My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm a life-long fantasy fan so I'm always very excited to find a new fantasy series to read. This doesn't disappoint. The world building is done well, no huge hunks of info dumping. It is alien, yet familiar, especially with the standing stones that play a role in the narrative. Koreh and Sael are two very likable young men who will have huge hurdles to overcome.
When the story opens, Koreh is more or less homeless, living off the land and making the standing stones his refuge. People are afraid of the stones, remnants of the Taaweh, a god-like race that lost a war to the Stronni a thousand years before. Koreh has dreams, has learned strange magics and is slowly realizing that these are gifts from the Taaweh who seem to be poised for a return. Koreh also has some hatred toward the upper classes because during the plague years, only they were treated and the poorer folk were left to fend for themselves, costing Koreh pretty much everything.
Sael is the son of the Vek, a powerful leader who is running from the Emperor's city because his father is making a power play and the Emperor has learned of it. Betrayed from the onset, Sael stands almost no chance of getting out alive, even with the help of his mentor in all things magical, Geilin.
Koreh saves them and that is the start of a rocky friendship that grows into something more. A good chunk of the book is their journey back to Harleh, where Sael's older brother rules. Both young men are headstrong, argumentative and cocksure they're in the right. But underlying the class differences and all the headbutting is a growing attraction for each other.
And even if they make it to Harleh, there is a human war following on their heels and a war of the gods brewing they're not even yet aware of. Koreh and Sael will have other hurdles to jump, not the least of which is their class and educational difference. As a potential future ruler Sael has a duty to continue the family line but that's not even foremost in Sael's mind. He's inexperienced and nervous. Koreh has suffered at the hands of guardsmen, so there is that issue as well.
I like that the main story arc does resolve by the end, though a new one opens up for book two. I'm very much looking forward to it. I need to know what happens next.
Attack on Titan, Volume 7 by Hajime Isayama
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Okay maybe a 2.5. This is what I call 'shonen-fail' (otherwise known as Bleach syndrome) where we get nothing but wordless battle scenes where you can't even figure out half of what is going on and I get so bored I just start thinking about other things I could be doing instead of this.
And that's the only spoiler free thing you're going to see in this review. So onto the spoilers and one thing that makes literally NO sense as of the close of this book.
Armin earns his keep at the opening of the volume. He pretty much figures out everything we need to know about the situation. He might not be a great warrior but he makes up for it in smarts.
Unfortunately the Female Titan is smarter than they think and does something they didn't know she could, call in all the other Titans to eat her. Erwin calls for a retreat ordering Levi to refuel his gas tanks which Levi doesn't understand.
It's quickly understood that whoever is controlling the Female Titan escaped, dressed as a survey member and she can quickly reform her body. She catches up with Levi's squad (he is elsewhere on Erwin's command). They do what they are told to: Protect Eren.
They die. To the last one. Eren finally transforms, guilt-ridden but everyone is better at everything than Eren really. (Seriously for a hero with a bad-ass attitude, Eren gets bested all the time). So big guilt ridden battle. Female Titan goes all Praying Mantis on him, biting off his Titan head and swallows Eren just as Mikasa arrives. Honestly this battle was hard to tell what was going on and after the first three panels, lost my interest entirely (I think I'm getting too old to enjoy protracted battle scenes any more).
The final battle with Eren and Mikasa teaming up to take on the Female Titan was worth it though. They might not like each other much but both are the best there is and they are pissed. Levi has lost his whole squad. Mikasa isn't sure Eren's alive. They wipe the forest floor with the Female Titan and then...do something that makes NO SENSE.
They were supposed to lure the Female Titan out and find out who is inside her controlling her. What do they do once they cut off her lower jaw and get Eren back? Leave. It makes no sense. She's down. Eren's safe. Why in the world would they not cut the controller out of her? Levi even calls Mikasa off 'Don't lose sight of our objective. Unless satisfying your own desires overrides that,' is the official translation of what he says (I'd be curious to see if the fan translation concurs).
Okay, did I miss something? Did we change our objective after nearly 3 volumes of manga? Are we not cutting her out and finding out a) who this traitor is b) how is she (and Eren) even becoming Titans c) can this help humanity defeat them. I thought that was the objective but apparently the new objective is to get the enemy down, have her at our mercy and then walk off job not done. This is one of the real reasons for the lower rating.
They go home, almost totally wiped out and get a Viet Nam soldier's welcome home (all that was missing was someone spitting on them). As Eren is carted through town everyone is angry that there are so many losses, nothing to show for it and consider them a waste of taxpayer money (sounds familiar)only to be commanded to give Eren to the military police.
Naturally I have to read on to see why in the world Levi forced Mikasa to stop short of taking the female titan apart. I hope I can look forward to more than just panel after panel of fight scenes.
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