Book Reviews

The Dark Defiles: The Defiler of Entertainment

One line plot summary: Ringil and two irrelevant people search for a city that was promised to us but we are going to have to wait probably half the book for while in the meantime Ringil conveniently becomes a wizard so that he can easily win the battle that will take place at some point.

Yes I did it, I decided to take on the trilogy. As Golden State will learn later tonight, it ain’t easy to complete a trilogy. Well the first step to that is winning one championship, and Morgan has obviously not done that either. Let’s call it like it is YOU HAVEN’T MADE THE PLAYOFFS, blow it up and try again.

We start this trilogy in the lovely Hironish Islands, which if you were wondering what the climate is for the Hironish Islands, It’s cold and rainy and wet! OF COURSE! The book starts off casually mentioning Ringil killed a kracken, but of course we are not treated to this, rather we are treated to soldiers digging up a grave looking for the wizard of yesteryear. Riveting.

Did I read this book to complain and write blogs whining about it even though I could have quit anytime? Yes. Read my other book reviews, this is what I do mannnnnnn.

I will say, having the characters all be in one place does save us the obvious part of the book where they are going to meet. I truly am rooting for the Dwenda at this point. Not that I think they would be better rulers, but honestly these characters are annoying just kill them already. If I have to hear any more about the lizard war I am going to flip. Morgan here is some free unsolicited advice from someone who has only ever written 20 pages of fiction he keeps hidden in a folder on his computer because he is scared of ever releasing anything creative into the world: if you are going to continuously have the characters mention a war that sounds way more interesting than the time period those characters are currently inhabiting, maybe that should have been the story you wrote.

Generous of me to offer my opinion. Let me tell you though, man to reader, the lizard war sounds fucking awesome. Gallows gap is your end chapter, not Ringil yells and people die.

The real question here that Morgan obviously is banking on the answer being yes is: Will pandering to the readers expectations of diversity in fantasy serve as a substitute for character development and a good story? Well he got a published trilogy out of it and it seems to get a lot of positive praise so the problem here is obviously my expectations.

To counterbalance this heaping of dog shit I have delved into another series as well. I would say stay tuned for the big reveal but no one reads this so I am also going to concurrently read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. While the creators of the Farmer’s Almanac may take issue with the creation of a new season, I am more than jacked up for it. This is what is hot in the fantasy streets, Jemisin has won Hugo awards out the ass. When I figure out what a Hugo award is I will be even more impressed. Kind of seems like everyone gets one but I digress. My promise to you is I will not put in the research to answer that elusive question. Review coming soon.

Final Notes: Like the door to the church when you see the priest alone with altar boy and you just ran out, it is time for the Raptors too close the door and forget about the ugliness that was committed inside. Just be happy you get the ship and set sail.  Do priest jokes still play?

Once again the real hero of this series is the designer of the cover art. FIRE

Book Reviews

The Cold Commands Cool Down

There comes a point in a fantasy series, or I guess any series but who would waste time reading anything else, where one is faced with an ultimatum. Either finish out the series or don’t. This decision is always extremely difficult for me. On the one hand, I don’t enjoy quitting, if I have made the time commitment to get as far as I have I might as well see it through. On the other hand, if I am already questioning whether I am going to finish the series it definitely means I shouldn’t waste my time. I always have some optimism in the sense that I believe that every series is one twist away from becoming truly great. The problem is if I do choose to finish out the book than the series, it really starts to feel like a slog and takes away the joy that I get from reading. But I am not going to love everything I read, I am a typically harsh critique who also believes there is value in reading stuff I don’t enjoy. Much like running in the rain, I am going to be miserable the whole time, but after finishing it I am mentally tougher for having done it.

The prime example of this is the Dark Tower series. That series sucked, I won’t waste more time describing why. Around book three I realized this, but since I had already finished three books, I figured why not. By book six I was miserable. Of course no spoilers but the end of that book is actually amazing, but literally I am talking about like 5 good pages out of 10000000. Finishing that series cost me the second half of last year.

After the first book in this trilogy, I wrote that I was willing to give the second book a chance. And I am not going to say that the decision was either good or bad. The second book improves upon the first, not in the sense of the characters growing or anything, but the plot flows a little more naturally. Once again the ending was underwhelming, I am going to assume at this point that either Morgan is saving up for a big battle at the end of the trilogy or small end battles are kind of his ironic twist on the end-battle. I mean it just seemed ridiculous that Ringil seems to have transcended into immortal being. His sneak through the church quarters was just flat out dumb. Are the gods helping him or are they not? Does anyone care? It seems like lazy writing to me, he finally gets captured and sent to the gray places, where he is repeatedly killed by Sethlaw but in the end he just magically breaks the cycle by yelling loudly or something. Then he comes back and dispatches Risgillen by once again yelling loudly and doing magic. Also an absolutely terrible choice to name one character Ringil and the other Risgillen. I mean Ringil goes by Gil half the book so this was just an unnecessary complication.

