Audible Giveaway & Review: The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Listen2aBook.com (2017)

Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

Series: Books 1-8 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

This charming collection of children’s tales all center around dragons of one ilk or another. Each story can be read as a stand alone. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing two of these stories previously and when I saw that he narrator had 8 stories in one collection, I couldn’t resist. I know it would be good stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. These stories are great for kids and fun for adults too.

The Book of Beasts – This is one of the stories I have previously listened to and reviewed. It was just as good the second time around. The child king Lionel finds a book once owned by one of his distant grandsires. Like all good kids, he plays with it and sets a giant butterfly free. He’s warned not to do so again, but he releases yet another fantastical critter (a bird of paradise), and then another (the dragon!), which threatens his kingdom and he must make it right again. A hippogriff and manticore come into play too! 5/5

Uncle James – This story was so cute and it was mostly because there are cute little dog-sized elephants! Who doesn’t want a pet elephant that can snuggle on your lap and eat popcorn while you watch Flight of the Dragons? This tale takes place in Rotundia where all the sizes are backwards and a dragon has shown up that wants a princess as a present. Now this isn’t your typical ‘save the princess from the dragon’ story, as young Tom found out. By the way, keep your eye on Uncle James. He may not be trustworthy! 5/5

The Deliverers of Their Country – This was my favorite out of all the stories. It starts with young Effie getting something in her eye and that something is a teensy tiny dragon! Go ahead, squeal in love and excitement. I know I did. Who doesn’t want to adopt such a little dragon? However, these small dragons keep popping up throughout the land and they are starting to wreak havoc. Now Effie and her friend Harry have to find a way to reduce the number of dragons. It’s a clever solution to an over-population problem. 6/5

The Ice Dragon – Imagine North Pole dwarves dressed in seal skin. Now toss in an ice dragon. Lastly, make room for two adventurous kids, George and Jane, who just wanted to see the Northern Lights. things go ever so wrong. This story was actually a little gruesome because it has a bit of a body count. It’s not gory but I was a little surprised at little bit of darkness that crept into this story. Still, it was clever and the kids survive, so all’s well. 5/5

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – This was an interesting one. A childless Queen goes to an old witch begging for a child and the witch takes her jewels and uses them to whip up a baby girl. The Queen is totally satisfied but the King wanted a boy. So obviously, that makes a wedge between the couple. When the daughter reaches a certain age, he banishes her to an island that is protected by big beasties, like a dragon. Her mother, the Queen, and the witch both make sacrifices to make it possible for her to one day be rescued. I liked that the story hinged upon the love for an old crone. However, the princess to be rescued seemed rather daft to me, which I didn’t really care for. 4/5

The Fiery Dragon – This is the second story in this collection that gives a nod to St. George, a famous dragon slayer. Granddaughter Sabrinetta has got some skills on her which is a good thing because her unscrupulous cousin, Prince Tiresome, tosses her out of the dragon-proof tower to deal with the fiery dragon. Luckily she has a great friend, Elfin the pigkeeper, who can help her. That’s another thing I really like about these stories – so often there’s a ‘commoner’ that is essential to solving whatever dragon issue there is. 5/5

The Dragon Tamers – This had a little steampunky feel to it. John is a blacksmith and he and his wife have a new baby that cries often and loudly. Yet even with that intermittent noise, John has noticed an odd sound coming from the basement. He finally has to go down there for coal and he meets this dragon that needs rivets to repair his wing. The dragon isn’t shy about telling John what he plans to do once his wing is repaired: eat all the people including John and his family. Now John has to outsmart this dragon and that loud baby gets to play a key role in the subterfuge. It was clever and fun. 5/5

Kind Little Edmond – This is the second story I had the privilege to enjoy previously. This is the tale of young Edmond, who was filled to the brim with curiosity, so much so that he often irritated his elders. But not his loving and doting grandmother. Edmond decides to explore the nearby mountains and hears some very odd sounds. He meets and helps a mythical beast, a manticore, who rewards him by telling him magnificent tales. This was a great little tale and I really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed this one as the tale has this underlying current about the value of learning things for oneself. 5/5

The Last of the Dragons – This great little story turns the typical princess + dragon + prince story on it’s head. Tradition requires the princess to be rescued from the dragon by a prince. However, this princess would much rather rely on her own fencing skills. The dragon isn’t too thrilled about the idea of coming out, threatening a nice young lady, and then being slain for the sake of tradition. This prince is up for doing something different. Why should he have to do all the hard work? It’s a great story to finish out the book. 5/5

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Karen Krause does such a lovely job with this classic. Her little kid voices are so believable yet she is also great at doing grumpy elderly characters as well. Her voices for the various beasts are also fun. You can tell that she enjoyed narrating these tales as much as I enjoyed listening to them. Great performance all around!

