Magician’s Ward (Magic and Malice #2) ★★★★✬


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Title: Magician’s Ward
Series: Magic and Malice #2
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 77K



Synopsis:

Kim is swamped. Between studying magic and learning a whole new life as a monied lady, her life is full, maybe too full! When a particularly inept burglar tries to steal several books from Mairelon’s library, it’s up to Kim and Mairelon to figure out why.

At the same time, several magician’s from Kim’s street life have disappeared and a Russian Magician shows up. When on the track of the thief, Mairelon loses his magic, it’s all up to Kim to deal with the rogue magician, who isn’t a magician at all!

And if that all isn’t enough, Kim has to have her coming out ceremony as a Magician’s Ward, where she realizes she’s in love with Mairelon.

By the end of the book, Kim has stopped the rogue magician, completed her ceremony and gotten Mairelon to propose to her. Now her life as a magician is going to get really busy!

My Thoughts:

If you happen to remember That Book, where I told Romance to get the heck out of my Action Stories, you might have gotten the impression that Bookstooge is a stone cold, heartless killer with no time for the softer things in life. And you would be wrong, dead wrong! (because I’d stone you coldly!) I like romance, in small doses and in its proper place. Jane Austen is the example that made me realize I could like romances.

Anyway, this book is as much a young adult/middle grade romance as a fantasy story. The obstacles that Kim needs to overcome are simplified, the villain appropriately stupid and even Mairelon takes side stage as he loses his magic, thus giving Kim the spotlight from all directions. She shines well too.

I didn’t think the story was quite as “fun” as the first but it felt more satisfying, hence the half-star bump. While I read this way back in 2000 and I have no real review, I remember liking this then and it seems I liked it just as much this time around too. I’m going to call this a Complete Success then.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ps,
Can we all agree that is the worst cover ever and that it should be cast into the Stygian pits?

Path of Daggers (The Wheel of Time #8) ★★★★☆


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Title: Path of Daggers
Series: The Wheel of Time #8
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 562
Words: 228.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

The four rulers of the Borderlands form a pact for unknown purposes and take a huge army south. Verin uses what she knows of Compulsion on Aes Sedai prisoners to encourage them to swear fealty to Rand. Moridin demonstrates his insanity. Hanlon visits Mili Skane and sees Carridin killed. Mili also has Falion captured, and claims to have another Aes Sedai.

Nynaeve warns one of the Tower embassy about the Black Ajah and Moghedien, but is not taken seriously. The girls leave Ebou Dar with the other Aes Sedai, the Knitting Circle and twenty Windfinders, leaving Mat behind to look for Olver. After moving through the gateway, Aviendha sees Moridin, so she unweaves it. This is something the Aes Sedai, as well as Moridin himself, thought impossible. Elayne, Aviendha and Nynaeve look for angreal amongst the things found with the Bowl. They are told of Martine Janata, the last Aes Sedai to study ter’angreal, who was burned out twenty five years previously, despite being careful.

The group arrives at the retreat run by the Kin, where the sight of Aes Sedai faces causes panic. Alise manages to calm everyone down. They continue searching through the things found with the Bowl while waiting to see if anyone is strong enough to join the circle. They find three angreal.

The girls, along with the most powerful memebers of the Kin and the Windfinders, use the Bowl, with the circle led by one of the Windfinders. The Bowl unexpectadly draws saidin. It also causes the Power to behave strangely. The Windfinders try to keep the Bowl and one of the angreal, but Alise puts a stop to it.

The use of the Bowl has exhausted them all, but they have to flee when the Seanchan attack. Elayne makes the gateway to Travel and tries to unweave it as Aviendha did, but fails, and it explodes, destroying everything around it. Aviendha and Elayne decide to adopt each other as first-sisters.

One of the Kin is revealed as a novice who ran away seventy years previously, and another admits to running away almost three hundred years before. Adeleas and Ispan are both murdered, apparently by someone they trust. Elayne takes the palace and sits in front of the Lion Throne. She meets Dyelin, who says she will support Elayne’s claim to the throne. Elayne amuses her by telling her of her plans for Rand.

Sevanna uses an Oath Rod on Galina to make her swear to obey her, Therava, and the rest of the Wise Ones. The Wise Ones tell Sevanna she is no longer in control of them.

In Ghealdan, Perrin sends Berelain to meet Alliandre. He rescues Morgase and her party, who are traveling under false names. Faile takes them into her service after Morgase learns of Perrin’s connection to the Dragon Reborn. Perrin again encounters Elyas, who advises him on living with a Saldaean.

Berelain returns with Alliandre, who swears fealty to Perrin and grants him all her lands and titles. He tells her she can rule for him as his faithful vassal. Perrin goes to meet Masema and instructs him to gather his people and go meet Rand. Masema is obviously mad. Faile is captured by the Shaido, but Berelain escapes.

Graendal is visited by Moghedien and a girl called Cyndane, who is stronger than Graendal in the Power. They tell her to go see Moridin. They turn off the lights, and, believing it a trap, she drops a web of Compulsion on them. She is forced to free them by Shaidar Haran.

In the Tower, the Aes Sedai deny the possibility that damane could exist. Alviarin continues to use the fiasco of Rand’s kidnapping to make Elaida give bad orders. She makes Elaida accept penance. Mesaana teaches Alviarin Traveling. The Ajahs are barely speaking to one another. Seaine and Pevara use the Oath Rod to force Aes Sedai they believe may have told a lie into obeying them. They discover rebel agents spreading rumors of Logain and the Red Ajah. They are interrupted by a group of Sitters, one from each Ajah. All but one of these swears on the Oath Rod that they are not a Darkfriend. The last, (Talene Minly), refuses, thus exposing herself as Black Ajah.

Logain leads a group of Asha’man to capture one of the parties of Aes Sedai who were intending to destroy the Black Tower. He bonds Toveine in something that resembles a Warder bond. One of the other Asha’man states Taim will not be pleased. Logain says he thinks Taim would rather he was dead.

Egwene has a dream. She learns an army of Murandians and Andorans plan to stop rebel Aes Sedai moving through Andor. She arranges to meet them. Lelaine and Romanda both demand that they be given control over negotiations with the nobles. Siuan believes she sees a pattern in the Sitters ages – they are too young. Sheriam is beaten by someone using the Power. Egwene uses the meeting to make public announcements that the Hall cannot overrule, such that women of any age will be allowed to become Aes Sedai and that the army is to wait a month where they are. She talks to Talmanes, who says he can feel Mat needing him and he wants to stay. He is going to try and help King Roedran unify the country. Aran’gar kills two of Egwene’s maids. Egwene horrifies Siuan by revealing she wants to free Aes Sedai of the Three Oaths.

Egwene calls a meeting of the Hall and convinces them to declare war on Elaida, which gives her total control over anything involving the war. They wait a month, and then Travel to Tar Valon to begin the siege.

Sorilea and Cadsuane agree to cooperate with regards to Rand. Sorilea teaches Cadsuane Traveling. Torval tells Rand of deserters and insanity amongst the Asha’man. Narishma is sent to fetch Callandor. Rand takes some Asha’man to fight the Seanchan. Rand is attacked by Illianers. Two of the noblewomen with him appear to be discussing whether or not to kill him.

Suroth has Liandrin as a slave and another Aes Sedai as damane. Rand captures damane and sul’dam. They proceed to a spot outside of Ebou Dar, where saidin is difficult to handle, and damane become ill. Bashere suggests retreat as they are heavily outnumbered by the Seanchan. Rand draws Callandor, but is unable to control it and Bashere is forced to stop him. Adley is killed. Rand and the Seanchan both withdraw.

Rand returns to Cairhien, where Dobraine is in charge. Merana and Rafela reveal the details of the Sea Folk bargain, which is not to Rand’s liking. He calms down when Merana reminds him everything was going in his favor until he left. Three Maidens give Rand a beating. Rand asks Cadsuane to be his advisor in Illian. She demands an apology for his rude behavior. She tells him Callandor is dangerous and shouldn’t be used. He gets upset when he learns that Elayne tore his banners down. Sorilea brings five of the prisoner Aes Sedai, Elza, Nesune, Sarene, Beldeine and Erian, who swear fealty to Rand. Min sees visions around them, including one that they will serve him in their own way, Sorilea included.

