Thraxas and the Ice Dragon (Thraxas #9) ★★★☆½

thraxasandicedragon (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: Thraxas and the Ice Dragon
Series: Thraxas #9
Author: Martin Scott
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 198
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Thraxis, Makri and Lisutarus all survive and end up in the small kingdom of Samsarina, which is quite strict about such things as public drunkeness, thazis use and dwa. Not the best place for our three Heroes to end up!

But Samsarina is a staging ground for the surrounding kingdoms to gather, create a warhost and march on Thraxas’ beloved city of Turai and free it from the orcish horde that has conquered it.Of course, by the time they all actually agree, there might not be much of Turai left.

Lisutaris, as head of the Magic Guild, must contend with other jealous sorcerers who want her removed and themselves installed as head of the Guild and then most likely as head of the Warhost.

Makri enters a fighting contest because they are broke and Thraxas has a sure fire gambling plan, ie, Makri will win every fight and make them rich.

Thraxas runs across an old flame, now a duchess and her daughter is convinced someone is out to kill her. Thraxas is hired as Number One Investigator to find out what’s going on.

It all ends with Makri winning the fight because she was kind to a baby dragon. Mama dragon eats Lisutaris’s Number One Foe and Thraxas solves the crime AND wins over 10,000 gurans. Everybody, except the dead sorcerer, is happy!

 

My Thoughts:

Man, I’d forgotten just how much light hearted fun these Thraxas books are. Filled with witty banter, huge amounts of alcohol, drugs and a Fat Private Investigator, you simply can’t go wrong. Throw in the whole realm of fantasy and you’ve got a sure fire winner.

Everything that I have written about previous Thraxas books still applies to this one as well. Shallow, whiny, tiresome one liners, this has them all in spades.

BUT THAT IS WHAT A THRAXAS BOOK IS ABOUT!!!!

So I just sat back, let the shenanigans roll along and had a jolly old time. I would say that Thraxas is like a circus peanut. A small amount goes a long way and you definitely don’t want to overdose. But my goodness, when you haven’t had circus peanuts for over a year, and you open that bag and pop that first delectable sugar delight into your mouth and feel it melting on your tongue, it is good!

★★★☆½

bookstooge

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The Thorn of Dentonhill (Maradaine #1) ★★☆☆☆

thornofdentonhill (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 Thorn of Dentonhill
Series: Maradaine #1
Author: Marshall Maresca
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Veranix Calbert is the son of a former gang leader. His father fled the city but when it was discovered that “Veranix” had magical talent, the family returned for just a couple of days to drop the boy off at an academy under his now assumed name. Another gang leader, Willem Fenmere, used those days to kill the father and brain burn the mother with an illegal drug.

Now a young mage, Veranix spends his nights taking out two bit hoods who sell the drug and giving any of their money to local charities. By day he has to be a student full time. In the process of spoiling what he thinks is a huge drug deal, Veranix comes into possession of a magical cape and rope. Using these items, his war against Fenmere escalates, to the point where Fenmere hires professional assassins to kill The Thorn.

It leads to his professor and a young woman who has been helping him all along being kidnapped by some mages who hired Fenmere to import the cape and rope. With the help of his friend and a cousin in a gang and some just plain dumb luck, Veranix rescues everybody, keeps his identity a secret and prevents one of the bad mages from gaining some super serious magic stuff.

Then its back to school and business as usual.

 

My Thoughts:

I went into this book, and series, with a really bad attitude towards the author. He’s currently writing 3!!!!! Maradaine related series, which wasn’t real bad, but I’d prefer he writes one series then the next. But what crossed the line was when he intersected two of the series, making it imperative to have read book 1 and 2 of one series and book 1 or 2 of the second series to understand the 3rd book in series one. That pissed me off. So that was my starting point.

I had heard lots of good things though, so I figured I needed to give this guy a chance.

Right off the bat, it’s Young Adult. Then the main character Veranix acts like every stupid teenage male you could imagine. He’s going after dealers and stealing their take each week? While completely ignoring going after Fenmere? Then, from a student perspective, he’s talented, very talented and coasts on that and is one lazy son of a gun instead of working hard. Then when he does go out at night, he does NO planning, no tactics, no strategies, just shoot, hit and run and kind of counts on his natural abilities and acrobat training to get him through. He’s a phracking idiot is what he is.

