Life of Pi

Finished this last night and thought it was very good. A few people had been mentioning to me that it had left them underwhelmed – perhaps because of all the hype with the film coming out. Speaking of which, I am very excited that I managed to finish it before the film goes out of the cinemas, so I can still see it on the big screen, even though I must be the last person in the land to have read it.

I was a bit confused at the end – I gather most people were – about how much was true (within the story) and which version of events to believe. Of course there was a lot of unbelievable stuff in the book, but essentially it was a survival story, which is right up my street.

For some reason these types of apocalyptic (either in terms of the entire world, or a single individual) story really fascinate me – it makes me consider how I would react in such a situation.

The addition of the tiger was a nice touch as well, to show how important another life is to maintain any stretch of sanity, even if they belong to a different species. Having another sentient being to share such a terrible experience would certainly make it easier, at least to have a reason not to give up.

Surprisingly, I also found the book light-hearted in places, which made me laugh out loud at a number of points. Any book that can combine such tragedy with comedy is evidence of a great writer.

A Memory of Light

So it’s all over. Finished. Complete. All in all, I loved it. Even though it was pretty tense, being mostly one long battle. Still not entirely sure what happened in some parts, and wish there was more about other bits…will definitely be rereading the entire thing as soon as I can dig out Eye of the World. In the meantime…

* SPOILERS *

With the Forsaken being brought back to life all the time in new bodies, with new names, it got more and more difficult to keep all the characters straight in my head. Sort of like any spy novel, I guess, whenever people might switch to the other side at any point it gets complicated very quickly. Rereading will probably help with this though.

Things I liked:

That the Shara finally got into the story!
There was a really good tie-in reason for Nyneave’s long running respect for non-power healing techniques.
That the Dark One speaks in capitals. Actually sounded like he was booming in my head.
Pretty much every scene with Telmanes in it.
The Ogier in war-mode.
The fact that it made me cry – I kinda hoped it would.
Tam swordfighting with Rand.
The main ending.
Androl – never noticed him before, but really nice character.
The huge philosophical, free will and meaning of suffering debates.
The overriding ‘it is not me, but us which are important’ theme.
Perrin ‘doing what Rand cannot’ – very poetic.
Perrin’s power-wrought hammer – reminds me of Northern Lights!
Egwene bonding Leilwin. Brilliant.
Lan and his death threats: “Who are you?” “The man who is going to kill you” – if they ever do films (please DON’T do films) I’m voting for Liam Neeson to play him.
Loads and loads of the Old Tongue. Everything sounds cooler in a made-up language.

Things I didn’t:

Not quite enough Seanchan. Still too curious!
The very very end. Not satisfied really.
Padan Fain dying far too easily – extremely interesting sub-baddie, killed off in an instant.
Everyone continually sending last messages of love through their bonds, just to survive and do it all again five minutes later.
That Matt was no longer bound to the Horn but no-one noticed, or cared when this was revealed.

Things I still don’t understand:

Who was Moridin originally?
Are Luc and Slayer separate people? If so, who?
What was the Bowl of Winds for – just to keep evil storms at bay?
Was Matt coming on to Min briefly?
What happened to Alvairin? (It might be I’ve just completely forgotten this already – it seems highly unlikely she would have been left to run around on her own)
That Moriane went through everything at the Tower of Ghenjii (in full knowledge that it would happen), and Lanfear wasn’t even killed? Or even imprisoned very well.

There are plenty more, but that’s just a taster.

Towers of Midnight

I finished rereading the second-to-last book of Wheel of Time much faster than I expected, mostly due to how amazing it is, which made me think that a) I shouldn’t have put it off for so long and b) I could have started back a bit further, on book 11 or 12.

But number 14 is finally here, and the series in which I have invested about ten years of my life is coming to an end. I’m so excited to read the final instalment, although I will also be very sad when it’s over. I might have to start again right from the beginning – there are still a number of areas where I can’t keep track of who is who, or who is evil, and could certainly do with a refresher.

I read number 13 as a break from the Game of Thrones series, and it just made me appreciate both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s writing so much more. The world that Jordan created simply dwarfs that of   any other fantasy writer I can think of. It is so indepth, such a complete and detailed universe that it feels almost more realistic than other books in this genre.

Of course there are still characters which are boring, and plots which are confusing (to say the least), but the breadth of description that readers are shown – plus all the rest behind the scenes information – creates a beautifully immersive experience.

A few highlights I love about WoT: really strong, stubborn characters (always so much more fun to read about), multiple vices and motivations for their actions (so you can never quite keep up with what will happen next) and enough different cultures to keep the wannabe-anthropologist inside me happy (particularly the Seanchan – still want to know more about them.)