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; it’s great to see these classics come to audiobook; a charming collection of dragon tales; the author is great at switching things up; kids and adults, boys and girls, rich and poor, clever and kind – just a great representation with these characters; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – such a great little book. 

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author E. Nesbit:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness.

In “A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924”, Julia Briggs labeled Edith Nesbit Bland as the “first modern writer for children” and credits Nesbit with having invented the children’s adventure story.  Some of her best known stories are The Railway Children, Five Children and It and her Bastable family stories, The Story of the Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods.  Her stories combined realistic children in real-world settings with magical objects and adventure, including travel to fantastical lands.  She has influenced such writers as P.L. Travers (Mary Poppins), Edward Eager (Tales of Magic) and J.K. Rowling and several of her stories have been adapted for film and television.  

Nesbit was a free thinker, a political activist, and co-founder of the Fabian Society.  A young Noel Coward, who was a great admirer of hers, once said she was “the most genuine Bohemian I had ever seen”.

Wikipedia

Synopsis of The Book of Dragons 1-8:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness. This is a collection of nine of her fairy tales with a common theme – Dragons! For children from five to 95, these stories are not to be taken seriously. Let your imagination run wild!

The Book of Beasts – A young king finds a magical book once owned by his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and unwittingly sets a wicked beast loose in his kingdom. Now he must find a way to best the beast and win back the love of his subjects.

Uncle James – The island kingdom of Rotundia is normal in every way but one – all the animals are the wrong sizes. And when a purple dragon finds its way to the island and desires the princess as a birthday present, young Tom the garderner’s son, along with his lap dog sized elephant Fido, must find a way to save her.

The Deliverers of Their Country – “It all started when Effie got something in her eye…” and before the week was out, the country was overrun with dragons of all sizes. Effie and Harry decide something must be done, so they set out to wake St. George.

The Ice Dragon – Have you ever wanted to travel to the North Pole? See the Aurora Borealis up close and personal? Well, make sure you catch up to George and Jane, two disobedient children, who on December 11th, set out to do just that, finding adventure and a dragon on the way.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – When the King and Queen were ready to have a child, the Queen did what all good queens do; she visited the local witch. But she forgot to specify the King wanted a boy child.

The Fiery Dragon – Poor Sabrinetta, granddaughter to brave St. George the dragonslayer, has been banished to her dragon-proof tower while her evil cousin rules her kingdom. But when the dragon wakes, Prince Tiresome runs to the safety of her tower, throwing her out to fend off the dragon by herself. Can she and Elfin the pigkeeper save her people before the dragon has his way with them?

The Dragon Tamers – John the Blacksmith doesn’t know what is at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the dungeon. With any luck, he’ll never find out. But one day when he goes into the dungeon to fetch more coal, he comes face to face with the dragon that has risen from the depths. It looks like today John’s luck may have run out. Or is it just beginning?

Kind Little Edmond – Edmund is not fond of learning but he loves to find out. One day he finds out about the creatures living in the mountain near his village and thinks maybe he doesn’t like finding out about things so much after all. But once the creatures have been found, there is nothing to do but find a way to save the village before it’s too late.

The Last of the Dragons – As tradition holds, on her 16th birthday, the Princess must be tied to a post and left for the dragon. Of course, the Prince has always slain the dragon and saved the Princess. But this Princess is none too confident in the Prince’s ability to save her. She’s much better at her fencing lessons than he. So why can’t the Prince be tied up and saved by the Princess? And, why must the last dragon in England be slain at all?

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Karen Krause:

Karen grew up in a musical family and started singing with her daddy’s band when she was knee-high to a grasshopper, as they say in her native Ozark Mountains.  She’s been performing ever since, playing to anyone who would sit still long enough. When she wasn’t demanding to be the center of attention, she was high in her backyard tree reading just about anything she could get her hands on.  Her love of theatre and the stage grew from school plays and backyard shows to a college degree and regional theatre.  And her love of literature grew as well.  She discovered the world of audiobooks when they really were books on tape and has been an avid fan ever since.  About five years ago, she had an epiphany (why it took her so long is a mystery).  She could combine her love of performing with her love of the spoken word.  She recorded her first audiobook in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.  She just finished her 39th book and it will be released on Audible in June.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a 3-month Audible subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 8th, 2017.
The Book of Dragons Giveaway

Kind Little Edmond by Edith Nesbit

NesbitKindLittleEdmondWhere I Got It: Review copy provided by the narrator (thanks!)

Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Audiobooks by Mike Vendetti (2015)

Length: 33 minutes

Series: Book 8 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 8 in the series, it works completely as a stand alone.

This is the tale of young Edmond, who was filled to the brim with curiosity, so much so that he often irritated his elders. After all, finding out things for oneself isn’t anything like sitting quietly and attentively in a school room. He likes taking things apart to see how they work, and this irritates even more elders. But not his loving and doting grandmother.

