Tag Archives: good fiction

The Final Empire: a Review

While it’s still fresh in my mind, let me capture the subplots in Mistborn to help me better rework the intricacies of Parallax.

Please note that there are a heck of a lot of spoilers in the proceeding content. If you’re planning on reading this book, ah, well, maybe you can skip this review! Continue reading


Stone of Tears Review

I finished this book a couple weeks ago, but haven’t had the time to give my thoughts on it. Until now, so I can finally check it off my Day Planner.

The plot was good. I’ll try not to be too critical of this one.

The Story

The book picks up right where it left off from the first one, and honestly, this story feels like the second half of Wizard’s First Rule. Richard parts ways with his mentor Zedd for the purposes of marrying Kahlan. He leaves so quickly that he misses a lot of action that could have prevented a lot of confusion in Richard’s side of the story. A sect called the Sisters of Light (and Dark) are introduced, and once again, because of prophecies, the Sisters of Light decide to take Richard under their wing for their own purposes. They seek him out and he goes off alone with Sister Verna on the day of his wedding — but not after Kahlan purposefully misleads Richard into thinking that he must degrade himself again by wearing the scholastic collar.

So he leaves, thinking she doesn’t love him anymore, and then the story takes us back to Kahlan’s journey of discovering some vindictive Imperial Army who have been wreaking havoc in the Midlands. She fights against them, then eventually she is captured by the Midland’s government and is sentenced to death. Of course, she is only a scapegoat and is wrongfully accused, but tell that to the sheep who want her head.

Meanwhile, Richard takes his trek with Sister Verna to Aydindril. He fights with her the whole time, vowing he’ll kill them all if they anger him (Rich, get over it already!). Along the way, he befriends a gar, Gratch, and when they arrive at Aydindril, Sister Verna is demoted for his bad behavior. He immediately starts causing trouble and sneaking around, then figures out his powers and purposes, that he is really still a puppet at this point in time, and he exposes the Sisters of Darkness by the end of his stay there. He makes two friends there (why is it that I like his friends better than the MC’s Richard and Kahlan?) and despite their using him, he saves Aydindril and finally repairs the veil and closes the boxes of Orden. However, he and Kahlan are not reunited by the last paragraph (at least not in reality as we know it) and that separation is a decent enough cliffhanger for me.

My Thoughts

This second book is a whopping 880 pages, and unnecessarily so. Goodkind gets a bit repetitive and goes as far as the middle of the book to rehash what the first book was about. If one hasn’t bothered to read the first of a series, why in the world are they starting from the second book? I feel that it is the reader’s loss if they’re confused, and that the author is under no obligation to have to reiterate and summarize to the reader. Maybe it’s a publisher’s requirement, I don’t know. But Goodkind didn’t have to write pages upon pages of summary.

This brings me to my main peeve about Stone of Tears: while Goodkind is a good writer, he is lacking a good editor. The setup was good enough, but his middle dragged and there are numerous areas that should have been condensed. The end was great, and connecting the dots and watching everything unravel was enjoyable. But the length at certain points stick out and taints it as a whole. And honestly, I trudged through every page preceding p800, but after p800, I began to lose track of time as I (finally) got caught into the story. But then there were only 80 pages of exciting story to read through.

Pros:

I enjoyed some new characters, especially Warren and Sister Verna. The climax was better than WFR, and overall, the progression of the characters and events was realistic enough, despite the superfluity of prophecies.

Cons:

The foreshadowing becomes painfully obvious at times. It took too long for Richard to accept the collar, too long for him to realize that he possesses Subtractive Magic, Kahlan’s interaction with the army of boys was too long, Denna’s appearance wasn’t exactly easy for me to accept, and her “favor” at the end was just a little too eye-rolling convenient. Richard’s forced dismissal of Gratch to realize was Kahlan did was convenient, and speaking of Richard. He was pretty annoying until he accepted himself and began shaking his sword around — then things picked up very nicely. By the way, did Goodkind ever mention that the sword has the word “truth” on it?

One aspect of the world setting kind of hit me as odd, in that many people east of the Westlands seem very primitive and uncivilized, and there’s only a few sophisticated cities like Aydindril and the People’s Palace popped right in the middle. Also, I’m disappointed that he hadn’t updated the map (and even more disappointed that it’s still the same map for Blood of the Fold), but I suppose Goodkind has a reason for that, though I don’t know it.

