Dombey and Son ★★★★★


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: 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) ★★★★★


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: 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 😉

★★★★★

Little Dorrit ★★★★★

littledorrit (Custom)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: Little Dorrit
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 839
Words: 340K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The novel begins in Marseilles “thirty years ago” (c. 1826), with the notorious murderer Rigaud telling his cellmate John Baptist Cavalletto how he killed his wife. Arthur Clennam is detained in Marseilles with a group of travellers in quarantine. He meets new friends in the quarantine. He is returning to London to see his mother after 20 years in China with his father, handling that part of the family business. His father died there. On his deathbed, his father had given him a mysterious message, murmuring “Your mother,” which message and a watch Arthur mails to Mrs Clennam.

Inside the watch casing is an old silk paper with the initials DNF (do not forget) worked in beads. It is a message, but the implacable Mrs Clennam, who now uses a wheelchair, refuses to tell him what it means. The two become estranged.

In London, William Dorrit, imprisoned as a debtor, has been a resident of Marshalsea debtors’ prison for over twenty years. He has three children: Edward, Fanny and Amy. The youngest daughter, Amy, was born in the prison and is affectionately known as Little Dorrit. Their mother died when Amy was eight years old. Fanny lives outside the prison with William’s older brother, Frederick. The adult children are free to pass in and out of the prison as they please. Little Dorrit, devoted to her father, supports them both through her sewing. To the honour of her father, who is embarrassed to acknowledge his financial position, Little Dorrit avoids mentioning her work outside the prison or his inability to leave. Mr Dorrit assumes the role of Father of the Marshalsea, and is held in great respect by its inhabitants, as if he had chosen to live there.

After Arthur tells his mother that he will not continue in the family business, Mrs Clennam chooses her clerk Jeremiah Flintwinch as her partner. When Arthur learns that Mrs Clennam employs Little Dorrit as a seamstress, showing unusual kindness, he wonders whether the young girl might be connected with the mystery of the watch. Arthur follows the girl to the Marshalsea. He tries in vain to enquire about William Dorrit’s debt in the Circumlocution Office, assuming the role of benefactor towards Little Dorrit, her father, and her brother. While at the Circumlocution Office he meets the successful inventor Daniel Doyce. Doyce wants a partner and man of business at his factory and Clennam agrees to fill that role. Little Dorrit falls in love with Arthur, but Arthur fails to recognise Little Dorrit’s feelings.

Arthur is reacquainted with his former fiancée Flora Finching, the reason he was sent away to China, who is now an unattractive widow, and accompanied by the aunt of her late husband. Her father Mr Casby owns many rental properties, and his rent collector is Mr Pancks. The indefatigable Pancks discovers that William Dorrit is the lost heir to a large fortune, enabling him to pay his way out of prison, altering the status of the entire family.

The now wealthy Dorrits decide that they should tour Europe as a newly respectable rich family. They travel over the Alps and take up residence for a time in Venice, and finally in Rome, displaying pride over their new-found wealth and position, unwilling to tell their past to new friends. Little Dorrit finds it difficult to adjust to their wealth and new social position, and slowly comes to appreciate the new places and new sights. Fanny adjusts rapidly to the ways of society, and is sought by the same young man, Edmund Sparkler, who pursued her in her poverty in London, but with a new start that is acceptable to his mother. In Rome, at a party, Mr Dorrit falls ill, and dies at their lodgings. His distraught brother Frederick dies that same night. Little Dorrit, left alone, returns to London to stay with newly married Fanny and her husband, the dim-witted Edmund Sparkler.

The financial house of Merdle, Edmund Sparkler’s stepfather, ends with Merdle’s suicide; the collapse of his bank and investment businesses takes with it the savings of the Dorrits, the firm of Doyce and Clennam, Arthur Clennam, and Pancks. Clennam is now imprisoned in the Marshalsea, where he becomes ill. When Little Dorrit arrives in London, she slowly nurses him back to health.

Cavalletto finds the villain Rigaud hiding in London as Blandois, and brings him to Arthur Clennam. Held in the prison, he sends this undesirable man to his mother, who has advertised to find him. As Blandois he tries to blackmail Mrs Clennam with his full knowledge of her past. Mrs Clennam had insisted on bringing up little Arthur and denying his biological mother the right to see him. Mrs Clennam feels this is her right to punish others, because they hurt her. Arthur’s biological mother died about the same time as Arthur went off to China, but lived out of England with Flintwinch’s twin brother. Mr Clennam’s wealthy uncle, stung by remorse, had left a bequest to Arthur’s biological mother and to the youngest daughter of her patron, or if no daughter, the youngest child of his brother. The patron was Frederick Dorrit, the kind musician who had taught and befriended Arthur’s biological mother, and the beneficiary is his niece, Amy Dorrit. Blandois left a copy of the papers he obtained from Jeremiah’s brother at the Marshalsea for Little Dorrit.

Mrs Clennam knows of this inheritance and fails to tell Little Dorrit, or to tell Arthur about his biological mother. Unwilling to yield to blackmail and with some remorse, the rigid woman rises from her chair and totters out of her house to reveal the secret to Little Dorrit at the Marshalsea. Mrs Clennam begs her forgiveness, which the kind-hearted girl freely grants. Returning to home, Mrs Clennam falls in the street, never to recover the use of her speech or limbs, as the house of Clennam literally collapses before her eyes, killing Rigaud. Affery was outdoors seeking her mistress, and Jeremiah had escaped London before the collapse with as much money as he could find. Rather than hurt him, Little Dorrit chooses not to reveal any of this to Arthur; when he is well, she asks him to burn the papers.

Mr Meagles seeks the original papers, stopping to ask Miss Wade. She has them but denies it; Tattycoram slips back to London with the papers and presents them to Mr Meagles, who gives them to Little Dorrit. Mr Meagles then seeks out Arthur’s business partner Daniel Doyce from abroad. He returns a wealthy and successful man, who arranges to clear all debts for Arthur’s release. Arthur is released from the prison with his fortunes revived, his position secure with Doyce, and his health restored. Arthur and Little Dorrit marry.

Little Dorrit contains numerous sub-plots. One concerns Arthur Clennam’s friends, the kind-hearted Meagles family, who are upset when their daughter Pet marries the artist Henry Gowan, and when their servant and foster daughter Tattycoram is lured away from them to the sinister Miss Wade, an acquaintance of the criminal Rigaud. Miss Wade is ruled by her anger, and she was a jilted sweetheart of Gowan. Another subplot concerns the Italian man John Baptist Cavalletto who was the cellmate of Rigaud in Marseilles, though jailed for a minor crime. He makes his way to London, meets up by chance with Clennam, who stands security for him as he builds up his business in wood carving and gains acceptance among the residents of Bleeding Heart Yard. Cavalletto repays this aid by searching for Blandois/Rigaud when Arthur wants him found. This action brings about the revelation of the secrets kept by Mrs Clennam.

The other major subplot is the satire of British bureaucracy, named as the Circumlocution Office, where the expertise is how not to do it.