One day, Edmond decides to explore the nearby mountains, and hears some very odd sounds. He builds a lantern of sorts and returns the next day. He meets and helps a mythical beast, who rewards him by telling him magnificent tales. he continues his explorations and eventually a beast is awakened that threatens the village!

This was a great little tale and I really enjoyed it. This is only my second Edith Nesbit tale, but I can’t believe I didn’t discover her works until early this year. I think these little dragon books are some of the best out there and are true classics that stand the test of time. I especially enjoyed this one as the tale has this underlying current about the value of learning things for oneself.

Narration:  Karen Krause once again had a great little kid boy voice, this time for Edmond. She also had some great voices for the few mythical beasts Edmond comes across. She also pulled off curmudgeonly elders.

What I Liked:  The cover art; mythical beasts; Edmond’s curiosity about the world; the calamity that hits and Edmond’s role in fixing it.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this is a great short story!

The Book of Beasts by E. Nesbit

NesbitTheBookOfBeastsWhere I Got It: Won a copy on Eargasms (copy provided by the narrator) (thanks!)

Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Audiobooks by Mike Vendetti (2014)

Length: 30 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

A child king (Lionel) finds a book once owned by one of his distant grandsires. Like all good kids, he plays with it and sets a giant butterfly free. He’s warned not to do so again, but he releases yet another fantastical critter (a bird of paradise), and then another (the dragon!), which threatens his kingdom and he must make it right again. A hippogriff and manticore come into play too!

This was a great story for kids and fun for adults too. The very young Lionel knows he is king, but also knows he must answer to his nurse for any bad behavior. He will be sent to bed without supper if he misbehaves. This was a great point about the story because, while the king supposedly had great control over his kingdom and people, he also had to face the consequences of poor choices.

The story starts off with some harmful ‘beasts’ that are really quite pretty to look at and enjoy. So at first, the consequences of messing around with this magical Book of Beasts is not readily apparent. But as the story continues, we find our young hero king in a world of trouble! I think this is great fun for both kids and adults and would be fine entertainment for a car ride.

Narration:  Karen Krause did a great job having the perfect little boy voice for the child king. She also had a stern, yet amusing, voice for the king’s nurse.

What I Liked:  The cover art; giant butterfly!; there’s a dragon involved; subtle point about consequences to actions/choices but not preachy at all.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this is a great short story!

VintageScifiBadgeI’m taking part in Vintage SciFi Month over at The Little Red Reviewer. Fantasy is allowed too! This book was originally published in 1900 as part of a collection called The Book of Dragons. Anyone can join, so feel free to check it out!

What Others Think:

Weekend Notes

Possible to Rue by Piers Anthony

AnthonyPossibleToRueWhere I Got It: Won a copy on Eargasms (copy provided by the narrator) (thanks!)

Narrator: Al Kessel

Publisher: Audiobooks by Mike Vendetti (2014)

Length: 8 minutes

Author’s Page

The boy wants a pegasus. What is the father to do? Being a wealthy man, he had promised his 6 year old he could have whatever he wanted for his birthday. Of course, he wasn’t expecting the lad to ask for a mythological creature!

What ensues is creative fun involving an encyclopedia and several other animals. This short story was a joy to listen to as it was both clever and filled with child-like wonder. And perhaps a touch of 6-year old stubbornness. 🙂 With a touch of adventure and beauty, Piers Anthony has the reader looking as reality in a different light.

The ending was fun and satisfying. Even though this story is probably marketed for kids more than adults, I felt that it was good fun for this 36-year old!

Narration:  Al Kessel did a good job with the narration. He had distinct voices for the characters and injected emotions into the story. He especially did ‘wonder’ quite well. I liked his little kid voice the most.

What I Liked:  The cover art; magic in the mundane; the pegasus of course!; questioning reality in a fun way.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – I think this is a great short story!

VintageScifiBadgeThis month is Vintage SciFi Month (and we get to toss in vintage fantasy too) over at the Little Red Reviewer. Everyone is welcome to play along with your pre-1979 fantastical fiction! This short story was originally published in 1963.

 

Scifi This & Scfi That

2014SFExperienceOnce again I will be participating in two of my favorite yearly reading events: Stainless Steel Droppings’s 2014 Sci-Fi Experience and Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Science Fiction Month. These are not true book challenges in that sense, but more of a chance to totally geek out on all things science fiction with other bloggers. The Sci-Fi Experience has traditionally run Jan-Feb, but this year Carl has decided to shift to Dec. 1 – Jan. 31, 2014. Andrea’s Vintage Science Fiction Month is January 2014, and the scifi goodness should be 1979 or older.

Here in the high desert of northern New Mexico, the winter is often filled with clear night skies, excessively dry weather, house fires due to misplaced ashes or bad insulation, and nose bleeds (which I blame on the dry weather). It is also filled with the shortest days of the year, which allow me the most believable excuse for turning in early (~6PM) with a good book.

