Featured reader reviews: Page 1

Listed below are the latest featured reader reviews on the site. Some are positive in praise, some are negative in criticism, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are well written and explain their reasoning. We can never have enough reader reviews as they add to the quality of the site, making it ever more useful for visitors.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

9 stars

I notice there are a lot of one star reviews here from people who were made to read this at school. Personally I am a fan of The Hobbit and Tolkien, however I would never choose it as a book to study with a class. At a young age I was behind my peers when it came literacy, reading and writing as little as I could get away with. One day I picked up The Hobbit from the reading corner, the teacher quietly asked me if I was sure about my choice, as it was two bands above my recommended level (the books had a colour system to give an indication of reading difficulty) she seemed pleased enough when I said yes. The book had appealed to me for a while, I had heard a friend talk of it and had read the blurb on the back, however at that young age the size of the book and the grey sticker on its side were daunting. That night I took it home and spent what seemed like hours reading, many paragraphs I read twice trying to process the information (all those dwarfs with similar names.. which ones where related.. all those Hobbit surnames). Those early chapters were hard going and my bookmark showed I’d hardly made a dent in the story. Something happened when the company left the shire, suddenly the pace of my reading quickened, I wasn’t worrying trying to understand who was who or what was happening, I could immediately visualise the landscapes that were being described to me, was gripped by each new character that was introduced. It took me ages to finish that book and when I did I was buzzing.. then I realised I wanted more. The following autumn I picked up The Lord of The Rings, pleased to see it was even longer and even more pleased when I started reading and quickly decided that this was going to be even better than The Hobbit. This book was the first to capture me emotionally, taking me from reluctant reader to avid consumer of fiction. (However I would never choose this as a book to study with a class. It’s not going to appeal to all and forcing young readers to slug through something that for a children’s book is pretty long and slightly niche is likely to have the opposite effect to the one it had on me) I realise that this has to a certain extent been an anecdote more than a review, so.. I thought this was a brilliant book, deserving of it’s place as the godfather of modern fantasy. My advice to anyone who isn’t immediately hooked or immediately put off (particularly those who tend to enjoy fantasy and adventure) is stick with it till the journey really gets going, then make a decision.

Jimjoe
UK

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

1 stars

God awful... If I wanted a long, boring story about going to school, reading books, paying student loans and playing gigs in front of drunkards at the bar, I have my own life. I can't imagine how anyone finds this bullshit interesting, other than maybe appreciating the writing technique. (I personally think it is over-the-top, and annoying.) I am surprised that the chronicler didn't slap the shit out of Kvothe by the middle of the second day for wasting his time. As soon as anything mildly interesting seemed to be happening, the narrator would skip over it by saying something like: "...but this does not have much relevance to the overall story, so I will not bore you with the details." But apparently the excruciating details of reading books in the library, admiring ones own lute/lute case, borrowing and returning money, attending university classes about nothing, and playing lute at bars are important and require 1600 pages. Go fuck yourself, Patrick Rothfuss...

Magnus
United States

A Plague of Angels by Sheri S Tepper

9 stars

According to the search engine, this is the only review of any of Tepper's work on this site. This is an enormous oversight, as she wrote some of the best fantasy work of recent times, and should rank alongside Diana Wynne-Jones for her fantastic imagination, her plotting - 'The Family Tree' is breathtaking - and her willingness to take on important themes, such as the environment and feminism. The book under discussion is the first of three books, which include 'Waters Rising' and 'Fishtails' (My editions of these three books have been poorly edited, leading to whole chunks of repetition. This is a pity, as Tepper was, almost despite herself, an excellent writer). Abasio figures in all of them, and his character evolves away from the type of masculinity that figures so largely in the above review, Tepper allowing some chance of male redemption. Tepper's writing skills were particularly evident in her early 'Marianne' trilogy; later, as she said herself, she was wont to sacrifice the writing to the plot. But just about everything she wrote was readable and - like Wynne-Jones - thinkable. Read her trio of tilogies on the Land of the True Game, and the various standalones, such as 'Raising the Stones'. Oh - and one to hate for the author of the review above - 'The Gate to Women's Country.'

A. Reader
UK

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

10 stars

Loved it. Great twists. More amazing worldbuilding. Continued character growth (though I didn't like Shallan's arc that much, and I liked her in the previous books), and an epic battle at the end. Dalinar's flashbacks and his character, in general, were amazing. This book cemented him as one of my favorite characters of all time.

