Book Reviews

The Dark Defiles Wrap-up: Defiling expectations of good fantasy

Ehh not my best title. Then again I am exhausted with writing about this series. I finished this book on the way to Colombia and the time spent reading this book was worse than anything I experienced on the entire vacation. Though I did have a great vacation so I guess the bar for that wasn’t very low. Either way l have finished the series meaning fortunately this is the last blog I will ever write about it.

I want to take a look at some of the positives first, since it is much easier to just blast the shit out of this final catastrophy. There are some better parts, at one point we get introduced to this charctar Sharkmaster Wyr, who was some famous pirate guy. He is imprisioned on this ship in the harbor where he is supposed to be living out the remander of his days. Both interesting and well done. The backstory on this dude is badass. To me this like one chapter of a minor character who winds up having no real impact on the plot was the best part of the book. What this tells me is that while I’ve spent way more time than what is healthy bashing this Richard K. Morgan guy, he defienitly has the talent to be a good writer.

The problem is his story stinks. He relies on magic/sci-fi technology to kind of clean up these situations the characters get in, and it all feels meaningless in regards to the story. The characters themselves are very stereotypical. I get the vibe he goes for but to me the plot kind of falls apart because the situations the characters find themselves in are just not well done.

A big part of the book that gets a lot of praise is the fact that the main character Ringil is gay. He subverts your typical gay character in a fantasy book stereotype by being this grizly, hardened veteran who men rally to and are willing to follow into anything. This is great, and I fully support the idea of having a character like Ringil. The problem is the Ringil we get is boring and unimaginative. His being gay seems to be used to mask the fact that the character isn’t very fleshed out. And there also is a noticeable drop off of graphic sex scenes throughout the series. The first book was chock full of them, by the last book I am not ever sure if anyone has sex. Just seems like what could have been fascinating and progressive is instead a tool to boost lazy writing.

This third book has a plot that is alllllll over the place. The end of the second book they plan on going on this journey to an island to find a dead former wizard king of the humans before the Dwenda resurrect him to take over the world. Within 100 pages instead we have a completely different book. The plot ambles on, Egar Dragonbane gets killed by a . . . you guessed it, Dragon. Archeth finds herself through the challenges placed on her and becomes the next viable option for the throne. Ringil gets his revenge and when he finally meets the great bad wizard king, easily deals with him in 3 pages. We have been hearing about this guy since book one, he’s gone in 3 pages. Reminded me of the death of the Night King in GoT. Super underwhelming.

There are some cool characters and parts though. Hjel is an awesome dude, his backstory about wishing to be this great warrior and like becoming a musician was entertaining. Jhiral the actual emperor was fun. But these people played such unimportant roles that they became irrelevant. I believe if he made these characters have their own POV, maybe we would have got somewhere.

Rant over. Series over. Moving on.

Book Reviews

The Dark Defiles: The Defiler of Entertainment

One line plot summary: Ringil and two irrelevant people search for a city that was promised to us but we are going to have to wait probably half the book for while in the meantime Ringil conveniently becomes a wizard so that he can easily win the battle that will take place at some point.

Yes I did it, I decided to take on the trilogy. As Golden State will learn later tonight, it ain’t easy to complete a trilogy. Well the first step to that is winning one championship, and Morgan has obviously not done that either. Let’s call it like it is YOU HAVEN’T MADE THE PLAYOFFS, blow it up and try again.

We start this trilogy in the lovely Hironish Islands, which if you were wondering what the climate is for the Hironish Islands, It’s cold and rainy and wet! OF COURSE! The book starts off casually mentioning Ringil killed a kracken, but of course we are not treated to this, rather we are treated to soldiers digging up a grave looking for the wizard of yesteryear. Riveting.

Did I read this book to complain and write blogs whining about it even though I could have quit anytime? Yes. Read my other book reviews, this is what I do mannnnnnn.

I will say, having the characters all be in one place does save us the obvious part of the book where they are going to meet. I truly am rooting for the Dwenda at this point. Not that I think they would be better rulers, but honestly these characters are annoying just kill them already. If I have to hear any more about the lizard war I am going to flip. Morgan here is some free unsolicited advice from someone who has only ever written 20 pages of fiction he keeps hidden in a folder on his computer because he is scared of ever releasing anything creative into the world: if you are going to continuously have the characters mention a war that sounds way more interesting than the time period those characters are currently inhabiting, maybe that should have been the story you wrote.

Generous of me to offer my opinion. Let me tell you though, man to reader, the lizard war sounds fucking awesome. Gallows gap is your end chapter, not Ringil yells and people die.

The real question here that Morgan obviously is banking on the answer being yes is: Will pandering to the readers expectations of diversity in fantasy serve as a substitute for character development and a good story? Well he got a published trilogy out of it and it seems to get a lot of positive praise so the problem here is obviously my expectations.

To counterbalance this heaping of dog shit I have delved into another series as well. I would say stay tuned for the big reveal but no one reads this so I am also going to concurrently read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. While the creators of the Farmer’s Almanac may take issue with the creation of a new season, I am more than jacked up for it. This is what is hot in the fantasy streets, Jemisin has won Hugo awards out the ass. When I figure out what a Hugo award is I will be even more impressed. Kind of seems like everyone gets one but I digress. My promise to you is I will not put in the research to answer that elusive question. Review coming soon.

Final Notes: Like the door to the church when you see the priest alone with altar boy and you just ran out, it is time for the Raptors too close the door and forget about the ugliness that was committed inside. Just be happy you get the ship and set sail.  Do priest jokes still play?

Once again the real hero of this series is the designer of the cover art. FIRE