After "Magician: Apprentice", I was hoping that the second half of the Feist's Magician series would deliver closure to the multitude of plot threads...moreAfter "Magician: Apprentice", I was hoping that the second half of the Feist's Magician series would deliver closure to the multitude of plot threads that have been constructed in the first half, but as it turned out, I was disappointed. There are many problems with this book that impede my enjoyment, because every other page of the book seems to make me look up and whisper to myself, "What? Why? How is this reasonable? Why do I have to see this scene? Why is the guy I'm supposed to be rooting for behaving like a spoiled, rotten child?"
I'll break it down. The main character Pug ceased to be an innocent, endearing boy and suddenly turned into a tyrant with an ego worthy of three men. I hated him. So much. He had everything handed to him: his latent powers, the affection of every single 'good' person in the book, the fortuitous termination of his enslavement (if he had slaved at all, because to be honest I didn't see any suffering in his part), the protection of a good master, the respect of the Tsurani mages (why did he deserve that?), among many other things. He found his soulmate without even trying, and she was completely devoted to him right after a single night of passion. There was no special connection between Pug and his wife; not even the tiniest resemblance of romance. When Pug became a master magician, my empathy for him drained away completely. He treated those of his former station the way every other huffing noble treated them, and we were supposed to root for this man? Not a chance. The showcasing of his power during the bloody arena event was so utterly inane and pointless I had to slog through the pages, rolling my eyes as I did so to lessen the boredom. There is no tension whatsoever in the book once Pug was able to do ANYTHING he wants, at no apparent price. Pug is the embodiment of one of the biggest Gary Stu-s in fantasy writing.
Next, Tomas. A complete jerkass, he too had made a complete personality turnabout from the good-natured, energetic lad we've seen back in Apprentice. Like Pug, he had everything handed to him: the adoration of the elves (although he butchered his enemies and radiated an aura of savagery), the unquestioning loyalty of the dwarves (why? He's just a human, young and callow, and just because Dolgan liked him did not mean that the rest of the dwarves should) and the love of a most unlikely character (again, no chemistry. Shallow, shallow, shallow). His sideplot ended with no violence, no consequences, no repercussions. Bam, author intruded, problem solved. Boring.
Arutha. I like him, actually. But I don't see why a third of the book has to be written in his point of view, especially since he was given barely any spotlight in the first book. In fact, Arutha should be main character, not Pug or Tomas. At least he's not an obvious Gary Stu cardboard character, and the lowering of his station as a prince to an adventurer actually won my empathy, and I really enjoyed his growth as a character.
What could have been an epic fantasy in "Magician: Master" turned out hollow, unbelievable, and boring. Even if one were to forgive the problem of Gary-Stu-ness in the book's many characters, its inconsistent pacing, pointless digressions and anticlimactic emotional scenes still stick out like a sore thumb and give rise to the frustration of the readers who actually care about these things (as I read this book, I almost forgot why the Tsurani was the enemy, since there was so very many chapters of pure digression). I say only read this book when you are new to fantasy and do not know what to expect: its easy and cliched plot are useful for the uninitiated reader. Otherwise, stay away.(less)
The second book of the Empire trilogy failed to hold a candle to the first one. While most of the characters remain interesting and the writing style...moreThe second book of the Empire trilogy failed to hold a candle to the first one. While most of the characters remain interesting and the writing style has not changed, the plot has gone from mildly ponderous to thin, irrelevant, and suffering from way too much padding. It makes reading the second book right after the first one a disappointment, which is the reason why I've only given Servant of the Empire a rating of two stars.
The largest gripe I have with this book is the introduction of Kevin. A noble-turned-slave from Midkemia, he would have been a standard character in Feist's other works. In Mara's world, however, he proved to be intrusive: he appeared in every chapter and was given a lot of spotlight, and his role to supply Midkemian insight into the world of Kelewan was potrayed with such annoying efficacy that it made me wonder why Feist even bothered with introducing the Tsurani culture in the first place. because apparently, Midkemian concepts of family, honour, and warring strategies were always better. It would have been surprising and delightful if Kevin's insight was proven to be wrong, or resulted in a disaster despite its goodwill, even if it only happened for a single occasion. Instead his advice trumped over Mara's own advisers', and with every validation to Kevin's suggestions Mara's advisers appeared less and less competent and Kevin appeared more and more a Gary Stu.
