Book Review – The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Blogland!

I finally have a calm moment to try and write this book review.

Oregon is… in a weird place right now. A vast majority of the state is in flames as forest fires ravage my green home. Salem is nestled in the Willamette Valley, and is safe (so far) from the wildfires, but the Columbia River Gorge, Central Cascades, and Southern Oregon are all on fire. Ash is falling from the sky in Salem, coating cars and outdoor furniture, and tainting the air in a grayish-brown haze that makes breathing uncomfortable for many.

It’s pretty tragic, and terrifying.

But, that’s just another disastrous event I can tack on to this summer. I worry for the forests and natural beauty of Oregon, and my thoughts go to the people these fires have displaced. I heard it might rain on Thursday, and I sincerely hope it helps.

But, let’s talk about The Glass Magician!

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Blah blah Spoilers Ahead blah blah

In this sequel to the very enjoyable The Paper Magician, Ceony must face the consequences of the first book.

It’s been three months since the events of the first book, and life has gone back to normal for Ceony and Emery Thane, much to Ceony’s dismay. You see, she saw her future with Emery in the fortuity box, and she’s eager to get their romance rolling. But, though she now calls him by his first name, and they’ve fallen into comfortable domestic routines, they have carefully danced around their feelings for one another.

When Ceony is at the center of a series of attacks from the Lira’s cohorts (Emery’s ex-wife, and Excisioner baddie from the first book) things begin to heat up between the Magician and his apprentice. One scene that stood out was when Emery asked Ceony why she did all she did to save his heart. Her response was quiet and almost hurt, “don’t ask me that. You know why.”

Cue that painful disgusted sound that is synonymous with getting your heart twisted and wrung out to dry.

Her answer didn’t make Emery deny her words or even deny his own feelings, but he did share his doubts about the morality of such a relationship, between a Magician and his apprentice. That was enough of an admission for Ceony. But, the subtle change in their relationship doesn’t go unnoticed.

Magician Aviosky, the Glass Magician that mentored Ceony before she graduated from Pragis Taff, has suspicions that the relationship between Ceony and Thane may not be purely professional or scholarly, and she greatly disapproves.

So, not only are they trying to avoid death at the hands of crazy Excisioners (Magicians who have Bonded to blood), but they’re trying to keep nosy busy-bodies out of their private business. Even if those busy-bodies might have a point.

The best part of the book, for me, was when Emery was headed to the train station to hunt down Saraj (Bad Guy #2), leaving Ceony behind in London. She gets out of the cab, and fearing that she may never see Mg. Thane again, calls across the courtyard, “If you’re going to get yourself killed, the least you could do is kiss me goodbye!”

And he DOES IT! I definitely squealed, chock-a-block full of that ridiculous giddy feeling when two characters FINALLY get together.

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Me when Emery actually KISSED Ceony!

But, that was one shining bright moment that was quickly snuffed by the end of the book. Not story-wise, though that does get dark very quickly. But, writing-wise. Ceony is left on her own, dropped off at Mg.  Aviosky’s house in London. When she arrives she finds that Grath Cobalt (Bad Guy #1), who is actually a Glass Magician, not an Excisioner, has killed Aviosky’s apprentice and tortured Mg. Aviosky herself.

Some epic shit goes down, and Ceony does some quick thinking to save the day before she passes out and the point of view shifts to Emery…

WHAT? Like… WHAT THE WHAT? You can’t just do that! You can’t just knock your main character unconscious and then swap POV when you have literally NEVER SWAPPED POV BEFORE!

It felt cheap. The easy way out from a writing perspective. We watch Emery deal with Saraj, for a short chapter, and then go back to Ceony’s POV in which she awakes and Emery is already back and everything is said and done. WHAT?!

I’m still pretty worked up about it, and I think the only thing that could fix it for me is if the next book, The Master Magician, alternates point of view consistently. Otherwise I will continue to feel a bit put out over this.

