Reader thoughts: This is a cute book. It has a 3ft 11.5in MC who goes to dragon riding school.
My biggest issue with this book is that Pip spends the fReader thoughts: This is a cute book. It has a 3ft 11.5in MC who goes to dragon riding school.
My biggest issue with this book is that Pip spends the first half of it naked. The invaders toss her in a zoo at age 8, and Pip (apparently) doesn't realize she should wear clothes until she escapes and attends school at 15. She frequently finds herself naked for various reasons throughout the rest of the book.
My second biggest issue is how powerful she is. She's like her own walking deus ex machina. The only power she doesn't have is healing. (view spoiler)[She is crazy strong. She can freeze a room with a word. She can shape-shift into a dragon. She can mentally battle the bad guys' mind guy. She can memorize pages of text after one reading. She can breathe poisonous gas. THEN she can call on a mountain-sized dragon for aid in the middle of a battle. (hide spoiler)] The worst part is that she doesn't have to try. It just comes naturally to her. The very first time she tried flying, she started singing and dancing midair because she was having so much fun. That's right, she did loop de loops and spirals the very first time she took to the air.
I did like that Pip met a variety of friends, and that the bullies had a little character to them. I appreciated that the adults told Pip when she was acting rudely or foolishly.
The friends weren't well fleshed out. The school felt like an outline rather than a fully conceived place with over a thousand students. (Part of this was probably because Pip was very inward focused. She was always thinking about how things affected her.) Also, for a dragon-riding school, the students didn't seem to do much dragon riding. Maybe that's just the first years. Again, I didn't get a good feel for it.
I loved the friendship between dragons and riders! They teased each other and just adored each other to pieces. They really wanted to look out for each other and spend time together. Dragons were not aloof in this world, and they were huge (one was the size of a mountain, and some had wingspans of hundreds of feet).
Writer thoughts: I noticed some criticism that the plot/conflict doesn't pick up until halfway through the book. All Pip has to deal with is bullies and being locked in a zoo before then. Finally, some evil dragons try to take over.
I completely disagree.
Pip's conflict is dealing with bullies and the zoo. She is trying so hard to feel human. Her only friend is an ape, and other students call her monkey. This may not seem world-shattering dangerous, but, to Pip, her identity is her world. Not every book needs attacking dragons! Not every conflict needs to threaten kingdoms.
Epic-like books with "small" conflicts. Life of Pi - one boy lost in the ocean. With a tiger. Ella Enchanted - one girl fighting a curse that affects only herself. First half of Sorcerer's Stone - this boy with a tragic past goes to a magical school. No fighting or invading or assassinations happen until late in the book. No one's complaining about this book!
So, you see, conflict doesn't necessarily mean armies of invading dragons trying to destroy everything and MC in particular!
Conflict can be personal.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It just didn't interest me as much as other books do. I keep picking it up but only reading a page or two. I might come back to it someday. FDNF at 10%
It just didn't interest me as much as other books do. I keep picking it up but only reading a page or two. I might come back to it someday. For now, it's sitting on my kindle in case I run out of other books....more
Reader thoughts: I think this is the second Rumpelstiltskin retelling I've read (A Curse Dark as Gold is the first). Needless to say, I loved it.
I likReader thoughts: I think this is the second Rumpelstiltskin retelling I've read (A Curse Dark as Gold is the first). Needless to say, I loved it.
I liked it better than Jack, although maybe only because I read it second. The people in Rump's story are the giants in Jack's story.
There was one small piece that didn't seem to fit quite right. Most of the book felt like a carefully laid puzzle where each piece fit with the rest. Then (view spoiler)[Jack hears about the not-poison-apple tree and decides that his name is Rumplestiltskin. What? How does that fit? There were a couple times Jack made a decision I couldn't quite see where it came from. That was the worst, and even it was small.
The end was a touch rushed. What really happened to the miller? Did he die? Who took over the mill in Rump's town? What did Rump name the mountain? Why did Opal suddenly turn wise in Jack's book? (hide spoiler)]
I love the emphasis on names. LS says in an end interview that she always wished for a normal name. I never did! Yes, I searched those souvenir stores for my name, but it was almost cooler that I never found it. It made me feel special. I guess Rump and Red (and Liesl) disagree.
