The Horse and His Boy (1954)

The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

The Horse and His Boy Book Review

The Horse and His Boy is a 1954 fantasy book by C. S. Lewis which is the fifth published chapter in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is a surprisingly great entry in the series.

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Child, I am telling you your story, not hers.

No one is told any story but their own.

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The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

Yes, I say it is surprising because this book in particular felt like it was set in the Middle Ages and I have never been a fan of that time period. But the story is so well crafted that I managed to enjoy it immensely after all and in fact I deem it to be one of the finest entries in the entire Narnia series.

It follows two children who along with their horses flee from Calormen to Narnia, but end up in Archenland where battle ensued. It is the only book in the franchise to entirely be set in Narnia and its neighboring countries which I naturally loved. It is one of the most politically oriented of all the Lewis’ stories here as it explores the politics and relations between the neighboring countries and we get to see the different rulers while also getting a glimpse at the Pevensie kings and queens. It was a great choice to feature them only in minor, supporting roles.

The only part of the book I didn’t like is of course the action. The war was very typical and the narrative here was to me very odd. By having the entire action being told from a far observer was problematic to me and not at all interesting. I also thought that it sometimes was too politically oriented.

Those are the only flaws I’ve had with this story. I guess that it is racially insensitive as well, but to me that criticism stems from people nowadays being ridiculously sensitive and in a very false manner even. Yes, it is obvious that people from Calormen are Middle Eastern, but to me it wasn’t all that racist and you have to read it in context as it was written all the way back in 1954.

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The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

But let’s talk about the positives, of which there are many. Once again we get an awesome beginning and ending. The book opens in such a riveting manner that it instantly hooked me in. But it also ended amazingly well with a satisfying conclusion to all of the characters’ storylines. Another highlight for me was the obvious darkness of this material. Not only the atmosphere, but the entire quest was tremendously difficult, perilous and sometimes evidently life threatening and torturous. That was a bold new approach for the series and it paid off with sometimes very dramatic scenes with high stakes. Some chapters are more interesting than the others, but most are excellent and it is one of the most thoroughly compelling and polished entries with a terrific structure and pacing.

The Horse and His Boy features excellent characters with genuinely strong character development. Once again after ‘The Silver Chair’ we get a truly great female character as finally Lewis set out to include strong and even tough females. But I also liked that it has those typically girly women as well as that makes it very representative.

I am of course talking about Lasaraleen and Aravis. Those two were great together as they perfectly contrasted with each other. The former is a typical female ruler of the time and a good comic relief and Aravis is a genuinely respectable, but still likable female character whom I really liked.

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The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

But Shasta (or Cor eventually) is such a good protagonist as he is not only typically good-natured, but also sometimes whiny and pessimistic which makes him ground to earth. His story is so well told and very powerful. I really liked the horses Bree and Hwin as they were such great companions to these two, but something still felt missing there which is I guess the lack of a really grand, proper ending when the two are concerned.

The Pevensies are well put to use and of course Rabadash gets a really great story with such a funny, yet appropriate conclusion. Aslan himself is as great as always and I really liked that he guided Shasta to the destination. The revelation that he was leading him all along and that all those lions were in fact him was easy to predict, but I really didn’t know that the cat at the graveyard was him and that was unexpected. But that entire subplot felt majestic in its mysterious and once again highly religious tone.

The Horse and His Boy is one of the better written novels in The Chronicles of Narnia series and Lewis really was great here. Both the dialogue and the descriptions were top-notch, albeit the lack of more memorable imagery and sometimes big emotion was troublesome. It succeeds as a Narnia story that is more dramatic and adventurous than fantastical and that was a solid and interesting change in pace and even though it isn’t perfect, it is more than satisfying and actually surprised me how well crafted it is.

The Horse and His Boy features some highly likable and memorable characters, a really interesting and so well told story and a dark and sometimes even mysterious tone to it leading to one of the best and most well crafted entries in the series.

My Rating – 4.6

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a 1952 fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis which is the third published chapter in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is one exceptional entry.

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But there I have another name.

You must learn to know me by that name.

This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little,you may know me better there.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

First of all, I do have to point out how much I loved this book. Because of some quite obvious flaws, it is slightly weaker than ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, but it is definitely better and more entertaining than ‘Prince Caspian’. It is probably the entry that I enjoyed the most thus far and that says a lot. Such a stupendous third installment.

But it does have its flaws that prevent it from reaching the heights that it easily could have reached had it been tighter in pacing and more interesting in the first half. Yes, the first half is nowhere near as good as the second half which is a shame as the beginning is really intriguing and it starts off on a very high note, but unfortunately some of the chapters in their first adventures were sloppy both in pacing and structurally. I do get why Lewis chose to tell us about the Lone Islands more in-depth, but it resulted in weaker and duller chapters than usual. And the novel is just so oddly paced as it shifts from slow to fast and then to incredibly eventful in an abrupt manner.

