Tag Archives: Fiction novel

Review: The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter

“Some say he’s part animal, covered with hair, with claws for hands and ears like a bats. When his mother first laid eyes on him she fainted dead away…” 

Life in a small town isn’t any fun for the Hardscrabble children; their father is always leaving them home while he travels and people in town avoid them for being peculiar. When their father inadvertently sends them to London to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday in Germany, the children are presented with a rare opportunity for adventure — all by themselves. The streets of London are fascinating, but not so great for sleeping. So the Hardscrabbles make their way to another small town — but this one has a mystery. Legend has it, there’s a monstrous creature roaming the woods, half boy and half animal. Surely such nonsense couldn’t possibly be true, could it? 

Some books are filled with so many mysteries you need to keep reading them just to find out the answers to them. So many questions have been asked, and the answers have been left so late, all you can think is, “The ending better answer all this.”

In that respect, the first 90% of The Kneebone Boy is actually pretty good. Potter gives us just enough information to make us wonder without giving us so much information that we figure it out. By the third-to-last chapter I was left half mad trying to figure out how the story would resolve itself. But we’ll leave that until a bit later.

Besides the maddening questions, the majority of the book was not bad. I found the writing somewhat condescending at times, and the rest of the time it wasn’t particularly gripping; I mostly kept reading to find out if my theories were correct. I didn’t get too attached to any of the characters; Lucia in particular wasn’t very likeable, though the book kept buttering her up. Neither of these things was overly annoying, though, so I was able to get through the book without really minding them.

So; I said the first 90% of the book was likeable, but what about the last two chapters? It’ll be hard to explain exactly what I thought about this without giving spoilers, but I’ll give it my best shot.

I was actually a bit let down by the resolution.

It wasn’t just that the ending wasn’t what I expected (the ending of the third Harry Potter book, for example, was quite unexpected, yet was very good), or that none of my predictions were correct (I’m never right about the murderer in the Cadfael books, for example, but I still love them); it was that the ending didn’t fit; that it wasn’t foreshadowed at all; that it answered so little of the mystery put into the rest of the book.

Potter isn’t shy about the fact that she didn’t plan the ending at all, and it shows. It would have been a lovely twist if it had been foreshadowed properly, but everything pointed in another direction, and as a result the final chapter comes entirely out of left field. If a book’s written well enough, this works, but that’s not the case with The Kneebone Boy. The ending left me feeling unsatisfied, like I’d started reading a very different book instead, and left me with more questions than it did answers. Most of the plot threads are left dangling because they weren’t edited out of the book once Potter settled on an ending, which makes a lot of the book entirely unnecessary; you could read the first seven chapters and the last two and still get the story while completely skipping the middle, and you’d probably be better off for it because you wouldn’t be left with a lot of dangling threads and unanswered questions. I could sense a whole potential untold story, perhaps two, lurking behind the ending we were given, but as the plot threads they were based off of were left twisting in the wind, we’ll probably never hear them. I still feel incomplete thinking about that ending.

Overall, what do I think about the book? I liked most of it and would rather not ponder the ending too much. This book was prevented from being really enjoyable by a lack of revision; one final run-through after the ending had been decided to remove the questions that weren’t going to be resolved, and the twist would have been a good one. I have no problem with people who don’t plan their stories and come up with them on the fly, but remember, readers: read the whole thing over afterwards and remove those bits that don’t fit. Your story will be better for it.

Overall rating: 3.5/5


The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin : Review

Thrown into chaos, the aristocracy of the Winter Kingdoms must defend itself against magic, and with the clock ticking, the fate must rest on the shoulders of our heroes.

Matris “Tris” Drayke, a Prince of Margolan must flee from his older brother Prince Jared and his evil sorcerer Foor Arontala, after the slaughter of his family. Now a fugitive, Tris must travel with his friends and seek justice, and a way to save the kingdom. Along his quest for retribution, he must learn to control his powers before they control him, and call upon the armies of the dead

Kiara Sharsequin, the Goddess Blessed Warrior Princess of Isencroft must find a way to save her self, her kingdom and her father from Foor Arontala — a dark wizard, and from King Jared, to whom she is betrothed. Searching for the answers, she must set out upon a Journey; one of hardships, self discovery and truth.

The Summoner is the first book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin.The story started out a bit slowly; the first chapter and a few other spots seemed to be info-dumps more than anything; telling the reader more than actually showing. However, it quickly picks up the pace and sets the story in motion, continuing with minimalistic details, as Martin focuses more on advancing the story than a detailed analyses of each character. Moving the story at a fast pace and always keeping it interesting.

