Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth #1) ★★☆☆☆

wizardsfirstrule (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: Wizard’s First Rule
Series: Sword of Truth #1
Author: Terry Goodkind
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 852
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Richard Cypher, still dealing with his father being brutally murdered, and forbidden from investigating by his elder brother who is about to become the most powerful man in Westland, rescues a young woman from the clutches of four men. Her name is Kahlan.

Kahlan is from the Midlands, a land where magic abounds and that is cutoff from Westland by the Border, a magical construct. But the Border between the Midlands and D’Hara has already fallen and Lord Rahl, lord of D’Hara, has taken over the Midlands. A prophecy says that Kahlan will find the Seeker, the wielder of the Sword of Truth, in the Westlands. This Seeker can only be appointed by the last remaining wizard, a wizard so powerful that he cast a spell that made everyone in the entire world forget his name and his face.

Richard takes Kahlan to his old friend Zed, a rascally old man who has trained Richard throughout the years in woodcraft and various other skills. Richard does something or other that makes it obvious that he is the Seeker Kahlan is looking for, but where will they find an unkown wizard who has the Sword of Truth to give to Richard? Oh wait…

Richard, Kahlan and Zed are on the run, as Lord Rahl is able to send magical creatures across the Border to hunt down Kahlan. Richard has memorized a secret book and Lord Rahl has done some magical stuff with some magical boxes. These boxes will either give Lord Rahl complete power, certain death or the destruction of all living things. Only Richard knows the correct box to pick.

Lord Rahl pulls shenanigans and ends up with everybody at his castle. Everyone is so busy trying to protect everybody else that they give Lord Rahl exactly what he wants. He opens a Box of Orden, only Richard, being such a super smart Seeker, tricked him. Lord Rahl dies and it is revealed that Richard Cypher is actually the son of Lord Rahl and the grandson of the Wizard Zeddicus. Long Live the Good Lord Rahl!

 

My Thoughts:

Awwwww man! This went from a 5star read in ’04, on my Loved side of the 100 books of Bookstooge down to a 2 star! Folks, that is a crushing blow. I am not sure that Life itself is worth continuing. With a blow like that, my confidence is shattered, my ego destroyed and my ham-handed self-righteousness has been shish-kebabed.

Where do I start?

Well, the writing I guess. It was bad. It was clunky. It was choppy. It did not flow. When I read the words I felt like I was in a wagon going over a cobblestone road. Richard did things. Richard said things. Kahlan also did and said things. Zed AND Lord Rahl both said and did things. It felt like watching a marionette show. I have no memory of the writing being this unskilled 14 years ago. Guess I’ve matured in that time. Thank goodness!

The characters. Most of the issues with the various characters stems from the writing skill (or lack thereof) and not because of any inherent flaws in the characters. They are mainly flat without any real individuality. The romance between Richard and Kahlan has all the texture, flavor and excitement of drying cement. Zed, for being a wizard of great strength and age, is as much an idiot as Richard.

The Mord Sith. This was just disturbing this time around. A group of women broken in every single way so that pain is pleasure to them. Lord Rahl then somehow makes them able to control any magic used against them and the Mord Sith can torture the magic user until they are the Mord Sith’s slave. This was gone into in way more detail than was needed and I just felt dirty after reading it.

Everything is resolved because Richard is the golden boy. I usually like a protagonist who is capable and smart and able to handle everything thrown at him. This time though, Richard didn’t work that way for me. He’s so golden King Midas would be envious. It didn’t encourage me, it made me nauseous. It didn’t help that Goodkind uses Richard as a mouth piece and Goodkind blows the trumpet loud and long.

Overall, a very bleh read that really crushed me with how disappointed I was because of my memories.I will be removing this from the Bookstooge in 100 Books list once I find a suitable replacement to go on the “Loved” side. Way to go Goodkind, make MORE work for me almost 15 years after I read your book. You’re a real peach…

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) ☆☆☆☆½ DNF@22%

ghostlyechoes (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: Ghostly Echoes
Series: Jackaby #3
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 353/DNF@22%
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

[Miss Rook] “Miss Lee was really a boy, wasn’t she? Underneath”

He slowed and then came to a stop and looked me square in the eyes, “That’s up to her to decide,”

~page 56

 

Yep, I’m done with this author now. Ritter’s going to push the SJW line about gender and cross dressing down my throat, forget it. As much as I enjoyed the previous 2 books, no amount of enjoyment is worth listening to lies for.

