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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
I've been reading N.D. Wilson's writing, ever since he first started getting it published. I read his early short stories and poems in Credenda Agenda. I've also recommended his work before but having just finished the concluding volume of his 100 Cupboards trilogy (100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, The Chestnut King), I have much more to say.

Genius is rare...
Published on February 6, 2010 by Amanda K. Patchin

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style and suspense!
Grand style, heart-jumping-into-your-throat action, amazing ending.

This book is a lot darker than the other ones, as the story plot moves more and more from Narnian to Lord of the Rings-ish. A evil darkness hides, 10 "fingerlings" (think, ringwraiths) track Henry by smelling and sensing him (not by a ring, but by a scar from the evil queen), everyone...
Published 15 months ago by Ashley Elizabeth Blair Tetzlaff


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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, February 6, 2010
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This review is from: The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboards (Hardcover)
I've been reading N.D. Wilson's writing, ever since he first started getting it published. I read his early short stories and poems in Credenda Agenda. I've also recommended his work before but having just finished the concluding volume of his 100 Cupboards trilogy (100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, The Chestnut King), I have much more to say.

Genius is rare. We all know that. Acheiving popularity as a writer is pretty rare too. Very rarely do the two coincide, and it is almost unheard of for genius and popularity to come together in the author's own lifetime. I sincerely hope it happens for N.D. Wilson though. He's got five kids to feed.

There is quite a lot going on in this trilogy and I really don't have the time or the space to analyze everything. I do want to make a couple of comparisons though. I'm not a fan of Rowling, or her hero: Harry Potter. I don't hate the kid, but I find his story dull and uninteresting. I don't find the world Rowling created very magical, mysterious, or enchanting. I wouldn't really want to visit there. The school politics and bereaucracy are alive and well in that world and their mind-numbing qualities are quite available outside the pages of a book. The idea that she is writing about wizardry is severely misguided. What she calls wizardry and magic, is really just scientific knowledge and method. The classes at Hogwarts are just science and history classes. The wizard world is only a more technologically advanced version of Great Britain.

All of that to say, Wilson's fantasy world is as homegrown American as Rowling's is British, but it is truly fantastical. There exists within it references to things like mayors and bereaucracies, but the vision of it is transformative and deeply magical. Wilson's hero-child, Henry, isn't a wizard (though wizards do exist and are wizardish), he is a green-man. This distinction is important imaginatively and it deeply shapes the narrative. Harry Potter is basically a bright-boy with a high IQ. This means his spells work particularly well. He still has to memorize them though. He has to have technical knowledge to be a wizard. Wilson's wizards have mysterious knowledge but they operate in a Merlinic fashion: they produce their effects by being themselves rather than by manipulating charms. Henry is a seventh son of a seventh son, branded by the fire of the dandelion. Further, Henry's powers and knowledge as a green-man are acheived as wisdom is, by distilled experience and personal virtue. Birth and naming are more important than access to textbooks or library research (sorry Hermione). This means that the pull, the attraction, of Wilson's world is that of the mythic, the poetic, the otherworldly. Rowling's world is attractive as all success, fame, and ambition stories are; they stimulate the desires of pride and lust for power.

Another interesting aspect of the 100 Cupboards series is the orphan-status of the hero: Henry. Many (most?) children's books feature an orphan for the hero. I have a very smart colleague at Boise State who is studying this phenomena in mythology and literature. Sometimes the child is an outright orphan, as is Harry Potter, and sometimes it is a child with orphan-status: some kind of parents exist but he is effectively abandoned and alone. Wilson takes this typical situation and uses it in some unique ways. I've never seen the joy and the primacy of a family so beautifully affirmed in a book. It is a wonderful to read. Wilson is Gene Wolfe for kids.

Finally, one character when faced with death, comments that he ought to have eaten more of his wife's pies. And that is just good philosophy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The End of Cupboard Travel, March 8, 2011
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Reason for Reading: Next (and last) in the trilogy.