The Summoner is a cliché. The good guys are all charismatic, likeable, and filled with ideas of heroism and only a small flaw or two to make sure they aren’t too perfect or unrealistic. Meanwhile the bad guys are distinctly unlikable, and pure evil — it being impossible to muster up a bit of sympathy for their cause. This book is a prime example of a formulaic sword and sorcery fantasy novel — a wicked prince and evil magician, haunted inns, ghosts, prophetic moments and magical powers which conveniently save the day every time and if not, a ghost will tell the hero what he must do. Martin doesn’t bring anything new to the table that we haven’t seen before, and as the first book in a series I kind of expected something a bit more special.

Despite this, I enjoyed the book, and I’ll be reading the sequel to it — The Blood King. Martin isn’t flashy or overly elegant with her prose, but she doesn’t need to be. It’s a story we all know, and one that many fantasy readers enjoy. It’s easy to get through, and it lets us revisit familiar territory. The characters don’t brood, or go through the “woe is me” monologues much, they know their paths, and are well aware of the challenges they face. So, despite being a cliché fantasy title, and more on the predictable side, it’s a light read, and enjoyable.

Do I recommend this book? Yeah, sure. Why not? If you like the typical fantasy story with magic and heroes, adventure and battles, then you’ll probably like this book as a light read.

Visit Gail Martin’s website here

Follow her on Twitter! @GailZMartin


Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

September is a girl who long for adventure. When she is invited to Fairyland by a Green Wind and a Leopard, well, of course she accepts. (Mightn’t you?) But Fairyland is in turmoil, and it will take one twelve-year-old girl, a book-loving dragon, and a strange and almost human boy named Saturday to vanquish an evil Marquess and restore order. 

This book has quite a long title, so we’ll refer to it as TGWCFiaSoHOM. Have fun reading that throughout the whole review.

TGWCFiaSoHOM has been called many things: charming, glorious, enchanting. In some ways, that’s quite true; in other ways, which we’ll get to later, it’s quite wrong. We’ll get to how it’s good first.

The book has a rich and diverse array of characters and a wonderful world. Valente went all-out making Fairyland an interesting, strange, and  different place, and quite quirky in its own way. From entire cities knitted out of wool to Fairyland having to cope with modernisation, the world is a rich and fun one. It’s like being transported to a real place; like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s similar enough to our world, yet different enough from it, in the amounts to make it a place a reader would want to visit.

To the book’s credit, Fairyland is populated by an equally interesting array of characters, none quite the same as the other. A-Through-L is a wyvary, half-wyvern, half-library (so he says), Saturday is a Marid, and can grant any wish (as long as he’s defeated first), and the villain is one of the most sympathetic I’ve come across in fiction in a while. Almost everyone we meet is different and leaves an impression on us, and it’s these characters, really, who make the world an interesting one, and Valente spared no expense making them as real and as rich as she could.

Unfortunately, this care wasn’t put into  every character, and here we come to the book’s only real flaw – though it’s such a large flaw it has a deep impact on the quality of the story. The problem isn’t the writing, which is okay, or the ending, which doesn’t really resolve anything in favour of making way for a sequel instead. No, the biggest flaw of the book is September.

September is a flat character bordering on Mary Sue. Everybody likes her instantly, talks about her all the time, sings praises of her that make it clear sliced bread feels ashamed it doesn’t live up to her wonderful goodness, and anyone who doesn’t like her is bad and evil and how dare you not like this wonderful perfect person. It couldn’t be more clear September is intended as an audience stand-in: basically, designed to be a bland nobody everybody likes so that the reader can step into her shoes and pretend they’re the ones everyone is praising. This is pitiful, because a flat character like this simply doesn’t belong in a book so otherwise good. It’s like having a really health-conscious friend and then finding out they’e been hiding sweets all around the house and snacking on them when nobody’s looking, or finding out they smoke behind everybody’s back. If Valente had put just a fraction of the effort into September she put into all the other characters in this book, it would have been truly good; instead, I was left loving the few pages where September didn’t come up at all, automatically sympathising with the characters who, for a few glorious pages, put September in her place and told her she wasn’t very wonderful after all, and finding more interest in a sentient key than in September. September didn’t make an impression on me so much as merely leave a void where a good protagonist should have been, and no personality I can use to decide if I like her or not.

Some authors deliberately write these characters to make them easy to relate to. The thing is, a well-written character is always relatable, or other characters are. Writing a flat character is lazy, a cop-out; it’s the published equivalent of self-insert fan fiction. Everything, from September’s formulaic background to her utter lack of personality, make her severely disappointing when compared to the rest of the book’s cast. I became more and more disappointed with her as the book went on, and liked the book less and less as a result.

So how was TGWCFiaSoHOM as a whole? Good. I might even say quite good. Would I pick up the inevitable sequels? Here I find myself torn. I want to see A-Through-L again; I want to witness the Marquess’ character arc. I dread seeing September again. It’s not usual that I like one part of a book so much and so hate another part, but it’s true in this case, and I’m not sure how well my time would be spent reading the sequel as opposed to simply asking other people what happens.

