Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station comes highly recommended on the steampunk genre, and is the winner of various awards. I haven't read much of steampunk (if you consider Wells' The Time Machine steampunk, then that's all I've read), so I decided to give the genre a try. And I can say this will not be my last book (either on the genre or by China Miéville).

There are two important characters in Perdido Street Station, Isaac, the scientist; and Yagharek, the Garuda (yes, a garuda, a bird-man flying humanoid). The story follows both, as Yagharek reaches New Crobuzon, the city that is the stage of this book, and asks Isaac for help. Yagharek has been made earthbound as his sentence for a crime, and this means that his wings have been sawed off. He asks Isaac to help him fly again, by any means that he can. Isaac as a scientist, will take this problem full on, studying all manner of flying things (and like with any scientist, the solution will be his field of expertise, his life long research).

The problems start (or escalate, because New Crobuzon is a polluted city-state, with a corrupt government, keen on spying on its inhabitants, most of which are terribly poor and lost to drugs) when one of the grubs Isaac acquires grows into a moth, and starts attacking the city. And Isaac will try to fight this new menace.

Perdido Street Station took me a long time to read. Not because it was boring (it wasn't, although there is always a lot of information being given to the reader), but because it was intricate, not a story to be rushed, but to be enjoyed and appreciated. There are parts where the descriptions are beautiful, poetic even, and that bring a vivid image to our minds. This is extremely good, because the creatures and places in the book are built in likewise fashion, of different parts stuck together, in ways that shouldn't, and sights so alien that couldn't possibly belong there.

What I loved the most about Perdido Street Station was the science. When the main character is a scientist, an unorthodox one, full of seemingly crazy ideas and theories, that branch through all the possible fields, there is a chance that the story will feature some science. And, if in the beginning I was unsure and unconvinced by the slow moving plot, all it took to hook me in was a lecture in physics by Isaac (and followed later on by another one on biology). But amidst all the science that happens in New Crobuzon, all the inventions and clockwork (because, after all, this is steampunk), there is still space for magic.

I have read, years ago, that in Fantasy/Science Fiction you have to choose your mojo: you'll either have technology or magic, but not both. I've seen this “rule” defied before, of course, but never as well as in Perdido Street Station, where magic occurs next to a completely analytical Constructed Intelligence (a robot, with Artificial Intelligence, in our world), and it's entirely believable (although I always have to give praise to any author that makes magic entirely believable).

Of all the characters, the one I loved the most was Yagharek, even after I discovered what his crime was. To me, this book was about him, his journey, both geographical and interior, and I always looked forward to those chapters between parts, told in his voice, of his fears and hopes. I also liked Isaac, especially because as the “hero”, he is a completely different one, that coughs and wheezes when he has to run or do the slightest bit of physical work.

There are also other species other than human and garuda, there are insect khepri, water-based vodyanoi, the prickly cactacae people, and a multitude of other different races. With this motley population, there is space to show the tolerance and xenophobia that exists in New Crobuzon. Some races stand apart, some mingle, and some individuals just do as they please.

Betrayal is also a theme in Perdido Street Station, it occurs throughout the novel. In some cases it left me angry, others deeply heartbroken. In all, it was a book that gauged strong emotions, from some amazement and revulsion at the beginning, to the bitter sweet ending.

I loved this book, it appealed to the scientist in me, it was different and it was unmistakeably good.


Other reviews: Speculative Horizons

Monday, 30 August 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

Kah Woei from The Books of my Life has awarded me with One Lovely Blog Award. Thank You so much!!!

The Rules:

  • Accept the award, post in on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  • Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  • Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know that they have been chosen for this award.