He leaves the throne room just before it is destroyed. He sees Dashiva, Gedwyn and Rochaid in the ruins. They attack him. He survives the attack and they leave. Morr goes mad and Rand is forced to poison him. Rand tells Min that they are leaving.

My Thoughts:

You can tell this was one of the shortest Wheel of Time books, not only because of the page count of the book but because the synopis by good ol’ Delvar isn’t 7 pages long. It’s only 3 😉

This was the first Wheel of Time book I read back in the 90’s that I had had to wait for. I hadn’t gotten into the series until Crown of Swords was released and I have to admit, I am extremely thankful for that. My recollections of this are of it being wicked slow and nothing happening.

How wrong I was. This ranks right up there with the first book in my opinion. Part of it is it is the shortest book and so Jordan HAD to make stuff happen. The Bowl of Winds fixing the weather? I had completely forgotten how that changed things everywhere so radically and so quickly. Going from an oppressive summer to a wicked bad winter in the space of a week or three? It definitely made things tough for the characters.

Jordan also pretty much shut Nynaeve up for the entire book and everything was better for it. While it didn’t happen in Sanderson’s ending, I’m beginning to wonder if Jordan was setting up Nynaeve to become one of the new Forsaken. Why else would he make her such a horrible person and on the same level, in terms of characteristics, as the other Forsaken? It would have explained a lot.

At this point the number of story threads is out of control. While I enjoyed the book, there is just too much going on and Jordan continues to introduce yet new threads. He’s like a kid with a brand new glitter gun and is putting glitter on EVERYTHING whether it should have it or not.

Path of Daggers was originally published in ’98 and I read it upon publication and then again in 2000 and again in 2011. Each time it has been a very different read and that says more about me changing over the years than it does about the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fallout ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Fallout
Series: ———-
Author: Kenneth Royce
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 285
Words: 92.5K



Synopsis:

In the aftermath of Chernobyl, a patient escapes from a Soviet mental hospital. As he wanders through a blighted landscape struggling to recapture blocked memories, British Intelligence and the KGB hunt him for the secret he holds–a secret that threatens glasnost itself.

Zotov, with the help of a former lover and 2 English controlled spies, escapes and makes it to England. Where the doctors do the exact same thing to him that the Soviet doctors did. He goes completely crazy and kills himself.

The End.

My Thoughts:

Despite the ending, I enjoyed this book. I think part of it was that Royce was showing a literati’s disdain for The Government (whichever one you might choose to think about) and also a disillusionment about the Cold War. When Titans collide, the little man is the one getting squished, no matter which Titan is right or wrong.

The only other Spy novels of this era that I have read are the Jason Bourne books by Ludlum. In fact, as soon as it was revealed that Zotov, the main russian character, had amnesia, I immediately thought “Bourne Identity”. Thankfully, this was quite a different story, but the atmospheric tension of not knowing what was going on was exactly the same. Cold War Thrillers have the same flavor I think. Just like Cozy Mysteries I think.

The tension is always high. The action is very sparse and while not non-existent, isn’t the point of the book like a James Bond book. Political maneuverings are as important, externally and internally. In fact, Zotov wouldn’t have been able to escape if it weren’t for the political infighting going on in the Soviet Union during this book. As much time is given to this political side of things as to anything else. Probably more of interest to those interested in history at this point.

While I did enjoy this, I don’t know if I enjoyed it as much as Jenn did. Please check out her review for a slightly more enthusiastic take on this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A Crown of Swords (The Wheel of Time #7) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Crown of Swords
Series: The Wheel of Time #7
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 727
Words: 296K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Elaida sends fifty Red sisters led by Toveine to the Black Tower to gentle any men learning to channel, under the impression that there will be at most two or three men who can channel. She believes that raising Egwene means the Aes Sedai in Salidar will return to her, since if they were serious in their rebellion, one of the more senior Aes Sedai would have been chosen. She has secret plans working among the rebels. In Alviarin’s presence she has a Foretelling that the Tower will be whole again and the Black Tower rent. Mesaana teaches Alviarin Traveling.

Sevanna, along with the strongest of the Wise Ones who can channel, prepares to attack those holding Rand. They attack and are driven back. Sevanna and her Wise Ones summon Sammael, who arrives with Graendal. Moridin (probably) watches. Therava brings Galina, who has been captured. Galina is named da’tsang. Sammael brings them an Oath Rod. He gives them something he claims will let them Travel. They use it and it spreads them everywhere. Sevanna takes the Wise Ones with her. Shaidar Haran watches.

Morgase urges Niall to help her take Andor back as soon as possible. He learns of the Seanchan, but is murdered before he can tell anyone. Valda takes control and pressures Morgase into sex. The Seanchan attack. Morgase is taken to Suroth, who is angered by her use of Suroth’s first name. Morgase renounces the throne and the High Seat of House Trakand. She is stopped from commiting suicide by Lini. Balwer takes them away.

Rand gives the Aes Sedai into the care of the Wise Ones, to Taim’s displeasure. He takes Asha’man bodyguards. They Travel to a point outside Cairhien, then walk the rest of the way. They are told that Colavaere has taken the throne. Faile and Berelain are both acting as Colavaere’s attendants. It is revealed that Colavaere had Meilan and Maringil murdered. Instead of sentencing her to death, Rand strips her of her titles and exiles her to a farm. She commits suicide. Rand learns Aes Sedai are in Cairhien.

Rand goes to Caemlyn, hoping to find Elayne, and learns Caraline Damodred and Toram Riatin are setting up in opposition to him. He learns there are nine Aes Sedai known to be in Caemlyn. He leaves Morr there. Rand sends the army gathered in Tear off to Illian with two of the Asha’man, Hopwil and Adley.

Back in Cairhien, Rand tries to send Berelain back to Mayene after an assassination attempt. Cadsuane arrives and tries to provoke him, asking if he’s started hearing voices. Idrien arrives from the school and tells him of Fel’s death. Rand tells Min of this and they comfort each other.

Perrin and Rand stage a fight over the Aes Sedai prisoners, to give Rand an excuse to send Perrin away, though in reality he goes to Ghealdan with Grady, Neald, Masuri and Seonid, as well as Wise Ones. Loial goes with one of the Asha’man, Karldin, to visit the stedding and guard the Ways.

Rand convinces himself that he raped Min and withdraws completely. She brings him out of it and makes him see sense. They admit their love for one another. She tells of a viewing of Rand and another man merging, and one of them dying. Rand goes to meet the Sea Folk, taking Bera, Alanna, Rafela, Faeldrin and Merana, putting Merana in charge of them. Min sees that they will be loyal to him. His ta’veren effect helps in the negotiations, with the Sea Folk giving away much. He leaves Merana and Rafela to negotiate and goes with Min to deal with the rebelling nobles.

Caraline recognizes Rand but says nothing. His ta’veren effect works on her and Darlin, who reveals he would be happy to support Rand, but feels he no longer has a choice. Cadsuane and several other sisters are in the camp, as is Fain, with Daved Hanlon and Toram Riatin, who, due to Fain’s influence, hates Rand.

Toram and Rand duel with practice swords This is interrupted by fog attacking the camp. One of the Red Ajah sisters present is killed. Rand uses balefire, causing Cadsuane to slap him and tell him never to use it again. Fain stabs him with the dagger from Shadar Logoth. Samitsu partially Heals him, but she says she believes he will die. Darlin carries him out. Min tells the full story of Rand’s capture and they return to the palace in Cairhien. Here, Flinn tries his Healing, sealing the wound away.

Rand wakes two days later, having been Healed further by Corele. Min tells him that Cadsuane is to teach him and the Asha’man something they need to know. He hears the army is almost on Illian, so he Travels to Bashere and his men. He takes them and the Asha’man directly into Illian, where the Asha’man set off all of Sammael’s traps. He chases Sammael to Shadar Logoth. Here he sees Liah. While Rand is attacking Trollocs, Sammael strikes at him and he loses the Power. A man, probably Moridin, arrives and helps Rand. They both use balefire, with the streams crossing, causing double vision. He drops hints that Sammael is at the Waygate then leaves, claiming plans will have to be abandoned if Rand is killed. The man didn’t use saidin. At the Waygate, Rand sees Sammael turn to look at Liah, who Rand balefires, as she is about to be killed by Mashadar. Sammael is then gone. On his return to Illian, Rand is pronounced King.

