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The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The Promise of Amazing
by Robin Constantine

The Promise of Amazing

By: Robin Constantine

Release Date: December 31, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

 

Review: BEFORE: I sure hope so.

AFTER: This was a nice, heart-warming, learned-your-lesson type of book. While the storyline doesn’t differ too much from your typical shy-girl-meets-the-hot-player, Constantine delivered a pretty good story about Grayson’s past and his attempts to change.

My qualms about this book is that Grayson and Wren didn’t fully sound like “real” characters to me.

I get that having been caught and temporarily losing who he thought were his friends made Grayson try to change his ways. And I understand meeting a special person can sometimes consume your thoughts, making you do stuff you’ve never thought you’d be doing. But the thoughts that were going through his head when he first met Wren and the early stages of their relationship didn’t feel like those going through the mind of a teenage boy. Don’t get me wrong, it was really sweet and all. But at times, I just felt like, “Really? That’s kind of a cheesy thought.”

Same thing with Wren. While I’m glad she’s not the let’s-make-everything-a-drama type of girl, she seemed way too forgiving. I know in relationships, you always want to give the other person a benefit of a doubt. But I felt every time she was smacked in the face with the truth, she’s shocked – but only briefly – and she recovers way too quickly. Like I said, it’s great that she’s so understanding, but it doesn’t feel real -especially for a teenage girl who’s dealing with experiences out of her typical comfort zone.

Some of the other characters didn’t feel very real either, like the parents and the private school teachers not being strict enough or how easy everything went at the station.

All in all though, the story was good. Not unpredictable, but I liked the plot that Constantine had developed. And the characters were all really likable and people you can sympathize with. It’s something worth reading if you’re craving a non-fluffy chick-lit.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Katy's Korner Tags:

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky
by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)

By: Sherry Thomas

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

 

Review: I really like this story, but I wasn’t too crazy about the delivery.

Maybe it was just me, but Thomas’ style was very difficult to read. The third-person narrative type of delivery made me feel as if I’m listening to an ancient storyteller depicting a folklore. And the way she formed her sentence structure, I felt as if I was reading Old English (not really) or a foreign language (nope, it’s English). The switching-back-and-forth of points-of-view was interesting, but it wasn’t very consistent, so at times it threw the pacing off, and the abrupt switch made the storyline very choppy.

I don’t deny that there was a ton of world-building in this book – from the palace to the all-boys school, to the adventures in the Crucible. Thomas has built a very elaborate world of humans, mages, fairytales and beyond. At the same time, I felt Thomas spent way too much time on certain things and not enough on others, and I’m left wondering what about this or that?

For instance, I’m really curious about Atlantis, and the history of how they came into power, and especially the Bane. I mean I did find out something about him at the end (Titus’ revelation), but there’s so much more to him than what we were told. And I want to know the story behind Haywood and the lost memories and what exactly happened at the end. Additionally, I know what the Crucible is and what it’s for, but it’s such an importantly powerful instrument that I would love to know more about it – not necessarily what it contains but the background and how it came to be in the possession of certain people.

Speaking of, the whole book had a pretty slow pace – even when there was action, it was told at a more leisure way. This may have had a lot to do with the style in which Thomas wrote. So when we got near the end, I spent a lot of time confused and rereading a good deal of it because Thomas switched back and forth between Titus and Fairfax so quickly, and there was so much going on that I had a hard time picturing this wyvern and that wyvern. There were a number of times where I thought the two POV had merged, but then I would realized the two characters are not yet in the same setting. And what happened to the Inquisitor confused me also. It was just a lot to take in at the end.

Aside from the awkward style and weird pacing and the slight dissatisfaction that so many words didn’t yield as much information as I would have liked, I did enjoy the story.

I loved Iolanthe, her boldness and her determination. Heroines like her just make great characters. Her story wasn’t one that I haven’t heard before, but Thomas had a way to keep it interesting. And I really liked how Titus was always one step ahead. Sure he had the advantage of knowing the sights of a seer, but every action is so calculated. The situation with Fairfax was just amazing – yeah, too good to be true, but it worked in this book. I had to give Thomas major props for making it so unrealistic but so acceptably incredible.

All in all, I think The Burning Sky was a great story full of wonderful characters and world of imagination. I just wish that it hadn’t been so difficult to read (for me) and that I had gotten that wow feeling at the end, something that didn’t quite happen.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Katy's Korner Tags:

Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles 2) by Kat Zhang

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment
Once We Were by Kat Zhang

Once We Were
by Kat Zhang

Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles 2)

By: Kat Zhang

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

 

Review: I loved “What’s Left of Me” – like blown away by the concept and sucked into the story. This one was still enjoyable enough, but I couldn’t really get into it until the last third.