15 blogs that I've recently discovered:

  1. 5 Line Reviews
  2. All Booked Up
  3. Bookworming in the 21st Century
  4. Cuidado com o Dálmata
  5. Daisy Chains Book Reviews
  6. Ex Libris
  7. In Which a Girl Reads
  8. My Fluttering Heart
  9. Page Turners
  10. Queen of Happy Ending
  11. Reading Teen
  12. Reading with Tequila
  13. Red House Books
  14. Speculative Horizons
  15. There's a Book

Monday, 23 August 2010

What should I read next? (2)

I discovered I will be going on holidays next week (a bit of end of PhD. celebration for my mother and a chance to rest after 6 years of work). I'm still getting the details of where I'm going, but it will be a week of doing nothing. I probably will be able to read a lot, so I have to pack accordingly.

So, I decided to make the What should I read next a more regular feature, and in this second time I ask the question: What should I take with me on holiday. You can choose up to 3 books from the following options:

A wrinkle in time by Madeleine L'Engle
Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace leave Earth in search of Meg's father, Mr. Murry. Mr. Murry is a scientist who has been missing since the birth of Charles Wallace, Meg's baby brother. Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsist, however, assist the children in their journey by helping them to tesseract or wrinkle in time. They soon discover that their father has been detained by IT. IT tries to transform people into mindless robots. Will they be able to overpower IT? Will they be able to save their father?

Across the nightingale floor by Lian Hearn
In his black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the murderous warlord, lida Sadamu, surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard. Brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo has learned only the ways of peace. Why, then, does he possess the deadly skills that make him so valuable to the sinister Tribe? These supernatural powers will lead him to his violent destiny within the walls of Inuyama - and to an impossible longing for a girl who can never be his. His journey is one of revenge and treachery, honour and loyalty, beauty and magic, and the passion of first love.

Brother Grimm by Craig Russell
A girl's body lies, posed, on the pale sand of a Hamburg beach, a message concealed in her hand. "I have been underground, and now it is time for me to return home..."

Jan Fabel, of the Hamburg murder squad, struggles to interpret the twisted imagery of a dark and brutal mind. Four days later, a man and a woman are found deep in woodland, their throats slashed deep and wide, the names "Hansel" and "Gretel", in the same, tiny, obsessively neat writing, rolled tight and pressed into their hands. It becomes clear that each new crime is a grisly reference to folk stories collected almost two hundred years ago by the Brothers Grimm.

The hunt is on for a serial killer who is exploring the darkest, most fundamental fears hidden in ancient fairy tales. A predator who kills and then disappears into the shadows.

A monster we all learned to fear in childhood

In Camelot's shadow by Sarah Zettel
Fleeing from the knowledge that her father had promised her to an evil sorcerer, Risa of the Morelands refused to be a sacrifice. Armed with her bow and her confidence, she swore to evade the wicked Euberacon's claim. And when she stumbled upon Sir Gawain, returning to Camelot to warn of a plot against the kingdom, she thought she'd discovered the perfect place to hide. Surely the sorcerer Euberacon would not approach her at court?

Now ensnared with court and political intrigue, Risa is out of her element. And Euberacon has forced a strong transformation spell upon her. There might be one chance left to save kingdom and soul -- but it would take all the strength and power she had . . .

Mother Ocean, Daughter Sea by Diana Marcellas
When the seafaring Allemanii arrived in the land of Yarvannet, they destroyed the shari'a witches who posed a threat to their rule. When young healer Brierley Mefell, who believes she may be the last of the shari'a, comes to the aid of a noblewoman and saves her life, she unwittingly becomes a pawn in a dangerous political game that could lead to her death or to an unexpected and surprising love. Marcellas's first novel begins a fantasy epic that mixes political intrigue and forbidden magic with the personal story of a young woman's journey toward self-knowledge and maturity. A well-paced plot and strongly realized characters make this a suitable choice for most fantasy collections.

Mordred's curse by Ian McDowell
Raised by his witch-mother, Mordred of Orkney has a burning desire to serve his uncle, King Arthur, but after he discovers that he is the bastard son of the king, and Arthur rejects him, Mordred's worship of King Arthur becomes a deep, all-consuming hatred.

The amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation or a few simple illusions. But Nathaniel is a precocious talent and has something rather more dangerous in mind: revenge. Against his will, Bartimaeus is packed off to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Before long, both djinni and apprentice are caught up in a terrifying flood of magical intrigue, murder and rebellion. Set in a modern-day London controlled by magicians, this hilarious, electrifying thriller will enthral readers of all ages.

The beginning place by Ursula K. Le Guin
Fleeing from the monotony of his life, Hugh Rogers finds his way to "the beginning place"--a gateway to Tembreabrezi, an idyllic, unchanging world of eternal twilight. Irena Pannis was thirteen when she first found the beginning place. Now, seven years later, she has grown to know and love the gentle inhabitants of Tembreabrezi, or Mountaintown, and she sees Hugh as a trespasser. But then a monstrous shadow threatens to destroy Mountaintown, and Hugh and Irena join forces to seek it out. Along the way, they begin to fall in love. Are they on their way to a new beginning...or a fateful end?

The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the Galaxy is a very strange and startling place. This is volume one in the Trilogy of five.

The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell
A man comes to on the floor of a shabby apartment in the middle of Budapest. His head is glued to the floorboards with his own blood. There's a fortune in cash on the kitchen table. And he has no idea where, or who, he is. He can do extraordinary things—speak any number of languages fluently, go three days without food or sleep, and fight with extraordinary prowess. But without a name, without a past, he's isolated from the rest of the world; a stranger to everyone, including himself—until a chance encounter with a young scholar leads to his first friendship and his first hint that someone out there knows more about him than he does. Someone is sending him clues about his past. Photographs hidden in books and crates of wine. Cryptic clues pointing towards a murdered woman. And clear warnings against Stephomi, his only friend. But that's not all; Gabriel Antaeus is seeing strange, impossible things: a burning man is stalking his dreams and haunting his mirrors, his dreams are filled with violence from the past, and his pregnant young neighbor is surrounded by an extraordinary golden aura. Something dark and violent in Gabriel's past is trying to resurface. And as he pieces the clues together, everything points towards an astounding war between angels and demons—a battle not just for the future of the world but for the minds and souls of everyone in it.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren - he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver's sixth sense was never wrong. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them. And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver's vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all...Published in 1972, "Watership Down" is an epic journey, a stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival against the odds.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Meme of Reading Questions

I saw this on Everything To Do With Books blog, and thought it was fun to answer it.

1. Favorite childhood book?
I used to love all the fairy tales. Red Riding Hood was probably my favourite. Although I like The Three Little Pigs as well (the first book I learnt to read!).

2. What are you reading right now?
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
I don't request books at the library, maybe I should. I used to have a library card, but then I moved to another city and never bothered to get another one.

4. Bad book habit?
Does buying/mooching/borrowing more books than I can fit on my bookshelves count?

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
See answer to question 3.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. I read e-books either on my laptop or on my mum's old PDA.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I prefer to read one at a time, but I've been known to juggle between books

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I seem to be reading more English books (or ones that have been translated into English). I still feel a bit stupid doing a review in English of something that is not available to English readers.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
A new book: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
A re-read: The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I sometimes venture out of my comfort zone, but always come back. I'm not afraid of reading something different, but I usually don't expect much of it.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Fantasy, usually old and epic, with some political or mystical plot.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I used to be able to read on any type of vehicle, even at top speed on cobbled streets. Not any more. I still manage to read on the bus if the motion is fairly even, and I'm facing backwards. 

14. Favorite place to read?
On my bed, on my beanbag (on my beanbag on the bed), lying on the sun, on the bathtub. Pretty much anywhere I can be comfortable.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I lend books to my friends, and they can have the books as long as they want. But I want those books back! Usually I lend them to book lovers, so I know they will be safe.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
When I was a teenager I used to, but grew out of the habit quickly.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
No, but if someone does it, it doesn't bother me. Sometimes I want to do so, but have no pencil ready (I would never write in ink on a book, only pencil, so it's easily erasable and doesn't stand out much).

