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The Goblin Emperor Wrap-up: Insecurity and exploding blimps

Now that is a god damn subtitle. Here we have another book stop along my epic journey to read 52 fantasy books in 52 weeks, while creating 52 podcasts on them. It also happens that I am writing 52 book review blogs but that just makes the tagline way too clunky. If you are interested in the greatest fantasy book/sports hybrid podcast that is about a 90/10 blend boy are you in luck. I have for you a link to the Swords and Sports podcast. This week I have a guest, Viviana, and we break down all the minute intricacies of the lovely Katherine Addisons writing. Just kidding we go through a bunch of stuff we liked and made us laugh. We do fantasy news, we talk about not talking about sports, and other stuff. Give it a listen unless you hate children. Now you have too

Click here to have unicorns come back to life and replace automobiles, hence saving the planet from reduced carbon emissions. It really is just a link to the podcast.

The Goblin Emperor is in all ways a fantastic read. But if sword fights, final charges, and bloodshed are the things that get you off, this might not be the read for you. If you like the inner workings of an insecure teen who deffffff would listen to Billie Ellish try and run an Elven kingdom despite pushback from every single facet of a congested, clogged, inefficient government then this is perfect.

Maia is a little half-bred weirdo whose dad and older brothers get murked in a blimp accident, essentially making him the only one left to rule the kingdom. But since Maia has only talked to like 10 people in the last 15 years, he is super insecure and not at all equipped to handle running this giant elven conglomerate. Fortunately he has a dude named Csvet who basically does everything so the kingdom doesn’t collapse. At two points people try and steal his throne in very half-hearted or half-brained attempts. There are also some terrorists who are starting to build momentum through an ideology that basically says they are tired of getting fucked over.

If that didn’t sell you, Maia is obsessed with building a bridge and trying to fuck an opera singer. He does one and not the other. That is called not spoiling things. I am getting better at this clearly.

Overall I know I didn’t hard sell this thing, but I don’t need too. It won or was nominated for all the awards that mean my review doesn’t mean shit. And guess what, it deserved all the awards, the writing is fantastic, the plot is different from the standard hero reluctantly saves the world/kingdom/friends/self by learning to overcome their insecurity and utilize magic/brains/brawn trope that is a lot of fantasy. There is not a lot of action, but in this case that is a strong point. World building is fantastic, dialogue is great, Maia is the perfect amount of bitch and brains. Not a chad book by any means but that is certainly not the books intent. Read it, listen to my fucking podcast or I will give myself Corona, and have a lovely weekend!!!!!

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St. Pat’s Half Marathon Race Review: The last race in America

Date: Saturday, March 14th, 2020

Distance: 13.1 Miles

Location: Rockaway Park, New York

Time: 1:41:06

Presented by RockapulcoRun

HELLLLLLO I know everyone was waiting with bated breath for how I was going to handle the cancellation of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon and I am here to tell you I handled it real well. When I found out Tuesday that the race was no longer happening, I quickly scrambled to find another race. Lo and behold there was another race! RockapulcoRun happened to be putting on a St. Pattys day half that saturday, and it was still going to happen so I quickly signed up. Crises averted.

When the race coordinator was explaining the course to the runners, someone shouted out something like “Thanks for hosting the last race of America.” I would love to take credit for that as I take pride in my big crowd shoutout jokes, but in good faith I can not.

There were certainly some last minute concerns with this. First, it was Saturday instead of Sunday, meaning I had to cut out the final two mile run out. Prob not an important run anyway. Second, it was about an hour drive from me. Despite some closures I got there relatively easily. There were a lot of people there that had done what I did, so it’s good that RockapulcoRun was still putting on the event, I think there were maybe 200 people there?

As for the race itself, no real fancy packet pickup, simply a stand at the race start where they were safely handing out the race stuff.

As for the gear, let me tell you I was taken for a loop on this one. I have gotten a bunch of different swag, mostly shitty t-shirts (this race included), but never ever have I received a loaf of Irish soda bread. Let me tell you it was fantastic. There also was a medal and a solid looking bib, take a look for yourself.

Okay it is race talk time. Funny enough, this course was the first half marathon course I had ever run. I think in 2017 I did a different RockapulcaRun half marathon, so I already knew what I was in for. Two loops of 6.5ish miles, all flat course and a view of a very grey boardwalk. In terms of sights to see, not my favorite course though running along a boardwalk isn’t to bad. A little windy.

