Hugh Howey just announced that he will be at the Burnside Powell’s THIS SATURDAY, March 16th, at 4:00 pm. I know this is really late notice, but how can you pass it up? Powell’s will have both hardcover and paperback versions of Wool available. Hope to see you there!
Summary from Goodreads:
Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.
When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.
Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
First, a brief aside.
I’m a bigger fan of The Hobbit (the book) than a lot of my contemporaries. It was my introduction to fantasy when I was a wee one; my mom used to read it to me as a bed time story. Then she got sick of it, so my dad started to do it instead. Needless to say, it’s probably up there as one of the books I’ve read the most in my lifetime, if not THE most reread book for me.
After being rather unimpressed by the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies, I was only cautiously excited to see The Hobbit brought to the big screen. I ended up liking it more than a lot of my friends, who were expecting more LOTR and not riddles in the dark, or songs about doing the dishes (I clapped my hands and giggled when that song came on, by the way). I still didn’t think it was good, and it could have been so much better. It just kept on going, and the additional story Peter Jackson decided to write in didn’t actually add anything to my enjoyment. Even those changes in the story didn’t bug me nearly so much as the near constant use of CGI.
It was only a few years ago that Guillermo del Toro was the director assigned to The Hobbit. Yes, he is still credited as a producer, but he was forced to quit the director’s chair before production had even begun. Now, I love del Toro’s movies, as a general rule. They are tight, well edited, and he uses PUPPETS! His worlds don’t seem fake to me – even if they are a little crazy. I can’t even imagine how amazing The Hobbit might have been in his hands.
Somewhere, there is an alternate universe that has Guillermo del Toro’s The Hobbit, and I wish I could see that movie.
And now the required “My History with the Wheel of Time” explanation!
My first foray into the world of the Wheel of Time came when I was 17. I went to the library, browsed the fantasy section for a while, and came home with two books – The Eye of the World and The Sword of Shannara. I actually started with the Shannara novel, but thought it just okay. I’ve never bothered to pick up a sequel in all the years since. Then I read The Eye of the World, devoured it, went to the library and got every single other book that had been published at that point, which was up through book 9, Winter’s Heart. By the time I had powered through all of those, Crossroads of Twilight had been released, so I read that too. I read them feverishly and intensely, probably missing all sorts of hints that I was supposed to pick up on. In the years that followed, I read books 1-6 another 3 times, before putting them down and saying, “I will not read another Wheel of Time book until the series is completed.”
All of that is meant to say that while I am a huge fan, I have never partaken in any sort of theorizing, nitpicking, or memorization. I read them for the pure pleasure of being wrapped in a fantasy world – which, I dare say, is probably how most readers coming to the series now are going to look at it. I am positive, because other people have made more in-depth analyses than I ever could, that I missed a lot of meaty goodness. But you know? I don’t care. I love Wheel of Time. I will cry when my favorite characters do something heroic, I will clap my hands and whisper “yay!” when I am happy for them, I will roll my eyes when skirts are smoothed and noses are sniffed. That, for me, is what it means to be a fan of the Wheel of Time.
However, I am not the fan of the Brandon Sanderson novels that a lot of people are. I still powered through them, but they were…missing something for me. The events were there on the paper, but they weren’t in my heart. God that is incredibly cheesy, but that’s the best way I can describe it. Books 12, 13, and 14 just lacked soul to me.
I was willing to let a lot of that slide, because how amazing is it that we got to have a finished story? He spent a lot of time on it, and Wheel of Time fans all over appreciate that, myself among them.
A Memory of Light is a novelization of Tarmon Gai’don, or The Last Battle. Unfortunately, that is ALL it is. It is 908 pages of action, action, action. I’m sorry, but it is not what I wanted. Every single character finds “one last reserve of strength” probably 3 or 4 times. I was so, so tired of reading about exhausted characters reaching into themselves to pull out all of their anger at the Dark One so they could kill one more trolloc. It was, dare I say it, boring. Too much political intrigue, like in books 8, 9, and 10, was boring. The flip side, for me anyway, is also true. I was okay with the first couple hundred pages, because I figured eventually it would reach a climax, and then we’d have some conclusions, maybe some final threads wrapped up.
