Sunday, 13 August 2017

Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

UK book cover of The Power by Naomi Alderman
I don't even know where to start with this book. It doesn't surprise me that it won the Baileys' Women's Prize for Fiction, and I'm also not surprised that I've seen a few reviews by men that hated it. The Power is, at heart, a very female book with a very clear Message, but that in no way detracts from what is also a very compelling story.

Plot summary: All over the world women are discovering they have the power. With a flick of the fingers they can inflict terrible pain - even death. Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they've lost control. The day of the girls has arrived - but where will it end?

So we've got a very basic premise - women can suddenly create sparks from their fingertips, via a skein that has grown alongside their collarbones. A sort-of explanation is provided for why this happened, but that's not really the point of the story. It's more about the societal, militarial, religious and political repercussions of men no longer being the physically dominant race.

What I particularly appreciated about this book is that it follows a different format than it would if the same concept were played out in a sci-fi novel. There's no slow discovery, long-winded explanations or sitting around talking about how weird it all is. We start at the discovery, but then jump forward two years, then four, five, nine and finally ten years, checking in to see how the world has changed in that time. It works so beautifully. The small gaps in time allow the reader to follow developments more objectively and watch as huge consequences unravel.

We follow several different characters throughout the novel:

  • Allie, a runaway teen who becomes Mother Eve, the founder of a new maternally-centered religion.
  • Roxy, the daughter of a criminal overlord.
  • Margot, a female politician aspiring to reach new highs in her career.
  • Tunde, a male journalist who is travelling the world and documenting the chaos.
Two further characters are added roughly two thirds of the way through, but that's slightly jarring and I'm not convinced of the need for them. However, on the whole, the changing point of view allows us to watch the consequences in multiple spheres at multiple points across the globe. Whilst I found Margot's perspective the most interesting, Tunde's experiences were incredibly moving at times, as he observed women who had been oppressed for decades finally free themselves and their sisters from their shackles.

"They do not let us drive a car here," she says, "but watch what we can do."
She puts her palm flat on the bonnet. There is a click and it flicks open.
...
There are young women advancing across the centre of the screen, each of them backed by the fire, each of them walking with the lightning. They are going from car to car, setting the motors revving and the engine blocks burning into a molten heat. Some of them can do it without touching the cars; they send their lines of power outfrom their bodies and they are all laughing.
Tunde pans up to look at the people watching from the windows, to see what they are doing. There are men trying to drag their women from the glass. And there are women shrugging off their hands. Not bothering to say a word. Watching and waiting. Palms pressed against the glass. He knows then that this thing is going to take the world and everything will be different and he is so glad that he shouts for joy, whooping with the others among the flames.
I almost cried at these parts. They really affected me and I read in a sort of stupor. The other parts that really made me sick were the reaction of the men to the new state of affairs. It's actually quite well balanced, in that the male gender isn't described to be generally stupid or or evil or even whiny, but the outward reaction of a few is fascinating and sickening. Much like the real world.

The CDC is hiding things from us, Tom says, that's what they're protesting. Have you seen some of that stuff online? Things are being kept from us, resources are being channelled in the wrong direction, there's no funding for self-defence classes or armour for men, and all this money going to those NorthStar girls' training camps, for God's sake - what the hell is that about? And fuck you Kristen, we both know you've got this fucking thing, too, and it's changed you, it's made you hard; you're not even a real woman any more. Four years ago, Kristen, you knew what you were and what you had to offer this network, and what the fuck are you now?
It's not a very subtle book and at times it is very sledge-hammery with the Point it's trying to make. That said, it is indeed a very good Point, and it's not like anybody who picked up a book where one gender develops power abilities really expected a subtle agenda. 

The thing that really brought it home for me, was the fact that The Power is theoretically written many, many years into the future, where nobody can even imagine the world being any different. The concept of men wielding any sort of power is amusing to them, cute, even. Again, not subtle, but it works so, so well, as a lot of the language used echoed familiarily in my head as that usually used about women.