But enough about the flaws. Let’s talk about the strengths of which there are many. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader just has such a fascinating story to it. Edmund and Lucy along with their annoying cousin Eustace join Caspian and his crew on a sea adventure in search of the seven lost Lords of Narnia. Now, of course that is beautifully tied in with the plot of ‘Prince Caspian’, but that quest was just an excuse to let us go to these highly magical and beautiful places such as Burnt Island and of course Aslan’s Country.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

The film works beautifully as an adventure novel, but it succeeds at being much more than that. Sure, it does seem like a regular sea adventure at first, but it becomes so much deeper and more meaningful later on with so many themes and messages. I was fascinated by this time pretty direct explanation of who Aslan really is and how he is basically God and that God has a different form in each and every world. I loved the Biblical allegory in that he presented himself to the kids as a lamb, that was excellent. But I loved the tearful goodbye as Lucy and Edmund are never coming back to Narnia again. It was a great consequential conclusion.

As for the other highlights, you just got to love everything about its last couple of chapters. When they reached the End of the World, it was so beautifully described as this bright and shiny, incredibly beautiful place, but I also was fascinated by the Dark Island and that chapter was surprisingly dark and creepy for the series. Duffers I found to be incredibly entertaining and they genuinely made me laugh more than a couple of times. Some of the most amusing Narnia creatures thus far they most certainly are. The dragon part was not as original, but was essential for Eustace’s character and was well established and I was just fascinated by Ramandu and that chapter in which Lucy was put to the test was easily the most magical and deep of the bunch.

Everyone is brought to the test here meaning that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader features the best characterization in the series so far. I loved how Lucy wasn’t as perfect as she was before and how she battled her bad instincts and of course her goodbye was sad. I appreciated that Edmund was the most sane person in the crew as that shows his growth. Eustace did change too quickly to good in my opinion, but that road was still tough and well realized and I liked his character quite a bit. Caspian continues to be boring in my opinion and the other Lords and crew members are forgettable, but Reepicheep is naturally phenomenal and his conclusion has to be the most satisfying arc here.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

The book is not only very entertaining and charming, but also exceptionally well written and it features the best descriptive passages so far from Lewis. He did such a great job here with amazing world building and some great themes. Some of the imagery here is breathtaking to imagine. Such an imaginative work. The dialogue could have been better, but the descriptions are the highlights. And even though it wasn’t as emotional as it should have been, the tone was still well handled for the most part.

In the end, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is oddly paced and the first half is inferior to the second one, but the book is so imaginative, adventurous and frequently even fascinating with the best character development and descriptions from Lewis thus far, a superb adventure with great messages and themes, memorable imagery and an outstanding conclusion leading to such a great and admirable Narnia entry.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Silver Chair (1953)

The Silver Chair Book Review……………………………………………………………….

The Silver Chair Book Review

The Silver Chair is a 1953 fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis which is the fourth published chapter in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is a very adventurous, mostly satisfying entry.

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And there’s one thing about this underground work –

we shan’t get any rain.

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The Silver Chair Book Review……………………………………………………………….

Now this entry is very uneven. If you look at its first half and even first two thirds, it is easily the best Narnia story so far and somewhere in the line ofThe Voyage of the Dawn Treader. But if you look at its last couple of problematic chapters, it is more in the line of ‘Prince Caspian’ as those chapters seriously affected the entire work.

What am I talking about? Well, let me elaborate. Because the book was so wonderfully adventurous and beautifully entertaining and at times even genuinely riveting to read, it was surprising how its last couple of chapters were a bore to sit through, very uneventful and basically serving as filler to prolong the book’s length. Very disappointing. It was great that we finally visited the underground, but it should have been a more fascinating place than it had been presented here.

Another problem lies in its villain. Admittedly, The Lady of the Green Kirtle is a memorable, menacing presence and I adored how mysterious and even creepy she was. However, the entire last fight felt super disappointing not only because it was anti-climactic as they defeated her way too easily and it came too early in the book with three chapters still to go, but she didn’t put enough fight as was expected from her and the entire build-up to it felt so-so and the twist with the prince was way easy to predict.

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The Silver Chair Book Review……………………………………………………………….

But despite those two big problems, The Silver Chair is still a very strong Narnia entry as it is otherwise incredible to behold. It is such a grand adventure that I loved every bit of it. I loved that Aslan appeared not only in the ending which is the usual norm, but also in the beginning and following those hints was a great setup for the plot. The beginning of the novel is fascinating and The Silver Chair works wonderfully as a different Narnia entry as we finally see other countries apart from Narnia and we visit them and truly get to know them. The world building here is possibly the strongest from the series so far.

