The Night Circus


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Divergent

Divergent is the start of a great new series by author Veronica Roth. Veronica is a new writer, with this being her first published novel. She hangs out on Goodreads.com alot and blogs often.

Divergent is a young adult novel set in a dystopian world where society has broken down into different factions. Each faction has a specific purpose and serves a unique role in this society. This novel has drawn comparisons to the Hunger Games, and while there are some general similarities, it isn’t the Hunger Games 2.0.  The story is a coming of age story with the main character, a teenage female named Beatrice Prior. (No, this is not the Hunger Games 2.0). Every year there is a ceremony where the young people have to choose which faction to join. Most end up joining the one they were raised in. Beatrice ends up choosing a different faction than the one she was raised in. She ends up leaving her home and family to join a new group of people to learn the new factions lifestyle.

Beatrice renames herself Tris and has to learn how to go from being raised in a peaceful faction, Abnegation, to learning how to fight, as she has joined the faction that is more aggressive and in charge of enforcing law and order – Dauntless. Much of the story’s angst comes as Tris has to learn how adapt to this new lifestyle and her training with the other new recruits.  There are some emotional struggles for Tris, there is a lot of physical action and fighting, and there is romance as Tris falls in love with one of her trainers.

Divergent is written in the first person POV of Tris and while it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the style; it allowed me to easily read through the story in a matter of hours. While the world of Divergent doesn’t have much depth to it, the characters are mostly well developed and their actions are believable. I had fun reading this book and it is one of those summer reads that you’re glad that you read it and can move on to your next book.

Divergent is a good story overall, quick paced, easy to read with some good angst. At times, it was easy to tell this was Ms. Roth’s first novel due to the simple writing style. The story was pretty linear with not much depth. However, I did enjoy the overall story and it is a page turner. I would recommend it for those that are looking for something fun and quick to read.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Step into the world of Elantris, a city where the dead go to die. Once considered gods, Elantrians are now shunned and locked away in hopes that they will be forgotten.

Elantris of today is in shambles and is considered a city of the dead, however 10 years ago it was the city of the gods filled with luminous beings, amazing technology, and was a center of learning. Ten years prior to the story, the Reod occurred which led to the downfall of Elantris and the Elantrians. No one was able to figure out why things changed, until now.

In reading Elantris we follow one of our heroes, Raoden, as he is able to unravel this mystery, with the help of new friends. We also follow the adventures of Sarene, a princess from another realm who is now a part of the story, as she tries to uncover the mystery of what happened to Raoden. Unbeknownst to them, Raoden and Sarene are able to work together to bring about important social change, political change, and their own personal salvation.

We are introduced to the magic system of this part of Sel, the AonDor. The AonDor is part of the Dor, the magic of Sel and something not fully explained yet, and the AonDor is what gives Elantrians their power and long lasting life. We see how when the AonDor manifests itself in a person, they are chosen by the Shaod, and undergo physical changes are transformed into Elantrians. However, due to the Reod, this process was perverted and became a curse instead of a blessing. We are able to discover, through Raoden, how this process occurred and what, if at all, can be done to reverse the Reod.

When I first read Elantris many years ago, it was presented to me as a standalone story. A story that is self contained and doesn’t rely on other stories or isn’t part of a long series. While this is somewhat true, and was the case at the time I read Elantris, there is so much going on in this story that is only now being revealed and connected to other stories in the Cosmere. There will be more connections and more stories of Elantris in the future and for this I am happy that this didn’t end up being a “one off” and that the story continues!