Surely it just makes more sense that it was women who provoked the war. I feel instinctively - and I hope you do too - that a world run by men would be more kind, more gentle, more loving and naturally nuturing. 
Please read this book. It's important. It's enjoyable and accessible, yes, but it makes a very good point about the fragility of the gender identity perpetuated by society and the sledgehammer used to emphasise the point does not detract from the importance.

Read Ellie's review of The Power at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. 

The Reading Quest 2017 - Sign-Up


 Current score: 
XP: 10 
HP: 12

This might be my favourite thing that I've seen all year.

It's a new reading challenge created by Read at Midnight, and it runs from 13 August 2017 to 10 September 2017.

The object is to choose a character, either a Knight, Bard, Mage or Rogue and then move around the board, collecting XP and HP as you read books from your TBR. The full rules are here.

My instinct is always to choose a mage in whatever game I'm playing, so this time I'm going to branch out and pick Bard, at least at first. 

My TBR pile is likely to change as we progress, but for now I've put together this provisional pile:


A book that has a movie/TV adaptation 
Okay, so Meg doesn't technically have an adaptation yet, but it is due for release next year with Jason Statham, and the challenge doesn't say it has to have an already released adaptation (#technicalities). It looks like a fun, pulpy horror novel about prehistoric sharks. Yay!
 
A fairy tale retelling
The only fairytale retellings I've read that I've really enjoyed is the Lunar Chronicles series, and Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series. Imagine my delight when I was scanning my TBR shelves for inspiration and realised that I actually have one of the latter still to read! It's Blood Red and I'm super excited.
 
A book cover with striking typography 
This is one of my most newly purchased books (with birthday Amazon vouchers only this week), so I'm disappointed I have to wait three books into the challenge before I can read it, especially as I've heard it's brilliant. It has especially striking typography - it's gold and shiny, and just beautiful.
 
A book translated from another language 
Shame on me, but I actually struggled to find something from my TBR to meet this requirement. I eventually found Like Water for Chocolate, which I've been meaning to read for ages.
 
A banned book
I've actually already read a decent portion of the more well-known banned books - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty Four, Lady Chatterley's Lover (twice), To Kill A Mockingbird, etc. Instead, I'm going to read Lolita which will also count for the purple squared 'respawn' challenge, as I tried to read it previously but DNF'd it.

I'll be keeping track of my progress at the top of this page and I'll probably check in at the halfway point too. I'll also be tweeting at @bookinginheels.

Good luck everybody! 

Monday, 31 July 2017

July 2018 Wrap-Up

I'm very surprised I managed to get through all of these books in July, especially considering the length of some of them! 

Everything is chaos here at the moment - I start a new job in a new city on 14 August and I'm trying to prepare for that, as well as cleaning out and packing my possessions in order to move. It's not going well. Many angry tears have been shed and many unintelligible noises have been made.

My new job has a library literally right next door though, so I can't complain :)

Why yes, there is definitely a fantasy theme to my July reading. I read The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series, because Charlotte told me how amazing it was and then I had to get the next book immediately.

At the same time, she was reading my favourite fantasy series, The Belgariad by David Eddings, and then I had a sudden urge to reread those as well... so I ended up alternating between series. I've currently finished neither series (understandably considering The Wheel of Time books are long and there are fourteen of them) but I'm persevering! 

I finally finished Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation, which I was reading as part of Alice's read-a-long. I enjoyed learning more about him (and his multiple STDs), but I didn't also need to learn more about everybody he passed in the street. 

Fiction

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time #2) by Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time #3) by Robert Jordan

I love this series and I'm simultaneously annoyed and thrilled that I haven't read it before. The first book is mostly scene setting, but the second is amazing. So much plot development and twists and... argh. There are some really great plotlines.

