River Secrets


by Shannon Hale

Published 2006

This is the third of the Bayern books, and an excellent addition.  I love the way that Hale started with a known fairy tale (the Goose Girl), and manages to expand and embroider it into four books, creating a fascinating kingdom and a whole new realm of magic.  It’s fantastic.

River Secrets focuses on one of my favorite characters, Razo.  It’s fun to see the perspective of a guy for a change, and Razo is great fun.

Another easy 4/5.  More details on my thoughts below–

Continue reading

After the Funeral


by Agatha Christie

Published 1953

In this Poirot novel, Hercule is called into the mystery by a lawyer friend, Mr. Entwhistle.  An old man (and long-time friend of Entwhistle) has died.  After the funeral, during the reading of the will, one of the daughters makes a comment about how nice it is that they are keeping the man’s murder quiet.  A few days later, the woman is dead, too.

The story was good, and quite gripping, although the conclusion seemed a bit far-fetched to me.  The overall tone of the book was a downer, too.  The grind and difficulty of post-war life in England is strong in this book, and the usual glint of humor that Christie flashes is somehow lacking.

A fine mystery, but nothing to get terribly excited about.  3/5.

Taran Wanderer

Somehow, I am lacking a picture for this book, so sorry about that.

It’s ironic, because I think that this, the fourth (out of five), is my favorite of the Prydain tales.

In this book, Taran, Assistant-Pig Keeper of Caer Dallben, yearns to ask for the hand of Princess Eilonwy in marriage, but hesitates to do so because he does not know who he is. So, with the blessing of Dallben, Taran sets off to try to find the truth of his parentage.

I love this book.  Taran travels all over Prydain, and learns much  more about himself than his parents.  During his travels, Taran spends a great deal of time in the Free Commots.  There, as he stays with various independent farmers and crafters, he learns a different lesson from each one.

“If I fret over tomorrow, I’ll have little joy today,” says Llonio, a man who raises his large family on the riverbank, living by their wits and ability to see a use in everything that comes their way.  Llonio keeps nets in the river to catch the flotsam and uses what appears with enthusiasm and gratitude.  He calls it luck, but Taran can see that it is much more.  “My luck is no greater than any other man’s,” Llonio tells him.  “You need only sharpen your eyes to se your luck when it comes, and sharpen your wits to use what falls into your hands …  Trust your luck, Taran Wanderer.  But don’t forget to put out your nets!”

Hevydd the blacksmith teaches Taran his art, and many lessons are learned as Taran strives to forge his own sword.  “Life’s a forge!”  Hevydd tells Taran.  “Face the pounding; don’t fear the proving; and you’ll stand well against any hammer and anvil!”

Throughout the tale, Taran learns much of himself and of life, and returns to Caer Dallben a man.

I know that I haven’t really done a good job describing this book, but it’s one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it.  5/5.

Enna Burning


by Shannon  Hale

Published 2004

First off, I really like this cover art.

Secondly, this book is the sequel to The Goose Girland the second in the Bayern books.  While the focus is on a different heroine, many old friends reappear.  This book is an easy 4/5.  The story is excellent and well-paced.  The characters are easy to relate to and endearing.  The friendship between Enna and Isi is a beautiful thing.

More thoughts, but they do involve some spoilers–

Continue reading