First of all, I’m glad to see Eva coming out of her shell. Sure, there were times I wanted to yell at her for being stupid or for being a self-absorbed, selfish brat, but I could sympathize that she finally has an opportunity to let her personality surface. And I honestly do like her. My complaint, however, is Eva was the recessive one, the weaker one. But in this book, Addie was such a weakling, and Eva was the strong, determined one. Like I said, I understand that’s she’s finally discovering what it’s like to be in control, but if she had always been like this, she would have never almost faded away. I had expected this book to be about her finally being able to experience everything, appreciating and savoring each thing she was able to do. Not at all like she was in this book. It’s as if she was a different person.

And sort of like my Addie and Eva complaint, I really wondered what happened to Halle and Lisa? Again, I understand they went through a pretty traumatic experience near the end of book 1, but they were so strong and determined back then. They were the one urging Addie and Eva to consider something very dangerous. They hardly appeared in this book, and when they were, they were either aloof, or like the book said, seeking acceptance from others. Not the same characters I grew to love from the first book.

My thing was there were so many characters in this book. I mean, you have a lot of players during a rebellion, in general, but to double everyone up, it was just a little hard to keep track of.

As for the book itself, it was good, but not mind-blowingly amazing. I don’t know, it just felt like any other book about oppressed citizens seeking for equal rights and preparing a rebellion, not knowing who to trust and constantly battling with themselves whether this was the right thing to do. The only thing that stuck out was the two people sharing a body concept. So yeah, I knew Zhang was trying to build up to the big climax at the end, but I struggled a bit to stay with the story, and I kept waiting for something to happen.

And when something finally did happen, starting in the last third or so, everything occurred really quickly, and I remembered why I liked the story so much. There was a LOT of action, a lot of twists and turns, some betrayals and surprises (although some you will probably see it coming). And when Eva and Addie come face-to-face with Jensen again? Okay, totally NOT what I would have expected, and it’s got my gears churning in my head.

So okay, I think this book had a lot of the second-book or middle-book elements in it. If Eva and Addie had been portrayed differently or if Zhang had incorporated what was going on in the laboratories more instead of the drama and tension in the little rebellion group, I probably would have been more sucked in. But I just know that book 3 is going to knock my socks off, and I’m pretty excited to find out what Jensen and his gang has up his sleeves and reveal whatever it is that we thought we knew but we really didn’t or what we were led to believe is not really as it had seemed. So putting this one aside, the end has me pumped up for the next book.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Katy's Korner Tags:

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

September 4, 2013 Leave a comment
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of Us
by Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of Us

By: Lauren Myracle

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now… not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them…

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

 

Review: 2 for first half & 4 for latter half – It started out rough but ended up being one of those books that you stepped back and think, “Hey, it’s actually pretty good.”

I wasn’t crazy about the book at first because Wren and Charlie were your typical, cliche characters – nothing special. I didn’t care for Wren in any way, and even though I totally understand what she’s going through, the way she was portrayed made meunsympathetic to her case. And I think Myracle tried way too hard to make Charlie a classic mess, but I did feel some of Charlie’s thoughts didn’t feel as if they came from a guy – whether Myracle tried too hard to make him sound like a guy (i.e. regarding sex) or if he made him overly sappy.

And the insta-love? It didn’t work. I think either 1) Myracle write in that one of them was new to town or 2) introduce us way in advance that they had longtime crushes on each other or 3) make it like the “you’ve been in front of me the whole time and I’m just now noticing what I’ve been missing this whole time” scenario or 4) force them together through a class, a project or even work where they can start liking each other and building on that. The way it was written in this book just felt too abrupt and unreal – you know, with “the look” and then they fall in love. No.

I think a lot of people are going to be turned off by the intensity of their relationship and even the sex. I mean, their “love” came to the point of neediness and obsession. And once they passed the first time, it was like they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. Yes, I know some people are going to roll their eyes or be offended. Well, that is the reality these days, and I think Myracle really captured it well. Think back to your high school days. There were couples like Charlie and Wren whose world revolved around each other, and all they could think about was being together. Young love for you. I’m not saying this is all couples, but the reality is, their relationship (sans foster care and ex-drama) is pretty realist for some. And I truly felt Myracle captured that quite well, regardless whether or not we approve.

