The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Discussion in '2017 Published Books - Your Rating' started by Alucard, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    7.5/10

    I grew up reading Russian fables, and the character of Vasilisa Prekrasna (Vasilisa the Beautiful) from Russian mythology is very much a known character to me, so finding out that there was a new book heavily inspired by this strong female character from Slavic mythology that I adored as a kid was very exciting for me.
    This was a strong first book (trilogy is planned), that did more than just set framework as first trilogy books usually do. It actually started and finished a story, so it can be read as a standalone.

    For all you folks who liked Uprooted by Naomi Novik, this is a good book to tie you over until Novik comes out with her new Rumpelstiltskin book. (@Anti_Quated @ReguIa )

    Arden did a good job of adapting and modifying Russian mythology and historical figures, although I didn't like her writing style as much as Novik's but that may be just a personal preference. Arden basically took certain characters from Russian history and Slavic paganism and mashed them up to tell her own fairy tale. So it's not exactly a re-telling as much as original story with borrowed characters that she heavily modified.

    If you like YA this could also be a good book for you, as it can fit into both 'adult' and YA fantasy genres. If you like fairy tales or mythic fantasy this is also a good choice.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28862387-the-bear-and-the-nightingale
     
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  2. ReguIa

    ReguIa Journeyed there and back again

    Thanks for the tip. I just read the blurb on goodreads and it sounds great. Not so long either, something like 350 pages? Everything I've read recently has been in the 700-800 range so this is just what I need:)

    Checked and my local bookstore has it too!
     
  3. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    @Ser Pounce read it as well, and according to GR we both liked it the same, which is in GR terms represented as 4 stars :D

    Ser Pounce, mind giving this one and Norse Mythology a rating? I know @Jon Snow likes to collect them early toward the yearly 'Best of' lists ;)
     
  4. Anti_Quated

    Anti_Quated Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Thanks for the nod, @Alucard. Will try and pick it up later in the month. Not sold on Gaiman's reception piece, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it.
     
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  5. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    I'm only 20% in but so far it's kind of disappointing I have to say. It's so simplistic. It would be perfect for a kid who wants to know more about the Thor and Loki, but for an experienced fantasy reader, this book is just not up to par with his other more original works like American Gods.
    (also this is a collection of short stories, that kinda link to each other, but kinda don't - not a novel)
    Both books take from myth, but American Gods has more personal creativity and Gaiman's own mind in it, than this one. Of course the premise is very much different, in NM, Gaiman really wants to re-tell norse myths and in AG he just borrows and makes his own myth. So NM has him quite restrained in that sense. He can't go and make shit up, but to me that's what great writers really do best - they fib and spin their 'lies' and we always come back for more.
    On top of that I see that he really wants to make norse myths accessible, so because of that it suffers from this simplicity. If I was a 12 year old girl I would probably love it, but at this point in my life, even if I am reading kids fantasy I look for more original works that may heavily borrow from myth of course, but that still overwhelmingly have that personalized author input. I want people's stories, not myth introductions.
    I feel really bad about everything I am saying here, because you can tell he really invested a lot of time researching this stuff, and he wants to be faithful to the original, and I always admire strong work ethics and authors who do their research. This is why it makes it even more depressing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017

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