Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

Children of the Mind
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Just like Xenocide before it, Children of the Mind is difficult to separate from the previous books in the Ender’s Game series. In fact, Xenocide and Children of the Mind are considered by Orson Scott Card to merely be two parts of the same book, separated at a point in the plot that makes sense.
Even further to the point, I would consider Children of the Mind the last “part” of a story that stretches across four books. While it was easy to take Ender’s Game by itself, every additional piece of the story needs the previous parts for it to have the full impact of what Card was trying to accomplish.

What’s most interesting about this series is how each book has a different focus, almost putting them in distinct genres. Ender’s Game was militaristic sci-fi, while Speaker of the Dead was more along the lines of a mystery. And while Xenocide was the philosophical heart of the series, Children of the Mind was almost a romance in comparison. I appreciated the loose strings and sub-plots being tied up by the end of Children of the Mind, especially when it came to defining the relationships between the characters I had come to know over the last few books.

Even though the basic plot of these last three books was a simple “avoid destruction” motif, the complexity of the whole scenario did require the amount of text dedicated to it. Each element of these stories came into play in some fashion to create a satisfying ending. I’m still in awe of the technological foresight and brilliant solutions to fundamental physics limitations that Card was able to develop in these four books. I rarely have found a series that has been so consistently good across all parts of its story, and I believe the saga of Ender Wiggin is now my new favorite.

A satisfying ending to an incredible series of books, I give Children of the Mind 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Xenocide
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Much like authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were well ahead of their time in their science fiction writing, Orson Scott Card once again shows that he understood some of the key concepts of our universe. Written in 1991, Card’s Xenocide deepens and furthers the continuing adventure of Ender Wiggin that he began back in Ender’s Game . Picking up where Speaker for the Dead left off, Xenocide adds a powerful adversary while also tying plot points back to the first book in the series. In this sense, the tight intertwining of Xenocide with its predecessors makes it difficult to separate and review by itself.

I appreciate what Card has done by creating a multi-book narrative that requires the reader to have started from the very beginning of the story.
While Xenocide is not nearly the end of the series, as made clear by the astounding twist near the end, it does pull enough unresolved threads from Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead to create the next segment of the story. In this sense, the whole story is a multi-book epic so well-written that no detail or specific piece of continuity is overlooked. Plus, with so much history behind it, Xenocide reads at a frenetic pace, just trying to “beat the clock” of an almost assured planetary destruction.

Surprisingly, if you told me that there was a sci-fi book comprised almost entirely of dialogue and profound, philosophical arguments, I would probably assume it was boring (or at least written by Robert Heinlein). And yet, Card has brought the reasoning proposed in the previous books of this series and pulled them through to their logical conclusions, creating an engaging discussion of artificial intelligence and sentience, while wrapping the whole thing in the context of moral arguments for and against exterminating an entire species. There are no easy answers in this book, but Card has masterfully included concepts like cloud computing, interdimensional travel, and genetic engineering to get his point across.

A fantastic continuation of Ender Wiggin’s story that leaves the reader begging for more, I give Xenocide 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
White Tiger
Chan, Kylie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Kylie Chan mixes modern life with traditional Chinese mythology in her enthralling tale. The story follows Emma, a nanny for a young girl of a wealthy business man living in Hong Kong. As Emma becomes more and more connected with her charge, she become more entangled with a mystery that surrounds the household. She soon discovers that her employer is an ancient Chinese God, and is pursued by demonic forces. Kylie Chan writes with a faced-pace adventurous quality that keeps readers on their feet.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
The Wise Man's Fear
Rothfuss, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Wise Man's Fear is the second installment of the KingKiller Chronicles following The Name of the Wind. Rothfuss continues Kvothe's tale as he learns to navigate new worlds and new relationships. Unlike many sequels, A Wise Man's Fear is not lacking in adventure or astute characters. Having left the university, Kvothe faces assassination plots, powerful fey, and a trial by powerful mercenaries. In this book, we really see Kvothe become a hero and stretch his legend across the four corners of civilization. Rothfuss writes with the same dexterity as seen previously, and he always leaves you wanting more.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
Genres:
The Name of the Wind
Rothfuss, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Name of the Wind follows the story of Kvothe, a highly clever, not so childish kid who faces perils uncommon in this world and the next. Name of the Wind is not just another coming-of-age story. Rothfuss weaves an incredible story of intrigue. This book, while a little daunting at first, is worth every page. The use of language is masterful and Rothfuss manages to keep readers engaged every step of the way.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
Awards:
Genres:
The Sword of Shannara
Brooks, Terry
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: an unassuming character is given the task to use a magical item to destroy a great evil that once terrorized the world. To help this character on their quest is their best friend, a magic-wielding individual, a ranger with a love interest, a dwarf, and some elves. Look, I get that The Lord of the Rings redefined the fantasy genre in the 1950’s, but why were fantasy writers still replicating this formula twenty years later? I only half-paid attention to this derivative plot, mostly because I already had an idea what was going to happen.

