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 Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

10 stars

This isn\'t really like other books, even its imitators, though the best of them are similarly long, variable in pace and diverse in language and location. The early part of the story was meant to be a follow-up to The Hobbit, until it switches tracks and increasingly becomes the war story that it actually is. Those who have read war memoirs by anyone who actually lived through a war will know the difference between a war story and an action novel. There has been some discussion about whether, since this can be \"read by teenagers\", LotR is really a \"YA\" novel. I read Arabian Sands at age of 10, so that is a YA story? Go figure. YA is a marketing term, and didn\'t exist in Tolkien\'s day. People just wrote stories. However I think Anon of UK below has it right. It\'s best read when you still have hopes and dreams. As you get older, it may fade more and more into the land of hopes and dreams - but it is you that are changing. Some of the cold bitter side of life can be glimpsed under the surface at times, (If you want more of that, Go To The Silmarillion.) I have a feeling that when you get really old, you may begin to see its relevance again. In these increasingly difficult times, not a week goes by but I remember the words of Galadriel to Sam at the end of The Mirror of Galadriel. Tolkien had after all lived through the time of Hitler. If you want to read it but (like my Granny) can\'t stand little men with furry feet, try reading it backwards from, say, Many Partings. Chapter by chapter, I mean, not word for word. That doesn\'t work. You don\'t have to read it. The Wizard of Earthsea is also a very fine book, and a lot shorter.

Dernhelm
UK

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

9 stars

If you have arrived at this point in Erikson's story, and are still here, then you are a patient and diligent reader. Willing to go back and refresh a recently read, but hazily remembered, detail that has suddenly emerged as important. The convoluted story-line, complex characters, many poems-odes - and quotes and multitude of story-lines running simultaneously challenges the reader-as I believe the author intended. An enjoyable and worthwhile challenge!

Ed G G
Canada

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

9 stars

I would recommend the book to people who are not overly into sci-fi, since it is quite mild and not too science-ish. It is well written, which was obvious since it is by Stephenie Meyer. Definitely one of my favorite books. The characters are so lovable (and hateable) and they really makes you think about our human traits, such as aggression, selfishness and arrogance. Th only relatively (but not overly) contra point is that it gets quite sappy at times.

Helen
Germany

Shadowmagic by John Lenahan

8 stars

I am a huge Tolkien fan so began this reading adventure with some scepticism. However, I absolutely loved the trilogy & just wish Mr Lenahan would write some more. Excellent stuff.

Tom
UK

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

2 stars

Well, l managed to finish The Final Empire but it didn\'t really come across as anything special, as per my review. I thought l would give Branderson another chance with this sequel and now l wish l hadn\'t. The prose and dialogue is still diabolically bad and redundant. So many things repeated time and again, and so many frowns, eye rolling and snorting from the characters which does nothing for the depth of the characters involved...everyone is doing it. The dialogue between them is awful and flat too, all the characters just sound like the same person. The fight scenes are basically redundant pieces of writing and what tension? is built is very quickly dispersed by a lack of flow in the prose. So many times the reader is taken out of the action by the mentioning of \'pushing and pulling\' at things and you end up with stilted action scenes. In all reality there is no sense of drama and tension really, it is all so \'stop and start\', so to speak. People talk about the worldbuilding being very good, but the room locations are pretty much standard without any descriptive flair or nuance. These things are important, obviously setting the scene and engrossing the reader in believing in a fantasy setting, otherwise his own making. This is YA fiction masquerading as adult fiction, and it comes from someone who isn\'t in the game for the right reasons. Teenagers will love it of course because never forget that \'who cares what it\'s about, as long as the kids go\' mentality, in this day and age.

