Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett Read Along: Week 2

If you haven't read the book why not join in and read along with the rest of us? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at the Little Red Reviewer.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 9.

1.  Do you think Tiffany will be able to hold up her end of the bargain that she made with the Kelda?

Absolutely: Tiffany is the kind of girl who can do anything when she sets her mind to it!

Although her task seems very difficult at the moment I have no doubt that everything will turn out well in the end, otherwise this is going to be a very disappointing story. We have already seen her overcome the difficulty of having to marry the Big Man, Rob Anybody, so that is a good start. She also managed to outwit the Drome . . . and she does have the Feegles and William the Gonnagle with his ability to make things explode by playing his music.

I also need to make a special mention of No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock. Not only does he have possibly the most epic name of any character in literature, but he can destroy things with his poetry. How cool is that?

2. Do you think Tiffany and Fion will ever be friends?

I do not see Fion as a forgiving sort of girl and I cannot imagine that she will ever approve of Tiffany being made kelda of the clan, even if it was only a temporary arrangement. I get the impression that she was bad tempered enough before Tiffany showed up and that she has a teenager’s ability to sulk in the most dramatic fashion possible. I think the best that Tiffany can hope for is a little grudging respect after she has saved the day and handed the clan over to their new kelda.

3. What do you think of the Queen's world? How does this interpretation of Fairyland mesh with other interpretations you've run into in other books?

Discworld constantly takes well established tropes and turns them on their heads, so I really appreciate the distorted Fairyland that we have here. I love the idea that the trees and landscape only develop detail when you notice them: Mr Pratchett does like to add sentience to the most inanimate of objects. This also adds to the dream-like quality of the land, so that we can never be quite sure of our sense and what they are telling us. Of course, the Fae are often portrayed as rather ‘chaotic’ characters, to use the Dungeon and Dragons terminology, and there are plenty of stories and myths about them being evil. We see this in the Queen’s lack of understanding of what children need as oppose to what they want.

I have read quite a few books that involve the fae, and most of them show us two types of fae, one ‘good’ and one ‘evil’, that are normally in opposition to one another. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files include several fae, most notably Mab, Queen of the Winter, who is very capricious: trying to kill him or help him seemingly at random. In Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, the fairies are rather nasty insectoids who are happy to work as mercenaries. Sookie Stackhouse is possibly the most famous example of a fairy in modern fantasy, even if she is mostly human.

4. What do you think of Roland? Will he be a help to Tiffany or a hindrance?

I am not at all sure about Roland. He makes me think of Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and his relationship with the White Witch. I hope that Roland proves to be an ally for Tiffany, although I would not be surprised if he is more of a hindrance.

5. I don't know about you, but I do NOT want to run into a Drome!

Most definitely not: they are way too powerful and cunning. Being stuck in a bad dream that can change with your perceptions sounds like the worst thing possible.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan Read Along: Week 1

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Dab of Darkness.

This week we read the prologue through to the end of Chapter 6.

1) That prologue was pretty intense. If you haven't read the book/don't remember, any wild guesses as to who all these spooky characters are? If you know, feel free to make snarky comments.

We are shown that Bors is a member of the Children of the Light, and he wears the emblem of an Inquisitor. Of course, this could be a ruse, but somehow I find it quite easy to believe that the Children harbor Darkfriends. His descriptions of some of the others at the gathering include at least a couple of Aes Sedai, but I doubt that we will be able to identify them any time soon. I guess the most disturbing thing was that we were shown a lot of people from a vast array of cultures and places, which begs the question: how did they all get to the meeting place?

As a side note, I really wish that Mr Jordan had not chosen to use the name ‘Inquisitor’ because it always makes me think of Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition, which is a little distracting! :D

2) Hehe! What do you think of all of Rand's attempts to escape from the keep?

Poor lad, he really had no hope of getting out, did he? I liked his nonchalant approaches to all of the gates: I could imagine him walking past each one whistling and trying, unsuccessfully, to look casual.

I am curious about who gave the initial order for the gates to be closed, as it was not Agelmar.

3) What do you make of Egwene's visits to the dungeon and to specifically visit Padan Fain?

Oh, Egwene, you stupid girl!