I had a goal for this race, well not exactly this one but whatever. I wanted to run it in 1:45:00 and had followed the Hal Higdon Intermediate something training plan to try and hit that goal. Let me tell you, based on my time, I destroyed that goal. It was fuckkkkking painful though, for real I almost debated dropping out at the half way mark as I was exhausted and felt I had nothing left. The only reason I kept running was I realized that I had smoked the first half of the race and even if I had a poor second half I would crush my previous PR of 1:49:10.

This feeling of death happened for a few reasons. I came out the gate wayyyy to hot and this almost cost me the race. A 7 minute mile was not the way I was supposed to start this race. I tried to maintain a 7:30 pace and for a while I was doing alright, but I started to fluctuate around 5th mile and kept a 7:40 to 8:00 pace. I took a gel at like mile 5, and every couple miles I had a little more of it. I also took water at mile 7 and mile 10. This pace truly pushed me to the limit, I had been training intensely to be able to run faster miles, but I think that maintaining that speed for a full 13 miles was something that I am going to need to work on. I am not going to say I felt undertrained, because obviously I did a great job on beating my goal, but I think that my race strategy is really shit and it is costing me precious minutes. I make it much more difficult on my self because of my inability to set a good pace from the beginning. Whatever, I am fucking jacked up that I was able to beat my goal by that much. I already can’t wait to get started on another one.

Book Reviews

The Thief Who Spat in Luck’s Good Eye Wrap-up: Spitting greatness

For this weeks book review I decided to take on the second book in the Amra Thethys series, The Thief Who Spat in Luck’s Good Eye. Ol’ Mikey McClung continues where the first book left off, with a budding tale of everlasting friendship between the moral thief Amra and her trusted mage man Holgren. If you want to hear the sounds of me and the lovely Nathalie serenade your senses with a lovely podcast and recap of our adventure with Amra Thethys #2, please indulge me and click the link below. I promise you will be mildly disappointed, like when you get fries from Burger King (no free ads) and do not get a sneak onion ring

Click here to listen to the Swords and Sports podcast. Michael McClung, the author, thought our first podcast on book one was pretty good, so give that a fucking listen as well so I can quit my day job.

In book two we go bigggggg picture. Holgren needs to become immortal, since he stupidly sold his soul or something so he is def going to hell if he dies. Fortunately the Duke of Viborg has issued a decree saying anyone who brings proof of some destroyed city gets a billion dollars, mostly because there is something there that will make him immortal. Holgren and Amra pack up the ol’ gear and get to treasure hunting.

But naturally Holgren gets marked two seconds into the book, and Amra has to deal with some gods and the aforementioned Duke. She handles her shit but finds out the Shadow King is finna take over the world. She really doesn’t care but she put on a necklace that is making her head there.

I know I am rambling on but once again Mikey Mc Clungggger does a great job of fitting a million things into a concise 200 pages. He seems to be great at the short adventure books. Listen, Amra and Holgren are a great duo, they do start fucking in this book which was weird but besides that it is a worthy edition. I really lost momentum on this review. That will make more sense come Monday. Book is almost full chad, so there ya go I didn’t skip out on that.

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Marathon Mondays Week 12: The final countdown

After many moons it is finally Week 12 of the training plan. That means one thing only, it’s race week! Normally I am not one to mark the passage of time, one day largely feels like another, but the progress I have made over the last 11 weeks has been pretty cool. I mean when I started this thing it was god damn December and freezing, and while it is still cold as shit, at least it is not as bad as when I started. So at the end of this week, assuming this thing doesn’t get cancelled because of the corona virus, I will be taking on the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. That was not one of my typically terrible jokes, I think it is a real possibility this thing gets cancelled.

This plan was designed to give myself a little more rest in between runs so that I could focus on getting quality runs in, instead of just trying to get as many miles as I could. That has certainly shifted my focus and I think this is a much more sustainable type of training. Granted the distance is a half marathon instead of the full, so I really didn’t have to stack up the miles, but I wanted to focus on actually getting faster and so far I have done that. The 10k I ran in like Week 6 was just a small glimpse of the progress I made, the half I run on Sunday will be the culmination of hard work and preparation.