So I am very much looking forward to enjoying these two reading events with full enthusiasm.

VintageScifiBadgeWhat will I be reading? Well, I haven’t planned it out, but I recently picked up the second book in The Expansion series by James S. A. Corey (I read the first back in August and still need to post the review – someone’s life was being sucked away by office until recently). Also there is Stark’s War by Jack Campbell, a B. V. Larson book that looks fascinating, probably a Neal Asher or two, and Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh. For the Vintage Science Fiction Month especially, I am feeling the need to dig out some Andre Norton and perhaps Anne McCaffrey. Knowing me, there will probably be a variety of other odd bits thrown in.

Sound like fun to you? Just check out the links above. You can join any time and do as little or as much as you like.

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part VIII

JordanShadowRisingBannerWelcome all! This week Liesel from Musings on Fantasia is hosting, so make sure to stop by her place for great fan art and more discussion. Chapters 43-48 are covered.

My answers will be a bit shorter than usual as I have had an exhausting weekend that involved a bit of a flood (click the link to see cool photos of my (questionable) endeavors to protect our home and farm).

Spoilers reside below and are well established. Merely glancing at them will not protect your innocence.

1. Perrin believes Verin and possibly Alanna are trying to use and/or manipulate him in some way. What do you think their agenda is?

I think Alanna wants his body (and who doesn’t?) but that doesn’t mean she should have it. Verin wants to study the affect of a ta’veren like it is her graduating paper in a PhD in Intellectual Haughtiness.

2. Aram, a tinker, takes up a sword. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? How do you feel about Aram’s reasons?

I think people who have read my last responses to questions concerning The Way of the Leaf probably know what my answer is. If you repeatedly do nothing to prevent or stop the violence then you are part of the problem. I think Aram is correct in seeking a way to defend him and those he cares for. The Tinkers shunning him are committing emotional/mental violence and I do not hold them in regard for it.

3. Perrin agrees to let the Whitecloaks into Emmond’s Field if they will put off arresting him until after the Trolloc threat is neutralized. Do you think this was a wise decision? How do you predict it will all turn out?

I think Perrin was right to put the human-on-human violence on hold until the trollocs and/or Myrdraal are dealt with. However, I expect that one or more of the Whitecloaks will force the issue before the agreed upon time and end up dead and Perrin on the run from them again.

4. A woman who favors doing evil from behind the scenes “like a spider” visits Nynaeve and Elayne and compels them, first to tell her everything they’ve done and are doing in Tanchico, and then to forget they told it to her. Who do you think she is? What is her agenda? Will our girls ever remember what happened?

Off hand, I would say this is one of the Forsaken. Her mind-control or compelling powers are unlike what we have seen before, kind of like when the Seanchan first came on scene. She obviously craves info, especially on how many aes sedai are in her city. Apparently, she can sense when someone nearby uses the one power, which could be a pretty nifty party trick (like being able to correctly pick out the silent farters at a cocktail party). I don’t know what her agenda is, but I hope she brings me the reader plenty of dark entertainment. I don’t know if our ladies will remember the exchange. If they do, Nynaeve will be thoroughly pissed.

5. Siuan Sanche is deposed and the White Tower is broken. Siuan and Leane vow revenge on Elaida. Will they be able to see that vow through? What kind of Amyrlin do you think Elaida will prove to be?

Yeah, that was messed up, wasn’t it? Siuan and Leane will have to find new inner strength instead of relying on the one power. Part of me hopes they have their vengeance on Elaida, but it really depends on whether or not she can kick ass as the Amyrlin. I expect she will be highly organized, given to extremes once she has made up her mind, and extremely hard to kill.

6. Gawyn Trakand killed at least two prominent warders who were once his friends and mentors because they were trying to free Siuan. Then, even knowing who she really is, helps her, Leane, and Min escape. Where do you think his true loyalties lie? What do you think of the reasons he gives for his actions?

I think he is conflicted and in the midst of realizing that. I can easily see how, in the heat of the moment, he truly believed he was doing the right thing in preventing Siuan’s rescue, though it cost him greatly. However, when he saw Min had the same agenda, he had to rethink what he thought to be true and right. Though I am curious about what Min’s sees hovering over his head – him at Egwene’s feet, and then him strangling her. Perhaps he will change sides many times throughout the rest of the series?

7. On the road, the three women run into Logain, who is trying to flee Tar Valon and Siuan asks for his help. What kind of dynamic do you think this relationship will yield? We know many Aes Sedai who opposed Elaida have fled the tower. Where do you think they’ve gone and will Siuan be able to find and/or rally them?

I was kind of hoping Logain would get to play a larger role. He is fascinating as a man who has been stilled. I can see a love/hate relatioship blossoming between him and Siuan. I hope they end up in bed together and through their great love for one another reignite their ability to chanel, go kill Elaida, the Forsaken, Mr. Ultimate Evil, and any other scourge that gets in their way and rule the world happily together ad naseum.

