Mirror Sight (Green Rider #05) by Kristen Britain Review

mirror sightI have thoroughly enjoyed the Green Rider series and though they could get trying at times. I read a few non-spoilery reviews before I started reading Mirror Sight and I think that they helped me enjoy this book as much as I did because I was prepared for what happened in it.

Mirror Sight starts from where Blackveil left off. After smashing the mirror mask, Karigan and Lhean are transported 200 years into the future. They are immediately separated. An archaeologist takes in Karigan and they soon become allies. Karigan finds herself in a world much changed. The Sacoridia she knew no longer exists. In its place, there now exists an Empire, which is ruled with an iron fist. The empire reeks of oppression and fear. This new world is a bleak one where even the air one breathes is tainted. This future world had very strong steampunk influences and it would have been very jarring for me had I not read a few reviews going in. Mirror Sight was an enjoyable read but I found myself getting very impatient for Karigan to get back to her own time.

Like the previous Green Rider books, this one too progresses at its own easy going pace before bursting into a frenetic and crazed pace near the end. The climax was frenzied and it instilled in me, as the reader, Karigan’s almost feverish race to get back to her own time. There were times when I grew tired of her time in this future world but the characters she encountered were interesting enough that I didn’t mind reading about them. I was very relieved when Karigan finally made her way back.

Karigan is the primary reason I read this series. She is a very compelling heroine and a very likeable one. She is very matter-of-fact and prefers to get down to business as soon as possible. She is also not one to mope, which is always a welcome trait. For the last few books, there were so many character POVs that Karigan’s was getting lost amidst all the noise. In Mirror Sight, Karigan was the main character, front and center. Sure there were still other POVs but they were few and relatively brief. Despite all that she has gone through, she doesn’t spend time feeling sorry for herself, she gets back to work.

There were a host of new characters; some of the more notable among them were the Professor Josston, Mirriam, Lorine and Luke. Arhys was a little monster; I don’t think she had any redeeming qualities.

Then there was Cade. He was meant to be Karigan’s love interest and at first I didn’t much care for him. But he slowly won me over. Karigan challenged every idea he held about women and instead of feeling defensive, he got over them. He was strong and loyal to Kari and stood by her even when the odds were not in their favour. Did I buy the love story between the two? Probably not, but I was happy about the small measure of happiness that Karigan received, she deserved some after all her troubles. But apart from all that, I liked Cade more for the kind of person he was and not so much as Karigan’s love interest.

I think, if anything, Mirror Sight has closed the chapter on Karigan and Zachary’s romance (or lack thereof) And I was sad to see that even though there is no hope for them and even less hope now. They still love each other and I think theirs is the kind of love that lasts a lifetime, but it is not meant to be. At least, I don’t see it happening.

Of the antagonists, Dr. Silk was absolutely despicable. He was a slimey and creepy man, I am only sorry that he did not die a long and painful death. The emperor, Amberhill, I knew there was a reason I didn’t trust him. He is still a wild card and I am curious to see how he plays his part now that Zachary, the Green Riders and the Weapons know what to expect. I am also very curious to see Yolandhe and how she figures in the broader plot.

I suppose my chief criticism of Mirror Sight, is its very nature. All the events described here are cancelled the minute Karigan returns to her own time. In a sense, the future she experienced no longer exists. And don’t even get me started on the problems and plot holes that are the result of all this time travel. So in effect, I just read a book where nothing of consequence happened. The future she saw was altered by her very presence in her own time.

Mirror Sight, though very different from the previous book in the series, was still a fun and engrossing read. It almost reads as a standalone. I suppose if one is more aware of some of the setting, they may enjoy it more. It certainly helped me. In any case, I now have a long wait ahead of me till the next book comes out. I want the Grandmother to perish, I want Estral to get her voice back because I think it is an essential component of fixing the wall and I am curious to see how Karigan’s newest ability manifests itself. Oh well, here’s to waiting…

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Of Fire and Ash (Fairy Queen #1.5) By Amber Argyle Review

urxl I loved Winter Queen and when I learned that there were going to be other books in the series, I couldn’t wait to read them. The wait for them has been longer than I thought it would be. Of Fire and Ash is a novella and it introduces us to the woman who will turn into the Summer Queen in the next novel. Reading novellas is a little dissatisfying because they give you a taste of what’s to come but they end far too soon. This novella was no different.

