After nearly a decade of exile, Inda returns to his homeland to warn them of a Venn invasion fleet. His old friends are thrilled to see him (not least...moreAfter nearly a decade of exile, Inda returns to his homeland to warn them of a Venn invasion fleet. His old friends are thrilled to see him (not least the King, Evred, whose love for him has never died), but chilled by his news. They are all-too aware that the kingdom cannot defend itself against the overwhelming forces of the Venn.
This is another great book in the Inda series. Smith did a lot of the heavy lifting part of world-building in Inda and The Fox, so this book can focus on the characters and their adventures. Inda himself remains the least interesting character (although seeing him through the eyes of his Malrovan childhood friends gives him an extra bit of spice); the background characters are unique and well-developed. And the battles themselves are well-described and bloody. I feared for the life of every character (well, except Evred and Inda), because Smith has shown herself willing to abruptly kill anyone off. She does so here, as well, and it fits. The pseudo-victory Inda manages to pull off comes at a terrible price, and Smith makes sure the reader does not forget it. But warning--much like the previous books in the series, this book ends leaving the reader wondering and wanting more. You'll want to get your hands on Treason's Shore as quickly as possible!(less)
Alanna and her twin brother switch identities so she can become a knight and he can study magic. A very enjoyable training montage ensues, wherein Ala...moreAlanna and her twin brother switch identities so she can become a knight and he can study magic. A very enjoyable training montage ensues, wherein Alanna shows herself to be stalwart, stubborn, and willing to do a great deal of extra work in order to achieve her dream of being a warrior. But physical exertion alone isn't enough to protect the kingdom, especially when a magical sickness sweeps the kingdom. Alanna has to come to terms with her own femaleness and magical ability if she wants to save anyone.
Alanna has purple eyes, a horse with purple eyes, a kitten with purple eyes, a magical sword that flashes purple, and her magic is not only purple but also incredibly powerful. By most definitions she counts as a Mary Sue, but if so, she's still a deeply satisfying character. Her tale felt exactly right for me as a tween, and it remains a favorite to this day, no matter how unlikely her prodigious gifts may be. I highly recommend this book to YA fans.(less)
Centuries before the events of The Amulet of Samarkand, the irreverrent djinni Bartimaeus was enslaved to a magician serving King Solomon. He involves...moreCenturies before the events of The Amulet of Samarkand, the irreverrent djinni Bartimaeus was enslaved to a magician serving King Solomon. He involves himself in a young warrior's quest to assassinate the king, but on the moment of their victory they realize that there are far greater threats than Solomon.
It's such a pleasure to read about Bartimaeus again. He's so wonderfully sarcastic, untrustworthy, and secretly just a little good-hearted. His footnotes alone would make me love this book, but the plot is a fast-paced adventurous romp, with just enough darkness to be scary, so it's all great fun. It is far, far more light-hearted than the series, and for that I am grateful. It's an enjoyable prequel to the depressing dystopic series that will someday succeed it.(less)
In tsarist Russia, a kitchen boy and a playboy are forced on the run. Wounded and with few resources, they escape into the surrounding woods--and ther...moreIn tsarist Russia, a kitchen boy and a playboy are forced on the run. Wounded and with few resources, they escape into the surrounding woods--and there encounter spirits and demons of all varieties. The relationship between the two men is really sweet and contentious; they each like each other a great deal but are troubled by aspects of their relationship. It's pleasantly, subtextually slashy. Unfortunately, the story is bogged down by endless scenes of them feeling confused. I know they're over their heads in this situation, but couldn't they know *something*?(less)
How did this drek get published? Richard and Kahlan have become mere mouthpieces spouting the author's insane propaganda, and the writing (never parti...moreHow did this drek get published? Richard and Kahlan have become mere mouthpieces spouting the author's insane propaganda, and the writing (never particularly good to begin with) is astoundingly awful.(less)
A really fantastic beginning to a very long series. Richard is a simple woodsman who just wants to live in peace, but when a woman in distress crashes...moreA really fantastic beginning to a very long series. Richard is a simple woodsman who just wants to live in peace, but when a woman in distress crashes into his life he's forced to use all his skills to survive. I loved the clash of cultures and assumptions that ensue between Richard and Kahlan, and I love the growing respect between them. Richard's crash-course in how the outer world works is a great read; it's informative without being an infodump, and tells as much about Richard's character as it does Kahlan's country. This is a true adventure story.(less)
A ragtag group of children form a secret society, complete with an oracular statue, in an abandoned lot. To this day, I eye abandoned lots in the hope...moreA ragtag group of children form a secret society, complete with an oracular statue, in an abandoned lot. To this day, I eye abandoned lots in the hopes of having my own Egypt Game. (less)
After a week of marathon sessions reading aloud with my family, we have at last finished the end of an era.
It was far better than I expected. I still...moreAfter a week of marathon sessions reading aloud with my family, we have at last finished the end of an era.
It was far better than I expected. I still feel a bit shell-shocked, to be honest, even though I read the last page four hours ago. I've been reading the adventures of Harry Potter since I was fourteen; I can hardly believe there'll be no more books.
The book was slow in places: Harry, Ron and Hermione spent a lot of time just waiting around (in the Burrow, while camping, at Shell Cottage), Dumbledore's final chapter (King's Cross) seemed to last forever, and as pleased as I was to read them, Snape's memories dragged a bit. I was really glad JKR fit all she did in there, and I wouldn't necessarily cut it (I am greedy for any bit of that world I can get), but I think a really excellent editor might have helped.
Overall, I loved it. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows isn't a perfect book by any means, but some of its charm lies in the unpolished energy and sheer enthusiasm of the writing. Most of its charm, however, lies in the characters. I was completely wrapped up in each of their lives--I felt personally betrayed when Lupin left Tonks (wtf?), cried when Dobby died (a free elf!), and cheered for Neville's triumphant rise to true heroism. There were so many, many excellent bits that I can't list them all.
I was right on a few of my predictions: Snape's true loyalties were revealed to Harry, but too late; one of the twins died; Percy came back to help save the day; the final battle was at Hogwarts; RAB was Regelus Black; Lupin died; the final horcrux was Harry. The one thing I got totally wrong was Draco Malfoy, who I thought was going to switch sides halfway through the book. I kept reading scenes at Malfoy Manor and thinking "this is it!" but in the end, it was Draco's mother Narcissa who switched. Did not see that coming.
The epilogue is saccharine drek that should never have been published. Albus Severus? Seriously? I'm going to repress that chapter and instead just remember the absolutely excellent last chapter, in which Harry ruthlessly, calmly deconstructs all of Voldemort's carefully crafted illusions.(less)