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January 26, 2011

Towers of Midnight

CoverI will say right off that Towers of Midnight is the THIRTEENTH book in the Wheel of Time series, and so anyone not familiar with the series needs to go back to the beginning and read the first twelve books before starting in on this one. It may take you awhile, but believe me, it will be worth it. Once you're caught up to speed on the first twelve books Towers of Midnight will offer you something that you've been waiting for. What is that?

Resolution. Robert Jordan was a master of creating narratives and interweaving them to create a world where major characters can effect one another in major ways without ever even having met, but with all of these intricate story lines resolution of the major plot points has been long in coming. But it is here. Brandon Sanderson, writing for the now deceased Jordan, answers questions that have been plaguing readers for four or five books now. In this penultimate novel, true identities are revealed, characters come to realizations about themselves and their cultures, and major moves are made that will plunge the world into chaos as the last battle approaches.

Here's a heads up on what the major characters are up to. Rand, fresh from his life changing revelation at the end of the previous novel, sets about trying to put right the world that he has torn asunder, while also keeping an eye on his upcoming confrontation at Shayol Ghul. Perrin and Faile are still stuck herding an army and a group of refugees toward safety, but soon they cross paths with a group of whitecloaks. The confrontation will lead both parties in a direction they never imagined possible. Mat is once again in Camelyn, but he is less than thrilled when he discovers a bounty has been placed on his head. While dodging assassins, Mat also has to deal with the sinister gholam. Thom, Mat and Noal all still have a difficult task ahead of them, the rescue of Moiraine Damodred from the Eelfinn and Aelfinn. Aviendha completes her training to become a Wise One, but is disturbed by new revelations concerning the fate of the Aiel. Egwene is struggling to piece the White Tower back together, a task made more difficult by the knowledge that among the Aes Sedai lurks one of the Forsaken. Woven throughout the novel is an account of Lan's journey toward Tarwin's Gap and a battle which he cannot hope to win.

All over the world plans are in motion, and no one knows who will survive the coming conflict. Many questions will be answered in this novel, but still more are left to be resolved in the fourteenth and final installment of the WOT series. Look for the final book A Memory of Light in the fall of 2011.

January 03, 2011

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Book CoverI recently popped in the audiobook version of Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning. I have not read any of the earlier books in the series, and perhaps that is partially where I went wrong, but I frequently start with later books in this type of series (i.e. semi-episodic paranormal romance/thriller) without trouble.

After listening to the first two CD's of this audiobook, I found I simply had no motivation to continue. The problem I had with this book, I have come to believe, is the writing style. Usually audiobooks make up for a lot of sins in terms of writing style because the actors can change intonation for emphasis and clarity. Occasionally an audiobook narrator can affect my feelings on a books, but no complaints about the audiobook actress on this one. This book had an essential disconnect with my reading affinities.

The first issue is the fact that it's written in present tense narration. Now, present tense itself is not a fundamental deal-breaker. But the present tense gives story-telling a more fluid, immediate quality. It lends itself well to faster paced story-telling as it gives the reader a sense that the story is happening right now up to the minute. The downside is that present tense narration loses a sense of the concrete, a grounded feeling that past tense (the much more frequently used narration style in fiction) storytelling gives.

The second issue is that Moning's narrative style hinges predominantly on internal monologue. There are bits of action and dialog sprinkled throughout the internal monologue, but these are few and far between and told in such an internal monologue style that it's easy to get lost. Most of all, I feel these first few chapters I read lacked a concrete sense of scene. The quick return to internal monologue after any snatch of concrete scene development made this story hard to follow; this problem is exacerbated by the use of present tense narration. The lack of definitive scene creation and the more fluid sensation of the present tense narration made this story too ethereal for me. There was nothing to grab hold of in terms of scene or character interaction, and the story kept losing my attention until finally, I stopped reading.

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