Genre: fantastical. Orphan and sword. Wizard in tower and hundred-year war. Underground fighters, utopian school. Evil kings, ghost soldiers, dragons (soGenre: fantastical. Orphan and sword. Wizard in tower and hundred-year war. Underground fighters, utopian school. Evil kings, ghost soldiers, dragons (so kewl!) Daring escapes in the depths of the night. Mermaid and fairy and fox-man, unite! Pop-up protagonist, no show - just tell. Action on action, until the falls swell. Then it's a case of 'Myranda Sublime' - She bests the masters in just 4 months' time!
However, like many self-published works (including the above), I found it to be suffering from First-Draft Syndrome. The whole thing read like the author gave it a once-over and that was it. Sometimes clunky; flat dialogue; wrong words in places. The world building was ok, the descriptions were tight and illustrative, but the characterization was almost non-existent. When it came to how the characters were feeling, it was "tell, not show" on an epic scale. Because of this, I never really got invested in any of the characters, and although I was entertained, I never once forgot that I was reading a book.
Romance/Action-Adventure with the emphasis on romance. Can you say, "love triangle"? I'm not a fan of pure romance but thankfully there was a large poRomance/Action-Adventure with the emphasis on romance. Can you say, "love triangle"? I'm not a fan of pure romance but thankfully there was a large portion of non-love-triangle plot which made the story bearable.
Good things first: The world Taylor created was well drawn and the story moved along nicely. It was engaging and intriguing and I never felt bored even though the characters rambled along for most of the book before I had any clue as to where the story was going. That didn't bother me though.
What bothered me was Eve. She seemed so human until she found out she was a robot. Then she started having some kind of identity crisis because all of a sudden she thought she had no feelings? She had them all along. I wouldn't have cared that she was ignorant but it felt contrived, and then it DRAGGED out the aforementioned triangle to EPIC proportions. And once she chooses, she's just like, "so... I know you can't hear me but, I'm out. Peace." Although maybe I should be grateful we're spared the awkwardness of that confrontation.
And then there was the writing. At first I thought it was just excessive typos. Then I thought, maybe it's supposed to be the main character's "voice"? But no, it's just bad writing.
E.g. "Then he shook West and I's hands as well" and "I extended a hand to the man who I had just broken his nose"
I'm not a grammar Nazi by any stretch of the imagination, but sentences like these really threw me off and made it harder to read, which is a huge pity - for obvious reasons.
In the end, I liked what another reviewer said: "Such a beautiful cover with such a brilliant blurb and let's face it - an aweomse potential storyline, if it had not been for the way it was massacred by the awful writing and flat characters." (Emphasis mine)...more
A fast-moving epic full of spicy humor and Arabian magic. This book is not like other fantasy. It's something different, and for that, I loved it.
TheA fast-moving epic full of spicy humor and Arabian magic. This book is not like other fantasy. It's something different, and for that, I loved it.
The story unfolds through a variety of viewpoint characters. The constant switching of viewpoints could have been annoying, but it worked in the end. After all, we're talking about 365 concubines and their children, a prince, their camel-handlers, servants and other hangers-on etc. That's a lot of people. A city in itself (as the book tells it), and the city is the main character.
Because of all these viewpioints, the story also took its time unfolding - meandering and circling back sometimes to flesh out characters or fill in holes. I didn't mind this, because it all seemed to have a purpose and (for me at least) the story wasn't prose-heavy so it was easy enough to sit back and enjoy the ride.
The writing is straight-forward and even a bit cheeky in places:
"The name of the city was Bessa, and its ruler, the sultan Bokhari Al-Bokhari was a man of no account at all.[...] Bessa had had its share of tyrants, and most people who had an opinion on such things felt that a lazy hedonist was a comparatively light burden to bear.[...] There is more to tell about the sultan, which might be of some trifling interest, but I will forbear to tell it because he's going to be dead very shortly, and thereafter plays no part whatsoever in our story."