The part with the owls was fantastic and they are such amusing, endearing characters. The meeting of the villain and her knight was a great, albeit easy to predict foreshadowing. And of course everything with the giants was fun to read with the castle being memorable and the giants themselves being typical child-eaters, but done in the best way possible with some intense moments. I loved that we visited different lands here and got to know some new and interesting characters.

Speaking of the characters, the character development here is easily the strongest thus far in the series as they are all grounded and likable. Eustace is a bit too good now, but is a good leader and he and Jill are great friends. Jill Pole I loved as she has a good backstory and a realistic personality. I loved her reactions to Narnia, both good and bad.

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The Silver Chair Book Review……………………………………………………………….

Prince Rilian isn’t as memorable, but the story surrounding him is pretty good and well realized. I also really liked the conclusion to Caspian’s story which was moving and even funny with him helping the kids beat up their bullies on Earth. Glimfeather is such an endearing owl and I really adored the owls here and his speech and personality was a lot of fun. And of course the highlight has to be Puddleglum who is absolutely fantastic. He is probably the most entertaining and funniest Narnia character to date as his voice of reason and his constant pessimistic attitude toward everything perfectly clashed with the kids’ point of view and he is here such an unforgettable, funny comic relief, but a great character in its own right.

The novel is very well written once again with some wonderful descriptions and a great eye for detail. Some of the imagery in the book is highly memorable such as the mountain in the beginning, the owls’ meeting place, the castle as well as the country underground. It is emotional in its ending and the dialogue I found to be really good. The Silver Chair also marks Lewis’s shift toward representation of braver, more active heroines as Jill truly is a great female character. I also adored that this book featured less action in favor of pure adventure and fantastical escapism.

The Silver Chair is an uneven Narnia entry with unfortunately dull and disappointing last couple of chapters, but everything that came before it was marvelous and wonderfully adventurous. The book features the best world building and characterization up to this point in the series with a lot of memorable places and such great, well developed characters plus it was a riveting read owing to a great humor and a great escapist quality to it.

My Rating – 4.4

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Review……………………………………………………………………

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a 2016 book adaptation of the stage play that functions as the eighth official story in the Wizarding World franchise. It is mostly a great experience.

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You, the three of you, you shone you know?

You liked each other. You had fun.

I envied you those friendships more than anything else.

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Now because this is a script and not an actual book, I of course had to forgive it for its lower quality in writing as the play itself must be much better, but I don’t know if I ever will get the chance to see it. And that uncertainty is the reason why I found this script all the more welcome and I appreciate its existence alone.

There is a lot to talk about here, but first let’s talk about the storyline. It is set nineteen years after the events of ‘Deathly Hallows’ and it mainly focuses on Harry’s troublesome relationship with his son Albus. Albus along with his friend Scorpius Malfoy uses the time turner to change the past and save Cedric Diggory, but the twist here is that they are used by Delphi Diggory who turns out to be Voldemort’s daughter who wishes to fulfill the prophecy and arrange the return of the Dark Lord herself.

As is the case with most time travel stories, this one also has a couple of inconsistencies in it plus it does seem a bit too convoluted for its own sake at times. And of course nothing beats the time travel we witnessed in ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’. But this is still a surprisingly good story, honestly better than I expected it would be mainly because it is so layered in its different subplots and character relationships.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Review……………………………………………………………………

I loved seeing what each character does in the future and it seemed natural that Hermione was a Minister and Harry an auror. It was a natural progression for these characters which was great. I also liked the Hogwarts scenes and I wished that it had more of them as we actually do not get a lot. Those passages where the boys meddled in time and ruined everything did seem a bit too far-fetched and typical for these time travel stories and they weren’t my favorites, but the final task to save Voldemort in order for him to be killed later on was terrific and a great build up as well as the conclusion.

Let’s talk about the characters. I really liked Harry here and he is very nuanced which I admired. The character development is admittedly very strong in this work. Albus is one of the highlights. He ended up in Slytherin, he is bad at Quidditch, he isn’t that great of a wizard and all of those put him at odds with his father and the two are very different from each other. He has a hard time copying with the unwanted legacy of the great Harry Potter and Harry has a hard time being a father as he himself didn’t have one as a role model. This familial conflict is powerful and it produced many heartwarming moments. It truly is the core and heart of this story.

There isn’t nearly enough of Ron in The Cursed Child which is unfortunate, but whenever he as there, he made me laugh with his signature humor. And his relationship with Hermione continues to be one of the highlights of the entire series. Speaking of Hermione, she is the same as she ever was – extremely capable and smart, but she did make a couple of mistakes this time around with the Time Turner and I liked that as it was a nice change in pace for the usually flawless Granger.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Review……………………………………………………………………

Their daughter Rose didn’t get much to do, but was memorable. And I like that Scorpius might actually end up with her someday. Scorpius himself is excellent and possibly the most likable person here. He is so endearing, so realistic and so good-hearted that it seems odd that he is Malfoy’s son. But I absolutely loved the friendship/bromance between Albus and Scorpius as it was fun and vibrant. And I liked how Albus only has one friend and Harry had two and a lot of admirers. It was great how opposite they are.