My Thoughts:

All I can say is thank goodness for wikipedia and the hardy souls who have already put up indepth synopses. I don’t know that I’d even try to do a synopsis on my own anymore for books by Dickens, as he has so many variegated plots and threads running at the same time. Daunting.

Back in ’08 when I had reviewed this for the first time, I called it the most enjoyable Dickens’ I had read to date. You know what? That statement still stands 12 years later. I’m also giving this the “Best Book of the Year” tag to remind me at years end.

There are some things that people need to know going into this. First and foremost, this is VERY florid. In fact, there is a character named Flora who Dickens writes as she speaks, ie, almost no punctuation and paragraph long sentences. It was HARD to read her stuff, as her mind went all over and Dickens gave full vent to that. I have to admit that I ended up skipping a lot of what she said. I don’t feel that I missed much by skimming. And Dickens is just wordy so it’s everywhere. Prepare yourself mentally to just drink in the words and you’ll be fine. If you go in expecting Dickens to get right to the point, you’ll be greatly disappointed.

Characters are Dickens strong point and Little Dorrit is filled to the brim with Character. This time around there aren’t any real villainous characters, it’s more about small minded things between characters. Clennam, the main character and what goes on between him and his estranged mother. Little Dorrit and how her family treats her before and after their succession to riches. Clennam and Little Dorrit, as Clennam slowly comes to realize that Little Dorrit loves him and that being 40 doesn’t mean he’s an old man ready to die. Plus lots and lots and lots and LOTS of other character interactions, all of it engrossing.

I read this while on vacation and that set the perfect pace for me. Read until I wanted to do something else, then toddle off and do that for 5-10 minutes, then come back for another hour or so. It was a low key read and and slotted perfectly into how our vacation was going. I suspect any Dickens I read during that time would have gotten the same treatment and the same praise. But still, this was a fantastic book.

★★★★★

First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera #7) ★★★★★

firstlordsfury (Custom)

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: First Lord’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #7
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 758
Words: 202K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Returning from the ruined continent of Canea, Gaius Octavian, his girlfriend Kitai, the Canim warmaster Varg, and their legions find that most of the Aleran Empire has been destroyed or besieged by the insect-like Vord, a monstrous race led by a single sentient Queen that consumes everything they come across. Most of the Aleran resistance is based in the city of Riva, on the far eastern end of the continent. Octavian and his troops have landed on the northern edge and need to find a way to meet up with the other Aleran nobles in Riva. Meanwhile, Aquitainus Attis, who has been named First Lord in Octavian’s absence, has given the order to salt the earth between Riva and the Vord, slowing the insect’s approach.

After making landfall outside of the city of Antillus, Octavian begins preparations for his march to Riva. However, the Vord queen makes an appearance via watercraft projection, making essentially a hologram of herself out of every pool of water large enough to hold it, all across the continent. She states that her victory is inevitable and that she will accept any Aleran that wishes to surrender and allow them to live out the remainder of their life in peace provided they do not have any children. Octavian then uses the same watercrafting tactic to announce his arrival on the Aleran continent and give a morale boosting speech. Meanwhile, his aircrafting knights use their abilities to fly in and evacuate an occupied village from under the Queen’s nose. In retribution, the Queen kidnaps Octavian’s mother, Isana, as well as Araris Valerian, Isana’s lover and the most skilled swordsman in the realm.

To make the march across the continent, Octavian receives help from the great fury Alera and the northern icemen to coat the north in a thick layer of ice, as well as cause hurricane strength winds that constantly blow east. He has his engineers rig their ships with steel keels and support struts, so that they can sail across the ice like giant sleighs. While Octavian’s forces are on the march, Riva falls to the Queen’s onslaught. Her vast number of troops are bolstered by the feral furies of all the Alerans the Vord have slain, and Aquitainus is forced to retreat and evacuate civilians to the Calderon valley, where Bernard and Amara, Octavian’s uncle and his wife, have been fortifying the valley in preparation for the Vord. During the assault, Aquitainus makes a show of claiming new furies to bolster his power in an attempt to draw out his wife Invidia, who had betrayed Alera and joined the Vord Queen and become the Queen’s right hand. He succeeds but loses the ensuing fight, and is mortally wounded while Invidia escapes.

During Octavian’s march, one of his military advisers, Marcus, is revealed to be Fidelias, one of Octavian’s grandfather’s spies who had been a double agent for Invidia and caused a lot of deaths in previous books. Fidelias, who as Marcus had come to redeem himself somewhat, is condemned to death by Octavian. However, instead of immediate execution, Fidelias is allowed to die in Octavian’s service, as his skills are too great to waste with the Vord threat. Afterwards, Octavian’s force reaches Riva and decides to assault the Vord-occupied city. Octavian uses his strength in furycrafting to bring down the cities walls, and after the battle his firecrafters burn the Vord larders, cutting their supply lines to the Calderon valley. Octavian’s force then moves to the valley to pin the Vord force between his own legions and the valley’s defenders. While marching to the valley, the Queen herself makes an appearance and attacks Octavian’s camp. She kills many and wounds Octavian.

Meanwhile the Vord have begun to assault the valley. Invidia goes to Amara in an attempt to betray the Vord Queen, and gives Amara enemy troop compositions and the time of the next attack as proof of her intentions. Later, the remaining High Lords and Ladies gather to assault the Queen with their combined strength, using Invidia’s information. However, the Queen expected Invidia’s betrayal and prepared for it, and begins slaughtering the attackers. Invidia again turns to the Vord as the Queen forgives Invidia, but Amara manages to assassinate Invidia before she can turn on her fellow Alerans again. The Queen retreats, leading to Isana and Araris’ freedom.

Octavian’s forces have arrived at this point, and the Queen takes to the air off towards the mountains in an attempt to take control of the colossal great furies there. Octavian and Kitai pursue the Queen and duel her while she is simultaneously claiming the extraordinarily powerful furies there. Meanwhile, the defenders of the valley are fighting against the endless Vord, and slowly losing. After a protracted battle and managing to interrupt the Queen’s attempt to claim the furies, Octavian and Kitai manage to kill the Queen, causing the Vord to become feral without her guidance. The Vord break, and the survivors of the battle rejoice.

After the Vord’s defeat, Octavian becomes the First Lord of the realm and marries Kitai, while both of them as well as Octavian’s advisers begin rebuilding. The series ends with an opening for sequels, as on the continent of Canea there are several lesser Vord queens to be dealt with, as well as the consequences of some of the climate-changing furycrafting Octavian had to perform in order to defeat the primary Queen and save Alera.

My Thoughts:

Just as good as before. Which allayed my main worry that this whole series wouldn’t be as good and that I was remembering it through a lense of “good times” instead of it actually being a fantastic story. Have no fear, Bookstooge, this WAS a great story.

