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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!!!!!

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.

Book Reviews

The True Bastards Wrap-up: A ride on the hog side

That is an egregious offense to the subtitle gods but in some odd way I am proud of it. Coming in hot with another review is the next book in a series that is slowly creeping its way to the upper echelons of my heart. The True Bastards by Jonathan French is the second book of The Lot Lands series. It takes what made the first book such an interesting and fun read and improves upon it. The plot is much more expansive and original. Don’t just take my written word for it though, also listen to me verbally jerk the book off on another edition of the greatest fantasy, nay, the greatest literary podcast of all time: The Swords and Sports podcast featuring yours truly.

Click the link below to be transported to a magical place owned by a fruit (not a gay joke simply an apple joke) and have all your audio fantasies come true.

Click here to start your trans-formative journey

Now that is how you sell a fucking podcast. Where do I begin with this review. I already know this is going to be a clusterfuck but whatever. Jackal is no longer the POV character, instead we get our main homie Fetching. She is attempting to lead The True Bastards in the wake off having the Kiln destroyed by old sludgey but of course life ain’t that fucking easy. First she needs to contend with her own version of black lung, which is essentially that she is coughing up sludge like a frat boy throws up beer the morning after a sick rager. The town of Winsome has zero, nada, zilch food and motherfuckers are hungry. So she has to find out why none of the food is getting there. Turns out a pack of super hyenas controlled by a giant orc shaman are causing terror throughout The Lot Lands. Some frails have started setting up shop in an abandoned lot but none of the other hoofs no what to do. Hispertha is getting real mouthy in their quest to expand the empire. Basically she is going through a Lot. Get it, its because the series is called The Lot Lands. Let me end this monster paragraph.

That is quite the predicament to find oneself in. Fortunately for the lovely half-elf, half-orc super hybrid there is one simple answer. Violence. As the famous Jedi Mind Tricks song Violence begets Violence taught me, it’s that Violence begets Violence so that means madness ensues. We are talking hoof on hoof war, hoof on Tine war, hoof and hoof on magic orc shaman and hyena war, and all types of fun.

This fucking book is awesome. I love, love, love the use of all kinds of mythical races and that they can mix creating all different species that have to make their way in the world. I love that they ride hogs and shoot crossbows like they are a fucking motorcycle gang. I love the interplay between the clashing cultures and factions along The Lot Lands. The world Frenchy Lotana builds is absolutely brilliant. The characters are hilarious, believable and have realistic arcs. The curse words are great. The use of the word “cock” is without equal. Basically read this series if you like fun.

This book is literally the definition of chad. Easiest rating ever.

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 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.