Book Reviews

Port of Shadows Wrap-up

I have fallen very behind once again on reviewing the books I have been reading and almost forgot all about this one. Which would have been a shame because I am a huge fan of both Glen Cook and his masterpiece series The Black Company. Widely considered by every blog and fantasy book site to be the father of the Grimdark sub-genre, Port of Shadows is a worthy edition to the series. Despite what stupid ass reviewers think. People just love to hate.

To be fair I thought Cook was dead so it’s good to see that is not true. Congrats on being alive bro.

On Goodreads they have this book listed as Book #1.5 which I guess puts it between books 1 and 4. It is not exactly clear to me the timeline of the book, but than again the timelines for any of the books are not exactly linear. Honestly the beauty of these books is that they just go from spot to spot with absolutely no time explaining things. From the first time the company fights a werewolf thing in the opening chapter of book one I was hooked so I might be a little skewed in all things Black Company. Actually I just looked it up (despite my commitment to no research) and this book takes place between The Black Company and Shadows Linger.

This book has not been well received. The reasons for this seem to fall into two categories, the first is that it has a lot of contradictions that don’t mesh well with the rest of the lore and history of the series. The second is that there is a plot device that Cook uses involving the characters losing their memories of the events taking place in the book, which conveniently allows this book to fit in between books 1 and 2 without ever being mentioned in any of the later books. Sure that is not the most original concept nor is it great to have conflicting lore but as I mentioned the beauty of these books are that they are super confusing and the details are murky. The individual story itself is a ton of fun and fits in well with the style of the series.

Port of Shadows has two separate story lines. The first is a flashback to the time of the Dominator, where we follow a necromancer who has an obsession with trying to bring back dead girls to I guess replace his dead daughter. This story line is cool as hell, the girl he revives happens to be a Senjak sister that got raped by a bunch by the Dominator’s guards and disposed off. Here is where the details conflict, we have no idea who the sister is supposed to be but whatever. The Howler and another Senjak sister, probably either The Lady or Soulcatcher (all time villain btw) attempt to rescue the sister and the Senjak girl gets captured. The necromancer bolts with the two girls and creates a kind of fortress in the world and of course bangs the dead girl eventually, starting a breeding farm of Senjak clones.

The other story line follows the Black Company who are in service to The Lady and are posted in the city/town of something I honestly can’t remember. Their goal is to root out the rebel group called the Resurrectionists who are trying to, you know, resurrect the Dominator. They capture a sorceress known as Tides Elba, who looks remarkably like the Lady. As they continue to root out rebels they keep finding more girls that look like Tides Elba, now known as the Taken Mischievous Rain. The people in these books have the coolest names. Eventually this leads to an underwhelming confrontation at the fortress from the other story line, and we find out that the girls have been breed in order to open up the Port of Shadows, which is supposed to bring back the Dominator.

I hate writing summaries of books as you can kind of tell, because I would much rather talk about things I liked and disliked. It just is hard to talk about things without at least summarizing the book somewhat. I thouroughly enjoyed the creativity of Cook in this book. Sick rhyme. Like the necromancer thing was so engrossing, just the obsession of this creepy old diddler experimenting and essentially creating a self-sustaining castle through his cloning was interessting and made a lot of sense in terms of the overall plot. You could kind of tell from the beggining that eventually the clones the Black Company kept finding were this revived girl, but that seemed intentional. The way the Black Company is organized and their relationship with the Taken is always a fun read. Mischievous Rain was equal parts awesome and a sympathetic character. It is such a cool concept that The Lady transforms these people, who may or may not have opposed her, into her minions. Also One Eye is the best.

Read this if you like The Black Company. Don’t complain about it. Also I finally figured out a simple way to rate books. Books are only going to be rated on the widely academically accepted Virgin/Chad scale. If you want an absolutely hilarious Reddit post on this read below.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Dragon Reborn Audiobook Wrap-up

Feels like years ago but I have reached the end of The Dragon Reborn. In truth I reached the end of the audiobook one day after my last write up, which makes remembering all this stuff quite the challenge. No challenge is too great for the number one audiobook fantasy blogger of The Wheel of Time so lets get after it.