By the by, cross dressing is a moral deviancy that indicates some real brokenness inside. It isn’t normal and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s an indicator and Christian professional help should be sought. Just like you wouldn’t tell a man with a broken leg that he’s ok. Even if you can’t fix it, you can tell him to go to a doctors. But denying that there is anything wrong is the height of foolishness.

Man, this is NOT the way I wanted to start out a new month…

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

A Path to Coldness of Heart (Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #3) ★★☆☆☆

pathtocoldnessofheart (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 Path to Coldness of Heart
Series: Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #3
Author: Glen Cooke
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 445
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The world has come as close as it ever has to having some peace, so obviously the Star Rider will stir things up. However, due to him having been so visible in the last 50 years, the main characters on the stage all know about him, from The Dread Empire to the King without a Throne to Bragi to Varthlokkur.

Mist, queen of the Dread Empire, secretly assembles a cast of people all presumed to be dead who have had interactions with the Star Rider. They begin a massive plot to take him down, all along parallel tracks not connected so that if one plot fails, another may get through.

This involves a whole new generation of people and we get hints of horrible things the Star Rider has actually been keeping contained for the world’s safety. The plotters succeed and the tale peters out.

 

My Thoughts:

While there is a book of short stories still left in the Dread Empire saga, this was pretty much the wrapup to the overall story. Except it didn’t really wrap anything up, it just “ended” while introducing the vague new threats the world would have to face and vaguely introducing the next set of people to face those threats. Cook seems to revel in showing the heroes growing old and failing in one way or another.

And here’s my biggest caveat about this book. We are introduced to a minor wizard who is, for all intents and purposes, a pedophile. He’s into pre-pubescent girls and while its made clear nothing is done against their will, the whole idea is abhorrent and Cook makes it out to be “just another thing”. I don’t think I’ve seen that before in any of his books and if I do come across it again, that’ll be it. The wizard is a major side character in this novel, so that keeps popping up.

Overall, it is apparent that Steven Erikson, of Malazan fame, stole much more from Cook’s Dread Empire than from his Black Company series. When I finished this book, I just felt “ehhh”. Between the pedo-wizard and the non-closure of an ending, I had to ask myself “What did I get out of this”and the answer is “not much”.

The writing is at the same level as all the previous books, so without pedo-wizard this probably would have been a 3 ½ star book, but that inclusion dropped things pretty hard. I do plan on reading the collection of short stories to truly wrap up the Dread Empire series and then I have to decide what of Cook’s writings I want to read next. I’ve got one or two trilogies/short series and then his much longer Garrett, PI urban fantasy series. I’m thinking of holding off on Garrett just because me and Urban Fantasy don’t get along for the most part. Ahh well, that is months away, plenty of time to make up my mind and change it several times too!

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

 

Dragon’s Gold (Kelvin of Rud #1) ★★☆☆☆

dragonsgold (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: Dragon’s Gold
Series: Kelvin of Rud #1
Author: Piers Anthony
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 248
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Kelvin has round ears. His father had round ears as well, but everyone else in the world has pointed ears. There is prophecy about a Round Ear but Kelvin has never given it a thought.

His father is killed by agents of the Queen of Rud, a Usurper. Kelvin and his younger sister Jon are now out in the Sadlands looking for dragon scale so as to pay the taxes that the Queen has instituted. Kelvin ends up killing a dragon on accident and on their way home with its scales, are captured by a bandit. Jon, who has been dressing up as a boy, is taken as well and sold to the Boy Mart. Kelvin heads to the town where the Boy Mart is with the intentions of somehow rescuing her.

Kelvin finds a magic glove in a tree and hooks up with a group of people who are opposed to slavery and to the Queen in General. Said group tries to buy Jon, but she has come to the attention of the wizard Zantanna and they are outbid. They end up buying another girl, a round ear who can astrally project herself if she eats dragon berries. Kelvin and the group waylay the agent of the wizard and rescue Jon.

Kelvin is setup to be the Roundear of Prophecy and the group begins making plans to overthrow the queen. They hire mercenaries and begin the attack. Kelvin gets captured, finds out his dad is alive and is from earth and has a lot of technology at his disposal. Big battles, people die, blah, blah, John Knight and the Queen disappear down a river which leads to the Flaw, an interdimensional tear.

Jon hooks up with the son of the leader of the revolutionary group and Kelvin hooks up with the roundear girl, Heln. The prophecy isn’t anywhere close to being fulfilled but as it is scattered all over the lands, no one has a complete version so nobody knows when it is finished or not.