Severus Snape was well used, albeit he seemed to behave overly emotional in my opinion and he is the only character who didn’t quite seem like his old self, but maybe that was the point as we now see him in a very different light and we know everything that we didn’t know previously. McGonagall continues to be reckoned with and she is such a charming, wonderful character and is as great here as she ever was before.

I loved that moment we got with Hagrid as we’ve seen the death of Harry’s parents before, but never the outcome and we see Hagrid’s arrival here in detail and it was just beautiful to witness. Umbridge is another character who seemed too different and I don’t know if she would ever really be on Voldemort’s side, whether in alternate reality or not. That was a bit odd to be honest.

Dumbledore was well utilized and his scene with Harry in which the two confessed love to each other and he apologized for everything was really heartfelt. The twist that the Trolly Witch turns into a monster in order to forbid everyone from leaving the train was a great one as we never really knew anything about her and now we do.

Now, Delphi. The one problem I’ve had with her is that she was too powerful and the fact that she was more skilled than her father himself did seem too far-fetched and fairly silly in my opinion. But otherwise she was great. I didn’t see the twist coming, it was great learning her true identity and very intense and the final battle was quite good. The ending was excellent and I found the way that they overpowered her and tricked her smart and everything that came before that final part did seem like a natural build-up.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Review……………………………………………………………………

The writing here is not great as this is only a script. The dialogue is admittedly excellent, if a bit childish at times, but mostly true to the characters and satisfying. The same goes for the humor which was wonderful in a typical HP fashion. The pacing is excellent as the book is entertaining from beginning to end, but the structure was one of its strong points – very well crafted and finely constructed. I found this work to be very elaborate and although it did explain us a lot, it didn’t quite spell to us everything about its new developments which I loved as it retained its mystery in that manner. The emotion is palpable and it is quite sweet at times. My highlights include the beginning which was great and the ending is very satisfying with all of the scenes with the two boys being the standouts.

The lack of descriptions is troublesome, but again this is only a script of a stage play and plays are much different than novels. And I have to say that I once again strongly admired Rowling’s sense of storytelling and how brilliant she is because a theatrical play is just a perfect way to tell this story and she couldn’t have chosen a better medium. Why? Well, the reasons are obvious in even its first couple of paragraphs. The story jumps forward in time a lot and we only go from one important sequence to the next, and most concern the dialogues and conversations with the characters. This talkative and time-elapsing format is perfect for a play as it would otherwise be boring as a book and somewhat difficult to adapt as a film. All of those reasons led me to believe that the original play is great and it is all the more frustrating that I for now can’t see it.

In the end, despite a couple of tiny problems, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is mostly a terrific new story that features excellent usage of all of its characters with the old ones being authentic and true to themselves and the new ones being memorable and well realized. The story is a satisfying, emotional and consistently entertaining time travel adventure with high stakes, some very good action and always excellent dialogue and humor. It is a new and different Harry Potter storyline that still feels wonderfully old-fashioned in some parts with an excellent structure as well. I enjoyed it immensely and it serves surprisingly well as the official eighth story in the canon.

My Rating – 4.8

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Prince Caspian (1951)

C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review…………………………………………………………………

C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review

Prince Caspian is a 1951 fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis which is the second chapter in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is a very good sequel.

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Things never happen the same way twice

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C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review…………………………………………………………………

I have to say that I really liked this entry. It isn’t quite as good as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but it is almost on par to it in terms of quality. It lacks the thematic richness of its predecessor, but it is even more fascinating and intriguing in its world building and plot this time around.

I really liked the story here. In fact, I found it to be fascinating, especially in its first half as I’ve had a couple of big problems with the second half, but more on that later. I loved the arrival of the children and those first couple of chapters were very intriguing and mysterious as you really do not know what is in store for them and what kind of path the story is going to take. But when we learn about the eponymous prince, it starts to get really interesting.

I absolutely loved the chapters with Caspian and his tutor Doctor Cornelius. The twist that he is actually a dwarf was stupendously well handled and I found the fact that this book is the only one in the series where the animals do not rule Narnia, but humans quite authentic and this separates it from other entries. But I loved the backstory of how this happened in the first place and I really enjoyed how the world building got more ambitious, introducing us to Telmarines and their people this time around.

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C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review…………………………………………………………………

But this is the point where it starts to go a bit downhill which is something I expected after witnessing the exact same problem in the previous entry. Once the battle starts, it is all too abrupt and way too disappointing of a climax that I was just let down. I appreciated that there wasn’t much action and that is always a good thing, but that action that was there was abrupt and not appropriately handled. Those chapters were my least favorite in an otherwise stellar book.

