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.
Since so far I read but Game of Thrones, the first book to the series. I wish to note that in no mean I judge the series alltogether. G.R.R. Martin have created an interesting world with lots of likeable charachters, epic story and unique in a sense playing with reader... The problem I have is that it's boring. No, not the story, however overdone and simple, but the narrative. Never have I reade such flat descriptions and emotionless dialouge, not to mention forced expositions... Honestly , the idea of charachter perspective told story with each chapter being presented from pov of different one involved in an event is nice, the execution is less than impressive. If not for the HBO show I would have hard time getting into the presented world. Another thing are all the Deus Ex Machina literaly forcing the plot to continue the intended way. [spoiler] Honestly no one thought that it is odd that before Joffrey there was no other Baratheon of blond hair?[/spoiler] To be honest I am almost sure the whole book series was written from the very first page to be made into a movie or, as it came to be, tv series. HBO patches some holes, adds here, takes away there and makes the story overall better and of course... Puts life into the charachters and dialogue! I hope the other books of the series are better because so far my jaw hurts from yawning.
Great book, loved it since the start. And a lot of people are knocking it because "it's not original". Here is a question. so what? There are billions of books out there for every type you can think of. There is going to be over laps from other books but look out there and tell some stranger the book their reading is not a original. They will say the same exact thing, so what? You read a book because you want to, not for the originality of it.
The "Warded Man" as it is known in the U.S. takes most of the book to unite the 3 main characters. The demon fighting should take place a lot sooner and spend half the time building the characters! By the time they start fighting the demons, the book is over! Seems like I spent the whole time waiting for the description on the back to materialize and then it's over! Thank god I already had the 2nd book! Unfortunately, the beginning of the 2nd book (which I just started) sounds like the "jihad" of modern day...if you don't "believe" we must kill and rape fellow humans? Krasians are modern day terrorists? Hiding women under veils, holy wars, 'chin' (unbelievers), must ALL die? What's REALLY being said here?
I understand what a lot of people see in this as a series; it's difficult to put down. My issue isn't with where it starts; it starts out as strong as any other series of its kind, and I quite enjoyed where it seemed to be heading. But out of nowhere it seemed like Martin got bored or pressure from the editors or... I don't know what happened, honestly, but soon enough the whole thing turned into gore porn, and with very shaky justifications. I've heard people use terms like 'realistic' and 'harsh truths' to describe this series. These are misguided claims. At least one character is killed off essentially in a Deus Ex Machina fashion that is so utterly out-of-the-blue and in such a poor way that I had to put the book down in disgust. Martin knew how to begin this series and get me hooked; he seems to have utterly no idea what comes next. After a while all the grimdark becomes more of a chore than anything else. See if you can count the number of rapes, almost-rapes, murders, mass murders, and instances of out-of-character sadism in this series, because I have lost count, and honestly at this point, it's not shocking, it's not titillating, it isn't exciting, hell, by now it's barely surprising at all. I really wanted to be more of a fan of this book and this series but I'm afraid I don't see how this is considered great writing. It isn't. Its twists are supposed to be dramatic, but they come off as forced and kind of dumb. I'm only on the second book and I'm already groaning and rolling my eyes at the murder and rape. Again? Really? If you're a little bit of a mixed-up sadist who loves plot elements that come from nowhere and then never show up again as the only reprieves from a litany of confusing motives, guards who will murder and rape anything so long as they're told, and writing that started strong but ultimately leads nowhere and pulls another slaughter and/or rape and/or out-of-character turn from openly good to outright evil every time it's bored, then by all means, pick this book up. Otherwise, keep your money, it's not worth the read. I don't understand where its popularity comes from; endless cliffhangers don't make a story good. What is shocking in the first few chapters becomes another Tuesday morning if you do it in every subsequent chapter; I can't be shocked forever. At this point, it would sincerely shock me if a character actually managed to retain their morals just to mix things up a little.
Like some of the other reviewers, I thought moles, yeah right!!! I started it mainly to humour my husband who read this book at school and said I would like it. Thank the gods, William Horwood and ok... my husband, for the most touching, emotive book I have ever read. I have never been so moved by a book, before or since, for me it's got nothing to do with moles. It's life, nature, faith, courage, fear, weakness, greed, power, everything to do with being human, I could not recommend it highly enough, read it now.
