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Stephanie Noverraz "crooty" (Lausanne, Switzerland)

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Nation
Nation
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscent of Tiffany Aching., 5 April 2010
This review is from: Nation (Paperback)
Coming back in his canoe from the Boys' Island, ready for his coming-of-age ritual, young Mau is hit by a huge wave. Stunned and a little disoriented, he finally arrives, only to find his home devastated, his family and friends dead.

There's also a long trench in the forest and at the end of it, the wreck of the Sweet Judy and a strange girl who tries to shoot him. But soon this little misunderstanding is over, and they start communicating.

Together they'll help the refugees arriving from nearby islands and start rebuilding a civilization, explore the lagoon and the Grandfathers' Cave and find ancient statues and hidden treasures, defend their Nation against the Raiders.

Even though Nation is not as witty and funny as the usual Pratchett novel, I really enjoyed seeing Mau and Daphne's relationship become deeper, and found their discovery expeditions very exciting. Daphne reminded me much of Terry Pratchett's other teenage heroin, Tiffany Aching. The novel itself is also full of philosophy in disguise, which makes it instructing to boot, although it contained slightly too much religion to my liking.


Children Of The Serpent Gate (THE TEARS OF ARTAMON:)
Children Of The Serpent Gate (THE TEARS OF ARTAMON:)
by Sarah Ash
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.10

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Drakhaoul menace..., 19 Mar 2010
This is the third and final volume of the Tears of Artamon (after Lord of Snow and Shadows and Prisoner of the Ironsea Tower).

After being set free by Eugene on Ty Nagar, new daemons are now looking for their hosts among the descendants of Artamon. Their aim is to open the Serpent Gate with the sacrifice of innocent children, to let their lord Nagazdiel invade the World. Realizing everything is getting out of his hands, Eugene has no choice but to ask Gavril for help: their Drakhaouls must unite against their brothers' dire intentions.

At the same time, pious Enguerrand of Francia has stolen the rubies and is claiming now the throne of New Rossiya. He and his Guerriers have launched an inquisition against all forms of magic, and are raiding Smarna and Tielen in search of heretics, to burn them at the stake.

And so Kaspar Linnaius is captured. But Kiukiu needs the Magus's skills to restore her. Indeed, she has stayed too long in the Ways Beyond trying to help the wraith-children and has lost almost all her life force. She is now as frail and fragile as an old woman and will die soon, and mostly she doesn't want Gavril to see her like that.

Meanwhile Astasia, who has fled to Francia with her brother Andrei, is starting to regret her move.

Again, I missed the immersion I experienced in the first volume. There are many characters and twice as many plot lines, some of which are left dangling at the end of the series (if the character has not been killed yet), and the perpetual chase goes on. However, I very much enjoyed seeing Gavril and Khezef's relationship deepen, and witnessing Eugene's evolution over time, surprisingly becoming more human with the daemon in him.


Prisoner Of Ironsea Tower (THE TEARS OF ARTAMON:)
Prisoner Of Ironsea Tower (THE TEARS OF ARTAMON:)
by Sarah Ash
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.20

4.0 out of 5 stars A perpetual chase., 7 Feb 2010
This is the second volume of the Tears of Artamon (after Lord of Snow and Shadows and before Children of the Serpent Gate).

After the terrible battle in Azhkendir, Eugene is disfigured but alive, and asks Astasia to marry him. Seeing her Duchy going to pieces and fearing for her parents' sanity, she has little choice but to comply. The empire of New Rossiya is created.

Knowing that Gavril has cast out the dragon and is no longer a threat, Eugene takes the opportunity to seek revenge on the man who maimed him. Gavril is condemned and imprisoned in the Ironsea Tower, an asylum for the insane on the jagged and desolate cliffs of Arnskammar. How long can he resist calling the Drakhaoul to his rescue?

In the meantime, Gavril's mother Elysia travels back to her home in Smarna and kindles the flames of rebellion, while Kiukiu is sweet-talked by Kaspar Linnaius into helping Eugene find the way to Ty Nagar, where the Drakhaons are waiting for their release. The vicious Magus will leave her lost in the Ways Beyond.

In opposition to the first volume where I felt trapped with the heroes and struggling with them, in this book I was rather watching from afar. For me this middle-volume can be summarized as a perpetual chase, with characters repeatedly looking for others where they're not, and relatively few relevant events happening in the end. I did enjoy the court intrigue between Empress Astasia and the Francian singer Celestine, though, and hope the third part will grip me as much as the first one did.


