Review of “The Dragon Reborn” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Dragon Reborn
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #3
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 24 hours 51 minutes
Published: 2004, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1991)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn….

 

MY REVIEW

The third book in the Wheel of Time felt like an in-between-story while listening. But now, after finishing it and thinking back on everything the characters went through, it was full of action. What was funny though, was that the title felt off. The Dragon was lost and there was only a handful of chapters following him. Although, I guess it was all about him in the end anyway with everyone trying to find him.

I have to admit, that listening to all of these books back to back makes me unable to tell them apart. The stories flows into each other gracefully and after three books and 80 hours now, I definitely see the charm in the series. It’s the world building. It feels so real and even if it is a fantasy world full of magic and so on, it feels plausible. Many fantasy books are unrealistic in the sense that the hero is unaware of their power in the beginning but then masters it in a matter of minutes and becomes the most powerful ever. That’s fun and all, but this is another type of fantasy. Definitely a more adult type of fantasy. And I like the contrasts to what I usually read.

I enjoyed following Egwene, Nyneave, and Elaine in their pursuit of the black Ajah and it was great to see Mat from another perspective than half-dead (sorry for the small spoiler).

I’m mostly listening while I ride my bike or going somewhere and it feels like this world of Robert Jordan’s is where I spend my traveling time. It’s there in the background and I don’t really focus on it too much. I enjoy spending my time riding my bike to practice in this world, but I can’t really say it’s the best I’ve ever read, probably because of not actively reading. Maybe I will physically read it one day. The Dragon Reborn gets a solid 4 because of the immense and realistic world building.

Review of “Winterkeep” by Kristin Cashore

Title: Winterkeep
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #4
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 528
Published: 2021, Dial Books for Young Readers
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.

 

MY REVIEW

It wasn’t that long ago that I read the first three books from Kristin Cashore. No, wait, it’s already been 7 years. In any case, I’ve since then thought that the Graceling Realm was one of my favorite series. I absolutely loved it. All the colors and vibrancy of the story. I especially loved Fire, the second novel. It was beautiful!

With that said, I had high expectations on this fourth instalment in the series. And I have to admit that it did not live up to them. Not even close. It was still a good read at the end, but it took me about half of it to really get into it and actually wanting to continue to read.

At first, I couldn’t sympathize with the characters. They didn’t feel real and alive and Lovisa’s behavior was unrealistic and erratic. It felt like she did things that didn’t quite follow a red thread. Or maybe that was the character, just acting strange and irregular. She became more real at the end though. Something changed in the middle of the book with lots of things. The same things goes with natural conversations that felt more real at the end.

The pacing was different throughout as well. Sometimes the story flowed really well, like the last half of the book. The first half on the other hand sometimes felt like a stutter, the flow just wasn’t there.

I know that it is a young adult fantasy story, but this one, I got the impression that it was aimed for a younger crowd than the previous three, even if Bitterblue had grown even more. That wouldn’t have been a problem, if it weren’t for the fact that there was a lot of sex. Not A Court of Thorns and Roses much, and no details, butstill, sex in many different scenes. It was a bit contradictory.

And the last thing, the names. All of the names were aligned with the previous story, all made up. And then comes the main character, Lovisa. Maybe it’s not a common name outside of Sweden, but for me it was super weird reading all of these fantasy names, and right in the middle of it all, was the basic Svensson-Swede Lovisa.

In any case, the story wrapped up nicely and got really exciting at the end and my general thought when finishing it was that it was a good read, even if I did struggle a bit in the beginning. But that was probably because of the disappointment from my high expectations. Maybe, the first three are similar, just that I forgot since it was so long ago I read them. I remember them being amazing without being able to tell exactly why, it’s just the general feeling. Like with His Golden Compass. I don’t think I want to reread any of the series just in case I will change my mind about them. Winterkeep will get a 3, no time was wasted while reading it. I’m not sure I will pick up the next one (unnamed at the time of writing this review) right away at release. Depends on my TBR-pile at that moment.

Review of “The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Great Hunt
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #2
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 26 hours 34 minutes
Published: 2003, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1990)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

For centuries, gleemen have told the tales of The Great Hunt of the Horn. So many tales about each of th Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of…Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages. And it is stolen.

 

MY REVIEW

I’ve now seen the whole first season of the TV series which contains most of book 1 and some from book 2 and 3. I think I do understand why they mixed the TV series up a bit. Like with The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan really took his time to tell the vivid story that is Wheel of Time. 26 hours went by pretty fast this time when I had really gotten used to the narrators. But when I think about the story now, after finishing it, what happened really? Yes, the great hunt. But that’s it. It was a long journey. Exciting and things kept happening, but I can’t really say exactly what.

