Book Review - The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

The Lost Gate (MitherMages, #1)The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I guess I'm a sucker for the worlds of Orson Scott Card (or maybe just a sucker for the very excellent narrators that tell me his tales), and the combination real/fantasy world of The Lost Gate is no exception.

Danny North lives in a world where the adults bear names like Thor and Loki. Civilization is split into factions of "families," and each faction bears a name which ties it to its history, like "The Greeks" or "The Norths" (who bear Norse heritage). Almost everyone in Danny's world has personal magic, whether it is the ability to possess a bird and bid it do your will or to encourage the plants to grow just a little bigger. But Danny has none of these magical abilities. He is drekka.

Eventually Danny runs away from his family to join the druthers, the non-magical everyday folk who used to worship the families as gods. He plans to live among them, but he has a secret of his own, bigger than his past.

The Lost Gate is a wonderful blend of fantasy and mythology, and is reminiscent of Rick Riordan's Greek (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) and Egyptian (The Kane Chronicles) series, and Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

The characters have depth and capture your sympathies. You really care what happens to this boy, and whether or not he ever makes it to the promised land of Westil.

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Book Review - Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

Ender in Exile (Ender's Saga, #6)Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I'd payed more attention to the chronological order of the series. After finishing Ender's Shadow, I jumped right to this (because it follows Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow chronologically), but it turns out this book references many events in the rest of the Shadow series, so those books have been "spoiled" for me. I'll still listen to them eventually.

I love listening to Ender stories, but I'm the kind of person who gets into a series, a character, and then just loves to read more about them, quality be damned, so take this with whatever grain of salt you will.

There are a few inconsistencies where Ender in Exile overlaps with the concluding chapters of Ender's Game. OSC references them in the afterword, and his explanations are sensible, but it does distract somewhat from the story when you're going, "wait, is that what happened? I thought..." That said, I like this version of events well enough.

If you go straight from EG to EIE, you will almost certainly be disappointed at the pace of this book. However, if you read the rest of the EG series and then jump back to EIE, the pace won't be anything different. It's obvious to me that, while this book follow chronologically from EG, it was written after the rest of the series, because the style is more consistent with those later books.

In all, this is, as a fill-in, a book you can skip without missing anything, but a book worth picking up if you are just hungry for any more Ender stories you can get your hands on.

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Book Review - The Orchard, A Memoir by Theresa Weir

The Orchard: A MemoirThe Orchard: A Memoir by Theresa Weir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I requested this book for review with a number of YA books, and so when it came to me, I began reading it expecting that genre. It's not.

The Orchard is (as the title suggests) a memoir, telling the story of a country girl with a rough past building an unlikely life. It reads like a novel, which is in its favor, though I wondered sometimes how fictionalized a variety of scenes may have been. I guess that's probably true of any memoir. You have to flesh out the skeleton of memory to make it more interesting.

I found The Orchard to be mildly interesting, but not particularly compelling. It starts slow, but does build steam and eventually come to the point where you want to know what is going to happen, whether the protagonists will break away from the prison of sorts that has been fashioned for them.

The thing about this book is that I feel like I should have enjoyed it more than I did. I really relate to the protagonist in many ways, and yet I felt detached from her (I don't think she ever mentions her own name in this book, not even in dialogue). Her decisions often made little sense to me, and I found myself often rolling my eyes or saying, "I told you so."

I don't feel as though I wasted the hours of my life I spent reading this book, but it wasn't anything particularly special, either.

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