Now, I will admit that The Sword of Shannara isn’t completely a 1-for-1 rehashing of The Lord of the Rings, but enough of it is similar that it feels almost too familiar. The plot does divert from the Tolkien formula, but probably not until about halfway through. It was at this point where some interesting and original characters finally arrived on the scene. A mute rock troll and his thieving friend were quite entertaining, and I would almost prefer if the story was about them instead of about this titular and fabled sword of legend.

Just enough of this book was different enough to make it engaging. Sure, some of the same Lord of the Rings plot points were there, albeit in a different order, but the details were just unique enough to give the characters their own little side quests. I know it 's hard to introduce an entire fantasy world in one book, so I’m willing to give this trilogy a bit of slack, but only as long as the next book in the series goes in a new and original direction and doesn’t just follow the Lord of the Rings template.

Moments of originality in a mostly derivative plot, I give The Sword of Shannara 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Genres:
Yellow circle with a drawn map on it against an orange background
Coelho, Paulo
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I first picked up this book when I was in maybe 6th grade and I absolutely hated it, I had no clue what it was about and why it was an "adventure" book that didn't really have a lot of action in it. Having picked up this book again this year (and actually finishing it this time) I can honestly say this story made me want to reevaluate how I have lived my entire life. The story follows a boy named Santiago as he searches for his personal legend, in other words, the reason he is alive, his purpose. This is a book that makes you want to go out and chase your dreams no matter what, and it is beautifully written. The novel takes you through the ups and downs of life and proves that sometimes your hard work is worth it in the end, whether you accomplish what you set out to do out not. I think this is a book where the messaged can’t be fully realized until your a little bit older, but to anyone struggling with what they want to do in life or even just where to start, this book is amazing, it made me feel like anything is possible. Just read it, I promise it’s good.

Reviewer: Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle K.
Awards:
Warbreaker
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For the last few years, Brandon Sanderson’s name kept coming up amongst my writer friends. I had never heard of him, but they had been fans of his writing for some time. In my goal to read all the unread books I own, I found that I had obtained a Brandon Sanderson book many years ago as a prize during my first National Novel Writing Month. Even with the daunting page count, I decided to give Warbreaker a read. All I can say is that it was refreshing to finally read a fantasy book written by someone who genuinely knows what they’re doing.

I’ve read a lot of books recently that I would consider “amateur,” but Sanderson proves he’s a professional in this tightly written book. From incredibly interesting and entertaining characters to expertly placed foreshadowing to a fascinating magic system, Warbreaker is fully original while also maintaining the tropes and structure of a high fantasy novel. The twists in the plot continued to grab my attention as the mystery surrounding these characters unfolded. As I read, I had a few qualms with minor points in the story, but Sanderson managed to quash these negative points by the end of the book.

I have stayed away from the fantasy genre for a long time because I know how lengthy some of these book series can be, and I didn’t want to become invested in something that might not even reach its penultimate conclusion.
Fortunately, Warbreaker is well-encapsulated in its own, standalone story.
Sure, there are hints at what the future may hold for some of these characters, but nothing was particularly pressing or “cliffhanger-ish” in this book. Either way, consider me a believer in the fantasy genre, and in Sanderson particularly. Maybe now it’s time I started to dive into his other works.

An original and highly entertaining fantasy story, I give Warbreaker 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Genres:
A gold crown on a yellow background
Martin, George R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Clash of Kings is the second book in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. After adoring the first book, I was not at all disappointed with the second. The immensely complex fantasy world only continues to grow and develop in this book, as do the characters. George R. R. Martin perfectly juggles all the different storylines, making them all interesting, suspenseful, and fascinating. His characters are so 3-dimensional that characters the reader hates in the first book begin to be shown in a new light. I very strongly recommend this book to anyone that read A Game of Thrones. Every paragraph in this book is so richly embellished and detailed that as I read these books, I felt like I was learning the history of another country.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
Genres:
The Two Towers
Tolkien, John R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The second installment in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Two Towers," takes up the challenge of doubling up on the success of Tolkien's previous novel. This is a daunting task, as fans clamored to the brilliant and wonderfully crafted masterpiece of "The Fellowship of the Ring". Though after having read and thoroughly reflected upon Tolkien's most recent work, I am pleased to say that he was able to exceed my expectations.

The novel begins directly where the last left off, with Frodo Baggins having been taken hostage by a group of vicious orcs. In spite of this setback, he is still on a quest to destroy the mystical ring, but as is to be expected in such a story, his journey is neither simple nor straight-forward.

Along the way, Frodo makes encounters with a number of new characters, ever-diversifying this creative and beautifully crafted story. Their journey stands witness to a number of conflicts, wars, and battles, with various different social groups across the realm taking part. Through it all, as Frodo inches closer to his destination, the faded shadow of Mordor- where the Dark Kingdom and Sauron await- gleams in his foresight.

I originally picked up this novel immediately after the last, and am glad to have read it. Some may not enjoy the novel quite as much, due to the fact that the language is very particular and can sometimes present readers with a bit of a learning-curve. However, the story manages to continue to enhance the rich narrative setup in the previous novel, and does a wonderful job with transitioning the story forward. Tolkien’s colorful and imaginative lore’s, histories, and descriptions truly make this novel a must read!

Reviewer’s Grade Level: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Beowulf: a New Verse Translation
Heaney, Seamus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Beowulf is a classic heroic epic written one thousand years ago; I read the version that Seamus Heaney translated into modern English. This translation was excellent, managing to balance the original style and rhythm with a clear and understandable tone. Beowulf is a traditional hero. As a result, some of the plot points are fairly predictable. Nevertheless, I would recommend this epic poem to anyone who enjoys Tolkien or other fantasy series. Reading Beowulf, it is easy to see where more contemporary authors got their inspiration.
Reader Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Awards:
A Dance with Dragons
Martin, George R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Not only has the release of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy garnered international acclaim, but it has also brought together a diverse community of fans, all of whom share an appreciation for the masterpiece they see in Martin's work. From novel to novel, Martin has continued to enthrall his fans with plots upon counter-plots, timeless lore, and brutally realistic characterization. Suffice it to say, fans were displeased when the six-year waiting period struck between the third and fourth installment. Now, with "A Dance with Dragons" well past its release, fans beg the question, "How does the fourth novel stack up to its prequel 'A Feast for Crows' and the other books?" To answer that question, I would say A Dance with Dragons has trumped the three previous novels, and exceeds the quality of Martin's previous work.

In A Feast for Crows, the plot left out the happenings of Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys. Luckily, however, this new novel pays most of its 1000+ pages to these plotlines. With the war over, attempts for peace in King's Landing are made, but as Tyrion reaps havoc in the capitol, he flees across the Narrow Sea to meet with the rumored "Daenerys Targaryen".

She has done quite well for herself, having managed to take power, wealth, and respect form the former masters of Slaver's Bay. Though as old conflicts are settled, new ones arise, and Daenerys soon finds that governing over a foreign city is a challenge.

Up in the North, the 998th lord commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow, faces distrust among his brothers. Yet in spite of their squabbling, a bigger threat looms across the Wall, with the Others inching closer to the Seven Kingdoms.

In addition to these major plotlines, there are of course reappearances from a range of other characters. Their plots are befit to twists, turns, and outright bewilderment, able to surprise even some of the most observant readers.

I read this book immediately after finishing the last, and can say that I am pleasantly surprised with it. The plotlines continue to complicate, and intrigue readers ever-further in this timeless trilogy.

One complaint I would file with this novel is that due to Martin's fragmented writing style, for which certain books focus primarily on particular plotlines, I felt that some information was hard to remember or keep track of. I would definitely recommend brushing up on a summary of "A Storm of Swords" beforehand, as a way to refresh yourself on those details.

If you decide to not continue with the trilogy, my recommendation has to go to J.R.R Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. While it's true that the novels are highly similar, Tolkien's work makes up for some of the imperfections in Martin's.

Overall, from my opinion, A Dance with Dragons is certainly an improvement on the last installment in the trilogy, and stands to be one of the better "Song of Ice and Fire" novels. If you are this far into the series already, I would have to say that it's worth continuing. The timeless and rich storytelling found in Martin's novels makes for a read that simply cannot be passed up!

