE. Like, it's no big deal here, and the heterosexual characters aren't at all threatened by being admired by non-heterosexual persons of their sex. I would not mind reading a spin-off centered around the supporting characters. Good background info on Moccan and the werewolf way of life.(less)
The beauty of this book is in the atmosphere it creates, and the imagery it conjures in the reader's mind. Being nocturnal myself, I love the concept...moreThe beauty of this book is in the atmosphere it creates, and the imagery it conjures in the reader's mind. Being nocturnal myself, I love the concept of the Night Circus and the Midnight Dinners. I commend the author's choice to focus on the experience of visiting a circus - the mystery and the sense of exploration and the magic. The use of second-person in certain sections was highly effective towards this end.
I liked the ensemble of characters, even the ones I'm not meant to like. All of them are flawed, but they're also all very good at what they do. Love the recurring themes and motifs - the game, Marco's tree, Celia's birds, the tarot, the twins, the clocks. The emphasis on imagery - I'm not the type of reader who visualizes everything she reads, but there was no helping it in this case, plus the imagery was part of the magic of it all. In the hands of a less talented writer, the concept of a dreamlike circus and the black-and-white scheme might have easily come across as trite or overworked, but Erin Morgenstern did it with imaginative playfulness and talented subtlety.
The whole world created here, including the ending, lingers and haunts well after the last page has been closed, which is appropriate to the story. Excellent and magical.(less)
A fairly easy read with a few moments of high tension and a vaguely intriguing mystery illness. I liked the technical procedures, and the latter half...moreA fairly easy read with a few moments of high tension and a vaguely intriguing mystery illness. I liked the technical procedures, and the latter half of the book was better than the first half. That said, the characters were bland, and the 'threat' around which the plot revolved was yawn-inducing to my scifi-steeped soul. The most anti-climactic ending I've read in a while. The set-up was very distinctly Hollywood action-thriller. Which makes sense, since this was apparently Crichton's breakthrough novel and was also later adapted into film.
Also, women barely exist here. Even the damn miracle baby was male.
Would have benefited from the addition of zombies.(less)
**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and now feel the urge to reread the entire series again. Temeraire and gang are as wonderful and fun...more**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and now feel the urge to reread the entire series again. Temeraire and gang are as wonderful and fun as always. I enjoy seeing Temeraire with Iskierka and Kulingile; their clash of personalities tends to lead to entertaining conversations. It's also a different dynamic from Temeraire's old formation, where Temeraire was the youngest dragon - here, he is the eldest, and for all their disagreements there is never any doubt that Iskierka and Kulingile love him, perhaps acknowledging that they owe their lives (and their Captains) to him. There's a very definite sense of 'family' here. Of course, I miss the old formation dragons, too, so I was really happy to see them again here. I think it was important for Temeraire (and the reader) to remember that he has many friends, for all that his and Lawrence's adventures seem to isolate them from larger society.
The usual cast was wonderful. A thoroughly unexpected loss near the beginning of the book was enough to startle me and maintain a cord of tension over the course of the book, because it was a reminder that they're in a war AND NOBODY IS SAFE. I'm keeping to the hope that this character is not really dead, though, and will turn up in the future.
Okay, my favorite character in the series (aside from Lawrence and Temeraire, which goes without saying) is Granby, and I am so, SO HAPPY with certain character developments (or more like revelations) that took place in this book. Just - I literally had to put my ereader down and flail around the room for a bit. THANK YOU NAOMI NOVIK. Also the circumstances leading up to the revelation were hilarious. And heeheeee Temeraire/Iskierka FINALLY :D
I really admire how Novik isn't afraid to make drastic changes to her characters' circumstances. She also does character development beautifully well - the reader really gets a sense of how each character has grown and learned from the experiences of previous books. The Lawrence of this book is practically a different person from the one in the first book. The relationships between the characters have evolved as well; Lawrence and Temeraire are more confident of their shared sense of ethics and justice now, Roland and Demane are no longer little kids running about, Granby finally puts his foot down. The friendship and loyalty between Lawrence and Granby is one of my favorite things ever, and it's amazing to remember that Granby started out hating Lawrence, and now they're comfortably calling each other by their first names and sharing intimate confidences.
I'm so excited to see what happens next! Was totally not expecting the (other) revelation/cliffhanger at the end. It's been such a great adventure.(less)