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.

Uncategorized

The Shadow Rising Audiobook Update 4: Reminiscing about Rhuidean

I have been so focused on having the blog catch up to my progress in the audiobook that I actually think I overshot it. The plan was to write about the entire Rhuidean adventure, buttttttt I have not even got close to finishing it. So I guess this leaves me no choice but to work with what I got.

I think to many it may be obvious, but I am not sure that Rand is all there mentally. I am not ready to call him the r word, as I still have a professional job and no way to sustain myself, but the dude is certainly not the brightest. So this jabroni is with our hero of the tale and they are heading into ghost town just dying of thirst when he realizes he can just magic them some water. When he finally does get some water he barely even realizes he needs to drink the stuff. I mean this guy is a grade A idiot. A Pat Shurmer type guy.

Shoutout to Mat. No surprise here but when him and Rand are on the border of entering the creepy ass fog ridden Rhuidean he says that they should go in together. Rand pulls some nasty trick where he makes the coin flip the way he wants, basically barring Mat from really being there for his friend. Mat decides that it might be nice to take a little stroll through another ter’angreal (I abhor typing that word out, I have to look it up everytime) door since he has some time to kill and gets himself back in another world, this time with some fox homies instead of I quote “snaky people.”

Instead of answering questions though, they ignore him until he asks for the holes in his memory to be filled. Then they ignore him until he asks for a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power. Last he asks to be away from the fox homies and get back to Rueidien. They just go “done” and start chirping him for being a fool. Those fox homies are annoying as shit.

Listen I do not think Mat handled the fox homies too well, he left a lot on the table. To be fair he didn’t exactly know the rules but I remember him actually coming out pretty ahead in the exchange. That end quote is pretty dope though. To end off this much delayed blog, a little excerpt from Chapter 24.

“Wise to ask leavetaking, when you set no price, no terms.”

“Yet fool not to first agree on price.”

I have no idea what the fuck that means but it sounds cool.

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.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Shadow Rising Audiobook Update 1: The start of the rise of a shadow

God damn I did not realize last week I just did a recap of the third book meaning that update 1 for this book has the potential to be absolutely massive. Checking the progress on the audiobook I am a quarter the way through it, which is the not-so-crazy 10 hours to cover. If I am not communicating sarcasm effectively well that is the fault of the reader not the writer.

This book is fucking massive. Sometimes since I typically read things on the Kindle app (no free ads) the size of a book never really crosses my mind. Unless of course it is the Dark Tower, where every book felt like 1,000 pages too long. This book actually is over a 1,000 pages which is insane to think about. This book is also the start of the plot meandering, since Jordan is not exactly known for his brevity. Whatever it has been great so far.

In order to avoid having to write 90,000,000,000 words talking about all the great stuff that happens, I think I will cover two parts. The first is always the introduction. I actually just read that this is the only book without a prologue in the series. Whatever the first chapter is essentially that. We start the book with the ever rare Min POV. Min’s eternal war in subverting gender roles has unfortunately hit a snafu as she must do away with britches and throw on a dress in order to infiltrate the seemingly easy-as-hell to enter White Tower in order to deliver Moiraine’s message from 40 years ago to the Amrylin. I don’t care about those two meeting at all, I just like Gawyn, who she runs into on the way. Bornhold goes to the Two Rivers with ya boy sneaky Ordeith. I also don’t really care about that but I like the part where Ordeith is saying how he hasn’t tortured anyone but later says he was torturing some I think travelling people but they don’t count since no one will even notice. Just found that part funny.

As to some actual action that effects important people. I’m talking the Ta’vern Trio. The Big Three if you will. Rand has started to go low key psycho, and as a result he starts using the one power to “acciedently” try to murder his friends. First off is your boy beared Perrin. See clean-shaven Perrin is a guy you could trust. An offensive lineman who is an all around decent chap. Bearded Perrin is a horned up maniac. First off the guy almost gets killed by his own ax, but fortunately he is able to stop Rand’s attempts at murder. Bearded Perrin fuckksssss, no doubt about that. Ask Faile.

