I'm on the fence about whether I like this one or The Gates of Sleep better. Both are the best of this series, undoubtedly, with The Wizard of London...moreI'm on the fence about whether I like this one or The Gates of Sleep better. Both are the best of this series, undoubtedly, with The Wizard of London and The Fire Rose being the worst. (less)
Not as great as I thought it would be. The ending was, well, I would call it satisfying, or rather fitting. But as I read this series I began to feel...moreNot as great as I thought it would be. The ending was, well, I would call it satisfying, or rather fitting. But as I read this series I began to feel more and more detached from the characters. In fact, I stopped reading it for weeks and felt no desire, none, to finish it. I finally did out of a sense of duty/boredom. And because I'd paid for it; if it had been a library book I'd have just returned it and never felt like my life was missing anything for never having finished it.(less)
This is going to be a loaded review. I've checked Amazon and Goodreads and it looks like, once again, I will be the dissenting opnion.
It has an intere...moreThis is going to be a loaded review. I've checked Amazon and Goodreads and it looks like, once again, I will be the dissenting opnion.
It has an interesting premise. But the characters just aren't there; the dialogue is awkward, and I found myself totally unable to visualize the action sequences.
I did not understand the motivations of any of the characters. None of them. We aren't really in their heads at all, and for me good characterization is the most important element of a story. I can forgive a weak plot, or a lack or overabundance of detail, if the characters are real and compelling. These guys just aren't.
Which is sad because it's obvious Weeks put a lot of time and effort into the world he created, but doesn't really explain it's mechanics very well. I couldn't keep strait all the different magic artifacts and historical figures, and I was also very confused about the different types of mages and magic.
I would say don't waste time and money on this, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it, and anyway hell, I always end up finishing these things hoping they get better. (less)
Like Twilight, New Moon caused some mixed reactions in me.
I like Bella. She reminds me of me. But I hate hate hate how she acts around Edward. And the...moreLike Twilight, New Moon caused some mixed reactions in me.
I like Bella. She reminds me of me. But I hate hate hate how she acts around Edward. And the emo whining just grated on my nerves. I get that vampires are supposed to be very, very attractive to their prey, and that accounts for the majority of why Bella is such an idiot for him--but when she's an idiot for him is when I put the book down for a few hours or days and cool off before picking it back up.
I read this based on a friend's recomendation. It's good (especially the characterization--just brilliant), but not quite as good as I was expecting....moreI read this based on a friend's recomendation. It's good (especially the characterization--just brilliant), but not quite as good as I was expecting. The main problem for me was too many stoylines to keep track of. I knew they would eventually converge, but it sure took long enough. This made a complicated contradiction: the action was both slow and quick. The fighting scenes, of course, are fantastically written, and a lot of things happen, but it just took too long for all the people to come together. Now that has happened I'm expecting the second book in the series to be better.
I do admit to a fondness for Jezal, bastard though he is. (less)
Ugh, this book was just so damn slow! The promised "action", Edgar living in the woods with his dogs, doesn't happen until almost the very end. I get...moreUgh, this book was just so damn slow! The promised "action", Edgar living in the woods with his dogs, doesn't happen until almost the very end. I get that it's the story of Edgar Sawtelle, but jesus, I'm looking to be entertained here and there just isn't a whole lot that's entertaining about this book. (less)
It's historical fiction--about a chef and his apprentice. It's immediately obvious why I would be drawn to this book; it's set in Rennaisance Venice,...moreIt's historical fiction--about a chef and his apprentice. It's immediately obvious why I would be drawn to this book; it's set in Rennaisance Venice, circa 1498. (For a while all the historical fiction was set in Elizabethan England, but now that's been done to death, so I guess Rennaisance Italy is going to be the new fad.)
Luciano is an orphan living on the streets. He steals whatever he needs, imagines a better life in the New World, and scrapes by. Until one day he is caught trying to steal a pomegranate. Not by a stall keeper or watchman, but by the Doge's chef, Chef Ferrero. "That's not the way, boy", is all he says to Luciano. He drags the boy back to the palace, washes him, feeds him, and sets him to work. Luciano is mystified as to why the chef chose him of all boys, a ragged filthy thief. The chef has his own reasons, and it's not long before Luciano begins to look up to Chef Ferrero as a father figure, and strive to please him and better himself.
