Archive for October, 2015

Interview2InterviewInterview3

Premise: A vampire discovers, too late, what it means to be human.

About: Published 1976. I think most readers of Fantasy would consider this book a classic of the genre, particularly of vampire fiction. It is set in Louisiana and extends through two centuries, though it also drops in on 19th century Europe. I read it before touring New Orleans, this summer.

What I Liked: (1) The story surprised me with its intensity. It wouldn’t let me go. I was completely drawn in, which is an experience I struggle to find in adult fiction. My experience of it was comparable to the frenzy of reading that took place withAtlas Shrugged, Gone With the Wind, Never Let Me Go and Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons. The setting and characters ofInterview were a great source of tension. (2) Good flowing style. Held the tension well. (3) Louis’s ponderings reveal some insights into human nature, particularly the modern man’s spiritual burden. The ultimate story tension comes from Louis’s existential crisis. I think he symbolizes the modern despair and loss of innocence that Armand (another much older vampire) seeks to understand. (4) I really adored poor, melancholy Louis. Conversely, I didn’t like Lestat at all, although friends have told me, time and again, “That’s because, Christy, YOU NEED TO READ THE VAMPIRE LESTAT!!!!!” Which may be true. I don’t know, yet. Everybody I talk to about these books seems to love Lestat and dislike Louis (“He’s so whiny all the time!” they say. Well, yes. His life is one long existential crisis. He’s rather glum about, well, everything.)

Other Stuff: A lot of readers complained about the plot and pace (“it was slow”), and if they didn’t connect with Louis, they just didn’t like the book very much. Neither Louis’s whining nor the slow plotting hindered my enjoyment of the book, but these complaints seemed almost like common consensus, on Goodreads.

Overall: Glad I read it.

Continue W/Series?: I may read one of the next books, with Lestat, since they’re so popular…but I have a feeling they won’t live up to this one.

Recommended: Older teens who are good readers and enjoy gothic horror elements will probably enjoy this. But I don’t think Twihards will find what they’re looking for, here. (I would know. I loved Twilight as a teen; but I don’t think I would have found this book very interesting or satisfying at the time. I’m still not really “into” vampires, but I wanted to start familiarizing myself with the mythology.)

Film Adaption: I didn’t like it. All the good parts of Louis’s brooding personality were missing. The only part I liked about the movie was the end, which was different than the book, and I think reflects the future of the Lestat books better than the book’s ending (although I can’t say that for certain, since I haven’t read any of them beyond Interview). I liked both endings for different reasons.

****FOUR STARS

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2nd Australian Edition2006 Puffin Books

Premise: Alongside the other orphans raised in the household of their charitable Baron, Will discovers his place in the world: training to become a king’s Ranger.

About: Children’s high fantasy, 2004. I picked this up because the series has reached, I don’t know, book #24? (*I just checked: it is now finished, at book 12.*) Anyway, I figured it was time to join the crowd, and I’m relatively pleased that I did so.

What I Liked: (1) The main thing I like about this series is the decently-developed protagonist—Will. We won’t mind discovering the colorful world of the series through his eyes. (2) And that’s the second thing I really like about this series—I’m excited to see the worldbuilding expand with each book. (3) Because the book focuses so much on Will’s character and future occupation, we can also expect to enjoy further adventures from his perspective. (4) The plot moves right along, even though it isn’t very original. (It’s the hero’s journey.) (5) The tension inherent in Will’s desire line (he wishes, above all, to honor his heroic father’s memory) sufficiently entices readers along without resorting to eye-rolling constructs such as, “If you don’t pass your Faction testing, you’re an outcast FOREVER!!!!!!” in order to elevate the tension. The tensions feel like legitimate concerns and stakes for a fifteen year old boy living in medieval times: Will doesn’t want to fail out of the exciting careers and be forced into a lifetime of farming. He doesn’t want to shame the name of his heroic father. (Highlight to read SPOILER: I also really like how this comes full circle, in that his father was not a glorious knight, but simply a brave fighter in the army.)

