Ever been in a play before? I have, nothing big--it was a summer production and I had one line, which I completely forgot to say because I was so nervEver been in a play before? I have, nothing big--it was a summer production and I had one line, which I completely forgot to say because I was so nervous and worst of all even though I was the youngest member of the Theater company, I was playing the oldest member of the cast. I had to put powder in my hair to make it look salt-and-peppery, wear face make up so that they could cover up the fact I looked about 80 years too young for the part and a high necked, long sleeved, to the floor WOOL dress. With all those lights! I hated it.
From what I can tell the Theatre Illuminata is nothing at all like that. For one thing these aren't actor pretending to be the characters--these ARE the characters. On stage, off stage, during a performance or otherwise they are who they are portraying. Ophelia is just as airy, empheremal and dream like as she is in Hamlet, Hamlet is just as dreary, pig-headed and self-asorbed as he is known to be and Ariel...well. I can't actually comment on him since I've never read (or seen) The Tempest.
Magical and riveting is a good way to describe Eyes Like Stars. Bertie is a force to reckon with, which everyone finds out to their consternation and bemusement and the cast of secondary characters all manage to portray themselves in such a way as to be true to the character they are in the play, but also as an unique individual. I think my favorite was Mustardseed, but I found it amusing that Peaseblossom was kind of like a Den Mother to the other two fairies--she was constantly chiding them to behave, but she could get into her own mischief on occasion.
Oh the romance. Like any good Shakespeare dramedy (drama-comedy) there's romance that runs complicated between Bertie and Nate (a pirate from The Little Mermaid) and Ariel (from The Tempest) off in the wings confusing matters of course. The interaction between Bertie and Nate felt natural and you could tell there was deep affection between them. The interaction between Bertie and Ariel was more complex--he was her best friend at one time, but circumstances drew them apart and she can't quite find herself trusting him. Then also he doesn't do too many endearing things throughout the course of the book, there's a spark however that Bertie feels and tries to ignore. Its an interesting spark and I'd like to see how it plays out.
I won't ruin the surprises in store for you, but the blurb only covers a small bit of the action contained within. To steal a line from one of my all-time favorite movies (The Princess Bride): [It's:] Not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum fairy tale....more
I'll review each of the 15 stories separately (quickly) then my overall impression.
The Gift of Rain Mountain (Bruce Holland Rogers)-- This story startI'll review each of the 15 stories separately (quickly) then my overall impression.
The Gift of Rain Mountain (Bruce Holland Rogers)-- This story started off a little too slow for me. I wanted to punch the Main Character (Mactun) a few times because he irked me. The ending twist on what Mactun finally took from the Rain Mountain God as a boon made me grin with irony.
The Magestone (S.M. and Jan Stirling)-- I liked this twist on the mermaid/sailor tales. Though after reading what humans did to the wizard Shansu I felt a little queasy. The mermaid, Neesha, was kind of blood thirsty, but she thought she had the right way of thinking.
Eli and the Dybbuk (Janis Ian)--This was an interesting tale. Real quick--a dybbuk is from Jewish folklore and the gist of what they are is lost souls. They did horrible things in life and could not attain Heaven so they are stuck on Earth trying to possess unwary folks. I liked the moral of the story--brains over brawn (pretty much).
Heartless (Holly Black)--My first, my VERY FIRST, Holly Black story! What does it mean to be heartless? Holly Black explores this in a story about a young girl who follows army camps--doing the cooking, servicing etc. She remembers being someone else, but her mother had put her heart into her little finger bone (which Ada kept around her neck). Throughout the story Ada ponders the fact that she feels nothing and at the end she takes the greatest risk of all. Incidentally this is another story that involves a spirit--this time manes, in Roman mythology, were the deceased ancestors of people who were offered blood sacrifices.
Lioness (Pamela F. Service)--I have always enjoyed Pamela F. Service's historical novels, especially The Reluctant God (which is half historical, half contemporary). This story is about a young warrior princess, scared and worried about the Roman's continued push to take her kingdom (Kush), but determined to serve her god (the god of war Apedemek) and avenge her homeland. I cried a little, at the end, in relief because Tari (the princess) pulled through and proved herself capable.
Thunderbolt (Esther Friesner)--This is the story that led to the creation of Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize--two YA novels about Helen of SpartaTroy's early life. In this Helen recounts how it was really SHE who saved herself from the Athenian King Theseus, not her maybe divine (but really mortal) brothers. Helen was vastly amusing and I greatly loved how...manipulative she was. For a good cause (her freedom), but still.
