I picked this series up when someone threw away a bunch of books (literally threw them away; I found them stacked around the dumpster). I am exceedingI picked this series up when someone threw away a bunch of books (literally threw them away; I found them stacked around the dumpster). I am exceedingly glad that I did not pay money for this dreck, and can even understand why they were left to the elements rather than donated to the library or Goodwill.
I'm not the sort of reader who gets bogged down with technical details. If I've been sufficiently hooked by the narrative, a lot of times I won't even notice typos and grammatical errors unless they're really jarring, and I can deal with an odd writing style. Needless to say I was not hooked by the narrative.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why Patterson's chapters are so short. I don't see any type of logical or intuitive reason for the ending of most of the chapters, and I just keep wondering why the hell there isn't a regular page break. The opening of the book, when Whit and Whisty are arrested, takes up ten chapters, each averaging about a page and a half. It would be one thing if he was alternating points-of-view, but he isn't; there might be three chapters of Whisty's narration, followed by two of Whit's.
Which leads me to the fact that a lot of times I forgot who was the current narrarator; Whit and Whisty are basically interchangable, as well as monumentally stupid. It really should not take anyone as long it did these two to realize that yes, they really are a witch and wizard. When you can spontaneously burst into flame and yet remain unharmed, levitate, stop objects being thrown at you in midair--how dumb do you have to be? And how stupid were their parents for not telling them what they were and training them how to use their powers?
The dialogue was frequently either stilted or way too wordy for the current situation, or to have come from the mouths of modern day teenagers:
...Then I heard Whit shouting as he was thrown onto the living room floor next to me.
"Whit, what's going on? Who are these...monsters?"
"Wisty," he gasped, cohently enough. "You okay?"
I'm really not sure why Whisty would think her brother would have any more of a clue what was going on than she did, not to mention the situation calls for a much stronger epithet than "monsters", just in my opinion.
* * *
"The soldiers, all in black, their boots spit-shined, came for us that morning in the prison..."
People just don't talk like that, particularly not teenagers. Who would even think to come up with "spit-shined" as a descriptor, much less bother describing their captors' boots in any sort of detail?
The One Who Is The One was just laughable. Not even in an over-the-top stereotype way, he just seemed completely ineffectual and childish and not scary, at all. Nothing in this book seemed especially believable; I only made it to chapter 76--which starts on page 201, incidentally--before giving this book up as a waste of time.
I am baffled that this is a bestseller. I suppose it just goes to show that there really is no accounting for taste.
Thus endeth my excursion into the world of YA fiction....more
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 LondonI'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. ...more
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 feelNot 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....more
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 intereThis 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. ...more
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 theLike 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.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. 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. ...more
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 getUgh, 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. ...more
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,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, 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. ...more
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,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, 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 isThis 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. ...more
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 iRecommended 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....more
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 comparableThe 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.
Swordspoint is one of the classic cases where I build my expectations up only to have them knocked down. I wanted to like it; I wanted to love it, sinSwordspoint is one of the classic cases where I build my expectations up only to have them knocked down. I wanted to like it; I wanted to love it, since I read it's sequel, The Fall of the Kings, and thought it was amazing. But this...ordinarily I would give a plot summary first, but that's next to impossible because this book's plot, such as it is, is all over the place and hardly discernable. That is, once it actually got going. I got to page 93 and began to wonder, okay, what is supposed to be going on here?
The two people in the book you need to know about are Richard St Vier, an expert swordsman-for-hire, and his lover, the mysterious and scholarly Alec. Alec is probably a member of the nobility, but he never says, and Richard never asks. Frankly one of the huge disappointments about the book is the relationship between Richard and Alec. I found myself wondering, time and again, just what is Richard's attraction to Alec? He's annoying, petulant, self serving, manipulative, self destructive...really, he had no redeeming qualities that I could see. But for some reason Richard decides he needs to protect him. Alec trades endlessly off of Richard's reputation, deliberatly picking fights and making enemies, just so he can get Richard to kill them. And the way he gets off on violence...I found that very disturbing.
