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If reading ‘A Clash of Kings’ was a wade through mud (a waist-deep one in addition), ‘A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow’ is  where I got out of this muddy lake and found a clean water reservoir in which I could refresh myself.

‘A Clash of Kings’ seemed a bit like a prologue to the occurrences in ‘A Storm of Swords’; it was long, boring, spiked with even more boring descriptions… nothing fancy. It was a build-up, I know, and somehow it made me appreciate ‘A Storm of Swords’ even more. Because reading the latter is like flying.

In ACoK I grew to despise Theon with all my heart. I really did put a lot of hatred into my thoughts while reading his chapters. This projection did come with a reward in the end.

Davos’ chapters were extremely boring, I couldn’t stand them to the point of flipping through his POV’s pages. With the airing of the first episode of the second season I came to realise that I might experience a reversal of a sort, since something similar had happened to me already (namely: my TV!Jon and TV!Sansa hatred vs book!Jon and book!Sansa love). As in: really appreciate Davos in the TV series. Guess what? I love him to death.

However, ACoK did have its good points. Renly Baratheon, for instance. Who doesn’t love Renly? The snarky, Robert-like comments, his unyielding faith that he can actually do everything. Cat vs Jaime. Cersei. Sansa, my poor Sansa. Tyrion exuding epicness left and right. Too bad Tyrion has resorted to thinking with his penis at such a terrifying frequency, though. It also had Jaquen H’Ghar. The guy has instantly become one of my favourites. I do hope Arya gets to meet him soon.

ACoK was not at all that bad. It just didn’t quite do it for me.

‘A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow’, on the other hand, earned its epicness points for feeding me with Jaime’s chapter straightaway. And I must admit, the guy’s amazing.  I’m really looking forward to his chapters every time I grab the book. The insight into his relationship with Cersei (which, with the passing of time, I found less and less incestuous – I just no longer see them as brother and sister, since the idea behind this is just too powerful – but that’s just me), how he treats other people, especially Brienne. How genuine he is, how he doesn’t even try to hide anything. His head is a wonderful place, really.

I’m only halfway through the book, so I can’t really write a proper review. I will, though, as soon as I’m finished. My expectations for ASoS were pretty high, and so far it hasn’t disappointed me.

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Title: Mythago Wood (Mythago Wood #1)

Author: Robert Holdstock

Genre: fantasy

Number of pages: 336

Rating: 1.5 stars

‘Mythago Wood’ tells the story of one Steven Huxley who, upon his arrival at the Huxley homestead from the post-WWI stay in France, notices that his brother has changed for the worse. Christian’s features are gaunt and he doesn’t take proper care of himself, having wholly devoted himself to work. That is: their late father’s work. Said father used to be utterly obsessed with the neighbouring forest of the primeval kind – the Ryhope Wood– and Christian has grown obsessed with it as well. George Huxley’s journal and the haunting childhood memories are both at fault. It was the same obsession that served as a factor which ruined the Huxley family and led to the Huxley parental units’ deaths.

The forest, as Steven gradually discovers – prompted by his brother’s nagging, peculiar behaviour and rather longish trips into the Ryhope Wood – cannot be put on par with forests known to humankind. This one proves nigh inaccessible for mere mortals and houses the creations of people’s minds. Legendary forms, heroes and villains, Celtic tribes of the ancient times that were once imaginary have taken shape and form there. They’ve become real. Robin Hood roaming the Ryhope Wood is no uncommon sight in there. Not at all.

These are the mythagos. The reason for George and Christian’s obsession. The subject of their extended forays into the unwelcoming forest grounds. Steve, during Chris’ rather longish absence, either goes out of his mind or reads their father’s journal, and is drawn into the madness as well, step by step. He even explores the border of the Ryhope Wood and eventually camps there, in hopes of finding answers to all his queries.

In comes Guiwenneth, the main source of one-track mindedness of both George and Chris, their true love. Mentioned in the journal, she captures Steve’s attention. The mythago that screams perfection. She’s a Celtic warrior with flaming red hair, a captivating gaze; a woman whose bravery surpasses all. Steven meets this particular mythago and falls for her almost instantly. She is now his mythago, his lovely warrior girl. She no longer belongs to either his father, nor his brother (who’s still nowhere to be found). The next thing he knows is him being thrown into the whirlwind of drama and obsession, vowing to find his brother and keep Guiwenneth always at his side.

****

I admit, here I went for the ‘looks’. The cover of this novel is absolutely beautiful in my opinion. Has this air of mystery and creepiness about it, and it bears lovely colours as well. Alas, along with the title, it was the thing that misled me.

Reading this book was such a chore. It had quite a promising beginning, though – all the interaction between the two brothers, Steven’s anxiety and longing for normality, for something he’s familiar with… and then, the unfamiliar commencing to rule out what he was used to.

Plus, the mythagos. The forms of the ancients/legends formed inside our heads. I loved the idea, it held so much potential, for it was indeed something I love to see in books: that it is all in our heads, and all of a sudden this ‘all’ becomes reality and we’re trapped. But Guiwenneth was too much for me to bear. For one, she was a Mary Sue. How else would you name a red-headed, young and beautiful lady with able body; a courageous, outstanding warrior – it just stinks. Steven’s love for her limited him to great extent, as he could not see what was going on around him, anything that was not Guin simply did not matter. Not even the man who aided him in everything, including breaking past the wood’s seemingly unbreakable walls – Harry Keeton. There were hints of friendly bonding, all deemed by me as ‘lost potential’. Harry was, indeed, a great character, even though I did not fully comprehend his role in this and his eventual departure has left more questions than answers.

Guin arrived and destroyed, the discord appeared between the two brothers because of a woman (a perfect woman, no less!). Who, despite everything, was the image they created in their own heads. Alongside Guin’s infuriating Mary-Sueish traits were Steven’s constant weeping and bouts of depression. I reckon these were the sole reasons for my initial dislike of the protagonist. All the time I was thinking to myself ‘Steve, get a grip on yourself and be a man, be the protagonist who sets examples instead of resorting to being a whimp in love!’

All in all, I deem this book rather different from other novels of the fantasy genre. It’s dreamy. It’s strange. It’s peculiar, and it could have been a real feat, if not for the abundance of romance and this huge ‘TRUE LOVE’ slogan flashing at the reader on almost every page. The main character – not likeable. His love interest: a Mary Sue. Quite a lot of things need serious clearing up, however, I have not been convinced to pick up the second novel from the Mythago Wood series. Cannot give it more than 1.5 stars, though, which is a pity.

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