Otherland: River of Blue Fire

Otherland: River of Blue Fire

By: Tad Williams

www.tadwilliams.com

(Sci-fi with Cyberpunk tendencies?)

Before the novel even starts, Tad Williams explains how Otherland to him is just one very long novel, but out of necessity had to be broken into multiple volumes, which explains the abrupt cliff hangers. My estimation would put the whole story in the neighborhood of 2,500 pages, so I can understand why he had to break it up. I would also like to thank him so much for the synopsis at the beginning of the book! I hope every installment has one. With such a complex story it’s easy to forget a few important details, no matter how closely you pay attention.

Otherland is a dense series, and it can take a little time to work your way through it, but I think it’s worth it.  That being said, here is my advice:

Take your time with it.  Read slowly and let it absorb.  You really need to read and thoroughly comprehend each and every sentence. They are so loaded with information that without doing so you might become hopelessly lost.  No skimming here.

I find the “netfeeds” at the start of every chapter add depth to the story, and help you get to know the not so distantly futuristic world that spawns Otherland.  It gives subtle insights into the sociology of the society itself. Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron used a similar technique and it really adds to the story.

Otherland is a story of different people traveling through different worlds created on the internet.  Some worlds are more interesting than others, but that’s a matter of personal taste.  This book spent most of its time in Otherland, rather than the real world, compared to City of Golden Shadow which spent a lot of time in the real world, and I liked that more. What can I say?  Reality is overrated. Many of the worlds in Otherland come from classic stories. I’m a fan of re-imaginings and Tad Williams’ take on a twisted version of the Wizard of Oz has to be my favorite so far.

Being a slow moving story, and with so many different characters and plot lines, the development of those characters is slow moving as well. It took until the end of this book for me to feel much closer to them than I had before, especially Renie and !Xabbu, who have an undefinable relationship that made it difficult for me to connect with them.

As the story progresses we learn more about the man behind the Otherland network and the mentality of the people who contributed to its creation, as well as the connections between the many characters introduced so far, and a few new ones. I have to say, Paul Jonas and little Christabell continue to be my favorites, and Paul makes some great strides in his journey, while things get a little complicated for Christabell.  Martine’s back story is also intriguing.

The more I read it the more I like it, but it does require more effort than other books I’ve read.  Still, I think it’s worth the investment.  I look forward to Mountain of Black Glass.  With all that has happened so far I can’t imagine what will happen with the next two books of the series. Until then…

Happy Reading!

Extras!

Memorable Quote: “…the stewed beets…seemed to find the whole thing wildly funny, and were shouting out useless, drunken advice indiscriminately to both boaters and predatory utensils.”

Memorable Typo: “Any anyway, we cannot spent time here talking, talking.”

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Magic for Beginners

Magic for Beginners

By: Kelly Link

kellylink.net

(Short Stories)

I have been putting off this review for a couple reasons.  One, I didn’t want to write a negative review.  I can’t help but think if the roles were reversed and someone didn’t like my book I would be devastated, but I suppose I can’t love everything.  Secondly, I haven’t actually finished the whole thing, but I doubt that’s going to happen any time soon, as you will understand in a moment, so I feel like it’s alright to review from here.

I really wanted to like this book.  I first discovered Kelly Link by reading her short story Magic for Beginners in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine and I loved it!  The story was so bizarrely captivating that I couldn’t wait to read more, but when I started reading the collection of stories, none of the others (so far) captured my attention the way Magic for Beginners did.  In fact, they often felt to me like a haphazard collection of random strangeness ranging from just plain weird to mildly disturbing.  It just didn’t feel like there was any point to it all, and especially when all that randomness had a slightly more negative tinge to it I just had a hard time sticking with it.  Reading felt like work and I really hate that.

The author is incredibly imaginative, which is by far an awesome thing, and I’m not criticizing that at all.  I think that when it comes to the strange and bizarre everyone has their own personal taste, like art.  I kept feeling like maybe I was missing something and if I came at it from a different angle I’d see it for the brilliant originality that it is.  Perhaps I will one day, and if that happens I’ll write a new review.  Until then, it will wait patiently upon my shelf…

Happy Reading 🙂

The 13th Hour

The 13th Hour

By: Richard Doetsch

richarddoetsch.com

(Thriller)

So I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but this one caught my eye.  Once again, as much as I think of myself as a “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” kind of person, the cover art draws me in.  Oh well, I guess that’s why it’s there in the first place.  Score one for good marketing.  I liked this one because it had a slight supernatural element to it, setting it a part from every other thriller.

The story opens with the main character detained at the local police station accused of his wife’s murder…only he didn’t do it.  He obtains a mysterious pocket watch that allows him to travel back in time in hour increments, giving him a chance to set things right.  In the process he uncovers a whole conspiracy and the true cause of his wife’s death.  It’s a really fast read.  I finished it in a few days.  So if you’re looking for a quick read, or a fast paced thriller that’s just a little different from the more predictable specimens of the genre, I highly recommend it.  I think I’ll have to look for his other books too.  Until next time…

Happy Reading! 🙂

Fever Series

Fever SeriesThe Fever Series

By: Karen Marie Moning

Official Website

I absolutely love this series!  It’s rare for me to find something I love this much, where I get completely sucked in and easily go through a hundred pages in one sitting.  With so many other books I find myself counting the pages to see how much more I’ve got left till I finish it, but here I’m shocked to find how far I’ve gotten and wishing another couple hundred pages would magically materialize so I could enjoy it for longer.  But enough of my gushing…

Since I’m reviewing the entire series rather than one book at a time, my review will be more general, especially since I don’t want to give anything away.

