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Staving off existential dread

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Friday, June 14, 2013 12:16 PM
(Last updated on Friday, June 14, 2013 01:38 PM)
Book Report - The Fire Chronicle (The Books of Beginning, #2)
 by Fëanor

I was surprised to start this book and find the kids back in the orphanage. I was always kind of confused and annoyed when Harry Potter returned to the awful Dursleys during the summers, too. As in those books, I suppose the idea here was that the old wizard thought they'd be safer there for some reason, although in this case Dr. Pym is deeply mistaken, and the kids have barely been reintroduced to us when they're attacked and split up yet again. Stephens seems to delight in pointing out to us how desperately the kids need each other and how much they don't want to be split apart, and then splitting them apart anyway. I don't think all three of them are together for more than a couple of pages in this entire book, and occasionally he even puts each on his/her own, and all of them in terrible peril. It's rough! But this book does get us much closer to understanding what the kids' destiny is and who the Dire Magnus is and where their parents are and what all this is about. It's a very exciting book and I read it in a rush, sometimes having to stop myself from skipping ahead to see what happened next. I liked in particular the scenes between Kate and Rafe, and the implications their relationship has for the future, and the scene between Michael and the ghostly messenger, and how that quote from King Killin becomes so important and shifts in meaning as the book goes on. Unfortunately I read The Fire Chronicle too quickly, as now I have to wait for the next book to be published. Ah, well. Gives me something to look forward to.
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), Books of Beginning (Not)
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Thursday, May 23, 2013 01:39 PM
(Last updated on Friday, May 24, 2013 09:41 AM)
Book Report - The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)
 by Fëanor

This is another book I listened to purely because Jim Dale was the reader, with no idea what it was about, and it turned out to be well worth it. The prologue is totally standard fantasy novel stuff, with children of destiny and a mysterious evil and monsters and a car chase, and I was thinking this was going to be a lame Harry Potter knock-off. But I stuck with it and it got much, much better. The main characters are three orphans named Kate, Emma, and Michael. When we meet them, their lives have consisted of a succession of orphanages, each one worse than the last, and they've had only the hope that one day their parents will return to sustain them. Everything changes when they're moved to what seems like the last and worst orphanage of all, and discover there, in a hidden chamber, an extremely important magic book.

The three children are great characters, fully human, and completely likable. Some of the other characters in the story could charitably be called archetypes, and uncharitably be called cliches, but I liked them anyway. Two of my favorite characters in the book, whom I thought for sure were going to have a large part in the story, but disappear soon after they're introduced and never return, are the Lovestocks. It's probably entirely due to them that I continued reading the book past the prologue. I hope they pop up in the later books again somehow.

The Emerald Atlas definitely travels down some well-worn paths, but it does so in a thrilling and moving manner. The strong theme at the center of it is family, so if you have one of those, I think it will bring a tear to your eye. I'm looking forward to the second book in the trilogy, and I'm hoping the third will be published by the time I'm done that one!
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), Books of Beginning (Not)
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