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The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone)
The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone)
by Greg Keyes
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 17 Jun. 2007
Well, I bought this book when I was told it was gritty, epic fantasy similar to A Song of Ice and Fire and the like.
I would have to agree with this mostly, though I wouldn't say that it is on as large a scale or quite as engrossing - however, you can't give 1/2 stars on here, and I feel it deserves more than four. Call it 4 1/2 out of 5!
It is written from the point of view of various different characters - by this, I mean that in each chapter you see from the eyes of a character, some of whom are in opposion to each other, in a style similar to Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin. This really helps to give the reader the whole picture and successfully avoids the "perfect heroes" of fantasy. It also keeps up the suspense - the book moves at a fast pace the whole way through and I simply had to read on!
It is mediaeval fantasy, with knights and court and politics, but with a supernatural element thrown in that no one really believes in at first. I love this mixture, and I think that it is at the right level. I also enjoy the quality of the writing, as Keyes really paints a picture in the reader's mind of what he is describing. I do not have the book with me at the moment so cannot write the exact quote, but a scene comes to mind when a city is being described: the houses are cascading down the hill like a waterfall, partly contained by walls until the wave finally crashes against the final wall at the base of the hill. (Obviously the book version is much better than mine!) This just made me see exactly how the city looked in my mind.
Finally, it is realistic. Some things that seem predictable just don't happen, you think something has happened because it is what nornally happens in fantasy and then it hasn't, characters do die - hardly any miraculous escapes!
The only thing I would mention is something that didn't exactly spoil my enjoyment of the book...but I did notice it. It's the - unavoidable - repetition in plots that are so common in the genre. There were just some aspects of the book that seemed too familiar - although the book was unpredictable, it began with predictable ideas.
Don't let this put you off though - this is a great start, amazingly written, and I've just ordered the next two books, which shows how much I enjoyed it!


The Chorus [DVD] [2004]
The Chorus [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Gérard Jugnot
Price: £5.69

111 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 27 May 2007
This review is from: The Chorus [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This is a wonderful film. Its moving, slightly sad, and heart-warming. I watched it first at school with my GCSE standards French, in French, with French subtitles. Although I didn't understand all the details, I still enjoyed it immensely, and however you watch it, it is amazing. I had the song "Les Choristes" in my head for days.

The film begins in the future, and then is mostly a flashback. A new teacher arrives at Fond D'Etang, a school for difficult boys, to teach music, and immediately discovers the harsh discipline and the bad behaviour which forced the man he is replacing to retire. His unusual methods soon warm the boys to him, and he achieves a lot. There is some wonderful music, especially the soloist, Pierre. Pepinot, a very young boy, is adorable, and he partly gives the film its touching ending.

Whatever standard your French is, even if you watch it in English; whether you like this sort of music or not, you cannot fail to love this film. It's hard for me to put my finger on what exactly makes it appeal so much to me, but the characters are probably its best feature. They are well developed, lovable (or hatable, in the headmaster's case) and they make the film stick in your mind. Make sure you give this a try!


Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

70 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!, 27 Mar. 2007
When I bought this book, I was dreading having to look up stuff in the index at every page, or not being able to understand what was going on in one great long, 700 page battle. That was the impression I had got of the series from its critics. However, others, whilst admitting that it was complex, could not praise it enough. I thought I'd give it a try.
Well, I'm simply blown away. What an amazing start to what promises to be an enormous project that will be soon seen as one of the top fantasy series ever!
Yes, Steven Erikson (and Ian Cameron Esslemont, the co-creator of the world of the Malazan empire) have imagined a world far beyond anything that's ever been written about before. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to remember exactly which Ascendant Cotillion is (though perhaps if you're confused over that one, you've skipped a few pages!) but generally if there is a point when you think, "Hang on, who's Apsalar again?" there is a very useful list of characters at the start which helped me get a few things straight - but I never needed to do this with anything important. If there was something I was unsure about, it would be a minor God, whose name was mentioned in passing. Erikson writes so skillfully about this complex world that I had next to no difficulty remembering what was what.
The pace is fast throughout the book, helped by the style of the book. You see events from many different characters points of view, from both 'sides' (similar to George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire) and you come to care for the characters.
You do NOT get spoon fed the story and details of the world. You get dropped into the story, and you pick up stuff as you go along. The way the reader has to work some things out and wonder about others is deliberate, and I feel one of the book's strengths - instead of spending a few hundred pages introducing you to the world, there is a few pages of prologue, which give you some idea of the start of the Malazan Empire, and introduce you to some of the main characters - and then the pace immediately picks up, dragging you into the story straight away.
As you can see, I feel that this will be an astounding series, and I've heard that the sequel is even better that the first book (doesn't seem possible!)
If you want a nice, easy read, where you don't really have to think too much to understand whats happening, don't chose this book. But if you want an epic, original and unbelievably engrossing new series, what are you waiting for?


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