‘Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son…’

Posted On 24 June 2015

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I had to go there – I just couldn’t help it!

This week at the Fantasy Review Barn we will once again be Tough Travelling.  Our topic this week: FATHERS

Comes in two types in fantasyland.  Either a semi-mystical figure proving impossible to live up to or the overbearing type who doesn’t understand why his daughter doesn’t accept the traditional princess role.  He may be tough to get along with but usually does think he has his kids interests in mind.

Age of Iron by Angus Watson – I loved this book and talk about your overbearing father!  Difficult to give up too much information without – well, giving up too much information – but, the young girl Spring has a very demanding father – to say the least.

Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton – in this book Apollo, who has taken human form – becomes father to a number of children.  I wouldn’t call him overbearing, in fact he seems like a rather nice father figure – but it’s a lot of living up to do – he’s a God!

Darkhaven by A F E Smith – in which the Nightshade family rule.  Ayla and her brother Myrren are a great disappointment to their father, the ruler of Darkhaven.  The Nightshade family are changers – changers basically have the gift of shapeshifting – unfortunately Ayla’s heritage is mixed blood and therefore she shifts into a form that is considered impure and her brother cannot change at all!  Their father is not pleased!!  He doesn’t take disappointment well.

The Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – this book doesn’t really need an introduction!  Prince Jorg is a piece of work – but his father the King takes it to a whole new level of bad.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman – Talk about demanding fathers.  Coralie’s father runs a museum of curiosities – and he sets his daughter up as a mermaid.  She spends most of the day in a tank of water while people stare at her!  Not a spoiler – she’s not a mermaid!

And, finally, in case there was any doubt that I would include Lord of the Rings : I give you Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, who having lost one son in battle sends his remaining son to almost certain death

Faramir: ‘You wish now that our places had been exchanged… that I had died and Boromir had lived.’ 
Denethor: ‘Yes.’

Really, couldn’t you just slap him!

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton

The Philosopher Kings is the second in the trilogy by Jo Walton which got off to a fantastic start with The Just City.  Before I even start to review this I’m just going to point out that I don’t think this book would work as well read in seclusion – I really do think you would need to read Just City first just to have some understanding of the relationships at play.

The Philosopher Kings starts about 20 years later than the Just City where Apollo, still living as a mortal named Pythias, is now married to Simmea.  The City, founded by Athene as a social experiment based on Plato’s Republic has, since the ‘great debate’ that concluded the last book, split into 5 cities.  Unfortunately there are occasionally skirmishes between the cities – particularly in relation to where all the great works of art are housed.  (I’m just going to mention that there is a slight spoiler ahead – but one that I think is necessary to the review).  As a result of one of the latest conflicts Simmea is killed whilst trying to prevent yet more theft and this becomes the catalyst for the whole story.

Apollo, is consumed with remorse.  He doesn’t know how to continue his mortal existence without Simmea by his side to explain the little idiosyncrasies of human life – I must confess I was touched by how completely Apollo seemed to have loved Apollo and also for the intense grief he suffers after she dies.  At first I was a little surprised that Simmea had gone – she played such a pivotal role in the Just City that I thought I would really feel lost without her but instead her daughter Arete fills the void quite admirably.

I’m not going to really go into the plot too much other than to say it involves Apollo and Arete, along with a few others embarking on a voyage.  This starts out as a mission of revenge but culminates in revelations and self discovery.

Obviously we meet up with characters from the first novel but added to that are the inclusion of some of the younger characters who are just becoming a certain age.  All Apollo’s children are aware of his true identity and they’ve also been given to understand that they are different as a result of being his offspring – stands to reason really!  Some of them have heroic souls and should they choose to could gain ‘godlike’ status.  I enjoyed looking at this element of the story, it had a coming of age feel to it and was a honest look at the differences that naturally occur between siblings and the rivalry or jealousy they sometimes provoke.

Again, I really enjoyed this, maybe not quite as much as the first book – but perhaps that’s because the first book also had the novelty factor, plus Ioved reading about the City being established.  This is though, without doubt another thought provoking feast with lots to mull over.  There’s the whole issue of just how far people will go to have something which they desire, and in doing so making human life so cheap.  On the other hand there’s how far people will go to achieve revenge and whether or not this ultimately results in true satisfaction.  There’s this issue of what exactly is enough?  Is that piece of art enough to go to war over, is it enough to kill somebody, and it certainly explores extremes.  Just how far will you go, what is acceptable.  A piece of artwork seems trivial and yet here it makes cities rise up against each other.

On top of this i really enjoyed the whole look at the different cities that Apollo and his crew come across.  It was interesting to look at the differences.  Were these new places aiming to achieve excellence?  They had their own religious beliefs, stark poverty was sometimes displayed opposite casual displays of wealth, systems of payment had been introduced but more than that there was in place harsh penalties for those that fall from the straight and narrow.  A demonstration of how a city can be so affected by the whims and inclinations of the person controlling it.

As with my book review for Just City I don’t really think I’m doing this justice.  There’s a lot to think about and I couldn’t possibly encompass it all here without writing a dissertation – which frankly I’m not inclined to do – and I don’t think anybody will want to read!

