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Stephanie Noverraz "crooty" (Lausanne, Switzerland)

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Wintersmith: (Discworld Novel 35) (Discworld Novels)
Wintersmith: (Discworld Novel 35) (Discworld Novels)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars A hymn to Nature and simplicity., 27 Dec 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the third book is the Tiffany Aching series (after The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, and before When I Am Old I Shall Wear Midnight).

It's the beginning of a long, cold winter, and twelve-year-old Tiffany Aching has to save the lambs.

Tiffany's an apprentice at Miss Treason's, the very, very old (she's 113) and blind witch. She likes working there, helping around, even though she finds it slightly irritating when the witch borrows her eyes. There she also learns about the "Boffo".

One night in a clearing, they witness the Dark Morris and Tiffany's dragged into the dance. The Wintersmith falls in love with her, and starts making Tiffany-shaped snowflakes and icebergs. And he wants to become human, too. For sure the girl is flattered, but if she doesn't do something about it, winter will never end, springtime will never come again.

To cap it all, Miss Treason is about to die. She makes it spectacular though! And naturally now the young Lancre witches are competing for her cottage, and since Annagramma's the oldest, she's most likely to get it. The problem is, she thinks witching is about Magick, whereas it's more like settling quarrels between farmers and midwiving, really. Hopefully, Tiffany's here to help (but shh, don't tell the other witches).

Of course, the Feegles are always around to lend their big wee hag a hand.

True to the Tiffany Aching books tradition, this third volume is a perfectly balanced mix between the funny (the Nac Mc Feegle's appearances for example, or Horace the cheese) but also real-world-relevant sides of Discworld, and a more bucolic, pastoral, romantic and nostalgic hymn to Nature and simplicity. Have I said I really really love the Tiffany Aching books?


Nobody's Son
Nobody's Son
by Sean Stewart
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise!, 14 Nov 2007
This review is from: Nobody's Son (Paperback)
Shielder's Mark was abandoned by his father when he was a boy. In other words, he's Nobody's son. Having dreamt all his childhood of adventure and glory, he decides to go to the Ghostwood to try and break the spell of the Red Keep. And actually manages to.

Bringing back a sword named Sweetnesss as proof, he goes to the King's castle to claim the reward. King Astin asks Mark to give up the legandary blade in exchange for any prize of his choosing. Mark picks the sovereign's most precious jewel: the hand of his youngest daughter, the bold and impetuous Gail, currently betrothed to Duke Richard.

Mark is a farmboy, not used to court manners. He's blunt and makes blunder after blunder, but the Princess actually sees in him her chance at freedom from court duties and etiquette.

And since Gail wants to enjoy the world, she won't let her new husband touch her until she decides so, for fear she falls pregnant and has to stay at home. She'll also make Mark travel on foot to their estate at Borders, in the company of Lissa, her strongheaded childhood pal and lady-in-waiting, and Mark's only friend at court, the elegant and bespectacled Valerian, who's secretly in love with Lissa.

During the treck they'll grow fond of each other.

Arriving at Borders, Mark realises that by breaking the spell, he might have unleashed the magic and ghosts that had been sealed off in the keep. Now he has to put everything right.

Nobody's son isn't your typical fantasy novel. Nor is Gail your typical princess or Mark your typical hero. He swears, has fears and doubts, and we're privy to his thoughts. This gives the book a slightly comical tone and a pleasant rhythm. A nice surprise!


The Battle of Evernight (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
The Battle of Evernight (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Longish and anticlimactic., 21 Sep 2007
The Battle of Evernight is the third and final book of the Bitterbynde trilogy (after The Ill-Made Mute and The Lady of the Sorrows).

Now that Tahquil, our heroin-with-too-many-names, has gotten most of her memory back, she's gnawed at by the Langothe, an unendurable longing for the Faźran Realm, in addition to her yearning for her lover Thorn.

Tahquil knows now that she is the only one who can open the magic door to the Fair Realm, left ajar with three strands of her golden hair several hundred years ago. Which is why she is sought after by Angavar and hunted down by Morragan and his hordes of unseelie creatures: the Faźran King and his twin brother and nemesis, the Raven Prince are trapped in Erith.

In the company of her maids Caitri and Viviana, she sets out on a journey to Arcdur, to find the Gate of Oblivion's Kiss. Starting near Huntingtowers, together they'll travel all across Eldaraigne, successively through: the flowery Arven Meadows, the jungle of Khazathdaur and its tree-top catwalks, the river-ridden hills of Lallillir, the orchards of Cinnarine, then changing their course to go to Morragan's lair, through the labyrinthine hedges of Firzenholt, the wasteland, and the volcanic desolation of Tapthartharath, making friends with helpful wights along the way: an Urisk, a Waterhorse and a Swanmaiden.