It's the final showdown in this volume. Nimiane is making her move to take over the empire, her hatred for Henry's bloodline makes his whole family targets of her wrath, especially him, since they are tied together with the blood bond and she knows how powerful he could become. Most of the book takes place within the worlds of the cupboards, with the doors being used for travel and a few pit stops are made here and there to the house in Kansas in the process. People actually notice a few strange things happening where the house used to be and the area is becoming popular to the paranormal events -type crowd. Henry learns a lot more about who he is and who he could be while Henrietta becomes much more of a teammate than she has ever been before, though she and Henry do end up on different teams at times. I think all the characters have grown as people throughout this series and that is always a good feeling to have at the end of a series.

The paranormal elements of this volume where quite intriguing. The full truth comes out about Henry's scar and his ties to Endor because of it. Henry's case is an exciting one as at one point it boils down to the options of giving up and dying quickly or going forward to die with honour or at least die trying. But things are never always as they seem and at the end we can sigh with relief at the happy ending. In fact, this is my main problem with the book, the ending is too pat. All ends were finished off just so perfectly nicely that it destroyed some of the story's believability for me. The other thing I find annoying is the trend of these juvenile fantasies, with book 1 being 200 and some pages, book two pushes the 400 mark and then book 3 has to top them all off by trying to become a 500 page tome. That is what actually made me take so long to get started on this book since I had enjoyed the first two books so much.

An interesting, well-thought out fantasy world and story that delivers an exciting conclusion while on the other hand draws out the trilogy when it might have been trimmed a little to make it a bit move quicker and therefore more tense.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book and series, May 22, 2010
This review is from: The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboards (Hardcover)
I will start off by saying that I absolutely love this series. When I read book one, 100 Cupboards, I thought it was an excellent story and that it could be the beginning of a great series. When I read book 2, Dandelion Fire, I thought it was an incredible story, Tolkienesk even, and yet it left we wanting more of Henry's story. Book 3, The Chestnut King, blew away all my previous expectations. Very few authors in my opinion are worthy of being compared to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien or Madeleine L'Engle, and yet as I read this book I could not help but find myself comparing the author's style, and the substance of his writings to these three giants in literature.

This story continues the adventures of Henry York Maccabee, a young boy about to turn 13, raised near Boston on our earth. While visiting family in Kansas he discovers 100 magic doors hidden in a wall. He also finds out that he is not from earth and that the person he thought was his Grandfather had brought him through one of the doors when he was young. He has released an ancient evil Nimiane from Endor, and she devours all life. She is hunting Henry and wants to capture him before he comes into his power. He has been touched by her blood and its scar on his face is expanding. It is a bond between them. Henry's Father and Uncle are off searching for the dark witch when calamity befalls the family. They are taken by soldiers from a southern kingdom. The dark witch is trying to draw Mordecai, Henry's father, and Henry into a trap.

This specific story, and the whole trilogy, is told as a series of narratives telling different people's parts of the story. It reminds me of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, which is told in 6 books each telling a part of the tale and going back and forth. This story does the same thing. Told from Henry's vantage point, his cousin Henrietta's, his father's and at times even the witch's, the story switches back and forth from different vantage points and most times there are gaps in the story. Some get filled in by others, some are left for you to fill in. Yet it works together as a cohesive whole. At nearly 500 pages this third volume is the longest and also the best written. The story is compelling and highly addictive. I read it in 3 sittings, not wanting to put it down either of the times I did, but life intruded upon my desired reading time.

This is an excellent book by an author who is coming into his own. The story arc across the three novels proceeds well, and this particular volume is excellent. I look forward to future offerings from N.D. Wilson for if they are as good as this one, they will be greatly entertaining.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style and suspense!, October 25, 2013
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Grand style, heart-jumping-into-your-throat action, amazing ending.