Overall reading: 3.5/5

 


Sins of the Son by Linda Poitevin : Review

 

** This review may contain spoilers.
My review for book 1 : Sins of the Angels may be found here.


Humanity is on the doorsteps of Armageddon, and their only hope lies upon the shoulders of one man — a man who can’t remember who he is, or what his purpose is.

After seeing a photo of Seth Benjamin, Homicide Detective Alexandra Jarvis must travel to Vancouver, as the only mortal aware of his true nature, and of mankind’s impending doom. Still recovering from her last run-in with Angels and the Powers, Alex must do what she can to help Seth remember his true quest, and protect him from the forces of Heaven and Hell.

Aramael, now an exiled angel, and pawn of Heaven’s desires, will stop at nothing to fulfill his orders to kill Seth and redeem himself in the eyes of his Creator. When his course meets up with Alex, his soul-mate, he must struggle against an inner turmoil against his feeling for her, and his need to oppose her and destroy Seth.

Sins of the Son is an enthralling tale of Good vs Evil, with a unique spin that will cause readers to devour the book and beg for more. Linda Poitevin has a great mastery over creating complex and believable characters; while in many tales Lucifer is pure evil, and Michael is good, she manages to flesh out their motivations, and while many characters are motivated by one kind of love or another, it’s by no means a romance novel. She also explores some of the grey-scale of the characters, rather than the black and white of good and evil.

Sins of the Son is a well-written, fantastic, “Omg.. why isn’t the next book out yet?! — I need more!” kind of book, that makes a great follow-up to Poitevin’s debut-novel Sins of the Angels. It’s an excellently written fast-paced dark paranormal fantasy. For the most part, it was easy to keep track of all the different story lines (though, there were times when I found it confusing trying to remember who was who, though I believe I should have done a reread of the first book before reading this, which would have clarified everything). Poitevin really has outdone herself in this sequel.

I don’t believe a release date is set yet for Sins of the Righteous (Book three of the Grigori Legacy), but I expect I`ll be writing a review once it’s been released.

Follow Linda on Twitter! : @lindapoitevin 

 


Review: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, by Galen Beckett

Of the three Lockwell sisters – romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious, book-loving Ivy – it’s Ivy, the eldest, who’s held the family together after their father’s silent retreat to the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magickal studies, but Ivy still believes – both in magick and in its power to bring her father back. 

Yet it is not until Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent that she discovers the fate she shares with a secret society of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania. It’s a fate that will determine whether Altania faces a new dawn – or an everlasting night. 

That’s the summary for The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, a fantasy novel taking place in England’s fantasy counterpart, which, overall, wasn’t as good as I expected. We’ll gloss over the fact that Beckett is one of those people who insists on misspelling “magic” as “magick” for the same silly reasons that cause people to spell “vampire” as “vampyre” and look at the story itself.

The first adjective that springs to mind about the story is “slow”. In a 498-page novel, the plot – that is, when Ivy meets Mr. Quent – doesn’t start until page 227. All the plot-relevant parts before that point could be condensed to about forty pages. Much of the first two hundred pages contribute nothing to the plot and, quite frankly, are a bore to read – during a thirty page section at the beginning of the story, Ivy gets sick in a way that only delays the plot, is never explained beyond her being “not well”, ends without Ivy learning or doing anything that would have a bearing later in the story, and which a reader could skip entirely without realising they’d missed part of the story. Most of the first half of the book feels like padding, and the side characters get involved in the plot over a hundred pages before the main character.

As for the writing, it could do with being less verbose in parts. It’s a pet-peeve of mine that authors feel the need to avoid two-and-three syllable words in their stories – especially in this book, where Beckett tries his hand at a few jokes or witty turns of phrase that fall quite flat because of the language he uses. I know the book is supposed to take place in an earlier age, but really – we’ll forgive you if you write normally!

Most of the book was written in the third person. Unfortunately, there’s a one hundred and forty page section in the middle written in the first person. Beckett, like so many authors, isn’t very experienced with the first person, and this section is particularly poorly-written for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, there’s no real need for the section to be written in the first person. It really just follows Ivy going to meet Mr. Quent and then marrying him, and finding out a couple of plot-related points (really, in this whole section, there aren’t many). Secondly, Beckett does something that’s almost impossible to do well – he gives a reason for that section being written in the first person: that Ivy is writing a theoretical letter to her father (knowing he’ll probably never read it, but doing so anyway). This is one of the flimsiest excuses I’ve ever read for that sort of thing (for the record, the only worse one was found in Davies’ Fifth Business). It also brings up a few questions – namely, why Ivy feels the need to write down Mr. Quent’s appearance, when she already knows it and it’s been established Mr. Quent was a friend of her father’s; why she feels the need to go through every boring detail of her day; and why she insists on writing out things in the form of dialogue and actions, instead of the far more logical “He told me this, this, and that…”