Around page 400, I posted a status update: “Ok so I know it’s the LAST BATTLE but can we have a break from battle battle battle tactics discussion battle battle?” Had I but known that I had another 600 pages of battle to wade through. The middle, oh how it dragged. Troop movements, things going wrong, quick aside to cameo a character we haven’t seen in a while gritting their teeth as they fight, a last stand, another last stand, complaining about lack of sleep and supplies. It just went on and on.
The problem, I think, is that this is supposed to be the climax of the series, so it’s like the ENTIRE book had to be a climax. Obviously, that’s not going to work. One of the main things I love about the Wheel of Time novels is that they slowly build up over the course of the whole book, and then the last 100 pages are some sort of crazy fever dream as I can’t turn pages fast enough to see what’s going to happen. 900 pages of that… well it simply doesn’t work. What ended up happening is that the end of the book was actually anti-climactic, and I was left feeling unfulfilled.
That’s not to say I didn’t bawl my eyes out at certain points in the book. Page 170 was the first time I cried, and I mean full out dripping tears here, not just choking up. A number of events happened in quick succession after that that had me continue the cascade. I was really into the novel there, and I was thinking, My God, he’s done it. As I said though, what followed was a book of battle scenes. People started dying and I didn’t even bat an eyelash. Then page 806, I had to get up and walk away because I couldn’t see, I was straight up gulping air through tears. Talk about bringing it full circle. I just had to go look up that page number, and just reading one sentence has me leaking again, damnit.
There were more parts than that that I liked, of course, but I don’t want to annoy you with page numbers in my attempt to leave you unspoiled. There were small things that I just loved, but over all, the book just lacked heart. Do I still love the Wheel of Time? Of course I do. It’s been an amazing part of my life, and I will unhesitatingly recommend it to fans of the genre (well okay, maybe with a little hesitation).
But somewhere…somewhere there is an alternate universe where Robert Jordan got to finish the series, and my eyes they well up, and my heart, it breaks.
Summary from Goodreads:
Mitsuko is being haunted by ghosts and bad luck. An angry spirit commands her to keep a forgotten promise and assigns her a series of impossible tasks. She turns to the mischievous shape-shifter Goranu for help. Together they journey through a landscape of Japanese myths and legends made real. This sequel to Little Sister is a mythical tale of adventure and star-crossed love set in twelfth-century Japan.
Part of the Non-European Fantasy by Women blog series.
I read Little Sister for my October book of the month (see my review of it here), and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was charming, witty, and heart-breaking, and reminded me why sometimes I can love young adult books as much if not more than books meant for adults. The Heavenward Path, published a mere two years after its predecessor, had, unfortunately, none of these traits.
Mitsuko is two years older now, and she goes through some typical teenage angst. Whereas in the first book, she was confronted with challenges and adventures and she said “Well, it has to be done, so I’m going to do it like a badass,” in this book it was more of a “Why meeeee?” wail. It was irritating after seeing how great she could be. She is always dragging her feet in the adventures she goes on here, and at the end I thought how little had happened compared to how much action was packed into Little Sister.
Perhaps the comparison is unfair of me, but with so much to remind me of the original – the setting, characters, and even the writing style – it is hard not to be reminded, and wistful.
I loved seeing Goranu again but alas, he also lost much of his charm. He insisted on chasing after Mitsuko for no real discernible reason. Even when she rightfully calls herself selfish, he continues to bend over backwards for her. Love is great and all, but this guy wants to KILL himself to be with her. Illogical, captain.
Most of the three stars come from enjoying being back in this medieval fantasy Japan. Kara Dalkey has created a great world here and I can see why she would want to return to it. A few characters from the previous book show up, although Mitsuko spends most of her time complaining about them rather than reminiscing or anything.
I also enjoyed the haikus interspersed throughout. They were simple, yet poignant bits of poetry. I even wrote a few down to keep around, maybe for use in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
I still highly recommend Little Sister – it was one of my favorite reads of the whole year, after all – but I wouldn’t bother with tracking down this much harder to find sequel.