I would like to talk about the ending because it is super boring. As you can guess since their are other books in this series, the good guys win. Though I deeply question at this point if Rand al’Chore is even a good guy. I call him Rand al’Chore because I feel like it is a chore to have to listen to anything involving him. Cue the joke drums.

Rand seizes Callandor and defeats one of the foresaken. Honestly it is kind of unclear who he actually defeats because he believes he smoked Ba’alzamon but he is of course a dumbass and is wrong. The giant magic fights at the end of the books are easily the most boring part. Through this second run of the Wheel of Time I have a much greater appreciation for Moiraine. She is ruthless, her entire plan was basically to just run up on Be’lal and use this crippling balefire that she knows the consequences of using and hope that she gets him. If not than shes fucked and will die. And you know what, it works.

As for the book overall, I found the third book to be much better than the previous two. We are done with kind of creating the world and developing the the basics of the characters, instead we get to actually work on the story. The lack of Rand chapters is also a major plus. But on a more serious note these books are best when the characters are less focused on the intricacies of the one power and are interacting with the world around them. Jordan does such an excellent job of introducing characters and people that make these interactions so enjoyable.

Some of the hightlights of this book I have talked about at length, though if I had to pick a favorite it would be when Perrin and Gaul massacre all those whitecloaks. Such a solid read, you can go back to my blog on that if you want a deep dive into it. Actually thinking about it, it seems like a majority of my favorite parts of these books involve the Aiel. I kind of remember them getting super annoying later on but for now I enjoy them. Also Mat coming back to basically life is amazing. On to The Shadow Rising!

Final Notes: So I think that I have to cancel Mat’s Money Makers blog series because it clearly is a curse. Took the Chiefs last night at -3 and they covered. It seems like destiny

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 14: Taper time!

For some reason in my mind I am celebrating the start of the taper like this is the end of the road and the race is already over. Stupid but I can’t help it. Last week was an absolute beast and from purely time management standpoint the start of the taper will make my life infinity easier. That is not to say it will be easy, the point is to try and get some juice back into my zombie legs but still maintain some fitness.

Last week beat me like I was the Giants secondary. The 10-mile tempo run was brutal, I mean a 10-mile run in general is no walk in the park but the pace changing was torture. I thought it went well, I mean I was kind of rushing it because I was trying to the see The Joker but my watch got messed up and I wound up feeling like I needed to run a little extra. The tempo itself was fast, doing a quick mile 5 separate times really pushed me. To follow that up with a nice 8-miler the next day was death.

As for the other two runs, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself on the day off, Friday’s run came around and I felt great. Kept the pace night and light, ending with 4 rounds of strides, which entailed a pushed pace for 30 seconds followed by a 1:30 minute recoverary. Helped with staying loose.

The obvious beast was the 22-mile monster. I ran it Saturday, which was good because it was a nice cloudy 60 degrees when I started. The run went smoothly, I did a 14-mile loop followed by an 8-mile loop. Took the goo at mile 6, a quarter of a banana at mile 14 and another goo thing at mile 18. Hydrated at miles 7, 14 and 19. No real outlying difficulties besides overall pain in my entire being. My knees were hurting but nothing crippling. I thought I kept a solid enough pace, I mean it was a lot slower than some of my other training runs but I wasn’t too concerned. I listened to almost 4 straight hours of the audiobook though so expect Friday’s blog to be a monster. Having to run 6 miles the next day fucking sucked though. O well it’s in the past now.

Lets take a look at the upcoming week. The big runs are 8 and 14 miles, don’t really anticipate much of an issue with either of them. The 14-miler I might try and push the pace just to get used to running a little harder. Prob not though. The workouts are a 6-mile interval and a 4-mile hill run. Hill run will be the most fun of the week. Well that is all I got. Stay in school.