A Dance With Dragons

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You’d think that after spending 6+ years writing a book, it would be one of the best, if not THE best books of the entire series. Alas, I rank it just above A Feast For Crows (the previous book of the series), the worst book in the series. I had given Martin a pass on Feast, as Dance With Dragons and Feast were originally going to be one book and after the story kept growing, Martin decided to split the story and was going to put the ‘good’ storylines in DWD. However, what we got were alot of extra storylines about minor characters and even new characters who I could care less about. All the awesome characters that he developed in the first couple of books, Bran, Arya, even Sansa, etc. are barely addressed if at all. I’m very, very, very dissappointed in these last two books of what started out as a great new series.
At this point I don’t care about the series. I don’t see how an author can write 1500 (Feast and DWD) pages and not have anything interesting happen, and have very minimal story progression. Martin’s writing style is very frustrating to read when there are no interesting story arcs. Each chapter is a different viewpoint, so there is no continuity amongst the chapters. Then it seemed like in each chapter I was just reading what the character was monologuing in his head, or reading conversations people were having with each other. He also tends to use alot of the same phrases over and over again. which came across as lazy to me.
Also, one of the characters spent half the book thinking about how he had killed his father to the point that I was bored of reading this characters storyline. This storyline had historically been a good one too.
I believe Martin has fallen into the trap of introducing new characters and writing endlessly about things that are BORING! He needs to hangout with Brandon Sanderson to get a clue on how to progress his story.
Then there were a couple of chapters that seemed so disconnected from the rest of the story and the writing was sooo disinteresting that I couldn’t believe that it had been allowed to be published. It made me wonder if the editor had fallen asleep herself while reading this story and had accidentally skipped these chapters and it wasn’t reviewed properly.
I know I just went off, but it is just unbelievable to me that a writer, with as good as Martin has been, could spend 6+ years and 900+ pages on a book and have it turn out so subpar as this book is. (Taken from my Goodreads.com review)

View all my reviews

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander is a craftily created and complex story that brings together many genres of fiction, but in essence is a story of time-traveling and adventure. The story starts out in Scotland in the year 1945, as husband and wife, Frank and Claire Randall spend a summer together in the Scottish Highlands. During this vacation, Claire discovers a stone circle that eventually ends up transporting her back in time 200 years to 1743 Scotland.

Claire is swept up in a series of events that leads her to meet up with first, an English soldier Jack Randall (an ancestor of her beloved husband), and then later, a Scottish rebel Jamie Fraser.  Claire chooses not to disclose that she is from a different time and tries to just go with the flow of things. She claims that she is an Englishwomen who got separated from her traveling party, when she was found by the Scottish rebels. Since she is in Scotland and is English, the Scots call her “Sassenach” which translated is “Outlander”.

As I stated earlier, this story is a mixture of different genres.  The following quote from Ms. Gabaldon sums it up nicely.

“history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…you know, the usual stuff of literature.”

In reading various message boards in preparing to review Outlander I discovered that it seemed that readers generally loved it or hated it and that there weren’t too many readers in the middle.  One of the complaints that I found comical is how that since the cover of OUTLANDER is a fake leather cover, the reviewer could only give the book four stars instead of five.

Another common complaint is that there is too much sex in the story.  There have been lots of comments that all Claire and Jamie do is have sex after they get married. I have to agree with these comments, but not the complaints, that they have lots of sex.  I would like to point out that all the sex occurs AFTER Claire and Jamie get married, when they are newlyweds. Well, isn’t that what newlywed do –  is have lots of sex?  I find it to fit into the context of the story just fine and don’t see what all the fuss is about.

This leads in to another issue that comes up in the story, is that Claire ends up marrying Jamie while she is stuck in the past.  Claire is currently married to her husband Frank Randall when she marries Jamie.  In essence, Claire is forced to marry Jamie so that she doesn’t get turned over to the story’s antagonist, Jack Randall.  I don’t think this was treated lightly in the story, as a major source of angst in Claire throughout the story is her trying to deal with the fact that she is married to two different men (in her own personal timeline) at the same time.  The story does address this dilemma and puts forth a reasonable explanation for the reader. Claire confides in another character her struggle with this issue, which then Claire is able to come to a resolution, at least for a little bit. I have a feeling that this will continue to be a stress point for Claire throughout her time in living in the past.

Another point to think about is that due to Claire traveling back in time, which to her is a completely novel idea, (this was before Back To The Future folks). She has no idea how it happened at first, and can only guess at what happened and she spends time thinking about it for the following weeks.  At the time that she is deciding whether or not to go through with the marriage to Jamie, in her mind she is unable to return back to her life.  From her understanding of how she got there, her previous life is over, that door is shut to her. As far as she is aware, she will be in this past time period for the rest of her mortal life.  It is very reasonable that she would eventually re-marry and start a new relationship.  Again, I found it to be a believable  plot point.