Moghedien is taken by Shaidar Haran to Moridin, who has two cour’souvra, one of them hers.

Elaida is woken by Alviarin, who tells her that Rand has broken free and twelve sisters have returned. Alviarin takes control of Elaida by threatening to reveal both this and the fact that sisters sent to the Black Tower. She orders some sisters punished for keeping angreal and others praised, in order to cause dissension amongst the Ajahs. Elaida visits Seaine and sets her looking for traitors, which Seaine take to mean Black Ajah. Seaine enlists Pevara on the search.

Egwene struggles for some control over the Salidar Hall, using the fact that Sheriam, Lelaine and Romanda can’t stand each other to occasionally get her own way. Talking with Siuan, she learns Sheriam has sent sisters to the White Tower and hasn’t told the Hall because she fears Darkfriends. It occurs to her that Elaida may have done the same. She feels Moghedien escape, which prevents her taking advantage.

Nicola tries to blackmail Egwene about pretending to be Aes Sedai before she and Elayne were raised. Egwene threatens her and Areina in the real world and in Tel’aran’rhiod. She talks to Melaine, Amys and Bair and reveals she is Amyrlin and warns them of Moghedien. She has visions of Gawyn and Mat.

Theodrin and Faolain swear fealty to Egwene. Faolain also tells her how much she dislikes her. Egwene sends them to see if anyone saw Moghedien escape. She tells Siuan it shouldn’t matter how strong in the Power she is. Romanda and Lelaine complain about Delana wanting to name Elaida Black.

Halima “heals” Egwene’s headaches.

Elayne and Nynaeve go to the Sea Folk to get help with the ter’angreal they are looking for. They recognize the description as the Bowl of the Winds. After no success in finding it, they send Birgitte to Mat to tell him he is to help them.

Mat gambles on horses, with Olver as a jockey. He sees Mili Skane, a Darkfriend, and follows her to Jaichim Carridin’s place. On the way he picks up a signet ring of a fox scaring birds. Sammael tells Carridin not to go after Mat unless he gets in the way.

Mat goes to see Tylin and leaves a note about Carridin. Her son, Beslan, takes a liking to him. Returning to the inn, Mat is attacked by a man in his room. Birgitte visits Mat, who remembers Birgitte from Falme, and they talk in the Old Tongue. They agree to keep each other’s secrets. They get drunk, which affects Elayne. On Birgitte’s return she tells Elayne that Mat wants an apology and thanks for rescuing them from the Stone. Aviendha and Birgitte both agree that he is owed an apology.

Mat annoys Elayne and Nynaeve by saying that it was nothing when they apologize. They promise not to demean him and to listen to his advice. He moves to the palace. Upon leaving, they are accosted by Setalle Anan, who refuses to believe they are Aes Sedai and takes them to the Kin. When they insist they are Aes Sedai, Reanne throws them out and threatens to spread their descriptions. Setalle recognizes one of them as someone she met, but the woman claims it was her grandmother’s sister. Elayne begins to think about the ageless look. They are attacked on the way back to the palace.

Mat is pursued and caught by Tylin. The girls set him watching the Kin. He attends a festival with Beslan and his friends, where they are attacked by beggars.

Elayne is brought before the other Aes Sedai, who threaten to punish her for talking to the Kin. When she learns Carridin is claiming her mother is arriving, she loses her temper and threatens the others, who realize she stands above them. She forces them to go and meet the Kin.

Moghedien tries to balefire Nynaeve but is put off by pigeons. Nynaeve’s boat and bodyguards are destroyed. She almost drowns, but gives in, thus overcoming her block against the Power, and survives. Lan pulls her out. They get married and she fetches the Windfinders.

They go to the Kin, who agree to take them to the store of Power-related objects. Mat arrives, having just found it himself. They thank Mat, who is told of Moghedien by Lan. At the store, they are confronted by Falion and Ispan. Mat saves Elayne from a gholam, which is injured by his medallion. It kills Nalesean during the battle. They return to the palace, where Mat uses his being ta’veren to make the Windfinders agree to go wherever Elayne and Nynaeve want. Mat goes off to find Olver with his men, Thom and Juilin. The Seanchan attack and he gets trapped under a wall.

My Thoughts:

This would have easily been a 5star book, especially storywise, if Elayne and Nynaeve weren’t in it. Everyone else seems to be growing up, even Matt, but those 2? Bitching, moaning, complaining and generally acting like people who I would gladly kill. Their storylines weren’t huge but as silly as it may sound, it ruined everything for me. Ok, maybe “ruined” is a bit strong, but when a book goes down a whole star because of one of the smaller plotlines, I call that a “ruin”.

Everything else was what made this series the wonder that it became. While Jordan tends to being a bit too verbose, even that doesn’t truly stand in the way of the story or the skill with which Jordan weaves the various plot lines.

This book puts me at the half-way mark for this final re-reading of the Wheel of Time series. I am glad I am doing this but like I’ve said in previous reviews, this will be the last time I read this. I just can’t deal with the way that some of the women act. Nor can I put up with the supposed good guys being no different, in essence, than the bad guys. All Nynaeve can think about is punishing the various people around her who annoy her or “insert reezons”. She thinks exactly the same as one of the Forsaken and it just disgusted me.

For such a long book, I’m having a remarkably hard time coming up with something to say. So I’m done.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Tale of Two Cities ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Tale of Two Cities
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 368
Words: 136.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

In 1775, a man flags down the nightly mail-coach on its route from London to Dover. The man is Jerry Cruncher, an employee of Tellson’s Bank in London; he carries a message for Jarvis Lorry, a passenger and one of the bank’s managers. Lorry sends Jerry back to deliver a cryptic response to the bank: “Recalled to Life.” The message refers to Alexandre Manette, a French physician who has been released from the Bastille after an 18-year imprisonment. Once Lorry arrives in Dover, he meets Dr. Manette’s daughter Lucie and her governess, Miss Pross. Lucie has believed her father to be dead, and faints at the news that he is alive; Lorry takes her to France to reunite with her father.

In the Paris neighbourhood of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Dr. Manette has been given lodgings by his former servant Ernest Defarge and his wife Therese, owners of a wine shop. Lorry and Lucie find him in a small garret, where he spends much of his time making shoes – a skill he learned in prison – which he uses to distract himself from his thoughts and which has become an obsession for him. He does not recognise Lucie at first but does eventually see the resemblance to her mother through her blue eyes and long golden hair, a strand of which he found on his sleeve when he was imprisoned. Lorry and Lucie take him back to England.

Book the Second: The Golden Thread

In 1780, French émigré Charles Darnay is on trial for treason against the British Crown. The key witnesses against him are two British spies, John Barsad and Roger Cly, who claim that Darnay gave information about British troops in North America to the French. Under cross-examination by Mr. Stryver, the barrister defending Darnay, Barsad claims that he would recognise Darnay anywhere. Stryver points out his colleague, Sydney Carton, who bears a strong resemblance to Darnay, and Barsad admits that the two men look nearly identical. With Barsad’s eyewitness testimony now discredited, Darnay is acquitted.

In Paris, the hated and abusive Marquis St. Evrémonde orders his carriage driven recklessly fast through the crowded streets, hitting and killing the child of Gaspard in Saint Antoine. The Marquis throws a coin to Gaspard to compensate him for his loss. Defarge, having observed the incident, comes forth to comfort the distraught father, saying the child would be worse off alive. This piece of wisdom pleases the Marquis, who throws a coin to Defarge also. As the Marquis departs, a coin is flung back into his carriage.

Arriving at his country château, the Marquis meets his nephew and heir, Darnay. Out of disgust with his aristocratic family, the nephew has shed his real surname (St. Evrémonde) and anglicised his mother’s maiden name, D’Aulnais, to Darnay.[6] The following passage records the Marquis’ principles of aristocratic superiority:

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend,” observed the Marquis, “will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof,” looking up to it, “shuts out the sky.”[7]

That night, Gaspard, who followed the Marquis to his château by riding on the underside of the carriage, stabs and kills him in his sleep. Gaspard leaves a note on the knife saying, “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from JACQUES.”[8] After nearly a year on the run, he is caught and hanged above the village well.