Does this description sound like a tedious enumeration to you? Well, it actually echoes what reading the story felt like to me. Although the vocabulary used in this volume is less intricate, the book is mostly longish and uneventful. Even the long-expected clash between good and evil falls flat, anticlimactic. Still, there are a couple of passages I enjoyed: a moment of respite when the girls make a halt in Appleton Thorn, enjoying the villagers' traditions and rites, and the unexpected fifteen-or-so last pages.


The Lady of the Sorrows (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
The Lady of the Sorrows (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More captivating than the first volume., 27 Jun 2007
This is the second book in the Bitterbynde trilogy (after The Ill-Made Mute and before The Battle of Evernight).

Now that the old carlin Maeve One-Eye has healed Imrhien, restored her beauty and her voice, but not her memory, the young woman can travel to the royal city of Caermelor in order to deliver to the King-Emperor the secret message of the treasure found at Waterstairs. She goes there disguised as Rohain Tarrenys, Lady of the Sorrows, the distant islands or Severnesse. Alas, the King-Emperor is not at court but has gone to battle against the army of unseelie beings who have declared war on humankind. She has no choice but to wait, try and find clues about her past, and look for the mysterious Dainnan warrior Thorn whom she's fallen for.

But for Imrhien it's hard to blend in, with the constant threat of the courtiers seeing through her disguise if she doesn't learn their manners fast. Luckily, she soon makes friends with her maid Viviana, who starts to teach her slingua (a made-up court-language).

Seeing that the King-Emperor is not coming back any time soon, she decides to make for Isse Tower, where she used to be known as the Ill-Made Mute, to meet those among whom she used to live and gather information on her former life. There she makes an astounding discovery, but her happiness is short-lived. Indeed, after an attack by the unseelie hordes, she comes to understand she might actually be the target of Huon the Hunter and his Wild Hunt.

Even though I found that the heroin's name changed too often, I liked this middle-volume better than the previous one. For one part it is not as over-written, but its pace is also faster. The plot is more captivating, with a romantic first half and intriguing, albeit predictable ending chapters, in which the story shifts to another place and time when the legendary Faźran still roamed the land of Erith.


The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to rate..., 20 May 2007
The Ill-Made Mute is the first book in the Bitterbynde trilogy (before The Lady of Sorrows and The Battle of Evernight).

The story starts on the lower floors of Isse Tower, the huge, black relay fortress of the Stormriders and their winged steeds. Down in the servants' quarters, an ugly, deformed and mute foundling is raised by an old crone.

Hearing terrifying stories about the evil creatures that dwell in the outside world, but constantly bullied not only by the lordly inhabitants of the upper levels but even by the other menials, the child one day scales the walls of the tower and escapes aboard a Windship.

Soon the flying vessel is attacked by pirates though, and crashes in the forest. The youth is rescued by and Ertishman called Sianadh, taught hand-speak and given a name: "Imrhien". Together they start a journey through the woods, and face the attacks of numerous monsters, one looking for treasure, the other for a wise woman who could heal those disfiguring scars.

This book is actually hard to rate... Cecilia Dart-Thorton's style is elaborate, alas sometimes to such an extent as to be difficult to read. Her use of clever words, mostly for the purpose of lovely alliterations, is somewhat hindering (at least for an non-native English speaker like me).

Same thing about the plot... The first chapters in Isse Tower have descriptions that can really make your head spin from vertigo. Then the story seems to stall: the companions meet so many wights, often grostesque or simply annoying, in the forest, they barely make any progress (those familiar with the Final Fantasy game franchise probably know what I mean). Thankfully, the story eventually picks up again in the last chapters, when Imrhien and Sianadh's nephew, Diarmid, meet a Dainnan warrior, Thorn. Now I'm eager to go on with the next book!


Thud!: A Discworld Novel
Thud!: A Discworld Novel
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plink!, 17 Mar 2007
Thud! is the 30th Discworld novel and is a novel of the Watch.

As Koom Valley Day approaches (commemorating a huge battle between the Trolls and the Dwarves), and a Dwarf is found dead in one of the mines underneath Ankh-Morpork, unrest is brewing among the denizens.

Fearing the next reenactment will happen in the streets of his city, Commander Sam Vimes and his constables investigate. He'll discover the customs and rites of the Dwarf community, and its secret society, giving the book a touch of Da Vinci Code.

