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Review: Alta (Dragon Jousters #2) by Mercedes Lackey *Spoilers*

Alta

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National best-selling fantasy legend, Mercedes Lackey created a vivid, dynamic fusion of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of ancient Egypt with the most exciting, authentic and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined.
In the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s richly-conceived Dragon Jousters series, the dragonrider Vetch escapes to Alta, the subjugated land of his birth. There, he hopes to teach his people to raise and train dragons-and build an army that will liberate his homeland.

NOTE: This review will contain spoilers for the first book in this series, Joust. If you haven’t read Joust, please do not read this review unless you are ok with spoilers.

This one is cute. I enjoy this book but not as much as Joust.

Alta continues the story of the serf Vetch from Joust. In Alta, Vetch is no longer known as the serf “Vetch.” He is “Kiron, son of Kiron,” a displaced but well-born son of Alta and a dragon rider. Kiron arrives in Alta, gets settled and becomes a jouster-in-training almost immediately. He is also given lessons: reading, writing, philosophy and history. Throughout the book the reader can see Kiron’s change from unlettered serf to educated noble by the way he speaks and carries himself. I felt Lackey did a good job showing Kiron’s maturation.

Kiron has achieved his goal: he is no longer a serf – he is a free Altan and dragon rider. But in Alta all is not what he expected: there’s something rotten at the core of Alta and Kiron seems to get into the midst of things very quickly.
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Review: Joust (Dragon Jousters #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Joust

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For the first time ever, national best-selling legend Mercedes Lackey draws from her extensive knowlege of animals—and her professional background as an avian expert—to create something truly special…

The most exciting, authentic and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined.

It is a richly conceived, fully realized vision, inspired by the culture of ancient Egypt, the legends of Atlantis-and the science of animal behavior and biology. This is how dragons would live, breed, hatch, hunt, and bond.

The first book in this thrilling new series introduces readers to a young slave who dreams of becoming a Jouster-one of the few warriors who can actually ride a flying dragon. And so, in secret, he begins to raise his own dragon.

Joust, the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s Dragon Jousters series, is a wonderfully rich re-imagining of ancient Egypt. The story follows a young serf, Vetch, as he slowly gains agency.

Vetch is an Altan serf. He became a serf when Alta lost a major war with their neighbor Tia. Vetch’s father was murdered and the rest of the family were turned into serfs and bound to the land they once owned.

As a serf – which are considered less than slaves – Vetch was severely mistreated. He was beaten, starved and overworked by his master. During one of the many miserable days in which Vetch lived this spirit-breaking life, Dragon Jouster Ari happens to see him. Ari – noticing that Vetch was being mistreated – decides to take him and make Vetch his dragon boy. Dragon boys live in a complex with their dragons, Jousters and support staff. Dragon boys were not mistreated, overworked and they were fed well and regularly. For Vetch, starved as he was, it was like he’d almost reached Heaven.
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Review: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wizard of Oz

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Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival – will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

 

 

 

I used to consider myself a Wizard of Oz expert. I’ve seen the 1939 movie a ton of times. I’ve seen the musical adaption movie The Wiz about a million times (Micheal Jackson, Diana Ross, Mabel King, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor? YES, please). And then – just to put 10 on the 20 – I’m a theatre geek from waaaaaay back. I served as Technical Director and Lighting Designer (and I also danced in!) for the stage version of The Wiz. I used to know that script backwards and forwards. So you can’t fault me for thinking I knew my The Wizard of Oz.

Well, guess what? I did NOT know my Wizard of Oz!

I went into this read thinking I knew what was going to happen. I had the movies and the plays all circling in my head so I spent the entire read fighting with my memories and knowledge of the adapted works. The Wicked Witch that Dorothy kills is wearing silver shoes; the Good Witch that meets Dorothy upon her landing is NOT Glinda and she’s an old, weak witch about the size of the Munchkins; The Wicked Witch of the West has very little on-page time and Glinda doesn’t get page time til the very, very end. Like, Glinda didn’t even know Dorothy was in town til she came pounding on the Witch’s front gate. And those are just the initial big differences. There was just so much changed…
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DNF Review: Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart

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There are no heroes.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

I was bored. I found the book well written and equally as easy to put down. I tried my best to push my way through – even though I was constantly annoyed by the worldbuilding – at least 100 pages.

