At the birth of a New World…

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

Now, truthbomb, I’m technically reading from The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, but I’m reviewing the books individually as I read them. The reason I’m reading a complete edition is because this particular thick book is very special to me. I own each story separately, but I managed to get the hardcover edition of the complete set with all the original art that I grew up loving for a $1 on a gift card (in particular, this gift card came from Kelly Baker for helping her with her first novel, so it was all-around special).

Now, these reviews may be on the lighter side, but that’s mostly because I believe in the magic of these books. They’re touted as a great Christian tale, but I’m not religious, so what I can say is this is the series that made me believe in magic and goodness for the sake of being good. The books are arranged in chronological order, according to time in Narnia, so while The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was written first, The Magician’s Nephew is catalogued as book one. As such, we do not yet meet the Pevensies, the Golden Age’s kings and queens, but rather, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer.

Digory’s primary motivation behind most of his actions is his mother’s health (she is dying of cancer, from what I can tell). Polly’s is mostly to experience adventure and not to abandon Digory in his rum poor situation as the story progresses. It is a friendship that lasts, as you find out at the end of the series. Their actions weigh heavily on the fate of Narnia. Digory’s poor behavior leads to Jadis, Queen of Charn (the infamous White Witch), being unleashed upon Narnia at its very birth. This ties into important events throughout the series.

Personally, I find the introduction works beautifully, knowing that this was not truly the first book. It’s a visually stunning book, the word choice guiding one along from London attics to the desolate Charn to the first sunrise of Narnia. It’s a great start to the magic of the series, and lays the foundations for most of the themes that appear in the other books. Visually-speaking, if I were to option any of the books for an immediate movie or other visual representation, I’d go with this one. To hear the great song of Aslan as the stars appear, singing in the sky, to the boiling earth erupting with animals, to the secret garden atop the hill far to the west… I just think this one would be stunning.

It’s worth mentioning that C. S. Lewis utilizes a specific technique, where he does not specifically and strictly write out the details to scenes, characters, and the like. He sort of gives a general blueprint and allows the reader to fill in the gaps, which is amazing for a children’s book. It especially allows children to create their own Narnia, to become the main characters, and to live in that world, an impressive and useful thing when encouraging one to use their imagination. As with the Narnian tales, it’s not all pristine and beautifully perfect in the end. Digory’s mother is saved, Uncle Andrew the deviant magician becomes nicer for the rest of his years, and the wardrobe the Pevensies use to get to Narnia is built, but Jadis is free in the northern countries, fated to return to Narnia and attack… when, as Aslan said, it will be sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to protect Narnia, as it was they who first brought evil to this new world.

Honestly, this book leaves me with just one story I wished was written–what happened to the silver apple tree Digory planted to shield Narnia from the witch? As long as it stands, she will not approach Narnia, but it eventually is gone. There is never again mention of it, which leads me to believe the people of Narnia eventually forgot to care for the tree, forgot of its protection. The passage of time and what it does to traditions, histories, and beliefs is often visited in this series. But boy do I wish there was a short story detailing the fall of that great tree.

Interested in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew? It can be purchased here.


Enter the Lost World once again…

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

So I never seemed to review The Lost World when I read it the first time, and I can’t remember the why. Ah well! I recently decided to give audiobooks a try, first listening to Jurassic Park and now the sequel. It was a great start to the small collection of audiobooks I own right now, especially since I could see how they  handled the graphs included in the first book.

Between the first and second of these, there seemed to be improvements. I sort of had to remember off-hand what a very important chart contained in Jurassic Park, which was a chart describing the amount of dinosaurs expected in the park versus the amount found, which was supremely important in several scenes. In The Lost World, there was little use of charts, but they definitely read out some information that if I recall correctly was listed in the same manner, and I was able to fully visualize the situation from its inclusion.

