September 22, 2012
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl, a millionaire and a child prodigy, has been mostly left on his own since the dissappearance of his father, and by his depressed and bedridden mother. He uses this freedom to develop a diabolical plan to manipulate fairies for their gold by kidnapping Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. (Lower Elements Police) Little does he know, that he’s not exactly dealing with Tinkerbell. This fairies are well-armed with both ancient magic and advanced technology and they do not take kindly to human meddling.
Describing the inner thoughts of the characters gave them a lot of depth, as well as explaining details of the fairy underworld without overloading the reader. My favorite characters were the gruff, cigar-chomping Commander Root, Foaly the techie centaur and Artemis Fowl himself. As he reacts to events, adjusting his plans, he sometimes has moral doubts and wonders at what point he is going too far. We can see that for all his precociousness and power, he is still a vulnerable and lonely boy.
This was a fun, page-turning adventure, kind of a parody of James Bond-type novels that take themselves too seriously. While there is a lot of comical zaniness in here, Colfer has created a sophisticated and well-thought out plot. This is a good “cross-over” book that would appeal to adventure, science fiction and fantasy readers alike.
Read in September 2012
September 14, 2012
Falcondance by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The next book in the Kiesha’ra saga focuses on Nicias Silvermead, son of the falcons Kel & Andreios (the prince Sebastian) As both a falcon & a guard to the princess Oliza he is both an outsider and and a privileged member of the court. When his magic begins to emerge, Nicias must journey to Ahnmik, the island kingdom and ask his grandmother Araceli to bind his magic. However, when he arrives he realizes that things are much more complicated than they seem. Readers will finally get to learn more about the mysterious falcons and their magic. I have to agree with another reader that I’d like to see Oliza developed more as a character, she seemed more interesting than Nicias, but maybe we’ll see more of her in the next book, Wolfcry.
All together, I found it to be an engrossing read, but later on it was hard to follow the complex magic & politics of the falcons.
Read November 2009
June 4, 2010
Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Book 1 of the Kiesha-ra
The serpiente & avian shapeshifter clans have been at war longer than anyone can remember. Finally out of desperation Danica Shardae, heir to the avian throne accepts Zane Cobriana, the enemy prince as her mate. In spite of enormous opposition the two work towards peace.
Will their alliance- and their relationship be successful?
This is the beginning of what is sure to be a gripping saga. The dark yet hopeful tone is reminiscent of our own often war-torn world. The contrasting cultures of the passionate snakes and stoic, practical birds is fascinating, yet the author doesn’t bog us down in too much detail.
It can be a bit melodramatic at times but that is perhaps to be expected in a teen novel. Danica won me over with her wisdom and determination and though Zane seemed somewhat creepy at first he developed a sensitive side as he let his guard down.
Read October 2009
December 16, 2009
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
This is a beautifully written novel, that reads like a fairy tale with its simple yet poetic language. I can see why it won the World Fantasy Award. Sybel, a young woman trained in magic by her late wizard father lives on Eld Mountain alone with the legendary beasts he collected.
One day, a baby is brought to her to raise. In spite of her doubts, the boy Tamlorn grows to melt her heart and reconnect her with humanity. Her suspicion of human society and its politics and wars seems warranted however, when Tamlorn’s true parentage is revealed and she falls in love with an enemy of his people.
McKillip says many interesting things in here about love, relationships, power and how easily it corrupts. It went in a different direction than I expected. My main complaint is, the writing became rather melodramatic and soap opera-ish in the last third or so of the book. Still, I overall enjoyed it and would recommend it to fantasy-lovers.
Read in September 2009
December 14, 2009
Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card (1 of Tales of Alvin Maker)
The book is set in an alternate colonial America, where practitioners of magic have been exiled. Alvin Miller is born the seventh son of a seventh son- and thus his family & community expects him to be destined for greatness- that is if he can survive to adulthood. For he seems continually set by accidents. Is someone- or something out to get him?
Yet while a supernatural threat may be looming, religious, political and racial conflicts are closer to home.
I enjoyed the historical scenario, as described and revealed by Card. I was reminded a bit of Little House on the Prairie, despite it being an earlier time period, settling a homestead is much the same.
I might’ve given it more stars but I thought the characters were not very well-developed. This is just the first book of a series, though so I expect Alvin and others will become more fleshed out in later books. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in early American history, folklore and folk magic.
Note: just a warning that the Native Americans are referred to as “Reds”, “savages” etc. which was rather jarring to me. I don’t think (I hope!) Card means to be racist, but rather it’s meant from the settlers’ POV.