I also found it to be the story that made me the most emotional out of the 6 books. I do suspect that life conditions when reading this (super stress, physical stuff, etc, etc) played a very large part of that. I was needing some emotional outlet and choking up on obviously manipulative writing on Butcher’s part allowed me to get rid of some of the internal emotions without having to mentally acknowledge the basis for my even needing to vent like that. Just like opening the flood gates on a dam. Doesn’t matter if the extra water behind the dam came from a huge rainstorm, or 10,000 hoboes pissing in the lake all at once, all that mattered was opening the gate to bring the waterlevel back to normal levels. Now with that wonderful image in your minds….

I would say this was the weakest of the series. The action is hot and heavy but the lack of indepth characterization really shows. For this series, that didn’t bother me. In another series, maybe it would. Either way, it was something I noticed and it might bother others, so it is something to be aware of.

One thing that was really well done, in my opinion, was Butcher making his characters realize that their current actions would have lasting affects for the next several generations. From the death of the Fury of Alera (while she chose to give up herself to help Tavi against the vord, she still is dead as an entity), to possible alliances with the both the Canim and the Icemen (on top of the already cemented alliance with the Marat), to the future repercussions of creating storms and awakening Great Furies liked Galadros the Mountain, Butcher has enough of his characters cognizant that the world doesn’t begin and end with them. It was really a small part but it was nice to see it included.

When I read this for the first time back in ’10, I wanted more Alera, a lot more. Then when it became evident that Butcher wasn’t going to write more Alera, I was despondent. Now, at this point in life, I’m satisfied with where the series has ended and I don’t want Butcher to write any more in this world. After watching what Dresden fans are going through, I don’t want any part of that. No amount of Alera is worth that to me.

To wit, I enjoyed this book and this series, just as much as before but with this re-read am more than satisfied with how and where the series ended. Consider me a very happy customer.

★★★★★

The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time #5) ★★★★★

firesofheaven (Custom)

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: The Fires of Heaven
Series: The Wheel of Time #5
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 867
Words: 355K

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

In the Tower, Elaida is struggling to hold on to power, while her advisors are struggling to cope with the idea of Rand. Fain is counseling Elaida. He steals the Shadar Logoth dagger back before leaving the Tower. He gets past Alviarin only by convincingly bluffing that he stands high as a Darkfriend. Rahvin is visited by Lanfear, Sammael and Graendal. They make plans to get Rand. Morgase flees Gaebril after he shames her in front of others. She takes Lini, Tallanvor, Basel Gill and Lamgwin with her. Breane goes with Lamgwin.

In Rhuidean, Rand is living under the roof of the Maidens, the first man ever allowed there. Moiraine loads the various ter’angreal gathered in Rhuidean onto wagons. Rand discusses plans with the clan chiefs, where he learns of what is known as “the bleakness”.

Egwene and Moiraine start ganging up on him and he begins to experience Lews Therin’s memories. Moiraine finds another of the seals, which is extremely fragile. Mat picks up a Shaido woman, Melindhra, who has come to join the Maidens. Isendre irritates Aviendha and the Maidens by constantly attempting to bed Rand. Melaine decides to wed Bael, chief of her clan. Moiraine argues with the Wise Ones about Rand’s plans to take them out of the Waste.

Rand and the Aiel are attacked by Shadowspawn, including Darkhounds. Rand destroys the Darkhounds with balefire. Rand kills a Darkhound which was attacking Mat with balefire. Moiraine Heals Mat after he removes his amulet, and tells Rand balefire is dangerous. Rand agrees not to use it unless he must. The sense of trust between them breaks down so much that Moiraine swears to obey Rand and to not try to manipulate him. Rand is once more visited by Lanfear, who tells him that Rahvin has Morgase.

The Shaido leave the Waste, forcing Rand to follow. Trollocs attack again. Rand and his followers leave the Waste and see a town that has been attacked. One of the survivors says it was a message to Rand, from Couladin. They learn Couladin had been taking Wetlanders as gai’shain.

Aviendha gives Rand Laman’s sword to even out the bracelet he had previously given her. He discovers it was made with the Power, so he gives her the hilt and scabbard back, as they are jewel-encrusted and useless. As a result, she unintentionally makes a huge profit. Trollocs and Darkfriends attack again; Rand believes it is Sammael, trying to goad him, as he remembers him doing the same in the Age of Legends; Rand’s memories from the Age of Legends frighten Asmodean. Rand tells the clan chiefs he will hang anyone who murders or burns anything, even in Cairhien.

Egwene sees Elayne and Birgitte in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien tries to trap her there, but Egwene escapes. Kadere murders Isendre when she refuses to continue to try and bed Rand because of her fear of the Maidens.

Rand and the Aiel move on to Cairhien, which is under siege by the Shaido. A week away from the city, they meet lordlings from Tear that Rand had sent north, as well as Cairhienin soldiers. They tell him Couladin has the city under siege.

Rand accidentally catches Aviendha naked after taking a bath. Aiel customs in this area are considered a little odd; she flees, using the Power to Travel. Rand follows her to a winter landscape, holding her gateway open, and eventually catches up with her, finding her unconscious. He removes his clothes as well and holds her, to keep her warm. Aviendha awakens and admits her love of Rand. They consummate their relationship. The following morning, they come across a Seanchan patrol outside the gateway, which is now invisible. They shield and bind the Seanchan and head through, and as Rand lets the doorway dissolve, a spear is thrown through. He decides to keep the remaining piece of the spear.

Rand decides to attack the Shaido after coming up with a plan with the clan chiefs. Mat also comes up with the same plan after studying the map for a minute. Mat decides to leave for safety and heads south, where he sees a group of soldiers about to wander into an Aiel ambush. He goes to simply warn them, but ends up leading them throughout the battle. He also kills Couladin. Other Aiel who have not agreed to follow Rand hang back and watch.

Rand uses the One Power to influence the battle, aided by Aviendha and Egwene. Someone, presumably Sammael, tries to interfere. They eventually drive the Shaido from Cairhien, leaving Rand completely exhausted. The other Aiel, which remained apart from the Shaido, send their Wise Ones to discuss joining with Rand. Rand enters Cairhien, seeing siswai’aman for the first time. Tairen High Lords and Cairhienin Lords swear fealty to him. Weiramon arrives from Tear.

Colavaere sends young women, including Selande, to try and bed Rand. He puts a stop to it when he claims to prefer more mature women, and invites Colavaere to his chambers, where Aviendha beats her for trying to get near him. Berelain joins him in Cairhien. Moiraine brings letters from the Tower, from Elaida and Alviarin. Alviarin’s is full of flattery.

Mat hears of Morgase’s supposed death and tells Rand, who resolves to kill Rahvin. Moiraine first takes him to the docks where they meet Lanfear, who is in a rage because she has been told by Kadere that Rand has been bedding Aviendha for months. She kills Kadere, then attacks Aviendha and Egwene, who are saved by Rand. She decides to kill him when he says he will never love her. Unfortunately, he cannot bring himself to kill Lanfear. Instead, Moiraine takes Lanfear through the doorway to the realms of the Eelfinn, which melts, thus severing her bond with Lan, who is compelled to go east. Rand learns in a letter that Moiraine knew these events would take place. Mat is attacked by Melindhra, who is a Darkfriend, when he reveals he is off to Tear to lead the assault on Illian. He accidentally kills her.

