I'm a fan of Guy Gavriel Kay so everything he writes becomes a favorite. Initially, I didn't think The Lions of Al-Rassan would be as beloved by me asI'm a fan of Guy Gavriel Kay so everything he writes becomes a favorite. Initially, I didn't think The Lions of Al-Rassan would be as beloved by me as his other works have become because the historical fantasy setting was a little too close to the Medieval Spain it was based on... but I kept going... WOW! This one blew me away. GGK's writing, as always, made this experience a treat both on the levels of the story and the sheer enjoyment of the prose.
There are three main characters: a female doctor and two males from disparate backgrounds working as mercenaries for one of the kings in the fractured country. The religious system is divided into worshipers of the god/s of the sun, two moons, and the stars... which parallel the historical factions of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims of our own historical period. There is very little fantasy in this story with only a son of one of the main characters having an ability to foresee certain things about his family... and the two moons thing. But still, what a story! There is so much going on but the real story is about two brilliant men and a brilliant woman from drastically different backgrounds who come together at a point in time and find common cause and common ground... but only for a time. The next to the last chapter of the book is utterly mind-blowing in its exquisite prose and heart-stopping climax. In the hands of a lesser author it might have come off as manipulative or gimmicky, but GGK makes it into a transcendent moment of sheer poetry.
I liked the narration of the audiobook and found it easy to follow the individual characters by their voices. The narrator chose to use accents from our own history for the various nationalities and some reviewers found that problematic... to me it just felt like it fit....more
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is one of those books you have to be in the right mood for... evidently, I was. It is written in 1st person pov anAlcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is one of those books you have to be in the right mood for... evidently, I was. It is written in 1st person pov and proclaims from the start that not only is the author not a hero, brave, or even a good person, he also isn't Brandon Sanderson despite the false name used on the book cover. This author addresses the reader frequently, sometimes discussing his own writing methods and tricks of the writing trade, and even confessing why writers write... to torture people. Sanderson always creates interesting worlds and really interesting magical systems. This one may not be his very best, but it was very good... and fun. I don't know yet if the protagonist, who is 13 in this book, will age in future books, but this one was a fun little romp with a boy, a girl of the same age who is a knight, a doddering yet powerful old grandpa, and two more adults to add to the confusion and fun. I have no idea if a middle school aged reader would like this--the apparent target age--but I did. It is quirky, funny, clever, and unconventional... just right when you're in the mood for fantasy that is funny and a little odd.
The narrator did a very good job with this one. He sounded believable as the protagonist and as an old man. He gave the prose just the right light-hearted touch when needed and even a slowed reflective tone the times it was called for. Really good job....more
I had to begin this series with the fourth book because Audible didn't have the first three. The story is completely comprehendable starting here andI had to begin this series with the fourth book because Audible didn't have the first three. The story is completely comprehendable starting here and the author does quite a good job at bringing the reader up to speed in just a few sentences here and there where needed. The story is told economically--in the same way M. C. Beaton does with the Hamish Macbeth oor Agatha Raisin series--and does a fairly good job of hiding the solution... although I actually guessed part of the solution the moment I met the character because sometimes I just see it and there you are. I like the setting in Whales and wouldn't mind getting to know more about it.
I did find that jumping into the middle of the series did feel a little like coming in during the middle of a symphony... you feel that lack of flow in the characters lives and stories even though the main themes have been repeated for you.
Ann Flosnick narrated this one and I enjoyed the light Welsh accent she gave the characters who spoke with one. The pace of this one was a little fast and I found I had to listen even more attentively, especially since I was playing catch up. Sometimes I had a little trouble knowing who was speaking, especially when the dialogue was between Penny and Victoria, when there were no attributions as to speaker or when the words didn't contain telltales that would distinguish between a British and Canadian speaker.
I'm going to watch Audible to see if the first three stories appear and then maybe start--or re-start--from there....more
Every now and then a book will surprise me. I wasn't expecting to love this book or want to gush about It when talking to others... but I do. This stoEvery now and then a book will surprise me. I wasn't expecting to love this book or want to gush about It when talking to others... but I do. This story is sweet, lovely, charming, enchanting... magical. Cassandra Morris, the young narrator of the audiobook, does a splendid job with this. She provides just the right touches of charm and vibrancy. In a story of a girl who collects words, it is appropriate that the author is a true wordsmith. The prose is often poetical without ever feeling forced or studied.
This isn't a book that hits you in the face with its brilliance or action... its magic is subtle, sweet, enchanting. I've already re-read this one and will do so again any time I need a book with just a snicker of a magic all its own....more