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
The Time Keeper
Albom, Mitch
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mitch Albom is one of the most creative authors I've ever read. The Time Keeper is an amazing read, as it makes us question how we view time. Time is one of the driving forces of our everyday lives, yet we treat it as a simple, inanimate object. The Time Keeper focuses on two characters: A teenager who wants time to go faster and an old man who wants it to go slower. But there is also a third character: The Time Keeper. An old man in a cave, locked away from humanity, subject to hear all the voices of Earth pleading for time to go faster, slower, or to stop altogether. This book is very interesting, and I absolutely recommend it.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
Genres:
A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book blew my mind. A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. These books are fantasy, and they follow the wars, events, kingdoms, and lives of the people of Westeros. This book is extremely dense, but that only means that it is full to the brink of background information and interesting tidbits about the world. The most amazing thing about this book is how developed the world is. Martin must have put an unimaginable amount of time into world-building, and this effort certainly shows. The plot is so complex, and almost all of the characters are wonderfully 3-dimensional.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Tolkien, J. R. R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Originally written for his children, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel “The Hobbit” is hailed among book critics as a remarkable, introductory-level fantasy novel. It manages to engage readers with an epic and timeless plot, while also avoiding the use of profane language and violent scenes.

The tale is set in Middle Earth, home to a number of human-like species including the Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves. Over the course of the novel, Tolkien provides a rich background of the history of these three species.
Namely, the majority of backstory is setup around the dwarves- who originally inhabited the “Lonely Mountain” and made their fortune off of mining gold. Their empire prospered until at last, a greedy, gold-seeking dragon named “Smog” wreaked havoc to their way of life.

Enter Bilbo Baggings, a middle-aged Hobbit settling down in the Shire. After he hosts a seemingly ordinary dinner party, his life is turned inside out, and the inner spirit of adventure is awakened with him. He joins in a quest to reclaim the dwarf home, and takes part in a number of adventures along the way.

I originally read this book after finishing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. While it’s true that this novel is aimed at a younger demographic, it is certainly still an engaging read for older teens and adults. J.R.R. Tolkien embeds a number of rich storytelling devices into his writing, and it makes the read an absolute pleasure!

If you decide not to try this novel, I would suggest reading “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. It is certainly not as child-friendly, and has some pretty gruesome scenes, but Martin’s writing makes up for many of the imperfections of Tolkien’s work. Overall, The Hobbit is most aptly suited for readers aged 8-12, and serves as a great introductory novel to fantasy literature. For older readers, I might suggest a different read, but all the same, and in spite of your age demographic, The Hobbit is truly a timeless masterpiece of literature and is worth giving a try!

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
A golden chalice against a red background
Martin, George R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Feast for Crows", the fourth installment in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy, takes up the challenge of transitioning the narrative from "A Storm of Swords". Readers were left off at the end of the War of the Five Kings, which had drawn havoc to all of Westeros. Throughout the course of this new story, attempts are made to unify the country, but as some relationships are mended- others are torn, and the tale of Westeros continues to grow ever more colorful with Martin's next installment.

The narrative focuses mainly on the happenings of central Westeros, with exclusions to Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen's plotlines (which are saved for the next novel.) Cersei Lannister's youngest son, Tommen Baratheon, now sits atop the Iron Throne, and takes guidance from his family members. Cersei and her children mourn the death of Joffrey and Tywin, whose demise is believed to be at the hands of the family Dwarf, Tyrion. However, even as Cersei attempts to make rational decisions, it becomes clear that her mind is clouded with vengeance.

In light of the fact that Martin killed off a number of main characters in his last novel, he pulls his readers into new storylines such as those with Brienne of Tarth as well as characters in Dorne and the Iron Islands. Arya Stark explores a new story arc in Bravos and all across the realm, religion emerges to have an even bigger impact on the plot. Overall, Martin does a fantastic job of bringing up new plot points and transitioning the trilogy into its next narrative.

I began reading this book immediately after the last, and while it’s true that it isn’t nearly as eventful as A Storm of Swords, the plot is equally as engaging. Players in the game of thrones continue to make political powerplays and hidden sabotages, all the while grounding their feet to climb the ladder of power.

One complaint I have with this novel is that its slow pace contrasts poorly with that of the last installment. Readers were left with suspense and eager anticipation for A Feast for Crows, and while they weren’t entirely disappointed, I felt that the beginnings of this book missed a few major fan expectations. This, in part, is due to the fact that there is a 5-year jump from A Storm of Swords to A Feast for Crows. Of course, some details are clearly left out over such a large gap.

