Book Reviews

Warrior of the Altaii Wrap-up: Jordan from the grave

I would like for you all to play this whilst reading this blog. This is one of my all time subtitles, and after the terrible atrocity that was my subtitle for The True Bastards, it is an honor to have such a tremendous comeback. Never count me out. You can count out Robert Jordan though, because he is dead. Sorry Robert. If you were still alive I would love to tell you how much your books have meant to me. I give a little bit of sour all the time, but sometimes I come with the sweet.

You know what would mean a lot to me, if you lovely and not lovely readers of the greatest fantasy and sports hybrid blog gave the greatest fantasy and sports hybrid podcast a listen. In this weeks episode we go over Warrior of the Altaii, the posthumous work of fantasy legend Robert Jordan. We also go over some other funny shit.

Click the link here to get an instant audio erection. If you don’t get that joke, this is a link to the podcast not to Blue Chew, though I know the lovely folks over at Blue Chew are longtime silent fans, so maybe come through with a sponsorship?

Three paragraphs and shameless self promotion later, it is time to get into the book. Apparently this book was written before Jordan exploded onto the scene, in fact it is the first book he ever wrote, and one of the more interesting things I found about the book is how he clearly has the idea for the WoT already in his head, as there are many elements in Warrior of the Altaii that are expanded upon in the WoT. So for WoT fans I would call this a must read, for everyone else it is simply an average fantasy book.

The story goes like this, the Altaii are a nomadic barbaric people that live on the Plain, and their primary purpose in life seems to be raiding caravans and selling slaves and stolen goods. The Plain is drying up, and the city of Lanta is plotting to expand their city state into an empire, but the Altaii are in the way since they just keep wrecking all the trade. Both of these things are making life a pain in the fucking ass for the Altaii, buttttt fortunately we got ourselves a hero named Wulfgar (all time badass name). The Altaii go into the city and meet these two queens, which sit upon the Twin Thrones. The queens are hellbent on killing Wulfgar and the Altaii, but they fail miserably and Wulfgar takes their city and destroys their army, essentially installing himself as the new emperor.

Along the way we have some interesting tidbits that show us where Jordan’s head was at. First and foremost is Jordan’s love of having female characters strip and talk about their bodies. I have written in past WoT audiobook recaps that Jordan is obsessed with tits, and already in his first ever book the Sisters of Wisdom, who are the magic users in this book and an obvious foreshadowing of Aes Sedai, having to get naked and paint on themselves before they do any magic. One of the queens is also naked quite a bit, and there are bath girls that only seem to serve the purpose of bathing characters and looking hot. Another theme that continues in the WoT is that women have all the magical and political power. I was going to say they have rights as well, buttttttttt they are constantly getting either raped, prostituted or enslaved so it seems like there is a trade off. This would now be considered slightly problematic and would need to have some character addressing the immorality of it in order to appease the readers if it was written today. The Altaii are the obvious an early prototype of the Aiel, with all their focus on rituals and proper protocol and traditions and their warrior culture. And and and.

With all that being said, since it is such a quick read and me being an avid WoT fan this book was enjoyable. Not the greatest thing I ever read, but still leaning Chad on this. Not a fully torqued Monster and Blue Chew Chad but a Dubstep in your Jeep Wrangler one.

Book Reviews

The True Bastards Wrap-up: A ride on the hog side

That is an egregious offense to the subtitle gods but in some odd way I am proud of it. Coming in hot with another review is the next book in a series that is slowly creeping its way to the upper echelons of my heart. The True Bastards by Jonathan French is the second book of The Lot Lands series. It takes what made the first book such an interesting and fun read and improves upon it. The plot is much more expansive and original. Don’t just take my written word for it though, also listen to me verbally jerk the book off on another edition of the greatest fantasy, nay, the greatest literary podcast of all time: The Swords and Sports podcast featuring yours truly.

Click the link below to be transported to a magical place owned by a fruit (not a gay joke simply an apple joke) and have all your audio fantasies come true.