And Richard, if anything, was even more disappointing than Alec. What is his motivation? Why does he risk his life for the sake of some idiot nobles who pick quarrels with each other and set swordsmen at each other's throats, instead of doing their own dirty work? There is hardly any character growth and developement going on with them, no interesting flashbacks where we learn more about their histories and how they ended up where they are. There was however, one character that I ended up liking. But he wasn't a huge part of the action, and I really didn't see why he was in the book as much as he was, other than to serve as a convenient plot device. It was highly frustrating, to see Kushner take a character who comes off as badly as he does in the beginning, and turn him into someone halfway likable, and then end the story before we find out what ever happens to him!
I admit that sometimes it's nice to read a book where the kingdom isn't in dire peril and needs rescuing. I love gritty, political books that are full of intrigue. That is Swordspoint's one redeeming grace. It certainly doesn't disappoint on that score. And once I was well through the first half of the book and could see where it going (finally), I enjoyed it a bit more...but I still thought the rest of it was terrible.
This is what fantasy is supposed to be. There is nothing I can say that can really do it justice. Don't let the blurb scare you off. It's better thanThis is what fantasy is supposed to be. There is nothing I can say that can really do it justice. Don't let the blurb scare you off. It's better than that, really.
The balance in this is just brilliant. It would be so easy for Kvothe to cross the line and become just another typical fantasy hero, who can do pretty much everything. Sure, Kvothe can, but there are enough moments scattered throughout that remind you that hey, he can still mess up. He may be a genius but there's still plenty he doesn't know. And the reason he can do everything is because he's a genius. He knows it. Everyone around him knows it. There's nothing mystical about it; he's not written in a way that makes it seem like it's normal for someone to learn as much and as quickly as Kvothe can.
It's just completely wonderful. I can't say enough. Anyone who's already read it feel free to gush (or rant) at me. ...more
The Sharing Knife is about Fawn Bluefield, a young woman, pregnant but unwed, and scorned by the father of her baby. Fearing the shame and outrage thaThe Sharing Knife is about Fawn Bluefield, a young woman, pregnant but unwed, and scorned by the father of her baby. Fearing the shame and outrage that will fall on her when news of her pregnancy gets around, she decides to run away from home and make a new life for herself in the city of Glassforge, where she will pretend to be a widow. On her way, she encounters a group of Lakewalkers, a mysterious race of people who patrol the land, searching for and destroying malices, also known as blight bogles to the farmers. Fawn hides from them, and soon after continues on her way. Unfortunately she walks right into a fierce battle between the Lakewalkers and a malice of unusual strength. Two of the malice's slaves kidnap her, meaning to drain her and her unborn baby of life so that it will gain power. She is rescued by Dag, a Lakewalker who was tracking the two slaves, but not before the malice steals the life of Fawn's baby and she miscarries. Actually, during the fight to free her, Fawn is the one who kills the malice, by stabbing it with Dag's sharing knife, which is the only way to kill a malice. Sharing knives are made of human bone, but only bone from a willing adult donor. The knives are "primed", or enchanted, when a Lakewalker gives his or her death to it, that is they stab themselves through the heart, usually on the battlefield to avoid being taken by a malice, or in the face of incurable illness. Dag was carrying two sharing knives, one that was primed, to kill the malice, and one that wasn't. The one that wasn't primed is made from his wife's bone, who died twenty years ago. Unfortunately Fawn didn't know which to use, and so used both. The second knife is now primed, and Dag doesn't know how or why, although he puts that thought behind him, in the more immediate need to take care of Fawn.
