Monday, 28 November 2011

R.I.Pern, Anne McCaffrey

The Dragondriders of PERN is probably the first series I read after Harry Potter and The Lord of the rings.
I fell in love with that world, its characters, the dragons... and the talent of Anne McCaffrey.

So when I read the news of her death, I felt like I didn't want to talk for a while. Just to honore the woman and her masterpiece. I know she hasn't written only The Dragonriders of PERN but that's her only series I've read.

In France/French, it's pretty hard to find every book of PERN, and it took me almost 5 years to acquire every one of them. It's funny how I always left one book of PERN unread. I couldn't find it anywhere in French (I was 15yo at that time and wasn't able to read as well in English as now) so I bought the book in English. But the level was a bit high for me and I let the book in my TBR Pile, waiting for me to be ready for it. I feel like I should read it, now.

PERN isn't well known in France. I mean, I don't know a lot of readers, including my big readers friends, that have read a book from Anne McCaffrey, PERN or other series. If at first I was a bit sad of that, I realised later that I was glad, because it was as if PERN was a little secret between the author and me.
I've enjoy every single book of this series, no matter who were the main characters or when it was in the History of the planet. She always knew how to make me fall for at least one character, dragging me inside the life of this society.

She's probably the reason why I'm enjoying stories about dragons now and why I love fantasy so much (even if PERN is more of a Sci-Fi saga). I will definitely start to read her other stories too, to seek again her writing. It's a shame I needed that kind of news to do that... but well... better now than never.

I don't really believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, may she rest there with dragons and people she loved.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Karen Miller - The Innocent Mage

Title: The Innocent Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, book 1)
Author: Karen Miller
Pub. year: 2005
Pages: 613
Editor: Orbit

Summary: "The Innocent Mage is come, and we stand at the beginning of the end of everything."
Being a fisherman like his father isn't a bad life, but it's not the one that Asher wants. Despite his humble roots, Asher has grand dreams. And they call him to Dorana, home of princes, beggars and the warrior mages who have protected the kingdom for generations.
Little does Asher know, however, that his arrival in the city is being closely watched by members of the Circle, people dedicated to preserving an ancient magic.
Asher might have come to the city to make his fortune, but he will find his destiny.

After our first CR together, and because I bought Lily a book I had in my TBR pile that I wanted to read with her, here we come again for a four-hands review on a very surprising Fantasy story!

Was the story good?

Lyra: Actually, I liked it, even if it's not really consistent. I mean, clearly, it's not what makes the quality of this book. There isn't a lot of things happening it the first book of this series, though I found it enjoyable. But yeah, you can easily predict of lot of the story.

Lily: Definitely, the scenario isn't the strong point of this one. The first pages I read gave me this deja vu impression, a mix of very classic Fantasy (a quest, a fabulous destiny, an evil magician, blabla) and very predictable action, which kind of spoils the fun of reading from time to time. The thing is, the book has many good points, don't get me wrong, but there are no surprises to expect, no heavy suspense, and mostly you just continue reading knowing where it's going. Luckily, you easily forget about this flaw, thanks to...

Were the characters moving?

Lyra: THAT's the whole point of the book. The main characters are really entertaining. Asher, with his accent, his honesty and everything that makes him who he is, is a very well written character. He brings a lot of fun to the story. Gar, Dathne and Matt add a lot to that, even if Gar is a bit naive and shakeable sometimes. And the "bad guy" is such a cliché that he's almost funny.

Lily: ... yes, the moving characters! This book relies on it's character to hook you, and good for me, I love being hooked by characters. The hero is pretty amazing, talking like a fisherman even in front of the prince, never afraid to say the wrong things, to dress the wrong way. His honesty plays a very big part in the charm of this book. The rest of the characters are also worth mentionning, though not as good as Asher: prince Gar is a good lad but quite predictable, and he really lacks strenght to be a proper leader. Dathne and Matt both have potential but in this first part, they don't do enough to be very interesting. I hope to see more of them in the second half.

So altogether... a must read or not?

Lyra: Maybe not a must read, but I definitely recommend it to you. It's been a week since I finished it, and I still think about it sometimes, even while reading another book.
The Innocent Mage is funny and entertaining. Once you're in it, you want to know what happens next, even if you know that action isn't the key word of the story. I think I'm gonna read the second and last book pretty soon. Maybe with the Muffin!

Lily: It's hard to say "must read" after pointing out so many flaws, but strangely I found it so easy and fun to read that I don't want to qualify it second rate either. For those who are not used to Fantasy, I think this is a great way to start, and anyone who's bored with war and politics would definitely enjoy the fresh atmosphere this book offers. I'll definitely read the second one, but not for some time probably... really, those friends that only offer you the first half of the series, that shouldn't be allowed!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

Title: Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus
Author: Mary Shelley
Pub. year: 1918
Pages: 202
Editor: HarperCollins
Summary: ′It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open...′

Written when Mary Shelley was only nineteen-years old, this chilling tale of a young scientist′s desire to create life still resonates today. Victor Frankenstein′s monster is stitched together from the stolen limbs of the dead, and the result is a grotesque being who, rejected by his maker, sets out on a journey to reek his revenge.

Having always heard about this story, I wanted to read it and know exactly what it was. The cover was pretty cool, which helps. I'm not fond of classic books, but once in a while, it doesn't hurt.

It's nice to know the true story as it was written (even if I was a bit disappointed by the fact that there was no "IT'S ALIIIIVE" =D), like I did for Dracula or other well known stories/myths. The epistolary style brings a much more personnal dimension to the story, allowing us to understand with their own words what's going on, like being inside the mind of the characters.

I felt sad for the creature, his loneliness. I was always balanced between affection and horror about him. Both him and his creator had ambivalant personnality. I won't judge Frankenstein (the master, not the creature, just to be clear for those who confuse them) because I don't know what I would have done if I created that kind of creature... but I don't think this story would have been the same if he accepted him, and if he faced the consequences of his acts.
It feels like everything is just working to bring both of them to a really sad ending. All the decisions, everything that's happening... It's kind of oppressing in that way.

Anyway, it was nice to enter in that kind of reflexion afterwards. I can't say I loved it, but it was rewarding and I'm glad I read it.