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All reviews - Movies (2) - Books (183) - Music (7) - Games (6)

Book review: Doesn’t hold a candle to the music.

Posted : 2 years, 1 month ago on 21 July 2015 07:10 (A review of The Golden Age (Ltd.Deluxe Edt.))

The Golden Age (written by Yoann Lemoine and Katarzyna Jerzak) is an artsy-poetic fantastico-mystic semi-bibliographic story of a young boy growing in the countryside with his mother, being bullied at school and moving to the big city.

I really love Woodkid’s music album, so I was fairly disappointed by the book, and I must admit it even spoiled the music a bit for me (but it got help from Woodkid’s embarrassing attitude on stage). There are some nice illustrations by Jillian Tamaki, but the story is a bit boring. Overall, I found it resembled a below-average school essay. Or simply this genre is just not my cup of tea.


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Dickens à la Pratchett.

Posted : 2 years, 1 month ago on 21 July 2015 06:52 (A review of Dodger)

This is a stand-alone novel set in Victorian London..

Dodger is a tosher. He makes a living by picking up bits and pieces that fall into the sewer drains. He lives near Seven Dials with his old mentor, Solomon Cohen, and a very smelly dog, Onan.

Dodger becomes an unlikely hero by repeatedly finding himself in the right place at the right time: he rescues a young woman beaten by two men, prevents a robbery at the Morning Chronicle and inadvertently stops a certain barber named Todd from committing murder.

Unsurprisingly, he soon ends up in a political imbroglio that could trigger an international war and becomes the target of an assassin.

Even though it’s not part of the Discworld series, Dodger is a terrific adventure and detective novel, full of the usual Pratchettian humour and philosophy, and I greatly enjoyed it.


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Thrilling ending.

Posted : 2 years, 1 month ago on 21 July 2015 06:49 (A review of Blood of Dragons (The Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 4))

This is the fourth and last book of The Rain Wild Chronicles (after Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven and City of Dragons).

In Kelsingra, Alise is at a lost. What is her life purpose now that the city is about to reawaken? She doesn’t know yet that Hest, her former husband and tormentor, is on his way to claim her back.

While hunting on the eastern bank, Thymara and Tats find remnants of bridge piles. The dragons could use them as launching platforms to fly across the river. The creatures also tell the Elderlings to find wells of Silver, a substance they need to survive.

Tintaglia is severely injured, shot by Chalcedeans. After a harrowing flight back to Trehaug, she learns that Malta and Reyn have already left. They’re on the Tarman, making for Kelsingra to beg the dragons to save their son Phron. But only Tintaglia can help the infant, and the queen is mortally wounded again on the way.

Meanwhile in Chalced, sick and starving Selden is sold to the dying Duke, who wants to drink his blood and eat his flesh to prolong his life. But the despot needs to heal him first, so he puts him in the care of another of his prisoners: his daughter Chassim. Realizing they share the same fate, the young couple become friends.

In this final volume, the exciting multiple story arcs converge to an thrilling ending. In addition, I loved learning more about the expanding mythology of Robin Hobb’s world, the Realm of the Elderlings, and was absolutely delighted to uncover tiny hints and clues to elements in her former Robin Hobb. I need to read those again!


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Deeply immersive.

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 3 February 2015 07:02 (A review of City of Dragons (The Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 3))

This is the third book in The Rain Wild Chronicles, which is now a tetralogy (after Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven, and before Blood of Dragons).

It’s winter in the Rain Wilds. The dragons and their keepers are hungry and cold, the latter’s clothes nothing but worn rags. The dragons are also growing, and they cannot rely on their keepers to bring them enough food anymore. They desperately need to learn to fly and hunt by themselves.

Most of them are still too weak or lazy, and Sintara is too proud to try and risk failure. Only Heeby, Rapskal’s red queen, is strong enough to fly. She regularly charters her keeper, and sometimes Alise, across the Rain Wild River to Kelsingra.

There the scholar explores the ruins, the plazas and great halls, making as many sketches and taking as many notes as possible before news of their discovery reaches Trehaug or Cassarick, and people come to pillage the ancient Elderlings city, like they did downriver, looking for artefacts. She wishes she could preserve it, an undisturbed testimony of the past. But Rapskal, who’s been immersing himself in memory-stones, thinks otherwise. He needs to share his visions with Thymara: together they might be able to revive Kelsingra.

In the meantime, Captain Leftrin is going back to Cassarick to get supplies and claim the keepers’ pays. He knows the Council will be very reluctant to honor their contracts, since they actually weren’t expecting anyone to come back alive from this expedition to relocate the dragons upriver..

Meanwhile in Bingtown, Alise’s husband Hest Finbok is being persecuted by a Chalcedean hitman, who holds him responsible for the non-fulfillment of Sedric’s contract to bring back dragon parts for the Duke of Chalced, and harassed by his father, who threatens to disinherit him if he fails to produce an heir. He direly needs his wife and lover back in town.

