Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8) ★☆☆☆☆

tollthehounds (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: Toll the Hounds
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #8
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1299
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

I’m really struggling with this.

The Tiste Andii have a big part. Nimander and the young Andii, led by Clip, are on a journey to Black Pearl to pledge allegiance to Anomander Rake. During this journey Clip is possessed by the Fallen god and it is up to Nimander to stop him. Rake himself leaves Black Coral and faces down Hood himself and kills Hood with Dragnipur, thus bringing Hood into the realm of Dragnipur. This allows Hood to bring his armies of the dead against the forces of Chaos within that realm. Rake then faces Traveller, who is revealed as Dassem Ultor, First Sword of the Empire and not only dies in a battle with him, but is killed by Dragnipur as well. This places him in Dragnipur’s realm as well and somehow makes it possible for him to confront Mother Dark and convince her to take her children back.

Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev had been travelling with Traveller and are witnesses.

There is a lot going on in Darujhistan itself. Cutter and others have returned. The remaining Bridge Burners who run a bar, have a contract taken out on them by the Assassins guild. Rallick Nom and Vorcan both recover in the Azath House and get back into the thick of things. Gruntle ends up working for the Trygalle Guild and Mappo takes their services to try to get back to Icarium. Only Mappo and Gruntle get called into the Realm of Dragnipur to help lead the forces of the Dead against Chaos.

The Broken god is also making a play outside of Black Coral to subsume the newly ascended Itkovian, now known as the Redeemer. Using his own corrupted blood, a black addictive druglike sludge, he enslaves the high priestess of the Redeemer and it is up to a former Pannion Domin of all people to defend the Redeemer, who has chosen not to defend himself.

After the battle between Rake and Traveller, and the battle that ensued for control of Dragnipur, Caladan Brood emerged in control of the sword. With the help of the remaining Torrud Cabal, he destroys the sword with Burn’s Hammer, thus releasing all the souls still in existence within the sword.

 

My Thoughts:

Last time I read this, I called this a bloated piece of crap (to summarize). This time around, I have much more to say.

It IS a bloated piece of crap. At 1300 pages, this easily could have been pared down to 800 or 900 pages simply by removing the monologuing by every character about despair, hopelessness, the pointlessness of existence, etc, etc. I found myself skimming pages at a time and not missing any actual plot points. Erikson becomes as bad as Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged with the monologue by John Gault. Erikson gives full vent to his existential beliefs and in all honesty, it is horrible.

Lots of Christian theology and personal philosophy coming up, so be warned.

Sometimes, books can affect us in deep and profound ways. We always hope that it is for the better but sometimes it isn’t. This time around, it wasn’t for the better. Over the last 10 years I have learned that I am particularly susceptible to the weakness of hopelessness and despair. Whether in a sermon or in a book, if the negative is at the forefront, it will bring my spirit down and affect me physically. I can not live without Hope. That is part of why I am a Christian.

Erikson puts forth that Oblivion is the end of everything. Good, bad, right, wrong, all will end in nothingness. You can only witness existence and hope someone else will witness you as well. This directly cuts across the fact that God Himself is our witness. He has always been and He will always be. Oblivion is not the end of God, even though it is the end of humanity who are not saved by Jesus Christ. Our lives are being watched and recorded by God and we are not alone.

Erikson also writes how everything good is essentially pointless since it is tainted in one way or another. God is not tainted. God is Good. Everything good flows from a Perfect God and it IS good because it aligns with His character. Erikson takes everything that is written on our very hearts as good and drags it through a shit hole and stabs it with a rusty butter knife all in an effort to show how it really isn’t good.

Sadly, it wasn’t until I was at the 80% mark that I realized how this was affecting me. My attitude was horrible about pretty much everything and the world seemed grey and blah even while I was objectively having a good time. I could have taken steps to counteract this much earlier if I had realized what was going on. I do plan on reading either Mark of a Man by Elizabeth Elliot or one of C.S. Lewis’s books immediately after this.

In the future, I will never read this book again. I also plan on waiting an extra cycle before attempting the next Malazan Book of the Fallen. I’m giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as well to help remind my future self to never even look at this thing again.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Walden & Civil Disobedience (Classic)

5997be5bd8ee2b38e747e0ccc14a1368 This 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.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: Walden, Civil Disobedience

Series: —–

Author: Henry Thoreau

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Genre: Classic

Pages: 326

 

 

Synopsis:

Thoreau moves to Walden pond to live as a squatter for 2 years and rhapsodizes, as all scatterbrained, out of touch with reality poets are want to do, about how wonderful Nature is and how the Simple Life is the best.

In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau shows how him going to jail for a week because he wouldn’t pay his tax is the height of him being completely independent. He also tries to make the case that any group of rational human beings really don’t need a government because the Milk of Human Kindness will naturally flow between them all.