Throughout the story, Claire and Jamie end up helping each other out and come to trust each other. From the first night that Claire and Jamie meet, Claire dresses Jamie’s wounds from a recent skirmish with the British.  As the story progresses we see that the couple help each other out in different scenarios from something as simple as Claire bringing Jamie lunch to Jamie rescueing Claire from getting tried as a witch and getting executed. These series of events serve to create a bond of trust between Claire and Jamie that carries them throughout the story.

A great twist in the story is that the story’s antagonist, Jack Randall, is an ancestor of her husband, Frank Randall, and that they have an uncanny resemblance. I love how Ms. Gabaldon set it up so that Claire is emotionally torn every time she thinks of or meets ‘Black’ Jack.  It not only plays into the current struggle that Claire has when she is face to face with Jack, but I imagine it will have future implications with Claire if she ever meets up with her ‘real time’ husband, Frank, again. However, I did find it too convenient that  the first person Claire meets in the past is Jack and how she just randomly runs into him in the middle of nowhere.

In the climax of the story there is an intense emotional and disturbing series of events that happens to Jamie that occurred that I almost put down the book and stopped reading the story. I still have mixed feelings about what I read, that I don’t know if I accepted it or hated it. I understand that the scenes were written to help Jamie’s character develop more fully. I understand that Jamie felt that he had to go through this to protect Claire and that it wasn’t going to matter the next day what happened to him.  However, I had a hard time understanding why the hero of the story had to be beaten, humiliated, tortured and desecrated when I felt that it didn’t really pertain to the overall story of Claire. I had a hard time with the overall mistreatment and abuse of a (albeit literary) human being and felt that it was over the top.

Some of the things I felt were problematic in Outlander were that I didn’t feel that the length of time of the relationship between Jamie and Claire was long enough for them to become so devoted to each other, regardless of how much sex they had. However, I do understand that it was most likely accelerated to increase the pace of the story. I also had a problem with the belt whipping scene. I felt that the lesson that Claire had to learn, which tied into this scene, should have been written in a different, less violent way.  This leads into something that while reading Outlander, I felt was overdone in throughout the story. It seems that the characters didn’t learn their lesson or grow as a person, unless violence was involved somehow. From Jamie’s whippings as a boy to his whippings as a prisoner to Claire’s above mentioned belt whipping and then on to the Wentworth Prison scenes the lessons taught were through violence.

Well due to advantages of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, I posed this question to the author, Diana Gabaldon, via her Twitter account, I wasn’t sure if she would actually respond, but to my surprise she did. Ms. Gabaldon ended up writing a blog post on her blog and answered my question, voyagesoftheartemis.blogspot.com, which I would encourage everyone, who has read Outlander, to read the post.  I will be taking some of her points made in the blog entry, Jamie and The Rule of Three, and including them in this review, as I feel that I am able to do so as that the quotes are a response to my questions.  Not only is this a great response to my question about matters in the story, but Ms. Gabaldon does a great job teaching how to write a great story.

Ms. Gabaldon discusses how the story of Outlander is a story of high stakes, not in the overused “save the world” type of high stakes, but on a personal level. She pointed out that Claire and Jamie love each other and that they have both rescued each other from harm and even from death. What could be higher stakes than that? I totally agree with her on this point.  As an avid reader of fantasy novels over the years, it always seemed that the ‘Chosen One of Prophecy’ had to learn how to fight the Evil One so that he could save the world. While this type of story can be entertaining if done right, it does get old and eventually loses its excitement.  One of the concepts that I found refreshing in Outlander, one that Ms. Gabaldon points out, is that the angst in the story is on a different level, it’s a personal and intimate story. Granted, I haven’t read the whole series so I don’t know how things are going to progress, but I would guess that the story doesn’t allow for an increased level of ‘High Stakes’, as to do so would change the history of the world dramatically.  So by default the story will have to be focused on an intimate level of change and conflict.  As I stated earlier to Ms. Gabaldon via Twitter,” I am late to the Outlander party” so I guess I’ll find out more as I continue to read the series.

