Tag Archives: Bildungsroman

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card

Synopsis: The seventh son of a seventh son, Alvin Miller is destined for greatness if he can only survive the plots of the Unmaker who stalks him. Review: I loved the alternate America created by Orson Scott Card in Seventh Son, where folk magic abounds and George Washington had himself executed as a traitor after liberating the colonies. The American Indian tribes are the seventh state in the compact creating America, and the French are nowhere to be found. It’s lovely to read a work…

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The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

Synopsis: At night, the demons rise, terrorizing humanity for centuries until three grown orphans dare to fight back. Review: Warning: freak-out coming… THE WARDED MAN ROCKED ROCKED ROCKED. I mean, seriously. I am losing my mind over how good this book was. Why oh why oh why am I going to have to wait all the way until the end of the year to read the next book? I haven’t been this insane about a book since I read Assassin’s Apprentice. I was so sucked…

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The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Synopsis: In which a journeyman in the guild of torturers becomes ruler of the world. Review: I should have reviewed this book in two parts, because it’s published that way, as Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel. Perhaps I would be less intimidated by the prospect of discussing what ended up being an immense, sprawling, daunting work if I took smaller bites. Too late now. The Book of the New Sun is an epic fantasy with science fiction elements, or perhaps it is the…

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Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk

Synopsis: A headstrong Upper West Side yearns to escape her family’s Jewish Bronx origins and become a Broadway star. Review: This is the third or fourth time I’ve read Marjorie Morningstar, and every time I find myself absolutely riveted for the first two-thirds, then bored and indifferent for the final third, only to be knocked out by the epilogue. The book is rich with details and some astonishing set pieces–such as Seth’s bar mitzvah–but it’s hollow at the core. It’s as if author Herman Wouk…

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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Synopsis: A legendary folk hero tells the first part of his life story, encompassing his early years as a vagabond and his time spent at University studying alchemy and magic. Review: It’s not for nothing that The Name of the Wind has been touted as a great fantasy debut. It absolutely is. I am leery of beginning fantasy series that have not been concluded, but my brother was so enthusiastic about this one that I had to check it out. Patrick Rothfuss’s writing has a…

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The Manticore by Robertson Davies

Synopsis: The son of a wealthy industrialist enters Jungian therapy to discover why he feels that his life is at a point of crisis. Review: In The Manticore, Robertson Davies continues the story he began in his masterful Fifth Business, turning his acute eye for the majesty of the quotidian on David, the son of Boy Staunton, a prominent figure in the first book. David feels himself to be a stunted man, and hopes that rigorous Jungian psychoanalysis will yield revelations enabling him to shake…

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Perilous Seas by Dave Duncan

Synopsis: Rap the stableboy joins a merchant crew still intent upon rescuing Queen Inosolan, who is crossing a haunted wasteland in order to appeal her case to the four wardens. Review: Perilous Seas is the third book in Dave Duncan’s A Man of His Word series, and again I’m impressed at the skill with which Duncan crafts his narrative. He continually places his characters in severe jeopardy, taking the kinds of risks that fantasy authors so often fear. It’s almost as if the work it…

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

Synopsis: Harry Potter braces for his final battle with evil Lord Voldemort, knowing that only one of them will survive. Review: My biggest criticism of Harry Potter has always been his passivity. In the first few books especially, he spends most of his time being rescued or protected, simply because he’s “The Boy Who Lived.” And for awhile, it seemed as though JK Rowling wasn’t paying attention–was creating a hero who didn’t deserve to bear that name. Share on Facebook

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Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Synopsis: Schoolteacher Dunstan Ramsay looks back over his life, intertwined with that of a childhood friend and inextricably linked with a madwoman he desperately wants to believe is a saint. Review: I had no idea what I was in for when I began Fifth Business, the first book in Canadian novelist Robertson Davies’s Deptford trilogy. I have an older paperback and the copy on the back just says, “the story of a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the…

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Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

Synopsis: The strange adventure of magic-possessed soldier son Nevare continue, as he finds himself expelled from military academy when his weight skyrockets after a bout of the Speck plague. Review: Forest Mage is the second book in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy begun in Shaman’s Crossing. Interestingly, I found echoes of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead in the clash between the progress-loving “human” Gernians and the forest-dwelling dappled Specks, and spent a good deal of the read worrying that Hobb’s story was going…

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