Fuck that sounded corny, might as well get into last week. I mentioned on Wednesday that last week was going to be a pain in the ass and I was accurate in that assessment. The workout was 10 .25 mile intervals, and I know that every two weeks I just did one more interval than the last time, but every single god damn week it felt like that extra one was going to be the one that killed me. Running hard interval’s in 30 degree weather is a nightmare, but maybe it builds character or something. The rest of the week was light, except for the long run of 12. I took that soooooo slow, I was afraid of overdoing it a week before the race. I think 12 is a lot to run the week before running 13.1 but I have trusted Hal this long might as well trust him the rest of the way. It honestly did not go great, but I guess I ran it so there we are.

Looking at this week, it is much lighter then what I have been doing. There are 3 actual rest days, no even cross training. I think I will prob just do a light lift on Monday, but take actual rest days the other 2 times. The workout is a 30 min tempo. I am deciding not to break it up this time, I am just going to gun it for those 30 minutes and finish up the run. And after that, it is a quick 3-miler to get loose and then race day. Stay tuned for a recap of everything at some point when I get to it. Under 1:45 or die.

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The Thousandfold Thought Wrap-up: Sometimes a thousand thoughts are too many

The Thousandfold Thought was fortunately conveyed to the reader in much less than 1,000 pages. I feel like I should be able to do a lot with the title of this book but it doesn’t seem to be flowing well. You know what did flow well? My actual spoken words recapping the book. That sentence have your attention, fortunately I can satisfy your undying curiosity with a simple link to the worlds greatest fantasy and sports fusion podcast, The Swords and Sports podcast. Give it a listen and your life will change. Whether for better or worse is really a coin flip.

Click here to finally achieve you dream of witnessing the perfect blend you never thought would work, yet shockingly does.

Shameless promotion over. Lets talk about the conclusion to the Prince of Nothing Trilogy. The more I have engaged with Mr. R. Scotty 2 Hotty Bakkers dozen work, the more I have come to appreciate just how masterful this series is. Credit to me for that nickname, not clunky or illogical at all.

The Thousandfold Thought is simply a great book and is the perfect way to end a series. My initial reaction to the first book was almost reluctance to continue the series, it seemed like a lot of clunky writing that bit off a little more then it could chew while not taking advantage of the things that made some of the parts excellent. Mainly not getting bogged down in super boring ass characters with no action. The second book was a complete shift, it seemed obvious to me that Bakker had grown significantly as a writer, the confidence he exuded in making the scope of the story significantly grander showed a level of ambition that would take a mad genius to wrap up in three books. Yet the third book built off a successful bridge gap book. I normally think those second books are the hardest, you achieve some level of success with the first book, but you have to expand the story in some way so I find authors normally go too large and lose sight of the elements the make the first book great. This did not happen with the second, in fact it is so much better crafted.

The third book in this series sees the conclusion of the holy war, which seemed really important in the second book, but now has almost become a side show to the ambitions and goals of the main characters. The confrontation promised to us in the first chapter of the series, Kellhus and Moehungus, does not disappoint. I know thats not how you spell his dad’s name but I can’t get it out of my head because it is funny to sound out. That confrontation though made the whole series so worth it. I have said many times that nothing gets me hyped like a great 1-on-1 sword fight, but I have to say a confrontation between two masters of manipulation was in its own way just as engrossing. The culmination of two separate peoples collection of power being nothing more then a bargaining chip in who will walk out of a cave alive was just such a brilliant way to end it. If they had simply just fought using the magic they had learned or their martial abilities it would not have been as potent as what actually happened. The twist with Cnauir at the end also was crazy, I had a feeling it was something like that, but it made his whole character arc make so much more sense.

The actual conclusion of the Holy War with the Men of the Tusk securing miraculous victory that unfolded exactly how Kellhus planned it, seemed almost anti-climactic compared to the other stuff. This was clearly intentional, and Bakker building up the war to seem so important only have it become a power play move was brilliant. This book is great, honestly a long and not easy read of a series but a must read for anyone who appreciates a more complicated fantasy story that subverts a lot of the simple tropes that stop good fantasy from becoming great. Just get past the first one.

Obviously chad.

