Thursday, November 3, 2011

REVIEW - The Omen Machine, Terry Goodkind

The Omen Machine is book number thirteen in Terry Goodkind's internationally best-selling series, The Sword of Truth. It is also the beginning of a brand new trilogy arch - that is, if Goodkind's three book deal from TOR has anything to say about it.  If you're in the process of reading this series, perilous waters full of spoilers lie ahead. So I strongly suggest that you turn back now. Otherwise, if curiosity to see if Goodkind delivers has gotten the better of you... well....

Blurb -
An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for countless millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. The omens turn out to be astonishingly accurate, and ever more ominous. 

As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahaln, foretelling an impending even beyond anyone's ability to stop. As catastrophe approaches, the machine then reveals that it is within its power to withdraw the omen... In exchange for an impossible demand. 

Plot -
I'll be the first to admit that Goodkind's last trilogy - Phantom, Chainfire and Confessor - were painful to read. To a degree. The Omen Machine is different. Goodkind can still be a tad preachy, but he tries not to overdo it this time. The story is rather interesting and I loved returning to the world and characters. New elements of magic is introduced this time around and the plot travels at a much faster pace than previous instalments. That said, this book is only half the size of a regular Goodkind novel. However, I felt very satisfied with the amount of time I spend reading this novel.

World - 
There isn't a lot to say about Goodkind's world, other than it is brilliant. If you've read Goodkind up to book thirteen, I am sure you'd agree. Goodkind sticks with the familiar, but also throws a lot of new elements into his safe-zones. I'm sorry to say that this book relies heavily on prophecy, which is in my own opinion, is a convenient scape-goat for any weak story (blame it on prophecy!). But Goodkind uses prophecy differently in this story. It is refreshing and unique, and I soon found myself eating my own opinion. Prophecy can be pulled off... if done well.

Characters -
Ah, the characters. This is the most contentious topic with the release of The Omen Machine. People have criticised Goodkind for delivering mere 'shadows' of the characters everyone has come to love or loath. It's true that Goodkind offers little on the background of the characters, but I don't think it detracts from the story. After all, the story is more about plot than character development - the story is more Stone of Tears than Faith of the Fallen. If I was being honest, I would say that, yes, the characters are not as fulfilling this time around. But I know these characters and I know their history. It's not so bad for something like this to happen in book thirteen.

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Goodkind remains one of my favourite authors. I cannot fault the man too much. If you're not a fan of Confessor, then give this one a try. If you haven't been a fan since Faith of the Fallen, this is not the redeeming title you've been waiting for.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IN THE SHADOWS - Madeleine Cleary

Guest Reviewer - Madeleine Cleary

Vampire Academy
By Richelle Mead

If you are looking for something light, fresh and amusing, pick up The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The series comprises of six books following the exploits of the protagonist, Rose Hathaway and her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. The novel is set in the mysterious Vladmir’s Academy, a school for vampires (Moroi) and half-human and half-vampires (dhampirs). I know what you’re thinking, not another boring vampire Twilight-esque series that capitalizes on the hearts and minds of na├»ve fifteen-year-old girls! While The Vampire Academy series does in fact follow the complicated “love triangle” plot line reminiscent of Twilight, it defines itself through its quirky and often dark humour and its unique character profiles.

Mead’s female roles are refreshingly strong and powerful, quite a few steps away from the pitiful and weak Bella who drove us all nuts with her wailing and pining. Rose in particular is a captivating protagonist who drives the story with her determination and spirit. Also, watch out for the character of Sydney Sage. Sydney is an Alchemist whose secretive human organization works to prevent vampire exposure to their race. Mead has designed a follow-on series titled Bloodlines (first book released August 2011) which sees Sydney taking on the role of protagonist and continuing on with some other major characters.

The only thing I found disturbing is the major male lead and Rose’s love interest, Dimitri Belikov (who is 24 years old while Rose is 17). Plus he is her teacher. Isn’t that just a little creepy? Rose’s other love interest on the other hand, Adrian Ivashkov... now he is something special! Lucky for me (and other smitten girls and boys out there) he will be featuring in the upcoming Bloodlines series.

All in all: not Twilight. Murder, mystery, intrigue, love, romance and plenty of action and adventure. I had fun!