Another thing I was less than satisfied with is the ending itself. The book sort of just… ends. The bad guys are handled, Ceony will be okay, and Emery is there. But, she broke her Bond to paper in order to Bond with glass and defeat Grath. She tells Emery this, and how she needs sand to break her Bond with glass so she can go back to paper, and he is confused but so relieved she’s all right that he just sort of nods and promises to get her some.

the paper magician

That’s it. That’s the end. No demand for an explanation of how she somehow managed to break the main tenet of their magic system, no in scene moment of performing the ritual and re-Bonding with paper. Nothing.

I really enjoyed the majority of this book, but the last 20 pages or so left me feeling gypped (I really don’t like this word but it is the right one in this scenario). When your book is only 213 pages long, you can’t have a reader upset at 10% of them. Just saying.

Anyway, I have all my hopes pinned on the last book in the series. Hopefully it will redeem this one for me. Either way, I love the characters enough to keep reading. It’ll be a little while before I get to that one though, since I’m still reading The Stone Sky, and about a million other things at once.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it feels like it. Check out my Goodreads to keep tabs on my ridiculous reading schedule as I try to make up for lost time to get to 65 books this year.

And until next time, Blogland,

 

BZ

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Book Review – Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher

Well. Here I am. Writing a book review for the first time in months. Huh.

Gotta say, this is weird. But it feels damn good. If you’re keeping up on my Goodreads page, then you know that I’ve been reading up a storm the last few days. I don’t plan on slowing down, either.

Also, I had a bit of a breakthrough on the fanfic while I was in the shower today (of course), so I should make some serious progress on it over the next week or so.

My aunts have been staying with us this whole week, camped out in my writing room, so things have been a bit out of sorts for me. Even now  I’m typing this from the kitchen table, listening to Incubus in my headphones while Trevor plays his video games in his office. I didn’t realize how used to my routine I’d become, but man, this week has put it into perspective.

I started a new short story, and it’s really rough right now. I’m not sure if it’ll ever turn into more than some weird little tale, but I had a really great time writing it, so that seems good enough for now. I’ve also been doing a bit of research on the requirements for membership with the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association) which then spiraled out into all kinds of interesting searches about publishers, agents, and magazines with open submissions.

So, long story short, my brain is kicking back into writing mode, and I couldn’t be happier.

Now that you’ve got the short version of my thoughts these last few days, have a book review! This is the part where I tell you that there are spoilers below…

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This book took me entirely too long to read. I started it as a digital audiobook on loan from the library back at the beginning of April. I was in the height of my Mass Effect playing then, so the poor recording was left neglected except for when I had a migraine. The digital loans aren’t renewable, and of course there were a bunch of holds on it, so I couldn’t get the audiobook again. I told myself that, since I owned the paperback, I’d just commit to finishing it the old-fashioned way.

Four months later I finally cracked it open and finished it in a couple of days. Because it was good! I know there’s no point in being upset with myself or trying to feel guilty about my sabbatical, but damn. I could have been so much farther in the series by now!

In this installment, Dresden is tasked with fighting off the Disciples of Kemmler, a notoriously evil necromancer whose acolytes are all vying for Godhood on a particularly stormy  Halloween. To make matters worse, Mavra, of the Black Court Vampires, also wants the “Word of Kemmler”, the necromancer’s book that all the Disciples are after. Within the book lies a ritual for calling forth the Erlking, lord of the Wild Hunt, and unlocks power that would bequeath enough power to make one a God.

So, a typical Thursday night for Harry.

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Cover art for Wizard at Large, an omnibus of Blood Rites and Dead Beat, by Dan dos Santos.

 

But, shit gets pretty intense, pretty freaking fast. There’s necromancy galore, with zombies and spirits and ghouls running rampant. Butters, the coroner, tags along with Harry the whole time, and Thomas and Mouse are large players as well; a full cast of my favorite people.