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Marathon Mondays Week 11: Penultimate or something

We are one, yes one week away from completing the second iteration of the masterful, inspirational, emotional (half) Marathon Monday’s blog series and let me tell you I am jacked up. I am also aware that this blog is coming out on a Wednesday, which happens to not be Monday but fuck off i’ve been sorta busy.

In Week 11 there is still plenty of work to be done. I guess in a 12 week plan there is not a lot of time for de-loading because this and last week were the two heaviest weeks of the entire plan. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, I also am saying that because I already finished the running workout for this week. Trust me I did not feel that way on Monday.

Last week was rough, I mentioned in the Week 10 blog that I was going on a snowboard trip so I was going to have to do some shifting around with the runs. This always messes up the rhythm that I get in on these training plans and it results in some pretty shitty runs. So I moved the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday runs up a day, and did the Saturday run Thursday morning. If that is confusing, because it is confusing me, the picture of all the runs will clear it up. This also happened to coincide with me starting a new job, so it is safe to say I was all over the place. At least the tempo run went well, I feel confident that I have gotten significantly faster as a direct result of these workouts. So while I hate them and dread them every week, they are necessary. The long run was an 11-miler, which I ran immediately after driving for 4 hours from Whiteface back home. The snowboarding was great though it is not exactly easy on the old legs. That 11-miler was torrrrttture but I did it.

Looking ahead, well I guess at this point looking at the present, I have another heavy week. Since I am doing my long run on Saturday, I am looking at a 38 mile week, which is a lot to be running the week before a race. I feel confident that I am in good enough shape that 38 miles should be just fine. The running workout was roughhhhh though. Ten rounds of quarter mile intervals is absolute torture, and the jog parts were so fucking slow but that is in the past now. The long run is a 12-miler, which I find a little crazy because I am running a half-marathon next week, but this is what ol’ Hal Higs says to do so I trust the process. Next week is the final countdown, lets get it!

Book Reviews

Iron and Magic Wrap-up: Ironically a magical surprise

There really is no irony there but you can’t be serve a word like “iron” to me and not expect me to make some terrible joke. The book is written by the dream team of Gordon and Illona under the pseudo name Ilona Andrews. They seem to have had a decent amount of success, I mean they are a New York Times Bestselling Author(s?) so they got that going for them. When I picked this book for the podcast, my intention was to pick this super sappy fantasy romance novel as the guest for this book is my sister and I figured I would just trash how corny is was the whole time and get that CONTENT popping off but that was not what happened.

Speaking of the podcast, did you bring that up or did I? Regardless, on this weeks episode I have special guest Jenna. We go over Iron and Magic, read uncomfortable love-making scenes, quickly fly through the sports, do a social media glow-up for the author(s) amongst other wonderful hijinks. Click here and your wish for everlasting life will not come true, but you will get to be entertained for a while maybe.

Iron and Magic is the first book in the Iron Covenant series, and while I think the characters in the book feature in the Kate Daniels series, I really don’t know nor intend to find out. If I had to break the story down, it goes a little like this. This man hunk super guy with magic powers was once the warlord of this demi-god named Roland until he got himself excommunicated for trying to fuck the guys daughter or something. This is not the boring ass gunslinger Roland from The Miserable Tower but a different guy who is trying to take over the world by equal parts violence and buying real estate.

Roland wants to kill Hugh, and Hugh wants to drink himself to death, but his former elite fighting force called the Iron Dogs don’t want to be killed by Roland so they convince Hugh to live a little bit. They eventually come up with this plan to get hired as glorified body guards by this chick Elara who is the head witch of this hybrid magic coven/grow-op. Elara and her gang of lawyer warlocks is getting pressured by this dude Nez, a vampire controller and prospective real estate agent to sell their land, and they don’t want to.

So instead of just forming an alliance, Hugh and Elara decide to get married. This provides the real romantic love story, as the two immediately despise each other, despite wanting to bang. Through the power of team work and overcoming adversity, they eventually do bang. Their will they, wont they thing coupled with the witty zingers they sling at each other is reminiscent of a rom-com. In all honesty it is pretty funny.

