About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Promise is Not Fulfilled

The Once and Future King
T.H. White
Publisher: Ace (July 15, 1987)
Paperback: 639 pages
Rating: 3 stars of 5 possible

Cliffs Notes on White's The Once and Future King
Publisher: Wiley Publishing
Paperback: 104 pages
Rating: 1 star of 5 possible

The Once and Future King is an omnibus edition of the first four installments of the epic story of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. The first two parts were published separately in the late 1930's and the third part followed in 1940, just before World War II intervened, cancelling separate publication of the fourth part of the story and delaying the omnibus edition until 1958, when the first four parts were published together. A fifth part to the saga was published much later and is reviewed separately. That part is titled The Book of Merlyn.

In The Once and Future King, White liberally borrows from (and credits) Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte De Arthur as being the source of much information regarding the story of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Though Malory also wrote of the quest for the holy grail, White barely mentions that quest, referring us to Malory if we wish to read more extensively of it. Fans of the Arthurian saga will want to read The Once and Future King for White's original view of the classic saga... those most deeply into the fantasy will probably also wish to explore Sir Thomas Malory's contributions as well.

Daniel Moran's Cliffs Notes on The Once and Future King is not as comprehensive as one could wish. Though the guide is helpful in studying the symbolism and satire present in first part of the story (The Sword in The Stone), only vague and unhelpful references to the second, third and fourth parts of the epic are present in this Cliffs Notes volume. This would be better titled Cliffs Notes on White's The Sword in The Stone. I recommend this Cliffs Notes only if one wishes to study The Sword In The Stone; it's practically useless for the rest of the saga.

For young and old alike: read The Sword in the Stone - either with or without studying it in depth. That part of the saga is pure fun.
For die-hard fans of the Arthurian saga: - finish reading The Once and Future King, either with or without including The Book of Merlyn. The saga almost seems complete without that last chapter.
Optional for those studying The Sword in the Stone: Buy or (better yet), borrow Cliffs Notes on White's The Once and Future King. Just don't buy the Cliffs Notes expecting it to cover much of the later volumes in the saga. It doesn't give them much coverage and isn't any help with studying them in depth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Shadow of Memory?

Tad Williams
Publisher: DAW Hardcover (November 2, 2004)
Hardcover: 672 pages

Also available:
Publisher: DAW Trade (November 1, 2005)
Trade Paperback: 672 pages

Publisher: DAW (September 5, 2006)
Mass Market Paperback: 816 pages
Rating: 4 stars of 5 possible

At the uppermost edge of the northern kingdoms lies Southmarch Castle. For hundreds of years it has remained isolated from the affairs of empire but now it is under siege: from both its neighbours, without, and the more insidious enemies who would destroy it from within.

Even further to the north, within the ancient walls of Qul-na-Qar, the Twilight People gather to hear the blind king Ynnir pronounce the dark fate of human kind. In the south, the Autarch now looks to extend his domain yet further. It is upon Southmarch that the armies advance, and on its people that darkness will fall: for a war is coming that will shake the world.

Above synopsis is taken from The official UK website of Tad Williams and is copyright Little, Brown Book Group Ltd.

Shadowmarch is the first of a recent epic fantasy by best-selling author Tad Williams. Tad's epic fantasy novels are not those plotless, mindless things you can zoom through in under an hour just to say you've read a book... no, on the contrary. To really read and understand this kind of book takes time and effort. Admittedly, I had other things occupying a lot of my time, so I took about six months to read this book from cover to cover. That was well invested time that I don't regret spending in Todd's world. I enjoyed every bit of that time, too; which is something I can't say about every book I read.

Some would say this adventure seems like a rewrite of Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series that was published from 1988 through 1993. While there are similarities, there's no harm in an author using elements from his own novels over again. The trials and tribulations of Barrick and his twin sister, Briony are not the same as those of the characters in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, but those trials and tribulations are just as compelling.  I found myself both wrapped in the story and eager to know what was going to happen to the heroes next. I'm also eager to get my hands on Shadowplay, which was released in hardcover last March, but I haven't managed to get my hands on both the money and that desire at the same time - yet... I think that time is coming very soon though.

Recommended for fans of epic fantasy age 15 to adult. The story depicts some violence so those who are sensitive about such elements should not read this, although I'd have to say not reading this epic would be skipping one of the best tales written in recent years. Buy Shadowmarch if you’re the type to read and devour fantasy epics over and over again… Borrow it if you only read books once; just don't miss it!