Lords of Rainbow

Lords of Rainbow
by Vera Nazarian
424pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 9/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.33/5
Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Lords of Rainbow by Vera Nazarian is the first book in a duology, although it is a complete story that works perfectly well as a stand alone novel. (I actually thought it was a stand alone book until I looked at the works in progress on Nazarian’s site and saw that she was working on a “standalone sequel” called Lady of Monochrome.) This fantasy story was unique and beautifully written, although it had a few flaws that kept it from being as outstanding as it could have been. That being said, this is only Nazarian’s second novel and it was still good enough to keep me up reading until 4 am, so I think she definitely has potential to be an outstanding novelist.

Lords of Rainbow is a mix of adventure, political intrigue, and romance told in a fantastic setting. Many years ago, color left the world and its inhabitants can only see various shades of gray. The only colors in the world come from expensive specialized lights, a form of magic made by the secretive Light Guild in the kingdom of Tronaelend-Lis. It bodes ill for this kingdom, led by a pair of siblings who are rather weak rulers, when a dark man comes to the city claiming he is paving the way for his master, who should not be named.

Ranhe, a young warrior woman, finds herself in the midst of the turmoil in the city after she stumbles across Elasand, a young nobleman protecting his aunt and cousin from an attack by several men in dark clothes. After concluding these men must be the deadly Bilhaar assassins she had believed to be mere rumors, Ranhe helps the man out anyway and together they manage to fight off the attackers. Impressed by Ranhe’s fighting ability, Elasand enlists her aid as a bodyguard when they run into each other at a nearby inn later. After much coercing, Ranhe agrees to be Elasand’s bodyguard under the condition that she is free to leave at any time she chooses – whether the timing is convenient for Elasand or not.

The prose in this book is elegant, poetic, and a delight to read. Even the descriptions of the monochrome world were gorgeous. However, there were two occasions where there were about 8 pages of just description, which was too much for my taste. For the first 2 or 3 pages I did not mind since the way it was written was quite lovely, but after that I started wanting to get on with the story. Since that was only about 16 pages out of over 400, it was not a huge problem, though.

The characters in this book were wonderfully done and each one captured my interest. Ranhe is one of those elusive creatures – a believable female character. She is a warrior, and because of that, she is not feminine although she also has problems that women can relate to. Ranhe is intelligent and witty and not at all the damsel in distress type. The other characters have their flaws and their strengths as well, and I really enjoyed learning more about Elasirr and Elasand throughout the book.

Although I enjoyed reading about all the characters, no matter how minor they were, I did feel like there were far too many minor characters introduced in the first 100 pages of the book. The first quarter of the book skipped back and forth between Ranhe’s story and a few pages on various other characters who were mentioned briefly enough in a short span that it made it hard to keep track of them all. After that, the story was mainly about Ranhe and these characters were barely even mentioned again until toward the end of the story. I felt like less focus on these characters in the beginning and more on Ranhe would have made the story tighter and less confusing, and knowing less about these other characters would not have taken away from the overall story.

The world in this story was unique and a pleasant change from the cliche fantasy settings. There was little magic other than the ability to create color and a mythological backstory involving a plethora of gods and goddesses. No races other than humans existed in this world and it did not feel like the city was reminiscent of medieval Europe to me.

The highlight of this book for me was Ranhe’s story and that’s the main reason I kept reading. When the book was about Ranhe, I found it extremely difficult to put down. The interactions between her and other characters kept the story interesting, and she is one of the more memorable characters I have read about this year.

Although the story could have been tightened up a bit in the first quarter of the book, it was an excellent tale. I would recommend it to anybody looking for a unique fantasy setting, poetic prose, and a strong female lead, and I look forward to seeing what Nazarian does with Lady of Monochrome.


Making Money

Making Money
by Terry Pratchett
400pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: 4/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.99/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.01/5

Making Money, the thirty-second novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, is the second book in the series about con-artist Moist von Lipwig. Both stories are self-contained, meaning that you do not have to read any of the previous Discworld books in order to enjoy the newest one, although a few minor parts of the book will probably make more sense to you if you have read the first book about the main character, Going Postal. Some background on some characters appearing briefly exists in some of the previous Discworld books, but reading the previous novels in the series is certainly not a requirement for understanding what is going on in this book. It would just enhance the experience of reading it.