Devil Wind (India Edghill)--Revenge! Age old classic theme. I liked how India wove both Hindu customs/beliefs with English religious beliefs. It made me a little sad though, reading about the fates of all those good people, but like the MC (Taravati) her brand of justice is well deserved and fitting.
The Boy Who Cried "Dragon!" (Mike Resnick)--Short and witty best sums up this 'true accounting' of the story never told. Geeky would-be knight meets geeky would-be fearsome dragon and a bond is formed over their innate geekiness. I found it cute when Melvin (would-be knight) bemoaned his pimples and Horace (would-be fearsome dragon) bemoaned not HAVING any.
Student of Ostriches (Tamora Pierce)--I always enjoy Tamora Pierce's writing to some degree. This short story was almost like hearing a legend actually. I would have never thought to study ostriches for learning combat, but apparently they have some wonderful moves. It did teach me to be wary of boys who kiss too easily however.
Serpent's Rock (Laura Anne Gilman)--I'll be honest this story went over my head. It began easily enough--a young boy wishes to help save his sister against BAD odds--but it then got somewhat confusing.
Hidden Warriors (Margaret Mahy)--It's important to note that the title is Hidden WarriorS not Hidden Warrior, the plural is important to remember while reading. This sometimes read like a fairy tale and sometimes read like a bard's song--it kept me interested and intrigued as it weaved the tale of a young magician who isn't sure who (or what) he is and a city that hides its true self behind friendship.
Emerging Legacy (Doranna Durgin)--This right here was a wonderful 'Surprises come in small packages' story. For anyone who was ever told that they were too awkward or graceless or klutzy to be useful, or if you were ever told that you were a disappointment as a child, this story is a wonderful salve. Kelyn is everything a warrior shouldn't be--clumsy, slow and prone to accidents if she didn't pay attention, but she used her brain and that in the end saved them all.
An Axe for Men (Rosemary Edghill)--Religious doctrine is something I have no patience for, but I do enjoy studying the ancient beliefs of civilizations long gone to the wind of time. Edghill's story is that of a young Priestess who, when seeing the only world she has ever known destroyed, learns the truth of that world. Her courage to find a new path for her people is what made this story so great.
Acts of Faith (Lesley McBain)--This story made me cry a little. I've been told stories of Ireland during WWII--just as I've been told stories of Italy and America from my other grandparents during the War--and the cant that McBain uses reminds me so strongly of how my Granny used to talk that I felt as if she was telling me the story.
Swords That Talk (Brent Hartinger)--Talking swords and a hero who laments being born during a time of enduring peace. This story was pretty funny and enjoyable to read for me. Quick like from an author I hadn't read before.
Overall the collection pleased me greatly, with only a few corkscrews that I could have done without. I also found several new authors to obsess overread more from. If you haven't already picked this up, then do so!...more
To be clear, Elske is the fourth book in Cynthia Voigt's loosely tied together series called The Kingdom. The other three (Jackaroo, Wings of a FalconTo be clear, Elske is the fourth book in Cynthia Voigt's loosely tied together series called The Kingdom. The other three (Jackaroo, Wings of a Falcon and On Fortune's Wheel) are all set in the Kingdom that Beriel hails from, while Elske is set in Trastad, a small country to the north of The Kingdom. You don't need prior knowledge of the other books, except perhaps to understand the truth behind the 'legends' that Beriel mentions. The legend of Jackaroo for instance is covered in depth in the book of the same name, while some of Beriel's ancestors are covered in On Fortune's Wheel.
This can be a little dark at times with some of the subject matter. Elske's people, the Volkaric (Wolfers) are a barbaric, primitive people who live to eat, plunder and worship their leader the Volkking. The only place a woman has is to satisfy their needs--whatever they happen to be. Her grandmother however was from the South and was resigned to her fate, Elske was her joy and treasure. When she was chosen as the Death Maiden, to be a sacrifice for the Volkking's Death, something snapped. Idle no longer she schemed to save Elske and in doing so get the revenge she should have sought years ago.
And thus does our story start. Mirkele (Elske's grandmother) is preparing Elske to run away, and Elske (barely thirteen years old) stoically faces her newfound freedom. By chance she happens upon Tavyan and his sons as they traveled home and by chance she became Beriel's handmaiden. Two exiled souls in a city that alternately reviled them and tormented them. Beriel's story is also a sad, dark tale we don't learn for many chapters, but suffice to say they both needed each other greatly.
