Currently Reading: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

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I’m really happy with my book choices lately. Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest is amazing so far, and I believe it will be amazing ’till the very end.

This novel is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Seven Swans”, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a story about six brothers and a sister, Sorcha, who will in the end have to save all of them. I believe this sentence from the Goodreads description portrays it perfectly:

Daughter of the Forest takes the reader to an Ireland on the edge where history and fairy tale meet.

The book has fantastical elements, but the magic feels so realistic that you almost don’t percieve it as something foreign or made up. It is also deeply rooted in Celtic folklore, and it speaks about the history of Ireland and Britain, where different nations lived, fought, and coexisted. At times it felt like reading historical fiction.

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One thing I’ve noticed, which may not be that important to everyone, but is very important to me, is the way this book deals with animals and nature. Respect which the characters show towards nature is very true to Celtic beliefs (I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve read about it quite a lot). It is stressed many time just how important nature is, and I think this is something we should hear more often. The villain of the story shows her true nature by doing bad things not only to people, but also to the plants. Animals are treated with respect. One of the brothers saves a dog, loyal Linn who appears all the time in the book (at least for now). Another brother saves a wounded owl, and cries as he lets her fly free. Sorcha doesn’t even eat animals, and I was so happy to read that, since it is not that common to have vegetarian characters.

I had not eaten flesh or fish since I was a small child, for I had always felt a closeness with other creatures that made my senses revolt at the very idea.

Then, there’s also her reason for not wearing shoes:

“I need no shoes, Father,” I said, hardly thinking. “My feet are tough, look,” and I raised one narrow, grubby foot to show him. “No need for some creature to die so I can be shod.”

I was so excited to read this, as I, too, don’t wear leather at all. And then, this book is also against war, and it makes it clear that people shouldn’t be judged by their nationality. So many good messages! This is what one of the brothers, Finbar, says to Sorcha:

“But there are two sides to every fight. It starts from something small, a chance remark, a gesture made lightly. It grows from there. Both sides can be unjust. Both can be cruel.”

Sorcha is kind and loving, but she’s also smart and she always speaks her mind. She knows how to make potions and is a very good healer. It isΒ clear that she is proud of who she is, and that she doesn’t want to change for anyone.

“Why should I be polished and improved like goods for sale? I might not even want to marry! And besides, I have many skills, I can read and write and play the flute and harp. Why should I change to please some man? If he doesn’t like me the way I am, then he can get some other girl for his wife.”

Of course, good messeages don’t necessarily make a good book, but this book IS good. It is interesting, thought not too fast-paced. It gives you time to get to know the characters, without being too descriptive or slow. I really hope it’ll stay this good until it’s finished.

Have you read Daughter of the Forest? Do you want to? Feel free to let me know. πŸ™‚


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Currently Reading: Bright Air Black by Davin Vann

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Recently, I talked about Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, the retelling of The Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective. The book I’m currently reading is also a retelling of a Greek myth, and this time it is the myth of the Argonauts, Jason and Medea. Mostly about Medea, though, since it focuses on her point of view.

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Medea is without words, without thought. She has unstrung the world, pulled some vital thread and unraveled all. Nothing to do now but hold her breath and find out whether a new world re-forms.

Bright Air BlackΒ by David Vann is bloody and brutal, as mythology often is. Medea is a sorceress, and this book shows her in all her power and ruthlessness.

She would rather be this. She would bring all together, in balance and quiet. Rule without sound, without rough movement. All held and cought and perfect. But she knows she is meant to destroy, and she knows that she is not done.

Medea is also in search of herself and her place in the world, and she is scared of failure. Despite the horrible things she does, it’s impossible not to sympathise with her, especially when some things she says sound very true.

Kings always blind. Her father not considering his daughters, believing a threat only in a son. Daughters to him no more than a tool to bind other peoples through marriage. Unwilling emissaries, their will never considered. (…) Outcast. This is what she had chosen, and it would have been chosen for her anyway. Her father an enemy later if not now, marriage not powerful enough to prevent war.

