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Search tags: Lev-Grossman
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review 2018-03-25 00:34
Magician King
The Magician King (The Magicians #2) - Lev Grossman,Mark Bramhall

 

Going back and forth between the books in this series and the TV show has been interesting for me.  So far, I've watched season one, listened to the first book, watched season two, and listened to the second book.  After the first book, one of the things that struck me is how much more time is covered in that first book compared to the first season of the show.  More than five years pass in that book, while on the show, if I recall correctly, just one year of life at Brakebills passes.  Certain events from the second season lined up with content from the first book, and some of what happens in the second book had me thinking, "Oh, right,that scene happened on the show in season one"  Season one of the show followed both Quentin's and Julia's journeys, but in the first book, Julia mostly disappears, while the reader is in Quentin's mind.  The second book follows both characters, and some of that season-one "Julia" material corresponds to flashbacks in the second book. Those flashbacks chronicle Julie's relationship with magic. 

 

Early on in The Magician King, I was annoyed with Quentin.  He was bored with his cushy gig as one of the kings of Fillory (his co-royals being King Eliot, Queen Julia, and Queen Janet.  He was itching for a quest, and made a tax-collection trip that cost more than the amount of tax collected.  He encounters a customs agent who mentions that she'd assumed Quentin intended to go on a quest for a very special key.  That is not his intention since this is the first he ever hears of such a key.  But the next thing you know, she is telling him pursuing the key would be a terrible idea.  So I was irritated because Quentin of course decides this means he HAS TO pursue that key.  However, things do not proceed the way I expected them to, and instead there is a hefty dose of "don't go on a quest for the wrong reasons."  The right reasons for going on a quest present themselves as the story unfolds. 

 

The character development of both Quentin and Julia interests me, and I look forward to the next book in the series.  [Warning:  one of Julia's flashbacks involves a disturbing rape scene--if you've watched the first season of the show, you have an idea as to what to expect.]

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review 2018-02-07 21:38
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

The Feast of the Goat was the last book picked by my RL book club and I’m so grateful that they chose it, otherwise I mightn’t have read this fantastic book about the Trujillo era.

 

The book starts off by introducing us to Urania Cabal who has just returned to the Dominican Republic at the age of forty-nine after a self-imposed exile since she was a teenager. She fled to America when she was young in order to escape the brutal regime spearheaded by Trujillo, one that’d been in place for thirty-years before she left.

 

When she arrives in the Dominican Republic she goes to visit her father, a dying man who used to work closely with Trujillo during his rule. Urania hasn’t spoken to him since the day she left her homeland, some thirty-odd years previously. The reader doesn’t know why she harbours such resentment towards her father, other than the fact he worked for a ruthless dictator. I could feel that the hatred she had for him went deeper than that, though, and it did. We don’t find out what exactly it is until the latter part of the book, but I can assure you, it’s worth the wait.

 

Urania’s story runs parallel with that of those who worked for and were close to Trujillo, including her father and the group that plans to assassinate the dictator. In this way, her story is in the present, while running concurrently with the events of 1961. The co-conspirators stories and their relationship to Trujillo is also weaved throughout these chapters.

 

This is quite a complex narrative with many players, but it’s so rewarding that it bore no influence on how much I enjoyed the book. I did get frustrated several times during the first quarter, but this was soon forgotten once the power of the narrative took over. It’s definitely worth sticking with, so if you read it and find it hard in the beginning, do keep going.

 

To begin with the novel has one chapter dedicated to Urania, then two to those connected to Trujillo in 1961. As the novel progresses Urania’s chapters become more infrequent. The heart of the story lay in the events of the past, so this was appreciated.

 

There were several chapters in the last third of the book that concerned torture and were tough to read, so do bear that in mind if you pick this up.

 

Considering there were so many characters you would thing that Vargas would find it hard to flesh each of them out, but this wasn’t the case. Each character, including Trujillo, had vulnerabilities and was never depicted as anything less than abundantly human.

 

The story, based on true events, was so exquisitely told, that reading it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date with a book. It had everything, but at its core it was bursting with humanity.

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text 2018-01-28 19:23
Reading progress update: I've read 475 out of 475 pages.
The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

What a book! It was fantastic. Full review coming soon.

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text 2018-01-27 21:36
Reading progress update: I've read 426 out of 475 pages.
The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

Reading torture is, well, torture. Absolutely horrific. I'm so glad that's over, for now.

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text 2018-01-24 21:46
Reading progress update: I've read 310 out of 475 pages.
The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

This quote seems apt considering it's Burns day tomorrow:

 

Is it worth living if you have to deprive yourself of the good things? Great whiskey is one of those things.

 

Anyone else celebrating it? I'm going for a Burns event at lunchtime where a bagpiper will play, there'll be haggis, neeps and tatties and a reading of some of his work.

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