However, this is an intelligent book that explores many themes all embedded within a story of revenge.

I’m very much looking forward to the next in series.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Hat’s off to you…

Posted On 22 June 2015

Filed under Book Reviews

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b2bf5-toptentuesday2This week over at the Broke and the Bookish we’re taking a look back at past posts.  In celebration of 5 years of Top Ten Tuesday’s today’s topic is:

‘My Ten Favorite Top Ten Topics We’ve Ever Done In The Past 5 Years’

Here’s my list for this week:

  1. In which I give you fantasy not to be missed… August, 2014, self explanatory really (Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X – x=fantasy)
  2. Confessions of a book blogger – July 2014, again, no explanation needed! (Top Ten Blogging Confessions)
  3. A Friend in Need – from May 2014, ten books that look at friendship (Top Ten Books About Friendship)
  4. Wishing you were there? – Oct 2014, from catacombs to castles, travelling through books (Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit)
  5. To Read or Not to Read –  August 2014 books that I’m probably not going to get to read (Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read)
  6. Listen to them, the children of the night... October 2013, Halloween reads (top ten books to read during Halloween)
  7. You’re Simply the Best – March 2015, top ten books of the last five years – this was a toughie!
  8. Follow the Yellow Brick Road –  March 2015 books to grow up with (Top 10 Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit’)
  9. Where’ve you been hiding – Dec 2014 – 10 new to me authors (Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014)
  10. Don’t go there – Jan 2014 – top ten places or people you don’t want to go to or be (Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In OR Top Ten Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With)

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.7

Today is the seventh week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Week seven is being hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness.  The questions and answers for week No.7 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 55-63 are covered below:

1) What do you think of the over all connection between the Casseline Brotherhood and the Yeshuites? Are you happy with where the shaggy pony ended up?

Mmm, I must admit that I hadn’t really picked up on this when I read – other than the family were great for helping Phedre and Joscelin.  I liked the family, the way they interacted and the way they wanted to do even more than they already had.  Clearly the connection is strong and respectful and, yes, I loved that the pony found a good home.  It made me smile.

2) Phedre & Hyacinthe have a happy reunion. What do you make of Joscelin’s reaction? Do you miss Hyacinthe’s mother?

Well, I think Joscelin still doesn’t know what to think about everything if I’m being honest.  He clearly wants to be with Phedre and I suppose as a reader it looks obvious the way they feel but you can’t blame them both for feeling conflicted.  There is bound to be a bit of jealousy don’t you think?  I do miss Hyacinthe’s mum – she only had a small role but she always made an impact.

3) Yet another happy reunion occurs with Thelesis de Mornay, the King’s Poet, who gets them in to see the Dauphine, Ysandre.  Do you think there was another way to seek her audience? Such an intense meeting! What stood out the most for you?

No, I think that the way they sought the audience was effective to be honest.  They were in a very precarious position and getting about, and, more to the point given what they’ve been through, trusting people, wasn’t easy. The thing that struck me the most with the meeting was that Ysandre really didn’t want to believe them – not because she ‘didn’t want to believe them’ but because she really didn’t want it to be true.  I think that really brought home the full impact of what is really going to happen – and it also underlined how young she is to have such a weight placed on her shoulders and yet she’s stepping up to it admirably.

4) Phedre makes a trip to the temple of Kushiel to make atonement. Do you agree that she had things to atone for?

To be honest – no, I don’t think she had anything to atone for.  I can understand that she almost feels guilt in a sense – but she is what she is.  Maybe she still hasn’t completely come to terms with her true self yet?  I think that the way she behaved in captivity helped to save both her and Joscelin.  she never posed a threat.  She appeared meek and subservient and in that way she was allowed much more freedom.

5) After King Ganelon’s death, at the hunting lodge we learn some more politics. What stood out for you? We learned more about the Picti and the prophesy. Should the fate of Terre D’Ange be resting, even partially, on the validity of a prophesy of love and union?

Maybe I’m a bit soft but i actually liked this aspect of the story a lot. it has a feeling of hope somehow.  Whether it will pan out remains to be seen, and, yes, it feels a little like skating on thin ice, but it’s one of those feel good elements to a story.

6) The Casseline Prefect forbids Joscelin from serving Phedre as protector as she travels to the Pictish lands. Joscelin had to make a hard choice: did he make the right one?

Yes, he made the right choice.  He undertook to protect Phedre and they’ve been through so much together that I just can’t see him giving her up to somebody else’s protection now.  The only thing that did occur to me reading that scene was that to an extent I wished that Phedre had spoken up for Joscelin – by which I mean I wish that she had said he was important to her, or, if she was going to take the mission she would want him to accompany her.

7) Hyacinthe comes up with the plan to get them to the coast and meet with Royal Admiral Quintilius Rousse. Do you like the fake IDs? Do you think they will make it unscathed?

