Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Kalanon’s Rising Wrap-up: Kaluki laka luie the candy sprout is chewy

That is an all-time Rocket Power reference right there. Coming back from a long book reviewing hiatus it seems like I haven’t gained an ounce of skill. Where have I been? Well enjoying my podcasting endeavors, interviewing #SPFBO finalists, slowly losing my mind, and defiantly losing money gambling on sports I never watch. I also have been hammering books, so maybe it is time to catch up. Kalanon’s Rising (Agents of Kalanon #1) by Darian Smith is a fantasy, murder mystery. And while that may sound like a bad theme for a party that your friend no-one really likes is hosting, it is actually a plot for a book that Darian executes to good effect. In the meantime, listen to the greatest fantasy, leastest sports podcast in the history of the young, slowly burning world. I am talking of course by the zero award nominated Swords and Sports podcast.

The link to the podcast is riggggght here. Give it a listen so I can quit my 9-5.

Kalanon’s Rising starts with a dude getting worked over by a lady of the night. This dude happens to be the nephew of the king, so the king is a little worked up over it. He decides to assemble a detective squad to figure out whats up, as this murder also had weird ass ritual looking symbols all over the place. On the team is ya boyyyy Brannon, Draeson, Jessamine, Brother Taran, and Ula. They all got some interesting backstories, and to me that is the real highlight of the whole thing.

Brannon is this awesome war hero, turned King’s Justice where justice is him dueling criminals and fucking them up. He has started to transition to physician. Draeson is a mage with a dragon tattoo that moves all over his body. He also fucks everything in sight. Jessamine is Brannon’s boring apprentice. OR IS SHE?!?! Brother Taran is an assassianish, chemist dude. Ula is a shaman that raises Kaluki’s. Kaluki is the most fun word to try and say, and according to the author himself, I said it correctly on the podcast. Please see below. This was purely to flex that the author responded to me. Cue the humility.

Shoutout to Darian. The adventure is a blast, we got dead bodies rising to kill people, we got people turning into super monsters, some inter dimensional portals letting in the beasts of hell, and some good ol’ fashion twists. Give it a read. I give it a middle of the ground, not a true chad book, though that is certainly not the goal.

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The Last Wish Wrap-up: The Witcher hour

Hello my good friends. Are you stuck at home? Of course you are. Well aren’t you lucky because I have just the thing for you! Lets treat this like taking yourself out for a fancy dinner, dare I say, a five star dinner. You are balling out today, so of course you are going to get an appetizer. The appetizer is this here blog. Well what’s the main course, a question that I am sure is on the tip of your tongue. It is the Swords and Sports podcast.

Click here to get that gooooooood audio food.

That was unequivocally the worst paragraph that I have ever written. It was so bad that I actually gave up on this blog for two days without finishing it. Well thats the point I am at creatively in this quarantine. Thank the stars for my man fucking Geralt of Rivia for providing me with 4ish days of entertainment. At least the book version, the show version’s entertainment lasts forever. The Last Wish is a collection of six short stories divided into 5 or so chapters, with the first chapter in each story devoted to where Geralt is in the present time.

The short stories are similar to the episodes of the show, I think there is only one story that doesn’t have it’s own episode. But even though I knew the endings and most of the details I still found the stories to be fascinating. The world of The Witcher is extensive and well-detailed and that is one of the highlights of the book. All the creatures are believable and the way they interact as intelligent creatures makes for some fun back-and-forths with our star of the show.

And make no mistake about it, you should never start a sentence with ‘and’. And now to my real point, the star of the show makes this go from an average book to a great book. Geralt’s overall cynicism, observational humor, grumpiness, and code of morals makes for a fascinating character that I just wanted more off. It also helps that he is basically a superhuman genetically engineered to fight monsters. Figured I should mention that as this blog has clearly shown that I have a thing for people who can kill people/things. Geralt in the course of six stories murders a two different kinds of vampires, like 15 people, fights a genie (kinda) and fucks a few good ol’ lasses. He does all these things with the enthusiasm of Hilary Clinton. Fucking hilarious.

It seems like in this book review I actually didn’t spoil any major plot points. Mainly because the stories only loosely connect. Wow a blog that started off horribly ended with a spark of something clever. Go me.

O yea, so obviously chad it’s not even funny. Listen to the podcast please so I can quit my day job.

Uncategorized

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!!!!!

Uncategorized

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.

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 Name of All Things Wrap-up: A chorus of success

Terrible subtitle but you know what, if you can’t tell by my lack of blogs lately I am a little rusty. No excuses though.

So what we have is the followup to Jenn Lyons The Ruin of Kings, which if you may recall, I loved. Usually the second book in any series is the worst one, especially if it is following up a book that has initial success. Not to say they all suck, but there is usually a drop off in quality as the author seems to struggle to create another unique story and tie it in to whatever shit happens in the first book while setting up for a longer plot line. That being said, another method to take is to just not continue the story until the end, and tell a backstory of another character entirely. That is kind of what George R.R. Martin does with books 4 and 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire. If you couldn’t guess, that is the method Lyons takes.

The Name of All Things is another wild attempt to throw every fantasy element and trope into one book and hope it succeeds. And just like the first one, I found it a blast. Not as good as the first book but I would call it a grand addition to what is turning out to be an awesome series. I feel like this series is a great introduction to adult fantasy, and if I was in high school I would have thought this was the greatest thing I ever read. Not saying it is Young Adult, because it definitely has more sexually charged elements and grim brutality that wouldn’t fly in Hunger Games or some other corny shit. I more mean that the constant adventure and bloody action that isn’t bogged down by political machinations and talking about trees in vivid detail are perfect for someone who reads at an adult level but has the attention span of, well me.