Murphy is conveniently elsewhere for the duration of the novel, and I’m excited to see how her Hawaiian vacation with Kincaid went. It was obvious in the beginning of the novel that she wanted Harry to be jealous or to try and stop her, but he’s Dresden. He didn’t do any of that even though he really wanted to. He respects Murph way too much to audibly question her romantic entanglements.

Which… come on! Just kiss already!

Anyway, nothing is ever easy for Harry, and this book in particular put the wizard through the wringer. The Red Court did some dirty fighting to deliver a crippling blow to the White Council, almost completely decimating the Wardens. It was really cool to see the Wardens in action, and one in particular, Ramirez, was a new favorite character. Of course, that means his life is in immediate danger, because I like him way more than I should. Sorry, Ramirez.

Also, Butters gets ragged on by Thomas the whole book for being a coward, and then does some insanely badass shit in order to save Harry, including riding on the back of a resurrected Tyrannosaurus Rex whilst using his one-man polka suit to keep a drum beat.

 

Because Polka will never die.

And behind all of this is the longer arc of the war between the White Council and the Red Court, and the even longer arc of Dresden and Lasciel, the fallen angel he thought he’d locked away beneath two feet of cement in his basement. Yeah, she makes an appearance or three, and it’s some weird shit.

Anyway, I feel really rusty at this whole book review thing, but I needed to do this before  I got too deep into the next  Dresden book and couldn’t keep the details separate. Despite how long it took for me to finish this book, I really loved it. If you’ve made it this far through Dresden, are you really gonna give up on it now?

A sincere thanks to all of you that continued to visit the blog, even though I was gone for so long. I knew it’d be a while,but I didn’t think it’d be almost five months… But, I’m back now, and looking forward to balancing projects and getting back into my more productive routines.

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Me, twirling through my TBR list.

I’m reading about five things right now, so I have no idea what the next book review will be. Probably The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7) by Eoin Colfer, because I just finished it. I’m also listening to Alan Cumming’s autobiography, Not My Father’s Son, which is phenomenal so far. I’m also listening to Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt’s first book, and enjoying myself. And I’m reading Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman.

Good gravy. I really am trying to make up for lost time. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So, stick around for more blog posts as my reading and writing reestablishes a working rhythm.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Book Review – The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

Hello Blogland!

Today has been a wonderful day so far, though I admit I wish I’d got an earlier start on this part of it. But, my best friend’s dad (basically my second dad) is arriving in town today, so I prepped a big dinner and did some house chores. The next three hours or so will be dedicated to blogging and fiction, and it will have to be good enough.

Last night was the first meeting of Book Club session #3, and it didn’t go that well. Three of the five people didn’t show, though they all contacted me ahead of time. So, I’ll get into the meeting, and the book more tomorrow.

Today we’re here to discuss The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. wildeeps

I learned about this book from my friend and co-worker, Matt. He’s a well read mofo, and can be damn cerebral when it suits him. He can also spend hours figuring out Cookie Monster’s extended family based on geographical location (i.e. Curry Monster for India, Kimchi Monster for Korea, Sushi Monster for Japan, and Gravy Monster for Canada, etc.). His versatility never ceases to astound and amuse me.

Anyway, he read this book a few months back and raved about it to me. I added it to the Goodreads TBR list, and promptly forgot about it. Then, while perusing the library’s catalog for new Sci-Fi and Fantasy, it popped up. I put a hold on it, the only one to do so, and waited.

When I finally checked it out I was surprised at how thin it was. A whopping 212 pages. Immediately I had doubts. Fantasy this short meant that world building would be minimal, or character development would suffer to accommodate it. I wasn’t wrong…

But I wasn’t right, either.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is such a strange, fantastical story that I find it difficult to write this review. There are so many conflicting elements in this story, things that threw me off and alienated me as a writer, but enthralled me as a reader. And educated me immensely as both.

Part luxurious prose that stands out in the genre, part Hip-Hop dialogue that definitely stands out in the genre, and part mythological ballad that brings it all together in this blur of whimsical and visceral language that finds its own rhythm and song.