I love this part of the story with Hyacinthe becoming more involved.  I think he’s come up with a great idea, it’s something I absolutely didn’t see coming at all and so hopefully nobody else will!  I think they will encounter trouble along the way but that’s to be expected in a way.

8) Hyacinthe meets his grandfather, Manoj, for the first time. Happy? Sad? How do you feel about how his mother was cast out?

I felt so sorry for Hyacinthe’s mum for what happened – and also for Hyacinthe because let’s not forget that he was also affected and separated from his own people.  I really enjoyed seeing Hyacinthe being accepted during these scenes, but at the end of the day even though these are his people he’s never been a part of their lives and he has other loyalties now.  It did make me feel sad for her and had a bitter sweet feeling.

That’s it for me this week – looking forward to picking it back up tbh.  Sorry for the lateness and if this is a bit brief – I’ve been away all weekend but wanted to get this up.

Other participants:

Allie at Tethyan Books
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures (our host this week_
Lauren at Violin in a Void
Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Igret at Igret’s Corner
Michael at Nashville Book Worm
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Emma at EmmaMaree.com
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
Kelly at Orange Pekoe Reviews
James at James T. Witherspoon
Susan at Dab of Darkness

The Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

Posted On 19 June 2015

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Last year I finally got round to reading Bloodsong by Anthony Ryan which I loved.  For some reason The Tower Lord kept getting put off – and I admit that I’d heard Vaelin didn’t play as big a role in the story which kind of give me pause for thought.  I was wrong.  There it is.  This was so good.  I really enjoyed it.

Without doubt Vaelin Al Sorno captured our hearts and imagination in Bloodsong.  There was such a wonderful coming of age feel to the first half of the story as we watched Vaelin become a part of something much bigger and so to confront us with a story told from many perspectives and with less time for our favourite character, well, I can’t deny it seemed like such a risk by Ryan.  However, for me personally, he has managed to pull of this change of style in the most successful way.  There is plenty of gripping action and a number of different points of view – and they’re all really good to read.  I confess that I never had that sinking feeling when you move away from a character you love to one with less appeal – all of these povs are good.

At the start of the story Vaelin is travelling with a clear purpose.  Along the way however he seems to have picked up a shadow.  Reva is also on a mission – to kill Vaelin and take from him the sword that belonged to her father.  And yet, in spite of that, Vaelin wants to help Reva – she’s had a very strange upbringing, beaten regularly and drilled with one purpose in mind.  You know – I’m going to forgo the plot and move straight to the characters and their different POVs – this will be all your need.

This time we share space with Vaelin of course.  Along the way he reunites with his sister but just as they start to become reacquainted Vaelin is made Tower Lord and sent to the Northern Reaches.  Here he will help those in need and make allies in the places last imagined.

We spend a good deal of time with Frentis who really does have a helluva lot to put up with you – you really feel for him.  He’s in the most dreadful situation.  Bespelled (or something) by a woman with hideous intentions.  She uses him to commit her awful crimes.  By the end you’re almost begging for Vaelin to come to his rescue!

Reva – as mentioned, she’s sort of been brainwashed by the priest who raised her.  She’s very conflicted and in fact Vaelin is the first person to treat her with kindness and in doing so raise doubts within her own mind.  He helps her along the way, progresses her training (not always a wise decision to train somebody to perfection when they’re trying to cut your throat but Vaelin has a feeling about Reva and his feelings are never wrong).  Anyway, Reva and Vaelin forge a tentative friendship but unfortunately part ways after words.  Reva is such an excellent character – I really enjoyed reading her POV and thought she was a fantastic addition to the story.  On top of this she plays a pivotal role and proves to be the focus for Vaelin – the beacon drawing him back if you will.

Princess Lyrna – known of course from the first book – is sent on a mission, a peace mission really where she herself makes friends, receives predictions and proves herself worthy to rule a kingdom.  Lyrna really does come into her own in this story – she herself has trials to withstand, and your heart really goes out to her, She travels back and forth being chased by adversaries, scaling volcanos and pulling together the oddest bunch of misfits who are totally loyal to her.

Finally, Vernier – the chronicler from the first book.  Taken a slave and being used by the ambitious Volarian who is currently leading his army to, presumably, world domination! Vernier is required to record the days events – and, of course, to greatly embelish them.  What I particularly enjoyed about this was the unpicking of events.  Pay careful attention to Vernier’s accounts as they’ll be very relevant as the story progresses.

I really enjoyed this – I’ve probably not elaborated enough but let me just reinforce it here.  The writing is strong.  The storyline is intriguing but, the characters – outshine everything else, and I do so love good characters.  On top of this there are different races and cultures explored, fighting and war that is totally gripping, in fact the siege scenes will have you on the edge of your seat!  And that end – what!!  Really, What?

Fortunately there is very little wait and you can believe I won’t be leaving book No.3 for quite as long before picking it up!  I can totally understand that some people would perhaps be shocked by the change of style but I really liked it to be honest and in fact think it’s a bonus.  It doesn’t feel like we’re getting the same old same old and given that Vaelin is so awesome that could easily have become the case if this had simply been a one man band.

I simply can’t wait to read the next!

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