So. Being an avid reader, one of the first things I did upon visiting a new friend of mine at her house for the first time, was spy through her bookca...moreSo. Being an avid reader, one of the first things I did upon visiting a new friend of mine at her house for the first time, was spy through her bookcase. I saw some Jim Butcher, recalled that Patrick Rothfuss (author of The Name of the Wind and one of my favourites) recommends him a lot on his blog, asked my friend if I could borrow those Butcher books...
And before I knew it I'd torn through the first one in literally two days. And then the second, third... As a rule, in fantasy, when a story makes you want to willingly put everything aside and rip through literally thousands of pages in a mere week or so, you know it's good. And because it's so good, this review will have no spoilers. Because I'm not here to tell you what happens in the story - I'm here to make you want to read it yourself.
In a nutshell, we are in a fantasy realm called Alera, modelled (in terms of politics and military matters, for the most part) quite strongly on the Roman Empire, which is populated by elemental spirits called furies (among other things, such as a savage dog-breed perhaps most easily imagined by thinking of Anubis, soul-eating spiders, and what have you). Typically, these furies connect with a human at a certain age, allowing people to perform a type of magic. Our protagonist, Tavi, has no such connections.
This casts him as the underdog of the story. However, he more than makes up for the disadvantage with intelligence, tenacity, undeniable courage and a good heart. In this first part of the series, Tavi, his uncle, and his aunt present one side of the main cast. Another is Amara, a young girl working in the ranks of an order of exclusive royal spies, fighting to prevent her King from being overthrown, an event which would cast the whole of the realm into civil war.
That's all I'll say as to the plot. The characters are amazingly well-crafted, well-rounded with proper motivations and an individuality which can be rare to find, even the bad guys. Jim Butcher is a master at plot twists, but perhaps more importantly, at plot inklings - those little glimpses of an overarching structure and mystery that a truly masterful storyteller will show you along the way, which turn into suspicions in your head and keep you so freaking hooked that you simply can't tear yourself away from what he's saying.
If you want to read some proper fantasy, pick this up. You'll never regret it.(less)
This is and always will be my favourite out of the entire Kushiel's Legacy series - I haven't even read all of the books yet and I can already say wit...moreThis is and always will be my favourite out of the entire Kushiel's Legacy series - I haven't even read all of the books yet and I can already say without a doubt that this one is my favourite - that should tell you a lot about how much I love it, especially if you've heard me rave about previous books in the series.
Jacqueline Carey truly outdid herself here. The story of this particular novel is compelling beyond compelling, amazing almost to a fault, and frankly, addictive. Being in the process of reading this book is like being a victim of substance abuse - you simply can't stop. Even if you do have finals to study for and coursework to do and money to make - you simply can't stop. So I strongly advise you to read this during your summer vacation or something.
Here's the story; Phedre and her wonderful lover Joscelin, after having been given ten years of peace by fate, are once again swept up in the current of Carey; that mix of destiny and intrigue and a hint of random occurence that makes for such a great story. They set out to find Imriel, the lost son of Melisande Shahrizai, traitor to the crown.
What I love about this novel in particular, among all of them, is that in this one Phedre (the main character) feels more mature - and more herself. In the first two, she was always doing other people's work, finding out their secrets, trying to save their countries - noble, but not particularly fulfilling. Kushiel's Avatar starts out that way, but halfway through the novel Phedre grows a little more rebellious; it's like she starts fighting for herself for once, instead of being swept along by the current and making the best of it. She fights - makes some life-altering decisions, some terrible, terrible sacrifices, but there is a lovely message of hope in the book in that no matter how much she, Joscelin and Imriel suffer in captivity (because they are once again captured, in an even worse way than before), there is a streak of hope that runs through the entire thing. Like, in captivity, Phedre somehow convinces her fellow prisoner to help her break a way into a closed off courtyard where they can finally see the sun again after months of darkness, both physical and emotional darkness; and as that happens, you can just feel this incredible vibe of human strength course through the people present.
Also, in this book, Carey takes that everything-is-connected-ness, that humanity-in-her-characters-ness, that my-novels-are-speckled-with-little-moments-and-sentences-so-profound-they-will-leave-you-reeling-ness that is her own and takes it to a whole nother level. In short - fantastic novel, everyone who is even remotely into fantasy should read it. And even those that aren't. It might change your life.(less)