The tour dates for A Memory of Light have been announced! See all the places you can catch Brandon Sanderson here. He will be in Portland at Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing on February 11, so you can guess where I will be that evening. And probably afternoon too, because I want to geek out with all the other people waiting in line.
YOU GUYS! I am so excited about this.
Summary from Goodreads:
The city of Canluum lies close to the scarred and desolate wastes of the Blight, a walled haven from the dangers away to the north, and a refuge from the ill works of those who serve the Dark One. Or so it is said.
The city that greets Al’Lan Mandragoran, exiled king of Malkier and the finest swordsman of his generation, is instead one that is rife with rumour and the whisperings of Shadowspawn. Proof, should he have required it, that the Dark One grows powerful once more and that his minions are at work throughout the lands.
And yet it is within Canluum’s walls that Lan will meet a woman who will shape his destiny. Moiraine is a young and powerful Aes Sedai who has journeyed to the city in search of a bondsman. She requires aid in a desperate quest to prove the truth of a vague and largely discredited prophecy—one that speaks of a means to turn back the shadow, and of a child who may be the dragon reborn.
An important question to answer before beginning the Wheel of Time series is when you want to read this prequel. It takes place before The Eye of the World, book 1, but was written after Crossroads of Twilight, book 10. It contains spoilers for up through book 6 or so. If it is the first book of the series you read, a lot of things will be ruined, and it would be confusing, as it assumes the reader is familiar with the world.
In other words, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FIRST. This review contains minor spoilers up through book 6, too, so, fair warning.
I decided to read the series in published order, so I picked this up, begrudgingly, after book 10. Why begrudgingly you ask? Because Crossroads of Twilight was so soul-crushing and boring, I didn’t want to pick up another filler book. And that is what this is – filler. There is nothing here that is necessary to the story. Indeed, it is a book full of events we have already had second-hand throughout the rest of the series, mostly being Moiraine focusing on her quest to discover the Dragon Reborn and bonding Lan as a warder.
What is new? Well, we get to see Moiraine again after an absence of… *counts on fingers*… 5 books and about 4,000 pages. I missed her. I wanted her back in my life. We get to experience her viewing of the prophecy of the actual moment Rand is born, and learn a little more of her friendship with Siuan Sanche. A few new Aes Sedai are mentioned but no one that will be important ever again. Moiraine bonding Lan was a lot better told as a campfire story way back in book 2 (so, so long ago now) than actually reading about it.
I’m pretty sure this is the first and only time characters spend any time in Kandor or Arafel, so if you want to know some more about the other borderlands, here’s your chance.
My favorite part of New Spring was that we got some chapters told from the point of view of Lan, and he waxes reminiscent about Malkier. I love the whole Malkier story, and love that we finally got to see some of its history and politics. There are two characters introduced in these chapters that will come into play briefly in later books (as in, they are mentioned. That’s about it), but they are not absolutely necessary to know about.
So…that leaves me at basically recommending to read the Wheel of Time wikipedia article of Malkier and call it good. If you’re a completionist like myself, then perhaps you can get some joy out of finishing a Wheel of Time book really quickly, because it only has 334 pages. Sitting down for an hour and being almost 20% done was its own reward. Otherwise, onward and upward to greener pastures, and book 11!
Summary from Goodreads:
As a girl in the Japanese imperial court of the 1200s, Mitsuko is shielded from reality. But when her brother-in-law is murdered, and her family taken away by a warlord, she summons the courage to venture into the nether-world. The spirit of Mitsuko’s beloved sister, still devastated by the loss of her husband, wanders between Life and Death. In order to bring her sister back, Mitsuko, with the help of Goranu, a shape-shifter, must battle the merciless spirits — to the death.
Part of the Non-European Fantasy by Women blog series.
This is exactly the sort of book I am so, so happy this blog series is introducing me to. I am breathless at how much I am loving the books I’ve chosen; Little Sister, by Kara Dalkey, is no exception.
It takes place in medieval Japan, a thoroughly foreign concept to me. I know very little about Japanese mythology and history, although this book was enough to make me keenly interested. We are introduced to Mitsuko, which translates literally to “Little Sister,” and for much of the story the name fits her perfectly. She hides behind her sleeves like any good young woman being brought up in court, where modesty prevails above all.