In London, Darnay asks for Dr. Manette’s permission to wed Lucie, but Carton confesses his love to Lucie as well. Knowing she will not love him in return, Carton promises to “embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you”.[9] Stryver considers proposing marriage to Lucie, but Lorry talks him out of the idea.

On the morning of the marriage, Darnay reveals his real name and family lineage to Dr. Manette, a detail he had been asked to withhold until that day. In consequence, Dr. Manette reverts to his obsessive shoemaking after the couple leave for their honeymoon. He returns to sanity before their return, and the whole incident is kept secret from Lucie. Lorry and Miss Pross destroy the shoemaking bench and tools, which Dr. Manette had brought with him from Paris.

As time passes in England, Lucie and Charles begin to raise a family, a son (who dies in childhood) and a daughter, little Lucie. Lorry finds a second home and a sort of family with the Darnays. Stryver marries a rich widow with three children and becomes even more insufferable as his ambitions begin to be realised. Carton, even though he seldom visits, is accepted as a close friend of the family and becomes a special favourite of little Lucie.

In July 1789, the Defarges help to lead the storming of the Bastille, a symbol of royal tyranny. Defarge enters Dr. Manette’s former cell, “One Hundred and Five, North Tower,”[10] and searches it thoroughly. Throughout the countryside, local officials and other representatives of the aristocracy are dragged from their homes to be killed, and the St. Evrémonde château is burned to the ground.

In 1792, Lorry decides to travel to Paris to collect important documents from the Tellson’s branch in that city and place them in safekeeping against the chaos of the French Revolution. Darnay intercepts a letter written by Gabelle, one of his uncle’s servants who has been imprisoned by the revolutionaries, pleading for the Marquis to help secure his release. Without telling his family or revealing his position as the new Marquis, Darnay sets out for Paris.

Book the Third: The Track of a Storm

Shortly after Darnay arrives in Paris, he is denounced for being an emigrated aristocrat from France and jailed in La Force Prison.[11] Dr. Manette, Lucie, little Lucie, Jerry, and Miss Pross travel to Paris and meet Lorry to try to free Darnay. A year and three months pass, and Darnay is finally tried.

Dr Manette, viewed as a hero for his imprisonment in the Bastille, testifies on Darnay’s behalf at his trial. Darnay is released, only to be arrested again later that day. A new trial begins the following day, under new charges brought by the Defarges and a third individual who is soon revealed as Dr Manette. He had written an account of his imprisonment at the hands of Darnay’s father and hidden it in his cell; Defarge found it while searching the cell during the storming of the Bastille.

While running errands with Jerry, Miss Pross is amazed to see her long-lost brother Solomon, but he does not want to be recognised in public. Carton suddenly steps forward from the shadows and identifies Solomon as Barsad, one of the spies who tried to frame Darnay for treason at his trial in 1780. Jerry remembers that he has seen Solomon with Cly, the other key witness at the trial, and that Cly had faked his death to escape England. By threatening to denounce Solomon to the revolutionary tribunal as a Briton, Carton blackmails him into helping with a plan.

At the tribunal, Defarge identifies Darnay as the nephew of the dead Marquis St. Evrémonde and reads Dr Manette’s letter. Defarge had learned Darnay’s lineage from Solomon during the latter’s visit to the wine shop several years earlier. The letter describes Dr Manette’s imprisonment at the hands of Darnay’s father and uncle for trying to report their crimes against a peasant family. Darnay’s uncle had become infatuated with a girl, whom he had kidnapped and raped; despite Dr. Manette’s attempt to save her, she died. The uncle killed her husband by working him to death, and her father died from a heart attack upon being informed of what had happened. Before he died defending the family honour, the brother of the raped peasant had hidden the last member of the family, his younger sister. The Evrémonde brothers imprisoned Dr. Manette after he refused their offer of a bribe to keep quiet. He concludes his letter by condemning the Evrémondes, “them and their descendants, to the last of their race.”[12] Dr. Manette is horrified, but he is not allowed to retract his statement. Darnay is sent to the Conciergerie and sentenced to be guillotined the next day.

Carton wanders into the Defarges’ wine shop, where he overhears Madame Defarge talking about her plans to have both Lucie and little Lucie condemned. Carton discovers that Madame Defarge was the surviving sister of the peasant family savaged by the Evrémondes.[13] At night, when Dr. Manette returns, shattered after spending the day in many failed attempts to save Darnay’s life, he falls into an obsessive search for his shoemaking implements. Carton urges Lorry to flee Paris with Lucie, her father, and Little Lucie, asking them to leave as soon as he joins.

Shortly before the executions are to begin, Solomon sneaks Carton into the prison for a visit with Darnay. The two men trade clothes, and Carton drugs Darnay and has Solomon carry him out. Carton has decided to be executed in his place, taking advantage of their similar appearances, and has given his own identification papers to Lorry to present on Darnay’s behalf. Following Carton’s earlier instructions, the family and Lorry flee to England with Darnay, who gradually regains consciousness during the journey.

Meanwhile, Madame Defarge, armed with a dagger and pistol, goes to the Manette residence, hoping to apprehend Lucie and little Lucie and bring them in for execution. However, the family is already gone and Miss Pross stays behind to confront and delay Madame Defarge. As the two women struggle, Madame Defarge’s pistol discharges, killing her and causing Miss Pross to go permanently deaf from noise and shock.

As Carton waits to board the tumbril that will take him to his execution, he is approached by another prisoner, a seamstress who had been incarcerated with Darnay. She mistakes Carton for him, but realises the truth upon seeing him at close range. Awed by his unselfish courage and sacrifice, she asks to stay close to him and he agrees. Upon their arrival at the guillotine, Carton comforts her, telling her that their ends will be quick and that the worries of their lives will not follow them into “the better land where … [they] will be mercifully sheltered.” He is guillotined immediately after the seamstress, a final prophetic thought running through his mind.

My Thoughts:

When I read this back in 2014, I was looking more at Sydney Carton and his story of redemption of a wasted life. I was impressed beyond words. This time around, I wanted to focus more on Charles Darnay, the french noble who renounced his family name and their degenerative lifestyle.

What a difference that made and sadly, not for the better. I’m still giving this 5 stars because it is a great story, but Darnay is no hero and really, if his part could have been even smaller it would have been better. He starts out with potential, defying his cruel uncle and giving up all of his inheritance and even his name to move to England to make an honest living working. Considering that the working man was below even a slave in the French Aristocracy’s view, Darnay was making a huge sacrifice.

Unfortunately, but true to form, Darnay still acts like an Aristocrat. When he receives the letter from the bailiff of his former estates, he takes it as his responsibility to free the man, even though Darnay had renounced his estates and had nothing to do with what was going on. He acted like an aristocrat when he chose to not talk about this to his wife or his father-in-law and skipped off to France. He acted like an aristocrat while in prison and just letting things happen. By the end, I was pretty disgusted with Ol’ Charley and if it weren’t for sympathy for his wife, I’d have told Sydney to let him die and scarper off to safer climes.

Lucie, Darnay’s wife IS a sympathetic character as is her father, the former Bastille prisoner. Dickens did an admirable job of painting them in a light that was gentle and soft but without making them weak and ineffectual.

Finally, we come to Madame Defarge. What a monstrously evil woman. Her bloodlust to kill Darnay and any that surround him was made all the more reprehensible by her backstory. While revenge against Darnay’s uncle is more than understandable, Madame Defarge perverts even that bit of possible sympathy by the audience by trying to kill Lucie and her daughter and Lucie’s father, all because they are associated with Darnay. Dickens shows in no uncertain terms that hatred cannot be reasoned with. You cannot talk someone out of hate, you cannot educate someone out of hate. Hate like that can only be changed supernaturally, by the power of God. It’s just not within us humans to be able to fix something so fundamentally broke within us.