There were 4 distinct places where I almost DNF’d this. I hate stupid characters and Veranix was deliberately written as an angry, rash, stupid young man. Everybody else covers for him and instead of growing up and learning and becoming better, he’s just clueless about their sacrifices on his behalf. I became an angry middle aged man reading about this chowderhead!

The story was good though and that is why this got even 2 stars. It is also the reason I’m giving Maresca one more book to turn things around. But if the characters in the next book act just as stupidly, I’ll be coming down like a ton of bricks on that and abandon this author like a pile of donkey diarhea.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge

 

Lord of Light ★★☆☆½

lordoflight (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: Lord of Light
Series: ———-
Author: Roger Zelazny
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Humanity has made it through the stars and to a new planet. At least, one spaceship did. But on this planet, they found it inhabited by incorporeal demonic beings, other sentient beings of various powers and the crew of the ship all gained mutant powers. Combining these powers with their technology, they became veritable gods and began the conquest of the world.

They conquered. They rule. They live in heaven while the rest of humanity starts the cycle of civilization all over again.

One of the gods, the Buddha, Sam, opposes them at every turn. He starts new religions, he tries to jump start innovations. Sam is killed, many times, is sent to Nirvanna, goes into hiding and eventually weakens them enough that humanity can begin remembering its heritage.

This is the story of the Lord of Light throughout the ages as he opposes the gods in many different ways.

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve never been a big fan of Zelazny. I was introduced to him in my early teens through the Amber books. I was too young and didn’t understand them and stopped at book 2. When I read the whole series again decades later, I was very underwhelmed. So I wanted to try one more of his books to double check my opinion. Yep, Zelazny is not for me, at all.

While I was reading this I felt like I was reading a combination of John Wright’s Count to the Eschaton series and Dave Duncan’s Seventh Swordsman. Both of those obviously came much later but since I had read them first, well, the punch from this was gone.

Zelazny was obviously in love with Buddhism when he wrote this and it miasmates from almost every word. No, “miasmate” is not a real word, but I’m having the problem of getting across the bone deep stench that permeates a dead corpse and somehow applying it to this story.

There was nothing technically wrong here. I just don’t like Zelazny’s style and his choice of conveying a Science Fiction story was sideways instead of being told straight forward. So I can now say with 100% certainty that I don’t like Zelazny’s writings and I’ll never read another again.

If you’ve never read any of his stuff, this might be a good place to start. It is a standalone and showcases his style to the tee. With the Amber you’re potentially committing to 10 (albeit very short ones) books. Chances are if you like this you’ll like his other stuff. My experience also leads me to think that if you don’t like this,you won’t like his other stuff as well.

★★☆☆½

bookstooge

 

 

The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen #6) ★★★★☆

bonehunters (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 Bonehunters
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #6
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 804
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Adjunct Tavore Paran continues her pursuit of Leoman of the Flails and the rebels of the Shai’k rebellion. Leoman makes a last stand at Yghatan and in the process of burning the city down as a trap also unleases a Fire Elemental, which kills all of his followers and about 1/3 of the Malazan army. The survivors march for the coast where they are picked up by Admiral Nok and begin making the journey back to Malaz City. They meet up with the Grey Shields who wield incredible magic and have huge boats. They have a run-in with the newly expanding Letheri/Edur empire and scare the crap out of them with a show of magic. Once back at Malaz it is evident that Mallick Rell and Korbolo Dom have been plotting, as they are now heroes and Coltaine’s memory is that of a traitor. All Wickans are now under threat of pogrom. The Adjunct is told by the Empress to hand over the Wickans and control of the Bonehunters (the malazan army) and the Grey Shields. The citizens of Malaz attack the Bonehunters and the Greyshields, stirred up by agents of Mallick Rell. The Adjunct returns to her ship with the help of Kalam and her lover but wades through a veritable sea of blood to do so.

Karsa Orlong is captured by the Edur as a “Champion” so that he may face Rulad Sengir, the Edur emperor.

Icarium is separated from Mappo Trell and a new companion is given him. It turns out all the companions are part of the Nameless, a group that wants to use Icarium’s rages as a weapon. Mappo betrayed the Nameless by being Icarium’s friend instead of pointing him in the direction the Nameless wanted him to go. Icarium and his new companion are also captured by the Edur. They are used in a skirmish against Shadowthrone and it ends with Icarium, unconscious, going through a portal to the Lether/Edur empire.

