Book Reviews

New Spring Wrap-up: Springing me deeper into the Wheel of Time

Trash subtitle, not a trash book. New Spring is a Wheel of Time novel and serves as a prequel to the Wheel of Time series. One may question what would posses a man who has spent 100+ hours listening to the WoT audiobook series and writing about it weekly to also pick up a prequel book to the series and to that I have a simple answer. I am not a wealthy man and this book was offered by Tor as a free e-book. Being a man that quite enjoys both the WoT and free things, this was a match made in heaven.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it was quite the mindfuck listening to the audiobooks during my run, I think I was listening to the second or third book when I read this, and later on reading about events that transpired 20ish years prior to the start of the series. Felt like things were hopping around a lot.

So this book follows some of the best characters in the WoT series, Moiraine (I think I actually spelled her name right on the first try) and ya boyyyyyyy Lan Mandragoran. Set twenty years before we are introduced to fuckwad Rand, the book opens up with the oft mentioned Aiel War wrapping up. It’s funny I just listened to a part of The Shadow Rising where both Gaul and Lan are in the same room and they both have a mutual dislike for each other and it is obvious that the Aiel remember Lan whipping their asses in the war. We rarely see Lan as an actual battlefield commandeer so him strategizing and leading men was a great opener. There is a part where some lord requests for Lan to be the anvil in a hammer and anvil type trap on a group of Aiel and Lan agrees, despite having a feeling that the hammer is never going to show. So when questioned about it Lan says something along the lines of “I gave my word so I will stick to it.” Badass. I should go look for the quote but I won’t, read the book if you want it.

We get introduced to Moiraine and Siuan when they are Accepted. They are serving as cup bearers to the current Amyrlin, Tamra, when Gitara, who is the Keeper of the Stole, has a god damn seizure and croaks out a prophesy that the Dragon has been reborn. She then abruptly dies, which is kind of funny. Moiraine and Siuan vow to find and protect the Dragon without letting anyone know what they are doing. The Amyrlin tries to track down the Dragon by offering money to anyone who pushed out a kid in the last week, and the two collect all the possible candidates in a list. This list becomes their own personal quest. They wind up getting raised to Aes Sedai and set out to start tracking down kids.

Lan on the other hand is in a little bit of a pickle. Returning from war, he realizes this old milf he used to sleep with has tried to raise the Golden Crane while he has been gone. Not pleased with this he decides to track her down. He meets, you guessed it, Moiraine on the way and the two begin an adveserial relationship.

When they get to the city of Chachin some stuff happens with the Black Ajah and stuff. Having spoiled 60% of the book I won’t ruin the ending.

Many lovely people of Reddit question if this book should be read before one begins the WoT. While that would make it a nice number of 15 books, the answer is an emphatic NO. Reading this book contains massive spoilers for the series as you know the driving forces behind Lan and Moiraine’s actions. This severely takes away from the mystery and intrigue of those two characters, as well as spoiling a whole bunch of stuff about the Dragon. If you go into book one having read this, it takes away a lot of the fun. Save this for after, as a nice reminder of how great the series is. If the idea of reading a prequel novel after reading a masssssive 14 book series is too much for you, give it some time and come back to it.

I rate this book:

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.

Book Reviews

The Dark Defiles Wrap-up: Defiling expectations of good fantasy

Ehh not my best title. Then again I am exhausted with writing about this series. I finished this book on the way to Colombia and the time spent reading this book was worse than anything I experienced on the entire vacation. Though I did have a great vacation so I guess the bar for that wasn’t very low. Either way l have finished the series meaning fortunately this is the last blog I will ever write about it.

I want to take a look at some of the positives first, since it is much easier to just blast the shit out of this final catastrophy. There are some better parts, at one point we get introduced to this charctar Sharkmaster Wyr, who was some famous pirate guy. He is imprisioned on this ship in the harbor where he is supposed to be living out the remander of his days. Both interesting and well done. The backstory on this dude is badass. To me this like one chapter of a minor character who winds up having no real impact on the plot was the best part of the book. What this tells me is that while I’ve spent way more time than what is healthy bashing this Richard K. Morgan guy, he defienitly has the talent to be a good writer.

The problem is his story stinks. He relies on magic/sci-fi technology to kind of clean up these situations the characters get in, and it all feels meaningless in regards to the story. The characters themselves are very stereotypical. I get the vibe he goes for but to me the plot kind of falls apart because the situations the characters find themselves in are just not well done.

A big part of the book that gets a lot of praise is the fact that the main character Ringil is gay. He subverts your typical gay character in a fantasy book stereotype by being this grizly, hardened veteran who men rally to and are willing to follow into anything. This is great, and I fully support the idea of having a character like Ringil. The problem is the Ringil we get is boring and unimaginative. His being gay seems to be used to mask the fact that the character isn’t very fleshed out. And there also is a noticeable drop off of graphic sex scenes throughout the series. The first book was chock full of them, by the last book I am not ever sure if anyone has sex. Just seems like what could have been fascinating and progressive is instead a tool to boost lazy writing.

This third book has a plot that is alllllll over the place. The end of the second book they plan on going on this journey to an island to find a dead former wizard king of the humans before the Dwenda resurrect him to take over the world. Within 100 pages instead we have a completely different book. The plot ambles on, Egar Dragonbane gets killed by a . . . you guessed it, Dragon. Archeth finds herself through the challenges placed on her and becomes the next viable option for the throne. Ringil gets his revenge and when he finally meets the great bad wizard king, easily deals with him in 3 pages. We have been hearing about this guy since book one, he’s gone in 3 pages. Reminded me of the death of the Night King in GoT. Super underwhelming.

There are some cool characters and parts though. Hjel is an awesome dude, his backstory about wishing to be this great warrior and like becoming a musician was entertaining. Jhiral the actual emperor was fun. But these people played such unimportant roles that they became irrelevant. I believe if he made these characters have their own POV, maybe we would have got somewhere.

Rant over. Series over. Moving on.