Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja (Ranger's Apprentice book 10) by John Flanagan

Cover Art for The emperor of Nihon-Ja I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have read 10 books in this series.  (Actually, I think I missed book 9).  Anyway, after spending so much time with the same characters they almost seem like friends.  This book was like all the others.  Will and his friend and mentor, Halt, go on a perilous journey to a strange land, this time to help their friend, Horace who is helping the Nihon-Ja emperor put down a revolution.  The book says it is the "Final Battle"  and Flanagan includes all our favorite characters from previous books for a kind of "curtain call."  It was a fun book, and I enjoyed the incorporation of some Japanese language and culture elements.  It was, I think, a little more blood thirsty than the earlier books.  I remember in the first few books, Will and Halt would always try to disable opponents without killing them.  There were no such qualms in this book.  The body count was pretty high, and the main characters didn't seem at all bothered about it. Still, it has the action, adventure, and clever battle tactics that readers have come to expect from the series, plus some satisfying advancements in some of the romantic interests begun in earlier episodes. If  the series really does end here, I am totally OK with it, but if there is another book, I will probably read it. (438 p.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Cover Art for The spindlers This was a better than average little fantasy.  Liza wakes up one morning to find that her little brother, Patrick, is not right. She suspects that the Spindlers, spider-like creatures from the land below, have stolen his soul. Courageously she arms herself with a broom, goes through the hole behind the water heater and enters the mysterious world below. She meets a rat, named Mirabella, and together they have all kinds of Alice in Wonderland like adventures.  Oliver has created an interesting fantasy world with gentle nudges at philosophy and meaning at every turn.   She is pretty good at characterization, and I enjoyed how she depicted the body language of the characters.  An inexperienced author with fall back on cliche references to body language, "she bit her lip" or "He clenched his fists" but this author found subtler ways of expressing the character's emotions through their gestures.  The ending of the book was satisfying, but she left the door open for a sequel, and if it comes out I would certainly be willing to give it a look. (246 p)