Book Review: Wolf Brother

Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, #1)Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. I was looking for something different to read when I saw a set of books tied up with a length of orange ribbon at a flea market. At $15, I think I snagged a bargain as I got all six books for that low price. The books were in fairly good condition too. Double bargain!

I actually finished reading the book on 24 November 2012, but have only just now had the time to write a review.

Description

Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world.

Only one boy can stop it—12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it.

Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human.

Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life.

Review

Wolf Brother reminded me of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series. However, where Earth’s Children is written for adults, the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is written for children (9+).

It’s a story of a 12 year-old boy trying to save the world. Everyone seems to know more about him than he does himself, because he’s led a secluded life. His father was trying to protect him, but after his father is fatally wounded Torak must find out, fast, what his destiny is.

The book grabbed me from the first chapter. I was actually reading another book at the time and only opened this book for a quick look—and before I knew it I’d read three chapters. It’s the first time I’ve officially read two books at the same time.

The story is set 6,000 years ago when people had a close awareness of the Earth and of nature. A time when the characters believe everything—including rocks, trees, plants—are alive and must be respected. This, mixed with magic, makes a very interesting world indeed.

Torak’s closest companion is a wolf; hence the title of the book—Wolf Brother. The bond between them is shaky to begin with and I believe Torak’s change of attitude towards the wolf pup wasn’t altogether convincing. But that is my only negative towards the book really so that in itself shows the book is good.

Torak’s other companion is Renn, a girl of about the same age. Renn is confident and knowledgeable. Torak learns a lot from her. They make a good contrast and must learn to trust each other, no matter how reluctantly.

The story itself is well written and full enough to allow imagery to form in the reader’s mind, without being too descriptive that it becomes cumbersome and boring. And although the storylines didn’t feel complex because of the way they were written (remember, this is a book for children), they were still full and complete, and very easy to read.

Wolf Brother is a book where time passes quickly as the reader is absorbed into a colourful world. And before you know it the book has ended and you find you just have to grab the next book in the series and continue reading. And that’s exactly what I did.

eBook Review: James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing

James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing (James Potter, #1)James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t usually read fan fiction, but I saw this ebook at the author’s website and felt impressed by the presentation (of the book and the website) and decided to give it a try. I had nothing to lose as the ebook is free (available in epub and mobi). In fact, there are actually three books to the series and all are given away for free.

I finished the book in early December 2012, but just haven’t had time to write a review until now.

Book Description

What’s it like to be the son of the most famous wizard of all time?

James Potter thinks he knows, but as he begins his own adventure at Hogwarts, he discovers just how much of a challenge it really is to live up to the legend of the great Harry Potter. As if it wasn’t enough dealing with the delegates from the American wizarding school and figuring out the mysteriously polite Slytherins, James and his new friends, Ralph and Zane, begin to uncover a secret plot that could pit the Muggle and the Magical worlds against each other in all-out war.

Now, with the help of Ted Lupin and his band of merry mischief makers (The Gremlins), James must race to stop a war that could change the world forever. His only hope is to learn the difference between being a hero and being the son of a hero.

Review

James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing is the first book of three. The books are based on J K Rowling’s books, characters and world, but they are not written by her. The author of this series is G. Norman Lippert.

It is James’ first year at Hogwarts and we get to meet several characters from the Harry Potter series – Longbottom, many of the professors, Hagrid, and Harry, to name a few. The book was written in the essence of the Rowling books, which I was thankful for. There were no jolting scenes that made me think “that’s no right”. In fact, for fan fiction, the book was very well written. I enjoyed it immensely.

All Potter books have the Quidditch scenes. Didn’t like them in the Rowling book; didn’t like them in this book either. Sorry, but quidditch is boring and I find myself skimming over the paragraphs hoping not to miss anything important, but really not interested in the actual sport part of it. I was pleased when James didn’t make the team because it meant less quidditch scenes.

James has two friends—Zane and Ralph. It took me a short while to get used to them. Yes, I saw James as being Harry but found it difficult to replace his two friends with Ron and Hermione. And that is a good thing, because as James is battling the “I’m the son of Harry Potter” thing, the reader is battling with “he’s not Harry Potter”, and meanwhile, the three new characters carry on with what they are doing and the reader soon lets Harry Potter go and starts finding out what James Potter is all about. The interesting thing that happened at the hat sorting was that the three friends were placed in different houses. It will be fun to see how that turns out.

Going back to the subject of Harry Potter, he makes several appearances. I think that was the hardest thing to cope with—Harry as an adult, as a parent. Especially as I think of him as a teenager. Thankfully, his scenes didn’t try to upstage James and there wasn’t a lot of focus on him. He was there to be a father or to do his job, but James was the main character. It was a bit awkward for me as a reader to accept that, but I believe the author did a good job of not delving too deeply into Harry’s adult character, so our memories of him are not tarnished in any way.

Another thing I liked about this book was the references made between the original books and this one. They served as well placed reminders of what happened then, and connected the two series. It was like reading about old friends and revisiting precious memories. The author of James Potter was smart in doing this, intentionally or not.

And, of course, the author introduces us to many new characters who will, no doubt, make the journey with us through the rest of the books. I look forward to learning more about them along the way.

The climax involved Merlin. However, something was lacking from this part of the book. I felt as if something magnificent was able to happen, but it didn’t, which was a bit disappointing. Perhaps there are other plans for Merlin, to be revealed in the next book. We will have to wait and see. If that’s the case, then that’s fine, but I felt his presence was not ‘qualified’ in this book.

This isn’t a perfect book, but few are. There are sections that are long winded, as there was in the J K Rowling books too. And there are scenes that didn’t seem to go anywhere. But, overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. I felt as if I was back in Hogwarts and that is not a bad feeling. In fact, it’s a great feeling. The author introduced us to new characters, but stayed true to what we came to love. I will certainly be reading James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper.

Domain Transferred

Earlier in the year I experienced ongoing problems with bandwidth being used by Google bots–every few days. As a result, the website was constantly offline. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was annoying. Why pay for a website that isn’t even available to readers?

When my hosting came up for renewal, at the end of November, I decided that I really needed a host that provided unlimited bandwidth so that the problem would be eliminated. I initiated the transfer. It took ten days to complete.

Yesterday, I attempted to import my data to the new site and ran into problems. The older data would not import without crashing the website. After much messing around, I allowed the website to remain down and went to the dashboard (thank heavens I still had access to it) and exported the posts and pages only, including any attachments (such as images). Then I deleted everything and started again–a clean install of WordPress and all the plugins. The posts and pages where then imported, and I was pleased to see that the website didn’t crash. However, there are some minor issues. Again, nothing that is considered the end of the world. Some images didn’t come through and I’ve updated the links to fix this problem on the important pages. Nothing in the Preloved Books section came across, so that has to be totally redone. And things like categories have lost their hierarchy, but that is easily fixed. It’s just a matter of making the time to fix these small issues.

Overall, I didn’t lose anything important so I am happy.