But that is probably asking a little too much.

Anyhoo, I doubt that all those who opposed Elaida and managed to flee will end up in the same place to begin with. Siuan will have to pick them up as she goes until she has a large enough force to throw up a flag and call for more followers openly. I hope she will rally them as this would make an entertaining tale for me and that is the whole reason I read books.

Other Tidbits:

I know that Europe and US have a history of paying their soldiers in alcohol, but I really think that Perrin has learned not to leave the inebriated armed and without leadership.

Poor Lioal – having to chop down trees. I hope him and Gaul can accomplish their mission of closing the Waygate – if that is indeed what they left to do.

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part VI

JordanShadowRisingBannerThis book keeps getting more intense, doesn’t it? This week’s questions come from Eivind, our illustrious commenter. Leave your links in the comments so we can all visit.

As you may have surmised, there are spoilers lurking around every corner, just waiting to mug you of your innocence. Avoid this post if you have concerns.

1. Wow, Fain seems to have taken crazy to a whole new level. What on earth could he want with a Myrdraal?

Let’s see. If I had a captive Myrdraal that I had enslaved, what would I do with it? Hmm… plenty of menial chores need doing, but I have other slaves for that. Random acts of violence? Well, there’s the trollocs for that. Myrdraals have those flying beasts, so maybe reconnaissance or transport. They can flit from shadow to shadow appearing almost human, so perhaps stealthily sneaking into somewhere and putting a blade to someone’s throat.

Yes, I can see a few pointed and violent purposes for Myrdraals.

2. Lord Luc, selfless heroic noble with only the best interests of the locals at heart. Or so he would have you think – Perrin doesn’t appear to agree. What do you make of this bloke?

Fame and adulation seeker. Lord Luc obviously hasn’t grasped fully what is lurking in the woods around Emon’s Field and the Two Rivers. He could also be spying for the White Cloaks, or even for Fain. Since Eivind has asked about him, and Eivind has read this book at least once, I have to wonder what harm Lord Luc will cause before the book is through. Part of me thinks him winding up amongst a horde of trollocs would be educational.

3. We finally learn about the Aiel side of Rand’s parentage. Was this about what you expected? Who might Shaiel have been? (If you have been paying attention, you should be able to work out who Rand’s half brother is.)

I was hoping to learn more of Rand’s parentage, but I was surprised when the Wise Women started telling him about it. I expected it to be a long drawn out piecing things together, not the simple telling it turned out to be.

We know that Shaiel was blonde and stubborn, and had the guidance of an Aes Sedai. This all points to royalty. His half brother is a few years older. And while I think I have payed attention, no I don’t know who his brother is. Of course, I am considering the royalty we have come across – and my eye is drawn to blond Gawyn. But that might make things a bit awkward between Rand and Elayne.

4. Egwene is caught red handed in T’A’R without supervision. What do you think of Amys’ reaction?

Well, I think Amys is of two minds. 1) Egwene gave her word, and a promise to and among the Aiel is super important. It is unwise to make an empty promise to an Aiel. 2) Amys is nosy, like any good Wise Woman and wants to know what Egwene was up to. I certainly like her scare tactics and Egwene needed a little calibrating. She is easy with her little lie about being Green Ajah, so finding out that means very little in the Waste should be good for her.

5. So we might see a bit of Aviendha/Rand interaction coming up. Teacher, student, spy and spyee. What do you expect from these two? Is Aviendha acting a bit… odd? (Even for Aiel.)

Loyalty is huge with the Aiel. Aviendha has loyalty to Elayne and she perceives Rand’s reactions, or lack of them, towards Elayne to be insufficient. I think bonding among the Aiel must be fairly straight forward: A simple statement of attraction, perhaps a kissing game or two, and if that goes well, a mutual promise to set aside weapons and make whoopee. Obviously, nothing is going to be that simple for Rand.

Aviendha just came from Ruidean where I expect she had a similar experience to Rand’s: she saw slices of the lives of her ancestors and probably learned the double edged sword that is He Who Comes With the Dawn. Couple that with her irksome attitude towards Rand on Elayne’s behalf and you have one conflicted Aiel.

Perhaps she will also turn into yet another love interest for Rand – because he obviously doesn’t have enough women’s troubles. Pretty soon Rand is going to be singing country music to himself….something about all his exs living in another state. Anyhoo, if Aviendha learned in Ruidean that her fate is somehow coupled with Rand’s, she might be a little pissed off about that too.

6. “We ride with evil, now” Rand claims. What do you think he means? Could this somehow be part of his plan?