Chef Ferrero is gifted. Unafraid of new things, he snaps up delicacies from the New World--potatoes and maize, among other herbs and spices, and comes up with sinfully delicious recipes. Most of the other cooks look at him askance because of this, but they one and all ackowledge his genius. And it is to this man that Luciano is now apprenticed. There is one catch, though. Luciano is in love--or thinks he is, anyway--with a girl he sees in the market. Her name is Francesca, and unfortunately, she is a nun, or will be after she takes vows. His nebulous attachment to a convent girl is a big impediment to Chef Ferrero's plans, although Luciano is sure he can find a way to satisfy them both. Not to mention his old friends still on the streets. Luciano steals scraps and leaves them hidden near the garbage pile, but it's not long before one of them becomes very demanding and jealous.
During this time in Venice, a rumor was sweeping the city about a magical book. Some said the book held the secrets to eternal life, or how to turn lead into gold, others that it contained the Gnostic Gospels. The Doge, old and dying of syphilis, wants the book, hoping it contains a recipe for a magical elixir to preserve his own life. The Council of Ten wants the book, hoping it turns out to be the Gnostic Gospels, so they can stage a coup against Rome. Of all the city, only one person knows the truth about the book--Chef Ferrero. Not only that, but he is in fact the book's owner--it's guardian, more like. It's not a book of magic spells or the lost Gnostic Gospels, but instead a book of knowledge--forbidden knowledge, disguised, of all things, as a cookbook. Chef Ferrero is one of a loose confederation of men who value knowledge above all else. They call themselves Guardians, and believe, heretically, that the Roman Catholic Church is an unneccessary establishment, an impediment to God rather than an intercessor. Most of them believe Jesus was just a teacher. That's not the only thing, though. They preserve works of science, philosophy, history, even animal husbandry; many of the ideas that great societies once had but lost in the Middle Ages, either through forgetfulness or the Church's purging.
It's told in first person by Luciano as an old man. It's mostly linear, but there is one chapter that leaps ahead by many years, when Luciano talks to Chef Ferrero's old master and finds out why Ferrero wanted Luciano, specifically, as his apprentice.
I do not want to read another review calling this a Da Vinci Code wannabe. It's not. There are no descendents of Jesus, first of all, no scandals or plots or well formed secret societies (the guardians each only know of two other guardians, first of all; second the only "plot" is the preservation of knowledge). The Guardians are watching and waiting for a time when they can share their knowledge and help raise mankind to greatness. The divinity of Jesus is questioned, certainly, and there's no doubt Ferrero disbelieves it. And all the parts that could remind anyone even remotely of Dan Brown's novel take up less than one chapter. It's not the main focus of the novel at all. (less)
Red Seas continues the strange back and forth timeline that Lies began, jumping from the "here and now" timeline of Lock and Jean working their next,...moreRed Seas continues the strange back and forth timeline that Lies began, jumping from the "here and now" timeline of Lock and Jean working their next, and greatest, heist, to Locke and Jean immediately after the events of Lies. Exiled from Camorr, the only home they've ever known, they take up residence in Tal Verrar. Tal Verrar has complicated politics. There are technically two, but actually three, groups of leaders: The Priori, a ruling council elected from the merchant class, is the head of the city. There is also an Archon, a military leader, and finally Requin, the owner of the Sinspire, the most decadent, exclusive gambling house in the Therin city-states. Requin holds most of the city's weath, because a great deal of the Priori keep their money in his vault. He doesn't pay interest on their funds like a counting-house, but it is a great deal more secure. Not only is the Sinspire's vault inpenatrable, but the penalty for being caught cheating there is death. This does not deter Locke and Jean, who spend two years carefully cheating their way into the most fashionably exclusive circles. They make a small fortune, but that, however, is not their ultimate goal, merely a means to an end. What they really have planned is crazy enough that they just might pull it off--except for the interference of the Bondsmagi. (spoiler alert) Even though they did not actually kill the Falconer of Karthain, his fellow magi took offense to the fact that he has no fingers or a tongue, and has been driven completely insane by the loss of his familiar and the torture he underwent. The Bondsmagi do not to act immediately however, choosing instead to make one show of power and then leave Locke and Jean to stew a little. (end spoiler alert)
On top of that, the Archon, tipped off by the Bondsmagi, embroils them in his own schemes. He's losing popularity with the people of Tal Verrar, and loosing patience with the short sighted way the Priori are running the city. He's planning a coup, and for that he needs Locke and Jean to sail onto the Sea of Brass, raise a pirate navy, and attack Tal Verrar. Basically, he needs a reason for the city to need him, but he also needs an enemy he knows he can beat. In order to secure their cooperation, the Archon slips them a latent poison to which only he has the antidote. Without taking it every two months, Locke and Jean face a slow and painful death.
