August 24, 2014

2 Reviews - The Red Pyramid and Lord of the Changing Winds

I've got two books that I've finished over the last two days, and instead of giving an indepth review, I've decided to bundle them up and give you a quick rundown of what's what.

First off, is a book that has just been recommended to me time and time again as I watch YouTube reviews - and read other blogs - and that is . . .

The Red Pyramid 
The Kane Chronicles
Rick Riordan

Puffin Books, paperback, 513p.
ISBN: 9780141325507

Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs

This is the first book in the Kane Chronicles and all I can say is that it just didn't do anything for me.  The premise was great, the interweaving of mythology with other fantasy elements was well done.  However I found the 2 person POV quite tedious.  I know that nearly everyone else seemed to love this book - but I didn't.  Perhaps if I'd actually been a teenager when I'd first picked this up it might have been different.  I think it would make a fantastic movie/TV series which could bring this special effect laden book to life.

My main problem, apart from the POV, was just that the characters were so, so much younger than myself that a lot of their dialogue and the actions that they took just didn't excite me.  For an adult I would not recommend this book, but for anyone under about 20 I think it would be a great read.  However, the relationship between Carter and Sadie was quite typical of some of the siblings that I know, and not at all forced, which made some of the scenes where they are competing against each other for attention quite funny.

The one saving grace of this book was the Egyptian Gods.  I loved the way that Rick Riordan intergrated immortal Gods into a contemporary era, having their story being played out - again - and telling it from the perspective of young children/teens made it very interesting.  I'm such a sucker for mythology based novels.

So in the end, this is a great book for school kids, not so much for adults.  I will give the Percy Jackson series a go, as they are a little bit older - in the 2nd series? - and I did enjoy the movies even though they were so bad they were funny.

Lord of the Changing Winds
The Griffin Mage: Book One
Rachel Neumeier

ORBIT, mass market pbk, 367p.
ISBN: 978-1-84149-873-7

Griffins lounged all around them, inscrutable as cats, brazen as summer. They turned their heads to look at Kes out of fierce, inhuman eyes. Their feathers, ruffled by the wind that came down the mountain, looked like they had been poured out of light; their lion haunches like they had been fashioned out of gold. A white griffin, close at hand, looked like it had been made of alabaster and white marble and then lit from within by white fire. Its eyes were the pitiless blue-white of the desert sky.

Little ever happens in the quiet villages of peaceful Feierabiand. The course of Kes' life seems set: she'll grow up to be an herb-woman and healer for the village of Minas Ford, never quite fitting in but always more or less accepted. And she's content with that path -- or she thinks she is. Until the day the griffins come down from the mountains, bringing with them the fiery wind of their desert and a desperate need for a healer. But what the griffins need is a healer who is not quite human . . . or a healer who can be made into something not quite human

This was another book that I'd been looking forward to reading, and was quite disappointed in the results.  There was just something so familiar about this book.  Girl taken into unfamiliar surrounding, and ultimately fighting in a war/conflict with her newly found abilities.  I just can't remember the name of it.  But that's neither here or there.

Okay, Kez - our protagonist - is just a shy girl who, because of her abilities, is almost a recluse.  Her ability to heal animals and people with herbs seems to have given her quite the reputation in their village.  Then one night, a stranger comes into their midst, taking Kez from her sister and returning to the desert that has been creeping ever closer.  Once they reach the wounded Griffins, the story really kicks off and it's a fast paced read with action, betrayal, and a good dose of revenge.

I enjoyed the Griffins, especially Kairaithin - the Griffin Mage - and Opailikiita (means "little spark") who seems to have adopted Kez as a little sister.  Kez slowly changes from this shy and meek young girl into someone who will stand up for herself, and even take on an enemy far greater than her experience.  The secondary story of the Griffin Mage and his role in Kez's tranformation is a surprise, and well written.  After you find out why Kez has integrated into the Griffin pack you just want to smack him.

There are a few secondary characters that had good roles, such as Jos and Bertrand.  Jos's role in the story was quite a welcome surprise as Bertrand was a disappointing character.  Although his role in the story arc was vital, I think he could have been a much stronger and sympathetic character, yet he just came off as hesitant, whiny, and lacking a backbone when compared to the Griffin Mage or Jos.  I definitely didn't think that deserved the 'gift' he discovered regarding the Griffins, and I wouldn't put it past him to abuse it in the future.

While I did plod through this short book at times, the ideas behind it were very intriguing.  I don't think I'll buy the second book until I read it from the library.  If you love Griffins and fantasy then I think it's worth trying, but I wouldn't be recommending Lord of the Changing Winds as a top fantasy read.  Better than I thought, but still lacking those vital elements that could have made this great.

Okay, so that took up more time and space than I'd originally planned, but I hope you enjoyed the reviews.  If you agree or disagree with my review - or even have some other recommendations - let me know in the comments section.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Until next time,

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