Fantasy Realms

Explore the realms of fantasy, from Alagaesia to Middle-Earth, from Coruscant to Tortall and beyond!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Star Wars: Joiner King

Title: Star Wars: Dark Nest 1 - The Joiner King
Author: Troy Denning
Pages: 443
Rating: @@@@ (out of five)
Price: $6.99

Summary: Much has happened in the five years since the defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong. Jacen Solo has gone on a personal quest to know the Force. His twin sister Jaina is helping the Vong adjust to life on Zonoma Sekot. The Skywalker family is busy with Jedi duties, and the Solo couple is off searching for habitable planets. Suddenly, a group of Jedi Knights including the Solo twins begin to feel a call for help through the Force, and five of them up and leave, followed by Han, Leia, and the Skywalkers. Near the border of the Unknown Regions they find a Colony of intelligent insects. Soon, the Knights are in danger of becoming Joiners (or bughuggers, in Han’s words) and their not-really-old-yet relatives are in danger of becoming bug juice. No one knows the true intentions of the Colony – not even the Colony themselves. A Jedi falls, a fallen Jedi returns, and a costly mission returns to the surface of everyone’s mind.

Review: Wow. After months of waiting, that’s all I can say. In the time since Episode III’s release, I’ve been devouring all the prequel-time novels, and rereading a good deal of the rest. Now I’ve been rewarded with an action filled, Force-twisting, intricate tale that makes me think I reread the wrong books. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you may want to read/reread Tatooine Ghost and Star by Star – both by Troy Denning – to refresh your knowledge enough so that you won’t be lost, as I was.
I don’t like bugs. Not at all. That made this book slightly harder to read, but I understood the main principle of collective conscious. I think Denning made this book even creepier by making the Joiners have bug-like habits and thoughts. I loved it, though, and I really can’t wait to see the rest of the trilogy. He’s woven enough hints into his other Star Wars books that you could almost piece together the basic plot, but not quite. I was also astounded by the technical description, but that’s just my normal problem with the Star Wars books – instead of green meadows and mountains, it’s stars and ship diagrams. As a bonus, you get the short story Ylesia, previously only available in ebook format.
The ending was particularly clever, rounding off just enough loose ends so that it can be an ending, but leaving lots and lots of subplots that you want to see resolved. A must-read for any SW fan, but not a good book to start the series with. For that, I’d recommend The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers. Or better yet, the children’s series Jedi Apprentice by Jude Watson.

As you may see, I'm just getting used to the basics of this. So bear with me, and the layout, format, etc will get better (I hope).

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Witch's Boy

Two posts in one day! Yay me! Well, almost the same day. I'm up too late again. Don't always expect this kind of service, though. I have to actually read the books sometime.

Title: The Witch’s Boy
Author: Michael Gruber
Pages: 377
Rating: @@@ (out of five, due to frustration)
Price: $16.99

Summary: What happens when a witch takes in a boy? Well, his life certainly won’t be normal. Lump is…well, a lump. He has no aptitude for magic, no ambition for anything else, and was raised by a negligent witch, her cat familiar, a bear, and a demon. To make things worse, he’s not the handsomest of kids. In fact, he’s downright ugly. When he finally sees normal human children, he pities them for looking so odd, and decides to emulate their behavior, which includes torturing animals. He learns about human society the hard way, and it just gets tougher. His heart gets cold, the only person he loves will never love him, and he withdraws from the world. The ending I will leave for you to read, but the journey is most enlightening, including mentions Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Morgana le Fay, but not with the usual stories. This upside-down fairy tale mock up is a frustratingly fun story about the world’s biggest antihero.

Opinion: This book was hard to get through. Not because of difficult plot, or big words, or small print, or length, but because I despised Lump, I hated his character. Yet I knew that I saw some small part of myself in him, a little of me that would’ve argued for the same disastrous decisions. The part I enjoyed most was the retellings of fairy tales and myths. Goldilocks as a one-eyed ogre, Hansel and Gretel meeting a kind witch, and the Rumpelstiltskin issue. The ending wasn’t expected, nor deserved, but it was what I wanted. The talking cat was a big plus too. I just can’t get past my loathing of Lump.

Links:
http://www.amazon.com
...For the obvious reason (and because the link to "The Witch's Boy" was too long and strange). Remember this: Unless you have a really bad memory, libraries are always cheaper!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Eldest

Ah! My first review! Okay, the summary is a little bit about the book (if there's any major spoilers, I will warn you and post them at the very bottom of the page), the opinion is my opinion. The rating is my personal rating.

Book: Eldest, book 2 in the Inheritance trilogy
Author: Christopher Paolini
Pages: 704
Rating: @@@@@ (out of five, and it seems I can't do smilies)
Price: I saw it for about $14 at Target, but the “official” price is $21

Summary: Set only a few days after the end of Eragon, this highly anticipated novel is action packed from the first chapter. Eragon and Saphira, the only Rider/Dragon pair besides evil King Galbatorix, are forced to play a game of politics, with the future of the rebellion at stake. They must think about every possible move, every motive, and everyone’s opinion, which was written cleverly. They leave the Varden with the elf Arya and the dwarf Orik, to complete their training in the elf city Du Weldenvarden. There, Eragon searches for the Cripple Who Is Whole, a being who contacted him through a dream, and tries to overcome the painful scar on his back. Throughout the book, you visit Roran, Eragon’s cousin, or the Varden for a couple chapters, and this makes it far less tedious than it could have been. Eragon learns to think about the consequences of his actions, makes more mistakes, and attempts to repair some old ones.

Opinion: As with Eragon, I loved this book. For a while, I wondered at the title, but that comes in due time. Some main surprises are predictable (I myself wrote a detailed prophecy that came true entirely) but others are not, and all are imaginative. Paolini’s elegant, in depth descriptions made the book vividly movie-like, although a bit drawn out, but it doesn’t seem that boring at all. My favorite scenes were with Elva and Angela, and I loved learning more of their history – and in Elva’s case, future. I’m definitely going to be rereading this soon, and taking longer to enjoy the wonderful experience. The main problem I had was that Murtagh didn’t get as many lines or scenes (the ones he did get were important, but he’s my favorite character), though it was made up for by the bit at the end.

Other news/ Links: Be on the lookout for Eragon, the movie, coming in 2006! I will be first in line to see it. Also, the poetry contest winner was chosen (sadly, it wasn’t me).
http://www.alagaesia.com/
http://www.eragonmovie.com/

Thursday, August 25, 2005

About Me, My Site, and My Books

I'm a book lover, and have joined, searched, and explored possibly every fantasy book site in existance. Well, maybe not, but it sure feels like it. I've created this blog to help other people find good books they want to read. I'll write a short summary and review after I read the book, and post it here. As you may tell from the title of my blog, it will be mostly fantasy and sci-fi books. The books I review will be as new as possible, though right now I just have a box of books from early spring that I never got around to.