I didn't review the third book because a) the reviews are probably going to start getting repetitive, but also b) I didn't like it quite as much as the others. It was in the middle of frantic packing and throwing a strop-fit, so I possibly wasn't the most impartial! 

Graphic novels

Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Rereads

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Pawn of Prophecy (Belgariad #1) by David Eddings
Queen of Sorcery (Belgariad #2) by David Eddings

David Eddings was one of the first adult authors I ever read. As a teenager, I devoured this series and his other books on multiple occasions, and so I was really concerned that they would stand up twelve years down the line. They do, they really do. The dialogue is still very dry and witty and, whilst I've now seen the same plot devices used in other books, it doesn't matter as it's still done well. I'm looking forward to reading the others!

I'd say that I enjoyed Ready Player One slightly less than I did on my original reading, but only slightly. I think I was so blown away by all the references to my favourite things that I wasn't paying attention to the actual plot! There are a few holes and there is some shoe-horning in relation to a certain character, but it didn't stop me from loving it overall.

Non-fiction

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation by Andrew Lycett 

Best Book of July 2017:
The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time #2) by Robert Jordan 

Despite the fact that I'm moving and I'm meant to be depleting my possessions, I have somehow still managed to accumulate eleven more books. I know. It's space I don't have... but hey, they were books I didn't have! :)

I bought The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn whilst reading the previous book and each time deciding I would absolutely need the next installment. On one such occasion, Charlotte accompanied me to Waterstones and, after rearranging the shelf to her liking, encouraged me to buy Across the Nightingale Floor too. Which I did, because I have no will power.

All the rest are from charity shops, aside from The Power (which I bought at 2am using next day delivery because I was that desperate to read it - which, naturally, I still haven't done) and The Haunted Hotel, which is a Wilkie Collins novel that I heard about from his biography.

I'm particularly excited about Saplings, an adult novel by Noel Streatfield, the author of Ballet Shoes. I can't even remember what it's about but I know I want to read it!

August is my birthday month so it's highly unlikely that there will be no books coming in... but hopefully I'll have finished moving soon so I can justify books again. Not that my lack of justification matters, clearly!


What was your favourite read from July? Which book are you most looking forward to reading in August?  

Saturday, 22 July 2017

24in48 Readathon: Day One

The readathon started at 00:01am ET, but over here in the UK that means 5:01am. Needless to say I did not set my alarm for this ungodly hour. It's now 8:28am and I'm blearily awake and ready to start reading. Admittedly I'm still in bed.

My target was originally going to be 12 hours over the whole weekend, because I need to sort, pack and clean in order to move house as well as read! I now also have plans on the Sunday, so we're probably looking around the 6-8 hour mark. I'm going to leave my official target as it is, but I'm not going to worry about it too much and just aim to read more than I would normally, which is about two hours a day.

8:28am (Hour Four)

Time spent reading: 0 minutes
Books read from: 0 books
Pages read: 0 pages
Time spent blogging: 20 minutes 

Introduction Survey

1. Where in the world are you reading from this weekend?

I'm reading from West Yorkshire, England. I live a few miles away from Haworth, where the Brontes lived.

I haven't opened my curtains yet, but I can hear it's currently absolutely pouring with rain. Sounds about right for July.

 2. Have you done the 24in48 readathon before?

I have not! The timing has never been quite right. It's still not right, to be honest, but I figure that I'll just be relaxed about it and see how it goes.
    3. Where did you hear about the readathon, if it is your first? 
     Weirdly, I actually just fancied doing a readathon so I googled it about Wednesday. This readathon came up and it sounded perfect, so here we are.
      4. What book are you most excited about reading this weekend?
    Well we'll have to see how it goes. I'm currently reading The Dragon Reborn, the third book in the Wheel of Time series. I love it, but it's quite heavy going at times.
     If I need a break from that, I'm going to read either One of Us is Lying, which is a light YA, or The Super Mutant Magic Academy, a graphic novel.
     
