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review 2018-08-10 16:41
3.7 Out Of 5 "Untamable Demdji" STARS
Hero at the Fall - Alwyn Hamilton

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~BOOK BLURB~

Hero At The Fall

Alwyn Hamilton

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When gun slinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untamable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I have struggled with each book in the Rebel of the Sands Trilogy when I first start them, there is a lot of characters to keep straight and the story is really complex, but I have always managed to get "with" the story early on…at least with the first two books.  This third book…not so much.  It has too many small stories within the main story itself, to keep it all straight.  I also believe it could have benefitted from a list of characters, I have just learned that the book does have a list…unfortunately, the audio does not.

 

Overall, I'm glad I finally managed to listen to this final book, and I think I it was satisfying ending to the series, at least once it got to the actual story.  I would have liked it to be a tad shorter, without all those other mini stories.  I still love the characters, Amani and Jinn and lots of others who have joined the rebellion along the way.  They are what makes this story so memorable.

 

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~MY RATING~

☆3.7☆STARS - GRADE=B

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3.8/5

Main Characters~ 4.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.2/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~3/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 2.8/5

Backdrop (World-Building)~ 3/5

Originality~ 4.5/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

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Book Cover~ This one is cool…I like it. The actual cover for the audio version is not so cool.

Narration~ Soneela Nankani, she's perfect for the voice of Amani.

Series~ Rebel of the Sands #3

Setting~ Miraji Desert

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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review 2018-08-10 14:06
Hero at the Fall
Hero at the Fall - Alwyn Hamilton

by Alwyn Hamilton

 

Usually I complain if a book starts out with a character list, but this is an exception as it's third in the series and reading through it triggered memories of what happened in the second book. Such lists in stand alone or first of a series are meaningless because the reader hasn't met the characters yet, but this was a good way to bring me back into the world within the story.

 

Within the first chapter, I was definitely back inside this amazing fantasy world and continuing from where the second book left off. The stakes are high and seemingly impossible in this third (and I believe last) book of the series. Characters we met in the second book are here or referred to, which helps trigger memories of what happened in the previous books. It's a series best read in order.

 

Like the previous books, it has an Arabic feel to the setting and the magic has solid rules. This is definitely one of the best Fantasy series I've read, ever. Nothing is made too easy for the heroes/rebels.

 

The main character, Amani, is a strong female and she is written very believably, keeping in mind we're in a world with Djinn magic! We see her inner vulnerabilities as well as her outer strength. The story is populated with an array of interesting and unique characters, both good guys and bad guys, as well as some for whom it's a matter of perspective.

 

There is plenty of action, especially towards the end chapters, and one scene that actually brought tears to my eyes which is rare. A story of romance is expertly woven in, but in a way that doesn't read like Romance genre.

 

This is one of the few series that didn't lose steam in the later books. It was written as a trilogy and ends in a way that pretty much guarantees that is really the end. As much as I love the world of magic that Hamilton created, I'm glad it wasn't drawn out beyond its natural length. I'd read parallel stories set in this world without hesitation though.

 

It will be interesting to see what this author does write next. She's one I will be watching for.

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review 2018-07-28 22:03
Albania, 1943
The Fall of the Stone City - Ismail Kadaré

I found this an interesting, yet strange read. I'm not sure if this was down to the translation, or the style of the original text. It is set in 1943, at the time when Mussolini and the Nazis parted ways and Albania found itself abandoned by the Italians, leaving the country wide open for Nazi invasion.

 

The Stone City of the title is Gjirokastër, an ancient Albanian stronghold and the first city the Nazis reach when they enter Albania. The city is beautifully described in the narrative, which prompted me to Google images of the city.

 

This is very much a fact driven book and the only characters we get to discover much about are Big and Little Drs. Gurameto, both surgeons in the local hospital. The competition that exists between them seems to be generated by gossip in the local community rather than being actual rivalry.

