Welcome again to another Reading Journal! ^-^ Every month or so I get up to a bit of book rambling; with some basic information on 4 – 5 books I’ve read this year, as well as a quick-and-simple review for each one. This month I’ve got a duology, a promising first book, and a volume from a favorite series of mine. Not all of them caught my fancy, but maybe they’ll catch yours…
Child of the Grove
Author: Tanya Huff
Published/By: 1988 / DAW
Thoughts: Decided to give Tanya Huff another try, and the ‘Wizard of the Grove’ omnibus seemed like an excellent second attempt. When it comes to the first book, Child of the Grove, I have mixed reactions.
Firstly, I just could not connect with the main character, Crystal. This may partly be because she doesn’t actually come in until late in the book; but also, I just didn’t like her that much compared to the other characters. Actually, I am distinctly reminded of the disconnect I had with Paolini’s main characters throughout Eragon and Eldest. The general plot of Crystal’s story was good. However, her encounters with the evil wizard reminded me a lot of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld… and I can’t help feeling that McKillip did a better job with that situation and character.
I did really like all of the secondary characters. It felt like there was more complexity there, possibly because their stories take up about two-thirds of the book. Mikhail and Doon the Dwarf are my solid favorites. ^-^ I also genuinely enjoyed all of the setup of the mythology and Crystal’s origins. The story of the Lady and her lover was so romantic! *sigh* I think that story, and Crystal’s interactions with the character of Death, were the most compelling parts of this book.
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars. (A solid read, despite some disconnect)
The Last Wizard
Author: Tanya Huff
Published/By: 1989 / DAW
Thoughts: I enjoyed this one so much better than the first book! ^-^ It’s certainly a much more personal story, focused on Crystal from the beginning. It also has more ancient magic and more chats with Death.
Crystal feels like a whole, well developed, character in book two. The feelings of isolation and loss of purpose that she deals with make her much more sympathetic and relatable. Not only did I find myself interested and concerned with her plights, I followed along delightedly as she faced each one. The other characters are just as well drawn. I’d say they fit more precisely and intricately into the plot than even my favorites from book one. Actually, the plotting in general feels tighter; which is great.
Jago and Lord Death are definitely my new favorite characters. Though sometimes a bit broody, (which actually doesn’t bother me) they are strong and complex characters. Doon also makes another appearence! ^-^
I don’t know how I feel about the ending. It came up pretty suddenly, and I really feel like a bit more story could have been told before it happened. Still pretty good though. I think I was looking for a bit more tension and build-up for the love connection at the end… but I’ll take it! ^-^
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars (This is where the good stuff is!)
The Paper Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Published/By: 2014 / 47 North
Thoughts: The synopsis of this book got me at the idea of magic that can only be channeled through man-made materials. I love that kind of stuff. Also, the paper aspect immediately put me in mind of Yomiko Readman from Read Or Die, and I had to get it.
The book is a short read, but quite good. Firstly, Ceony Twill is an excellent name. ^-^ Secondly, she is a pretty great character as well. She’s clever and observant, with a dash of snark thrown in. It didn’t take long for me to become quite fond of her.
The beginning of the story involves Ceony’s apprenticeship to a master of Paper magic. Things are complicated by the fact that Ceony wanted to be a Metal mage instead; but due to the low number of graduating students who chose Paper, she is given no choice in the matter. The descriptions of the different kinds of material magic given here are just wonderful, and the amazing things that her teacher does with his Paper magic are some of my favorite parts. This is definitely NOT Yomiko’s kind of paper magic, but I found it fascinating all the same since it is basically origami. ^-^
The beginning goes by pretty quickly, and we are soon on the midst of the larger part of the book: Ceony’s journey through the heart of her teacher in order to escape it/rescue him. I found it a bit odd as a plot, but not bad. The descriptions of her moving through the different chambers are especially good.
The romantic plot line is also good. My only issue is the rather sudden beginning. It’s like, Ceony is super grateful to Thane and then BAM, she is being all jealous of his ex-wife. It’s a bit jarring actually. Other than that odd beginning though, quite well done. ^-^
All in all, I found The Paper Magician thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m definitely getting the second book!
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (darkly whimsical and lots of fun)
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published/By: 2014 / DAW
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Thoughts: This is #9 in the Elemental Masters series. Unlike most of the other books, Blood Red is based on a short story from one of the anthologies. There’s no need to go read the short before you pick this book up though, since it is used as the prologue for the book and introduction to our main character, Rosamund.
As you might guess, the story is based off of Little Red Riding Hood. What intrigued me particularly, is that it goes beyond the original fairy tale, following her later career as a Hunter. I was also really excited for the setting of this book: Germany. All of the other EM books have been set mainly in England, and I really wanted to know more about the German elementals and folklore. Unfortunately, I found myself less intrigued as the book went on.
It is not a bad book. The writing is well done, the pacing is decent, and the characters are pretty good too; but none of them particularly stand out for me. Okay, Rosa is a huge badass and that makes me happy. ^-^ The story follows the current trend of Red Riding Hood re-imaginings, involving werewolves. It does it with a distinctive Lackey flare and good characterization, but it stills follows it right down into vampires and Romania. Personally, I have been hugely over exposed to the vampire/werewolf story craze, and when turns it out to be the main focus of a book I quickly lose interest. Also, the fact that the story ended up being set mainly in Romania rather than Germany was a disappointment.
That being said, the hunt at the end was very exciting. One of the best parts of the book. I also enjoyed the Alvor, and how Lackey expanded on the ideas of shape-shifting that she introduced in The Fire Rose. The rest of the book feels more like it’s setting up the characters for another story…
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is into werewolf/vampire stories with good writing and decent relationships.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (not bad, but not for me)