January 26, 2010

Book Reviews: Hound of Rowan and The Second Siege by Henry Neff

Another book review by ~S

Have I mentioned that I also read a lot of YA/kid's sci-fi and fantasy??? Well if not - surprise - I do. After finishing off Harry Potter and being stuck between books of my newest favorite series (Fablehaven by Brandon Mull - go find it if you haven't started reading this series yet), I needed something else. I read a snippet from somewhere heralding The Hound of Rowan: Book One of the Tapestry by Henry Neff as the next Harry Potter. So, I read it and was somewhat disappointed. Sure, there was a school for gifted children in the States, magic appeared to be physical or mental but not necessarily both, there was Euclidean soccer, each child bonded with a magical creature, and the objective of the school was to train agents to protect the world from evil. Mostly it seemed a bit like a knockoff of Harry Potter and reminded me too much of the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. I found The Hound of Rowan slow and just not that interesting. That being said, I just finished The Second Siege: Book Two of the Tapestry, and I am very happy that I forged ahead in this series.

So, why is The Second Siege better??? Well, the first reason has to be that Max McDaniels and David Menlo finally seemed real to me. I actually liked them. Maybe that's because they were away from the student woes of the first book or maybe they were depicted as more mature. Who knows? All I do know is that I finally cared what happened to them. Second, the pacing of this book was much better. Things actually happened. Astaroth, the demon villain, was on the move, and his actions broke down societies and caused apocalyptic conditions the world over. Since I kept trying to push this book into a storyline I was more familiar with, I spent a lot of my reading time wondering how there would/could be a happy ending. I hate to break it to you but there was not a happy ending (although that made me happy so I guess I got a happy ending). Finally, I think I liked The Second Siege because it finally found its own voice. I stopped seeing reflections of other books and-while the comparisons are still valid-I finally stopped feeling like I knew what was coming. Intertextuality is one thing, but without some spark of the unknown, a book is soooo not worth it.

Since it's me, I have to mention my big complaint in The Second Siege. I feel that Neff used some shortcuts to avoid things he didn't feel like describing or possibly to shorten the text. For example, there's a missing month or so where Max trains in the land of the Sidh. I would like some details about what the "break him" training entailed and possibly about how training in a different culture helped/hurt Max. Also, what about some of the gaps in information about Max's fighting? The machine producing the scenario wouldn't reveal what happened? How is that possible and why wasn't anyone more concerned? I am willing to speculate that these shortcuts may be fleshed out in the following books, so I'm not counting them against the author. . . yet. I'll just have to see how it goes in book three.

After disliking The Hound of Rowan, I am surprised but happy to say I would recommend The Second Siege. Of course, this means I am recommending the whole series since the background from The Hound of Rowan is needed to fully delight in the action of The Second Siege. I am looking forward to The Fiend and the Forge: Book Three of the Tapestry which is coming out September 28, 2010.  However, I am not putting the hardback on my "must have" list since I have to admit the descriptions I've read of the plot make me a little nervous that it's going to be a "filler" book (you know, the ones in the middle of a series which meander around and are just an excuse to show new characters and locales without really doing much for the story arc). I will be waiting for the paperback though.

Here's to hoping the gap between hardback and paperback isn't a long one!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennie,

    Thanks for taking a look at my books. While I'm sorry The Hound of Rowan didn't meet your expectations, I'm happy to hear that The Second Siege redeemed the series for you. Thanks for your patience - I look forward to sharing the next installment with you. Best wishes, HHN


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