Review: The Well of Ascension & The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson

Well I’ll be honest – I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this series as much as I did. I really wasn’t expecting to devour the whole series in under two weeks, and certainly didn’t expect to read the final, 725 page book, within two days. But I did and I have only one regret, I read it so quickly that I’m now bereft that it’s over. I intended to write separate reviews for each book but I put The Well of Ascension down and picked up The Hero of Ages immediately afterwards.

My review of the first in the series, The Final Empire, can be found here and needless to say this one is going to contain spoilers; I’ll try to keep it to a minimum/vague!

My first statement is though I rated all of these books at 4* – the series as a whole is definitely a 5*. Each book was lacking something but as a whole, as a series, it was incredible. The story that spans the entirety of the series is one of the best I’ve immersed myself in; the world, the characters, the plot, the subplots. I really don’t know I to do this series justice in writing a review, but I’m going to try.

It’s a Masterpiece.

Every single character was thought out and different, they developed over the course of the trilogy as I anticipated they would from reading the first book. They all had different motivations, different strengths and weaknesses. Each of them was an individual with quirks and flaws that I grew to love. Vin grows up so much, as does Eland – her learning to trust in the second book, while a bit convoluted and drawn out, was so important. The growth in Spook was much needed, I think his name was perfect, he was a peripheral character who came in to his own. Sazed remained my favourite character throughout the series, his internal struggle in the the final book and his subsequent resolution of that was frustrating in some respects but frustratingly realistic. The important thing is I cared about them all, I cared so much.

The intricacies of the magic system where impressive. Some reviews mainly criticise the whys and wherefores of the magic system but even as a scientist I accept it. It’s a bit rough around the edges but it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility when the whole story is taken in to account. It’s no more absurd than having a bunch of Wizards living in and amongst us in Harry Potter! I loved the exploration of new metals, the combinations of metals, the open end to explore further. The three different branches of the magic system were also quite interesting to explore in depth and understand.

What I loved most about this series is that it kept me guessing. Come the end, everything added up, everything that happened had reason and I understood but it was just great that it wasn’t overly predictable like many series can be! Even the bits that involved battle didn’t bore me, which is an achievement in itself! And it made me well up a bit. I didn’t want it to be over. I couldn’t cope with some of the final scenes. I spent two weeks in this world and I wasn’t ready for it to be over, I wasn’t ready for the end, I wasn’t ready for the inevitability of what was going to happen to some of my favourite characters… It was hard but equally great.

Truly, this is one of the best series I have read, I aided it with listening to an audiobook for all three books which helped enormously with the rate at which I got through it! I’d seriously recommend them to you if you like audiobooks! So yes, on the whole this is a 5* series, each book had issues for me but the pros outweigh the cons overall to give this the title of Second Favourite Series Beaten Only By Harry Potter.

Review: Oz Series (Books 1-5) – Frank L Baum


This review is a little different, in that this month I’ve dedicated to reading the Oz series. Most people are aware of the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the amazing 1939 movie with Judy Garland, but the actual story, the world that the movie is based on, is so much more. It’s a 14 book epic series, it’s about more than just a little girl whose house lands on a wicked witch, it’s a vibrant world full of weird and wonderful characters – some who are familiar and others who aren’t so much.

Three of the stories are present in the beautiful Penguin Threads edition that I own and have used as the image for this post because, truly, this book is beautiful. I cannot compliment this series of books enough – the Threads series that is – they are absolutely beautiful with decaled edges and the overall design and feel, it’s just beautiful. I only wish that they had published the entirety of the Oz series, rather than just books 1, 6 and 14 (I think) because there really is not a uniform series that is pretty.

Vanity over, on to the books. This has to be one of my ultimate middle-grade series of books. I didn’t realise it was a book until I was about 14 or 15, by that point it had long been my favourite movie and I devoured the first book numerous times. My first copy of this book is now falling apart. I knew there were more books in the series but I was somewhat reluctant to read them as I love the first so much as a stand alone. However, Lesley over at WordsofAReader on YouTube is doing a Children’s Literature Month wherein she’s reading only children’s/middle-grade fiction so I thought I’d challenge myself to read the entire series. Easy!

Book one is the story we’re all familiar with, but it’s very different to the movie (for example, the shoes are silver not red. A little fact is that the red shoes were used on film as it picked up better in technicolour). While all the key elements are there, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion; Witches and Wizards… but there was also more. Rather than just magically going home, there’s more to the story after the Wizard flies away in his balloon.

From there, the series ventures out and explores the world of Oz a bit more. Book Two (The Marvellous Land of Oz) is about a young boy called Tip who isn’t quite who he seems. His adventures with his friends Jack Pumpkinhead and Saw-Horse lead him to Dorothy’s old friends, Scarecrow and Tin Man.

Book Three (Ozma of Oz) is another adventure with Dorothy, who finds herself in a magical land once again with a Princess who wants to take her head (quite literally), the lost Princess of Oz comes and saves her along with all her old and new friends; but freedom for her isn’t easy. Eventually her little hen Billina saves the day.

Book Four (Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz) we find out what the old Wizard got up to. It was a little more disjointed than the three previous books, and possibly my least favourite of the series. With weird vegetable people it seems it was at this point Baum really wanted a break from this world! This discombobulation sort of carried over to Book Five (The Road to Oz) and I feel that the new characters introduced in this book – Polychrome especially – had a huge amount of wasted potential.

At this point I had a slump, so I paused my reading for a while and will be continuing in December and hope to finish the rest of the series!

Review: Theodosia Throckmorton Series – R. L. LeFevers

Theodosia seriesI wish I’d had these books when I was 12. I loved them now, but honestly this would have been my dream book series when I was younger. Ancient Egypt is something that has always interested me, more so since I watched The Mummy aged 9. So having a book series, with a girl (!!!) at the helm, who has more balls than Alex from The Mummy Returns and with brains that put Hermione Granger to shame – sure she was a little precocious, but I loved her. I absolutely adored her, actually and over the course of the 4 books that have been published (I’m holding out for the 5th) she grew so much and my love for her only grew too

The series follows a young girl, Theodosia Throckmorton, daughter of the curator of London’s Museum of Legends and Antiquities. But, as per most books, Theodosia is a very special little girl – she can see the curses and black magic that cling to artefacts. As the series progresses, we learn more about little Theo and her special talents but not without a bit of mayhem, of course.

While these books are technically middle grade books, there’s so much in them that a ‘grown up’ can enjoy. Theodosia could be classed as quite obnoxious (she is obnoxious, but I love her in spite of  that) but there is a lot to love in the adults of this story too, and there’s a lot that would go over a younger readers head but is appreciated by an older reader. There’s a level of sarcasm and quite adult humour underlying something quite innocent (somewhat like any good children’s movie, it’s truly written for the adults!)

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