The Banished of Muirwood

I don’t know if you have noticed but I have been reading some pretty HEAVY stuff lately. Four of the reviews I’ve done this month have had the word “dark” in them. Two of the others have been about war. Whoa, Haley. I think it’s time to back read something lighthearted, and soon.

You guys ok, out there? Sorry for all the doom and gloom! It wasn’t on purpose, I promise!

I’d love to tell you this review is better…but, it’s another book of war. *grimaces* Sorry….but it is a magical war, so that has to count for something. Stick with me.

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Jeff Wheeler apparently woke up from a dream one night with a girl in his head. He luckily had paper in his nightstand and ferociously began scribbling about her evil father and the man hired to protect her. Since then, he’s written stories about his world of Muirwood, but is finally releasing Maia’s story.

Maia is born princess to a king who doesn’t quite know how to handle his own power. He’s almost a Henry VIII kind of guy, and banishes her mother so he can take on another queen and thus another kingdom. In doing so, he must banish Maia and disown her, even as he claims he loves her. Along her path, Maia finds herself with a great deal of magic, and even greater trouble.

While this is definitely fantasy, Wheeler built his world of Muirwood upon a base of real ancient history references. Or, at the very least, references to places from real authors. There is a character, “the kishion,” which when I Googled, pointed to Kadesh in Galilee. Another reference, “aurichalcum” is a metal Plato references when he talks about Atlantis (obviously that one is more about the author than the place). There’s a few more things that build upon ancient Greek culture or works. I mention this because while the premise for the story came from a dream, and there were certainly made up places, names, and language in the book–it was obvious to me while reading that Wheeler had done quite a bit of research before sitting down to write. I would be so interested to see his notes. It fascinates me how authors create and build their ideas and from where they pull inspiration.

I will say, that at first I was unsure about the writing. Maia was banished, running, in obvious danger. Then she just shows up at a random inn and the hunter she needs is at that exact place (very Strider from LOTR), and she just gives him her full name, title, problem, all of it. And he agrees to help her with no suspicion or confirmation whatsoever. Well, ok then! There were a lot of holes in the first 10% of the book. It made me a little weary.

However, shortly after I made that note in my journal, the book picked up and I started getting answers pretty quickly. Maia is still pretty naive, really throughout the whole book. But, I think that’s more of a character flaw than a writing issue, once I got into the meat of the story. Give it a chance past the first 20%, it’s a slow starter, but it does become a valid fantasy after that. I’ve added the rest of his Muirwood history to my TBR–I am wondering if those would help the beginning holes at all. Sounds like he’s also working on a second book to Maia’s story, woot!

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. To be released on August 18.

To Buy:

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The Name of the Rose

What I am figuring out by reading these Boxall books is that while I don’t always understand or like the plot–I am learning how to read literature. I feel as if I am taking a class. I am educating myself in a way I did not know I was capable of. That is why I set out to write this blog in the first place. I don’t only read for pleasure anymore, I’m actually grasping and remembering what I read.

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The Name of the Rose is one of those books that I definitely did not read for pleasure but I did learn from it. I have pages and pages of notes about the novel…and I can hardly explain the plot.

I can tell you that it’s a murder mystery set in a Catholic monastery in the 1300s. I know who the murderer is in the end, but there are so many details about how the murder was solved that went right over my head.

From a literary standpoint, the authenticity is really good. Umberto Eco obviously did a fantastic amount of research before writing this. I would believe more that this had been written centuries ago–not in 1980. In fact, I had to Google this multiple times to make sure that it actually was written so recently, because I didn’t believe it.

From a reader’s standpoint, however (or maybe because it was so authentically written), the book is completely droll. Anyone picking this up as a crime novel is going to immediately put it down. The main character is obviously based on Sherlock Holmes. The archetype is obvious, and he even is named William of Baskerville. Duh. But the Catholic doctrine and the debate between the Benedictines and the Franciscans and all the others just drowns out everything else in the storyline.

Another extremely difficult barrier to the reader is that the narrator–a young novice priest travelling with William–thinks/speaks in a mix of English and Latin. He speaks Latin so fluently that there is no pause for reader context and explanation of what he is saying. You either have to 1) stop and Google everything he says, or 2) pretend like you know what he’s talking about and move on.

For example: ¬†“In fact, I now saw the girl better than I had seen her the previous night, and I understood her intus et in cute because in her I understood myself and in myself in her.”

“Intus et in cute” means inside and out, but there’s no context in the section to know that without looking it up.

Unless you know fluent Latin…you’re going to find this extremely annoying and frustrating. Sometimes I stopped and translated the phrases, but after while, I just gave up.

I learned some interesting things about the Catholic religion that I didn’t previously know, and I, at the very least, have a good 6 pages of journaling on the break down of this monster. Good enough for me. Not a book I’m going to recommend for anyone, but it was a worthy fight.