Every day at 6 o'clock (sharp!) though, he has to go back home and read "Where's My Cow?" to his baby son. With all the right noises.

Once more, Pratchett manages to sew modern social concerns (here, cultural and racial differences, and tolerence) into a funny and witty fantasy. I wouldn't say it was one of my favourite, but it was good and made me chuckle a few times. I particularly enjoyed the Gooseberry's apparitions (Vimes's palm agenda), and the female characters (Sally, Angua, Tawneee) in general.


Ancient Echoes
Ancient Echoes
by R. Holdstock
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather boring and tedious., 15 Feb 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ancient Echoes (Paperback)
Ancient Echoes tells the story of Jack Chatwin, an Englishman from Exburgh.

Jack has been having strange recurring dream-like visions, during which his body shimmers, since his teens, a phenomenon that fascinates his friend Angela. They later marry and have a daughter, Nathalie.

In his visions, Jack dreams of a parallel world where two hunters, a woman and a man, are running from a deathly danger. When these ask Jack for help, Greyface threatening to harm Nathalie, Jack decides to enter a computer-monitored trance, under the supervison of Angela and her ex boy-friend Steve.

Although Ancient Echoes isn't part of the series, it is nonetheless very similar in style and theme to the latest Mythago books. That is, except for a couple of passages in the middle, where Jack spends time with a prehistoric tribe and gets to meet one or two interesting characters, rather boring and tedious as a whole.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2009 8:35 AM BST


The Bone Forest
The Bone Forest
by Robert Holdstock
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great world building, but disappointing endings., 6 Dec 2006
This review is from: The Bone Forest (Paperback)
The Bone Forest is a collection of eight short stories by Robert Holdstock, the first and eponymous one of which is a Mythago Wood narrative from the point of view of George Huxley, about how he came to involve his sons Steven and Christian.

The six next (Thorn, The Shapechanger, The Boy Who Jumped the Rapids, Time of the Tree, Magic Man, and Scarrowfell), although not sharing the same settings, are very similar in style and atmosphere.

The last one (The Time Beyond Age) tells of a scientific experiment where two children are artificially grown old in a disease-proof environment.

As a whole, I like the way Robert Holdstock builds enchanting worlds for us to explore, but I'm always disappointed by the abrupt, sometimes far-fetched endings.


Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (Mythago 6)
Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (Mythago 6)
by Robert Holdstock
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A diversity of interesting characters., 12 Nov 2006
Gate of Ivory goes back in time in the Mythago Wood sequence to tell us the story of Christian Huxley.

Steven's brother, who has never recovered from his mother's suicide after an terrible attack by a band of Mythago warriors when he was only a small boy, is now a grown man and goes exploring into the Wood. There he joins the Long Person, a makeshift group of forgotten figures from past legends, among which Guiwenneth, with whom he'll deeply fall in love. After living with them for a while, he learns that they're here to help the warrior Kylhuk's Legion in his quests, and soon Christian discovers he has a role to play too.

What I enjoyed in this fifth volume is the diversity of interesting characters and their stories. It was also great to read Christian's side of the story. Indeed in this tome he appears as a much less barbaric and more humane person than in the first one.


Merlin's Wood
Merlin's Wood
by Robert Holdstock
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too far-fetched for me., 24 Sep 2006
This review is from: Merlin's Wood (Paperback)
Merlin's Wood is the fourth Mythago book. In this volume we follow Martin, coming back to France, to the edge of Broceliande, the forest of his childhood, for his mother's funeral. Four days later, his foster sister Rebecca arrives back from Australia, after years spent with Aborigenes, following songlines.

As children, Martin and Rebecca were secretly in love. Meeting now as adults, they finally give in to their feelings and a baby, Daniel, is born. When he realizes the infant is deaf, dumb and blind, Martin is devastated. However, the child will slowly recover his senses over the years... to Rebecca's expense. At first unable to remember songs, she will then lose her voice, and her sight, until mother and child disappear in Broceliande and drown in a pool.

Soon Martin realizes it was none other than Merlin and Vivien's undead spirits playing with his wife and son's bodies. The second half of the book is almost entirely dedicated to Merlin telling his tale.

I didn't like this fourth volume much and found it rather boring. To me, the plot was too far-fetched and again lacked the magical, "foresty" atmosphere of the first book. I actually much preferred the two short stories (Earth and Stone, about a man witnessing the creation of Newgrange in Ireland, and The Silvering, about Selkies) appended to the end of the book. John Howe told me Gate of Ivory was better... I hope he's right.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2013 11:18 PM GMT


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