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.
Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’
Author: Eoin Colfer
Title: Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian
Narrator: Nathaniel Parker
Publication Info: New York : Listening Library, p2012.
The final installment in the Artemis Fowl series or so it would seem. Opal Koboi has her biggest take over the world plot, Mulch Diggums has his biggest flatulence, and Artemis has his ultimate moment of genius. And sacrifice. Colfer’s humor stands out as Koboi raises an army with her minions occupying the bodies of the dead with comic results. It’s a nice distraction from the grim reality of a story that puts the entire world in peril. This is a strong finale the series.
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.
Author: Paul Cornell
Title: Timewyrm: Revelation
Publication Info: London : Dr Who Books, 1991.
The final book in the Timewyrm tetralogy is unlike any other Doctor Who story I’ve yet experienced. For starters, one of the characters is a sentient church, there’s an English village on the moon, and much of the story takes place inside the Doctor’s mind. That may sound gimmicky but this a complex and ambitious novel that examines the Doctor’s grief and anguish through the previous incarnations who live in his mind. This is a challenging book to read as it has a lot of characters and facets and leaps from one to the other rather quickly, but a very satisfying story that pushes the bounds of a Doctor Who adventure. It’s also very influential as the revived television series has clearly mined this novel for ideas (and the author Cornell has also written screenplays for the show).
Recommended books: Timewyrm: Exodus by Terrance Dicks