Going Dark (The Red #3)

da9a9fe851be5351e4734892471c269fThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes. blogspot.wordpress.com by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Going Dark

Series: The Red

Author: Linda Nagata

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 465

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Shelley is the team lead of a group of individuals who are working directly for The Red. They seek to end Existential Threats [ie, world ending, world changing] before they can occur.

But Shelley isn’t prepared for The Red to be a fallible program and when it appears to fail him, Shelley must decide if he’ll continue to let The Red run his life or if he’ll start controlling himself.

 

My Thoughts:

This was the most overtly philosophical of the books and hence we spend a good bit of time in Shelley’s head. You know what? Shelley is an idiot. He has tossed aside his own brains and expects The Red to be his god and to be the kind of god that gives him everything on a platter. He forgets that The Red is a program and nothing more. In many ways, this was the story of Shelley growing up and beginning to rely on himself and other people instead of an ephemeral bit of code.

There is just as much action as in the previous books. Pulse pounding, boot thumping, bullet shattering action. Shelley is always one step from dying, either from the enemy or from his relying on The Red and considering how the author has treated him in the previous books, you just never know if he’ll make it or not.

There isn’t much resolution really. Shelley just decides to stop relying on The Red and be a fracking man. Hoo Ra!

The Trials (The Red #2)

d3c12754dcc1c54c5784a3fbc3f6d3faThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: The Trials

Series: The Red

Author: Linda Nagata

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 480

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Shelley and his crew are on trial for their actions in the previous book. As is Sheridan in a world court.

Once the trial resolves, Shelley becomes involved with his former handler and they are both recruited to a extra-Constitutional private army that is intent on making the United States and the world a better place.

Shelley is kidnapped by a group that is trying to use the Red for their own ends. Shelley is rescued but reveals that a Dragon has a nuke up in space. Now it is up to him and his allies to recover the nuke and bring the Dragon to justice.

The book ends with Shelley being recruited by yet another group, this time one with direct ties to the Red and that is below the radar of everybody.

 

My Thoughts:

As with the first book, this was just good. I am thoroughly enjoying James Shelley as a main character. The poor guy has to figure out if he’s Special, a Tool or a special tool. Either way, it sure messes with his head.

I did find it rather sad that at the end he had to pretend that he’d died. That must have ripped up his girlfriend pretty bad. And for him to do that, knowing what it would do to her [as he watched his previous girlfriend get blown up], seems pretty harsh.  A relationship is the dynamic between 2 people, not the actions of just one of them.

I think my favorite part of the book was when he was kidnapped and being used. It was obvious that the group leader thought she had the Red all figured out and so to see her arrogance turned on its head and her ideas filled with a hail of bullets, was rather satisfying.

I have enjoyed these books enough that I’d consider buying them in hardcover. However, I think a re-read in a couple of years would be a wise decision before that. If I enjoy this as much then as I did now, then yes, it’ll definitely go on the buy-list.

First Light (The Red #1)

9ecdaf6795a7f8e4cd48bebc9302e821This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

 

 

Title: First Light

Series: The Red

Author: Linda Nagata

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 417

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis:

James Shelley, known as Shelley, is leading his little army unit in the latest dustup in Africa. He has some really good instincts and has kept his company alive.  Until he ignores his feelings on one occasion and several of them die.

It is revealed that some program in the Cloud has gone autonomous [not sentient, like Skynet, mind you] and is nudging people to do things they might not ordinarily do, for reasons unknown. Shelley has a link with the Red and nobody knows if that is good or bad.

A powerful Defense Contractor, who are known as Dragons, decides that the Red is to dangerous and ends up nuking America to take the the country off of the Cloud. It is now up to a newly rebuilt Shelley and an elite team to  bring this Dragon to Justice before a world court.

 

My Thoughts:

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Fast paced, action filled.

Red Nails (The Essential Conan #3) ★★★★☆

rednails (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Red Nails
Series: The Essential Conan #3
Author: Robert Howard
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 295
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Another collection of stories about Conan with the final part of the book being a “history” of the Pre-Cataclysmic world and the post-Cataclysmic world leading up to our own known history.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book the most of all 3 of these Essential Conan books and I think it was a combination of slightly longer stories coupled with not having as many. The final part of the book, the “History” part was boring as all get out but I expected that as History and me are acquaintances by circumstances instead of friends by choice.

The History definitely showed up Howard’s racial bias more than anything in the stories. Purity of blood and the continual references to racial superiority or inferiority really began to grate.

The titular story, Red Nails, was probably the best Conan story of all I’ve read with these. From the killing of a monstrous lizard to an enclosed city with near insane inhabitants to a sorceress who feasts on live sacrifices, it just had it all. You could probably read that story alone and get enough of everything to decide if more Conan was for you or not.

