The Two Swords by R.A. Salvatore

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 376 pages.
Read from September 02 to 16, 2015.

If someone had told me 10 years ago when I first picked up this series that I’d still be reading it, I would have called them liars. This is the 16th book in the Legend of Drizzt series , and the third and final book in the Hunter’s Blade Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore. What’s mad, is that I’m only part way through this series! Not sure if this is true, but I was told that Salvatore would have ended the series ages ago but because all the rights are owned by Forgotten Realms so if he stopped writing it, then they would have just had someone else to write it for him. Needless to say, even without that knowledge, you have to give it to Salvatore for keeping the quality of this series consistent and enjoyable.

Drizzt, a righteous and kind dark-elf, is alone and in mourning as he believe that all of his friends, Bruenor the dwarf and King of Mithral Hall, and his two adopted step-children: Catti-brie, a feisty human warrior, Wulfgar the Giant, and Regis, aka Rumblebelly the halfling, are dead from the battle in previous book. Innovindil, a moon elf, has been helping Drizzt learn what it means to be an elf and to help him deal with his grief and his remaining feelings for Catti-brie. With the fight going on against the orcs, Innovindil’s dead lover’s pegasus’ was captured so the two of them are out to reclaim it. Meanwhile, a massive war wages at Mithral Hall where Bruenor is on death’s doorstep and his two step-children are alive and waging, what appears to be a losing battle, against Obould and his orc army.  Drizzt’s quest with the pegasus will eventually lead him back to Mithral Hall and the staggering odds against the orcs.

I found myself trying to race through the chapters in hopes that Drizzt would soon be reunited with his friends and that he would finally get a chance to express his feelings to Catti-brie, which is something reader’s have been anticipating since the beginning of the series.

As with many of Salvatore’s books, this book is pretty predictable, but that’s not really why I read them. Out of all the books that I read, I have to admit that this series is my guilty pleasure. They are always an easy read with wonderful characters that you look forward to following on whatever adventure they partake in. I believe that you don’t even need to enjoy fantasy novels to find pleasure in this series as Salvatore does such a great job with his character work. Another solid story by Salvatore!

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

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4/5 stars.
Paperback, 294 pages.
Read from July 07 to 14, 2015.

When  I think about movies that stuck with me as a child, The Last Unicorn falls in my top 3 favourites without a question. It reminds me of lazy Sundays and sleepovers with my cousins. I didn’t know until this last year that the movie itself was based on a book, which was pretty exciting news for me. Normally, I wouldn’t read a book after watching the movie, as I almost always read the book first, but I forgave my childhood ignorance for not knowing about this book’s existence and read it anyway.

The unicorn lives an immortal life and anywhere a unicorn lives is prosperous and inspired. The unicorn in this story has lived in the same forest her whole life and has been completely content to keep things that way. That is until she hears the ramblings of a butterfly informing her that she is last of her kind. After much deliberation the Unicorn decides to leave her forest in search of her own kind. She is presented with a world she doesn’t recognize. People have gone so long without seeing unicorns that many do not see her as one, but rather a pretty mare. After falling asleep one evening during her travels she is captured by Momma Fortuna and who has a traveling carnival of ‘monsters’ and mythical creatures. This is how she meets Schmendrik the Magician. Schmendrik helps her escape from Momma Fortuna and she reluctantly agrees to take him on her quest. Shortly afterwards, another member joins their quest, Molly Grue, after being held captive by some thieves  that seem to think that they’re something similar to Robin Hood and his men.

The three of them get word that the last of the unicorns are some where around the horrid King Haggard’s castle and his terrifying Red Bull. As the three of them come upon the castle a situation unfolds in which Shemendrik has to make a very rash decision with his magic in order to save the Unicorn’s life. The decision will ultimately change the Unicorn forever and lead her to know the truth about where the rest of the other unicorns are and forcing her to make decisions that no unicorn has ever had to make.

The movie plot line is almost identical to the book with a few missing scenes which, as a book lover, was nice to see. It was however also nice to have a few scenes that were a bit different from the movie so that their were some surprises left for me in reading the book.

This book is remarkably adventurous and imaginative, so it’s no wonder that it’s consider a classic among young adult novels. Outside of the adventure the characters are very dynamic and approachable. Schmendrik struggles with his magical abilities, is cursed, and doubts himself constantly. Whereas Molly is stubborn, and strong after years of being controlled by her father before she ran away with a group of thieves, but she still has a softness in her heart for the belief of unicorns and tales of Robin Hood. These aspects make the book appealing at any age. The characters are just complicated enough that an adult can appreciate them but they are also genuine enough that a youth will enjoy them as well. I would recommend this book to anyone young at heart and for those that still want to nurture their imaginations.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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3/5 stars.
Paperback, 1123 pages.
Read from February 17 to May 05, 2015.

George, listen, you have phenomenal ideas, stories and characters but for the love of God, please allow your editor to do his/her job. Your books are now just unnecessarily long. I’m all for big books when they’re warranted but I felt like this book was allowed to be long for the same reason the Harry Potter books got bigger and bigger, they’re immensely popular and can get a way with it. I mean, these books practically sell themselves now.  Bigger does not mean better. I know that die-hard fans will disagree with me and probably loved that they were able to read a few hundred pages more in their favourite realms with their favourite characters, likely because they knew that the next book wouldn’t be out for a while, but it’s unfortunate as I feel that the quality of the book suffers. I didn’t feel the the intensity of the plot in this one as I did with the first or the third book in the series because the scenes were so drawn out and the book ended becoming such a large commitment. I think that’s why we’re seeing the TV series starting to divert away from the plot of the books so drastically now as George’s writing has become less concise and cohesive as the series progresses.

The Seven Kingdoms is still in unrest and its fate and who will rule it is still being fought over. Tyrion finds himself across the sea in an effort to see Daenerys and to stay away from Ceresi’s wrath. Daenerys’ enemies begin to grow as she realizes that she will have to make a decision that she personally does not want but will be good for her people. On the wall, Jon Snow is living with the stress of being the Lord Commander and is making historically remarkable decisions, choices that are necessary for their survival and preparation against the white walkers, however,  it’s causing tension with other members of the Watch. Arya is unraveling the mysteries of the Seven-Faced God, while Sansa is learning to be strong alongside Littlefinger, however, his personal motivates are still unknown.

There are a few scary scenes in this book where you believe 3 of the main characters to be dead. One of them may be for sure, but I really hope not.  While I’ve already voiced my frustrations with the book, the plot twists in this book are still really good and the book is still pretty darn awesome, I just couldn’t get through it all that quickly as my interest wavered between the interesting plot points. The ending, well, the ending of this book rivaled the ending of the very first book and was absolutely fantastic. Thank God for the sneak preview into the next book or I might have been losing my shit over the ending. I’ll just say that involves Daenerys again, whom is my all time favourite character. The ending almost made up for the areas of the book I lost interest over. The last 300 pages were worth pushing through for.

I’m really enjoying the direction that the TV show is taking. I feel that the show is more of the concise and intense story I was hoping to read from George. For once, I actually enjoy reading the books alongside with the TV shows as usually my favor is towards the book but I think that the TV show does the series justice and provide insight into the story where the books were lacking.

Ultimately, this book is still remarkably better than the last book and I will still pursue the series, provided that Martin does decide to end it at some point. George is getting older and is notorious for taking ages to write his books. I hope that he can end the series how he sees fit and that it doesn’t have to be taken over by anyone else. Onwards to the next book (which will hopefully have a release date soon)!