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review 2017-10-23 15:21
A Very Satisfying Conclusion
Rituals: The Cainsville Series - Kelley Armstrong

So first of all, it's hard to give this book the review it deserves since it's the fifth and final one in the series and doing so would give all kinds of spoiler away. That being said, I looked back at all my ratings and each book has garnered at least 4/5 stars with the last two capturing a complete 5/5 from me. I think that shows what a strong series this has been for me and how much I have loved it. And while I am sad to see it over, man, what a ride.

I'm not going to mention the plot, but will go as far as saying that this installment introduces us to some pretty awful characters (some we thought were dead) some terribly horrible supernatural creatures (the sluagh) and tow Dryads who add comic relief in a book where you wouldn't expect it. In fact, Helia and Alexios are such a great addition to this tale and I truly enjoyed every scene they were in. Finally, I have to address the love triangle. There is a strong one in this book but because it has been woven so delicately into the Fae folklore and prophecy, it was not annoying or overwhelming. In fact, it is very well developed and there is absolutely no insta-love. And I waited 5 long books to find out how this element played out and can I say I'm thrilled with the conclusion. In fact, I'm so happy with Liv's decision, I may have jumped up and down. Also, I love that fact that Armstrong doesn't wait until the very end to disclose this wrap-up and that once its is disclosed, it continues to be worked into the plot.

So if you can't tell, I would highly recommend the Cainsville series. I've read the entire Women of the Underworld series (minus a few short story/novella collections) and while I loved it as well, Cainsville clearly outdid it. Plus, there's an adorable Fae Hound in this book who I dearly love.

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review 2017-08-11 16:05
Last Rituals - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir,Bernard Scudder

I found the story intriguing all through and really liked Thora and the way she dealt with life in general. It ended a bit too randomly though and I wasn't sure how I felt about her relationship with Matthew. A good read overall.

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review 2017-08-01 10:37
Original Magic
Original Magic: The Rituals and Initiations of the Persian Magi - Flowers, Stephen E., Ph.D.

by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D

 

This book claims to reveal for the first time the origins of the study of magic, specifically Zoroastrianism. This origin comes from Ancient Persia, now Iran, the etymology given as Mazdan -> Magian -> Magician.

 

The author asserts that his intention is that Western students of magic will use this information as a basis to further explore their own methods, but with knowledge of a 4000 year old history that forms the basis of much of what has been filtered through many cultural influences over that time to develop into modern magic as we know it.

 

There are five chapters followed by seven appendices. The first chapter is entitled It's Time to Life the Ban and is about the basic training system for a Mazdan and the knowledge they are to accrue over a twelve month period. The chapter explains the significance of an initiatory path and defines terms for the purposes of the book, explaining the difference between magic and sorcery as well as various cultural terms. I really enjoyed reading about history of this culture from a philosophical perspective rather than a political one.

 

The second chapter goes into more detail about the history of Iranian magic. The ideas of Zarathustra (called Zoroaster by the Greeks) and the progression of religion all the way up to current Muslim prevalence in Iran is covered as well as the idea of magic as religion.

 

Chapter three is called Theories of Mazdan Magic. Here we go into cultural ideas of duality and cosmology that look rather a lot like the roots of Judeo-Christian religious structure and morality, but with Astrology providing a cosmological model. Then chapter four brings us to Initiation to Magic. The author emphasises the importance of initiation and lays out a twelve month process for accomplishing a self-initiation according to Mazdan practices. Here it is easy to see the basis for many systems of elaborate daily ritual using specific ritual equipment.

 

As a historical record, this is brilliant. The exercises themselves present a solid structure of discipline, but is culturally based in a basically monotheistic religion that is the basic for the Abrahamic religions. I can't imagine that Western practitioners would benefit much from reciting the formulae in the Avestan language. It's a strong academic work that would be of value in the reference library of anyone interested in the history and study of magic on a spiritual level.

 

The fifth chapter is on Rituals of Mazdan Magic. The author starts by stressing importance of using original languages for manthras and of both inside and outside environments for performing the rituals. These rituals are very ceremonial and steeped into the belief system of the Persian Mazdan.

 

After these chapters we have seven appendices. The first is a brief history of Eranshahr, which is basically cultural background for the beliefs and practices of what this book is about. In just a few pages, the author explains several hundred years of Middle Eastern peoples, migrations and empires in a straightforward narrative that I personally found fascinating, as someone who has an interest in history.

 

Appedix B is a pronunciation guide for the Avestan language, then Appendix C details the Three Major Avestan Manthras. Appendix D lists 101 names of God to be used in the manthras, then Appendix E explains basic Mazdan astrological lore. Appendix F is resources; addresses online to find further information.

 

The Appendices are followed by a glossary, notes, then a bibliography and reading list, and of course an index.

 

I found the book historically fascinating, though the belief system involved doesn't fit with my own beliefs. It is certainly well-researched and a gem of a historical record. A very interesting read.

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text 2017-02-10 07:48
Modern Rituals - J.S. Leonard

 Computers and science are used to fulfill the needs of elder Gods. Seven strangers find themselves in a Japanese school. After exploring they find they are trapped. What is known is they are there to appease the God of Death. The ritual only turns out right when there a certain amounts of death. If the ritual fails it will end modern life worldwide. Every year rituals are held to appease the Gods so continue to slumber. If the rituals are done right the ancient ones remain asleep. There is a huge secretive organization called Magnus that had enormous reach and scientific knowledge that was used -that selections of people that are randomly picked to be put in rituals. Each ritual put the chosen people in an artificial environment filled with monster type entities. Rules are those who don’t survive die those who do get to return to their normal lives. Olivia is a trained nurse and helps some people survive. But a lot of time the gory aspects of the ritual didn’t bother Olivia and James had to remind Olivia not everyone was a nurse. But Olivia does have a heart. They found out a man behind the scenes controlled everything and not everyone will survive.

I had mixed feelings for this story It was a little far fetched for me. But i did like how James stayed true to his nature no matter what. I didn’t like this story at first almost stopped reading but did push on and really started to like by the end of the story. I just didn’t really connect with the story or the characters very much at least not til close to the end and then it’s a little late really.

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review 2016-12-21 15:11
Last Rituals - Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
Last Rituals - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir,Bernard Scudder

I'm torn between 2.5 and 3 stars. The mystery was well developed and interesting, but I hated the main character, Thora. What a childish, immature, stupid woman. I understand that not all MC can be super smart but she is so stupid it makes you want to hit her. Her 6-year-old daughter tells her that her 16-year-old brother spends his afternoons "jumping on the bed and making strange noises" and Thora can't imagine what he could be doing?? Come on. And don't get me started with how she refers to her secretary because she is fat. Granted, the secretary is a terrible one but all Thora says about her are mean things about her weight. It was offensive and unnecesary. Horrible, horrible main character. But as I said, the mystery was an interesting one and that kept me reading, so that's why I'm torn about the rating. I don't know if I'll continue with the series yet. I think I need some time away from Thora before I decide.

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