It was really hard to get into at first, and my own insecurities didn’t help. All the characters in this book are black, as it takes place in what I believe to be (a possibly VERY distant future) Africa, and the main character, Demane, is gay to boot.

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The only picture I could find of Kai Ashante Wilson

As Matt and I agreed, we are not the target audience of Wilson’s novel. And I worried that my distance from Demane’s experience might make it impossible to enjoy or even really understand what the book was trying to tell me.

What a silly notion. For sharing experience and encouraging empathy is the true magic and purpose of fiction.

Yes, at first, it was difficult to follow the exposition. And just when I’d found the rhythm, suddenly harsh and unexpected dialogue would throw me off all over again. Until, completely beyond my awareness, it all seamed together into one voice. By the end the telling of Demane’s story was as natural to me as listening to my stepmother speak. This book lilts in a similar way as her thick Brazilian accent does and it required as much willingness to listen as her voice does when I’ve been away for a long time.

I don’t want to go into actual details of the plot, because the way it all unfolds in the book is really important. Telling you a rough explanation of events would just ruin it, and do it absolutely no justice.

That being said, I fully expect to purchase a copy and reread it after I’ve had some distance from it. It’s a book whose ending will directly affect how you read the preceding passages.

The world building is thin. It’s not a focus of this book, but it is there. It also seems to be set on Earth, because there are enough familiar places to suggest it, but no real proof. But, the story doesn’t suffer from it. The character’s are even subtly built, with sparse and purposeful language.

This is a book that uses your whole brain, long after you’ve finished it. I’m glad it wasn’t longer, because it would have lost a lot of its impact by shedding more light on places and people. The bits that we get are given to us for a reason. This is writing that truly embodies the idea that every word must serve multiple functions, and it is beautifully done.

It’s this that has put Kai Ashante Wilson firmly on my list of authors to watch. I look forward to reading more of him. And you should too.

Until tomorrow Blogland,

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Blood Rites, Dresden Files #6 by Jim Butcher

Hello Blogland!

Welcome to the first book review of 2017! I am NOT used to typing that. Really I’m just not used to typing anymore, it seems. This whole “not biting my nails” thing has been an adjustment. But, for the first time in my life I have pretty, feminine hands that aren’t likely to chip, break, or be covered in Frappuccino Roast or Mocha.

It’s so liberating!

Anyway, a little of the backstory of me and this book.

I’ve been reading Dresden for a while now, and was even a fan of the doomed Sci-Fi Channel (back when it was still spelled that way) series based on the books. Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden will always be my accepted Canon.

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Notice the hat? He wears one on every cover, but never wears on in the books…

So, I’ve read the first five books multiple times, mainly because I keep telling myself that I should reread them in order to get back into the series and finally catch up. Spoiler Alert- that never works. Inevitably I get to book six, Blood Rites, get to about page 60, and then get bored, distracted, or just plain old give up.

 

It’s been a real problem.

And then, I discovered the magic of Overdrive, and my library’s Libray2Go service. You see, we have a downloadable program, where cardholders can download ebooks and digital audiobooks in addition to the items they check out in person. And that service had Blood Rites as audio.

On a whim, I put it on hold, and waited for it to show up. Honestly, it’d been so long that I actually forgot I was waiting for it until my email notice reminded me that it was now available for download.

At about that time, I was struck with a persistent and angry migraine, and it snowed. Now, snow here in Salem is a big deal. We’ve had four or five snow days here this winter all ready, and that is not typical, so basically the whole town shuts down when frozen water falls from the sky.

So, stuck indoors, in pain and unable to sleep through it, I turned to my audiobook for some sort of entertainment that wouldn’t make me want to vomit. And it was heaven. If heaven can be so painful.

I listened to the bulk of the book in just two days, and promptly put book seven on hold. It’ll be another long wait, but it’ll be worth it.