What I loved the most in this volume was the visits Kelsingra with Alise, Rapskal and Thymara. At first I was like Alise, wanting to protect it from all disturbances. But then I became fascinated by Rapskal and Thymara’s discoveries in the memory-stone, and I’m looking forward to seeing it reawaken. This is a rather short book, and I was torn between going on reading to discover what happens next, knowing that I was inexorably getting closer to the last page, and pacing myself to make it last longer. Robin Hobb’s writing is so good, I wish her books had infinite pages, that her stories went on forever.


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Not captivating enough for the end of a series.

Posted : 2 years, 9 months ago on 7 November 2014 10:27 (A review of Empress Of The Endless Dream (Gollancz S.F.))

This is the fifth and final book of the Orokon pentalogy (after The Harlequin’s Dance, The King and Queen of Swords and Sultan of the Moon and Stars, and Sisterhood of the Blue Storm).

In this volume, Jem & Co. have to travel back to Agondon as fast as possible, if they want a chance to save Myla from the curse that makes her age unnaturally. But their skyship crashes on a barn in the snow covered hills. They take refuge there for a while, until Jem decides to weather the storm and walk to the city. There he finds Nirry’s tavern, the Cat & Crown, but just misses Cata.

In Agondon, civil war is brewing: the Redjacket rebels are trying to overthrow the Bluejacket regime, and have a plan to kidnap Queen Jeli. A bomb explodes at Eay Feval’s inaugural, mutilating the Great Lector. Umbecca, who had spotted Nirry among the crowd, immediately accuses her former maid of the attack. The innkeeper is arrested, she will be hanged.

All the while, Polty goes on helping Toth, in the hope that the anti-god will restore his precious Penge. And of course his lovestruck sidekick Bean is always assisting.

Later, Jem learns that he has to go to the Lamasery of the Winds to find the fifth crystal and save Raj’s sister. And so these three friends, along with the other crystal bearers Littler and Cata, and Tishy Cham-Charing, begin a perilous trek into the mountains, with Toth in various forms always on their heels.

I found the end of this series just not captivating enough, with a complicated battle between gods and anti-gods. I was also more curious about the fate of secondary characters such as Littler or Bean, than about the heroes’, and the final chapters, after the big “climax”, were more interesting than the denouement. Especially since in the end, it seems this all was for almost nothing, as the world goes on as before, only with a new King, who is just as narrow-minded as the previous one.


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Entertaining from start to finish.

Posted : 2 years, 12 months ago on 29 August 2014 01:35 (A review of Sisterhood Of The Blue Storm (Gollancz S.F.))

This is the fourth book of the Orokon pentalogy (after The Harlequin’s Dance, The King and Queen of Swords and Sultan of the Moon and Stars, and before Empress of the Endless Dream).

After leaving Unang-Lia on a flying carpet, Jem, Raj, Littler and the dog Rainbow crash on the volcanic Wenayan island of Aroc, where they are taken prisoners by Uchy and Ojo, two youths who are passing their Manhood Trial in the jungle.

Soon they learn that strange things have been going on on Aroc: a young man named Leki has gone mad and several others have mysteriously died. Moreover, the volcano is constantly rumbling, and Inorchis, their home island across the bay, has vanished!

On the island of Hora, the Triarch is dying and needs to marry his daughter Selinda to one of the candidates to his succession. Lord Glond or Prince Lepato? He has to choose carefully and find out who will be… the loser. Indeed, he wants to spare his daughter the burden he’s had to bear his whole life. But for Selinda, either choice is a poor one, as she’s just fallen in love with Maius Eneo, the handsome castaway she, her nanny Ra Fanana and her eunuch servant Tagan have found on the beach.

Meanwhile, wooden-legged Captain Porlo is also sailing to Wenaya on the Catayane, a treasure map in his hand. While searching for the fourth Crystal of the Oronkon (the blue one, belonging to Javander, goddess of the seas) Jem and Raj make new friends, row on a galley, fly to a floating island inside a vortex, fight a giant spider and even meet the legendary Robander Selsoe, a famous castaway… In short, this volume is full of adventure and entertaining from start to finish, it’s my favourite of the series so far.


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Lacking in suspense for Jem’s quest.

Posted : 3 years, 2 months ago on 14 June 2014 08:52 (A review of Sultan Of The Moon And Stars (Orokon))

This is the third book of the Orokon pentalogy (after The Harlequin’s Dance and The King and Queen of Swords, and before Sisterhood of the Blue Storm and Empress of the Endless Dream).

The story takes place in the southern country of Unang-Lia. In Kal-Theron, the capital, the son of Sultan Kaled, young Prince Dea, is put through rites of passage by his tutor Simonides, preparing for his upcoming marriage to Princess Bela Dona, daughter of the Sultan's brother and ruler of the southern city of Qatani, Caliph Oman Elmani. Alas, the Princess has been cursed by Simonides’s brother, the Teller Evitamus, and is shimmering between two half images, Bela Dona and Dona Bela. Only Oman and his Vizier Hasem know about the Princess’s condition. She must be restored to her whole self before the Sultan and Dea arrive.

Continuing his quest to find the five crystals of the Orokon, Jem is travelling with Rajal and Lord Empster to Unang-Lia on Captain Porlo’s ship, the Catayane, when suddenly a ray of green light appears. Jem vanishes… and is replaced by Cata! She will accompany the crew to Qatani and befriend the Princess.

