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Stephanie Noverraz "crooty" (Lausanne, Switzerland)

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Enchanters' End Game (The Belgariad)
Enchanters' End Game (The Belgariad)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant conclusion to the series., 24 Nov 2008
This is the fifth and final book in the Belgariad (after Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit and Castle of Wizardry).

In this volume, Garion, accompanied by Silk and Belgarath, makes his way through Drasnia and Gar Og Nadrak, and finally crosses the Sea of the East to Mallorea. There in Cthol Mishrak, the evil god Torak is stirring from his endless sleep and waiting for their prophesied battle, the outcome of which will decide the fate of the world.

Meanwhile, Ce'Nedra, self-proclaimed Queen of Riva in Garion's absence, is travelling across Arendia and Tolnedra, raising an army with her speeches. Although it breaks her heart to know that it will be badly outnumbered and that it won't stand a chance against the hordes of Thulls, Murgos and Malloreans, she knows this is a necessary sacrifice to create the diversion Garion needs to reach Mallorea.

The part I preferred in this final volume is when Ce'Nedra's army is encamped in Algaria. There Durnik and the Alorn Kings engineer clever contraptions to carry King Anheg's fleet up the mile-high Eastern Escarpment. I also enjoyed reading about the battle of Thull Mardu, where all plans start to go awry, not to mention the final encounter between Garion and Torak, where all the pieces of the Prophecy click into place. All in all, a pleasant, if not tremendously mind-boggling, conclusion to the series. On to the Malloreon now!


Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad)
Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Tying up some of the loose ends., 15 Nov 2008
This is the fourth book in the Belgariad (after Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery and Magician's Gambit, and before Enchanter's End Game).

After Ctuchik accidentally destroyed himself in Rak Cthol, the rock pinnacle upon which the city is built has started crumbling on itself and our heroes have to flee through the caves, taking the small boy Errand and the Marag slave woman Taiba with them.

Back on solid ground, they make for Algaria where Hettar is waiting with reinforcements. For that they have to cross the Eastern Escarpment, go down its deep ravines, and the entire Murgo nation is now pursuing them. After his ordeal in Rak Cthol, and protecting his crew from rocks thrown at them for several days, Belgarath collapses.

Yet there is no time to lose, as all protagonists must now converge to the island of Riva, to be there before Erastide in order to fulfill the Prophecy. There both Garion and Ce'Nedra will finally understand their role and embrace their heritage.

But when Garion touches the Orb, the slumbering evil god Torak awakes, and the Prophecy says that Garion is the only one who can confront him, alone. He has no choice but to secretly leave, with just Silk and a recovering Belgarath as company. Meanwhile, Ce' Nedra eavesdrops on the Alorn Kings' discussions and realizes she's the only one who can unite the armies of the West in the oncoming war with the invading Angaraks.

There isn't much to say about this volume which would differ from the previous ones, but it was nice to see some loose ends finally tied up. I enjoyed the flight through the caves of Rak Cthol and the meeting in boggy Sendaria with Vordai and her cute otter-like creatures, the Fenlings. I am now looking forward to reading what lies in store for Garion in the final volume, and also to seeing which hints will be dropped about the sequel, the Malloreon.


Magician's Gambit, Book 3 of Belgariad
Magician's Gambit, Book 3 of Belgariad
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasurable visit of various landscapes., 8 Nov 2008
This is the third book in the Belgariad (after Pawn of Prophecy and Queen of Sorcery, and before Castle of Wizardry and Enchanter's End Game).

In this volume we follow our heroes as they try to catch up with the Grolim Ctuchik, who's bringing the Orb to Torak, while Garion learns more about his powers and about the dry voice in his head.

They start by going through Maragor and meeting the mourning, inconsolable god Mara whose people became extinct following a Tolnedran gold rush. They are then summoned to the Vale of Aldur, where Belgarath grew up and became a sorcerer. There Garion visits his grandfather's tower and is taught how to use the magic. The party then makes for Ulgoland and its troglodyte people. They are joined by the zealot priest Relg, who has the ability to find secret underground passageways and can travel through solid rock. He will help them penetrate the Murgo capital of Rak Cthol, where Ctuchik awaits their arrival.

