Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book: Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

After spending a long time trying to read and find anything to read after my last reread of aSoIaF, I finally gave into the suggestions of Robin Hobb (partly I must admit because I can not be bothered to go and find my copy of the Final Empire which my parents moved into a box in the garage. And I am glad I did! Assassin's Apprentice has a good depth, and the story is multi-layered, though sometimes it is a little confusing to work out what is going on, and occassionally you want to yell at Fitz that he is being amazingly dumb not figuring things out, but those are the kind of books that I like, the ones that makes you want to be there for one reason or another.

The one thing I found particularly confusing was the magic system, I was unsure what to make of it, though that could have just been through misunderstanding. Having now started the second book the Skill at least is making more sense, and the Wit made more sense to begin with! (Couldn't shake off the feeling of warging though!)

I also like the way that not everything goes right for the hero, he doesn't get the girl, doesn't get treated good all the time, it just adds depth and makes the character far more likeable! Well worth a read!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Book: Seven Words of Power (Tales of the Everman Saga) by James Maxwell

This is a sort of prequel book to the first book of the Everman Saga, Enchantress, which I particularly enjoyed. 

Each of the tales was less rich in detail than Enchantress and the Hidden Relic, and I would say that reading the two existing books of the Everman Saga first is a must, or you are unlikely to understand the stories in Seven Words of Power. Though after reading them I very much recommend reading Seven Words! 

The only character I recognised was Evora, but there could be a chance that the others will creep up somewhere in the other books. 

Not quite as good as the Saga itself but well worth a read!

Book: Fifty Shades of Lady Catherine Grey; The Sex Scandals that Shook the Tudor Court by T.S. Wiseman

First thing to point out, this is not fiction, this is about real, proved sex scandals and the facts, with a certain amount of speculation.

I don't normally read non-fiction like this but thought I'd give it a go, and I'm glad I did, it was really interesting and amazing how much is actually known about some of them! If you're interested in Tudor England then this is definatley a book to read.

It covers the following scandals, in short, easy to read chapters:

  • The royal virgin and the admiral (the supposed affair between the future Elizabeth I and the Seymour husband of her step-mother, Catherine Parr)
  • To crown a nymphomaniac (Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper...oh wait...and Francis Dereham and Henry Mannox) 
  • How to misplace a marriage (the secret - and now unproved - marriage of Catherine Grey, the heir apparent, and Edward Seymour that resulted in 2 children)
  • About the throne the thunder rolls (the, probably untrue, scandal that brought about the downfall of Anne Boleyn)
  • The roses' defiance of the King (the marriage of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Princess Mary, without the permission of the King, in Paris, in secret)
  • The most beautiful couple in Europe (the relationship between Henry VIII and Bessie Blount) 
As mentioned, I found the book interesting and informative, well worth a read if this is an area which you have an interest in.

Book: Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens by Judith Arnopp

This is a very short book which is a fictional account of the thoughts of the six wives of Henry VIII at the end of their time as his wife (or in Katherine of Aragon's case, when she died). From the title and the blurb I expected this to be in the form of letters written to Henry, but it didn't seem to work like that, and in fact there seemed to be very little actually to do with Henry in some of them.

The portrayal of Katherine Howard didn't really go down well with me, it just doesn't seem in character, and barely even considers Thomas Culpepper, never mind her last words about rather having been his wife.

In fact, none of the portrayals really struck me as particularly good, Katherine was predictably stuck in her views til the end, but not with the passion that I have seen in other books from 'her' point of view, Anne Boleyn didn't seem particularly witty or smart and Catherine Parr just came across as bitter, rather than caring as other books portray her. The only wife I even treacly believed part of was Anne of Cleves, and her joy at the annulment of her marriage.

I'd say as a quick read it is good, but if you're looking for something to really immerse yourself in Tudor England then this is not the book for you.

Monday, 18 February 2013

So I've Read A Song of Ice and Fire, what do I read now?

On searching this question on the internet I have decided that there is no real answer, I am first to admit that aSoIaF is absorbing, it takes over everything. So I thought I would compile my own list of books that I have enjoyed since, within the same genre, and a few thoughts on some others to try.

If anyone has any recommendations for me let me know.

  1. Now, just for anyone here who hasn't read the Song of Ice and Fire books by George RR Martin, what are you doing here??? Go find a copy of a Game of Thrones and don't come back until you've finished a Dance with Dragons.
  2. One of the first fantasy series I truely got into, the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, which if you look back over this blog, you will realise that I love this trilogy, Sanderson is the absolute master of new and different magic systems! And there's a lot to be said for the ending!
  3. I feel I should mention Sanderson's other works that I have read, again they have ingenious magic systems, and though I didn't enjoy it quite as much Warbreaker was enjoyable and fast paced. The first book of the Way of Kings wasn't really my cup of tea, and in my opinion doesn't hold a candle to his other works, clearly shown by being unable to offer an oppnion on the following books.
  4. Going back in time of writing, and out of the above magic heavy themes are the trilogy, Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts. Apparently set in the same world (ish) as Feist's Riftwar Saga, it doesn't need to be read to enjoy the above three books (they are the only works of Feist I have read!) and I found that the story and the progression and growth, as well as the detail, was enjoyable and engrossing.
  5. Next is getting a bit basic in its form and writing style, though for a quick read I thought that the Song of Dragons Trilogy (Blood of Requiem, Tears of Requiem and Light of Requiem) by Daniel Arenson are good, the story is fast paced, if a tad predictable. If you like your fantasy with a happy ending then this is the one for you (though if you're looking for something after aSoIaF then you will find that there is no where near enough death.) My only real issues with it is the small cast of characters and the predictability.
  6. Very recently (as in I finished the two available books this week) I discovered the Everman Saga (currently comprised of Enchantress, The Hidden Relic, and a stand alone prequel, which I am yet to read, Seven Words of Power) by James Maxwell. Like Sanderson I found Maxwell's magic system to be new and different, incrediably complex and detailed, yet exactly right. The characters aren't the love at first sight kind, they're the conflicted kind, and the issue of what is right by who comes up! My only issue with this is that I can't read more yet!!
So that is the main ones that I suggested you definately should read, though honourable mentions should go to Trudi Canavan for both The Black Magician Trilogy and the Age of the Five Trilogy, both of which draw you in. Also if you haven't read Lord of the Rings by Toilken yet then you should, though it is slightly slower paced than I like. 

Books of non-fantasy that are good: 
  1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, it has to be read, though it is quite possibly one of the most haunting set of books I have read, but it pulls me in everytime I've read it, so I'm in Katniss' world (and despite knowing the ending I still hope for the outcome I want!)
  2. Phillippa Gregory's Tudor Court Novels, particularly the Other Boleyn Girl, the Boleyn Inheritance and the Constant Princess, the way she writes will make you want to learn more about the Tudor world.
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker, which actually could kind of be classed as fantasy. This is the classic book that I have read time and time again. Its so easy to read (and the story is made 10x creepier by the fact I've lived near Whitby).  
Books that I haven't mentioned, and don't particularly recommend, include The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind, now I won't be too harsh to the books that got me into fantasy literature, but compared to a lot of other books these fall flat, it feels like good vs evil, and even before I started aSoIaF I liked my books to be more grey (not Fifty Shades of! Which brings me to...) The Twilight Saga, 4 books of a girl doing nothing in particular, getting turned into a vampire and having a dramatic conclusion that never actually happened. Just stay away, not even worth the time to read the blurb!