Several times in the one hundred and forty pages, Ivy says, “Oh, how I miss my sisters, and you, Father!” – and in almost exactly the same words every time, too. Yes, she misses her family, and yes, that’s understandable, but we definitely had the message the third time. Ivy also doesn’t stick to her own resolve to conserve detail – she says “Of my journey I need say only a few things. It was long, for one, and consisted of a monotony of creaks and rattles and jolts broken only by those brief respites as the mail was delivered according to its schedule at each stop, keeping always to its timetables whether it was light out or dark.” She then goes on for the next two pages talking about the journey, of which only one collective paragraph really matters, and it doesn’t even need to be there.

There are also one or two contradictions in places. During the afore-mentioned first person section in the middle of the book, Ivy describes a time when she was in danger in detail. She later says she only remembers it through a fog. Finally, she says that she did remember it fully. Now, Ivy doesn’t write down things the night they happen, but Ivy wrote the details of her dangerous escapade a while later – after she said she couldn’t remember it but before she admits to remembering it fully. This is a rather amateur mistake made by people who aren’t very good at the first person – having your character know or remember things they couldn’t have known or later forgot. This is why it would have been better to write it the same way as the rest of the book – you can actually do that in the third person.

We can almost forgive Beckett for that, because he’s clearly not very practised in the first person. Another contradiction can’t be excused so easily, though. Ivy has a brief almost-romance with a man called Mr. Rafferdy early in the story, but doesn’t believe it’ll come to anything because of their different social classes. On page 190, Ivy briefly believes Mr. Rafferdy would propose to her, and “now that a joy she had previously forbidden from her mind and heart was at last allowed to enter, it could only expand rapidly and quickly fill her.” Basically, she feels elated. Naturally the marriage doesn’t go through – the book isn’t called The Magicians and Mrs. Rafferdy. On page 391, though, Ivy says she never admitted to herself that she hoped Mr. Rafferdy would marry her. Well, I’m not sure what Beckett calls her thoughts on page 190, but that sounds like an admission of love to me, and that wasn’t the only one she made.

This brings us to the subject of romance in the book. When it comes down to it, Ivy’s marriage to Mr. Quent makes absolutely no sense. What do they have in common? Nothing at all. How do they feel towards each other for most of the time before their marriage? Ivy, at least, hates Mr. Quent. Oh, she starts to enjoy his company later on, but there’s nothing there that would act as the foundation for a romance. Really, this marriage shouldn’t have happened either – Mr. Quent and Mr. Rafferdy are both nobles and Ivy isn’t, but it’s only Mr. Rafferdy who refuses to marry her for that reason. If she was going to get married to anyone, Mr. Rafferdy would be the better choice – they actually had a bit of chemistry together. Her marriage to Mr. Quent comes off more as a way of getting the plot going, and the way it comes about is drawn-out, awkward, and relies on Mr. Quent being a complete, self-absorbed idiot. (That’s not me being unduly harsh, he says so himself twice.)

A review on the back of the book proclaims The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a mix of gothic romantic undertones inside a fantasy and mystery. How the reviewer came to this conclusion is beyond me. Beckett writes the romances accurately for the time period the book takes place in, meaning the realisation of love is enough to propose marriage and, as mentioned, relationships are dictated by class, and this, combined with the fact that Beckett covers little of the relationships as they develop, leads to romantic subplots which are anything but gothic and are really quite predictable. As for the mystery aspect, I’m an avid reader of mystery books, and the mysteries Beckett has written into his story are fairly standard for the fantasy genre. The mysteries could have been expanded upon if things brought up earlier in the book were weaved into them, but unfortunately, they weren’t.

Many things come up in the book that seem…almost like they were dropped midway through to make way for Ivy’s storyline. Remember the illusionists Ivy’s supposed to be connected to? They relate to a side-character, but as far as her story is concerned, they might as well not exist. As for rebels that come up in the summary? They play a fairly big role early on, but by the time Ivy’s storyline comes about they’ve been relegated to a side role – though they come into her storyline in a way that’s a bit forced and never fully explained. They then get dropped entirely and a new set of villains come up – on page 424. Naturally the climax falls a bit flat – it only had fifty pages to develop. There’s no real fear of what will happen if Ivy fails to save the world, because it’s never very well explained what will happen if she doesn’t. The ending, overall, isn’t very suspenseful and their victory never seemingly in doubt.