I’m pretty pleased with this Essential omnibus that I read. I felt like I got a real taste of who and what Conan is about, what kind of author Howard was and it was just the right size so I’ve had enough without having too much. There are more Conan stories by Howard, and tons by other authors, but this has sated me so I feel no need to seek out more. I’d highly recommend this if you wanted to try out Conan or even simply wanted a better understanding of Fantasy from the early 1900’s. You are never going to go wrong by reading works that are foundational to the genres we have today.

★★★★☆

 

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The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage #1)

azure_f6c05a7859e1dbf705e3c96285b6bf86This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: The Red Wolf Conspiracy

Series: The Chathrand Voyage

Author: Robert Redick

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: SFF

Pages: 466

Format: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

The greatest ship still in existence, The Chathrand, is making a historic voyage. It is carrying an Ambassador’s Daughter who will be wed to a Prince, hence signalling the beginning of a long peace between two Mighty Empires.

But Empires are rife with corruption and full of the corruptible.

This is not a voyage of Peace, for both Empires are planning treachery. This is not a voyage of Peace, for others are planning to use it to bring back some of the mightiest and evilest power ever known to Man.

 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this. That was a surprise because I had thought this was going to be about anthropomorphized cats [Chathrand just sounds Cat’y to me and when you’ve read as much SFF as I have, sometimes words have a “ring” to them that lead you to believe something about them] and it was very evident from the start that that was not the case. So my expectations were dashed from page 1.

This was an adventure story filled with magic, Awakened animals, the Littles and derring-do. It was great.

However, I found that not a single main character was good enough for me to want to care about. If any of them had died and the plot had proceeded, I would have been just fine with that. It wasn’t that they were horrible people, not by any means but they never caught me by the nethers and held on.  You know how sometimes you just connect with some people? And then there are the times that you don’t? I’ve had times where everything seemed perfect with somebody else but that spark wasn’t there and things just kind of wound down. That’s how it was with these main characters.

To be honest though, I don’t expect to connect to characters in every book I read. It is nice when it happens, but I do have my Man Card to think about and sometimes some good old fashioned violence and action are much more necessary. Such was this book.

I am looking forward to reading this completed [HURRAY!] series.

Red: The Heroic Rescue (The Circle #2)

Red

The Circle #2

Ted Dekker

4 Stars

381 Pages

 

the adventure continues. In the Forest world, 15 years pass, in which Thomas becomes a warrior and defends the enclaves. The Enclaves fall, and Ellyon[God] comes as a man and saves a small remnant. In “our” world, Thomas saves Monique, but her antivirus doesn’t appear to work and Thomas is shot by Carlos, point blank in the head and has been dead for 3 days when the book ends. I like Dekker. The “Books of History” are precursors to the books in Showdown. I find it interesting to see authors who use and reuse specific ideas and whatnot.

The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) ★★★★☆

dragonreborn (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Dragon Reborn
Series: The Wheel of Time #3
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 986
Words: 268K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Byar returns from Falme and tells Niall his beliefs regarding what occurred there, and of his hatred of Perrin. Niall tells Jaichim Carridin not to try and stop Rand, as he hopes to make the people turn to Children of the Light to protect them. Fain tells Niall stories similar to Byar’s. He persuades Niall that the Two Rivers is full of Darkfriends, and that he should send men there. Carridin is given new orders, from an unusual Myrddraal, to kill Rand.

Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve head back to Tar Valon with a severely ill Mat, who, it seems, has mere hours to live. They are also joined by Hurin. Nynaeve tries Healing Mat, but accomplishes nothing. On the way, they are confronted by Whitecloaks, led by Dain Bornhald. The girls disperse them using the Power, something which incurs Verin’s anger.

Once in the Tower, the three are severely reprimanded by Siuan, who sets punishments for them all for running away, to keep the link between them and the Black Ajah secret. She tells Elayne and Egwene that they are to be raised to the ranks of the Accepted. She also sets Nynaeve and Egwene Black Ajah hunting, knowing that she won’t be blamed when Elayne is brought in on it. They are given a note from the Amyrlin, granting them permission to do almost anything. Verin tells Siuan about Mat blowing the Horn, and Siuan tells her the two false Dragons were defeated at the moment Rand proclaimed himself.

Nynaeve brings Elayne in on the hunt at the first opportunity. Egwene and Nynaeve are attacked by a Gray Man, who fires an arrow at them. Nynaeve captures the man using the Power, but finds him dead. Sheriam tells them to keep quiet about it; she is later revealed to have found a second Gray Man in her bed. Elaida comes to question the girls about Rand.

Mat is healed of his link to the dagger by a circle of thirteen Aes Sedai using a sa’angreal. During the Healing, he speaks in the Old Tongue and gives battle orders after experiencing a sort of flashback to a battle in the Trolloc Wars. He is visited by Lanfear, who tells him he is destined for glory, and Siuan, who he tries to avoid making any commitments to. He tries to leave, but is not allowed to do so. He also sees Lanfear, masquerading as Else. She is abrupt with him. He defeats both Gawyn and Galad in a friendly duel, using only his quarterstaff.

