A Writing Journey

Posts tagged ‘review’

“The Tropic of Serpents”

Oh my oh my. I will preface by saying that I have had this book almost since I finished the first, “A Natural History of Dragons.” I’ve been trying with all my might to pace myself on this one, but I had a shift of work this week that encouraged reading, and this morning I could not resist finishing the tale.

I, of course, do not own this image. And I would like to tip my hat to the wonderful artist, Todd Lockwood.

The second book of Isabella Camherst’s forays into the world of dragons was as captivating as the first. Leaving her homeland for a second time, Isabella believes her trip to Eriga will be easier than her last adventure. Marie Brennan has written her heroine with finesse – I am inclined to believe her a real person. Even more amazing is the world in which the books are set.

I noticed in reading book 1 that Brennan has overlaid a fantasy world on the cultures and countries of our own world in historic times. And yet she does this with such precision that there is no doubt as to her creative powers. I found myself on the edge of my seat (again) and begging for those books which she mentions to be real. Brennan writes:

The history of how this process developed has been discussed at greater length by the Yembe historian … I advise those interested in such matters to read her work…

p.300, “The Tropic of Serpents” by Marie Brennan

If only I could read it! There are omissions in the story that, in large part, are due to one of two reasons. 1)That the narrator (Isabella) is keeping a secret for the people she met whose rules prevent her from discussing certain things and 2) that she refers us to other works which, unfortunately, do not exist. I would love to read those other books. Let me be clear: I by no means think that the omissions are a failure of the book. Rather, they add to it’s authenticity and keep me engaged after I am finished reading.

I recommend with all of my heart that you pick up this book (after, of course, reading A Natural History of Dragons). You will not regret it if you do!


Book Review: The Storytelling Animal

A couple of weeks ago, I finished a book called “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gottschall. The summary from the back of the book is as follows: “Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. Now Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems – just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal and explains how stories can change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of the story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.”

Well. I picked this book up from amid the countless others for two reasons. First, as an avid reader and writer, I love to hear what people think about stories. I love dissecting stories and the reasons behind them. Second, and more importantly, it reminded me of one of my college professors (whom I will call H). H told stories all the time about his life, and was confident in the fact that stories are what make life rich.

The book, while not disappointing, was not entirely satisfying either. It started strong and ended strong, but the middle seemed rather muddled. Perhaps that is a bias on my part since I took two months of reading it while I was in the middle. But there were some questions at the beginning that I did not feel were fully answered by the end. Regardless, it was a fascinating read and I would 100% recommend it to anyone who is interested in stories.

Gottschall touches on many points of storytelling, including the creativity of stories, dreams, the biological reasoning for storytelling, stories having the power to change the world, and the mental health of story tellers. Each section was well-rounded and easy-to-read.

This is most assuredly a book for everyone, and I hope you will all pick it up. If you do (or have read it) let me know what you thought!

Take Care, fellow travelers.

Robin Hobb – her amazing books

I don’t normally write reviews or go into very much detail about why I am recommending a particular book. Usually, I just say it is fantastic and if people decide to read it they decide to read it. But this morning I finished the third book of Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man series, and I have been moved to encourage all of you, my followers, to read her work.

I will not be posting any spoilers, so don’t worry about that. Also, this won’t be so much a review as it is a story of how I fell in love with the work of Robin Hobb.

I bought Assassin’s Apprentice when I was a junior in high school. The blurb on the back was intriguing, and I liked the cover. Unfortunately, each time I started reading it I had a hard time getting past the style of writing (which now I love). The sentences are often crafted in a slightly unusual order, and the author uses rather flowery language (which is great since it is in first person) and at the time I first picked the book up, I was unprepared for that kind of writing. It really is something you have to be ready for, but it is worth it. I discovered this when I finally got around to reading the whole book, the summer after my senior year.

All it took was that one book and I was enchanted. I already had the other two in the series (I like to buy as many books in a series as possible at the same time) and so I kept reading. Robin Hobb is a master at getting readers invested in the plot. My heart broke a hundred times for the main character (Fitz), and I swear I have never cried so much (out of happiness and sadness) for any other character than Fitz.  The Farseer Trilogy is an emotional roller-coaster that is well worth the ride.

I didn’t get around to reading anymore of Robin Hobb’s books until junior year of college. I picked up her Liveship Traders trilogy and was once again immersed in the beautiful world that she has created. Admittedly, this trilogy does not compare (in my opinion) to the brilliance of either the Farseer trilogy or the Tawny Man trilogy, but if you are going to read the Tawny Man books you must read this trilogy as well, otherwise the next books will not have quite the same impact.

Over the past six months, I have read the Tawny Man trilogy. I took it slow, as I often do when I love a book or series so much that I don’t want it to end.

These books by Robin Hobb are truly the best books I have ever read. The characters have incredible depth, all of the secondary characters are well-developed and given their own lives independent of Fitz, and there are hard nuggets of truth about real life throughout the books.

Truly, it is a world worth getting lost in.

Take care, fellow travelers.

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