Now, on to the story!

I think what really made this experience so wonderful was James Marsters’ narration. That’s right, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the voice of Harry Dresden, and he is phenomenal!

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Everyone’s favorite Vamp Bad-Boy lends his voice to our favorite Wizard for Hire.

He has Harry’s tone and humor down perfectly, and he does all these different voices for the various characters so that you know at any given time who is speaking. He even yawned part way through a line of dialogue, which made me stop mid-dish scrubbing to say, “did he just yawn?” And then the dialogue tag followed, “I said with a yawn.”

 

Talk about attention to detail. It’s true when someone says that the narrator can make or break an audiobook. One. Hundred. Percent. True. And Marsters brings this series to life.

As for the actual guts of the tale, without some serious background, it won’t make much sense. The gist is this: Harry takes on a case helping a Porno director fend of an Entropy Curse, all while planning to attack Mavra, a Black Court vampire that’s trying to kill him.

But, the best thing about this book is that it centers around one of my favorite characters in the series, Thomas. He’s a White Court vampire, which means he’s a sexual energy vampire, more or less.

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Fanart (artist unknown) of Thomas Raith

Still basically immortal, still unnaturally strong, but otherwise incredibly human seeming. Which makes him, and his kin, even more dangerous. They don’t mind daylight, and religious artifacts and talismans mean nothing to them. They’re alluring, charming, and undeniably attractive.

 

But they can kill you just as quick as any Red Court or Black Court vamp (think Dracula).

Anyway, Harry and Thomas have a tense, but hilarious working relationship that fills the majority of the book. Also in this installment, Harry has the first flickering of non-platonic thoughts for Karin Murphy, his Cop friend/occasional partner. While I don’t know yet if this ever comes to fruition, and honestly don’t think it will because Harry and Karin are stupid and stubborn, I was glad to hear Harry at least admit the thoughts were there before he banished them.

And of course, this book is full of mystery, death, magic, and Harry getting hurt. Really, by the end of every book Dresden is lucky to be alive, and is usually in immense amounts of pain and in need of medical attention.dresden-what-i-do

In this respect Blood Rites does not disappoint.

In character development, I found Blood Rites to be wonderful. We learn so much about Harry, Karin, and Thomas that I found the Mavra plotline to be almost distracting from the characters. Don’t get me wrong, those scenes are great and important, but I just wanted to get back to learning about these people!

So in short (too late!), only read this book if you’re reading through the series. You can’t just pick this one up and expect to understand anything. You won’t. But, if you’re a fan of Dresden, this is a very good installment.

And I highly recommend giving this series a try on audiobook! It was so good that, despite owning a print copy, I’d rather wait for my audio hold than just read it.

Who knows when that will be, but be sure that once I’ve listened to Dead Beat, I’ll be right here with another review!

Talk at you soon, Blogland.

 

BZ

Book Review- White Sand by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, and Julius Gopez

Hi Blogland,

I know I said the next time we met it’d be to talk about Lansdale’s Savage Season, but I ended up staying home with a bit of a back injury today. In my invalid time, I read White Sand cover to cover. At 160 pages, it wasn’t difficult to do.

This is Sanderson’s first tale told in the graphic format, and I have to say that it was pretty good. I’ve been reading more graphic novels lately, and I would say that this one was solid. Not genius level like Saga, but come on, what is?WhiteSand01DJ-C-233x350

The story follows Kenton, a Sand Master. Or, well, a wannabe Sand Master. He’s been in training for eight years, and he pretty much sucks at controlling sand. A terrible shame for the son of the Lord Sand Mastrell, aka the leader of all Sand Masters.

So, Kenton is a hard headed young man, determined to prove his worth despite his fizzling and unreliable abilities. All to spite his father who wants Kenton to give up and move on with his life.

Too bad the guy doesn’t live long enough to see Kenton’s dreams come true. The Sand Masters are attacked, and only a handful survive. Kenton is one of them, his father is not. So now he’s left in his father’s place, and suddenly able to command the sand like he never has before.