Verin gives Egwene a ter’angreal that is linked to the World of Dreams, and does not require channeling, to help her discover if she is a Dreamer. Egwene is raised; her test for the Accepted involves abandoning Rand under various circumstances. She learns that anyone who can channel can be turned to the Dark One by a circle of thirteen Myrddraal and thirteen Aes Sedai. The ter’angreal she goes through acts very unusually, and almost burns down, prompting Alanna to see Sheriam to ask for punishment, as she noticed something but kept quiet. Elayne’s test was similarly hard for her.

The girls are given clues to the whereabouts of members of the Black Ajah who fled the Tower by Lanfear, who is posing as a novice. They realize it is probably a trap, but tell Siuan they are going to head for Tear to try and spring it.

Egwene uses the dream ter’angreal. She first sees Rand, who attacks her. She then sees a woman calling herself Silvie, in the Stone of Tear. The woman seems to think she knows Egwene and tells her to say Ba’alzamon is a fool. The woman sends her out of Tel’aran’rhiod to prevent Be’lal from discovering her.

The girls ask Mat if he will deliver a letter to Queen Morgase. Mat tauntingly tells them he will do so, under the condition that they get him off the island, which he considers impossible, as the Amyrlin has told all the guards he is not to leave. They give him one of the notes the Amyrlin gave them, allowing the bearer to do whatever they wish.

The girls travel downstream on a boat, which runs aground. They go ahead on foot and encounter a group of Aiel, including Bain, Chiad and Aviendha, who reveal one of their number is severely injured. Nynaeve Heals her, and they set off again. They are then captured by Darkfriends, who wish to hand them over to a Myrddraal. They are freed by the Aiel, though they would have escaped on their own. Nynaeve uses balefire against the Myrddraal. The leader of the Aiel, Rhuarc, says they are going to Tear. The girls make their own way to Tear where they stay with a local healer, Mother Guenna. She enlists Juilin Sandar, a thief catcher, to help them find the Black Ajah, though of course he isn’t told they are Black Ajah. He is not careful enough and Liandrin makes him reveal their location. The girls are captured, and are severely beaten for refusing to give in.

Mat leaves the Tower and wanders around Tar Valon gambling, winning every throw of the dice. He is attacked by Darkfriends posing as thieves, but gets away from them. He meets Thom, who is drunk, and persuades him to go to Caemlyn with him. Thom agrees, since Caemlyn is dangerous for him and he is looking for danger after his lover’s death. They are attacked by Darkfriends on the ship they board. After getting off, they spend a night in a stable, where Mat rescues Aludra, an Illuminator. Out of gratitude, she gives him some fireworks. He messes with one to try to find out how it works, and throws it in the fire. They are attacked by Darkfriends again on the way to Caemlyn. Thom kills a woman, which displeases Mat.

They go to Caemlyn, again staying at Basel Gill’s inn. The guard on the palace gate refuses to let Mat in, even threatening to have him arrested as a Darkfriend when he reveals he has come from the Tower, so he goes over the wall like Rand had done previously. He overhears two men discussing a plan to kill Elayne. He is later taken before Morgase and her lover, Gaebril, who was one of the men Mat overheard. He meets Tallanvor, another member of the palace guard, who takes him to the Queen. He gives her the letter, then sets off for Tear, to help Elayne and Egwene.

Mat arrives in Tear and comes across Lord Comar, who he had heard ordered to kill Elayne by Rahvin. They fight and Comar is killed before Mat can learn anything. He meets Mother Guenna, who tells him of the girls’ capture. Leaving a sick Thom behind, he heads off to try and break into the Stone. He is accosted by Aiel, including Gaul and Rhuarc, on the rooftops, but once he makes it clear he has no plans to interfere with them, they agree to leave him alone. He meets Juilin, who had been having second thoughts about what he did. They agree to work together. Mat accidentally blows a hole in the wall with fireworks while trying to create a diversion. He enters, fighting Defenders of the Stone and nobles. On his way he and Juilin fight High Lord Darlin, who says he intends to watch as the skin is stripped from their bodies.

At the camp of the Dragon Reborn, Rand has spent the winter arguing with Moiraine. He accidentally damages the camp when he draws too much of saidin and has to release it randomly. A Tuatha’an comes with news for Moiraine. Perrin sees Lanfear and Ba’alzamon in the World of Dreams. They both talk to him. He also witnesses an argument between three of the Forsaken. Whilst he is asleep, he is warned by wolves that Trollocs and Myrddraal are attacking. Rand is powerless to help, but they defeat the Darkspawn anyway. Masema takes the aid of wolves as a sign that he should go to proclaim the Dragon Reborn and recruit for him. The Tuatha’an messenger is killed.

