Better than #1. I can't say how many things I liked in this one: the music/opera (which could have been a disaster but instead was charming), the climBetter than #1. I can't say how many things I liked in this one: the music/opera (which could have been a disaster but instead was charming), the climax (which was tense and dramatic and scary, as it should be), the mystery of the briar king and the motives of the church and the fanes and the fae-realm and the powers of Anne Dare, the slimy fascination of the undead prince.
It was all quite surprising. This isn't a Hollywood style block buster of a series, but it has crept up on me. The writing drives forward with every chapter, and it's hard to put down....more
Magicians and aliens from a parallel dimension? It sounded good, but this was not the Tolkien/sci-fi mash up that I was hoping for. The aliens were(viMagicians and aliens from a parallel dimension? It sounded good, but this was not the Tolkien/sci-fi mash up that I was hoping for. The aliens were(view spoiler)[ not really alien, just men. (hide spoiler)] In fact, I did not enjoy reading this until the very end.
I like Tolkien, but here the Tolkien inspiration is heavy: slender, ethereal elves in the forest; stocky, warrior elves under the mountains; a golden dragon sitting atop a pile of treasure. I mean, wow.
But where it really fell down for me was in the story-telling. The first 3/4 is just statement after statement about the world, and the politics, and the characters etc. There is basically no dialogue and the characters are described by a shortlist of personality quirks and visual cues. There is no unfurling, no discovery, no tension driving me to read the next page. It reads like a history book, even while the events are happening. /Yawn.
The silver lining, I suppose is that even though the first part was flat, at least it wasn't depressing. This is not the grim-dark gritty fantasy where everyone is horrible to each-other. The characters are nice, almost too nice... actually, I don't remember them having any personality flaws... or...any flaws at all - hmm.
Then in the last 1/4, something shifts and the story comes alive. The characters develop personality, the plot gets energized, Feist conjures up suspense and stakes! I raced through it! I'm not sure why this happened - a shift in viewpoint maybe?
If it weren't for the ending, Magician would have been 1 star for me (only because I didn't enjoy it - not because there is anything "wrong" with it) but the ending was enjoyable when I finally got there.
Would I recommend slogging through to get there? No, not unless you like an impersonal, factual storytelling style. Read the wiki and start with book 2....more
Once we have created artificial life, will we redefine humanity to include it? Who will prove to be more human?
Fragments is better than Partials. 4.5Once we have created artificial life, will we redefine humanity to include it? Who will prove to be more human?
Fragments is better than Partials. 4.5 stars.
Let me just jump straight to the point: what I love most is the ending. The realization that took Kira from a self-centered, self-righteous teen (in other words, a normal 16yr old), to an adult beginning to grapple with all the gray areas of the world. Awesome.
And then for the partial to school her in morality and self-sacrifice... brilliant.
So satisfying that even though the story ended on a bit of a cliff, I feel really good about having read it....more
Beautiful, dreamy writing with a plot full of driving force and characters that are as lush and diverse as the setting.
Perhaps I was just in the rightBeautiful, dreamy writing with a plot full of driving force and characters that are as lush and diverse as the setting.
Perhaps I was just in the right mood, but I don't think I've enjoyed reading a book so much before. It was like falling into a soft feather bed at some fancy hotel... not comfy and familiar, but soft and luxurious instead. What I love most about it is the fact that Bear doesn't dumb it down, even though the setting is not a familiar one for the genre. Things are complex and complicated and deliciously subtle.
I suppose it is a middle volume, and in that sense it was bridging, but the story hardy suffered for that. There was plenty to keep the characters occupied and plenty of chess pieces being put into place in interesting and thoughtful ways.
Honestly, I loved Finnikin a lot, and I didn't think I could love the rest of the series as much, so I waited.Why? Why did I wait years to read this?
Honestly, I loved Finnikin a lot, and I didn't think I could love the rest of the series as much, so I waited.
I shouldn't have waited. Froi was every bit as good, if a little unconventional. Two words: Character conflict <--- Marchetta is just brilliant at these. I need to thank her for bringing the dysfunctional family dynamic to epic fantasy - I loved every moment. It wasn't overblown or melodramatic like these things tend to get when you've got a good-wizard-v-evil-wizard thing going on.
In fact, perhaps because of the author's background in contemporary ya fiction, her fantasy novels are very much a character drama set to the background tune of epic fantasy. And I have no problem with this.
It allows the themes of identity, family, and honor to shine through. It also brings purpose to the story and helps us care about all the characters, even when the plot seemed to ramble in places.