Click here to start your trans-formative journey

Now that is how you sell a fucking podcast. Where do I begin with this review. I already know this is going to be a clusterfuck but whatever. Jackal is no longer the POV character, instead we get our main homie Fetching. She is attempting to lead The True Bastards in the wake off having the Kiln destroyed by old sludgey but of course life ain’t that fucking easy. First she needs to contend with her own version of black lung, which is essentially that she is coughing up sludge like a frat boy throws up beer the morning after a sick rager. The town of Winsome has zero, nada, zilch food and motherfuckers are hungry. So she has to find out why none of the food is getting there. Turns out a pack of super hyenas controlled by a giant orc shaman are causing terror throughout The Lot Lands. Some frails have started setting up shop in an abandoned lot but none of the other hoofs no what to do. Hispertha is getting real mouthy in their quest to expand the empire. Basically she is going through a Lot. Get it, its because the series is called The Lot Lands. Let me end this monster paragraph.

That is quite the predicament to find oneself in. Fortunately for the lovely half-elf, half-orc super hybrid there is one simple answer. Violence. As the famous Jedi Mind Tricks song Violence begets Violence taught me, it’s that Violence begets Violence so that means madness ensues. We are talking hoof on hoof war, hoof on Tine war, hoof and hoof on magic orc shaman and hyena war, and all types of fun.

This fucking book is awesome. I love, love, love the use of all kinds of mythical races and that they can mix creating all different species that have to make their way in the world. I love that they ride hogs and shoot crossbows like they are a fucking motorcycle gang. I love the interplay between the clashing cultures and factions along The Lot Lands. The world Frenchy Lotana builds is absolutely brilliant. The characters are hilarious, believable and have realistic arcs. The curse words are great. The use of the word “cock” is without equal. Basically read this series if you like fun.

This book is literally the definition of chad. Easiest rating ever.

Book Reviews

The Poppy War Wrap-up: Popping off

As another week passes by, it is time for yet another book review. This time I would like to present The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Before I go too far into the weeds, I think it is once again worth mentioning that if the written word is not enough for you, feel free to listen to the SwordsandSports podcast. You can find that shit on iTunes, and maybe one day when I get around to it you can find it on Google Play. This week I recap the super bowl, I beg for money because I lost it all, and make other hilarious comments on the book. 52 books, 52 weeks, 52 podcasts. Join the movement now or die a horrible death.

You can find a link to the podcast here.

Alright another unsuccessful promo done so we can move on. I got to be honest about The Poppy War for real, for real. To me this seemed like a story you have read at least 14 times in your life, except the characters and culture is all Asian. I know this is both controversial and brave of me to say. Let me break it down for you clowns out there who are ready to throw me into the fire. The book is essentially two parts.

Part one is your classic orphan goes to school and learns magic tale. I am going to use no gender pronouns here, not to be progressive but to prove a point. It starts out with this kid, the kid is naturally an orphan. The way out of a tough living situation is to get accepted into this special school. The only way to do this is to be super smart. Of course the main character is beyond smart so the kid gets accepted to the school. The school is male dominated, but there are some women. The school is run by Masters, each Master has a specific subject that they teach. But there is a Master that is loopy, wacky, disheveled and frankly childish and immature. Most of the other professors think he is cracked, but of course he is the Master of magic. The main character has a rival, this rival is super wealthy and the son of an important lord. Their antics trying to one-up each other provide a lot of the filler. Eventually the main character has to choose her track. The main character begrudgingly earns the respect of the wacky Master and does a bunch of things that don’t really seem to have a point, but are actually teaching The main character magic. The hunger for more power eventually leads to a schism, as the Master doesn’t think this power should be used for violence.

Is part one The Name of the Wind? Nope. In this book replace Kvothe with Rin, Master Elodin with Jiang, and Ambrose with Nezha. Make everyone Asian and we have ourselves an award winning debut novel. Part 2 on the other hand, is where things take a turn.