The second problem was the number of plot threads left open which was quickly tied up by an event that happened off-stage. A major villain was killed... off-stage, during a melee that did not even involve Mara or Mara's allies. It was done so another major villain, who was more intelligent and had more cunning, could replace him in his role. This was poor writing, and could have been done in a more convincing way.
The introduction of Milamber from the Riftwar Saga in this book was another major gripe. This is the first of Feist's trilogies that I've read, and I neither knew of nor empathised with the eponymous character from the Riftwar series. His actions in this book, defiantly opposing the traditions of Kelewan that ultimately started a conflict which killed many innocents, were very jarring and caused me to dislike his character despite Feist's attempts to justify this and make him look good. A foreigner who enforced his way of life upon an unfamiliar culture is not to be sympathised with; and Milamber was barely punished for his reckless, destructive outburst.
So there. The reasons why this book was a huge disappointment from its predecessor. If only Feist had held himself back from playing favourites with Midkemia, this book would have been much less painful to read. The way it is, especially with the insufferable amount of padding throughout the middle parts of the book, I must warn anyone who has picked up this series to be wary of Servant of the Empire.(less)
Where do I begin? Honestly, when I read through the first fifty pages of Fifth Sorceress, I thought 'Hey this book ain't so bad... What's with all the...moreWhere do I begin? Honestly, when I read through the first fifty pages of Fifth Sorceress, I thought 'Hey this book ain't so bad... What's with all the terrible reviews?' Then I arrived at the point where Tristan played catch with his horse and I thought, 'Oh.'
This isn't a fantasy story. This is a series of monologues crafted in a shoddy manner to describe a fantasy world that is rampant with cliches and inconsistencies. Every character in this book talks too much, often engaging in aggravating one-sided conversations sustained by lines consisting of 'Don't you know?', 'You must be wondering...', 'Are you surprised? I will now tell you my scheme,' followed by merciless pages of boring exposition. When a savage, beast-like creature appeared and introduced itself with, 'I am a wiktor,' (followed by 2 pages of exposition about its own nature, origin, and motivation) I know that I was in for a delightful ride.
Even with all those pages of expositions, the world of Eutracia is painfully bland and uninteresting. Here's a kingdom, ruled by a king and his queen and a 'Directorate' of wizards... and that's it. No visuals come to my mind. It's a kingdom like any other, ruled by idiotic wizards and a king with a manchild as a son. The main character Tristan is thirty but acted as if he were fifteen. The kingdom ruled by the good wizards is bright and sparkly, as opposed to the kingdom ruled by the evil sorceresses which is dark and gloomy. Every chapter contains several fantasy cliches that are painful to read, and the treatment of women in this book borders on insulting. I felt no tension as I approached the climactic event of this book, because the main character was a 'Chosen One' who obviously would not fail in his quest no matter what.
I am more of a character person than a plot person and can usually forgive a bad plot as long as the characters are interesting, but Fifth Sorceress does not even have characters; they have cardboard cutouts of real humans. Aside from Tristan, characters exist in this book solely for the purpose of expositions, and after the first hundred pages or so I was so numbed by it that I don't even remember characters' names anymore aside from Tristan and his wizard companion. Newcomb did not even bother describing most of his male characters, but described all the female ones in excruciating details with respect to their sex appeal and garments. Why is it that every time Tristan saw a woman, the first thing he thought of was 'She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen'? This happened at least three times in the book, with nearly the exact same wording.
The only reason why anyone would want to read this book is when he or she has read a few books written by actual good writers and are looking for some laughs. The contrast between this book and those written by other established fantasy writers is so stark that every page appears humorous. I certainly enjoyed The Fifth Sorceress in a 'so bad it's good' sense. Perhaps you would too.(less)
This book reads like the minutes of some book group convention attended by stay-at-home moms. There are way too many references to a plethora of write...moreThis book reads like the minutes of some book group convention attended by stay-at-home moms. There are way too many references to a plethora of writers that most readers probably have never heard before and thus could not identify with. Was there really a need to fill the entire chapter one---titled 'Narrating'---with forty pages of essay on how free indirect style is the way to go? Is there truly no other mode of narrating that prove effective? No, I don't believe so; neither was there a need to tell the readers the names of twenty different writers and their corresponding narration styles while giving us only four example passages in total.
