At first, I hated the ending. Then I sulked. Then I thought. And then I loved it. I think that's what makes this such a good book. Weeks after I finisAt first, I hated the ending. Then I sulked. Then I thought. And then I loved it. I think that's what makes this such a good book. Weeks after I finished it up, I'm still calling people up and asking, "So what you do think would be different if . . . ?"
After what both Roland AND King did to Jake, I think this was the only possible "happy" ending. ...more
This is a well-written, fun book. It's often found in the JFic section, but is appropriate for anybody who enjoys fantasy. (And, since we're in the HaThis is a well-written, fun book. It's often found in the JFic section, but is appropriate for anybody who enjoys fantasy. (And, since we're in the Harry Potter era, adults reading young adult fiction seems to be in vogue). It's got a little bit of a love story, but it's charming. ...more
I've been told for years now that this book is one of the pillars of fantasy. If that's true, then the whole genre is due to collapse any day now. TheI've been told for years now that this book is one of the pillars of fantasy. If that's true, then the whole genre is due to collapse any day now. The man is addicted to adverbs, and his writing is loose and weak. The storyline is almost slavishly Tolkienite. There are some creative touches (the hero is a leper) but I don't feel like it's original enough to merit being a "pillar." Also, it's poorly written, poorly plotted, and horribly insulting to women.
I hope people don't judge fantasy novels based on this one. It's really awful....more
The Fionavar Trilogy are the first books Guy Kay wrote after helping young Chris Tolkien organize the Silmarillion. They are written as a response toThe Fionavar Trilogy are the first books Guy Kay wrote after helping young Chris Tolkien organize the Silmarillion. They are written as a response to many of the ideas Tolkien put forward (elves going west, ultimate evil, hope and despair, choice). They're lovely and poetic, but you must take them in the vein in which they were meant.
Thoughts on a Re-Read: These books are full of what makes other Kay books so heart-breaking: The finely drawn and intense looks at the relationships between people. This time through I caught many details and subtle sub-plots I missed the first time I read them. (That's easy to do: You get so caught up in the stories and the characters that you just can't wait to see what's next.) Also, I found myself reacting to the characters differently: I had a much harder time connecting with Paul and Jennifer, wasn't as in love with Kevin, had less empathy for Diarmuid, but had a lot more fun reading about Dave, Kim, Ivor, and Aileron. Which is surprisingly, especially that last.
These books are just as much fun the third time as the first, or second. With each reread, you find more layers to peel off the onion. ...more
This is a lovely historical fantasy book, a standalone based, ever so loosely, on the history of Italy. Tigana is about memory, both as a gift and a cThis is a lovely historical fantasy book, a standalone based, ever so loosely, on the history of Italy. Tigana is about memory, both as a gift and a curse. It's about forgiveness, and secrets, and the search for your own identity in the churn and roil of the world.
It has Kay's trademark lyricism, and wit, and depth of writing, and humor. And the heartbreak and the mystery. And, of course, the music and the two moons.
I love Guy Kay because he can write standalones and doesn't feel entitled to tens of thousands of words (ahem, Mr. Jordan, are you attending?). But then you feel sorry when the book is over. It's wonderful. ...more
In fact, that's a good way to describe Lord of Emperors. It's Sailing to Sarantium raised to the second power. It's well-written, dazzling, heart-breaking, and thought-provoking. There are even more wonderful characters, rich plot twists, art, theology, philosophy, and (of course) chariot-racing....more
After reading River of Stars, I remembered why I fell in love with Guy Kay in the first place, and went back to the last ones his I loved: The SarantiAfter reading River of Stars, I remembered why I fell in love with Guy Kay in the first place, and went back to the last ones his I loved: The Sarantine Mosaic.
These books are rich and beautiful. They're funny, action-packed, and, in places, eerie. They're enjoyable to read both because of the beauty of the writing and because of the rich characters and well-paced plots.
As someone has pointed out, not a lot big happens in this book: It's a lot of journeys, discoveries, and set-ups for the resolution of the second book. But Kay takes all these "smaller" stories, and weaves them into something impressive and meaty.
I highly recommend these books for any fans of Kay, historical fiction, history, (particularly Byzantium), art, horses, chariot racing, or Yeats. (It is shelved as fantasy, but has very few fantasy elements, other than being set in a fictitious version of Byzantium where Justinian is called Valerius II and Thedora is called Alixana).
