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:

Middlesex

There are some books that are all about timing. If you read them at the wrong point of your life, they aren’t going to make any sense, and you’ll think they are the worst book ever written.

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That’s how Middlesex was the first time I picked it up. I remember when it first became really popular when I was in high school. I’m from a very small, conservative town and I hadn’t been exposed to much, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t get too far my freshman/sophomore year of school.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t open minded, I just hadn’t been exposed to many of the topics in this book. This book has some pretty massive topics, and when I had hardly been exposed to the topic of sexuality yet…the idea of genders outside of male and female was outside of my grasp. (And while I know now that sexuality and gender are different, at 15/16…I was not quite as far along in that type of knowledge kids today are.)

Now, however, is the perfect time for Jeffrey Eugenides. The same fights and struggles occuring in Middlesex are those I hear about constantly online and in the media. The Black Bottom Riot is, essentially, Ferguson. And I can’t go on Tumblr without learning something new about the diversity in gender and sexuality that even a year ago I never knew existed. The world I live in is so wonderfully diverse, and the older I get, the more I’m learning about the people in it.

I loved the family history in this story. I admit I did cringe over the sister and brother marrying, but that was what brought about our main character. It was another time and another need. But the Greek culture and history in the book was extremely beautiful, and yet another part of the world that, aside from the common mythology, I don’t know much about. I know there was a war with Turkey, but that’s about the extent of it. Mark that down on the list of things to study.

That list just seems to get longer and longer, eh?

The voice in the characters were really well written. I could hear the Greek accents in my head (except for last night…but that probably had something to do with the all day Sherlock binge), and I even found myself looking up a few of the italicized words for their meanings because I was going on a tangent with the characters.

I say read this, but when you’re ready. It is a sensitive book to read, and not one to take lightly. You will come away changed. But that is the definition of literature, isn’t it? It makes you feel something, think differently. You will look at people differently after you read this.

 

Greek

There was a whole chapter in Walden on reading, which I suppose makes sense, since if you’re going to live in the woods by yourself for several years…what else are you going to do to keep yourself busy? You can only take so many nature walks.

Thoreau was very strict about reading in the original language of the author. The below is just one page of a long tangent about reading in the mother tongue, especially Greek and Latin. He loved Homer, and kept a copy that he constantly read while he was at the pond.

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