Monday, April 29, 2013

The Shadow of the Sun by Barbara Friend Ish Read Along: Week 5

If you haven't read the book, why not give it a try? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Dab of Darkness.

This week we read through to the end of the book.

Before I answer the questions I would just like to thank Barbara Friend Ish for the chance to read her book for free and nrlymrtl for organizing the Read Along.

1) These final chapters show us much more of Iminor's character and his growing Talent. What stuck out the most for you about how he handled the various exploding aspects of his life?

I was constantly amazed that he did not stab Ellion in the eye when it became obvious that the human was bedding Letitia. He seems to be remarkably tolerant of her choices and able to restrain his jealousy well beyond the point where I would have expected at least a well-placed knee in Ellion’s dangly bits. Ellion has some inkling that he is considered so far beneath her as to not really warrant jealousy from her designated Consort, but I was still very impressed.

2) While Rohini is a late addition to the party, she is an interesting one. What aspect of her character or objectives would you like to see more of in forthcoming book(s)?

She reminds me very much of Brienne of Tarth from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, although Rohini is not supposed to be as ugly or manly. I was very impressed by the way that she fulfilled a traditionally ‘male’ role with great ease and commanded such loyalty and respect from her soldiers.

3) Amien has been managing and maneuvering Ellion quite a bit in this last section. What do you think his motivations are?

I think that he has always wanted Ellion to take over as his successor and this plan is now even more important as he is being overwhelmed by the death magic. I do not think that he has any other motive behind this wish other than seeing the strongest, most Talented man take over his position.

4) Letitia continued to learn more about her abilities, but everyone agrees she still lacks the ability to go toe to toe with Nechton. What more would you empower her with?

I think that what she really needs is information. She needs to know what her mother could and could not do and how they differ in their Talent. More importantly, she needs to know why Carina failed to destroy Nechton. This could all be in the journal that she uncovered, otherwise I have no idea how she can hope to survive the encounter.

5) Throughout this entire book, the deities have played an important, if a backseat driver, role. As a reader, how as this worked for you in the world-building/plot department?

I am still rather ambivalent about the deities in this world. Ellion seems to believe that they are real entities, and he certainly escaped that mine explosion by some sort of divine intervention. However, they feel very distant and somewhat unconcerned with anything other than their own desires and needs. I see a lot of similarities with the Greek / Roman pantheon, especially with the overthrowing and imprisonment of the old gods by the new. It is unfortunate that we have only Ellion’s internal monologue to inform us as his wandering exploration of the dark forces has identified several potential sources of that power. At the moment I am not certain which dark god is the most powerful or the identity of the one calling to him.

6) We had yet one more assassination attempt in the hot water baths of Sucello. Now that we are at the end of the book, what are your insights into who is behind these attempts?

What insight: did I miss a clue? As far as I can tell, we are no wiser now than we were with the first one.

7) Bealtan reveals much about our narrative hero, Ellion. From his reuniting with Conar, to the revelation of Amien's intentions, to his argument with Letitia, and his own internal recriminations about himself. Here at the end, what are your lasting impressions of Ellion?

Erm, this is going to sound rather harsh, but I have trouble liking Ellion or developing a great deal of sympathy for him. I have spent most of the book wanting to give him a good slap because so much of his problems are self-inflicted. He has made things so much worse by trying to hold to his vow, unless it involved subtle breaks in it to get into Letitia’s knickers. He could have resolved so much of his angst by talking to Amien and the others. He is basically narcissistic and selfish: personality traits that I struggle to find appealing.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan Read Along: Week 2

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 Musings On Fantasia

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 20.

1) Perrin saw Hopper in his dreams right after Moiraine warned him to be cautious of them. What do you think it means that he saw Hopper? Should he be as paranoid about his dreams as Moiraine leads him to be?

If Moiraine’s research is right, and wolves live partly in dreams, then perhaps some aspect of them remains in the dream world after they die. That might explain why Hopper appeared, because it certainly seemed as if the rest of the dream was real. This makes me think that he should be very wary about what happens in them because, if the people are real, the consequences of their actions could be very real as well.

2) Some kind of large, deadly dog was hunting Rand. What do you make of it and Rand's plans to go to Tear?

I totally missed a dog hunting Rand: are you sure that was in this section, because I do not remember a Rand chapter.

I am not sure if going to Tear is a good idea or not, but I have to assume that the Pattern is causing him to dream about it so that he is pushed in that direction. It would seem that Callandor will be important in his journey towards the Final Battle, so I can see why it is a good thing from that point of view. I just wish that he was not on his own for the journey: I would be much happier if he had at least one person to watch his back.