What I enjoyed in this volume was watching Ce'Nedra becoming more and more infatuated with Garion, but also and mostly the variety of landscapes visited by the protagonists: the haunted land of Maragor and its terrifying ghosts, the peaceful and bucolic Vale of Aldur, the snowy peaks and claustrophobic caverns of Ulgoland, and the black sands of the Wasteland of Murgos.

The monsters that are naturally sprinkled along the way are a little dangerouser and tougher than in the previous volumes, and Silk even gets captured, but thanks to the group's assortment of strengths, they always manage to come out unscathed.

Again, this is a light and fast read, but very pleasant as well.


Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad)
Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stereotyped and repetitive, but not that bad., 4 Nov 2008
This is the second book in the Belgariad (after Pawn of Prophecy, and before Magician's Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, and Enchanter's End Game).

Leaving Cherek after the council of Alorn kings, Belgarath, Polgaria, Garion and their companions set off in pursuit of Zedar the Apostate, who stole the Orb of Aldur to bring it to the evil god Torak.

Following the corrupt disciple's trail will bring them across Arendia, then Tolnedra and finally to Nyissa via the Wood of the Dryads. They will meet new companions along the way: Lelldorin the rash Arendish archer, Mandorallen the bold Arendish knight, and Ce' Nedra the spoilt red-haired Tolnedran princess.

All the while, various enemies such as Murgos, Grolim priests and assorted monsters make their best to hinder their progression, but thanks to Polgara's, Belgarath's, and eventually Garion's powers, those are usually quickly brushed aside with the flick of a hand.

After the exciting reunion with a world I had enjoyed 11 years ago, while reading this second volume I finally realized how annoyingly stereotyped some of the characters are and how repetitive the plot is: move to a new kingdom - meet new allies - encounter baddies - fight - win - move on to the next kingdom - ... while Garion wonders about his past and reluctantly discovers his abilities. However, these books manage to stay entertaining, thanks to some of the characters' traits intended for comic relief, such as Silk's knavery or Ce'Nedra's willfulness. All in all they're not that bad.


Dracula (Collector's Library)
Dracula (Collector's Library)
by Jonty Claypole
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.19

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The origins of the most famous vampire..., 17 Oct 2008
Dracula is a gothic epistolary novel set in the nineteenth century, told mostly from the points of view of five protagonists: Jonathan Harker, a young English solicitor, Mina Murray his fiancée, Lucy Westenra, Mina's closest friend, Dr. John Seward, a friend of Lucy's and administrator of a lunatics asylum in Carfax, and Professor Abraham Van Helsing of Amsterdam, Dr. Seward's former medical science teacher and mentor.

In the first hundred pages we follow Jonathan Harker on his trip to Transylvania, where he goes to meet his client, Count Dracula, who is in the process of acquiring some real estate properties in and around London. It won't be long until the young lawyer notices the Count's strange behaviour, and realizes he's a prisoner in his host's Castle. Only when Dracula finally makes for England can Jonathan escape.

Then until halfway through the book, we are told of Lucy's declining health since the arrival in Whitby during a tempest of a strange ghost ship, and of the struggles of her fiancé Arthur Holmwood, his American friend Quincey Morris, and Drs. Seward and Van Helsing to save her life... and when this fails, to save her soul.

In the second half, all the protagonists unite, putting their diaries and reports together, also gathering clues from Dr. Seward's delusional patient R. M. Renfield, in order to obliterate this great evil.

Of course my first encounters with vampires, and especially the legend of Dracula, was through the numerous films based (some remotely) on this novel. I remember being very obsessed as a child with a vial that froze people still in the French spoof "Les Charlots contre Dracula", and later charmed by the eerie atmosphere in Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers. But the one that made the most lasting impression on the then 19-year-old me, was Coppola's most romantic version, which also became my favourite film for some time. As a result, I must say that while reading (for the second time), Jonathan Harker had Keanu Reeves's face, Mina Winona Ryder's and Van Helsing Anthony Hopkins's. However, Count Dracula himself was too unlike Gary Oldman for him to take his features.