Frustrating, tiresome, vague, complicated and to put the icing on the cake utterly utterly brilliant! I have never read anything by an author that can encapsulate such opposite feeling from chapter to chapter and book to book but once you have read the entire series you step back and simple marvel at the genius of Erikson. I have seen the references to shallow characters etc... to which I can only respond "you just don't get it" and that is the requirement, Erikson doesn't spoon feed, heck he doesn't feed in anyway, he simply throws you into the pool and lets you sink or swim to find your way and he gets a "Bravo" from me for taking that risk. I still think that Brandon Sanderson (imo) is the better author of the 2 but is is comparing chalk and cheese tbh, Erikson is a genius worldbuilder, Sanderson is a genius storyteller (and magic systems mechanic and an excellent worldbuilder in his own right) it is not easy to compare the two of the best writers of the fantasy genre so I read both :D
I absolutely loved this book. Even though everyone has their own opinion, which doesn't matter to me. I am only reading Torment now, but I can't put it down (until now):) Yes, it is like Twilight and it does have the disappointing love triangle. I also hoped that Luce would end up with Cam, but that's only because I like Cam. I think the plot was excellent because it may be like Twilight and that's is what all my friend's said, but I wanted to read it even more. The turn of events made me anxious for more. I didn't know what would happen next. I am usually prescient about love romance novels, but this one dumbfounded me. The simple form of writing Kate uses makes the reader think more deeply into the reason for every word in every sentence. I had to reread a couple of lines just to rethink a deeper meaning. I loved it!!!!!! Thank you for those who loved the book. Reading it made me want more. And also thank you for the other comments which weren't very necessary but you gave your opinion and I'm sure your opinion helped Kate with her future novels. I've FALLEN in love with FALLEN.
I have to say, although some parts in that book were confusing, I still enjoyed it. An excellent combination of fantasy, dark humor and Slavic mythology, finally someone who can add something original. Great job, I just wish he could write more the Witcher novels, but I guess you can't have everything.
Gemmell has with 'Wolf in Shadow' created a thoroughly gripping read, much like many of his other fantasy fiction novels. His portrayal of the post apocalyptic landscapes and uncivilised society are not so unbelievable so as to remove any emotional contact that the reader develops with the characters, as i found that i could still relate to many of the themes. The introduction of magical powers and ESPers to the plot only added to the enjoyment as again, Gemmell has introduced them in such a way that you almost believe that they could develop in reality. The melancholic nature of Jon Shannow's journey , and his misunderstood personality and beliefs throughout the novel only cause the reader to side with him more and revel in his accomplishments. The inclusion of many subplots throughout the story, all of which culminate in the final pages maintains the readers interest further as the mysteries are all unwound. There are however elements of the novel which are perhaps a bit romantic and quixotic, but i found that they only added to the Gemmell experience. All in all, i though this book was absolutely fantastic as far as fantasy fiction goes, and once again, Gemmell has produced a great read 9/10!!!
In March of this year, I managed to slip and fall on some ice and near to break my arm. This meant doing nearly anything was excruciatingly painful. Fortunately, this did not stop me from reading, something which to me is more necessary than food and only slightly less than oxygen. I waded into Magician's Guild, a series a friend had recommended, hoping for something deep and enriching to take my mind off my evil aching elbow, and at least that far I was not disappointed, the story had lots of action and detail, and an interesting premise to keep me thinking. The more I read however, the less captivated I became by Magicians Guild, and the more obvious it was that this was Canavan's first novel. In fairness I will say the book was good enough to make me want to go on to the rest of the series, and equally this series certainly got better with each book (I would award The Novice a six and The Highlord an eight), however that doesn't get away from the fact that all in all I found The Magician's Guild only fair at best. One thing which I really did appreciate about the book, was its premise and history. One of the successes of writers such as Tolkien and H. P. Lovecraft is the ability to show a full scale world and its history and culture through glimpses, allusions of past events or even architectural details or place names. This is something other writers have tried with varying levels of success, but one admirable thing Trudi Canavan manages is to eschew this technique in favour of a simple, character driven approach. We know just what the other characters (especially the principle protagonist Sonea) know, indeed it wasn't until a good ways through the book that I found out the name of the city or country. This deft revelation of the world is something extremely well planned and really gives the reader a sense of scale, that this is a huge city people live in, and that the problems of individual characters are absolutely important to them, far more so than distant wars or political relations. This also brings home to the reader the fact that the divide betwene rich and poor is quite extreme. The Rich may have imported items from distant lands or know the city's history, but the poor are simply concerned with dodging around the law and finding food, clothing and shelter. One technique of world building however I do not appreciate, is Canavan's use of fantasy names for perfectly normal types of animals. While otherworldly creatures or artefacts specific to a culture should of course have their own names, to call a rat a ravi or sheep a reeba seems a rather cheap way of borrowing mystery for its own sake. This also created an actual problem in the names of The Thieves, a shadowy, mafia type organization, since having them simply called spider or ox would've been far more menacing, and have really emphasised the fact that The Thieves were using animalistic names, as well as missing out on the somewhat clumsy exposition necessary to understand what their names meant. Stylistically in general I felt distinctly let down. While Canavan doesn't fall into the pseudo film script writing style of someone like Eoin Colfer, I found her bald statement of the action and her general use of language clunky, lacking rhythm or atmosphere, sometimes even patronising, often making me feel as if I was having the city described to me as a slightly dim tourist, rather