I love this book, I have ever since reading it in college that idle tuesday afternoon. It's a very different fantasy from what I was used to at the time (there's no magic or monsters), but captivated me with its thoughtful plotting and pace. At its core Elske is about two girls who were cut off from everyone and everything they understood, who band together to grant their hearts' desires. This isn't a fast book or flashy book, its not horrifically violent or filled with drama. Like many of Voigt's other books its a character study.
The book itself covers roughly three years altogether (with an epilogue discussing the after effects), charting the progress of Elske as she learns to adapt to her new life and Beriel as she plots to take back her throne. Beriel isn't an easy person to get along with--she's short tempered, vindictive and can be very cruel. A lot of her ire turns on Elske herself--you always hurt the one you love most right?--but Elske is the perfect target almost. Raised by people far more cruel and heartless then Beriel, she stoically takes what Beriel lashes out at her and then carefully helps her pick up the pieces.
This is dramatic storytelling at its best in my opinion--proving that sometimes the one with the quietest voice is the one with the most to say....more
Its been so long since I've read a straight fantasy that I've almost forgotten what its like. Don't get me wrong I love my urban fantasies, my romanceIts been so long since I've read a straight fantasy that I've almost forgotten what its like. Don't get me wrong I love my urban fantasies, my romance fantasies...but I miss my straight ones. Glenda Larke is a favorite of mine from her 'Isles of Glory' books (of which I still haven't read book 3...), I'd even put her on par with my enjoyment of the Mistborn books or Tredana books honestly.
Stormlord starts out rather bleakly. Terelle has a dark future ahead of her as a handmaiden in Madame Opal's snuggery. As a handmaiden she's basically little better then a Geisha--she is company for men, sings, dances, plays musical instruments--but with the added duty of being a pleasing companion in bed as well. Mind you she's only 12 years old, her father sold her into this life and her older half-sister Vivie keeps telling her to suck it up and go with the flow.
From there we head to where Nealrith, son of Granlon (a cloudmaster, ie: very important guy), is visiting the water cisterns with Kaneth, his friend. Things are bad, the water levels being no where near where they should be. The solutions presented by Kaneth are both impossible and morally black, but the options are few. Is it better to be rid of a great many to save a few or should they all perish the same, slow, death?
There is a number of different intrigues going on--politically, personally and wide spread. Its not just that the water shortage problem is just now occurring, the problem is that its happening when there hasn't been enough Stormlords. In the last decades only a handful or so of potentials have been born and through disease, death and inability none of them are suitable for the position.
As one should expect from Larke's writing the narrative is lush with details. The layers of society are pretty simple to understand, but the world itself is more complex. From the religion (there is the Sunlord and the Raingiver--both practical given the world and concerns) to the social hierarchy (the more water sensitive you are, the better off you will be) Larke weaves an intricate net of survival.
I found myself liking Kaneth and Ryka despite some of my earlier misgivings. Kaneth is something of a playboy, until recently not prone to overthinking matters or worrying over the future. Current situations being what they are he's beginning to take a more active stance. Is it too late however? Ryka is a bookish woman with a slightly bitter attitude towards men (and Kaneth in general) and marriage. She is however someone you want beside you, she is intelligent, quick-witted and thinks on her feet. She's fiery as well, but that can sometimes be to her detriment.
I am, of course, impatient to read the next volume. With the North American release not until March 2010 (cry with me) and the subsequent volumes not being released until March and September 2010 in Australia, it feels like a loooong wait.
I will say this, I like the Australian cover much more then the US one. I think it fits better. The US/Orbit cover looks kind of like Gail Z. Martin's Necromancer cover and I don't think green is the best color to have....more
In many, many ways Curse of the Tahiera is a book I love. The way that Gillissen interweaves the importance of the dreams of the characters to their dIn many, many ways Curse of the Tahiera is a book I love. The way that Gillissen interweaves the importance of the dreams of the characters to their development is wonderful. The world in which the characters inhabit is both familiar, but refreshing. The only jarring sensation I had through the first half was every time Rom or Yldich used one of the made-up words, I had to go to the back [to the glossary:] to figure out what it meant. I didn't have a real sense that I would understand the words if I just kept reading through and gleening from the text the meaning.
The story begins with how Rom and Yldich meet. Which is to say, Rom gets into a bloody fight and then meets Yldich while he's recovering and not listening to common sense (which seems to be a thing he does frequently). Yldich is older then Rom, but is the more laid back one. The one who isn't worrying so much about this or that not happening. Rom is rather intense, focusing so keenly on his dreams and what they mean that it consumes him at times. They come from two different races, but don't have trouble communicating.