Finally, we come to Ivy herself. As a protagonist, she leaves much to be desired. Despite being a “strong”, “independent” woman, Ivy faints twice for absolutely no reason, gets deathly ill for, again, no reason, and contributes little to her own storyline compared to side characters. It’s said a few times that she’s “quite intelligent”, and only the villains or her enemies every say differently, but I’m afraid her enemies have it right – for someone so smart, Ivy is surprisingly slow on the uptake and asks a lot of stupid questions, and really doesn’t come off as especially clever anywhere. I got rather tired of how she met everyone – even her own family – with mixed feelings, and spends all her time in a funk missing people. She’s established as having a lot of power and is said to be strong and independent, but spends most of her time playing the distressed damsel. The two male side characters were more interesting than she was, quite frankly.

As for suspense, there’s almost none in the book. The dramatic parts aren’t overly dramatic or suspenseful. There are several twists that could have been interesting if they had been written properly, but the astute reader can figure out almost every major revelation several paragraphs – and in some cases several pages – before they happen. As a result, these revelations fall a bit flat when they come up, and the belabouring of the point before that leaves you exasperated as you wait for the characters to come to the same realisation you already have.

And yet…I kind of liked the book. Well, it wasn’t bad. It needs work, yes, but it’s good enough for a light read. It’s fairly ordinary, though – nothing really distinguishes this book from the hundreds of other fantasies in the store, and nothing really makes it stand out. At some point, I’ll pick up the sequel to see how it relates to this book; maybe the series will get better as it goes on.

Overall rating: 4/5


The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke : Review

Water is life.

In the desert lands of the Quatern, water is both life and currency. The Stormlords — men and women with the power to manipulate water — provide rain to all, but as the population of Stormlords dwindle, the one last stormlord must protect and serve the cities of the Quatern. With his health beginning to fail, and his life slipping away, Starvation, death, and chaos are imminent, and the cities will become to wither and die, with no one to take his place.

Shale, an outcast from his poor desert village holds a secret which could save the entire Quatern; a power that would shape the future for himself, and for all the great cities. That is, if it doesn’t kill him first.

Terelle, a girl on the brink of womanhood, being forced into a life of slavery at one of the city’s brothels must find a way to escape the life of a courtesan before it’s too late — though, when she meets a mysterious painter, she must decide whether the price of escaping was too high to pay; and fight against a force stronger than fate.

Together, Shale and Terelle must find a way to save the people of the Quatern — but time is running out, and they must first save themselves.

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke is a great book; with an enthralling story line that drags you in and leaves you thirsting for more. Following the tale of Shale, Terelle and the desert Quartern as they struggle on the brink of destruction. The pacing, flow and dialogue could have been a bit better, and at times the story seems too wordy. The Last Stormlord could have easily been 50-100 pages shorter. However, with an action-packed plot it rarely gets boring or extraneous.

With a touch of the dialogue seeming cliche,a few of the major revelations don’t have quite the impact they should, however there was some fantastic world-building, highlighted with magic which helped to enrich the plot.

This is a book which held a lot of potential, however it should be seen mainly as a lead-up to the sequel, Stormlord Rising, as most of The Last Stormlord concentrated on the world-building aspects and with no real conclusion; it in itself was mainly a cliffhanger. It was an enjoyable read, I wouldn’t say it was great — but in no way was this a bad book.

I do recommend picking up Stormlord Rising, and Stormlord Exile, the cliffhangers and world building do create fantastic stories in the sequels, once you get past them in this novel. This is a great series, and it does pull through in the other books of the trilogy.

Overall rating would be 3/5

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Glenda’s website : http://glendalarke.com/news/
Follow Glenda on Twitter : @glendalarke


Review: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

MY NAME IS KVOTHE.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that made the minstrels weep. 

You may have heard of me. 

Kvothe (pronounced “quothe”) is a young man who became a legend. Unfortunately, legends have a way of changing, and Kvothe’s turning from a legendary hero to a legendary villain. It’s not his fault, but legends are like a giant game of broken telephone, and details were getting changed by accident that threw him in a less-than-favourable light. In an effort to preserve the truth, a scribe convinces Kvothe to set the story down in his own words, and it’s pretty good he did, ’cause otherwise we wouldn’t get to read this awesome book.

The book starts with Kvothe as a young man – probably in his mid-twenties or so. After the first couple of chapters, the story switches to flashback mode as Kvothe tells his story, starting when he’s eleven and ending when he’s fifteen. It describes the major players in his life, the things he did, and (in some cases), the things he didn’t do. Besides the flashback, which makes up the main story, a side story seems to be developing that takes place outside of the flashbacks. But besides the story, we get to see a lot of Kvothe’s character, and that, in my opinion, is just as good as the plot.

Kvothe’s actually a pretty cool guy. He spares no detail – he doesn’t gloss over the bad things he did. That’s pretty refreshing, I think, because Kvothe fully admits to being stupid, spiteful, and a bit of a bastard at times. At other times, he’s sweet, caring, and lovable. In other words, he’s exactly what a typical teenager is. How his personality develops and changes through time, and the different bits of his personality we get to see, is quite fun.