There are similarities between Bright Air Black and The Penelopiad, but so far I like this book better. I just love how Medea’s desire to rule, and be powerful and independent is weaved through every paragraph. The writing style is wonderful and poetic. It really made me want to freshen up my knowledge of Greek myths and tales, so besides Bright Air Black I’mΒ also reading Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.Β Bright Air BlackΒ even inspired me to write some short stories (the one I posted recently is one of them), and I don’t think there’s a better recommendation for a book than that. So, I leave you with another quote and I hope this post will make you want to read the book.

Β Why the constant desire to kill and dominate? Even in herself, relentless, a need to conquer. She would make all cower on the ground before her, every man in every land.

Currently Reading: The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

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β€œLifeβ€”the way it really isβ€”is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse”
― Joseph Brodsky

I’ve just reached the end of Before They Are Hanged, the second book in this trilogy. Overall, I really like this series, and I can’t wait to see what the finale brings!

There’s a lot to like about this series. The writing is slow-paced, which I think is a good thing. Instead of writing many fight scenes, the author really focuses on the characters – and they are all amazing and interesting. The narration is third person subjective, and we are given the story through the perspective of several characters, all of them unique.Β This doesn’t mean the plot is boring, not at all. There is figthing. And spirits, magic, strange creatures, torture. There’s mystery and problems to solve.

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The characters are, in my opinion, the greatest asset of this book. They are unpredictable, flawed, and very real. All of them have their own story, their own personality, and very different motivations. Neither of them is perfect, but they aren’t evil either.

Logen Ninefingers is a notorious man, perceived by many as a savage – and with a good reason. And yet, there is certain kindness and innocence about him. Sometimes, he gives very good advice, which proves he’s actually quite clever.

“Doing better next time. That’s what life is.”

– Logen in Before They Are Hanged

Jezal Luthar seems like a perfect knight. But he is vain, sometimes almost stupid. And yet, strangely likeable.

Bayaz is a wizard. The most famous one. Wise, yes, and powerful, but there’s also something dark about him.

Glokta in an Inquisitor. A torturer. He grew cruel and bitter after the painful events that had made him a cripple. But he is also smart and his snarky comments are, in my opinion, the best part of the book.

“Every man has his excuses, and the more vile the man becomes, the more touching the story has to be. What is my story now, I wonder?”

– Glokta in The Blade Itself

Ferro is a wild woman whose only purpose in life is revenge. She trusts no one. She shows kindness to no one. But there’s much more to her than what meets the eye.

There are many more interesting characters in this book, all of them layered and well-developed. All with a story to tell. What more to say? This is an amazing fantasy series, and though I’m not finished reading it yet, I think I can recommend it to all fantasy lovers.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


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Currently Reading: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

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I said in one of my previous posts that I wanted to talk more about my current reads. So, I decided to start writing short posts such as this one in which I’m going to tell you a little bit about the book I’m reading, share some of my thoughts on it, and maybe share an interesting quote. Hope you’ll like them!

The book I’m currently reading is The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. It’s a well-known book, I think, so most of you probably know what it’s about.

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In this novella (I’d say it’s a novella since it’s only 198 pages long), Atwood allows Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, to tell her own story. Penelope talks about the events from The Illiad and The Oddysey from her own point of view. She shares her thoughts and feelings in a manner which seems very sincere. This Penelope is not just a loyal wife who waits her her husband – she actually hates that this is how she is remembered. The prose is raw, clever, and ruthless.

The very first paragraph really caught my attention, and I think it really shows what this book is about. So, I’ll leave you with this paragraph, and hopefully it will make you want to read the book. πŸ™‚

Now that I’m dead I know everything. This is what I wished would happen, but like so many of my wishes it failed to come true. I know only a few factoids that I didn’t know before. Death is much too high a price to pay for the satisfaction of curiosity, needless to say.