5. Tell us something about yourself.

I collect different editions of Pride and Prejudice - I have 77 so far.
    6. Remind us where to find you online this weekend.
    Here, mostly, on this post. I'll also be rambling on my Twitter, which is @bookinginheels.com 
    10:07am (Hour Six)
Time spent reading: 1 hour 1 minute
Books read from: The Dragon Reborn
Pages read: 62 pages
Time spent blogging: 28 minutes
Well that's a good start, at least! After setting up this post and completing the introductory survery, I spent a solid hour reading in bed. I'm up and dressed, and unfortunately I now have to do a bit of packing and other life admin.
The Dragon Reborn probably isn't ideal readathon fodder, to be honest. Whilst I do really enjoy this series, it's a little heavy and I'm beginning to get frustrated with the characters. After my break to deal with my real world responsibilities, I might try for a little more of it, but then switch over to Super Mutant Magic Academy for a while.
Hope your reading is going well!

    11:47am (Hour Seven)
Time spent reading: 1 hour 13 minutes
Books read from: The Dragon Reborn
Pages read: 79 pages
Time spent blogging: 28 minutes
Time being Life Productive: 1 hour 12 minutes

Pfft, tired now. I've been packing up clothes and I've done a trip down to the Post Office, and now I'm wiped. I've not been that well, so I'm fatiguing easily at the moment. Probably a good time to get some reading done. Or I will when I clear up the pile of irritating stuff that I can see out of the corner of my eye, anyway.

Oh, and here's our first challenge!

Snap a Shelfie

 
 Here are some of my lovely bookshelves!

    2:20pm (Hour Ten)
Time spent reading: 2 hours 8 minutes
Books read from: The Dragon Reborn
Pages read: 145 pages
Time spent blogging: 36 minutes
Time being Life Productive: 2 hours 7 minutes

It's weird how I keep spending almost exactly the same time reading as I do with my packing - it's unintentional but I'm happy with that.

I've read a little more and I'm happier with my book though. I'm still a bit frustrated with certain parts, but my grumpiness from this morning has worn off.

I had to go on a drive to a village a few miles away to return one of my Cub Scout's possessions (it's almost an end of year ritual, by this point) as well as stop for some lunch, but I'm home now and ready to read some more!

    4:18pm (Hour Twelve)
Time spent reading: 2 hours 53 minutes
Books read from: The Dragon Reborn (176 pages)
                                      Super Mutant Magic Academy (37 pages)
Pages read: 213 pages
Time spent blogging: 41 minutes
Time being Life Productive: 2 hours 30 minutes

I've changed books for a little bit - I'm now reading from the Super Mutant Magic Academy, a graphic novel by Jillian Tamaki. I'm very achy and very tired, and my mind just wasn't able to deal with the dense prose of The Dragon Reborn anymore! I like it so far - it's drawn very basically and it has a dark sense of humour that's quite amusing at times.

My progress on packing has slowed somewhat as it hurts when I move. I'm still persevering, but perhaps not as enthusiastically as I was.

My original reading target was 12 hours which boils down to 6 hours per day. There's no reason that I shouldn't make that at this stage, so I'm quite pleased really :) 

    9:17pm (Hour Seventeen)
Time spent reading: 4 hours 31 minutes
Books read from: The Dragon Reborn (266 pages)
                                      Super Mutant Magic Academy (104 pages)
Pages read: 370 pages
Time spent blogging: 48 minutes
Time being Life Productive: 2 hours 39 minutes

Every time I do a readathon, it amazes me just how much time there is for reading, if I only focus. It's not even particularly late and I've managed to read for 4.5 hours as well as running errands, milling about and spending thirty minutes looking for a viable Women's Institute that doesn't meet on a Thursday (there isn't one).

There's probably a lesson to be learned there - maybe I should spend less time faffing about and messing around on my phone, and more time reading.

