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Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 700

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:05 am    Post subject: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

I just finished Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight, the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and since eggletina mentioned it on another thread on what people have recently read, I figure at least one person would know the book I am talking about.

In the slew of YA books and fantasy worlds out there, Laini Taylor's world is an amazing place, with seraphs and chimerae as two races in Eretz. Many of the names are Hebraic (Eretz is Hebrew for Earth). I suppose the chimerae (creatures with an amalgamation of different animal features) are what medieval artists would have pictured demons to be (horns, forked tails, claws, fangs, serpentine, etc). The heroine is a 17 year old girl called Karou, who is an art student in Prague. She is the adopted daughter of chimerae and lives in two worlds (ours and Eretz) which she accesses through portals. It's a bit like the doors in Howl's Moving Castle, but this is a much darker tale. It's a story about star-crossed lovers, war, redemption, and above all, hope.

I recommend this series highly - I don't want to give more details as it's difficult to talk about the books without hitting spoiler territory. The third and final book comes out next year. I think in many of the romances in the genre, the love is too vanilla and easy. Here, love is difficult and it hurts, breaks the heart, and yet, love endures. Laini Taylor's writing is lyrical and beautiful. I feel a re-read coming on.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liked the first book a lot. The story was fresh and the writing very good. I was kind of hoping it wouldn't turn into yet another YA trilogy, but I guess it's the trend nowadays.

Still, a nice break from the romance reading which tends to feel a bit "same old, same old" at times.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:50 pm    Post subject: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

Natalie wrote:
I liked the first book a lot. The story was fresh and the writing very good. I was kind of hoping it wouldn't turn into yet another YA trilogy, but I guess it's the trend nowadays.

Still, a nice break from the romance reading which tends to feel a bit "same old, same old" at times.
Natalie, unlike you, I am glad it's a trilogy as there is so much that has to happen which does not get resolved in Book Two. Although it's not in the traditional romance genre, this story is much more imprinted in my consciousness than all the other romance novels I have read in the last 6 months. For some reason, it reminds me a bit of Barbara Samuel's A Bed of Spices, which is another tale of star-crossed lovers, where there is much suffering and sacrifice before the HEA. These are the kind of love stories that are inspiring to me. Love such as this has to endure so much in order to survive - these aren't the type of couples who would separate or get divorced at the first sign of difficulty, etc. I think it's also the epic feel of the story that draws me - a love that can influence the fate of nations, a dream that was for the good which turns sour, and how it can be made good again.
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Rosie



Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just FYI, an HEA might not be guaranteed in the romance for this series. This is what the author said in a guest post on the Book Smugglers blog
:

Quote:
How can Karou ever forgive Akiva? Can I possibly bring them back together? I wonít say whether it will work out for them (Iím not sure I even know!), or where things stand by the end of DAYS. But Iíll say that DAYS is a very different book from DAUGHTER, which was unabashedly a romance. There is now this gigantic impediment to the romance (genocide will do that), and itís been a very interesting process to weave the story and character interactions that follow it, trying to coax them in a certain direction but not force them.


I think she probably will find a way to bring the two characters together in the end. But if the author thinks it's more realistic for them to not end up together, I can see her going the unexpected route. YA isn't guaranteed HEA like the romance genre.
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Eggletina



Joined: 06 Jul 2010
Posts: 440

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read both and I'm not sure whether they'll get a HEA or not. Karou and Akiva's relationship in the first book reminded me of another couple: Lady Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley as they are played in the film, Lady Jane, by Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Elwes--especially when they talk about how they'd like to change the world. It has the naive optimism of first love with all its tragic consequences.

Book one really sets things up for book two. Book two is much darker and more painful to read. I hurt for them so much I had to set the book aside for a few days before going back and finishing it. I'm eager for book three, but hope we don't get strung too far along with a love triangle. If Akiva and Karou do get a HEA, I imagine it won't be easy. It will be bittersweet with all that it has cost them (kind of like the end of the Hunger Games trilogy).
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 700

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:18 am    Post subject: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

Eggletina wrote:
I've read both and I'm not sure whether they'll get a HEA or not. Karou and Akiva's relationship in the first book reminded me of another couple: Lady Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley as they are played in the film, Lady Jane, by Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Elwes--especially when they talk about how they'd like to change the world. It has the naive optimism of first love with all its tragic consequences.

Book one really sets things up for book two. Book two is much darker and more painful to read. I hurt for them so much I had to set the book aside for a few days before going back and finishing it. I'm eager for book three, but hope we don't get strung too far along with a love triangle. If Akiva and Karou do get a HEA, I imagine it won't be easy. It will be bittersweet with all that it has cost them (kind of like the end of the Hunger Games trilogy).
I think the last scene of Days of Blood and Starlight is hopeful for Akiva and Karou. I don't know how they can get back together - I have some theories. I also do not want a love triangle. I am looking forward to learning more about what Akiva can do, the role the Stelian queen has to play in the third book, and how the enemy will be defeated. Another YA series which has an almost impossible HEA is Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey - I like it when the stakes are high and love isn't easy, and there is yearning and intensity in the romance.

