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Finished Silas Marner by George Elliot (4/5)

George Elliot is one of those authors I ought to have read, but I never got around to it. The downside, is that I am just now realizing what I have been missing for years. The upside, is now I have a new author I enjoy whose works all have free Kindle downloads!

Silas Marner is the tale of a weaver who learns to love through a series of events set off by the interrelated actions of the members of his small community. The story is simple, at least on the surface, but the characters have a depth that makes you feel like you know them. Overall, a good read.
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Finished At the Back of the North Wind [1] by George MacDonald (3/5)

George MacDonald's fairy tales are a bit weird. One of his more well known novels, The Princess and the Goblin is standard fairy tale fare, but as you range further afield in his tales, the plots get more disjointed (in the "this is interesting -- let's insert it as a dream sequence!" sense) and the tone more moralizing.

That said, At the Back of the North Wind is a delightful tale of a young boy whose unique perspective on the world allows him to take adventures with the North Wind as she moves throughout the world. His perspective and his adventures affect all the people around him.

Also, it's public domain, so the Kindle download is free!
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Finished The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny. This large tome contains all 10 volumes of the Amber Chronicles. The series is divided into two major story arcs, each consisting of five books. The first story arc is excellent. Zelazny weaves a compelling story. I found the opening particularly good. The way Zelazny starts the story, it does not even seem like fantasy. Just as you start to wonder whether or not he is ever going to get around it, he brings the fantasy element into the story with a bang.

The second story arc is mediocre. The story contains many good elements, but overall it comes across as a bit too... chaotic. The main character of that story arc seems to get pulled from event to event, each of which generates new threads. I would say less than half of those threads are resolved in the end, and many of those that were resolved were not resolved fully. That said, I have heard that the Zelazny meant to write more but did not have a chance to do so before he died. The dangers of building large, complex stories.

Overall though, it is definitely worth a read. Especially the first half.
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Finished Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I think that Anathem may have beat out Diamond Age for the position of my favorite Stephenson book. The start was somewhat slow, and it takes awhile to get use to all the made up vocabulary the book uses, but the effort is worth it. Once I got into the book, I was hooked, and I made it through the ~900 pages in about a week.

One thing I liked about Anathem was the main character, Raz. He was not the smartest or the strongest or the best leader, although he did have each of these skills to some degree. What made Raz special was that he did what needed to be done, mixed with a little of being in the right place at the right time. Something about the character really appealed to me.
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Finished The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono. This is the first in the series of novels inspired the anime of the same name. This novel describes the trials and tribulations of Yoko Nakajima, a normal high school girl (I had to use that phrase!) who is transported to another world by a strange man named Keiki. Yoko is separated from Keiki and has to fight her way through monsters and growing cynicism before she can discover why she is in this world and whether she can go back home.

For those of you familiar with the anime series, the first novel overlaps with the first Yoko story arch.

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Erika RS

May 2012

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