But, the government is sick of paying for the Sand Masters. They’re an aloof and elitist bunch, who’ve now worn out their welcome. Kenton has two weeks to unite the Sand Masters behind him, and to convince the council to reconsider their decision to dissolve the Sand Masters entirely.

While Kenton deals with all this, two other characters are followed. Khrissala, the duchess of a kingdom on the other side of the world. She’s on the dayside seeking the fabled Sand Masters in order to appropriate some weapon that her deceased fiancé was after. Though they traveled together for a time, it’s not until the last page that Khrissala learns what Kenton is.WhiteSand01-18-19.jpg

And then there’s Trackt Ais. She seems like a government sanctioned bounty hunter. More likely some sort of detective. She’s hunting for a man called Nilto, who she believes is actually Sharezan. Who that is and why she’s after him, I have no idea.

Overall, this was a quick and fun read. I think the characters are great, the magic is awesome as usual, and the artwork is really delightful. But… and this is hard for me, but the world building is kind of flat. Maybe it’s the format. Maybe it’s just too difficult to build the world with such limited text. I mean, the artwork does a bit of it, but there are a lot of things that just get glossed over and filed away with only a contextual understanding. I’m hoping that the future volumes will flesh things out a bit more, but there’s only two more to go, so I won’t get my hopes up.

I wonder if adapting the graphic novel from an actual novel is part of the problem. This work was not originally intended to be told in a visual format, maybe the world building was part of the sacrifice to get it to work well as a graphic novel.

Either way, this story is still great. I’m ready for the next installment, whenever that will be.

Sand Master
It’s just so pretty…

 

Next time we meet, it should be about Savage Season. Jemisin’s newest book is coming along well, and I can’t wait to finish it and talk to you all about it. My listen of The Martian hit disc 7 today. There are only 9 discs, so that will be over before you know it. Then it’s on to Coraline.

Basically, I’m doing all I can to make up for all the lost reading time over the last two years.

See you soon Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Blogland!

Remember when I said I’d have this review up “tomorrow”? Turns out tomorrow is like, a week after the fact. What’s new? This whole sticking to a routine business is going to take some time to get used to, that’s for damn sure.

Anyway, let’s a talk a bit about the conclusion of Quentin Coldwater’s story. Finally!magicians land

By the time The Magician’s Land gets rolling, Quentin has been through a lot of shit. His girlfriend burned herself up with magic, turning into a blue rage demon known as a Niffin. That broke my heart. Alice was my favorite character of the first book, and she deserved better than 23 year old, extra douche-y Quentin. They were mid-fight/break-up when Alice sacrificed herself in Ember’s tomb.

That really messed with Quentin.

But, he still reigned on as a King of Fillory, and when he finally got a quest worth a damn, and completed it admirably, learning a lot about himself, and what it means to be brave, Ember kicked him out. That’s right, the other Physical Kids, Quentin’s friends from Brakebills, get to stay, and Quentin is forced back to his mundane life on Earth.

But, he’s almost 30 by this time, and suddenly a little peace and quiet doesn’t sound so bad. Plus, there’s something he wants to research. So, he gets a job teaching at Brakebills and begins the tedious process of researching Niffins. Because he wants to bring Alice back.

At this point even I think Quentin has gone off the deep end. There’s no bringing someone back from poofing into a nebulous blue cloud of rage. Everything up to this point in the series has made it painfully clear: Alice is gone.

But, Quentin’s not giving up. Not even when he gets fired, and has to take up a sketchy side project in order to make some substantial fast cash to fund his research.

And the crazy part is that it works. It’s not in the way Quentin ever imagined it, and there are a lot of details I’m glossing over that are really pivotal to the story. This book isn’t just about rescuing Alice, and how broken she is when she comes back, but about Fillory, once and for all.fillorymap_lg

Because it’s dying. And nothing Eliot, Janet, and even Julia do can stop it. In a last ditch effort, Eliot goes to Quentin to get his help on one final quest. Only to find that Quentin and his former student now roommate, Plum, have already done the legwork!