The gnomes are odd. They don't quite fit with the way I see the world. What do they eat? Why do they bother to take messages all the time? Can they freeze to death? I want these sorts of things to make sense. The trolls made sense!
Rump said pixie bites were worse than bee stings and other things. Yet, he frequently is bitten by pixies and pays it hardly any mind. Shouldn't he be writhing in agony?
Maybe there was a part of me that wanted Rump to do something more heroic. Something that required a lot of energy and bravery, something dangerous. Fight the bad guy, break down the gates, win the day! He was too small, though, and he mostly did a lot of spinning and bad bargaining. At least he came up with some good plans. I wouldn't call him clever, though.
This let LS make the conflict seem dangerous without the story's content becoming too serious (pixies are scared by mud, and the donkey's name is Nothing).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reader thoughts: I love it when a series ends well! And Kingfountain certainly ended well. I'll say what I can without giving too much away. Ahem.
TheReader thoughts: I love it when a series ends well! And Kingfountain certainly ended well. I'll say what I can without giving too much away. Ahem.
The overall plot. This ended well because it wasn't just armies fighting and the bigger army wins. No. It was magic (can we move the chess pieces?) and strategy (is the king lying to his messengers?) and sneaking (who's hiding in the snow bank?) and allies (will the commoners follow a tyrant?) and prophecy (why is it still snowing?) and performance (when will he draw the sword from the fountain?). This was their plan to defeat the bad guy and win the entire kingdom to their side.
Owen and the king. These two were never friends, but there was an understanding between them, despite the rift. The rift grew worse (especially with how Severn sold Evie in book 2). Lies and treason poisoned their relationship. I love that Owen tried so hard to not kill the king. The two did not sit and hack at each other until one died of blood loss. They fought with their strengths, with words and allies and magic. The end (who went where) fit perfectly.
The poisoner. She loved Owen, or thought she did. What was he supposed to say to convince her he didn't see her the same way? He handled this with grace and maturity. I am satisfied with where the story took her, and I liked to see the ways she learned from Owen. He's not the only one who gets to be a hero.
Owen and Evie. He wouldn't let go of her, but she had moved on. She wanted to be friends, but he couldn't let himself for fear it would lead to stealing her from her husband. I love that he was self-aware enough to draw boundaries with Evie. The end was beautiful, too, with his dilemma and Senia not being who she claimed.
Owen and power. This might seem like a strange category. What does Owen want with power? Of course he's not going to try and hold onto it. Right? Well, I doubted him. Wheeler wrote the book well enough that I, as a reader, suspected Owen of trying to take/keep/steal the crown and throne. I was worried, and that shows that it was a well-done concern/conflict.
I was surprised at several points, especially with how poorly some of the good guys' plans went. I was not sure whom to trust, and I simultaneously wanted Owen to trust everyone and be extra paranoid. This was a good balance for a reader, since it never let me get bored.
I loved the conflicts and resolutions on all sides. This book had abundant problems in many varieties. We had prophecies, magic weather, lies, betrayal, poison, magic swords, broken hearts, magic travel, invisibility, eavesdropping, and just trying to keep an entire kingdom safe from its own king.
Some people died, which was sad, but it all fit just right. I love what happened with Drew's mother, although I should be horrified.
Writer thoughts: How in the world did JW manage to tell this complex of a story from basically only one pov? I noticed at least two strategies.
1, the more basic one is the chapter intros. Those come from journals or notes from other characters, giving readers a glimpse of the rest of the world and letting JW foreshadow and drive up tension.
2, the harder bit to pull off is making Owen a centerpiece to the plot. He was the hub (sandwiched between the king and the heir). Because of this, all the information came to Owen just when readers needed it. Owen knew what the king was doing, what the duchess was planning, when Evie was coming, and where the heir was hiding. Owen made most of the plans himself and, as head espion, he knew of most plans he did not make. I was impressed that this never felt contrived or forced....more
Reader thoughts: I kept comparing this book to Half Upon a Time because they were so similar.