Exhausted from the fight and the Malice's lingering influence, Dag and Fawn ride to a nearby abandoned farm, where Dag does what he can to help her. Eventually she is well enough that they can travel on to Glassforge, there to meet up with Dag's patrol of Lakewalkers. Not surpisingly, Fawn begins to develope feelings for Dag, who saved her life, and so does Dag; Fawn is pretty, spirited, and intelligent. Dag keeps his distance though, knowing that Lakewalkers and farmers do not mix, and Fawn does as well, still stung by her previous lover's rejection. When they arrive at Glassforge, Dag asks permission to leave and consult with a maker, to find out what must be done with the knife. His patrol leader and aunt, Mari, agrees, although they must complete their current patrol first. The Lakewalkers all treat Fawn with respect for her role in killing the malice, and kindly allow her to stay with them, since she is still too weak from her miscarriage to find work.
Eventually though, Dag and Fawn cannot hide their feelings for each other anymore, and against all better judgement and the advice of Mari, they become a couple. Not long after, Dag finishes his patrol, and he and Fawn set off for Dag's homeland, in the North. First however, Dag feels that Fawn needs to make an appearance at her family home, to let them know that she is well, since she ran away without leaving word.
While at Fawn's home, Dag proposes to her, causing an uproar. Fawn of course agrees and they make plans to stay in Bluefield long enough to have a proper marriage, before leaving for Dag's home.
On a scale of 1--10, this rates 5. I think Bujold had some really great ideas. Groundsense/magic? Awesome. A one handed protagonist? Awesome. A polyandrous society? Awesome.
Fawn really annoyed me. Bujold tried to make her engaging, and strong, but it didn't feel right to me. Sure having Fawn kill the malice ought to have made her strong. But she only managed to kill it through a combination of luck and accident. And she just has no back bone at all. She seems completely dependent on Dag. Not a good start to winning me over.
However, I was more or less okay with that, and up until 2/3 through the book I would have given it a 7. But then they go on that stupid detour to Fawn's home! Right around page 250, I think, is where my logic circuit sent a BS alert to my consciousness and my disbelief slipped a few notches. All of a sudden they go from being on a journey to find out what happened to the sharing knife, to being in the middle of a family drama/romance. Which is not what I signed up for.
The main number one problem I have is the relationship itself between Dag and Fawn. It just feels wrong. Disturbing, almost. First of all there is the age difference of thirty-seven years. Yes, 37 years. On top of that Fawn lied about her age, telling Dag she was twenty when in fact she was eighteen. Two years difference might not make much difference to someone Dag's age (which is fifty-five), but there can be a pretty big difference between eighteen and twenty. There was for me, and I was a pretty mature eighteen year old. There is an even bigger difference between the eighteen year old me and the twenty-two year old me. And Dag wasn't even upset to find out she had been lying to him. And she wasn't upset to find out his actual age (which he had been hiding from her). Now, Dag does come from a long lived people; barring death in battle or from illness he can expect to live to 120 +/-. That's not the issue, so much as the fact that Fawn is still a teenager. Technically, physically, she is an adult, but mentally and emotionally? She still has some growing to do; she is not his equal. Take the reason she got pregnant in the first place. She didn't think she would really be grown up until she had slept with a man, which is a very juvenile and ungrown up idea. And she confesses this to Dag the second day after they've met. Granted, they'd both been through a lot, but I can see how he would be real attracted to her at that point. If she had exhibited any kind of real growth over the course of the story then that would change the lanscape a bit, but she didn't, not from what I can see.
One more thing. Where is the angst? Dag has been shutting himself off from romantic companionship for twenty years, because of the death of his wife. Then he meets a new girl (I just can't think of Fawn as a woman) and falls in love again, just like that. Not to mention the fact that the sharing knife made from his first wife's bone, that he meant to one day plunge into his heart, is in the posession of this new girl, who has possibly rendered it useless, and therefore made his wife's sacrifice in vain. WHY ISN'T HE ANGSTING? He should not be asking her to marry him, what, three weeks after they first met? If there is any situation in fantasy fiction that calls for angst, this is it. Not that I have a particular fondness for angst; it can wear thin pretty quickly. But it is a natural part of human emotion. I expect just a hint of it from Dag, but there really isn't any.