That afternoon, Rand Skims to Caemlyn with Mat, Aviendha, Asmodean and a group of Aiel, but without Egwene, who is too injured. They are immediately attacked by Rahvin. Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are all killed in that first attack. Rand chases Rahvin into the World of Dreams.

Siuan, Leane and Min are arrested by Gareth Bryne after Logain burns down a barn. Leane practices her flirting on Bryne. Giving false names, they swear to work off their debt, but decide to sneak off at the first opportunity, as they never said when they would repay the debt. Logain rescues them anyway, showing concern for the man he injures in the process. Bryne follows them; he says it is because of Siuan’s eyes.

They discover the Aes Sedai opposing Elaida have gathered in Salidar. Siuan and Leane pretend to barely be able to tolerate each other and convince those in charge of who they are, and manipulate them into choosing their own Hall and Amyrlin. Siuan is allowed to run the spy network, and tells them Logain was set up by the Red Ajah. After being captured, Bryne agrees to build an army to take Tar Valon on his own terms. Siuan is set to work for him.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom and Juilin leave Tarabon to return to Tear, but come across a woman, Ronde Macura, who drugs the girls to prevent them from chaneling and ties them up. She says there is a message: “All sisters are welcome to return to the Tower. The Tower must be whole and strong”. Thom and Juilin rescue them. They realize the Tower has split and set out to find the rebels. Elayne constantly flirts with Thom. Nynaeve and Egwene discover that Elaida is Amyrlin. They meet Galad. In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene chastises Nynaeve, telling her to cover herself up.

They head into Ghealdan, where they join a traveling circus and act as performers. While travelling with the circus, they take an a’dam from a Seanchan woman. Elayne says she thinks she could make one. They meet up with the Shienarans they left in Falme.

Moghedien takes over the members of the Black Ajah who left the Tower, giving them different tasks and splitting them up.

Birgitte takes Nynaeve to spy on Moghedien and the other Forsaken in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien spots them and follows. They overcome her after Birgitte shoots her with an arrow, but Birgitte herself is severely wounded. She appears in the real world, and Elayne bonds Birgitte as a Warder to save her life.

Moghedien has one of the Black Ajah Heal her. Liandrin fails to persuade the remaining Black Ajah to gang up on Moghedien. She tries to use Compulsion on Moghedien, but she isn’t quick enough or strong enough. She fails, and Moghedien leaves her shielded in such a way that Liandrin is never likely to channel again. Moghedien uses Compulsion on her to make sure she doesn’t give up and take her own life, though. The other Black sisters are sent off with various tasks.

Elayne and Nynaeve learn that the rebels are in Salidar, and arrange with both Masema and Galad, who has joined the Whitecloaks, for a boat to take them out of Ghealdan. This results in conflict at the docks between the Prophet’s mobs and Whitecloaks. The girls flee to Salidar with Uno and the Shienarans. They are also accompanied by three women: Moghedien, posing as Marigan, Nicola and Areina. Min tells Elayne she loves Rand. The leaders in Salidar decide to talk to Moiraine through Egwene and the Wise Ones. Siuan also forces Nynaeve to teach her about the World of Dreams. Nynaeve makes Siuan agree to let her study being stilled.

Moghedien almost captures Nynaeve in the World of Dreams, but Nynaeve tricks her and captures her with an a’dam. Nynaeve makes her take them to Caemlyn, to try and help Rand. She sees Rahvin and encases him in a sheet of fire, almost killing him, before Rand does kill him with balefire. Nynaeve tells Moghedien she knows where she is and that she’s coming to get her.

Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are alive again because Rahvin was killed with balefire, but Asmodean is killed for good a short while later. Rand meets Davram Bashere, who had been hunting Mazrim Taim. Rand tells him Taim is off limits and that there is an amnesty for men who want to channel.

My Thoughts:

Whooooowheeeeee! Holy Shazboticon Batman! This was feth’ing, frak’ing, frel’ing awesome (if any of you happen to know any more sf/tv show alternate words, leave a comment please. I’m always willing to expand my fake vocabulary).

This is where the cast of characters begins to get so big that the book doesn’t contain everyone. There is NO Perrin. I didn’t particularly care, but with the addition of the Queen in Exile Morgase and her small band, it just became obvious that things were bloating up. A character like Morgase should not have pushed out someone like Perrin. The fact that she does nothing but escape the Forsaken enthralling her doesn’t help any. Yes, it adds a reason for Rand to attack, but that could have been accomplished without adding her and her retinue with their very own POV chapters. They weren’t bad, just seemed unnecessary, that is all. And that is about all the bad stuff I have to say.

When I read this back in ’11, I noted how angry everyone was. This time around, it became apparent to me that there was a lot of growing out of that anger for several of the characters. Elayne, Aviendha and Egwene all show definite signs of growing up and maturity. It was great to see. Nynaeve, on the other hand, seems to double down on the angry schtick and her being contrasted to the other woman shows her to a great disadvantage in that regards. Of course, Jordan does use that to show a bunch of inner stuff going in Nynaeve, so even she isn’t the hateful harpy I thought of her as back in ’11. Still don’t like her this time around though. Understanding is very different from liking.

Where Perrin was the side character who did a lot of growth in the previous book, Matt gets his chance here. Of course, it isn’t until near the end and isn’t nearly as a big a section as Perrin had but it is there. He’s pretty much told to just grow up and stop fighting his fate. Rand also tightens the reins once he really realizes what a treasure trove of military knowledge is in Matt’s head. Even Matt begins to accept that he has to grow up when he can’t seem to escape fighting battles and winning them, even if against his will.

The big boss battle at the end is just as awesome as before. I’d forgotten how big a part Nynaeve played in determining the outcome of that. While I remembered Moraine’s fate, I hadn’t remembered that she’d taken one of the Forsaken with her. So many details that make these stories so good. While not quite like reading a completely new book, there were enough gaps that I never felt “been there, done that”. Jordan can write and I really like what I’m reading.

With what happens to Moraine in this book, it seems proper that the next Wheel of Time book will be the prequel New Spring.

On a closing note, I’d just like to point out how boring, blasé, uninteresting, uninformative and generally pathetic these recently released ebook covers are. I’ve been using the old covers but wanted at least one example so the future me could see what kind of crap the publishers pull. I’ve heard theories that the publishers did this so as not to interfere with the possible visuals from the upcoming Wheel of Time tv show from Amazon. Of course, that means when the tv show does release and if it isn’t a hot mess of a flopping bomb, that we’ll be getting movie actor covers. Oh Lord, preserve us from such an awful fate. I preemptively SMITE those covers!

★★★★★

David Copperfield ★★★★★

davidcopperfield (Custom)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: David Copperfield
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 853
Words: 357.5K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story follows the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, England, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his loving, childish mother and their kindly housekeeper, Clara Peggotty. They call him Davy. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. To get him out of the way, David is sent to lodge with Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth. Her brother, fisherman Mr Peggotty, lives in a beached barge, with his adopted relatives Emily and Ham, and an elderly widow, Mrs Gummidge. “Little Em’ly” is somewhat spoiled by her fond foster father, and David is in love with her. They call him Master Copperfield.