Both were set in a fairytale world and were a Jack and4.5
Reader thoughts: I kept comparing this book to Half Upon a Time because they were so similar.
Both were set in a fairytale world and were a Jack and the Beanstalk retelling (mostly). Both's MCs were a mischievous and clever boy Jack (12 years old in both, I think) named after his many-times-great grandfather. Both were marketed to the same group (Middle-Grade fantasy) and funny. Half Upon a Time was funnier and wittier, but both books ended very well.
I loved the growing relationship between Jack and his little sister. Jack basically despised her at first, thought of her only as a tattletale and too small to do anything. Later, he's forced to admit that she is better at some things than he is (like talking to pixies or charming cats).
There is a strong theme running throughout the book that you don't have to be big or great to get things done (or be a hero, or do something important, etc.). This theme crops up between Jack and his little sister ("You're too little to do anything") and between the "elves" and the "giants."
The scale was a bit off. If Jack is the size of a giant's thumb, wouldn't he be about as big as a chicken egg? Yet, he sat in pudding and was nearly swallowed by mistake. He could ride a mouse and use a needle for a sword. Somehow a giant's chicken's egg yolk could fit into his pocket. How does that work? Wouldn't it be as tall as his waist? There were a few "small" things like this that made me rather skeptical.
A giant frog "wrapped its tongue around Jack's sister," but frog tongues don't do that! Granted, frogs aren't twice our size either.
There was a part where Jack said, "Lay down," and he nearly died because he used the word "lay." Ha! I guess proper grammar can keep you safe. Next time, maybe he'll say, "Lie down."
I loved the ending! Of course giants are going to use their own ropes to get out of the sky (why step on a beanstalk?). Which means, of course, Jack has to come up with his own way to defeat the giant king. Yuck.
Other retellings mentioned: Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe (13 children!), Cobbler's Elves, Rumplestiltskin, possibly Midas, and possibly Cinderella (pumpkins as large as carriages!).
Writer thoughts: Authors of retellings consider every element of the original tale. What do you keep? What do you change? What do you reject altogether?
LS kept most things. We still have Jack, a cow traded for beans, mother tosses beans out window, a beanstalk, a giant castle in the clouds, a fowl lays golden eggs, and a giant chases Jack back to earth.
She changed some things. The beans were giant, not just magic. Jack climbed the beanstalk to save his papa, not for adventure. The sky contained a whole kingdom of giants, not just a castle or single family. The giants did not eat people just made them slaves. The goose was a chicken. Jack did not chop down the beanstalk to kill the giant at the end.
She added some things. The giants had attacked first and stolen Jack's village (and papa). The giant kingdom was under a famine (which is why they stole food). The giant king was greedy but had married a generous wife. Jack's sister's entire role in the story was new, too.
It was well put together and made a fun, clean tale. I'll check out the author's other books....more
Reader thoughts There was a bit more talking and history than I cared for. Celie and her siblings had to figure out which wizard was telling the truthReader thoughts There was a bit more talking and history than I cared for. Celie and her siblings had to figure out which wizard was telling the truth. Where did the griffins come from? Who really built the Castle? There was still action in the book, but some of it was off-stage without Celie.
The ending was very satisfying.
Lulath's talking is sometimes just so annoying. Surely his grammar would improve as he lives in Glower!
Is Celie 8? 12? She's small but not helpless. The plot isn't too complicated, and her siblings speak at the same level of intelligence as she does. Yet, the make references to her being younger and smaller (and needing more sleep and such). So, I can't tell how old she is.
I like Ethan.
The evil wizard was stupid. He "hid" magical artifacts in a tomb in the forest and seemed surprised when the children found them. Um, hello? The tomb wasn't guarded. It wasn't even locked! Then he keeps approaching the children and asking them to do things (like hand over a griffin egg) and yelling and stomping when the children won't. His only violent reaction was setting the forest on fire.
Castle Glower reminds me of Hogwarts and few other fantastical buildings (like Howl's castle and Fairy Reform School).