This is exactly why I like Dickens so much. Every time I read his books I get something different. And I still enjoy the book too 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mairelon the Magician (Magic and Malice #1) ★★★★☆


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Title: Mairelon the Magician
Series: Magic and Malice #1
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

Kim, a 16 year old street rat is realizing she can no longer hide the fact that she’s a girl. She takes on a final job of spying on a market magician to earn enough money to give her time to figure out what she can do. She is caught but instead of being punished, Mairelon offers her a job of being his apprentice, as he is a real magician and not a street performer.

It becomes obvious to Kim that Mairelon is MUCH more than just a magician though. His references to his time abroad, his connections to various muckety-mucks make Kim aware that Mairelon has been working for the government on the highest levels. And he’s some sort of lord as well.

The story centers around the recovery of the Saltash dinner ware. A platter, a bowl and 4 balls, which when combined, give the user the ability to compel their victims to tell the absolute truth. The British government wants it but will settle for it not falling into French hands. Kim and Mairelon are chasing down the platter in this story and have lots of adventures.

In the end, it is revealed that Kim has a natural affinity for magic and Mairelon adopts her as his ward so he can live in the same house to teach her magic without scandalizing “Society”.

My Thoughts:

I originally read the Mairelon duology (I’ll be reading book 2 in a month or so) back in the 90’s when the Science Fiction Book Club released a hardcover omnibus edition. I still own that baby. I then re-read the duology in 2000 when I was beginning my record keeping. I won’t be bothering to include a link, as it consists of just naming what genre the book was in 😀

This is that elusive middle grade book that is written well enough to still be read and enjoyed by adults. Wrede seems to excel at that particular skill.

Fun, enjoyable, easy on the brain (well, except when Mairelon or somebody else starts monologuing and connecting all the dots) and a sure fire pleasure for fans of Regency Era England. My guess is that Wrede was aiming for “Jane Austen with Magic for Kids”. She hit the mark, that is for sure. Since I’m a big Austen fan, this worked fantastic.

Unfortunately, the one downside to this book, which isn’t really a big thing, is the cover. That is supposed to be Kim on the cover, in her “street urchin boy” disguise. While it is tough to see in the small picture I include here, when I look at it in a larger format, it becomes really horrible. Kim has this squinty, “something” look where her eyes are just messed up. It’s unpleasant to look at. Plus, the byline of “Is it possible? Could his magic …. be real?” is just so wrong. Magicians are a part of the fabric of society in this book, so it would surprise anyone that Mairelon was a real magician.

Those are just quibbles though, because I feel like complaining about something. If you’re a fan of Austen, Regency Era England or Middle Grade Fantasy, go try this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lord of Chaos (The Wheel of Time #6) ★★★☆☆


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Title: Lord of Chaos
Series: The Wheel of Time #6
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 976
Words: 405K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Trying to find a way to cure stilling, Nynaeve probes Siuan with the Power. She senses something cut. They learn Siuan can sense Moghedien through an a’dam, but she can’t make her feel anything or touch saidar. Elayne has made an a’dam without the chain, which they can use on Moghedien in her Marigan disguise without arousing suspicion. An embassy is sent to Caemlyn to deal with Rand. Min goes with the embassy. Perrin senses Rand needing him and sets off to find him, with two hundred Two Rivers men. While arranging a meeting with the Aiel, a peddler tells Gawyn that Morgase is dead, killed by the Dragon Reborn. Aginor and Balthamel wake with new bodies and are told by Shaidar Haran that they are now called Osan’gar and Aran’gar. Aran’gar is female, which does not please her. Demandred receives instructions from the the Dark One in Shayol Ghul. Demandred, Graendal, Semirhage and Mesaana make plans. Sammael and Graendal taunt each other. Semirhage tortures an Aes Sedai.

In Amador, Morgase tries to get help from King Ailron. Pedron Niall says she should use the Whitecloaks. She sees Paitr Conel, an Andoran who was helping her escape, hanged for being a Darkfriend. She believes that this was just an excuse and the help he was giving her was the real reason. She gives in and signs a treaty allowing the Whitecloaks access to Andor.

Elayne has been making new dream ter’angreal and teaching Sheriam’s circle about Tel’aran’rhiod. They go to the White Tower to read reports on what Elaida is doing. The Aes Sedai fall into a nightmare, from which Elayne and Siuan are forced to rescue them, though no one believes Elayne went in deliberately. Elayne visits Andor, where she is seen by Demandred.

An ambassador from the White Tower arrives. To put her off, she is told more time is needed before a decision can be made. Nynaeve overhears this and, using need, she and Elayne look in the World of Dreams for an object to force them to help Rand. After first been taken to the Tower, they go to Ebou Dar, where they find a bowl-shaped ter’angreal that Elayne believes will fix the weather.

Theodrin gets Nynaeve drunk to try and clear her block. Angry about this and other things, Nynaeve accidentally Heals Logain of his gentling. She repeats the process on Siuan and Leane, though they are only partly Healed. The Yellows are surprised by her use of all Five Powers. They grab her and make her demonstrate it repeatedly. Leane and Siuan visit her later to ask her to try again because their low strength means they will not be very influential. Aran’gar arrives and stays with Delana.

In Caemlyn, Rand practices the sword in front of sycophantic nobles, with anyone willing to fight him. Bashere tries to stab him, to make the point that Rand doesn’t need to use a sword, and is stopped only by Rand’s quick actions.

Mazrim Taim arrives in Caemlyn and claims to want a compact between them, but agrees to merely serve when Rand refuses. Rand wonders about his sanity and realizes he doesn’t like him. Taim gives Rand one of the seals, which Lews Therin’s voice insists he must destroy. They travel to a nearby farm where there are candidates to learn channeling. The first one tested, Damer Flinn, is capable. Rand learns that several of the High Lords of Tear are now rebelling against him.

Mat sees two men attacking a small boy. He beats them and takes the boy, Olver. He starts preparations to go to Illian.

Bael and Bashere take Rand to an inn, where Verin and Alanna are staying with several Two Rivers girls on their way to be Aes Sedai. Alanna bonds him as her Warder. She tries to use this to make him obey her, but is unable and he shields both of them. He frightens the girls when he tells them he is the Dragon Reborn. He gives Taim permission to go looking for new recruits.

Egwene gets drawn into Gawyn’s dream while supposedly keeping away from the World of Dreams. She learns this can only happen with emotion so strong it leaves no room for much else. She realizes that she loves Gawyn.

The higher ranked Andoran lords visit Rand. Dyelin tells him about Tigraine, and he finally realizes Tigraine was his mother. The lords threaten to rise against him if he tries to keep the throne. Sammael offers a truce, which Rand refuses. Sammael claims Rand accepts it, using this to gain some control over Graendal. Rand Travels to Cairhien.

Rand sets Berelain to running the city. The Wise Ones take to her, much to Egwene’s confusion. Berelain is allowing noblewomen to form societies based on the Maidens. Rand visits a school he has set up, where people are inventing all sorts of things. He talks to Herid Fel about Warders and the seals. On his return, Egwene asks for help with the Wise Ones. He refuses.

Ogier arrive and ask about Loial. Rand convinces them to tell him where the Waygates are. They go to Shadar Logoth to place a trap for Shadowspawn around the Waygate there. Sulin talks to one of the gai’shain as though she is still a Maiden. To make up for this, she becomes a servant. One of the Maidens, Liah, disappears. They spend the rest of the day looking for her before Rand Travels to the Two Rivers, where he leaves the Ogier.

Vanin finds murdered Tinkers. That night, one of the Forsaken drops Aiel into Mat’s camp, but they are killed before they can seriously harm him. Mat gives Olver a job carrying messages, mostly as an excuse to keep him around and ensure he is fed and looked after.

Egwene goes into Cairhien and sees the Tower embassy. She also meets Gawyn, who is convinced Rand murdered Morgase. She makes him promise not to harm Rand. They reveal that they love each other, and Egwene says she’ll bond him as her Warder.