New people were introduced, and once again, I won’t give you the satisfaction of trying to spell the names that I now can pronounce, and it took me a while to understand what they were and what role they played in the story.

The ending was wow! And I can’t wait to pick up the next one, but I still kind of feel like this is still just the beginning. Which is amazing, big things have already happened, but what else is there still? I like the character development. They feel real and not everyone behaves strong and heroic like fantasy heroes usually does.

The Great Hunt receives a 4, it’s either because it actually steps up a notch, or it’s because I’m more familiar with the world, not sure. A great listen in whichever case.

Review of “Järnulven” by Siri Pettersen

Title: Järnulven (~The Iron Wolf)
Author: Siri Pettersen
Translator (Swedish): Ylva Kempe
Series: Vardari #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 500
Published: 2020 (translated 2021), B. Wahlströms
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION (translated to English by me)

A young girl is forced to forget that she has seen the devil. A young man betrays his lover to gain eternal life. A mystical clockwork starts ticking again after 600 years of silence. A secret that’s been guarded for generations is about to be revealed.

Juva hates bloodreaders. They are praised because they can see the future, but in reality, they are swindlers who take advantage of people’s fears. Juva’s heritage is of a bloodreader’s family, but she has sworn to never become one of them. But when her family is threatened, she is forced to join the hunt for the bloodreaders’ legacy; a dark secret that once changed the world and will do it again. To survive, she must confront her childhood memory that she has been struggling her whole life to forget – that time when she saw the devil.

The Iron Wolf is a captivating story about blood, desire and obsession. It is the first book of the Vardari trilogy, which takes place in the same universe as the praised series The Raven Rings.

MY REVIEW

After absolutely loving The Raven Rings trilogy, Siri’s debut trilogy, there was no doubt that I would read this as soon as opportunity arose. I try not to read several books at the same time, and with lots of work and other things going on, my reading has been lacking this past year. But I finally finished it and I, as I expected, CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT. I think I read somewhere that it will be released in spring 2022 in Norway. So maybe fall 2022 in Swedish?

I’m sure authors don’t like it when a reader compare her new book with her old ones. But I’ve also realized that that is what makes readers pick up the next book without even knowing what it is about, because they know what to expect. And this was just like that. A new setting, absolutely, a little bit more modern, but kind of hard to tell exactly when in time as well. It’s set in another dimension of the same universe as Odin’s Child and that is perfectly clear at the end of the book. Without spoiling anything, I feel like there is a strong connection between a character in this book and a race of people in Odin’s Child. I even think they might be the same? It might be clearer in the next installment.

What makes it so brilliant? My gut tells me it’s a solid five. But also, the pacing is good, things are always happening. The story starts a little bit quicker this time. I love it when it is not crystal clear who the antagonist is. I feel like we’ve been led to believe it is one through the whole story, but at the end. I’m still not sure if that’s really the case. It’s hard to put the book down. I unfortunately had to almost every night after only a few pages because I fell asleep with it in my hand after too long days at work. But wow, you always want to find out what’s next. And that leaves me to the ending. Yes, it was an ending to this story. But it left so many questions! An ending done right. A new series done right!

I can’t wait for the second book, which hasn’t even gotten a name yet. And I highly recommend people to read this very original fantasy book with roots in the North. I would also recommend reading The Raven Rings before. Even if they are completely stand alone, it’s great to understand certain words and expressions that aren’t explained here, but are in her other series. A solid 5 out of 5 possible.

Review of “The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #1
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 29 hours 57 minutes
Published: 2006, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1990)
My Grade: 3,5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

 

MY REVIEW

The night before the Wheel of Time TV series premiered, I finished the first book in the 15 book long series by Robert Jordan. I honestly don’t know why I never picked it up. It’s been on my to-read-list (the unofficial one in my head, not on Goodreads) for ages but I guess I was afraid of picking it up because of the enormity of it. 15 books, each several hundred pages long. A kick in the butt from the TV industry is a good way to get me to start reading at least, haha!

Since I started listening to audiobooks a year and a half ago, I’ve mostly listened to science books and children’s books. The last one I listened to was Paolini’s sci-fi novel, which had such an amazing narrator who made it rather easy to follow the story. After Jennifer Hales interpretation of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, I was spoiled and was not prepared for Michael Kramer reading an epic fantasy story, heavy with world building. At first I honestly didn’t think I would get through it. How much of the first few chapters did I really hear and understand? Fortunately, I got used to it, and the rest of the 30 hours total was not too bad. I almost feel bad for saying it about an award winning narrator, but his voice just didn’t seem inviting to me. I’ve come to realize that when listening to audiobooks, this bond with the narrator is very important. It can change the whole book. Or at least, I think it does. I don’t really feel like I have the time to compare reading and listening to books as long as these are, but one day that would be fascinating to do.