We all think of Mat as the gambler, but I think Rand is the one who is throwing his metaphorical dice and hoping some mad scheme of his works. Obviously, he doesn’t trust the traders they came across. It is a little convenient – they hadn’t found or been found by a guide and they were so close to Ruidean. So far, we have seen 3 people – the trader, his wife (I think), and a gleeman (briefly). For all those wagons. Hmm… suspicious. Then Rand payed close attention to the trader’s eyes as he was confronted by the Aiel and learned how close he was to the forbidden Ruidean. Sooner or later, Rand has to confront some of the puppeteers with his new found powers, and I think this trader is a spy or agent for those puppeteers.

Other Tidbits:

Aviendha describing Elayne in detail to Rand was priceless. She is so straight forward, so honest about Elayne’s physical attributes – it really is complimentary. Then offering to arrange for Rand to see Elayne in the bath was really quite polite of her. Alas, Rand is not ready for such a straight forward, uncomplicated love life.

Perrin may be in for some trouble, and I don’t mean trollocs, Fain, and White Cloaks. He is hanging out with some Aes Sedai – Verin and Lana (?). I am doing the audio and not sure of spelling. Anyway, this second Aes Sedai seems quite…. focused on Perrin. couple that with Verin’s playful threat of bonding a man as a Warder against his will (apparently it can be done) and her subtle warning about Aes Sedai who stray due to lust. Perhaps Perrin will be forced into servitude as a Warder for part of the series. As sexy as that sounds, I would not want to piss Perrin off.

Elayne trying on Sea Folk attire in T’A’R was awesome. Who hasn’t wished to be able to do a simple cosplay at home to see if tatts or piercings or body paint or a full hijab would be charming? It’s great that she was willing to entertain the idea of a few body modifications. I am guessing that growing up in court, she didn’t get to experiment much, even with dying her hair.

What Others Think:

Musings on Fantasia

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

The Elvenbane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey

Tofu waiting on the headboard for some unsuspecting human to fall asleep.
Tofu waiting on the headboard for some unsuspecting human to fall asleep.

Why I Read It: It was a teen favorite of mine.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Those who enjoy a strong female lead and a whirlwind adventure.

Publisher: TOR (1993)

Length: 576 pages

Series: The Halfblood Chronicles Book 1

Shana is a half-blood in a world where half-bloods are forbidden, and killed when discovered. Her mother was a human concubine to a powerful Elven lord. Shana was born in the desert to a dying mother who had no use or love for her in the presence of a camouflaged dragon, Alara, who becomes her foster mother. She was born into a world where humans have been enslaved for generations by the invading elves from another world. Their written language, history, and culture have been all but eradicated. The Dragons too are from another world, but have remained in hiding, in secluded colonies out of the way of both humans and elven kind. All three races have individuals with magical abilities. Hence the half-bloods often contain the strongest powers of both parents, and are very dangerous to the ruling elves.

When I was in my teens, I read this book and thought it was one of the best books I had ever read. So when SJ from Snobbery and I teamed up for a read along of it, I was quite thrilled to revisit it. The first half of the book is a very good lead into the world created by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton. We get to ride along as Shana grows up in a dragon colony (why can’t I be that lucky!), as she explores her own magical abilities, and eventually as she learns that the dragon colony may not be for her.

However, then things drastically shift gear for the second half of the book as more and more new characters are introduced and Shana is thrown into ever increasing dangerous situations. In fact, the second half of the book became kind of muddled for me and I am pained to point out these flaws. I really wanted to love this book as much or more so as an adult. I think the major issue for me was that in the first half of the book we have pretty clear story rules about what the dragons could do magically, what the elves could do magically, and what the humans could do magically. Each had their own flavor of magic where certain things were possible and others things impossible. Then individuals within the race had varying strengths. Made sense. But the second half of the book kind of broke all those rules, or threw them out the window….was there a window or did they just smash against the wall and get all mixed together?

I could go on about the lesser flaws, but it’s really unnecessary. One of the weaknesses and greatest strengths of the fantasy genre is that you can literally make anything happen to your story and your characters. However, it is then extra important for fantasy writers to stick to the rules they have created for said story. If you start breaking those rules for plot convenience, then you’re going to loose the strength of your story, and your readers. I am not sure I will continue the series, even though I am itching a bit to see what happens to Shana in further adventures. She was very easy to get attached to, and to stay attached to.

What I Liked: The dragon colonies were real societies with their own cultures; Shana was an adventurous, strong, flawed character; Keman was my knight in shiny scale – the best friend and foster brother Shana could ever hope for; the history of the world with the past strife between humans, elves, and half-bloods gave the story depth.

What I Disliked: Somewhere around the mid point, lots of new characters were introduced; the delineated rules of the first half were tossed out the window in the second half; some characters did major things that were not in character; suddenly Shana is performing feats that no half-blood has successfully pulled off before.

OnceUponATime7Tis the Fantasy Season over at Stainless Steel Droppings, who is hosting the spring reading event Once Upon A Time. This is a celebration of all that is fantasy. Make sure to stop by and check it out.