Alright, this is fantasy, and I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief. But the things I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief for--groundsense, malices, etc... do not have any real world counterparts. People, however, are both real life and fictional. And just because I've decided to go along with whatever you concoct doesn't mean that if the people in the story do something like, well, this, that I can just accept it, no questions asked. If anyone had asked me what I thought was going to happen in the story, I would have said that Fawn definately developes feelings for Dag. He saved her life after all, it's a natural enough thing to happen. Dag might start feeling a little attracted to her, but he just has too much emotional baggage to simply say, here I am, I'm yours. Not to mention the guilt he should have felt over being attracted to/in love with someone that much younger than him. Over time, in which Fawn grows and matures, Dag gets over his issues, and then they get together. ...more
It picks up a few weeks after Empire of Ivory left off. Laurence is under arrest for treason because he took the cure for the dragon plague to France,It picks up a few weeks after Empire of Ivory left off. Laurence is under arrest for treason because he took the cure for the dragon plague to France, and Temeraire has been sent to the remote breeding ground Pen Y Fan. Instead being executed, Laurence is kept imprisoned, because there would be no controlling Temeraire if Laurence were dead. Temeraire is told that he must keep up good behavior or Laurence will be hanged, so he keeps to himself in the grounds. Ultimately, he hears news that the ship Laurence was being transported on was sunk by the French and that there were no survivors. Grief stricken and filled with rage, he decides enough is enough, and organizes the other dragons on the grounds into a sort of militia. Temeraire has decided that he is simply not going to sit around and let the French raze England; he is going to fight them whether the English government wants him to or not. Unbeknownst to him Laurence did indeed survive the wreck, and news that Napoleon has launched his invasion at last has forced his captors to press him and Temeraire back into service. Laurence is under no illusions though, that he will ever be forgiven. So he heads to Pen Y Fan, only to discover that it is totally empty. He follows the signs, trying to track down Temeraire, assuming that all the dragons fled in panic at news of the invasion, never dreaming that Temeraire organized them all into a fighting force and that they are all headed to London. Not only that, but they have already fought and won a minor battle, and gained vital intelligence on French movements. When Laurence and Temeraire reunite, Temeraire believes that if they distinguish themselves in battle they will not only earn Laurence a pardon, but earn Temeraire and the other dragons all the rights and privileges that Chinese dragons, and now French dragons, under the influence of Lien, enjoy. Things heat up when a captain, under orders from the Lords of the Admiralty, shows up, intending to give a commission to the bright young officer in charge of the militia:
“’Good God,’ Laurence said, comprehensively; he could well and vividly imagine the reaction which the Lords of the Admiralty should have, to the intelligence that the well-formed and orderly militia which they confidently expected, with a clever young officer at its head, was rather an experimental and wholly independent legion of unharnessed dragons, without any great sympathy for their Lordships, and under the command of the most recalcitrant dragon in all Britain.”
Temeraire shamelessly turns the desperation of the moment to the dragons’ advantage: he manages to keep the commission, and refuses to fight unless he is paid a wage, the same as all other members of the military. He manages to wrangle a few other concessions, but Laurence knows that once the danger is past, there will be a reckoning.
I love Temeraire. I just do. He’s arrogant, but humble; naïve, but insightful. Imagining a gigantic dragon that could squash a human and not even realize it being so mannerly and polite, is amusing. Not to mention his almost alien perception of human culture makes for some great reading. And Laurence! Sometimes I want to smack him in the head and tell him to get the hell over it, honor my ass! As far as I’m concerned if someone broke faith with you then you have no more obligation to them. He refuses several attempts of his friend Tharkay to help him escape, because even though the government wishes him hanged, and was willing to murder hundreds of French dragons (albeit by proxy of withholding the cure for the plague), he still loves England and is unwilling to abandon his homeland to the mercy of Napoleon.