If you decide not to continue with this series, I would recommend trying J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, as it makes up for some of the imperfections with Martin’s work. With all that having been said though, I would certainly recommend continuing on to read this book. Its slow pace may at first deter you from reading, but, from my experience, if you stick through and finish the book, you will be glad to have done so. There are so many rich story-telling devices Martin imbeds into his writing, and paired with the fantastic plot of A Song of Ice and Fire, this book makes for a tremendous read!

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Awards:
Genres:
A path that winds through the mountains
Tolkien, John R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Over 60 years ago in 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien unveiled the first installment of his series “Lord of the Rings” with the publication of “The Fellowship of the Ring”. Unknown to him at the time, his series would stand to leave a legacy- one that would bring together communities’ decades after his death and revolutionize the fantasy genre forever. However, in light of the fact that the novel was published literal generations ago, I would like to try my best to analyze whether or not it stacks up today with modern-day fantasy novels.

The story takes place in “Middle-Earth”, an ancient land in which several human-like species- including the dwarves, elves, and hobbits- coincide. The story features a character introduced in a previous Middle-earth novel from Tolkien, Bilbo Baggins, who plays the same role, after 60 years following his last appearance. In celebration of the 111th birthday of Bilbo, a relative of the family, Frodo Baggins, is given an all-powerful ring- said to have been forged by Sauron the Dark Lord and infused with magical powers.
As Frodo soon finds out from Gandalf the Grey, another wizard, the ring enables Sauron to enslave and dominate all of humanity, which for obvious reasons, poses a threat to Bilbo and his entire species. Determined, he sets off on an adventure to destroy the ring, accompanied by some of his Hobbit-friends. The trip intensifies as time goes on, and as Bilbo explores the vast lands of Middle-earth, he meets a number of new traveling companions. Together, they conquest further and meet new challenges to approach.

I read the first book of this series quite some time ago, and even as a 7th grader, was able to read and comprehend most parts of the book. Though with that being said, I would not recommend this novel for someone who is similarly aged. It’s always worth remembering that the book is 60 years old, so the language is bound to be slightly more difficult to read.
There’s also the fact that Tolkien presents readers with an enormous amount of lore, and it can be a challenge to understand all the details.

When reading through this book, I found myself completely immersed in the story. Tolkien does a marvelous job with engaging readers in his story. The world he has created is described in such animated detail, that nearly anyone can get hooked on his story.
If you decide to skip this book, but are still interested in reading a similar fantasy novel, I would give George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book trilogy a try. While it’s true that the novels in this series bear many similarities to “Lord of the Rings”, Martin’s books usually move at faster paces, with a greater number of surprises and unexpected endings.

In spite of the fact that the book may at times be difficult to get through, Tolkien illuminates his stories with rich language, backstory, and imagery; and for these reasons and more, the novel is certainly worth a try.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Genres:
Gold helmet against a green background
Martin, George R. R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin, which sequels his previous novel "A Clash of Kings", takes root precisely where the last left off. Once again, Martin is challenged with sustaining book-readers attention, in an ever-complexifying story involving a plethora of different characters, motivations, and story arcs. However, after having read the novel, I can testify to the fact that Martin has done an excellent job with continuing the story.

After the "War of the Five Kings" is drawn into motion, young King Joffrey is tasked with defending an incoming attack from Stannis Baratheon. In spite of the fact that Joffrey is vastly incompetent to Stannis, who not only has a larger army but is also a distinguished battle commander, the crown stands a chance with the help of Tyrion Lannister.

Up North, Jon Snow is captured by the Wildlings- a vicious group of Northern barbarians. Meanwhile, Mance Rayder unites hundreds of Northern tribes under the prospect of defeating their common enemy; and gathers them in an attack against the wall. When Jon Snow returns, he warns the watch of their plans, but far-outnumbered, it would seem that defeat is inevitable. The attack draws nearer, and as it does, an unexpected card comes into fold- leveling the odds of the battle.

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen seeks an army with which she can use to recapture her homeland. Coincidently, Ser Jorah Mormont- an outlawed Westerosi knight- is at her command, and with her, as well as the help of Barristan Semly, former King's Guard's to Daenerys' father, she manages to gather an army of Unsullied. Through a number of risky maneuvers, Daenerys also wins the affection of the common people and takes control of former slave cities.