If you would like more in depth discussion of this book, check out the read along posts:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

The Great Hunt Read Along Part VII

JordanGreatHuntBannerWelcome everyone to the final installment of The Great Hunt Read Along. Today, we cover Chapters 43-End. Thanks to everyone who has participated in this awesome ride. Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments so we can all jump around and visit.

1. Wow! Those a’dam are real mood changers (i.e. Nynaeve’s reaction to having all that control over another). Would you be tempted to put any of the characters we have met so far in The Wheel of Time world in an a’dam? Anyone in real life?

So far the few extremely distasteful folks we’ve met in WoT (Fain, Liandrin), I wouldn’t want to keep alive. At this point, I don’t see a need for their talents and let’s face it, Mother Nature abhors a void and would provide someone else with those talents and hopefully more sense and better personality. Now, in real life, yes, there are several folks that I wouldn’t mind using an a’dam on from time to time. Folks would just be so much happier if they would simply do what I say ;).

2. Perrin still hasn’t revealed the full extent of his wolfish powers to his friends. Do you think he’s making the right choice? Would you do the same?

Well, Mat hasn’t really gotten better at watching his tongue. So, I can see keeping it from him, or telling him and then threatening his life to keep the secret (tho that isn’t Perrin’s way). Still, rand could use some brotherly support and sharing Perrin’s secret might help him emotionally. However, Rand may very well go insane and either blab or decide Perrin’s wolfish nature is evil and kill him, so I guess that isn’t really an option wither. He could safely tell Egwene, except she wants to be part of the sisterhood who would happily dissect Perrin to figure out how the wolf communication works. Damn! I guess Perrin is making the right choice by keeping it to himself as much as possible.

3. We finally learn what has been driving Ingtar to find the Horn. Do you think his final act makes restitution for whatever ills he did as a Dark Friend?
The families of those who died back at the keep due to him letting in the Trollocs may or may not think so. But I have to go with Rand’s belief that once you no longer want to serve the dark, then that is that. Yes, you still need to do acts to follow it up, and you may never make up your past transgressions fully in this life, but I don’t think Ingtar’s soul is going to the Dark One’s Hall of Questionable Deeds and Foul Friends to be a bouncer.
Pico & Heldig don't often snuggle, so I joined them with a book.
Pico & Heldig don’t often snuggle, so I joined them with a book.

4. The Horn was sounded and warriors of old appeared and did mighty battle. How did you like the final large battle scene with Seachan, Whitecloaks, Dead Heroes, and Egwene (running amok)?

Ummm…. well, I have to say that I was really, really looking forward to seeing the Warriors of the Horn stomp some Seachan and/or Trolloc ass. Alas, Robert Jordan went all nebulous on us and kind of glossed over what must have been a very epic battle, a battle of the ages (even if it was brief). Sigh.

5. We get to see Rand in 2 sword fights – one with Turak and one with The Dark One. Which one did you find more satisfying or entertaining?

Definitely the sword fight with Turak. Turak was all smug, and I disliked him because he brought grief and woe to Egwene, Nynaeve, Min and Bela. Jerk. And we actually got to see it play out. Once again, the confrontation between Rand and the Dark One goes all dreamscape on us and, as with the ending of the first book, I did not find this very satisfying.

6. Lanfear chose to reveal her existence to Min, and gave her a message for Rand. Why do you think Min was the lucky one?

I think Min just happened to be in the awkward place at the awkward moment – Rand’s bed. Otherwise, Lanfear would have simply stopped by while Rand was still unconscious from his epic, but nebulous, battle with the the Dark One and tousled his hair, perhaps rearranged his clothing, maybe even left some monkey bite in an awkward and embarrassing place. But no, there would be a witness to this admittedly juvenile behavior. So, she goes with Plan B – looking all ethereal and badass and threatening, nay promising, to make Rand hers. Plan B was probably more effective anyway.

Other Tidbits:

At the end, Loial offers to stay with Rand and see the adventure through, because they are friends. And Lioal would be bored otherwise. Too cute.

Ouch, Min! She said the truth, but still, I could feel the sting of those words from here, a world away and decades after they were put down on paper. Poor Egwene. Still, Egwene had pretty much made her choice when she joined the aes sedai, so this is probably a good example of tinkle or get off the pot. Not that I would compare Rand to a toilet seat – that would be very wrong!

I think Egwene may have gone a little mad once her collar was removed. She definitely didn’t seem to be holding back when it came to blowing up….uh, city blocks.

What Others Think:

On Starships and Dragonwings

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

Musings on Fantasia

The Elvenbane Read Along Part II

Pico believes by ducking his head I can't tell he is eyeballing his brother Chupa.
Pico believes by ducking his head I can’t tell he is eyeballing his brother Chupa.

