Thorn ~ Intisar Khanani

  • Title: Thorn
  • Author: Intisar Khanani
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Own
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she’s never had … until she’s betrayed.

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future.

But powerful men have powerful enemies—and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometimes the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Review:  A retelling of a German fairy tale The Goose Girl.

This novel is one of the few that have left me divided. On one hand, it’s too intense, too emotionally grueling for my taste. I wanted the heroine, Princess Alyrra (aka Thorn), to have a respite, to have something working for her, but the author wouldn’t oblige. So in my head, I argued with her. I told her that she was wrong to subject Thorn to so many indignities. I told her that the test she devised for her hero, Prince Kestrin, was unfair and unnecessary cruel. I told her that Thorn behaved foolishly. She could’ve found an easier way to deal with her problems. I told her that Alyrra’s friend, Horse Falada, is an inadequate teacher. He knows stuff but he talks in riddles and never explains anything as a teacher should.

Unable to persuade the author and the book to take a gentler road, I did it myself. In my few short breaks from reading, I imagined alternative adventures for the heroes. I gave them additional options and widened their choices. I came to love and respect the heroes too much to trap them into tight corners, as the author has done. So I pleaded with the writer to be kinder, and I raved, and I cried, but I couldn’t stop reading. The novel wouldn’t let me. I felt compelled to finish it even though I can’t say that I enjoyed it. But I can say that I will remember it.

Subjectively, I don’t like so much suffering for the heroes. I like a lighter read. Objectively, I know that this was one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in some time. And I know that this writer is a master of her craft.

Besides my feeble squeaks fueled by compassion for the heroes, I have one serious editorial comment. There are two mysteries in the story that are revealed towards the end. They include the story of Valka’s hatred towards Alyrra and the story of the Lady’s hatred towards Kestrin. Both should’ve been explained in the beginning of the novel. The hatred of those two antagonists drives the plot, but for three quarters of the book, it doesn’t make sense, and the reader wonders where it comes from. What could humble, inoffensive Alyrra have done to deserve it?

Besides that one objection, there are only a few typos to distract the reader from this rich, soulful story. It’s powerful and cathartic; and the cover is gorgeous. I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy. 

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Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer is playing in the movie theaters now, and Irate Izzy & I went to see it this weekend. It’s yet another story adaptation turned into a big film. We didn’t expect a lot from the movie. We only expected to see a lot of cool costumes, sets and entertaining computer graphics. The movie was all of that and more!

If you’re not familiar with the old fairy tale, Jack and the Bean Stalk is about a naive kid who accepts a pouch of magic beans instead of money. He gets in trouble for it and the beans are thrown out of the window. Surprise! The beans really are magic and a huge beanstalk grows up high into the sky. Jack climbs the beanstalk to see where it goes and starts a dangerous adventure into a land of giants and more.

The movie is a great adaptation of the story! The most important elements are kept in tack and the additions make for a lively character development, hilarious hijinks and awesome fights!

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Irate Izzy & Soo Discuss the Movie: Jack the Giant Slayer

*Potential Spoilers Ahead*

~_~

Izzy: My favorite part are the flaming, flying trees of DEATH!!!

Soo: **laughs**

Izzy: It was better than the Ent Battle in Lord of the Rings! Because that battle sucked! That particular battle doesn’t compare to the one in Jack. The Ent battle–

Soo: For those who don’t know, you mean the Tree creatures.

Izzy: Yeah! Like I said, the Ent battle sucked because of the angles and scales were BORING!

Soo: You mean the wide angle viewpoint? Action happening so fast you don’t have time to register the first batch of soldiers being hit before seeing another one being propelled into the castle wall by a flying boulder?

Izzy: EXACTLY! That’s what I wanted from the Lord of the Rings! Several consecutive moments of Holy Shit! LotR should have capitalized on that and didn’t. Jack did and my expectations were exceeded!

Soo: I really liked the honeycomb of bees trick! I was totally there with the characters, wondering if it was going to work or not and, MAN, when it DID work–even knowing what was going to happen, it was still hilarious! The look on the giant’s face when he’s stung! **laughs**

Izzy: Boy, those were some of the dumbest and ugliest giants I’ve ever seen!

Soo: Talking about oogly. Jack needs a better haircut! What’s up with that??!?!

Izzy: Yes he does! If you have a weird face shape, you should try to minimize the flaw! Not put a giant, flaming neon arrow pointing to your face!

Soo: Yup! Agreed. He’s good looking but you have to cut the hair out of the picture to see it. Or cover it with a hoodie, like he did in Warm Bodies.

Izzy: Speaking of neon signs. Did anyone else notice the visual subtext?

Soo: Ut oh…

Izzy: The King had a shiny, gold crotch! Nothing says look at my crotch like a glimmering, shimmering gold chain mail metal over your junk. I’m not saying that gold armor isn’t the way to go. It was a cool costume. I mean. Cool for a costume that is MADE to make you look shorter. Just saying, if you want to say you’re still a virile man on the battlefield, you should consider putting some GOLD glitter on your junk! Just sayin’! **laughing**

Soo: Haha! The costumes were great! I really liked the Captain’s armor and the Princess’ outfits. AND who doesn’t love that huge, royal cloak in the throne room?

Izzy: Oh my god, that cloak is hilarious! So many priceless and well timed moments in the movie. Good sound effects, one liners and action sequences that highlighted the movie in a clever fashion. And Ewan McGregor (the Captain) still looking good! I liked the way he filled his armor.

Soo: Are you sure you’re not upset that you didn’t get to see his naked chest?

Izzy: Only a little bit but his costume was badass enough to make up for it. It was pretty hot! My knight in shining armor has a new look and it’s not the King Golden Crotch.

Soo: There you have it! Jack the Giant Slayer is a fun, action movie with great battle scenes, good acting, solid story adaptation, humor and skillfully woven CG with real time footage.

Izzy: Don’t forget the costumes!