I'm 56% into The Dragon Reborn now. I do like it, but probably not as much as the second book, The Great Hunt. I was hoping to finish the whole thing this weekend, but considering I have plans tomorrow, that's not likely now. 

    11:52pm (Hour Nineteen)
Time spent reading: 6 hours
Books read from: The Dragon Reborn (352 pages)
                                      Super Mutant Magic Academy (142 pages)
Pages read: 494 pages
Time spent blogging: 55 minutes
Time being Life Productive: 2 hours 39 minutes

Well that's it for today. It's bedtime. I admit to getting a bit distracted towards the end - I kept checking to see if I'd reached six hours yet (halfway to my goal of twelve hours). I'd probably naturally have given up around 5.5 hours, so not that much earlier really.

I'm very unlikely to make twelve hours overall as I've ended up with plans tomorrow, but at least I reached my goal for today.  

Friday, 21 July 2017

Review: The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time series #2) by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt modern book cover by Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time series
I seem to be having a bit of a Fantasy Summer. I'm currently alternating between the Wheel of Time books and the Belgariad series by David Eddings. Honestly, I'm having a great time of it, and reading the two (completely different) series means that I'm not getting bored either.

I read the first book in this series, The Eye of the World, last week and really liked it. I called it 'proper' fantasy and lauded the world-building and the characters, although I admitted it was sort of slow. Enter The Great Hunt, which is very much more energetic, and I loved it.

Spoiler-free.

Plot summary: The Forsaken are loose, the Horn of Valere has been found and the Dead are rising from their dreamless sleep. The Prophecies are being fulfilled - but Rand al'Thor, the shepherd the Aes Sedai have proclaimed as the Dragon Reborn, desperately seeks to escape his destiny.

Rand cannot run for ever. With every passing day the Dark One grows in strength and strives to shatter his ancient prison, to break the Wheel, to bring an end to Time and sunder the weave of the Pattern.

And the Pattern demands the Dragon.


Whilst there is still quite a lot of walking, it's an 800+ page high fantasy novel, so what did we expect, really? And it's walking with a purpose, so we'll survive. The difference between the books is that I can actually point to Things That Happened in The Great Hunt, which isn't strictly true with the first novel

So much is going on in this book and it's all just brilliant. Some of the events and subplots really grasped me, to the point where I genuinely gasped and did a little excited dance. It was very attractive, I assure you. I'm going to be vague, but I loved what happened to Egwene, and Nynaeve's trials were perfectly executed. There were some really dramatic passages about Garion Rand (oops, wrong series) being forced to accept his destiny. Which we knew he would because, hey, it would be a remarkably short series otherwise, but it was just wonderfully written.

It's strange, but it's simultaneously more action-packed but also more political than the first book. Part of the novel revolves around the different factions of the Aes Sedai and the significance of the different-coloured cloaks, and I found that really interesting. I liked seeing a bigger cross-section of their order than just Moraine and I imagine it's going to become very important in the later books.

What I particularly appreciate about these books, and what makes me grudgingly condone the sheer length of them, is that there's hardly ever an information dump. New places, characters and backgrounds are introduced gradually and I rarely find myself having to flick back to remember what's going on. It's rare in a book of this nature that I don't find myself confused at least once, but I never felt particularly overwhelmed here.

My one quibble with this series is the characters. Some of them are great - I love Perrin in particular. In my head, I see him as the guy who plays this person in Game of Thrones (I don't know the character's name because I don't watch it, but I've seen him everywhere) and he's the most pleasant and interesting of all of them. He doesn't really like using his axe but accepts that it is occasionally necessary, he's so patient with both Rand and Mat (which is more than I could manage) and his subplot is fascinating. 

I like Nynaeve too. She went through a particularly harrowing ordeal in this book and she came out the better for it. My mother says that she wants to choke her with her own plait, but I think she provides the common sense desperately needed by the rest of the group.