Besides the characterisation, the story has several other things going for it, as well. The story is gripping, the writing engaging. It’s hard to put down, and, while it moves at a slow pace, it all adds to Kvothe’s character and the overarching plot. Rothfuss gives enough information to keep readers engaged while also making them ask questions, and read for the answers. Rothfuss avoids clichés – in fact, a couple of times Kvothe starts off saying, “If this were a story, I would…” only to end up saying what he did instead. It’s a bit refreshing, especially considering a lot of the latest fantasy books have employed quite a lot of clichés.

Nevertheless, for all this book’s high points, there are some odd things about it: namely, the metaphors, which in some cases (mostly in dialogue, though that’s 90% of the book) are quite unusual. Case in point: “He touched her, and she felt like a bell that had just been struck for the first time.” In other words, she feels round, brassy, in pain, and like she’s been stuck on the back of a bus driving at high speeds down a country rode full of potholes. The rest of the book is more than enough to make up for these, though, and for the most part the metaphors pass unnoticed.

As for the ending, well, it didn’t wrap things up – but then again, it wasn’t supposed to. Kvothe leaves off telling his story whenever he feels it’s getting too late to go on talking, meaning we still feel like we’re in the middle of the story. The same goes for its sequal, The Wise Man’s Fear. With the third and final book not coming out until Spring, this is distinctly unfair. I have a feeling that when the end does come, though, it’ll be well worth the wait.

Overall rating: 5/5


Eye of the World by Robert Jordan : Review

 

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophesy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon Ride again on the winds of time.

Undisturbed by news and war; life in the Two Rivers is both peaceful and quaint. With no great troubles to speak of, except for the lack of crops and wolf attacks in the night, preparations are underway for the Bel Tine festivities. Though, In the deep of Winternight; Dark forces – bestial Trollocs and Myrddral – attack the village of Emond’s Field, seeming to specifically target three young men – Rand, Mat and Perrin. The three youths, and the innkeeper’s daughter, Egwene flee the village in hopes to save their village from further harm, accompanied by Moraine – an Aes Sedai; a magician with the ability to wield the One Power, and her Warder, Lan. The two strangers brings warnings of a terrible evil awakening in the world.

Unbeknowest to the boys; one of the them is destined to unite the world against the rising darkness and lead the fight against a being so powerful and evil it is known simply as the Dark One. Destined to wield the tainted power of Saidin. Destined to go mad.

Robert Jordan has recreated the familiar and well-loved Tolkienesque world that fantasy readers have come to love (or detest) with this seemingly-classical coming of age story. With mythological allusions, innovative magic systems, full and lengthy details, and exhilarating adventures, readers of epic-fantasy are sure to love the series.

Some readers may be put off by the length, and yes – the repetitive and long descriptions, and the Tolkenesque features of the book – those that are able to get into it, and read on will find a creative and unique world which branches away from the Tolkien-like themes in the sequels.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the pacing simply being too slow – though, I didn’t find it to be that way at all. The Eye of The World reads as the first part in a trilogy, as it was originally intended. However, the series is now 13 books long (14 if you include the prequel – New Spring, my review for that is here). The last book (#14/15) – A Memory of Light, co-written by Brandon Sanderson is set to be released Spring 2012.

Out of the Wheel of Time books written wholly by Robert Jordan (books 0-11) this tied with The Shadow Rising (book 4) as my favorite. The characters react believably to their situations, and are  at this point are ignorant and innocent. With Jordan’s great worldbuilding and expertise with character development, you really get to feel that alongside them; the weariness of long travel, the fear of pursuit, the lust for knowledge and so much more. Each of the main characters (Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve – the Wisdom from the Two Rivers -) learn things that are part of their defining roles which set them apart from the others throughout the course of the series.  This is truly the beginning of an epic tale, and it is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time.

I’m having trouble doing this book justice, the Wheel of Time is by far my favorite series, but to describe a 688 paged fantasy book with the beginning of intricate plots and developing characters may well be beyond me.

 


Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson : Review

 

Breathe.
Hallandren and Idris; two kingdoms sitting side by side.  Hallandren; an ostentatious kingdom of colors, gods, Breath and a spectrum of  colorfully dressed crowds bustling within sunny streets. And Idris, a humble kingdom laying within the mountains surrounding Hallandren. It’s people, subdued and live modest lives and worshiping only the god Austren. To the citizens of Idris who wear only browns, the ostentatious ways of the Hallandren is an abomination and blasphemous.