Eh, where is Galea, Choora, Kelton, and everything else? I'd like to know where those two towers are, too.

And thankfully, we hardly spent any time from Rachel’s point of view, because his “something fierce” fixation was really getting on my nerves. Shota’s revelations were convenient, but if she could foresee so much, then why couldn’t she tell Richard how to save the world? Also, I just want to make a point here to other SoT reviewers that there were not that many rape scenes. People make it sounds as if there was raping and pillaging going on in every chapter. But here, I will insert that the castle carnage scene was probably quite unnecessary.

I have to give Stone of Tears a 5 out of 10. Many unnecessary descriptions and tedious plot moments didn’t make it an all-too enjoyable read for me. Some repetitiveness also got under my skin, and I strongly believe this book should have been around 500 pages at the most, not almost 900 pages. So I’m thrilled that Blood of the Fold is only around 600 pages. Here’s to a more direct story!


Day Watch: A Review

Day Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko

 

Just recently finished the second book of the Watch series by Lukyanenko. I read the first one about 4-5 years ago and finally got around to the second book of his tetralogy. When I first picked it up, I couldn’t quite understand why I was so fond of the first one. But after adjusting my reading mode, I recalled why I liked the first book, Night Watch, so much. No, really, I’m inclined to believe that Night Watch played a decent role in inspiring me to write The Red Forest.

The plot in this story is a little screwy at times, but the atmosphere is phenomenal. One reviewer over at Goodread’s was extremely disturbed and turned off by how dark and dismal the book is. But to me, that is what makes it so outstanding and rises above the rest of these ridiculous Hollywood urban fantasy books that are basically written to be bought and tossed in the fire pit. Isn’t that what they do to them? I’m sorry, but anyone who is an immortal is not going to be a happy-go-lucky fool, and I despise any romanticism of the idea, as well as this nonsense where all-is-right-in-the-end. And this is why I love Lukyanenko.

Unfortunately, Day Watch was, in my opinion, not up to par as Night Watch (#1) was.

Pros:

  1. We get a look into the Dark Side (the “bad guys”). Who doesn’t like to see what it’s like over there?
  2. As always, Lukyanenko does a masterful job at capturing the tone, environment, emotions, and descriptions. When you read his books, you really feel that you are there, that you can smell the cigarette smoke, that you’re really sinking into the Twilight with them. Very raw, and very good.
  3. Everything that happens is key to the plot. Like the first book, it all makes sense in a huge ka-pow at the very end of the book.

Cons:

  1. The first plot felt rather contrived. I felt as if he just needed this to happen, but didn’t spend that mind-numbing amount of time of making it plausible. It was hard for me to believe the depth of the emotions in the first plot — love at first sight is, for me, a hard concept to digest.
  2. The last fifty pages contained way too much explaining and conversational brainstorming. The twist at the end was good, but the journey to it felt long-winded and would have been more exciting if done differently. Personally, monologues and discussions don’t bother me, but for a story like this, I would have done things a little differently. Expect a lot of questions to arise during the read, but don’t expect to be teetering on the edge of your seat.

I’d give Day Watch a 7 out of 10. The story itself was grand and unpredictable. Lukyanenko’s a very talented writer and does not unnecessarily flower things up or add inane subplots just to make things more exciting. Everything presented is pertinent and vital to the entire story. Unfortunately, the way some of the plot points are performed, I feel, could have been better approached. Execution is superb, but the credibility of some of the means getting to the end could have been better set up.

But for a fan of the Watch, I loved it. As raw and melancholy as ever, and I’m looking forward to Twilight Watch. Hopefully I can get to that within, shall we say, 2 years?


Wizard’s First Rule Review

Terry Goodkind

I finished Wizard’s First Rule today and took me a total of about 3 1/2 days of actual reading. 800+ pages, I mean come on. The review itself will probably be pretty short because all I can really say about it is that it’s unadulterated fantasy with all its tropes and predictable plot lines, as well as following Campbell’s Hero’s Journey pretty much to the T. If you like plain and simple fantasy, this is highly recommended. Offended by some BDSM? Then I don’t recommend. Now, on to the meat and bones:

Pros:

  • Decent story and plot.
  • I admire whenever an author places his readers from the antagonist’s perspective (hell, I’m doing it right now).
  • Questions were always raised and curiosities piqued, details included sparingly to accomplish just that.
  • Good pacing, not too many dull or preachy moments. Good executions save some minor editing misspells. That’s what future book editions are for. I don’t understand why people get so critical over misspells (unless there are more than 10+ in one book. This one had about 6 that I immediately noticed).
  • Favorite part of the book: crossing the Boundary.