In Of Fire and Ash we meet Nelay, she lives in the dessert with her family: her father, mother and an elder brother. They are going through a tough time because of the on going drought. There is hardly anything to eat and everyday, Nelay, her father and brother have to venture a little farther in order to look for water. Though her family doesn’t know, Nelay possesses the Sight, which allows her to see the fairies. When her father doesn’t return after going in search for one of their missing sheep, she and her brother go looking for him and find that he’s been bitten by a snake. In order to save her father’s life, she makes a deal with a fairy and this marks a turning point in her life.

I love Argyle’s writing, her books immediately suck me in and the world comes alive. Even in this novella, I couldn’t stop reading and found myself completely immersed in this world. This world came live with its harsh weather conditions, the unyielding desert and the many kinds of fairies around. All of these fairies were distinct both in temperament and appearance. Ideally, when you read a book it should draw in so that your own world falls away and that is precisely what happened when I read Of Fire and Ash. I don’t think I’ve ever been so dissatisfied to see a book end, I wanted it to go on.

Nelay, the main character, is only nine but there was so much spunk and fire in her. She didn’t know how to give up, she kept going, and trying to look for way out even everyone around her had given up hope. I really admired her spirit and I can just see that she’s going to grow up to be a strong and independent woman.

We meet her family as well and her parents genuinely seemed to care for her. But I hated her brother, he was a bully and I am happy that Nelay won’t have to live with him. He was mean and violent.

Of Fire and Ash works like a teaser for the main attraction: Summer Queen. And if this novella is anything to go by, then I’m sure that Summer Queen will be every bit as amazing as this book was. I love this new world that Argyle has created and I can’t wait to delve into it once more.

P.S – But I have a few questions:

– Does this take place in the same universe as Winter Queen?

– Is this a sequel or a prequel to Winter Queen?

– If they take place in the same universe and this a sequel, will Ilyenna and Nelay meet in Summer Queen? Will we see Ilyenna in all her Winter Queen glory?

On Korra – Final Thoughts

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I saw the season finale a few days ago and it completely blew me away!! I knew that since this was the series finale, things would certainly build to crescendo and boy did they ever! The series finale was epic and I couldn’t have been happier with the way things ended. I can’t even begin to sum up all the random thoughts buzzing in my head, but I will try. I have a sinking feeling that a lot of this will read like incoherent babble.

I love this show and seeing its end was a bittersweet moment. I love it for the stunning animation, superb storytelling and its extraordinary characters and I want to especially thank Bryke for never short changing the viewers, for always staying true to their characters and the story sometimes even at the cost of possibly annoying the general fandom. And finally for being brave enough to give us Korrasami when it would have been so much easier to give us just another run of the mill heterosexual couple (even though it wasn’t an especially healthy relationship to begin with (yes I am looking at you Mako))

Through the course of the season, things were a little slow to build up. Sure there were some amazing action sequences, most featured Kuvira, but there was more than enough heart which was what we really needed at this point. Three years later, everyone has grown up and they seem to have moved on in their respective lives, everyone except Korra, who is stuck in the Southern Water Tribe, trying to recover from the severe injuries she sustained while fighting Zaheer. She keeps hitting a wall and finally decides to strike out on her own. She knows there is nothing more Katara can do for her and she needs to figure things out on her own. She’s also feeling insecure and scared because for the first time in her life, she’s not sure about being the Avatar. There is the glaringly obvious question of whether the world even needs an Avatar anymore, but importantly, can she be the Avatar? She is still plagued by the nightmares of Zaheer almost killing her but there is also the fact she can’t even attain the Avatar state, nor can she feel Raava’s spirit. Season 4 was all about recovering and coming out of one’s suffering stronger than before.

Let’s talk about the krew. In the time that Korra was absent from Republic City, the rest of the group seems to have drifted apart. Mako is a detective but when we meet him, he’s playing bodyguard to the heir of the Earth Kingdom, Prince Wu. Bolin has joined Kuvira and while she has good intentions, her methods are dictatorial from the very beginning. And finally Asami, she’s rebuilt Future Industries and has become one of the top inventors in Republic City. They are doing well individually. It was very obvious that Korra was the glue that bound them together and without her they all just lost touch with each other. It was a pleasure to see all of them together once again and how easily they fell into the old rhythm, fighting, bickering but throughout it all, always having each other’s backs. I really missed that old camaraderie in the initial part of the season.