So, they all return to Fillory so they can save it. But, again, nothing ever goes quite as planned. But, if anyone can put Fillory back together again, piece by agonizing piece, its Quentin Coldwater.

And that’s exactly what he does. But once it’s done, he knows it’s over for him. The fairytale of Fillory has lost its appeal. Despite multiple offers for him to stay, Quentin and Alice return to the townhouse in New York, and Quentin promises Alice that he’s there for her, no matter how long it takes.

They build a new land, using a spell Quentin found in the Neitherlands (that place between worlds), and the book ends with them exploring the land hand in hand.

It’s a happy, if vague ending that left me completely satisfied.

What really impressed me most about this book was how much Quentin had changed. In the first book, I actively hated Quentin. Don’t believe me? Read my review here. It’s pretty scathing in regards to Quentin’s character. In the second book he sort of played second fiddle to Julia, whose time in the book was spent rehashing what she’d been up to during the events of the first book. It was an odd set up, but the information proved critical for the final installment.

And then, by the time Quentin joins Plum on the heist in the opening pages, he’s someone new. Still quick-witted and sharp-tongued. Still cynical and riddled with self-loathing, but now he actually has a good reason for it.Before it seemed like he was apathetic because he was bored and had nothing better to do. In The Magician’s Land Quentin is in one of the darkest places of his life.

And it really looks good on him.

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I still haven’t watched this show. Add it to my “To Do” list…

For the first time, I rooted for Quentin. I worried about him. I couldn’t imagine him dying, or getting hurt. And every stabbing comment Alice made when she first returned broke my heart for him. Because she wasn’t wrong, or at least not entirely. And Quentin admitted that. He actually admitted it! The Quentin could never have done that. And his new honesty and humility endeared him to me in a way I never thought possible.

Fine. I’ll admit it. By the end, I had a certifiable crush on Quentin Coldwater.

And I’m happy to say that I feel like his story ends on just a positive enough note that I have confidence that he and Alice can figure things out. And that makes my heart incredibly happy.

So overall, I still wasn’t a fan of the first book. I enjoyed the second one, but this one was by far the best. Bit of a drag you have to slog through the first two to get here, but there’s no way you could skip over them. I’d say, ultimately, this last book is worth reading the first two. It definitely redeems the series, in my opinion.

Since I last posted, I’ve also finished reading Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale, so keep an eye out for another review soon. I’m also making decent progress on N.K. Jemisin’s newest release, The Obelisk Gate, and should have it completed by the end of the month.

In other words, I’m back in the game!

See you soon, Blogland.

 

BZ

Book Review- The Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

Hello Blogland,

As promised, I finished The Castle in the Air this weekend, and so I’m here to review it before my entire life is absorbed by The Bands of Mourning (out tomorrow!).

It’s late, so let me get right to the point.
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First, this book follows much in the same vein as the first book. Though Howl and Sophie play much smaller roles, they are present, and they warmed my heart as ever.

This book follows Abdullah, a carpet merchant in far away Zanzib. He’s a man of daydreams, whose childhood was full of disappointment and derision. His father’s only son, he was to follow in his footsteps, except a prophecy at his birth foretold that he would not carry on the carpet business, and would in fact rise above all others in the land.

In Diana Wynne Jones typically cheeky way, this happened both literally and figuratively.

Abdullah’s dreams begin to come true after buying a magic carpet. The carpet whisks him away in his sleep to a beautiful night garden, where an enchanting princess is kept in solitude. Thinking he is but dreaming, Abdullah tells the princess that he is a lost prince, kidnapped at birth and brought to Zanzib to lead a dreadfully mundane life.