As for Jem, he finds himself teleported to a strange dreamland created by Almoran the enchanter, brother to Simonides and Evitamus.

Other protagonists include Faha Ejo and his band of thieves, a mysterious girl-boy named Amed, and Eli Elo Oli the whoremonger. And of course Polty is still lurking around, looking for Cata.

Even though it wasn’t boring per se, I found this volume a little too long and the story not really heading anywhere for many chapters. I was entertained by the couple of funny references to Arabian Nights, such as a genie in a magic lamp and a flying carpet, but annoyed by the lack of progress in Jem’s quest, which was stalled for about three quarters of the book. So far, I find this series somewhat low on suspense, which probably explains why it takes me so long to read it.


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Wearisome beginning, until the final two parts.

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 24 January 2014 12:18 (A review of King And Queen Of Swords (Orokon))

This is the second book of The Orokon pentalogy (after The Harlequin's Dance, and before Sultan of the Moon and Stars, Sisterhood of the Blue Storm, and Empress of the Endless Sun).

In this volume, Jemany and Catayana have been separated.

Cata, whose mind has been wiped clear, has been turned into a fine young lady and now lives with her grotesque Aunt Umbecca in the city of Agondon. Hopefully, Nirry the maid is still around to help her out of her catatonia.

Jem, no more a cripple, has also left Irion and is now travelling in disguise with a troupe of Vaga-players, making friends with a Vaga-boy, Rajal. As told by Harlequin, Jem must reach Agondon, where he will meet his mysterious guardian Lord Empster and get clues for his quest: the second Crystal of the Orokon.

The book is full to the brim with characters, mostly high society members plotting against each other, and soldiers preparing for the oncoming war in Wrax. Among the latter is lewd Polty Veeldrop, now a captain in the blue army, who still slavers over Cata.

I found the beginning of this second volume wearisome. Many chapters about young ladies being prepared to enter the polite society of Agondon (but dying before they can) were rather superfluous in my opinion. Only in the final two parts, when battle is looming near, does the story pick up again. I really enjoyed meeting Bob Scarlett's band of highwaymen, and reading about Crum and Morvy, two soldiers of the blue army, who end up joining them.


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A slow start but enjoyable.

Posted : 3 years, 10 months ago on 25 October 2013 11:19 (A review of The Harlequin's Dance (Orokon))

This is the first book of The Orokon pentalogy (before The King and Queen of Swords, Sultan of the Moon and Stars, Sisterhood of the Blue Storm, and Empress of the Endless Sun).

The events of this book take place in an 18th-Century setting, in the isolated village of Irion, a remote place still mostly unconcerned by the civil war of Ejland: the usurper Ejard Blue has overthrown his brother Ejard Red's government, the rightful heir.

Catayane is a young Vaga girl who lives in the Wildwood with her blind father Silas, the village's former Lector, now an apostate. She can understand Nature and communicate with animals.

Jemany is a cripple, a bastard son of the Archduke of Ixiter's family. He is confined in the decrepit castle of Irion with his pharisaic great-aunt Umbecca who, with the help of apothecary Waxwell, likes to keep his addict mother Ela in a drugged stupor, until his new companion, the mysterious dwarf Barnabas, teaches him to walk with crutches. This, of course, is not to Waxwell's taste: he will try and exorcise Jem by amputating his ill-shapen legs!

I found this first volume a little slow to start. It takes about half the book for Jem to meet Cata, and the other half for him to learn about his destiny. And even though the book is divided in numerous chapters and subchapters, Arden's tendency to switch POV between paragraphs is sometimes distracting.

However, I fairly enjoyed The Harlequin's Dance. Its setting reminded me much of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, with Aunt Becca's bigotry and Waxwell's creepy methods. I also found the fat redheaded bully Poltiss, Waxwell's cruel adoptive son, particularly despicable. And of course, the Ejlanders' persecution of the Vagas echoes today's xenophobia against the Romani.


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Life and death as they should be.

Posted : 3 years, 11 months ago on 13 September 2013 12:33 (A review of I Shall Wear Midnight: (Discworld Novel 38) (Discworld Novels))

This is the fourth and final book in the Tiffany Aching series (after The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith).

Tiffany is now the local witch on the Chalk. This means she mends broken toes and blows congested noses in the nearby villages.

When the old Baron dies under Tiffany's care (all she could do was take away the pain away), Miss Spruce the nurse accuses her of murder. On the way to Ankh-Morpork to warn her childhood friend Roland of his father's passing, she is attacked by the Cunning Man, a fiendish spirit. Roland, in turn, incriminates her.

Later she realizes it's actually the maleficent ghost who is poisoning people's minds against witches. She has to confront him. Of course, the Feegles are here to help… or not.

This volume is once again packed with philosophy and phun! I very much enjoyed meeting characters such as Preston (a young, smart castle guard who Tiffany befriends) and Letitia (Roland's watercolour fiancée, with whom there's more than meets the eye). I loved this Tiffany Aching book and I'm very sad it's the last one. I wish I lived on the Chalk with these people and these values: life and death as they should be.


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