Friday, November 23, 2012
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.
My Thoughts: This book is third in a larger series by Lois Lowry. The Giver is the first book, and then Gathering Blue is second. The final book, which I haven't read yet, is Son. While The Giver and Gathering Blue are both books that can stand completely on their own and almost don't seem connected at all, Messenger seems to be the book that is starting to bring it all together, so I think it will probably make the most sense and work the best if you read the other two first. It's more of a transitional story, and I don't think it has too much merit just on its own.
You get the idea that Village was founded by Jonas (from The Giver) and he is now the leader of the village. I'm almost positive this is true, because randomly mentioned in the book is "a mischievous eight-year-old named Gabe" who I took to be the same Gabe that Jonas saved back in The Giver. I got the feeling that Village was the Elsewhere that Jonas found.
Also in the book is the girl from Gathering Blue. She is brought to Village at the very end of the book. I thought the ending was actually very sad and a little bit vague in how it all came together, but as a whole, I did enjoy the book. It's a quick read, and now I can't wait to read Son to see how everything finally comes together.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for violent scenes)
Summary: Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.
My Thoughts: If you're into fantasy novels, this is definitely one to try out. I admit, I was a bit skeptical, and at first I was a little confused by what was going on. Sanderson has dreamed up a world so different from anything you've ever read before, it's a little difficult to stop trying to make it fit into a category that already makes sense. You have to come at this book with a clean slate in your head. Don't try to impose any ideas you already have about history, religion, magic, etc, because you'll just end up a little confused.
This book took me several weeks to read, because it is pretty long. The good thing about it is that it's not part of a series. Also, it's written in short segments, so it's easy to just spend a few minutes reading it before having to put it down again.
Sanderson does a great job of describing each of his characters completely. You don't ever feel like someone wasn't developed enough as a character, and you manage to feel something about each person as well. For instance, part of the reason I was confused at the start is because Hrathen, who I assumed was supposed to be the bad guy, was actually so likeable and easy to understand, that I didn't know if he was really supposed to be bad or not.
Even though it's a long book, at no point does it seem to get slow or too detailed. Something is always happening that furthers the storyline, even though all of the main action happens in the last 50 pages. The fact that Sanderson managed to stretch only a few months of story into 600 pages without making it seem overly drawn out is pretty impressive to me.
I particularly liked the love story going on between Sarene and Raoden (btw...I absolutely have NO CLUE how to pronounce most of the names in the book. A pronunciation guide in the back would have been helpful, but there wasn't one). Their story is sort of a background thing, and even though it's important it never got too cheesy or dumb for me. It felt very realistic.
This is really not the type of book I usually read, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. My life wasn't changed or anything, but I was definitely entertained and completely hooked on the story.