This fantasy novel set in the magical land of Earthsea introduces Ged, a boy whose magical ability shines in a society with numerous witches and practitioners of magic. After saving his village from an attack, Ged is taken as apprentice by a wise wizard and then sent to wizarding school. Despite his talent and proclamations that he may become the greatest wizard, Ged is headstrong and impatient and unleashes an evil shadow that follows him around and tries to possess his body. Ged thus has to face many quests and challenges to learn how to face down the shadow creature and understand himself. It’s a good novel, and apparently pretty influential as many of the tropes and ideas are picked up by other fantasy novels. Harlan Ellison’s reading of the audiobook is a dynamic performance that captures Ged’s anger and uncertainty.
Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category
Author: Paul Cornell
Title: Love and War
Publication Info: London : Doctor Who Books, 1992.
Previously read by same author: Timewyrm: Revelation
This is my 3rd Doctor Who New Adventure, and it’s one that has a notably good reputation among diehard Doctor Who fans. In this story, the Seventh Doctor and Ace – who is grieving over the death of a childhood friend – go to the planet Heaven. The entire planet is a cemetery for the people of Earth and the Draconians who die in the Dalek Wars. Ace falls in with a group of Travellers encamped on Heaven, and begins a romance with a young man named Jan. The Doctor seems to disapprove of Jan, and Ace begins to drift away. This is only a preamble for an act of betrayal that will push Ace out of the Tardis for good.
Apart from the tragic situation that divides the Doctor and Ace, this novel has a number of interesting attributes. It introduces the archaeologist Berenice Summerfield who will go on to be a regular companion of the Doctor. It also features the creepy villains the Hoothi, who are kind of a sentient fungi. On the downside there’s a whole subplot involving virtual reality in something called Puterspace. And like Timewyrm: Revelation, the narrative jumps quickly among a large number of characters and stories, making it a challenge to read. All and all, an imaginative and influential Doctor Who story.
Author: Evan J. Mandery
Title: Q : a novel
Publication Info: New York, NY : Harper, c2011.
An unnamed narrator tells the story of Q, Quentina Elizabeth Deveril, the love of his life. After meeting, dating, and planning to marry, an older version of the narrator arrives via time travel to tell him that he can’t marry Q. He takes his elder self’s advice and tries to move on with his life. But then more and more time traveling future selves arrive, constantly interfering with his life.
This may be the most twee novel I’ve ever read. It pushed the limits of Poe’s Law, making me wonder if this is the ultimate New York hipster with affectations novel, or just a parody of New York hipster with affectations. I eventually decided that it’s later, and to its credit parts of this novel are laugh out loud funny. The conclusion is also very satisfying. But to get to that point – whoa boy – it was tough to not just give up reading.
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Narrator: Julian Rhind-Tutt and Derek Jacobi
Publication Info: HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio (2014)
Horowitz follows up on his authorized Sherlock Holmes novel House of Silk with this mystery set in 1891 immediately after Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarity are believed to have fallen from Reichenbach Falls. The narrator is Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton detective who travels to Switzerland seeking American criminal mastermind Clarence Devereux whom he believes will rendez-vous with Moriarity. In the wake of the supposed deaths of Moriarity and Holmes, Chase joins up with Scotland Yard detective Athelney Jones who displays a skill in deductive reasoning. Based on the title, one wonders if Jones is Moriarity in disguise? Or Holmes in disguise? I won’t tell. Chase and Jones return to London to continue the search for Devereux and find themselves pulled into the brutally violent underworld of expatriate American criminals. It’s a gripping mystery with a lots of twists and turns, and a great companion to the Holmes’ canon. The performance of Rhind-Tutt and Jacobi on the audiobook is particularly entrancing.
Around the World for a Good Book selection for Thailand
Author: Ngarmpun (Jane) Vejjajiva
Title: The Happiness of Kati
Publication Info: New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006.
Kati, a nine-year-old girl lives with her grandparents and dreams of her mother who left five years earlier. Finally, it’s revealed that her mother has ALS and is close to death. The separation from her mother seems cruel, but it is obvious there’s a lot of love in this family. They are reunited for Kati’s mother’s last days, a time where Kati learns a lot about her family. Before dying, Kati’s mother tells her how she can contact her father who she has never met. The final chapters detail Kati’s choice to seek out her father or not. This is a touching novel, written from a perspective that realistically portrays the way a child views the world and deals with difficult issues like death.
Author: Tim Forbes
Title: It’s Game Time Somewhere: How One Year, 100 Events, and 50 Different Sports Changed My Life
Publication Info: Bascom Hill Publishing Group (2013)
I received this as an e-book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.
In a long preamble to this book, Forbes discusses his lifelong love of sports and his realization as he turned 40 that he could go into sports management as a career. Fast forward ten years of working on golf tournaments and Forbes discovers that he’s losing his passion for the games. To address this, he decides to tour the United States for a year attending 100 sporting events in 50 different sports. Forbes likes golf and works in golf, so the first 40% of this book is very focused on golf. I don’t like golf, so this was a bear to read, although there were interesting details about golf personalities and courses here and there.
Forbes comes to the realization that the big-time sports with athletes living large and the control of ESPN over big events are draining his love of watching sports. Interestingly, he says he finds the behavior of crowds at big events more drunken and violent than a decade earlier. In my own experience, going to a game was scarier in the 70s and 80s but since the 90s there has been more effort to control crowds, manage alcohol consumption, and create a family friendly environment to the point that the game experience is almost too sanitized. Nevertheless, Forbes and I can agree that the real thrill of spectator sports is going to be found in lower-level divisions or in sports that are not in the eye of the big sports media complex.
Forbes makes his discovery when the same player helps win a minor league baseball game that he saw in a college baseball game earlier in the year. His journey changes as begins to embrace minor sports like synchronized swimming, paddling, and high school volleyball. He discovers communities of families, friends, athletes, and dedicated fans around the many different sports. Finally, whether it be adult kickball, curling, or lawn bowl, Forbes finds that the best sports experience come from participation.