My problem with this book is it just feels like the plotlines had no purpose to them. Egar’s entire like love tryst came to nothing, his imprisonment mattered not in the slightest, and him in general served no purpose in the end. This was disappointing. Arceth is another one, shes on drugs, shes off drugs, she has lesbian sex, she gets cryptic messages from sentient pieces of useless machinery and overall nothing happens. It just left me feeling like we could cut out those two characters and save time.

This book suffers from a weak plot that in the end is saved from falling completely flat by magic. I mean does the resolution matter? The Dwenda were stopped with almost zero consequences and once again not a single major character died. Just all kind of feels like a low stakes game, especially when Ringil has already died. Unimpressed.

If I had to rate this thing I guess I will go with the old 5 outta 10. Not terrible, not good. I will read the third because I feel obligated at this point. I assume this thing will go like this “Ringil and the other two useless shits will meander somewhere looking for this pointless island. Eventually, after way too long, they find it but o nooooooo the Dwenda are trying for a third time to take over the world. After an underwhelming fight in which Ringil wins by being the reincarnated human sorcerer the Dwenda are stopped for good! Arceth finds some other Kiriath, Egar reunites with his love.”

CAN’T WAIT!

Final Notes: R.I.P. Kevin Durant. God that was brutal.

Book Reviews

The Cold Commands Halfway Home Report

Halfway through this thing and let me tell you that I don’t know what to tell you. On the one hand, I got more of the emperor Jhiral, he fed some clowns to some octopi, which is the worst way to describe multiple octupuses. I think he has become my favorite character, not because I think he is particularly deep or fun to read, just everyone else kind of sucks. Ringil jesus christ man you should be so much cooler then you are. So whiny, like what is even going on with the scene where he is drowning and then walking for 50 pages through the grey spaces. I equate all long winded walking scenes to the all-time worst walking scene of all time, Frodo and Sam right before they meet Shelob in The Two Towers. This was prettttttty close to that.

The book was going so mediocre until then. I was intrigued by the idea of him having the plaque and I guess we are just tossing that plot line out the window. Also what is up with the gods/mystical creatures in this story. I guess that innocent naked lady in the inn room was a spirit dog or something but like so what. Ringil just wallows in misery throughout the entire story which means that for all the things that he could engage with, he is just like ehh whatever. Meet a multi armed weird prophet? No worries ill just put a knife to him. O he out maneuvers me, okay ill just bitch at the prophecys he gives me. GIVE ME SOMETHING RINGIL.

Is this world interesting? Who knows because if you ask the characters what they would like to do its just smoke some super monkey kush and sit in a corner. Arceth has had the shakes for a solid month, look we have all had hangovers, some of us have even had drug hangovers (GASP!), it doesn’t last the length of Mice and Men. Get over it. For real though it is frustrating to just have zero engagement with anything and seemingly no character growth. The story just seems kind of stale.

I don’t think I am going to belabor the point here because I feel my fingers itching for a good rant but I can’t give in because then I will be guilty of doing exactly what every character does in the book. It just seems like if this is going to turn into a humans vs. aliens/goodish against evilish story, get on with it and lets see how large action goes. Stop teasing it because at this point only a sick battle scene can revive a dead story.

Also congrats on the sex Ringil. I promised to mention if there was a graphic sex scene and alas, 250 pages in we got one. Seemed kind of boring for both dudes. Like all the foreplay and they both came (cummed?) instantly. Should get some Roman swipes.

Final Notes: Hammer Golden State tonight. Don’t fall into the media trap and start believing in the Drake’s.

Book Reviews

The Cold Commands Commands your Attention

Killing it with the title wordplay once again. Much like the warriors train wrecking the West, I am crushing the title game. Command’s your Attention. Brilliant. Moving on. I am 100 pages through the book so I think that is far enough to get some of my thoughts out on it. I do think it’s funnier to write my first impressions like 20 pages in, but that doesn’t work well for book two. So I finally figured out the name of the series, it’s called A Land Fit for Heroes which is an awesome name. Some series names are just solid, the name has absolutely nothing to do with the books but it works. At least the Kingkiller Chronicles, another fantastic name, I believe eventually a king will get killed. Speaking off, I read an article that the show isn’t going to follow the books but instead will follow some of the Edema Ru in like a prequel. That single handedly has to be the stupidest idea I have ever heard. I don’t know if that is because there is supposed to be a movie, but if that is the case it is still a shit idea. I am officially on the record that I am done with fantasy series getting portrayed as movies. Just always leaves us wanting. Then again we ended up with BRAN…

The Cold Commands still follows the three POV characters from the first book, and once again they are on too their own stuff. If they end up together again that just isn’t plausible. At the end of the last book I predicted Ringil bo Bingil (not my best) would turn into a Dwenda. That seems to be continuing, though Ringil’s new hustle is to free slaves. Well I guess that is not a new hustle but instead of one person he doesn’t care about he is trying to save a bunch of people he doesn’t care about. Archeth has the most ambitious storyline, she is heading to some volcano to meet up with who I assume is going to be the link to the Kiriath. Egar has the most unclear situation, he is like in love with some lady and is a fake guard at Archeth’s crib.