All in all, this book wasn’t bad. I really do think that Myracle could have done a few things differently to make the book start as strong as it ended. But I really do think it puts a lot into perspective regarding young love.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Katy's Korner Tags:

Children of Fire by Drew Karpyshyn

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment
Children of Fire by Drew Karpyshyn

Children of Fire
by Drew Karpyshyn

Children of Fire

By: Drew Karpyshyn

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary:

Drew Karpyshyn has made his mark with imaginative, action-packed work on several acclaimed videogames, including Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as well as in a succession of New York Times bestselling tie-in novels. Now Karpyshyn introduces a brilliantly innovative epic fantasy of perilous quests, tormented heroes, and darkest sorcery—a thrilling adventure that vaults him into the company of such authors as Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson, and Peter V. Brett.

Long ago the gods chose a great hero to act as their agent in the mortal world and to stand against the demonic spawn of Chaos. The gods gifted their champion, Daemron, with three magical Talismans: a sword, a ring, and a crown. But the awesome power at his command corrupted Daemron, turning him from savior to destroyer. Filled with pride, he dared to challenge the gods themselves. Siding with the Chaos spawn, Daemron waged a titanic battle against the Immortals. In the end, Daemron was defeated, the Talismans were lost, and Chaos was sealed off behind the Legacy—a magical barrier the gods sacrificed themselves to create.

Now the Legacy is fading. On the other side, the banished Daemron stirs. And across the scattered corners of the land, four children are born of suffering and strife, each touched by one aspect of Daemron himself—wizard, warrior, prophet, king.

Bound by a connection deeper than blood, the Children of Fire will either restore the Legacy or bring it crashing down, freeing Daemron to wreak his vengeance upon the mortal world.

 

Review:

Children of Fire is, in every way, pure popcorn fantasy. In other words, I think anyone coming into this expecting the kind of high concept epic featuring complex, iconic characters, groundbreaking uses of magic, or uniquely compelling world building is setting themselves up for disappointment, because to be honest, Drew Karpyshyn’s first foray into original material is mostly a retread of familiar ground. But that said, I do think this is still a book that has plenty of merit as a compulsively readable, wildly entertaining retread, because even though the fantasy elements are simplistic stereotypes and cliches, in this case, it’s not a bad thing at all, because Karpyshyn has done an excellent job putting them together in a way that’s easily accessible, but more importantly, interesting and engaging.

What makes the book for me is definitely the almost cinematic quality of the storytelling. As anyone who’s for example both read Lord of the Rings and watched Peter Jackson’s movies would know, watching the movies is a completely different experience from reading the books. And while most fantasy books aim to replicate that heavy, voluminous feel of Tolkien’s books (and Karpyshyn even cites Tolkien as one of his influences), Children of Fire is the exception that, with its simpler storyline and plenty of cinematic action sequences, feels more like watching the movie adaption, or maybe one of those old sword and sorcery TV shows. So although the setup involves nothing but generic fantasy stereotypes and nothing in Children of Fire screams unique or different from every other fantasy out there – even if Karpyshyn calls his elves (and they obviously are the generic woodland dwelling elder race everybody else calls elves) the Danaan – none of it really mattered for me because Children of Fire is a different, yet nonetheless enjoyable, reading experience from the typical fantasy. For me, the point of this book really wasn’t to build a complex fantasy world or to create an immersive cast of scheming, backstabbing characters, but just to follow a group of characters on a very simple quest of good versus evil while being entertained by the gobs of addictive action sequences along the way – and I was definitely entertained; it really is addictive.

The other aspect I really liked is that while following these various children of fire through their quests to save the world (and the passage of time is something I think Karpyshyn does well and makes the book feel more epic), he never resorts to the same old black and white characters that can really sink these kinds of books. Of course, there’s this demon character the Slayer who’s been imprisoned in an alternate dimension for eons and planning his revenge now that the barrier between the worlds has been weakened (sounds like a Buffy plot, no?), but the other characters never predictably fall into one category or the other. For example, there’s the Pontiff and his Order of anti-magic fanatics dedicated to stopping the Slayer by whatever means necessary, but while the sorcerer characters like Rexol perceive them as evil based on what they do, they consider themselves good, and you know, their eventual actions go both ways (plus, who doesn’t like reading about badass blind monks?). Even Rexol and the Danaan Queen Rianna, they have an understandable goal and course of action that helps and hinders the various children, but they can’t be said to be doing what they do because they’re ‘good’ or ‘evil’, and that ambiguity in the characters really makes up for the genericness of the plot and setting.