I think the historical Lady Jane Grey's case is very different. She and her husband were pawns in the machinations of her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland. One wonders if she could have said "no" to the whole business, and gone away into exile. However, she was probably brought up to think like the great-granddaughter of a king (Henry VII), and surrounded by various relatives who were ambitious courtiers who hoped to profit in a time of great turbulence in England; although considered a very learned young lady for her time, she was only 17.
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LFL



Joined: 05 May 2007
Posts: 708

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished Days of Blood and Starlight late last night (or rather, early this morning). It was that kind of read.

This was a book with great plotting, wonderful characters, beautiful prose and good worldbuilding too -- and the combination of all of those in one book isn't easy to find. It's really an achievement for the author.

However, it was almost too dark for me to read. Given the way Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended, that was how it needed to be. It would have been weaker if Taylor hadn't taken the characters --and by extension, the reader -- to such dark places in this book.

But that doesn't change the fact that at times, Days of Blood and Starlight was very difficult to come back to. Like Eggletina above, I needed breaks from reading it. The intensity and darkness took something away from my enjoyment. For me, it was darker than most romances (even those darker 1990s books like Bed of Spices) because there I knew a happy ending would come, and here I didn't.

With that said, I really do think it's an excellent book, much better than most middle-of-trilogy YAs I've read, and I'll be reading book three when it comes out.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 700

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:30 pm    Post subject: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

LFL wrote:
..... at times, Days of Blood and Starlight was very difficult to come back to. Like Eggletina above, I needed breaks from reading it. The intensity and darkness took something away from my enjoyment. For me, it was darker than most romances (even those darker 1990s books like Bed of Spices) because there I knew a happy ending would come, and here I didn't.

With that said, I really do think it's an excellent book, much better than most middle-of-trilogy YAs I've read, and I'll be reading book three when it comes out.
LFL, your post made me realise why my take on this book is slightly different from yours and eggletina's. I actually am not reading it as a romance, but as YA fantasy with a romance sub-plot. Thus, although it is definitely darker than many straight romances, with a lot more conflict keeping the main protagonists from a straightforward HEA (as opposed to manufactured conflict in the standard historical/fantasy romances we usually get within the genre), as you said, this book actually followed the logical consequence of the plot from the Book One. It's a hard, hard journey for Karou and Akiva, and for us readers too. In spite of the darkness, I enjoyed the light moments, which seem brighter in contrast to all the sorrow and waste of war and killing, with the presence of Zuzana and other friends (I am not naming them for they are spoilers). It is a book about war, and yet, I was encouraged that Karou and Akiva still love each other although they are largely separated in this book. There are some very sad parts in Days of Blood and Starlight, but our protagonists endure and move forward. I did compare the difficulty in reaching a HEA for the couple in this series with what the couple in another popular YA fantasy series, Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey, had to go through - and I think the ending is all the sweeter when it happens. The Iron Fey series isn't as dark as this one, though.

This is a heart-wrenching story, and may not be for everyone, but it really is a wonderful tale. It has stuck in my mind long after I finished the books. I can't think of books to compare it with, but from the angst viewpoint, if you could bear Paullina Simon's The Bronze Horseman, or Penelope Williamson's The Passions of Emma, then you could probably bear this series.
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Eggletina



Joined: 06 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mythic Fantasy is actually one of my favorite genres. I picked up the series not for the romantic elements but for the mythic. I never read it as a romance, but as mythic fantasy with a romantic subplot.

I think I fall in the minority of readers for being irritated by Zuze and Mik in this book. I quite agree with The Book Smugglers review that they really had no place in the 2nd book. I can see why some readers liked them for the lightness they brought to an otherwise dark story, but it felt very much like the author indulging herself on characters very near and dear her own heart than really necessary to the plot.
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LFL



Joined: 05 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Msaggie, I'm not reading it as a romance, but as a YA fantasy with romantic elements. I'm not necessarily looking for a romance type HEA from this book. I agree that it was a beautiful book, but I think it is darker reading for me than it is for you. I haven't read The Bronze Horseman, but I think this is much darker than The Passions of Emma.

For me the closest comparison in terms of the darkness level would be the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Karou's losses are about as bad as Katniss's in Mockingjay IMO with the key difference being that this is the second book, not the last one, so there is the hope that things could get better, as well as the possibility that they'll get worse before they get better, if not just plain worse. I'm hoping for the "worse and then better" because after reading this, I don't kid myself about Taylor pulling her punches.

Now don't get me wrong, unlike many readers, I didn't hate Mockingjay. It almost killed me to read it, but I felt that it was a powerful book (especially in the second half). I think from a technical standpoint, Days of Blood and Starlight is better written. The pacing is stronger and the world-building more logical. But in terms of darkness, they are about on par to me, or maybe Mockingjay was slightly darker.

