Brent Weeks - The Way of Shadows

Friday, November 26, 2010

I. Could. Not. put this book down. I did not know what to make of the book before reading it. The cover is very different from most fantasy books and I kind of didn't like it. But when I started reading it, I knew this was the real deal. Overall this book reminded me a lot of Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy - the reluctant boy in training to become an assassin, not able to use his magical talent due to blocks. Other than this theme though, the two books are different.

The book gives us only hints about the setting, focusing mainly on what's happening Cenaria City, but I have a feeling that the rest of the series will offer a much larger scope.

There are a lot of adult themes in the book (cursing, rape, general violence) despite its young-adult like pace. I swear that every chapter of the book ended in a cliffhanger.. and there were almost 70 chapters!!! This resulted in me reading it very quickly.

I really liked how Weeks dealt with Kylar/Azoth, Blint, and Momma K's emotions and worries. They really seemed like real people at times even though they committed a lot of crimes. I see a lot of foreshadowing, especially Kylar's friendship with Logan.

This is a book worth reading!


Kate Forsyth - The Heart of Stars

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Since The Shining City ended with such a cliffhanger, I had to start the next book right away!

It seems a lot of people are disappointed that the book didn't focus so mainly on Rhiannon, but that was ok with me because the story is a lot more interesting this way. Plus, I'm still kind of annoyed at how much Lewen loves her... Luckily, there is other romance in the novel that works besides Lewen and Rhiannon, which feels so artificial to me. Mostly Felice/Owein and Isabeau/Dide.

My favorite part has to be the beginning when Isabeau and her group go back in time to rescue Donncan. This is very well done and I loved this storyline. The Lord Malvern and Rhiannon storyline was less exciting. This is where it feels like the author kind of forced things to happen so that there could be a happy ending. It does seem like people were killed off and the timing was moved JUST so the author could get the ending she wanted. She made it work, but I feel like this might not have been the best resolution for this particular plot.

I really enjoyed this series and if it wasn't for the corny romance and Lewen it would probably be 5/5 =P In the future I am definitely going to read her Witches of Eileannan series occurs before this trilogy.


Kate Forsyth - The Shining City

Monday, November 8, 2010

For most of this entire book, Rhiannon (the main character in the first book) is kind of in the background - She is a prisoner awaiting trial. There is a mixup of other characters who make up the points of view in this book: Lewen, Olwynne, Felice, Isabeau, Nina... I actually don't mind it since they are all interesting characters and have different points of view to add to the story. Felice really became one of my favorite characters, she's just so mature and overall awesome. I also like Bronwen a lot even though all the other characters think she's a whore =P

One thing that bothers me in the book is how much everyone cares about Rhiannon. For example, Nina forgets about her son being kidnapped to beg that Rhiannon is pardoned. I mean, she DID kill one of the king's guards, it's not like she's innocent. I guess I just don't understand why they care about her to the extent that they do in the book.

Another thing that bothers me is Lewen. He is too freaking perfect. I still don't really understand how he fell head over heels in love with Rhiannon in the first place.

My favorite part of the book was in the beginning when Olwynne walks her nightmares. It was so mysterious and well put together, Forsyth really handles the supernatural better than any other fantasy author I've read.

The book had a huge cliffhanger ending and luckily I have the next one already! (make sure you do too when you read this!)


David Eddings - Enchanter's End Game

Monday, October 25, 2010

The conclusion to the classic Belgariad series! Overall I enjoyed these books but there wasn't too much depth to them. Good for kids, but it wasn't a really deep and meaningful read.

There is a long drawn out part of this book where Ce'Nedra and the kings are attacking the eastern kingdoms. I liked the part where Ce'Nedra got some character development (Adara being injured) but other than that it was boring.

The ending was very sweet, but childish. Durnik and Polgara hook up but there really hasn't been much development of their relationship throughout the books. It was still adorable though.. same with Garion and Ce'Nedra. Though honestly I can't picture Garion as a young man.. just no. =P He still is a child when I picture him. I wish he had matured more in the series. Belgarath is still the most kick-ass character.