None too pleased at being forced to abandon the Sinspire game after two years of careful and hard work, they set out to learn the basics--the bare basics, of sailing, under the tutelage of one of the Archon's sailing masters, also poisoned to ensure his cooperation. The plan is to send the sailing master with them, so Locke can appear to give the orders while Caldis, the sailing master, actually runs the ship. Unfortunately they end up getting captured by real pirates on the Sea of Brass. Prisoners at sea, with their two month deadline looming closer and closer, Locke and Jean are in for the the fight of their lives.
* * * In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch won me over partly because of his detailed descriptions of cooking and food. Well, now he's gone and done it, because he has cats in the sequel:
"It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. I was comfortable, and you dared to move, those jade eyes said. For that you must die. When it became apparent to the cat that it's two or three pounds of mass were not sufficient to break Locke's neck with one mighty snap, it put its paws on his shoulders and began sharing it's drool covered nose with his lips."
The sarcastic remarks fly fast and loose, the profanity continues to impress, and the whole thing just got better because now there is swashbuckling. You can take almost any story, and with the careful application of pirates, make it better.
This book! I can safely say that this is my first favorite of 2009, (2008's being Breath and Bone and Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg). Locke Lamora is...moreThis book! I can safely say that this is my first favorite of 2009, (2008's being Breath and Bone and Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg). Locke Lamora is an orphan, likely a bastard too, in the city of Camorr. He's taken in by the Thiefmaker, an old thief to rickety to support himself, so he formed a band of orphans to thieve for him. They all live together in a cemetary, until Locke proves to be too clever for his own good, and is sold by the Thiefmaker to another gang leader, Father Chains. Father Chains is another thief, but of a different sort. He poses as a blind priest so pious he chained himself to his temple. Father Chains has his own band of orphaned thieves, called The Gentlemen Bastards, and he senses he can make something of Locke, who is far too intelligent for just petty breaking and entering and picking pockets. He teaches Locke about Capa Barsavi, the crime boss that every thief, whore, assasin and gang in Camorr pay homage to (and a percent of their take, as well); he teaches Locke about the Secret Peace, the unwritten law that the nobles of Camorr are inviolate.
The funny thing is, Father Chains really is a priest, in a fashion. The Camorri pantheon has twelve gods, and Chains claims to represent the Unnamed Thirteenth, Father of Neccessary Pretexts, god of thieves; basically a sort of black sheep younger brother of the other gods. He claims that priests of the Unnamed Thirteenth can pose as priests of other gods and not be punished for it, because of some sort of "lingering affection for his merry brand of fuckery". Oddly enough, Chains, and later Locke and the rest of his gang seem to be truly pious.
Locke grows up, and eventually takes control of the little gang. He learned well from Chains, and his main source of income is pulling brilliant and complicated scams on the nobility of Camorr--breaking the Secret Peace. It means Locke's death and the death of his gang if they are ever found out, but it's worth it to him. He's probably richer than some of the minor nobles they fleece, but instead of living high and mighty they just pile it up, in secret. Eventually though, things become very unstable in the slums of Camorr, when an unknown assailant starts targeting gang leaders. Capa Barsavi is on edge, and Locke is about to get wrapped up in a complicated plot.
As I mentioned before, Lynch has a flair for profanity: "--and fifty of Barsavi's men piled into the room with crossbows, and shot those poor idiots so full of holes that a porcupine in heat would have taken any one of them home and fucked him." That is--it's artful, is what it is.