Perhaps James Wood has confused this book to be his Masters' thesis in English Literature---but I'm not his college professor, and I did not find this book useful or enjoyable. Since most readers aren't James Wood's college professor either, chances are, they too won't find this book useful or enjoyable.(less)
A fresh rise-to-power story with the setting of mid-second-millenium East Asia. The main character Mara was faced with multitudes of predicaments and...moreA fresh rise-to-power story with the setting of mid-second-millenium East Asia. The main character Mara was faced with multitudes of predicaments and menaces that threatened her very life, but her wits, her strong will, and her dire sacrifices pulled her through. This was written in a convincing manner, and as a reader I grew very sympathetic towards Mara who had to strive to achieve her goals, even if it meant lowering herself below her enemies and being abused by an unloving husband. Her advisers and warriors were rightfully loyal to her, and the interpersonal relationship between Mara and her vassals was endearing to read.
Although the plot grows somewhat ponderous in the middle of the book, Daughter of the Empire remains a strong, epic fantasy with its politics-ridden Tsurani culture that was intriguing to read. It hit a few cliches concerning the villains: fat, physically unattractive brutes whose zeal in destroying Mara's clan seemed largely unwarranted. I also found it difficult to believe that Mara's vassals were all fiercely loyal to her - even those who were newly recruited. Regardless, Daughter of the Empire was an enjoyable book to read, and I recommend those who are currently looking for a fresh new fantasy series to check out this one.(less)
I have strongly mixed opinions about this books; parts of it excite me so much that I thought 'this is a truly magnificent scene', while other parts m...moreI have strongly mixed opinions about this books; parts of it excite me so much that I thought 'this is a truly magnificent scene', while other parts made me fume with irritation and disbelief.
Let's start with the good part. Mistress of the Empire started with a BANG! that left me unable to put the book down for a few chapters because of how powerful its impact was on the story and characters. Later in the book another tragic surprise roped me in with a similar intensity, and the fast-paced action scenes that followed after was kept my interest going for at least a hundred pages more. It was very pleasant and made me fall in love with this book... if only it lasted throughout the experience.
Unfortunately snail-paced interludes bog the plot down, and I often question whether these chapters are truly necessary to the book's plot. I skipped entire scenes where nothing but banal political discussions happened, and later as events unfolded I realised that I have not missed anything at all. Why even have chapters written from the point of view of Jiro? He did nothing but sit around and plot, and later it turned out that he did not achieved much with all the plotting he had done (in fact, it almost did not matter at all). I also found a gaping flaw with Jiro's character. What sort of 'intelligent' man would harbour a grudge against a lady who chose his mentally inferior brother as a husband to win political favour (and intentionally caused his death, too)? Jiro was petty, impatient, murderous, harsh, unforgiving, vindictive, and so prone to bouts of fury that I did not for a moment believe that he was 'cunning' or 'intelligent.'
And here comes my biggest problem with the book, which shaved off that 2 stars out of the 5/5 that I would have given if things had been otherwise.
What the hell is with the magician Assembly?
If Tsunarians had any brains at all, they would fight against the Assembly to the last drop of the their blood if only to end their tyrannical rule over the land. The magicians were extremely powerful, extremely dangerous and so infinitely murderous that as I read on I held to the belief that they needed to be obliterated by any means possible. But the ending had left me utterly dissatisfied. Even the 'good' mages were no better: they did nothing as entire armies were incinerated in the most graphic way possible, instead retreating back to their petty, ponderous discussions instead of taking severe actions against the members of the Assembly who had taken human lives for no good reasons at all.
I hate Tapek, I hate Hochepapa, I hate Milamber, and I hate the book for not having them systematically ripped apart as the events of the book came to an end. Instead we get a nonsense divine-protection Deus Ex Machina as a solution to the book's climax.
So there it is, a mixture of 1-star and 5-star elements of the book that compelled me to give Mistress of the Empire a 3-star rating. I loved this series, and it had some truly insightful plot and interesting characters in it, but the first book, in my opinion, was the masterpiece of the trilogy.(less)
There is absolutely nothing remotely enjoyable about this dreck. Rand, Mat and Perrin continued to act like incredibly stupid brats who had lost whate...moreThere is absolutely nothing remotely enjoyable about this dreck. Rand, Mat and Perrin continued to act like incredibly stupid brats who had lost whatever friendship they once had with one another. Elayne acted like a twelve year old girl, with a head as big as a blimp and a mind completely unhinged from reality. Nynaeve should be in a mental hospital. Egwene made a completely ineffectual Amyrlin Seat and her secret-keeping was doing more harm than good.