Uncategorized

The Dragon Reborn Audiobook 5: Tear and things

I had to read last weeks rendition of the greatest audiobook recap of the Wheel of Time or audiobooks in general because so much happens towards the end of this book it was hard for me to remember where I ended and what I included. So without further ado, let’s dive in.

From what I can gather (I didn’t really read last weeks blog, that would be called preparation, and everyone knows preparation is the antithesis of success) from the subtitle, no one had made it to Tear since the last time we talked. Which gives me so much to pick and choose.

I think it is fantastic how individually Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne can accomplish so many different things, but when they are together they constantly get duped or fall into easy traps. Case in point, them once again getting kidnapped, this time at least the Black Ajah did it. So these dumbasses go to stay with this old toad wise woman and within one night get bundled by Liandrin and gang. Like how dumb do you have to be to get kidnapped a mere week after getting . . . wait for it . . . kidnapped. Say I get in the van offering me candy as a child and I am justttttt about to get the old molestation pecker before I am miraculously saved. Next time I am walking down the street, you best believe I am looking every which way making sure no one is offering me candy. If the ice cream man so much as looks my direction I am running like I am Golden Tate burning that Pats corner last night when he turned around to make sure he was good (and gloat a little). Dumb and dumber and dumbest.

Who the fuck you think has to save these idiots? You guessed it, the hero of the Wheel of Time, my idol, Matrim Motherfucking Cauthon. This guy is the epitome of class, fresh off of murdering the dude sent from Caemlyn by Lord Gaebril after out-gambling the dude, Mat enters hero mode. He practically has to drag Thom to a wise woman, first off saving him, before he finds out the terrible trio got bundled. Wasting NO time, he saunters off to the stone of Tear to begin operation rescue. He then almost whips up on some Aiel who sneak up on him and basically does the fantasy version of a flash bang grenade by setting of some fireworks, anddddd takes down a bunch of High Lords of Tear in one-on-one combat using a quarterstaff. The best. Only quote I am including in this blog:

The man in the gold-striped coat sneered. “You will be honored to die on the blade of the High Lord Darlin, peasant, if I allow it so.” It was the first time he had deigned to speak. “Instead, I think I will have the pair of you hung by the heels, and watch while the skin is stripped from your bodies-”

“I do not think I’d like that,” Mat said.

So Perrin has got a lot on his plate. First he has to deal with Moiraine telling him what to do, then he decides that he would enjoy nothing more than just blacksmithing for the hell of it. The chapter where he just walks into a blacksmiths smitthy and starts working with no conversation is just peak Perrin. The guy loves manual labor. While he is working he has to deal with creepy ass Faile borderline sexually harassing him at the workplace. And the girl has the nerve to get trapped in World of Dreams. Perrin teams up with fan favorite Hopper and gets to chomping. Love it.

Lastly I will end with Rand al’Snore. I ended with him about to duel with Be’lal. SOOOOOO interesting. Book recap will with no doubt be coming next Friday.

Final Notes: Last night for the first time in a while I felt like the Giants had a realistic chance at beating an elite team. Then they didn’t. The over hit though.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 13: Come on how long is this training

I know how long this training is because I understand how numbers work, but seeing something and doing something are two very different things. I also get that, but holy shit my life has been consumed by running. I am on the final quarter of the training plan, with the last week being of course marathon week, so while all that other stuff was important this quarter matters the most. Meaning it is time to push it.

Last week was one of those de-loadish weeks that was supposed to be a drop off in mileage, but looking at it again I am realizing I still ran 44 miles. Prior to this training plan my longest running week was under 40 miles, so to call a 44 mile week light is almost laughable. But that is what progress is supposed to be.

Like I said, it was supposed to be a light week… So it started off with an 8-mile interval run, which I actually ran as fast as I could because I was trying to squeeze in the run before an appointment. I was making fantastic time, the intervals felt good I was moving well but then my stupid ass watch died. Hence the two tracked runs. Had to bust out the phone for the rest of it. Frustrating in a sense that I was doing great, but in the grand scheme of things not a big deal. I switched a few runs this week, swapping the Wednesday/Thursday and the Saturday/Sunday. No real reason for this besides scheduling. The 10-mile run went fantastic, I was encouraged by this.