Lord of Snow and Shadows [Book One of The Tears of Artamon].
Lord of Snow and Shadows [Book One of The Tears of Artamon].
by Sarah Ash
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Cold and grim, but extremely engrossing., 19 Jan 2010
This is the first volume of The Tears of Artamon (before Prisoner of the Ironsea Tower, and Children of the Serpent Gate).

Lord of Snow and Shadows tells the story of Gavril, a young painter who is suddenly snatched from his quiet life in sun-bathed Smarna after the father he's never met is murdered, and forcibly taken to the snow-bound kingdom of Azhkendir, where he's expected to avenge and succeed him.

Moreover, he soon learns that his heirloom comes with yet another price: the blood that runs in his family's veins is slowly transforming him into a Drakhaoul, a beast of incredible might but needing to be refuelled with the blood of young innocents. Gavril must absolutely resist it to preserve his soul and not give in to this dreadful craving.

In the meantime, his mother Elysia searches for him, imploring the help of the neighbouring Muscobite aristocracy, only to find herself caught in the middle of a powerplay between people lying in wait of a sign of weakness from the North to attack her son. She'll end up trusting the wrong people, who'll use her to invade Azhkendir.

I was taken in by the story from the very first pages and soon lost myself in the account of these intricate events, trying to see through these complex characters. The book is no light and happy fairy tale, though and some passages are terribly grim. However, Gavril's helplessness and good-heartedness make him very lovable, and I became very fond of Kiukiu, the cook's young niece and other maids' bully target, who'll discover powers of her own and finally befriend the Kastel's other desolate soul... I also enjoyed Sarah Ash's descriptions of winter in Azhkendir, so true to life I could feel the harshness of the cold. I'm eager to go on reading and see how the very tricky situation everyone is entangled in evolves.


Firmin: Adventures Of A Metropolitan Lowlife
Firmin: Adventures Of A Metropolitan Lowlife
by Sam Savage
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia, dreams and hopes., 4 Dec 2009
Boston, the 60s. The rat Firmin's life begins in the basement of a old bookshop, the runt of litter of 13. Rejected by his family, he has no choice but to feed on the pages he tears out of books, until he discovers he actually understands the words written on them and starts devouring them, figuratively, instead.

Exploring the neighbourhood, he discovers Scollay Square and the Rialto theatre, meeting Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers on the screen, and the Lovelies after midnight. Back home he observes Norman Shine, the shopkeeper, from a hole in the ceiling. Every morning they read the newspaper together - and find out that the area is going to be demolished and renovated soon, sounding the death knell for the Pembroke Books. It isn't long until Firmin tries to communicate with Norman, only to be served rat poison in return.

Discomfited, his love unrequited, Firmin learns some sign language and tries his luck at the Public Garden... without much success either, and is rescued by Jerry Magoon, the solitary sci-fi writer who lives next to the shop. Together they listen to music and eat peanut butter. But Firmin's hopes are dashed again when he realizes his friend doesn't actually understand him and only sees him as a funny pet.

Firmin is a moving, sometimes sad, novel full of nostalgia, impossible dreams and foolish hopes. I really wish I could have been Firmin's friend.


Polgara the Sorceress
Polgara the Sorceress
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I remembered it., 25 Nov 2009
This review is from: Polgara the Sorceress (Paperback)
This is the second prequel to the Belgariad and Malloreon (after Belgarath the sorcerer).

This volume, as the title implies, tells us Polgara's side of the story, from her childhood in the Vale, growing up with her twin sister Beldaran, spending time in her tree, to the guarding of the Rivan line and her moving to Faldor's farm with Garion.

She tells us about the pain of the separation from her sister when the latter leaves to marry Riva, about her learning medicine when Beldaran becomes pregnant, and about the devastating loss when her sibling finally passes away.

Then follows an account of the time she spent in Asturia as the Duchess of Erat, trying to reunite the belligerent Wacites, Arends and Mimbrates into a semblance of peace, and of the war that finally breaks out, killing several close friends. Polgara then retires to her estate near Lake Sulturn and later creates Sendaria.

Polgara manages to save the Rivan line when she rescues young Geran, the only remaining heir after an terrible attack on the Isle of the Winds. From then on her task will be to protect these little boys from Torak and his minions, and to secure the progeny until the Godslayer is born.

All in all, this volume wasn't as good as I remembered it, although I'm sure I enjoyed some chapters, such as Polgara's time in Asturia, more than the first time. The favourite passages I was looking forward to weren't actually that poignant, and I found her tone and haughty petulance rather irritating in the long run. Not to mention the awfully long months it took me to read it again, which seem now a bit like a loss of time.