In any case, according to my grade system, I feel like this first installment reaches a steady 3,5. If that is because of the story or narrator or anything else, I’m honestly not sure. I do appreciate the immense world building, the magic system seems believable, even if I don’t quite understand it yet. There are several characters but not too many, but I have to admit that sometimes it was hard to know who was who. And also, all the names. They are great, but wow, they are so hard to relate to because they are so far away from our reality. And just hearing them (I won’t give you the satisfaction of spelling them, because I honestly wouldn’t even know where to begin guessing), and not seeing them in front of me was hard. It took me probably 25 hours of the 30 hours total, to know how to pronounce Nynaeve (yes, I did just Google it), even if I had heard it countless of times. The names are complicated and maybe that’s a small thing that drags the whole grade down a bit.

Another thing might be the pace? I can’t really say what I mean, but it feels a bit dragged out. Until the very end which is rushed. A solid 3.5 feels like the correct grade! If what I’ve heard is correct, then the series will be better and better. And I’m really excited to listen to the next!

 

A side note, I’ve of course already seen the first three episodes of the Amazon Prime show that came out on November 19th and I it is amazing so far! Several things are different from the book, of course. But since I didn’t really make out any details while listening, it didn’t bother me at all while watching. Maybe Michael Kramer gave me the story as a whole, and Rafe Judkins (producer) visualized it for me. I’m glad I did it in that order!

Review of “House of Earth and Blood” by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Crescent City #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 803
Published: 2020, Bloomsbury Publishing
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

 

MY REVIEW

One of my favorite authors have started a third series, Crescent City. I was super excited after loving both Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. I had no expectations, and had honestly barely even read what it was about when I picked it up. I trusted Maas enough to pre-order this one signed as well (I’ve lost count on how many signed copies I have of her books by now, haha).

Even with no expectations, more than she being the author, I have to admit that I was almost ready to put it down at first. It honestly took me half of the book before I actually started to get into it and understand and sympathize with the characters and here’s why.

Maas is an amazing worldbuilder, I would love to pick her brains to find out where she gets all of her ideas from. It’s the same with House of Earth and Blood. She has a little bit of a different approach this time though. At first I hated it, but after reading the whole thing, I think I like it. She introduces the world and all its politics and hierarchies and characters and races in a very natural way. You never feel like she is explaining something, but everything comes naturally in the story. But, this is a whole new world, new races, a lot of characters, and I couldn’t keep up and felt frustrated when I didn’t understand anything at all the first half. I still feel unsure about some things honestly. This is the main reason why I had such a hard time reading this in the beginning.

I think it’s supposed to be adult fantasy, but with the exception of quite a bit of swearing, I don’t really see it. It’s still very similar to her other young adult works. Nothing bad, in my opinion, just something I thought about while reading.

And since it was supposed to be an adult fantasy, and in her latest books had included a lot of sex, I was expecting the worst. But honestly, not a single sex scene. Lots of plays on it though, but nothing that I really thought about. Except that scene when Hunt jerks off in the shower and comes so hard that he sees stars. I actually laughed out loud at that, like wtf?

What was so great about it at the end then? Well, I really liked the mix between science and fantasy. It took place in a modern world but where there was also magic. I really liked the balance she had created there.

The characters’ development were also amazing! All of them were hopeless in the beginning, they all had such attitudes that I just thought it was ridiculous. But it was on purpose and fitted the story and how everything developed at the end.

Also, at the end, so much action. So much was happening! I couldn’t put it down!

The end was an end, but there will be two more and I will obviously read them, but it was a satisfactory ending.

I feel like grading this book is hard. My general feeling now that I have finished it, is that it was a great book! I loved it! But it shouldn’t take 50% into the book to start caring for it. A three is too low, a five (considering the first half) is too much. So I guess a 4 is fair? If you enjoyed her other series, I’m super confident you’ll like this one as well. And if you haven’t read any of Maas’ books previously, start with Throne of Glass.

Review of “Kometen Kommer” by Tove Jansson

Title: Kometen Kommer (~Comet in Moominvalley)
Author: Tove Jansson
Series: Mumintrollen #2 (~The Moomins)
Narrator: Mark Levengood
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 3 hours 31 minutes
Published: 2007, Bonnier Audio (first published 1947)
My Grade: 3 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

When Moomintroll learns that a comet will be passing by, he and his friend Sniff travel to the Observatory on the Lonely Mountains to consult the Professors. Along the way, they have many adventures, but the greatest adventure of all awaits them when they learn that the comet is headed straight for their beloved Moominvalley.

