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 paperbackswap.com

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 paperbackswap.com

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 paperbackswap.com

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 paperbackswap.com

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 Paperbackswap.com

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