than actually being a witness to events, let alone getting a character’s emotional perspective. This especially came across because Canavan's style is typified by long expository passages with no use of poetry or rhythm, she simply "says" what happens, often with need to explain minor details to the uninitiated reader. While this does have the advantage of making the reader intimately equated with characters and their lives, it equally feels extremely disjointed in places, and is doubtless the chief reason I have seen several reviewers complain at her harping on insignificant details. A good stylist after all can convey information without seeming to convey it, but Canavan's plain, unornamented prose simply exist, meaning that details just get stated and that's it. Another fact which contributes to this rather clumsy problem, is that of overall pacing. The book features two principle plot threads, Sonea's attempts to avoid capture by what she perceives to be the evil magicians who routinely aide in kicking her and the other poor out of the city, and the Guild's often ponderous attempts to find Sonea and persuade her to accept training in magic. The problem however, is that both of these plots take up two thirds of the novel. We know (not the least because the second in the series is called The Novice), that Sonea will eventually join the Guild, thus we are presented with a huge amount of prevarication for its own sake. While I do enjoy the way Canavan presents us with a group of Magicians divided in attitude towards the poor, and often somewhat removed from reality (they felt very much like my own university's Philosophy department), as well as slum dwellers who range from class solidarity to criminal syndicates, we have learnt pretty much everything about these groups in the first three or four chapters. from then on most of the novel involves bumbling attempts by the Magicians' to find Ssonea, and Sonea's increasingly unlikely escapes, (not helped by the fact that Canavan's lumbering style makes everyone appear extremely slow witted), not to mention a level of mistrust which becomes wearisome due to the fact it never changes. None of this served really too much purpose other than to pad out the overall narrative, and I found myself increasingly frustrated by the fact that neither plot appeared to be progressing or serving much purpose. When Sonea is finally caught by the Guild, we were presented with what to me was one of the nicest sections of the book, when the fatherly Rothen was able to slowly gain Sonea's trust and begin teaching her control of her magic, but even here Canavan cannot move on and there is still a doubt about whether Sonea will become a full member of the Guild or not. Add on to this an inept attempt at kidnap and manipulation that is doomed to failure by its very stupidity, and the hole book feels like riding a bike up a hill with a wheel barrow full of bricks strapped behind. One could virtually skip the entire first book, but for one particular scene which becomes relevant later. Usually, I do not mind plots that take their time in resolution, existing simply to show us more of the world, offer artistic contrast or simply explore one character a little deeper, Canavan however due to her total lack of emotive style and her very limited view of the overall world is reliant only upon the plot to hold the readers' interest, and unfortunately there isn't enough of one to bear all of the load. What I found most irksome about Magicians Guild however, is the character of Sonea herself. In the first chapter, she hurls a stone at one of the magicians who are engaged in driving the poor from the city, and we are told her history, a girl who used to be a member of a criminal street gang but was moved away by her parents to stop her getting into trouble. From this, I expected a character with a certain level of motivation, of inner resourcefulness, someone streetwise and tough enough to survive on the very literally mean streets. Sonea's stone throwing however, is probably the most affirmative action she takes throughout the entire book. Most of the plot sees her being dragged around from hiding place to hiding place by her friend Cerini, or by other members of The Thieves he asks to help. During the sections from her own perspective, she makes many somewhat analytic plans, about her future, her situation, and even her own feelings, but she seems to make no attempts at all to put these into action. This makes Sonea feel not only an extremely incapable character, but also cold and distant. We are told that she "doesn't know what she feels for Cery" or that "she worries about her aunt" but none of these emotional states are ever born out in either action, or even in words. Indeed, I ended up feeling quite sorry for Cery throughout much of the book, since he seemed to be absolutely devoted to a girl who knew exactly what he was feeling, but just sat there and analysed him without giving any indication of what she felt in return, despite the fact that he was throwing everything he had into his efforts to save her from the evil, if less than competent magicians. Sonea's inaction is also borne out by the fact that the closest thing the book has to a villain, albeit a rather inexpert one is defeated not by any actions on her behalf, but by a chance encounter that turned him in to the appropriate authorities. Thankfully, in The Novice, Sonea becomes a much more well rounded, emotional and active character, however that doesn't escape the fact that here she basically serves as nothing but a damsel in distress constantly manipulated by the actions of others. The other main character of the book, the magician Rothen I found much more engaging, since here Canavan's laboured, overly analytical style was perfect in portraying a kind natured academic who spends more of his time thinking and teaching than actually doing, but who (unlike Sonea), will get off his rear and take actions in his own interest (or that of those he cares about), when it is necessary. Unfortunately however, since most of Rothen's plot involves sitting and talking about the Guild's total inability to locate, or even speak to Sonea, he doesn't have much actual impact until that one decent section of book when he finally gets to act as Sonea's teacher (something which is also much expanded in the next two books). Though it does have its good points, world building, the complex relations betwene rich and poor and the distinct details of its setting, the drab, plodding style, poorly paced action and less than appealing protagonist made Magicians Guild a rather mediocre novel, obviously written by an author who had far too little plot to spread throughout the book. Were I to read the series again, I might well skip it entirely and continue on to the far better second and third entries, but as it stands for first time readers, if you are going to attempt Magicians Guild expect something of an aimless slog.
Durham, North England