It's no secret that the fantasy genre has a bit of an unhealthy fascination with Medieval Europe when it comes to world building (largely due to the unfortunate influence of Tolkien and Lewis). Thankfully, Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon bucks that trend in favor of a sword swinging story worthy of the 1001 Arabian Nights!
Obviously, the titular Crescent Moon Kingdoms is heavenly modeled off of the Middle East during the Golden Age of Islam, but there are also segments modeled off of Africa and India, with the ancient Kemeti Empire clearly a stand in for Egypt and other ancient near eastern empires. At the same time, however, the kingdoms are direct carbon copies of existing nations and cultures, and half the fun was guessing which elements the author incorporated into them.
Now, the characters. Dr. Abdula, the last great ghual hunter. He's over 60 years old but still witty, sarcastic and generally laid back about life. By contrast, his assistant Raseed is a pious, holier than thou Dervish (think kind of like a paladin) who treats life ever so seriously. Along the way we meet Zamia, who is basically a werelion (Angel Touched, is the in universe term), the dashing thief Falcon Prince, Miri the brothel owner (and Abdula's love interest), and so much more. All of them excellently written and fleshed out.
Like, I said before, the writing is amazing and Paul Gigante more than does it justice. I also appreciated that it managed to pack more plot and make its world feel more fleshed out in less than 300 pages, or rather, in around 10 hours. Let that be a lesson all you aspiring fantasy writers; it's skill of writing, not length, that make for good plot and world building.
Ahmed said he intended the series to be both an homage to and a response to the fantasy he grew up with in the 80s and it couldn't come at a better time. When so many writer reuse the same tried cliche's over and over again this book dares to be different. A breath of fresh air in a world gone stale.
Bottom Line: if your looking for fresh and innovative in your fantasy, look no further than this book!
I downloaded this because I needed to listen to Oedipus Rex for a poetry and drama class, and I'm glad I went with this version. When anyone does a version of any of the Greek Tragedies they have to translate from the original Ancient Greek, and thus your milage will vary depending on a number of factors. The director of this performance, as he explained in the interview following the play, which was a very nice touch, states that he chose too make the language modern, but of a more proper sort that still retain the tone of the original Greek.
It's kind of like dubbing anime; you stay as close to the original as possible while making changes when necessary, not to take away from the original, but to make it more relatable to the audience and easier to understand.
I'll be honest, this is by no means light reading, and I went into this seeking something that would challenge my mind. I appreciated Joyce's depiction of life in early 20th century Ireland and how he showed it completely rounded and even focused on less mentioned aspects such as the general anti-semetism. It is also clear that Joyce was quick the literary ventriloquist, and clearly never met a writing style he never liked. I also liked Simon Bloom's internal monologues, and Buck Mulogan was a cheeky fellow
Having said that, at times it felt more like the book was focused on being clever and doing literary tricks, and the plot and general experience of the novel suffered because of this. Actually, this was a recurring problem I had with this novel. I also feel I'd have better appreciated this novel is studied in a class rather than read on my own. Maybe I'd have a better appreciation rather than feeling it might be more than a little overhyped. I'd been on a literary kick, but after this book I dove back into the world of genre.
Overall, it was...an, um, experience. If nothing else
From the hinterlands of Siberia to the height of the Himalayas. From wise old wizards and evil space pirates to Santa's rebellious teenage years. If you're familiar with Mr. Joyce's children books you know that his work is a celebration of imagination and this work is no different. Need proof? It's a story about rebellious Santa, the last survivor of Atlantis and a brave young girl going on a quest for a lost object once belonging to the Man in the Moon which is now houses in a monastery in the Himalayas. Oh, and yetis. Mustn't forget the Yeti's.
This book will fill you with a sense of child-like wonder at the world and all of it's beauty. What more can I say? Buy this book, you'll be glad you did.
