Here There Be Books (BL)

I love books with great characters who go on adventures and/or solve mysteries re: invading aliens/vampires/etc. I blog about those books at Here There Be Books!

 

This is the BookLikes thingy for HTBB.

The Naming (Pellinor Series #1)

The Naming (Pellinor Series #1) - -- Originally reviewed at Here There Be Books. --I found this mis-shelved at the library when I was looking for more Kevin Crossley-Holland books, and as soon as I saw "Pellinor" I thought "it's an Arthurian thing!" So I grabbed it (along with a KC-H book). But no, it's not an Arthurian thing. Instead, it's a high fantasy in the vein of Lord of the Rings, with bards and magic and an entirely alternate world with monsters and magic and sword fights and really awesome female leads. But no elves.My favorite part of The Naming by far is Maerad. She's surly, and disagreeable, and she doesn't want to be a hero-- pretty much your typical anti-hero except maybe a little bit less capable. She has her nice moments, of course, and she isn't completely devoid of emotions like a lot of anti-heroes seem to be. She cares about people, once she gets used to the idea that they care about her. She cries. She laughs. It's just a little more awkward than a non-anti-hero hero would be, I think. Anyway, she spent so long as a slave and because she a) has a tragic past, b) is constantly on the run from baddies who want to kill her, and c) isn't sure who she can trust, like, ever, yeah, I can understand why she wouldn't immediately be excited about her supposed "destiny" re:saving the world. And if she wants to be surly? Totally fine with me.Plus there's enough growth in her character in this book that makes me think she won't always be so opposed to being a hero, later.I really liked how Maerad asked the questions I always want to ask people in high fantasies. She constantly bugs Cadvan about where they're going, what they're going to do, what something means. I like that she doesn't just quietly sit back and let him call all the shots without talking to her about them-- after all, she's the super-duper special girl, isn't she? Shouldn't she get a say, too? (The answer is "duh.") It always bugged me when the chosen-whatever just dutifully tagged along behind whoever was sent to fetch them and nothing is told to them until page 50, or something. Like, I don't know. Harry Potter, maybe? Anyway, moving on.Besides Maerad, I actually really liked Cadvan, who's quite a decent fellow, and another character that shows up in the second half of the book that I can't tell you about because of spoilers. But he's just as delightful as Maerad, and I'm looking forward to reading more about him in later books.The plot was good. A bit slow sometimes, but I always find some part of a high fantasy slow. I'm always waiting for the next sword fight, the next mad dash across a deadly marsh, etc. There's plenty of fights and mad dashes in The Naming, luckily, so I never found the slow parts so slow that I wanted to stop. Some parts, in fact, where so exciting I had to take a break and read something else until I had calmed down enough to continue!The writing varies between extremely poetic and pretty standard. The poetry bits come out most in the description of places or people (especially the state of someone's soul), and the more regular bits are mostly when people are talking. Which for me is a good thing; I'm not overly fond of the near-Shakespearean way of talking a lot of characters in high fantasies speak. Here's an example of the poetry-ish bits, from page 2 of the US hardback edition, right when Maerad is being introduced in the cot where she's a slave:Maerad was still too young to have given up hope of escape, although as she approached adulthood and began better to understand her own limitations, she understood it to be a childish dream. Freedom was a fantasy she gnawed at obsessively in her few moments of leisure, like an old bone with just a trace of meat, and like all illusions, it left her hungrier than before, only more keenly aware of how her soul starved within her, its wings wasting with the despair of disuse.I really liked The Naming. At over 400 pages in hardback it's pretty hefty, but I don't think I noticed it until Maerad and Cadvan started the second part of their journey. I could feel that they were going to be on the road for a while, and just thinking of how long it'd take was making me tired. However, it wasn't as bad as all that, and I fairly flew through the last 200 pages. If I was to describe The Naming in a phrase it'd be "intense action muffled by a layer of inaction." Sometimes that inaction can be a bit grating, and it's not for everyone-- it's not even for me most of the time (which is why I never made it past The Hobbit)-- but if you can be patient through the slow bits The Naming is extremely enjoyable. (And the action-packed bits more than make up for the other parts.) I can't wait to read the rest of the series, actually!

Currently reading

The Kingdom of Little Wounds
Susann Cokal
Progress: 92/576 pages
The Glass Demon
Helen Grant
Progress: 10/305 pages
The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero
William Kalush, Larry Sloman
The Silver Chair
C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes
FanGirl
Angel Lawson
Countdown City
Ben H. Winters
Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales
Holly Black, Kelley Armstrong, Rick Yancey, Neil Gaiman, Carrie Ryan, Saladin Ahmed, Melissa Marr, Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, Tim Pratt, Gene Wolfe, Garth Nix, Charles Vess
Hild
Nicola Griffith
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic