Sabriel

Sabriel is a wonderful book. Fantasy books dealing with death magic are among my favorites, the worldbuilding is fantastic (in the truest sense of the world), and the main characters are all a lot of fun. Each time I spend long enough without reading it, I always forget just how much I enjoy reading (or in this case listening too) this book.

The worldbuilding is great. You don’t get the sense of mechanical precision you would get from someone like Sanderson, but it’s a world that feels both magical and ‘real’, which is always something I’m looking for. In particular, the idea of a magical world and a WWIish era technological world, separated by a sometimes porous wall is a neat one. Even though it’s not an uncommon trope, I have yet to find a book that does it quite as well. Especially the eponymous Sabriel’s experience being born and of one kingdom, but raised in a boarding school and with the perspective of the other. I really want to know so much more than we’re given about this history of this world…


The Hidden Oracle

The Hidden Oracle is an odd book. As a second sequel series to first Percy Jackson and the Olympians and then the Heroes of Olympus, we do get new main characters characters: Apollo, now in mortal form and Meg, surprisingly powerful plant magic demigod with some cool Roman swords. But we also get a number of guest appearances and references to previous characters: especially Percy Jackson himself.

It’s interesting have a setting and characters we can relate to to help ground us in the new series, but on the other hand, if I wanted to read about Percy Jackson, couldn’t I just read his series again? I remember having the same problem with Heroes of Olympus.


The Last Colony

After John’s story in Old Man's War and Jane’s (to some extent) in The Ghost Brigades, this time around we get both of them. They’re together now and raising ZoĆ« (how’s that for a complicated family), when they’re tapped to head an entirely new colony planet Roanoke–with the first city named Croatoan. Also… why would they even agree to that?

I mean… come on. Either no one knows the history behind the names–in which case why in the world would they be using them–or they do–in which case why in the world would you choose that to name your new colony. Granted, they turn out to want it to be lost, but still. It’s a bit annoying.


Ptolemy's Gate

Nathaniel is 17 now, the sweetheart of the government after saving everyone in The Golem's Eye and even worse when it comes to believing the goverment’s line about the supremacy of magicians and mistreating Bartimaeus.

As you might guess, in much the same way as in The Golem's Eye, I didn’t really care for Nathaniel. Bartimaeus is still pretty cool, but where this book really shines is seeing what Kitty has gotten up to over the past few years and actually digging into what Ptolemy was like.


The Amber Spyglass

The Amber Spyglass is really a sequel to The Subtle Knife more than a conclusion to The Golden Compass . Most everything that I liked in the Golden Compass but was missing in The Subtle Knife is still missing here, while the new additions that annoyed me about The Subtle Knife are turned up to 11.

We get fascinating new worlds (miniature spies with poisonous spines on their feet! creatures with wheels! how weird!) but to the most part they don’t seem to really lead to the story. Lyra… is growing up and supposed to be super important to the upcoming battle, but really this is again a book about Will. And Lyra’s big part? Growing up. That’s about it.


A Brief History of Time

Oof. That’s an intense book.

Hawking does an impressive job of making cosmology and the Big Bang and black holes seem relatively digestable, but even for me–with a strong background in mathematics, a pretty decent one in at least undergradate level physics and a stronger study specifically in quantum weirdness, albeit more from a computational perspective–this book is hard to read at times.


The Subtle Knife

The Subtle Knife takes off where The Golden Compass left off, with Lyra leaving her world behind, traveling across a bridge originally torn by the death of a friend. On top of that, we have a new character in Will, a boy searching for his missing father, instead finding another, must less dramatic way to travel between worlds.

To some extent, The Subtle Knife feels like an odd sequel. Where the Golden Compass centered almost entirely around Lyra, this time around, we’re split between Lyra and Will, with Will really the driving force behind the story. I don’t mind Will–he’s unlikable at first, but you fell that’s mostly because


The Golden Compass

I’ve read The Golden Compass before, but it’s been a few years. On top of that, this time around, I listened to it as an audiobook (the full cast reading, I’m not sure if there is another). I have fond memories of this book and for the most part, they were met on re-read, which is something you don’t always get.

The core of the book is a world where people’s spirits / souls / conscious exists as a separate being, a daemon who takes the form of an animal companion –changing and mutable at first and eventually settling into a single form for adults that represents the core of who they are. It’s an interesting idea and well done, to the point that it feels natural, to the point that I almost wish I could live in this world, just to see who my daemon might be.


A Memory of Light

There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending.

And oh what an ending it was.


The Ghost Brigades

After I read Old Man's War, I went looking for the sequels. While on paper The Ghost Brigades is the second in the series, it’s surprisingly different.

We get a lot more of a look into the CDF and specifically Special Forces, which was something that was interesting from the first book.