This book is a lot darker than the other ones, as the story plot moves more and more from Narnian to Lord of the Rings-ish. A evil darkness hides, 10 "fingerlings" (think, ringwraiths) track Henry by smelling and sensing him (not by a ring, but by a scar from the evil queen), everyone is running, running, running... all is about lost when Henry finds the strength in and outside of him to kill the witch. As much as I enjoyed the story, I missed having an Aslan figure, a God, that one could depend on to come through in times of crisis, instead of just digging deeper into oneself or nature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Read, July 5, 2013
I absolutely LOVED this book! It is the third in the epic series by N. D. Wilson. I think one of the reasons this is my favorite out of the three is because by this point in the story you pretty much know the characters, and you know the plot to a certain degree. You have multiple hopes and fears and in every chapter you're rooting for Henry to defeat the evil witch and banish all the hurt and evil from the land. I think Wilson did a fabulous job with character development, especially with the protagonist, Henry York Maccabbee. At the beginning of the story, Henry is a scared little kid who has been horribly sheltered. He can't hardly do anything without wanting to throw up. But as Henry learns who he truly is, he grows and matures into a true hero that is truly brave because he does what is right in the face of terrible danger. He takes risks so that others will be safe, and he doesn't become prideful even though he is more powerful than anyone ever imagined. Another thing I really liked about this story was that it was so unique. There weren't any echoes of other fantasy stories. Super good read. I want to read it to my kids someday. :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Storytelling, October 3, 2014
By 
G. Cox (The Missouri Ozarks) - See all my reviews
I really didn't expect to like this book as well as the 2nd of the series, but I was blown away. I have never read a fantasy series where the 2nd book was so much better than the first and the 3rd was even better. Usually, the newness of the world wears thin and the formula of the author comes clear and I get bored with later books. Not so with this series. The 3rd is, in my opinion, the best of the three, and the first two were wonderful.

This book is darker. There is more at stake. All the characters push themselves past their believed boundaries to help the others. But the ending is still unexpected. I am sad to find there is not a 4th book. I have fallen in love with Henry, with Henrietta, with Frank Fat Faerie, with Rags, with the Chestnut King, and with all the adults in the story. The context changes enough in this book that I had to pay close attention or get confused.

But couldn't put the book down. A masterpiece of storytelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a sequel you'd not be disapointed in!, February 7, 2013
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One rule I always make for myself, never write a first book if you don't know how the last book is the series ends! Every time an author writes the ending out of the blue instead of already having a rough idea it turns out a complete disaster and ticks off all the fans, you know who you are authors! But this guy, Wilson, knows exactly how to write his characters and his story so that the reader stays interested to the very end and can't sleep without knowing what happens next! It was three am when I finished this one! Excellent book! And on top of that I can read it to the kids because there is no swearing and no sexual innuendo. Fantastic book, well done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, October 2, 2014
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but as it progressed I found the frailty and uselessness of the female characters to be incredibly distracting from an otherwise interesting story. Taking ideas from Harry Potter and a bit of the Lord of the Rings, it was a good story, if not that original, but lacked the strong female characters of these books. The women characters are primarily hiding below deck or curling up on a rooftop, crying, which disgusts me. I hoped modern literature had reached beyond that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry York after finding his dad has an amazing adventure and with the help of his friends and many other does amazing things, January 4, 2014
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Definetly the most action packed and thrilling book of the hundred cupboard series it is really an amazing book that I have read over and over again and I will keep reading it this book never stops impressing me with detail and the pure imagination on the part of the writer a truly amazing book I highly recommend to a reader that loves to imagine and loves action fantasy books truly a great read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've been won., May 15, 2014
I loved this series. Every book was just as good as the first. In my review of the first book, I felt apprehensive about presenting this book as a read aloud to the younger or more sensitive set in my family. Now, after finishing the series, I almost can't wait for them to grow into it, so we can all share! I highly recommend this series and its author.
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The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboards
The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboards by Nathan D. Wilson (Hardcover - January 26, 2010)
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