Ganos Paran, as Master of the Deck, faces down Poliel and chooses sides in the war of the gods. He ends up becoming High Fist of another Malazan army after all its officers are struck down by plague, including Dujek Onearm.

And there are at least 5-10 other smaller plot threads running through out as well.

 

My Thoughts:

There is a lot going on in this book. And to be honest, that is the only thing that stopped me from dropping this a 1/2star. Because here is where the Existential Moralizing really begins. There were a couple of places where characters would talk back and forth for pages and the problem is that I couldn’t skip any of it because Erikson will throw in a line or two about some revelation or other plotline that is really nice to know. You know those Christian books where you get preached at instead of being told a story? Well, Erikson does that here with his own brand of suicide inducing despair filled philosophy. It’s done in really bad taste, as I felt like I was having a razorblade shoved down my throat.

I feel like I used up half my words for this review just typing out the synopsis. Also, for all my complaining about the philosphizing, there is a really good story packed between it all.

I always wondered why Surly/Laseen/Empress let things go downhill so fast and after reading the two Path to Ascendacy books, it’s very obvious that she is afraid of “Hero’s” capturing the people’s attention. To the point that she allows someone like Mallick Rell and Korbolo Dom to advise her, as they are despised by the people. She was skilled enough to run things for awhile but in this book we see her pretty much throwing it all away and no real explanation is given. It is intriguing.

I think that is all I have to say really. You can’t jump into the series with this book and it doesn’t wrap anything up and it is so big, that I feel like throwing up my hands and saying “read it yourself, if you dare” to get all the plot threads. Heck, we’re teased with a possible invasion of short-tailed K’Chain Che’malle and 12!!!! moonspawns. Look how powerfully Anomander Rake used just one, I can only imagine the chaos and destruction 12 might cause. That is just one of a myriad of topics I didn’t even bother to really think about for this review. Trying to cover everything is impossible and it leaves huge amounts of room for re-reading, as your focus will be different each time.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

 

 

Sympathy for the Devil (Oh My Goddess! #5) ★★★★☆ (Manga Monday)

sympathyforthedevil (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: Sympathy for the Devil
Series: Oh My Goddess! #5
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 160
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Mara causes a lot of ruckus trying to divide up Belldandy and Kei and in the process it is revealed that Mara is a demoness.

Bell and Urd’s little sister Skuld comes to fix some bugs and Kei is almost sucked into another dimension while hijinks ensue.

Other hijinks, involving Megumi, the Motor Club, Sayoko and Aoshima, happen and laughs are called for by the audience.

 

My Thoughts:

It is really being brought home to me that this is a comedic, episodic manga. It is nothing like Eyeshield 21 and I need to stop expecting something inspiring. This is for laughs and 3 Stooges style of humor, ie, poking of eyes, hitting with hammers, etc.

One thing that did make me smile pretty good was the fact that Urd is put to sleep by Polka music and that’s used against her by Mara. At the same time, Mara has to dance if she hears Disco, and Urd uses that against her! Speaking of Mara, I don’t understand why the “mystery” of her gender until now? It was good for one gag, and that was it.

With the introduction of Skuld, we now have the 3 Norns and the author can play around with Norse mythology interwoven into modern Japanese culture all he wants. Urd and Skuld fight a lot and if that continues, it will get old very fast. Skuld is young and impetuous and very much a “little sister” figure, which makes me wonder just what part Megumi, Kei’s younger sister, is going to end up playing.

Most of the stories were much more focused on Bell, Urd and Kei this time around instead of having them mixing with all 72 other side characters.

The cuteness factor continues to ramp up, especially when you get multiple chibi versions of BOTH Belldandy and Urd!

omg-chibi

I’m just a sucker for cute little chibi’s!

 

This felt like a very busy volume yet beyond the introduction of Skuld, not much actually happens. Fujishima the author really doesn’t seem to have an overarching story and is just playing it by ear week to week ie, chapter by chapter. When that is done right, like with Yotsuba!&, it is fantastic. Here, it is walking the line of feeling frenetic and slightly directionless.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

A Lonely Place of Dying (Batman/Robin #2) ★★★★☆

alonelyplaceofdying (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: A Lonely Place of Dying
Series: Batman/Robin #2
Author: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Jim Aparo & Tom Grummett
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 116
Format: Digital Scan

 

 

Synopsis:

After the death of Jason Todd, aka Robin, Batman is starting to lose it. Instead of calculating and smart, he’s beginning to rely on violence and brute strength. This leads to him being wounded even by minor thugs, taking extremely risky actions and generally acting like he has a deathwish.