Rand sets off on his own to Tear, without telling anyone. On the way, he kills a group of people who come to join him at the camp fire. These include a woman and a Gray Man. He also continues to be plagued by dreams, and almost kills Egwene in one, when he mistakes her for a dream creation.

Moiraine realizes that Rand has gone to Tear to try and seize Callandor when many of the people with them reveal having dreamed of glowing swords and red stone columns. Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial follow, the Shienarans being injured. Chasing after Rand, they encounter villages where strange things have been happening – mass weddings, insanity and others – a sign of Rand’s being ta’veren. Meanwhile, Min goes to Tar Valon.

Perrin comes across a man who could talk to wolves, but who has lost his human side. He again enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where he meets Hopper, a dead wolf. They learn of Masema stirring up trouble in Ghealdan. He also meets two Hunters of the Horn, and a captured Aiel, Gaul. There are children throwing stones at the caged man, who he later frees. He tells Gaul he is off to Tear, and Gaul announces that is his destination as well, though he will not go with them. They kill some Whitecloaks, and are then forced to flee the village, along with a young woman who decides to call herself Faile, who keeps staring at Perrin. She is also a Hunter and believes they make a strange trail, which Hunters should follow. Perrin again sees Ba’alzamon and Lanfear in Tel’aran’rhiod, and tells Moiraine they are free. Rand sees him and attacks him.

They travel through Illian, where they discover Sammael is in control of the country. They are attacked by Gray Men in an inn before Sammael sends Darkhounds after them; Moiraine kills the hounds with balefire. They then head on to Tear, where they learn Berelain has given in to Tear’s demands. Perrin finds himself growing uncomfortable around Faile. She springs a trap meant for Moiraine, and is caught in Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Perrin’s wolf abilities allow him to enter this world, and he does so, in order to free her. Moiraine and Lan head for the Stone to help Rand.

Egwene enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where she meets two of the Black Ajah. She stills one and shields the other, leaving them trapped in Tel’aran’rhiod. Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve, however, remain shielded in the real world. Mat opens the cell and frees them. They knock out the Black Ajah sister and the shield disappears.

Rand enters the Heart of the Stone, where Be’lal tells him to take Callandor. They fight, with Be’lal forcing him toward it. Moiraine enters and kills Be’lal, again using balefire. Rand is attacked by Ba’alzamon, who almost kills him before he takes Callandor, chasing Ba’alzamon and killing him. This time, he leaves a body, which many people take for the Dark One until Moiraine points out how absurd that idea is. The Defenders of the Stone, who had been fighting Aiel, fall to their feet to proclaim Rand the Dragon Reborn. Berelain brings Rand a message from Lanfear.

My Thoughts:

The final 25% of this book was pure gold. Stuff was happening at a breakneck pace, it felt like everyone was running for their lives and the story was awesome. The problem was it meant you had to go through the first 75% and man, it was tough.

Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are all together and my goodness, with “friends” like that, who needs enemies? They spend as much time and energy catfighting with each other as they do actually anything else it seems.Nynaeve is still stuck on getting revenge on Moraine for “something” (this is at least my 4th time reading this book and I still don’t understand completely why Nynaeve hates Moraine so much) and while her feelings for Lan are supposed to be a part of that, well, she shows more emotion and thinks more about Moraine than she does Lan. Egwene and Elayne, while not quite as bad, aren’t much better and I just felt exhausted every time I finished reading one of their sections.

Matt’s sections, while giving huge amounts of setup, also come across as him being nothing but a jerk and a pigheaded jackass. Meanwhile Perrin is so obsessed with ignoring his wolf powers that all of his energy is spent on that. If he had spent half the energy on even trying to learn about it as he did in fighting it, he would have been WAY ahead of the game. Plus, the whole golden eyes thing. Everyone who looks at Perrin is shocked at his golden eyes. I can see women paying that much attention, but the men? I couldn’t tell you the color of eyes for almost everyone I meet. I can’t tell you the eye color of my pastor, much less some stranger I met once on the streets. It’s just ludicrous that this gets as much page time as it does.

These characters are just plain unlikeable! I have to be honest, I’m not sure that I’ll be reading this series ever again once I’m done with this read through. The bad guys are more likeable for goodness sake!!!! I don’t understand why Jordan wrote them this way. It doesn’t advance, or impede, the story really. It just frustrates me as a reader.

Now, with all of that, this was still a great story. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this was an excellent story. So many cool things happen. Plus, the switching between characters was well done. At each chapter I felt like Jordan had given me enough for that group so I was satisfied to read some about another character group. That is a real balancing act and certain authors (like a jackass whose name rhymes with Gohn Jwynne) would have done well to learn something from this.

Reading back over what I’ve just written makes me realize how negative I’m being. While I was reading the book I enjoyed it, even while being frustrated by the characters, but as soon as I stopped to think about it, the negative really came to the forefront. I’m not sure if says more about me or about the story. Either way, I’m still recommending this series, just not as enthusiastically as in the previous 2 books.