Also did some significant cross training last week. Hit the gym later Saturday to get a lot of work in for my legs. My groins have been feeling week during my long runs, so I did a lot of strength training for them, and of course my hamstrings. I also did some calf raises, which I know I need to do, but because of all this running it absolutely murders me for the next few days. They just seem to be getting so tight, they also constantly twitch, even when I am not active. My physical therapist/girlfriend was working on them yesterday and I was legit almost crying. Such a pussy. I also took a yoga class, was the only dude there so I felt weird and kept my shirt on. Ridiculous that I created my own peer pressure. As I said, I am a slang term for being soft.

Let’s talk about the upcoming week. I am actually worried about getting all this done and still having energy at the end of it to run 22 miles. Today is a 10-mile tempo run. That is quite a lot of mileage on top of being a speed workout. I am sure I will feel better after I get through it. The workout itself is similar to the 8-mile tempo run, I am just adding another round. That photo is supposed to say 5 times but I am too lazy to fix it at this point. After that the week isn’t really bad, I mean I actually get a day off which I will wisely use to watch the Giants get smoked. O well this is what I signed up for.

And lastly but certainly not leastly (that’s how that expression goes right?) is the mammoth 22-miler. Look there is nothing to say about this that I haven’t said. I plan on approaching it similar to the 20-miler. I am going to do a 13-mile loop followed by I guess a 9-mile loop, prob taking goo gel shit at miles 6, 15, and 20. Water at 7ish, 13, 20 and any time I pass a water fountain after. Quarter of a banana at mile 13. Let’s get it.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Dragon Reborn Audiobook Update 4: All roads lead to Tear

Today is Friday and everyone knows Fridays are for updating the world on an audiobook I exclusively listen to while exercising. The journey around the Wheel of Time has been quite the thrill, the sweet sounds of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading have blessed my eardrums with nothing but the highest quality fantasy this forlorn world has to offer.

That opening paragraph was the blogging version of repeating the question to stall for time. The problem with doing all those Mat quotes last week was I kind of forgot where I left off so this recap is without a doubt going to be out-of-order with a heavy focus on recency.

Lets start with ya boy Perrin. Perrin is not what we would call your traditional ladies man. Sure the boy is a good looking meat monster, but his soft ass beta attitude directly impacts his ability to capitalize. He rolls in on Moraine half dressed and the dude just wants to talk. She even goes so far as to drop a hint, saying something along the lines of “you are a good looking man” or some other coy Aes Sedai flirting technique and the dude is just stuck in his own head. O well Zarine Bashere enters the picture, so Perrin’s non-player days are pretty much over at this point anyway.

I would like to talk about Perrin’s clear highlight of the book. Look Perrin puts in that fucking work, no one would ever call the guy a bitch, and there are a few times in this book in particular when he goes green-eggs-and-ham on some fucking clowns. The first was when he smoked that Myrddraal with the ax, sure the woman he was trying to protect died but that is irrelevant, the actual fight was hardddddd.

So in Remen two hunters of the horn have captured an Aiel man, later revealed as Gaul, and left him in a cage in the town square. Perrin springs the dude from the trap when they encounter a group of whitecloaks. I fucking love the Aiel sometimes, that whole wrapping the black cloth around their faces thing and dropping dope one-liners gets me every time. True to form Gaul drops an all timer “Do you like to dance, Perrin Aybara” and then the two of them absolutely slaughter the whitecloaks. I know Perrin hates killing but damn that is a fun read.

This is getting long so I guess I will have to do some highlights. Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene meet the maidens of the spear and we get introduced to Aviendha (no way I will ever remember how to spell that). Unsurprisingly get nabbed again and are being sold to a couple of Myrddraal when the Aiel come and save them. At this point the Aiel have completely massacred all the dark friends, and they have the two Myrddraal surrounded. Now it’s mentioned 9,000,000 times how Myrddraal scare the shit out of everyone, but the Aiel are taunting them with classic barbs and completely humiliating these evil ghost ghoul things.

