MatthewSean Reviews

Book reviews, movie reviews, and other writing

Book Review – River of Stars – Guy Gavriel Kay — August 24, 2014

Book Review – River of Stars – Guy Gavriel Kay

Book Review – River of Stars – Guy Gavriel Kay


▪   Book: River of Stars

▪   Author: Guy Gavriel Kay

▪   Genre: Fantasy / Chinese Mythology

▪   Year of Release: 2013

▪   Read 639-page paperback edition in July 2014.

Book Description:

In this fantasy novel, inspired by the Tang Dynasty of China, we see complex interweavings of  politics and war.  Ren Daiyan is a complex, almost immortal-like warrior, who comes from humble beginnings and takes leadership of an army fighting for the people of Kitai against a brutal people from the north.  Lin Shan is a poet and artisan who has also grown to understand how the court operates by breaking beyond the normal barriers placed on women in society.  A cast of other characters surrounds these two central people as the story of the 12th Dynasty of Kitai plays out.

Book Review:

This novel was definitely a fascinating read, and given the fact it was inspired by a Chinese dynasty of old, the almost lyrical writing style of acclaimed author Guy Gavriel Kay made good sense.  The vast array of complex characters made for a complex story, which almost became hard to follow when some of the more minor characters were involved.  Usage of the map and character glossary at the front of the book was required.  In addition, I found the first 1/3 of the novel was a bit of a slog to get through, with a lot of set up required, almost like a slow cooker at times.  This dragged the reader down in places.  However, things got quicker in pace as the book went on, with the plot advancing more quickly, getting more excited, and the reader getting more invested in story, characters, and relationships.  In fact, I would suggest the novel got better and better as it went along, with some good twists and turns towards the end to ensure it was not a predictable outcome.  The novel did a nice job of “legend building” which Kay states he was trying to do here.  The writing style is beautiful, befitting the subject matter, although as earlier stated sometimes there seemed to be unnecessary sections.  Overall though, the novel had an interesting story and compelling characters.

Overall: 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — August 16, 2014

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Movie Synopsis:

This Marvel Comics film features action, suspense, and science fiction thrills, following several unique and diverse characters who come together for different purposes and interests in order to stop the evil Ronan who is intent on capturing an Infinity Stone and using it to dominate and destroy the universe itself.

Movie Review:

This film was in summary an enjoyable and fun summer adventure.  The plot centred around Peter Quill, a young man who had been taken from earth at a young age after his mothers slow and painful death due to cancer.  We follow Quill and his escapades as he travels the galaxy, stealing and acting fairly reckless, without much purpose, until he encounters several other criminals and outliers of society who all, for various reasons, align to stop the dangerous Ronan.  The film follows them through dangerous sequences of events, allows us to experience a huge array of exquisite special effects both on planets and in space, and gives us many laughs along the way.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the Marvel background of this film, you can totally get into it without trouble, and it is interesting to note this doesn’t necessarily feel like a typical Marvel film.  There was a lot more humour and a lot of focus on the sci-fi elements of the plot and characters compared with past Marvel movies, which may broaden its appeal to new audiences.

Overall, this was an enjoyable movie, provided excitement, energy, humour, and thoughtful characters who gelled together well over the course of the film.  Definitely worth seeing!

Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.