★★★★☆

 

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The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1) ★★★★☆

eyeoftheworld (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1154
Words: 314K

 

Synopsis:

From TarValon.net and authored by Toral Delvar (thanks ol’ chum!)

The book begins in the region of the Two Rivers, which has been virtually cut off from most of the rest of the world for over a thousand years. It is spring festival, Bel Tine. On the way from his father’s isolated farm, Rand notices a strange man watching him. The man, whose cloak doesn’t move in the wind, frightens him. He tells Tam, his father and a widower, but the man is gone when Tam looks.

They arrive in the village of Emond’s Field, where Rand meets his friends Mat, who is fond of foolish pranks, and Perrin, an apprentice blacksmith. They also reveal having seen the man. They learn of strangers in the village, Moiraine and Lan, something that is almost unheard of. There is also a gleeman, Thom and a peddler, Padan Fain. Moiraine gives each of the three a coin, a token; she claims it is for any work she might ask them to do for her. Fain tells of a false Dragon in Ghealdan, which sets the village worrying, as Ghealdan is not far from Emond’s Field, though it is all but unreachable. The Village Council orders patrols, mostly to calm the nerves of the villagers.

Rand and his father return to their house. When Trollocs attack Rand’s farm, his father Tam brings out a sword to fight them. Rand briefly speaks with Trolloc which wants Rand to wait for someone, before Rand kills it. His father takes a wound which quickly incapacitates him. In a delirious moment, Tam reveals he found Rand on a mountain, during the Aiel War. Rand takes him back to Emond’s Field where Moiraine, who has been revealed as an Aes Sedai, Heals him of the wound he took. When the people blame Moiraine for the attack, she tells them of the time in the Trolloc Wars when Manetheren was destroyed and that she is disappointed at what its blood has come to. This shames the villagers who leave her alone.

Moiraine convinces the boys that the Trollocs were after them personally as it was only their houses and farms that were directly attacked, and the man looking at them was a Myrddraal and they must leave the village. They are accompanied by Rand’s girlfriend, Egwene, who wishes to become Aes Sedai, and Thom.

Fleeing Emond’s Field, they pass through Taren Ferry, where Moiraine misdirects the following Myrddraal and sinks the boat they crossed the river on. They see a Draghkar above. They head for the town of Baerlon, which amazes them because of its perceived immense size. On the way, Rand channels for the first time, to help Egwene’s horse stay ahead of the Trollocs, though he is not aware of it at the time. In Baerlon, Rand meets Min, a young woman who claims to see strange auras around him and his companions.

Rand, Mat and Perrin start having dreams of a man clad in black, calling himself Ba’alzamon who tells them they will serve him. He breaks a rat’s back, and in the morning, all the rats in the inn are dead. The village Wisdom, Nynaeve catches up with them. Min tells Rand that this means the trouble they are in is worse. Though Nynaeve wishes to take them home she agrees to go on with them. Mat plays a trick on some Whitecloaks, including Dain Bornhald, getting Rand, who is suffering the ill effects of channeling for the first time, into trouble for laughing. They leave Baerlon at night, Moiraine using a trick of the One Power to scare the Whitecloaks who are intent on stopping them. Behind them, they see the inn they stayed in on fire. They set off on the road to Tar Valon. They are chased by Trollocs, prompting Mat to unknowingly chant the ancient battle cry of Manetheren in the Old Tongue.

To escape, they are forced to seek refuge in the abandoned and tainted city of Shadar Logoth. Despite being warned that even the Trollocs and Myrddraal fear to enter the city, the boys go exploring, where they meet a man called Mordeth, who casts no shadow. When they notice this, he swells up to many times his normal size and tries to get them. They only just escape him, but Mat manages to get a dagger with a large ruby from his treasure. They return, telling Moiraine that Mordeth did not give them anything. Trollocs and Myrddraal enter the city which worries Moiraine and Lan, as normally no Myrddraal would do so, unless under great duress, due to the disappearance of a Trolloc army there in the Trolloc Wars. In order to avoid the Trollocs and the mindless danger of Mashadar, they split up.

Perrin and Egwene end up across a river which runs near the city. Trying to head for Tar Valon, they encounter a strange man, Elyas Machera, who was once a Warder and who is accompanied by wolves. He is able to speak to wolves and claims Perrin can do so as well. The three of them meet up with some Tuatha’an, with whom they spend a few days before heading off. One of them, Aram, takes an instant dislike to Perrin. Aram’s grandmother claims that this is because he has a hard time trying to follow the Way of the Leaf. They are told of an encounter with the Aiel some years previously, in which one claimed that the Dark One wished to turn the Eye of the World to his own purpose.