Still, in addition to the setup I did have one other problem with the book. Like I said, I thought the way Karpyshyn handled the passage of time from the birth of the children to their quest to save the world, over a period of years, was definitely a strong point of the book, but I really feel there may have been a few more coincidences in the book than necessary. The various intertwining storylines was definitely a great idea and a huge part of what makes the book work, but while many of them, like Cassandra being Rexol’s first apprentice followed by Keegan as his second, are understandable and in retrospect pretty cool, others, like the whole storyline with Scythe, felt really contrived. In fact, I’m not really sure of Scythe’s role in the story – is she even one of them? – and her inclusion feels more like a plot contrivance so we end with a party consisting of a warrior, a mage, a monk, and a rogue than anything else.

Overall though, while Children of Fire is a lot simpler than most fantasies, I think Drew Karpyshyn has made it simpler in a way that also makes it accessible to many first time or reluctant fantasy readers. Even better, I personally read a lot of fantasy and still found the story, despite its flaws, incredibly addictive, precisely because this is a book that makes the stereotypes work.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Mitch's Musings Tags:

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

August 16, 2013 1 comment
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight
by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

By: Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

 

Review: I LOVED Throne of Glass. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but with this one, not so much. TOG fan, please don’t kill me.

Celaena was so kick-ass in the first book, and I admired her for the strength she had to find in herself to overcome all of the challenges. I was really caught up with the games – both in the arena and in the palace. (I know the Hunger Games concept is now overplayed, but TOG came first before it was republished, and when I read the repub ARC in April 2012, it wasn’t too overdone in YA just yet.) And while the love triangle was there, I felt it was more of a side story, even though I loved Chaol.

But with this book, I felt Celaena grew soft. I’m not talking about what was happening with her missions assigned by the king. I’m talking about her stubbornness and cowardliness for not standing up for what’s right, or her slowness at seeing what’s right in front of her, and my God, the stupid love triangle (yes, it bugged the hell out of me in this book).

First of all, I felt that the “romance” took up way too much of the first part of the book – to where I was getting annoyed because I felt the actual book was the side story and the love triangle was on the main stage. I felt her relationship with both Chaol and Dorian was really awkward, especially with how Maas kept alluding to her fling or whatever it was with Dorian. Andwhat was up with all the testosterone?!? It seemed like every man wanted her and displayed jealousy or possessiveness of her affections. Ugh! It was much more tolerable about halfway through when she realized what she wanted, or didn’t.

As for the plot itself, I liked it enough, but the book kind of took a different direction from the first. Well yeah, I understand there would be no killing contest now that the king has a champion, but it became more of the politics behind the kingdom. I was taken aback at first because we’re thrown into a world of magic, and fae, and witches, and ghosts, and what? Hold on, slow down a little so my head can catch up to the new development in this series.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story. I do think on one hand thatmany will like this one more because Celaena is caught up in this whole different game – one more dangerous than the first because of the role she is playing. It was interesting to learn about everyone’s background, although it didn’t take you long to figure out about Celaena’s – which I thought happened WAY before the “surprise” at the end. Chaol and Dorian were good characters when they weren’t blinded by being jealous of each other. And the plot behind the king’s powers and the brewing rebellion was interesting, and Maas threw in enough twists and turns to keep readers engaged, although none of it was unpredictable.

Overall, it was a pretty good read (when I wasn’t bashing my head against the wall over the romance). Still, I just found that it didn’t suck me in like the first book did. I think part of it was that it became your typical fantasy. So like I said, good, but nothing special because it follows the basic plot and path every other fantasy book does. Either way, it’s still a good read, and I still want to know what happens next. I will add though, to those who finished the book yelling, “Oh my God!” I just have to say, how did you not see that coming?

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Katy's Korner Tags:

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

August 12, 2013 1 comment
Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

Blood of Tyrants
by Naomi Novik

Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire #8)

By: Naomi Novik

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Rating: 3 stars

Summary:

Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory of Temeraire or his own experiences as an English aviator, Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England’s already precarious position in the Far East. Age-old enmities and suspicions have turned the entire region into a powder keg ready to erupt at the slightest spark—a spark that Laurence and Temeraire may unwittingly provide, leaving Britain faced with new enemies just when they most desperately need allies instead.