Moist finds he is getting bored with his work at the post office now that it is running rather smoothly and entertains himself by putting his thieving skills to the test and attempting to break into his own post office. Vetinari seeks to relieve Moist’s lack of mental stimulation by repeatedly trying to entice him with the new challenge of running Ankh-Morpork’s bank. Moist will not accept this position, which turns out to be an offer he can’t refuse when the chairman dies, leaves her dog to Moist, and leaves all her shares in the bank to the dog.

Moist’s leadership of the bank is somewhat complicated by the fact that making the coins is worth more than the value of the coins themselves, and in a fit of con-man brilliance (or madness) he invents modern economics. Unfortunately, his brain was lagging a bit behind his mouth when he did it, and he spends much of the book trying to deal with the consequences of an economy based on paper money. He must also contend with the Lavishes, the remaining family members of the dead chairman who feels they should be in charge of the bank, and their attempts to destroy his reputation. Furthermore, his secretary, a golem, has not only decided it’s female but also that it has a crush on him, and Moist’s fiance enlists his help in solving a mystery involving some golem artifacts she found buried underground.

I’ve read a lot of reviews saying this book was a disappointment and did not live up to the usual standards of a book by Terry Pratchett, so I was not sure what to expect when I read it. It was not my favorite of the Discworld books by any means, but I still thought it was a good book. The Discworld books beginning with Night Watch have been more serious in tone, and the ones from Monstrous Regiment on have not been quite as good as many of the old ones. I did not think that Making Money was any worse than any of the other more recent books in the series.

Moist is not as compelling a character as Sam Vimes or Death, but I do prefer his character to the wizard Rincewind or any of the witches. (That being said, I do believe that some of the books about Rincewind and the witches are better than either of the books about Moist.) However, Moist is an interesting character if you like to read about con men who can say anything and get away with it because they’re just that charismatic.

I’ve also heard a lot of concerns about the plot of Making Money sounding similar enough to Going Postal that it would end up sounding like a rehash of the previous book about Moist. Although the general plot is similar (revolutionizing and modernizing an institution), the scenarios were very different. The circumstances, a lot of the characters, and the side plots were all different, so I did not feel like the books were too similar.

Pratchett has an amazing command of the English language and his ability with wordplay is perhaps unrivaled. He can create a descriptive and humorous scene using brevity, and he has a clever way with words that few do. His stories may seem simplistic on the surface, but he packs philosophy, sociology, religion, and other themes into his work that makes it more meaningful. This book does not disappoint in that respect and showcases this skill with language and adding layers of meaning.

The story is fun, but it does lack some of the excitement and craziness of the other Discworld novels. There were certainly parts that were amusing or worded in such a way as to make one smile, but none of it had me unable to stop laughing for any length of time.

While it is weak while compared to many of the books in the Discworld series, Making Money is still an entertaining book containing insights into economic theory and the foibles of human nature. I would recommend it to any fan of Discworld but not as a starting point for those interested in reading a book from this series for the first time.


Other Opinions on Making Money:

Congratulations to all the winners!

Gene Wolfe won the World Fantasy award in the best novel category for the third book in the Latro series, Soldier of Sidon.

A list of the winners is available on the Science Fiction Awards Watch blog.

Amber Spyglass

The Amber Spyglass
by Philip Pullman
560pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: 4/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.17/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.09/5

The Amber Spyglass is the third book in the His Dark Materials series. (I was going to say it was also the final book, but apparently Philip Pullman is writing a fourth book in the series called The Book of Dust.) While it was still a good book that I did not regret reading, I felt it was the weakest book in the series. There were many interesting ideas in this book, but the end just did not live up to my expectations. It was one of those books that had the potential to be excellent, but I put it down after reading the last sentence feeling like it should have been so much better than it was.