With tensions rising between the two lands, the King of Idris must send his daughter to marry the God King of Hallandren, as was agreed upon in a treaty signed twenty years earlier. But when he sends his youngest daughter Siri instead of his eldest, Vivenna; motives are questioned, and the sisters must learn to cope with their switched roles, and save their country from inevitable destruction.

Sticking true to his form, Brandon Sanderson uses multiple point of views throughout the story. Siri, the young rebellious princess; Vivenna, the eldest princess – who had been born and raised in preparation to marry to Godking; Lightsong, a self-proclaimed useless God who begins to raise questions that none will – or want to answer; and Vasher, a  mysterious and rogue swordsman.

There was one thing that I felt took away from the story though. There was a minor PoV change, which while it was only 2 pages long; was completely unnecessary. It did serve to explain what happened to something (sorry I know that’s vague – but I do what I can to stay spoiler-free) that would’ve been answered when the PoV got switched to Vivenna right afterwords. I just found the scene to be quite distracting from all the action which was taking place. Also, there were areas in the middle which just seemed redundant and repetitive, but those parts were definitely still decent.

While there were some things while reading this that seemed inevitable and quite predictable, Warbreaker was a fantastic and enjoyable read. With a unique magic system which perfectly complimented and balanced the plot, action, and a fair bit of humor. This book is definitely one that would be loved by fans of Brandon Sanderson or Brent Weeks (see the previous post, ‘The Black Prism’).

~

Brandon’s Website: http://brandonsanderson.com/
Follow Brandon on Twitter : @BrandSanderson

 


The Black Prism by Brent Weeks : Review

Colour. Emotions. Light. Magic.

In a world where colour is the foundation of all magic, The Prism – Gavin Guile rules over all seven satraps as a religious and political figure and as the only one who can split light and draft the entire spectrum of colours. Gavin – knowing he has five years left to live and five great purposes set for himself – hopes to use his power to do something for the greater good.

When Gavin discovers he has an illegitimate son, Kip, in a northern satrapy called Tyrea. However, the Tyreans have their own agendas; agendas which include wiping out every living person in the village of Rekton – Kip’s village. Gavin Guile must save Kip from the grips of a rebellious Governor – a man who seeks to overthrow the government of the Chromeria and the Prism.

Kip: a fat boy living in a small village; the bastard child of a drunk, finds himself thrown into a world of magic and warfare. A dangerous yet wonderful world – one which may very well mean his death, and the death of those he loves and respects.

The Black Prism is a wonderful read, it stands alone wonderfully; but also serves to set the stage for the rest of the series. It’s one of those books that’ll grab you and refuse to let go; drawing readers in from the first page of the first chapter to the last page of 95th chapter (yes, there’s a lot.) Brent did a wonderful job with the world building; great, colourful cities with intricate designs and culture. Magic which can be envisioned easily, and with the dire consequences to those that use it too much, it keeps it from being too extravagant.

Previous fans of Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy won’t be disappointed by this new series. With compelling characters, loads of plot twists, battles, secrets and lies, The Black Prism is an excellent read and there’s never a dull moment. Brent Weeks‘ The Black Prism is the first book in the Lightbringer trilogy – book two is set to be released Fall 2012 (which is going to be a painful wait.)


Brent’s website: http://www.brentweeks.com/

Follow Brent on Twitter: @brentweeks


The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett : Review

When darkness falls, Demons rise from the mists and rule the night. In a frenzy they kill, devour and destroy; held at bay only by ancient wards. However, when the Corelings breach the wards; tragedy strikes. Houses and towns burned to rubble; family and friends slaughtered. There is no way to fight back; all you can do is cower in fear, hide and pray that your wards will hold through the night – and be thankful that it isn’t you that’s being devoured.

The story follows three main characters; Arlen, who after a series of events and observing a great cowardice from his father; runs away in an attempt to be free, and moreover – fight back against the demons. Arlen is ever willing to do what others have thought impossible for generations, ever since the lost wards and the return of the Corelings. He gains his talents and specialities during his quests for knowledge and the desire for change.

After escaping from her manipulative and demanding mother, Leesha goes trains under the town hag and becomes a skilled healer. As she grows older, she must also deal with the leering looks of men, and protect herself in a male-dominant society; all the while searching for the right guy. She shows great strength of character; and alongside her skills with healing, she finds herself with a will to fight.

Rojer was raised by a Jongleur after his parents were killed by the demons when he was three. Scarred from that encounter; Rojer is missing fingers, though they serve as a reminder of his parent’s love. Struggling with juggling, Rojer more than makes up for that lack with his extraordinary skills playing the fiddle – skills which may prove magical.