Welcome everyone to the continuation of The Elvenbane Read Along. This week we are covering Chapters 7-13. If you want to see the schedule, then I will have you hop over HERE. Lots of awesome, questionable, and wicked things happened in this section. Yes, spoilers will be roaming free, all natural feed only, and they are carnivorous, willing to feast upon your brain. (That was the meds talking). Make sure you visit my partner in crime on this adventure, sj over at Snobbery. Also, leave your link to your post in the comments so I can come by and heckle you. With love.

1) We finally learned of at least one power Shana is capable of – throwing rocks with her mind! If given the choice of any 1 power we have seen so far in the book (whether dragon, elven, human, wizard, halfblood, alicorn, etc.), which would you pick?

Remember when Shana made up that story about catching small, venomous lizards in the desert and using their skins to make her tunic? Well, that’s what I want to be – venomously brightly colored. Then I would only have to threaten to spit in someone’s Red Bull to get them to chill. Also, I could save a ton on wardrobe costs, as I would be ridiculously clad in colors I wouldn’t need clothing in warm weather. Yep. Feel free to peruse that mental image – just don’t tell me about it!

2) In the first few chapters, we learned that the dragons want to remain unknown to the elven and humans. But in these chapters we see that they haven’t been as careful as they would like. Do you think all the dragons are united on this wish to remain anonymous?

I find it curious that Keoke whisked Shana away, in dragon skin. What was all that chatter about not revealing the Kin and perhaps having to kill Shana if she ever came close to telling? Alara has a whole pile of human-made cloth that Shana uses for bedding. I don’t think that split-second decision is going to work out for the Kin. Couple that with Alara swooping in to carry off a pack animal (Keman in disguise) in front of dozens of humans. Nuts. But then we also have that Elven lord with the dragon banner who saw one feasting on one of his horses years ago. So, obviously the Kin haven’t been that careful.

Taken all together, I would suspect that not all the dragons hold the elven to be that dangerous, and are perhaps of hiding. Yes, given the egos on some of the dragons we have met so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are hatching take-over-the-world schemes.

3) Alara kept her foster-daughter ignorant about her own heritage and about the larger world. Did Alara make the right decision?

Now if Shana had been allowed to stay with the Kin, then Alara decision would make more sense. She could have given Shana the knowledge bit by bot over the years as she aged. Alas, Shana was not allowed to stay with the Kin. However, when Alara first heard the rumblings from her fellow dragons, like that little talk with Keoke, Orola, and Anoa, then she should have started prepping Shana for the worst.

Let’s say I have a pet peeve about parenting. I’m not a parent myself, but I have been a baffled child/teen from time to time and I have chatted with relatives’ baffled kids/teens. How can you expect your kids to make a good choice or face a hard task without some basic knowledge? Now Shana gets thrown out into the elements, then human slavery, and we’re left with her being introduced to a very secret society not knowing what they truly want from her. In our world, we just keep kids ignorant on such issues as birth control, cooking, and balancing a checkbook. But still, I can feel Shana’s pain.

4) In the last few chapters of this section, we get a more intimate look at human life and how it is intertwined with the schemes of the elven lords. What stood out for you?

The human hierarchy was very interesting. Slaves, then bondlings, then…overseers? Those humans trusted most by the elven lords. This keeps the humans very fractured as they strive for personal gain. With such factions among the humans, they are unlikely to form a cohesive resistance to the Elven.

5) Chapter 13 leaves off with the Wizards Zed and Rennis spiriting Shana away. Care to guess if their motives are benign or malignant?

I haven’t read this book since highschool, and I totally forgot about these guys. Naughty reader! So far, these two haven’t given Shana any hint of what they want from her. They went to a lot of risk, some money (most was stolen from Lord Dyran’s lackey), and plenty of trouble to get her. Since they know she is very powerful magically, I have to assume they didn’t rescue her out of the goodness of their hearts. Still, I think she will be better off with these 2 than in elven hands.

6) Throughout this section, there have been several acts of bravery. Sometimes they are motivated by greed, simple bodily need, or friendship. Which acts pulled an emotional response from you?

First, of course, I thought of Keman. He did a crazy mad-dash healing on his shoulders, then took off after her, tracked her through a sandstorm, and even put himself in peril by changing into a grel and taken along on the caravan. But really, it was Megwyn that stood out for me. She took Shana under her wing, gave her some advise and some protection. Too bad she died after that brutal beating. I really wanted to find out 1) how she knew Shana was a halfblood (aren’t they suppose to be really, really uncommon?); and 2) if she would have sold the info to another for promotion out of the slave pits.

Other Tidbits:

Keoke got under my nerves. He is so cold when it comes to using Shana to spy. And to spy for what purpose? I don’t think it is merely academic interest for him.

I wonder if Alara will be punished for so blatantly showing herself to the human caravan. It’s suppose to be a big nono, so we shall see.

What Others Think:

Snobbery

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