Whitecloaks try to kill Rand, killing one of the Maidens instead. Rand hangs them, but sends one to Pedron Niall, to tell him that he will hang for it. Egwene goes to Rand to try and tell him how to behave with the Aes Sedai. They arrive while she is still there, so he hides her. He tells them he can feel when they embrace saidar, though Galina doesn’t believe he can sense it. Later, Rand senses a Gray Man and holds him in Air. Taim arrives and kills it. He tells Rand that a student, Narishma, has the spark, and would channel without being taught. Rand is sent a letter from Queen Alliandre, which is very friendly.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene is summoned to Salidar while Rand watches secretly. She enters in the flesh and goes in one night, after first having the Wise Ones beat her for lying to them. When she arrives, she is told she is to be Amyrlin. After a little opposition, mostly formalities and Sitters trying to show they won’t be pushovers, the Hall agrees. As her first decree, she raises Nynaeve, Elayne, Faolain and Theodrin to full Aes Sedai. Rand sends Mat and the Band to Salidar to fetch Elayne. Aviendha goes with them to make up toh to Elayne. Lan arrives in Salidar in secret.

Egwene is told about Moghedien and agrees that they can learn from her. She says there will be no more putting people out of the Tower and that anyone will be allowed to enter if she can. Egwene learns from Moghedien how to Travel, though she had already figured it out herself.

Mat arrives and Egwene uses the presence of the Band to force the rebels to move towards Tar Valon. Elayne and Nynaeve go to Ebou Dar with Mat, who has promised Rand that he will stay with Elayne. Aviendha tells Elayne of what happened between her and Rand and offers to let Elayne beat or stab her. Elayne decides that she doesn’t want to. On the way, Elayne goes out of her way to irritate Mat. The girls move into the palace, while Mat moves into an inn run by Setalle Anan.

Min and the Salidar embassy arrive in Caemlyn and she goes straight to Rand. She sees Melaine and reveals that she is to have twin daughters. Min gives her opinions on the Aes Sedai that came with her. Rand goes to warn Taim away from them. He tells the students that they are to be known as Asha’man.

Perrin arrives and talks to Bashere, who is very much annoyed about Faile’s marriage. He threatens to take her away, and Perrin threatens him in turn. He stands up to Deira, Bashere’s wife, and they decide that Faile is old enough to marry. Perrin makes Faile promise not to spy on Rand. One of the Aes Sedai in the embassy is attacked by Aiel. They go to tell Rand that it is unacceptable and that they will do as they wish from then on. He has no idea what they are talking about and tells them things will remain and they are to show respect. He dismisses them. Bera and Kiruna arrive and take control. This takes the number to thirteen, the number traditionally used to gentle men. Rand flees to Cairhien, taking Min, Perrin and Loial. He tells Merana to follow with no more than five others. Bera and Kiruna ignore this, taking nine.

In Cairhien, Rand tries to put the Tower embassy off while Berelain stalks Perrin. Eventually they grow tired and kidnap Rand, claiming that Rand has gone and they are fed up of waiting. When Dobraine reveals Meilan and Maringil have been murdered, probably on Colavaere’s orders, and Berelain reveals Rand has left his sword, Perrin realizes that the Aes Sedai have taken him and resolves to get him back. Sulin stops acting as a servant.

The Aes Sedai punish Rand for trying to escape and killing Warders when he saw Min being beaten. Sevanna visits to discuss her arrangement with the Aes Sedai. She has her Wise Ones kill one of their own, who is against her, and blames the Aes Sedai to get the Shaido to fight them. Perrin takes Maidens, siswai’aman and Wise Ones with him. On the way, he talks to wolves, who are furious to learn of Rand’s capture. They are also joined by the Two Rivers men and the Aes Sedai from Caemlyn. Sulin and another Maiden, Nandera, fight for leadership of the Maidens. Sorilea and Amys talk to discuss leadership of the Wise Ones.

They catch up with the Tower Aes Sedai, who are besieged by the Shaido. Led by Perrin, they charge. Taim and the Asha’man arrive through gateways. In the confusion, Rand breaks through the shield on him, stilling the three still holding it. He wanders around, shielding and knocking unconscious any Aes Sedai he sees. Gawyn escapes. The area is secured and the Shaido dispersed by the Asha’man who simply butcher them. Taim forces the Salidar Aes Sedai to swear fealty to Rand as punishment for bringing more than six.

Egwene releases Logain, who goes to join Rand. Moghedien is rescued by Aran’gar and goes to Shayol Ghul. Herid Fel is killed by a gholam.

My Thoughts:

Thank goodness for good ol’ Toral. He has saved me years of work (at least it feels that way) AND if I ever get the itch to re-read this series, I can just read his synopses and be done.

This book is where I start to struggle with the series overall. It also appears to be the same book that I struggled with in the past. Back in ’11 I only gave this 3 stars. I didn’t rate it in 2000, but that is because I wasn’t rating anything back then. In fact, as I type this, I still don’t know what I’m going to rate this. I guess I’m going to write what I write and then add the star rating after the fact.

I was really torn about this book. There were times where I was almost jumping up and screaming “Yes! AWESOME!!!!!” and other times where I just stopped reading because I was so angry/annoyed/disgusted. This was a big book, at over 400K words. In fact, it is the longest book in the series so far.

The best part of the book, for me, was the battle at the end where everyone comes together to rescue Rand from the Aes Sedai and the Shado Aiel. The ashaman, the male version of Aes Sedai that Rand is gathering, just rip apart the Shado. Jordan aptly describes it like a meat grinder and I completely got that vibe from how he describes it. It was horrifying and yet perfect for the situation.

The bad parts though? Just ugh. The quote I did from my Currently Reading post really expressed it well. Unfortunately. Egwene was about the only woman who didn’t act like a complete bitch for the entire book. It was beyond aggravating to read such characters. Then the guys were just stupidly “take charge and protect” and ignoring just what the girls were turning into (powerful Aes Sedai able to take care of themselves). Nobody actually talked to each other, they just told and did and commanded. Everybody. And of course, it didn’t turn out well for anyone. You can’t tell the Dragon Reborn what to do. You can’t tell the Amyrlin Seat what to do. I think what really got me though was the little bit about Perrin and Faile. They are married but Berelain, a woman who is a queen of a small country is chasing Perrin. Perrin is doing his best to avoid her but somehow pisses off Faile in the process. But neither Perrin nor Faile will talk to the other about what is going on and it gets worse and worse. Stubbornness, pride and stupidity were on display at all times.

I don’t want to read that. There is no need for it. It also reinforces my decision to not re-read this series again. I will finish this series this time, but never again. Which means that I’m going to give this 3 stars again.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Bible: The One Year Chronological New Living Translation

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Bible: The One Year Chronological New Living Translation
Author: Jehovah
Pages: 1720
Words: 789K



Synopsis:

This takes the Bible, all 66 books, and chunks them up by Chapter and Verse into what this set of scholars believe is chronological order. This is translated in the New Living Translation which really isn’t a translation but an “interpretation”. It’s intent is to be an easy to read and understand version without worrying about literal interpretation.

My Thoughts:

I’m obviously not rating this but that is because I’m not putting the Word of God on the same level as some book written by men. This review is more about the translation, the chronology and the setup of this version of the Bible itself.

I’ve been reading my Bible through each year since I was 12 or 13. I slacked off for a decade in my mid-20’s until my mid-30’s and have started again. Mrs B and I read each section each morning or evening and then we talk about what we read, what we thought about it and what we got from it. As such, the One Year line of Bibles have been wonderful, as they’re internally divided up by date and we don’t have to refer to a external reading chart. Another thing that is important to us is having wide margins to write in, as we don’t want notebooks either. We always look for extra wide margins when choosing which Bible to read through for the next year. This had those and we wrote in them a lot. The only downside is that they would sometimes take up an entire margin with one verse from that day’s reading and have lots of cutesy little pictures around it. It was extremely frustrating to want to write something and not have the room because some artsy fartsy jackass decided that the margins needed to be filled up by them instead of leaving them open for the reader.

This NLT version was also a nice change up in the version we read. We tend to read as literally as possible and as such use the New King James, the New American Standard and the English Standard Version with a smattering of others as needed. While neither of us would ever study with a version like this, it was good for trying to get something in a new perspective. If you’ve never read a Bible before, this might be the version to introduce you but it should never be the one you stick with. Just like baby food is perfect for babies and adults CAN eat it, adults need adult food eventually.