I'd been meaning to listen to this for quite some time and was glad to have caught this as a daily deal. Most of you are probably familiar with Roots through the mini series; never seen it but I've heard good things. I knows there have been questions as to how accurately this depicts Alex Haley's personal family history, but that hardly takes away from the historical accuracy of the times it depicts as well as it's power as a novel.
I've calculated that at least a quarter and a half of the book is devoted to Kunta Kinte; with much of that covering his life in The Gambia before his capture. I personally likes this insight into a traditional West African culture; though I always knew what was to come I became so engrossed that when Kunta was captured it came as a complete shock. Kunta's life after his capture, much like those of his descendants, is very much about doing what you can to stay true to who you are and make the best of grim circumstances. This is one of the longest books I've listened to so far, but I didn't mind in the slightest.
When it was time for the book to end everyone from Kizzy, Chicken George, and all the descendants leading to Alex Haley himself, had come to feel like old friends and it was almost sad to say goodbye. This is a novel of tragedy and triumph, or loss and victory, and so on because that the way life and history are in all their twists, turns, ups and downs.
This is a book written to give a voice to those whom history had so often ignored, but even more than that it shows how people are very much a like no matter what color they come in, and how black history is very much American history. You might see family faces in the characters.
This is without doubt a modern day classic; don't be scared by the length, if I can do it so can you. Download today, you'll be glad you did.
I downloaded this on a whim having considered it potentially interesting and having found it at a reasonable price as a daily deal. I am more than happy that I gave this novel a chance.
I can best describe this novel as most similar to the Great Gatsby, but I assure you this novel can more than stand on its own. There's a recurring theme of a longing after a past that might not have ever existed; like a boat against the current chasing the green light at the end of the dock. We see this through the numerous characters the protagonist, Changes, meets as well as with America as a whole. This connection is furthered as Changes grows increasingly disillusioned with America following the events of 9/11; on that note it was refreshing to see a different sort of perceptive on that and the War on Terror.
Another aspect I loved, a long with the narrators excellent job bringing the story to life, was the style of the narrative. Changes telling his story to an unspeaking (to the reader) companion at a cafe in Lahor; an interesting twist on convention story telling and delightfully lemony. For those wondering about the title, as you will see in the book, fundamentalism comes in more flavors than just religious; nor is it unique to the Muslim world. Keep an open mind and you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.
I understand this book was nominated for the Booker Award; how it lost is a mystery that shall be debated for years to come. I'm also pleased that several universities are using this book in their courses. So buy this book today, you'll be glad you did!
I like to think of myself as open-minded; even when I do particularly care for a book I give it the benefit of the doubt and reason that it's just my cup of tea. Rarely do I outright hate a book.
With that in mind, I hated, hated, hated, hated, absolutely hated Shadow and Bone! I hated everything about it! And for the life of me I cannot figure why the author is trumpeted as the next big thing, or how this book in innovative by any stretch of the imagination!
Let's start with the characters. First Alana Starkov (technically ought to have been Starkova, but I doubt the author so much as touched a Russian to English dictionary). Good Ford, what a whiny, self-centered little...I probably shouldn't curse. I'm sorry, but she can't think one sentence, on measly little sentence without whining about her imperfections, or gushing about her beloved Mal, or generally not giving a damn about anyone but her own selfish needs. Actually, no, she was perfectly willing to toss away her talents to be with her beloved Mal. Bottom Line: Alana Starkov = Mary Sue
Now, Mal and the Darkling. Mal is completely one demential with not personality beyond being Alana's perfect love interest. The Darkling, on the other hand, is a not to subtle Edward Cullen knockoff; all dark, brooding and boarder line abusive to Alana (and yet she loves him so).
The rest of the characters were waaaaay more interesting than the core three; why the hell wasn't this story about them?! So, as for world building, we have Ravka, a serial numbers filed off version of 18th century Russia; boarder end by totally isn't Scandanavia, and couldn't possibly be China (who eats their wizards and make instruments of their bones). Again, the lack of research is apparent in such instances as a character getting drunk...on children's beer, and the butchering of the Russian language.