On his return, David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather, who believes exclusively in firmness, and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Between them they tyrannize his poor mother, making her and David’s lives miserable, and when, in consequence, David falls behind in his studies, Murdstone attempts to thrash him – partly to further pain his mother. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to Salem House, a boarding school, under a ruthless headmaster named Mr Creakle. There he befriends an older boy, James Steerforth, and Tommy Traddles. He develops an impassioned admiration for Steerforth, perceiving him as someone noble, who could do great things if he would, and one who pays attention to him.

David goes home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries the local carrier, Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. David’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is arrested for debt and sent to the King’s Bench Prison, where he remains for several months, before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away, with Micawber advising him to head to Dover, to find his only known remaining relative, his eccentric and kind-hearted great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She had come to Blunderstone at his birth, only to depart in ire upon learning that he was not a girl. However, she takes pity on him and agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone’s attempt to regain custody of David, on condition that he always try to ‘be as like his sister, Betsey Trotwood’ as he can be, meaning that he is to endeavour to emulate the prospective namesake she was disappointed not to have. David’s great-aunt renames him “Trotwood Copperfield” and addresses him as “Trot”, one of several names David is called by in the novel.

David’s aunt sends him to a better school than the last he attended. It is run by Dr Strong, whose methods inculcate honour and self-reliance in his pupils. During term, David lodges with the lawyer Mr Wickfield, and his daughter Agnes, who becomes David’s friend and confidante. Wickfield’s clerk, Uriah Heep, also lives at the house.

By devious means, Uriah Heep gradually gains a complete ascendancy over the aging and alcoholic Wickfield, to Agnes’s great sorrow. Heep hopes, and maliciously confides to David, that he aspires to marry Agnes. Ultimately with the aid of Micawber, who has been employed by Heep as a secretary, his fraudulent behaviour is revealed. At the end of the book, David encounters him in prison, convicted of attempting to defraud the Bank of England.

After completing school, David apprentices to be a proctor. During this time, due to Heep’s fraudulent activities, his aunt’s fortune has diminished. David toils to make a living. He works mornings and evenings for his former teacher Doctor Strong as a secretary, and also starts to learn shorthand, with the help of his old school-friend Traddles, upon completion reporting parliamentary debate for a newspaper. With considerable moral support from Agnes and his own great diligence and hard work, David ultimately finds fame and fortune as an author, writing fiction.

David’s romantic but self-serving school friend, Steerforth, also re-acquaints himself with David, but then goes on to seduce and dishonour Emily, offering to marry her off to his manservant Littimer before deserting her in Europe. Her uncle Mr Peggotty manages to find her with the help of Martha, who had grown up in their part of England, and then settled in London. Ham, who had been engaged to marry Emily before the tragedy, dies in a fierce storm off the coast in attempting to succour a ship. Steerforth was aboard the ship and also died. Mr Peggotty takes Emily to a new life in Australia, accompanied by Mrs Gummidge and the Micawbers, where all eventually find security and happiness.

David, meanwhile, has fallen completely in love with Dora Spenlow, and then marries her. Their marriage proves troublesome for David in the sense of everyday practical affairs, but he never stops loving her. Dora dies early in their marriage after a miscarriage. After Dora’s death, Agnes encourages David to return to normal life and his profession of writing. While living in Switzerland to dispel his grief over so many losses, David realises that he loves Agnes. Upon returning to England, after a failed attempt to conceal his feelings, David finds that Agnes loves him too. They quickly marry and in this marriage, he finds true happiness. David and Agnes then have at least five children, including a daughter named after his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood.

 

My Thoughts:

I don’t know how to write this review without resorting to manly beating of my chest and loud hollering of execrations against my enemies in jubilation of their downfall.

Dickens’ strength is in his characters. This book showcases some of his best characters in my opinion. From the titular character of David Copperfield to the child wife Dora to the competent Agnes to the never quite his fault Mr Micawber to the sniveling Uria Heep to the selfishly evil Steersforth. Dickens makes every single one of them a real person that you can think is real.

I also appreciated that Copperfield wasn’t a golden boy. He had a hard life and had some pretty bad things happen to him. But it made the happy ending all the sweeter. I NEED the majority of my books to have happy endings of one sort or another. Or at least the chance for a happy ending. I think that is what I like so much about Dickens’ writing. He knows that people need a happy ending in their stories and he’s not afraid to give it to them.

Dickens also isn’t afraid to face the very nature of human nature. He realizes some people are just downright evil and he writes his characters that way. He doesn’t make excuses for people like Uriah Heep or Steersforth, he simply portrays them as they are. While evil can be abstract in ideas and philosophies, it can also be personified in a character.

And that turns out to be all I have to say. I’ve been staring at the screen for almost 30 minutes and nothing else comes to mind. While I enjoyed Dickens earlier in life, I have never enjoyed him more than now. This only excites me about reading him again in another 10-15 years!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Harrowing the Dragon ★★★★☆

harrowingthedragon (Custom)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: Harrowing the Dragon
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 86K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

“The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath” (from Elsewhere, Vol. II, Nov. 1982) – a young dragon harrower and a girl from a mining village clash over whether the land’s long winter is caused by a dragon.

“A Matter of Music” (from Elsewhere, Vol. III, Apr. 1984)

“A Troll and Two Roses” (from Faery!, Jan. 1985)

“Baba Yaga and the Sorcerer’s Son” (from Dragons and Dreams: A Collection of New Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories, Apr. 1986)

“The Fellowship of the Dragon” (from After the King: Stories in Honor of J. R. R. Tolkien, Jan. 1992) – Five young women are tasked by their queen with saving her lover, the court harper.

“Lady of the Skulls” (from Strange Dreams, Jul. 1993) – a story of personal transformation requiring a knight to look past what meets the eye.

“The Snow Queen” (from Snow White, Blood Red, Jan. 1993) – retelling the familiar fairy tale in a contemporary setting, highlighting the universality of love, loyalty and desire.

“Ash, Wood, Fire” (from The Women’s Press Book of New Myth and Magic, Nov. 1993) – the story of a cinder-girl who has reduced the people around her to their functions as she sinks into her own essence.

“The Stranger” (from Temporary Walls: An Anthology of Moral Fantasy, Oct. 1993)

“Transmutations” (from Xanadu 2, Jan. 1994)

“The Lion and the Lark” (from The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors, Apr. 1995) – a “beauty and the beast” retelling, in which a young woman loves a shapechanger, loses him, and must prove her love through many tests and trials.

“The Witches of Junket” (from Sisters in Fantasy II, Apr. 1996)

“Star-Crossed” (from Shakespearean Whodunnits, Sep. 1997) – the Verona constabulary investigate the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

“Voyage Into the Heart” (from Voyages: The 25th World Fantasy Convention, Nov. 4, 1999) a heartless hunt to acquire a unicorn’s horn.