Reading chronologically was also a bit different. There are times where histories are repeated throughout the Bible in different books. It is much easier to read them separated than one after another. There were times when we read the same instance 3 times (some of the histories recorded in Kings, Chronicle and either Isaiah or Jeremiah for example) and our eyes kind of glazed over. Speaking of eyes glazing over, the amount they put into each day really seemed to vary. Sometimes you’d read 1 ½ pages and other days you’d read 5 or 6. I found it extremely frustrating to never know how much time I was going to need. There were times Mrs B had to warn me “Long one today. Be prepared” and I would groan deep within myself.

I realize I’m complaining here but it is about issues that are specific to this particular Bible, not the Bible itself. Please don’t think I’m complaining about the Bible itself.

We finished this up in September and it has taken a little bit to find our next one. For this time through we’re going with the New International Version Journal the Word edition. It is not a One Year Bible so we’re going to be using one of the traditional charts for that. It does however have very wide margins and I didn’t see one artsy-fartsy drawing in the whole thing. That should balance out it being the NIV (which is another “interpretation” instead of a true translation).

Dombey and Son ★★★★★


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Title: Dombey and Son
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 876
Words: 357.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story concerns Paul Dombey, the wealthy owner of the shipping company of the book’s title, whose dream is to have a son to continue his business. The book begins when his son is born and Dombey’s wife dies shortly after giving birth. Following the advice of Mrs. Louisa Chick, his sister, Dombey employs a wet nurse named Mrs. Richards (Toodle). Dombey already has a six-year-old daughter Florence, but, bitter at her not having been the desired boy, he neglects her continually. One day, Mrs. Richards, Florence, and her maid, Susan Nipper, secretly pay a visit to Mrs. Richard’s house in Staggs’s Gardens so that Mrs. Richards can see her children. During this trip, Florence becomes separated from them and is kidnapped for a short time by Good Mrs. Brown, before being returned to the streets. She makes her way to Dombey and Son’s offices in the City and there is found and brought home by Walter Gay, an employee of Mr. Dombey, who first introduces her to his uncle, the navigation instrument maker Solomon Gills, at his shop The Wooden Midshipman.

The child, named Paul after his father, is a weak and sickly child, who does not socialise normally with others; adults call him “old fashioned”. He is intensely fond of his sister Florence, who is deliberately neglected by her father as a supposedly irrelevant distraction. Paul is sent to the seaside at Brighton for his health, where he and Florence lodge with the ancient and acidic Mrs. Pipchin. Finding his health beginning to improve there, Mr. Dombey keeps him at Brighton and has him educated there at Dr. and Mrs. Blimber’s school, where he and the other boys undergo both an intense and arduous education under the tutelage of Mr. Feeder, B.A. and Cornelia Blimber. It is here that Paul is befriended by a fellow pupil, the amiable but weak-minded Mr. Toots.

Here, Paul’s health declines even further in this ‘great hothouse’ and he finally dies, still only six years old. Dombey pushes his daughter away from him after the death of his son, while she futilely tries to earn his love. In the meantime, young Walter sent off to fill a junior position in the firm’s counting house in Barbados through the manipulations of Mr Dombey’s confidential manager, Mr James Carker, ‘with his white teeth’, who sees him as a potential rival through his association with Florence. His boat is reported lost and he is presumed drowned. Walter’s uncle leaves to go in search of Walter, leaving his great friend Captain Edward Cuttle in charge of The Midshipman. Meanwhile, Florence is now left alone with few friends to keep her company.

Dombey goes to Leamington Spa with a new friend, Major Joseph B. Bagstock. The Major deliberately sets out to befriend Dombey to spite his neighbour in Princess’s Place, Miss Tox, who has turned cold towards him owing to her hopes – through her close friendship with Mrs Chick – of marrying Mr. Dombey. At the spa, Dombey is introduced via the Major to Mrs. Skewton and her widowed daughter, Mrs. Edith Granger. Mr. Dombey, on the lookout for a new wife since his son’s death, considers Edith a suitable match due to her accomplishments and family connections; he is encouraged by both the Major and her avaricious mother, but obviously feels no affection for her. After they return to London, Dombey remarries, effectively ‘buying’ the beautiful but haughty Edith as she and her mother are in a poor financial state. The marriage is loveless; his wife despises Dombey for his overbearing pride and herself for being shallow and worthless. Her love for Florence initially prevents her from leaving, but finally she conspires with Mr. Carker to ruin Dombey’s public image by running away together to Dijon. They do so after her final argument with Dombey in which he once again attempts to subdue her to his will. When he discovers that she has left him, he blames Florence for siding with her stepmother, striking her on the breast in his anger. Florence is forced to run away from home. Highly distraught, she finally makes her way to The Midshipman where she lodges with Captain Cuttle as he attempts to restore her to health. They are visited frequently by Mr. Toots and his prizefighter companion, the Chicken, since Mr. Toots has been desperately in love with Florence since their time together in Brighton.

Dombey sets out to find his wife. He is helped by Mrs. Brown and her daughter, Alice, who, as it turns out, was a former lover of Mr. Carker. After being transported as a convict for criminal activities, which Mr. Carker had involved her in, she is seeking her revenge against him now that she has returned to England. Going to Mrs. Brown’s house, Dombey overhears the conversation between Rob the Grinder – who is in the employment of Mr. Carker – and the old woman as to the couple’s whereabouts and sets off in pursuit. In the meantime, in Dijon, Mrs. Dombey informs Carker that she sees him in no better a light than she sees Dombey, that she will not stay with him, and she flees their apartment. Distraught, with both his financial and personal hopes lost, Carker flees from his former employer’s pursuit. He seeks refuge back in England, but being greatly overwrought, accidentally falls under a train and is killed.

After Carker’s death, it is discovered that he had been running the firm far beyond its means. This information is gleaned by Carker’s brother and sister, John and Harriet, from Mr. Morfin, the assistant manager at Dombey and Son, who sets out to help John Carker. He often overheard the conversations between the two brothers in which James, the younger, often abused John, the older, who was just a lowly clerk and who is sacked by Dombey because of his filial relationship to the former manager. As his nearest relations, John and Harriet inherit all Carker’s ill-gotten gains, to which they feel they have no right. Consequently, they surreptitiously give the proceeds to Mr. Dombey, through Mr. Morphin, who is instructed to let Dombey believe that they are merely something forgotten from the general wreck of his fortunes. Meanwhile, back at The Midshipman, Walter reappears, having been saved by a passing ship after floating adrift with two other sailors on some wreckage. After some time, he and Florence are finally reunited – not as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ but as lovers, and they marry prior to sailing for China on Walter’s new ship. This is also the time when Sol Gills returns to The Midshipman. As he relates to his friends, he received news whilst in Barbados that a homeward-bound China trader had picked up Walter and so had returned to England immediately. He said he had sent letters whilst in the Caribbean to his friend Ned Cuttle c/o Mrs MacStinger at Cuttle’s former lodgings, and the bemused Captain recounts how he fled the place, thus never receiving them.

Florence and Walter depart and Sol Gills is entrusted with a letter, written by Walter to her father, pleading for him to be reconciled towards them both. A year passes and Alice Brown has slowly been dying despite the tender care of Harriet Carker. One night Alice’s mother reveals that Alice herself is the illegitimate cousin of Edith Dombey (which accounts for their similarity in appearance when they both meet). In a chapter entitled ‘Retribution’, Dombey and Son goes bankrupt. Dombey retires to two rooms in his house and all its contents are put up for sale. Mrs. Pipchin, for some time the housekeeper, dismisses all the servants and she herself returns to Brighton, to be replaced by Mrs. Richards. Dombey spends his days sunk in gloom, seeing no-one and thinking only of his daughter:

He thought of her as she had been that night when he and his bride came home. He thought of her as she had been in all the home events of the abandoned house. He thought, now, that of all around him, she alone had never changed. His boy had faded into dust, his proud wife had sunk into a polluted creature, his flatterer and friend had been transformed into the worst of villains, his riches had melted away, the very walls that sheltered him looked on him as a stranger; she alone had turned the same, mild gentle look upon him always. Yes, to the latest and the last. She had never changed to him – nor had he ever changed to her – and she was lost.

However, one day Florence returns to the house with her baby son, Paul, and is lovingly reunited with her father.

