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Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
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Cybele's Secret (2008)

by Juliet Marillier

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5073020,055 (3.98)49
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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I was so close to giving this book 1 star because I started to dislike it so much towards the end. But no, I reserve one star for books that have horrid sentence structure, improper grammar, and just poor story-crafting skills. This book has no issues in terms of those three things.

However, I did not like this book. It was okay, but I can't say I liked it. The plot was too contrived. I was not engaged. The mystery and intrigue about the artifact wasn't interesting enough - I didn't care about it, why should I? She gave me no reason to care if we found it or not, other than that was their purpose. There wasn't enough importance to Cybele. Who cares? There was no reason to. It didn't affect any character at all. Poor motivation for the entire plotline of the story.

The characters were okay, but rather bland. There was no twist or turn to their personality. Of course Paula is a scholar and she proves it. Stoyan: of course he has depths and a intuitive mind, rather than just being a muscled body-guard. Of course Duarte is more than just the rakish pirate. It bores me to death. There was no spark in any of their interaction. Paual's voice wasn't exceptional either. It really almost just felt like Jena's except with a more scholarly take.

I think Marillier is weakest in dialogue. The words feel fake, the interactions don't seem real. There is no hidden intention or subtlety. Every character says exactly what is on their mind. It gives everything a very 2-D feel. The romance was too obvious. I felt like there was no spark between the characters. There is no tension, no tug or push and pull. It was just... boring.

I also figured out the big reveal very early on as well, which made the story infinitely more boring.

The father character was worthless except as a prop and an excuse to get Paula to Istanbul.
The tasks are ridiculous, just like Wildwood Dancing. There is no purpose to them beyond that fairy tales have them and they are expected. It is too easy to get past these stupid tests.
It is like Marillier has a preconceived notion of what should happen in a fairy tale novel and just inserts in random tasks and challenges just so. It says it tests for courage and faith and all that crap, but honestly? Not really. The characters breeze through the tests and trials in mere paragraphs. Ugh.

The ending sucked. What a disappointment. It's also like Marillier crams all the romance into the last 1/8 of the book. Everything is resolved except the romance. It pisses me off, really. It makes things so much more annoying when a book ends on finding "true love" when the entire book wasn't even really about true love. And why the heck do these strong women always waste away from true love? It's like it's a necessity in her books. Ugh.

I had to push through to finish - I almost wanted to drop the book halfway.

What I do like... the world building. She writes the backdrop of the story well. You can see the marketplace, the baths, the library. It's barely enough for me to hang on.

1.75 stars if that's possible? I guess 2 stars because I'm not really on a 0.25 scale. Recommended for people who read Wildwood Dancing and really want to finish the series. Not recommended for people who want a gripping book. Sorry if you are both types.
( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
I was so close to giving this book 1 star because I started to dislike it so much towards the end. But no, I reserve one star for books that have horrid sentence structure, improper grammar, and just poor story-crafting skills. This book has no issues in terms of those three things.

However, I did not like this book. It was okay, but I can't say I liked it. The plot was too contrived. I was not engaged. The mystery and intrigue about the artifact wasn't interesting enough - I didn't care about it, why should I? She gave me no reason to care if we found it or not, other than that was their purpose. There wasn't enough importance to Cybele. Who cares? There was no reason to. It didn't affect any character at all. Poor motivation for the entire plotline of the story.

The characters were okay, but rather bland. There was no twist or turn to their personality. Of course Paula is a scholar and she proves it. Stoyan: of course he has depths and a intuitive mind, rather than just being a muscled body-guard. Of course Duarte is more than just the rakish pirate. It bores me to death. There was no spark in any of their interaction. Paual's voice wasn't exceptional either. It really almost just felt like Jena's except with a more scholarly take.

I think Marillier is weakest in dialogue. The words feel fake, the interactions don't seem real. There is no hidden intention or subtlety. Every character says exactly what is on their mind. It gives everything a very 2-D feel. The romance was too obvious. I felt like there was no spark between the characters. There is no tension, no tug or push and pull. It was just... boring.

I also figured out the big reveal very early on as well, which made the story infinitely more boring.