At some point in the book, we replace the quaint orphan goes to school tale with an X-men in a fantasy world witnessing and causing massacres story. A littttttle bit different. The second part goes way off the rails, and frankly it is refreshing. Eventually Rin joins this crack team of a magic using military branch and causes absolute fucking mayhem. Not to spoil everything but the kind of amoral heel turn Rin takes is awesome. The second half is a little crazy and disjointed but a ton of fun.

So ends another dope ass review. This book teeters the line between virgin and chad so I place it firmly in the middle. On the one side, orphan goes to school and learns magic is one of my favorite kinds of stories but is def a virg move. On the other hand mass murder is very chad. The two balance each other out, the perfect yin to yang ratio.

Book Reviews

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids Wrap-up:

I hope people like book review’s because if you are at all following this blog there are going to be 52 of them this year. With that being said it is time for the next iteration of the most famous, popular, controversial book review blog series. In my shameless self promotion you can hear my pontificate on the finer intricacies of the Lucernis underworld with a brand new guest on this weeks edition of the Swords and Sports podcast. Now available on the Itunes podcast app so you are running out of excuses not to give it a listen.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-swords-and-sports-podcast/id1496413079

On this weeks episode we discuss the absolutely enjoyable book, our favorite curse words from the book, the mechanical spider thing from Toy Story, a farewell to my sweet prince Eli Manning and a whole bunch of wildly entertaining shit that is sure to fill you with wondrous joy and have you running to your friends at the park asking if they listened yet.

Now that is a fucking podcast promotion. I think. Let’s get into the book. The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids is a pretty short book but for only being 200 pages it seems to fit a lot of shit into those pages. Not shit like its garbage, reading that back I can see it being misleading. But ya boy Michael McClung self-published this book in 2012 and won the SPFBO, another award I refuse to look further into, so it definitely has a little notoriety behind it. And it is well deserved.

The story follows Amra, your take-no-shit female thief who finds a way to make the thieving life seem, if not glamorous, at least not grimy. Her homie Corbin comes over one night and asks her to hold this gold frog for him because he has to go collect payment for a score that he never got paid for. Well turns out he is never getting paid because he gets sliced up that night. Amra vows to get some revenge, and from there we get a classic revenge, murder mystery that really turns into Amra being the person responsible with stopping a legendary demi-god assassin.

It takes a few wild turns, at one point a mages body explodes or something and he winds up putting his head on a mechanical spider. That is pretty cool. There is also a giant dog named Bone who has like 9 concussions but still manages to be a good boy. There is a temple where all the acolytes mouths are sewed shut and their god speaks through them, reminiscent of some movie that I forget. There is a cranky librarian who fires off insults like a cast member of Wild’n’Out. Did I sell it yet?

In truth the brevity of the story is actually a huge positive. With little room for fluff, it sticks to the parts that work well and is an adventure that doesn’t feel forced. Being the most sincere two sentences in the entire blog, I will follow it up with the award winning chad/virgin scale which has received critical acclaim by nobody. This book is almost chad, any time a demi-god assassin who freezes himself in time tries to kill himself because he is cursed from killing a god, you are on to something. And that guy is only on like 4 pages. With about 6 more books left in this series, we will be getting a little more of Amra on the blog this year.

Book Reviews

Half a King Wrap-up: A lesson in negotiating

With a subtitle fit for the art of the deal I am pleased to bring you a review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie and Fitch. While it is widely acknowledged by no one that I am a prodigy in the over-saturated written book review game, if you would like to hear a truly stellar breakdown of this book in a different format I would like to announce that the third episode of the Swords and Sports podcast is up and ready for your listening pleasure. This week I have a guest so if you hate me you will hate him even more. Don’t be a bitch, give it a listen and give me your raw opinion until my comments section gets pregnant.

https://swordsandsports.podbean.com

Shameless plug aside, my mistake upon partaking in this book was that I failed to realize that it was actually meant as a Young Adult book so right off the bat I was confused as fuck. This was supposed to be a novel from a prominent grimdark author that was going to shock and tantalize my sense with scenes of graphic violence coupled with gritty personas but instead I read a classic orphan king revenge tale that would have entertained me when I was, well, 12. Which happens to be the audience for this.

Georgey is clearly lying.

