15753977Summary:

From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths…

Until June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.

In a shocking turn of events, the two uncover what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

Review:

Holy shit balls, Batman. This was an awesome story.

The year is 2130. America, as we know it, has collapsed. The western territories (California, Nevada, and Arizona) have formed the Republic and they are in a war with the Colonies. In the Republic, the divide between rich and poor has never been so large, as millions are crowded into slums and suffer routine outbreaks of a devastating, ever-mutating plague that claims countless lives annually. The Republic requires all of its children to be subject to the Trials when they turn 10 years old. A combination written, oral and physical examination, a high Trial score means a life of privilege and service – and a failing grade means a life sentenced to labor camps, never to be seen by family or friends again. 

Enter June, a young, 13 year old who scored a perfect score on her Trial, which sets her up with a brilliant future of glitz, glamor, wealth, and success within the government and military. Enter Day, a 13 year old boy and the Republic’s most wanted criminal and who I think of as a modern day Robin Hood. Reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, June and Day were born on the opposite sides of the tracks. One lives in the slums; the other lives the high life. But when June’s older brother, Metias (a Captain in the military), gets murdered, the mysterious Commander Jameson pulls June out of training early to hunt down her brother’s killer, Day. And so begins this tale of lies, and betrayal, and secrets, and sacrifice. Because of course nothing is as it seems, especially not in June’s world when you’re working for the corrupt government.

That’s the set up for you. The novel is thrilling. Marie Lu does an exquisite job of how she structures and organizes her book (with chapters devoted to June’s point of view and Day’s point of view) instead of single person POV. This gives us a great insight into each of these character’s lives. Like most YA books, it doesn’t have the detailed world building that high fantasy does, but in this case, it’s very unnecessary anyway. Legend creates and holds the tension between the hunted and huntress with heart pumping action sequences such as street brawls, tracking, recon missions, kidnapping, and plenty of fight scenes.

By far the best thing I would say about Legend is the emphasis and tone of the story. I am generally highly critical of most YA, because there are many stories where the focus is on the romance and love rather than whatever disaster is actually happening (i.e. I feel like Mortal Instrument is more about a guy and girl who fall in love and they happen to be trying to save Clary’s mother). Whereas Legend feels like it’s about a girl trying to avenge the murder of her brother who happens to develop feelings for her brother’s killer whom she’s hunting. That is great storytelling. 

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Summary:

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. 

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. 

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

My review:

First, I have to say that I’m a huge fan of Egyptian mythology (hello, I write my own series based in Egyptian mythology). However, I think Riordan missed the mark with this one. It seemed like he was trying to do too much. For anyone who’s ever studied even a snippet of Egyptian mythology, you’d know it’s unlike a lot of other mythologies out there – even Greek (which copied a lot of Egyptian ideas). Egyptian mythology is extremely complex, with gods changing names, changing powers, combining themselves together and forming new gods – it could give anyone a headache. So when Riordan tries to lump as many “tales” in The Red Pyramid as possible, instead of coming off as a great series, it turns into a confusing lump of myths.

The story itself is simple (as outlined in the summary above). Sadie and Carter Kane are brother and sister- estranged, at best, and when their father tries to “set things right”, he accidently unleashes the Egyptian god of chaos and storms, Set. Set captures their father, forcing Sadie and Carter to go through a series of hurtles and adventures to save their dad.

Each chapter is written either from Sadie’s or Carter’s point of view. I don’t really mind this since a lot of high fantasy is written from different character’s point-of-view, however, I can understand that if you only read children’s or young adult fiction, this could be an issue. However, Sadie and Carter’s “voice” didn’t seem that different to me (other than Sadie spoke in a British accent and Carter in an American one). They were very much the same character.

The story goes from one thing to the next and it felt a little drawn out. Almost every fifty pages or so, Sadie and Carter got into trouble (evil magicians tracking them down to stop them) and they had to rely on a mysterious sorceress, Zia, or the Egyptian goddess, Bast, to save them from danger (usually by Zia or Bast “holding off” the evil forces while Sadie and Carter escaped). If this was done a few times, it’d be okay. But literally Riordan repeated this “hold them off” and escape thing every fifty pages – so it got a bit tired and overused.