There are also some fantastic chariot racing scene, that may be the best depiction of any sporting event in fiction....more
This is absolutely my favorite Guy Kay book. I think it's his best. It's the sharpest, tightest, and most gem-like. (Which is saying a lot). It's alsoThis is absolutely my favorite Guy Kay book. I think it's his best. It's the sharpest, tightest, and most gem-like. (Which is saying a lot). It's also the funniest, the most beautiful, and the one guaranteed to break your heart. Which is, in a weird way, why I like it. Which is odd coming from someone who doesn't like sad books or movies.
I cry every time I read this book, and every time I finish it, I can't wait to read it again. If we have to choose one book to live in after we die, this is my choice....more
I can see why people were so upset by this book. Two of my favorite characters are left in awful cliff-hangers. There wasn't much of Dany, Jon, TyrionI can see why people were so upset by this book. Two of my favorite characters are left in awful cliff-hangers. There wasn't much of Dany, Jon, Tyrion, or Bran. And there was an awful lot of depressing carnage. It is called A Feast for Crows, and it deserves its name. But it is still a worthy addition to the Song of Ice and Fire, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Jaime's arc continues to get more interesting, and sometime along the way Sansa actually turned into an interesting character. We spend more time in the Iron Islands and get our first good look at Dorne, which is fascinating. Samwell's journey takes an unexpected turn, Brienne never fails to fascinate me (and make me feel big-sisterly protective toward her), and Cersei's breathtaking obtuseness is fun to read.
Point of view characters are Cersei Lannister, Aeron Greyjoy ("Damphair"), Jaime Lannister, Areo Hotah, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Samwell Tarly, Asha Greyjoy, Victarion Greyjoy, Brienne, Arys Oakheart, Arianne Martell.
I have come to the conclusion that there are four types of people who read (or at least begin to read) Song of Ice and Fire
1. People who start to read
I have come to the conclusion that there are four types of people who read (or at least begin to read) Song of Ice and Fire
1. People who start to read it, get 100 pages in (or a whole first book) before giving up in disgust, throwing the book across the room, and wondering what happened to the (usually) good sense and good taste of the friends who will not stop vehemently recommending these books.
2. People that read them, enjoy them somewhat, but don't get caught up in them and don't think about them much once they're over. They appreciate Martin's writing, concede there are some weaknesses, but otherwise go on with their lives. (In my sample population, this is a very small group.)
3. People who love long stories. They read stories for the detail, and don't want the story to end. They would have been easily wiled by Scheherazade. They revel in books that go on and on and on. They long for the next book, yes, but are in no hurry whatsoever for the books to be over, because that means that there won't be any more of them.
4. People who are immediately sucked into the story. They love the characters and the plot. But it's more a compulsion than true love. They skim paragraphs that are mostly about food and clothes. They get rabidly furious with Martin when cruel, bad things happen to their favorite characters. They swear they're going to stop reading. But, like addicts, they keep coming back, even though they don't really enjoy the experience. They want Martin to end the books, tie them up with a big bow, so they can move on with their lives and not have their hearts and affections tormented in such a manner.
People who belong to group number four are the reason, I believe, Martin gets so much crap for taking three to four years to write books. These books are more than 1,000 pages long. That seems a reasonable time to produce a book of that length to me. Novels, especially ones as intricate as these, don't fly off the production line.
These are the people who tell you they love the books, but then in the next breath, go on about how excessively long they are, and how there's too much talk about food, and how whole chapters go by with essentially nothing happening, and how there aren't enough battles and action scenes. When these people are complaining to me about the books, I want to ask (and maybe I should next time) "Well, why are you still reading them, then?" But I think it's the compulsion thing. I don't think they really have a choice. I don't know if they can change from group four to group three. I feel a little sorry for them.
I clearly belong in group three. I love the descriptions. I delight in being told what people are wearing and eating and what the rooms look like. I like the quirky humor Martin sneaks in. I hate long, complicated battle scenes. I tend to skim those when they pop up in books by authors other than a select handful who can write good battle scenes. I adore Martin's books, and I am having so much fun reading them. I'm eager to read the next one, but not panting to have them over with, either. I'm savoring them.
