Book of August

Well, I have disappeared for a while, entangled in the darkness of my own head, which still happens time to time. I know I’m at a place now where I need the company of others to be able to leave the darkness behind but I’m not ready to do it. It scares the shit out of me to be honest. So I’m turning to books (and Netflix).

The books I loved

La vida es sueno (Life is a dream) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

I read the simplified Spanish version (since I’m learning Spanish) and it was very entertaining. It was interesting to see what was accepted as cultural norm centuries ago and what was frowned upon but I’ve found the philosophical aspect of it strangely modern. How do we know we’re dreaming, what if this life of ours all happens in our heads? It’s a question that was processed in many ways throughout the years, movies, books, songs, all asked themselves the question.

¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño;
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.

The Elfstones of Shannara

This second part of this series was my favourite. I started to read the books because I watched the TV series, The Shannara Chronicles, and was curious of the books that inspired it. The first book was a total let-down but this one, which was also the basis for the backbone of the TV-series, was quite enjoyable. I have finished it in a little more than a day. Sure, the characters are not very complicated and there is a lot of over-explaining that I could have done without but I loved the main character, Wil. And Ander and Perk. Unlike in the series, he was cute in the book 🙂

Maybe the awful acting of the TV series influences me a bit but I couldn’t warm to Amberle so I didn’t really care what happens to her. I also was disappointed that Eretrea was much less of a character in the book than in the series but at least Wil had a bit more of a funk so you know, it balanced out in the end.

The best thing about it was that it finally grew into its own, it’s not a LOR knock-off any more like the first book, and even the journey was a lot more eventful and exciting than in the first novel.

Unlike many fantasy series, the books are stand-alones so it’s worth to read this one, and lose the others.

The book I enjoyed

The Wishsong of Shannara

I finished the third book of the series today and I have to say, I am not sad to leave it behind. I missed not seeing any Wil and Eretrea from the second book that I loved, would have been interesting to have them included but it’s their children’s journey this time.

Allanon, who is connecting character and event-initiator in all the books, has not changed. He is still a know-it-all, tell-nothing kinda guy even if he has doubts about it. And he needs help again. So he seeks out the Oshmfords (now finally not referred to as the Shannaras) and gets Wil’s daughter take off with him.

I liked the characters: Brin, always overthinking, Jair, always up for an adventures, are close but Allanon needs only Brin. She joins him accompanied the Prince of Leah who takes his great-grandfather’s sword and his protective love for Brin.

Jair, who was supposed to stay behind, starts his adventure not of his own will but of circumstances and becomes his own person through everything that happens, everyone he meets. And he meets some great characters, even if most of them are stereotypical and one-dimensional, they relate to him with real emotions that’s impossible not to love.

Brin’s own journey with Allanon is less exciting, more inward-looking but gets more original in the second half in Allanon’s absence.

The duality of the two points of view served the book right: we had plenty action with Jair and the internal struggle with Brin. As much as liked these two though, I was more worried about the moor cat’s destiny than theirs. I would’ve loved to know more of the background stories of the supporting characters, why they chose to go into the heart of danger and who they left behind. I would have liked to be able to relate to them more. It was a good enough book but I did skim the pages quite a number of times.

The book I fought my way through

The Sword of Shannara

I feel it’s a fanfiction for LOR – and not a very good one at that. Almost identical characters, a quest to destroy the evil, a journey through the lands… Nothing really was a surprise, maybe with the exception of some small details, like a robot or Keltset.

The characters were hardly well thought out – they changed without any particular reason, and I didn’t feel drawn to any of them. Even a death among them didn’t make me feel anything.

There was a lot of wandering in the plot, characters not knowing where they were and where they were going and that’s not a particularly interesting read. The point of view changed erratically, not letting me get to know any of the characters well enough to really understand what they were going through.

In the end, after all the pages I fought through (or simply skipped, because that happened, too) the Warlock Lord’s destruction was a bit of a let-down and I was only glad it happened because that meant I was close to the end of the book.

Still in progress

Kalman Mikszath: The Town in Black

Since it’s a physical book, I often forget to take it with me and given that most my reading is done during the commute, it didn’t get enough time. It’s a good one though so I’ll get there soon!

Progress update

My goal is to read one book a week and this month I achieved it. I even included other languages which I’m rather proud of but the choice of the books was not the best – the Shannara series on the whole still feels like a let-down and I don’t like to feel that I wasted my time on them. I will need a completely different genre this time I think, which will be a little hard because most my books are fantasy or dystopian 🙂 Any recommendations to a book outside of these genres? Let me know if you’ve read something you’d recommend.

 

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