But the ending fixed everything as it was just marvelous! Aslan sending Telmarines back to their realm was so memorable, but what is important here is that the children are back in England, but only Lucy and Edmund may go back to Narnia once more. That was a moving conclusion that changed a lot going forward.

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C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review…………………………………………………………………

Let’s talk about Prince Caspian’s characters. The four children continue to be underdeveloped, though they are a bit more flawed this time around. I didn’t like that they once again did not believe Lucy’s words and that was frustrating, but their other actions were all satisfying. As for Prince Caspian, he got a good backstory, but in the second half he took a backseat to the other characters and that was problematic given that he is in the title of the book. Miraz is a solid villain, Trumpkin is likable and Doctor Cornelius is one of the most memorable and wonderful characters here. Reepicheep is childish, but endearing and I loved how the mice got the power to speak after they helped Aslan in the previous book. Of the other villains, Nikabrik was particularly effective and I really liked the conversation about the Witch and Aslan in a very intense scene.

All in all, Prince Caspian is a worthy sequel to a great original and another terrific entry in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is flawed in pacing and especially in action, but what it does right, it does it remarkably well with world building being one of its strongest suits. The characters are also memorable, the story is pretty fascinating and incredibly well crafted, the writing is capable and meticulous in detail and the ending is so heartwarming. It is such a strong second part that didn’t disappoint.

My Rating – 4.5

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Northern Lights (1995)

Philip Pullman: Northern Lights Book Review………………………………………………………………..

Philip Pullman: Northern Lights Book Review

Northern Lights is a 1995 fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is one of the most acclaimed fantasy books and for good reasons as it is very strong.

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That’s the duty of the old – to be anxious on the behalf of the young.

And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.

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Philip Pullman: Northern Lights Book Review………………………………………………………………..

It follows a young girl named Lyra and her journey to the Arctic in search of her missing friend and imprisoned uncle who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as Dust. There is a lot to talk about here when it comes to the plot. But first let’s just say that even though I found its obvious religious parallels interesting, I still did not find the book as thematically rich as critics deemed it out to be. But it is obviously an anti-Narnia story which is anti-religious instead of being spiritual.

Now I really admired its story as for once we get a fantasy novel set in contemporary times and with a unique setting to it. The Arctic is so well established here and quite fascinating, but I also really liked the university and that we got to explore it quite a bit too. The first chapter is one of the highlights as it instantly hooked me in the story and naturally the last chapter is very intriguing. The book is an obvious setup for the next two installments, but I liked that as that only proves that His Dark Materials is going to be one epic trilogy and I can’t wait to finally experience the other world behind Aurora Borealis.

This world itself is so authentic and fascinating to behold. It is populated with witches, polar bears and nations and groups of people that are reminiscent to our own, yet different in a way. The character development is quite strong. Some characters aren’t the most inspired, but most are either likable or very well utilized.

Let’s start with out protagonist Lyra. She is a very interesting main character whom I actually admired a lot. I usually dislike main heroes and yes, her story and the fact that she was prophesized to be the chosen one is obviously one giant cliché by now, but the character herself is not as heroic, she makes mistakes, is very realistic in her behavior and I liked her interactions with everyone else. It was also a refreshing change in pace that she started off happy and that she had parents as well.

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Philip Pullman: Northern Lights Book Review………………………………………………………………..

Roger is okay, but mostly just a plot device. But the decision to kill him off after having Lyra trek him down for most of the book is admirably dark and tragic. Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter are interesting, yet very troublesome indeed. I liked their relationship a lot, but to me they felt like obvious, theatrical villains, especially him as Coulter had her menacing moments. But everything surrounding these two, although obviously well realized, was in my opinion overly typical and the only truly childish aspect of the novel.

Serafina is excellent and the witches were fascinating and very interestingly realized here. Lee Scoresby is very sympathetic, Ma Costa is okay but forgettable and John Faa is mostly a plot device. But I loved the polar bears and their roles in the story. Iorek is phenomenal and although the relationship between him and Lyra was a bit rushed in its development, it was still fun and satisfying. I loved the fight between him and Iofur and I just loved the entire mythology surrounding the bears, that was very intriguing to me.

Northern Lights is so well written and the world building here is magnificent without a doubt. Not only well realized and rich, but also original and even fascinating. I especially found dæmons riveting. They are animals that follow people around and are essentially their souls. Lyra’s Pan was great and every other dæmon was very memorable too. I loved their mythology and that when they get separated from the children, the children die. Those scenes proved how tragic and immensely dark this work actually is and I would call it more adult than young adult for sure.

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Philip Pullman: Northern Lights Book Review………………………………………………………………..

