Review – The Hollow Hills

The Hollow HillsThis is the second book in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian legend series following The Crystal Cave. Some spoilers may apply.

Arthur is about to be born and Merlin is called on by Igraine and Uther to keep him safe, which he agrees to do until the time is right for the world to know of the new High King who will unite the land of Britain. Keeping a small child safe and well-hidden is not an easy task in a country fighting over land. When the time to reveal Arthur comes, Merlin is left in awe of the gods and Arthur as the new High King.

I love Arthurian legend and I liked The Crystal Cave very much. I’ve read only a few stories told with Merlin as the narrator and that was certainly a reason for picking up the series. However, this second book was extremely slow reading for me. At one point, I considered scrapping it and moving on but decided to keep going. I was rewarded in the end but there were way too many info dumps to get to that point. Stewart takes this story slow telling you everything about Merlin and repeating often told tales more than once. Yes, Merlin is the one telling you these things so he can explain how wrong it is or how valuable the tale is for the ages but, I don’t want all that. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many Arthurian based books that I get bored with the back story sometimes, but I don’t think that was the case here. Frankly, the first part of the book was just boring. Merlin is roaming around making sure no one knows about Arthur but it’s boring with him meandering around. When he finally settles down, and meets Arthur, it does get more interesting.

Also, I wanted more of the magic and there isn’t much of that here. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as I don’t usually want magic in these tales but honestly, I just wanted something, anything other than what I had here. It was slow moving, meandered just as badly as Merlin rambling about the countryside, and was just boring in parts. Yes, I know I already said that but if Merlin can do it, so can I.
Here’s the deal I made with myself about this series. I have the third book in my house. I will read it and if it gets better, I’ll turn to the library for the rest. If it bores more, the series is done but I can say I gave it a good try. My quest to read Arthurian legend has not come to an end and I’m hoping Stewart’s third book makes up for it.

Did you read this? Thoughts? If you liked it, I want to hear why. My opinion is not the last. Also, here’s my review of The Crystal Cave. As you can see, I loved the first book.

The Hollow Hills

By Mary Stewart

William Morrow & Company

Book Club Edition

 

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Review – The Wise Man’s Fear

The Wise Man's FearRound two at writing this review… Obviously, round one was not a success.

First, warning time. This is the sequel to Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind (review here) and while I will do my best to avoid spoilers, I will tell you upfront that it might still happen so either stop reading or go on. Your choice.

We are back with Kvothe, Baste, and Chronicler sitting at a table at The Waystone Inn discussing, or rather, Chronicler is listening and writing down, Kvothe’s life story. While the first day spent with Chronicler focused on his life at the university, on day two, Kvothe takes his story outside the world of scholarly learning and into the actual world — a place he did his best to avoid and no one can blame him. As we learned on day one, Kvothe was orphaned at a young age and managed to stay alive with little help. He was accepted at the university with almost no prior training. We come to learn that he is an extremely gifted individual, someone to be admired, and we soon find out on day two of his storytelling, one to also fear. Letting both Baste and Chronicler in, he talks of his love interest, Denna, a relationship he blunders beyond words time and time again. Eventually, he takes a position in Severen with the Maer Alveron (King of Vint) in which he agrees to help do some matchmaking. It’s during this trip that he meets a mysterious Adem warrior, and after a slight debacle, ends up studying the Adem’s warrior philosophy. After his time in Ademre, and a few more successes and debacles, he returns to the university, a place he can’t seem to do without, with the promise of tuition paid. Sadly, even after all the information Kvothe shares, we’re still left to wonder. And it’s a great thing.

There’s a reason the description is so long and that reason is that I don’t know what to say about this book. What I want to do is tell you everything but I said I wouldn’t so I had to stop. Truthfully, it’s one of those books that when you finally get around to picking it up that you can’t, and don’t want, to put it down. It’s also a huge book — mine counted in at 1,000 pages exactly — so it’s also a commitment.

Kvothe is telling this story to Chronicler and the whole time it feels as though he’s speaking directly to the reader. It’s intimately told like you’re in on some sort of secret. In another post where I rambled on about long books, I mentioned this one because I had just finished it, and mentioned that I wondered how editors let long books like this one through without major editing. And plagiarizing myself, I say again, Rothfuss is a talented writer and the way he tells this story cannot be told any other way. Well, I imagine it could but the impact wouldn’t be the same. Epic. Yes, it is. Meandering. Yes, that too. Engrossing. Most definitely yes.

This is not a book to be trifled with. By that I mean you won’t be able to simply put it down and pick it up at random. You’ll want to continue reading it, and when it’s over, you’ll want to it to continue. You’ll want Rothfuss to write faster but you won’t want to pester him about it because you want the last book in this trilogy to be just as good as the first two. Obviously, these things can’t be rushed. They shouldn’t be rushed. A story like this one doesn’t appear overnight. It’s a labor and I’m willing to wait that out.

The Wise Man’s Fear – The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two
By Patrick Rothfuss

Daw Books, Inc.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling

Scholastic

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

5 stars

Ah, the second book in my Harry Potter re-read this summer and what a wonderful story this one is.  OK, I’ll probably say that about all of them so get over it now.  Before I forget to mention it, there will be a number of spoilers in this one so stop reading now if you prefer not to know.

The short re-cap of this installment — Harry joins Ron and Hermione for their second year at Hogwarts.  Harry finds out he’s a parseltongue (he can talk to snakes) and starts to hear voices, student turn up petrified, and the Chamber of Secrets is rumored to have been opened by the heir of Slytherin.

Flying cars, the Whomping Willow, and Dobby the house elf.  Dobby is probably one of my favorite characters, just below Ginny Weasley.  When he died in book seven, I was so upset, maybe even more upset than when Dumbledore died because I wasn’t expecting it.  He’s amusing, sort of pathetic, and shows you just how awful the Malfoy’s are as a family.  It’s not just Draco, it’s all of them.  We learn more about Hagrid and we get to see how nasty some of the creatures are that he loves so dearly.  I’m with Ron all that way on this one; I prefer the dragon to the gargantuan sized spiders.  They are way too creepy, crawly, and there is something very disturbing about all those all those eyes looking back at you.  Ginny joins the rest of the Weasley clan at school in year two and I love her shyness and the crush she has on Harry.  It’s so cute.  Still hating Snape as I expected to.  Nasty, mean, greasy, undermining — I have nothing nice to say about him and that will not be changing.  I know what’s coming and re-reading makes me dislike him ever more than ever.  The Weasley twins set off more fireworks in this one and it’s nice to see their future in humor retail emerging.  Such talent these two boys have for destruction but it’s all in good fun and someone has to be the comic relief.

Details, details, details.  Rowling does such a great job of putting so many tiny hints in these books.  First, the idea that Harry can talk to snakes appears in the Sorcerer’s Stone when he unleashes the snake at the zoo and now it’s explained even more here by Dumbledore when he tells Harry that part of Voldermort’s power was transferred to Harry when he attacked him.  What I like even more is that it’s left out there for us to wonder what will happen with that bit of information later.  I also like the mention of werewolves in this one preparing us for a new professor in book three which I will tell you now is my favorite.  🙂

Not having read these early books in such a long time makes me very happy to be doing so now.  They are a treat to read and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.  I can easily classify this series as a comfort read.