Occasionally the narrative was a little stiff, but this was translated from another language and even the best translations fall short of the mark. It's often hard to capture the same lyrical quality or tone that an author uses in their original language when translating to English. I see the problem often when reading manga or translated japanese novels--you can't translate it word for word (due to differences in grammar and puncuation) and if you instead translate with the 'gist' of the intent you'll likely miss important clues without even realizing it.
The climax was in fact thrilling. Rom's journey as he connected the pieces in his dreams of the past to the now of the present came together and the choices made left me feeling satisfied. Not fully, I still have a great urge to read the sequel, The Search for Tzanata (due out this autumn according to the author's website) however....more
Firstly, my brain is a little fried from information overload. I...just...I quit taking notes around page 150 (cause I had almost filled up half a legFirstly, my brain is a little fried from information overload. I...just...I quit taking notes around page 150 (cause I had almost filled up half a legal pad) so I just powered through it. My brain, it itches with information. That all being said--sooo happy I am into the series now. I mean really. Complex? Yes. Long? Yes. Epic on an epicly epic scale? Hell yes.
Which isn't to say I adored it with blind faith, but I did love it. I think some of my favorite parts were whenever Nynaeve happened to be in the scene. Her and Egwene were my favorites by far, though I liked Lan (later on) and Perrin didn't seem a bad sort. I wasn't keen on Mat (but then I thought he was very sneaky) and Rand was almost bland at times. He was more reactionary then anything else I think. Moraine...I kind of liked her, but then again I was little bit hesitant because she kept things so close to her chest. I've never been one to trust characters like that.
The good thing about a long series like this is that any doubts I have over characters will probably be answered in the next 10 or so books. Jordan doesn't seem like the sort to make a character do something shady and then completely ignore it for the rest of the series. Moraine might still be redeemed (I hold no hope for Mat).
I've worked hard to avoid potential spoilers--which HA! trying to do that with a series that began 20 years ago is almost impossible--so all I know is this: Rand is very very very important. Heh yeah I know 832 pages and that's what I get from it? I'm not sure there's too much I can say since these reviews aren't for promoting the series and more for me to get on the bandwagon you know?...more
Fern is, for all intents and purposes, a pretty blank slate starting out. Until her powers manifest there isn't much to her. The world she lives in inFern is, for all intents and purposes, a pretty blank slate starting out. Until her powers manifest there isn't much to her. The world she lives in intrigued me though, hinting at things that made people frightened within their own homes, whispers and such. The threat Fern's family feels from the 'shadows' is palatable, especially when Fern's sister-in-law Sophia explodes in angry fright at Fern's nieces and nephew. Tension by any other name...
Fern develops these powers and its decided by all that it would be much much safer for them if she is far far away from them. Especially if she can't learn to control her powers. A school of magic is located just beyond the forest and they can hopefully help her. You can tell that they struggle to feel that hope though. Small isolated village like theirs hadn't seen a fire-started in ages, they weren't sure whether to be more scared of her or the shadows!
And the trek to through the swamp and forest is where Fern becomes more interesting. As she becomes more confident in her control, she loosens up and can see what she would have been like if fear didn't rule. Zephyr I was the most interested in, with his horribly damaged mind and limited sanity. As for everyone else we're given the minimum of their histories. Just enough to flesh them out, but not a whole lot to fill them out.
Fern's time at the school was the best part--as she learns to control her gifts, meeting other mutantsmagic-users like herself and falling in love with Nik. Their feelings developed through their fighting and arguing and not truly listening to each other, but they understood each other. Communication kind of sucked for everyone in the book anyhow since, as a general rule, everyone seemed to be stubborn and pig-headed.
Everything was going well, then of course it doesn't and the end...it felt very rushed. After chapters of detail given to a lot of things, the ending goes too quickly and under done. Without giving away too much Nik's secret is revealed and this leads to some interesting developments for his relationship with Fern. Which was fine, but the execution was off. It's a big huge deal, but its only given about fifteen pages max to wrap up everything.