I am interested in reading the Malloreon, but no time soon. I'm going to get some heavier reading done first ;)


Robert Jordan - The Path of Daggers

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Omg another WoT book.. what to say about it.. Well, I think I actually liked it more than CoS. Let's try to explain why.

Although not many important things happened, there were some cliffhangers at the end of the book. A lot of point of views are getting ready to do some really important things: Elayne coming back to Camelyn, Rand getting mysteriously attacked at the end, Egwene coming to Tar Valon (though this could have maybe been done better as this plot didn't move quite as much as the others), and Faile being attacked. There were even some interesting things happening back at the white tower. So in all it ended on a good note for me.

I get the impression that overall there was less bickering between Elayne and Nyneave which might have made all the difference as to why I enjoyed it more than CoS. I just couldn't stand that, especially while listening to the audiobook.

I'm looking forwards to reading Winter's Heart now - apparently some important things actually happen ;)


David Eddings - Castle of Wizardry

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Before I opened this blog I had recently read the first volume (omnibus edition) of the Belgariad. Castle of Wizardry is the 4th book in the 5 book series.

Castle of Wizardry had a very different feel to it than the previous 3 books. Up until now, the series mostly followed the travel of Garion, Belgarath, and Polgara as they went to all the different countries and picked up more travelers. In this book, the characters are now settled down as the first major event (retrieving the orb of Aldur) has taken place. Garion and Ce'Nedra are now in Riva and ready to be corronated. Both of them underdo a lot of character development as they relate to their people and learn to rule. Ce'Nedra, who has a whole section of the book to herself, particularly grows a lot (of course she is still stubborn and difficult most of the time). So I guess you could say this book has less action and more focus on individual characters. Most of the second half of the book seems like it is preparation for the big final battle, and I'm looking forwards to it.

Although the Belgariad is very enjoyable, it is very obviously aimed mostly for children or young adults. There are sometimes hints of adult themes but Eddings never expressly says anything. The story overall is very cute and charming, but there just isn't enough depth to really make me emotionally attached to anything that is happening. I wish I picked this up when I was younger though, it would have been a great first fantasy read.


Robert Jordan - A Crown of Swords

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

People like me picking up the Wheel of Time sort of late in the game have heard the warnings: it gets long, drawn-out, and nothing happens. Book 7 was long and drawn out, but at least something happened.

RJ has so many characters that including each one in the book would clog up hundreds of pages. It doesn't have to be that way of course, but considering his story-telling style, that's what would happen. It's like he's incapable of a plotline overlapping multiple people's points of view. The whole bowl of the winds thing made me want to fall asleep. Actually, during most of the audiobook I DID stop paying attention.

The only other thing that happens is that Rand takes Illian. Okay. That happens in the LAST chapter of the book. The LAST 30 pages. Before that all that's happening are factions Aes Sedai fighting with each other. And there is no Egwene in this book (who I enjoy most). All of Perrin we see is a sort of paranoid dude who obsesses over his wife. Not cool.

Anyways this volume was considerably less enjoyable than the ones before it. At least in book 6 there is a fantastic ending. The plot resolutions here were kind of boring slash predictable.


Brandon Sanderson - The Way of Kings

Monday, September 13, 2010

After long last I have finally finished this book! I received it the day it was released, but it took me almost 2 weeks to get through it (well, classes started in between too).

I had really high expectations for this book. Brandon Sanderson has proven himself a master storyteller and world builder. He has a lot to live up to after his Mistborn trilogy. In all I enjoyed this book, but I had some problems with it that were also pointed out by other reviewers.

1. At times the book does seem like it is an exercise in worldbuilding. A lot of the traditions practiced by the people seem weird, like men being illiterate, women keeping their left hand covered, spren for like everything (windspren, laughterspren, gloryspren...), and the whole lighteyes/darkeyes thing. I assume the eye color will be sorted out later in the series because of some hints throughout the book. It's just hard to absorb and understand everything. I'm just sitting there like, "why include this?"