Tim Drake has been following the exploits of Batman & Robin for years now and has figured out that Dick Grayson was Robin, which led him to figure out Batman is Bruce Wayne and that Jason Todd was the new Robin. He also put together the fact of Todd’s death being the catalyst for Batman’s change in behavior. Drake tracks down Grayson, now known as Nightwing and convinces him to help Batman in his current fight against Two-Face. Nightwing agrees even while knowing he can never go back to being Robin.

When Batman and Nightwing are overcome by Two-Face, it is up to Drake to put on the uniform of Robin and to save them both. He does this successfully, even against Batman’s wishes to have nothing to do with another Robin, as the guilt of Todd’s death rests heavily upon him.

However, since Drake was successful in rescuing him and he knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne, Bruce must decide what he’ll do. Is it safer to avoid the potential for the death of another young man by cutting Drake off, which would lead to Drake running around out there knowing Batman’s alter ego and having no control over that? Or should Bruce take the chance, properly train Drake and retain control of his secret identity? This is how the book ends.

 

My Thoughts:

Page 5 and the America hating begins. Comics are still run by people who hate America, don’t forget it. Makes me sick. But then for the rest of the book, which was 5 or 6 comics, nothing. It was like Wolfman stuck a splinter in my big toe and then pretended that nothing had happened. It was rather surreal and just weird to me. I don’t care who the President is, you don’t call him unprintable names.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, as a sequel, not necessarily on its own. Batman’s struggle was very evident and I thought the writers/artists did a great job of portraying his descent. But holy toledo Batman, when Nightwing came on stage, it was “The 90’s Have Arrived!” with all hands on deck! It made me grin a lot because I remember those costumes, as that’s what I grew up seeing. Sometimes it’s just a shock though, you know?

Tim Drake was portrayed in a really good light. After Todd’s rebellious, angry and down right stupid behavior, Drake is shown to be intelligent, patient and willing to do what Batman’s says, even when he doesn’t want to. He was very raw material, but he was shown to be good material from which a really good Robin could be molded.

The overall plot wasn’t as dramatic as A Death in the Family but there were still some really comic’y parts. Dick Grayson investigating a circus murder and buying half the circus to keep it afloat? Not as silly as the Joker being a UN Ambassador but definitely fluff material. And the Teen Titans? Man, it just made me laugh.

Thoroughly enjoyed this read as a Robinread and am really looking forward to the Robin graphic novels next.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

The Rite (Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

rite (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 Rite
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Year of Rogue Dragons #2
Author: Richard Lee Byers
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352/Abandoned
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

More and more dragons go rogue and the various characters attempt to figure out what the badguy Sammaster has done by backtracking him. One group to a mystic monastery currently under siege by dragons and another group to a some wizards who are working on Sammaster’s notes.

DNF’d at 30%

 

My Thoughts:

My first DNF of the year. Man, I was bored with this story. There are several factors leading into that though.

First, I have had a string of 4star books since the beginning of the year. My standards were thus higher. Second, I was on the fence about Forgotten Realms the whole of last year and kept giving them chance after chance. This year, No More Mr Nice Guy. Third, I don’t want to keep on eating badly cooked literary mac-n-cheese where I KNOW that half the stuff is half-baked. Finally, work was physically brutal this week and I ended up taking today off because of how hard Monday-Thursday had gone. Hiking an hour using showshoes, carrying 60lbs of equipment, shovelling out traverse stations all day, breaking trail, pulling a sled filled with 200lbs of equipment during the day, then ending the day by hiking an hour out with 60lbs of equipment again.

If I had read this last year, I probably would have given it 2.5stars and struggled through the final book in the trilogy. Not this year. I am done with this book and this trilogy and the whole Forgotten Realms series. It is written for a completely different target audience than me and I need to stop trying to shoehorn myself into that demographic. Objectively, it was the same as the first book, but I just don’t have the patience to deal with it anymore.

I have enough books on my Oasis and in Calibre to last me 2 years. That’s if I don’t add a single thing. So why should I persist in adding books that have an extremely high chance of being lower than 3stars? Not worth it.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge