The Orc King by R.A. Salvatore

Remarkable plot similarities to the latest Warcraft movie…

Remarkable plot similarities to the latest Warcraft movie…

3/5 stars.
Hardcover, 346 pages.
Read from June 18 to 26, 2016.

Thanks to the Hong Kong public library system I can still get my Drizzt-fix. According to Goodreads, Salvatore is one of my most read authors. I’m not sure how I feel about that but it doesn’t help that that this is 17th book in a series that now has 30 books in it and that the characters are kind of addicting. What’s peculiar about this book is that the latest Warcraft movie seems to have picked up on some it’s plot lines. I will explain.

The book strangely opens up 100 years into the future, so you already in a way know how the book is going to end. Interesting style switch for Salvatore. The plot picks up from the last book where Drizzt has been reunited with his friends and Obould and the band of orcs he has united is still a major threat to everyone in the realm .Bruenor is also determined to put a stop to it, even if it means putting him near death again. Wulfgar is mourning the death of his wife Dellie but he now needs to find Cottie, the adoptive child that they had together and make things right. Drizzt is torn on where to assist his friends and Cattibrie is still injured and may never fight again. Wulfgar is facing more of his demons and is looking to find peace but can Bruenor and Obould do the same?

If you’ve seen the latest Warcraft movie you may already understand the plot similarities. In the movie the Alliance and Horde start a war (no surprises there) but one of the leaders of the Orc groups tries to bring the tribes together to broker peace so that they can work together. That all goes horribly wrong and but the cliffhanger at the end leaves it on one Orc to hopefully bring about peace. While in this book peace is successfully brokered and because the book opens 100 years in the future you already know it’s successful. As Salvatore wrote this novel in 2007 I think he had one up on the movie in terms of who had the plot idea first but it was interesting to see the similarities. I mean, it’s not uncommon for fantasy themes to carry over in all sorts of mediums but what made this plot unique is that it showed that Orcs are more than just blood thirsty savages.

Drizzt and Cattibrie are also hella cute. Still looking forward to how things are going to continue to progress with them.

Overall, a good solid read that provided me with a fantasy -fix. It’s been one of best fantasy series I’ve ever picked up so far so I would recommend it to anyone interested in the genre.

 

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Written from a generation and stand-point I will likely not understand, “On The Road” is a puzzling classic.

Written from a generation and stand-point I will likely not understand, On The Road is a puzzling classic.

2/5 stars.
Hardcover, 307 pages.
Read from June 13 to 16, 2016.

Really, why is it a classic at all? It is the question I had while dragging myself through this monotonous book.I had heard so much about this book without really knowing what it was about and was looking forward to finally reading it. What a disappointment. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I tried to understand from a different perspective. It didn’t make me like the book any more but at least I could almost see where it was coming from.

This book chronicles Jack Kerouac’s (Sal Paradise) time on the road with his new friend Neil Cassidy (Dean Moriarty). Sal is fascinated with Dean’s reckless-abandon personality and admires him. Dean is an ex-con and notorious womanizer who ends up having 4 wives and three children while Sal is trying to be an intellect and finish a book. So this unlikely duo hitchhike, drink and fuck their way through America where in the end Sal ends up being abandoned in Mexico as Dean begins to lose his mind.

I wish I could say that there was more to the plot than that but their isn’t really. The characters talk about Jazz music and America, and in the end Sal ends up reflecting a lot about Dean and his time with him. It’s a peculiar friendship that isn’t built on anything other than the men’s desire to do whatever the fuck they want, and the did.

This book is considered one of the pinnacles of beat generation writing, in which individuals dismissed notions of conventional society and valued self-expression. However, this is defintitely a “man’s book” and perhaps the beat movement was specifically about men too, as the men in this book pretty much got away with whatever they wanted to do leaving the women they wooed behind them in the dust and often with children. I’m pretty sure this book was never actually meant for female readers at all actually. I mean, you get tired of the way Sal and Dean used and disposed of women. Even Dean’s perpetual lover, Marylou, who in a way is living the beat lifestyle, is frowned upon for her promiscuous ways and is disposed of by both men as they really only want sex from her.

Having said this, we’re reading this novel from a different era. I’m not saying that the behaviors of the characters are worth condoning but it’s important to understand that this book is a small reflection of a point in time in which we can longer relate. The book is supposed to be about freedom, independence and doing your own thing and in it’s time, it is meant to be inspirational. I can see how throwing caution to the wind and hitchhiking across America in search of nothing other than freedom can be inspirational, it’s the generational context of it that I struggle with. That, and I didn’t find Kerouac’s writing to be all that inspiring. It’s extremely dry and there really isn’t a pinnacle climax to the novel. I found it down right boring, to be honest, and it wasn’t until I took a step back after reading it that I came to find any appreciation for it.

Overall, I am glad that I came to some sort of understanding with this novel. Would I recommend it? No, not really. I suppose you could attempt to read this novel with a base understanding of the time frame and just focus on the idea of freedom and you may find enjoyment out of it. Actually, this book might appeal to teenage boys because the men in this book behave like ones. If you want to read something from the beat generation then read Alan Ginsberg as his writing is by far more prolific, in my opinion. I am thankful this read is now over and done with.

 

The Wildlings by Nilanjana Roy

A fiction where the characters are cats? Yaaasssss!

A fiction where the characters are cats? Yaaasssss!

3/5 stars.
ebook, 338 pages.
Read from May 30 to June 10, 2016.

I came across this book through Netgalley and loved the synopsis. I mean it’s a book in which all the characters are CATS! Could any book be more perfect for me? What’s even better is that it’s a series. Sadly, I failed to get a copy through Netgalley so I relied on my trusty library to get in on this book.

In Nizamuddin, a small neighborhood in Delhi, India there a small clan of cats who abide but their own set of rules Miao is the elder and then there is Katar, Hulo, Beraal, and a fierce and troublesome kitten named Southpaw. The group is able to communicate telepathically and link messages to each other as a means of protecting their home and their clan. Tribes before them were also known to have special cats called “Senders” that had impeccable abilities of foresight and communication, however the clan had not seen one in many, many years and Senders are normally only born when they are needed. Suddenly a small house kitten named Mara begins to bombard the clan strong obnoxious messages, with the same strength as a Sender, as she is seemingly unaware of her unique abilities. As an outsider to the clan, Mara is believed to be a threat and so the clan must decide what action to take. Meanwhile, Southpaw has discovered and stirred up some trouble that could be devastating not only to the clan but to all the animals in Nizamuddin.

What I loved about this book: the setting and the character development. The setting is definitely the highlight for me. The author does a great job in creating this little world in which the cat clan and other animals live and the honorable code and rules that they live by. The communication abilities the cats had is pretty impressive too. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with the tigers. Yes, tigers. There are tiger characters. The author also did a remarkable job with the main cat characters as well. Each of the cats had unique qualities and quirks that made them relate-able but still cat-like. Additionally, the antagonists of the story are pretty creepy so it made for really good climax.

What I didn’t like: Mara. She was the exception. I loved all the other characters but Mara irritated me. She is just a pretentious, ignorant, and whiny kitten. I suppose the point of her character is to show how how unique of a Sender she is, in that she is so young to have such strong abilities, especially for not being a part of any clan, however she was just too cutesy and annoying for me to like her. She could have been unique without being a prat and a scaredy-cat.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely read the next book in the series if I can get my hands on it. I would recommend this book to any cat or fantasy lover.