Book Reviews

The Warrior Prophet Wrap-Up: Kellhus or die

With such a grim title it pains me to have to pair it with an exciting announcement. Due to the love of hearing the sound of my own voice I finally was able to scrape up enough equipment, technical know-how and free labor from a trapped significant other to put together an accompanying podcast. Media moguls start from somewhere and this was the logical next step.

Click below to listen to me grace your earbuds with the silky, sultry sounds of the greatest fantasy podcast out there. I promise it is not a virus!

https://swordsandsports.podbean.com

Did that have anything to do with The Warrior Prophet? Of course, as the book was the main subject of Episode 2 of the Swords and Sports podcast! So like that shit, listen to it, subscribe and please send any feedback to either the @swordsandsports accounts on Instagram or Twitter or email me directly at swordsandsports@gmail.com

While it pains me to have to cringeily ask for all that stuff I really am looking for feedback or trolls so don’t hold back.

The Warrior Prophet picks up directly where the last book left off, with the Holy War about to begin. Instead of all that setup my man R Scotty 2 hotty Bakers dozen gets right into the war and all it’s majesty. The best parts of this book are the emphasis on detail for both the political and military maneuverings of the Holy War. It really gave such an excellent feel for strategy and what being a part of it was like. Such a well done book I finally can see what the hype was all about. This is a significant improvement over the last book, which seemed to really become a slog in the middle of it. We get a lot less of the Emperor in this one, which automatically makes it better because his story line was pretty boring.

The Holy War and the Men of the Tusk are certainly not boring though. Achamian goes from a kind of whiny wack-ass spy in the first book to a drunkard philosopher in the beginning, to a warrior magician by the end and that transformation is really satisfying to watch because he was a fucking snooze for a long time. His obsession with Kellhus and his anointing of him as the Prophet were his main highlights in this, along with having a magical puppet that sliced the throat of a cat. His love for Esement despite her taking hella loads all the time is quite annoying but he redeems himself when he finally decides to start baking fools.

The best characters are by far Kellhus, and a step below that, Cnauir. Cnauir was one of the better characters in the first book, even though I am firmly against the barbarian with a brain trope. His ascension to the top of the Men of the Tusk command structure and subsequent fuck-up of aforementioned command was a great plot line to follow. His internal struggle to constantly battle the top minds in the book, Conphas and Kellhus, was one of the better psychological battles. He is one dude who has no chill. Also ritual scarring is fucked up I am way too pretty for that shit.

But all roads eventually lead to our title character: Kellhus. This guy is a fucking awesome dude. He is the definition of 2013 Drake’s chart topping song “Started from the Bottom.” I originally put 2017 but when I looked it up I realized that holy fuck I am getting old. Moving on. Kellhus begins this book as a sort of sideshow to Cnauir but through careful maneuvering, manipulating, and fucking people up becomes a separate entity that develops a cult-like following and becomes the face of the franchise by the end. Some of the stories of his training are awesome, like he went into a room with his old teacher where all these people are on stretchers with their faces stuck in various expressions. Kellhus has to identify the expressions and what creates them. Sickly and dope.

He also does shit like properly predict the outcome of a battle, finds water in a desert (I wrote dessert at first, HAHA words), acquires not one but two girlfriends which while I think is a terrible idea it does belay a certain cool factor, and eventually leads a group of fanatics seizing control of the holy war. On top of being an incredible swordsman that single handily holds the command position on the battlefield while everyone else ran, he is just a real swell guy. His lack of morals and emotions is a plus as well.

Did that tell you anything about the plot? Nope but once again if you listen to the podcast you will get wayyyyyy more recap then you ever could have imagined. O yea this book is chad to the max.

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

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.