Reading roundup 24/07/19

Well, last week’s reading was much more successful than the week before’s. I definitely chose the right books this time!

Year One by Nora Roberts

The first book of the week was Year One (Chronicles of the One #01) by Nora Roberts. Here is the blurb:

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed–and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river–or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

I found this quick to read, and quite easy, despite the darker elements. I awarded it three stars and wrote the following review on Goodreads:

I rate this as 3.5 really. This is a strange book. I did enjoy reading it and I will almost certainly reserve the series at the library. It did feel a bit like two books cut and shunted together. The first half is more like a science fiction doomsday story (see what I did there: Doom/doomsday?). The second part brings in elements of fantasy (fairies and elves?). It all felt as if it had all been done before, but the book was entertaining enough to keep me reading and the plot twists were good.

So, not a bad book, and worth reading.

Wrath by John Gwynne

So, this was a reasonable book to start off my reading week. After this, my next book rose up into the stratosphere, in comparison! Wrath by John Gwynne is the final part (#04) in his The Faithful and the Fallen series. What an ending! This is the blurb:

Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasures are in his possession. And together with Calidus and his ally Queen Rhin, Nathair will do anything to obtain the remaining Treasures. With all seven under his command, he can open a portal to the Otherworld. Then Asroth and his demon-horde will finally break into the Banished Lands and become flesh.

Meanwhile Corban has been taken prisoner by the Jotun, warrior giants who ride their enormous bears into battle. His warband scattered, Corban must make new allies if he hopes to survive. But can he bond with competing factions of warlike giants? Somehow he must, if he’s to counter the threat Nathair represents.

His life hangs in the balance – and with it, the fate of the Banished Lands.

I read all four of these books over quite a short short period of time. They are all very long, but well-worth the effort, in my opinion, if you are a fan of Epic Fantasy. I really loved this final book and gave it the full five stars. This is my review:

I have just finished and put down this book and am writing this review before reading any others, so that it is my true reaction.

First of all, I have to say a huge “thank you” to the author, John Gwynne, for this book and the whole series. Wrath has now joined my “favourites”, where it will stay. The book is totally fabulous and a worthy and fitting end to a great series.

I have read a lot of good fantasy writing over the last few years, thanks to my local library, and this book must rank amongst the best. The very things that irritated me slightly about the previous books in the series, worked really well this time: the short(ish) chapters and the quick switching of view points. They really helped to keep the amazing pace of the plot going. I think that I probably spent the whole of this huge book (I read the hardback copy, so it is huge) with my heart thumping in my chest.

So, now I am sad. Sad that some favourite characters met their end, sad for the tragedies and pathos, but mainly sad that I have finished this book and completed the whole series. John, what can I read next?

Now, I will go and read some of the other reviews!

Ooh, I am very excited because John Gwynne himself has “liked” my review! He seems to follow his fans on Goodreads, which is nice. I can’t wait to read another book by him.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

My final book of the week was an ebook from our library’s digital service: The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. First the blurb:

The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, which continues to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman—Briseis—watches and waits for the war’s outcome. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and coolly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position, able to observe the two men driving the Greek army in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate not only of Briseis’s people but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war—the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead—all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives—and it is nothing short of magnificent.

I was so totally immersed in this book that I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one go. Once again, I gave it the full five stars and wrote this review when I was feeling very emotional:

This book is simply stunning. As a student, I read parts of The Iliad in Ancient Greek and ever since I have been interested in the story and have often read retellings. As a feminist I am, of course, highly aware that history is the story of the winners, particularly men. History is the story of royal houses, the aristocracy, wars and battles, heroes and villains. It is very rarely the story of women. Women are often nameless and faceless. They appear in history for a few scenes, then we never hear what happens to them.

In this book, Pat Barker gives a voice to Briseis, who is named in the Iliad. She tells us a part of her story and the story of other women enslaved by the Greeks as they battle before Troy. The men treat women like objects, like mere stuff, just as they do the treasures that they have plundered from conquered cities.

I read this book with tears in my eyes, thinking about the fate of so many women and girls. Older women watching their sons killed in battles, their daughters slaughtered, their babies killed. Young women parcelled off to brutal men, torn from their families and homes. Yet, tales like The Iliad are seen by so many as heroic and noble! Instead they are the stories of mass murderers.

I think I had better finish writing this before I weep once again. This is a brilliant book and highly recommended.

Now that I can read other reviews more dispassionately, it is interesting to see how differently some readers react to a book like this. Why not see for yourselves by reading some of the responses on Goodreads and other similar sites?

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

My next book, which I will tell you about next week, is The Heavens by Sandra Newman. Until then…

Happy Reading and best wishes to you all!


About The Librain

Retired School Librarian
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