My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This volume proved one thing, this is going to be something of a nice long arc which should be fun. At Queen Victoria’s behest, Ciel has entered an exclusive boys’ school to find out why sons of prominent families are mysteriously no longer coming home or contacting their parents. Sebastian follows him as an instructor. Ciel is foiled quickly by the fact that the boys are kept to a rigorous schedule and they are broken into competing houses. The relative of the queen he needs to find Derrick Arden was not in the house Ciel was placed.
Ciel has one option to him, fagging, the practice of upper level boys using lower level ones as their personal servants. He needs to get close to the four perfects who can go anywhere and the best way to do that is to be the fag of the perfect’s fag. Ciel takes on as many duties as he can to prove himself (with Sebastian playing comic relief with all his grumblings since he’s the one doing the duties) but he is quickly foiled by Maurice, the most beautiful boy in school who is abusing the fagging system and bullying the boys (something that happened often with this system. I’ve seen that happen first hand within my own sorority though we limited it to pledge month with our little sisters and not year round).
Something weird is happening at this school and that doesn’t even include violetwolf house with its anachronistic Goth-punk artist types. The headmaster is not available to the students and Ciel means to find out why. As if Maurice wasn’t bad enough, Lizzie’s brother also attends this school and he has little good to say about his future brother-in-law. Things go from bad to worse when Ciel’s back up has to be Prince Soma who doesn’t do undercover well.
This was enjoyable. The art is beautiful if some of the faces are starting to look a little too much alike. It’s a fun, dark and occasionally creepy series.
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The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s rare that I don’t give a Sanderson book the highest rating while doing back flips but there were things for me that just didn’t quite trip that reaction for book two of the Mistborn Trilogy. In some ways maybe this should have been a four star but I had a few problems with it.
Problem one is entirely mine and not the authors. Somewhere in last 30+ years of reading fantasy, I’ve grown so tired of epic battles. Oh look another fight scene, flip to the next scene thank you very much. And I hate politics, all politics. This book is mostly either politics or fight scenes. But I didn’t take the fourth star away because of my own preferences which aren’t the author’s fault. No I took it because of some of the construction of the book.
The trade paperback I read was nearly 800 pages long and there was a lot that could have been trimmed out to make this a more exciting read and tighter over all. For example, removing just some of Kelsier’s crew lamenting his death would have taken out 50 pages. Yes, he’s dead. Yes they should mourn him but there are far too many scenes where that’s all they’re doing. Heaven help you if you didn’t like Vin and Elend in the first book because this is now their story. Almost completely. They make up about 90 percent of the story, Sazed another three percent and everyone else is that last two percent. I didn’t like Vin much but I didn’t hate her so much by the end of book one. I was fine with her in this book except for the constant ‘am I good enough?’ for Elend, for the country, for the crew, etc. Some of it would be fine and a good reminder she’s only a teenager but it drags on and on and mirrored by Elend’s same exact musings. I think the story would have been better if just some of this was trimmed.
That said I did like it. I will read the next book but I almost did stop reading this before part one of six parts of this book had gone by (but that’s because part one was SO heavy on politics and oh look Vin’s fighting again).
Elend is now king and trying to hold the city of Luthadel together (the Lord Ruler’s city) now that the Lord Ruler is dead along with Kelsier. He made an assembly of nobles and the skaa peasants to help rule but he’s so idealistic, so very socialist in his belief systems, he has created a political system that might be his undoing. A huge part of this book is making Elend into a ruler and will he keep his throne or not. There’s a new character, Tindwyl, a Terriswoman, who is there to turn the unkempt youth into a commander.
As if Machiavellian politics weren’t bad enough, Elend’s cruel father, Straff, is trying to take the city and quickly Elend and Vin are facing a three way siege, Straff, Lord Cett and one of Elend’s friends who has an army of Koloss, hard to kill monsters, all forcing the siege, hoping to claim the city once winter starves them out. Worse, Straff has a mistborn, Zane, who is testing Vin. Even worse, a kandra has killed someone and taken their bones, betraying them to Straff and their enemies but Vin doesn’t know who the traitor is.
Unknown to Elend or Straff, the mad mistborn keeps whispering in Vin’s ear that she’ll never be anything but Elend’s weapon and that the mistborn belong together. He sees her as a savior and he’s not the only one. The skaa are beginning to elevate Vin and Kelsier to the level of gods or at least Christ-like savior status.
On top of this as Sazed and Vin have noticed, the mists are getting worse. They’re being seen in the day. They appear to be killing people. There’s the prophecy about the Hero of the Ages, a Terris prophecy that the Lord Ruler seemed to have fulfilled a millennium ago but didn’t. Vin is beginning to think she might be that hero and that she needs to find the Well of Ascension and do what the Lord Ruler did not.
There is a lot going on in this. I swear I prefer the old days where they didn’t cram so much into one book and spread it over several (They say it’s cheaper this way and maybe it is but I still prefer the old way). I had problems with some of the ending. There is some deus ex machine in a few places, unreliable narrator stuff in a spot or two (which I hate) and I thought Zane’s storyline ended up in a waste of potential. If you’re unfamiliar with epic fantasy, I have some spoiler-free bad news. For those who devoured Lord of the Rings and Songs of Fire and Ice, you already know what to expect: Not everyone lives to the end of the book. Good luck to you and your favorites. That said, Ham, Dox, Breeze, Clubs and Spook are relegated to the background for much of this book, Breeze a little less so but it bothered me a little. Still, I suppose this would have been even longer otherwise.
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