Philip Pullman is a good writer, but he isn’t as great as J. K. Rowling or C. S . Lewis are because his descriptive passages and his dialogue are never as good as they are with those two writers. He writes really well and he creates worlds and writes characters superbly, but sometimes he lost focus and the action he did not write well at all. The action was boring to me and overwhelming except of course the bear fight which was gross, yet very exhilarating. But some of his imagery is really memorable and the book is very imaginative which is why it ultimately succeeds as such a strong fantasy work and I have a hunch that the sequels are going to be even better.

Northern Lights is sometimes problematically paced and the action is overwhelming, but the imagery is memorable, the setting and world building are amazing, the story is rich and very original, the characters are very well developed and the book is enchanting and fascinating leading to a terrific first entry in His Dark Materials trilogy.

My Rating – 4.3

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Frankenstein (1818)

Frankenstein Book Review……………………………………………………………..

Frankenstein Book Review

Frankenstein is an 1818 classic horror novel written by Mary Shelley. It is a famous and respectable, if frankly very flawed work.

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How mutable are our feelings,

and how strange is that clinging love

we have of life even in the excess of misery!

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Frankenstein Book Review……………………………………………………………..

It follows a young scientist who creates a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. The story itself is excellent and certainly groundbreaking for its time which is the reason why the critics had harsh things to say about it initially. But its now classic status is very much deserved just because this set a template for not only horror, but also science fiction. It is also a great gothic tale.

I loved its themes. The main character is a strong metaphor for God which is evident in his name Victor which apparently means god in Paradise Lost. The message here is strong – man shouldn’t play God and it could and here it does have major, tragic consequences. Speaking of tragic, I also really admired its emotion. The book is very emotional and sometimes even quite heartbreaking, especially in Victor and also Frankenstein’s thoughts and of course that tragic, powerful ending.

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Frankenstein Book Review……………………………………………………………..

But the reason why I still found it to be a very flawed novel is because it just isn’t investing. Frankly, it was quite boring, slow and sometimes even a shore to sit through. It was written in a way that it can’t be enjoyed by today’s audiences, at least in my opinion.

I really respect Mary Shelley and I have a strong admiration for her. It must have been tough for women writers back in the first half of the nineteenth century, but she managed to prove everyone wrong by writing a really strong and influential story for the ages. And how she came to write it through her dream is quite a fascinating story in its own right.

But her writing style isn’t for me. It is very much a product of its time. The sentences are overlong and convoluted and although the descriptive passages were excellent, the monologues and the thoughts of the characters, although emotionally powerful, were still sometimes dull as they were written in a prolonged, unnecessarily complicated manner.

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Frankenstein Book Review……………………………………………………………..

And I just found Frankenstein to not be that much of a horror, I get that it probably was scary or at least atmospheric for the audiences of that day, but nowadays it can’t be called a horror, at least not in my opinion. It is a great gothic tale, but I would never call it horror and that was a problem for me not only in the wrong classification by scholars, but also because I wanted it to be more atmospheric. It is tragic and a great cautionary tale, but never scary. Another problem is the book’s unwillingness to go into dramatic territory. It just needed more drama not only in its dialogue, but also in its scenes.

Frankenstein’s imagery is pretty solid and sometimes it evokes some very intriguing imagery. The characters were solid, but far from great. Victor is excellent as is the creature (erroneously called Frankenstein by many), but his story isn’t particularly well realized. Victor’s story is great, but I just never bought the way this ‘wretched creature’ learned language and everything else. That was a bit abrupt and unrealistic to me which is a contrast to an otherwise realistic novel. But his story is still tragic.

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Frankenstein Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

I didn’t like the structure of the novel and particularly its epistolary form bothered me as I just find that approach quite dull and uninspired. It was typical for its time, but is now not that involving and rarely satisfying. For all of those reasons, the 1931 film is much better than the original book, but I still admire it for its deservedly important place in literature.

Frankenstein is important and groundbreaking with solid characters and such an influential, excellent and tragic story that is a great cautionary and gothic tale, but its epistolary structure is unsatisfying, the book is mostly boring and it is just never as atmospheric or as involving as I wanted it to be.

My Rating – 3.3

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Book Review…………………………………………………………………..

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Book Review

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 1950 fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis. It is the first entry in The Chronicles of Narnia book franchise and it is a classic.

Now first I have to say that I am a big fan of this series, but this is the first time I’m reading it as an adult and it is a testament to how great it is that I enjoy it the same as I did before. The HarperCollins order lists this as the second in the series and I first read it in that order. However, now I decided to read it not in the chronological but in the order of the publication and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first in the series by that order.

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Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

The plot is just amazing and it is the strongest aspect of this work. Everything is so vividly imagined and the world building is absolutely extraordinary. The Pevensie children stumble upon an old wardrobe which transports them to the magical land of Narnia where it’s cursed with an eternal winter by the White Witch. The first couple of chapters are so intriguing and I was just fascinated by Lucy’s first time in Narnia, that was all so well written.

