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 Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)

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Calwyn
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PostSubject: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:08 am

This post will contain spoilers, so if you haven't read it yet don't read this thread. Though just in case I will put any big spoilers in the brackets.






So I picked up Omen Machine, as we all know by Terry Goodkind, a couple of days ago. I read about 7 chapters at work the day I did so, but did not read it until two nights later (I was just finishing a re-read of Way of Kings, so that took up the first night). Once I restarted it, I finished it in a single night.

I don't mean to say that I loved the book so much that I couldn't put it down until I finished it, though that was true of most of his books in the SOT series. However, that's also not to say that I WOULD have been able to put it down until I finished it. It's just that the book wound up being just over 500 pages, with pretty large font, and as per Terry's style of writing it was an easier read than, say, George R.R. Martin.

To put it more simply, I breezed through Omen Machine.

All that said I enjoyed it, and I would rank it along side Blood of the Fold or Temple of the Winds in terms of quality. Though the fact that its shorter than the others does detract from it somewhat.

Now into the nitty-gritty.

Most all of the characters that survived the end of the SOT series that we knew and loved showed up in Omen Machine more than just little cameos: Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, Nicci, Nathan, Cara, Benjamin, Rikka, Berdine... the only others I could really think of that didn't make an appearance were Chase and Verna, though its likely they'll show up in the next book or two.

I was glad to see all of them again, though at times it was a bit awkward. A couple of scenes came up where Richard and Kahlan had a question about prophecy, which resulted in a conference of Zedd, Nathan and Nicci. Since it involved translating books in High D'Haran, that meant Berdine was there to help Richard, and to help explain translations. And since Richard and Kahlan were there, Cara was there. And since Cara was there, Benjamin was there. And there were a couple of other Mord'Sith as well, usually. So you can imagine how the scene would progress: Richard and Kahlan got input from four sources, while Cara as usual shot in a very pragmatic statement or question, and Richard and Kahlan would opine about something as well.

However, Terry managed to avoid this kind of awkward scene by having the characters split up to do various things: these two translate a book, these two deal with emissaries from various kingdoms that are part of the Empire, these two examine the Omen Machine, these two do something else. Only occasionally, during "big" moments or discoveries, do they all come back together.

And I mention that kind of awkward scene for a reason, since prophecy played an overwhelming role in the plot for this book. And I don't mean in the sense that it came up in the SOT series, in this book prophecy (and fake prophecy, and omens, and foretelling, and everything that has to do with seeing into the future) is the be all and the end all. Everyone in this book is worried about prophecy, they demand prophecy from Richard and Kahlan and Nathan, they demand to know what "prophecies" given by various people mean, and so on.

You can imagine how thrilled Richard was about all this Razz

Which brings me to the Omen Machine itself. Its not what I had first assumed it might be, when I heard what the title of the book would be. Its more in line with other magical objects throughout the series. But of course... no one is sure that the Omen Machine is magical at all. *DUN DUN DUNNNN* By that I mean, by the end of the book we really don't know ANYTHING about the machine. We ONLY know what it does... and only kind of.

But I liked how the Machine was worked into the plot, and the mystery that Terry weaves around it. I like how the Machine develops almost like a character, and you're left with more questions and suspicions about it than you had when it first made its appearance. It has me curious about the next book.

I'm a bit lukewarm about the enemy that Terry created for Richard and company in these books though. His name is Hannis Arc (sounds a bit like Panis Rahl, doesn't it?). The backstory for him seems to be a combination of Drefan's and Jensen's, with a bit of originality mixed in. However, that aside he does seem quite sinister and his source of power as mysterious as the Omen Machine.

At one point Terry explains why Hannis Arc didn't rise up against Richard sooner by using a kind of "the enemy of the enemy is my friend" story. So Hannis was biding his time, helping Richard fight the Imperial Order until there was nothing else to worry about, no other threat to his plans and existence, except Richard himself. It makes sense. At times Terry almost overdoes his mysterious powers, which are only glimpsed at and never explained, to the point that it seems he is invulnerable. But Hannis himself mentions how he could not have taken on the Imperial Order by himself, and that he needs to win over the people of the Empire rather than simply having Richard and Kahlan killed in a bloody coup. So he himself reveals that he has limits.

One such minion is the Hedge Maid. So powerful that Richard's Sword of Truth can't harm her, nor can Kahlan's Confessor power. Only the mysterious power of the Hannis Arc (sounds a bit like Panis Rahl, doesn't it?) seemed to be a threat to her. In the end Richard only defeated her by using a trick. But of course, a good trick is like the best magic, as Richard himself has done time and time again.

But that leads me to something else... once again Kahlan ended up being taken away and almost killed, and Richard had to chase after her to save her. This damsel in distress formula that Terry uses, IMO, is starting to be overused. Just like Richard using a little trick to overcome the odds, rather than a power or ability that is on par with whoever he is fighting. Its a pattern that Terry has used that has been succesful, but when he does it so much it gets tired and predictable. It hasnt gotten there yet, but I hope its something he avoids in the future.

I think that covers all my thoughts on the book. I'm sure after a second and third read through I'll think of other more, and notice other things that I didn't before.

All in all, I'd give this book a solid 7 out of 10.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:14 pm

I just finished the book about 10 minutes ago ... so I'm still digesting it.

But, I would say I agree completely with Calwyn. I'm probably have rated it a bit higher, as I enjoy a fast paced story more than a detailed story. This book really reminded me of Temple of the Winds for the most part, but wihtout the extended "refelctive dialogues" in Terry's earlier books.

My only "complaint" (if one could call it that) was the apparent lack of creativity in parts of this book. The Mirrors, the "Creators language" (the reverse 9 with the hook was very reminiscent of the figure Jax taught Alex to carve into the bodies to make them return) and even the name Jit ... somehow I felt he simply "stole" the ideas he used in LoN to fill needs in this book. In LoN, we were told that there had been a "Golden Era" beore evil overtook and Jax came to visit Alex ... I would not have expected to find this new Evil of the dark lands, and its tools, to feature so prominently in the story already.

I understand why it was done, I just didn't really enjoy it as much as i could ahve ... had I not read LoN yet, I think I would have enjoyed this book much more. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this book though - these are really only small little nitpicky details that "irked" me while I read it. To the point that I was waiting for someone in the allegiance of lands that have sided with Hannis Arc to "wake up" or "be cured", only to find out a new form of Dreamwalker, Dream Caster, etc.. was controlling them.

Vika was a wonderful "treat" ... I'm looking forward to her (and the other Mord Sith with her) being put in her place by one of our "friendly" Mord Sith Very Happy

All that said, I did like the final ending - it certainly left no room for doubt in my mind that there is a sequel to this book in the works already.
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:01 pm

IMagius wrote:
That's not to say I didn't enjoy this book though - these are really only small little nitpicky details that "irked" me while I read it. To the point that I was waiting for someone in the allegiance of lands that have sided with Hannis Arc to "wake up" or "be cured", only to find out a new form of Dreamwalker, Dream Caster, etc.. was controlling them.

I don't think it will be a dreamwalker or cream caster, I think it will have something to do with the Omen Machine. I don't know if it just picks up whatever Hannis Arc is doing to make people have those "visions" and "prophecies", like its caught up in the same spell and records it, or if Hannis has a similar kind of machine that he uses.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:32 pm

I never gave a lot fo thought to how they were being controlled, or if they were, though their "out of character" actions seem to speak of them being influenced in some way ... all I meant was that due to seeing the other things that had been "borrowed" from other books, I almost expected to see a slight twist on something else as well.