Dombey accompanies his daughter to her and Walter’s house where he slowly starts to decline, cared for by Florence and also Susan Nipper, now Mrs. Toots. They receive a visit from Edith’s Cousin Feenix who takes Florence to Edith for one final time – Feenix sought Edith out in France and she returned to England under his protection. Edith gives Florence a letter, asking Dombey to forgive her her crime before her departure to the South of Italy with her elderly relative. As she says to Florence, ‘I will try, then to forgive him his share of the blame. Let him try to forgive me mine!’

The final chapter (LXII) sees Dombey now a white-haired old man ‘whose face bears heavy marks of care and suffering; but they are traces of a storm that has passed on for ever, and left a clear evening in its track’. Sol Gills and Ned Cuttle are now partners at The Midshipman, a source of great pride to the latter, and Mr and Mrs Toots announce the birth of their third daughter. Walter is doing well in business, having been appointed to a position of great confidence and trust, and Dombey is the proud grandfather of both a grandson and granddaughter whom he dotes on. The book ends with the highly moving lines:

‘Dear grandpapa, why do you cry when you kiss me?
He only answers, ‘Little Florence! Little Florence!’ and smooths away the curls that shade her earnest eyes.

My Thoughts:

This was a book about Luciferian Pride and just how destructive and ruinous such pride is.

While I enjoyed this tremendously while reading, it took me over 2 weeks to get through simply because the subject matter was so tough. Dickens does an admirable job of showing how Florence just wants her father to love her and how he does everything but that.

Even with the semi-happy ending, this was a book simply drenched in meloncholia. While Florence had a greater capacity than I to persevere, she was no bright eyed Pollyana with a song on her lips. She was greatly affected by her father’s treatment.

I also found that I wanted to throttle Captain Cuttle, another of the characters that I mentioned in my currently reading post earlier this month. He was so kind and gentle and at the same time he simply made everything worse. Everything. Even near the end when he finds out that Walter is back in England, he spends the whole day reminding Florence that Walter is drowned and dead:
 ‘Poor Wal’r, aye, aye. Drownded, ain’t he?’ 
I just wanted to throttle him even while laughing at his antics.

This is the book I’ll think of when someone mentions Dickens and run-on sentences and bloviated writing. It was quite noticeable and this is coming from me, who’s been re-reading Dickens for almost the last 3 years, so you know it was “bad”. I suspect that is another reason I took so long reading this. You couldn’t read this quickly or you’d lose yourself in his maze of words and have no clue what he was talking about by the end of a paragraph. This was definitely a book calling for comprehensive reading.

Overall, another great entry but not one I’d recommend to anyone new to Dickens. Save this for once you’ve had some experience. In other words, don’t try to run before you can walk!

★★★★★

New Spring (The Wheel of Time #0) ★★★★★


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Title: New Spring
Series: The Wheel of Time #0
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Words: 122.5K

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Kyria d’Oreyn

Lan’s point of view

The Aiel War is over and Lan rides north to the Blight with Bukama. In Canluum, Kandor, they meet Ryne, an old friend. He informs them that Edeyn Arrel, Lan’s carneira, intends to raise the banner of the Golden Crane of Malkier. Together they ride to Chachin, noticing someone following them. It turns out to be a woman, (Moiraine), who claims the right of a woman alone, and gives them the name of Lady Alys. Bukama pledges to escort her to Chachin. Lan doubts that this woman is who she claims she is. He believes that Edeyn sent her.

Once in Chachin, their ways part and the three men ride on to the Aesdaishar Palace, where Lan is received by Brys, Prince-Consort to Queen Ethenielle of Kandor. A few days later, Lady Alys appears again and wants Lan to spy on Merean Redhill, an Aes Sedai staying at the Palace. When he and Moiraine/Alys uncover a plot of Merean’s that involves killing Brys, his son Diryk and Edeyn’s daughter, Iselle, they rush to save the three innocent victims. Lan confronts and defeats Ryne in a duel. The next day, he rides out of the city. Moiraine rides up to him and asks him to be her Warder.

Moiraine’s point of view

In their time as Accepted, Moiraine and Siuan are present when Gitara Moroso speaks her Foretelling of the Dragon’s rebirth. Later, Tamra Ospenya, the Amyrlin Seat, decides to give out a bounty of one hundred gold marks to every woman who bore a child in the camps around Tar Valon during the last week of the Aiel War. This is actually a plan to find out who the Dragon Reborn might be. At first, Moiraine and Siuan ride out with the other Accepted to record names for the bounty, but the following day they are instead told to re-copy some of the less legible lists. This gives them the opportunity to create their own list, of babies that meet the description of the soon-to-be-Dragon. Moiraine is told by Tamra to take a letter to Kerene Nagashi, asking her to appear before the Amyrlin. Other sisters receive letters as well, which leads the young women to think that Tamra wants to send out searchers for the boychild. One after the other, those sisters leave Tar Valon, and one morning Tamra is announced dead.

After she and Siuan are raised to Aes Sedai, Moiraine leaves Tar Valon to search for the boychild herself. In Canluum, she meets Merean and Cadsuane. Siuan is also there, having left the Tower to tell Moiraine that Tamra’s searchers are all dead, possibly killed by the Black Ajah. Moiraine avoids Cadsuane, and after leaving Canluum, she follows three riders (Lan, Bukama and Ryne), who she believes may be Darkfriends. She claims the right of a woman alone to have an excuse to ride with them. On the way, she looks for the women from the list of possible mothers of the Dragon Reborn, but none of them is who she is searching for.

In Chachin, she meets Siuan again. Siuan has located Ines Demain, the next mother on their list, in the Aesdaishar Palace. When Moiraine hears that Lan is also there, she immediately wants to go back to her rooms to avoid running into him, but on her way there she meets Merean again. No longer sure who she can and cannot trust, and who is and is not Black Ajah, she decides to go to Lan and ask him and Bukama to spy on Merean. Later, after Lan accuses Moiraine of attempting to have him killed, not knowing that Merean was the one behind the attempt, Moiraine becomes certain that Merean is a Black sister. They run to confront her. Merean kills Brys and Diryk before Moiraine kills her. Moiraine tries to save Iselle, but fails. The following day, she rides out after Lan to ask him to become her Warder.

My Thoughts:

(This so-called Kyria d’Oreyn has written over 1000 articles at TarValon.net and the above summary is the best he can do? Torval would totally kick his sorry little summary butt! I’m only complaining because I don’t have to write any of it, hahahahaha!)

This was pretty close to a perfect book and I shall articulate why that is fact (and if you disagree, Lightning from Above Strike your degenerative head!).

* claps hands *

Now pay close attention, class.

First off, there are only two point of views here. One from Lan and one from Moiraine. None of this silly 57 eleventy pov’s like there are in some of the books. While the cast of characters is just as large as in some of the other WoT books, Jordan does an admirable job of simply telling 2 tales and how they intersect. At under 400 pages, this is tight and to the point. Jordan could have taken some lessons from himself and this book. But since he’s dead, my advice will never be followed. Oh, the tragedies I endure as I serenely hand out blessed wisdom left and right like water to parched souls.

Second. Moiraine isn’t a bitch. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t believe how Jordan portrayed her anger and impatience without making her a horrible, terrible, no-good person that I wanted to strangle (all those DO apply to Nynaeve by the way). Moiraine isn’t perfect, but I simply didn’t want to wrap my hands around her throat and throttle her to death. She was actually FUN to read about, you know, like a main character should be?

Third, the story has a definitive beginning and a definitive end. While it was speculated when this was released that it would be a trilogy (and I’m pretty sure Jordan himself lent credence to such rumors), nothing ever came of it and Sanderson expressed zero interest in doing such a project after finishing up the mammoth ending trilogy. Which makes the fact that this can stand on it’s own feet a VERY good thing.

On a side note, when I re-read this back in ’11 I noted that it shouldn’t be read before Book 8 (Path of Daggers I believe). I’m torn whether that was the right place or if where I read it this time (just after Book 5, the Fires of Heaven) was better. Honestly, I saw no reason not to read it at this point. Since I don’t ever plan on re-re-re-reading this series, I guess that particular issue will simply have to remain one of life’s ineffable mysteries 😉

★★★★★