Overall for just over 100 pages, this makes for a fun, intriguing read. The ending is almost a deus ex machina, but the story is worth reading for the world it sets up. I hope that Howson has a sequel planned, because I know I'm looking forward to learning more about what happens next for Fern and Nik....more
To be perfectly fair--as a child I read a lot of books from the 40's/50's that were about 12-13yr olds solving mysteries. Not just Nancy Drew, the BoxTo be perfectly fair--as a child I read a lot of books from the 40's/50's that were about 12-13yr olds solving mysteries. Not just Nancy Drew, the Boxcar Children and the Hardy Boys, but random titles I found in my elementary school's library of books no one probably has heard of. For me, Ring of Fire felt like those. A 'feel good' story that has a little bit of drama, a little sadness, a little violence...but overall is meant to encourage and reassure. Not scare and worry a kid.
As a twenty-something now, reading stories like that, I can definitely feel a lack of 'pull' for me to finish the book (or series) because I kept thinking 'This needs more excitement' and 'That puzzle was too easy'. The idea was interesting for me, four children from all walks of life and all over, meet each century to save the world. It would have been a dream come true for me when I was in late elementary/early middle school. Which is the age group best suited for this series. The 9-12 year olds who want a little more seriousness, a little more mystery and a storyline about kids like them who could be so special.
Other reviewers have noted that the four main characters--Elettra, Mistral, Harvey and Sheng--are flat, but it seemed less like they were flat and more as if the author wanted to spread the characterization out over the four books of the series. Elettra arguably gets the most exposure, as this first book is set in her home turf of Italy, but each successive book is set in another country that relates to the four main.
I found the use of present tense jarring, but I don't read a lot of books in the present tense. It did give me a better idea of how things were playing out, as we followed the four and the 'killer' around Italy's famous spots. The illustrations included were wonderful bonuses, but I didn't refer to them that often. For kids who like series like the 39 Clues books series or Clue the board game, I think they'll enjoy these extras as some of them do help a great deal with the 'mystery' of the book....more
I'm pretty sure I say this a lot, but Fairy Tales--and fairy tale reinventions--fascinate me. From the days of Happily Ever After on HBO to the wonderI'm pretty sure I say this a lot, but Fairy Tales--and fairy tale reinventions--fascinate me. From the days of Happily Ever After on HBO to the wonderful, dark Vertigo title Fables--if its about a fairy tale I will give it a chance. This isn't to say I enjoyed them all (I'm not a fan of Shelly Duvall's Fairy Tale Theatre, wasn't even as a child), but I will give them a chance. I'm a late comer to The Stepsister Scheme, which came out earlier this year and until the upcoming sequel knew very little about it. I loved the cover, it had three 'classic' princesses done over and Happily Ever After existed--at a lifelong price.
I'm pleased to note that The Stepsister Scheme falls into the 'happy to have known' category. Danielle (Cinderella, and to note in Ever After 'Cinderella's' name was Danielle as well) doesn't take things laying down. She has her moments when she indulges in cliche'd princess behavior, but overall she comes across as a real person. Her reactions (such as to Talia) were believable and quite frankly she cracked me up. It was sometimes jarring when she'd go from Amazon to Princess, but by in large Hines straddles the line quite well.
Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty) is a pistol. She's cynical, tough and just shy of me thinking she's scary violent. Like the other two Princesses her backstory is comprised of the original tale and the watered down version a lot of people have learned it as. For those who've read the original tale, yes the Prince is still a right bastard for what he did to her and Talia isn't unhappy in saying so. She also decided to take a proactive stance against that happening every again and arms herself accordingly.
Snow (aka Snow White) took a little longer for me to cozen up to. Mostly because what I mistook for her being a tramp, was really her just being very confident in who she was and how she looked. By no means a lightweight in the fighting department, I think it thrilled her more to outwit the folks then anything else.
This isn't to say I loved it blindly, but its definitely been one of the better re-interpretations of the old tales (secret ninja Princesses is now my new favorite story device I think) I've read. Its definitely up there with Fables. And despite the fact it has an almost kid-like cover to it (at least to me) this is clearly an older teen to adult range book. Don't let the pretty princesses fool you folks--this isn't a Disney Princesses story at all.
Book 2, The Mermaid's Madness (with the Little Mermaid!) comes out October 6th with book 3 (Red Hood's Revenge) due out in 2010 and book 4 (Secret of the Snow Queen) due out in 2011. Titles and publish year are of course tentative and may change at any time....more
Shinigamis are a benign force. They are not (supposed to be) the cause of a person's death, they don't decide who lives or dies. That's all up to theShinigamis are a benign force. They are not (supposed to be) the cause of a person's death, they don't decide who lives or dies. That's all up to the Powers That Be. But even for a Shinigami Momo is different. She wears all white and spends too much time with the people who's souls she is meant to help. She becomes involves in their lives, often warning the soon to be deceased so they can make peace in this world and leave it without regrets.
