I read this book more than a year ago, along with most of the others in the series, but I decided to read it again before giving it a review.
This oneI read this book more than a year ago, along with most of the others in the series, but I decided to read it again before giving it a review.
This one sits in the middle for me for a LOT of reasons. Let's do a list:
Pros: -Regency Era setting (always a bonus with me) -Magic (again, love it) -Decent amount of historical accuracy -Clean subject matter
Cons: -Poor character development -Minimal explanation of the magic system -Predictable plot -Uncomfortable, unrealistic emotions and emotional relationships between the characters -Main character who is very hard to relate to/believe her emotions and motivations are sincere
Jane is a very odd duck. She feels like a stranger in her own family, especially with her sister. Yes, it makes sense that growing up an only child for ten years would make it difficult to relate to a younger sibling, but if Jane Austen could do it (Darcy and his sister, who care about each other and trust each other), Kowal should do it too. Melody's jealousy of her sister falls flat because they don't have a relationship I can ever believe was loving. Jane is too stiff, too formal, when no one else in her family is, even her father. Her father is kind and jovial and comfortable, Melody is petty and fanciful, and her mother is familiar and oppressing in her feigned illness, but Jane is a block of wood. Who taught her to be that stiff, and how did she avoid picking up even some of the more comfortable ease of her family? Not only that, but Jane is unfailing dim for all that Kowal tries to convince us otherwise. I have a very difficult time believing that Jane couldn't guess anything about the true state of her sister's flirtations and hints. It was SO obvious what was going on that there is no way Jane could have missed it. There is an attempt to convince us that Jane is just a girl ahead of her time, but I don't buy it. If Kowal meant to paint her as a bitter, emotionally insincere feminist from the 1970s, she achieved her goal. As a character built on the brilliant legacy of strong, feminine characters written by Jane Austen, this is a poor tribute.
Now for the magic, which is an interesting system, if poorly organized and explained. I love the idea of magic being part of the womanly arts. That is neat. Small magic is interesting to me because it affords more opportunities for uniqueness among authors. However, even small magic needs to be organized and explained in a way that makes sense to the readers. Instead, our knowledge of what is possible with glamour comes in fits and spurts, often throwing our assumptions about its workings for a loop we should not have needed to experience. The scope of the magic is very difficult to grasp because the rules and limits are only explained when it is of vital importance. It is also difficult to imagine at times, but I have a hard time explaining why. That is a comment that applies more to later books, I think.
The research done for the book is thorough, but I question why certain details were so important to include. A good example is the custom of the "table turning" for conversation at dinner. This is NEVER shown in Austen's work, in part because people probably would have assumed it was happening, and also because her characters almost always dined in very intimate settings, not with 40+ neighbors that we have never heard of until that moment in the book. They talked to everyone at the table, or held conversations between the people they were closest to without worrying about formalities. My basic opinion when it comes to Regency-era writing is that if Austen included it or wrote it, we can feel comfortable doing the same. Notice that it never detracts from an Austen novel to not know that the table turns half-way through the meal. This feels more as though it is Heyer-inspired than Austen-inspired, and I consider no one to be better than Austen.
The same stiffness that exists in Jane emotionally and behaviorally also exists in Kowal's portrayal of the era. Austen's characters were much more comfortable, even when in a more formal or even awkward setting. The ease of Austen's prose is not very well mimicked by Kowal either. I can't help wondering if Kowal herself is a stiff, uncomfortable person, because it keeps popping up in her writing. In general, too, I feel as though all of the characters are the kinds of people Jane Austen would have disliked in real life. She would have written them into her stories as people like Lucy Steele and Mrs. Elton--less refined, less informed, and worthy subjects of censure and satire.
I could go on, but I will stop here for now. My plan is to re-read the other books as well, and read the one book I missed last time. Overall, it was not a waste of my time to read this book twice, because there are enough good things to keep me reading. I'd probably read it again in spite of all this complaining because it is hard enough to find clean Regency romances. But Kowal has not absolutely impressed me with her abilities. I would only purchase this series if it was on a very good sale....more
The third book in the Reckoners trilogy, I read this one in just a couple of days (even accounting for child interruptions).
