Featured reader reviews: Page 10

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.

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

8 stars

This book surprised me. I didn't know much about this series, nor the author, before starting it; I've only read passing comparisons to Dumas' "The Three Musketeers." The comparison is accurate, as the book revolves around Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, three swashbuckling heroes that try and uphold The King's Law, even though their King is dead, and most of the world blames them for it. Their honor stripped, they now live in a lawless society where most of the world curses their name, and they can only find meager guard or mercenary jobs. They're clinging to a shred of hope that was bestowed upon them by their King before he was slain by the enemy Dukes, but after years of empty searching, their morale is understandably low. The story picks up during what seems like a simple guard job that very quickly goes off the rails. Our heroes are framed and on the run, which sets off a chain of events that spans an impressive amount of locations for such a short, fast-moving book. Villains are everywhere in this lawless society, which makes every day seem a bit worse than the one before. It's impressive how deep the trouble continues to sink Falcio and his companions. This leads me into discussing some of the more impressive traits of this story: the pacing, which is wonderfully fast and exciting; the vividly-detailed swordplay, which is a mainstay throughout the adventure; and the quick, witty humor and dialogue that recalls Nicholas Eames and Scott Lynch. There is magic in this world, and it is used sparingly. There's also guns, but they are the early versions of which need lots of time for reloading. If I had any gripes, I might admit that the ending felt a bit rushed. There were several major events that seemed to get packed into very few pages, with a good portion of the 'how' and 'why' glossed over. I'll reserve judgment on de Castell's choice of what to share when I read further volumes: I get a sense that he has a greater purpose in mind, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how this very accessible, extremely fun adventure continues.

Adam
USA

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

10 stars

Having read a few of the reviews here, I would make a few observations. - The Lord of the Rings, is not fast paced action adventure fantasy, if you do not have patience, you will not enjoy it. It's like a fine wine, savour it, do not try to devour it quickly. - LOTR, is the very first epic scale fantasy. Every single other epic fantasy, every epic sci-fi, and half the art and music of the last 60 years has been influenced, or inspired by LOTR. It's is genesis and should be considered that way. - Tolkien, didn't just write a book, he spent most of his life creating an entire world, it's history, its mythology, its geography, it's languages etc. The scale of what he created is truly staggering and vastly more in depth than anyone before or since has ever attempted, remember this is the lifes work of 1 man... - If you are one of those who demand instant gratification, move on, you simply won't get it, or have the patience to enjoy one of the greatest masterpieces ever written. To the review, I first read LOTR, age 11, having been bitten by the middle earth bug with the Hobbit at about age 9. It took a lot of effort for an 11 year old to read, I got bored in places, but stuck with it because I had to know what was going to happen. By the time I had gotten to the end I had fallen in love. I still didn't understand much of what Tolkien was trying to tell me, but as I got older and wiser, I came to truly understand what he had written and that even the "boring bits" are well worth reading, simply because of the wisdom he is trying to impart. As quick fix epic fantasy, there are better books out there, but for those with the patience and understanding it remains the greatest fantasy book ever written. That's before we consider that all those that have come since LOTR owe their existence to Tolkien and this masterpiece. My personal Tolkien favourite though has got to be the Silmarillion and I for one am very glad that Peter Jackson will never get his hands on that beloved book.

Duncan
England

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

10 stars

A Positively amazing book, that promises to be one of the best fantasy series ever written. Sanderson has once again amazed us with his skill and imagination. I can't wait for the rest of the series. It may be long but I recommend it for any fan of fantasy, just read it.

Adam
United States

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

9 stars

One of the best series i've read in a looooong time. I find this B Sanderson an awesome writer, and since he finished my favourite series Wheel of Time i have to say you man ROCK!!!. After this mindblowing series ( who ascends thing left me with my mouth open and going...What the... F... it was so obvious and i didn't had a clue :)) ). Then i went and read Stormlight archives and i've gone.. You sir are RR Martin's and Tolkien's equal.

