Featured reader reviews: Page 8

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 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!!!

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.

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%.

United States

Weaveworld by Clive Barker

10 stars

Weaveworld, read this book some 25 years back and a couple more times since. It is a epic, imaginative piece of work that you just can not put down once you start. I have read hundreds of books, but have to say this is one of my most favourites. Once this book is read, you will never forget it. Another favourite short book to consider is 'Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming'. Cheers


The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

5 stars

A writer can be influenced, but must do something original and great with his influences. Such as every great fantasy author DID. Doing an inferior is a copy. Transforming an idea, and/or doing your own version is a great idea. Execution is all.


Bird Box by Josh Malerman

3 stars

When I finished the book, I was really surprised to find that the book had an editor, much less an agent. Frequently throughout the story, Malerman spood feeds, nay force feeds the story through exposition rather than simply showing us the action in situ. I realize that some of this, is a consequence of the flashback narrative, but that doesn't excuse it completely, as the book sometimes chooses to play out past scenes as though they were actually happening. It's amateurish, and I had to double check the price to make sure I didn't buy a self-published book, which I would have reviewed more gently. Editors are expensive, but given that I paid the same for this I have for books by Jim Butcher, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman I considered a waste of time and money.


The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

10 stars

I am a twelve year old reading the book for homework given to me by school. I am currentley on the fourth chapter of the book and I can't stop reading it! Each chapter is beautifully written and the storyline is amazing! This is a book that when you get to the end you will remember all the characters and the story and it will leave you wanting more! I highley recommend this book to anyone willing for an exciting adventure with some of Tolkien's best work!


Dead Men Naked by Dario Cannizzaro

9 stars

I have to say I was intrigued by the cover and expected a light-hearted novel; while I wasn't disappointed, Dead Men Naked is so much more! Louis, the main character, is an everyday hero and his take on the events that unfold is priceless. While the story is fast-paced and entertaining, the writing is almost poetry-in-prose and the philosophical digressions are challenging and interesting. I liked the style (it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy in some parts!) as it was literary but not pretentious. I am struggling to define this into a particular genre - is it fantasy? Magical realism? Don't know. It reminds me of the style of Indiana Jones or the Goonies, where out-of-this-world happenings seep into reality seamlessly. After all, this book is a reflection on mortality, but it is done so gently and poetically that you don't even realise the deep topics you're actually touching. I liked the ending, satisfying and hopeful, even if totally unexpected. I hope to read more from this author!


Swan Song by Robert McCammon

10 stars

The characters are unique and vivid. I've never cared so much for fictional characters. Joshua, Sister, Swan, Paul, Leona, and Artie were such lovable characters. The best post apocalyptic book I have read, and I've read a ton.

United States

House Of Chains by Steven Erikson

8 stars

It has been a while since I read Memories of Ice. Baffled and impressed, I was left in awe, and at the same time eager and afraid to go on. Then, years passed, and Erikson's super-huge-chaotic-epic-archeo-fantasy universe called me again. In the interval, I matured as a reader. I learned a few things. And I am now more inclined to forgive Erikson's wanderings and clever, frustration-generating ways of telling his story. Actually I learned that there is nothing to forgive - all is to take, everything is to embrace in this wild, sprawling story. House of Chains is an achievement. In giving us something we did not expect. More closely focused than Memories of Ice, this return to Seven-Cities brings a slightly different tone to the series. It's relying more on suggestion than before, and Erikson is trying to do a lot of different things at once - stylistically, character-wise, etc. - and somehow... he's succeeding. The storylines unveil themselves quickly - no time to lose after a quarter of the book being spent (quite brilliantly) on Karsa Orlong's story. Then, Erikson offers us (again) a layered and textured tapestry of events, some small, intimate or mysterious, other grand - though don't expect an epic like the previous book. No, this one's about something else. What? Hard to tell. Finding peace. Finding one's own way. Finding balance.


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