Making Money: A Discworld Novel
Making Money: A Discworld Novel
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chuckle double effect!, 1 Oct 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Making Money is a Discworld novel and features the Man in the Golden Suit, Ankh-Morpork's Postmaster Moist von Lipwig.

Moist is bored. He misses his old, more adventurous life, back when he was Albert Spangler the con artist. So when he's not running the Post Office, he likes climbing to its roof at night, and has already picked all its locks.

But when Mrs Topsy Lavish, chairwoman and owner of 50% of the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork, but owner also of Mr. Fusspot the dog who owns 1%, dies and leaves her shares to her dog and bequeaths Mr. Fusspot to Moist... he has no choice but try and make it work again.

It starts with the Mint, which actually runs at a loss. Since making coins costs too much and people are already using stamps as currency, Moist devises the first bank notes, which soon have the same success as his stamps.

In the meantime, Cosmo Lavish tries to take Vetinari's identity and Moist's girlfriend Adora Belle Dearheart uncovers ancient golems buried in the desert. And all the while the Glooper gloops.

I really like the character of Moist von Lipwig and was glad to read about him again. The book is of course filled with references that make you chuckle twice: when you get them, and when you find yourself clever because to got them... it's the Discworld double effect!


Renegade's Magic (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 3): 3/3
Renegade's Magic (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 3): 3/3
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the forest, 17 Sep 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the third and final volume in the Soldier Son trilogy (after Shaman's Crossing and Forest Mage).

Barely escaping Gettys and its angry mob with his life, Nevare flees into the forest. Realizing that the King's Road is planned to go right through the part where Lisana's tree stands, he makes one last attempt at stopping its construction with the Magic. Alas, it doesn't work as expected and Nevare's Magic is all be depleted.

Finding him in this poor condition, Olikea and her son Likari need to feed him again until he regains a respectable girth, so they can present him as Great One to their kin clan at the Wintering Place, on the other side of the Barrier Mountains.

As time passes and Nevare tries to find out what the Magic expects him to do, his Speck self, Soldier's Boy, becomes more and more powerful, until he finally takes control of his body. Nevare is then nothing but a helpless witness of Soldier's Boy's actions: when he tattoos his skin with the dapples of the Specks, or when he plans a raid on the Gernians in Gettys to stop their Eastward progression. Only on rare occasions can Nevare surreptitiously tap Soldier's Boy Magic and dream-walk to his cousin Epiny, to try and warn her of the impending attack.

A major part of the book takes place in the forest with the Specks, and even though I'm a tree-hugger, sadly I must admit that their culture failed to intrigue me. I felt close to Nevare but not to Soldier's Boy. Probably because the "Gernian-bred" me was taking sides, and I found myself constantly waiting for signs that things would look up for Nevare, that the scales would finally tip in his favour and reunite his split personality without too much loss and sacrifice. But that's also why I found the last third of the book tremendously exciting.

As a whole, the Soldier Son trilogy was a more than excellent series, and Robin Hobb's storytelling surpasses everything I have read. However, I still have a preference for her precedent trilogies (The Farseer, The Liveship Traders, and The Tawny Man). I do hope it grows on me with time, though. I'm sure it will.


Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3
Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2): 2/3
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars True to Robin Hobb's tradition., 20 Aug 2008
This is the second volume is the Soldier Son trilogy (after Shaman's Crossing and before Renegade's Magic).

Recovering from the plague, many surviving cadets can now only hope for a fragile health. Nevare convalesces remarkably well though, but as time goes by, he realizes the Specks' magic is taking a much crueller toll on his imbued body.

Looking forward to travelling back home to Widevale for his brother's wedding, his joy will be short lived. Nevare is far from welcome. Indeed, his father blames him for his condition, and will do everything to set things as they should be. To no avail. When the plague comes again and decimates the region, Nevare has no choice but to leave.