Now, onto the actual content! The Lost World is a direct sequel to Jurassic Park, with the return of Ian Malcolm and new associates to Ilsa Sorna, a.k.a. Site B, the actual labs and rearing grounds of the dinosaurs. Let me tell, what a difference a rereading makes in comprehension of a book! I had several rather concrete memories I took from my first reading of the book that turns out were simply conjecture on my part that the book in no way leads to! Just faulty understanding. I find that always rather interesting. The most important of which was the Carnotaurus, a chameleon-like carnivore with the advanced ability to blend into its environments. My take-away was that they were saying that the park had been further screwing around with genetics, creating hybrids in a greater way than simply splicing frog DNA into the code. But really, it’s no different. The actual take-away is that dinosaurs may have had these sort of abilities that we don’t account for.

There are other instances of that, but the Carnotaurus is the most… prominent? memory I have being wrong. Like the whole genetic manipulation thing stuck out so much in my mind, yet it was all in my own head! And now the new movies involve that very theme. Strange, but not unexpected (clearly, haha).

One of the best take-aways from the actual content of the book is Sarah Harding. She’s a tough, strong, sensible young woman with a lot to prove and a lot of good advice for Kelly, the young girl who ends up on this adventure with her friend Arby. Everyone contributes to the group’s survival throughout the book, but Harding’s is honestly the most noticeable me. It’s sort of like Lara Croft vibes, and I grew up loving the Tomb Raider games, so I got right behind this. The final action Kelly takes to save the group from the raptor pack is ultimately something she realizes with Harding’s advice echoing around in her skull. Most of what people tell you is wrong, to paraphrase.

It is very enjoyable. Scott Brick, the narrator for the editions I listened to, has a very strong, steady voice, and puts just enough feeling into the recordings that I can be comfortable giving this a go. There’s the constant argument about whether or not audiobooks are considering reading, but I feel they are. Fight me. Haha!

Interested in The Lost World? It can be purchased here.


A female warrior in Neolithic times!

S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.

A year ago, I picked up a series that I really was interested in, but as you likely know by now, I’ve been so terrible about reading that I didn’t manage to finish. In fact, I quickly discovered that I was reading the second book in the series somehow (prolly due to a misclicking in my Kindle app!). Anyhow, despite all this, the initial scenes from the second book remained fresh in my memory, so it kept me thinking about the first. This first book is called Ember of a New World.

When I decided on my reading goal for 2018, the first two books in this series were included (with a possibility of the third!). Now, I grew up with an interest in First Nation stories, ‘cos my mother loved them very much so and shared them with me often. I also was interested in dinosaurs, ‘cos I was a kid and I hallucinated Tyrannosaurs and raptors and just generally thought history was a pretty neat thing. This series takes that interest further back in time than the former but not so much the latter!

Tom Watson practices what they preach in their novels, quite literally, I might add! I follow them on Twitter, and I often get to look at astral shots and Neolithic-style pottery and clothing and any number of Sailor Moon .gifs! Aside from that last thing, they seem to spend much of their time studying the methods of their characters, learning by doing. This, by the way, makes for some damn good hype for the stories, as well as helps an author better understand what they are writing about. It lends itself to better writing!

As to the tale itself: Ember is a girl, about to become a woman. At the ceremony, a sign is seen and she is gifted a great destiny by her tribe’s gods–to go to the end of the world to the northwest. A daunting task at any time period or age, Ember must accomplish this as a young Neolithic woman on her own. The book follows her story as she first travels by boat, runs into trouble, only to run into more trouble, and so the snowball rolls down the hill. She accomplishes much in her time in the wild world. I’d rather not spoil very much of the actual tale itself with this one.

As far as quality of the book goes, it has a slight repetitive nature in telling of some of the practices of the people of the book, but I feel this is necessary for the reader to really understand what hardships and trials even simple tasks were. It also has several erroneous words that a new edition would polish up, but they’re mostly homonyms, so they’re easily deciphered. Otherwise, the books is a nicely-wrapped package waiting to be unfolded. If I’m not mistaken, a fourth book is in the works. This one is followed by Ember of Life. If you’re interested in early people’s stories, coming-of-age, strong female protagonists, LGBT-friendly material, this is it.

Interested in Ember of a New World? It can be purchased here.