Ms. Gabaldon has stated that she wrote this story as practice thinking that it wouldn’t get published.  Well, if this is her ‘practice’ story I can’t wait to read the following stories that she has written.  I felt that Outlander was well written and overall was easy to read and was captivating.

ANGST

                   

I would give the level of angst in the story a THREE. There is conflict of all sorts throughout the story, from the physical conflict of battle to the emotional conflict of relationships.  I enjoyed the different levels of angst found in Outlander and felt that it strongly contributed to character development.  The last scenes in the book were very angst-ridden.

CONTENT RATINGS

Profanity in the story is a TWO, in that there is some profanity with the “F” word present.  There is violence in Outlander, as there are different battles and fights between the characters.  The violence is a THREE, due to scenes of torture. As noted in the review, there is a lot of sex between husband and wife characters but due to a scene of rape that is quite violent, the sexual content is a THREE.

OVERALL RATINGS

The characterization of the characters in Outlander is a strong THREE.  Ms. Gabaldon does a great job of crafting characters that feel and act real. It was easy to relate to them and feel what they felt as they progressed in their personal journeys.  The plot of Outlander was a THREE as well. It was complex without being confusing and was entertaining.  There were a few scenes that in the end didn’t go as I had thought they would have.  Up until the last 100 pages, I was sure that Claire would end up going back to her own time somehow and when she didn’t, I wasn’t disappointed in her decisions. I give very strong kudos to Ms. Gabaldon to not falling into the “Hollywood Ending” trap and at the same time making it believable.  There were some minor storylines that were introduced in Outlander that didn’t get resolved. However, knowing that there are several books that follow this one I’m assuming they will be fully addressed in the sequels.  Overall I would give this book a strong TWO, like a 2.9. Only because I cannot in good conscience strongly recommend to everyone a story that contains scenes of violent rape.

December 2010 Book Club Selection

And for this month’s book club selection – the book that has been chosen is The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry.

The following is a synopsis from Amazon.com

When Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821, he took to the grave a powerful secret. As general and emperor, he had stolen immeasurable riches from palaces, national treasuries, and even the Knights of Malta and the Vatican. In his final days, his British captors hoped to learn where t…he loot lay hidden. But he told them nothing, and in his will he made no mention of the treasure. Or did he? Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone isn’t looking for trouble when it comes knocking at his Copenhagen bookshop. Actually, it breaks and enters in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces him to follow his unexpected new ally. Their first stop is the secluded estate of Malone’s good friend, Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. Only by matching wits with a terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for Napoleon’s legendary lost treasure can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy. But Thorvaldsen’s real objective is much more personal: to avenge the murder of his son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Thorvaldsen’s vendetta places Malone in an impossible quandary-one that forces him to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone plays a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value. But at what cost?

My Latest Purchase – LOST Encyclopedia

The Official Encyclopedia that covers all things LOST.

 Yes, I was a LOST fanatic for the past 6 years and still enjoy uncovering the secrets of the Island and everything else LOST.  This encyclopedia was released about a month ago and I had a chance to peruse it at New York Comic-Con before it was released in stores. DK gave out sample books to whet my appetite until I could purchase it on my own. Needless to say, this book does not dissapoint! The LOST encyclopedia is huge and I imagine that it will take a couple of months, if not longer, to finish reading this from cover to cover. I do plan on re-watching LOST from start to finish sometime in the next 6 months, so this will be a great companion to have as I re-watch the series. So far from the couple of pages that I have read and the others that I have browsed, this book is worth purchasing – so go out and buy it!  I will post a follow up review once I have finished reading it, Namaste.

Indiana Jones and the Army Of The Dead

 

When I first saw this book in the bookstore, I bought it immediately. Indiana Jones, one of my favorite franchises, and Zombies together in the same story?! Fortune and Glory kid, Fortune and Glory.

