Tag Archive: magic

Head ache tonight, took a nap after dinner and woke up past midnight.  Posting review anyway.  Enjoy!

Ellen Connor’s Nightfall is one of those books that I looked forward to because I wanted to see how one of the authors I really like’s style works with that of another author.  I’d never read anything by Carrie Lofty before this, read the book entirely because of Ann Aguirre’s involvement.   I enjoyed it a good deal in some parts, in others I wanted to scream at the main characters to sit down and talk instead of posturing and grousing at each other.  This is the third or so time I’ve started writing this review.  Each previous time I’ve tried to start with a plot summary without spoilers or ruining the ending.  Each time I’ve failed miserably and wound up rambling about Jenna and Mason’s unresolved sexual tension for three paragraphs.  It really wasn’t going anywhere, so I’m skipping the plot summary this week.

Both Jenna and Mason are damaged, though in different ways.  She came from a home where her father was seldom around and expected her mother to drop everything for him when he was there.  He was kid without a supportive family who fell in with, gasp, Jenna’s dad’s survival group and latched onto them.  Both of them crave something approaching normal while the world ends around them, but neither will admit that they need the other.  It got old pretty quickly, especially when Doctor Chris was introduced and Mason got territorial without saying anything about being attracted to Jenna.  The magical demon dogs were a cool idea as well as a great twist on werewolves.  The slow introduction of magic as something other than the demon dogs was interesting.  The minor characters were pretty awesome when they got to be in the scenes.  But never have I wanted so badly to whack the main characters.

I mentioned earlier that I had a tremendously difficult time trying to come up with a plot summary that wouldn’t spoil the ending.  I didn’t lie, even just going off of what the blurb referred to I would have to skip so much that it would seem stiff and confused.  Yes, Mason kidnaps Jenna to save her life and then more survivors show up.  Yes, Jenna and Mason have some kind of passionate bond between them and whatever magic is happening changes Jenna.  It’s more than that though.  Nightfall sets up the next two books, including what I’m pretty sure is the set up for the final in the trilogy.  It’s also a lot of navel gazing regarding why Jenna feels the need to defy Mason, why he’s drawn to her, and the nature of the new world.

So, how do I rate it?  I’m giving Nightfall a three out of five.  There was a bit much exposition for my taste and the explanations about what was going on got kind of repetitive,  but I’m also going to read the next two to see what happens next.

I’m really sorry for taking this long to update again, job hunting’s been a real bear and I’m still trying to get settled back home for the summer.

On to the review.

Laurel doesn’t fit with her New York family.  The child of a guardswoman and an unknown father, she’s never fit with anyone least of all when she loses her temper and accidentally unleashes her magic.  So, she’s shipped off to her uncle the lord Redmantyl to learn to control her power.  She digs through his libraries in search of knowledge until he’s forced to take her as an apprentice for her own good.  And then the thespers arrived.

I’m having a bit of a hard time thinking of what to say about Maiden in Light.  It felt like the author, Katheryn Ramage, had several stories that she wanted to tell but wasn’t quite sure how to put them together.  From the blurb, as I read it on Goodreads, I expected to be dropped straight into the action.  I expected to start off with Laurel becoming her uncle’s apprentice, then a few chapters of that, then going off to search out the bad thing.  Instead the first half or so of the book is taken up with a rambling account of what was apparently four years of Laurel’s life starting with her journey to Wizardes Cliff.  This includes setting up several characters to be far more important than they were, events that had no bearing on the plot, and some fairly minimal characterization that could have been better taken care of with more show and less tell.  The second half of the book introduces the plot that was promised in the blurb only to instead jump into excruciating detail regarding Laurel’s aunt’s matchmaking and setting up for a conflict that never really happened.

I’m going to get a bit more nitpicky here than usual, Maiden in Light had potential but that got buried in problems that really shouldn’t be ignored.  The pacing was really bad, the first half of the book could have covered a few months, a few weeks, or a few years.  I really couldn’t tell how much time was passing until someone mentioned someone else’s age for a comparison.  There were two chapters back to back that detailed visits from traveling performers, known in the book as thespers, but there was no real indication that they hadn’t done anything more than leave the gate and then come right back in.

The book also tended to get dragged down in telling about a character rather than showing them.  The readers keeps hearing about how brave and smart and dedicated to her magic Laurel is, but when the chips are down all we get to see is a fragile little girl who doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be doing or how to go about it.  The reader is told how horrible the merchant class kids are to Laurel, but we only see one scene of them being snarky and a bit stupid before they are set aside for the rest of the book.