Rand
Two Rivers

The Barrow by Mark Smylie

10 stars

One of my favourite books of all time. Describes the world incredibly well. Many fantasy authors make the mistake of not describing the environment the characters travel through. Mark Smylie describes it excellently. Characters are described good too. Blackheart is my favourite character. Prologue the best and most exciting of any book I have ever read. The maps to go with the book are the best of any fantasy book. Many mysterious empires and environments are shown on map such as Palatia and Thessid Gola. Hope to travel to these mysterious places and more in future Mark Smylie books. Glossary at end of The Barrow was excellent. Describes many strange and mysterious people, gods and others.

Spen
Uk

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

10 stars

Many do not agree with me, but I believe that this book is far better than its predecessor (which was already amazing) and it is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters progress naturally and the sex and violence scenes are handled in a mature, realistic way. The new characters in the book are superb, and the Adem are in my opinion the coolest and most unique culture in fantasy. Contrary to others beliefs I actually very enjoyed how slow paced this book was, as it gave more time to dwell on how characters evolve and change. My only problem with the pace is that due to the slow nature of the story I find it doubtful that the plot can be cleanly wrapped up with only 1 more book, especially as the author has stated that The Doors of Stone will be shorter than The Wise Mans Fear. Overall, I highly recommend this book. However, caution is advised for younger readers as the novel contains some disturbing violent imagery and a number of sex scenes.

Ahri
Australia

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

4 stars

This book was particularly hard to hold focus for the first third of the book. But I'm an optimist and I was hoping it would get better. The middle was good. Kept me interested and engaged. And then somewhere around the last quarter of the book, it just fell off. Pros: The author is an amazing storyteller. The way the story was told, I was able to feel the elements, see the scenery, and really get to know the characters, good and bad. This is the ONLY reason I gave it a four out of ten. If the storytelling was terrible, then the rating would have been much lower. Cons: The main character (and thus main plot) drew on and on and on, keeping the reader hanging in there for a climax and finale. There were also two or three subplots that wove their way throughout the story. By far the biggest downfall to any of these plots or subplots, and the book as a whole, is that none of them, zero, had any sort of closure whatsoever. It's like the author strung me along, and because I was committed and just had to get to the end to find out what happens, and then nothing happened. Nothing. No twist. No finish. No closure to any of the stories. It just......ended. You can imagine my disappointment, having just read 500+ pages, for it to be a complete waste of time. I actually took it personally that I invested so much time to read it, and if was for naught. I'll be donating this one to goodwill, as I certainly won't be reading it again. And likely nothing else from this author if this is how he treats his readers.

Cassandra
United States

A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin

3 stars

I concur with those who criticize A Dance With Dragons. One comment says it all ..." “How can a guy write thousands of pages and not have an ending?”. GRRM suffers from an affliction called .... "Great Writers Bloat". Isaac Asimov contracted it when he milked the early Foundation books into bloated sequels. No Editor dares criticize the Famous Writer and tell them ... "You’re too long here and too wordy there … why bring in so many characters ... and where the Hell is the Ending!" Each word is treated as if it was giving by Moses/Martin on Har Sinai.

J Gary
United States

Magician by Raymond E Feist

2 stars

I just finished reading Magician after it had been on my backlog for years. I first came into contact with Feist's worlds when I read Daughter of the Empire when that was released, not realizing it was part of a larger series, and recently reread it. The deep character development of the main characters and the long political plots made me praise the author. None of what I enjoyed in Daughter of the Empire, and its two sequels, was visible in Magician. The blandest, most shallow characters I've read about outside of fanfiction. Women are described only by their beauty and temper. Thinking back, I can only count on the fingers of one hand the female characters that had dialogue (of which two only talked in a context of their romantic relationships). Another two or three were described with a sentence. Political plots that boil down to "some evil guy is taking advantage of someone else". On two separate occasions characters travel for a couple of chapters to ask for help from a greater power only to arrive, realise someone arbitrarily evil is in control and choose to go back home without accomplishing anything significant. Important political events are glossed over and solved with single sentence solutions along the lines of "We have received news of antagonist X; he was killed by a stray arrow in battle!" Nine years of war is described in a handful of battle scenes. Two of them are memorable. The first one because the entire thing was described with "and still they came". The second one because of the laughable deus ex machina solution of a mysterious sorcerer showing up and saving the day at the end. I read Magician with the intention of going through the entire series. Instead I find myself removing everything by Feist on my backlog. The only reason it gets two stars instead of one is because it answered a couple of questions I had after reading Daughter of the Empire.

Patrik
Sverige

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

10 stars

Beautiful and heartbreaking. The depth of emotional pain and the shadow of shattered hope and brief moments of almost pure joy made this a remarkable read. Survival at the center and love at its purest level is what captured my attention and kept me reading. I saw the movie first and knew I had to read the book. I was not disappointed. Needless to say, read it with a box of tissue close at hand.

Anon
UK

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