And can I just say what a pleasure it was to see Toph! And she hadn’t changed a bit.

When Korra realised that staying at home wasn’t helping her, she decided to leave to see if she could figure things out on her own. She needed someone like Toph to knock some sense into her head. Toph’s tough love approach was exactly what Korra needed. Maybe she didn’t even realise that while she told herself that she needed time alone to get better, she was actually hiding from the world because it was easier this way than to get out and risk getting hurt all over again. Zaheer’s attack really shook Korra in a way that none of the previous attacks did. Perhaps it was because it was the closest she ever came to truly dying and having the Avatar cycle end with her. But whatever it was, she was still carrying her old wounds. She didn’t even know that pieces of the poison were still in her body. Toph made her realise in her own signature way that unless Korra let go of her past, she would never be able to face her future and it worked. Korra’s not especially a gentle/soft person so she needs some tough handling occasionally. Toph was definitely a favourite in ATLA and I was very happy that Toph hadn’t mellowed with age and that she was just cranky and abrasive as always.

Now, onto the other character. Let’s start with my least favourite: Mako. I never really warmed up to Mako. He was a bit of a jerk from the very beginning. I don’t even want to get into all the relationship stuff he had going on with Korra and Asami. Of all the characters in the show, I cared about him least. In the final season and in the finale, he improved but as far as character growth goes, I don’t think he grew all that much. But I was glad to see that he and Korra remained friends and there was no more romantic tension between them. I was dreading that they might get together in the end, and in any other mainstream show, they definitely would have. But this is BRYKE’s show and they do things differently. Korra and Mako were a bad fit and they brought out the worst each other. It was an unhealthy relationship and I was glad to see it end. Both Korra and Mako had reached a place where they did love each other but it was purely platonic.

Bolin was a bit more problematic this season, at least in the beginning. When we meet him, he has already joined Kuvira but it is also glaringly obvious that she is not what she claims to be. He joins her so he can help the Earth Kingdom people but he remains blind to Kuvira’s tactics even when they’re right in front of him. He was infuriating and there were times when I wanted to shake him in the hope that perhaps that would knock some sense into him. I was glad when he finally ripped off his blinkers and set about correcting his mistakes, notably among them his relationship with Opal. Sure he’s older but he’s still the lovable Bolin we all fell in love with the very first second we saw him. And I was happy to see him back with the krew once more. It was also a pleasure to see Mako and Bolin work together and openly display brotherly love.

I always liked Asami but in the third and fourth season I loved her. When she was introduced in the first season, I thought she would probably end up being a vamp and a possible rival to Korra for Mako’s affections. But she ended up being so much more than that. She was an inventor, rebuilt her company through sheer dint of hard work and still managed to help save the world and the Avatar. All in a day’s work for Asami Sato. I liked that she resolved her issues with her father and found it in her heart to forgive him. I think everyone knew what was going to happen with Hiroshi the minute we saw him but it was still nice that they could enjoy some father-daughter time. She was perhaps the most balanced character on the show. I love Asami!

I know that a lot of people really liked Kuvira and when the season started I liked her as well. She was an excellent villain, someone who knows exactly what she wants and does not compromise. She was fighting for a noble cause, to bring stability to the Earth Nation, which is in shambles following the assassination of the Earth Queen. She seeks to make it a nation of unparalleled power. But somewhere along the way, she became exactly like the Earth queen, a tyrant, a dictator. Someone who doesn’t tolerate dissent of any kind and any ruler who can’t take disagreements and criticism is headed down the wrong path. But I also felt that she was more than a little naïve and delusional in her vision of a united Earth Kingdom. She actually expected people to simply surrender to her and swear loyalty to her  and she was genuinely shocked when they didn’t. What she says to Korra in the Spirit World is indicative of this. She acted like it was everyone else’s fault for not surrendering to her, like they had somehow wronged her. In the end, she seemed like someone who had lost touch with reality and lived in her own little world. I was grateful that Su wasn’t too impressed with her apology at end; it was too little too late.