2. Kaladin's storyline was a bit overly drawn out. I mean he must have taken up about half the book and his point of view was somewhat limited since he was just a slave (as in, we didn't get a worldview of what was happening just his daily experiences). I feel like some of the bridgemen narrative could have been cut out.

3. Kaladin ("I cant save anyone!!") and Dalinar ("Am I going insane?") are both really angsty characters and sometimes I got tired of it, especially in Kaladin

4. Some of the humor did seemed forced or was overdone. Shallan really resembled the female characters in Warbreaker in the beginning

5. It got slow in the middle with the war versus the Parshendi.

6. Adolin is kind of an annoying character

Things I really liked:

1. Kaladin's backstory, and most of Shallan's storyline

2. The last one hundred pages or so when a lot of information was revealed. It makes me excited for the next book. Shit's going down!

3. Dalinar at the end = HOTNESS. He's my favorite character now.


Kate Forsyth - The Tower of Ravens

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rhiannon is a satyrcorn that is unlike the rest of her herd - she resembles her human father more than her satyrcorn mother. The herd kidnaps men in order to procreate. Rhiannon isn't respected in her herd because she doesn't have a horn. She manages to fly away on the back of a flying horse. She ends up in lands inhabited by humans and follows a band of witches headed to the capital city with new apprentices.

Things start getting really awesome when they decide to take a "shortcut" through a haunted land with zombies and ghosts. There begins a mystery of why little boys are going missing and why there are so many dead angry people. These were the best parts of the book. Forsyth really knows how to handle creepy scenes.

The book is filled with mythology, history, and culture. You'll first notice the dialect that the book is written in - the characters kind of speak in a celtic/Scottish manner. This didn't bother me at all (though it annoys other people). The culture as well is very pagan-inspired. I loved hearing about all the mythological creatures. The world was really brought to life.

There was also a romantic side to the story, which I usually don't mind, but I get kind of sick of love at first sight easily. It was too predictable.

Anyways, I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a light read. I'm glad I picked it up.


September/October Book Challenge

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

September 2010
Robert Jordan - A Crown of Swords (DONE 9/22)
Brandon Sanderson - The Way of Kings (DONE 9/13)
Kate Forsyth - The Shining City
David Eddings - Castle of Wizardry (DONE 9/30)

September/October 2010
Robert Jordan - The Path of Daggers (DONE 10/12)
David Eddings - Enchanter's End Game (DONE 10/21)

October 2010
Kate Forsyth - The Shining City
Robert Jordan - Winter's Heart
Kate Forsyth - Heart of Stars

Yeah this isn't happening..

Robert Jordan - Lord of Chaos

Like usual, the 6th installment of the Wheel of Time started out slow. Rand is hanging around Andor with the Aiel and Nyneave and Elayne are in Salidar. I'm sick of RJ spending so much time feeling the need to remind us where everyone is. There are so many characters, you just can't do that, since then you need almost a separate POV chapter for each character.

The only things that really happened in the first few hundred pages (of the hardcover) were that Rand is giving Mazrim Taim the duty to find men/boys who can channel saidin. More of the forsaken (Semirhage, Sammael, Demandred, and Graendal) are introduced. Elayne is figuring out how to make Ter'angreal and Nyneave still has a block to channeling. Embassies of Aes Sedai are being sent to meet Rand. That's it.

Things FINALLY pick up a little more than half way through the novel, and after that things start going fast. There are a ton new developments, most of which are quite shocking! I really enjoyed the latter half of the book. POV characters who have been separated for a long time were reunited. The last chapter was EPIC.

The book would have been quite excellent if the scope was narrowed more to focus on just the main characters. Only one chapter was necessary each for the forsaken, Morgase, embassy Aes Sedai, and perhaps even Mat. The focus really needed to be on Nyneave, Egwene, and Rand in this book.