Quickly, the fortunes of her family take a turn for the worse. The spirit of her beloved older sister, who Mitsuko wants to emulate in all things, wanders off after a tragedy, and only a shell of a human remains. Mitsuko takes it upon herself to fix this dreadful problem, leading her on an adventure where she makes unlikely friends through her tenacity and desire to set the world right.
The first thing I loved about this book was that it introduced me to a Japanese mythological creature called a tengu. There are a few different interpretations of what they are, but in this case, the tengu are basically raven men/demons. You can see a representation of one on Mitsuko’s sleeve on the cover art. Goranu is one of these creatures, and decides to aid Mitsuko on her quest. He is hilarious and irreverent, and I would often burst into giggles when he pulled out a one-liner.
There is a definite journey of the hero here, and Mitsuko performs admirably. She pulls out extraordinary acts of bravery throughout the story, facing down a lot of adventures that would have left me, quite frankly, running for cover. At one point in the story she does break down – and, no spoilers here – it meant so much when it happened. I thought, “My god, look how far she’s come, and I didn’t even realize it was happening.” The story was masterfully pulled together so the character development happened completely naturally. It’s amazing to me how much punch young adult novels are able to put into so few pages.
I cannot tell you how much the ending affected me. Seriously, this is a young adult book! It’s only 200 pages long! How attached could I possibly become to these characters? But I was, I was. I started blubbering at the last page, and typed within moments of finishing: “Oh my god. I just finished this about a minute ago. I burst into tears and walked blindly over to my computer to say Yes, yes, take all of the stars.”
This was a great adventure novel that transcends the genre and ages. It is out of print and so might be a little hard to get a hold of, but if you do ever get a copy, I hope you love it as much as I did.
Debut author Chris Howard will be releasing his first novel, Rootless, on November 1st. It’s a post-apocalyptic roller coaster ride, where all the trees have died and our intrepid hero, Banyan, makes a living off building trees out of old tires and scrap metal. All sorts of crazy ideas are contained in these pages! Check out my review of it here. Details to enter in the ARC giveaway appear below.
17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using scrap metal and salvaged junk, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan’s never seen a real tree—they were destroyed more than a century ago—his father used to tell him stories about the Old World. But that was before his father was taken . . .
Everything changes when Banyan meets a woman with a strange tattoo—a clue to the whereabouts of the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can’t escape the locusts—the locusts that now feed on human flesh.
But Banyan isn’t the only one looking for the trees, and he’s running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he’s forced to make an uneasy alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.
In this dazzling debut, Howard presents a disturbing world with uncanny similarities to our own. Like the forests Banyan seeks to rebuild, this visionary novel is both beautiful and haunting—full of images that will take permanent root in your mind . . . and forever change the way you think about nature.
Kaila: Thank you for joining us today Chris!
Chris: Cheers for having me
What has the journey been like to publish your first novel?
It’s been a wild ride. Rootless is not my first book, but it’s my first to be published, and I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience. My agent is awesome, and the perfect fit for me. And my editor is wonderful, too. I couldn’t be happier with Scholastic – the folks there are brilliant, and really passionate about what they do. Getting published is also sometimes a strange experience, too… you see something really personal get turned into a product. There are boxes full of your book, and it’s “eligible for free shipping” and things, and that takes some getting used to But that’s how you get the story out there, and I really wanted to get this story into the hands of readers, so it’s a dream come true.
It’s still early on, but what has the reception been like so far? Anything like you were hoping/expecting?
It’s been really rewarding to get feedback from people who’ve enjoyed the book so much, and who really “get” it. And I think it’s OK to pay attention to how the book’s received – but not too much attention! So much of writing is about balance, and I think if you want others to connect with your work, you have to care about what people think – but if you care too much, that’d be distracting. So it’s a balancing act, and at the end of the day, you do the best you can to be true to your vision, and then you see where the tides are at.
One of the first things that drew me to Rootless was the cover. What can you tell us about it?