Writer thoughts: It seemed odd to have several things happen without Celie. Her brother and friend gained an ally and escaped the evil wizard's fortress all while Celie was asleep elsewhere. Then the evil wizard came after her sister and had an argument with her about a griffin egg while Celie was off in the tower talking to another person.
This would be fine, except the tight pov keeps to Celie only. It's a bit dull to hear these adventures merely told to Celie and not get to experience them. I wonder why JDG chose this writing technique....more
Reader thoughts: Julius does it again! He's such a cute, non-fierce dragon who always sticks to hiNo holds barred
I know what happened in China . . . .
Reader thoughts: Julius does it again! He's such a cute, non-fierce dragon who always sticks to his code. No killing! Not even his mother, the manipulative Bethesda Heartstriker. His only exception might be a certain magic robot.
I thought Ghost was like Nico (see The Spirit Thief), but he's actually rather cuddly at his core. He and Marci make a great team, especially now. I was unhappy, though, with Marci for getting herself drunk and saying some rather naughty things to Julius.
Bob is one I may never understand. I had my suspicions about his elevator pitch to Julius. Was he serious or not? Now we know the answer is that the seer is always scheming no matter what.
There are so many discussions in this book. I almost would call it a weakness, except for how extreme the discussions are. Most of them involve people wanting to kill one another. Several end in fights or stabs or flights or explosions. Or, sometimes, a mere vote. We meet dragons, mages, a leviathan, and Raven. We face ghosts, Algonquin, Bethesda, and Chelsie. A lot of that involves a lot of talking full of layers of secrets and motivations that go back a thousand years.
Oh, and Julius breaks every bone in his body, but he recovers faster than Justin, who is hamstrung. How does that make sense? I wanted to see Julius saving the world while wounded, but I guess he can eat his way back to health in just a few hours.
F clutch. I know what's going on with you.
Poor Svena. Poor Julius.
Oh, and I do hate it when a main character dies (and Jessica doesn't count!). Why do books do that? I read books to put me in a good mood, not drag me down! I am not happy. (I did really like the book, though.)
Writer thoughts: 80% of this book is more of a dragon vs society conflict than a dragon vs Algonquin conflict, which is what I expected instead.
This does make sense (what dragon clan would roll over peacefully and let the runt take over?), but it does change the shape of the series. Slightly. Book 1 and 2, the main antagonist was Estella. She stirred up trouble using a murdering magician and chain curses and an exploding plane and the unkillable Vann Jaeger. Now, book 3 had some of that (angry Gregory and David and Chelsea full of secrets), but the conflicts were more focused on Julius changing his clan to not kill each other.
This is still a good conflict, but it comes across as a different flavor than the first two, and I hope the 4th book goes back to more action and less talking....more
I have no doubt Sanderson will deliver. I'm not ready for this amazing journey to end, but I crave more Alcatraz fun.
Reader thoughts: Oh, Mr. Sanderson, you knew what you were getting into.
I was extremely upset at the end of the book. This wasn't just, "Main characters died, and how dare he!" but, more importantly, "Alcatraz isn't funny anymore, how dare he!" I was sad at the deaths, but it bothered me more that Alcatraz had to go through such trauma and stress that he lost his humor.
That's right, about the last 50 pages of this book are not funny. Alcatraz warns us in the forward, but I didn't heed him. My trust in Sanderson dropped a notch. (Not that it prevented me driving 9 hours to and from one of his book signings this week).
I felt a little betrayed, like when the two hilarious guys in Warbreaker turned around to murder the good guys. Funny doesn't pair with tragedy in my head.
The only time I remember reading a book where the author drastically changed the MC was in The Queen of Attolia. I hated that, too (when Gen went from joking and clever to brooding and spiteful). This happened a bit in Mockingjay, too (when Katniss went from badass hunter lady to a girl shaking from nightmares and PTSD). Yeah, I get that sometimes bad things change people for the worse, but it doesn't have to be in books. It doesn't have to be in these books. It doesn't have to happen in this children's book!
(view spoiler)[Alcatraz watched his father get tortured to death. The end note only slightly ameliorated the awfulness by 1, telling the reader that Grandpa Smedry is still alive. and 2, having Bastille promise to write the final volume because Alcatraz won't.
