Bookshelf :: Pippa

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Registered 2020-06-18 (Last online 259 days)
Pippa is level 3 Newbie with 125 activity points
Progress to next level: 48.93
Rated 3 books with average rating 4.50
Last read books
The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1)Alphabet of ThornThe Last Unicorn
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The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1) Pippa wrote a review 10/10
The Colour of Magic (Discworld)
Terry Pratchett

I fell in love with this author by the second paragraph. Here is a delightful satirical writing style, full of humour and eloquent in its execution. It’s clear right away if you are going to connect with the dry wit and the prose so beautifully ... (more)

crowded with lighthearted potshots at humanity.

The first of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, this novel plays with conventional ideas about the world, especially mythological archetypes and their use in the sword and sorcery fantasy genre. His tongue-in-cheek physics adds a pinch of Sci-Fi to the mix. The Color of Magic is often compared to Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for its humour but is written with more finesse.

It lightened my heart to read this book. Surges of delight from the clever turns of phrase alternated with laughter as I read along. I particularly enjoyed this satire of fantasy because I am fascinated with the concept of reality and all its interpretations.

Here is a snippet of Pratchett's description of a wizard appearing out of thin air, an effect you might experience in a movie:
“Now the turning wizard was half man-size. At that point the growth was faster, there was a sudden crowded moment, a rush of air, and an explosion of sound. Rincewind tumbled out of the air, screaming. He hit the floor hard, choked, then rolled over with his head cradled in his arms and his body curled up tightly."

Birds are shown to carry messages, and a few pages later a man about to dispatch a message approaches a cage of white doves. But there are other cages there, and, “From one cage he removed a glossy coated rat, rolled the parchment into the phial attached to a hind leg, and let the animal go. It sniffed around the floor for a moment, then disappeared down a hole in the far wall.” The image of rats scurrying through underground tunnels with notes tied to their rear legs fits well into this city in a world of scoundrels.

Terry Pratchett obviously had a great time writing these books. He was a masterful writer and it's easy to see why so many have had fun reading the Discworld series. I thoroughly enjoyed The Color Of Magic and am on to read The Light Fantastic.

I mentioned this review in a blog post here:  

Alphabet of Thorn Pippa wrote a review 7/10
Alphabet of Thorn
Patricia A. McKillip

Well-loved Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Patricia A. McKillip released this book in 2005. Alphabet of Thorn is a story about the magic of words, about obsession, and about love. 

An orphan has been raised by the librarians of a great castle. ... (more)

At sixteen, through her job as translator, the magic of a book tangles her life with that of the young queen and others of the realm. This history written in a language of thorns unveils secrets that will change everything.

The story is reminiscent of Arthurian tales, and Le Guin, with a touch of Harry Potter. 

Soon after I began reading, I felt a fondness for the author. Her language is beautiful, but I found the strange word order and her use of pronouns confusing. As this is the first book of McKillip’s I’ve read, I’m not sure if she wrote this way on purpose or not. The story does, after all, center on a brambly language.

I like McKillip’s patterns of thought, and the timing of her plot elements. Plenty of well-paced hints lit the way to the outcome. There are gems among her phrases, and interesting metaphors such as the enormity of night with its eye at the window, spying on comfort and fragile peace.

My favorite line is, “. . .even in the long, tumultuous history of Raine, the rulers had never had to go to war with their librarians.”

The final chapter or two make me feel that the author was already busy in her mind with her next book. The structure is there, but primary characters have oddly melted away and the writing has lost its flow. There is a beautiful resolution, but it was a tricky one that needed a little more care to make someone’s transition believable.

I've blogged about my process in creating this review.  Baby Sees Its Shadow For The First Time, Again.

The Last Unicorn Pippa wrote a review 10/10
The Last Unicorn
Peter S. Beagle

Authors are warned not to expect literary fiction to succeed commercially. Yet one of the most popular fantasies ever is a beautiful example of literary fantasy. I read The Last Unicorn recently for the first time.

No story is the same ... (more)

for every reader. We shape our own version with our widely varied personal memories and perspective. This is especially true with literary fiction, which relies on the audience's interest in such things as allusions and undercurrents of meaning.

If one approaches The Last Unicorn with expectations of a cheesy 1960s romance in the back of their mind, there is a danger that this is what they will experience. As the story points out, when people come across a unicorn they often can’t see what’s right there in front of them.

At some point in the book, though, the reader must make a choice. Is this story to be read with a modern and critical eye, peeved and scoffing over this and that? Or is it better to plunge into the magic, to enjoy every nuance and smell every flower of the language? There is much to experience in the warp and weft of Mr. Beagle’s writing, constantly reminding us that there is more to our world than we can see.

A butterfly speaks in a flittering gibberish of overheard songs and phrases. His life is only a blip in time. And yet he holds the truth. A wicked witch uses the public’s fears and gullibility against them for profit, only to be eaten by her own deepest forebodings. A wretched king lives in a prison of stale magic and his own dour imagination. Characters are the backbone of this book. The personalities are based on archetypes, and the heroes of the story blossom into a satisfying modernness.

Beagle’s lyrical flow-of-thought style of writing pulled me right into this fairy tale, despite my preconceived ideas and wariness. Before I read the story, I had been put off by the saccharine image of the unicorn which comes from the film. The creature with oversized human eyes has a head shape which disturbs and offends me and my idea of a unicorn. It’s a cultural thing, I realize.

Despite all this, I watched the film a few days ago. The animation has a simple but lovely artistry, and the unicorn moves enchantingly like a real horse. The beauty of the film opened my mind about anime-style unicorns. Although the screenplay was done by Mr. Beagle, the film is toned down and less thought-provoking than the book. For example, in the movie it is not implicit that the cause of the people’s sadness and pathetic blindness to the world is the fact that the unicorns have gone. I recommend the film, but read the book first!

For me, The Last Unicorn is a story about facing our humanity. It’s a reminder to live life with joy.