My absolute favourite character in the series is obviously Korra. In the beginning, she was headstrong, reckless, quick to anger but as the series progressed, all of these traits started getting chipped off. Unlike Aang, who always had a more peaceful disposition, Korra was the exact opposite. Her default approach was the fight first, ask questions later which often landed her in a heap of trouble. When season 4 begins, Korra is in a dark place, not only can she not move her lower body; she also can’t feel Raava or enter the Avatar state. She has always been so secure in her identity as the Avatar and she found herself in a world where she wondered if she was even required anymore. I loved Korra because despite all the knocks that life dealt her, she always found the courage and strength to get up and keep fighting. Even with the Red Lotus Venom running in her body, she still managed to fight Zaheer and with the help of the Airbenders, she brought him down. But this season was more about her learning to see her opponent, not simply as evil but as someone who has very human desires. With Toph’s help she begins to see all her past adversaries in a new light. Amon wanted to live in a world of equality, Tarrlok wanted to unite the human and the spirit world and Zaheer, wanted freedom. These were very reasonable pursuits, noble even, which were corrupted because the method to attain these ideals was deeply flawed.  In the finale, I wanted Korra to enter the Avatar state and teach Kuvira a lesson and the Korra of old would have done precisely that. She would have entered the Avatar state and defeated Kuvira but it would have been a hollow victory because she would have had to kill Kuvira, nothing less than that would do. This more mature and wiser Korra chose to fight Kuvira one on one (in the finale) and the only time she entered the Avatar state was when Kuvira was about to die at the hands of the weapon she created. This marks a significant shift in Korra’s modus operandi. She sympathised with Kuvira and even understood her pain and the motivation behind her actions. She also had a deeper understanding of Kuvira because of how similar they two of them were, they were both strong-willed, stubborn, fierce and determined. Korra reached a stage where she could recognise that and not be in denial, the way Kuvira was. I am glad to see just how far Korra has come and how much she accomplished in such a short period of time. Do I like her better than Aang? I definitely do. Plus I loved the new hair.

There were the usual recurring characters; Varric and Zhu Li, Tenzin, Bumi, Jinora, Opal, Su, Wei and Wen, Ikki, Meelo and Lin Beifong. Opal was a little more prominent along with her family this time since they were involved in the main struggle with Kuvira and it was nice to see the entire Beifong family as one cohesive unit, with the absence of Bataar Jr. I cannot even begin to tell you how annoying he was. I wanted him to get blasted to bits. He was wifully ignorant and it took Kuvira firing her super weapon at him for him to come to his senses. I don’t buy that. He was easily the dullest person in the entire season. Ignoring him, the entire Beifong family is really kick ass. Lin was amazing as usual and I realised that we’ve never seen Lin outside of her uniform and so it was a pleasant surprise to see her in civilian clothing. It was good look on her.

Varrick and Zhu Li were among the key characters this season and it seemed that Varrick developed a conscience. He was funny and irreverent as always and definitely one the few characters who lightened the mood. I was happy that Zhu Li finally stood up for herself and demanded that Varrick treat her better. And the icing on the cake was when they got married.

Let’s talk about the other big relationship this season: Korra and Asami. Wow! I was shipping these two but I thought it was very unlikely that we would get it considering that Korra is a mainstream show and they normally shy away from anything that even remotely veers away from the norm. So it made me ridiculously happy to see this two walk into the spirit world hand in hand. And even better when Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko confirmed this on their respective Tumblr pages. For those of you crying false, I can’t see who else Korra could possibly end up with. Her relationship with Mako was clearly unhealthy and her short-lived relationship with Bolin was never going to set sail. Asami was someone whom Korra came to rely on, both to unburden herself and also for moral support. There are also plenty of people saying that this relationship is forced and there weren’t any signs. Well, there were signs as early as season 3 when they got close and didn’t let their friendship get awkward despite everything that happened with Mako. And you only had to look at their interaction in the final season to see that there was more than simple friendship blooming between these two. It was very gratifying to see them come together. I only wish that it had been a little more overt, was it too much to hope for a kiss, somehow I feel like these characters have been a little short changed.

 But that one complaint notwithstanding, I was very happy with the way Korra ended. It resolved most of the pressing issues and also left us with the clear impression that Korra’s adventures are far from over. Most importantly, I am most thrilled about Korrasami and the way the creators handled that (perhaps it was a little too subtle) I am hoping that we will learn more about their adventure in the form of graphic novels. I am saddened that this series has come to an end. The way it was going, I could have continued watching it. But I guess all good things come to an end and Korra was no different and rather than see this amazing show suffer from bad writing and plots stretched too thin, I’m glad it ended with a bang and left us clamouring for more. What better way to end this truly extraordinary series….