The rest of the characters are more or less completely unlikeable. Mat is bitter and whiny (I've been told there's a reason for that by multiple people, but I think my irritation is too firmly ingrained now), and I really, really want to hit him a lot of the time. Even the minor characters, like Ingtar, aren't great. Don't get me wrong, they're fully fleshed out with backstories and motivations, but it doesn't make me feel any sympathy towards them.

And Rand. RAND.

Watching Verin's smile, small and mysterious, Perrin felt a chill. He did not think Rand knew half what he thought he did. Not half. 

Look, I get it. He wants a quiet life back in Two Rivers, and lots of different people and forces are telling him that it just isn't an option anymore. I'd be pissed off too. But does he have to be so naive and stupid!? 'Nope, you've told me to do this because it'll save my life, but I'm going to do the opposite - that'll show you!' And repeat. It was really quite annoying. Like, really.

Luckily, there are enough interesting characters to offset the annoying ones, and the plotlines are so brilliant that I'd read this even if Mr Blobby were a character. It's a lengthy book, but unlike The Eye of the World, I'd argue that this one probably does need to be this long. So much happened that the pages just flew by. Whilst I really liked the first book, I really do think that The Great Hunt is so much better.

And yes, of course I've bought the next book, and yes, I am obviously already reading it.

Read my review of The Eye of the World, or another review of The Great Hunt at Lit Addicted Brit.


Friday, 14 July 2017

A Life of Sensation Read-a-Long: AND WE'RE DONE.


Two days late - sorry, sorry. I'm currently going through the twin joys of moving and also moving in with somebody and, whilst we haven't yet murdered each other, it's been a near thing. Nothing makes you want to move in with somebody less than the actual process of moving in with somebody.

But yay! We've finished the book! I have to admit to a pleasant feeling that arose when I realised that a goodly chunk of this book was the bibliography, and so it took much less time than I expected when I eventually settled down to read.

So, the final check-in of Andrew Lycett's A Life of Sensation:
(Alternate title: Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Victorian Copyright Law)
  • At one point, Wilkie took both Caroline and Martha (both his long-term mistresses) to the seaside, installed them in different houses... and then buggered off to France.
  • I do like that he made equal provision for all his children in his will, including Harriet, who was technically not even his step-daughter.
  • Martha Rudd
  • The chapter entitled 'TWO HOUSES, TWO FAMILIES' is a tease. It remains entirely centered on copyright law and American publishing houses and has pretty much zip to do with either Caroline or Martha.
  • For all Wilkie's talk about Martha's buxom-ness (buxomity? buxomitude?), she wasn't a looker, bless her, was she? I can only assume she was fucking amazing with his Person.
  • Wilkie is some sort of Victorian Charlie Sheen, and can 'down a tincture that... would be enough to kill a dozen people,' which he carried around in a hip flask.
  • He had a weird relationship with a twelve year old girl, which Lycett is quick to point out was absolutely fine because her mother saw all her letters. Honestly, he's the least impartial biographer ever. Wilkie called her 'dearest wife' and 'Mrs Collins,' and used her to 'prattle on about his' excellent friends Opium and Quinine... which is not the Christian name of another wife.'

  • By this point, I was sort of hoping that Wilkie would hurry up and die already. He did, many pages later, and I did genuinely feel quite sad. I think I might go visit his grave at Kensal Grave the next time I'm in London.
So here we are. Did this book need to be this long? No. Did we need a biography of everybody Wilkie Collins passed in the street? Probably not.

I'd have liked to know more about Caroline and Martha, who get very little air-time in this book and who Andrew Lycett judged pretty much constantly. Did they ever meet? Were they actually happy with the arrangement? I'd have been way more interested in this than a who's who of Americal copyright law. 