 

My Thoughts:

I originally read this series back in the early 90’s. I remember it mainly because of the covers (not the one I have for this edition but the one I’ll be putting at the end) and because of the title names: Dragon’s Gold, Serpent’s Silver, Chimera’s Copper, Orc’s Opal and Mouvar’s Magic. I also have faint recollections of there being sleazy sexual undertones throughout them all. But when you are 15, what you consider a sleazy sexual undertone can be quite different from what you consider when at 40.

Sadly, I remembered correctly. Jon is almost raped when it is discovered she is a girl whilst imprisoned at the Boy Mart. It wasn’t graphic but considering that she is 14, the author seemed to enjoy stretching the scene out way more than was needed. From other Anthony books I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s a pervert and this just confirmed it. Heln was also raped but before we met her, so that particular scene wasn’t included. However, it was constantly alluded to every time she or Kelvin had a romantic thought towards the other.

I remember really enjoying the story and being fascinated by the plot and writing and thinking how good these were. Man, how I’ve grown up. This was terribly hackneyed and cliched crap. Ideas of how to forge ahead are written down like 2 players were playing Magic the Gathering, ie, one player puts down a card, then the second player puts down another card to counter it, etc. It was written that way! Ughh. Then you have people who can’t think militarily to save their life. Yes, lets march 4 days through open land to attack the capital instead of shipping down the river and being there in 8 hours. And it was written that way so one character COULD go down the river to advance a plot point. Ughh again.

The writing itself was pretty bad too. A lot of “then he said so she did” writing. Along the lines of the following (made up):

Kelvin ate the apple. Heln asked him if it was good. Kelvin said “Anything from your hands is good.” Heln blushed. This made Kelvin blush.

Needless to say, a teen probably wouldn’t notice it (I certainly didn’t back then) but any halfway competent adult will notice it right off. And a whole book like that?

I had all 5 books lined up to re-read, but after this one I think I’m going to pass on the other books. I seem to remember the sleaze increases as well. So au revoir!

Oh, here’s some of the covers as I remember them, not the crap this addition has:

 

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge

Use of Weapons (The Culture #3) ★★☆☆☆

useofweapons (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: Use of Weapons
Series: The Culture #3
Author: Iain Banks
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 433
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

THIS BOOK IS PREDICATED ON THE READER NOT KNOWING CERTAIN FACTS, READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN RISK DUE TO SPOILERIFIC’NESS.

FINAL PARAGRAPH IS A SPOILER FREE SUM UP OF MY THOUGHTS.

 

 

Synopsis:

Zakalwe, a man outside of the Culture but brought in to be used in situations where the Culture couldn’t officially act, is a warrior and warleader of great ability. Given Culture longevity and weapons and support, Zakalwe is wielded by the Culture like a katanna. Not always on the side of Right or on the Winning side, Zakalwe fulfills the aims of the Culture without knowing what those aims are.

The real payment for working for the Culture is so that Zakalwe can visit his sister after each year/decade long mission and plead for forgiveness of the breach between them. The breach is a shadowy affair involving the death of their younger sister and how a family friend was involved. This was all long ago and not fully revealed until the very end.

There was a LOT of time skipping and flashbacks to various previous battles and fights. While the current battle and latest visit to Zakalwe’s sister are the focus, the whole story is one interlocking cube where the past locks certain things into place that the current Zakalwe can’t alter. He fulfills his mission, gets to visit his sister and then the author slams us with the fact that Zakalwe isn’t Zakalwe but the family friend from long ago who killed Zakalwe’s sister. Zakalwe killed himself and this friend, who had turned the little sister into a chair made of her bones, tries to take on Zakalwe’s identity to do penance for what he did.

What a bloody scumbag!

The End

 

My Thoughts:

This is my last Culture novel. I simply don’t like Banks’ style or how he writes or what he writes about. For example, this time around, with all the flashbacks in non-linear fashion and all the hidden psychological crap going on, I simply felt lost. Others might love it and revel in it, good for them. For me, it simply wasn’t enjoyable at all.

I liked the overall story and if things had been a straight up adventure story, I would have liked this a lot more. More linear, less hidden things, more focus, less dreamy, makes no sense kind of thing. The reveal about Zakalwe didn’t surprise me, as it explained so much, I was just so lost in Banks trying to be clever with his writing that it was just one more “trick” that he used. So instead of being impressed, I was annoyed.