Yeah – I love the cover! And I think it’s a great cover for this particular story: wild and psychedelic, scary and beautiful. It’s the work of Phil Falco, a talented designer at Scholastic. My editor, Mallory Kass, also deserves some credit. I got to be involved in the process a little, and I’m grateful for that. It was interesting, because most of the time, as the author, you’re synthesizing all this feedback from others, but with the cover, I got to be the one giving feedback. And obviously you’re marrying a visual piece of art to a written piece of art, so it’s a big deal. Especially when a theme of the book is the power of art, and the main character is an artist himself! I’m so happy with how it turned out. And the hardcover is so shiny – it changes with the light, in a very fitting way.
Why should readers be picking up Rootless and checking it out?
I hope it’ll make readers feel and think, and offer them plenty of excitement. It’s a far-out and action-packed adventure, and I tried to write something unlike anything I’d read before, full of the unexpected. So I hope that comes across. I wanted it to be as visceral and unpredictable as life.
Was there a specific instance of inspiration for creating your post-apocalyptic world?
Yeah! I was in the mountains here in Colorado, surrounded by trees killed by Mountain Pine Beetles, insects that have wrecked havoc on a lot of the forests in our state. I stared up at all these dead trees and thought “What if… following an apocalyptic event, a plague of locusts destroyed everything that grows?” Right away, I imagined genetically engineered corn being the one thing to survive, and I pictured a young man building trees out of scrap metal on the dusty plains…
What does having roots mean to you?
Wow! Big question! I guess I was rootless myself, for a pretty long time. When I was a teenager I wanted more than anything to travel the world and leave behind me the small English town I grew up in. I read Kerouac and all the Beat writers and I fell in love with the idea of being on the road, losing myself and maybe finding myself. For a long time, no matter where I was or who I was with, that’s how I felt: adrift. And it disturbed me to feel reigned in, in anyway. But there’s a sadness in the writing of the Beats, you know? On the Road, which I still consider a classic and a very beautiful and inspirational book, is also a sad book, in a lot of ways. You have these hedonistic drifters, and you can’t get content if you keep on drifting. For me, it’s taken a long time to feel like I have real roots, to feel connected and part of a community. Maybe it’s just growing up. And that’s a theme in Rootless. Banyan’s as rootless a nomad as you can find. He has no parents, no attachments. He’s an artist and he just has to survive. But it’s not enough for him. There’s a lot going on in the book, but all of it’s in there for a reason. I wanted it to be a wild, sci-fi, fairy-tale journey, and there are hints of so many things I’ve loved, as far as influences: Sergio Leone, Star Wars, Dylan, McCarthy, 2000 AD, Road Warrior, Lee Perry… But I’ve realized the Beats are big in there, too. Not least in the way they tried to capture the vastness and musicality of the landscapes they traveled upon.
After reading Rootless, I’ve taken on a new appreciation of the trees around us, and how beautiful they are. This could be the must-read novel for next year’s Earth Day. Read Rootless: plant a tree! What is your relationship with trees? Do you appreciate them more since writing this book?
I do love trees. And if trees get planted as a result of people reading this book, I’ll be very, very happy. Hopefully it would counter all the ones used to print the book, right?! For me though, in Rootless, trees are a symbol for all nature. For the environment. For a natural order, and the cycle of life. The more you dig into the mythology of trees, the more fascinating it gets. So trees seemed like the perfect thing to use as the “lost thing” in this novel. I studied trees in college – sustainability, forest ecology, forestry. I put my hands on a tree and it makes me feel grounded. And I think I have more of a relationship with trees, now, having written the book. I feel like we have a bit more of a give and take.
What is the message you most want readers to take away with them after finishing Rootless?
I like to leave as much as possible open to interpretation. But some of the feelings I wanted to pass along… Don’t let the machine close you inside it. Take care of the world and the people in it. And live for the wild things… Burn bright the dark!
You’ve said that this is a planned trilogy. Anything you can tell us about the next books?
Yeah, it is a trilogy – I’ve always known the ending, and I’m working on Book 3 right now! I would say – some questions get answered, new questions come up. You’ll only ever know what Banyan knows about this world he’s in. And the ride gets wilder, still
Do you have a writing ritual?
