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 Grey Bastards Wrap-up: Half-orcs create full fun

Crushed that subtitle.

In order to begin this bright and glorious new year on the right note I decided the first blog of the year should be this magnificent review of The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French. French Lottana as he is known in certain circles has crafted one of the more (or less?) ambitious worlds that features your standard Tolkein fantasy characters and gives them a Son’s of Anarchy twist. I am sure you are asking how that works and my answer for you is it just does. I am realizing the Lottana joke doesn’t work until you know that the series he is writing is titled The Lot Lands. You can proceed to admire my cleverness now.

I have never watched Son’s of Anarchy, I only mention it because Frenchy does in the beginning of the book, so for the sake of making sense that is the last I will mention it.

This book absolutely excels in the world building, I found it the perfect mix of familiar and engrossing. Jonathan follows the kind of industry standard of fantasy species, he has elves, orcs and humans all of which have some beef. There are centaurs and weird gnome like things too but in terms of main species you got your three right there. What makes this story interesting is the idea of half-breeds, kind of like when Saruman creates the Uruk-hai but in this case you can breed elves and humans with orcs. This creates half-orcs, who as to be expected are smaller then regular orcs but bigger then humans. A big part of the book is that all these half-orcs are products of orcs raping humans or elves, since it doesn’t seem like the other two species ever try and pick up any female orcs. This essentially leads to an entire group of half-orc bastards. Due to the title of this book, can you guess what color they are?

The half-orcs, like many bastards, are unwanted by their unloving fathers and not exactly beloved by the human or elf societies, so they are kind of relegated to living in this barren like land that is a buffer between orc land and human land. Of course orcs living in the barrens is it’s own kind of trope but whatever it works and it is fun. They organize the barrens into different lots which are controlled by various half-orc clans ruled by a clan master.

I feel like Jonathan had so much potential with this story, he creates an awesome world, his characters are well-developed, the history of the inter-species relationships and conflicts are great, and the dialogue is good enough. The only failing is the kind of repetitive plot and sort of predictable ending, but even that to me was quickly overshadowed by the world he creates. I mean it isn’t the most original concept to prevent an orc incursion but here we are. He has a fun writing style and keeps the action moving, which is important because a story like this would start to suffer if it got bogged down in inter-clan politics and other meaningless trifles. He gives just enough backstory to flesh out the world and keep us engaged. Also they all ride supped up warthogs like they are horses and shoot crossbows like they are pistols, which is pretty fucking sick.

All in all a very enjoyable read and an excellent way to kick off 2020. Gotta rate this book as a Chad book. Anything that starts off with a naked half-orc female in a whorehouse fresh off a night of enjoying the house wares shooting a human with a crossbow is headed in the Chad direction. Barely coherent, run-on sentences all year baby.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Shadow Rising Audiobook Update 6: Two Rivers gang

Having the wherewithal to look back on last weeks edition of the world famous audiobook recap blog series, I noticed that I had the foresight to include The Two Rivers in the subtitle and not talk about, you know, The Two Rivers. That was of course intentional and not at all because I forgot so without further ado lets get into it.

Wherewithal is one of those words that sounds like it is a high brow vocabulary word but I think we all use it too much and now it has lost that effect. This has nothing to do with The Two Rivers or our boy Perrin but I found this important enough to mention.

Perrin is finally in The Two Rivers and he is not having a good time. Him and his assorted fellows all meet at the Winespring Inn where no one is happy to see him. Now I don’t know about you but I hate delivering bad news so I feel for the al’Vere’s when they have to tell Perrin the Whitecloaks murked his whole family. Thats a tough pill to swallow on your homecoming. Equally as bad is that pretty much half the town hates him. That would eat at my insecurity, which makes my choice of throwing my writing out there to the world with a very clear picture of myself an odd choice of hobby.

Because Perrin is a boss he takes it in stride, eventually understanding that life ain’t for the feint of heart and starts to plan his conquering of The Two Rivers. Unlike me, who was openly weeping while running, which sadly is not the first time that has happened along this journey. Essentially what gets him over it is what gets men over pretty much anything, some girl giving him attention.

So in order to take over The Two Rivers he has to go to meet up with the man who birthed our hero, bid daddy Cauthon. That was not the way I wished to write that, but it is out there so here we are. They all head over to the woods and run into, surprise surprise, some Aes Sedai fuckboys. Its ya homie Verin, who is up there on my favorites, and her two warders along with Abel and Tam. A real murders row. I love that Abel is giving Perrin advice on women, it just shows that pimping runs in the Cauthon blood.

Eventually they all decide that it might be best to go free all the people the Whitecloaks have swiped. Which I think I will save for next week, as I am running out of gas on this blog. Happy Friday everyone!

Final Notes: Biggggggg announcement for 2020 coming out soon. Just waiting to finalize some things but I once everything is set up I will let everyone know.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Shadow Rising Audiobook Update 5: Rhuidean and the Two Rivers

WELLLLLCOME to another edition of the greatest audiobook recap in blog form this side of the Atlantic or Pacific. Since I haven’t been training for anything in particular I haven’t made much progress on the book, hence my lack of updates. I also have been lazy about writing these. That is more the real reason.

Regardless, here we are on this not lovely Friday so lets talk about the WoT. Where we last left off our fearless hero was getting fucked over by the snake homies, bravely coming out ahead with a new weapon. Rand on the other hand decides he is about that smoke and delves into the realm of Rudian.

The thing with Rhuidean is that the challenge of surviving it is to essentially watch the history of the Aiel through various ancestors of one line of people and to not feel so tortured by the knowledge that you feel like you have to kill yourself. Seems pretty simple to me, its not like you are watching the sexual history of your parents or witnessing a genocide through the eyes of a torturer. There is no Netflix in the WoT so I think I would love the opportunity to catch a quick memory flick.

So the tale of the Aiel goes like this: The Aiel used to be soft as shit travelling people who were tasked by the Aes Sedia to carry a bunch of magical crap around after the breaking of the world. Since the Aiel followed the way of the leaf, which means they won’t murk anyone, they were constantly getting fucked over and murdered and enslaved and stuff. Eventually they gave up that life and started becoming masked murdering desert gangsters. Also before the breaking of the world, there were flying cars and lightning sticks. Thats pretty cool.

We all know the kind of man Rand is, so of course he doesn’t get anything out of the movie. What he does do is arguably the most important action in the entire series. When he walks out of Rhuidean he sees our hero dangling from a rope and winds up actually saving him. For this I am eternally grateful. Gratitude, what a way to end a blog

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.