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Five Odd Honors by Jane Lindskold

Five Odd Honors

by Jane Lindskold

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Breaking the Wall (3)

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Five odd honors is a fitting final instalment of the series. That is to say, it has competent heroes both male and female, old and young. The heroes have flaws, but are sympathetic. It has interesting magic and weird creatures.
I'm not sure I'm entirely a fan of the fact that large parts were written from the perspective of a new character, The Horse. He was ok, but I was personally more interested in Brenda, Pearl, and Riprap.
In a way, I think it is admirable that Jane Lindskold doesn't make this book end like a fairytale. Although things get resolved, other things don't, and part of the ending is not completely satisfactory, or even clear as to how it will turn out. That feels a little more like real life than a story. On the other hand, part of the ending disturbed me a bit. There is a considerable amount of hardship for some of the characters (which, incidentally, I didn't necessarily want to know about), especially some of the dead people. It seems to me that after all that, they are dismissed quite easily. They should have gotten at least something to show for it... Sure, a few characters mention that life is not fair, and I suppose that is true, but there were higher powers in play here. They could have made things a little more fair. I'm not saying that the dead should not have returned to death, but surely they could have gotten some compensation for all the trouble they went through?
Then there is the coming of age of Brenda, and her conflict with her father. Again, admirably realistic and un-fairytalelike. Still, I would have wished that Brenda had actually talked more to her dad instead of talking to others, doing what she feels is right without telling him, and then simply taking a stand when he wants her to go home. Already in college she is upset about his behaviour, and she never really confronts him. Even when she takes her stand, she never addresses all the issues, and that, I feel, is a shame.

Several other things are left not completely resolved, and although I can admire it, it also makes me feel a little unsettled. It's not that I want a happily ever after, but I wouldn't have minded just a little more closure. The one thing I don't mind not being resolved too clearly is the romance bit. It's been clear for three books that Brenda and Flying Claw are attracted to each other, but I'm fine with there not being a declaration of eternal devotion and undying love. ( )
  zjakkelien | Sep 22, 2014 |
I definitely need to read all the books in a row again, because although I was mostly able to pick up the plot threads & characters, I definitely felt like I was missing something. Great book, though, deeply engaging. Love the consistency and imaginativeness of her invented magic worlds & systems. ( )
  epersonae | Mar 30, 2013 |
Five Odd Honors is the third book in Jane Lindskold’s series Breaking the Wall, following Thirteen Orphans and Nine Gates. I hesitate to call it the final book since Lindskold has indicated that she would like to write at least one more novel for the series, but she isn’t currently working on another and doesn’t have any immediate plans to write one. While I haven’t enjoyed the series quite as much as I hoped I would, I keep reading the books for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the magic system inspired by the game of mahjong. I haven’t seen this anywhere else and I love it. In addition to Lindskold’s use of mahjong, she has some very interesting world-building based on other Chinese traditions and mythologies. So while parts of the first two books frustrated me immensely, there were enough intriguing concepts and cool ideas introduced that I looked forward to reading Five Odd Honors. Also, as with the previous books, the novel takes its name from a limit hand in mahjong.

Having successfully established the Nine Gates, allowing access to the Lands Born of Smoke and Sacrifice through a shared underworld, the Thirteen Orphans are one step closer to healing the rift between their world and the Lands. Their task is still not an easy one, and they can’t do it alone. But even with the aid of potential new allies, who have their own motives for helping, the situation is becoming increasingly more dangerous. Something strange is going on in the Lands and the Orphans aren’t even certain who or what they are fighting against anymore. What is certain is that the enemy won’t hesitate to initiates attacks across worlds. If the Orphans want to put a stop to it, they’re going to need to figure out what is happening and act quickly.

I am still somewhat surprised that after three books I haven’t become more attached to the characters in Breaking the Wall. Although I will admit to becoming rather fond of Loyal Wind in Five Odd Honors, overall I have found it difficult to connect with them as individuals. In concept I think they’re very interesting people, but for some reason the chemistry simply isn’t there. The metaphysics used in the story tend not to be as thoroughly explained in Five Odd Honors as they were earlier in the series. This means the plot moves along more quickly, but I sometimes felt I was missing out. The focus also tends to shift somewhat from the Chinese traditions to incorporate more Celtic traditions. Some of the plot developments seemed to be more convenient than convincing, such as the circumstances surrounding parts of the Tigers’ initial fight or characters suddenly revealing hidden skill sets when they happen to be needed. Still, even when the elements weren’t always executed very well, it was fascinating.

It would be extremely difficult to read Five Odd Honors as a stand alone novel. I would recommend reading at least the second book, Nine Gates, before attempting Five Odd Honors. Even I, who have been following the series, took a while to settle into the book. That being said, I actually found Five Odd Honors more enjoyable and easier to read overall than the previous two volumes in the series. The Orphans and their cohorts have a tendency to talk things to death, something that is acknowledged within the actual narrative. Fortunately, this is not nearly as troublesome in Five Odd Honors; while it still happens, the pacing is much improved. I do hope that Lindskold has the opportunity to publish at least one more volume of Breaking the Wall. Although Five Odd Honors has a definite and somewhat satisfying ending, there are quite a few loose ends left, even reaching back as far as Nine Gates if not further. Lindskold still has plenty of roads left to explore in Breaking the Wall and I would like to see where they go.

Experiments in Reading ( )
1 vote PhoenixTerran | May 12, 2011 |
Several of the Orphans enter the alternate world their ancestors came from to discover what is wrong with it. Brenda is sent back to college, but is befriended by Parnell, a faerie from the Irish magical tradition. An evil Chinese magician captures the scouting party and tortures them, disfiguring the handsome Flying Claw. At the last minute, Pearl faces her father, figuring out that he has been "haunted" by his first wife, part of why he was always so cruel to her. Brenda and Parnell arrive and help save everyone. The scouting party, many of them the "ghosts" of the original Orphans, were tortured and raped--this book is quite darker and more brutal than the first two. Brenda stands up to her father, telling him she wants to pursue learning about her heritage. There are a couple of loose ends that aren't well tied up, and it's not a fully satisfying ending, but still an epic story.
  dolphari | Dec 27, 2010 |
The third and final book in the Breaking the Wall series. The Orphans finally make their way to the Lands Born of Smoke and Sacrifice, but the Lands have changed beyond all recognition. Much effort and pain will be required before the final restoration. ( )
  readinggeek451 | May 23, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Lindskoldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Weber, SamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Brenda Morris sat down at her computer, her fingers flying as she wrote a letter she knew she'd never be permitted to send.
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When the lands of the ninth gate are found transformed by magic that has rendered them uninhabitable, the Thirteen Orphans and their allies are challenged to breach the world's Center within five elements from Chinese mythology, a quest that is complicated by a cruel betrayal.… (more)

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