Reflection: November 2016

Genres

  • 1 x Fantasy
  • 1 x Tragedy
  • 1 x Thriller

ALL REVIEWS ARE SPOILER – FREE

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I’ve had a pretty good month in terms of finishing off some books I’ve had on the go for a while. I also stepped out of my comfort zone a bit in that last month I said about how I never pick up thrillers – so I went ahead and did just that!

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien

I began by re-reading one of the most iconic novels ever written (in my own completely unbiased opinion!) The Fellowship of the Ring, being the first of three parts in the Lord of the Rings series follows Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee on their quest to free Middle Earth from the evil of the dark lord Sauron. If there’s one thing that I don’t think anyone can dispute, it’s that Tolkien is an absolute master of imagery and world-building. Middle Earth is one of the richest settings ever developed – Tolkien doesn’t skip over anything from characters, to languages and culture. His descriptions of nature simply cannot be faulted. ‘Slowly they saw the forms of the encircling mountains mirrored in a profound blue, and the peaks were like plumes of white flame above them; beyond there was a space of sky. There like jewels sunk in the deep shone glinting stars.’ It’s rare that I can fall in love with almost every line of a novel, but Tolkien manages to weave so much beauty into every single line of his narrative that often I was just sat in awe at the creativity of his language.

I also particularly enjoyed the way in which he creates such contrasting atmospheres that go from one extreme to another almost instantly. When the company are pursued by the black riders, there is utter suspense, whereas when they arrive in Rivendell and to Elrond, the atmosphere switches instantaneously to one of total peace and tranquillity. The reader is constantly being thrown from absolute peril to safety (is anyone really ever safe in Middle Earth? Debatable…) and back again. Somehow, the plot manages to be terrifying, heart-breaking and hilarious, all at the same time.

The only criticism of The Fellowship of the Ring I have is the distinct lack of female characters. The entire company is made up of nine men, and I think given how iconic the series is it is often lost that female characters are almost non-existent in this first instalment. In saying this, I do recognise the historical context of the novel, in that at the time female characters were not recognised as heroic in any sense. Thankfully, that seems to be changing with the growth of some fantastic female protagonists in fantasy.

Overall, I gave the novel five out of five stars. Aside from my one criticism, Tolkien is just an absolute genius and I have no doubt that Middle Earth will forever hold a very special place in my heart!

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This deserved its own picture because IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

The second read of the month was something it seems every single person read in school at some point, apart from me. I’ve always been interested to know more about Macbeth, and the witches within it aligned perfectly with a project I am currently working on, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to read it!

It’s safe to say, I absolutely loved it. This was my first time reading Shakespeare outside of class, and even though I love studying him, it just put a completely different angle on his work. Macbeth is such a complex character, and his descent into absolute paranoia and power-mania was fascinating to read about. I also particularly enjoyed the influence that the female characters in the play had, including Lady Macbeth’s character arc, and the hold the witches had over Macbeth. Witches have always been a source of intrigue for me, so the chance to experience one of the formative presentations of witches in fiction was an exciting prospect. The atmosphere that Shakespeare creates in all of their scenes was just so immersive, and the use of storms and darkness truly created a chilling atmosphere.

Somehow, I have managed to avoid all spoilers for Macbeth throughout my whole life, so even though I had some ideas given the nature of the play as a tragedy, I was still shocked by the way everything played out! Shakespeare definitely doesn’t hold back on… well, pretty much everything.

Overall, I gave Macbeth five out of five stars, and can definitely see why it’s labelled to be such a classic.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I will be doing a full review of The Girl on the Train in the next week or so, and will link to it when it’s up. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t impressed.

 

And that’s another Reflection done! I can’t quite believe how quickly November has gone, I swear I was only writing my last Reflection a week or so ago. I actually found this to be one of the most difficult ones to write as, in my opinion, it’s so much harder to review texts that have had such a massive impact on the literary world. I don’t know if that’s just me…

First book for December: I initially said that I wanted to read A Christmas Carol, but I’m just not sure it will be feasible with the amount of work I have due in before Christmas. I do want to reach my goal of 25 by the end of the year (I’m on 22), so I hope to finish The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and then choose two from then on.

Thank you for reading – let me know in the comments what you plan to read in December, and have a lovely day!

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