Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers

After reading the Wilderking Trilogy by Rogers, I was so very happy to see that he was writing another book and more happy to discover it set in Corenwald! The story of Grady (aka Grado) is adventurous, laugh out loud funny, heartwarming, and yet a bit sad. Not knowing where he came from, what his last name is, or where his place in life is, Grady is searching for answers. But without anyone to tell him the truth, he doesn't get to far in that particular quest. For a long time he believed that he was an actual Feechie, so when Floyd- his "foster-father" of sorts- declares that Grady is a plain ugly boy whose own mother must not have wanted him, things fall apart for Grady. Since he has no where else to go, he stays with Floyd and they search for different ways to trick and "skin" the people of Corenwald seeing as how no one believes in Feechies anyway. From there, they proceed in many adventures and after a couple years, decided to start another Feechie scare, then they could get their show back on the road.

The Charlatan's Boy was full of very funny moments. A couple of my favorite chapters are "In which I ruin a feller's hair-do and nearabout get smashed for it," (if I'm remembering the title correctly), "In which I get mistaken for a panther" and "In which I tell the truth and hear it." As you can tell just from the names of these chapters, this tale is told in a fun accent that adds personality to the story and Grady.

There were not as many mentions of God in this book as there are in the Wilderking Trilogy- there are a few mentions of prayer and a "praying machine" (being sold by a trickster who even Floyd doesn't like) and it is not an allegory. However, full of adventures, laughs, betrayals, and truths, The Charlatan's Boy is a book not to missed.

Sword in the Stars by Wayne Thomas Batson

Sword in the Stars is the story of Alastair Coldhollow, a former assassin who desperately wants forgiveness for his past deeds. Years ago, a woman taught him about the First One (Myriad's representation of God) and forgives Alastair for what he did to her family. He killed her husband in a raid. Shaken by this woman's faith and devotion to the First One, even if it means forgiving her husband's murderer, Alastair begins to study and learn more about the First One. Eventually, he begins to suspect that he is the Caller- the one foretold to find and clear the way for the Halfainin (the restorer of peace and victory to Myriad's troubled land). But after spotting the Sword in the Stars, holding a tournament to find this champion warrior, and yet turning up empty handed... Alastair is deeply disappointed. He needed to find the Halfainin, if not for the people (and other races) of Myriad, then at least for his own forgiveness. I'm leaving out a TON of the story but this would end up a super long review if I went into all of it. There's much more including battle scenes, Queen Maren, the baby Alastair ends up with, and the Willowfolk.

As for the characters, Morlan and Cythraul are certainly the best villians Batson has ever created. I mean, Bartholomew Thorne was mean and all, but at least we felt a little sympathetic for him (with his first wife's death and all), and Paragor was messed up, but he wasn't in the story much until the ending of the Final Storm (and his plotting in The Door Within). Alastair is an extremely capable swordsmen on a quest for forgiveness. Abbagael is determined and compassionate- and her response to Alastair in a certain scene ("It's okay, Alastair"... "but you will.") made me laugh out loud.

The Shepherds are the closest things to wizards. And they aren't. Their abilities are gifts from the First One and have nothing to do with spells and potions. For example, Mosteryn the Old can bring up storms, and Sebastian (hope I spelt it right) can control plants. But not through chants and stuff. It's just what they do. Like a bird can fly, or a fish can swim. There's also more to the Shepherds, but just in case someone maybe wondering about 'magic' in this book. There's a little with the willowfolk- such as an enchantment in the area that throws off sense of direction and stuff. Morlan and Cythraul use a Vaskerstone table to see things in other places.

This book also had a few humorous mess-ups. In one scene, Alastair says that he knows about many paths that few in Allyra know anything about. I bet he does considering that Allyra is the wrong world. That one's from the Berinfell Prophecies. And (here comes a spoiler) two characters that are said to have died in battle are present at a certain wedding a few years later. These mistakes are sort of funny, but jolt the reader out of the story.

I was thrilled to see Aidan Errolson's name (from the Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers) and a "quote" in here and La-Saide of Ot (from The White Lion Chronicles by Christopher Hopper) even throws a line or two in. Lebrettowit (from The Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul) as well. I thought that was pretty cool. I'm sure there were more little cameos but I probably just didn't know it.

I'd recommend it for ages 13+ because a couple scenes are a bit creepy and violent and Alastair's struggle Witchdrale (I guess an alcoholic sort of drink.)Anyway, Sword in the Stars will leave you eagerly awaiting the next book in the Dark Sea Annals- The Errant King (due out sometime in 2011).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

With a sad and fairly cliff-hanging ending of the Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers picks up right where it's predecessor left off- the choas of the orc attack and Frodo and Sam's exit. In this part of the LOTR series, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas search long and hard for Merry and Pippin who have been captured by the orcs. Yet, unknown to our three heros, Merry and Pippin eventually escape the orcs and join forces with the Ents (a tree shepherds) and head off to war against Saruman. Eventually, after a few twists in the tale, Aragorn and Co. head on over to Rohan. A land of horse loving people who are being "lead" by a reluntant and depressed king. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam meet up with a creepy creature who's been following them since Moria (at least that's where I first figure he showed up) and offers to lead them to Mt. Doom. Accepting Gollum's offer, Frodo and Sam continue their treacherous journey into Mordor facing many dangers along the way including soldier's of Gondor, Shelob, and Gollum's plots. This is the short version of the story, obviously.
Once again, Sam's extreme loyalty and optimism is wonderful. Frodo's mercy to Gollum is great. The virtues such as mercy, loyalty, sacrifice, hope, that fill LOTR are refreshing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

I finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday. It took my quite a while to be honest. The Counsel of Elrond chapter had me stuck for around a month or more. I stopped reading it when they went back into the history of the ring. In fact, I read the Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers and the first two of Lois Walfrid's Viking Quest books in between that chapter. But I pushed myself through those few pages, and am very glad I didn't quit there. The rest of the story is fairly quick paced and adventureous. When Bilbo leaves his young heir, Frodo Baggins with that ring he found in The Hobbit, Frodo doesn't quite grasp just what he's gotten into. That is until Gandalf gives him a history lesson and warning. Never use the ring. It is evil and gains control over it's "owner" although who owns who could be debated (especially in Gollum's case). Also, Sauron (the maker of the ring) is searching for it and is willing to do whatever it takes to retrieve it. Therefore, Frodo and his three other hobbit friends- Sam, Merry, and Pippin- leave Hobbiton to, hopefully, save it. Facing challenges more difficult and dangerous than they imagined, they are grateful for the company of Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf, which Elrond, the Elf sends with them on their journey. At, least I would be grateful, and they should be, but the book never says so... It is decided that simply hiding the ring wouldn't work or would throwing into a river or sea; it must be destroyed in the depts of Mount Doom. A volcano in Mordor, Sauron's country. Facing orcs, blizzards, and ringwraiths, the company makes their way south to destroy the ring once and for all.
I like the loyalty in the characters, especially Sam Gamgee to Frodo. The courage and friendship in The Fellowship of the Ring is a wonderful thing to come across in literature.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul

Twice as good as the first! DragonQuest was wonderful. Probably my favorite in the series. Kale has finally made it to the Hall with Dar and is still at the lowest rank as a leecent. But that meech egg she saved from Risto has hatched and is getting on Fenworth's last nerves. He wants Kale to come help out since she was the one who quicken the dragon and therefore has bonded with it. She is sent to the Bogs and the adventures begin! But the adventures do not stay in the Bogs. They range from battlefields to rowdy taverns, full of suspense and great characters along the way. Several new and main characters are introduced in DragonQuest such as Regidor, Gilda, Bardon, and Toopka. But let's not leave out the mystery of two women both claiming to be Kale's mother, the hatching of two new minor dragons, and invasion of Creemore spiders. So join Kale and her comrades on another quest in the land of Amara!

Friday, January 29, 2010

DragonSpell by Donita K. Paul

Dragonspell is the story of 14 year old Kale, a village slave girl with the remarkable gift of finding dragon eggs. This absolutely blows away the village council of River Away, so they direct Kale to the Hall where she will use her gift for Wulder. This blows Kale away. Leave River Away, the only place she’s ever known? She’s excited and nervous and bit stressed, but all that doesn’t really matter when she falls down a hill and is captured by a rowdy band of grawlings, who love to play catch. After enduring these disgusting creatures for a few hours and attempting a near failed escape, she’s rescued by a party of four warriors (not counting the dragons) of an assortment of sizes, and is turned her from her original orders. Two of her rescuers, a doneel named Dar and the young emerlindian Leetu Bends, take her along to the bogs in search of the reclusive Wizard Fenworth, whom they hope to enlist in their questing party. Their mission? Rescue a meech dragon egg from the wicked Wizard Risto before he uses the egg to make another low race, killing the dragon inside in the process. But when Leetu Bends is captured, Dar and Kale have to trust Wulder (God) to bring them through and save their friend and the dragon egg. Throughout this “uncomfortable” journey, Kale is transformed from a timid, self-deprecating girl, to a young lady who knows the love of a creator and good friends.
The characters where wonderful, some were humorous yet realistic. The setting and different races were fascinating. Some people found this over whelming, but really, if you get past that one sentence listing the seven races, learning the seven different races is a breeze. Ms. Paul introduces them at a nice speed so as not to make them confusing. She doesn’t throw them into the plot and leave it up to you to figure out what a tumanhofer or marione is. She describes the races so as to give one an idea of what they are like, but leaves room for the reader imagination as well. The plot and numerous adventures along the way will hold one’s attention, such as sword fights, fire dragons, several rescues, mind speaking, and earthquakes.
DragonSpell would make an excellent addition to an intermediate reader’s library.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Lion Vrie by Christopher Hopper

If Rise of the Dibor was good, The Lion Vrie was awesome. Christopher Hopper certainly knows how to get the characters emotions across to the reader. Answering questions left by The White Lion Chronicles #1 (Rise of the Dibor), The Lion Vrie continues a few days after the ending of its prequel. The Dibor is scattered, injured, and wounded emotionally after the battle at Adriel. Luik is wounded but slowly recovering in the city of Mt. Dakka in Tontha, the homeland of Brax, Boran, and Benigan (three of his Dibor). Upon his recovery he knows that Morgui is still plotting the destruction of Dionia and it’s imperative that the city prepare for anything. Searching for Anorra, storing food, organizing and fortifying to the city take up most of Luik’s time, that is, until he called to Ot. Yes, the mysterious Ot. And so the quests begin. Read about Luik and his friends as they go through joy and pain, hope and despair, and experience weight of being leaders.