Another highlight for me was the last chapter which was so sweet and satisfying. It really started the franchise on a strong note. The scenes at the witch’s castle were riveting and everything revolving Aslan as simply great. Speaking of Aslan, he is an extraordinary figure. He is so obviously a parallel to Jesus and I liked that religious aspect of the story. His mix of strong and even scary with caring and good is so well established and he is the most memorable character in all of Narnia’s books.

The White Witch is an excellent villain. I didn’t like how she got killed so easily, but she is a very strong villain not only in strength, but also in planning as she got the best of each situation for the majority of the book. I really liked professor Digory’s role here and he is so likable. As for the children, the problem with this team is that as a whole they just aren’t that memorable or likable and that always bothered me. Susan and Peter are as forgettable and as typical as you can get and they are the weakest characters here in my opinion.

But thankfully the other two are much better. Edmund is naturally the best developed of the foursome because he is the most unlikable and thus the most realistic of them and his shift from almost bad to good was well established. As for Lucy, she is just so damn endearing and lovable. I loved her childlike nature and her fascination with this magical land and her relationship with Mr. Tumnus is wonderful and the two are charming together. Giant Rumblebuffin is sweet, but got little to do, the wolf henchmen are very intimidating and the beavers are quite funny at times, but a bit too silly in my book.

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

There are a couple of reasons why The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not my favorite entry in the series. One is the fact that I just don’t care as much for Susan and Peter as I stated before. But the biggest reason lies in its pacing. The pacing is the biggest problem of this novel as it is just way too frenetic at times and definitely rushed. It just moved too quickly, especially in those last couple of chapters where the battle should have been much more emphasized. The action isn’t one of its strongest suits. The story is too epic for just 140 pages.

As for Lewis’s writing, I overall really like it with a couple of reservations. One is that rushed nature to it and another is his willingness at times to go into condescending, childish territory by addressing the audience directly. I never liked that in books and I didn’t like it here. But as I said, the book is otherwise really well written. He has in particular an evident knack for imagination and truly his descriptive passages were the finest here. I also really admired his work at characterization and how in very little time he manages to present us to a new character successfully. He also really knows how to describer emotion and the fantastical in his stories which is why he is such a great fantasy writer.

Some of the imagery here is so memorable from that wardrobe to the lantern to Mr. Tumnus’s house to the castle to of course that last battle. Aslan’s death and resurrection are incredibly strong plot points and I just loved the strong, poignant emotion in it, even if I thought that it wasn’t particularly deserved given how the girls knew Aslan for a very short time. The dialogue is good, but short. The book is extremely authentic and memorable and it is just incredibly entertaining and flies by given its very slight volume. In the end, I still love it to this day and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is rushed, but otherwise a very strong, if not my favorite entry in the series with good characterization, many memorable and unforgettable parts, strong emotion, superb attention to detail and world building and a highly imaginative, heartwarming and just beautiful storyline. It truly is a fantasy family classic.

My Rating – 4.6

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Rendezvous with Rama (1973)

Rendezvous with Rama Book Review………………………………………………………………………..

Rendezvous with Rama Book Review

Rendezvous with Rama is a 1973 book written by a science fiction legendary author Arthur Clarke and it is set in the 2130s and it’s about an alien ship called Rama that enters into our solar system and the exploration of it.

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The Ramans do everything in threes

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The story is fascinating and is so wonderfully told and beautifully conceived that you easily get fully invested in it. The attention to detail is magnificent and it is probably the finest aspect about this book that lifts it to new levels. I especially liked his description of Raman architecture and overall the whole planet. The highlight is when you learn what the aliens look like with wonderful descriptions of tools and weaponry and it is a plot point that is a very satisfying pay-off. Also his whole comparison with Earth’s counterparts is also fantastically done and helps you understand the unknown. I liked his alien design, the ship and everything in it which is incredibly original, authentic and not like anything else in the genre.

The best part for me was the introduction of biobots. That is the most fascinating and truly exciting thing that happens half way through and it just demands your attention with excellent writing, beautiful descriptions and creative story and design of the creatures. As for the themes, that part has a very important theme in it which I found incredibly thought-provoking and honest. And that is the way we humans are so full of ourselves and also scared that we think we are important in the universe when in fact we are not. It is so beautifully explored here through some thought processes of the characters and also in the extraordinary ending which is not also striking in its theme but also a perfect, non sensational and all around extremely satisfying conclusion to a whole story which I wouldn’t want to have been any different. Such a great ending that is one of the best there is in science fiction.

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Rendezvous with Rama Book Review………………………………………………………………………..

I honestly had a couple of problems with the book and that is mostly in the slow pacing of the first half and some blockbuster aspects to the later half. The build-up was definitely too long and something big should have happened a bit earlier. And the whole bomb plot point later in the book was not like the usual Clarke and I found it too sensational, action-oriented like a movie, and definitely not fitting to the overall tone of the book which is incredibly peaceful and also wonderfully realistic and free of any blockbuster clothing to it. But those are two minor flaws in the otherwise outstanding piece of sci-fi literature.

I read that critics somewhat complained when the book came about his writing style and lack of character of development. And that to me is ridiculous. Yes, the characterization is always weak in his books which was also the problem with ‘2001’ and I would have liked to see just the protagonist better developed, but not everyone else and it is totally not necessary. That is the point here – the humans are not important to the story and fleshing them out would harm the feeling that this book induces how much we are not relevant in the universe.  The story is so ambitious and large in scope that the characters are irrelevant to the whole picture. As for the writing, it is a ridiculous accusation and it could have only come from amateurs who didn’t understand the book. The writing is the author’s best asset. He writes in such a realistic manner which is due to his scientist background. He writes almost like a documentary, straight-forward and realistic, full of scientific details and explanations. And this genre is called hard science fiction just because of that. A real scientist wrote the novel, a man who knows what he’s talking about and to me the read was fascinating just because of that and because I am a huge fan of space and astronomy. The subject is phenomenal here and he wrote it all in a great way.

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Rendezvous with Rama Book Review………………………………………………………………………..

The tone is great, very slow and almost meditative which fits the plot perfectly. There are a couple of really powerful quotes here and the beginning and ending are superb and doing what they should do, introducing you to the book and concluding the story perfectly and in a memorable and very satisfying way. And I found the story captivating and the future thought out here excellent and he’s very realistic in depicting it with excellent politics and the solar system is half populated which is also somewhat realistic and a great read.

Comparing it to ‘2001’, I would say it is more interesting to read, but is inferior because it has more problems and it is not as epic or as ambitious. But I find the fact that ‘2001’ got a film adaptation, whereas Rama didn’t  quite odd and unexpected because Rama is so much more prone to adapting to a film and I hope it will someday get a proper film treatment because it undoubtedly deserves to.

In the end, Rendezvous with Rama has some minor problems, but it is such a captivating and fascinating novel with an intriguing story, an incredible attention to detail, excellent writing, wonderful themes and an extremely satisfying ending that it is definitely one of Clarke’s best novels and definitely one of the most realistic and engaging stories in all of science fiction.

My Rating – 4.8

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Foundation (1951)

Foundation Book Review

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Foundation Book Review

Foundation is a 1951 science fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov and it is usually called as one of his as well as overall best science fiction books of all time, but I do not agree at all and I found this novel quite disappointing and frustrating.

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Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent

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Foundation Book Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The story is set in the far future where Hari Seldon, a mathematician, predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire and goes to a distant planet with a group of scientists in order to write an encyclopedia and save all human knowledge. And here lies my biggest problem with the novel – the story is such a fascinating and wonderfully thought out plot, but he never quite makes use of it which is a shame given its huge potential in premise. The novel is split into five parts and they get progressively worse as the book goes on. The first part is absolutely fantastic and it got me hooked up on the book entirely because the attention to detail is huge and quite evident whereas the premise and story is such an intriguing thing especially in the beginning and everything is executed wonderfully here. I wanted to know more and I was immersed in the plot.

The second part is also quite good with the highlight of course being Seldon’s message in a fantastic sequence which is the best aspect here. Unfortunately, from there on it just all goes downhill and that is largely due to the enormous emphasis on politics and economy with merchants in the last two parts. Those aspects are just so boring and they definitely hurt the novel which could have been amazing had it gone the route I wanted it to go. I wanted it to go with encyclopedists, science and the future of the society, but instead it unfortunately went down the politics route and the politics is so tedious. All the dialogues and speeches are boring and you never are invested in it as you should be.

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Foundation Book Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The characters are better developed than in Clarke’s novels for better and for worse. It is good of course for character development, but whereas Clarke’s stories do not need it, this novel needs extremely good characterization and despite Seldon and some other characters, neither of the characters are particularly well developed and not one of them is a bit likable and intriguing. And that is the biggest flaw after the second half of the book filled with dull politics.

Overall, Foundation has a bunch of extremely memorable and authentic sequences, some interesting characters, a superb premise and a fantastic first half filled with an intriguing plot and a wonderful attention to detail and writing skill, but the second half ruins the whole book thanks to awfully tedious politics, economy with merchants, so-so characterization, boring and incredibly extended dialogues and speeches that prolong the novel and add nothing to the table and are just annoying. It could have been an amazing novel, but it unfortunately ended up being incredibly disappointing and quite frankly overrated.

My Rating – 3.5

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