3 – Plot
4 – Characters
4 – World Building
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart and Mind Aspect
3 – Plot
4 – Characters
4 – World Building
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart and Mind Aspect
Here is a video covering what I’ve read during the months of July and August of 2018. I’m linking this video to all the books I covered in this video. The books are:
Age of Swords by Michael J Sullivan
Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan
Aegypt by John Crowley
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Holding by Graham Norton
New York 2140 by Kim Stanly Robinson
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
“Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen.”
“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”
“The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.”
“Memories are worse than bullets.”
“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not the merits of who receives them.”
“Sometimes we think people are like lottery tickets, that they’re there to make our most absurd dreams come true.”
“I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”
“Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don’t stop at your station.”
“One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn’t have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.”
“The nurse knew that those who really love, love in silence, with deeds and not with words.”
“Perhaps for that very reason, I adored her all the more, because of the eternal human stupidity of pursuing those who hurt us the most.”
“One loves truly only once in a lifetime, Julian, even if one isn’t aware of it.”
“Wars have no memory, and nobody has the courage to understand them until there are no voices left to tell what happened,”
“Few things are more deceptive than memories.”
As all the quotes show, this is such a highly quotable book. The prose is spectacular and it is nice to run across a nugget of inspiration every few pages while reading this book. The translator, Lucia Graves, put this into English really well to bring out all these great quotable moments. Reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon at first was a bit confusing. It seemed, at first, that the story wanted to be all things. It wanted to be a historical fiction, a mystical book story, a mystery, a romance, a family drama, and a gothic. That took me about half the book to get used to. I didn’t know really what genre to hang my hat on, how to approach the story to get the most out of it. Once I decided that what Ruis Zafon was telling me, was a remembrance mystery, it all fell into place. It also wasn’t until Daniel and Bea started their romance and Fermin and Daniel became close friends that I connected with the characters and the story. Finally, there were relationships in the story that I could follow and love.
There are times when I thought that the author went off on a tangent and needed to reel it back in to the main story during the first 200 pages or so. This only added to my confusion about what type of story it really was. Once I got to Nuria’s account of what actually happened in the past is when I was totally engrossed. That section of the book was the best-written section when it came to telling an actual narrative. The reveals hit hard and I was really happy I wasn’t trying to figure things out about the mystery until then.
I definitely waited until some of the hype of this was gone in my mind before reading and I think that helped a lot. I remember a few years ago everyone on booktube seemed to be reading this and I’m glad I put it off. I think if I went into this expecting a story about a mystical bookshop and book, I would have been sorely underwhelmed. Going into it with a more literature focus really helped me. Also going into this story rather blindly really helped me not to be spoiled with the reveals. I think if I would have read this right after I saw all the reviews and it was fresh in my mind, I would have figured it out easily.
Good book, well written, a slightly jumbled first half, extremely strong second half that has great quotes and ideas on first love. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes historical fiction, especially 20th-century historical European fiction. I wouldn’t recommend this to people looking for anything fantastical or doesn’t like stories about young men falling in love.
I just really like Michael J. Sullivan. Not only is the guy a fantastic writer that I can’t get enough of but he is such a super chill dude. Of all the authors that I’ve followed on social media and other parts of the internet, Sullivan, to me, is a prime example of how an author should behave themselves online. They are super helpful, respectful, and talk a lot about books. Granted, an author can act however they want to act online, I’m not trying to be the internet police or anything, but it is just refreshing to see a guy working so hard to maintain his online presence in just a positive way. So, you are probably wondering dear reviewer reader what this even has to do with reviewing Age of Myth. Well, this is important to me because #1 his personality online first got me to read his books, #2 he continues to make me want to read his books, and #3 I have faith in what he is building in this series.
First off, let’s address the question about whether you should read the Riyria Revelations first. If you are planning on reading all of his books right in a row, I think it might be good to read the Riyria Revelations first, but for everyone else that doesn’t have a perfect memory, you probably won’t remember much of the details from Riyria that will make much an impact on Age of Myth. Yah, there are a few, of cool, moments, but overall I can’t remember the details enough for me to suggest to read one series before the other.
Age of Myth is a ripple fantasy. When I say a ripple fantasy I mean that when you throw a rock into a pond or lake, the ripples will start out really small then grow very large. The rock being thrown happens in the first few pages of Age of Myth when the death of a Fhrey(elf) by a human takes place. In this world, many of the humans believe that the Fhrey are gods, so this shatters all concepts held by the humans quickly. The Fhrey retaliate against the humans and the ripples keep advancing. What’s great about this story is that the ripples are affecting everyone, in all towns, and high places. Through this, Sullivan introduces us to a cast of characters with their own issues going on. The main focus is a small human village where the leader just got killed and the widow is now figuring out what her role is now. Persephone is an older woman with a heart for her people and will do everything to see them safe. Also in this village is a young seer that lives in the woods and two individuals that are escaping their trouble of having just killed a Fhrey.