After leaving the Tuatha’an, the three are chased by a pack of ravens. Before they are caught, they enter a stedding, where creatures of the Dark One are reluctant to enter. Here, they encounter a group of Whitecloaks. Fearing for their lives, Perrin kills two of them before he and Egwene are captured. The Whitecloaks are convinced they are Darkfriends, as Perrin runs with wolves and their leader believes wolves are creatures of the Dark One. Egwene is told that unless she repents, she will be killed. Perrin is told by Geofram Bornhald that as he killed Whitecloaks, he will definitely be killed. Another Whitecloak, Jaret Byar, appears to develop a personal hatred of Perrin. He offers to let them escape, but Perrin realizes he will kill them both if they do.

Nynaeve, Lan and Moiraine also end up together. Moiraine makes Nynaeve accept that she can channel by pointing out that she can sense her presence, and also that Nynaeve can sense the presence of someone who she has Healed with the One Power. She also tells her of apprentice Wisdoms who have died, a common thing amongst those who try to learn to channel on their own. Nynaeve agrees to go to Tar Valon to become Aes Sedai, so that she can get revenge on Moiraine. She and Lan also begin to fall in love. The three of them then catch up with and rescue Perrin and Egwene, who Moiraine can trace because of the coin she gave Perrin.

Mat, Thom and Rand escape from Shadar Logoth onto a boat owned by a man called Bayle Domon. Domon is aware of the Trollocs, but believes they are after him, as he has been followed since Saldaea. He shows them ancient objects, including one of the seals on the Dark One’s prison, and an object that some men perceive as warm, possibly a male angreal. Domon takes them to Whitebridge where they leave for Caemlyn. They are caught by a Myrddraal, but Mat and Rand escape when Thom stays behind to fight. On the way to Caemlyn, Mat grows steadily more distrustful of everyone except Rand. Darkfriends assail them on the way, encouraging them to swear to the Dark One. One, a woman in silks, tries to kill them, but they escape. Rand has to talk Mat out of killing her. Rand is forced to unknowingly channel again, to escape from a Darkfriend at an inn they are trapped in. They encounter a third Darkfriend later. In Caemlyn, they head for Basel Gill’s inn as it was recommended by Thom. Gill refuses to believe Thom would have been killed. Here Rand meets and befriends Loial, an Ogier, who at first takes Rand for an Aiel, and tells him he must be ta’veren. Whilst trying to get a good view of the false Dragon Logain, who laughs as he sees Rand, Rand falls into the Palace Garden after being distracted by Elayne. She tends his injuries, while Gawyn watches and Galad fetches the palace guard, led by Tallanvor. Elayne believes Rand to be a loyal Queen’s man, as he has a ribbon on his sword that indicates this, but in reality, it is only meant to cover the Heron Mark, and was the cheaper colour. He is taken before Morgase, Bryne and Elaida, who has a Foretelling and announces that Rand stands at the center of all the suffering and destruction to come. Bryne states that the sword belongs with him. Morgase releases him though, as she has heard the accent of the region before, and though Rand does not look like those from the area, he must have grown up there. On the way out, Gawyn reveals that Rand looks like an Aiel.

The others arrive at the inn, and Moiraine temporarily Heals Mat, who had been behaving strangely because the dagger he was carrying had infected him with some of the taint from Shadar Logoth. She says if she hadn’t done so, the taint would have spread throughout the world. Moiraine learns of the plot by the Dark One to use the Eye of the World in the Blight, and they head there via the ways, which Loial knows how to navigate. They only just avoid Machin Shin. They are followed through by Padan Fain, but he stays out of view.

Once out of the ways, they stop in the town of Fal Dara in Shienar, where Padan Fain is captured and revealed to be a Darkfriend, responsible for bringing the Trollocs at Bel Tine. He had been hunting the Dragon Reborn for years. Moiraine reveals that Machin Shin caught up with him but for some reason did not consume him.

They then head off into the Blight. They are attacked by creatures which they fight off, before being pursued by a type of Shadowspawn referred to as Worms, but escape these when they meet the Green Man at the Eye of the World, which is a pool of pure saidin. Whilst there, two of the Forsaken, Aginor and Balthamel, appear. They are very much decayed, as they were close to the top when sealed. They quickly deal with everyone, except the Green Man, who kills Balthamel, though he is killed himself. Rand flees and is pursued by Aginor, who is killed.

Rand finds himself in a strange room with Ba’alzamon, who tells him that he has his mother. Discovering he can channel, Rand cuts a black cord coming out of Ba’alzamon’s back, before returning to the real world. There, he discovers the Eye of the World to be empty of saidin. Several objects are found in it. These are the Horn of Valere, a banner with a Dragon on it and one of the Seals on the Dark One’s prison, broken. Loial sings at the place the Green Man fell, growing a strong tree, which he hopes will not fall to the Blight. They then return to Fal Dara, through an unusually quiet Blight.