MY REVIEW

The second book about the Moomins was about the comet that flies across the sky. I like how it actually deals with science and explains it in a simple way. Even if it is not described in detail. There are new characters introduced and once again, I’m sad to have listened and not having seen the illustrations. The Snork and Snork Maiden are similar trolls, but change colors. The Snork is so extremely blue it’s ridiculous. But I guess that’s how a children’s book should be written, in extremes to show a point. I honestly found it a bit annoying. And something else that’s annoying is Sniff, the small animal they found in the first book. I’m guessing he’s gonna be by Moomintroll’s side throughout the whole series. He is such an annoying baby. Maybe these stories are better to read myself instead of listening to when the narrator apparently is doing such a good job at reading out loud, haha!

I still very much enjoy the setting and storylines though. So it still gets a three.

Review of “Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen” by Tove Jansson

Title: Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (~The Moomins and the Great Flood)
Author: Tove Jansson
Series: Mumintrollen #1 (~The Moomins)
Narrator: Mark Levengood
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 59 minutes
Published: 2007, Bonnier Audio (first published 1945)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Moomins and the Great Flood was the original Moomin story, published in Finland in 1945. Moomin and his mother is searching for the lost father and experience dangers before the family happily reunites. Finally they come across a valley that is more beautiful than anything they had ever seen before.

MY REVIEW

This was an easy listen. Moomins originates from Finland and having Mark Levengood, Swedish-speaking Finn narrate this hour-long book was perfect. But I think it would have been better to actually read it myself to see the illustrations made by the author herself. It’s been so long since I saw any movies or TV-shows or whatever it was when I was a kid that I didn’t really remember how all the creatures looked like.

The story was short, fast-paced, and cute. A perfect listen while doing chores. But why did the Moomintroll’s father leave in the first place? Why did the Moomintroll’s mother not expect the dad to have built a house for the whole family? Questions perhaps a kid doesn’t even think about.

It was a cute story and it gets a four.

Review of “Ronja Rövardotter” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Ronja Rövardotter (~Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 4 hours 59 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1981)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

On the night Ronia was born, a thunderstorm raged over the mountain, but in Matt’s castle and among his band of robbers there was only joy — for Matt now had a spirited little black-haired daughter. Soon Ronia learns to dance and yell with the robbers, but it is alone in the forest that she feels truly at home.

Then one day Ronia meets Birk, the son of Matt’s arch-enemy. Soon after Ronia and Birk become friends the worst quarrel ever between the rivals bands erupts, and Ronia and Birk are right in the middle.

MY REVIEW

On my 30th birthday, a couple of weeks back, my mother told me that the reason I don’t remember these books, is because she actually never read them out loud to me. I know I was scared of everything growing up (some movies, like Gremlins, Scary Movie and The Princess Bride (which by the way isn’t even a scary movie) gave me nightmares for countless of years), but being scared of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s stories? I guess I do see it. There are some pretty badass antagonists in all of these books that I’ve listened to lately. I remember seeing the movies and yes, they were scary too. Vildvittror, ugh, they were the worst!

Since I saw the movie many times growing up, I did recognize it all while I was listening now and it is as good as I remembered. Now, I want to see the movie again. That will bring back many memories, for sure.

Astrid’s writing is as usual very colorful and I saw the whole story taking place in front of my inner eye. Maybe even more so because I saw the movie so many times. It was amazing! Astrid herself reading is incredible. I am so infinitely happy that she recorded all of her biggest books (maybe even all, I’m not sure?) to audio. She is not just an amazing author, she has a great storytelling voice and she definitely goes all in while reading her own words. 5 out of 5!

Review of “Mio, min Mio” by Astrid Lindgren

Title: Mio, min Mio (Mio, My Son)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 3 hours 34 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1954)
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

With help from a genie, young Karl Anders Nilsson travels by day and night, beyond the stars, to reach Farawayland. There, his father the King, who has been searching for him for nine long years, tells him his true name is Mio, and lavishes upon him the loving attention he never received from his foster parents back in Stockholm. Mio learns of a prophecy that has been foretold for thousand of years. With his best friend Pompoo, and his horse with the golden mane, Miramis, he must travel into the darkness of Outer Land to battle the cruel Sir Kato.

MY REVIEW

I don’t think I’ve ever read Mio, min Mio. And it is supposed to be one of Astrid Lindgren’s best works! I think I have to agree.

It’s fast-paced, it’s easy to follow along, the story is captivating, and it is surprisingly dark. Not as dark as Brothers Lionheart, but there’s the Dead Forest, the super evil villain who kidnaps children. There’s beautiful sceneries and even if I never saw the movie, I could still see it all before my inner eye.

The absolute best part about it though is that I listened to Astrid herself reading it. She does it so enthusiastically! I’m sure reading it myself is great too, but hearing her voice, knowing exactly what feelings she wants to evoke in the reader, it’s absolutely amazing! Highly recommend listening to her narration. 5 out of 5!