I guess it shows us that Fain can still be charming and persuasive when he wants to be, but this was always going to be a really bad idea. I assume that she has a tendency to always see the good in people and thinks that she can talk him into not being a truly evil Darkfriend. Hopefully this incident will be a giant dose of realism that will make her much more careful in future.

I thought that it was very obvious that the guards and other prisoners were being affected by Fain: even Egwene notices that the guards have changed. For some reason, their walk past the other prisoners made me think of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, so I was just glad that neither of them threw anything at her . . .

4) We have a shift in point of view pretty quickly in this book (as opposed to The Eye of the World). Has your view of Moiraine altered any by riding around in her head?

I think that being inside her head makes her seem much less powerful. We get to see her doubts and realize that she has fears and restrictions that she cannot avoid. This makes it clear that she is not the all-powerful answer to everyone’s troubles that was suggested in the previous book.

The other major worry, is that we now see how fragmented the Aes Sedai really are, which does not bode well for the coming battle. It looks like they will possibly continue their infighting whilst the Dark One sweeps to victory. The limits upon the power of the Amyrlin Seat are especially worrying: she seems to be delicately trying to herd cats rather than imposing her will upon them.

5) We finally get to meet some more Aes Sedai - in force. What are your impressions?


Liandrin has possibly made the great impact so far: and she is a particularly nasty piece of work. I would not be at all surprised to find that she is Black Ajah. The fact that she looks pretty makes her even scarier, as her personality is so well disguised. Her attack upon Lady Amalisa was particularly unnecessary, as I am sure that her request would have been fulfilled without coercion. I get the feeling that she really enjoys hurting people and has the mind of a psychopath.

The Amyrlin Seat was not at all what I expected. I had expected the leader of the Aes Sedai to be a powerful leader who would treat the Sisters in much the same way as Moiraine treats normal people. The fact that she has to be wary of opposition makes her more of a figurehead than a person of real power.

6) Trollocs! Any guesses as to how they got in? Anyone else amused that the overall atmosphere is abruptly jarred by the unexpected appearance of Trollocs in both The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt?

We know that someone opens Fain’s cell door, so there is obviously a Darkfriend in the keep. Is it Liandrin? Somehow, I doubt that, as it would be far too obvious at this point in the story: she is too overtly evil. I also doubt that everything would be left to a single Darkfriend. From the Prologue we know that there are plenty of them, that they are all anonymous and that they all receive separate orders. I would imagine that each is given only a part of the plan to execute, so that capture would make torture mostly ineffective: none of them has an idea of the reason behind their actions.

The arrival of Trollocs was certainly a shock, especially because Fal Dara is such a well-prepared keep and does not allow itself to become too comfortable or complacent about its history of holding the dark forces at bay. I had not made the link to the beginning of The Eye of the World, but now that you point it out I have to agree that this is a definite pattern: I hope that we do not see it repeated in later books as I hate it when authors start to fall into a formula.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sue's Saturday Suggestions #36

Interesting Books

I have listed these titles in earlier SSS posts: check out my SSS Books Page for links to more reviews:

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, review at SF Signal

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis, review at The Ranting Dragon

Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri, review at The Speculative Scotsman

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, review at Fantasy Book Critic

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke, review at Starmetal Oak Reviews

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, review at Fantasy Book Critic

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, review at Janicu’s Book Blog


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman at Cuddlebuggery

Author Interviews

Miles Cameron at SF Signal

Cassandra Rose Clarke at Stainless Steel Droppings

Rachel Hartman at Cuddlebuggery

Book Store – Book Blogger Connection

This began as an initiative for Fantasy & Sc-Fi titles only, but has now been to all opened up all genres: head over to the website and check it out!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feature & Follow #12

I am trying to increase my readership and gain new followers, so I have signed up for this meme, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read. Visit either of their posts to see who else is taking part.

I would especially appreciate 'likes' for my Facebook Page.

Activity: We always talk about books that WE want. Let’s turn it on its head. What books have you given other people lately?

Flavia de Luce 3-Book Bundle: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, by Alan Bradley

The Parasol Protectorate Boxed Set: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless and Timeless, by Gail Carriger

Jane’s Warlord by Angela Knight

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

I know this is a rather eclectic mix, but they are tailored to their recipients and I tend to read a wide range of genres myself.

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