Storm of Swords gave us some of my favorite characters and themes in the Song of Ice and Fire (so far). We get the Queen of Thorns whom I adore. We get "The Bear and the Maiden Fair." And the Maid of Tarth. And Jaime's arc developing (the beautiful image of him staring at the mostly-empty page). We get a satisfying comeuppance to some characters we despised and tragic things happened to characters we love. We get two of the most memorable weddings I've ever read. The lead-up to the first one was excruciating the second time through. We don't have to find the patience to deal with Theon as a point-of-view character anymore, and we get Jaime instead.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. The group twos will enjoy its twists, the group threes don't need to be told to read it, and I can only beg the group fours: Try to enjoy the lemon pies and Myrish lace, OK? It'll all be over soon enough, and then we'll all be sad.
The point-of-view characters in this book are: Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, Catelyn Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Samwell Tarly, Davos Seaworth, and Daenerys Targaryen....more
I started rereading this book to follow along as I watched HBO's miniseries (which, by the way, was impressively close to the book). Rereading the booI started rereading this book to follow along as I watched HBO's miniseries (which, by the way, was impressively close to the book). Rereading the book itself was no less rewarding. In rereading it, I was much more conscious of the book's reputation, in a way I wasn't the first few times I read it. Martin is not as strikingly original as some of his proponents enthusiastically (and persistently) claim. Rather, he does an excellent job using the existing structure, tropes, and cliches and twisting them to create something new, unexpected, and enlightening. He regularly subverts expectations in an unpredictable manner. (Meaning, he's consistently unpredictable not just predictable in an unorthodox way).
The book is long, involved, character-driven, and features a lot of detail about social structure, food, clothes, and religion. If you don't like any of that, you won't like the book. (I'm tired of talking to people who keep asking me when they're going to get to the POINT of the book or the ACTUAL STORY. This is it. If you don't enjoy it, move along to something else.) However, I love becoming lost in the nuances of Martin's world. It's as comprehensively built as any of Jordan's, but with the bonus features of three-dimensional characters and intriguing plot lines. The only thing that bothered me were the logistics (and causes) of the long seasons, and their implications for the life-cycles of local species. However, I suppose I can't expect all SF/F novelists to think like scientists. That small flaw aside, this is a very good book.
One unexpected (to me) benefit of Martin's willingness to sacrifice characters to the story is that at times you almost dread the next chapter. If everyone's alive and (marginally) OK, you're tempted to put down the book to keep them that way. Martin's genius is that you can never quite bear to do that; the drive to find out what happens next is too strong.
Point-of-View characters in this book were: Bran Stark, Catelyn Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, Eddard Stark, Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, and Tyrion Lannister....more
Clash of Kings continues and deepens the plots set up by A Game of Thrones. We lost Eddard Stark as a point-of-view character, but gained Ser Davos SeClash of Kings continues and deepens the plots set up by A Game of Thrones. We lost Eddard Stark as a point-of-view character, but gained Ser Davos Seaworth (called "The Onion Knight," which I loved), a knight belonging to Stannis Baratheon, and Theon Greyjoy. Davos gives us fascinating insight to the developments on Stannis's end, and his change in religion, and Theon gives us a delightful scene, followed by a lot of being disappointed in Theon. Martin's good this way. Even when you don't like a character (Theon or Sansa, for instance) their stories are still interesting, and it's always interesting seeing how their character's tragic flaws (in both cases a crippling self-absorption) dictate their actions, their relationships with others, and, ultimately, their fates.
This book has several chapters where things seem to be going well for a lot of our favorite characters. This situation makes veteran Martin readers nervous. That means he's about to do something really awful. It compels you to read on.
This series lures you in. The author is a passable world builder. But the, at some point (for me the ninth book; I'm slow) you realize 1) All the womeThis series lures you in. The author is a passable world builder. But the, at some point (for me the ninth book; I'm slow) you realize 1) All the women are cookie cutter characters 2) The only character you liked spent an entire novel buried under a wall 3) The whole series is one long sexual fantasy and 4) The man has written himself into a corner, has no idea where the story is going and is terrified. That's when I stopped reading, took all the hardback books (it's an addiction) to a second-hand bookstores and bought something else....more