Cast out, he makes his way eastwards, and spends some time in Dead Town. There he meets Amzil and her children, who'll become as close to friends as he's ever had in the last months. But as he helps her, her neighbours' jealousies start to threaten her life. He'll leave when his duty commands him to take the wounded scout Buel Hitch to Gettys.

Gettys is a fortified town at the base of the Barrier Mountains, the last one on the King's Road which is being built to reach the sea beyond the mountains. But upon arrival, Nevare rapidly notices that the city is a pale shadow of what he expected, that the command is a shambles, and that roadworks has all but stopped at the edge of the forest. Not only are felled giant trees blocking the way, but a strange spell of fear and despair has fallen over the inhabitants, preventing any progression of the construction.

Despite his crippling condition, Nevare manages to gets a post at the graveyard. In the nearby forest, he'll meet a Specks woman named Olikea, and will start to learn about her People.

True to her tradition, Robin Hobb deals her main character unjust fate after unfair hand. And as poor Nevare is really at a lost about what he should do about the Magic, his social situation only gets worse, he becomes the victim of wrongful decisions, biased reactions and finally, false accusations. All this is interwoven with lavish forest scenes betraying the author's love of trees and Nature, and exquisite descriptions of food that you can savour with Nevare. The ending is beautiful and very moving and I'm very impatient to read the third and final book.


Shaman's Crossing (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 1): 1/3
Shaman's Crossing (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 1): 1/3
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An atypical setting but an absorbing novel., 29 July 2008
This is the first volume in the Soldier Son trilogy (before Forest Mage and Renegade's Magic).

Starting in Widevale, far East on the shores of the Tefa river, the story is Nevare's account of his life. Born second son to Lord Burvelle, a former cavalla soldier promoted to nobility for good service rendered in the recent colonisation of the plains and the bringing of civilization to the native nomadic tribes, he is destined to become the soldier of the family.

To toughen him up, Nevare's father sends him to spend time in the desert with a Kidona warrior, Dewara, because he thinks there are some things that can only be learnt from an enemy. During his stay, Nevare experiences a trance in which Dewara asks him to kill whom he meets... but Nevare discovers an old and mysteriously powerful Tree Woman. Following his soldier's code of honour, he refuses to slay her. Barely escaping death, he is returned to his father with a scalp wound, and a latent magic bond that will plague his dreams.

When Nevare reaches eighteen, it is time to go to the capital, Old Thare, and the strictness of its Cavalla Academy. The thickest part of the book describes his life on the campus, making friends with his fellow students as well as enemies, enduring the pranks played on them by the older cadets, walking the demerits they earn, facing many an injustice... against a backdrop of political jealousies between Old and New Nobles.

At first I was a bit unsettled by the atypical setting (for a Fantasy novel), more "Civil War" than "Mediaeval", and I was afraid the retelling of the hero's school life would feel too much like Harry Potter... but as all those mishaps culminate, with Nevare the victim of unfair decision upon unfair decision (when you think nothing worse could possibly befall him, well you're on for another surprising twist), as further characters come into play and further pieces fall into place, the book becomes more and more absorbing. Again, Robin Hobb's extraordinary storytelling talent transports you to another world full of fascinating characters and enchanting sceneries.


Dante: Inferno (Penguin Classics)
Dante: Inferno (Penguin Classics)
by Dante
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

26 of 57 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 11 Mar 2008
Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy (before Purgatorio and Paradiso).

In this book, we follow Dante as he visits Hell, walking down its nine consecutive Circles accompanied by the poet Virgil, and meeting old acquaintances on the way.

This should not become a habit, but I intend to stop after the first volume and not finish the trilogy. First, I realize I'm simply not sensitive to poetry. Then, there are too many references to public or mythical figures of the Antiquity and 13th-century Florence, and I'm not sufficiently educated in History and Biblical Lore to enjoy this book.

Still, Sisson's modern English translation is good and reads easily. The notes at the end of the book are well-done and help understand what Dante is referring to, but I was too lazy to constantly check back and forth. I'm wondering if it would have been a better choice if they'd been placed in the margin.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2012 10:59 AM BST


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