(I didn't /spoiler that because it's in the very first chapter)
On a personal note, this story also managed to push all my girl-power buttons. Yay! When I first picked it up I wasn't sure what kind of story I was going to get: the down-trodden rising up for revenge? the flighty harem rescued by the knight in shining armor? the balance of power shifted by the seductive prostitutes? No. This book is not so cynical or trite. The women want freedom, but they're not willing to steam-roll the men in order to get it. They work hard for themselves, use their brains, and achieve what they want through good sense and strategy (mostly). They don't have to become men in order to do this. Neither do they have to seduce men into giving them anything. They act as women for their own sake and don't apologize for it. I really liked this form of empowerment that doesn't feed on the subjugation of others.
In the end, I only have two small quibbles: I wanted more from certain characters that I didn't get. I also liked Book the First (part 1) better than the Second, because I thought it was more fleshed out....more
A grim and gritty account of the rise of Capac Raimi, wannabe gangsta and mysterious man-with-no-past. It reads like Sin City (the movie)... cool andA grim and gritty account of the rise of Capac Raimi, wannabe gangsta and mysterious man-with-no-past. It reads like Sin City (the movie)... cool and detached. Almost mechanical.
I liked: ~The Inca stuff. It was a subtle flavor (at first) but a refreshing one. ~The main character, Capac. Although his story shoots in an Annakin Skywalker direction, I was still pulling for him, all the way to the end, even through the bad choices and his personality changes. Actually, I enjoyed what the author was suggesting about the way you are shaped by the roles others cast on you. Not sure how much I agree, but it was an interesting take on the Free Will Debate.
I appreciated: ~The ending and the fact that the author let the story come to that logical conclusion. (view spoiler)[ Even though watching the hero succumb to the dark side is ultimately disappointing. (hide spoiler)]
I didn't like: ~The voice. Cold and emotionless. Looking back, I understand why it should be that way, but I almost abandoned the book a few times at the beginning because it just wasn't grabbing me. Could it be the writing style? I found the same thing in Storm Front. (Dresden fans have mercy on my wayward soul!) Glad I stuck it out I suppose. It just seems like there was an opportunity missed there to inject an ambiance of mystery or superstition that really could have intensified the intrigue (and the green fog). Instead it felt like reading a police report. ~All the omniscience. Capac was able to tell us exactly what everyone else was feeling, and other characters were able to report things they weren't there to see. This really bloated the dialogue in a lot of places (wall of text incoming!) and felt unnatural. You know at the end of a movie when the hero is about to kill the bad guy, and the bad guy starts sounding off about his cunning plot to destroy the world, and you think... why is he blurting all this out - to his enemy? That's what I thought of, a few times near the end.
All in all, not a terrible book. The cover is awesome. It probably deserves more than 3 stars but in the end it just wasn't my thing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A beautiful example of how dark and haunting themes can lend a serious tone without wrapping the story up in extraneous gore and horror. There is a suA beautiful example of how dark and haunting themes can lend a serious tone without wrapping the story up in extraneous gore and horror. There is a subtlety and gentleness throughout the series which allows for moments of joy and tenderness to sparkle in a way that I wasn't expecting. Add to this a slew of thought-provoking motifs (e.g. gender perceptions, ends-justify-means et al.), a strong leading lady who doesn't forget compassion, and a character-driven plot, and we have one of my favorite fantasy series ever. ...more
This is a great example of a YA book that doesn't dumb it down to the supposed level of teens. It's complicated. In a good way. You have to be engagedThis is a great example of a YA book that doesn't dumb it down to the supposed level of teens. It's complicated. In a good way. You have to be engaged to keep up with this one.
It starts out as an adventure but ends up as a kind of murder-mystery. There are twists and turns as one would expect. Magic. Politics. Friendship. Family. The nice characters are charming and intimate - like the lumpy old chair you just love, or your grandma's lap as she reads to you. The mean characters are complex and motivated by things other than pure-evil.