“Toad” (from Silver Birch, Blood Moon, Mar. 1999) – a “frog prince” retelling in which the prince is far from innocent.

 

My Thoughts:

It did not feel like it had been 13 years since my previous read of this book. While not quite “just yesterday”, if you had asked me point blank and I had to simply rely on my memory, I would have said from 5-8 years ago. How time flies!

This was a real mixed bag in terms of both interest and writing. Some stories were more interesting than others and some of the writing was much better than others. It also felt like McKillip was really experimenting with stuff and figuring out what worked for her and what didn’t. Considering the stories were written between 1982 and 1999 I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting place for McKillip, as I feel that a familiarity with her style is necessary to be able to appreciate some of the very quirky stories told here. For someone with a couple of her books already under their belt, this would be a solid edition to your reading and to be able to experience some of her writing in shorter form.

This was the last McKillip book I had for this cycle of re-reads. I began back in 2017 with a re-read of The Tower at Stony Wood and now I end in 2020 with Harrowing the Dragon. Three years to read 21 of her books is just a win on every single count. I enjoyed them all, I hopefully praised them enough (I really think I did but covering my bases just in case, you know?) and I trust that I dragged at least one person into McKillip’s sphere of influence.

So while this particular journey has ended, the road is still there and I know I can re-travel it any time I like. Perhaps in another 10-15 years. The question then will be who I am at that point and will you be around?

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera #5) ★★★★★

princepsfury (Custom)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: Princeps’ Fury
Series: Codex Alera #5
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 350
Words: 153.5K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com & Me

The book begins with Octavian negotiating with Captain Demos of the trading vessel called the Slive, to book passage for Octavian and his contingent to cross the sea and reach the Canean homeland with Varg. Meanwhile in Alera, Crown cursor Ehren reports to Gaius about the Vord having entered Alera and learnt how to furycraft.[2]

Octavian and the Canean survivors face several storms as they make their way for the Canim continent. Octavian learns more about the Canean civilization, which has several tribes with populations in the millions and also learns the Canim tongue as they prepare to disembark. Amara and Count Bernand are helping improve the defensive structures around Calderon Valley, in anticipation of a future Vord assault. However, they are summoned to an Imperial Council by Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, for an urgent mission against the Vord.

Gaius Sextus informs the Council of the threat of the Vord, which was slowly expanding from the Kalare wasteland. The Vord had overwhelmed four Imperial legions, leaving no survivors and the croach[check spelling] was expanding through Alera at an increasing rate. More than one hundred thousand Aleran freeholders and citizens had been killed in less than a month. Gaius requests all the High Lords of Alera to unite their strength and muster all the legions that they could, so that they could force a big battle against the Vord. Gaius appoints High Lord Aquitaine as the captain of the military campaign. The First Lord also meets Countess Amara and Count Bernard and requests them to go behind the Vord enemy lines on a mission to find out how the Vord are using furycrafting when they had been unable to do so.

Amara and Bernard find out that one of the High Lady’s has been taken by the Vord Queen and that Brencis Kalarus is using his father’s slave collars on Citizens to make them fight for the Vord. They take out Brencis and without him and his knowledge, the Vord Queen loses the ability to collar any more Citizens.

Tavi formulates a plan to take down a Vord Queen in Cania, thus allowing the surviving Canim to escape to Alera to regroup and plan how to take back their homeland. His plan fails but Kitai and Varg’s backup plan works perfectly. Everyone escapes on giant ships sculpted from icebergs.

Isana is sent north to the Shield Wall to broker a piece with the Icemen so the Legions guarding the Wall can march South and bolster those fighting the Vord. She realizes the Icemen are empathetic crafters and that the whole war has been a gigantic misunderstanding. She challenges the Lord of the Legions to Juris Macti to force him to march South. She loses but her standing up to him makes him realize the truth of her position.

The Vord overwhelm the Capital City and Gaius destroys the city and all the surrounding Vord to give the rest of the people a chance to formulate a way to fight back against the Vord.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, this review is where I start using the Calibre Page AND Word count to get my numbers. So while the paperback actually has close to 700 pages, based on characters per page, it is “only” 350. Which is why I want to include word count, to give a better data estimate between. Ok, enough of the nerdy stats/data talk.

Man, what do I say? I loved this book and this series? Tavi is the best hero and everything a proper Hero should be? This is a book of Ideals triumphing over petty base human’ness even while humanity reels from blow after blow from the Vord? You can almost hear the Capital Letters when ideals are discussed or even just acted out? In short, this is exactly my kind of book.

Self-pitying fools and dunces these characters are not. They have no time or place for pseudo-philosophizing while calling good evil and evil good. They have too much to do to drag the reader down into the cesspit of a self-loathing mind. They don’t hate themselves or the world they live in. They love life and it shows in every action they take.

There is no despair.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4) ★★★★☆

shadowrising (Custom)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: The Shadow Rising
Series: The Wheel of Time #4
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1465
Words: 398K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Min arrives in the Tower, where she tells Siuan and Leane that Rand has gone after Callandor, and also that she has had a viewing that many in the Tower will die in battle on the same day. She is recognized by Gawyn, but not Galad. Neither believe Elayne and Egwene are safe. Elaida and Alviarin begin plotting together. Siuan convinces Min to stay and look for the Black Ajah. In order to accomplish this, Min dresses in a more “girly” fashion and begins calling herself Elmindreda. Siuan receives word from Moiraine that Rand has taken the Stone and tells the Aes Sedai that the Dragon has been Reborn.

With Alviarin’s help, Elaida organizes a coup and overthrows Siuan, proclaiming herself Amyrlin. Siuan and Leane are stilled and imprisoned before being rescued by Min, who is helped by the Mistress of the Kitchens, Laras. They are allowed to leave the Tower by Gawyn, who had organized the resistance when those loyal to Siuan tried to free her. They are joined by Logain, who Min insists is important in some way. Siuan promises to help Logain get his revenge.

Rand is attacked in his room by his own reflection, scaring Berelain, who was attempting to seduce him at the time. Perrin is attacked by his own ax, while Mat is assaulted by playing cards. Moiraine claims that these attacks are the result of “bubbles of evil” rising from the Dark One, and that although they are likely to occur only around ta’veren at first, they will eventually become commonplace.

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve question the two captured members of the Black Ajah, both of whom claim to be willing to help them. They are told of a plot to rescue Mazrim Taim and blame his activities on Rand, and also of an object in Tanchico, which could be used to control Rand.

Elayne and Egwene try to teach Rand about channeling, but all he is able learn is that he can sense when women channel. Egwene is surprised to learn Rand is far stronger than she is. He and Egwene tell each other that they don’t love each other anymore, giving Elayne the chance to move in on him.

Mat asks Egwene for advice and she tells him about a ter’angreal which will grant three answers to any who enter. He claims not to be interested.

Lanfear visits Rand in his room, and whilst she is talking to him, he is attacked by a Gray Man. The Stone is attacked by Trollocs and Myrddraal, which Rand eventually kills using Callandor. Afterwards, the members of the Black Ajah are found dead in their cells.

