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The Magcians Review

3 Jul

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought The Magicians was a realistic, if somewhat bleak, take on what magic might actually look like the in the real world. Without a noble cause or evil villain to ground them, these already self-important young genius magicians run riot through the world. They truly live a hedonistic lifestyle with nothing and no one to check them besides their own shaky moral compasses. These kids learn the hard way that the cost of being one of the magical few is pretty damn high. Definitely not a feel good book, but one that made me re-imagining the fantasies I grew up loving.

This book is about 60% Harry Potter, 40% Chronicles of Narnia. But in a bad-ass, grown up kind of way: with Hogwarts awash with alcohol and Narnia being taken over by the freaky hybrid human-animal monsters. I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book more than the end, where it got increasingly fantastical, action-packed and depressing.

A few annoyances.

1. Normally I feel like I have a better than average vocabulary. However, I felt like I had to read this book with a dictionary. At least a dozen times I ran across a word that not only did I not know the meaning of, but had no idea even existed.

2. Grossman uses the word “viscous” as an adjective no less than 4 times in the first 100 pages. Not sure why, but it annoyed me to no end.

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Empire Review

15 Apr

EmpireEmpire by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m a huge fan of the Ender series, which predisposes me to love pretty much anything Orson Scott Card writes. However, I was curious to see how he would manage in a more contemporary and realistic setting rather than his usual futuristic sci-fi. I think it holds up pretty well. The pacing of the book was nice. Thrilling, but with some natural ebbs and flows in the story. It was compelling throughout, but I wasn’t forced to read it in one sitting due to cliffhanger chapters and never-ending plot twists.

As in most of Card’s work, I really enjoyed the political themes the book explores. It’s obvious that the book leans to the right, but not in a way that offended or annoyed me at all. I think both sides of the political spectrum were painted fairly and accurately, though in their most extreme forms.

Most of all, I enjoyed the afterward. Although it was written in 2006, I think most of what Card writes is 100% true to the current political climate. A few choice quotes from the afterward:

“A good working definition of fanaticism is that you are so convinced of your views and policies that you are sure anyone who opposes them must be either stupid and deceived or have some ulterior motive. We are today a nation where almost everyone in the public eye displays fanaticism with every utterance…we have become a nation of insane people able to see the madness only in the other side.”

“We live in a time when moderates are treated worse than extremists, being punished as if they were more fanatical than the actual fanatics.”

“…maybe, we can just calm down and stop thinking that our own ideas are so precious that we must never give an inch to accommodate the heartfelt beliefs of others.”

All in all, not Card’s best work, but a solid, entertaining and thought-provoking thriller that shows a disturbing picture of where the current trend of political polarism and hateful rhetoric could lead.

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