There were so many things wrong with this series. The prose was sub-par,and there were too many characters to remember, let alone care about. The scenThere were so many things wrong with this series. The prose was sub-par,and there were too many characters to remember, let alone care about. The scenes in the slave cities felt tedious and unnecessary.It seemed like GRRM dangled us with no true purpose, cutting us off from an interesting storyline and then forcing us to slog through a dull one. One of my greatest gripes were the cliffhangers. I like to see my characters react to a powerful event- I want to hear what they're saying and thinking. I want to experience their terror or elation first hand- at that moment. Instead we hear about the event several chapters- or several BOOKS- later, and often in retrospect, after the characters have settled down and found themselves in an entirely new situation. It annoyed me that the evil queen stereotype appeared not once, but twice- with Melisandre as the real power behind Stannis, and Cersei, who seemed to degenerate in the novels from deliciously wicked, to incompetent and foolish as well. But.... This is the first fantasy series that I could really love and care about (or, to be honest, actually read). After five books, the characters and setting seem real. The perspectives are unique, and precociousness aside, GRRM does a great job with children and their heartbreaking loss of innocence. The history was powerfully ingrained and informed the actions of the book and the motivations of the older characters. I was not as great a fan of life outside Westeros, with the exception of Braavos, which seemed to me at times an Orientalist mishmash of various stereotypes (the evil slavers, the bloodthirsty horse lords, countless eunuchs, the 'seven sighs'). The use of disparate religions and the characters adherence to them was incredible. I loved the bleeding Weirwood trees, Melisandre and her Red God, and the songs dedicated to the Seven. I appreciate the realism of the book, with the plight of the smallfolk, the greyness of the characters, and the plausible deaths and romance. In this world magic is rarely a glorious solution to problems, but an interesting plot device that often leads to more problems. I also enjoy the magic systems that may or may not be real, such as prophetic dreams or the promises of the Red God. Most of all I loved that I had no idea what would happen next. Rarely do I come across a book so wildly unpredictable. I don't know what the outcome will be, but I can't wait to find out. ...more
Unique in its blend of old world grace and modern plot structure. An utterly beautiful, meandering tale with the epic image of Hanging Rock at the ce Unique in its blend of old world grace and modern plot structure. An utterly beautiful, meandering tale with the epic image of Hanging Rock at the center of it. Haunting in its focus on the power and hypnotic draw of a landscape. The story takes the disappearance of three girls and shows how it impacts the lives of the surrounding community. The girls themselves are more symbols of youth and innocence lost than fleshed out characters. Most interesting are the two young men, the aristocratic Mike and the working class Albert, who seek out the girls and form a close bond in spite of their vastly different worlds. The novel could be disappointing- there is no resolution and the characters wander off the page as mysteriously as the lost girls. But the lack of finality only emphasizes the enchantment and longing of the mystery. The author often tells us point blank that we will never see a character again, a premise that is both heart-breaking and true to the heart of the story. ...more
Don't judge this book by its cover. This is NOT dry reading. This is NOT a boring fact by fact historical account. The Twelve Caesars is probably the fuDon't judge this book by its cover. This is NOT dry reading. This is NOT a boring fact by fact historical account. The Twelve Caesars is probably the funniest and most intriguing book of antiquity.
At times hysterically snarky, the account stems more from hearsay and gossip than history, though there is a factual basis to much of the text. Suetonius seems to have sorted through facts, rumors, and legends concerning the Caesars and picked out the most shocking, the most absurd, and the most damning. Caligula's biography is jaw-dropping, but the author spares no one. It's hard to imagine the Roman public not rioting in the streets with such violent and capricious leaders.
I'm a huge fan of translator Robert Graves and would definitely follow this with I, Claudius, the novel he wrote based on this book....more
A beautifully rendered novel, though a star off for needless redundancy. I found the character of Clyde insufferable from the first, but so well fles A beautifully rendered novel, though a star off for needless redundancy. I found the character of Clyde insufferable from the first, but so well fleshed out and believable that I forgot at times that I was reading a novel. I despised him, and yet could understand how he could find himself in such a strained position, near the pinnacle of his dreams but tied down by common decency. I appreciated that Dreiser-unlike so many authors- didn't attempt to make Clyde an intellectual, but rather childlike. His fascination with fine houses and Sondra- who was a bit of an idiot- brings home his extreme naivete. His placement in his Lycurgus- with influential relatives but no place in society- is a brilliant testing ground for such a spineless character. It's fascinating to watch him rise in society while simultaneously being dragged back to a life he desperately wanted to escape. The simple title is misleading- though there is a clear tragedy that defines the book, the American Tragedy could be any number of things- Clyde, the elusive American dream, the justice system, or the fickleness of human nature. The periods of darkness and grief are bitter and moving and Clyde's terror at the climax of the novel is grippingly real. Real is how I would sum up the novel- ever character, motivation, and setting- is inescapably true to life.
PS...Several months later and I simply can't forget this book. In retrospect it was one of the most powerful I've ever read. I think it merits 5 stars. ...more
Mansfield Park is my favorite of Austin's novel, for its complexity, its insight into the Regency social structure and believe it or not, for Fanny P Mansfield Park is my favorite of Austin's novel, for its complexity, its insight into the Regency social structure and believe it or not, for Fanny Price herself.
In an age when women have the power to state their desires and often to forge their own destinies, I can see her silence and passivity might irritate the modern reader. But considering her subservient background and shy nature, she shows a great deal of moral courage. Indeed, this courage is manifested through doing nothing, but a nothing that alienates her from her family and home. She can't reveal her secrets because it is, whether we agree or not, in her mind wrong to do so.
Having to withstand hardship without the power to actively fight it requires the greatest courage. Therefore Fanny, in spite of her weakness, in spite of the fact that her scruples are not universal, but a product of her century, is indeed a heroine, albeit a quiet one.
Of course we can't forget the quiet wit, the rich prose, and the alluring Crawford family. And Aunt Norris is the among the most realistically evil creations in English literature. ...more