The plot doesn’t start until the book is more than half over, and then it’s padded so heavily with the aunt trying to get her daughters married off that it gets lost.  Then Laurel suffers the kind of character derailment that makes me just want to stop reading, throws everything we’ve been told about her out the window with what might have been a clumsy attempt at symbolism and proceeds to ignore any previous characterization.  I feel that I should also note that Laurel is a bit of a flat earth atheist, this may not bother anyone, but it was one of the tell instead of show things that seemed to come up way more than was necessary.

The reader also gets treated to fanciful changes of spelling for names and places and changes of name for various holidays.  This doesn’t lend to the world building but instead adds to the confusion regarding time passage and who’s who and from where.  An alternate history does not necessarily lead to changes that radical in language, nor should it if only for the reader’s sake.  I could let this slide if the world wasn’t supposed to be earth with a different history but it just reads wrong as is.

This leads me to the final part of this review.  With all the problems I had with the writing and the story itself, I wouldn’t read anything else by Ramage.  Maiden in Light had potential, but it squandered that with blocks of purple tinted prose, tons of characters who came to nothing, and too much tell but no show.  I give Maiden in Light a one out of five.

I’ve got to admit right off the bat that I was really excited to read this book.  It’s the third in a series that I adore and I got to read it as one of the un-corrected galley copies.  I’m also stuck for good intros anymore.

Ann Aguirre’s Shady Lady is the third of her Corine Solomon series which has so far covered, among other things, drug cartels out for revenge, magic as a street weapon, demons and small towns, and messed up relationships.  Shady Lady doesn’t really do anything to change that.  Corine finds herself with the Montoya cartel is out for her blood because they can’t attack Min or her son, Chance.  This, unfortunately, pulls her way from the nice normal life she so desperately wants and thrusts her back into the role of not-quite heroine.  Along with Kel Ferguson, the Hand of God, Corine has to prove herself to one dangerous cartel boss in order to get Montoya out of her life permanently.

First off, I love the amount of character development Kel gets and how strong Corine is for most of the book.  Secondly, Corine’s emotional responses tend to ring more true than not.  I like the way that Corine worries about becoming a monster.  I wish she wasn’t quite so much of a broken record about it, but overall it is a good thing.  I like that Shannon responds to Corine’s less heroic decisions with something other than a stoic stiff upper lip, she worries about her friend and how far Corine’s going to go down the slippery slope.  I like that the book was relatively Chance free.  Corine thinks about him a lot sure, but she doesn’t moon over him like she had a tendency to do in the first two books.  She’s made her break from him and started to move on.  That said, Corine also does some really stupid things with little apparent planning or reason.  She gets lost in her own head a couple of times, resulting in the narrative being broken a bit as she slogs through her own emotions.

I’ve also got to admit that I was a bit disappointed in the ending, but that most of my problems with it will probably be tied up in a later novel.  I give Shady Lady a four out of five, and suggest picking up the series if at all possible.

As I said earlier in the day, I’m sorry about how late this isClasses and life in general have been kind of crazy lately.  Enjoy!

I’ve been a fan of Orson Scott Card’s since I first picked up Ender’s Game back in seventh grade, so when I got a chance to read The Lost Gate I jumped on it.  It’s a great mix of the mythic and the modern day, very similar to some of Neil Gaiman’s books.

Danny’s the odd man out in his family, a mage with no magic among gods with no worshipers.  A drekka with no place in the North complex.  That is, until the day when he discovers that he’s a gatemage and his world becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse.  Gatemages are killed as soon as they are discovered among the families with exception to the weakest of the weak, those who can sense gates but not make or use them.  Danny is neither weak nor willing to die, so he runs to save his own life and to give himself a chance at learning about his powers.  We see Danny grow up, meet new people, and learn what it means to be human.

As I said back at the beginning I’m a big fan of Card’s Ender series of books, and it looks like I’ll be a fan of this series as well.  Danny is a trickster hero who relies on his brains to stay out of trouble.  He avoids direct confrontation, preferring to misdirect an opponent to taking them on alone.  Like Ender before him, Danny worries about becoming a monster due to some of the choices he makes.  It could’ve gotten a little tiresome, but Card uses Danny’s self doubts to make him a more human figure in comparison to the casual monstrosities of his family and some of the humans that me meets.  I like that Card doesn’t write down to his audience, he seems to expect them to keep up with him, this is a habit I tend to find terribly lacking in current young adult literature.  This is a series that I would start buying for my younger cousins as well as for myself.  That said, my one complaint is how quickly Danny mastered his magic.  It seemed kind of like in a super hero comic where the hero gets new powers just as they need them or, failing that, right before they need them.  Over all, I give The Lost Gate a five out of five.