The story is about the one-handed prince named Yarvi who gets placed on the throne (I had originally spelled this “thrown” which is funny because he gets thrown off a tower) when his dad and brother get clipped. He is king for possibly a week when he unceremoniously gets betrayed by his uncle. Yarvi is by all accounts the most unfit person to be king of a viking esque kingdom because he is a little depressed, cry baby bitch. And that is putting it lightly. The guy is a born whiner.

Look at that little cry-baby loser. To be honest I am just saying that because it fits my narrative but if we are all in the trust tree that armor is badass.

He already decided to become a knock-off Maester which in this book is called a Minister but as a king he does a terrible job and winds up as a slave, ending up as a rower. Which for a one-handed dude is quite a pickle. After a quick literary montage he becomes this wise, hardned teenager and with the help of his friends, which happens to include an uncle that fails to announce that he is his fucking uncle they eventually get revenge.

You may question why I rushed through that, the answer is that from the second you start this book you can pretty much see the ending. The First Law Trilogy has arguably one of the greatest twists that I have ever experienced in fantasy, but as I mentioned this is a YA book so it basically hit a formula and filled in the details. I will point out some highlights. The character Nothing is pretty cool. Hating on Yarvi is also a ton of fun. He is the worst negotiator of all time, which is ironic because his mom is some kind of money wunderkind. He essentially trades his entire kingdom to some other viking king for like a 30 minute distraction, then when it comes time to pay up completely reneges on the deal. He also is trapped in a snow bank with a girl he likes and completely fails at closing the deal.

Because of all this the rating is obvious. This book is as virgin as it gets. Your judgement has come to pass. Also listen to the podcast.

Book Reviews

The Warrior Prophet Wrap-Up: Kellhus or die

With such a grim title it pains me to have to pair it with an exciting announcement. Due to the love of hearing the sound of my own voice I finally was able to scrape up enough equipment, technical know-how and free labor from a trapped significant other to put together an accompanying podcast. Media moguls start from somewhere and this was the logical next step.

Click below to listen to me grace your earbuds with the silky, sultry sounds of the greatest fantasy podcast out there. I promise it is not a virus!

https://swordsandsports.podbean.com

Did that have anything to do with The Warrior Prophet? Of course, as the book was the main subject of Episode 2 of the Swords and Sports podcast! So like that shit, listen to it, subscribe and please send any feedback to either the @swordsandsports accounts on Instagram or Twitter or email me directly at swordsandsports@gmail.com

While it pains me to have to cringeily ask for all that stuff I really am looking for feedback or trolls so don’t hold back.

The Warrior Prophet picks up directly where the last book left off, with the Holy War about to begin. Instead of all that setup my man R Scotty 2 hotty Bakers dozen gets right into the war and all it’s majesty. The best parts of this book are the emphasis on detail for both the political and military maneuverings of the Holy War. It really gave such an excellent feel for strategy and what being a part of it was like. Such a well done book I finally can see what the hype was all about. This is a significant improvement over the last book, which seemed to really become a slog in the middle of it. We get a lot less of the Emperor in this one, which automatically makes it better because his story line was pretty boring.

The Holy War and the Men of the Tusk are certainly not boring though. Achamian goes from a kind of whiny wack-ass spy in the first book to a drunkard philosopher in the beginning, to a warrior magician by the end and that transformation is really satisfying to watch because he was a fucking snooze for a long time. His obsession with Kellhus and his anointing of him as the Prophet were his main highlights in this, along with having a magical puppet that sliced the throat of a cat. His love for Esement despite her taking hella loads all the time is quite annoying but he redeems himself when he finally decides to start baking fools.

The best characters are by far Kellhus, and a step below that, Cnauir. Cnauir was one of the better characters in the first book, even though I am firmly against the barbarian with a brain trope. His ascension to the top of the Men of the Tusk command structure and subsequent fuck-up of aforementioned command was a great plot line to follow. His internal struggle to constantly battle the top minds in the book, Conphas and Kellhus, was one of the better psychological battles. He is one dude who has no chill. Also ritual scarring is fucked up I am way too pretty for that shit.

