Book Report: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

IMG_4475I loved this book. It’s set during the Napoleonic wars, and it reads like it was written then, down to the punctuation. The main character had all the sensibilities of an upper class man of his time. He felt like he walked off the pages of a navy captain’s journal.

And then there were dragons inserted seamlessly into the world.

I can’t recommend this too highly. It’s so far above something like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

My kind of “historical” fiction!

Happy Yarning.

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Learning Amigurumi

I tried amigurumi (the craft of crocheting stuffed toys) before I knew there was a term for it. In college I crocheted several dragons. Here are the two I still have: Stewart and St. Elmo. Poor St. Elmo spent a lot of time living on our car’s dashboard and got sunburned.

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Each of my dragons had shaping issues, probably because I tried to make them in one piece rather than sewing several pieces together. Now that I’ve seen so much adorable amigurumi online, I want to learn real techniques and give it another shot.

Yesterday I started with some basics. I found allaboutami.com, where I learned the magic circle starting method and the invisible decrease, and then I tried out a sphere (following one of the ideal sphere patterns found on mspremiseconclusion.wordpress.com).

Ta da!

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I can totally do this. The only question is what should I make first?

Happy Yarning.

Book Report: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

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First, a caveat: you may have guessed from previous posts mentioning Inheritance that epic fantasy isn’t my thing. My preferred method of escape is what I term “fluffy fantasy.” This tends to be middle-grade, shorter, more episodic books (as opposed to lengthy, involved books aimed at adults and sometimes teens, with plot points carrying over long distances between books in the series.)

However, I’m glad I finished out the series. Paolini has always been a hero to me, because I’ve had authorly aspirations since I was ten, and he provided hope that kids can get published.

What I liked about Inheritance:

This was a fitting epic finish to an epic series. Paolini didn’t balk at dealing with all the ramifications of a continent-wide, multi-racial conflict. He depicted the effects of a drawn-out campaign in detail and allowed painful things to happen to his main characters.

As always, Paolini is a good descriptive writer. The settings were well-fleshed out with sensory details. In addition, the dialogue felt natural, with each character using his or her own distinctive voice. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie and banter between Eragon and Saphira. The bond between them felt strong and real.

Inheritance satisfied many of my expectations as to how the series would end, and surprised me a few times as well.

What I disliked about Inheritance:

I felt that the narrative should have begun later, leaving out one or two of the battles that make up the first half. The second half had much more character development intermingled with the battles, and the characters are what I cared about.

(Pet peeve alert) I counted no less than four times Paolini had a character come up with a Crazy Plan That Just Might Work and explain it to other characters without letting the reader know what the plan was. I got tired of sitting there while characters said, “There’s no way that’ll work!” or, “You’re nuts, but I’ll stand by you,” without even knowing what they were discussing.

<SPOILER>While the climax was fitting and the denouement tied up numerous loose ends quite nicely, I felt the very ending was a cop-out. I really didn’t buy that there was nowhere on the whole continent he could raise the dragons. What does he think he’s going to find across the sea? More people who won’t want dragons in their backyard, that’s what.</SPOILER>

I recommend this series for teens and lovers of epic fantasy. Those who fall under both categories will love it.

P.S. Anyone else catch Paolini’s allusions to Princess Bride and Doctor Who? They totally threw me out of the story, but they were entertaining. (pg. 665, 814)

Happy Yarning!

Book Report: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

IMG_3396I picked this up on Saturday afternoon and finished it before dinner. It was a breath of fresh air for me from Inheritance. Well, perhaps not “fresh” air–more like a well-needed burp. This book would be great for boys  aged 7 to 12 (and girls too if they’re not above a bit of nose-picking).

The plot of the movie of the same name resembles the plot of this book in much the same way that an apple resembles an orange. Which is to say, not at all. The conflict was aged-up for the movie (hint: the addition of a love interest). However, both are clever and funny. I don’t know if I could pick my favorite.

One thing I liked better about the book was that the dragons had more personality. This is of particular interest to me because the next story I’m looking at writing involves (to put it simply) griffin familiars. Cowell’s dragons have different motives from the humans, which creates friction and conflict between them as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the Hope and Heir to the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to figure out what makes his dragon, Toothless, tick.

I need to consider what kinds of conflicts would be inherent in a society made up of both humans and sentient griffins. It may be that because the griffins’ sentience stems from their bond with humans they operate on the same kinds of motives, but then again perhaps it is not so simple.