I do think though that Hannis is somehow controlling the machine - but I don't think the machine could extend its influence beyond the shields of the Garden of Life either. I think there is something else at play ... possibly that the influence is coming to them through the mirrors when they are unawares ...
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:55 pm

Let me say, before I get into anything else, that I hate what Goodkind did to Zedd. Seriously, the man comes across as a bitter old bat rather than a wise, powerful wizard. The whole issue with Richard classifying books comes to mind. Old Zedd would have asked a long, complicated series of questions, and would have mentioned his own previous attempt at doing so. ("I had the same thought once, my boy. I ran into some trouble, though." Zedd picked up a book from the desk. "Ah, see, here's an example. It's a book about a small town in the Midlands with two rivers running through it. I couldn't figure out whether to put it in the 'geography' section, or the section about rivers." SOmething like that.) Instead we got Zedd dismissing a demonstrably useful concept out-of-hand, without giving it any thought--and only mentioning that he'd tried once as an afterthought.

Quote :
I'm a bit lukewarm about the enemy that Terry created for Richard and company in these books though.
A bit lukewarm? I'm wondering why this guy exists AT ALL. I mean, he's obviously a collectivist--he openly stated that he doesn't care that Richard isn't Panis or Darken Rahl. He's obviously evil--not on the scale of the IO, but the philosophy is the same, using people for his own ends. And he's obviously been this way for a long, long time. He shouldn't even be in the same universe as Richard and Kahlan.

As for the representatives from the various lands....I know people generally don't value freedom. I get that. But demanding that D'hara blindly follow prophesy AT CARA'S WEDDING? I get why it was done--but seriously, that's just crass. "We fought the entire war for a chance to live our own lives--let's throw it away ON THE HEELS OF THAT VICTORY and blindly follow prophesy! That sounds like fun!" Goodkind has always had fast-paced books--I think a few take place in less than a week--but that kind of change in a person should take at least a few months. Years would be more plausible. Weeks? Not so much. And most wouldn't start out so open about their demands. These are skilled negotiators, some of them. My complaint is that the bad guy is acting more like a two-by-four to the skull than a serious threat. This sort of overt attempt at subtlety lessens a threat to me. Jagang was terrifying in part because he wasn't subtle AT ALL. He didn't need to be. He would simply crush you. Darken Rahl was terrifying because he WAS subtle, though all we saw was the endgame. This guy seems more like the Slide: someone who's in way over their heads, not nearly as potent as they think, and going to die pretty quick.

This isn't to say that I didn't love the book. It's just that it's not the quality I expected. It feels rushed, both in terms of pacing and in terms of literary issues.
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:27 pm

Actually that's something I didn't think about, or notice, but how long after the defeat of the Imperial Order did Cara's wedding take place? I'm guessing that afterwards, all the lands had the settle down and get everything in order before they could send representatives to the wedding to treat/negotiate with Richard and Kahlan to ask all the non-prophecy questions they asked them, on top of the prophecy ones.

Still, it seems that you're right and the whole obsession with prophecy spread VERY quickly.

Though one thing I will add is that not all the representatives showed the great zeal about it that the few we saw more promintently did. They were more hesitant, and far less vocal. And as far as I know, not all of them broke away from Richard did they?

I'm also assuming that there's some magic at work there, to make people to obsessed so quickly. From that one scene where someone, or some people (I forget already) made the devotion to Richard, I can't help but wonder if that will come back in use to protect people from any magical interference.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:06 pm

While I haven't had the chance to owrk on the timeline for Confessor yet, I am under the impression that between the end of the IO and Cara's wedding was a span of 3 months, probably closer to 6 months.

The sisters have moved into the Keep with Zedd, and new kids with the gift had been found and brought there for teaching ... Freidrich had also been working for a while at restoring the Keep.

Not a huge amount of time, but if, as I suspect, Hannis is somehow using Regula (the machine) to "broadcast" his prophecies, aka Dreamcasting, then that wouldcertainly speed the process.