Now that the summary is over, some thoughts. This is a much better written book. The last one I struggled to read when I wasn’t commuting but this is a much different story. The pacing is a little slower and I honestly think that works better for the style. A hundo pages in I have an idea where things are going, but it isn’t nearly as simple as the last book. This might be a case of not having to develop the magic or the system and it plays so much more naturally. I know it is really difficult to market a 700-800 page book, but these two really should have been combined. That would have avoided the terrible end battle. For real though I am so far enjoying this, Morgan still has a chance to bore me to death.

Also so far there has been no graphic sex scenes. I am not saying that is a good thing (I am saying that), but it is a weird thing to have had several by this point in the last book and none so far. There was a rape, but it wasn’t in the detail that the sex had in the last book. If there are some scenes I will be sure to comment, but right now I have to believe that this was an editorial decision.

Final notes: God damn Blazers that was fucking pathetic. Haven’t seen a beating that brutal since, well them last year against the Pelicans. Also the covers for these books are fucking cool. Bad asses trying to connect with the youth use profanities, as well as people writing Grimdark…

Book Reviews

The Steel Remains Wrap-up *Spoilers*

Finally finished The Steel Remains yesterday and I have to say, the last third of the book was much better than I anticipated. It was a slog getting through the middle parts of the book. There seemed to be too much alien sci-fi elements to the story, and instead of flowing naturally the book was bogged down in explanation and telling. The story was the most entertaining when the people were just being people.

I grew to enjoy the characters the further the story went, Ringil went from insufferable, whiny baby to a more rounded character. I am not sure whether the reader is supposed to like him or not, kind of seems like he is the typical flawed main character that tries to do the right thing but everything he does seems to either turn out to be wrong or he is forced to do something wrong. But of course no one really knows that he secretly has high morals because he hides it through a grizzled exterior and disdain for authority. I mean it’s not exactly an original model for a character, read five fantasy books and that personality model will appear in three of them. The unique twist of The Steel Remains is that Ringil is gay. Here is the struggle for me, while I am fully a fan of steering away from the straight white male protagonist, I feel like Morgan uses Ringil’s sexuality as a crutch for not fully developing a character. Like we should accept poor character development because we should be shocked and applaud Morgan because the main character is gay.

This is kind of highlighted through the other two POV characters. Archeth is from an ancient race of advanced people called the Kiriath that are technologically advanced and create engineering marvels, but she is also black. We know she is black because in every single interaction she has, someone comments on that fact, just as every interaction Ringil has someone comments on his sexuality. Just seems like continuisly mentioning these two things is forcing us to be like “OMG so progressive” when I think that it actually has the opposite effect. The third POV character is your typical barbarian, super warrior type who, spoiler alert, actually has a mind underneath his masculine exterior. See where I am going with this? Only time that kind of character ever really came off as different to me is in Karsa Orlong’s case. Maybe because Erickson had 9 million pages to make the character unique.

Now to the story itself. The original plot seemed to center around Ringil saving his cousin from slavery. That becomes an afterthought when Ringil gets captured by an alien race known as the Dwenda. Some of the Dwenda are planning to reconquer their planet after being expelled by a combination of humans and Kiriath thousands of years ago. The preliminary force of the Dwenda sent are brutal and have magic that allows them to travel between worlds. Ringil encounters Seethlaw and the Dwenda captures him, though Ringil inundates himself in the Dwenda gang by becoming Seethlaws’ lover. Through this we are shown some of Dwenda society, and also find out that Ringil is probably some type of magical being as well.

That whole middle part where Seethlaw has Ringil is borrrrrring as shit. It was at that point I decided that I was not going to read the next book in the trilogy. Fortunately the story redeems itself. The big battle at the end is not actually a big battle, more like a minor skirmish that takes place when the three POV characters meet up in some backwater town in a marsh close to where the Dwenda have set up shop. They win of course. Ringil kills Seethlaw of course.

So what about this book made me decide that I am going to finish the trilogy? Obviously from everything above this paragraph it seems like I didn’t enjoy the book, but I did. There is nothing wrong with sticking to the familiar when it comes to fantasy, there are many books that have elements of this kind of stuff, and I have really enjoyed them. Morgan does an excellent job with the combat, it is easy to follow without being simple, the action is well-thought out and logical, and he clearly did his research on fighting techniques. I appreciated the rather graphic and realistic portrayals of the darker elements of life, meaning violence, sex, and the horrors of misuse of power. The story itself was predictable, but there were a few twists that added to it. Ringil probably turning into a Dwenda was cool, as well as the prophecy that may or may not state he is going to be the dark lord. I think I would like to see that. My favorite parts of the book are the interactions of the emperor. I would really like to see more of his struggle to run the empire. His conversations with Archeth were some of the more entertaining parts of the story. While I am not frothing at the mouth with anticipation to read The Cold Commands, I am looking forward to it. So stay tuned for my initial thoughts on it.

Final Notes: That was a way more serious review than I normally give.  Also Steph and Seth guarding each other is teetering on ridiculous. How can these coaches really put two brothers on each other, like this is a serious game that is some shit you do during the regular season. Also what is the point of the lizard people?