The story starts off with Indy and Mac (yes, THAT Mac from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) headed to Haiti in the year 1943 to search for the Heart of Darkness, a big, black pearl (the story’s McGuffin) so that Indy can take it back to his museum. Because as we all know, “It belongs in a museum!”
Indy and Mac arrive in Haiti and plan to gather a team to get ready to head off to search for the pearl on a nearby island. One of the team members serves as Indy’s love interest in the story. Maria Arnoux is a gorgeous, educated woman willing to be their guide once they arrive on the Island of the Dead, the nearby island where the pearl is hidden.
The story also presents different points of view (POV) of three other characters. One character, Boukman, lives on the island and who is a master of black magic and who serves as the story’s villain. There are also two other characters who are heavily involved in the story that we get their POV’s during the story. One is a German officer, Gruber, in Hitler’s army, and the other, Yamada, is a Japanese officer. They are both educated and civilized men on a misson for their respective governments to acquire the pearl to use for military purposes, a la the Ark in Raiders.
The first half of the story is about Indy’s party traveling to the Island of the Dead and hiking through the jungle to find the spot where the pearl is hidden. The German officer and Japanese officer, although on the same side in the current World War, are trying to get the pearl for their own respective governments. They attempt to hide from each other and follow Indy at the same time to be able to seize the pearl at the most opportune time and escape with it.
During one of their first nights on the island, Indy and his party encounter the zombis (spelling from the story), and are freaked out by them. They learn why the island is called the Island of the Dead, as the walking dead inhabit the island. This added threat to Indy is always present throughout the duration of the story. I liked that it was always in the back of my mind as a reader, “Are the zombis going to attack them tonight”?
The first half of the book is of a slower pace and tends to establish the setting, the history and culture of the island, and develop the characters. Once they find the pearl, the story picks up dramatically and is a more action based story. It was at this point that the level of angst began to build and the feeling of dread was evident to me as a reader as the characters were being chased by the zombis. The angst increased as random people started showng up dead as a result of being attacked by a zombi or just disappearing altogether. It was at this point that I began to enjoy the story and it started to feel like an Indiana Jones story. The adventures that occurred throughout the second half of the book were fun to read. The climax of the adventure was a typical Indiana Jones ending, in that the supernatural was present. The ending was appropriate for the story and I felt that overall the story fit in well with the Indiana Jones universe.
I enjoyed reading the Army Of The Dead and I thought that it was well written and that Steve Perry did a great job at capturing the Indiana Jones “feel” of the story. It was great to actually read about Mac and Indy and get a better feel for their relationship that wasn’t confused by the whole “is he a traitor or is he a good guy” conundrum that we got in Crystal Skull. Mac’s character was further developed in this story and it became believable that these two were old friends. I believe that this in turn affects how a reader of this story would view Mac in Crystal Skull, and how his demise at the end of that movie would have more of an impact than it would without this story.
There were a lot of references in this story to the original trilogy of Indy movies and other Indy stories. Steve Perry was wise to bring these in and present them at the appropriate times to help bolster the story as a true Indiana Jones story. I didn’t feel like he used this as a crutch to hold the story up, but was able to present these references in a way that solidified this story in Indy lore.
There were a couple of things that I felt were distracting while reading the story. The first and most glaring, is the use of too many viewpoints. I am talking specifically of Boukman, Gruber and Yamada. While the viewpoints weren’t poorly done nor were the characters poorly developed. They were well written and the characters were developed very well, which is a credit to Steve Perry. He was able to establish in just a short period of time, tertiary characters that fit in well to the story. The problem I had with it is just that, that they were tertiary characters. They were at the level of a Toht from Raiders; or a Mola Rahm from Temple of Doom. They are characters that are important to the story and it is good to know their motivations, but their POV isn’t vital to the story. The story should be Indiana Jones’ story and seen mostly from his perspective. The occasional POV of a different character would be helpful to the story, however there were mutiple POV changes switching back and forth to one of these tertiary characters. This eventually became distracting and unneccesary in my opinion. I wanted more Indy!
A good example of POV use in the story was the use of Marie’s POV. It switched over to her every once in awhile, but never for too long. I thought that this was a great use of her as a character. I don’t know if this was the author’s decision or the editor’s decision to overuse these POV’s of characters that we will never see again, but I believe it was a poor decision. I don’t think there was even a Mac POV used throughout the story, which would have made sense as we could’ve gotten to know him even better through this story. As it was, Mac was kind of just along for the ride. There was good banter between Indy and Mac and their relationship was shown in a positive light, but at the same time I think there was an opportunity lost in being able to use Mac more in the story.
The use of zombis was a great choice and there is nothing more scary than being chased by something that can’t be killed, because it is already dead! Using zombis has become the new thing in stories lately, from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the hit show The Walking Dead on AMC. Even Star Wars incorporated stormtrooper zombies into the Universe last year (the same time this book came out), which was awesome and will be reviewed here at RandomAngst.com shortly. 😉 Out of all the stories that I have seen or read, this story makes the most sense to have zombies in them. First of all, the story takes place near Haiti where there are legends of voodoo, zombies, and other things like that tend to come from this region of the planet. Secondly, it’s Indiana Jones and crazy, supernatural things always happen to him while he is out adventuring – right?!

Ratings

ANGST

         

I give this book an ANGST rating of TWO, as there is some good angst in the story, however as a whole the story could’ve had more conflict. There was minimal internal angst in the characters, with most of the conflict occuring in the form of external conflict with zombis attacking Indy and his party.  Which I think was a great source of conflict and thoroughly enjoyed it when it was happening.  The story could’ve had more zombi attacks, in my opinion. 

PROFANITY, VIOLENCE, AND SEXUAL CONTENT

The profanity I would rate a ONE AND A HALF, there’s more than just crude language, but nothing frequent or too crass. The violence would be a hard TWO, as there were zombis in the story, and the only way to kill them is to shoot them in the head or cut their head off. If you didn’t kill them first, they would start chomping on you (which did happen a couple of times.) There was nothing over the top, but what you would expect from a zombie story. The sexual content is a ONE for implied sexual acts and a sensual scene. 

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT , PLOT AND OVERALL

The characterization I would rate a ONE AND A HALF, in that while the characters were well developed, they weren’t the characters I was too interested in. I wanted more Indy and some better development of Mac. The plot I would rate a soft TWO because there weren’t any plot holes and it was well constructed, there weren’t any surprises. It was well written, but straight forward.

The Wheel Of Time Book 13: Towers Of Midnight

Towers of Midnight is the thirteenth book in The Wheel Of Time series that began in 1990. This is the second volume that is co-authored by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death in 2007. The first co-authored book, The Gathering Storm (TGS), was well received by long time Wheel Of Time fans, and this new volume has been well received as well.  Towers Of Midnight (TOM) debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

The book starts off with the usual lengthy Prologue that at times can be distracting to the reader.  The Prologue always does a good job of setting up the tone of the book and catching the reader up to what is going on in Randland (It has never revealed to the readers what the name of the fictional nation is, so fans have taken to calling it Randland after the name of the main character Rand.).  However, the Prologue is distracting in that while eager to get going in the story and read about the main characters, the reader is forced to read about random tertiary characters and what they are up to. This is a staple in the Wheel Of Time series, but to me has always been a distraction to me.

The series has had three main characters, Rand, Mat and Perrin, that it’s been focusing on, along with some strong secondary characters. The story starts off with an introductory chapter of the main character, Rand, which is appropriate after the last book, TGS, ends with a dramatic chapter involving Rand. To have the first chapter pick up where the last one left off on, was a great transition to the new book. The second chapter then introduces Perrin into the story. One of the criticisms of TGS was that Perrin’s storyline was not addressed much. Well this book makes up for it as the Perrin storyline was addressed in great detail and was the major point of view (POV) addressed in the book.

One of the complaints of TOM is that the different storylines don’t match up. This was an editing decision made by TOR (the publisher of The Wheel Of Time) as a result of a previous decision made by TOR for the previous volume. When Robert Jordan died in 2007, he was working on the final book (at the time), A Memory of Light. Afterwards, TOR brought Brandon Sanderson on board to finish up the final book. It was then later determined to split the final book into three books. Due to this decision the storylines had to be juggled between the two books. The decision was made to address all storylines, except Perrin’s, in TGS thus moving Perrin’s POV to TOM. So while all the other characters POV continue on in TOM, Perrin’s TOM POV is actually being addressed in the past. Perrin’s POV is eventually caught up to the rest of the characters POV. I go off on this tangent because until the reader realizes this it can be a little confusing.