The authors has explain all sorts of fascinating world building facts in interviews, yet seems to have forgotten to include them within the context of the novel itself. Bottom Line: World Building = thin as rice paper.
What really irks me isn't the cultural appropriation, the horrible messages and morals, or the cardboard characters. No, what really gets me is that the author seems to posses genuine talent and ability, but squanders it with romantic plot tumors, YA cliches, and pandering to love-sick fourteen year olds; all the the detriment of the novel.
If that were the end of it; I would still dislike, but not hate this novel. What pushes me over is how anyone could call this bold, innovative, well written, or possibly award worthy!
Bottom Line: don't waste your time. If you want so good fantasy in a none standard setting checkout Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon, instead. You'll be glad you did.
I bought this book to listen to for a World History class dealing with the 19th and 20th centuries. All too often World History tends to focus on the West at the expense of non-western cultures; Africa being most notable amount those. With this in mind I was more than happy for this breath of fresh air.
This book provides a great view of life in Nigeria both before and during the British colonization. Mr. Achebe shows Nigeria as it was, with both the good and bad aspects. You get a sense of what it was like not only for those whose lives we're impacted negatively by colonization, but also those given opportunity by the British (as you'll see in the book, while not exactly positive by any stretch of the imagination, the process of colonization wasn't quite so black and white).
The narrator did an excellent job; it was like I was sitting around a fire in Nigeria hearing stories told by one of the village elders of days long ago.
If you're looking to learn more about an all too often ignored part if World History, or more about African History in general, this is a great place to start. Also a great place for those interested in non-western authors, especially African Writers.
I'll start off by saying that this is by no means a necessarily bad novel, but nor the great novel so many claim it to be.
I went I to this expecting an epic quest for treasure, but quite frankly it was more like reading about a group of Boy Scouts on a camping trip! No seriously, Gandalf would be the scout master, and Bilbo would be the whinny scout who needs to grow a pair. Tolkien's writing tended to meander and good off on tangents, and many a time I wondered when the hell we were getting to the point.
Frankly, I think that "it was a fine and blustery day in the hundred acre Shire" might have been a more appropriate begging. I was half expecting Pooh and Tigger to jump out at any given point. I'm beginning to understand what Michael Moorecock has against Tolkien.
Tolkien clearly didn't think to highly of his readers, I could practically feel the talking down to; in fact many a sentence felt much like this: "Bilbo was in danger. Can you say danger? Very good!" And what of the narrator? Why, he was absolutely perfect for this novel, which actually counts against it as that only served to highly Tolkien's lackluster writing.
Well, clearly Mr. Tolkien was wise not to quit his day job, but what of the story itself. On the whole I'd say it was nothing special, but nothing average either. I know this is the grandfather of many modern fantasy novels, but even taking that into account I still can't see how this is possibly so highly regard and widely praised. It even boggled the mind to think so e of the knock off are worse than this, but to be fair, like I said, this is just an average/ mediocre novel.
I'm inclined to be done of Tolkien, but to be fair I might give The Fellowship of the Ring a try just to see if Tolkien improved. However, judging from the bits I've seen, it's nothing but a pile of Epic Pooh.
I first learn of Allen Quartermain and his adventures in Africa via the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, not the movie). This was every bit the adventure I'd been promised!
You really get a sense of just how exciting it was back in the Victorian era with all of the lost civilizations being discovered and adventures braving the thickest of jungles. The was never a dull moment and all with something new to discover, with that posh Victorian flare I've come to adore.
Obviously, Quartermain is the quintessential Great White Hunter, so their was a bit of big game hunting along the way; thankfully it was mostly brief and did serve to flavor the story. As for the African characters, they were present surprisingly tastefully written given time when the novel was written. Quartermain even comment that some Africans are more respectable than Europeans he has known, and never once uses derogator terms to describe them. The rest of Quartermain's party were also great characters as well. And it had a happy ending and it all worked (mostly) well for everyone.
All in all one of the best Victorian novels I've read in a while. Discover this gem for yourself!
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