Perrin looks for rumors that could lead Faile away from Tear, as he fears it is too dangerous. Instead, he hears that Whitecloaks have taken over the Two Rivers and are looking for a yellow eyed Darkfriend. He decides to go there and give himself up to be hanged in order to free everyone. He tries to put Faile off going with him. Faile and Berelain fight, with Berelain promising to take Perrin away from her until she gets bored with him. Rhuarc splits them up and punishes both of them. Perrin gets Loial to take him through the Ways, though Loial and Faile have an agreement that he must take her. They are accompanied by three Aiel.

In spite of his earlier feigned disinterest, Mat enters the ter’angreal that takes him to the realm of the Aelfinn and is supposed to give him true answers to any question he asks. However, the answers he receives – that he is to die and live again, that he must go to Rhuidean and that he is destined to marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons – leave him more unhappy than ever. The area inside the doorway starts shaking and he is forced out. When he leaves, he meets Moiraine and Rand, who are also leaving.

Thom stays in the Stone, plotting against the High Lords that oppose Rand, and also advising him. Moiraine does not approve of this, so she promises to give him the names of the Red Ajah responsible for illegally gentling his nephew Owyn if he will go to Tanchico with the girls.

Egwene enters the World of Dreams without the ter’angreal for the first time. While there, she meets Amys, who says that if Egwene wants to learn, she must come to the Waste. She also goes to Tanchico, which Amys says contains an evil worse than men can make, whatever that means.

Rand calls a meeting, where he tells all the Tairen Lords that they must trade with Illian and restore order to Cairhien, which is caught in the throes of a civil war. He sends the Tairen Lords who are plotting against him most to deal with it. Rand says he is going away and drives Callandor back into the Heart of the Stone. He then tells Mat and Moiraine that he is going to Rhuidean in the Aiel Waste.

Rand and the Aiel, together with Mat, Egwene, Moiraine and Lan go directly to the Waste using a Portal Stone, which Rand requires an angreal to use. They arrive next to a city – Rhuidean.

Perrin and company are attacked by Trollocs in the ways and only just escape Machin Shin, which kills the Trollocs. In the Two Rivers, Perrin shuts the Waygate so it is only possible to open it from the outside. He discovers someone is killing the wildlife. In dreams he chases the man responsible for this, who is called Slayer. Slayer disappears through the Tower of Ghenjei, which leads to the worlds of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. Here, Perrin meets Birgitte, one of the heroes of legend who warns him that Slayer is dangerous and that he is in the World of Dreams physically.

Perrin learns his entire family has been killed. Trollocs have been blamed for this. Perrin decides against giving himself up to the Whitecloaks and instead to rescue people from them. Padan Fain has linked up with the Whitecloaks, and we learn that he was the one who killed Perrin’s family. Bornhald does not trust Fain, as Whitecloaks sent to accompany him tend to die. Fain has killed two Gray Men sent after him and is keeping a Myrddraal prisoner in his tent.

Perrin learns that two Aes Sedai, Alanna and Verin, are in the area, ostensibly to look for recruits. He meets several families and convinces them to move to the village for their own safety. He also meets a man calling himself Lord Luc, who he does not trust, though the others think highly of him. Some of the young men agree to go with Perrin to free the Whitecloaks’ prisoners. After doing so, he goes hunting Trollocs. After initial success, he and his men are ambushed and many of them are killed. Perrin is severely injured. They spend the night with the Tuatha’an before returning to Emond’s Field, where Alanna Heals him. Faile tells Perrin about her father, Davram Bashere. Perrin talks to Slayer in dreams and notices how much he resembles Lan. Loial and Gaul go to shut the Waygate permanently; Slayer has told Perrin it is open again.

Trollocs mount an attack on the village and are beaten back. They also attack a group of Tuatha’an, who Perrin convinces to come into the village for safety. When they return to the village, they see a wolf’s head banner, as well as a Manetheren banner. The Aes Sedai are behind this. One of the Tuatha’an, Aram, picks up a sword and asks to be taught to use it. Perrin allows it. Whitecloaks arrive to arrest Perrin on charges of being a Darkfriend. Perrin agrees to go with them if they stay and help defend the village against the Shadowspawn. The men and women of the village start coming to him for instructions.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, Perrin shoots Slayer before returning to the real world. Lord Luc runs through the house injured. Perrin realizes that Slayer and Luc have a similar smell and decides he is to be arrested if he reappears.

Perrin sends Faile off to tell the Queen what went on, though in reality he just wants her safely out of the way. She agrees, on the condition that he marries her. They get married. The village is almost overrun by Trollocs chanting “Isam”, but is rescued by men from the other Two Rivers villages, some of whom were led there by Faile. They receive no help from the Whitecloaks during the battle, which enables Perrin to refuse to go with them when they try to arrest him. People start referring to Perrin as Lord Perrin, which displeases him.

Nynaeve and Elayne, along with Thom and Juilin, set off for Tanchico on a Sea Folk ship, which only agrees to take them because they believe they are serving Rand. Elayne suspects that she knows Thom. The Windfinder teaches Elayne a great deal about controlling the weather.

The girls arrive in Tanchico, where they again meet Bayle Domon, who agrees to help them look for the women they are seeking. Elayne gets drunk and makes Thom tell the truth about himself. They also encounter a Seanchan captain, Egeanin, who has remained in Tanchico, looking for escaped sul’dam. She is paying Floran Gelb to look for them. When he mistakenly goes after Nynaeve, she stops him. Egeanin is interested in Aes Sedai and the Power, so she meets with Nynaeve and Elayne. She attacks Domon when he walks in, for which they blame him. Egeanin releases the captured sul’dam.

After using the Power, the girls are visited by Moghedien, who uses Compulsion to make them reveal their plans. She tells them to forget about the visit and leaves them alone, as she doesn’t believe they will interfere with her. They locate the Black Ajah, and enter the World of Dreams to check if it is safe. They also locate the object of danger to Rand, using a method taught them by the Wise Ones. Nynaeve sees the Black Ajah holding the Panarch hostage before seeing Moghedien and remembering their encounter. She is prevented from attacking her by Birgitte. Slayer attacks Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod.

They head for the palace. Egeanin accompanies them. Elayne goes to rescue the ruler of Tarabon, the Panarch, from Temaile. Nynaeve’s objective is to find the object that could hurt Rand. She finds some bracelets, and is interrupted by Moghedien, who tells her the bracelets can be used to control men who can channel. They battle with the Power, and are evenly matched until Nynaeve throws the bracelets at her, then shields Moghedien and ties her up. She retrieves the bracelets and one of the seals, and is attacked by an Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah using a ter’angreal that produces balefire. By the time it stops, Moghedien has escaped. The girls then leave the building.

Rand asks the Wise Ones’ permission to enter Rhuidean. Permission is granted, and Mat makes the same request. He is refused permission, but when Rand tells them he is going whether they allow it or not, they relent. Couladin attacks Rand and Mat, and is stopped by Melaine and Amys using the Power, to Moiraine’s surprise.