Paul
United Kingdom

A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin

10 stars

There are no books I love more than the A Song of Ice and Fire. Honestly, it deserves so much better than a 9.5 (based on books I\'ve seen with higher ratings that don\'t measure up nearly as high as ASOIAF). I almost exclusively read fantasy and these books are as good as lord of the rings, in a different way (a very different way). The best thing is they are all about character. In fantasy, characterization is often put to the side so that cool battles and fun magic can be explored more. There are only two characters in the entire series that I know are the bad guys, and the author even has me feeling bad for them at some points. Every character feels real, and there are moments where I have hated every one of them, and moments where I have loved them. They all develop over time in ways that you can barely notice until it hits you that, wow, that character isn\'t evil anymore. There are a million plot lines, and each one is very real. No one cheats, no one can \"just do the magic thing\" to get out of a situation. Actions have consequences. Our favorite characters die, and the bad ones get to live. It is extremely well written, fast paced in some places and slow in others. The books have a depth that make you want to read the series over and over again so you can find out just what is going on with the characters, and catch all of the hints and symbolism the author puts in there. I will never look at fantasy the same again, this series has changed my world view.

Brecken
USA

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

10 stars

It is a beautiful book with ORIGINALITY. It explores the story of a young boy who overnight at the discovery of an egg, becomes the only chance of freedom from the tyranny of the evil king Galbatorix. the Egg which happens to be a dragon\'s egg who chooses him to be her rider. The story shows the transition of a carefree boy to a conscientious man.

Tasha
India

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

9 stars

What a fantastic retelling of Norse Myths. It features such characters as Odin, Thor and Loki along with a host of other lesser known gods and characters. Gaiman does his best to stick to the source material and not stray too far from the myths themselves, writing it in his own language which really brings the stories to life. By doing this, Gaiman has written the perfect place to start if you want to learn more about Norse Mythology in my view. What really added to my enjoyment was that I had read the Poetic Edda before this, so I had an inclination as to which myths would get the Gaiman treatment. It’s basically a collection of short stories, with a large Ragnarok story at the end. Amongst my favourites were: • How Thor receives Mjollnir (Treasures of the Gods) • When Thor has to dress up as a bride to get Mjollnir back (Freya’s unusual wedding) • The story of the cauldron the Gods want so they can get drunk a lot (Hymir and Thor’s fishing expedition) • The mead of Poetry (Mead of poets) My favourite though, was Thor’s journey to the land of the giants. It’s one of the longer tales in the book where Thor and his companions are put through their paces in a number of physical contests. Gaiman stays true to how the characters are described within the ancient myths. The characters are different to what people have come to expect from Marvel films. Thor is a bit of a dumb meat head. Odin is treacherous and ultimately clever. Loki is even more conniving than the film/comic book version. Gaiman starts the book by saying that Norse myths are his favourites, and this shows with the level of care he gives the source material whilst adding his own spin to the tales. Norsemen also play a large part in American Gods. I listened to this on audiobook and Gaiman’s narration is great. Something really special happens when writers narrate their own works. The passion comes across when they read their own works. I’d recommend any of Gaiman’s audiobooks. Final thought Gaiman has definitely drank from Odin’s Gift (from the nice end!) and this is a must-read for anyone interested in Norse / Viking history. I already want to reread this, it was that good and it’s short enough to be read in a couple of days.

Paul O'Neill
Scotland

Fool\'s Assassin by Robin Hobb

1 stars

FA was a MAJOR disappointment. As good as her initial books in ROE were, including the masterful character development of Fitz, the Fool and many others, I found FA to be insulting....betraying the base intelligence of her readers and the characters she had developed. Imperfect characters are great and needed....mass stupidity is not nor is it believable. I am not certain what she was \"striving\" for, however this book had the result of me stopping about 2/3 of the way through and reading no further. I have never stopped reading a book before....ever.

Keith
USA

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

4 stars

I am 355 pages into this book, and l cannot take anymore. What lets this book down is the plotting, info dumps, exposition and the flat characters with they\'re wooden dialogue. It\'s poorly written and lacking in a certain descriptive passion for it\'s world building, too. Also, where is the emotion in all what the characters say, where is the rage and anger if need be? The fight scenes are bogged down in \'he pushed this, he pulled that\', which is annoying. I just cannot believe how this book has garnered so much \'love\', especially when these issues are all apparent and commonplace.

Paul
United Kingdom

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