 

My Thoughts:

What a monumental tome of total Prickness.

Thoreau is an ass and every line he writes in this book simply confirms that fact. Nothing he writes has a true bearing on reality, everything is colored, warped and distorted by his belief that Nature is Pure and Kind and can Teach us Lessons. (and yes, the caps are on purpose, you can practically hear them)

I am glad I read this but no more Thoreau for me.

Horizon Storms (Saga of the Seven Suns #3)

a98d37976bf7d40c40621440fd6bfbaa This 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.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: Horizon Storms

Series: Saga of the Seven Suns #3

Author: Kevin Anderson

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 672

 

Synopsis:

Surprisingly little happens in this volume.

The Roamers make an alliance with the Wentals [water elementals] and with the Free Planet of the Green Priests. They also find out that the main Human Empire has been pirating their space fuel and so cut them off, which brings reprisals.

The klikiss robots advance their plans to wipe out humanity and the ildarans.

The hydrogues and the faeros are duking it out and continue to destroy worlds and suns in the process.

 

My Thoughts:

Thankfully, this book didn’t drag like the last one. However, not nearly as much happened. Got to the end of the book and went “huh? that is it” but not in a good way.

I consider books like this to be like eating frozen pizzas. They satisfy your hunger, don’t disgust you and do what they are supposed to, but you’ll never pull out the candles, the good china and silver and hire your neighbor to act as a waiter so you and the Mrs can eat a “le’ frozen pizza”.

Anderson is a b list author who has made a name for himself but I don’t consider him to be a “good” author, merely a competent writer. His storylines leave a lot to be desired as do his characters and general blaseness.

I’ll keep reading stuff by him and I’ll probably lambast it each time as well. Hopefully that will help you if ever decide to read something by him.

Assail (Malazan Empire #6) (Final)

assail (Custom) This 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.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: Assail

Series: Malazan Empire #6

Author: Ian Esslemont

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 544

 

Synopsis:

Gold! Gold has been found in the northern land of Assail and everyone, from scum to soldier to sorceress is making their way their to make their fortunes.

The remnant of the Crimson Guard, the descendants of the Jaghut, the remaining T’lan Imass and whole masses of various people converge into yet another, albeit hopefully the last, pointless Malazan Story.

 

My Thoughts:

Erikson lost me with his first Forge of Darkness series book and Esslemont has done the same for me with this book.

At some point, Existential Angst, Hints of Archaic Badness, Weapons and Spells that ALWAYS turn out to be Cursed & General Moping by Everyone, you just have to say no. No one is happy in these books, and I really mean no one.

It wears on you after a bit. Sure, the story can be cool and the action top notch and the epic can be big, but 17 books of between 500-900 pages each should not be ALL Grim Despair.

And for a book named Assail, the Forkrul Assail only appearing for about 3 pages tops in the last 5% of the book, well, that is Epic Fail to me. The Imass/Jaghut feud gets more time for goodness sake, and that was supposed to be OVER way back in Memories of Ice or so [the 3rd book  of 10 in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series].

I’ve gotten used to the fact that these books are all only loosely related,not a tight overall story but I don’t like that either.

So what did I like? Well, the fighting and spell’ing were pretty good.

And that is why I’m done with Esslemont as well, He has turned into a clone of Erikson in his writing philosophy and I won’t countenance it any more.

 

The Great Darkening (Epic of Haven #1) DNF

db5622ed237989370af096cd0a572895This 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 express permission of this reviewer

I found a review for this title on Amazon that fit my reading experience to a T.  I almost don’t want to write anything because I’ll feel like I’m “copying”. Ha. Could NOT FINISH THIS.

Anyway. This suffered from the the “Tell because I don’t know how to Show” syndrome. Quite possibly one of the worst cases I’ve seen in a long time. It might be just fine for a middleschooler but at over 400 pages I don’t see many in that age group going through the whole book. It drove me absolutely batty.

Secondly, the prose. While it wasn’t strictly purple, it definitely was of the Grape Kool-aid variety. Over descriptiveness abounded everywhere. It felt like I was reading a book report and the student was padding their report to get the prerequisite number of pages. But for all that, everything felt and seemed flat.

Thirdly, the “deep and hidden meanings” in just about every paragraph. Triplett tries TOO hard to bring out his “♪♪ Christian Message ♪in Disguise ♪♪” [sung to the Transformers tune]. I’m a Christian myself. I don’t have a problem with that. Stephen Lawhead preached Christianity through his Pendragon Cycle [Arthurian Legend] books and I ate it up. C.S.  Lewis hits you over the head with it in his Space Trilogy.

