Tag Archives: France

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (Review by Anika F. ’21)

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In an alternate 1800s France, six individuals must team up to pull off the heist of a lifetime. The thieves in question are a historian, an engineer, a performer, a gardener, and an old friend, all led by an angsty leader.

The setting is full of magic and wonder. Roshani Chokshi pulls from myths from all around the world to build a rich environment: There are references to the Bible, Greek mythology, Persian stories, and Indian deities. The words themselves are also full of magic: “History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.” Atmospheric settings and writing are not necessarily for all readers, but the lush story really worked for me.

While the plot did feel convenient at times, the success of the book came not from the events that occurred, but rather from the characters. Six characters is a lot of one book to flesh out, but this one managed to make all of them have compelling stories and character arcs. Severin, the group’s leader, struggles with wanting revenge for a lost inheritance and also wanting to protect the members of his team. Hypnos (the old friend) and Severin both struggle with being mixed-race in a society that sees whiteness as paramount. Enrique (the historian) sees parallels to his Filipino heritage and the Spanish colonization of his people. Zofia (the engineer) learns to understand how emotions work as she feels more at home with chemical reactions than with life forms. Tristan (the gardener) looks up to Severin, but is reluctant to go on any heists. And Laila (the performer), has a secret: She’s not a “normal” girl, and in the next few months, she will die.

This book has been heavily compared to Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, and while the idea of having to steal something is the same, the execution is completely different. Six of Crows relies on a magic system that gives certain people (the grisha) special powers. The Gilded Wolves, however, uses logic and problem solving to complete the heist. What stood out to me is how the historian and the engineer work together to solve the puzzles. In an increasingly STEM vs humanities/social sciences world, having these two rely on each other to solve problems was so refreshing.

And if I haven’t convinced you to read this yet, the sequel The Silvered Serpents came out in late 2020, and the third book The Bronzed Beasts comes out in September 2021! —Review by Anika F. ’21

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An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (review by Mr. Silk, Teacher)

An Officer and a SpyAn Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Falling somewhere between history, historical fiction and spy novel, An Officer and a Spy is a fact-based account of the Dreyfus Affair, one of the more troubling times of the French military. When Alfred Dreyfus is accused and convicted of treason, it takes the newly appointed head of the French spy division, Georges Picquart to ferret out the truth. Robert Harris is a master story-teller, and this book is surely a page turner. At times the story seems unbelievable, or, at best, inconceivable, but the reader has to remember that all the events did actually occur. A definite must for anyone who has read and enjoyed Harris or Jean le Carre, or who is interested in French history.

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (review by Connie M. ’17)

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the Light We Cannot See met and exceeded my high expectations. Doerr’s masterpiece, transitionally smooth between the simultaneous stories of the two main characters, is written eloquently and at times poetically. The plot line is intensely gripping and not only conveys the deep horror and trauma caused by WWII both on the French and the German sides but also reminds us of the beauty and light that exist even in dark times. This book is not a romance — as suggested by the publisher’s book summary. Readers should be prepared for a story that is raw and emotionally moving. The decade Doerr used to write All the Light We Cannot See paid off. – Connie M. ’17

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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (review by Sean K. ’14)

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dumas’ second masterpiece is a work of gothic brilliance and has become the quintessential novel of revenge. The eternal protagonist, Edmond Dantes, begins as an ambitious, accomplished sailor in the service of an esteemed trading company in France. He is brutally betrayed, resulting in a wretched 14 years of imprisonment, only to escape, stumble upon an immense fortune, and return to France to pursue a ruthless path of retribution against his perpetrators. Originally written in French, the English translation is in itself a display of eloquent language. A certain level of density accompanies this sophistication, through which some impatient readers may have difficulty traveling. However, action and adventure abound, and the long-awaited moments of revenge stemming from Dantes’ tortuous plans imbue a vindictive ecstasy unsurpassed in literature. Furthermore, Dumas’ periodic philosophical questions on power, fidelity, and revenge offer pensive breaths in between sequences of high suspense. The Count of Monte Cristo is a lengthy read, and many will have to persevere to traverse its many rich pages. But those who do will be enriched by one of the greatest novels of all time and the lessons that it relays. “Only one who has undergone ultimate suffering may experience ultimate bliss.” – Sean K. ‘14

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Camille by Alexandre Dumas-fils (review by Meilan S. ’17)

CamilleCamille by Alexandre Dumas-fils
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Camille, by Alexandre Dumas Jr., is a perfectly fine book. It follows the story of love between a young nobleman, Armand Duval, and a “lady of the city,” Marguerite Gautier. At first Gautier is cold and refuses Duval’s advances, but she quickly opens up to him and falls in love. Although the novel is lush with descriptions of 19th century Paris and makes some valid observations on society, it is emotionally lacking. This is especially disappointing given the potential storyline. Unfortunately, the book, like a glass of warm milk, is nice and nothing more. Parts are told too quickly or in a style that makes some events seem unbelievable and the characters unsympathetic, especially Duval who seems like a flat caricature. By the end of the book, I found myself not caring all too much about Marguerite and Duval. It has several redeeming qualities like plot and theme, however, so it makes a good read, though not a fantastic one. – Meilan S. ’17

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