Books I Almost Loved

Very rarely do I rate books with five stars. For that to happen, a book has to be perfect in every regard in my opinion. I can’t even have a minor complaint. As I decided early on not to use half stars on my ratings, I always award four stars to books that weren’t flawless but that I almost loved. Only by reading the review can my high esteem for such books be fully perceived. The following eight books fall under that category.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

This retelling of an Ancient Greek myth resembles a fictional memoir. Circe, the daughter of Helios (the god of sun) and Perse (a nymph), was sentenced to exile as a punishment for using witchcraft against her own kind. Throughout the book, Madeline Miller delves into the meaning of love and the fear of losing a dear one. The prose is gripping and the characters feel truly real, thanks to a tangible portrayal of emotions, particularly those of Circe. However, the book loses a bit of its enchantment when Circe tells stories about Odysseus.

 

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

The first book in The Farseer Trilogy is not only a story of court intrigue and lust for power, but also a true interpretation of human emotions. When he was 6 years old, Fitz was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in, because he was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. Some years later, he started being trained as an assassin in secret. The detailed and absorbing writing style is one of the highlights of this fantasy book. Unfortunately, the last chapter is not as thorough and some events are just briefly mentioned. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2019

2019 was a complicated reading year. I read various praiseworthy novels, short story and poetry collections. In terms of genres, my reading was as varied, featuring classics, literary fiction, fantasy and myth retellings, for example. So far, I’ve read 34 books and will probably finish another one in the following days. However, I decided not to finish eight books, a number higher than ever before, if I’m not mistaken.

This was also the year when I chose to reread a book again after probably decades without doing so. Thus, I had to decide whether to include rereads in my favourite books of the year or not from now on. I decided against it. This post only includes books that I read for the first time during the year, irrespective of date of publication.

I don’t tend to rate books with five stars very often, because they need to be completely flawless for that to happen. This year I only rated one book with five stars, and it was the one that I reread – O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago. The majority of the books that I rate with four stars are still great, though. Some of the five books that I selected as my favourites of 2019 are indeed almost perfect, in my opinion. In reverse order, they are: Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – September 2019

September has come to an end, so it’s time for another instalment of my monthly favourites! These introductions are getting a bit repetitive… One can only hope that one day I’ll have an amazing idea for the paragraph that precedes the revelation of my favourite books, TV series, music or films of the month. Today is not that day yet!

Last month, I finished reading three books – Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan and The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (which I haven’t reviewed yet). I enjoyed all of them, but there was one that stood out from the rest: Assassin’s Apprentice. It’s a fantasy story of court intrigue and lust for power that also manages to amazingly depict human emotions.

Set in the Six Duchies, which are ruled by the Farseers, it has as main character the young Fitz. When he was six years old, he was left by his maternal grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in, because he was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. The king decided that he was to be trained both as an assassin and in the traditional magic of the family – the Skill. Fitz’s state of mind is wonderfully portrayed. Continue reading

Book Series – What I’m Reading

Reading book series is a great way to become fully immersed in a fictional world. I’m currently sinking my teeth into five book series and, until I finish at least one of them, I don’t plan to start a new one. Whenever I complete a book series, the plan is to replace it with another one of those on my wish list. I’m only mentioning on this post the series that I’m not caught up on (reason why the list below doesn’t feature A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) and that I want to finish.

 

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This is the first trilogy in a larger fantasy series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. So far, I’ve only read the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice, which is set in the Six Duchies, a land ruled by the Farseers. Fitz, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, is trained as an assassin and in the traditional magic of the Farseer family – the Skill. Not only is this book full of court intrigue, it also delves into various human emotions.

After finishing this trilogy, I’ll certainly read the other series set in the same world. Although I considered the possibility of reading all the series featuring Fitz first and only afterwards picking up the remaining ones, I’m now more inclined to read them in order of publication. Continue reading

‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Fantasy novels aren’t merely a vessel to transport readers to a world full of magic. Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, deals with very true-to-life topics. Not only is this a story about court intrigue and lust for power, but it also delves into human emotions in a believable way. Set in the Six Duchies, which are ruled by the Farseers, this is the first introduction to a meticulously imagined world that begs to be discovered and savoured.

When the narrator was six years old, he was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in. He was the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, the Crown Prince, who, according to the old man, was aware that he had got his daughter pregnant. A guard took him to Prince Verity, who then ordered him to be fed and taken someplace where he could sleep until he decided what was to be done with him. For some weeks, he slept at the stables and was taken care of by Burrich, who at the time was his father’s man. He was later taken to Buckkeep without ever knowing Chivalry.

His existence complicated the line of succession. Prince Chivalry was married to Lady Patience, but they didn’t have a child together, as neither of her pregnancies had lasted the full term. He, thus, ended up abdicating the throne, and Verity assumed his place. At first, the political aspects of the book are just hinted at. The political machinations that took place among the royal family can be inferred from the conversations between the characters. They become more obvious as the story progresses. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – August 2019

This instalment of my monthly favourites is probably one of the shortest ever. There are two main reasons for that. First, I didn’t truly enjoy any of the books that I read in their entirety. And, second, I think I’m suffering from TV series hangover, if there is such a thing, because, after watching a great one, I didn’t feel like watching anything else this month, including films.

As I didn’t particularly like the two books that I managed to finish in August, I decided to mention as my favourite one that I’m not even mid-way through – Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. When the main character and narrator, Fitz, was six years old, his maternal grandfather left him at the castle of the town he lived in, because he was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. After some years, he started being trained in secret as an assassin. I’m enjoying Fitz’s character development and the detailed writing, as it allows me to easily visualise the scenes.

My true favourite this month, however, is the second season of Dark. If you haven’t watched it on Netflix yet, you should do so immediately. It’s fantastic! I’ve been trying to convince almost everyone that I know to watch it. It is a German science fiction thriller that is highly intriguing and at times moving. It is set in the fictional town of Winden, where there is a nuclear power plant and where a couple of young people go missing. Continue reading

Book Haul – July 2019

As it was my birthday a couple of days ago, I obviously had to buy some books this month! But I managed to control myself and only acquired four. Some I’ve been meaning to read for ages, while others caught my attention more recently.

 

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Fitz is the protagonist of the first book in the Farseer Trilogy. He is a royal bastard with a magical link with animals, which is an old art known as the Wit. This power is frowned upon by the nobility, so when he is accepted into the royal household, he has to give it up. Secretly, he starts training as a royal assassin. I’m eager to finally start my journey into Robin Hobb’s work.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

I’m also yet to read a book by Madeline Miller. In this myth retelling, Circe is banished by Zeus to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her witchcraft skills and needs to decide whether her place is among the deities or the mortals. I have high hopes for this novel! Continue reading

Reading More Book Series

One of the things I enjoy while reading is to completely immerse myself in a new world, be it a fantasy one or not. This is also one of the reasons why I am also keen on reading book series, as it enables me to spend more time with a group of characters who inhabited a certain world. Nevertheless, I haven’t read that many series yet.

Until now I’ve only read four series: A Song of Ice and Fire which is still being written by George R.R. Martin; Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; and Memories of the Eagle and the Jaguar by Isabel Allende.

My plan is to read many more in the future. The following are some of the first books in a series (accompanied by a Goodreads description) that caught my eye and that are on my wish list: Continue reading