It’s the 13th century. Kublai Khan has conquered China, spreading the Mongolian empire from Ukraine to Korea. His epoch-making attempt to invade Japan is about to get underway—the one that will end with Kublai’s army at the bottom of the Yellow Sea, thanks to a storm that will go down in Japanese memory as “Kamikaze” (divine wind). At that crucial point in history—to the Eastern world what the sinking of the Spanish Armada was to the West—Gou Haoyou is a sailor’s son living in the coastal village of Dagu, downriver from the great city of Dadu (now Beijing). Haoyou’s father, Gou Pei, stirs the jealousy of another sailor named Di Chou, who wants Pei’s beautiful wife for his own. So, before Haoyou’s horrified eyes, Chou has Pei rigged to a makeshift kite and sent aloft to “test the wind” and see whether the spirits are in favor of their ship’s journey...Read More
5 lightning bolts tagged posts
In Book Two of the Century Quartet, four kids with Leap Day birthdays come together again to solve another puzzle, this time in New York City. Elettra from Rome, Mistral from Paris, Sheng from Shanghai, and Harvey from Manhattan face an evil nightclub owner, five dangerous women, a one-eyed crow flying surveillance for a shadowy group of Native Americans, and a trail of clues seemingly left behind by a man who lived over 100 years without growing old. Their friend Ermete, master of disguise, comes along to help and ends up in the hospital. And while Elettra still struggles to understand the strange power over the element of fire that emerged in her during their previous adventure, the sweetness of first love connects her to Harvey.
Harvey is at the center in this installment...Read More
I was so overwhelmed by the strangeness and originality of this book’s fantasy conceits that, in spite of several clues, I got halfway through it before I realized that it is a retelling of the Arthurian legend. Color me embarrassed! It mentions a round table. It features a sword in a stone, which only the rightful king can pull loose. It has characters in it named Ector, Uther, Kay, Mark, and Morgan—obvious references to the Arthur mythos—as well as less-obvious but still recognizable aliases, such as Ambrose (Merlin), Murther (Mordred), and Draco (Pendragon). The legend of King Arthur—at least, its earlier parts—provides the overall shape of this story, and thereby makes it deeply and timelessly compelling. Yet at the same time, that outline is filled in with an amazing piece of world-building, whose vivid colors and unique textures transform it almost out of recognition.
Welcome to Lyon...Read More
In Book 5 of the Codex Alera series, young Tavi of Calderon, recently outed as Gaius Octavian—the grandson of Alera’s ruling First Lord Gaius Sextus, and thereby Princeps of the realm—faces a crisis in which the antagonistic races that populate his world must either come together or perish separately. At the same time, the question of who will succeed Gaius Sextus reaches a crucial climax that will only be resolved in Book 6, First Lord’s Fury.
In the previous books, we have seen Tavi grow from a spirited apprentice shepherd, through being a resourceful student and a daring secret agent, up to a gifted military leader with a knack for turning enemies into allies...Read More
Face it, you’re going to be confused about the titles of the “Codex Alera” books. Book 3 was titled Cursor’s Fury, though after about the first quarter of it, the young furyless cursor Tavi had risen to the rank of Captain of the First Aleran Legion. To be sure, he was still an undercover agent (cursor) of the First Lord of Alera, reporting to his lord about the loyalties of the legion’s officers under the made-up name Rufus Scipio, as they stood off against the wolflike Canim invaders. But his mission as crown cursor went on hold from the moment the magic of the Canim ritualists wiped out his superior officers, forcing “Scipio” to take command and hold the city of Elinarch. Now, two years later, Captain’s Fury picks up the plot-line just in time for Tavi to be relieved from his command and move beyond his role as captain. And though Book 5 is titled Princeps’ Fury, it is in this book that Tavi is first recogniz...Read More
Fifteen year old Melon Fouraki hates her name. Teased at school by her peers, she blames her mother for inflicting her with the perfect device for social persecution. It doesn’t matter to Melon that her name is part of The Story, the family fairy tale that brought her mother Maria to London from Crete when she was Melon’s age and pregnant with her. But when Maria is killed in an accident, Melon must unravel fact from fiction and rediscover her roots, plagued by the superstitions and traditions of a family she barely knew. But how can you begin to do that when all you feel is numb?
This novel from Julie Mayhew explores anger, grief, coming of age and identity in an astute emotional tale. Darkly funny, with a barbed tongue and simmering with anger, Melon’s path to self-discovery is tangled and filled with internal and external conflict...Read More
Thanks to an audiobook expertly read by John Lee, I finally found the courage to bite into this woolly, dystopian, world-building type fantasy by the author of the “Thursday Next” novels. I admit, I had held paper copies of the book in my hands a few times, and considered buying or borrowing it, but my heart always failed me. I remembered what heavy going it was, breaking through into The Eyre Affair—an effort that included reading Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre for my first time—though since I did, the rewards have been rich indeed. And now that I’ve successfully penetrated another daringly original world out of Fforde’s imagining, I am glad to find out that this book is also the start of a series. Now that two more novels are projected in what is currently a “Shades of Grey” trilogy, this first book has been retroactively retitled The Road to High Saffron. Or so Wikipedia told me, when I went to check the spe...Read More
In book 3 of the second quartet of “Thursday Next” novels, we find Swindon U.K.’s greatest literary detective facing a vast array of mid-life challenges, such as controlling the residual pain in the leg she broke in her previous adventure, not being bitter when command of the newly re-organized Spec Ops literary division is handed to a younger agent, settling into a new career as director of the Wessex All You Can Eat at Fatso’s (Drink Not Included) Library Service, and having trouble remembering to visit the body-art parlor to ask why she got a tattoo reminding her that her daughter Jenny is a mind worm created by a super-villain able to tamper with people’s memories...Read More
Without screenwriter, director, and movie producer Chris Columbus, where would your childhood be? Perhaps it would be lost in a world without such films as The Goonies, Gremlins, Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bicentennial Man, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and—oh, yeah!—the first two Harry Potter movies! So when the folks at HarperCollins offered MuggleNet a sneak peak at Chris Columbus’s new book—going on sale April 23, 2013—what do you think we said? Yes, please!
In this book, apparently the first in a series, the writer and director of so much of our childhood joins forces with co-author Ned Vizzini, whose books include such angsty-teen drama-comedies as Be More Chill and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (now a motion picture), as well as episodes of MTV’s Teen Wolf...Read More
If you haven’t read the first five “Thursday Next” fantasy-comedy-mystery-thrillers, or at least my reviews of them, I’m not sure how to begin to describe Book 6 to you. There’s just so much going on in them. Whether it is worth your while to find out what you’re missing, you may judge from a personal anecdote: While listening to Emily Gray reading the audio-book edition of this book during a car trip, I once had to pull over until I could regain my composure, I was laughing so hard. Only once, to be sure; but laughs of one size or another crowded thickly into this brainy, zany, complex, amazing book.
Some fans of Thursday Next may be disappointed to find out that the “real” Thursday barely appears in this installment...Read More