Here are two short reviews:
1| The Naming by Alison Croggon
Notes on what it’s about:
A girl whose destiny is very very special. The last of her bloodline. Lost and then fatefully found by a powerful wizard struggling with his dark past. An evil presence that threatens the peace of the lands. Epic journeying. Corrupted wizards and old evils sniffing at their heels. Lots of traveling. Lots of things that are neither “good” nor “evil” that claim to be related to the girl.
That was my impressionistic summary of this first book of Pellinor. I never actually read Lord of the Rings, but I did watch the movies. I got a LOTR vibe from this book. Mostly because they spend 90% of the book traveling and running into magical creatures and hidden peoples etc. etc. that happens a lot in LOTR. They go deep underground, and deep into forests and visit great cities that have fallen…Also, there are evil half-dead wizard minions that ride horses which remind me a little of the ring wraiths and an old woman creature in the woods which reminds me of Galadriel-of-the-movie-version a little. I also got a bit of an HP vibe from the book. An orphan girl who lived in misery until she was rescued by a wizard who brings her back into civilized wizarding society where she becomes a sort of celebrity. Also, the whole idea of the villain being called the “Nameless One” just reminded me of Voldermort.
The book was beautifully written. A scene that stands out vividly in my mind:
They plunged into the tunnel and kept walking. Their footsteps echoed dully back from the walls. In the light from the opening, Maerad saw that the floor was straight as an arrow, its way piercing straight into the very heart of the mountain. It was wide enough for two people to walk side by side with their arms outstretched. They had only walked a few minutes when the light was swallowed in utter blackness. The darkness was so complete that Maerad couldn’t see her hand if she put it before her eyes. Their footsteps sounded unnaturally loud, and echoed strangely; she could even hear the velvet pad of the mountain lion’s paws.
“Cadvan?” she said, in a very small voice, and jumped because her voice came back to her, mockingly amplified.
“Ssshhh,” he said. Ssssssshhhhhhhhhh, said the tunnel. To her unutterable relief, Cadvan took her hand and squeezed it in encouragement; and he didn’t let go. They walked slowly and steadily, dragging the tips of their fingers along the smooth walls for what seemed an eternity, with the slow, steady pad of their mountain lion’s paws always ahead of them.
Suddenly Maerad gasped. The side wall vanished, and she nearly toppled into the gap. A chill, rank-smelling draft of air breathed into her face, dispersing for a moment the slight stuffiness of the passage. After three paces the wall returned; clearly a tunnel branched off the main artery. Soon side passages became more frequent, and Maerad realized there must be a network through the whole mountain. Sometimes the air came down from above, sometimes from below, and she guessed they were tunnels leading up and down through the rock.
She wondered who had made this place, and what it was, although she had no desires to follow any of the side tunnels, the thought of being lost inside this mountain, groping through endless darkness, made her shudder. Perhaps it had been a kind of city, though she never heard of a city built inside a mountain. It felt old, immeasurable old. Occasionally, when her fingers brushed over something that felt like a crumbling carving in relief, or an intricate decoration bordering one of the side passages, she wished Cadvan would permit them a little light: she would have liked to see what is was they passed through. Surely it had been beautiful once? Perhaps it still was, even in its abandonment?
Rating: 4.5 times Maerad is likely to save Cadvan’s butt.
2| Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
Did you know this one was a NaNo Book? Awesome.
This one is about Taya, an icarus who has special metal wings and this substance called ondium that helps her stay aloft. She’s very good at her job, but her curiosity sometimes gets the better of her, which is what happens in this case, when she discovers a plot to destroy her beloved city.
I liked this one. It wasn’t quite Victorian steampunk, it might be a genre of its own. There are big grinding machines, dirty industrial alleys and a rigid class system where movements up and down the social ladder are strictly regulated by Examinations and Loyalty Tests. The upper nobility class are regarded almost as otherworldly gods and hide themselves behind ivory masks and layers of robes and ornamented hair. Taya is one of the few who are privy to the face and voice behind those masks and all the dirt behind them, too.
Cristof and Taya have good rapport together – I like Cristof especially, because he is different from the usual main love interests. He is grating and severely irritating and stubborn but also likeable because of it – as readers, we get to see Taya crack open that unlikeable shell of his and discover the sensitive loyal, intelligent man he is. What girl doesn’t love that? And his past and his history with his brother Alister give him some interesting dimensions. Overall, this was a gem of a book – I think there’s another one out or coming out: In the agent’s hand. There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the world the story’s set in that just demand a second book!
Here’s a link to the first chapter.
Rating: 4.5 Torn Cards to catch
Now back to reading stuff.
I’m currently carving my way through A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin which is a hefty book and series for me but I’ve been prompted to read them (I sort of want to watch the tv series, too…). I may read another shorter one on the side, too and am scrounging through the old blogroll to look for good recommendations!
He he heh…
(from squeaky books)