So, listening to this on audiobook, and also reading some in the physical book it is obvious that this series is all about humble beginnings. The theme seems to be that normal, everyday people, doing extraordinary things, will in many thousands of years become legends. I really love this type of storytelling. The only thing is with this type of storytelling, it really works because the series as a whole works. As a stand alone book, a humble beginnings story can feel kind of similar to a lot of fantasy that came before. It can also feel a little underwhelming at times. This is when the faith of the author comes into play from when I talked about at the beginning of this review. I believe in Sullivan’s ability to craft a series and even if this book in particular didn’t excite me tremendously, I know that he will deliver. Do not get me wrong, this is a great book, but I never really got much excited while listening to it.
The best thing about this series so far is how many amazing women there are in this story. Here are the main characters in this book that are women(there are even more in Age of Swords):
1. Persephone – a late 30’s widow of a former clan leader
2. Suri – a young girl that lives in the forest that can commune with animals and trees
3. Arion – a mystical Fhrye
Others that are more prominent in Age of Swords:
4. Roan – an inventor that is on the autism spectrum
5. Brin – a girl training to be the next lore keeper
6. Moya – an attractive woman that knows she is attractive and gets judged but who is a fighter too
I’m just going to let readers know that these women all go on a quest together in the next book, so you definitely have to read Age of Myth to read Age of Swords.
Sullivan is this generation’s equivalent of David Eddings in my opinion. He is doing traditional fantasy in a way that makes it fresh but similar at the same time. If you are looking for a LoTR or a Belgariad like story, you can’t go wrong with Age of Myth.
I recently read through the entire Machineries of Empire Series by Yoon Ha Lee. I reread Ninefox Gambit and retried to read Raven Stratagem. When I initially read Raven Stratagem I DNF’d the book around the halfway point. I wanted to give it another try and then, if I enjoyed it, grab the last book too, Revenant Gun as it came out around the time I’d finish the second one. Well, I don’t know if I was in a better mental state or if the reread really helped me but I enjoyed the books much more this time through.
I think at first I approached this series as the story of Cheris and Jedao. After reading Ninefox Gambit, I had the impression that this series was being told through their eyes. When I found out that Raven Stratagem was more of multiple points of view story, it kind of surprised me. It surprised me because in Ninefox Gambit there was such a focus on the interaction between Cheris and Jedao inside each other. Raven Stratagem and later Revenant Gun makes Mikodez, Kujen, Brezan, and Khiruev just as important characters as Ninefox Gambit made Cheris and Jedao. It’s interesting because Yoon Ha Lee makes it a point to make every character in these stories have their own decisions. Each person is rather proactive to their situation and that causes a story narrative that can sometimes appear to be unclear to the reader. The focus of these stories can sometimes shift at moments where you aren’t sure who you want to live and who you want to die. Everyone is a shade of gray in these stories, there really isn’t much black and white or lines that delineate between the good guys and the bad guys. Regardless of who you root for, they probably do some pretty awful things somewhere within this universe that Lee has created. If Star Wars was told as a story with only the people from the Empire attempting to gain power and influence without any rebels, that would be what this series does.
Yoon Ha Lee writes a story that is at times extremely personal with the characters enjoying whatever sexual appetite they desire but then makes their desires for the actual story arc a little hazy. I think what comes out of these stories are political ongoings that is quite reminiscent of the murky atmosphere that clouds the real world’s own politics. No one is necessarily the good guy and everyone is out to achieve what they want. There aren’t many unselfish characters in these books.
These are slow reading books. I had a bit of a hard time losing myself in the story just because I had to constantly think how each scene not only impacted the characters within that scene but the characters elsewhere in this world. The story takes place over many years, especially in Revenant Gun, where Ninefox Gambit took place in a rather small amount of time. Because of this, the reader has to play catch up at times to understand how things have shifted over the time that they did. I usually enjoy a more self-contained story and I feel like I would have enjoyed the second two books a little more if it didn’t jump around as much.
Yoon Ha Lee does something in the third book that really impressed me and this isn’t a spoiler because it basically talks about this on the back cover of the book, he reintroduces the same character, Jedao, as a new clone without the memories of the Cheris/Jedao. When this happened I had to ask myself, “Is this a smart thing to do, introducing the same character, when another character could fill the same role?” Well, I was soon a believer because what this new Jedao showed was just how impactful the events in the life of the original Jedao really were to change his personal characteristics, especially the abuse that the original Jedao experienced but the new Jedao didn’t. With this, Lee really showed us how much impact our life events have in shaping who we are.
I would recommend this series to anyone that wants to attempt to read a science fiction series that demands the reader to think around what is being shown and said on the page to how the things on the page are going to impact the rest of the side stories and characters. If you are looking for a fun series to lose yourself in, I don’t really think this is the one for you. I had to put a little more effort into reading these than with books I usually read. That effort paid off as I feel like a more intelligent reader with science fiction through reading this and I won’t be as daunted by future books that are written similarly in the future. Basically, reading this series feels like an accomplishment, one I’m glad I achieved.