The story picks up where The Subtle Knife left off. After snatching Lyra, Mrs. Coulter hides her in the mountains and keeps her in a deep sleep. Will and Ama, a girl who brought food and supplies to Mrs. Coulter, sneak into the cave where Lyra is being kept and wake her from the drug-induced sleep. During her sleep, Lyra dreamed of speaking to Roger in the Land of the Dead and she and Will decide to go to this land.

Meanwhile, Mary Malone settles for a time in a world inhabited by beings called mulefa. The mulefa appear to be animals at first, but in fact are intelligent. Mary learns to communicate with the mulefa, and they ask for her help in saving a type of tree they are very dependent upon. While in this world, Mary constructs a spyglass that allows her to see Dust.

This book could have, in my opinion, been a bit shorter. The beginning was slow and hard to get into, parts of the middle dragged, and there was a lot more description in this book than the previous two. Description does not always bother me, but in this case it did because the series was about plot and action and all the exposition did little to advance the plot or enhance the story. The prose was well-written, but sometimes fewer words would have made the book flow a lot better.

The characters were better developed than in the previous books since some of the lines between good and evil were a bit blurrier here. However, the characters (other than Lyra) did seem fairly generic and lacking in distinct personality traits. Some of the changes in character were rushed and not very convincing. This is not surprising to me, since young adult novels generally focus more on plot and not as much on character development, but I always find a lack of good characterization disappointing.

This book continued to put a lot of emphasis on the evils of organized religion, particularly Catholicism. The way religion was woven into the storyline was a very fascinating idea with a lot of potential, but in the end, a lot of the themes were emphasized more than the story. The prophecies mentioned earlier in the book or series ended up having very anticlimactic conclusions, particularly the parallel between events in this book and the fall of Adam and Eve. The ending did not seem particularly satisfying or fitting to me.

Although I found this book to be a bit disappointing, I still enjoyed it and found it worth my time. The major problem I had with this book was that it had so much potential to be outstanding, but ultimately, it was merely a good book and nothing exceptional.



Since opinions differ on ratings and what exactly certain numbers mean, I thought I’d just write a summary of how I see it.

My ratings system is based on a 1 – 10 scale. Basically, anything on the low end (1 – 4) is bad, in the middle (5-6) is ok, and on the high end (7 – 10) is good.

The following is a more detailed explanation of the specific ratings:

10 – Outstanding. A book that stuck with me long after I put it down. The only books I would give a 10 rating would be books that made it into my list of favorite books ever.

9 – Excellent. The book was very good, but was better than your average good book by being unique or thoughtful, having great characterization, and/or just being a lot of fun to read.

8 – Very good. Not a book that kept me thinking about it a lot after I put it down, but very enjoyable and better than just a worthwhile book.

7 – Good. Worth reading but nothing spectacular or mind-blowing.

6 – All right. An ok book that had some interesting elements.

5 – Meh. It’s not terrible but nothing about it intrigued me for a second.

4 – Somewhat bad. Definitely not worth reading.

3 – Very bad. Not worth glancing at.

2 – Terrible. All memory of this book should be erased.

1 – Complete crap. The author must have had incriminating photos of somebody in the publishing industry. Books like this are almost enough to make one believe in book burnings.


I’m sorry to say I have no new reviews right now. I’m still reading the third book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Amber Spyglass. After that, I plan to read Making Money, the newest Discworld book by Terry Pratchett, followed by Lords of Rainbow by Vera Nezarian.

I might be a bit slow with reading for the near future, though, since I am currently spending a lot of my time in the evenings looking for work. This past week I found out I am being laid off so I’ve been busy with revising my resume and sending out cover letters in the evenings. My last day is this coming Friday, so I might be a bit faster after that since I may not have much else to do for a while. Finding new jobs in the area in which I live is not easy. Maybe I’ll just have to hope for my dream job of copy editing from home. 🙂

Anyway, I hope to be back to reading and reviewing again before too long, but for now, it might be slow going since I have other concerns that will have to take precedence over that. 🙁