Belgarath the Sorcerer: The Prequel to the Belgariad
Belgarath the Sorcerer: The Prequel to the Belgariad
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars More enjoyable than the ten main volumes., 28 Aug 2009
This is the first prequel to the Belgariad and Malloreon (before Polgara the Sorceress).

In this prequel, Belgarath tells us about his youth and how he became Aldur's pupil and then disciple, along with his brothers Zedar, the twins Belkira and Beltira, Belmakor, Belsambar and the dwarf Beldin.

For a while they all live happily in the Vale, quietly studying, until Aldur's evil brother Torak steals the Orb and cracks the World.

Then follows a history of the events that led to the birth of Garion the Godslayer: Belgarath's meeting the remarkable she-wolf who'll become his wife Poledra, the division of Aloria between Cherek and his sons Dras, Algar and Riva, the birth of his daughters Polgara and Beldaran, the start of the Rivan line and Torak's disciples' efforts to obliterate it, the Battle of Vo Mimbre...

All the while, Belgarath and his brothers are taking care that everything clicks together, deciphering madmen's prophecies, and accordingly arranging meetings and marriages to ensure that Garion will be surrounded by the right companions when the time comes.

All in all, I enjoyed re-reading this prequel more than the ten main volumes, even though Belgarath's flaunty remarks to the reader tended to rile me. Eddings's style and plot crafting has definitely improved during the years between the writing of The Seeress of Kell and this present volume. I hope I will now enjoy Polgara the Sorceress as much as I did when I first read it, it's always been my favourite among the lot!


Seeress of Kell (The Malloreon)
Seeress of Kell (The Malloreon)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anticlimactic and unworrisome., 19 Jun 2009
This is the fifth and final book in the Malloreon (after Guardians of the West, King of the Murgos, Demon Lord of Karanda and Sorceress of Darshiva).

In this volume, the heroes first make their way to Kell and the place of the Seers to learn the location of the Place Which Is No More, where the final meeting between Garion and Zandramas must take place.

They then sail to the Island of Perivor and its very Arendish society, and finally to the Turim Reef in the middle of the Sea of the East.

I found this final volume rather anticlimactic. Even though Zandramas does everything to hinder Garion and his friends, trying to prevent them from reaching the appointed place at the appointed time, I knew (and not only because I've already read these books) that the Prophecy that's been dictating their lives and the destiny of the world for eons would get them there eventually, so I wasn't even worried about the outcome. The final chapters were a little too mushy for my liking too.


Sorceress of Darshiva (The Malloreon)
Sorceress of Darshiva (The Malloreon)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too few things of note., 19 May 2009
This is the fourth book in the Malloreon (after Guardians of the West and King of the Murgos, and Demon Lord of Karanda, and Seeress of Kell).

In this volume our companions keep heading further East, as far as the island of Melcene, and start heading towards Kell where should be revealed the location of the Place Which Is No More.

Too few things of note happen in this volume. Our heroes are still tailing Zandramas and dodging various conflicts taking place around Mallorea (between Urvon's Karand army, Zandramas's Darshivans, their demons, Dals, Gandahar and their war elephants...). A couple of passages were enjoyable though: in the University of Melcene when Garion and company meet Senji, a clubfooted alchemist and untrained sorcerer who tells them more about the Sardion, and when the party is finally caught up by Zakath, the emperor of Mallorea, whom they gave the slip in the previous book.


Demon Lord of Karanda (The Malloreon)
Demon Lord of Karanda (The Malloreon)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Discovering another complex character., 12 April 2009
This is the third book in the Malloreon (after Guardians of the West and King of the Murgos, and berfore Sorceress of Darshiva and Seeress of Kell).

The first half of the book takes place in the immense Mallorean capital Mal Zeth, where Garion, Ce'Nedra, Belgarath and Polgara, Durnik, Toth, Silk and Velvet, Sadi and Eriond are spending spring as reluctant guests in the imperial palace, trying to convince Kal Zakath to let them leave again on their quest.

In the second half, after finally managing to escape with the help of Silk's associate Yarblek, the Nadrak merchant, Vella and a voluble juggler named Feldegast, our heroes make for Ashaba where, according to Cyradis the seeress, they might catch up with Zandramas.

What I enjoyed the most in this volume was discovering, alongside Garion, Kal Zakath's complex and as it turned out, even friendly personality. In the same vein as with Urgit, the Murgo king, I liked finding out that there was more to him than met the eye. I hope to see more of them both before the end.


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