Peter Brett‘s debut novel, The Painted Man (A.K.A The Warded Man in some countries) at first begins like the traditional well-known fantasy story; with a country-boy in a small village. Yes, there are a few clichés in the plot like that (country boy goes on a quest to change the world), as well as a bit of predictability. However Brett does a fantastic job with making it his own. With the characters starting out fairly young; as they mature and age (the story spans about 15 years) the plot goes from the idiosyncrasies of small villages to the complexity of city-life, with the different sights, sounds and people. His great use of description allows you to experience the story alongside the protagonists and makes for an enthralling read. Brett’s protagonists are all well written, and dynamic (though, I had some issues with Leesha’s story close to the end), and they’re interesting to read.

One of the main things that stinted this story was the view-point transitions. They seemed a bit roughly done, and with the timelines jumping back and forth it could be confusing at times.

In short: It’s a great book, The Painted Man is among my favourite fantasy novels and even though it has its flaws, I found it to be a very enjoyable read. I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy novels, action – and can deal with some of the more mature subject matter which are brought up in the story.

Though, I have mixed feelings about The Desert Spear (book 2), which wasn’t a terrible book, it just didn’t live up to my expectations and (to me) fell short of the potential it had. However, the majority of other reviews seem to disagree with me on this point.

~

Peter’s Website : http://www.petervbrett.com/
Follow Peter on Twitter : @PVBrett 


New Spring by Robert Jordan : Review

 

For three days, war has raged in the cold of winter around the city of Tar Valon; soldier al’Lan Mandragoran; uncrowned king of Malkier fights against the Aiel. As the war comes to an end, Lan rides north to the Blight with his companion Bukama. On the road to Chachin he meets the Lady Alys – a woman with secrets, and a woman who will change his life and future.

Within the walls of Tar Valon, in the White Tower; a foretelling is made that would forever change the world – the Dragon has been reborn on the slopes of Dragonmount; the one who would carry the fate of the world, and bring them to the battle against the Dark One. Siuan Sanche, and Moiraine Damodred, Accepted of the White Tower were on duty to the Amyrlin that fateful night, and having heard the foretelling; go out to seek the boy-child in fear of the Black Ajah.

New Spring takes place twenty years before the start of Eye of the World; and while this novel is the prequel to the series, I must emphasize this: Do NOT read this book until you’ve read at least some of the series. Many things in here aren’t explained, nor will they make sense unless you’re familiar with concepts that are only explained in later books. Things which are mentioned various times in New Spring – Trollocs, Channeling, the Blight and others would be meaningless to you.

New Spring was an interesting read; as it gave background information on some of the characters that we see in the series, and helps readers come to an understanding of why those characters – Moiraine and Lan in particular – are where they are when we meet them in Eye of the World, along with showing events which are referenced to later on such as the Aiel War. This really wasn’t my favorite from the series – though I can say without a moment’s hesitation that it wasn’t a least favorite. New Spring is short in comparison to every other book in the series, and while it’s been a couple months since I last read it; I think I can safely said that barely a page or two had been wasted.

I’ll be doing the rest of the series as well; I can’t promise they’ll all be spoiler-free… For example: the review of The Great Hunt is very likely to have spoilers of The Eye of the World, so please don’t read it unless you’ve already read the books up until that point!

 


Shadowmarch by Tad Williams : Review

A kingdom on the brink of war, the king held captive in a distant land and the ransom must be paid.
Now, the Eddon children must lead their people in a time of chaos where even their home isn’t safe. With darkness engulfing them, Briory and Barrick; the two youngest Eddon children who have no one else but each other – and even that bond is quickly becoming jeopardized. They must do what they can to save their land, their people, their king and defend it all against humanities oldest enemy – the mysterious Qar from across the Shadowline.

The Shadowline; a boundary between the lands of men and the lands of their enemies, the Qar is moving. Sweeping across the land of men, threatening to engulf the northern lands in which humans still live. The ageless race has come to claim what is rightfully theirs – the lands they had for eons before the humans had come. Now, as they spread the domain the foggy distorted world of Qar, an army marches; an army that may well mean the end of humanity.

Tad William’s SHADOWMARCH is a good read for epic fantasy lovers. With multiple point of views; those ranging from the Qar, Funderlings, the Eddons, and a few others, readers aren’t likely to get too bored with any characters in this 796 paged book. There are plots within plots, and even those who seem to be the only honest people may well be the ones who harbor the darkest secrets of them all.

I have a problem with this book though, don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of Tad Williams, and I do think that many people will love this book. There are sessions in the book where chapter after chapter nothing really happens. The characters just reflect on their situation (over and over again) or go into great detail examining things. This was extraneous at times, so I’ll be taking a bit of a break before I read the next one. But it’s on the shelf, and I’m sure it will be a great read.

For all the slow parts though, there are mysteries and surprises along the way which award the readers for their patience. With court intrigue and mythical races, readers do get the well-recognized elements of fantasy.

Tad’s website : http://www.tadwilliams.com/
Follow Tad on Twitter:  @tadwilliams


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