I also love how The Gentleman Bastards cook! Real food--creative dishes, not the ubiquitous stew or slices of bread and cheese (a quick glance at Lynch's homepage revealed he was a line cook, no wonder). Not to mention he created a guild of professional chefs, who practice the Eight Beautiful Arts, One being Seafood and Five being desserts (what are the others, I want to know!) Ah, the way to my heart. <3
The one aspect I didn't like quite so much was the way Lynch would stop the story and start telling another, seemingly unrelated story, in order to make a point about a character or group of characters. However I think he handled moving back and forth in Locke's life, from when he was first picked up by Chains to the present, very skillfully. Ordinarily it's irritating, but young Locke and adult Locke are equally engaging, so the switching between story lines didn't bother me.
One final thing--it's amusing to me, how many publishers get authors to say things like "New, fresh, thoroughly unique!" on the covers of fantasy novels. Fantasy, one of the most cliched genres, except for maybe romance, around! There is no fresh and original; there is however engrossing and gorgeously realized. In fact I can see a lot of similarities between The Lies of Locke Lamora and Stalking Darkness, at least as far as the plot goes. But they were written in different ways so I can apprecaite and enjoy both books on their own merits.
In short, I love this book. I am leaving now to go dive into the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. (less)
Recommended to cat lovers everywhere--a bit of fluff that definately made me laugh out loud! I actually bought this book in a little indie bookshsop i...moreRecommended to cat lovers everywhere--a bit of fluff that definately made me laugh out loud! I actually bought this book in a little indie bookshsop in Marietta, Georgia four years ago and completely forgot about it until now. Amazing what I can remember, isn't it? I was with some family and one of them took a picture of me reading it, and yes, laughing out loud! I don't know who has it now.
But the book! Like the title says, each of the book's nine chapters descibes one of Jim's nine lives (and how he dies each time). It's also told from the point of view of Jim, who wonders why he has to eat on the floor and why isn't he ever allowed on beds or to have his own clothes? After all, he is the center of the universe.
There are some graphic illustrations, including cat sex and human sex. So don't let your kids see it and think it's a book for them, unless you want to have The Talk a lot earlier than you planned.(less)
The front cover quotes Trudi Canavan as saying “Not since Tolkien have I been so awed.” In scope at least, this first book of a trilogy is comparable...moreThe front cover quotes Trudi Canavan as saying “Not since Tolkien have I been so awed.” In scope at least, this first book of a trilogy is comparable to LOTR. Kirkpatrick has certainly done plenty of world building but the characters aren't really very fleshed out, for the most part, except maybe Lieth, the protag. He’s a total geek, and he knows it. He wishes he could be more normal and attract the attention of the girl he likes, and having a cripple for a brother and his father mysteriously disappear on king’s business makes him all the more angsty. But eventually he starts to grow up, and at least attempt to fill the role of the man of the house. Then his father reappears secretly. He tells his family that he is being pursued by four lethal warriors, Maghdi Dasht, or Lords of Fear, and that they must leave their sleepy village. But before anyone can do anything, the Maghdi Dasht arrive, kidnap Leith’s parents and leave Leith and his brother, Hal, for dead. Turns out that Leith’s father is a retired spy and knows some very sensitive and dangerous secrets. So Leith and his brother enlist the help of some of the more stouthearted villagers and go after his parents.
There was a lot of potential but parts of it just fizzled out and left me not wanting to finish the book, at all. I did, because after a few days of rest I was curious enough to see what happens, but for the record, I hate multiple story lines. Two is testing my patience; three is truly irritating. And that’s probably what did this book in for me. When one story line left off and it switched to another is generally where I found my stopping places. Just when I get good and involved in what’s going on, we switch to see how these characters are doing, and instead of plowing on to get back to the storyline I was most interested in, I get exasperated and give up. Another problem that kept me from fully enjoying the book was the character of Stella, the girl Leith’s in love with. I simply don’t quite get her, and I wish that Kirkpatrick had spent more time developing her character. She seems rather unlikable at first, but becomes more sympathetic as the story goes on, but I just wish we had gotten more than a few glimpses inside her thoughts and motivations.
I also want to point out that while I understand how making the religion very similar to Christianity might make the world a little more identifiable to readers, and may even be a way for the author to make a point, I for one prefer an author to make up their own. Although so far I can't tell exactly if he is critiqueing Christianity or supporting it--there are a lot of questions that people ask of God in real life that are asked in this book (but not adequately answered by the believers), such as why would a good god let bad things happen, why doesn't God speak directly to mankind anymore, etc.... All in all, though, it was a good first effort. Kirkpatrick just needs to spend more time developing his characters.