The goblin experience of the world is the cult or perhaps religion of Unggue.
Finally, finally, the library had a Discworld novel for me that I hadn’t had read yet. Without even bothering to read the flap text (surely I would like the plot), I took it with me. And was disappointed (am I too often disappointed in the books I lend?).
Snuff is about Commander Vimes and therefore the Ankh -Morpork Guard. The Commander and his family go on a holiday in the country side, leaving the exciting (and loud) city behind. Luckily his police man senses start tingling pretty soon.
Except after ‘pretty soon’, it takes about 150 pages to get the action started. And while the Discworld series usually makes me laugh out loud on every other page, it didn’t happen this time. Only ‘sometimes’ instead of ‘often’ I smiled a small smile. I was flabbergasted. Is Pratchett trying to tune it down? Write in a more ‘adult’ way? I was bored for several pages and -when things finally got moving- wasn’t that interested any more. Where were the play on words, absurdness, originality? I’m not interested in how torn Commander Vimes was over acting like a Duke or acting like a copper and the second story line is thrust in at the most confusing times.
A die-hard Pratchett fan told me that she wasn’t sure about wanting to read Snuff, having heard very mixed reviews about it. I wish I had followed her example.
Snuff, Terry Pratchett, Doubleday 2011
“War,”says Mayor Prentiss, his eyes glinting.
The final book of the Chaos Walking Trilogy gives you more of the same. Here might be mild spoilers from earlier books.
Todd is still -less and less reluctantly, even though he tells himself otherwise- on the Mayor’s side. The Mayor seems to be cleaning up his act after all, and most people -including Todd- just want to see the best in other people.
Viola is still on the opposite side, trying to juggle The Answer with a part of the convoy arriving and not letting them be claimed by either side.
Patrick Ness takes a lot of time to show Todd’s doubts and how ugly people can become because of war. He also repeats scenes from earlier books to show that the protagonist really can’t kill. It was a bit dissappointing after two previous books full of (small) surprises in world- and character building.
Luckily, the Spackle finally get a voice, showing more about the world where this all happens. And a lot of violence happens, because this is war and terrorism yet somehow it completely passed me by, no matter how gruesome the details.
Near the end Ness shows why his trilogy received several awards. He turns a few things around, has a few surprises and the ending isn’t from How To Write 101.
My only thought after finishing this series is how it could be even better if the author hadn’t clung to ‘YA’ and had made this less of a soul search through teenage eyes and more a story of how a new world is created. Maybe we should cherish Todd’s naivity.
Monsters of Men, Patrick Ness, Walker Books 2010
The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast.
1Q84 was one of those books that has been on my To Read list for a while. I was curious about the premise, curious about Murakami’s writing and hopeful that hundreds of positive reviews couldn’t be wrong. I was disappointed.
There is no easy, straight-forward way to say what the book exactly is about. It’s a boy-meets-girl story with a dollop of loneliness, a cult and so many fantasy details that -into the second book- you could simply call it ‘fantasy’. Except a lot more pretentious. And that started to chafe after a couple of hundred pages.
I could appreciate Murakami’s world building, helping the reader understand what the main characters experience. But when -as a reader- you start to wonder when the story will start and how many times you need to hear about a random crow or spinach-eating dog ..I think you wrote too much while communicating too little.
Maybe I’m simply an impatient reader because I have read so many books and therefore might pick up hints and foreshadowing faster than anyone else. Maybe ‘ordinary’ readers wouldn’t feel as talked down to as I did on several pages.
And that’s a shame, because there is a lot of potential in this book. I am curious about what was going on and why, but 1Q84 is fine with telling you very little about it. Maybe I’m just a reader who prefers her books with answers, instead of only questions.
1Q84, Haruki Murakami, Knopf 2011
Dawn was coming.
Or how such a long story (993 pages) can start with such a small sentence. The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in The Kingkiller Chronicle (it looks like a trilogy but I’m not sure) and it’s what I would like to call old-fashioned fantasy. There is a dollop of straight up fantasy in the fantasy book, told by a trouper who is part of the stories and makes the stories even bigger and bolder when retelling them. There is a comfort in the heaviness of the book, the thoroughness of world-building and how easily accessible every character is, their role cut out for them.
This means that there is little surprise in the story lines, but -for me- that was absolutely no bother. Known fairy tales are well known for a reason.
I read the first book a couple of years ago and couldn’t remember much about the premises. That wasn’t necessary, as I quickly discovered. The Kingkiller Chronicle tells about Kvothe telling the stories of his (young) life, missing the first book means just missing a part of that. Patrick Rothfuss simply assumes you know this world he writes about, so there is no repetition or explaining. Just take it.
And I took it and thoroughly enjoyed it, skipping lunch breaks to continue reading because it’s simply a book like that. Only once did the thought of ‘This could have been shortened’ pop up and that was during a ballad on a woman’s body and the following sex. Other might love that.
Fantasy fans should definitely take a peek at this series.
The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss, DAW Books 2011
“Your Noise reveals you, Todd Hewitt.”
Back again in the world of the Chaos Walking Trilogy. After searching for hope at the end of the brutal trip in The Knife of Never Letting Go , The Ask and The Answer has no place for hope, continuing with the story of what happens after Todd and Viola are caught by the people they were trying to outrun.
Todd gives in pretty fast, stops his struggle and tries to separate himself from the world. On the other side, Viola fights more bitterly and desperately, which also doesn’t make for a happy story. It makes the book a tad more sluggish and repetitive up till the point the reader might exclaim ‘Not again!’