Robin Hobb - Dragon Haven

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The first 100 pages or so of this novel were a bit hard to get through. Perhaps Hobb added in fluff to remind the reader of what happened in the first book since they got split up. Anyways, after the first bit the book was easier to plow through.

There were some unexpected developments in the book - particularly romantic ones. There might have been a bit much romance for me. Every POV character in the book had something or the other going on. Sedric evolved into one of my favorite characters. He's very flawed, but very realistic. He comes to terms with a lot of his problems and really grows as a person. I particularly like his relationship with the copper dragon Relpda.

A lot of my questions concerning elderlings and dragons were answered in this book. I only wish the book went on a bit longer so I could see how people's lives played out. I also want to know what becomes of Hest (Alise's unloving husband).

Robin's prose is beautiful and clear as always. She says on her blog that she's going to write another Rain Wilds book! Probably to finish this series as a trilogy. Can't wait!


Book obtained through the Forbes Library

Naomi Novik - Black Powder War

Monday, August 16, 2010

This book is following up on a great series, but it honestly does not live up to my expectations.

Almost all of the book centers around the group traveling back to Europe. They make some stops on the way to deal with a foreign policy dispute (the British were promised 3 dragon eggs by the Turks), but overall the book is just jumbled up and there is no overlying plot. Even worse, the last section of the book just throws them back into the Napoleonic war, which doesn't relate to anything else that was happening previously (well other than that the war is still going on over there).

There were some new interesting characters: Tharkay and Iskierka, but Iskierka comes at the end – a little too late to save the book. Tharkay and the Chinese cook were the only characters that amused me this time.

I have the 4th book in the series on hand, but needless to say I am going to wait a while before reading it.


Obtained through

Naomi Novik - Throne of Jade

Temeraire and Laurence's adventures continue as they travel on to China.

What annoys me a lot in this book is the time spent narrating the actual process of getting to China. I swear this takes up almost half the book, and not much happens in these pages. But once we get to China, the story really picks up.

My favorite aspect of the book is the comparison between the east and the west in their treatment of dragons. In China, dragons are allowed to walk the streets and otherwise treated as intelligent beings. Using Temeraire's breed in war is totally taboo, and the Chinese are outraged that he is being used so. Temeraire himself is torn between the two societies: he is passionate about warfare, but he also wishes to be treated with respect rather than as an animal. He seeks to bring these changes when/IF (another point of conflict) he comes back to Britain.

The series still brings action and emotion and now it is further layered with ethics. I don't enjoy this book as much as the first because of the sometimes slow pace.


Book obtained through

Naomi Novik - His Majesty's Dragon

By the time I was 70 pages into this book, I was crying. Temeraire is the sweetest dragon ever!!

The book’s plotline is fairly simple, and the language and content seems mostly geared towards young adults. Captain Will Laurence captures a French ship during the Napoleonic wars, and they find it contains a dragon egg! Dragons in this parallel universe are kind of like the banshees from Avatar – they only bond with one rider. Novik makes the book even more interesting by introducing breeds of dragons. Every country has their own special breeds! The Chinese, being the oldest civilization, have perfected the art of dragon breeding, and breed for intelligence rather than usefulness in battles like those stupid Europeans. :P

Besides the heart-wrenching bond of human to dragon, my favorite part of the book has to be the descriptions of aerial warfare. These scenes were amazingly thought out and written.

The only downside is that sometimes the prose is hard to read - I guess Novik is trying to write it in a 19th century style. It's not as fluid as regular prose and I found myself re-reading lines often.

Overall, this book is unique and a must-read for any lovers of history or dragons.


Book obtained through

Robert Jordan - The Fires of Heaven

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This is the 5th installment of the Wheel of Time, and most people claim it is the beginning of the series going downhill. I did not enjoy this book as much as the 4th, but that probably has to do with the characters that were featured. Perrin isn't in this book at all. The book covers Rand/Egwene/Moiraine/Lan with the Aiel and Nyneave/Elayne/Thom trying to keep a low profile. There is also a lot of Siuan and Min escaping from the White Tower.