18. Not even with text books?
I used to draw on text books. Well, I used to draw on almost anything. There were some cases the text was lost on the drawings.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
It depends on the language it was written in. So, English books, I like them in English; Portuguese ones, in Portuguese. Everything else depends on the "closeness" of the original language to the translation. Romance Languages translate well into Portuguese, Germanic into English. And then it all depends on availability.

20. What makes you love a book?
Good plot, good characters, great wordbuilding.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Whether I liked it or not, and, if making a personal recommendation, if I think the person will like it.

22. Favorite genre?

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Crime fiction. My mother loves it, and I do like some mystery in my books, but I rarely go for crime and detective stories.

24. Favorite biography?
I don't think I ever read a biography.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Not really. I remember reading one those teen books about your first period (not sure if it qualifies as self-help), but that was it.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Pantagruel (Portuguese book). It's like the bible of recipes.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I'm going with The Book of Imaginary Beings, just because it took me to the roots of why I like Fantasy: the imagination of Humanity, the things we can come up with.

28. Favorite reading snack?
I rarely eat when reading, I get too lost in the book to manage other functions. Sometimes I brew some tea to drink at night while reading before going to bed, but I end up drinking it cold the day after.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Probably the Harry Potter series. I started it before it was such a big thing, and I liked it a lot (the first books, that is). Once it was the Big Thing it became, and the fifth book was about to come out, my father sent me what was being advertised as the Order of the Phoenix, but was only a very long (and not really good) fanfiction. But that lead me into fanfic, and once you're there, you are lost, because there is so much of it. I found some fanfic authors I liked, genres I liked, and when the next books came out, the original just couldn't hold up to the fanfic.
I like the first 4 books in the series well enough (and probably because I haven't read them since I went into fanfic), but the last three just weren't as good as some of the stories I had read with the same characters. Thing is, since the series has finished, I've left fanfic entirely.
So, the hype lead me to fanfic, which in turn ruined my experience of reading the original. But I still managed to get enough good reading out of it.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I try to find the one's I usually agree with, they are the ones with the same tastes as me. But sometimes we still disagree.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I have no problem at all giving a bad review, but I always feel like I should give it some redeeming feature, because it is a book, and as such should be treasured (at least by someone).

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
You mean besides English? ^_^ Probably Japanese. Think of all the Manga I could easily read, without needing it to be translated into a language I understand (and that in some cases means there is some censoring).

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Maybe Aparição by Vergílio Ferreira. Compulsory School Reading, everyone complained how awful it was. It's Existentialist Fiction, which is not easy, but I ended up liking it even so.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

35. Favorite Poet?
I don't read much poetry, but I'll go with Edgar Allan Poe.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
See answer to question 3

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?
See answer to question 3

38. Favorite fictional character?
mmm, probably Faolan from Juliet Marillier's Chronicles of Bridei. Can some one be more awesome than him?

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Melkor, from the Silmarillion by Tolkien. Sauron is puny compared to this guy.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
More than I can read, and ones that might be lighter reading. Since I took Lord of the Rings with me when visiting Prague and Budapest I try not to take such engrossing books with me. Because, seriously, there is not much I remember of those cities, my head was always stuck between the pages of the book (although from what I remember, I love Prague).

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Around 3 months. After I finished Requiem for a Lost Empire by Andreï Makine, I was so disturbed by it that I couldn't read anything else. Now I'm careful of Slavic authors, they usually have this effect on me, on different degrees (hence my answer to question 34).

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Psalm At Journey's End by Erik Fosnes Hansen. It was about the Titanic, and was so depressing that I eventually stopped reading it, and never bothered to start again.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Depends on how engrossing the story is. If I'm really into it, nothing distracts me (I once got severely sunburnt because of this). Lately if I'm listening to music while reading I sometimes get distracted by it. Don't know if I'm getting less able to focus on one thing alone, while drowning out everything else; or I am listening to more interesting music than before (or reading less interesting books).

