Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Reviews!

Hi again! So I went home for Christmas, spent two weeks back in Portland which flew by in a haze of good food, friends, family and trips to Powells Books. Which means: book reviews!

Since I can't bring myself to write a short review, I will probably break this up into a series of posts. I've been meaning to start posting reviews on this journal for ages, so I've got a bit of a back log of good books to get through. I'll try posting two or three at a time every week or so. Also, the promised cosplay post is coming soon, for real!

Clockwork Angel

I really enjoyed it! The plot may not have held any big surprises, but it was a fast, entertaining read. What really made the book enjoyable were the characters, all of whom I found interesting and likable, and the world that Cassandra Clare has established.

I immediately liked the main character Tessa. It was hard not to- she's smart, with realistic strengths and weaknesses, and I love that she's a book nerd. I was really wary of her turning into a Mary Sue, especially given the love triangle described in the book's summary... But fortunately that never overshadowed the plot, and Tessa's character remained interesting independent of her love interests. Possibly my favorite character in the book though was Charlotte, the head of the Institute. I love that she's a very strong, organized woman- but that she still has some vulnerabilities. I think her role as a leader and her odd relationship with her husband make her really interesting.

Second to the characters, my favorite thing about the book was the world Cassandra created. I love urban fantasy, and while I can see the heavy influence of other urban fantasies on this series, it feels unique enough to make me want to know more about it. I also really like the Victorian setting in this novel.

And I really enjoyed the lit/poetry quotes! Especially since they were mostly taken from Victorian poets I really enjoy. I was kind of surprised how much Swinburne made it in there, but thinking about it, his poetry has just the gothic melodrama that really suits a YA fantasy novel.

I realize YA is not for everyone- but I think Clockwork Angel is entertaining and mature enough to be enjoyed by most fans of fantasy. Definitely a good read!

* Also, you can check out my friend Lucy's review of the first book in Cassie Clare's Mortal Instrument series, here!

Prince of Nothing Series

I just finished the 2nd book in this trilogy and I have to say I love it so far. The plot, the characters, the world it takes place in... It's all so incredibly complex that it keeps me thinking about it even after I've finished the books. The series is essentially a political intrigue set in a fantasy universe that has clearly been modeled on our own, roughly around the time of the crusades. While there are a number of similarities between the world Bakker has created and our own history, it is definitely not a historical fantasy. This world is unique and very different from ours, despite having similar problems of holy war, racism and religious fanatacism. It ties in a number of real social issues, including sexism and homophobia, but they are never entirely in the spotlight; they primarily come into focus only when important to the characters.

And the characters... Some of the most complicated, real people I have discovered in a series of books. The main character of the series, Kellhus, has a god-like intelligence that allows him to see into people's minds via their facial expressions, body language, etc., understand their motivations and subconscious thoughts, and ultimately manipulate them. The story revolves around how he becomes a central figure in the holy war by posing as a prophet, but the story switches perspective between a large cast, including leaders of countries, zealots, a tribal warrior, a prostitute, a magician who aids the holy war despite believing he's damned... The list goes on.

The one thing I didn't like about the book is that at times it feels too complicated. As much as I love the politcal intrigue, I occasionally found myself flipping back several hundred pages to figure out who a character was or what was going on. That said, I wouldn't want this story watered down. I love the heavy influence of various philosophies and the way the logic of the character's actions is exposed, and I don't think it would be half as enjoyable to read if it were easy to understand.

If you enjoy long, thought-provoking books you will probably love this series. Despite its length, it never felt dry or slow-paced to me, and as I said it still keeps me thinking about it after I've finished. If that's not the mark of a good book, I don't know what is.


  1. I might be interested in reading a Warrior Prophet, sounds like my speed.
    I don't know about Clockwork Angel, but I like the name Infernal Devices.

  2. Warrior Prophet is #2, but definitely check out that series. The books are long, but well-worth the read!

    I forgot to mention in the review, but Clockwork Angel is actually kinda steampunk/fantasy- thus the Infernal Devices name.

  3. I think Teal has been trying to get me to check out Infernal Devices too.

  4. Yeah, probably. She's gotten really into Cassandra Clare's books recently- they sound good though! I need to get a kindle soon so I can read more...