But all roads eventually lead to our title character: Kellhus. This guy is a fucking awesome dude. He is the definition of 2013 Drake’s chart topping song “Started from the Bottom.” I originally put 2017 but when I looked it up I realized that holy fuck I am getting old. Moving on. Kellhus begins this book as a sort of sideshow to Cnauir but through careful maneuvering, manipulating, and fucking people up becomes a separate entity that develops a cult-like following and becomes the face of the franchise by the end. Some of the stories of his training are awesome, like he went into a room with his old teacher where all these people are on stretchers with their faces stuck in various expressions. Kellhus has to identify the expressions and what creates them. Sickly and dope.

He also does shit like properly predict the outcome of a battle, finds water in a desert (I wrote dessert at first, HAHA words), acquires not one but two girlfriends which while I think is a terrible idea it does belay a certain cool factor, and eventually leads a group of fanatics seizing control of the holy war. On top of being an incredible swordsman that single handily holds the command position on the battlefield while everyone else ran, he is just a real swell guy. His lack of morals and emotions is a plus as well.

Did that tell you anything about the plot? Nope but once again if you listen to the podcast you will get wayyyyyy more recap then you ever could have imagined. O yea this book is chad to the max.

Book Reviews

The Grey Bastards Wrap-up: Half-orcs create full fun

Crushed that subtitle.

In order to begin this bright and glorious new year on the right note I decided the first blog of the year should be this magnificent review of The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French. French Lottana as he is known in certain circles has crafted one of the more (or less?) ambitious worlds that features your standard Tolkein fantasy characters and gives them a Son’s of Anarchy twist. I am sure you are asking how that works and my answer for you is it just does. I am realizing the Lottana joke doesn’t work until you know that the series he is writing is titled The Lot Lands. You can proceed to admire my cleverness now.

I have never watched Son’s of Anarchy, I only mention it because Frenchy does in the beginning of the book, so for the sake of making sense that is the last I will mention it.

This book absolutely excels in the world building, I found it the perfect mix of familiar and engrossing. Jonathan follows the kind of industry standard of fantasy species, he has elves, orcs and humans all of which have some beef. There are centaurs and weird gnome like things too but in terms of main species you got your three right there. What makes this story interesting is the idea of half-breeds, kind of like when Saruman creates the Uruk-hai but in this case you can breed elves and humans with orcs. This creates half-orcs, who as to be expected are smaller then regular orcs but bigger then humans. A big part of the book is that all these half-orcs are products of orcs raping humans or elves, since it doesn’t seem like the other two species ever try and pick up any female orcs. This essentially leads to an entire group of half-orc bastards. Due to the title of this book, can you guess what color they are?

The half-orcs, like many bastards, are unwanted by their unloving fathers and not exactly beloved by the human or elf societies, so they are kind of relegated to living in this barren like land that is a buffer between orc land and human land. Of course orcs living in the barrens is it’s own kind of trope but whatever it works and it is fun. They organize the barrens into different lots which are controlled by various half-orc clans ruled by a clan master.

I feel like Jonathan had so much potential with this story, he creates an awesome world, his characters are well-developed, the history of the inter-species relationships and conflicts are great, and the dialogue is good enough. The only failing is the kind of repetitive plot and sort of predictable ending, but even that to me was quickly overshadowed by the world he creates. I mean it isn’t the most original concept to prevent an orc incursion but here we are. He has a fun writing style and keeps the action moving, which is important because a story like this would start to suffer if it got bogged down in inter-clan politics and other meaningless trifles. He gives just enough backstory to flesh out the world and keep us engaged. Also they all ride supped up warthogs like they are horses and shoot crossbows like they are pistols, which is pretty fucking sick.

All in all a very enjoyable read and an excellent way to kick off 2020. Gotta rate this book as a Chad book. Anything that starts off with a naked half-orc female in a whorehouse fresh off a night of enjoying the house wares shooting a human with a crossbow is headed in the Chad direction. Barely coherent, run-on sentences all year baby.