Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Book Review: The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Before I read The Great Hunt I took a short trip down into Stephen King land. The only King book to date that I've read was The Stand and that was back in my early days of high school. I recieved The Eyes of the Dragon as a christmas gift and figured it a good starting point to get back into the heavier reading of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. What I found in The Eyes of the Dragon was a book I couldn't put down for very long.

The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon is a quick jump into the world of Delain where stories of dwarves and dragons are used to scare the children. All that changes on a simple hunting trip when King Roland's party comes across a young dragon. This doesn't end well for the dragon who ends up becoming another trophy mounted on Roland's wall.

The story just takes off from there. Stephen King's ability to portray real and fascinating characters is evident. The more you learn about the characters the more you can relate to them.

The reading is good albeit simple in places. However, this doesn't detract from the book at all. It is evident that King is not trying to create an epic masterpiece with a perfect world. He relies on the readers general knowledge of fantasy settings. A mage is someone who uses magic. A dragon has a nine chambered heart. These are all things King didn't need to create for his story and are borrowed from Fantasy 101.

The only disapointment comes from the ending which to me was a two fold monster. On one side it was a great way to end the book. On the other side the events leading up to it kind of left me wanting something else. Certain events are just a bit far stretched (even for fantasy standards) in a book where most of the story is rock solid.

Overall the book was a gem and a great find from a non-epic fantasy writer.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Book Review: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2)The Great Hunt

I stopped halfway through The Great Hunt and took a break because the reading was getting a bit slow, but now that I've finished I can say that the weighty begining is well worth it in the end. If you want to read fantasy that will make you think about it after the reading is done then the Wheel of Time series is for you and The Great Hunt is a shining example of the series power.

What starts off as a slow chase quickly catches up to itself in a twisty turn of events. In the world of the Wheel of Time things are supposed to happen in a certain way, but what you find out in The Great Hunt is that times are changing. What was and what will be are not changing, but the the journey the characters are embarking upon will not end the way they should have.

This is the magic of Robery Jordan; weaving characters together into a story that is written as concrete as history. The story is laid out as though everything happens for a reason, but characters shift and events occur that change the journey that is being taken. In the end, though, everyone seems to be right where they should be.

The ending of The Great Hunt was one of the best endings that I have ever read. Granted my "Books I've read list" isn't that massive, but this story ranks up right next to Lord of the Rings. The true magic though is that the ending leads to so much more that I am already deep within the next book, The Dragon Reborn.

If you aren't reading the Wheel of Time you should be.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Book Review: New Spring and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is one of the premier fantasy sagas available. It is twelve books in length with Knife of Dreams, released October 2005, being the 11th book in the series. New Spring is a shorter novel that serves as a prequel to the series.

I read The Eye of the World on and off again throughout 2005 and finished it in the summer. I then moved on to read the New Spring prequel which I finished early in the fall. Since then I have taken a break from the Wheel of Time series, but find myself back at it and almost finished with book two, The Great Hunt. Here is my combined review of New Spring and The Eye of the World.

New Spring

Serving as a prequel that was launched deep into the series this novel brought a lot to the experience I had in The Eye of the World. Fortunately I am not that far in the series so I was relatively unspoiled during New Spring.

The book begins in a wonderful setting with Lan, my favorite character in the series so far. It covers the story of how Lan and Moiraine meet up for their fateful journey into Edmunds Field. I do not wish to spoil the series for those that have not read it because it is a gripping story that should be enjoyed by all fantasy readers.

Robert Jordan melds words in a way that sings softly as you turn from page to page. It is a gracious style that anyone can easily fall in love with. The book is not nearly as heavy a reading assignment as the rest of the series, but it lends so much to the story that it is a definate plus for those readers just breaking into The Wheel of Time series.

The story is complete for being its own book, but the world discovered only means more when you reach into the series. It serves as a resolution within itself, but lends and hints at something greater. This is what is to be discovered in the series.

The Eye of the World

Much of what I said about New Spring can be carried over to The Eye of the World. The distinction is that The Eye of the World is the begining of the adventure that New Spring brought you to.

If you look at the book as a whole it is great, but if you break it down to individual chapters there is some dead spots where pages are filled with how a dress moves or how the wind shifted oh so slightly. I don't want to call these spots boring, but they lead me to do some skim reading to progress to the meat of the story.

And let me tell you the meat of the story is grand. The best description to fit the book would be that its the begining of what seems to an inevitable car crash. The characters slowly push along towards the instant that they are going to be struck.

Unfortunately that crash is somewhere in a later book. The book catches speed as it progresses. What starts out slow eventually turns into a landslide. What you find yourself at is an ending that was as unexpected as it was believable. Jordan goes the distance to immerse you in the world he has created.

Overall the experience was great, but less than what I may have expected coming from the lands of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Tolkien is no short order to meet and Jordan gets eerily close that I wonder what the rest of the series will bring.

The Eye of the World for all its plugging around in the early stages grips you and makes you want to know more. You want to follow these characters and you want to see the adventures in which they continue.

The main character, Rand al'Thor, draws other characters to him throughout the book. I sometimes felt as though I was the just another one of them as the wheel weaved me into the pattern.