On the plus side, however, Riordan was very clever in how he described Egyptian magic. Sadie could use spells which the hieroglyphics would hover in the air like a translucent orb of energy. Carter could summon the gods power with a giant holographic combat avatar (which was really neat). I loved the idea of the House of Life and the magicians dedicated to preserving mankind. Riordan does a great job breaking down complex themes of Egyptian mythology (such as Ma’at) for children to understand – order versus chaos.

All in all, it was entertaining and I will read the second book in the series. I just hope that Riordan decides to focus on one myth, instead of throwing every possible god he can into the story just to make it seem more “Egyptian”. 

16282824Blurb:

In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.

But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall?

* * * * *
When I was small, my mother taught me about the magickless—evil men who hunted our kind to destroy us. They came from across the water to steal the lands of our ancestors. Pretending to want peace, they enslaved us and sought to extinguish what they couldn’t possess, the one thing their harsh laws could never control. Our ancient powers. One day, my mother warned me, violence would shatter the safety of our home, and when that day came, we must fight. And we must win.

Review

I’ll be honest. I picked this one up because it was free and the cover was cool. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. It had an interesting premise. Magical girl who knows she’s special but doesn’t exactly know how finds herself alone in the world and is forced to take refuge with a band of thieves (hence the title). The idea of magic-folk being hunted down was kind of a cool idea too – a little something different instead of magic-folk being revered in a lot of fantasy stories. So the whole thing started pretty strong.

However, as the story progressed and young Ilan matured, she really turned into quite the spoiled bitch. Greenwood is trying to make Ilan into an anti-hero, but that only works when there’s at least a few redeeming qualities about the character (humor, loyalty, quest for justice…something?). Wolverine is one of my favorite anti-heroes. He talks a lot about how much he doesn’t care, but all his actions speak otherwise. In Magic of Thieves, Ilan talks about how much she doesn’t care and her actions follow through with those words. She really doesn’t care. For the few people that are nice to her, she’s a complete bitch back to them, cursing them out, hitting them, ignoring them, and just generally being a cruel person. I was hoping that she would mature as the story progressed and maybe take responsibility for her actions, but she never did…instead she chose to cry and whine and bitch to everyone. 

Other than that, there was really very little “magic” in the book except for two quick scenes. At the end, Ilan finds a magical bow (as seen on the cover art) at the end of the very last chapter, and doesn’t use it once in the book to do anything. Blah.

This book is a collection of texts from various ancient Egyptian religion readings, however not the entire collection of Hermetic readings. We must remember that Hermes was the Greek name for the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, Thoth.

The authors admit that a collection of all of the readings would be too dense for your 650420average reader. They give a decent, although superficial in some places, introduction on the background of these readings and how they fit into ancient Egyptian religion, as well as the impact they have had on other religions, science, philosophy, etc.

The bulk of the book consists of 20 chapters on the Hermetic texts. Each chapter contains a 2 page summary written by the authors in more modern language and then the reading itself, written in a more poetic style. This style gets a bit old, because you end up reading the same thing 2 times for each reading.

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Book Review: The Priests of Ancient Egypt: New Edition by Serge Sauneron, David Lorton, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani

This is one of the few books which emphasizes the duties of the priests and their functions in the sphere of ancient Egyptian religion. While most books on ancient Egyptian religion discuss the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses and their roles in the mythologies of the ancient culture, Sauneron (I keep thinking of Sauron the White from Lord of the Rings when I read his name), instead chooses to place his focus on the daily 2973214life of the actual priests.

The book is vast in its contents and touches on everything from the corruption in the priesthood and the bribery which inevitably happens in every vast religious organization, to the mundane in regards to dietary restrictions, cleanliness, fornication, and dress code. Some of the more elaborate chapters which I liked focused on the actual rituals of morning prayers, mid-afternoon prayers, and evening prayer rights.

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3/5

This book was pretty interesting in that it made me question the idea of having the main character be likable. As I writer and a reader, there is an implied expectation in most fantasy fiction that protagonists are the “good” guys. They’re the ones who we’re rooting for. They’re the ones who we want to see, as readers, overcome the obstacles and triumph over the antagonists and evil. Empress (Godspeaker, #1)

I do explore the idea of good and evil in my own book series, but I still want my characters to be liked. Karen Miller doesn’t seem to have the same idea.

