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A brief review of Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon

…And 7 days, 46 hours and 20 minutes until the exam period is over.

Until then, I have to write almost 6k words of logical, coherent and potentially interesting essays (and reference every other sentence using the Harvard method).

In theory I have no time for such luxuries as reading. And yet last weekend I read Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon. It’s a high fantasy novel set in a land called Hythria.

The story:
The main character, Marla Wolfblade is the 15 year-old sister of the depraved High Prince, Lernen. Summoned back to Greenharbour Palace to be married off against her will to the cruel ruler of Fardohnya, Marla gradually resigns herself to her fate.

Then an unexpected opportunity arises and Marla dares to hope that she may marry not only for love but for the good of her realm. At a time when the Patriot faction are eager to depose her brother and eliminate Marla, can this opportunity be too good to be true?

With the help of Elezaar, a slave saved from assassination, Marla learns how to fight the kid-gloved wars of politics. But can these skills save her from an enemy she cannot see? All she knows is this: she can trust no-one.

After reading Fallon’s Sons of Senet series, I had high expectations of this one. To my joy the novel was even better than I had hoped.

Fallon has this amazing way of writing characters -and plots- that aren’t clichéd or worn-out. Yes, there are evil sorcerers plotting to gain power in this novel. Yes, there are chivalrous characters out there. But neither of them is copied from a template. The political scheming and battles of character/ wits are brilliant and reminded me of the Empire Trilogy by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts (in terms of greatness, not in a copy-and-paste way).
One particular character (Mahkas) developed in such a fascinating way that I’m planning to re-read at least this book after I’ve finished the series.

The editing is tight and the pacing is nice and steady throughout. I read this in one day as I was so caught up in the story- not something that normally happens with a 710 page book!

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys high fantasy.

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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Books, Once Upon a Time VI

 

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{Review} Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare

As read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge

Ever since Professor Elemental introduced me to the steampunk sub-genre, I’ve been rather interested in the concept.

A friend who has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of modern day Science Fiction and Fantasy (and who is scarily good at choosing books for people) gave me the first book in the series for my birthday last year. I loved it and was thrilled to find a used copy of Clockwork Prince in a book store last month.
Blurb (From Goodreads)
Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of Londonto an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.


Review
Second novels in trilogies sometimes remind me of the recoil on big guns, especially when they’re preceded by fast-paced first novels.

The first few hundred pages were Clockwork Prince’s ‘recoil’. Things happened, but they did so at a far slower pace than at any point in Clockwork Angel. In some ways that was a relief as it allowed for a good bit of character development, which in turn added to the love-triangle tension.

Although, I think that there was too much emphasis on the love triangle in this novel. Maybe I’m getting old and cynical, but I do feel that this particular love triangle detracts from the main plots at times.

Especially as Jem and Will are so similar to Jace and Simon from Clare’s Mortal Instruments hexalogy.

Again, in the first few hundred pages of Clockwork Prince, I felt that the claustrophobic elements from the first novel, such as the Magister’s Moriarty-like omniscience and use of strange mechanical beings took on a secondary role. This was rather saddening for me because I do like an odious main villain.

Of course, this novel did have some rather good twists in the ‘villain’ department. Clare managed to create one who was a paler shade of grey, as it were, which made for quite a nice change to the usual villain pile.

The element that really cheesed me off was the American vocabulary and grammar used by the English characters. I have no idea if other people feel the same, but to me, language helps in the creation of characters. Making a well-educated, typically upper-middle class group of English people use elements of grammar that are (at best) seen as ‘not used since Shakespeare’ undermines their characters.

 /startgrumble It’s the equivalent of writing a play involving a chav version of Her Majesty the Queen. Without the irony. /endgrumble

I understand that Clare’s American, but editors/ proof-readers exist for that sort of thing. (I had the same gripe with sections of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, when the sentence structure sounded oddly English. Although, to her credit, she did use bits of American grammar).


Overall
Whilst Clockwork Prince introduced some interesting twists and set the stage for book three, I felt that the story pootled along for the first eleven chapters. Then suddenly bolted like a spooked horse until the end. The ending made up for the slow start and has me feeling psyched up to read Clockwork Princess.

WNI’s Verdict? Wavering…

 

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{Review} Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

As read for the Once Upon a Time VI Challenge.

Since the 2nd series of the T.V. show started, I’ve been searching for an English-language version of this book. I found a copy a few days ago and have just finished it.

Blurb (from goodreads)
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns.

Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Review

I’m not going to lie; sometimes when I read longer novels the characters start to get tangled in my head and I have to jot the main ones down. No such problems with Clash of Kings though. Martin’s given each POV character a slightly different way of thinking and speaking. Although I do think that Bran (who’s 9 years old) sounds a lot more mature than he is. Maybe the maturity comes from having to be the Lord of Winterfell in his brother’s absence..

The character whose ‘voice’ I enjoy most is Tyrion Lannister. Before I began this series, I never noticed the extent to which handicapped people are vilified in literature. (OK, so the Hunchback of Notre Dame is one exception, but I’ve never read the book, so he could be very different from Disney’s Quasimodo). In the first book, Tyrion always has a riposte at the ready and ‘reads’ situations and people with ease. In Clash of Kings, he is on form and his character develops beautifully and realistically.

The story itself is very good, although I did wish that there had been a more definite ‘ending’ feel to it. Game of Thrones ended with hosts massing and kings coming out of the woodwork. [spoiler alert] Clash of Kings ended with Bran and Rickon fleeing Winterfell and heading into the unknown. [/end spoiler alert] Whilst it is an ending, it feels more like an open ending that will overlap with the third book in a ‘middle of the series’ way.

Overall If you’re looking for lush descriptions that don’t take over the page, witty dialogue that’s as much bite as it is banter, intelligent characters and a story that glues the reader to the page, this is the book for you.

WNI’s verdict? WIN!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in 12 in 12, Books, Once Upon a Time VI

 

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Once Upon a Time VI Challenge

On the 21st of March the sixth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge started. It is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including every shade and nuance and genre that crosses the paths of the afore-mentioned four. The challenge will end on the 19th of June and is great because you can join it and read as little as one book.

I know I said that I wasn’t going to join any more challenges but this one isn’t really a challenge, it’s just about reading books that I want to read and telling the world about them…

All of the salient details can be found here

I’ve signed up for ‘The Journey’ which means that I’m going to read a minimum of one book that falls into any of those categories. I am too excited to decide on which book to read right now so I’m going to come back to that later..

Please sign up and read, people! It looks so much fun!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Once Upon a Time VI

 

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