Throughout the duration of the series, Perrin has been my least favorite of the three main characters. So when I heard that TOM was going to be heavy on the Perrin POV, I was a little wary of how I was going to receive the book. I must admit though, that due to Brandon Sanderson’s writing of Perrin, I’ve grown to enjoy reading about Perrin like I haven’t since the opening books in the series.  Brandon has said that his favorite character has been Perrin, so I believe this had something to do with how well he has written Perrin.

Perrin’s POV not only includes Perrin, but his wife, Faile. When Faile was first introduced into the story there was some good banter between the two that carried on throughout the story. However, during the last few books, this angst has just festered and in my opinion has not gone anywhere.  I felt that this problem lead to the whole Perrin storyline and character development stagnating and unbearable to read.   In TOM this conflict is resolved nicely and it felt like the literary flood gates were opened and Perrin’s storyline was literarily released.

The pace of the novel moved along very nicely and had a great flow to it.  There are a number of exciting battle scenes. The first is a Trolloc invasion from the Blight as they attack a Borderlands city. The battle involves Trollocs, Myrddraal, and Dragkhar all fighting at once against Borderlanders and Asha’man. This is a knock down, drag out battle that rages on for quite some time. The battle is well written and well executed from a literary standpoint. The battle serves as a great setup not only showing the immensity of the Shadowspawn hoard that is amassing in the Blight and preparing to attack the Borderlands, but also the battle also serves as a primer for the Last Battle.  The Last Battle has always been an Armageddon event referred to since the first book.  This Battle will take center stage in the next book, A Memory Of Light

In the middle act of the story there was a great multi-POV battle that amped up the story’s pacing even more as several Black Ajah sisters attacked the White Tower, while Seanchan assassins sprung their trap on the Amyrlin Seat, during which time Perrin had his long awaited personal showdown in the Dream World with Slayer that came to a head.

Then there was the showdown between Mat and the gholam.  These two first met and dueled in Book Seven, A Crown Of Swords. Mat is finally able to meet the gholam and fight it on his own terms.

TOM contains one of the most anticipated events in the whole series. The infiltration of the Tower of Ghenji by Matrim Cauthon and company.  The mysterious Tower first appeared in the opening book in the series, The Eye Of The World, and it was established in an earlier novel, that Moraine (a character who was thought to have died) has been alive and is being held in the Tower.  Mat, Thom and Noal devise a plan to infiltrate the Tower and break out Moraine who is being held captive.  The rescue event does not disappoint and once again Mat shines as he sticks his neck out for another character who is in dire need.  This sequence also carried the pacing of the story and made it fun to read.

Some minor criticisms of the story aren’t really harsh criticisms but are something that should be addressed. The voice of the characters are different. This is to be expected as a different author is writing the story and is carrying the Wheel Of Time torch. Brandon Sanderson does not have the same writing style as Robert Jordan. Brandon has never said that he will try and imitate Robert Jordan as that would be almost impossible and would do a disservice to Robert Jordan and his Wheel Of Time legacy. Brandon has stated that he will try and capture the feeling of the story and write it the best way he can.  For me, as a reader, the writing style and the voice of the characters is noticeably different. However, I do feel that although different, the story is better off especially at this late stage. Brandon has made the comparisons that he is an “architect” of stories, while Robert Jordan was a “gardener” of stories. Meaning that Brandon outlines and structures his stories and then writes them within those guidelines, while Robert Jordan would just write and write and let the story grow as he went along.  This is why a Wheel Of Time trilogy has turned into a fourteen book series.  I for one, appreciate that the story has been reined in and is headed towards a long time coming conclusion.  I’ve enjoyed the ride, but it is time to wrap it up and deliver on the story’s climax.

