Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes!!!! Yes, yes, and yes! It’s gorgeous! It’s mysterious! It’s just absolutely wonderful! They simply don’t do cover art likeCover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes!!!! Yes, yes, and yes! It’s gorgeous! It’s mysterious! It’s just absolutely wonderful! They simply don’t do cover art like this anymore.
Characters: I’m saying this right off: If The Book of Ti’ana ever gets turned into a movie, Tom Hiddleston has to play Veovis. A lord’s son who commands the respect of the elder councilors, who always gets what he wants, and who is a good friend when he has an invested interest in being your friend. But also more than a little eaten up with D’Ni arrogance, which eventually leads to an overwhelming hatred for his best friend (who has, in Veovis’s eyes, betrayed and polluted the D’Ni people and D’Ni ways) and turns him into something of an anti-hero. Yes, I like Veovis. I would feel a whole sorrier for him if it weren’t for his arrogance. But he also wouldn’t be Veovis without it. A’Gaeris, the real villain of the story, is the sort of conniving, twisted, and slimy little creep that I love to hate. He can turn best friends against each other, while pretending to be their ally. And now that I have talked about the villains (because the villains are always the backbone of a Myst story), I will talk about the “heroes.” Aitrus is a quiet, curious, very honorable, and intelligent protagonist – so much so that it is, naturally, difficult to dislike him in any way. He and Veovis are such opposites that it’s a wonder they ever became friends. Veovis is comfortable among politicians, believes in sacrificing everything to keep D’Ni ways and D’Ni blood pure. Aitrus just wants to be left to his experiments and notebooks, hates dealing with politics, and does what he thinks is right – even if it means changing how D’Ni is. Anna/Ti’ana (her D’Ni name) is much like Aitrus in her inquisitiveness and delight in exploration. But she’s much more open about her emotions and feelings. Among these four key characters is a host of D’Ni lords and commoners – whose names, yes, start to blend together a bit.
The Romance: Aitrus and Anna fall in love and eventually marry, which is what officially drives a wedge between Aitrus and Veovis. While it doesn’t feel like it, several years actually pass in the book, and through those years, Aitrus and Anna get to know each other. It’s so nice to read about a mature, realistic romantic relationship! Initially, Readers might bulk at the age difference between Anna and Aitrus. But one has to recall that the D’Ni live much longer than surface-dwellers (like Anna), so fifty is the equivalent of eighteen. Ages aren’t referenced often, though, so it’s easy to forget that one must wrap one’s mind around this concept. The romance is a key factor to the storyline, but it isn’t overwhelming, and it’s realistic and genuine.
Plot:The Book of Ti’ana takes Readers to the underground world of D’Ni – an ancient civilization with a rich history totally unknown to surface-dwellers. The D’Ni have always been an exploratory civilization, their empire and knowledge expanding to hundreds of worlds – worlds that they are able to travel to by using Linking Books. But now they want to know what’s on the surface of their own planet, and so they construct a massive shaft straight up. Aitrus is part of the Surveyors Guild, and he most of all cannot wait to explore the surface. But the D’Ni lords are worried about the influences of surface-dwellers on their ancient civilization. What if the surface-dwellers are hostile and try to invade D’Ni? Before the dream of seeing the surface can even be realized, the project is shut down. Years later, though, Anna finds a volcanic tunnel down into D’Ni. Her arrival heralds the beginning of a new age for D’Ni – and it’s destruction. Anna is not what the D’Ni expected, and when Aitrus marries her, his best friend Veovis will stop at nothing to end the pollution of Anna’s influence on D’Ni civilization. Even if it means betraying his entire race. Okay, I am going to confess: I am a really big Myst fan. Riven was the first computer game I played, and it was my official introduction into this captivating world. So, I may be more than a little biased. This isn’t the first time I’ve read The Book of Ti’ana, but it has been several years and I did my best to look at it with both a critical eye and as a fan coming back after many, many years. Chronologically, The Book of Ti’ana is the first book in the trilogy. However, it was the second book to be published. Because of this, The Book of Ti’ana may be confusing to Readers who don’t know anything about Myst. There are many world building details that are left out because they were covered in The Book of Atrus (Book #2 chronologically; the first book to be published). But because I am familiar with the world, I didn’t need those world-building details. That said, the world of D’Ni is amazing. The technology is superior, but it isn’t all futuristic and techy. The writers have taken the classic charm of the Victorian era and applied it, so you get a more Neo-Victorian/steampunk feel rather than a futuristic alien feel. As a fan of the Victorian era, I loved it. And a civilization that prizes above all books and writing?! Yes, please! The plot of The Book of Ti’ana does read more like a backstory, since it was published second, than as a first book in a trilogy. It spans several years, but the passage of time feels like days. This causes the plot to have a very quick pace. Before you know it, Anna is descending into D’Ni, and then she’s married Aitrus, and then the conclusion is right on your heels!
Believability: Not very applicable, but as far as science fiction goes, I give the writers props for using plausible scientific laws and mechanics. Some might call the Ink that is used in Linking Books magic, and how it works isn’t explained – not even the D’Ni fully understand the Art – but it is made clear that it isn’t magic, but some unknown science.