Aside from the horrible characters (both main and supporting), the plot was just as equally dismal. Nothing much happened till the very end, and even then, the heroes were nowhere closer to defeating the enemies than they were at the beginning of the book. In fact, due to an act of headbanging stupidity, a villain actually went loose, adding another loose thread into a plot already hopelessly contrived.
This book feels like the beginning of a train wreck, which, from what I read in other reviews, culminates on book #10. Drop this series and don't look back.(less)
Personally I find this collection of short stories by Mr. Gaiman superior to Smokes and Mirrors, if only for the fact that he actually wrote closure t...morePersonally I find this collection of short stories by Mr. Gaiman superior to Smokes and Mirrors, if only for the fact that he actually wrote closure to most of the stories he wrote inside. Mistake not, Gaiman is an excellent writer, and his poetic writing style is one I sincerely envy, but while his plots are often thick and dark with intrigue, he often finishes off his stories in ways that left the readers utterly unsatistfied (anti-climaxes and Deus ex Machina abound).
Many of the short stories chronicled in this book make heavy (if not complete) references to other literary works that have become classics; while I am sure that Mr. Gaiman meant this as respectful homages to their respective authors, I wonder how many of his readers are left baffled and lost as they had never read those classics before. Regardless, the twists to the original stories are fresh, and some even blew my mind completely. One of the highlights of the book, definitely.
One of my pet peeves about this book is the alarming large number of male protagonists who are unfaithful or come across as misogynous to me. Nearly every one of his protagonists are divorced, cheating on his wife, or single (and having frequent, casual sex). This does not reflect reality very well. I have not seen a single woman portrayed decently in any of his works.
Overall, while Gaiman's works remain more or less constant in terms of style, they vary enormously in how satisfying they are. I reckon, on average, the balance is still on the better side. Read the book while knowing that some stories are not as good as the others.(less)
This entry by Feist is one of his earlier works, and in a nutshell: it is fun to read. While heavily cliched plot-wise for modern standards, "Magician...moreThis entry by Feist is one of his earlier works, and in a nutshell: it is fun to read. While heavily cliched plot-wise for modern standards, "Magician: Apprentice" has many relatable and endearing characters that would encourage you to flip the page read on. However, I'm not exaggerating when I said 'cliched'. This story seems to want to have everything: magic knights and wizards, kings and princesses, elves and dwarves, aliens and otherworlds, and of course, dragons. EVERYTHING. It is disorienting how the author tries to force every single element of fantasy into a single work, and without much creativity on his part (Elves are ageless, beautiful, and tall. Dwarves are stocky and drink ale.) It also causes the storyline to lose focus from time to time while a new (but old) fantasy element is introduced in every new chapter.
Still, it is an enjoyable book, and I must recommend this book to someone who are just starting to read fantasy. Just do not expect an epic tale of the scale of 'Lord of the Rings' or the likes, for this book is derivative to say the least.(less)
A classic Gary Stu story. The main character Stile is so gifted in every possible facet ranging from athletics to music to mental prowess that it feel...moreA classic Gary Stu story. The main character Stile is so gifted in every possible facet ranging from athletics to music to mental prowess that it feels utterly unbelievable, given his station as a serf. His only 'flaw' was being short, and naturally he never failed to mention this fact, in his many self-righteous monologues, to reason out why certain people he encountered during his adventures showed distaste against his character. It wasn't because he was a maddeningly arrogant pretty boy, god bless, no! It's only because he was short that not everybody he met wanted to be his friend.
Those he met who didn't instantly dislike him wanted to be his best friend, and the women (all beautiful, full-breasted and delicately built, of course) were unanimously attracted to him and wanted to be inside his pants. It's like some dirty old man's fantasy. To make matters worse, all of them were fine with the fact that Stile would screw anything that moved as soon as they were no longer within his immediate line of sight. In fact, one of the major reasons why Stile jumped around between the worlds was because 'she's waiting for me.' So as soon as he was tired of the woman in the current realm, he would cross the curtains so he could fuck the other woman. Very nice.
After Stile performed his first spell, he swore an oath never to use magic anymore because he was so powerful that his spells could affect the otherwise spell-immune unicorn. His arrogance knew no bounds.
Despite the nightmarish main character (and the painfully bland, sidekick-ish side characters), Piers Anthony wrote in an unpretentious, fluid style that is often enjoyable. Those bits about horses were informative and insightful until he wouldn't stop telling us about the difference between a trot, a canter and a gallop. Then he started describing a unicorn performing acrobatics in mid air and running in a five-beat gait (what?) and my eyes started to roll. I know it's MAGIC, Mr. Anthony, but when we read about a unicorn we expect it to be only capable of physical tricks that horses can do. Making them do backflips is just ridiculous, and gets me thinking of My Little Pony, which is certainly not the imagery you were going for.