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. The film has the same name, with Elijah Wood and Eugene Hutz, directed by Liev Schreiber.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Earthsea, based on the Books 1 and 2 of the Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin. They managed to kill everything that was unique to the story, and making it one of the worst movies I ever seen!

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I prefer not to know. But it was probably around €40.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Never! Now skimming while reading and it's really boring, that's another thing.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
I tend to finish every book I start, but if the plot is going nowhere and I feel like I'm slowly dying while reading, then I'll stop.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I would like to, yes. But it's impossible. Too many books, too little space, and I constantly need to pick some of them to go check a detail (or re-read favourite parts).

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
If I like them, I keep them. If I don't, I put them on Bookmooch. That way I can have points for more books, and more shelf space.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Besides Wild Animus, which was a freebie and going by the reviews, one of the worst books of all time, I seem to be avoiding The Children of Hurin by Tolkien. Don't really know why, but I have it since it was published 3 years ago, and I haven't started it yet.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Empress by Karen Miller. I couldn't really like any of the characters and there seemed to be only bloodshed and crazy religious fanaticism. Argghhh!

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
When my parents gave me Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier some years ago, I didn't think I would like it. Historical Celtic Fiction? I thought it something my mother would like, not me. How I was wrong. Since then I love everything Juliet writes.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Ohh, so many :( Probably most of the hyped books. But of the recent ones I've read, probably the Suicide Shop was the worst. I was really expecting it to be great, and was disappointed when it was simply ok.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Juliet Marillier's Well of Shades or Son of Shadows or Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys and (co-authored with Terry Pratchett) Good Omens.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

The Painted Man
The Painted Man is set on a world filled with demons that rise every night to hunt and terrorise humans. The only protections humans have against the demons are the sunlight and the defensive wards of old. The offensive wards, the ones that allowed humans to fight back, are long lost, and everyone hides behind warded walls after dark, hoping they will hold through the night.

But there are some that refuse to cower to the monsters of the night and will fight back, and among those are Arlen, Leesha and Rojer.

Fast paced, and full of action, like a lot of the fantasy written nowadays, it feels a bit like a role playing game, and anyone who has been around them will identify Brett's demons as elementals. The concept of painted wards is nice, and although not done very much in fantasy, is not new either. Being a novel filled with action means that the characters are not developed to their full extent, which is a bit sad, because there is potential for a lot more.

Even so, the characters are likeable enough, both the major ones as some of the supporting cast. Much of the focus is given to Arlen, the Painted Man, which makes sense (the book is named after him, after all), but I felt that Leesha and Rojer were only there because they were meant to meet him, and that most of their actions will always be a result of Arlen's actions or expectations. I would love to see these two characters better explored. There is also the potential love triangle forming, one that I'm not sure which side I rooting for (How can I choose between a tattooed man and a red-head one?) or even if I'm interested enough by it.

There were some things that irked me in this book. One was the characters' fixation with breasts. The allusion to “bosoms” and “paps” was made enough times to make me wonder if breasts have any magical property. Other was the rapid recovery of a raped girl, that only four days after the tragic incident, is ready to a roll in the mud with another man (and one that she hasn't known long).

The different nations on The Painted Man are, like in many fantasy works, inspired on our real world, as well as fantasy clichés, which usually leads to stereotyping. This is specially truth with the Krasians, the desert people. Open Diana Wynne Jones' Tough Guide to Fantasyland, on the Desert Nomads entry, and you'll have a very close description of the Krasians (only Krasians aren't nomads).

The Painted Man is hardly ground-breaking fantasy, but it has nice concepts and the action packed plot means it's an easy and fast read, and enjoyable enough. I will read the next one in the series, because I want to know what happens next, not because I loved this first book.


Monday, 9 August 2010

The Third God by Ricardo Pinto

The Third God by Ricardo Pinto

The Third God is the last book of the Stone Dance of the Chameleon, a much anticipated ending to the series. Although the wait for this third book has been long, it was worth it.