Also, as was alluded to in TOM, in times of peace, with no immediate threat or worry other than your next meal/harvest/etc.. People would finally be free to think about their future. For the last few years, dreaming of finding a life long love, or whatever, was replaced with hoping to survive the IO another day. I don't think it would take very long at all, in a society such as theirs, for Forune telling to take hold. Prophecies of a happy future would be the drug of choice feeding an already joyous population.

The twist of all that, with certain people demanding the prophecy be followed, and their blatant dismissal of the words of those they had previously trusted with their lives is the worrying part - Still haven't figured exactly how Hannis is accomplishing that, but I don't believe it is a natural occurance.

For me, with this book ending where it has makes it a real cliff hanger and as suspensefull as anything I've ever read. This story wasn't a typical "Will the hero sav the damsel" suspense (like Chainfire & Phantom) ... instead I found it to be a much more visceral "What the hell is going on" experience. The mindf**k of knowing we have a lot of clues, and still not being able to sort out exactly what is happening is what makes this an excellent book for me. Being forced to think about more than what is on the page adds an entirely new level to the "traditional" SoT world based story. For the stories prior to this book, we had everything laid out in plain sight, with methods & motives explained in great detail.
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:08 am

See I don't buy that whole "peacetime = people worried about their future = prophecy important now"

After all, throughout the rest of the SOT series we were told how much people have always been afraid of prophecy and prophets. I have to assume that at some point in the history of the world there was peace. Maybe not in all places at once, but some places would have peace. Westland, after the boundary was raised, had peace until the events of WFR.

And yet, suddenly, after the war with the IO was over, this specific peacetime means people care about prophecy rather than being afraid of it. Now I realize that there's supposed to be interference from Hannis, but before that it seemed like they were trying to pass of the peacetime excuse as a legitimate reason for the new trend.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:24 am

I'm loving it. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:33 am

I was hoping to have tine to write a full review, but I see it isn't going to happen. Reading this book actually left me heartbroken and if this is what we can expect in the future, I wld prefer to reread the earlier books and never see the new ones.

There are 3 main issues for me with this book.

The first is that SOT has always been about R & K and their love and relationships. This is non existent in this book. In fact, all characters here are talking heads. They say what you expect them to say (over and over and over) Zedd disbelieves all that Richard says sounding like an ignorant old man, Nathan is practically useless, Cara does Cara, Nikki- the one who is desperately in love with R, but apparently over it, is basically a placeholder and source of info for Dark Magic. But by far the worst is to watch K & R just move through a book not ever relating to the monumentous events that happened to them. Of being separated so long, not knowing who she was, I could go on, but Im sure its clear by now. There is no character development, in fact, there's no character in this book! It is a long rant against prophecy that has been done before and its sad, because I really love these characters and terrys world.

The law of nines was awful in this same regard. and all this is made worse b/c terry is so outstanding and we expect/need more from him than these books gave.

If anyone has Terry's ear, please let him know that we read for the incredible characters he created in an amazing world and to pls not forget that we care about their feelings, conversations, memories even more than 'what happens next'! How can we not deal with the past year of R & K's life? Its too much of a disconnect. Adding that to the story of the machine would make the next books winners IMO.

I know I said 3 things, but I don't even care about the others, you guys have mentioned them already and I gtg- thanks for listening!

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:34 am

Sorry to hear you are so disappointed in TOM Shoshanna. By no means do I think Terry's books need "defending", but perhaps anthers perspective on your thoughts may help you enjoy this book a bit more.

Zedd has always questioned most of what Richard says. At times because what Ricahrd may have to say is beyond Richard's knowledge, but mostly I think because Zedd is always a Teacher, and the best way to ensure a student knows what they are saying is to question them and hav them explain it. With this, Richard is forced to analyze and rethink his statements, thereby ensuring accuracy.

Nathan has always been an "auxilary" character, used to fill in needed plot developments. His role in this book hasn't changed.