George R.R. Martin continues developing these plotlines and more, by drawing satisfying conclusions to old story arcs and bringing new beginnings to others. All the while, he manages to keep readers at the edge of their seat, enjoying every moment of the book.

My main complaint with this novel is that while the plotlines are rich and engaging, the sheer magnitude of its length makes it a very long read. I sometimes question whether the series is worth continuing to read, as it takes an enormous amount of time to finish. However, for someone in this position, I might recommend watching the TV series- for which there is currently around 60 hours of content. It is definitely a solid alternative to the book series for someone in more of a time crunch.

If in fact you do decide to switch book series, I would recommend J.R.R Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" book trilogy. It's similar to A Song of Ice and Fire in some ways, but makes up for certain imperfections found in Martin's work.

Overall, if you have read this far into the series, by my judgment, the trilogy is worth continuing. From "A Clash of Kings" onto this next novel, the plot lines are drawn even further and the story intensified in all the right ways.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Genres:
Book Review: Clash of Kings
Martin, George R. R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Clash of Kings", the second installment in George R.R. Martins "A Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy, picks up where the first novel, "A Game of Thrones" left off. With the death of the King, Robert Baratheon, and his hand, Eddard "Ned" Stark, war rages throughout the realm, with a total of 5 lords declaring themselves for the throne. Robert's brothers, along with their allied houses, raise their banners in outlaw to the crown, while young King Joffrey defends his claim to the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile, Eddard's eldest son, Rob, rallies the North to secede from the Seven Kingdoms in declaration of their own "King in the North". This, of course, reaps certain consequences in a system built on partitions of trust and loyalty. In the midst of this turmoil, yet another lord, Balon Grejoy, who holds the Iron Islands, joins the fight, and in a distant fog from across the Narrow Sea, lies Daenerys Targaryen. She formulates an Army of Unsullied warriors and manages to acquire 3 dragons, restoring honor to her house and strengthening her claim to the throne.

With time, the war unfolds, and as it does, so do an onslaught of secrets, lies, and betrayals unforseen to even some of the most observant readers.
Martin continues to draw inspiration from English history, while also divulging from reality with the continuation of the white walker plot line.

I moved onto this book from "A Game of Thrones", and can genuinely say that I think it was a major improvement from its predecessor. Although the plot may still move a bit slow for some, now that George R.R. Martin has set the stage with background information, there is much more action than in the previous installment of the series.

One personal complaint of mine is that the sheer magnitude of characters, lore, and history presented in the book can get a bit confusing at time.
Especially for someone who is trying one of their first fantasy novels, this book may not be the best fit. On the contrary, however, if you're looking for a longer, and more austere, read, I would certainly continue onto this book from the last. The plot only gets better with time, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you decide not to keep reading A Song and Ice and Fire, though, I would recommend trying any one of J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy books. From my opinion, they are similar in style, but different enough to cater to one another's faults.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Genres:
A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin tells the tale of various clashing households and their quest to conquer control over the seven kingdoms. Set in a distant, but vaguely familiar medieval-Europe, the story bears parallels to England’s “War of the Roses,” while also introducing its share of unique fantasy elements. As the reader progresses through the book, they follow the politics of the Iron Throne- a metaphor representing the complete and utter control a King possesses in a feudal government system. Furthermore, the reader tracks 8 character perspectives, which are alternated through passing chapters.

As the King rides north to Winterfell to meet with his trusted vassal, and friend, Eddard "Ned" Stark, he strikes up an agreement to anoint Eddard as the hand of the king. Reluctant, Ned follows the King back to the South, but as the plot continues to unfold, Eddard learns of a secret unbeknownst to the King and some of his most trusted advisers. With the death of the King and the ruin of Eddard’s house, war rages in Westeros- as several characters attempt to strike their claims on the Iron Throne.

I initially picked this book up after finishing J.R.R Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings” series and have been pleasantly surprised with it. Many fantasy readers have speculated that the literary masterpiece of Tolkien’s novels could not be out done, but I am now inclined to disagree. I thought the book was well-crafted and engaging as an intermediate to advanced reader. However, I would file the complaint that the book moves a bit slow for my taste. Some may lose interest in its plot, especially considering the sheer volume of the book series. The old-language also adds to this effect, as it may cause some readers to struggle following along.

Overall, I would say that this book is certainly worth a try for someone who enjoys medieval-fantasy novels. Admittedly, it will take a while to read and is certainly no small undertaking, but by sticking with it, I found myself enjoying every page more than the last!

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
Awards:

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