I really enjoyed the action that happened in the book and the character development. Especially Nyneave vs. Moghedien. Rand is sort of becoming a bland character and I don't feel like I can relate to him as much as I did in the first two books. This is sad because I REALLY liked him in the beginning. At this point I'm not sure that I can say I have a favorite character. I'm continuing the books for the story, not the characters.

Except that the story is becoming increasingly bogged down. There are a lot of pointless descriptions and chapters that I wish RJ just cut out. And I'm even listening to the audiobook (meaning I can zone out when things get boring). I feel like I zoned out a lot during the book. I'm tired of hearing about women "sniffing". I'm not even sure what this means.

RJ finally got the balls to kill off some characters (Though actually I think these characters are not permanently dead.... sigh). This is one of the things that bugs me about these books.. NO ONE EVER DIES!!!

Overall I'm still interested in what happens. So I'm going to keep reading.


Book Obtained through

July/August Book Challenge

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

July 2010
Robert Jordan - Shadow Rising (DONE 7/26)
Elizabeth Kerner - Song in the Silence (DONE 7/15)
David Eddings - The Belgariad vol. 1 (DONE 7/31)

July 2010/August 2010
Robert Jordan - Fires of Heaven (DONE 8/12)

August 2010
Robin Hobb - Dragon Keeper (DONE 8/5)
Robin Hobb - Dragon Haven (DONE 8/17)
Roger Zelazny - The Chronicles of Amber vol. 2 (DONE 8/11)
Brandon Sanderson - The Way of Kings Isn't coming out until 8/31
Kate Forsyth - The Tower of Ravens (DONE 8/30)

August 2010/September 2010
Robert Jordan - Lord of Chaos (DONE 8/25)

Roger Zelazny - The Chronicles of Amber

It was seriously a challenge for me to get through the first volume of these books (Nine Princes in Amber & The Guns of Avalon). Volume 2 has the last 3 books (Sign of the Unicorn, Hand of Oberon, & The Courts of Chaos). Honestly the real challenge was Zelazny's writing style. These were written as pulp fiction a long time ago, so they are not recent. It's kind of written in a way that makes references to pop culture - and pop culture way back when my parents were my age. But I decided to read them because they are regarded as a classic in fantasy literature.

So having somewhat low expectations, I was seriously surprised by this book. There's a lot of intrigue and this kept me amused for a long time. This is a family with serious issues. One second you think you can trust your brother, and the next he tries to kill you. Yeah. Another great part is the originality of Zelazny's world. It isn't a typical fantasy world. The world is actually made up of different "shadows" such as the Earth we live on. The Princes of Amber (the true world) can travel through these shadows.

There were still some slow parts like the first book. I got bored when Zelazny spends a whole chapter discussing traveling in The Courts of Chaos. It's just not interesting to me. It isn't even written in complete sentences a lot of the time - just thoughts. But by then I was already in love with this book.

I am GLAD I did not give up after the first volume. Sometimes you keep sticking with the series, and it ends up paying off!


Obtained through

Robin Hobb - Dragon Keeper

Having just finished the Liveship Traders trilogy earlier in the year, I was really interested to see how Hobb continues the story.

I like the characters in the book. Not all of the first impressions they gave were correct, especially the males, and they changed throughout the series. The most interesting ethical challenge (and I hope to see it resolved) is about the heavily marked children who are usually left to die when they are born. But what about Malta who is an elderling? My theory is that the markings have something to do with becoming an elderling. I would rather Hobb have focused more on the Rain Wilds in the first half of the book than Bingtown.

What I think I enjoyed the most was the way in which she describes the deformed dragons. They act more like animals than beings who possess thought. She really gets across the grimness of the situation.

There wasn’t much action in the book but I still finished it in about a week. The two books were really supposed to be one, but it was cut in half because of the size. I think I would have rather this all been in one book since not much happens in this first volume.


Obtained through the Forbes Library