I just start. Once I start, I can keep on and on.
If you could pick one song to represent Rootless, what would it be?
This changes, but today, I’ll say To Zion by Trevor Hall. It’s a beautiful song, and I listened to it a lot during the first draft and during revisions. It was also on an album that Geffen never released, I guess for business reasons. One of the ideas behind Rootless is that sometimes making decisions based on “good business” can really crush the human spirit.
What are you reading now and why should we read it?
I’ve actually been re-reading a couple of old favorites: the AKIRA books, and Moby Dick. There are certain books you love reading once, and there are those that you just have to read again and again
If you drink, do you have a favorite beer?
I’m going Colorado brews! I’ve kind of gone off the darker stuff, so probably Upslope’s Craft Lager would be my current fave. I also like a good Boddingtons, now and then – a nod to my English roots!
Quirky question time! You can choose one animal, either mythological or extinct, to exist in our world. None of them automatically become your friend, but they do exist. Dragons, unicorns, dinosaurs, whatever!
Hmmmm…. Tauntauns would be pretty rad, being a big Star wars fan! But I think I’m going with wooly mammoths. And I think we’d be friends, too!
Thank you for joining us, Chris!
Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ROOTLESS and your address. One lucky winner will get the ARC of Rootless. Competition open until November 1st. US entries only. One entry per person or it will be disqualified. Winner will be chosen by randomizing the entries and using a random number generator. Good luck!
Summary from Goodreads:
Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.
For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.
Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.
What an interesting book! And quite different from what I usually choose. I know the blog title says “fantasy and sci-fi,” but fantasy will always be my first love. I’m trying to become more familiar with sci-fi themes, though.
For example, I had never heard of a von Neumann machine. It’s an important point to know about before going into this book as it’s never really stated. Von Neumann machines are a sci-fi idea that originated in lectures from the late 1940s, given by John von Neumann, where he postulates about a robot that self-replicates with materials taken from its environment. Cylons are considered a form of von Neumann machines, for example. A lot of the time, von Neumanns are referred to as enemies, sent off into space because humans thought it would be cool to send out self-replicating space probes, but they come back smarter, bigger, and angrier, within a few years.
The vN (as I shall refer to them from here on out) in this book are completely humanoid robots. They eat all sorts of materials just to keep themselves running, like plastics and metals. At a certain point, if they eat enough, they will “iterate,” that is, replicate, a baby form of themselves, which then goes out in the world to do the same thing. It seemed like this had been going on long enough that there should have been some sort of global crisis at the lack of materials, but that’s not really what the book is about. Although there are a lot of unemployed humans because vN come in and do the same job for cheaper, the main focus of the novel is about Amy evolving into a different kind of vN.
It was interesting to read the decisions the author made when it came to her evolving. For example, Amy is considered a “Portia” model, as Portia was the first vN of her line. There are now hundreds of Portias running around, as they iterate and spread around. All sorts of crazy ideas are thrown at us – if Amy eats a piece of another model, she gains some of their special quirks. This was an especially questionable idea when she realized that eating her granny – the original Portia – made her a part of Amy’s mainframe. Oops.
I’m a huge fan of the Three Laws of Robotics and all the crap that can go wrong with them, and they are employed with gusto here. A question that was raised for me is that the robots in this case are as intelligent as any human – so the three laws severely limit them. It felt inhumane. It felt like the robots needed more human rights, really, and that’s a big deal to make your reader feel that way. The vN will always want to help a human, for example. Even if that human is a pedophile. I wish this concept had been explored a little more, it was really intriguing to see how Amy reacted to these ideas.
Amy is a great character. She’s an adult, with all the privileges and responsibility that go along with that, but she was a kindergartner literally last week, with all the wide-eyed innocence and inherent trust that goes along with that. It was interesting to see her thrust into the world, but we get the chance to learn it along with her, since she started so young. Nice use of a plot device there, it worked quite well.