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Book 2 of Temeraire series)
Throne of Jade begins with Capt. Will Laurence being informed by his superiors of a diplomatic problem. Since Temeraire’s egg was acquired by the capture of a French vessel, and the egg was a gift from the Chinese, they now want Temeraire back! After some negotiation, it’s decided that Laurence will accompany Temeraire on a voyage back to China and they’ll figure out what to do there.
Some have complained that the sea voyage that takes a good chunk of the book is rather slow, and it can be at times. But I found the culture clashes between the British and the Chinese to be very interesting.
Upon arrival in China they discover the very different way dragons are treated there. The Chinese were the first to tame & breed dragons, and so they are much more common there than in the west. Thus, their roles are not limited to the military. I think the best part of this book was watching Temeraire mature & grow as a character as he begins questioning the status of dragons. Novik brings up many thought-provoking moral and cultural issues. It seemed like it took me most of August to get through this book, but it was worth it!
January 29, 2009
Twilight by Stephenie Meyers (Book 1 of the Twilight Saga)
I hadn’t gotten to reading this before seeing the movie, but after we saw it together, my friend lent me the book.
I liked some aspects of Twilight, like the vivid descriptions that I found quite poetic. I thought how she tied a Native American legend into it was unique and interesting. (I wonder if it is a real legend- I looked it up and did find that it is a real tribe that lives in Washington). I sort of like Bella, as I tend to identify with underdog, nerdy characters but think she needs to be a stronger character. Edward I suppose has a certain appeal, but there’s something about him that’s creepy. He seems to be written to fulfill the fantasy of an old-fashioned chivalrous guy that protects you. Is there is a message being sent about how girls should play a passive role- or are human-vampire romances just inherently unequal? Maybe I’m over-analyzing…I really like Alice and some of the other Cullens and would like to see more of their stories.
I am still going to read the next book in hopes that Bella develops more as a character, and her relationship with Edward matures. Plus I’m just plain curious to see what happens and it will be more fun since I won’t already know the plot from the film.
July 9, 2008
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (Book 1 of Temeraire series)
Captain Will Laurence doesn’t realize what he’s getting into when he and his crew come across a dragon’s egg on a captured French ship. But before he knows it, he becomes the master (or partner?) of Temeraire, a charming and inquisitive dragon. In his world, dragons and their riders serve in the Aerial Corps, battling other nations’ reptilian forces.
The first third or so of the book is concerned with the training of Temeraire and Laurence, so it takes a while to get into the action. I found the training to be interesting, however as it further explains the logistics of draconian battle and Laurence, a proper British gentleman finds himself rather shocked by the social mores of the dragon riders. So military history buffs, be patient and you’ll see our heroes match their wits and strength with the wiles of Napoleon’s cronies.
Cheryl at Loose Ends
June 14, 2008
Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg (Book 1 of the Majipoor Cycle)
This book was literally shoved into my hands by my fiance with an exhortation of “You have to read this!” After reading, I have to say, he did me a favor! It takes place on Majipoor, a large planet that was long ago colonized by Earth and races of other planets. Much of the technology has been lost, and Majipoor is at a feudal, agricultural level of development and something of a galactic backwater. But overall, it is a peaceful and prosperous world.
Here we find Valentine, a young man who has forgotten his past. He joins a troupe of traveling jugglers, and immerses himself in the art and the carefree life of an entertainer. But Valentine is not who he seems, and when he discovers his true identity, he faces a great challenge, and a journey across much of Majipoor.
Silverberg has created a fascinating world, filled with many colorful characters of various species. The significance of dreams, and their interpretation, figures prominently in Majipooran culture- even in the social order. The Lady of Sleep guides the people with prophetic dreams, while the King of Dreams punishes wrongdoers with nightmares. It was an exciting and suspenseful adventure. I look forward to the next book in the series, Lord Valentine Pontifex and the continuing political intrigue it will reveal.
April 28, 2008
Street Magic: Book 2 of the Circle Opens Quartet by Tamora Pierce
In the next book in the Circle Opens, Briar and Rosethorn have travelled to the east, to the Near Eastern-style city of Chammur in Sotat. Rosethorn is helping the local farmers, while Briar cultivates plants to sell.
Briar discovers in a chance encounter that Evvy, a street child has a magical gift with stones. As he begins teaching her the basics of meditation and magic, they get caught up in the conflict between street gangs that struggle for control of Chammur. Each of them wants Evvy for their own, to use her to find precious stones.
As with Magic Steps, Street Magic was suspenseful, intrigue-filled adventure.