This author’s first series of novels, known as the Highlander series, belong to the romance novel category, so some of that style and a fair share of “R” rated moments have made their way into this series as well, but it is so much more than that!  This dark fantasy series takes place in Dublin with evil fae, known as Unseelie creeping into our world.  When the main character’s sister is brutally murdered, she travels to Dublin to find her killer, but gets herself involved in something far greater and far more dangerous.  I admit, in the beginning, I didn’t particularly like MacKayla Lane, with all her carefree, blond, perfectness, but her transition from that person to what she becomes after going through countless trials is very interesting to watch.  Her reactions to impossible situations are realistic, and very human.  She’s not perfect.  She makes a lot of mistakes, and most of them when faced with impossible choices.  The ways she tries to balance all the crazy horrible things in her life is also rather charming.

The other characters in the book are fascinating, and the way they’re presented makes you always want to know more.  Their interactions are always entertaining, whether they’re fighting, or having fun, or threatening eachother’s very existence.

This is a very fast paced book.  Every few chapters something unspeakable and completely unexpected jumps out at you from nowhere forcing you to read at least one more chapter before you can put it down.  This book is full of cliff hangers and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There really isn’t a dull moment.

A few random notes:

I feel this book is more geared toward a female audience, with a female author and a female main character, so keep that in mind if you’re considering reading it.

Thankfully it seems the author is working on a new series set in the same world. (Can’t wait for that!)

And it seems Dreamworks just might make it into a movie one day. (Mixed feelings about that…I really hope they don’t ruin it.)

The series is as follows:

  • Darkfever
  • Bloodfever
  • Faefever
  • Dreamfever
  • Shadowfever

Happy Reading! 🙂

Scarlet

ScarletScarlet

By: Stephen Lawhead

www.stephenlawhead.com

I’d like to apologize first and foremost for not reviewing the first book in the series, Hood, since it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I will mention a few things about it in reviewing Scarlet.

The first thing I have to say about this book is a big THANK YOU! to Mr. Lawhead for providing an extremely useful pronunciation guide at the front of the book.  In a story with so many Welsh/Celtic names, it’s nice to be able to pronounce them at least somewhat properly in my head rather than butchering them completely.  I absolutely hate it when I can’t figure out how to say a name, and I find it makes it more difficult to remember the character.

This series, starting with Hood, is a more historically realistic retelling of Robin Hood, or Rhi Bran Hud, as he is called in this story, which translates to King Raven the Enchanter.  This telling is set in Wales in a forest known as the March, rather than Sherwood Forest.  Merian, Friar Tuck, and Little John are represented, if not with those exact names.

Now, onto the story.  I was a little surprised at first how this story focuses on the trials and tribulations of one Will Scarlet and his association with Bran who we met in the first book.  I was expecting this story to be a continuation of Bran’s story, but I really liked this different point of view.  We are introduced to Will, in his prison cell, as he relates his tale to a priest while awaiting his execution.  The more he relates the more you really want him to make it out of this alive, even if it seems his fate is sealed.  I found I liked this story a bit more than the first for some reason.  Perhaps it had a bit more action.  I thought Hood was a little slower than I anticipated, but I think that comes primarily from comparing it to fantasy novels.  This series is essentially historical fiction with only the slightest touch of the supernatural in the form of Angharad, a bard and adviser to Bran and his group of refugees.  Since this is not a fantasy novel, there aren’t countless monsters and supernatural challenges to face, only mortal, flesh and blood, people, so that can slow things down just a bit.  That being said, I really liked it.  I like this history and the medieval politics.  The characters are like able, except for the ones not meant to be, and those are as infuriating as possible.  I look forward to the conclusion of the series, Tuck.  Hopefully everything will turn out well for these poor people and Bran will get his land back.  It’s unlikely, but I can hope.

Happy Reading!

The series is as follows: Hood, Scarlet, Tuck

Otherland: City of Golden Shadow

Otherland: City of Golden Shadow

By: Tad Williams

www.tadwilliams.com

This is the first of four books and quite a long one at that.  At close to 800 pages it’s a bit of a time investment.  That being said if you’re used to reading fast paced 300 page James Patterson novels…this book probably isn’t for you.  Likewise, if you’re looking for epic fantasy battles, you won’t find that either.  I have a hard time deciding how to categorize this book.  Is it Sci-Fi?  Or maybe Fantasy?  My local library seems to think it’s Fantasy, but I think of it more as a combination of the two.  On the science fiction side, you have our world in a future not so different from today, except that interaction with the internet is far more advanced, using fancy virtual reality equipment to feel like you’re really there, when it’s just a simulation.  The authors portrayal of the internet culture as well as the internet itself is really accurate, which I think is pretty cool, considering the book was written around 1995.  The virtual places visited, and the adventures experienced there, feel more reminiscent of Fantasy to me, and I really like the combination.

This book is not a fast read, more of a medium paced book.  Some reviews I read, long before I ever picked up the book, said it was too long and too confusing, and I see how they might think that.  800 pages can be intimidating, but I solved that problem by taking a break in the middle and then picking it back up a few weeks later. (that and I had to return it to the library because I ran out of time)

Essentially the book has 5 or 6 storylines going at once, separately at first, until they start to converge later on.  I admit, I found some more interesting than others.  Keeping track of these story lines could be confusing, but I felt it kept things interesting.

Ultimately, I liked it, despite its length and potential confusion, and I intend to read the rest of the series.  So far so good.

The series is as follows: City of Golden Shadow, River of Blue Fire, Mountain of Black Glass, Sea of Silver Light

Happy Reading! 🙂