I was beyond irritated by the idea of the city and it’s people living in darkness for 10 years. WTF?? WHY? How is that even remotely possible? How would people live? How would they keep their teeth?? Continue reading

Review: Magician’s Gambit (The Belgariad #3) by David Eddings *spoilers*

Magician's Gambit

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Ce’Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

 

 

Magician’s Gambit starts with the company on a ship sailing out of Nyissa.

While Belgarath and Silk were away from the company, they discovered that Zedar no longer had the Orb. Zedar and Ctuchick (also a disciple of Torak) fought and Zedar fled.. Ctuchick too the Orb to Rak Cthol in Cthol Murgos.

Belgarath received a summons from his Master – the god Aldur – so the company prepares to travel the 250 leagues to the Vale of Aldur. This will take them a month or more.

While traveling to the Vale the company (Garion, Ce’Nedra, Belgarath, Polgara, Durnik, Barak, Silk, Hettar and Mandorallen) is chased by groups of Murgos, all coming from different directions. At this time the company was close to Maragor, so Belgarath decides that the only way to avoid capture was to go through instead of around Maragor.

Maragor

Maragor is a haunted and empty land. The Tolnedrans declared war on Maragor – using the subterfuge of stamping out cannibalism – because Maragor is filled with gold. In their greed, the Tolnedran armies slaughtered all of the Marags (including non-combatants). Mara, the god of the Marags, was driven mad with grief over the loss of his children. Continue reading

Review: Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad #2) by David Eddings *spoilers*

queen of sorcery

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The Sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter Polgara the Sorceress were on the trail of the Orb – stolen by a priest of Torak – seeking to regain its saving power before the final disaster prophesized by the legends. And with them went Garion, a simple farm boy only months before, but now the focus of the struggle. He had never believed in sorcery and wanted no part of it. Yet with every league they traveled, the power grew in him, forcing him to acts of wizardry he could not accept.

 

Note: This is one of my favorite series. I read this series, it’s sequel The Mallorean, and Belgarath the Sorcerer yearly.

Queen of Sorcery is the second book in The Belgariad series by David Eddings. In comparison to the first book, Queen of Sorcery gives the reader a lot more information and a greater incentive to continue the series. One of the things I liked the most about this book is that the reader starts to get to know the side characters a lot better – and a lot of the things left unexplained in book one are cleared up in book two. Eddings is not one for a lot of loose ends, which I greatly appreciate.

Queen of Sorcery starts the same way Pawn of Prophecy does – with an info dump prologue – and then it proceeds into another info dump. The prologue tells of a famous battle that happened centuries in the past and the second info dump gives the reader a rehash of Pawn of Prophecy. It also reminds the reader that Garion is anguished and that the adults are keeping secrets from him.

Unlike Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery tells the questing group (and the reader) the exact nature of their quest at the beginning of the book: The Orb of Aldur has been stolen by Zedar the Apostate. They have to retrieve the Orb before Zedar can deliver it to the evil god Torak, waking Torak from an ensorcelled sleep to take over the world.

Queen of Sorcery also gives the reader a better sense of Eddings’ world. Each country is populated by a different racial stock and each racial stock is a stereotype. Thus far we have met the Sendars (who are sensible) and the Chereks (who are rowdy, drunks and war-like). Queen of Sorcery introduces us to the Arends (who are “not very bright but very brave” and who’s nobles engage in almost casual warfare while severely mistreating their serfs), the Tolnedrans (materialistic and obsessed with stature) and the Nyissans who emulate the snake. The Nyissans are also drug users and dealers, they sell poisons, are untrustworthy and are also slavers. Got all that? Good.
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Review: Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings

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Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of The Belgariad, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved–but did not know…?

Pawn of Prophecy is the first of five books in The Belgariad series. In this book we meet our hero, Garion and most of his companions: Polgara, Belgarath, Durnik, Silk, Barak and Hettar. Garion is an orphan farmboy who is being raised on a farm (of course) in Sendaria by his aunt, Pol. This trope – the orphan farmboy – is one that the seasoned fantasy reader is quite familiar with. The big difference here is that Eddings’ Garion is one of the first of his kind. Pawn of Prophecy was published in 1982 – a time when fantasy had very few titles and readers were clamoring for this type of epic fantasy.
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