Cons: (why are they always so many more cons than pros?)

  • Things happen way too conveniently … for everyone.
  • Secondary (and tertiary) character perspectives enter way too late in the story. I understand the need for setup but it happened abruptly and, well, you guessed it, too conveniently. Especially when he never really came back to that secondary character (Rachel). Unless she’s going to have a future role in the series? I guess I’ll just have to find out on my own.
  • Prophecies. I don’t mind them but when it starts to feel like the author is writing say, the climax, just for the sake of some said prophecy — well, that gets a little annoying. Sure, I like to see how true the prophecy is, but when all the prophecies presented involve the current characters, it gets a little too epic too fast, too conveniently.
  • The hero is typical, internally distressed and confused, not wanting any power at all (“I just want to be a woods guide!!”) and reluctantly takes his predestined role. And he’s damn good at it. In fact, he is something of a messianic character because there are a hell of a lot of prophecies that say he is the one and only one able to defeat fill-in-the-blank(s).
  • Chase was my favorite character. He looked like he had a lot of potential (and I’ll admit, before Chase passed out, I thought he’d be dead by the end of the book because he’s just that good. Guards always tend to die.) but then Goodkind decided he wasn’t really necessary for the story. Which is true because this is a story about Richard (and Kahlan), not all four MCs. So I won’t hold him against that.
  • A lot of tropes, and therefore a lot of predictability. Figures that the hero would be able to control the dragon, too, I mean what hero doesn’t control a dragon?
  • I almost wanted Darken Rahl to pick the right box, because then I could foresee where the series is going.

    From the front cover illustration. A gar, I suppose?

    But alas, the honest Seeker didn’t quite tell the whole truth and thereby avoided catastrophe. A tasty catastrophe, it would have been.The ending is kind of happily-ever-after, and well, I prefer alternative endings than fairy tale endings. Decent cliffhanger,though. Rahl’s final words kind of spoiled it, though. No, I would not have preferred something more melodramatic, but maybe something more cryptic?

  • Turning people into animals? Eh. The Mord-Sith? Yes, I laughed a little about it but they served their purpose. I couldn’t help but think that well, the author’s putting in some content that he finds interesting, as well as his two cents about what goes on in their minds and the reason why they do thus, but that’s what makes stories unique. Another author would have decided to say something else. This is Goodkind’s story, not yours.
  • I wish he’d described the creatures better. I still, for the life of me, cannot picture a gar in my head. And what about that creature in the cave by Scarlet’s egg? Damn, I’d have loved to know what that looked like. Speaking of Scarlet, I wish she had a more unique name than … Scarlet, the Red Dragon.

Now to all the naysayers about how completely unnecessary it was to include the whole BDSM scenes, well, I think they’re forgetting that that experience is actually a step to him becoming a wizard. It was a necessary experience for him to learn and tolerate pain. And yes, I do believe that Richard will become some wizard hybrid in the future. Because the convenient ending kind of foretold that (and yes, I’m frowning about that). If it offends you, well, it offends you. But it provided a decent and (albeit twisted) excursion so the story wouldn’t lag. Most stories tend to drag towards the end of the middle section, and Goodkind kept the pace (and interest) up. It showed the hero’s weakness and that he is still only a human, not a superhuman like some heroes often wind up.

This is what they look like? Hm. I guess I can dig it.

And Demmin Nass liking little boys? Raping and pillaging? They’re bad guys, people. Cliched bad guys, but bad guys nonetheless. Predictable and one-sided, maybe, but bad guys do bad things, and that’s just part of the package. Not all bad guys do, but that’s just the way Goodkind decided to portray his. Forced? Yes. Unoriginal? No. And his paycheck proves it.

Total score: three out of five stars. Oftentimes, the convenience of things falling into place, the small details and objects placed all meant something (which did become annoying.) But technically speaking, he did an okay job with Chekhov’s smoking gun, although perhaps too blatantly at times. The general story, and secondary love story, is one that’s been done many times in many different ways. I look forward to reading Stone of Tears to see how things are different. Hopefully less predictable.