Catalin
Romania

Snow, White by Keith Austin

3 stars

Keith Austin’s Snow, White is a contemporary young adult fantasy that pulls together subtle references to our historical fairy tales. For me, this fantasy world was quite unusual: almost strangely interesting. But at the end of the day, it is a book that shows potential in its storyline, but fails to build suspense, inspire our imagination, and keep us turning the pages. Before I talk about what I thought of the plot and characterisation, here is a quick synopsis of the novel: John Creed, the lead character in the novel, is haunted by his dreams of the White Wolf—the villain in the story that helps create the denouement. He is also taunted by Casper Locke, a member of John’s class who picks on John’s characteristics: three scars and a stutter. As a result, John is alone with his dream and his peculiar grandfather, who teaches him folklore and ancient languages. However, desolate John Creed befriends Fyre King – an unusual character whose life is just as abnormal as John’s. This relationship sparks John’s interest, and the days of being reticent slowly start to fade away. Nearing the novel’s climax, conversely, John starts to unravel the mysteries of his past, and it is then Fyre’s job to support him. (And then an interesting, but not really interesting, cliffhanger): What will happen next? (Note: the rest of the review may contain slight spoilers). First, I would like to talk about Characterisation. Characterisation, for the most part, was adequate. Particularly at the beginning of the story, Austin gives insight into John’s thoughts, and also how he feels about the other characters. My major problem with the characterisation, though, is that Austin was unable to maintain this level of detail in the character’s thoughts and relationships. Indeed, leading up to the climax, the book seemed rushed as John began to piece together new information about his past. In fact, during the climax, one or two pages were filled with so much action that it was almost incomprehensible. I think Austin needed to slow down and make sure the audience had time to appreciate the action. If this meant that the book had 50 more pages, I would not be fussed. Finally, plot. Although characterisation is very important, the plot is pivotal. Without a successful plot, there is no essence of a complete and engaging story. Now, the plot I got in Snow, White was poor. Absolutely poor. And this is for many reasons: 1. A predictable plot. (Because he needed to defeat the White Wolf, and since this a fairy tale, it is obvious what the outcome would be) 2. The Climax was poor. The action was placed in basically the last 50 – 60 pages, and it therefore felt very rushed. 3. A more well-developed falling action. A proper falling action in this story would have been beneficial. This is because it would have given the audience time to understand the final thoughts of the characters, and to appreciate the action and outcome. While you may argue that I have made few comments about the plot here, I am here to say that these are imperative elements of a story. Think about it. The climax, or action, is the part where you find how your hero achieves their goal. And the elements leading up to the action are made gripping with mysteries, twists and turns. Keith Austin, unfortunately, didn’t deliver in this regard. As I said above, the plot is predicable, particularly because of the fairy tale setting. And, with such a predicable plot, it is hard to live the journey with the characters. This is since you already know what’s going to happen, and so you (as if you were living it the journey) would not be able to experience the confusion, the intrigue, the mystery, etc. Overall, the character development, while effective at the beginning, was not maintained in the climax/action. This development was also hindered because we cannot experience the mystery that the characters would have felt, as the plot was predicable. Moreover, the plot was not well mapped out, because Austin didn’t know how to develop an effective climax – he rushed it at the end. Now, I would not recommend this read to anyone. It is a complete waste of time. By the end, if you do get to the end, it is ultimately a novel that you will not savour.

Blake
Australia

Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

2 stars

Compared to Blood song, this novel is a pile of dung. I do not what happened. Was it rushed before it was ready in attempt to capitalize on the success of Blood Song ? Its hard to believe it is even the same writer. I have never been so disappointed with a novel's sequel in my lifetime. Those enamored with Vaelin will be disappointed to find this novel providing less then 20% on his development. Plot development moves at snails pace. Gone is the camaraderie of the brothers. In fact with the exception of Caenis none of the brothers are even around anymore replaced with characters that hold zero attraction. I find myself totally disinterested and detached from the characters and the story. In contrast, with Blood Song, I was absolutely riveted to every single page. I think with writer's big mistake was deviating away from Vaelin and his relationships. In Tower Lord he wanders around aimlessly with no purpose. He has no romantic partner, his fellowship with his brothers is gone, he is faithless, his dog is gone, his amusing horse is gone, court intrigue and the realm's struggles is finished. This is book is a train wreck.

Cyric London
Canada

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

6 stars

Reading the previous reviews it seems either people really like it or dislike the book. I can see both opinions as really valid. There is way too much exposition in this book, nothing seems to happen, it as if you were reading A Song of Fire and Ice, and you had to read every page with a detailed description of the food. For some reason though, the story was interesting enough that I wanted to finish the novel. The author definitely makes you curious what Kvothe 's deal is. How does he become the superhero and what he does with it? There doesn't seem to be any really complicated problem he ever really faces, besides the beginning of the book. As everyone has said Kovethe, is capable of doing everything, I guess that is his knack. The side-characters are alright, the most interesting one is probably "Ben" and he is only there for a bit. If you like fantasy books and autobiographical styles, this could entertain you? If you like fantasy books with more complexity and a more interesting world, I suggest you skip it.