For to the west, another, wider conflagration looms. Napoleon has turned on his former ally, the emperor Alexander of Russia, and is even now leading the largest army the world has ever seen to add that country to his list of conquests. It is there, outside the gates of Moscow, that a reunited Laurence and Temeraire—along with some unexpected allies and old friends—will face their ultimate challenge…and learn whether or not there are stronger ties than memory.

Naomi Novik’s beloved Temeraire series, a brilliant combination of fantasy and history that reimagines the Napoleonic wars as fought with the aid of intelligent dragons, is a twenty-first-century classic. From the first volume, His Majesty’s Dragon, readers have been entranced by the globe-spanning adventures of the resolute Capt. William Laurence and his brave but impulsive dragon, Temeraire. Now, in Blood of Tyrants, the penultimate volume of the series, Novik is at the very height of her powers as she brings her story to its widest, most colorful canvas yet.

 

Review:

Something strange happened while I was reading Blood of Tyrants… I started to like Temeraire again. This series had me at ‘Napoleonic Wars’ and ‘dragons’, but while the first few books ranged from serviceable (His Majesty’s Dragon) to standout (Black Powder War), by the time Empire of Ivory rolled around, these books had started to get bogged down in a Carmen Sandiego-esque need to visit exotic world locales and became less about the War or the dragon. For me, the series peaked at Napoleon’s invasion of England and began a downward slide soon after, and if it wasn’t for a few things here and there, I would’ve completely lost all hope.

Crucible of Gold was one of those things and a step in the right direction, but as I said before, something’s not right when Austerlitz and Jena get maybe a paragraph and there’s chapters dedicated to African slave traders or setting up an Australian penal colony. I wasn’t sure which Temeraire would be making an appearance in Blood of Tyrants, the Napoleonic War invested Temeraire of Black Powder War or the random globetrotting filler Temeraire of Tongues of Serpents, but to my dismay turned surprise, both. Since, in maybe a first for the Temeraire series, Blood of Tyrants is divided into three parts sufficiently distinct they can probably be read as easily as three separate novellas as one full novel, I’ll just talk about each part separately and why Part Three makes this the best Temeraire book in some time.

Part One – if I could pretend this never happened, I would. As promised, Lawrence is shipwrecked in Japan and unfortunately this part involves the same kinds of excesses that made the last few books (Crucible of Gold somewhat aside) such chores to read. With the war raging in Europe, I could care less about what happens in Africa or Australia, and with the general narrative focused on defeating Napoleon, these side plots really provide no purpose other than filler that takes away from what’s supposed to be the main draw of the series. There’s just no point other than Naomi Novik telling us this is what happens to Lawrence and his crew, and while Novik does provide a glimpse of early nineteenth century Japanese culture with dragons, that doesn’t make this any less filler. Combined with Lawrence’s incredibly convenient amnesia which hardly affects the rest of the story and what even the book describes as useful, numbing minutiae, and Part One just seems like an intentional detour to drag out the book.

Part Two – better, like on Throne of Jade’s level. Still missing one crafty French general, but the court intrigue in China at least doesn’t feel as blatantly filler as the shipwreck storyline. While nothing in Part Two is really needed to understand Part Three, it does pick up some loose plot threads from Throne of Jade and explain why China would enter the war, and this time at least the explanation makes more sense than the whole fiasco with the Incan Empire in Crucible of Gold. Plus, Novik likes to show off where the logistics of draconic warfare is concerned, so having the various strategies used by the British vis-à-vis the Chinese side by side make for some interesting comparisons. Skippable sure, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Part Three – where have you been all this time? I’m thrilled Novik finally, finally gets to what I’ve been waiting for ever since Black Powder War, an actual, honest to goodness campaign that doesn’t involve the heroes being sent to another continent while the battles are being fought. Napoleon’s back. He’s invading Russia. Lawrence and Temeraire are there. That alone makes Part Three way more worthwhile than anything that’s come out since Empire of Ivory, and seeing how Napoleon’s actual invasion of Russia has shaped Novik’s fictional campaign is a real treat. Too bad awesome villain(ess) Madame Lien is still missing in action and the book ends on a cliffhanger with the Russian winter, but I am totally stoked to see what comes next.

In a nutshell, Blood of Tyrants is definitely the strongest Temeraire novel since at least 2007 (even without pretending Part One never happens), simply because Naomi Novik brings the series back to its roots. Fans of the series should be happy to know Temeraire is finally back on track.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Mitch's Musings Tags:
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