4 stars because it was very much a "middle of the series" book. If you like your conventional three-act formula, Froi might irritate you. The climax happened way too early (end of the second part), and then the whole thing ended on a cliff-hanger. Grr. For me though, it was fine and I thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more
Forgive me, I'm not widely read in spacey sci-fi, so this review will be from the perspective of someone woeWorld building on a scale of light-years.
Forgive me, I'm not widely read in spacey sci-fi, so this review will be from the perspective of someone woefully ignorant of space-tropes and opera.
I should also clarify that my primary interest in reading a book is the story it contains. If it also happens to have cool ideas about life, the universe, god, etc. then so much the better, but I'm not someone who manages to enjoy a book based solely on cool ideas.
I say this because I think, if I hadn't been listening to Ringworld on audiobook, I wouldn't have finished. The world building was wonderful to imagine, and extensive, and the aliens were well fleshed out, but the story was lacking. The climax was in the wrong place, the tension was missing, and for me, the 'big reveal' at the end was pretty transparent.
Perhaps, because this is the set-up for a series, the stories will come later in other books, but I'm not sure yet whether I'll read on. ...more
Post-apocalyptic YA thriller that hits and keeps on hitting - almost to the point of absurdity.
I'll admit I haven't read YA in a while, but... I'm noPost-apocalyptic YA thriller that hits and keeps on hitting - almost to the point of absurdity.
I'll admit I haven't read YA in a while, but... I'm not sure how to put it. I heard someone say once that you can get away with stuff in YA that older, more 'reality-driven' audiences wouldn't tolerate. Is that true?
I felt that way a few times in this one: when there was conflict that felt contrived to speed up the plot, put characters in the right place, or stop them from learning critical info that might end the story early.
So why 4 stars? Because in the end, I didn't care. The main character was... get this... a teenage girl who didn't put her burning desire for the attention of all males in a 100 mile radius before her sense of purpose. Bravo, Mr. Wells. And thank you.
I was so grateful to have a truly powerful female lead, and to have one who deserved the power she had, had a sense of morality (however teen-biased), fought hard to achieve her own ends, and suffered the consequences thereof.
Also, I enjoyed the questions this book tackled: how would society rebuild itself in the wake of disaster? how would they use the old-world resources and technology? how would they feel about themselves? would they learn from their mistakes? what would the younger generation think?
It seems almost comical to me that most of the post-apocalyptic stuff I've read hasn't really bothered with these kinds of questions, or if they have, it's background info that doesn't seem to inform the story. But Wells does a fantastic job of incorporating it.
Classic high fantasy epic (or perhaps, prelude to a classic high fantasy epic) that chows down on the genre stereotypes and yet manages to keep its shClassic high fantasy epic (or perhaps, prelude to a classic high fantasy epic) that chows down on the genre stereotypes and yet manages to keep its shapely figure. Action-packed plot with dire, world-ending stakes, a bit of romance, and a cast of traditionally heroic characters.
Not to mention world building. (Yep, medieval).
Despite all the stock elements, the book was enjoyable. The pacing is great, the climax is exciting, the progression is fast, and the story is a page-turner. There's mystery, suspense, adventure, dark magic and myth. The characters are lively.
It's also gritty in places. People are tortured. And they die. But overall the tone is not pessimistic.
As an aside, I loved the faneway idea. And the lead-plate curses. It makes so much sense in a religiously dominated world that these familiar rituals could be an avenue to magical power... tantalizing.
Warning: To those who hate derivative and deliberately misspelled names, words, lineages etc. this is not the book for you. E.g. Virgenya (Virginia), scrift (script/scroll), Phay (Fey). I won't say these aren't a bit lame, but they didn't bother me.Edit: after reading further in the series, I realize that the spelling is an attempt to convey different accents and/or languages in different areas of the world. I now reverse my opinion in favor of "it's cool" :)
This might be a series for those who liked the multiple viewpoint strategy and understated magic in The Blade Itself, although The Briar King is not so cynical. Or for those who liked the historical feeling in The Bone Doll's Twin.
Book 4 continues the tradition of fast-paced action, pop-culture puns, and mythological mash-up. I liked the 2nd half of the book better, where we getBook 4 continues the tradition of fast-paced action, pop-culture puns, and mythological mash-up. I liked the 2nd half of the book better, where we get to see Atticus learning from his mistakes and growing as a character. Also, bonus points for finally including Granuaile in the action! Loved her!...more
Book 5 and still going strong. I'm liking the more drawn-out story arc and the will-they-wont-they romance that began with book 4. I wish we'd seen MaBook 5 and still going strong. I'm liking the more drawn-out story arc and the will-they-wont-they romance that began with book 4. I wish we'd seen Maldynado pushed a little further. I didn't feel like I learned anything new about him, and I was really looking forward to his view-point book because he's such a fun character. Ah well. ...more