Rahul
United States

The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks

7 stars

I would not have read this book, but I had bought it as part of a trilogy bundle on my Nook. I would not have read it because the "Sword of Shannara" was such a terribly-written knock off of LotR. However, Terry Brooks wrote the original SoS, then a second book, and then was forced to rewrite the second novel. All that practice evidently paid off. The dialogue was more natural in "Elfstones," as were character descriptions. In the first book, huge chunks of exposition were done in awkward and inappropriate storytime scenarios. In this book, exposition is more natural and flows better within the action. Overall, the plot is good, the characters believable, and the conclusion satisfying. My one and only problem. When Wil asks if he is to take up the Sword of Shannara, Allanon tells him it would be of no use, since it only reveals truth. I thought this strange, after all, if the entire world is at risk, why not use every tool available? This became extremely frustrating later in the book, as one of the key plot points is a shape-shifting demon who first murders all the Chosen, then spies on the elven court for most of the book. No need to pierce deception here, folks! So lame when the characters do needlessly stupid stuff. The heir to Shannara ignores the Sword of Shannara because, hey, who needs truth revealed? That almost never matters!!!

Robin
United States

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

1 stars

I first read this book as a child. I remember loving the whole trilogy. I recently re-read it and I was appalled. First, it is indeed a blatant rip off of LotR. Two diminutive creatures live in an idyllic "vale" away from any danger. A wizard appears and warns of impending doom. They end up being chased out of town by black-hooded wraiths. On the road they meet a man who ends up being heir to the most important kingdom of men. They arrive at their first destination and form a multi-racial fellowship, intended to find a magical artifact. There is a wormtongue character who has poisoned the mind of a leader of men. The "fellowship" is forced to pass under a dangerous mountain. There is a cowardly, insane creature who pines after the magical artifact. The hero is forced to penetrate into the heart of the enemy's fortress to defeat him. I have no idea why the reviewer uses the word "layman" to describe accusations of plagiary. In my opinion, it would take a layman, and a very unobservant one, not to notice the repeated story line theft. However, I would forgive much if the writing were good. There are other Tolkien imitators, and I can appreciate some of it. But this book is poorly written. Character action is wooden and over-described. Dialogue is awkward. Word choice is painfully elementary, and sometimes flat out wrong. ("The drums of the gnomes boomed out in a steady CRESCENDO as..") This is a terrible book, and only a child who has had no exposure to Tolkien would find anything of value in it. I was truly disappointed by the writing and disgusted by the blatant plagiary. It is worth noting that the second and third books are better, since theft of Tolkien was no longer an option. However, a huge plot point in "The Elfstones of Shannara" is a demon who can shape shift and is thus able to both murder all the chosen and spy on the elves for most of the book. If only they had some kind of magical talisman that's purpose is to reveal truth... Moronic that the second book could be solved by using the sword from the first book that everyone magically forgets.

Robin
United States

The Orc King by RA Salvatore

5 stars

It is hard to articulate how disappointed I was in the narration of the Orc King. It is so bad I am stunned! I mean it is shocking how bad this new guy is in... well just about everything. He changes the whole feel of the characters. The pronunciation of names changes dramatically. He can freaking say some basic names right. I am so disappointed. I LOVED listening to the entire Drizzt series from his beginnings int eh underdark all the way through... *shakes head*... WHY change the narrator? Seriously people... even if you (whoever made this decision) changed narrators you could have at least got the new guy to read or listen to some of the other 16 books. How is that not mandatory? At least he would have some idea what he was doing. Bruenor went from a cool, rugged, tough old father figure to a guy you'd envision finding in a irish pub! Regis went from child-like to the feel of an old english guy. WTF!!!!! Whoever is responsible for this should be fired.... or at least re-trained. It isn't the bad narrator's fault ultimately... it is whoever chose him and whoever didn't prep him properly. Disgraceful. I gave the rating a 5 because the book is prolly a 10 if you read it, but listening to it is like someone blowing a fog horn in your face every few minutes so I marked it down 50%.

Thomas
United States

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