Featured reader reviews: Page 2

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 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

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

10 stars

Robin Hobb is a wonderful author, and this is her best series. I adore it. The characters are so human, and over the course of the series you grow to love them like they're your friends. Yes, it can get depressing, but everything has a narrative purpose; it isn't just gratuitous cruelty. I've read this many times, and hope to read it many more. Beautifully written, wonderful characters, engaging story. Everything good fantasy should be.

Laura
London

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

10 stars

After many years of avoiding reading Lord of the Rings I have just started it. It is amazing. I'm not sorry I put it off because I get to do it now. Tolkien really creates his world from below the ground up. I cannot recommend this book more. It's a great story and you'll learn how a story should be written.

Eamonn
Ireland

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

3 stars

I've read countless books. This is the only one where I did not care one bit about any of the characters.the whole book seems so predictable.and the treatment of the female characters in the book bordered on disgusting.having read many books from this period ,I can hqonestly say this was the most misogynistic thing I've ever read.

Lynn
USA

King of Ashes by Raymond E Feist

5 stars

You got a good basic premise - nothing particularly innovative but classic is classic because it does work. A battle and a betrayal reminiscent of Sekigahara. An orphaned royal heir to a conquered kingdom raised by a secretive criminal/spy organisation which combined the Mafia and the Ninja, trained to be thief / pirate / spy / assassin / warrior. Let's see ... "Way of the Tiger", anyone? Or Grey Star the Wizard? and many others. Not complaining because it is a formula that works. And it's only the beginning - we do not know whether the orphan will restore his kingdom, yet. But what is different in the application of this formula is that it does not make the whole story centred on the orphan Hatu. Which Feist pretty much did in Talon of the Silver Hawk, an opus which freely imitated the Count of Monte Cristo. At least in this first book, another "nobody orphan" also took the limelight of the alternating storyline, though one can accuse Feist of copying himself by almost replicating Erik von Darkmoor here. Now, a serious failing of this book is the umpteen repetition of passages telling and re-telling the relationship between Hatu and his 2 best friends Donte and Hava. Almost every chapter on Hatu had to bring up how confused the boy was feeling about a girl with whom he not only grew up from childhood (the book made a mistake of mentioning as babies), in a community where male and female students grew up bathing naked at the same time in a common area. Every chapter repeated that Hatu was often getting into inner rages without shedding more light on the rage. Now, another serious failing of the book is the introduction of too many secret organisations working in the shadows, somehow never crossing path except by the merest chance or only after being in operation for centuries, working the same ground. Oh, and the secret org that raised Hatu - apparently, some time before, some members broke away and left, and apparently formed their own rival organisation which not only spied on them but also killed senior members of the original group. Hatu's org's leaders knew about it, but they deliberately kept this information from their own members, info which might not only save their lives, but also ensure their criminal enterprises were unhindered. I still look forward to the next installment of the series but it better avoid the mistakes of the first.

Lorne
Singapore

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

9 stars

I've had fun reading this book and will definitely start reading the second one less than 24 hours after finishing this one. Some reviewers say that this book borrowed too much from Lord of The Rings and isn't very original, Well, even so, until it was pointed out I didn't notice it at all, and this means it's probably a figment of people's imagination, nitpicks for the sake of bashing the book just because. I enjoyed it and I have found only one thing that bothers me a little: How come the three main characters, Rand, Mat and Perrin happen to be important and live in the same place and even be frends at that? Then Egwene and Nynaeve are also sort of important and they also live in Two Rivers and are well acquainted with the three. How big of a coincidence is this? I would have much preferred if the other two protagonists were from other places and don't know Rand and one isn't even contacted by Moraine hasn't contacted them yet, also with one of them even possibly being contacted by Darkfiends first. It would've made things more off the beaten path. But I liked it as it is too, maybe in the future books there will be such events.

Alex
Bulgaria

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

3 stars

A warhammer inspired fantasy that tackles big themes but falls flat on execution. I was copiously baited to get this book after laying eyes on that nice-looking cover, which in turn further led me to fall an innocent victim to the hype that was circulating the web around it. The majority of ARC reviewers were showering this book with unprecedented praise that left me no choice but to jump on the bandwagon and hope for an enjoyable ride. What I experienced, however, was none other than the true for word definition of a hot mess. Who among us can really resist the premise of a medieval setting, elite soldiers sporting mechanical armors and a whole lot of demon slaying? Not many I presume. Yet, this book somehow managed to butcher these winning ingredients and make a dreadful porridge out of them. The story revolves around a teenage girl named Heloise and her journey to figure out herself and ultimately her ascension from zero to hero, making a stand against the evils of the world to protect the people she cares about. The story starts off strong as we're quickly introduced to the fanatical religious faction that is running rampant; The Order. This little encounter sets the tone for the entire book and catapults the story snowballing everything into motion. In that instance, we're acquainted with the prevailing grimness and biblical oppression that is taken for granted in the Emperor's domain. The people are helpless, the authorities in power are corrupt, and hope is a rare currency. Portraying these circumstances vividly is one of the few redeeming factors this book has. However, as the story goes onward, a sense of intrigue begins to slowly build up throughout the book that eventually grows into outright confusion as worldbuilding is never elaborate nor comprehensive enough to paint a whole canvas. Information is scarce and you're provided very little to help you make sense of what is going on, resulting in an impediment that breaks immersion and makes it difficult to connect with the world and its surroundings. Similarly, the characters are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts unscrupulously produced to fill the background. The protagonist being the main culprit was rather whiney, unlikeable and instigated instant teeth-grinding with her poorly thought dialogues. I was even at a point where I was rooting for her early demise, and that's never a good thing when you're supposed to sympathize and foster an emotional bond with that character. Everyone else is either a dreary housewife, a bland official of some capacity, or a tedious peddler of trades. Moreover, the inferior expression of emotions doesn't help matters one bit. Myke Cole seemed to particularly struggle in making anything stick or sound remotely relatable. Almost every single tide of emotions that were represented had been infuriatingly tethered to a reaction in the character's stomach. I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time my stomach made any movements in response to something I was going through other than on the mornings preceded by a heavy taco consumption the night before. Logistics is another thing that doesn't make the slightest of sense in this book. The army is apparently tied in a war somewhere, which you only get the most minimal of hints about, whereas the town's blacksmith, had been commisioned to fashion the legendary suits of armor the military employs in their efforts. Yet, why wasn't the blacksmith summoned to work from a more convenient outpost that is closer in proximity than a what appears to be an out-of-the-way village? Wouldn't they be better off if they didn't need to transport this heavy machinery all the way to the war zone? And if the area of conflict was indeed around the corner, why does no one seem at all concerned? In contrast, the fight scenes were full of action, extravagant in violence and excessive brutality, making them exorbitantly exciting to go through. There were even times where I had to close my eyes for a second or two, simply to process the poignant images forming in my head. Additionally, the fatalistic repercussions placed on the over usage of magic was an element that I found most interesting. In conclusion, this is a book that suffers from an identity crisis; some parts read like a YA especially the romantic bits, when others read like an adult fantasy with no decent balance in between. There's a great book buried somewhere underneath this rubble, unfortunately, we won't be able to see it come to life.