At the end of The Standing Dead, the Ochre tribe has been massacred by Osidian, who becomes the most cruel and hateful person in the world in Carnelian's eyes. But there is also the threat of the Masters coming to Earthsky, putting the lives of Carnelian's loved ones in danger, so that he is forced to protect and ally with Osidian in order to save them.

The Third God tells of the return of Osidian and Carnelian to Osrakun, the war they wage against the Chosen that stay in their way and Osidian's revenge against his brother and mother.

I thought, when I bought the book, that the title was one "Big Spoiler". It is, and it isn't. In some sense it warns to the existence of another God, but its significance is really only learnt at the end of the book. There's a revelation that the title hints at, but only at the what, and not at the how.

Beautifully crafted in terms of world building, this book requires some time to read. Not only because of its size, but because of the pace of the action, that is not as fast as most fantasy, but takes time to describe both the beauty of the places and people, and the horror of war and human nature. Since the first book that I loved the Caste System that rules the Three Lands, the Masks and Costumes, the different people that inhabit it, and the sheer complexity of the politics and laws that make the world that is found in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon (I was really happy to find that there is a lot of extra material regarding the world building on the author's website).

I admit to being lost on some parts, when I couldn't remember exactly what happened in the previous books (after all, it has been some time since I read them), and when sometimes I couldn't see much sense to the characters actions. But when all the pieces finally were set in place, and the "secret" comes out, it makes so much sense, and it's perfect. That probably was what I loved the most in The Third God – the discovery of the founding stones of that society, the whys of the rules set in place. Much like in Tolkien's Silmarillion, I wanted to delve into the History of that fantasy world, that because of its complexity and level of detail, feels frighteningly real.

My favourite character from the beginning of the series was Osidian, and it was with some sadness that I came to realize that the story was not about him. It was with some apprehension that I continued reading, dreading what usually happens to characters that are evil in any way: their death. Osidian is not "The Evil One", although he is not a very pleasant fellow either. One of the strong points of The Stone Dance of the Chameleon is that it's ripe with morally grey characters, there is no black and white. Osidian is completely brutal and monstrous, but at the same time very much like a lost child in search of approval and love.

I loved reading this series, but, like it usually happens with good things, I'm sad that it came to an end. Different from most fantasy I've read, it evokes a vivid imagery every time I think about it. Not a fast or light read, but an immensely enjoyable one. I will probably do a re-read of the entire series in a near future.


Thursday, 5 August 2010

A review of sorts: Happle Tea

I love reading webcomics, there are a bunch that I follow.

One of my recent discoveries is Happle Tea (Thanks Stumble! You magic button!), and I'm completely in love with it.

Happle Tea is "a webcomic about mythology and other things", and if that didn't make it right up my alley, there is also the super cute characters. See:

The comics are indeed about mythology. Lately the stories were devoted to the Finish Kalevala, and one of the stories of Ilmarinen. But there are comics about a lot of mythologies (Nanook, Eve and The Serpent, Odin, Dragons or Atlas ) as well as some literary mythologies like fairy tales, Lord of the Rings or time travel. And I love all this different characters, some that I know from their pantheon, some that are totally new to me, and how it all works out together. You would think that mixing all of these things would overcrowd a comic and make little sense, but Happle Tea manages the Gods and other beings quite well, presenting a good, funny story in each comic.

But more than the funny comics, what I love about Happle Tea are the author comments that come with it, usually about the mythology the comic is based on. I learn something new every time a comic is published (and this means every Tuesday and Friday). Usually the comments are long, and that in the Internet world in almost never a good thing. People usually just don't read stuff that is longer than two small paragraphs, and I'm guilty of this too. But I'm eager for the author's comment almost as much as I am for the comic.

So, cute characters, good jokes good literary and mythological jokes, and a chance to learn something about mythology twice a week! Of course it's recommended, go check it out.