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


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: 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?

Yotsuba&! Vol. 10 ★★★★★

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: Yotsuba&! Vol. 10
Series: Yotsuba&! #10
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Playtime

Yotsuba & Pancakes

Yotsuba & Jumbo

Yotsuba & the Electronics Store

Yotsuba & Home Appliances

Yotsuba & Lies

Yotsuba & the Re-encounter

My Thoughts:

5 stars. Bravo. Fun, fun, fun. I’m tired. So you get a picture and that’s that.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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


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: 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.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 9 ★★★★★

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: Yotsuba&! Vol. 9
Series: Yotsuba&! #9
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Schedules

Yotsuba & Juralumin

Yotsuba & Coffee

Yotsuba & Barbecue

Yotsuba & Visitors

Yotsuba & Hot Air Balloons

Yotsuba & The Sky

My Thoughts:

Delightful and whimsical aptly sum this volume up. Yotsuba’s dad buys a coffee maker and there is a running gag of Yotsuba trying to get a cup of coffee over to the neighbors house and spilling it each time before making it.

This picture is from the chapter Juralumin, where Yotsuba’s dad is going to buy her a teddy bear, which in other panels she misprounces as beddy tear. I chose this one because Mrs B absolutely loves funny faces in manga. It’s one of the reasons she started reading Skipbeat! and is why we continue to buy the books as they come out, to support the manga-ka. Sparkly eyes are a particular killer 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 8 ★★★★★


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: Yotsuba&! Vol. 8
Series: Yotsuba&! #8
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Opposites

Yotsuba & the Restaurant

Yotsuba & the Cultural Festival

Yotsuba & the Typhoon

Yotsuba & Watching the House

Yotsuba & the Festival

Yotsuba & Acorns

My Thoughts:

I read this sunday. I was feeling tired, stressed out and sick (probably from stressing out) and reading this was like taking a huge horse tranquilizer. By the end of the volume I was totally chill. I had been debating about whether I wanted to read this feeling the way I was but am I glad I did.

The picture I included this time was from the Festival Chapter. Yotsuba is helping pull a shrine and they take a break so she and her dad and some others are looking at the other portable shrines when Yotsuba sees the sumo wrestler. I remember laughing my head off the first time I saw this page and man, it hasn’t stopped being funny to me. The manga-ka has totally caught that innocent yet bold spirit of being a 5 year old.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Steal the Sky (Scorched Continent #1) ★★★✬☆


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: Steal the Sky
Series: Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 340
Words: 117.5K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

My Thoughts:

I read this back in 2016. I wasn’t that impressed then, as I had some real issues with the story structure. I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews for O’Keefe’s Protectorate series though, so wanted to give this series another chance. It was a smidge bit better, enough to bump it up half a star and to get me onto the second book, unlike last time.

Reading my review from ’16, I can still see what I meant. It just didn’t bother me the same way, as I was already familiar with the characters. I’ve also realized that I enjoy the “Lord and Servant” trope. Detan & Tibbs. Wooster & Jeeves. Whimsey & Bunter. It simply works for me.

I did find Detan to be more of a useless ass this time around than last. I rather dislike using pejorative body parts as descriptions for someone, but really, it seems to be the most accurate, universal fit. Tibbs was less involved than I remember while all the women (the rest of the cast) played a much more decisive role.

Upon some investigating, it turns out that O’Keefe wrote a prequel novel after she finished this series. If she had written that first, even if not published it, it would go a LONG way towards explaining some of the “familiar” banter between Detan and Tibbs and would give some weight to their obvious history in this book. In that same investigating I have come across enough issues that I have decided to not delve into the Protectorate series. Now I just have to hope she doesn’t tip me off a cliff with this trilogy.

Honestly, I can’t say if I enjoyed this more than last time. I certainly had much less “dislike” than last time though. I’m pretty ambivalent and this review definitely reflects that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 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: Yotsuba&! Vol. 7
Series: Yotsuba&! #7
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Telephones

Yotsuba & Respect for the Aged Day

Yotsuba & Fever

Yotsuba & Patissier

Yotsuba & Errands

Yotsuba & Taking Off

Yotsuba & The Ranch

My Thoughts:

Some of these chapters are longer than others. In Telephones, for example, Yotsuba spends the whole day playing string&cup telephone with the neighbors. It ends with a picture of Fuka (the 16/17 year old daughter) talking to Yotsuba’s dad through a window and her older college age sister walking in on her. The facial expressions are priceless and the manga-ka makes it crystal clear, without writing a word, that Asagi (the older sister) thinks shenanigans are going on. It’s just too funny.

Then you have chapters like Respect for the Aged Day where Yotsuba talks with her grandma on the phone for about 1 page.

The overarching theme for this book was visiting a farm. Yotsuba loves milk so much so her dad decides to take her to a farm. Jumbo is their transportation and Yotsuba’s Nemesis, Yando, invites himself along.

I’d like to talk about Yando for a minute. He doesn’t seem to get along with anybody so I’ve wondered how he’s stayed friends with Yotsuba’s dad. He and Jumbo definitely don’t get along and while Yotsuba’s dad is pretty laid back about him, Yando seems to try to push his buttons whenever he can. Maybe he’s just “one of those” friends? Whatever the case may be, and despite me not liking him, he does provide the necessary “edge” to this series.

The picture I’ve included this time was from the chapter where Fuka and her friend are practicing making cakes. They’re not happy with how it looks, so they let Yotsuba decorate it so they can tell their family it wasn’t them that decorated it. Yotsuba goes all out, hence her decision to include the last egg 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 6 ★★★★★


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 6
Series: Yotsuba&! #6
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Recycling

Yotsuba & The Bicycle

Yotsuba & Pottering Around

Yotsuba & Friday

Yotsuba & Milk

Yotsuba & Delivering

Yotsuba & The Bookshelf

My Thoughts:

My reading of Yotsuba has taken on a ritualistic aspect in my life. While these posts go up for Manga Monday, I read them the Saturday before. I wake up, peruse wordpress and deal with the various notifications and new posts. Then I start up Calibre, grab a Pina Colada Bang and sit down on the couch. I open my “Manga” review template in OpenOffice and begin reading.

I fill out each chapter heading in the template as I come to them in the manga and decide which picture I want to include. All the while I’m sipping on cold Bang and reading the antics of Yotsuba. It is soothing, relaxing and something I look forward too. Because I don’t do these every Monday the ritual doesn’t become over used and I can’t accidentally unleash Unspeakable Cosmic Horrors on an unsuspecting world. Of course, maybe a Yotsuba inspired Cosmic Horror wouldn’t be so bad?

Anyway, this volume centers around Yotsuba getting her first bicycle and her adventures. Some good, some bad. Yanda, the Arch Enemy, makes another appearance and Yotsuba enjoys eating her hamburger in his face while he has to make do with instant ramen.

One of the strengths of this manga are the supporting characters. I put this picture of her dad to show what kind of home life Yotsuba is growing up in. He’s super laid back and just is himself. At the same time he’s a very careful father. He’s one of the safety bungees that Yotsuba can bounce off of without ever knowing how close to danger she ever came. It is what you want in a parent.

Rating: 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 ★★★★★


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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.