Does this make this a bad story? Of course not. There is still the world and the people and ideas in it that carry the story, while next to that it’s hurting but understandable to see how Todd retreats into himself. There’s no place for laughs any more, and -like most second books in a trilogy- it’s pretty clear that it’s all a build up for the final part.
So burn through this one as you did with the first -with your teeth on edge and hope against hope (and realizing how scary a battle between sexes can be). Realizing that the two most important characters are just teenagers make their horrors more believable and might stop you to think about what you’d do.
While in the mean time I curse myself for finishing this book on Easter Sunday and therefore being unable to get the final book from the library.
The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness, Walker Books 2009
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.
In The Knife of Never Letting Go the reader follows Todd, an almost thirteen-year-old living in a pretty much post-apocalyptic world. He can cope with that. He can’t cope with being the last boy in a town full of men and having to live listening to other men’s Noise. Noise is someone’s every thought, being broadcast because of something that happened when the first people arrived in this world. And one day, as stories are wont to do, everything goes wrong and Todd has to run. With his talking dog.
Patrick Ness lets the reader in the dark for a (almost too) long time, skirting away from explanations or only letting Todd in on the information, not the reader. It’s one of the very few problems I have with this YA fantasy novel that sketches a sad and hard world with even harder people in it, showing once again that a human being doesn’t need all that much too lose its humanity. Another thing that irked me that Todd (and the other characters) seem to be remarkably resilient, walking away from several fights that would have put an ordinary person down, but that can be appointed to this being another world with slightly different humans.
Besides those points, The Knife is a whirlwind adventure with adversaries and dangerous (but gorgeous) scenery bursting at the seams. Yes, Todd can be the most obnoxious pre-teen, but there is a learning curve that will make the reader excuse him things.
This book is also part of a trilogy, something I usually shirk away from because there has to be a very good reason for an idea to become a trilogy besides ‘Three books could make more money than one’. In case of The Knife, I want to know more of this world, and not for the sole fact that Patrick Ness left it with a huge, horrible cliff hanger. This book grades well in the fantasy and in the YA category.
The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness, Candlewick Press 2008
Marie-Madeline lit the flame under the bowl.
In Haunted volgt de lezer de geest van een half demon die ook nog heks is. Zij -Eve- krijgt in het volgende leven een opdracht van het Lot: ze moet een monster vangen dat ontsnapt is uit haar persoonlijke hel. Dat gaat natuurlijk niet zo makkelijk en zo wordt de lezer meegenomen door verschillende werelden van leven-na-dood, een paar hellen en tussendoor naar de wereld van de levenden want daar is Eve’s dochter waar ze zo graag voor zorgt.
Mensen die Kelley Armstrong kennen, weten hoe gedetailleerd zij (paranormale) werelden kan scheppen. Er zijn engelen, demonen en half-demonen, thema-werelden voor de doden (Eve bezoekt eens een piratenwereld), allerlei spreuken en magie en ga zo maar door. Mensen die haar niet kennen, weten nu zo ongeveer wat ze kunnen verwachten. Toch wordt die hoeveelheid aan detail nooit verstikkend, blijft het verhaal duidelijk en is het geen moment moeilijk om doorheen te komen. Armstrong biedt fantasy pulp, maar in plaats van op de bekende manier met mannelijke helden en vrouwen met zwoegende boezems in kleine pakjes, kunnen de vrouwen hier zelf hun zaakjes beschermen en oplossen. En dat is vermakelijk.
Haunted is makkelijk inwisselbaar met haar andere werk. Zelfde sterke vrouw, zelfde wereld-hoppen en kleine wijze les in de laatste drie hoofdstukken. Een lekker tussendoortje.
Haunted, Kelley Armstrong, Orbit 2005
It was the night before new moon, during the darkest hours when even that bare sliver had set.
Like a fresh breath of Technicolor air after The Pregnant Widow. The Desert Spear made me a very happy fantasy fan.
TDS is part of a trilogy (aptly named Demon Trilogy) but can be read as stand alone as well. That’s already quite the feat in this genre full of unnecessary follow ups and ‘let’s pull this book apart into three books’, but that’s a not-related frustrating issue. TDS tells the story of a world where the night isn’t safe. Because every night, all kind of demons (wooden, rock, wind and so on) will rise from the grounds and attack everything that isn’t warded. Humankind knows some of those wards, but not all of them. And of course there is a faith that says the demons are a God’s punishment that can only be stopped by a Deliverer.
In this book, there are two of those. One of them who really could be it, an ordinary guy from the North, who by others is made into a hero, even though he doesn’t want it. And the other, a wünderkind from the South with a mighty army behind him and who has given himself the title. And they used to be friends.
A lot happens in The Desert Spear and telling would only be over sharing. But this book manages to create a world, a bad guy, and two less than annoying ‘heroes’ while entertaining you along the way as well. After reading the first book (The Painted Man) I wasn’t sure if there would be a follow up and I did a little dance when I saw this book in the library. It hasn’t disappointed me a bit, even throwing me off (as a crazy book lady, I like to be surprised) when it came to romance and plot lines.
It is fantasy though, remember that. If you’re completely averse to that, don’t bother. But if you want to try some, TDS or its predecessor are a great starting place.
The Desert Spear, Peter V. Brett, Harper Voyage 2010