Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Measure of the Magic

Like most of Terry Brooks' new series, The Measure of the Magic takes place right after Bearers of the Black Staff. So of course I started reading Measure right after I finished reading Bearers two nights ago. And don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Bearers a lot. But after writing my post here, I found a post on another blog, A Dribble of Ink, which nicely summed up many of my problems with it. There are many tropes which have appeared in many of Terry's books, and they can get rather tiring.

But I felt like all my concerns melted away with the Ragpicker.

As I've already said, Measure picks up where Bearers left off (so sorry for any spoilers). Prue Liss has just gotten away from the Trolls, and is hiding out in Deladion Inch's fortress. Sider Ament is dead, and his staff has passed to Panterra Qu. Panterra needs to track the traitorous troll Arik Siq, both out of the need to stop him from revealing the valley's entrances to his father, as well as for revenge. And all the while, the Trolls sit camped outside of the valley, ready to attack.

The very first chapter of Measure opens with the Ragpicker. He did not appear in Bearers, so I really wasn't expecting him. I absolutely loved his character! He was well written and just so different. I really felt like Bearers needed him to be a much better book.

Measure also seemed to flow a lot better than Bearers. Bearers seemed chaotic, flipping from character to character rather rapidly. In Measure, the focus seemed to stay on one character (or at the very least one plot strand) for a couple of chapters, giving you a better idea of what was going on in each case; the whole narrative seemed to flow a lot better.

But I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with the ending of Measure. The main problem was that I felt Measure wrapped up too quickly. I had about thirty pages left to go, and I found myself wondering how Brooks was going to end the whole story here. He did it, but I felt kind of cheated, like the story shouldn't really have ended where it did, and the way it did. It didn't feel properly ended. Especially after the King of the Silver River tells us that Pan has a great destiny to fulfill. I kind of expected to see more of his destiny, but got cheated with that as well.

Plus I think I expected some more closure, a bit more to tie the Word and Void series into Shannara. Where do the druids come from? What happens to the last staff? Are there more demons? How do the druids find (and start using) the Hadeshorn? (At least, I thought Pan and Phryne found their way to what would become the Hadeshorn. So there's another question: was that even the Hadeshorn?) I've never really believed that the two series should lead into one another, but now that they have, I feel like a lot more could have been done to tie them together. Or maybe he'll need one more series to bridge the gap (like something showing what brought about the beginning and end of the first Druid council perhaps?)

I also ran into problems with the characters (I felt like my favourites kind of got the short end of the stick in a lot of cases), but I don't want to complain about that here. That was more of a matter of personal taste (liking some characters more than others) than anything else.

So to make a long story short, I did enjoy reading both volumes in the Legends of Shannara series. I liked Measure a bit better than Bearers, but Measure really faltered at the end. Don't get me wrong, these are enjoyable reads, so if you're looking for a really quick fantasy story, these are for you. But be warned: these are fast books that don't go into as much detail as some readers might like.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bearers of the Black Staff

It's been three years since I last read a Terry Brooks book. So I'm not going to lie, I was extremely happy to finally be reading Bearers of the Black Staff.

Five hundred years after the events of The Gypsy Morph, the wall of mist that has encased the valley and its inhabitants is weakening. The last Knight of the Word, Sider Ament, is the first person to see the outside world. Unsurprisingly, what has survived is a rather brutal and savage land. And that land is intent on intruding on the world the valley inhabitants have created for themselves.

Two human trackers and their elf friends are the next people to make their way out of the valley. And unfortunately for them, they stumble right into the middle of the outside world's attempts to get inside. A massive army of Trolls (the people who were formerly known as Lizards) are on the lookout for a new home. And they've decided that the valley is perfect for them. So it falls to one of the trackers, Panterra Qu, to try to organize a meeting of the valley's leaders with the troll leader by the next full moon. Unfortunately, the valley's people are not as unified as Pan made them sound to the trolls.

I have to say, I really enjoyed reading Bearers of the Black Staff. Sure, there were some things that seemed rather predictable to me. But I thought it was a great extrapolation of what life would be like for the valley people when their protective mist barrier finally failed. And of course, there are some great characters, like Prue Liss (the second of the human trackers), the elven twin brothers (friends of the human trackers), and Deladion Inch, the mercenary from the outside world. Bearers of the Black Staff was a great story, and I can't wait to see how everything ends in The Measure of the Magic!

And yes, it feels great to be reading a Terry Brooks once again.

As a side note, I wandered onto today, and found, among other things, that he is offering his short story "Imaginary Friends" for sale on the Kindle and Nook for only $2.99 for the next month and a half. All of the proceeds will go to helping Shawn, his faithful Web Druid, pay off his medical bills after successfully battling cancer. You can read more info and find the links to download the story here. (As a side note to my side note, if you don't have either ereaders, you can still read the book on the free Kindle app).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Library Book: Appleseed

I came across the Appleseed dvd at HMV a few weeks ago. I don't watch much anime, so while the concept intrigued me, I didn't really want to buy the movie then and there. I decided to see if the library had it instead. They didn't have the movie, but they did have a couple of the manga.

What they have labelled as volume 1 turned out to be an adaptation of the movie I was looking at in HMV. Now I'm not going to lie, but it was really hard to follow what was going on. A mercenary (?) named Deunan Knute is brought to the utopia Olympus. A lot of people are after her and I wasn't really sure why. But in Olympus, there are both humans and bioroids (a genetically modified and created new race). The city's administration have decided that humans should no longer live, so it falls to Deunan and her long lost partner Briareos (who is now a cyborg) to stop them.

I have to say, I liked the story, or at least the parts I was able to follow. But the pictures looked like they were screen captures from the movie and it wasn't always clear what was going on. For that reason, my advice is to skip this graphic novel and just watch the movie (although the movie might be just as tough to follow as this was. I'll let you know once I watch it!)