*Hopefully you’ve made it this far into the review. I know it is long, but it is my inaugural review and the book is over 800 pages long! I tried to keep it major spoiler free, as it is a new release book. Let me know if it is still too vague or what you thought of this initial review so RandomAngst.com can keep getting better.  🙂

Ratings

ANGST

                  

The level of angst in the story would be at a Three. There is plenty of external conflict in the story with the fighting and the battles going on throughout the story.  The internal conflict is present, from Gawyn’s internal struggle with whether or not he wants to be Egwene or not; to Faile and Berelain’s confrontation over Perrin and who they believe would best serve Perrin in the future.  There is a scene between Perrin and the Whitecloaks that produces an almost palpable level of angst just in the trial sequence alone.  Even Aviendha, who only makes a brief appearance in the novel, goes through some inner conflict and suffers through some angst. Asha’man, The King of Malkier, Aes Sedai and more all go through some inner turmoil that has been prevalent throughout the series and continues in this book.   I would say that even in the midst of all the battles that are fun to read, the inner conflict is just as entertaining and helps the story progress.

PROFANITY, VIOLENCE, AND SEXUAL CONTENT

Profanity in the story is a soft One, in that the profanity is English in nature and is unique to the characters and land they live in. Meaning that you can as a reader you can discern that they are using profanity, based on the scene and the sentence structure; however it uses words you normally don’t think of as profanity. Violence in the story is a Two, in that there are battle scenes and fighting with soldiers and others getting killed. The violence is within the context of the story and is not overdramatized or glorified for no apparent reason. There is no sexual violence in the story. The sexual  content is also a soft One, in that one of the characters is pregnant and there is reference to who the father was. There is no sexuality portrayed in the story, but alluded to that something has happened (which did in previous books).

CHARACTERIZATION, PLOT, AND OVERALL RATING

I would rate the characterization in this novel as a Three, due to increased character development that has been lacking somewhat in previous books. Characters have already been established and  have needed to progress, which happened in this book.  There was an emotional bond that has been established throughout the past 12 books, and as described earlier with Perrin, I actually grew to like him once again.  I would rate the plot as a Three as well. In this story, certain characters’ storylines, are moving forward and are coming together to combine with other characters’ storylines. Everything is starting to come together.  I found the plot to be well developed and have great structure (which I give full credit to Brandon Sanderson).  Overall I would give this novel a rating of Three.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested. The catch is that this is book thirteen of a fourteen book series.  This book, along with TGS, has put the series back on track just in time for the last book of the series to deliver the final punch.

IN SECRET SERVICE

In Secret Service by Mitch Silver.

Apparently this is his first novel, and in my opinion, his inexperience glaringly presents itself in the format of the story. I could tell that he put alot of research into writing this novel and that he came up with some very creative ideas in creating a fictional plot with many twists and turns. Alot of effort was put into the creation of this book. Which is why I can’t understand why he chose the format he did to write the story in. There are two story’s going on at the same time. The overall master story is about the main character, Amy, reading a memoir type letter written to her from Ian Fleming, of James Bond fame, about a secret plot regarding British Royalty and how they were involved with the Nazi’s in World War 2.
The first 3/4 of the book is Amy reading this memoir, with the occasional break about how Amy is getting on the plane, being chased on the plane, and how the person sitting next to her on the plane is murdered, etc. Notice I said occasional breaks, with the majority of the book being Amy reading the manuscript. Although the manuscript is interesting, it is too long winded for its own good. The breaks in Amy reading the script and something else happening were more interesting and exciting than the manuscript. It was almost a chore to read about someone else reading a manuscript. This idea, though creative, was not pulled off very well and could have been presented in a different, more interesting way. But anyway….
After Amy gets off the plane and is almost done reading the manuscript, is when I really started to like the story. There’s quite alot of chase scenes, people getting killed, drama, excitement, love story, etc. I really enjoyed the overall arcing storyline and wished Mr. Silver would have focused more on this storyline than the fictional Ian Fleming story. If I wouldn’t have been reading this book for a book club selection and felt somewhat obligated to finish the book, I probably would have put the book down around page 100. If I would have, I would have missed an exciting ending and wouldn’t have even guessed it was a good ending.
Due to the exciting ending and the cool twist at the end regarding the relationship between the fiance and one of the characters in the manuscript, I am giving this book 7 stars out of 10. With the majority of the stars being earned due to the ending of the book.
Mr. Silver has some potential to produce some good stories in the future and I wish him good luck in his future novels!