Writing Style: Third person, past tense. The writing really isn’t the world’s greatest. There were times when the same word was used several times in one paragraph, and a lot of moment-by-moment details were offered. I love the mechanics of the D’Ni machines, but for someone who isn’t yet a Myst fanatic, all of the details about tunneling could get old. That said, while the writing is very moment-by-moment, it also holds a classic ambiance – especially the dialogue.
Conclusion: I love stories about betrayal and revenge and redemption and the falling of great civilizations. One could argue that it’s rather convenient that Anna and Aitrus are able to find what they need when they need it. And one could argue that Aitrus should have known better than to trust anything A’Gaeris said. Even more so, one could argue that yes, it was all Anna’s fault after all. And maybe that’s what I like about this book so much. Aitrus and Anna both mess up. They trusted the wrong people and they didn’t tell the right ones when they should have. And the book doesn’t try to portray it any other way. It’s a tragedy, and like all tragedies, everything happens because of poor decisions. Aitrus and Anna were trying to do what they thought was right; they just didn’t take the path they should have. The Book of Ti’ana isn’t where Readers new to this world should start. You should read them in publication order, and start with The Book of Atrus, and then read this one. You will be able to appreciate and understand everything in it so much more.
Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up for interest level (even though I loved it even when I was a nine-year-old kid). Fans of Neo-Victorian, steampunk, and science fiction will enjoy it, as well as Readers who like stories propelled by villains....more
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? My problems with this cover are the same as for Westmark. It’s blockish and rather dull and just doesn’t suit for me.
CharacterCover Blurb: Yes or No? My problems with this cover are the same as for Westmark. It’s blockish and rather dull and just doesn’t suit for me.
Characters: All of the characters we know and love are back, along with some new ones. And they’re all just as wonderful and likable as before. Mickle proves her strength of character even further in this installment, as she bravely takes personal command of her forlorn army and stands against the invading Regians. I was never extremely fond of Justin in Westmark, and in this one, I downright dislike him at times. He seems to cause trouble for Theo simply because he could, and I keep waiting for his vendetta against Theo to become a major problem. Theo remains a great protagonist, though I do have to question his sudden change of heart. In the beginning, Theo is completely unable to kill anyone - which is why Justin hates him so much. But then a principle character is killed, and Theo turns into a virtual killing machine. I realize that Theo was pretty attached to the guy who is killed - I myself was sad when he died, - but I have a hard time believing that he would change so dramatically simply because he died, albeit in a rather cruel manner. And while Cabbarus is mentioned, he never appears in the story, which I thought was rather rotten. He was the principle villain in the previous book; if he’s to have a hand in the Regians invading Westmark, he ought to make an appearance.
The Romance: Once again, it is very subtle and doesn’t get in the way of the adventure.
Plot: In the beginning of the story, one of the characters proclaims that it has been six months since the events of the last book. It felt like way more than just six months had passed; more like a year or two. The plot of the Regians invading Westmark makes for a rather exciting story, though not nearly as many skirmishes and battles are related as one might think. Months pass by, but it is a remarkably short read, as the Author only writes out those battles that are most important to how things turn out. And then he wraps it all up with an almost too-convenient end.
Believability: Injuries and warfare, what little is related, was all good.
Writing Style: As always, Lloyd Alexander juggles humor and drama together, making for an entertaining read. His characters and the world they inhabit make this story what it is, and while his descriptions are sparse, we still get a clear picture of the landscape.
Conclusion: This is where I had the most issues, which isn’t terribly surprising, because my opinion has always been that Lloyd Alexander’s weak point is endings. Things felt rushed and at times a little too convenient. The revelation of Florian’s parentage was extremely “oh, by the way,” and then the story just moved right on. There were no character reactions, no explanations about how exactly it is Florian ended up in his circumstances, and no repercussions. Considering how unexpected the revelation was, and how important his parentage is, I would think that there would be something, a reaction of some sort. The way Constantine and Mickle meet is rather convenient, but somehow worked. However, Constantine’s uncle agreeing to end the war simply because Constantine said to didn’t make sense. Constantine’s uncle was more than willing to let Constantine die, and it seems to me that he would be the sort of man who would have a rather large number of supporters among Constantine’s staff officers. And his uncle also struck me as the sort of man that, if Constantine tried to put a stop to the war that his uncle wanted so badly, his uncle would openly oppose - and even depose - Constantine, and the reason he hadn’t done so earlier was because before Constantine was willing to support the war. Finally, the reason for delaying Mickle and Theo’s marriage once again was feeble. Does Justin honestly think that just because Theo isn’t officially prince consort, he won’t support Mickle? While The Kestrel has its flaws, it is still a good addition to the trilogy, and for the most part, fans won’t be terribly disappointed.
Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, any age, fans of adventure stories, and the Westmark trilogy....more
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes; you can't see the character impersonator's face, I like the stormy colors, and let's face it: a boy carrying a sword whilCover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes; you can't see the character impersonator's face, I like the stormy colors, and let's face it: a boy carrying a sword while facing what's clearly New York City is rather intriguing.
