Guess what? Last week, I binged on sushi... this week, on movies! :) Went to see 17 again on Tuesday, Star Trek yesterday... and Wolverine on Friday. Weird how things turn out, no? Maybe I'll do a movie review post for the week-end... Hmmm.
Okay, moving on to the topic of this post :) One book that I have been expecting for a while is Glass Storm by Maria V. Snyder. I've already told you my little adventure to get this book :) I have to admit, I was expecting a buzz for this book, but so far, I've only seen one or two reviews. Granted, blogland is being quiet... and yes, Rosie, it is quiet... no matter what number you get in your Google Reader :)
So here we go, my second review of the week :)
Glass Storm by Maria V. Snyder
published by Mira in April 2009
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it's time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers — particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade — require Opal's unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap in to a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she hadn't known she possessed…powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she's ever known.
Series: Glass trilogy, Book #1 - related with Study trilogy
The Story: Five years has gone by since the events in Fire Study and Opal Cowen is now a student at the Citadel. In previous books, we discovered that Opal has a unique talent - she can infuse her glass creations with magic and these can serve as "walkie-talkie" for magicians... Unfortunately, that seems to be the only magical talent that she possesses, making her a one-trick wonder and the target of other students mockery.
Abruptly, Opal is summoned by the Master Magicians for a mission. She is to accompany Zitora Cowen - the Third Magician - to the Stormdancer clan, because something is wrong with their glass orbs. Opal quickly discovers that something is wrong with the sands mix used to make the glass orbs and since she is the most knowledgeable person about glass there, she is put in charge to find out what is wrong... and that makes her a target for those who wants to appropriate the energy from these storm orbs for themselves...
My Opinion: So a lot more happens in the story than what I put in my summary, but it's hard to summarize and not give out too much spoilers. Also, I noticed how I didn't mention Kade and Ulrick, Opal's two love interests... I guess that Storm Glass is indeed more fantasy than romance :)
Now, where to start? I really enjoyed Storm Glass :) I thought it was a good book and I'm really happy, because I have to say I was a bit worried after Fire Study ^_^; I thought the story was engaging and interesting... I like the whole conspiracy plot going on, that one element is part of a greater scheme which is part of an even grander one. Makes the story very interesting :) In that sense, Storm Glass is very similar to the Study trilogy (although with the Study trilogy, it took a bit more time to find out...) So yes, the whole intrigue about the glass orbs and what was wrong with them was very interesting :) It also shows that Ms Snyder has done a lot of research and I liked that she gave details about how glass is worked and the sands mix and so on. Kudos to her for not just glossing over those details. In my opinion, it added authenticity to the whole book and at moments, I could see Opal working with the glass, could feel the heat and imagine the whole workshop.
The writing style is also very similar to the Study trilogy which I'm glad for, because I enjoyed it :) Here and there :) It gives us a feel of continuity between the two trilogies... I think there's nothing worse than two connected series having different feel, because the writing style has changed...
So yes, I enjoyed the plot and the writing style, but there is a weakness to Storm Glass... and unfortunately, the weakness is the heroine, Opal. My problem with Opal is that I find her weak ^_^; Not physically weak, but mentally. I don't know how to put it into words. Oh, of course, Opal would fight, investigate and she's smart, but in most case, she's being pushed. I felt that she lacked some initiative... She scares easily, doubts herself and well, lots of self-pity going on as well. "Oh, I'm just a one-trick wonder, boohoohoo." Sure, magic is important in her world, but she can still be someone if she wants to. I understand that she went through difficult events in her life - the death of her sister, being captured and most likely tortured and so on... but she's using them as excuses instead of taking this events and shaping her life, she uses them to fall back on whenever something doesn't go well. I understand that Ms Snyder wanted Opal's character to be different from Yelena, a very wise decision, but at the same time, we - as readers - can't help but compare the two heroines and then, you can't help but find Opal lacking... I think that if she had been more confident in herself, Opal's character would have more likeable. I mean, this after all is a fantasy story... A weak heroine that doubts herself and plays martyr is not very fitting and it becomes annoying.
Also, Opal's personality is reflected in her love relationships. Clearly, she was attracted by Kade; however, he did not seem to be attracted to her at first, actually treated her coldly, so she stayed away from him. It didn't seem to me that she tried very hard establishing contact with him, let alone friendship... Then, you had Ulrick, who clearly showed interest in her... and while she didn't seem attracted to him, she let him "woo" her... sure, she dragged her feet, but ultimately, they became a couple... and then, at the end, she discovered that Ulrick wasn't really Ulrick and also, that Kade was attracted to her, she told him she was in love with him... I won't complain too much, because I liked Kade better, but it would have been nice in my opinion if Opal fought a bit more for this relationship. I also don't understand in the end, what she is planning to explore with the real Ulrick, when she has already chosen Kade.
Speaking of Kade and Ulrick, they reminded me of Valek and Cahil respectively. Kind of funny :P Although Kade is younger and more rash than Valek. I really like his character though, he had depth and he's intriguing. I liked his stubborness and his loneliness. He definitively needs someone. As for Ulrick, well, not my favorite character, but I get where he comes from. He wants to be known, to be recognized - for anything. However, I didn't like that he got in the way, that he had to have his say... I found him pushy.
One thing that I really enjoyed and I thought was well-done was bringing back charcters from the Study series - Yelena, of course, Leif, Fisk(!), Ari and Janco, etc. In my opinion, it was really well-done... They weren't just there to satisfy the readers - they had an active role :) Seeing Yelena and Leif argue was heart-warming :) and do you guys think that Fisk will have a book of his own? That would be interesting :)
As a whole, I found Storm Glass enjoyable and interesting :) I really like the plot and well, there is time for Opal to grow and assert herself :) I'm looking forward to Sea Glass now and I'm glad I don't have too long to wait :)
My Grade: B+. A good opening to a new trilogy :)