If not for the writing style, I would've easily given this book a single star. Considering the non-existent plot and the unbelievable characterisations, be ready to drudge through Split Infinity, rolling your eyes and groaning as you flip through its pages.(less)
'Mistborn: The Final Empire' is everything I yearn for in a fantasy novel. It has it all--a good plot, a cast of memorable characters and a cl...moreAmazing.
'Mistborn: The Final Empire' is everything I yearn for in a fantasy novel. It has it all--a good plot, a cast of memorable characters and a clear writing style--and these elements click together so seamlessly and brilliantly that the excitement never faded as I was reading the book. There are several moments when I couldn't help but to smile at certain dialogue or action scenes so artfully written. Mr. Sanderson's fresh insight towards the typical fantasy world was nothing short of remarkable.
Readers who read for the plot may not find Mistborn to be a novel that explores new, uncharted grounds within the already saturated fantasy genre, but I definitely enjoyed learning about Allomancy and its rules. Unlike too many authors in the genre, Sanderson did not break the rules of his own fantasy world: Allomancy is a well-thought 'magic system', simple, rigid, and makes for excellent plot device. I grew excited every time I reached a scene when Vin was being taught to master a new metal by the expert in the said metal. The main arcing plot itself was rather plain and linear and moved languidly for the first half of the book, but its pace quickly picked up by the second half all the way until the big finish. A major plot twist happened in the final climax of the story, something that I had never expected while I was reading it, and I was pleasantly surprised by its cleverness.
As a reader, I enjoy books which have personable, likeable characters, and I was delighted to read about Vin. Her character made a deep impression on me: she's naive, she's cunning, she's cautious, she's trusting, she's a thief and a spy and a hero and a lover and above all, she felt like a real person to me. Far too many fantasy protagonists were made out of cardboard cutouts of the typical Gary Stu nauseating characteristics, but not Vin. I loved reading about her. I wanted to know more about her and what challenges she would face ahead and how she would eventually overcome them. Characters in Mistborn felt like real people with their own purposes and dreams, people with their own minds whose existence and thoughts did not revolve around the main character.
I must recommend this book to everyone who loves the fantasy genre, and even to those who do not usually read them. Brandon Sanderson is a very talented writer who, for some reason, isn't a very well-known figure in the fantasy scene prior to Robert Jordan's death and the succession of the Wheel of Time authorship. I look forward to reading the rest of his Mistborn series, and more by Mr. Sanderson.(less)
If you are looking for the definitive Isaac Asimov novel, look no further. Hell, if you are looking for the definitive SCIENCE FICTION, look no furthe...moreIf you are looking for the definitive Isaac Asimov novel, look no further. Hell, if you are looking for the definitive SCIENCE FICTION, look no further. The Gods Themselves is wonderfully intelligent and deliciously intriguing, reaching new heights and exploring the otherwise dangerous vestiges of telling a story from an extraterrestrial life-form like it was never done before.
The book is written in three arcs, each from a different perspective, but ultimately all make up a single story. In my opinion, the second arc is utter genius: the writing style, the interpersonal relationships, and the ravishing plot are fused together into a tale like none other, deep and complex and alien but somehow... still human.
Any lover of fiction should give this book a try. Issac Asimov is sometimes unbelievably good at writing a good plot and good characters, and his genius really shines with this book. You will not be disappointed.(less)
Great advice for writers! I find myself agreeing with what Mr. Brohaugh says nearly all the time, and while he may not be the wittiest writer around,...moreGreat advice for writers! I find myself agreeing with what Mr. Brohaugh says nearly all the time, and while he may not be the wittiest writer around, he captures my interest and fascination and holds it there. There is an unsettling lack of prose examples to substantiate his points, but otherwise, a great self-help book.(less)
Excellent read for all writers, journalists, and columnists alike. Element of Style is rife with must-know rules of English language from the get-go,...moreExcellent read for all writers, journalists, and columnists alike. Element of Style is rife with must-know rules of English language from the get-go, from the very first section of the first chapter all the way until the end. They aren't simple rules as well; I threw my friends a quiz using the contents of this book and every time half of them did not know the right answer.
Highly recommended to anyone who seeks to write better in English.(less)