Then the hero of the story is busy hustling some lordling losers in cards like a regular Phil Ivy (that is the only pro poker player I know) when the cards start trying to fight back. Mat has that drip. He is in a fresh new coat, he has a bunch of Tear lords sons eating out the palm of his hand, hes checking out the ladies anddddd he gets that feeling that he is about to make some cash money. Turns out Rand can’t possibly leave him alone and the little pictures on the cards try to murder him. Mat throws knives at the cards, which is a dope defense and saves himself. DRIP.

I guess this forces me to talk about Rand. So Rand is in his chambers when Berelain decides she wants to booty call him. There is not doubt that Berelain is that bitch. She is the First of Mayene, which is a tiny little shit country, but she is also wild hot. I know this because every chance that little horn dog Robert Jordan gets, he talks about her tits and ass. Rand of course is a little bitch boy, so instead of laying down the dragon, he traps her in some air. Maybe he is one of those dudes who gets off on watching naked women be tortured without doing anything? Who knows the levels of Rand’s depravity. Either way, some reflections come out of the mirror and start fighting him. He wins, but the reason behind this is obvious. He had to make it look like he wasn’t trying to activly kill Perrin and Mat so he faked having his reflections try to kill him. Loser.

That about wraps up one fraction of this monstrosity. I think next week I will try and do the battle that takes place in the Stone of Tear. Mainly because it is the easiest subtitle. I also want to do a little deep dive into Mat’s run in with the doorway ter’angreal. Happy Friday!

Final Notes: Since I did not Photoshop an image for this week here is a little bonus. It is supposed to be a picture of Gawyn though I didn’t think much of the original. Also I took the over last night at 41.5. Not even close.

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

Kellanved’s Reach: Path to Ascended Fantasy Wrap-up

Though I previously spoiled that this was the next in the mysterious trio of books I managed to finish while traversing the wilds of Colombia (review coming soon) I think it was fairly obvious that this would be the next book on the agenda. I NEED to start cranking these reviews out more frequently because I keep finishing books and am starting to develop a backlog. Kind of an embarrising thought, I can read a 500ish page book in less time then it will take me to write 500ish words on it. This is why I make no claims to be a writer, just a man who enjoys reading dope fantasy and failing at my dreams of being a pro athlete.

The final book of the Path of Ascendancy prequel trilogy by Ian C. Esslemont nicely ties up the loose ends that we know have to be tied up before the events of the main story line can begin. Perhaps because of this there seemed to be a lot less beating around the bush, Kellanved and Dancer get right to work on trying to acquire the throne that will let them control the T’lan Imass. There journey to do so is filled with the typical humor and near death experiences which made this trilogy so enjoyable in the first place.

The I guess plotline of this book is the typical sprawling mess that connects at the end. Kellanved is attempting to maintain his upstart empire but of course has grander aspirations of increasing his magical powers. To do this he follows a lead on an obsession he has with a flint arrowhead, correctly guessing that this will lead him to the throne of the T’lan Imass. After successfully acquiring the throne he gets his revenge on Quon Tali and takes control of the city, and is crowned emperor for his efforts. Hence forming you know, the Malazan Empire.

The more interesting story is the Greymane origin story. So Greymane is on the run with his outlawed army, managing to stay one step ahead of death and eventually they all die. Greymane is featured promienatly in all of Ian C. Esslemonts novels so it was cool to see where he came from and how of course Kellenvad had a role in it.

The highlight of this book is this scene where these two dude who have escaped a castle are trying to join the Crimson Guard, and are forced into a sparring match with the weapons master and the one dude, HOLY SHIT WHAT IS HIS NAME, is a mage who cannot be hit. So the guy just keeps trying to wack him with a stick and whiffing and everyone is giving him shit. Such a terrible description by me but such a typical Malazan scene that satisfies the primal craving to see some fighting but also has both a sense of hilarity and realism that brings the Malazan world to life.

Overall this is a worthy edition of the sprawling mass of Malazan Empire novels and if you already read the first two this review is pointless because you are going to like the third. The Malazan Empire books are easily in my top 5 favorite series of all time and since both Erickson and Esslemont seem to have unlimited work ethic I am excited to know that they will continue to crank out these books for all time. This review was not great, I am willing to admit my own shortcoming here. Read the book, read the series.