Mini Reviews: Tithe, Over Sea Under Stone, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

Tithe by Holly Black

I had borrowed this from Ashkarya sometime ago, but only read it now. Stoooopid mistake. This book is just one of my favorite YA fantasies now. The fairies are more realistic that in most books I’ve read – I’ve always read about how they are really malicious or spiteful and stuff, but here they actually act it – and even the romance bit is better written than in, hmm, Wicked Lovely, for instance. I enjoyed the characters, I loved the prose, and the plot actually caught me by surprise for a change. Yes, definitely one of the yummiest books I’ve read in a while.
Note: borrowed from Poh Ling

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
This book would have been much better for me if I wasn’t still in my “fairy book” phase. I mean, this book is fun and adventurous and exciting and all, but I wanted magic! If I’m to read an Arthurian tale, I want Merlin! Morgan le Fay! Mab! And less of the swords and knights and search for grail stuff. It’s great fun, but it’s not what I want at the moment.
This book is very Famous Five-ish. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it was the Famous Five vibe, the adventure tempered with picnics and I dunno, enjoying the weather and stuff. Hahahahah. Okay, really, this story uses Arthurian legend, which I used to love as a kid, and is a kind of mystery, also something I loved as a kid. So I actually like this book. But. I’m still hoping for more magic in the next one.
Note: purchased from Books Kinokuniya
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Hmm. To love or hate the American title… I certainly hated it when the first Harry Potter book became The Sorcerer’s Stone, I feel like I can’t really find fault with The Golden Compass as a title. Except of course, that it’s an alethiometer and not a compass. But “The Golden Compass” certainly fits in with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass more than “Northern Lights” does. And my colleague (who’s in love with this trilogy and is full of trivia for it) says that Pullman originally was going to call the trilogy “The Golden Compasses” before it became “His Dark Materials.” So I think both titles are fine.

Since I’m tired of posting two weeks’ worth of stuff in a day, I’ll be brief. What I liked about the series – the plot (Complex with a capital C!) and the characters (Lyra, Iorek… I even liked Mrs. Coulter as a villain!), mostly. What I didn’t like about it was the fact that there’s too much theology. I appreciate it as a necessary part of the plot, but after feeling sort of deceived by Narnia, reading it again as an adult, this does annoy me a little. Even if it is anti-Narnia. I don’t really care if the Church is portrayed as good or as evil, I just don’t want the Church in my fantasy books at all, if possible. Having said that, I must add that I love, love, LOVE this book.

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
What I love about the first book still remain here, while I’m getting used to the religious stuff to be too bothered with it by now. The introduction of Will and Dr. Malone is good; both characters are as interesting as the ones in the first book. And now that Lyra has got into at least two other worlds, and the story develops into a Multiverse story, everything is even more interesting. And I forgot to mention it when I was writing about the first book, but from the first time trepanning was mentioned I was really, really interested to read more on this trilogy’s take on the matter, as Homunculus, one of my favorite manga, is about trepanning.
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Loved the last part of this trilogy very much, but I can’t help but wish there was more to read. I know that it was in a way a proper ending already, but since I think that I don’t really care whether there is an Authority or if there isn’t, and I don’t really care for a Republic of Heaven, either, it wasn’t a big ending for me. I think this story is brilliant and all, but it’s not going to be one I read over and over again. It’s weird. There are books that didn’t manage to make me enthusiastic at all while reading them, but I finish them thinking they were some of the best books I’ve read. And then there are books like this, that completely absorbed me when I was reading them, but by the time I’m done I think back about them and just go, “hmm. Yeah, it was good.” That’s it. It was good. There is nothing else to say.
Note: borrowed the whole trilogy from Poh Ling
~ originally posted individually on blogspot

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