There was a lot to like abThe third book in the Reckoners trilogy, I read this one in just a couple of days (even accounting for child interruptions).
There was a lot to like about this book. David's habit of coming up with weird similes has settled down to a bearable level; Cody was much less present than in the first book, which was a big improvement (Cody is like Wayne for me... nice to have in a pinch, but full of talk that is really obnoxious to slog through on the page); Megan has thawed into a normal human being (she was great, as always); interesting new Epic powers and weaknesses; a fascinating concept for the city location in this story.
There were things I didn't like as well. The pacing is probably the biggest thing to mention. The whole time I felt that the story was both rushed and dragging (an odd sensation). There was both too much detail and not enough at the same time. At times I felt that Sanderson chose the wrong situations or locations to describe in detail, leaving more important ones maddeningly sparse. Even this description feels insufficient, because I'm not exactly sure it is accurate. There was just something slightly off about the pacing that I have had a very hard time articulating.
The book spent way too much time dealing with Prof and not nearly enough time dealing with its namesake, Calamity. The reveal at the end had some build-up, but it was poorly executed, in my opinion. It felt tossed in, not meticulously laid out and hidden in Sanderson's usual manner. Perhaps he did it on purpose, the way David's similes always seem to be done, but ultimately it didn't sit well with me.
Lots of things felt tossed in rather than planned, just so that Sanderson could claim there was "build-up" for it, no matter how insufficient. (view spoiler)[David's powers should have manifested as more than dreams that belonged to Larcener, not to him. (Why was he the only one having Larcener's dreams anyway? That was never fully explained.) Same with Larcener's identity, honestly, although I did think there was something odd about him from the beginning. The way the salt city works was completely skated over; a bunch of Epics and their powers were tossed around without getting a chance to actually be shown off; Obliteration didn't have any pause about his assumed beliefs once he learned what Calamity really was... he just blinked in and said "I just learned something that has huge ramifications on my beliefs about what I am, and I'm not even going to stop to think about it. I'm just going to pretend I don't have any new insights. See you in Toronto!" And David's dad being Steelheart in another dimension did not give me the emotional feels it should have... it felt too much like he was meeting plain, old Superman, not his father who had been dead for so long. (hide spoiler)] I could go on, but I just felt that there were a lot of things that could have been handled with more finesse.
In spite of these complaints, it was a good read. I think it says something about the quality of the author that he can write a work readers have such big issues with and still have them like it. I'm definitely going to keep following the Reckoners if Sanderson writes anything more in the world....more
I am very happy to announce that the paperback edition of "Glass Roses" is now available. Once again, I will not give a review of my own book, but I wI am very happy to announce that the paperback edition of "Glass Roses" is now available. Once again, I will not give a review of my own book, but I will offer my sincere thanks to everyone who has had a hand in preparing this book for release. Special thanks go to Adelyn Sterling for the beautiful new cover. It is available for both the paperback and eBook releases....more
I am the author, so I will forgo giving an actual review of my own book. I do want to say thank you if you decide to check out the book for yourself.I am the author, so I will forgo giving an actual review of my own book. I do want to say thank you if you decide to check out the book for yourself. Hopefully you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it....more
Although the heroine was a bit too naive for my taste, I did enjoy this retelling. All of the original elements were there: the bragging father, the iAlthough the heroine was a bit too naive for my taste, I did enjoy this retelling. All of the original elements were there: the bragging father, the impossible tasks, the wealthy offer of marriage, the learning of Rudolph's true name... it was nicely done. Using the actual straw with the gold fabric strips from the crates of packing material would be a stretch if this wasn't a fairytale retelling. If you are looking for an accurate portrayal of what life and people were like in the 1880's, don't expect to find it here. Normally, a historical inconsistancy would bother me, but this is supposed to be a fairytale, so I let it slide on the grounds that stranger things have happened in fairytales. That principle also applies to the weird prologue and epilogue by the fairy historian. Those weren't really necessary, even though the main character is Irish. But honestly, my favorite part of the whole book was how the author managed to put the name Rumplestiltskin into the story in a believable and unpredictable way. I didn't see it coming and I loved it....more