Which is kind of a big no-no.
Other then the fact this is about Shinigami and has a talking cat, these are short vignettes of ordinary people's lives. In this first volume Momo is the sole reason that the stories are connected at all. They are melancholy stories for the most part as well. The first story "A Trace of Light: I Feel the Light" is about a high schooler who has pretty much given up on the world. He doesn't care anymore. He has a bitterness and rage within him, towards his father who never seemed to have time for him, towards the world at large for making it so hard on its children.
Momo helps him, in the end though, giving to the son his father's last message.
The second story "Your Voice: Echo" is about a young boy and his friend. Still in elementary school, they're made fun of by their classmates for always hanging out together. "Are you dating?" is sneered and joked about. The truth was the boy and the girl had adopted a kitten together and every day after school they went to take care of him. Except the taunts and teasing gets to the boy finally and he doesn't go with the girl one day. And it leads to a sadness he can't handle.
The third story "The Flower of Wounds: Low Blood Pressure" is about a guy who is always ill, with horrible nightmares and can see the supernatural and a classmate who has her own demons to fight. Like the first story the guy has an apathetic view of life--he just wants it all to stop and give him peace. He sees Momo and her cat, but not because he will die. And Momo decides to help him.
The last story "Watch the Sky/Ballad for Innocence: Momo" is a sad, sort of creepy tale. Down on Earth Momo sees a little girl all by herself in a room filled with toys, but in a house empty of people. Slowly the story unfolds that the girl is waiting for 'Daddy' and had been waiting. The situation is so odd, so weird, that Momo feels compelled to tell the little girl the truth, but in the end did she make the right choice?
The stories are thoughtful, sometimes digressing and ending things abruptly. This isn't a matter of the translation being at fault though, I've seen both the anime and the drama based around this series. Its just the way the narrative is. Its a little dreamy. Seven Seas did a great job--offering a lot of extra sections that help the reader understand the obvious Japanese references and culture in the book.
I hope this volume will get re-released (its currently out of print), because of think this series is a good one. Plus we learned only a little bit about Momo and from what I saw in the Drama the world she inhabits is far too complex to leave us hanging....more
Its a very strange thing to read a book as if its another's disjointed memories clashing with one and other to be told first. At first I wasn't sure wIts a very strange thing to read a book as if its another's disjointed memories clashing with one and other to be told first. At first I wasn't sure what I was reading--there would be strange asides that would break pieces of the tale, that would draw me either forward or back to an even farther back time, but always the asides made sense. The story is told from first person perspective (Yeine's) and the asides gave me the impression that she was having an argument with herself as she told the tale.
And the tale begins impressively with Yeine telling us her mother fought to keep her within her womb. From there it only became more urgent and dire. Yeine told the tale with a certain amount of detachment, which makes sense as the story progresses. Often when she found herself stumbling to remember something, some small thing perhaps that meant importance, I could recall times I had that problem. Sometimes the tale gets ahead of the teller, my grandmother used to tell me. Always Yeine caught herself and would bring the direction of the narrative back again.
I found myself sympathizing with Yeine often, but I felt worse for Sieh and Nahadoth, even Naha (though his casual cruelty chilled me). The two Gods trapped in mortal shells were at once powerful, but enslaved. Only able to act out when a member of the Arameri carelessly spoke or ordered them to. Their story, of how they became mortals and of the truth behind Yeine, is as twisted as any god's origins. This isn't to say it was confusing, but when a tale is several hundreds of thousands of years old who really cares to remember the truth of it? Really the details remained fixed in their minds, the circumstances really mattered very little to them.
Yeine's struggle--first to figure out why she was summoned so abruptly to her Grandfather's side after two decades of indifference, then to the truth behind everything (her mother's death, her own birth, the truth behind the religion...)--is hard and cruel. She's thrown into the viper's den without so much as a by-your-leave, with no idea who to trust and the vaguest notions of how to get on. Her so-called 'family' is actively plotting to have her removed, her homeland eradicated and all trace of her gone. Her only friend is another half-breed, who pretty much tells her hope is lost and she best figure out a way to save herself if she can. Trust is a dangerous, expensive and ultimately foolish pursuit for Yeine--anyone who can help her, won't, anybody who does isn't really helping her and anyone who truly means to help, even their intentions are stained with selfish desires.