Nikki has never been "in love" with Richard. Ever. She loves who Ricahrd is and what he stands for, but she's never loved him the way Kahlan does. Even when Zedd & others tried to convince her to "replace" Kahlan, she refused.

As for R&K's relationship ... I didn't see any change in it at all. They still seperate "panic mode" from thier intimate times together. For the average reader, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jagang was killed and the threat of the IO was ended. And in that sigh, we all hoped for the "fairy tale ending" they R&K deserve. But ... since that moment, they've set their own lives on hold yet again to organize Cara's wedding. A Mord Sith gettign married, expecially from their point of view, is certainly going to take precendence over them having a few days alone together. Add in the hordes of visiting dignitaries and the People's Palace is a zoo, with everyone demanding a moment of their time.

As for the "missing" reflections of all that they had just lived through in the last year and change ... I think maybe you are forgetting Rule #7. "Life is the future, not the past." I coudln't imagine a wrose couple of chapters to read than to see Richard and Kahlan wallow in despair and misery while reliving all they had been through, what they wished they could have done, and what they though they might have missed.

We saw a few moments of that, when mention was made of the cabin Richard had built for them during Kahlan's recovery. But even that was no more than wishful dreaming. Both R&K know that they couldn't just "walk away" from everyone and still respect themselves. We still see the intimacy between them though in the quiet moments, and in thier comfortable movements when they are alone together.

As much as we'd all enjoy "sitting aroud the campfire" with our favorite characters and spending a few days reminscing about all that happened before, that isn't who these characters are. And would you really want them to relive the last couple years? They were filled with nothing more than pain, misery and heartache. They have never done it before, and I didn't expect it to happen now. The cahracters we have all come to know and love have never been the type to relive the past, and I'm gald Terry didn't waste pages on just such a thing - these people are too strong for that sort of thing.

As a final comment ... I took me two full reads of this book to pick up all the small details that I initially thought might have been missing from TOM with regards to cahracter interaction and what I was expecting/hoping for. They are there, they just happen to be very subtle.
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:00 pm

IMagius wrote:
Nikki has never been "in love" with Richard. Ever. She loves who Ricahrd is and what he stands for, but she's never loved him the way Kahlan does. Even when Zedd & others tried to convince her to "replace" Kahlan, she refused.

Time for a good old fashioned nit-picking Razz

First, I'd say that there was a brief time when she was "in love" with Richard in Faith of the Fallen: before she had the realization, around the time that she asked him to make love to her. Now we could get into a debate about whether what she was thinking of at that point constituted "real love" and whether considering her philosophies at that point she was capabable of being in love. But thats semantics, and its kind of hard to define what love is in the first place. IMO, she was "in love" with Richard then as much as she herself could be "in love" with a person at that time in her life.

Second, I'd say she was "in love" with him in Chainfire, when no one but Richard had any knowledge of Kahlan's existence. Well, perhaps to see she was full-blown in love is taking it too far. I believe it was building in her, until they all finally remembered her through the SOT, to the point that she was close if not there.

One of my absolute favourite scenes in the whole series was in Chainfire, with Richard atop the Keep thinking of killing himself, and Nicci talked him down... by sacrificing any feelings she obviously had for him (in love or just loving him) and giving him the motivation to keep looking for a woman that she didn't believe existed at that point. That was some powerful emotional stuff there. That's real love, in every sense of the word.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:10 pm

Yes, and she as much as admits she loves Richard in Confessor as well during her chat with Ann ... I think though that in FotF, she "wanted" to be in love with him, and for him to love her in return, but the reality of that thought never really hit her until she saw the statue and at that point, it was obviously far too late for that to happen.

Love is a very hard word to nail down though as it can mean so many different things is so many ways. In my mind, Nicci loves Who Richard is, but I'm not sure she loves Richard. (It's a subtle difference in my mind that I am completely incapable of explaining)
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:17 pm

As far as FotF goes, that's much the reason why I said that she was as much in love with Richard as she could be at that time.