Eggletina, with regard to Mick and Zuzana, although on the one hand I felt that their ending up at the kasbah was a touch contrived, I also felt that their presence was necessary to give Karou the strength to stand up to Thiago. Their support helped rejuvenate her spirit which was something she badly needed at that point.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 700

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:10 am    Post subject: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

LFL wrote:
Msaggie... I haven't read The Bronze Horseman, but I think this is much darker than The Passions of Emma.

For me the closest comparison in terms of the darkness level would be the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Karou's losses are about as bad as Katniss's in Mockingjay IMO with the key difference being that this is the second book, not the last one, so there is the hope that things could get better, as well as the possibility that they'll get worse before they get better, if not just plain worse. I'm hoping for the "worse and then better" because after reading this, I don't kid myself about Taylor pulling her punches.

Now don't get me wrong, unlike many readers, I didn't hate Mockingjay. It almost killed me to read it, but I felt that it was a powerful book (especially in the second half). I think from a technical standpoint, Days of Blood and Starlight is better written. The pacing is stronger and the world-building more logical. But in terms of darkness, they are about on par to me, or maybe Mockingjay was slightly darker.

Eggletina, with regard to Mick and Zuzana, although on the one hand I felt that their ending up at the kasbah was a touch contrived, I also felt that their presence was necessary to give Karou the strength to stand up to Thiago. Their support helped rejuvenate her spirit which was something she badly needed at that point.
I agree that The Passions of Emma (where not so many major characters die) is not as dark as Days of Blood and Starlight (where the gore, death-toll and violence is greater). I have not read The Hunger Games trilogy yet (it's in my TBR) but I am steeling myself for it. Like eggletina I was annoyed with Zuzana and Mik initially, but I felt like LFL that they were important for Karou's morale. Zuzana really empowered Karou as she had become such a shadow of herself. I think the most satisfying part of Days of Blood and Starlight was (spoiler in white font) when Karou kills Thiago. Having said that, the rape scene before it was very hard to read, and this was almost on par with the disturbing rape scene from Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. However, if Thiago had not done that, I think Karou would have carried on being an "emo-version" of herself, as The Book Smugglers' review aptly put it, and cringing everytime Thiago came near. Another very hard part for me was when Akiva brought his brother to Karou - that was truly heart-breaking. It's certainly not an easy book to read, but it's a very powerful story, and I think hope does shine through the darkness.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

msaggie wrote:
Natalie wrote:
I liked the first book a lot. The story was fresh and the writing very good. I was kind of hoping it wouldn't turn into yet another YA trilogy, but I guess it's the trend nowadays.

Still, a nice break from the romance reading which tends to feel a bit "same old, same old" at times.
Natalie, unlike you, I am glad it's a trilogy as there is so much that has to happen which does not get resolved in Book Two.


With so many series existing these days, it's hard to track of the events especially if you have to wait a year or two for the next installment. I wish the authors just had it combined in one big book (or omnibus) but I guess it's not always viable. At least with the romance series, the couples usually change from book to book so the story is more self-contained.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 700

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone and sequel Reply with quote

Natalie wrote:
...With so many series existing these days, it's hard to track of the events especially if you have to wait a year or two for the next installment. I wish the authors just had it combined in one big book (or omnibus) but I guess it's not always viable. At least with the romance series, the couples usually change from book to book so the story is more self-contained.
I know exactly what you mean - but commercially, it's better for the author and publishers if a story was split into several volumes - everyone earns more money as the fan base increases with each installment. Many of my favourite books, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, and even the Harry Potter books, are published in several volumes. I suppose even with e-books nowadays, e-publishers who could put the entire series into one volume would usually still not do it, as psychologically people are more likely to buy several books from a series which are individually a bit cheaper than one big book which is a lot more expensive (in case they didn't like the story in the first place).

The problem about forgetting where the story had got to when the new installment comes out, well, that's why we who are re-readers love series - we have yet another re-read, which now is "justified" and isn't filled with guilt when we cast our eye on our TBR pile!
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOTR was written as one book, it was split into three by the publisher (I don't think there had been any really big fantasy books before it).
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:12 am    Post subject: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor Reply with quote

I just finished the third (and final) book of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and am still processing it.


MILD SPOILERS












I think it is a good conclusion, although there are still some loose ends at the end. There is probably scope for another sequel, though I think from the acknowledgements at the end, this is supposed to be the final installment of this story arc. I think it will be a satisfactory ending for romance readers. Important new characters are introduced, and we find out about Akiva's heritage, which was hinted at in the previous book.

Laini Taylor's writing is beautiful and lyrical. She manages to portray love, vengeance, anger, despair, and other-worldliness very well. This is a marvellous series and I recommend it highly. I thought the first two books were more heart-wrenching - at least current readers don't have to wait years for the conclusion! Has anyone else read Dreams of Gods and Monsters yet, and what did you think of it?
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