I'll go on record saying this--the last two chapters pack a wallop and poetic justice does not do what happens well enough. Its not quite the ending I expected for anyone involved to be honest. I think though you'd be hard-pressed to find a more perfect one for any involved.
The ARC edition I have had 3 Appendixes (covering the terminology, further explanations for the terminology, and a short account of history as the Arameri saw it), an interview with the author (she wants to write for Square-Enix and Atlus--that alone makes her awesome in my book) and a short teaser for the forthcoming second book. I admit I am a sucker for Appendixes in books, I love that sort of stuff (in fact half the words in this review wouldn't have been spelled correctly except for Appendix one) and the explanations? Even better.
I strongly, strongly suggest that you go buy the book. I can't recommend it enough. I read it in four hours the same day that the book arrived on my doorstep--isn't that proof enough right there? ...more
When I was younger I had a lot of imaginary friends. In Kindergarten I imagined that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (plus April) were my friends onWhen I was younger I had a lot of imaginary friends. In Kindergarten I imagined that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (plus April) were my friends on the playground, calling me for help whenever they were in the area. Then it became the Ghost Busters and later when we moved to a new town I imagined that I had a girl friend named Jacie. My younger sister, for years upon years, had an imaginary friend named Maria--we still tease her about Maria because she insists she was real. I think its a normal childhood thing to have an imaginary friend, just like talking to your dolls or pretending to play War with your friends.
Of the 13 stories in this volume I think I only really enjoyed 3 of them: 'A Good Day for Dragons' by Rick Hautala, 'Stands a God Within the Shadows' by Anne Bishop and 'Walking Shadows' by Juliet E. McKenna. Hautala's, though I guessed the twist fairly quickly, was just a cute story. Dragons, Pirates and choices when growing up--what's not to love? Bishop's is, as I've come to expect from her fiction, twisty and dark with small rays of sunshine poking out. I was genuinely surprised at who the imaginary friend turned out to be and the end, while sad, is speaks highly of the main character.
McKenna's was another sad story of choices when growing up that I would have enjoyed so much more if there hadn't been a niggling editorial lapse. In first 2/3rds of the story a character's name is Rasun--he's never actually seen, only spoken of by various characters as a 'lesson learned move on' sort of thing, but still he's important at the end. So I couldn't understand why, in the last third, his name suddenly becomes 'Rusan'. Not just once, which I tend to overlook, but at least four different times! It ruined the story for me a bit because I had to consciously remember who that was supposed to be. As for the story itself--the twist at the end is intriguing and I wouldn't mind reading more in that universe.
The rest of the stories fell rather flat for me, or just bored me. There's really no other way to explain it. Marco has an introduction that made me excited--he explains that for a college paper he was going to academically discuss Imaginary Friends influence, but couldn't find enough academic material to draw from (apparently no one does studies of this nature?). Years later the idea kept niggling at him until he finally decided to call upon fantasy writers to explore the idea and the ramifications. Some of the authors I think took it a lot looser than he meant while others I think didn't grasp why imaginary friends are important.
I would say to read this if you happen upon it at the library or a friend lends it to you, I'm not entirely certain its worth its cover price. ...more
Our second outing with the Telfarian Prince Amir brings us to the northern lands of Sorvinka, the homeland of his beloved Princess Eva. If Telfar wasOur second outing with the Telfarian Prince Amir brings us to the northern lands of Sorvinka, the homeland of his beloved Princess Eva. If Telfar was much like an Arabian fantasy, then Sorvinka is very much like Russian fantasy.
Many many things go wrong at the beginning of the novel. We're thrown into the the tailend of their months long journey from Telfar to Sorvinka. During their time in Sorvinka their caravan has been set upon by numerous bands of brigands who have dwindled their guards from numerous to barely seven. To top it all off Princess Livia's promise of retribution towards Amir from ruining her plans to place Erik on the throne as the new Sorvinkian King nearly gets Amir killed as a traitor--before even stepping through the gates of the castle!
Apparently, much like Telfar, there is menace afoot with the ruling family of Sorvinka. The youngest princess Aurora has gone missing, presumably kidnapped by their hated enemies, and Eva's father's new edicts are not making him popular with anyone. The book is once more told through Amir's first person POV and we get a better sense of his discomfort because of it. Used to a life of gilded luxury, even if it was within a prison, the harsh traveling conditions and icy reception as well as the brutality of Sorvinka in general have made Amir very unhappy.
