July 19th, 2009

A Tree in the Courtyard

Review #1: A Game of Thrones

Book: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Pages: 674 (Trade Paperback)
Genre: Fantasy

Summary (from Goodreads):
Readers of epic fantasy series are: (1) patient--they are left in suspense between each volume, (2) persistent--they reread or at least review the previous book(s) when a new installment comes out, (3) strong--these 700-page doorstoppers are heavy, and (4) mentally agile--they follow a host of characters through a myriad of subplots. In A Game of Thrones, the first book of a projected six, George R.R. Martin rewards readers with a vividly real world, well-drawn characters, complex but coherent plotting, and beautifully constructed prose, which Locus called "well above the norms of the genre."

Martin's Seven Kingdoms resemble England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families and their struggle to control the Iron Throne dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which barbarians, ice vampires, and direwolves menace the south as years-long winter advances. Abroad, a dragon princess lives among horse nomads and dreams of fiery reconquest.

There is much bloodshed, cruelty, and death, but A Game of Thrones is nevertheless compelling; it garnered a Nebula nomination and won the 1996 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. So, on to A Clash of Kings! --Nona Vero

Review: This was...long. It didn't really follow the traditional fantasy storytelling style--it was more like a million scenes from different perspectives heaped together from which the reader had to deduce something that resembled a plotline. But don't get me wrong; for all of its seven hundred pages, it was intriguing, entertaining, and realistic. I suppose my favorite part would be the characters, because the plot didn't amount to too much. In fact, however crazy this may seem, this book was more an intro to the rest of the series than anything else...and intro of epic proportions, you could say. But overall, good. I wish I could give it three-and-a-half stars, but I'll stick to whole stars.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

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    Dark Chest of Wonders : Nightwish : Once

Book reviews :)

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Two Reviews

Title: Newes from the Dead
Author: Mary Hooper
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre: YA, historical
Pages: 259
First Line: "It is very dark when I wake."

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Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: J.K. Rowling
Year of Publication: 2005
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 652
First Line: "It was nearly midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind."

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Frank McCourt Passes Away

The author of Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man has passed away.

BBC News Article

Frank McCourt, author of best-seller Angela's Ashes, has died of cancer in a New York hospice.

The 78-year-old Irish-American writer was suffering from meningitis and had recently been treated for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Angela's Ashes, a memoir of McCourt's childhood in Ireland, sold millions of copies and won the Pulitzer Prize.
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The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas

The Adamantine Palace tells of a world where dragons were the means to and the commodity of power. The Dragon Kings and Queens ruled with an iron fist while they bicker and plot with and against each other (oftentimes both at the same time). Though the first scene started with a bang, I found the beginning part of the book slow though once I reached a quarter of the way, it began to speed up and I was quite hooked. I can liken it to a dragon trying to fly - it will try to get a running start to get the right amount of power to get off the ground but once it's airborne, ahhh, it'll be flying to its heart's content.

The court intrigue and machinations of the Kings and Queens centered on who's going to be the next Speaker, the leader of them all and this is the meat of the story. Which is kind of expected, looking at the title. The Adamantine Palace is where the Speaker reside, and it's the crown jewel of all jewels in the realm. Any ambitious man or woman will do whatever it takes - plot, kill, lie, make pacts, break them, sell their kids or even sell their own souls to the devil to possess it. Prince Jehal, Queen Zafir and Queen Shezira were in the center of all this political maneuverings. And only the most vicious and the most cunning will win this particular game.

Amidst the court squabblings and power struggle, Snow, the only pure white dragon in the realms, went missing. And in a hindsight, this event was more important than anything that was happening at court. Because this preludes a discovery that will change everything, that will turn the world upside down. Dragons had been tamed by Man and were currently being used as glorified pets, transport and commodity. But the truth of the matter was, a long, long time ago  they were the masters, not humans. They were on top of the food chain. But the blood mages learned a potion on how to tame them. These became the alchemists who regularly add the potion to the water the dragons drink. And what would a rogue dragon do once the veil fell of her eyes? Of course, go on a  campaign to free other dragons, punish those who subdued them and take back their world. Blood and fire were their nature afterall. Yep, top of the food chain all right.

The Adamantine Palace is a good debut and a good first book to start of an interesting trilogy. The world building is good and the story engaging with mysteries and glimpses to what will be in the next books. Though I admit that I didnt like any of the characters, except for Snow. The squabbling Kings and Queens were the same old stereotypes that littered the fantasy world. Prince Jehal had his moments but then again, he fits the cookie-cutter mold of the cold, petty albeit sly and ambitious antagonist.  So I wont be able to include him in my list of cool villains (yes, I love cool villians like I love bad-ass heroes). I dont know if there's a particular hero in the book but the nearest I can think of was Kemir (well, he's the next one I like after Snow). His and Nadira's situation presented an intriguing conundurum though. Will they help Snow in getting rid of the alchemists and in turn, hand over the world back to the dragons and  turn their backs on mankind? Or will they do everything to thwart Snow's plans? I am really interested in how the author will be resolving this at the end. I will be disappointed if it'll end up with the 2 races having a truce and living peacefully side by side. I hope it'll be more --- lively (original and different came to mind too) than that.