As they circled, the Aiel drummed their spears against their small hide bucklers. Thrum-thrum-THRUM-thrum . . . thrum-thrum-THRUM-thrum . . . thrum-thrum-THRUM-thrum. The Myrddraal turned with them, and their eyeless faces seemed uncertain, uneasy that the fear their gaze struck into every human heart did not seem to touch these.
“Dance with me, Shadowman,” one of the Aiel called suddenly, tauntingly. He sounded like a young man.

So fucking badass. Aiel are awesome.

I want to close this with an update on the hero of the story. Mat delivers a letter to Morgase, who he thinks about dancing with just thought it was important to add that the man has the confidence to try and get with the Queen, and is mad at Gaebril for kind of demeaning him and planning to kill Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve and drops a classic.

“What’s this, lad? Coin?” “Stakes.”Gaebril doesn’t know it, but he and I have a wager.” The cat jumped down as Mat picked up the wooden dive cup and spun the dice out on the table. Five sixes. “And I always win.”

Happy Friday!

Final Notes: This is going to seem like bullshit, but I actually bet the Rams at +1.5 last night and of course didn’t write about it. Proof is here:

Book Reviews

Kellanved’s Reach: Path to Ascended Fantasy Wrap-up

Though I previously spoiled that this was the next in the mysterious trio of books I managed to finish while traversing the wilds of Colombia (review coming soon) I think it was fairly obvious that this would be the next book on the agenda. I NEED to start cranking these reviews out more frequently because I keep finishing books and am starting to develop a backlog. Kind of an embarrising thought, I can read a 500ish page book in less time then it will take me to write 500ish words on it. This is why I make no claims to be a writer, just a man who enjoys reading dope fantasy and failing at my dreams of being a pro athlete.

The final book of the Path of Ascendancy prequel trilogy by Ian C. Esslemont nicely ties up the loose ends that we know have to be tied up before the events of the main story line can begin. Perhaps because of this there seemed to be a lot less beating around the bush, Kellanved and Dancer get right to work on trying to acquire the throne that will let them control the T’lan Imass. There journey to do so is filled with the typical humor and near death experiences which made this trilogy so enjoyable in the first place.

The I guess plotline of this book is the typical sprawling mess that connects at the end. Kellanved is attempting to maintain his upstart empire but of course has grander aspirations of increasing his magical powers. To do this he follows a lead on an obsession he has with a flint arrowhead, correctly guessing that this will lead him to the throne of the T’lan Imass. After successfully acquiring the throne he gets his revenge on Quon Tali and takes control of the city, and is crowned emperor for his efforts. Hence forming you know, the Malazan Empire.

The more interesting story is the Greymane origin story. So Greymane is on the run with his outlawed army, managing to stay one step ahead of death and eventually they all die. Greymane is featured promienatly in all of Ian C. Esslemonts novels so it was cool to see where he came from and how of course Kellenvad had a role in it.

The highlight of this book is this scene where these two dude who have escaped a castle are trying to join the Crimson Guard, and are forced into a sparring match with the weapons master and the one dude, HOLY SHIT WHAT IS HIS NAME, is a mage who cannot be hit. So the guy just keeps trying to wack him with a stick and whiffing and everyone is giving him shit. Such a terrible description by me but such a typical Malazan scene that satisfies the primal craving to see some fighting but also has both a sense of hilarity and realism that brings the Malazan world to life.

Overall this is a worthy edition of the sprawling mass of Malazan Empire novels and if you already read the first two this review is pointless because you are going to like the third. The Malazan Empire books are easily in my top 5 favorite series of all time and since both Erickson and Esslemont seem to have unlimited work ethic I am excited to know that they will continue to crank out these books for all time. This review was not great, I am willing to admit my own shortcoming here. Read the book, read the series.