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review 2020-06-24 22:23
Naomi Novik - His Majesty's Dragon
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

An enjoyable first part of a fantasy series - not so much as a single book, though.


When I picked up the book, I was intrigued by the premise: an alternate universe where almost everything is (mostly) similar to ours in the 19th century, except dragons exist, they're sentient and are used for war, and because of this they and their riders very sought after by the armies of most countries and empires.


From the premise, I guessed it would have either been a silly fun romp, but the world building did turn out to be much more deep and well crafted than I would have imagined. The author could have gone with a full blown high fantasy world, but instead she decided to stick to the real world of the time, and she definitely did her research. If the next books will focus a bit more on the other countries and how they fit into this world, or at least on other foreign characters, I will be definitely read more of this series.


However, a few things didn't completely grab me: the main characters, both Temeraire, the dragon, and Laurence, his human rider, aren't really that compelling, at least so far. There are a few elements in the story that I hope will be explored in future books, but for the moment there isn't much of note to them - aside form the fact that they both speak like dapper gentlemen, especially Temeraire. If I had a shot everytime either of them says "pray" instead of "please", I'd need a new liver.


The story itself is a pretty standard "boy and his dragon" kind of plot, not done badly and with some nice twists due to the realpolitiks of this world, but still a bit predictable in some parts. At points the book feels a bit more like a set up for the rest of the series than an enjoyable story of its own. I have a few more thoughts, but I'll hold them back until after I've finished the second book in the series.

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text 2020-06-13 17:24
Snakes and Ladders 2020 - VI
Il cardillo addolorato - Anna Maria Ortese

Doing another roll without having finished the previous book, because why not.




35. Has been adapted as a movie / In a language other than English


Sadly I don't have any books that fit those two criteria (technically there's "La briscola in cinque", but it's less than 200 pages). I'm just going to pick "Il Cardillo Addolorato", and next time I'll just have a single roll.



Also, would it be too late to try and jump on the Booklikes-opoly challenge?

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text 2020-05-03 10:46
Snakes and Ladders 2020 - V
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

Picking another book while I'm still reading the fourth, Unbranded parent-child stories. The book turned out to be a bore; I'm not going to drop it because I need to practice my Japanese, but I'll get another book to read along with it.






Everyone starts on 1. There are two alternative ways to move forward.


1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.


2. However, if you can't find a book to fit the square, don't worry about it. You can read any book, and roll one dice on random.org. This is to ensure that if a reader cannot find a book to fill the square, no one gets bogged down and can't move on.


All books must be at least 200 pages long. Short stories count, so long as you read enough of them from a collection to equal 200 pages. 


You do not need to hit space 100 with an exact roll. In order to win, you must complete space 100 as written.





When you start on square 1, you need to read a book before you can roll. If your book fills the square, you get to roll two dice. If your book doesn't not fit the square, roll one dice only.


With respect to the ladder squares: You must read a book in order to climb the ladder. Once you finish the book for the ladder square, climb the ladder to the ending square. If you read a book that fits the ending square, roll two dice to move on, otherwise, roll one dice.


For audiobook substitutions, either check the print book to determine if it is more than 200 pages long, or any audiobook that is a minimum of 5 hours & 30 minutes qualifies.



Further personal rules:


- Don't read two books in the same language in a row.


- I can drop a book and pick a different one how many times I want, if I find that a certain book is too difficult for my language level. Books I dropped earlier can be picked up later in the challenge.


For the dice roll, I'll be using Random Dice Roller.





Start: 1. Author is a woman - The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler - Finished on April, 5th. Worth two rolls:



8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H / In a language other than English - Cherokee by Jean Echenoz - Finished on April, 10th. Worth two rolls:



14. Author is dead / In a language other than French - Legends of the Condor Heroes: A hero born by Jin Yong - Finished on April, 23rd. Worth two rolls:



22. Set in Asia / In a language other than English - 無印親子物語 (Unlabelled parent-and-child stories) by Youko Mure. Worth two rolls:




26. Part of a series that is more than 5 books long / In a language other than Japanese - His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik.


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review 2020-04-23 17:30
Jin Yong - Legends of the Condor Heroes / A Hero Born
A Hero Born - Anna Holmwood,Jin Yong

I've been wanting to try out a wuxia novel for a while, so after learning that there was an English translation of "Legend of the Condor Heroes", one of the most renowned and adapted stories of the genre, I picked up a copy.


As pointed out in other reviews, the comparison to "The Lord of the Rings" on the cover is very misleading - "Song of Ice and Fire" is more like it, in that while Tolkien was clearly trying to write high literature with LOTR, as he set out to rewrite a modern epic based on the classic Nordic ones that, as a philologist, he had studied through, Martin seems to have started what turned out as his own magnum opus mostly to have fun, and at most to make a more ambitious tale than the ones that were available when he started writing.


To me it seems that, while some parallels and callbacks are inevitable, Jin Yong didn't set to rewrite "The Romance of Three Kingdoms" with this story (at least from what I can tell from this volume alone), as much as he wanted to create a fun romp, one that stands out for the number of characters, the complexity of their relationships and the level of intrigue, political and not. And it makes for a really enjoyable and fun read, in a not completely mindless blockbuster kind of way.


So if you enjoy martial arts movies or anime where characters casually level mountains as if nothing were, you'll enjoy this novel. I docked a few points because of the translation; the translator is going for some old style pulp novel narration here, and while at times it works, in other point it makes the action a bit too wordy, and even dull. And the way the names of the characters get translated literally in English can get silly, especially for certain characters that have obviously meaningful names, and take the reader out of the flow.


Aside from that, it's a solid recommandation if you're into it. I'll definitely get the second volume as soon as internet book stores will start delivery to my country again.

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