Now, I am very excited to have another book (and hoping it fixes all the problems from this one), but I'm not sure how I feel about Bastille narrating it. It would be neat to see Alcatraz through her eyes, though. But, will it be as funny as the first four? (hide spoiler)]
Everything else about the book was fantastic (except Dif, but whatever). I loved the Penguinator. I loved the wardrobe. I loved the elusive Dark Talent. I loved infiltrating the highbrary. I loved the cure. I loved the overpowered glass. I loved everything between Alcatraz and his mother.
And I especially loved the footnotes. Here's a piece of my favorite, Alcatraz's list of ways to die that don't sound very fun.
"eating rocks, being eaten by rocs, being punched by The Rock . . . accidental grenade ingestion, being sucked up a tornado, Avada Kedavra, being sued by J. K. Rowling . . . accidental teddy bear detonation, being eaten by a sentient romance novel . . . putting something metal in the microwave."
Writer thoughts: It really is a sign of true writing genius when a book can be this upsetting. When an audience can shrug off a supposed tragedy or roll their eyes at deep betrayal, that shows the author did a terrible job. In some ways, the fact that people are so upset only demonstrates how powerful Sanderson's writing is.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I thought maybe I can try this series again. Maybe if characters are possessed into having sex outside of marriage, maybe it isn't really thDNF at 40%
I thought maybe I can try this series again. Maybe if characters are possessed into having sex outside of marriage, maybe it isn't really their fault.
No. I can't get past the character casually discussing sex. It's as if the teens in the book are only capable of one obsession. All the girls (4 or 5) want to have Danny's babies. It's seriously messed up.
Oh, and then (view spoiler)[ Danny and Patty die and come back to life. They asked the all-powerful whatsit on the dead world to let them return. He refused. They asked again. He consented. ??? He doesn't let anyone return from the dead in who knows how many years and is convinced by these two children? And then they magically got the power of teleporting without gates. And then Danny overpowered Set. And we're only 40% into the book.(hide spoiler)]
So, there's no conflict left, and I am disgusted by the plot. I quit.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reader thoughts: I love to read about secrets. I think I dislike reading about rumors. They're too tenuous, and I can't properly build my suspicions oReader thoughts: I love to read about secrets. I think I dislike reading about rumors. They're too tenuous, and I can't properly build my suspicions on anything. Jane spends the whole novel jumping to conclusions and accusing people of treason, impropriety, and digging for sympathy. She knows she has no proof, but she treats the ideas like facts anyway, nearly ruining everything. Gar.
My other main qualm is that Jane and Vincent did not do any special glamour in this book. In the other books, they are inventing new glamours and pushing the boundaries of the art as a science. In this book, they just do normal things and talk a lot about the weather (which is, admittedly, very strange). I'm more intrigued by creative new magic ideas than by political marches and concerns about the snow.
Also, we lost a reveal point. Several people Jane talks with already know Vincent was an earl's son. I was looking forward to seeing the artist couple revealed as a noble couple at some point in the series, but apparently most people already know. That's no fun. It felt murky strange why so many in the high society knew this. And Vincent's father's motives were not clear at all.
Vincent's father was called the earl, the earl of Verbury, Verbury, Mr. Hamilton, by his first name, and sometimes just Vincent's father. This is an example of how many names/titles everyone has, and I couldn't keep them straight, especially listening to the audiobook. I couldn't tell if he wanted to reconcile with Vincent or not. MRK wrote him well, because I disliked him. Still, I should have detested him completely, and I didn't. I hated Melody in the first book more than I disliked Vincent's father in this book.
The book also lost a star because of what we learned about Vincent's past. (view spoiler)[ He used to frequent a prostitute, who tries to testify against him at the end and is foiled by Jane's quick thinking. Vincent went to the prostitute for four years. (hide spoiler)] I thought Jane handled it well, but I didn't want it in this story. It sullied the fun and gave me a bad taste for the series.
So, what did I like? Melody. She acted more maturely than Jane did, andI love that she now wears spectacles.
Writer thoughts: It felt like the genre switched again. Book 2 was amazing, with spies and the returning Napolean and kidnapping and Jane doing all she can to save her husband despite being pregnant.