Most of all, I loved the world-building. For me, the world was the most vibrant and alive part of the whole book and I was disappointed that it didn't feature more prominently in the story. I guess it will become more important in the next book? Really well done, though.
To be honest, there were a few points where I felt the author reached a bit far in order to move the story in the right direction. But by the end I was won over again and left with the feeling that something magical had just happened....more
As always with Sanderson, lots of new ideas and non-traditional elements to this epic fantasy novel. Detailed and interesting plot,(audiobook version)
As always with Sanderson, lots of new ideas and non-traditional elements to this epic fantasy novel. Detailed and interesting plot, with characters that start out as stereotypes but soon break the mold. Great ending that exploded in an unexpected direction, but if you're like me, you might have trouble wading through the awful lot of explaining that's done before you get that far.
And I don't mean just in the beginning.
I got really tired of all the internal thinking which explained the obvious, or explained the previously-explained, or explained the intention of the character right before s/he actually did it.
It was Sanderson's first published book, and his writing has definitely become better since Elantris, so in the end, I just chalked it up to experience and tried to enjoy the story... which was actually pretty good (by the end). ...more
Fantastic survey of early Roman history through a collection of stories that center on various descendants of one of the founding families of Rome, anFantastic survey of early Roman history through a collection of stories that center on various descendants of one of the founding families of Rome, and the medallion that they've handed down through the generations. Touches on many Roman legends including Hercules & Cacus, Romulus & Remus, Coriolanus, the Gallic Siege and more. Wonderfully imaginative interpretations and character-driven plots that breathe life into the ancient culture....more
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
I really appreciated that romance was not the answer to all the MC's problems, but there were definitely moments tAgree completely with this reviewer.
I really appreciated that romance was not the answer to all the MC's problems, but there were definitely moments that sounded like movie-lines, or worse, just bland. I really wanted to like Tayse but even though most of the narrative is written from his POV, I never really felt like I knew him. The romance sub-plot suffered because of this, I think.
Overall, this was in the middle for me. Not D&M, but not lighthearted either. Not bad, but not fantastic....more
Lovers of technical detail rejoice! This is your book.
Big plans unfold in small details that aren't at all clear in the beginning. But by the end youLovers of technical detail rejoice! This is your book.
Big plans unfold in small details that aren't at all clear in the beginning. But by the end you're left wondering if the protagonist had it planned out all along.
I loved the three distinct cultures and the political misunderstandings that cause so much drama. It felt realistic and inevitable all at once. However, it was tedious to read about in places, especially throughout the first half when I didn't really care yet.
I can't decide whether the characters were well drawn and not likable or if they just weren't well drawn. I was only really interested in one of them, and only then because he's the romantic caught in a landscape of opportunists. I dread reading on and seeing him picked off, since the anti-hero motif leaves me with no confidence that a happy ending will be allowed.
To be honest, this wasn't my kind of book. I skimmed parts, day-dreamed through all the technical stuff, and didn't find myself getting invested. Probably because of all the skimming. This Reviewer explains it all better than I just did. Especially his "CONS" section. ...more
Fast-paced and action oriented. Lots of twists and turns, surprises, bad guys who aren't evil. In fact, the standard good vs. evil of fantasy trope baFast-paced and action oriented. Lots of twists and turns, surprises, bad guys who aren't evil. In fact, the standard good vs. evil of fantasy trope barely even factored into the plot - an unexpected relief. As the title suggests, lots of heroes die. Philosophical in places with some interesting social commentary on the entertainment business and capitalism in general. Nods to classical myth and Joseph Campbell's hero. Gritty and violent at times, plain gross at others - what is with this unnatural penchant for sh*t? Despite this the story is driven by love (in many of its incarnations) and the striving of our hero to reconcile his real self with his pretended self in his quest to earn back his ex-wife. Not chick-flick romantic though - another bonus.