 

My Thoughts:

First things first. I plan on using the Tar Valon Library synopses for each of these Wheel of Time books as they fully describe the plot (hence the multiple pages of them!) and I like them better than the wikipedia version. Tar Valon Library is a fansite as far as I can tell and it shows. So expect a super long synopsis every time I review a Wheel of Time book!

Second, even My Thoughts here are going to be chalk full of spoilers. It is simply unavoidable. This series is too big to talk about it in any form besides “I liked it” and not have spoilers. Of course, considering this book is almost 30 years old (it was first published in 1990), chances are you aren’t going to read it if you haven’t already! 😀

 

Characters.

  1. What struck me this time around was just how PETTY a lot of the characters were. Some of the characters (Matt for example) really annoyed me by their actions and “how they were” but I realized that Jordan wrote him that way for a reason. But the pettiness, I don’t understand. Nynaeve was the worst example. Almost everything she did was in reaction to the Aes Sedai Moraine. They barely escape with their lives from trollocs and fades and all Nynaeve can think of is how she’s glad that Moraine is rumpled looking. Petty! While I singled out Nynaeve here, that kind of thing is across the board. I had not noticed it, or remembered it, from my previous reads but it stood out strongly this time.
  2. I wanted to kill Matt Cauthon so many times! His “pranks” are dangerous and put everyone in danger time and time again. It seemed to me that if his dad had spanked him more as a kid that he wouldn’t have been so irresponsible now. Of course, that would mean he wouldn’t have taken some of the actions he did which in turn does X, Y and Z. So I just have to put up with it. But my goodness, what a jerk.
  3. Nobody explains ANYTHING to anyone else. People spend days riding horses together or walking together and yet they can’t find time to talk? Moraine tells everybody to not take anything from the cursed city and Matt (obviously) does anyway. But she never explains WHY or what could happen. If the group had known the consequences or the symptoms, what happened to Matt might have been averted or taken care off much sooner. Another example is Perrin and his wolf-brother ability. He finds out from Elyas that he can communicate with wolves and that it probably comes with other abilities. But during the days or weeks (?) that they are travelling together does either one try to figure anything out? Of course not! Perrin pretends it isn’t happening and Elyas is just as happy to let Perrin reinvent the wheel all over again. It really frustrated me.
  4. I’ve complained before, in Another Book Review, about how a large cast of characters is usually off-putting to me. But in this book, even with 7 MAIN characters and a plethora of main side characters, I had no problems. Nada. None. Zero. Zilch. It helped that even when Jordan split them up they were still clumped together in mini-groups but I think the biggest thing is that Jordan was skilled enough to write them in such a way as to not confuse his audience. He also didn’t included Named Characters “just because”. I never mixed anyone up.
  5. The world building was pretty explicit in that Jordan told us a lot about the world by introducing a lot of Groups of People. The Aes Sedai. The Warders. The Children of Light. Darkfriends. The Forsaken. Trollocs and Fades. Ogier. The Tuathan. And more. As each group is introduced, usually with a named character to keep me vested, Jordan reveals a little more about the current world and the past. It was just fantastically done and I never felt overwhelmed, confused or annoyed. It was like I was in a gondola and Jordan was the man using the one oar to gently guide me down the river of the story. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I never worried about going down a wrong channel or hitting the rocks, etc. As much as fans rag on Jordan (and rightly so) for doing stupid things like repeatedly talking about hair pulling or snorting or whatever, the man was skilled in the art of story telling.

 

Plot.

  1. I believe this series was originally pitched as a trilogy. That is hearsay though, as I can’t find any substantive proof to back it up. However, I can believe it. A lot happens. Rand (the main MAIN character) goes from a farmboy to possibly being the Dragon Reborn (the savior or destroyer of the world, depending on what prophecies you read or how you interpret them) and along the way meets all the people he’ll eventually need. And not just to being the Dragon Reborn, but someone who battles several of the Forsaken (the generals of the Dark One), wins and then possibly kills the Dark One himself. So much happens!
  2. At the same time, there is also a lot of what Karlstar (from Librarything) called STTM, or, Slogging Through The Mud. The story is limited to the speed of horses. At least until right near the end of the book and Jordan happily keeps us at that pace.
  3. That leads into another possible issue, depending on how cynical and jaded you might be as a reader. Things Happening When Needed. Near the end of the book they suddenly find out about the Waygates, which allows them to travel great distances very quickly (not without danger mind you and something that they risk their lives doing every time). If you are cynical, you say that Jordan pulls them out of a hat. That was my first impression too. But upon reflection, things CAN’T happen until certain characters are either introduced or meet other characters. Moraine knows about the Waygates, as she is Aes Sedai, but not being an Ogier (the Waygates were a gift from the last of the male Aes Sedai to the Ogier) she wouldn’t have been able to navigate them. It isn’t until they meet Loial the Ogier that they can take advantage of the existence of the Waygates. This type of thing happens several times.
  4. This is a complex story that is made up of many strands being woven together. Considering that The Wheel of Time weaves the lives of men into the Pattern of Ages, it really isn’t a surprise that Jordan writes this way. He’s being very thematically true to the world.