Thank you to Alice for running this and I'm 100% up for reading another of Wilkie Collins' novels now!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Review: The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan

Eye of the World UK book cover by Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time
My over-riding question is - why didn't I read this sooner? I was aware of the Wheel of Time series, of course. It's one of those absolute fantasy staples and so, logically, I should have been champing at the bit to pick it up. Not so. I think I must have read the blurb of one of the much later books, been ridiculously confused and backed away slowly, intimidated and bemused. The lesson: don't judge a book by it's tenth installment.

Let's all bless Charlotte for rereading this series herself, and subsequently sending me a copy. It only took me four years to read it.

Plot summary: Life in Emond's Field has been pretty boring for Rand Al'Thor and his friends until a strange young woman arrives in their village. Moraine is an Aes Sedai, a magician with the ability to wield the One Power, and she brings warnings of a terrible evil awakening in the world. That very night, the village is attacked by bloodthirsty Trollocs - a fearsome tribe of beast-men thought to be no more than myth. As Emond's Field burns, Moraine and her warrior-guardian help Rand and his companions to escape. But it is only the beginning of their troubles.

I admit that The Eye of the World took a bit of getting into. Whilst it didn't help that I was trying to trudge through it after an exhausting 48 hour Scout Camp, it's quite slow to start. It begins with an unknowing farmboy going about his routine, as these things usually do, but it lasts a while. It is relevant and does provide some backstory for later events, but it's possibly not the best way to entice a new reader into the series.
  
It soon picks up though, and we're off into the wider world. The Eye of the World, and presumably the whole series, is what I call 'proper' fantasy. There's lots of dialogue, lots of sub-plots and lots of interesting characters. Not a whole lot of action, but the bits that are present are excellent and riveting.

The simultaneous best and worst thing about this book is the level of detail. I loved it most of the time, but occasionally I did get bogged down in the description of a solitary leaf. Nothing is missed out, which really helps from an immersion point of view, but there's no avoiding that this 800+ page book could have been an awful lot shorter. Would it have suffered from some hefty trimming? I'm not sure. The pages flew by because I was so riveted in the story, but I remain unconvinced that every single adjective was absolutely required from a plot perspective.

Speaking of, I love this plot. Or I'm sure I would, if I knew what it was. The Dark One is threatening to break free, which would be less than ideal... and that's it. The world-building is so thorough and the prose is so detailed, that there's only the vaguest of overarching plots so far, which is fine. This is off-set by some wonderful side-stories. Each of the nine (I think?) characters travelling with the party is equipped with their own backstory, motivation and sub-plot and they're all pretty great. I'm torn between Perrin and Mat as in whom I'm the most interested, although the Ogier is wonderful too.

There's a strange sense of realism throughout this book that really impressed me. I mean, there's magic and gods and whatnot so I'm not going for hyper-realism here, but a lot of things that usually annoy me about fantasy novels simply aren't present. For example, the characters discuss simply not blindly following the prophecy - they actually consider shirking their responsibilities, just like real people. Characters who inherit magical powers aren't an instant prodigy within a day - they're actually pretty rubbish, as they should be. It's possibly because the slow pace allowed time to expand on all these things, but I loved it. It's so rare in these books.

There is some romance of a sort, but it's very subtle and in no way overshadows the remainder of the book. If anything, I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

I wasn't a huge fan of the ending, but considering that The Eye of the World is only the first part of an epic series and presumably exists pretty much solely as an introduction, I'll let it slide. It was the only part of the whole book that went over my head. It was slightly abstract and I'm not 100% sure I understood every single aspect, but I'm sure it will be explained in the next book.

In essence, I'm not convinced that this book needs to be this long or that any series requires fifteen books to adequately tell a story, but I did really love The Eye of the World. I'm completely willing to be convinced that the lengthy, weighty books are worth it and I've already ordered the second book, The Great Hunt. If you're a fan of epic fantasy, don't leave it as long as I did to pick this up.

Read Charlotte's review of The Eye of the World at Lit Addicted Brit. 

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