FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS

First Line Fridays was begun by Ms. B at Daily Rhythms and has been kept alive by several bloggers who carry on the tradition of recording the first line of a book they are ready to read.  Here’s mine from Rachel Caine’s Ink and Bone of The Great Library series:

“Ephemera”

“Text of a historical letter, the original signed of which is kept under glass in The Great Library of Alexandria and listed under the Core Collection.

From the scribe of Pharoah Ptolemy 77 to his most excellent servant, Callimachus, Archivist of The Great Library in the third year of his glorious reign… Pharoah has also heard your words regarding the unaccompanied admission of females to this sacred space (The Great Library) of the Serapeam, and in his divine wisdom refuses this argument, for women must be instructed by the more developed minds of men to ensure they do not wrongly interpret the riches that the library offers. For a perversion of such things is surely worse than the lack of it.”

Oh my, exclusion of women even back then! This is one of several books I am reading within the category of Books About Books. More on this at a later date.

KEEP READING, and share with us your first lines this beautiful, sunny Friday.

THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemison: A Review

This is the first book in the Broken Earth series, which was published in 2015.  I found it reviewed on Brainfluff, and it seemed like a really good story. As soon as the other two books came out, I also ordered them, and last summer My Better Half and I finally got around to reading the books. We decided to read it aloud to each other at night, and it has been an excellent experience.  We finished Fifth Season at the end of the summer and have moved on to Book Two, The Obelisk Gate. We hope to finish by the Holidays.

It is a strange, intricate and fascinating book, which includes a map of The Stillness, which is the known earth in The Fifth Season.  Seasons are eras, some a few hundred years, some thousands in the earth’s history, usually indicated by tectonic plate shifts, earthquakes and weather phenomena. The book begins,

“Let’s start with the end of the earth, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things…”  “This is the way the earth ends, for the last time.”

There are difficulties in reading the book, a vocabulary of words: “roggas,” “sessapinae,” “orogenes,” etc. that we had no idea how to pronounce, but we overcame this problem with pronouncing them however we wanted. A glossary in the back explains many of the words, but if the reader is good at context clues he/she can usually figure out what is going on without stopping and turning to the book’s end. NPR described the series as “astounding.”

Another challenging aspect is that the characters and times shift back and forth, and the reader can get confused.  This, however, was one of our favorite parts of the book, for as we read, it was revealed that main characters in different chapters were actually the same characters we had read about earlier as adults in their childhood days, or that a certain character was a character we had read about previously, but he/she/it ws in a different form.  All of this confusion is worth it to enjoy the beautiful, often poetic writing which makes the reader feel the movement of the earth or see the beautiful power of the gigantic obelisks.

The narrative itself is a “grabber,” which carries the reader along with the action throughout the twists and turns of the plot. We often exclaimed, “Oh, that’s the…” or “Wow! That’s why (the character) said or did so and so…” We felt so intelligent (LOL) that we figured out the revelation just before it became obvious in the “tale.” The author’s way of writing is unique. She feeds the reader information on a need to know basis and lets him/her draw the conclusion on matters just as the character concludes the same thing. The style is masterful, the word choice and phrasing original and spot-on, and the author’s imagination unlimited.

This is a must read.

WIZARD AND GLASS by Stephen King: A Review

At the risk of repeating myself, allow me to give a little background on King’s “Dark Tower” series.  When the first book of the seven volume series, The Gunslinger, was published, it was an extraordinarily hot Texas summer.  My Better Half and I checked out the unabridged CD of King’s novel, our first foray into audio books.  As the over one hundred degree afternoons droned on, we listened to Roland’s (protagonist’s) story while letting the fan blow across us on the bed.  The reader’s voice did NOT drone on and on, and we were caught up in the exciting, action-packed narrative, filled with King’s exquisite imagination.

The same reader read through Book III of the series, then died.  King said (in a newspaper account) he would never let anyone else read that particular series, so readers were committed to reading in print themselves the rest of the saga. Wizard and Glass was Book IV, and when I first attempted to read it, it seemed dull by comparison to the insane trip on Blaine the Train in Book III that I skipped Book VI and went on to Book V, The Wolves of Calla,which became, perhaps my favorite book in the whole series.  Since it was a detour from the quest/journey the ka-tet was on, there was no disconnect in the plot. I read The Song of Susanna, Book VI  next, another side-trip into Roland’s past, which revealed a darker side of both the gunslinger Susan and especially of Roland, the original gunslinger. It was perhaps the weakest book of the series, in my opinion, and certainly the goriest, grossest of all the books. Before reading Book VII, the end of the story, I realized there were gaps that I needed to fill in, so I returned to Book IV, which was all I lacked before reading the conclusion.

Book VI, Wizard and Glass, is a fascinating look into young (14 years old) Roland’s past and his first assignment as a gunslinger, as well as his first love, Susan Delgado. Perhaps one of the strongest features of this novel is the character of Rhea of the Coos, and unforgettable witch/wizard woman who will haunt your dreams and give you night terrors.  King outdoes himself with this characters and her “mutie” familiars, so grotesque that they turn your stomach. What she does to Roland and to Susan is revenge and perverseness, pure and simple.  Again this book is action-packed, a beautiful story of young love and worthy adversaries to the trio of young gunslingers (Roland and his two best friends) are the Great Coffin Hunters, all working for the Crimson King, who will appear in future books. Perhaps this is one of my favorite things about King’s series (I also found this in The Stand, another of King’s masterpieces.) is how characters from other books turn up in more recent ones to continue to do their evil or to have evil acted upon them; for example, the priest, Callahan, from Salem’s Lot, is a major player in Wolves of the Calla (Book V).

The strange, hypnotic globe in Book IV, the pink light emitting “8 Ball” of this book, is one of the thirteen globes that are encountered all through the series and has a definite effect/influence on the plot, the character development and the growth or devastation of the protagonists and antagonists in Book IV.

Wizard and Globe is long, but when I came to the end and faced the other three volumes with the quartet (quintet if you count Oy) of gunslingers, I was energized and could hardly wait to continue the journey to save the Rose and defeat the power  of the Dark Tower and the Crimson King. I do recommend reading the series in order, but King, starring with Book IV, does give a chapter or so refreshing the reader’s memory on what came before.  If you do not want to commit to seven volumes (several being over 700 or more pages), Book IV, Wizard and Globe is a good place to jump in.  Even the terrorizing suicidal journey on Blaine the Train is repeated and even prolonged and fleshed out a bit. This novel is a stand alone masterpiece and a vital part of Stephen King’s Lifework, “The Dark Tower Series.”

THE CITY OF MIRRORS by Justin Cronin

This is the last book in Cronin’s trilogy, and it successfully and effectively sums up an impossible ending to write. Cronin’s trilogy includes: The Passage, The Twelve, The City of Mirrors.

Again,as in The Twelve, The City of Mirrors opens with a prologue that allows the reader to “plug in” anywhere along the trilogy. The Passage  at 800+ pages was a slow trudge, brutal at times but always intriguing as well as completely original.  The Twelve is not to be missed in its entirety. It is action-packed and violent, yet frequently poetically beautifully phrased.

City of Mirrors begins (spoiler alert) after the Twelve have been destroyed, and all we have left to deal with is Zero, the most impressive incarnation of Evil ever imagined by any author. “The Girl From Nowhere,” Amy, first seen in The Passage, is the Adversary for Good.

As the cover says, “One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.”

This book is well worth your reading time.