Then, to the dismay of the townspeople, Big Gurameto appears to welcome the Nazi commander and hosts a lavish banquet in his honour. While this turns out to be beneficial to the town in the short term, it causes huge problems for Big Gurameto when the communists arrive.

 

The latter parts of the book confused me, with the women being called 'comrade' on the streets and consequently fainting and even dying. I found on-line reference to women who were hanged for partisan activities, but nothing to explain the events narrated. There is also reference to a Jewish conspiracy called 'the Joint', but I also failed to discover any reference to this, leaving me feeling that the second half of the book was more fable than fact.

 

I guess I learned something of Albania's history but I seem to be left with as many questions as answers.

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text 2018-07-27 16:54
The Fall of Hyperion / Dan Simmons
The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons

In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. On the world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing--nothing anywhere in the universe--will ever be the same.

 

This was by no means a bad book, but it just didn’t grab me the way the first one did. I really enjoyed the first book’s “Canturbury Tales” structure and the way Simmons wove the tales tightly together. The second book is a more traditional novel complete with war, a topic which doesn’t thrill me. It is in some ways tied together by the John Keats cybrid, who narrates his vision of what is happening, but the amount of POV hopping was challenging for me.

I did appreciate the wide field of interests that Simmons must have—of course, Keats’ poetry is referenced a lot. In fact it is his epic poem, Hyperion, which provides much of the structure for these two of Simmons books. Stephen Hawking is honoured by the Hawking drive used in the space ships. John Muir’s environmental philosophy is acknowledged in the Templars, on their planet God’s Grove.

Echoing the Canturbury Tales, there is a priest’s tale and the involvement of the Catholic Church. I am always surprised at the inclusion of religion (and often Catholicism) in science fiction set in the far future, as I don’t feel the Church is all that relevant even today, let alone hundreds of years from now. The emphasis on the presence of gods, either evolved from human consciousness or constructed by powerful artificial intelligences, didn’t interest me all that much, despite its pivotal role in the novel.

There is another connection to the Wizard of Oz movie, when the Consul at the book’s end plays “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and teaches the words to some of his fellow pilgrims. (In the first book, they sang “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” if I recall correctly).

My absolute favourite reference, however, was when one of the Artificial Intelligences makes a speech in the Hegemony in which he says, “It pains the Core to take any human life…or through inaction, allow any human life to come to harm.” What a great tribute to Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics, from which the Core AIs have obviously been liberated during their evolution! And of course, the Core represents human creation run amok, a frequent theme in science fiction.


What I found truly impressive was Simmons’ writing in 1990 about a World Web, to which citizens were connected at all times using comlink devices! Remember, this was before our World Wide Web was really much of a thing and well before smart phones which could keep people connected almost all the time. Simmons seems rather prescient about our current reliance on these devices, to the extent that some people in the novel are made anxious and/or mentally unstable when their access to the Web is cut off.

There is so much more going on in this novel—exploration of time travel and its paradoxes, the nature of the Shrike, the choices faced by the Hegemony (shades of Card’s Ender’s Game), the nature of the Ousters. It must have been difficult for the author to keep all of those balls in the air!

Book number 291 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-07-27 06:14
The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Synopsis: Against a backdrop of interstellar war and looming apocalypse, the drama of seven pilgrims on a hopeless mission expands.

 

Review: I fucking loved this book. The first book dragged a bit, and didn't really answer the questions that I had so I was a little hesitant about getting to the second one. Honestly, I think Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion probably should have been one book. The first one just ended so abruptly. The second book answered the questions I had, expanded the plot and the scope, and revealed more about the characters while introducing new ones.

 

At the end of Hyperion all of the pilgrims were about to meet the Shrike, and I expected each of them to meet some of grisly end one by one in the sequel. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not so, as each character is woven seamlessly into a complicated and elegantly engineered plot line that explains why each of them is there.

 

I loved the way that Simmons throws subjects like quantum physics, time travel paradoxes, AI, even a little theology and makes it work. I'm enthralled, can't wait to get to the next book, Endymion, although I'm not sure when that will be.

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