Khaled
Jordan

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

2 stars

Tiresome and repetitive, with a focus on the Y in YA. Main character is such a ridiculous Mary Sue there is no room for any suspense, as he consistently out-magicks, out-thinks, out-plays, and out-everythings everyone else in this book with such ease one wonders whether this is Rothfuss reliving his own pre-adolescent fantasies. Story meanders between Kvothe recounting, in tedious detail, just how poor he is; and Kvothe, winning everything always without much of a challenge. The book, in a nutshell: Kvothe reminds the reader that he is only a wee child of 15, but gosh, he is going to try his hardest! "I only had 2 jots" Kvothe defeats the mean old professor on his first try, despite the professor having decades of experience. "I looked at my last jot with trepidation" Kvothe saves the university from a conflagration. "But how would I get enough jots to pay for tuition???" Kvothe brings the audience to tears with his near-perfect musicianship, garnering an award that eludes master musicians. "I spent the last of my jots on a pair of boots" Kvothe woos the most beautiful and enigmatic woman of all. "I looked down at my purse, buying this crust of bread would cost me the last of my jots" Kvothe saves the world. Incredibly disappointing, the first chapters set up what should have been an exciting story but quickly devolved into a tiresome paint-by-numbers pile.

James
US

Nation by Terry Pratchett

10 stars

What does one look for in a novel? A plot that grips from cover to cover; engaging multi-dimensional characters with developmental arcs; action; drama; humour; wonder; mysticism; deep philosophical ideas; resonating implications? Nation is a tour de force of wit, compassion, humanity and understanding and I thank whatever providence gave the world a person with the capability to commit it to paper. This goes straight into the upper echelons of my favourite books and now I'm torn between I desire to cherish it and a need to pass it on.

Dom
England

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

10 stars

I'll preface this review by saying that I, obviously, love this book. The prose, pacing, characterizations, and story structure are superlative. However, since none of this is new information, I'll just leave a few responses to common complaints I've been seeing about The Name of The Wind. 1. "Kvothe is too good at everything." While this complaint is grounded in legitimacy, since Kvothe has a multitude of talents, it nonetheless misses the mark. Kvothe is not naturally gifted in everything, he's just really smart and incredibly dedicated to study. If he had a natural propensity to sygaldry, sympathy, etc. and entered the story as a pseudo-deific character, that would be one thing. But Kvothe does not have natural talent for anything but learning. The story goes out of its way to show Kvothe's struggles with accepting and learning about the larger world he is thrust into after the tragedy that befalls him at the start of the story. There's a lot more to be said on this, but instead I'll move on to... 2. "Rothfuss talks for too long about subjects that are boring, like Kvothe's poverty." Kvothe's poverty is an important part of the story. It's his bugbear, his foil, the one thing that haunts him from place to place and the ultimate counter to any advantage he gains. Kvothe's first and most important fear is not being in control, of being powerless. This, of course, (SPOILERS) stems from his complete powerlessness when faced with the Chandrian and the death of his troupe. Poverty makes him feel powerless again - he feels like it strips him of everything that makes him unique. And so, poverty is placed front and center in this story. The Chandrian may be his quest, but poverty is his truest nemesis. 3. "Nothing happens." The nature of the story is not one of epic proportions. The Name of the Wind is, at its core, a character study. The framing narrative informs the story by allowing the character of Kvothe to be the focus of the story. So, while there are no immense battles or monstrous evils to be defeated, there are personal demons and emotional quests that Kvothe explore's. This works as well as it does because the character of Kvothe that we see in the frame narrative is vastly different from the character we travel with for most of the story's length. There is an underlying tension to every victory, a sense of tragedy to every defeat, because we know where the sum total of Kvothe's experiences lead - to tragedy, anonymity, and ruin. The battles to be fought are those of a more personal nature rather than the supersized wars that are so prevalent in many fantasy novels. If you are looking for epic fantasy on a grand scale, another "Way of Kings" or "Wheel of Time" series, this is not that. If, instead, you are looking for a story with emotional resonance, beatific prose, and a tangible sense of heart and care in the construction of the world and characters, then you should give The Name of the Wind a try. "Music is a fine thing, but metal lasts." The Name of the Wind is both.

Andrew
United States

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