I think I kind of get what you mean in the second paragraph... maybe Razz

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:24 pm

Tend to agree with DW's assessment of what has become of Zedd. It's almost as if he never really recovered from the magic of Chainfire.

I actually enjoyed the new villains, especially the Hedge Maid. Downright creepy bitch.

My biggest gripe with TOM is it's frankly too thin. Too much like a thriller and lacking the depth of what most people consider good fantasy. I enjoyed it all right, but it was like that chunk of meat Chase refered to in WFR. Definitely needed some gravy.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:30 pm

I thought it was way too short too. How many pages was it as a HC? I seem to recall 500 or less, and I also recall that the text was pretty large too. That's pretty short for a fantasy novel.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:32 pm

Quote :
My biggest gripe with TOM is it's frankly too thin.
I wouldn't say that. I've read plenty of fantasy that was very, VERY thin--too many authors confuse "fantasy" with "excuse for socially acceptable erotica", and the whole D&D fantasy sub-genre is pretty much pure brain candy. Not that either is bad, if you're into that; I'm just saying that fantasy doesn't require depth.

I think the problem is that in prior books, we were spoiled. The heroes and villains were driven by specific philosophies, and those in turn drove the plot. Jagang wasn't evil because he was just a generic jerk, he was actually incredibly consistent and realistic (I don't consider that spoilers because you know he's the bad guy when you first encounter him in the books. Come to think of it, you know it BEFORE you encounter him if you pay attention). His motives were much, much deeper than "You killed my father, prepare to die". Revenge isn't a bad motive for an antagonist, but it's very, very shallow compared to what came before. And, given that it's the same world, same characters, and nearly the same day (certainly the same week), comparisons are inevitable.
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:40 pm

The villain in TOM isn't so simple as "you killed my father". He himself says or thinks at one point something to the effect of: I know Richard isn't the one that killed my father, and I hear that he's a great guy and all that, but I want his empire and the fact that he's the son of the man that killed my father sweetens the deal.

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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:43 pm

Okay, so power-lust tied with revenge. Razz He's still, at this point, no where near as developed, philosophically, as Jagang, is my point. It's the start of a new arc, so we obviously can't compare them too much, however--my hope is that this bad guy is fleshed out to be something more.
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rainshadow
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:09 pm

I'm quite certain he will be. He was pretty much introduced but he's not really TOM's main antagonist.

I'm convinced that TOM and the next book (the one not regarding the "mother story" as I've been calling it) were originally written to be released as a single volume and simply cut in half.

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Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... it's about getting out there and dancing in the rain.

We should create a loop. That way when he gets back he can feel jealous that he's been out of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Omen Machine Review (Spoilers)   Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:01 pm

IMagius wrote:
My only "complaint" (if one could call it that) was the apparent lack of creativity in parts of this book. The Mirrors, the "Creators language" (the reverse 9 with the hook was very reminiscent of the figure Jax taught Alex to carve into the bodies to make them return) and even the name Jit ... somehow I felt he simply "stole" the ideas he used in LoN to fill needs in this book. In LoN, we were told that there had been a "Golden Era" beore evil overtook and Jax came to visit Alex ... I would not have expected to find this new Evil of the dark lands, and its tools, to feature so prominently in the story already.

I understand why it was done, I just didn't really enjoy it as much as i could ahve ... had I not read LoN yet, I think I would have enjoyed this book much more. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this book though - these are really only small little nitpicky details that "irked" me while I read it. To the point that I was waiting for someone in the allegiance of lands that have sided with Hannis Arc to "wake up" or "be cured", only to find out a new form of Dreamwalker, Dream Caster, etc.. was controlling them.

Vika was a wonderful "treat" ... I'm looking forward to her (and the other Mord Sith with her) being put in her place by one of our "friendly" Mord Sith Very Happy

This best sums up my thoughts on the book without going into duplication. I enjoyed it, but I wish the LoN like snipit's were left out.
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