Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Hammered

Hammered by Kevin Hearne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series thanks to Charles de Lint's review in Fantasy and Science Fiction a few months ago. He compared it, in tone, to Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber and, being a lover of that series, I knew I had to give it a try. I sped through the first two books, Hounded and Hexed. I loved the world, I loved the characters... it was just a wonderful series that I couldn't wait to read more of.

And then I hit Hammered.

I'm not sure what it was about it but I had a hard time getting through it. I actually started it sometime last year and it took me several months to decide to pull the ebook back out of the library and give it another try. (Thanks to Amazon keeping track of these kinds of things, I was able to pick back up where I left off.) While there were some scenes that I enjoyed quite a bit - Atticus' meeting with Jesus, his conversations with the Widow MacDonough, his meeting with Morrigan near the end of the book - most of what happened in Asgard, as well as the bits leading up to it (from the time the group gets together for the attack) just didn't keep my attention. And I wish I knew why it wasn't, because it would seem to be things I would love. Maybe it was because I knew that Atticus didn't really want to be taking this journey either, but it didn't seem to bug him as much as I would have thought to.

I'm not ready to give up, though. From the moment Atticus set foot back on Midgard through the very end, I was back to feeling that old love for the series. Particularly when Oberon dropped the bombshell about... well, never mind. I don't want to spoil things. But I will say that I can't wait until I can get my hands on the next one. I'm just waiting for it to either be available through my library's digital media or for the paperback to be waiting for me at the library.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: The Mark of Athena

The Mark of Athena
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan is the third book in the Heroes of Olympus series. It takes place in the same world as his Percy Jackson series, with only a few of the main characters from the last series crossing over. At the end of the Percy Jackson series, the Titans had been defeated, Mount Olympus was restored and all was well. Until, of course, the next crisis.

The Heroes of Olympus series involves not one but two camps having to save the world. The Greeks of Camp Half-Blood and the Romans of Camp Jupiter. Of course, neither knew the other existed until Hera pulled Percy Jackson out of Camp Half-Blood and Jason Grace out of Camp Jupiter and plopped them in the opposite camp without their memory. The first book, The Lost Hero, tells Jason's story. The second book, The Son of Neptune, tells Percy's story. In this, the third book, members of the two camps finally come together to quest and stop the rise of Gaea. I'd been looking forward to this one quite a bit, as I enjoyed the previous series and the previous books in this series quite a bit.

Things don't go smoothly for Annabeth, Jason, Piper and Leo when they land in Camp Jupiter. They aren't trusted by some and, when Leo is taken over by an Idolan and fires on the camp, they need to beat a hasty retreat and start their quest. Percy, Hazel and Frank join the group in their quick retreat to their flying trireme and they head toward Rome to try to stop Gaea.

Annabeth has another task. She's been tasked by her mother, Athena, to follow her mark and find something that was stolen from her when the Romans conquered the Greeks. As much as she'd like the help of her boyfriend, Percy, she's got to go this one alone.

I enjoyed the story itself very much. It was good to see Percy and Annabeth back together, and the dynamic between the five heroes was interesting. I loved that it wasn't an easy journey in any sense of the word. I'm also glad to have the mystery of Hazel and Leo cleared up. Each character got a good amount of screen time (though a little less to Jason and Frank, but not by much) and there was some good character development in the story. And the ending - even if my husband did call it - had my heart in my throat. It really makes me want to pick up the next book as soon as it comes out to see what's going to happen next.

That said, there were a few things that niggled at me as I listened to the story. There was a lot of passive voice in this story. I don't remember as much telling in the previous books as I saw in this one. But that could be my memory. Also, Percy's little, "What do you mean they didn't want to meet me?" scene when Leo and Frank came back from seeing Chiron's brothers struck me as shades of Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix Very whiny, very self-absorbed. I'd never really gotten that feeling regarding Percy before. I'm glad that it wasn't something that continued through out the rest of the book.

I listened to the audio book and, like in my review of The Son of Neptune, I had a lot of problems with the pronunciations of some of the names. Having heard some of the God names pronounced differently most of my life, it was very jarring and took me out of the story. Otherwise, his reading was very good. He had fairly distinctive voices for each character and kept the flow of the book moving quite well. I'm probably still going to listen to the audio books for the rest of the series, even though I know the pronunciation issues will be there.

All said, it was a fairly good book. Excellent story, with a few minor quibbles, and some issues with the reader.

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