This book went to court and lots of talking and trying to set up her sister with a man. Then Jane tries to stop her sister from liking a man. Then Jane and Vincent meet his rude family. Then Jane talks some more about the weather and feels sorry for cold mongers. Then she follows her sister around to see if she's eloping. Then there's a giant court trial. Why? Why switch, especially to a less interesting plot?
Glamour wasn't a part of any of it (except that Jane and Vincent spent some time working on a commission that was later canceled). Why would MRK not use this tool? She's the only one who can put glamour in her books, and she didn't even make it a plot point? Melody's spectacles were more part of the plot than glamour!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reader thoughts: I've never read such an exciting book containing Napoleon. Even Naomi Novik's Temeraire books were drier (and too concerned with histReader thoughts: I've never read such an exciting book containing Napoleon. Even Naomi Novik's Temeraire books were drier (and too concerned with historical details).
One spot made me gasp out loud in horror (it was not quite a yelp as I listened while making dinner). (view spoiler)[It was that moment when Jane drops the glass sphere, and it breaks. She is in the middle of the enemy's camp, and now they're visible. Oh, I feared for them! (hide spoiler)]
One spot was so poignant. (view spoiler)[That was when Jane loses the baby. Her first reaction is relief, and now she can do glamour. Her next is grief. Her last is overpowering remorse that grief wasn't her first reaction. "What kind of mother loves her magic more than her baby?" she asks Vincent (paraphrased). The hardest part is, I felt relief, too. Now she'll be able to do glamor in the next book. I'm rather ashamed I feel relieved, and I wonder what kind of reader that makes me. Do I only feel guilty because Jane does? It's such a twisted mess. (hide spoiler)]
I did love it, and I'm pining for the next audiobook. My fun-things budget is almost depleted for the month, though. I must resist. Besides, I finished Glamour in Glass in about 24 hours, and I really shouldn't buy another book so soon.
Writer thoughts: From the beginning of the first book to the end of the second book, the series' genre seems to have changed. I worried these books would be more about romance and dancing and polite words. Instead, they're gun fights and magic and spies and kidnappings. Did Kowal intend such a switch, or is she just blending these genres in a way I didn't expect?
Now, it's not a bait-and-switch. The readers know there's magic in the books before they start. Plus, there's still regency romance; it's just muted. I Am Not A Serial Killer pulls more of a genre-switch when it goes from coming-of-age horror to full-blown speculative fiction.
I think Kowal is blending the genres, pulling fantastical elements into her regency romance. If people could create illusions as a another type of art, how would that affect society? How would that affect status? How would that affect war? Novik did some of this, too, but she layered her books with a military fiction feel rather than romance (having an officer MC rather than a young wife MC makes a difference, too). Surprisingly, I enjoy Kowal's books more (even without the dragons).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reader thoughts: I don't normally like historical fiction. I thought, with some magic, this one would be worth trying. (Also, the new cover is amazingReader thoughts: I don't normally like historical fiction. I thought, with some magic, this one would be worth trying. (Also, the new cover is amazing, and MRK is part of the Writing Excuses podcast.)
This had the same strengths and weaknesses of other historical fiction novels.
Weaknesses It had stilted dialogue and frustratingly stupid side characters (how many times can a girl fake an injury and still get fawned over?). It had high-waisted dresses, lots of gossip, and too much ado about nothing. People didn't really work; they played cards, went to balls, and complained about other people. Sometimes they discussed art.
Strengths Everyone is so polite. Now and then all their wordy greetings get on my nerves, but it's refreshing how respectful they are to each other (unless they're complaining about each other behind their backs). The society feels very mature in a good way. Also, they get to ride horses and go dancing.
Romance? (view spoiler)[I don't like love triangles. I thought Jane was going to settle with Mr. Dunkirk. He was boring, but he was good. The uncontrolled dueling urge and the part where he accuses Jane of lying throws me off, though. So, I'm glad she ended up with Mr. Vincent. Still, I do wish it wasn't so common for characters to hate each other at first sight. It's rather cliche. Plus, there wasn't much reason for her to like Vincent. (hide spoiler)] Actually, this other review says everything very well, particularly how dumb Jane is with romance. Check out Ashley's review.