The father character was worthless except as a prop and an excuse to get Paula to Istanbul.
The tasks are ridiculous, just like Wildwood Dancing. There is no purpose to them beyond that fairy tales have them and they are expected. It is too easy to get past these stupid tests.
It is like Marillier has a preconceived notion of what should happen in a fairy tale novel and just inserts in random tasks and challenges just so. It says it tests for courage and faith and all that crap, but honestly? Not really. The characters breeze through the tests and trials in mere paragraphs. Ugh.

The ending sucked. What a disappointment. It's also like Marillier crams all the romance into the last 1/8 of the book. Everything is resolved except the romance. It pisses me off, really. It makes things so much more annoying when a book ends on finding "true love" when the entire book wasn't even really about true love. And why the heck do these strong women always waste away from true love? It's like it's a necessity in her books. Ugh.

I had to push through to finish - I almost wanted to drop the book halfway.

What I do like... the world building. She writes the backdrop of the story well. You can see the marketplace, the baths, the library. It's barely enough for me to hang on.

1.75 stars if that's possible? I guess 2 stars because I'm not really on a 0.25 scale. Recommended for people who read Wildwood Dancing and really want to finish the series. Not recommended for people who want a gripping book. Sorry if you are both types.
( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
The characters are not very realistic, well developed or dimensional and yet somehow the stories stick with me and keep me interested. Many people have said that you have to remember that this series is for children/YA but that shouldn't be an excuse -- there are many books written for young people with excellent, well rounded and well developed characters. This author is a superb story teller though, even with that flaw. I listened to the book rather than read it, though, so some of my criticism may be due to the reader's job of portraying the characters.

I did not enjoy this one as much as the first book in the series. ( )
  LauraBLough | Dec 26, 2013 |
This was my second attempt at reading Cybele's Secret; the topic refuses to grab my attention. ( )
  lynnwords | Aug 29, 2013 |
I loved it. Paula is an excellent heroine with wit and intelligence to aid her toward her goal; however, that's not to say she doesn't learn many lessons. Her two love interests were great as well - both were unique, well-drawn characters that I had trouble choosing between. I especially liked how Paula openly admitted to not being beautiful and clearly charmed both men with her intelligence. Too often in books with strong heroines, the heroines still manage to get the boy because they're beautiful. Paula really only had a good heart and a scholarly way that intrigued these men. I hope Marillier writes another companion novel with these five sisters and The Other Kingdom. ( )
  IAmChrysanthemum | Jun 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Marillier's graceful prose—reminiscent of Patricia McKillip—and wonderful characterizations are frank, not florid. (Still, Harlequin junkies would be advised to try this more sophisticated confection, whatever their age.) [...] Paula's struggle with her emerging attraction is never tiresome but, rather, the glue that holds the whole caper together. One is every bit as interested in the fates of Marillier's lovers as they are in the scenes of piracy, pursuit, and tests of bravery—of which there are (thrillingly) plenty.
 
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A companion novel to Wildwood Dancing
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To my granddaughter Katy
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The deck tilted to port, and I tilted with it, grabbing at a rope to keep my balance.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037583365X, Hardcover)

FOR PAULA, ACCOMPANYING her merchant father on a trading voyage to Istanbul is a dream come true. They have come to this city of trade on a special mission to purchase a most rare artifact—a gift from the ancient goddess, Cybele, to her followers. It’s the only remnant of a lost, pagan cult.

But no sooner have they arrived when it becomes clear they may be playing at a dangerous game. A colleague and friend of Paula’s father is found murdered. There are rumors of Cybele’s cult reviving within the very walls of Istanbul. And most telling of all, signs have begun to appear to Paula, urging her to unlock Cybele’s secret.

Meanwhile, Paula doesn’t know who she can trust in Istanbul, and finds herself drawn to two very different men. As time begins to run out, Paula realizes they may all be tied up in the destiny of Cybele’s Gift, and she must solve the puzzle before unknown but deadly enemies catch up to her. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:40 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Scholarly eighteen-year-old Paula and her merchant father journey from Transylvania to Istanbul to buy an ancient pagan artifact rumored to be charmed, but others, including a handsome Portuguese pirate and an envoy from the magical Wildwood, want to acquire the item, as well.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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