This is the second review I'm writing for Goldenhand. I was supplied with a review copy from Edelweiss in 2016, but only found out it was half the book when I checked Nix's website for a quiet announcement. I purchased a physical copy because I have and love the rest of the series, but I ended up borrowing the audiobook from my local library to finish this book.
Nix's writing is beautiful and en pointe as usual. He has an uncanny knack for reader engagement: the way he chooses to tell the story makes what should seem like a not so interesting scene still riveting. This is the same skill that my all-time favourite author, Louise Cooper, also had. At the same time with providing that information, he skips over enough so that our imaginations can take over when needed. I read once that if someone made a TV show of his works, he'd have to figure out what all the individual Charter marks looked liked, because their exact shape isn't relevant to the storytelling in a novel. He has a perfect balance of delivering what information we as readers need, such as the names and natures of the individual bells, and omitting what we don't need, like the actual shape of individual Charter marks.
The narrator was also engaging and did very fine impressions of different voices for dialogue. Nix is Australian, but the Old Kingdom stories use a kind of more formal language, and Ancelstierre seems more British, so the narrator's fine Oxford accent worked beautifully.
I can't gush enough about the way Nix writes women. As a woman and a YA reader, I'm drawn to books written by women about women, and I don't read many books starring male main characters or written by men. I don't feel that male authors in general can write women very well or that male characters have stories I'm interested in. But Nix wields strong women characters much the way George RR Martin or the creators of The Last Airbender, Daniel Di Martino do: with great skill and numbers. With Nix, the default is not necessarily male. Even though the Old Kingdom is clearly behind the real world in terms of technology, their gender politics are far more advanced. I still can't get over the fact that this book centred around so many kick-ass women, and the boys were happy to take their lead from their women. Touchstone may be King, but Sabriel is Abhorsen and Queen. Nick defers to Lirael's wisdom and training, even though she's only an apprentice Abhorsen and still very young. Even Sam seems taken aback by Ferin's warrior confidence. I just want to wrap up this cast of characters and take them home with me. Touchstone even wears a kilt!
While my initial reading of this book ended somewhat abruptly halfway through, I can guarantee it's worth reading the rest of the book. I love seeing Sabriel working as an experienced fearless Abhorsen and I love seeing the strange relationship she has with her half-sister Lirael, who is both much younger than her and following in her professional footsteps. Neither of them chose to be Abhorsen, and they are still a little awkward around each other, with Sabriel more senior in terms of royalty, age, and experience, but wanting to be close to Lirael emotionally. I'm completely in awe of Lirael, who started her own book, Lirael, as a shy introverted librarian and has blossomed into a competent warrior, binding the dead to her will and generally being so completely awesome I'm surprised my head doesn't just explode at her character growth.
Basically if you have read the other books in the series (and I strongly recommend you do) you do not want to miss out on reading this one. I always want another Old Kingdom book.
|For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle
I have never seen the TV adaptation of this book and only had a vague idea of what it was about. In terms of plot, this has more of a continuous storyline than Little House in the Big Woods. It's similar in that there are a lot of detailed descriptions of the processes and life activities, but this has more of a plot.
This is a good educational read to show what it was like for white settlers moving west in the 1800s. However, I do think adult assistance is needed for this book. While Little House in the Big Woods had some racist elements ("Old Ned" song about a dead "darkey"), this contains much more racism and negative views of the "other".
I do not think that books should be altered to represent present-day views, but the text should be used as a teaching opportunity. In this book, the Native Americans are mostly shown as negative. They are described as "wild" and "savage" and the saying, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" is popular among multiple characters. There are a few interactions with the Native American people, but for the most part, the white family (with the exception of Pa and his progressive ways) is terrified of the people who are so different from them. Obviously this is from a child's views and it was probably pretty accurate to how Wilder felt at the time, but it definitely shows Native Americans in a negative light. Despite the fact it is declared multiple times in the text that the white people are kicking the Native Americans off of the land, the Native Americans are framed as the villains. The white people take the land and then get mad when the people living on that land are upset. Important history lesson.
So while this is a great educational read, I can't give it more than 3 stars because of the racist undertones. The views are clearly outdated, but it can still be used to teach about the historical events of the time.
Overall, it's a good educational read, but I suggest it in a classroom or other setting where these issues can be discussed and fully understood by the readers.
Sometimes you just need to go back and enjoy so old classics you never got a chance to read as a child. I have been buying a bunch so my son can read them, and I figure well, why not? I have most all of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Warriors and several other children's classics like Charlotte's Web and King of the Wind. I loved those when I was younger. I think I will try to read a bunch of these over the next few weeks to help me with my slump and brighten my day. School let out so....yeah. I'm mom 24/7 until late August, and the hubs is leaving for a trip soon. I can use some cheering up. I love summer, and I dread summer. We are frenemies.
|For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle
Apparently I have spent my entire life thinking Little House on the Prairie was the first book in the series (it's not, this one is) and not knowing that this book is set in Wisconsin (where I have lived for all 27 years of my life). I've heard of the series, but never read it until now and I haven't seen the show based on Little House on the Praries. So I didn't really know what I was in for.
This is a good educational read. It's not very developed plot-wise, it's more of just various stories based around a central theme (winter, Sundays, town, summer, harvest, etc.). It's still an interesting book, but it doesn't follow the traditional story arch. However, it is still very easy to get swept up in the text and picture oneself in the little cabin.
Each chapter goes into great detail about what it was like living in the woods at the time and all of the work it involved. From making cheese to bear encounters, this book is filled with interesting information about the time period. A great historical look that is very educational. Various processes are detailed such as making maple syrup, building a shelf, churning butter, and smoking venison.
Overall, this was a good educational read. I don't have any huge critiques, but I think there are a few things adults should be aware of before children read this book.
Disclaimer: this is a difficult book to read as a vegetarian (and I can imagine, as a young child). I totally understand the necessity of eating meat when living in the woods in the 1800s, but sometimes the book got a little too detailed for me. Listening to a very involved description of how to make head cheese was not pleasant. At times, the book was downright creepy (Laura hiding in bed during the slaughter of the pig then playing with its blown-up bladder like a balloon). Again, I get that it was necessary to eat meat and entertainment was few and far between, but the descriptions were just a little much for me.
Also, in the chapter, "Sundays", Pa sings a song about a dead slave, whom he refers to as "an old darkey". The original song is "Uncle Ned" by Stephen Foster. Apparently the word "darkey" replaces an even more not okay word in the version included in the book. I don't think books should be edited to make them meet today's standards, but I do think such references in old texts need to be properly explained by an adult to children. So it's not a criticism of the book, but adults should be aware of it if their children read this book.
The audiobook version includes songs from "Pa's fiddle" and Cherry Jones sings the lyrics, which adds a nice effect.
Overall, a very good read, but does require some adult explanation.