This eventually works out to a final battle where they emerge victorious. Throughout the book though, there is an interesting magic system where their are seemingly random intervals where either magic or technology works. So we get this kind of post-apocalyptic world that has guns, cars, and electricity but since that stuff only works half the time, they also need to use swords and magic. I actually found this a really enjoyable way to get the medieval fantasy aspect to mesh with modern technology. Also a solid plot device to be able to switch from magic to technology or vice-versa when it served the story. There are also a billion magical creatures, mostly vampires that are controlled remotely like attack drones. A three headed elephant-god shows up as well.

The real question on everyone’s minds at this juncture is the rating. Is this book chad? I mean Hugh is the textbook definition of a Chad on the outside, but is actually a little soft bitch on the inside. Elara is pretty whiny and uses the word “uh” a lot like a white girl that can’t even. So I am going to leave this right in the middle.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 10: 3 quarters down, one to go

In a blog I wrote an eternity ago, I mentioned at great length how a quarter the way through anything is one of the worst milestones to hit. Only having a quarter to go though, is a superbly improved situation. I mean a quarter left feels almost like you are done. On reflection, this really only applies to running, a quarter to go in a basketball game feels like there isn’t enough time in the world. This start to the blog is an absolute train wreck.

With 9 weeks in the books there the end is in sight. It is fortunate that I really feel like I am starting to hit my stride, as I had a great week of running and am starting to feel comfortable at the 8 minute pace I am going to need to hold to hit my 1:45:00 goal. Last week I had two tough runs, the interval run was brutal and the 15k was difficult. The interval run came the morning after a soccer game, so I was already feeling sore, but 9 rounds of quarter mile repeats is going to suck no matter when you do it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find an official 15k but the ran around Hoboken. While I didn’t really keep the pace I had too, it is always hard to judge my true speed when I have to stop for cars and traffic lights. Overall, the extra day off day from running has me feeling reenergized and ready to take on the next week.

So talking about next week, I have to do quite a bit of run swapping. I am starting the week off on Monday and going 4 straight days. With a little snowboard trip on the horizon, I am going to have to take Friday and Saturday off. The long run is an 11 miler, which is going to be hell after two days of riding but whatever thats the price you pay for fun. The tempo run hits the peak with 45 min, once again I am going to break it up into two parts. Hopefully it goes well. Thats all I got.

Race Reviews

Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon Race Review

Date: Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Distance: 13.1 Miles

Location: Miami, Florida

Time: 2:32:54

A long overdue race review but here it is. One of my favorite races is the half marathon version of the Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon so I was real excited to get the chance to run it again. I know I normally am one to complain, but I really love everything about this race. Didn’t have any personal goals here, the goal was to help my sister finish her first half marathon. She failed miserably. No she did great but that doesn’t move the needle like abject failure.

The expo is also in Miami and while I normally hate spending any extra time going to get my race materials, especially if I have to travel to go get it, I actually enjoy this expo. I guess it helps that I can literally drive right to the thing and leave the second I want. The expo is pretty big, if not as big as the NYC one then pretty close. Lots of discount sneakers which I always love, as well as the standard array of gels, weird protein foods, an espresso machine and a snack bar. Overall it is as good a time as those things could get, something about the energy of Miami makes things always just a little more festive. Plus that Wynwood area is fucking awesome to walk around.

The gear is simple enough, a short sleeve shirt that is of a heavier material then the one I got the last time I did this and a cool enough bib. The real draw is the medals, this race is well known for having these crazy medals and this year was no different. This thing looks like a spin bike wheel. And it spins like a . . . uh . . . spin bike wheel.

The race starts earllllllllllly, our chip time start was 6:28 AM and we had to be one of the last groups to start. I have gone on many rants about the early start times of Florida races but in this case if we honestly had to wait any longer we would have got fucking cooked. I think the temperature was 78 degrees and the second half of the race was starting to get crazy sunny so I was thankful. The race start is also accessible by car, which makes things about a billion times easier. I maybe had to walk 15ish minutes to the start. It is also fairly well organized so that is no stress to finding your group or having to deal with a million people.

The race itself winds through Miami, you cross a few bridges though it is mostly a flat course. The biggest incline is right in the beginning, so once that is out of the way the rest of it is fairly flat. I don’t know any areas in Miami but I think at one point you go through South Beach. Around the 10 mile mark there is music on every corner, which always gets me pumped up. Most importantly though, my sister did great and really pushed through to the end. Crushed the race. Obligatory picture of the running crew, we did not look this put together at the end.

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.