The boys leave all their weapons and head to the city, which is surrounded by a strange fog, one which cannot be penetrated in Tel’aran’rhiod. In the center of Rhuidean, Rand enters a crystal ter’angreal, where he starts to see visions of Aiel long dead, including most of the important events from their history. He learns the truth that most Aiel don’t know; that once, they followed the Way of the Leaf. In fact, the original, full name of the Aiel, “Da’shain Aiel”, means “dedicated to peace” in the Old Tongue. Rand also learns that the Tuatha’an are descended from the same people in the Age of Legends. He sees Couladin’s first-brother, Muradin, apparently dying.

Mat enters a separate ter’angreal, this time to the land of the fox heads (Eelfinn), in the belief this will also allow him to ask questions. Instead, he is given gifts, based on requests he makes. These are memories of dead lords, soldiers and generals, to fill up holes in his memory from when he had the dagger, an amulet to protect him from Aes Sedai and the One Power, and the ashandarei, which is like a spear, but with a more sword-like blade on the end. He also gains the ability to fully understand and speak the Old Tongue. The people behind the doorway leave him hanging from the Tree of Life. Rand resuscitates Mat after leaving his ter’angreal. They make their way out of Rhuidean, overcoming another “bubble of evil” on the way.

They arrive at the camp outside at dawn and Rand reveals dragons on both arms, showing him to be the Car’a’carn. Couladin attacks him and is threatened with being outlawed. He learns Moiraine has also gone, as has Aviendha, and they have been gone seven days. He also learns of his mother and how she became a Maiden of the Spear. She is obviously Tigraine, though Rand doesn’t realize it. He learns how his real father died, killed by a man who looked like his mother.

Rand and Mat journey with the Aiel to Al’cair Dal, following Couladin, who has said the Shaido will not accept Rand. Rand is accompanied by Aviendha, who claims to dislike Rand because he has treated Elayne badly. Despite this, she is told by the Wise Ones to teach him Aiel ways, which she does.

They stop off at Cold Rocks Hold, which is where Rhuarc lives. Couladin asks to enter as a clan chief but is welcomed as a beggar. Rand gives Aviendha a bracelet as a thank you, and to try and pacify her. Her friends take this to mean he is trying to attract her attention, and they approve of him. Lanfear appears in his dreams and argues with Asmodean. Aviendha accidentally reveals that the Wise Ones are watching Rand through his dreams. The hold is attacked by Trollocs and other Shadowspawn. One of the Wise Ones, Seana, is killed by a Draghkar. They are joined by a group of peddlers, who Rand knows to be Darkfriends. Couladin heads for Al’cair Dal, prompting Rand to leave earlier than he wished.

At Al’cair Dal, Rand announces that the Maidens carry his honor, which pleases them greatly. He and Couladin both announce they are the Car’a’carn. Both have dragons on their arms. Rand is accepted only after revealing the secret of the Aiel’s history. He confronts Lanfear, who was masquerading as one of the peddlers. She tells him that Asmodean has gone to Rhuidean in search of something useful. Rand Skims after Asmodean to Rhuidean, where they battle with the Power next to the Tree of Life, after grabbing a ter’angreal that links them both to the giant sa’angreal outside Cairhien. Rand cuts Asmodean off from the Dark One, and Lanfear shields him partially so he will not escape. She almost kills Asmodean when he accidentally calls her by her original name, which Rand recognizes as one of the Aes Sedai who created the bore in the Dark One’s prison. Asmodean agrees to teach Rand to channel, as the other Forsaken will turn on him if they get the chance. A great lake is created in Rhuidean, the fog having been dispersed.

 

My Thoughts:

Just want to say, AGAIN, that Toral Delvar IS THE MAN!!! All that work for a synopsis each time, saves me 100 million headaches. And I’m only slightly exaggerating.

Going through the various storylines here.

As Gru, from the movie Despicable Me, would say “The Goils”. Much better than in the previous book but that is ONLY because they are all split up from each other and in ones or twos can only be so catty and bitchy. I do not understand why Jordan chose to write them all this way. You can write about females acting irrationally without making them be unlikable. For me, the biggest pitfall is how Nynaeve and Elayne are in Tanchico seeking the Black Ajah and as such they can’t channel without drawing attention to themselves and the city is filled to overflowing with refuges and violence. But they want to go out on their own and “sniff” (Oh, I am beginning to HATE that word) at the men who want to give them some protection while out on the street. It takes them almost being kidnapped and killed to even make them consider they might not have acted so wisely. Other than that, their storyline was actually pretty cool. Going head to head with a Forsaken, how much cooler does it need to get?

Perrin and Faile. Perrin is a control freak and is one of those people who feel guilty about everything that happens around them even if it is totally outside of their control. Faile provided a good foil to his mopiness and I can’t wait until he gets rid of the axe and takes up the hammer. I seem to remember that is when his attitude changes and he stops being such an insufferable bore and resigns from being the General Manager of the Universe.

Matt & Rand. Matt has accepted that he’s going to tag along on Rand’s coattails and pretty much decides to have as much fun as he can while doing it. Rand has the biggest changes so far. He has taken to studying various prophecies of the Dragon and has formulated his own set of plans to make things work. He’s studious, powerful, assured in his Dragon’ness but oh so afraid. I really enjoyed his parts of the story.

Overall, Jordan wrote a crackerjack of a novel here. The world building continues to expand, the Forsaken are introduced as real beings of power rather than just vague “Oh, the Forsaken, they exist, somehow, somewhere”. However, this also seems to be where the storylines start to get big enough that every storyline can’t fit in each book. The Seanchan are pretty much ignored and the Children of Light are only ancillary to Perrin’s tale. Nothing was unwieldy here but knowing what is coming, now I can see the proverbial cracks in the foundation.

While this was a fun read, I am not sure that I’ll feel the same way in another 10 years. I’ve already downgraded this from a 5star read in 2011, so I’m thinking it might be wise to let this series rest after this re-read.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Sketches by Boz ★★★☆½

sketchesbyboz (Custom)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: Sketches by Boz
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 874
Words: 252K

 

Synopsis:

A series of “sketches” about places, people and situations culled from Dickens’ tenure as a newspaper columnist.

 

My Thoughts:

The full title this book is Sketches by Boz: Illustrative of Everyday Life and Everyday People. So you have a 800+ pages of little short sketches that Dickens used to fill in blank spaces when he was writing at various newspapers.

Dickens gets very preachy about his pet issues in several of the sketches. I’m a teetotaler and even I was reacting against his emotional manipulation about gin shops. I was like “Ok, time to start drinking hard time, that will show him!”

When I read these back in 2007 I read them as part I and II (as that is how they were broken up in the hardcovers I own) and that worked much better. Honestly, these should be treated as a short story collection and perused at leisure. This time around I was better able to appreciate the technical side of Dickens’ writing which is why I’m bumping it up to 3 ½ stars.

That being said, I highly doubt I’ll ever read this again. No stories, no plot, doesn’t really work for me.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)