I found the fact he mentions his family's legendary 'flawless profile' so very much once again rather humorous. Its annoying, but its a character trait that I think is a small detail that's often overlooked. He's arrogant and arrogant people tend to like to talk about what they consider to be their 'greatest' asset. Amir, for all his other talents, is very proud of his family's flawless profiles.
We learn more about Amir's abilities as well. A new mystery of course presents itself, but more than that we meet Khuan and Lilloth--two emissaries from the Eastern Emperor who understand what exactly is happening to Amir. He is a shal-galt, or Sorcerer Hunter (amongst other titles), and the voices he hears in his head are not him going crazy. Along with being able to see/hear them, Amir also can sense magic. Lucky him right? This is apparently something that has affected his family for years, most notably in his late brother Jafar's case.
Baba Yaga (the Russian witch) makes an appearance as well, plus enchanted animals. The romance between Amir and Eva builds, but hits obstacles as Lars--heir apparent to the throne of Sorvinka--tries to woo her as well. Amir is more trusting in this book, which may or may not be a great thing by the end of it honestly.
The problems of the first book--plot threads that lead nowhere for chapters on end, pacing, repetitiveness--aren't as bad in this second book. The plot still takes a while to truly get under way, and plot threads begin that seem to go no where or serve no real purpose. The matter of the Princess Livia's duplicity is not really addressed either. The ending seems manufactured almost as well, to find a reason to continue the series and more angst for Amir (though he doesn't need any more).
The teaser for the third book, or what will be the third book, titled Death in the Traveling City is promising. The idea of a traveling city is intriguing and I want to learn more about Khuan and Lilloth. The theme seems more Asian-inspired, which falls in line with my interests much moreso then Arabian or Russian. Overall this was still an entertaining and different read. The blend of mystery, fantasy and romance, as well as alternate history, works fairly well for the book on a whole and kept me interested throughout. ...more
This was an impulse buy with a giftcard from the holidays, but one I'm happy about. The Arabian setting, even an Arabian inspired fantasy, was vastlyThis was an impulse buy with a giftcard from the holidays, but one I'm happy about. The Arabian setting, even an Arabian inspired fantasy, was vastly interesting. Of course we always hear about the intrigues of the harem, its all women and whenever you put together such a large amount of women in a place dedicated to ambition and ruthlessness there is bound to be fun stories to relate, but I think Mallet's take on the all those Princes in line for the throne is equally entertaining. Just like in any socially dominant setting groups are formed, cliques are found and the 'in group' pushes around the 'out group'. Only in this instance it doesn't pay to be in either group quite frankly since anyone could be a rival for the throne. Amir's approach to just hiding, staying low and blending in works perfectly well.
The novel does begin slow and tends to follow threads of storyline for a little while before a new one begins and it follows that one instead. Sometimes it will go back to the previous storyline quickly, but often several chapters run by without significant development on the major plot threads. It wasn't much of a problem for myself, since I read this in one sitting in a four hour period of time, but I could feel the frustration that others might feel if they read a few chapters, put it down and returned to it the next night. Some of the threads became so confusing and convoluted that I ignored them in favor of the more interesting ones. Such as the intrigues between all the Brothers in the Cage or the mystery that surrounded Erik, Amir's half brother.
The book is told from Amir's first person POV and ordinarily I don't like reading from a male's point of view. I can't get into it as well I suppose. Amir however is different--his silent observations and caustic remarks were amusing and kept me from feeling like I was swimming in male territory. Though he is labeled as nineteen in the book, I can't quite believe that much of the time. He acts more like he's in his mid to late 20's. As a character he takes a while to 'like'; he prefers the 'head in the sand' approach to life and keeps to himself mostly. This wouldn't be so bad, except he spends a lot of time acting more like a child who's been left out of a group then a loner who thinks its a better idea to be such.
The friendship he builds with Erik is fun and a little quirky as Erik definitely is more intelligent and personable of the two, but has no common sense and a complete blind spot to failings of those he cares about. The intrigue surrounding their Brothers' suspiciously magical deaths only occasionally pops up--usually just before one such Brother dies--and its resolution is part of the confusing and convoluted plotlines I mentioned. It makes sense, mostly, but to get to that sense you have to wade through a lot of petty half-secrets and explanations.
The only other complaint I have is that sometimes the author would have Amir tell us what has happened rather then have us view it as its happening. The adventure that prompts the second book, The King's Daughters, for instance is merely relayed to us as a momentary aside instead of seeing how the decision came about. Regardless I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the second one (which I also bought for christmas) and hope to see a third one sometime soon! ...more