Hekat was born a slave but through her communication with the god, she rises through the class hierarchy of Mijak society. Hekat, the protagonist, is selfish, stubborn, and overconfident in her beliefs and her abilities. This doesn’t make her a likable character despite her position as the protagonist. She enslaves people who stand in her way, exiles her political adversaries through cunning manipulation, and downright murders naysayers without a second thought. All the while, she does this in the name of the “god”.

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5/5

Far be it for me to say, but this is the most amazing translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Book of Awakening OsirisGoing Forth by Day) that I have ever read. Ellis, though he professes his lack of academic status and knowledge of ancient Egyptian religion, is a remarkable writer. Basically what he does is he modernizes the language.

Although I love E.A. Wallis Budge, being one of the foremost Egyptologists in history, he is a strict academic with a strict translation, whereas Ellis brings the ancient Egyptian religion text to life. Ellis takes the stilted, wooden translation of the words and gives it depth and meaning. He makes you believe you’re walking with Osiris in the Field of Flowers. He makes you believe you’re sitting with Ra as he travels over the horizon on his boat. What Ellis does, is poetry. It is art. It is the essence, most likely, of how the ancient Egyptians saw their world.

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While not as intriguing as the first book, Martin certainly doesn’t let up. The story picks up where Game of Thrones left off, with children on the run from villainous and tyrannical kings and queens, with certain kings dead and certain boys replacing them, and with the ever present treachery and underhandedness which we’ve come to expect from Martin’s characters. 374855

Martin has a particular skill at character development and all authors should read his books if not for anything else but to learn at how real he can make fictional characters seem. They are not just cardboard cut-outs of the typical fantasy story (i.e. the hero, the villain, the sorceress, the slave). They are each the hero and the villain, the sorceress and the scoundrel, the slave and the king. That’s what makes his writing great. Nobody is any one thing, something I try to emulate as well. We are all the hero of our own story and the villain in someone else’s.

The biggest thing keeping me from giving it four stars was its length. At near 1,000 pages and the real action not starting until page 800, the first 800 pages became a bit of a struggle to get through as it was all thinking and talking and praying. Martin’s gift of words can be his curse, as well. He tends to be wordy where not necessary, have too many tangents and past-perfect tenses which are characters remembering times before that don’t really add to their development or characterization, but are nice side-bits of information. This tends to make the story read slower than it should.

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In general, I liked it. It was well researched, obviously, not overly reliant on footnotes (I’ve read some books where there’s more text in footnotes than the actual prose), 519aCynrvEL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_and fairly easy to read without getting into too much detail. It’s a good mid-level book for those interested in ancient Egypt. Though, the only thing lacking (which is not the fault of the author or anyone), is that it’s old (1948) and there are better books out there because our technology has greatly improved over the past 60 years.

All in all, a short quick read (150 pages), which is well written in a non-academic way which keeps the pace light and fast.

Egyptian Mysteries by Lucie Lamy covers a wide spectrum of the ancient mythology of the Egyptian gods and goddesses. She starts the book with an introduction into some of the more basic concepts of ancient Egypt: the Nile. The Nile was the life-blood of both Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. She goes into great depth about the mythologies surrounding the Nile because it was so important to the ancient Egyptians.

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From there, she discusses alchemy and the following of Thoth as well as his sacred writings and the importance writing played with the Egyptian gods and goddesses. Additionally, she elaborates on the feuding gods, Seth and Osiris. She also talks about the magic of Isis and her relationship with Bast and the Nile.

One of the things I found most interesting was the vast information she gave on Horus. As the “sky” god, his iconography was immensely important. Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses were riddled with symbolism of the universe in their mythology.

Later in the book she goes into great detail involving trigonometry and the subject of the pyramids as well as the Eye of Horus, including pictures and schematics of how the symobology of ancient Egypt was so precise it perfectly fit with their understanding of the world.

All in all, this isn’t an introductory book to Egyptian mythology, but it certainly isn’t as complex as E.A. Wallis Budge’s writings.

If you’re looking for an interesting primer on mythology and the Egyptian gods and goddesses, this might be the book for you.