Our main character in this book is Janel, who apparently is one of the four warriors or something of some prophecy. We are treated to her backstory, where she has been cursed by that demon Xaltorath so that she has super strength and every night when she falls asleep she goes to the afterlife and fights demons. Pretty cool shit. She of course runs into Relos Var and gets into some shenanigans including also fighting a dragon, meeting gods, learning bad-ass magic, and fucking people of all sexes or no sexes, this book has a lot of stuff on gender.

I found the Joratese people to have a cool culture that is based on respect and dismisses gender norms. I think Jenn Lyons kinds of beats us over the head with the gender stuff, but I learned a little bit about it so I guess it achieved it’s purpose. Eventually there is a huge battle at the end where Kihrin, Janel and gang fight a mega dragon made of swords, where they are . . . well read the book and find out I don’t feel like spoiling this one.

In the end I gotta say, I am thoroughly enjoying these books and can’t wait for the next one, which fortunately seems like I will get the chance to read next year. Lyons has an impressive work ethic. I love that she once again used the footnotes thing, this time much more for comedic relief then for filling in knowledge gaps. Some of those footnotes were funny as fuck. As for the rating, total chad book. The irony being I think Jenn Lyons would absolutely hate to see her book rated on a scale of wimpy male to alpha male but there is no denying its place.

To end this thing I just want to comment, I actually read the hardcover version of this, which is extremely rare because I normally only read e-books. The book is missing a reference mark in the text to call out the 7th footnote in one of the chapters. If anyone else notices it please take a picture and comment. It drove me god damn crazy.

Final Notes: I am debating doing a mega blog recapping everything I read this year and highlighting things I really enjoyed and really hated but it seems like a lot of work so I don’t know yet. It is a good way to seem like I am so smart for reading a lot, but does that weigh out the corniness of writing a year end roundup. O the struggles of being a blogger that no one reads. I promise this week an audiobook recap is coming. Maybe.

Book Reviews

The Darkness that Comes Before Wrap-up: A prophetic title

A series that always, always, always pops up on any list of top fantasy, whether it is epic, political, dark, or grimdark, is The Prince of Nothing series by R. Scott Bakker. This series never appears on the top of any of those lists, it is more like a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope series, meaning that you need enough players/books to fill up a roster so there ya go. From what I understand there is a rapid fanbase for this series, as I am sure there are people who think Kentavious is ready to take a leap or is the perfect guy to take your team to the next level, but those people are dumb. But like his name is fucking Kentavious. I actually came back to this paragraph after finishing this blog just to say that.

Now that is not to say The Darkness That Comes Before is a trash book, it had a lot of positives and got significantly better towards the end, hence the subtitle referring to the prophetic title of the book. The prologue was a little dense, but I got real hyped thinking I was about to read something great. The book is supposed to be about this holy war that mirrors some visions this sect of wizards have about a time of some earlier apocalyptic war and how we are about to have another apocalypse, but what it really is about is this one dude named Anasûrimbor Kellhus.

Lets make no mistake, the books success and allllll my enjoyment of it is entirely based on Anasûrimbor Kellhus. He is a fucking awesome character, my guess is if you don’t like him you hate this book. The book starts off with his kind of origin story, he has some dream about his dad and leaves this kind of monastery that raised him to be some super warrior/monk/psychologist. I am positive you have 897 characters in your head that already fit this description so I will do my best to explain why he is so awesome. His superness doesn’t come from having great fighting skills (which he does have), or some magical powers (which he doesn’t have), but rather from his ability to understand and manipulate the human psyche.

From the beginning he does things like observe the muscles in the mouth twitching to ascertain whether someone is being truthful, or links something someone said to some trauma that happened in their past to predict future behavior. The monkness part comes from his crew that preach the “Logos” which essentially means take the shortest path to success. He uses his abilities to manipulate a woman into loving him, an intelligent barbarian into joining him, and an entire noble class into accepting him as a prophet. As an aside, I really am tired of the intelligent, thoughtful barbarian character, but this version of it isn’t terrible.

All of this sounds very trope-y but in this case Bakker succeeds mightily. There are a lot of other story lines, the main two follow this guy Drusas Achamian, a wizard that belongs to a school known as The Mandate and the second the Emperor with his nephew Conphas. The magic dudes all belong to different schools, The Mandate is the school that has visions of the last Holy War which of course are being played out again. Conphas is some genius commandeer who is also a master politician. Both these things pale in comparison to Kellhus.

It is hard to imagine that a book which really has pretty lame action, a predictable story line, and a run-of-the-mill plot can be enjoyable, but Bakker’s special skill is creating these incredible characters. It is the depth and the creativeness of the characters that really leave you wanting more. I was dying to get more of Kellhus because I just found him to be such a fun read. His journey across the various stages of the holy war were must read, the other parts, especially the beggining shit with Achamian were pretty standard and actually leaned on boring, but if you could put up with that stuff the gold comes towards the end. It seemed like at some point Bakker knew he had something special with Kellhus and rode him to success.

Did this review tell you anything about the book? I don’t know, it was kind of just some ramblings. It is legitimately a good book, nothing special. I didn’t know this until I literally just added the cover into the blog, but my guy Steve Erikson endorsed it with that quote on the front. If that gets you to buy it then the marketing team has done their job well, if not then these fantasy book review blogs are prob not for you. I rate this as neither virgin nor chad, which seems like a very virgin thing to do. Thems the breaks when you are in the blogging game. Gotta keep yourself honest.

R Scott Bakker is an alllllll time fantasy author name. Easily top five no cap. Shout out to me for finally understanding basic photo editing and making a somewhat readable rating chart.

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: