September 13, 2013

Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Reading Dates : 31 Aug 2013 - 7 Sep 2013

Comparisons Between The Last Time I read the books and Now

Re-reading my own thoughts of Graceling and Fire the first time I read the books against my feelings this time when reading Kristin Cashore's 3 books, I can't help comparing my thoughts between then and now.

What Didn't Change

Of the 3 books, Graceling remains my favorite. The story was infinitely richer and more exciting as they fought a madman possessing a Grace which turned everyone, even their closest friends into enemies. There was visible growth in the characters as they learned to accept both their own weaknesses and those whom they loved.

Po too remains my favorite character. How could I not ? Warm, passionate and sympathetic, I can easily understand why he is the Lienid's most beloved Prince and believe that those who truly know him would  forgive him his secrets in time. Sapphire's willingness to do anything Po commands while being so contrary the rest of the time was one of the very few things I found funny in Bitterblue.

My favorite couple in all 3 books was still Po and Katsa. They make a great team. I loved that they were friends first before they fell in love and started wanting more. I loved that they brought out the best in each other, trusted and believed in each other once they decided to accept each other. Most of all, I loved that they weren't afraid of being diminished by the other's strengths.

What Changed

I had thought that I understood how insidious Leck's Grace could be in Fire and Graceling, but Bitterblue opens up far more tragic consequences then I could ever have imagined. In the face of such terrors, Bitterblue's feelings of uselessness and hopelessness is one I truly sympathize with. Really, even in the end, I couldn't help doubting that the wounds left by Leck could be healed.

Still I can't say that I loved Bitterblue. Right until the end, I felt that she was as much as fault as those who were conspiring against her. Her interest in solving the puzzles around her stems much more from her desire for adventures rather than a true concern for her subjects. If she'd taken more care in her pursuit of the truth, perhaps some of the tragedies that transpires later could have been avoided.

Bitterblue, Fire and Katsa

How did the heroines of the different books fare against each other ? Its hard to decide between Fire and Katsa. Right now, Katsa definitely wins over Fire and Bitterblue.

I confess that I can't quite forgive Bitterblue for making it sound as if Po and Katsa purposely made their relationship difficult. Bitterblue also gave off the impression her search for the truth arose out of boredom and curiosity than genuine concern.

As for Fire, she spent too much time worrying over becoming a monster, so much so that it got quite annoying. Did she have to take until nearly the end of the book to realize what all the people who love her had known all along ?

Katsa was the only one that I felt showed genuine growth throughout Graceling. She too started off believing herself to be a monster and letting herself be used as such. Once she decides to change though, she does so in spectacular fashion, despite her own insecurities. My only quibble with Katsa is that I think she protests too much on the topic of marriage. Must she make such a big deal of it ?

Sapphire, Gideon, Po, Briggan and Archer

Po wins this one no contest. He is simply my favorite character in all 3 of Kristin Cashore's books. Po's sheer joy in living and determination to keep that life, won me over early on in the story. What's truly admirable about Po though is not how he uses his Grace but how he can accept that not all he learns through his Grace defines the person whose secrets he is privy to.

Archer is another favorite character of mine, faults and all. Were it possible, I'd have wished that he and Fire end up together. More, that he had been given a chance to repent his ways. In a way, Archer reminds me of Po, albeit a less honorable and understanding one. Perhaps if he were a tad less possessive and careless, he and Fire would have had a better chance.

As for Briggan, while I liked him and his solidness and dependability, he was also overshadowed by all the other characters in the book.

Giddon makes himself infinitely unlikable in Graceling. So much so that I couldn't reconcile his character in Bitterblue to the one in Graceling. Of all the recurring characters in the 3 books, I though Giddon's showed the most discontinuity. Giddon in Bitterblue felt like a totally different person to the Giddon in Graceling. So, no matter how I tried, I couldn't help feeling that Bitterblue's Giddon was a fake and not someone to be trusted.

Sapphire too was an absolute disappointment measured against all of the main characters in the 3 books. There is simply no depth to him. For almost the entire book, I failed to grasp the motivations for any of his actions. Even when he's supposed to be badly hurt by some of Bitterblue's actions, I couldn't attribute any such feeling to him. The only truly genuine emotion that I sensed from Sapphire was his devotion to his Lienid Seventh Prince.

Would I Read the Books again ?

Definitely. Especially, Graceling. I couldn't get enough of Po and Katsa and would welcome another foray into their world. I'd love to find out what happens with their revolutions and their future explorations into the new world opening to them. Bitterblue also leaves me with a sense that there are so many untold stories, both happening in the gaps between Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue and in the aftermath of whats to come.

December 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday : A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted at Breaking the Spine.
Waiting on Wednesday
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan

Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.

Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

December 22, 2012

On My Wishlist : Next in my Series Addiction #2

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others--a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears. . . . With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King’s Landing. Robb Stark’s demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist—or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.

But as in the aftermath of any climactic struggle, it is not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead. Now in the Seven Kingdoms, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed, while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—are seen emerging from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges ahead.

It is a time when the wise and the ambitious, the deceitful and the strong will acquire the skills, the power, and the magic to survive the stark and terrible times that lie before them. It is a time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes . . . and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again--beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone--a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six--who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophecy remains a mystery. . . .

With old friends and new friends joining forces, a marvelous ship, fearsome foes, and an exotic setting, The Mark of Athena promises to be another unforgettable adventure by master storyteller Rick Riordan.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

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