Writer thoughts: The magic system was pretty neat. Glamour is like art, I guess, where everyone has the capability, but not everyone has the talent. It seemed to take a lot of practice, and it was mostly left to women (to reflect the times, I suppose).
The particulars were easy to understand without feeling like it was basic. Readers can picture what's happening when Jane does stuff like "pinching the folds" to brighten a painting or a room. Readers don't have to know what the folds of the ether are supposed to be like. Kowal somehow kept it basic and made it seem complicated all at once. Perfect.
Also, there's a strong limitation. Glamour is tiring. It makes people lightheaded if they do too much. This leads to some interesting scenes, although I doubt (view spoiler)[that Jane would have fallen in the garden and passed out all night. Especially since she went and rode a horse right afterward (hide spoiler)]. A glamour takes energy to sustain unless a glamourist ties it off as a permanent glamour.
Another limitation is that glamours cannot be moved once they are tied off. It would be useful to carry around certain glamours or disguises, but only skilled glamourists could do it. And they could only do it for a few minutes (maybe half an hour at the most?). This makes me predict Jane or someone else will find a way to move glamours by the end of the series.
Limitations are important on any magic system. Kowal did a good job with this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was very hooked for the first third. Then the book slowed down (two conflicts were resolved that I thought were over too easily). Then thegood story
I was very hooked for the first third. Then the book slowed down (two conflicts were resolved that I thought were over too easily). Then the last bit felt disconnected. We had a bunch of small conflicts with the trolls but no real climax. It felt like scrambling around in the dark without accomplishing anything. The last couple pages were shocking and sad. I wanted to see Athson struggle more with his fits and seeing things, but it never caused any problems. Oh, take a potion and a magic sword and you're good? I wanted to see him questioning his own eyes and persevering despite difficulties. Limbreth and Athson came together too easily, and they were too comfortable around each other considering the secrets both were keeping from each other. There was a bit too much time between each chapter. We'd get conflict! and then 2 or 3 weeks off. Conflict again! and another two or three weeks off. I wanted to see a building of layered problems and conflicts all come together in the same time and place. It's possible to do that without rushing. At least by the end it was more like one or two days between conflicts....more
Reader's thoughts: There were many quirky lines and creatures that I wish I could name here, but only a few stick out. Glitter bugs eat darkness. "It taReader's thoughts: There were many quirky lines and creatures that I wish I could name here, but only a few stick out. Glitter bugs eat darkness. "It tasted like an old shoe that stepped in two-week-old mayonnaise." Salt and pepper shakers can destroy an entire ship. Words and hope freeze if it's cold enough. "I may be no one, but at least I'm no one with a mission!" Rumor vines can grow anywhere on anything. "Who are you?"
My one complaint is that it felt a tad rushed. I don't really understand the worlds connected by the pirate stream, or who's in charge, or how many there are, or how money works. Despite all the danger, the characters were never actually hurt (not more than an "ow" and a bump anyway).
I liked the characters and their personalities and flaws and that there was absolutely no romance. Fin's magical affliction is unique and both handy and devastating. He went through some real emotional trauma over it, and yet he always tried to use it to his advantage.
This book was very funny with lots of random ideas thrown in. Yet, it made sense. There were few times when I didn't understand how something worked compared to the rest of the world. Actually, I never understood the how, but at least it all seemed to fit in the same universe/story together.
Writer thoughts: The trying-to-get-home plot driving this book on Marrill's side is overdone enough to be cliche. Yet, it is overdone because it works so well. Marrill has a real mission (find the map to get home) that any reader could sympathize with. If she were just there to play around and have adventures, readers would despise her for causing her parents grief for no reason. That can work, but only in special cases (Peter Pan).
My point is, there are many reasons to plop your characters in another world and make it exciting. Just because one common plot is tried and true doesn't make it the best way to tell your story. At least Marrill also was trying to save her dying mother, which adds variety. Yet, that's another slightly overused plot (although it also works very well).