Javier was probably my favorite character, as he showed us all the ways vN aren’t human. His morals are askew compared to Amy’s, but it sounds like he’s more the norm than she is. It was nice to be able to contrast two different vN models, and I would have liked getting to know some of the other models as well. Maybe the next book!
The world-building was also well done. It had a lot of elements of our world, just slightly different, so it was easy to identify with and imagine. It takes place in the year…2060 or so I think, and besides having a million vN running around, the world hasn’t changed that much.
So why only three stars?
I did enjoy it, obviously. I liked the characters and the setting. It was shaping up to be a solid 4-star book – not my absolute favorite of the year, but a book that I would recommend without hesitation. Unfortunately, the ending completely lost me. Amy stops being the character we’ve come to empathize with over the course of the novel. There’s a random digression into something that was only hinted at once or twice throughout the whole book, so I just didn’t care all that much. The ending was a big disappointment, and it colored my enjoyment.
Overall, a book that explores a lot of interesting robot concepts while keeping it completely human. I will be reading the sequel when it is released.
A note on the physical copy – the typeset was crazy huge for some reason, and every time I opened it up to read, it was jarring. It looks like a middle grade novel, all the letters are that large. And this is sooo not meant for young adults. It seems an odd choice for a sci-fi novel.
Summary from Goodreads:
In the tenth book of The Wheel of Time from the New York Times #1 bestselling author Robert Jordan, the world and the characters stand at a crossroads, and the world approaches twilight, when the power of the Shadow grows stronger.
Fleeing from Ebou Dar with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons, whom he is fated to marry, Mat Cauthon learns that he can neither keep her nor let her go, not in safety for either of them, for both the Shadow and the might of the Seanchan Empire are in deadly pursuit.
Perrin Aybara seeks to free his wife, Faile, a captive of the Shaido, but his only hope may be an alliance with the enemy. Can he remain true to his friend Rand and to himself? For his love of Faile, Perrin is willing to sell his soul.
At Tar Valon, Egwene al’Vere, the young Amyrlin of the rebel Aes Sedai, lays siege to the heart of Aes Sedai power, but she must win quickly, with as little bloodshed as possible, for unless the Aes Sedai are reunited, only the male Asha’man will remain to defend the world against the Dark One, and nothing can hold the Asha’man themselves back from total power except the Aes Sedai and a unified White Tower.
In Andor, Elayne Trakland fights for the Lion Throne that is hers by right, but enemies and Darkfriends surround her, plotting her destruction. If she fails, Andor may fall to the Shadow, and the Dragon Reborn with it.
Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn himself, has cleansed the Dark One’s taint from the male half of the True Source, and everything has changed. Yet nothing has, for only men who can channel believe that saidin is clean again, and a man who can channel is still hated and feared-even one prophesied to save the world. Now, Rand must gamble again, with himself at stake, and he cannot be sure which of his allies are really enemies.
Last week I started planning for a Wheel of Time themed Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I got a few friends, most of whom have read at least a few Wheel of Time books, all fired up about the idea. The possibilities of story lines came at me faster than I could write down bullet points; there would be so many awesome things I could do with this world. And having a Dungeon Master who is passionate about the material he or she is working with is the first step to having a successful DnD campaign. If the DM believes it will work, it mostly likely will.
And yet even I couldn’t stand this book. It was that bad.
I never thought I would advise to read chapter summaries instead of reading a book, but I’m doing it. It is more important, to me, that someone continues to read the series than allow any sort of love that might have been slowly growing over the first 9 books to wallow and die in book 10. Unless you blindly love this series even more than I, that is what is going to happen. It is why so many Robert Jordan fans departed the ranks after Crossroads of Twilight. Don’t let this happen to you! Read chapter summaries and power through to book 11 (I also recommend skipping New Spring). Hell, you could probably get away with reading the last 10 pages and calling it good.
On the bright side, it’s only up from here.
Here are some photos of my ongoing work in progress on the Wheel of Time symbol. I originally had chosen a much brighter yellow (DMC #973) but the white outline of the wheel was completely lost. I got some advice from the lovely people over at spritestitch.com and they suggested this new color, DMC #3852. What do you think?
I’m still on track for a January completion, right on time for book 14, A Memory of Light, to be released.