But Triplett seems to feel the need to make it all very mysterious and “meaningful”. Kind of like if your 3 year old came up to you and said “Daddy, I made this picture. I drew you in it, RIGHT HERE!! [excited finger jabbing]. But you’re hidden so no one can see you!” It didn’t feel natural. The story didn’t seem to flow from the Belief but the Belief was forced into the story.

Finally, I won’t even bother with the plot. The above 3 things completely overwhelmed it so I don’t feel it is even necessary to discuss.

So I tried. I went up to 21%. But after my Crash and Burn with The Wizard by Wolfe, I realized I needed to gird up my reading loins and not allow myself to suffer through a bad book. Mediocrity and poor craftsmanship are hallmarks of a bad book to me.

 

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Author:  Robert Triplett

The Great Darkening

Epic of Haven #1

Shadow’s Rise – Return of the Cabal

shadow's rise
Shadow’s Rise – Return of the Cabal

Chronicles of the Fists #1

Joseph J. Bailey

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

 

From the description, I was kind of hoping for a book along the vein of Way-farer. And I LOVE that book and re-read it. Way-farer is martial arts and zen.

And this is what I thought this was going to be. So I dl’d the sample from amazon and jumped right in. So everything that follows is from the sample only. The first 5 or 6 chapters I believe.

My first, very charitable thought, was that Bailey was trying to emulate Patricia A. McKillip with her lyrical, almost poetical style of prose.

Example:

The potential, the interrelationships, the interconnectivity, and individuation all commingled in a great sea of light scintillating beneath the sun.

-Location 209

The problem is, this verbose, florid overuse of descriptive wordiness continued on for the whole book. McKillip is a master, while Bailey sounded like a rank amateur.

Word craft. Lots of words are used that I had to go look up. And all were technically correct. But they tended to be ‘archaic’ forms of other words we already use:
densifying
reptant
supermundane
supramundane
aeryasynthetic
[I could NOT find that one. If you know of a link to a definition, I’d appreciate it]

The above words, and others, were used, it seemed, not so much as to make the story better but more along the lines of a little boy waving his shiny new trumpet hollering “look at me! I have a shiny trumpet!”.

…his head close enough to the beast’s…to smell the creature’s thick, unkempt rank

-Location 1034

Just another example of things being slightly off. Hair can be unkept [unkempt is a slightly older version] and thick, but “rank” means smell. Just slightly too enthusiastic with describing things and not paying attention to the nuts and bolts of the story.

Which brings us to plot.

A monastary of super monks [who have been around, apparently, an age beyond description ] in touch with the lifeforce of creation itself is attacked and forced to move to another plane of existance. And our MC is left behind because he isn’t advanced enough to do the plane walking AND he wants to fight the badguys, who seem to be just “evil”.

a couple of questions immediately sprang to mind.
1) Why did all the supermonks, priests and other trainee’s leave? Wasn’t it their duty as well to stay and fight?
2) the monks appear to have “just begun their work” in the area, even though they’ve been there an age beyond description. Huh? Which is it?
3) MC isn’t well trained enough. But when he starts his journey/quest, all I heard about him from the author describes how he can “X, Y and Z” because of his many years of intense training. Our MC is apparently both a complete novice and a master. But you the reader will never know which one will be in control.

Then there are things that just didn’t make sense to me. MC is hiding from the Evil Guys, who can track his psychic footprint and his very life essense. So what does he do the first night out? Call out to his master in his dreams and have a long coversation with him.

Another time he is in a forest, and he starts “casting out his mind” to look for sentient beings so he can avoid them. Hello? Paint a target on yourself or something.

After surviving a poison forest [poison that is both magical and mundane but both and yet neither], he comes into contact with some Super Tree beings. Beings that were the teachers of the elves and have been hidden for eons and eons. Not only does he find them, but makes contact with them mentally, and avoids frying his brain because of all his years of mental training. A certain amount of serendipity I can take, but forcing my brain into a pretzel of unbelief doesn’t work for me.

Finally, Bailey can’t write an action scene to save his life. Well, technically, he can. Lots of “fast” and “jumping” and action words, but no real combat seems to take place. Kind of like “he moved real fast and hit the creature, who was jumping really high and the battle was over”, but in his verbose way of saying things. I got lots of descriptions of the MC waking up, trudging around and feeling all in touch with himself and nature, but when it came to things actually happening, Bailey drops the verbal ball.

So while I liked the idea put forth in the blurb, the verbosity, floridness and lack of good action scenes did this in for me.

Noble House

Noble HouseNoble House

Asian Saga #5

James Clavell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

I am finished!
So many threads that had nothing to do with the Struans, merely impinged upon them.

Politics, business, personal life, blah blah blah.

I did enjoy reading this, but it was so “much”, so big that I felt swamped. I couldn’t recommend this unless the person liked the previous books tremendously.

I don’t know if I’ll end up reading Whirlwind or not.