Other Observations:

-Character: My favorite part was the evolution of Horace’s character. (Highlight to read SPOILER: Horace was a bully until, later in the book, he experienced bullying himself and it changed him completely—for the better.) I also enjoyed the rivalry between Will and Horace—it was done really well (Highlight to read SPOILER: I liked the rivalry right up until they stopped hating each other’s guts. The “make up” scene was rather silly. Horace should have had more of a role to play. But the epic fight against Horace’s bullies completely made up for that.) I tend to be a character-driven reader, so of course I wanted more characterization, but I’m sure Flanagan was trying to keep this novel relatively short and there wasn’t a lot of room for pure characterization. I guess that’s what the next books are for, right? (*pleasepleaseplease*)

-Worldbuilding: It’s decent, thus far. It feels like medieval times, although there aren’t a whole lot of setting details that paint the medieval lifestyle, like there are in some high fantasies (such as, say, The Protector of the Small quartet, which portrays everything you could think of about becoming a knight in a medieval castle).

The One Thing I Didn’t Like: (Highlight to read SPOILER: That kiss at the end was silly. We hardly heard two words from Alyss the whole story, and suddenly she’s kissing Will? Meh. Silly.

Overall: Nothing super original, but I’m excited to see where the series goes, nonetheless. That’s really what I’m here for—a great high Fantasy series to keep returning to. I’m excited to see where Flanagan goes with the character-development and world-building.

Recommendation: I recommend this book to pathological readers of children’s fantasy or to children in general. It’s never too early to jumpstart an enduring love of fantasy, and I think MG readers can and do eat this first novel up.

I’m definitely reading the next in the series. I think I may be in it for the long haul!

***3/5 stars

emperorsedge

Premise: Amaranthe, an ex-corporal in the emperor’s army, and Sicarius, an assassin outlaw, gather together a surprising band of adventurers, determined to clean up the city and regain the emperor’s favor.

About: A fun self-published adult Fantasy series. The legend reads thus: “A HIGH FANTASY NOVEL IN AN ERA OF STEAM.” It was a 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee and came highly recommended by a fellow reader of Fantasy whom I can’t thank enough. (Thanks Corryn!!!!)

What I Love: (1) I love the heroine, Amaranthe. She’s my new fave. She drew me in very quickly and (2) her adventures kept me eagerly reading along. Those two elements are what I most love about this series—the talented, self-deprecating and quirky character of Amaranthe and her knack for getting out of sticky situations. It feels similar to YA Fiction, except that there are no genre expectations forcing the author to, say, rush the protagonist into a romance. It’s very refreshing! Don’t get me wrong, romance would be a really fun bonus. But so far this series is really about the various characters gaining redemption in the eyes of their sovereign. I suspect it will evolve into a further political plot, but right now I’m content with the adventures, which are truly inventive. (3) I love the humor. My goodness do I love the humor. It’s largely character-driven: the characters, who all have drastically different personalities, are constantly poking at one another to get a reaction. There’s a great group camaraderie in the band of adventures. The appearance of this character-driven humor (which doesn’t occur until after the first few couple of chapters, when the cast of “heroes” comes together) dramatically increased my interest in the story. (4) I was shocked and pleased to discover that much of the series is available through our library system. That’s really nice because while I am excited to read the books when they come out on Kindle, I would prefer to buy them in hard copy, if I really love them.

What I Didn’t Love: (1) It could be edited more carefully. I don’t think these books were just “thrown together,” exactly, because the big stuff—character, plot, worldbuilding—all work together well enough; however, I do think details of the characterization, worldbuilding and humor could have been further sharpened. With those improvements, this series could really shine.

Overall: So far, I give the series four stars because not only did I get the first three books really cheap (the first book is free on Amazon), I’ve also really enjoyed them thus far! The adventure plots and humor are simply too fun to be missed.

I hold on to the hope that some publisher might buy the rights to the series so that Lindsay Buroker might have a chance to clean it up. It could happen. (Please, somebody, make it happen!!)

Recommendation: Kindle readers. Fantasy lovers, adult and young adult alike- I think this series would appeal to both crowds of readers.

****Four Stars