But, when Abdullah realizes that the princess, named Flower-in-the-Night, is in fact real, and that they both love one another very much, he is determined to marry her and fly off into the sunset. But, nothing is ever so simple.

A Djinn, leathery and winged, scoops up Flower-in-the-Night, just as she’s running to join Abdullah on his magic carpet, kidnapping her. Abdullah pursues her, and through various mishaps, comes across a Genie in a bottle. This Genie is cantankerous, and overall an unwilling character of the story. He grants a wish a day, but does so in such a way that no matter the wish, something bad will happen.

As Abdullah travels, he arrives in Ingary (home of Howl and Sophie), where he joins the company of an old Soldier, and they travel together to Kingsbury to speak to a Royal Wizard. Along the way the Soldier adopts a cat and her kitten, who wield their own brand of magic.

All of this so Abdullah can reach the castle in the air, which floats disguised as clouds. castle in the air2.jpg

Well, they finally all arrive, and it turns out Sophie was the cat this whole time, her kitten being Morgan, her and Howl’s son. They are returned to their proper form, but Sophie’s not giving up until she finds Howl.

So once in the castle, thanks to the magic carpet, Abdullah is reunited with Flower-in-the-Night, and they devise a plan to be rid of the Djinn’s who have captured the various princesses of the world.

In the usual way of Ms. Jones, the final scene play out in a whirlwind of loose ends tying up in fancy, neat bows. You see, once the Djinn’s are vanquished, we see that Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer were in the story all along. Sophie, as Midnight the magical cat, Calcifer as the Magic Carpet, and Howl as the cantankerous Genie!

So, after much turmoil, Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night are married, but are unable to return to Zanzib, since her father doesn’t approve of the union. So, through some favors and bribery, Sophie and Howl convince the King to appoint the newlyweds and Ambassadors to Ingary. They more or less live happily ever after in a modest house with magical gardens that bloom year round.

And they are visited often by their magical friends.

This was another fantastic tale from Diana Wynne Jones. All the magic, humor, and whimsy of the first book asserted itself in this one. Though no characters can compete for with the love I have for Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer, I found that Abdullah’s patience and adoration for Flower-in-the-Night was endearing and powerful in its own right. I laughed out loud often, and read well into the night, curious to see how everything played out.

But, this one didn’t make me cry, so I can’t rate it quite as high as the first one.

However, I really appreciated the way Howl and Sophie are depicted. Though they are separate through much of the novel, once they are reunited, they are perfect. Just as I remembered them, they bickered good naturedly. Howl teased Sophie, and she yelled at him, though she smiled through it. They argued, and though their voices were in it, their hearts weren’t. Sophie and Howl are two sides of a coin, constantly at odds while relying and depending entirely on the other. Seeing them together, with their child for the first time, and witnessing their subtle admissions of doubt in their new roles was so touching. Despite the magical world in which they live, Howl and Sophie are a very real representation of a married couple.howl and sophie

I love them for that.

But, this story wasn’t really about them. It’s about Abdullah, and his devotion to Flower-in-the-Night. He worked tirelessly to find her, the only man to even attempt a rescue of his princess. And his patience, determination, and devotion all paid off. Since they lived happily ever after.

Talk about the perfect fairy tale!

If you find yourself craving a quick and easy read that keeps you smiling way passed your bedtime, I suggest you give this book a try.

Since I finished Castle in the Air on Saturday, I found myself with spare time before The Bands of Mourning released. Since I didn’t have time for a full book, I read both Saga Vol. 1 and Sanderson’s short story Dreamer. I don’t make a habit of book reviews on short stories, because really, what’s the point? By the time you read the review, you could have just read the story yourself! But, I plan on doing a review for Saga, once I’ve read it in its entirety.

So, not any time soon.castle in the air alternate

Tomorrow I’m waking up early to hit the bookstore when it opens, that way I have The Bands of Mourning all ready to go before work tomorrow. I figure it will only take a couple of days for me to plow through, and then I’ll be right back with a review.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