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 Barrow by Mark Smylie

10 stars

One of my favourite books of all time. Describes the world incredibly well. Many fantasy authors make the mistake of not describing the environment the characters travel through. Mark Smylie describes it excellently. Characters are described good too. Blackheart is my favourite character. Prologue the best and most exciting of any book I have ever read. The maps to go with the book are the best of any fantasy book. Many mysterious empires and environments are shown on map such as Palatia and Thessid Gola. Hope to travel to these mysterious places and more in future Mark Smylie books. Glossary at end of The Barrow was excellent. Describes many strange and mysterious people, gods and others.

Spen
Uk

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

10 stars

Many do not agree with me, but I believe that this book is far better than its predecessor (which was already amazing) and it is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters progress naturally and the sex and violence scenes are handled in a mature, realistic way. The new characters in the book are superb, and the Adem are in my opinion the coolest and most unique culture in fantasy. Contrary to others beliefs I actually very enjoyed how slow paced this book was, as it gave more time to dwell on how characters evolve and change. My only problem with the pace is that due to the slow nature of the story I find it doubtful that the plot can be cleanly wrapped up with only 1 more book, especially as the author has stated that The Doors of Stone will be shorter than The Wise Mans Fear. Overall, I highly recommend this book. However, caution is advised for younger readers as the novel contains some disturbing violent imagery and a number of sex scenes.

Ahri
Australia

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

4 stars

This book was particularly hard to hold focus for the first third of the book. But I'm an optimist and I was hoping it would get better. The middle was good. Kept me interested and engaged. And then somewhere around the last quarter of the book, it just fell off. Pros: The author is an amazing storyteller. The way the story was told, I was able to feel the elements, see the scenery, and really get to know the characters, good and bad. This is the ONLY reason I gave it a four out of ten. If the storytelling was terrible, then the rating would have been much lower. Cons: The main character (and thus main plot) drew on and on and on, keeping the reader hanging in there for a climax and finale. There were also two or three subplots that wove their way throughout the story. By far the biggest downfall to any of these plots or subplots, and the book as a whole, is that none of them, zero, had any sort of closure whatsoever. It's like the author strung me along, and because I was committed and just had to get to the end to find out what happens, and then nothing happened. Nothing. No twist. No finish. No closure to any of the stories. It just......ended. You can imagine my disappointment, having just read 500+ pages, for it to be a complete waste of time. I actually took it personally that I invested so much time to read it, and if was for naught. I'll be donating this one to goodwill, as I certainly won't be reading it again. And likely nothing else from this author if this is how he treats his readers.

Cassandra
United States

A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin

3 stars

I concur with those who criticize A Dance With Dragons. One comment says it all ..." “How can a guy write thousands of pages and not have an ending?”. GRRM suffers from an affliction called .... "Great Writers Bloat". Isaac Asimov contracted it when he milked the early Foundation books into bloated sequels. No Editor dares criticize the Famous Writer and tell them ... "You’re too long here and too wordy there … why bring in so many characters ... and where the Hell is the Ending!" Each word is treated as if it was giving by Moses/Martin on Har Sinai.

J Gary
United States

Magician by Raymond E Feist

2 stars

I just finished reading Magician after it had been on my backlog for years. I first came into contact with Feist's worlds when I read Daughter of the Empire when that was released, not realizing it was part of a larger series, and recently reread it. The deep character development of the main characters and the long political plots made me praise the author. None of what I enjoyed in Daughter of the Empire, and its two sequels, was visible in Magician. The blandest, most shallow characters I've read about outside of fanfiction. Women are described only by their beauty and temper. Thinking back, I can only count on the fingers of one hand the female characters that had dialogue (of which two only talked in a context of their romantic relationships). Another two or three were described with a sentence. Political plots that boil down to "some evil guy is taking advantage of someone else". On two separate occasions characters travel for a couple of chapters to ask for help from a greater power only to arrive, realise someone arbitrarily evil is in control and choose to go back home without accomplishing anything significant. Important political events are glossed over and solved with single sentence solutions along the lines of "We have received news of antagonist X; he was killed by a stray arrow in battle!" Nine years of war is described in a handful of battle scenes. Two of them are memorable. The first one because the entire thing was described with "and still they came". The second one because of the laughable deus ex machina solution of a mysterious sorcerer showing up and saving the day at the end. I read Magician with the intention of going through the entire series. Instead I find myself removing everything by Feist on my backlog. The only reason it gets two stars instead of one is because it answered a couple of questions I had after reading Daughter of the Empire.

Patrik
Sverige

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

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