 

General Thoughts.

I met Jordan at a book signing at my local bookstore back in 2005 when Knife of Dreams was released. He was a genial fellow and knew how to keep the patter going so no one got bored, almost a showman you might say. He stated then, in answer to a question, that he had envisioned the ending of the series right from the beginning. That was to reassure us that there was going to be an end, as we were all worried about it turning into something Never Ending. So imagine my surprise when I was reading this and B-A-M!!!, there is the end scene from the final book in one of the visions/dreams Rand has. It made me put my kindle down and laugh and clap my hands! So Jordan didn’t lie to us, he DID have the final scene, it just seems like he either didn’t know how to get there or he took a lot of detours to milk the cash cow. Of course, him dying the next year or so didn’t help fans feel any better at the time! Thank goodness Brandon Sanderson took over and finished it up.

I gave this 4 stars this time around instead of 5 like last time because Matt was a real jackass and Nynaeve was petty. Also the romance between Nynaeve and Lan really came out of no-where. I knew it was coming but even still, there was no indication besides a couple of glances or red cheeks. That really isn’t enough for 2 adults to have a midnight talk about marriage.

Overall, I enjoyed this but am not sure if I’m still the target audience any more.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings Prequel) ★★★★★

hobbit (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Hobbit
Series: The Lord of the Rings Prequel
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 235
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. Who ends up with a wizard and 13 dwarves for dinner. And somehow gets finagled into going on an adventure to recover the dwarves lost treasure, that is guarded by the dragon Smaug.

Along the way Bilbo meets elves, runs away from goblins, plays a riddle game in the dark with Gollum for his life, finds a ring of invisibility, flies on eagles’ wings, fights giant spiders and is almost eaten by 3 trolls.

Eventually he and the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain and Laketown. They rouse the dragon and Bard of Laketown kills Smaug and then elves, humans and dwarves prepare to fight over the treasure. Until a huge goblin army shows up and everybody fights them. The good guys win, the treasure is shared and Bilbo returns home a better, wiser and more eccentric hobbit than ever.

 

My Thoughts:

What a book. I’ve read this enough times that nothing is a surprise. And yet… I am still in awe at how Tolkien weaves such a children’s tale so as to keep me intrigued, for the umpteenth time.

What do I say? A simple tale of adventure that is the prequel to one of the worlds most renowned fantasy series? A tale of bravery, generosity and kindness overcoming perils, greed and hatred? A stout heart being greater than a dragon? I just don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of this just like I have all the previous times and I don’t have any issues with it.

Well, except maybe all the singing. I wouldn’t have minded if there hadn’t been any singing. In regards to the singing though, the only thing I can say positively about the horrific movie trilogy is that the song by the dwarves in Bilbo’s house is absolutely haunting and enchanting. Who knows how long this link will exist, but here’s a youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ymgFyzbDo

If only the Silmarillion had been this interesting. Well, at least I’ve got the rest of the Trilogy to look forward too!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Terrorist Dispatch (The Executioner #448) ★★★☆☆

terroristdispatch (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Terrorist Dispatch
Series: The Executioner #448
Author: Don Pendleton alias
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 196
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A terrorist group makes an attack at a memorial in Washington, DC and no one is sure if it was Russian terrorists, Ukrainian terrorists or somebody pretending to be the other. Mack Bolan doesn’t care. With information from the Stony Man intelligence farm, he goes after the local russian and ukrainian mobsters and then heads to the Ukraine to do the same to both their bosses.

Hitting both sides equally, Bolan pits them against each other, thus allowing them to wipe each other. Scratch two bad guys form the list of the world’s badguys.

 

My Thoughts:

I read the original 30 some Executioner books by the real Don Pendleton a couple of years ago. Vigilante Men’s Action/Adventure perfectly sums up these books. Mack Bolan was a driven man, capable, rational and unafraid of blood and violence against those who deserved it. Planning, action and guts were the characteristics of his moves.

This book, written by a ghost writer mentioned in the end credits, is produced by Gold Eagle, a division of Harlequin. What bodice ripping romance books are for women, Mack Bolan books are for men. Sadly, the character of Mack Bolan as depicted originally isn’t the same guy portrayed here. Some of the same “words” are used, but the man portrayed in this book uses the word “whatever” a lot. The Executioner doesn’t use the word “whatever”, that implies a lack of caring about planning and intel gathering. Considering he uses it at least three times in this book, it makes Mack Bolan feel very caricature’ish here.

I am glad that I read this but it has put to rest my curiosity about how the franchise has proceeded. Simply put, it has been simplified even more, to the point that I don’t want to read more. Not recommended unless you need a serious brain break for a day or two.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)