Characters: Percy is the sort of "guy" character I like, though at twelve he's a bit too young to technically be a "guy." Setting that aside, I really liked him the moment I met him. He has a sarcastic sense of humor, but he isn't cocky and he minds his own business. Trouble quite literally just finds him due to no real fault of his own. He's overall a nice kid who always gets blamed for most everything. Annabeth could have been really annoying, with her "take care of myself" and very blunt attitude, but she doesn't come across as tough stuff at all. She genuinely can take care of herself, she's naturally blunt, and her slight dislike for Percy is only because their Olympic parents have a rivalry. To top off her coolness, Annabeth accepts help when it's offered, and doesn't get all angry at Percy for it. Grover is adorable; I wanted to give him a big squeeze whenever he was sad or nervous. And though Luke really isn't in the book all that much, there was just something about him that screamed "awesome" in a big-brother sort of way.
The Romance: There isn't any!
Plot: Weird things have been happening to Percy his whole life, but nothing as weird as what happens next. While on a school trip to a local museum, Percy's Pre-Algebra teacher turns into a mythological creature - a Fury - and tries to kill him. And his best friend Grover turns out to be a satyr. With creatures dead set on Percy's demise cropping up everywhere, he's forced to flee to a place called Camp Half-Blood, where he learns that he is no normal mortal, but a demigod: the son of a mortal and a god. Outside of the boundaries of Camp Half-Blood, monsters such a minotaurs and chimeras can smell Percy's godly scent and will stop at nothing to demolish him. Inside of Camp Half-Blood, he will be trained - along with other demigods - to fight off such creatures, while he waits for one of the Greek gods to claim him as their son. But when monsters start to appear within the boundaries of Camp Half-Blood and news reaches them that Zeus' master thunderbolt has been stolen, Percy and his friend Annabeth and Grover find themselves sent on a quest that may end in complete disaster. Percy has until the summer solstice - ten days - to find Zeus' master bolt and return it before all-out war is declared among the Big Three: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Along the way, they'll have to fight monsters, decide which gods to trust, and avoid traps. But Percy is constantly disturbed by dreams, and he begins to wonder if everything is as it seems with this quest. The beginning is exciting. It's a great introduction to Percy's personality, and the Reader doesn't really know all that's going on, so it has an element of mystery to it as well. The world of Camp Half-Blood and mixing Greek mythology with modern times is an absolute thrill to explore. It's really fun to see how the Author integrates such things; what would Ares look like in a modern world? Or Medusa and the Minotaur? How would the Underworld operate? While the quest itself is certainly interesting, filled with action and even suspense, part of what made The Lightning Thief so fun is the world building. It's a wonderfully original idea that I just could not get enough of. Percy's dreams keep an element of mystery to events, and the hints of a past quest gone wrong involving Grover, Annabeth, and Luke indicate a deeper backstory that will be explored even more in later installments.
Believability: Not applicable.
Writing Style: First person, past tense. The first person allows the Reader to be immersed in Percy's amusing humor, and I couldn't have asked for a better narrator to spend this story with. While the writing style itself isn't really all that spectacular, the Author embodies his world and characters with such life that it's easy to ignore. His mythology research is also impeccable.
Content: None. The demigods, of course, are a result of Greek gods sleeping with mortals, but this isn't explored.
Conclusion: This is my third time reading The Lighting Thief, so the twist didn't come as a surprise to me. But I still really love it. The first time I read this book, I suspected what would happen, but I didn't really know that that was how it would go. And it was a great twist. It was the sort of twist that left me sad, surprised, and pleased, because it adds another dimension to character relations. It also proved that this Author isn't afraid to do what is required to make the story great. Some Author shy away from killing characters or making others turn bad, but not Rick Riordan. The Lightning Thief was a favorite when I first read it because it was so original and fun. After several years of having not read it, it was fun to see if my opinion changed at all. It didn't.
Recommended Audience: Guy-and-girl read, ten-and-up, great for mythology fans....more
This is a wonderful "what if" story, filled with Rinaldi's classic historical detail, adding such life to her fiction that it's hard to pick the made-This is a wonderful "what if" story, filled with Rinaldi's classic historical detail, adding such life to her fiction that it's hard to pick the made-up from the facts. Mary is a very well balanced heroine, neither too forceful nor too meek, though perhaps a little too accepting of her situations at times. Still, she is a good narrator; one that doesn't get on one's nerves.
The only flaw with this particular Ann Rinaldi novel? Like all boarding-school stories, there is the jerky prim and proper girl who bullies everyone else and tries to ruin the heroine's life. Lizzy is an excellent bully - I hated her the moment she popped into the story, and she's especially fun to hate because she has nothing in her past to even slightly excuse her for her bad attitude; she simply is a jerk. But Mary never gets even with her; she never brings Lizzy down even a little bit. Oh, Lizzy doesn't exactly win, either, but when a story has the mean girl, every Reader wants something bad happen to her. And it never does.
So on that account, Mutiny's Daughter is disappointing. But in every other respect, it is one of Ann Rinaldi's finest....more