3) What do you think of Nynaeve and Egwene being asked to hunt the Black Ajah and the all-access passes the Amyrlin gave them? Do you think the Amyrlin is wise to trust them and Verin?

I think that this places them in a very dangerous position. Liandrin was under orders to get rid of them, so it seems that the Dark One sees them as a significant threat to his plans. I find it hard to believe that he will leave them alone now that they have foiled his plans once. I do think it was wise for them to bring Elayne into the group, and I would expect them to add Min when she arrives in Tar Valon as well. We know that these four are intimately bound to the fate of the three boys, so I trust them all to be working for the Light: other than that, I trust nobody completely, although I think that Moiraine and the Amyrlin are probably not Black Ajah. So far, Verin has proven to be an ally, but she may just be better than Liandrin at pretending to be a good person. After all, I doubt that anyone who had actually met Liandrin was surprised to find out that she was Black Ajah.

4) Who do you think sent the Gray Man and who was he aiming to kill? (Who stabbed him, for that matter?) Nynaeve seems to suspect Sheriam of something. Do you concur?

It did seem like he was aiming at Egwene and/or Nynaeve, and there was nobody else about to be a possible target. I understand perfectly why Nynaeve is so suspicious of Sheriam: she was in the perfect position to have stabbed him and did not ask them if they had seen anybody else around the body. There is something suspicious going on there, and Sheriam would be a perfect operative to convert to the Dark because she has unquestioned access to all the novices. She could select those who might be likely to join the Black Ajah or who already had leanings in that direction: I cannot imagine that Liandrin was ever all sweetness and light!

5) Elaida's visit to the Accepted's quarters was...interesting. What information do you think she was fishing for? Between the two, who would you more readily believe to be Black Ajah--Elaida or Sheriam?

I find Elaida rather sad really because she is so transparent in her interests and yet she tries to be all mysterious and subtle. I have met her type before: as subtle as a bacon sandwich at a bah mitzvah! I am just guessing here, because she was so totally unobvious, but I think she wanted to know about Rand . . . perhaps . . . I might have misread the tiny hints that she let slip . . . *sarcasm off. She seems to be obsessed with Rand, although stilling the Dragon Reborn would seem like a major tactical error in the run up to the Final Battle as he is the only one who can actually defeat the Dark One.

To be honest, I am not sure that Elaida has the wit to be Black Ajah. As with Liandrin, her behavior is so obvious that I cannot imagine her hiding her intentions, but even Liandrin tried to appear nice on occasions. As I mentioned above, I am rather concerned about Sheriam at the moment so I am voting for them both being Black Ajah, along with a significant proportion of the Sisters still in the White Tower. Just call me pessimistic!

6) Once again we find Mat plotting to "get away" from all Aes Sedai. Do you think he'll succeed this time?

I doubt it.

The way that the three boys are ta’veren is going to keep them bound to their fates and to the path to the Final Battle. No matter what happens to the White Tower, and the Aes Sedai in general, all the women who can channel will be needed eventually to fight the Dark One. Also, we know that the three girls are going to become powerful Aes Sedai in their own rights and he is surely bound to their fates as strongly as he is to Rand’s.

7) Selene came to visit Mat and when he wasn't as submissive as she wanted, she started doing something to him that gave him a headache. What do you think it was?

Where is an a’dam when you need? If there is any person, apart from Liandrin, who could really do with being tethered, it is Lanfear!

I expect that she has some way to spray her sexy pheromones all over the poor, unsuspecting bundle of testosterone. Alternatively, she may have a version of the ever so subtle mind control talent that we saw Liandrin using on people. I imagine that Lanfear has had plenty of time to perfect its usage so it does not make peoples’ eyes bug out of their heads.

I was actually surprised by how resistant Mat was to her charms: of the three lads I had expected him to be the most easily won over. Up until now he has always seemed rather carefree and thoughtless, so I did not expect him to be quite so cautious and stubborn. I found it a little difficult to reconcile his memories of his father’s carefulness, about thinking everything through before acting, with the idiot that stole the dagger from Shadar Logoth. However, I imagine that his experience with it was severe enough to change anyone’s behavior.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sue's Saturday Suggestions #45

Interesting Books

(Descriptions from Goodreads)

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu, review at Fantasy Book Critic

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

File UnderScience Fiction [ The Tug of War | I Was Genghis | Diary of a Slob | Spy vs Spy ]

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

Mage’s Blood by David Hair, review at A Dribble of Ink

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan, reviews at Bastard Books, Fantasy Literature & Staffer’s Book Review


The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu at My Bookish Ways

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan at My Bookish Ways

Author Interviews

Wesley Chu at My Bookish Ways

Brian McClellan at My Bookish Ways

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Women in SF&F Month at Fantasy Cafe

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