Unfortunately, Banks riled me the wrong way from the first book of his that I read and the next 2 books, while written well and telling a decent story, have never un-riled me. I would certainly recommend these books to others if they asked about them, but I would never recommend them on my own initiative. There are just too many things about the whole universe that annoy me and make for a non-enjoyable read.

The biggest issue is that the Culture just doesn’t show humans acting like humans. Handwavium goes on in the background to explain that Humanity has “changed” but it’s so much bullshit. And then every story shows certain humans acting like humans but Banks excusing it as not really representative of the Culture. I call bullshit again. I do not find the Culture believable at all, especially with what Banks reveals about certain parts of it. That disconnect is enough for me to not be able to enjoy the stories, as the overarching framework is crooked, rotted through and not able to support the stories that Banks tries to hang on it.

Glad I tried these. But they are not for me and I won’t be reading any more by Banks. He frustrates me too much. The two stars denotes my frustration with the series and not that this was badly written or poorly executed. I simply didn’t like it.

★★☆☆☆

bookstooge

 

Conventions of War (Dread Empires Fall #3) ★★☆☆½

conventionsofwar (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: Conventions of War
Series: Dread Empires Fall #3
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 688
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Caroline Sula survives the destruction of the secret government and the Naxid takeover. She begins the counter-insurgency which leads to her becoming planetary governor of the former Capital World of the Praxis Empire. She leverages that to get a promotion and to get her own spaceship command. She uses the new tactics and does well in battle. She still has feelings for Gareth but in the end loses out to Gareth’s new wife, who has given birth to his son. She decides that the military life is the life for her.

Gareth Martinez does “fights in space” and wins and stuff. The Naxid’s end up unconditionally surrendering. Gareth doesn’t so much choose his wife and son over Sula as much as he is ambushed by the family and given no choice. Really pulls at the heart strings /sarcasm.

The Empire is at peace but everybody knows that it is only a matter of time before another war breaks out as each species tries to figure out where it stands now.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was almost 700 pages and it shouldn’t have been a jot over 300. It was simply too long without enough real story to fill it up. I found myself skipping whole pages of descriptions of almost everything and I didn’t miss one part of the essential plot. So much of the writing just felt unneccessary and almost filler-like.

The fighting, whether with Sula planet side or Gareth in space, was good stuff. However, there was zero tension and you knew they were going to win in one way or another. When you read about their second battle and you’re only on page 300, you KNOW they win. Instead of the Batman roller coaster from Six Flags (where you go upside down multiple times and do all sorts of twisty turny, stomach churning twists), this was much more akin to the Pirates of the Caribbean kiddie ride at Disneyworld. Slow and sedate and enjoyable. But not thrilling by any stretch of the imagination.

There is a whole murder mystery sub-plot that occupies most of Gareth’s time and once again, it felt like padding. You have a whole Space Empire in turmoil and we get a murder mystery? It made the Naxids seems like caricature bad guys since Gareth was able to spend so much focusing on a mystery rather than fighting against them. Once again, it totally destroyed the tension.

The whole Gareth/Sula thing. That really bugged me. I mean, really bugged me. Gareth made his vows to Terza, his new wife and she is now pregnant. Tricked or not, Gareth said the vows and made the decision. Then when Sula decides to pursue him and it appears that he might divorce his wife to be with her and the whole Family ambush right at the end of the book where he decides to stay, it felt like I had eaten one of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler’s Mystery Sausages (Discworld reference there btw).

Each book in this trilogy dropped a half star for me. I think the quality and style of the writing was exactly the same for the whole thing whereas I was expecting improvement. So it’s not that each book gets worse, it’s that each book doesn’t improve in any way or live up to the premise held forth in the first book.

The cover is the best part of the book and that is a damning indictment no matter how you look at it. * very sad face *

★★☆☆½

bookstooge

 

The Ring of Winter (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #5) ★★☆☆½

ringofwinter (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 Ring of Winter
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #5
Author: James Lowder
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Artus Cimber, a former harper, has been searching for the Ring of Winter for over a decade with almost no success. However, when a fellow Adventurer member comes back from an expedition in the deepest, hottest jungles where dinosaurs live and tells of a freak snowstorm that saved his life, Artus knows he’s hot on the trail.

Taking off in the middle of the night with his only friend, an older mage, so that the Harpers can’t pressure him in any way, Artus’s journey doesn’t start well. The ship they paid passage to be on forces them to be regular sailors and the captain is an insane witch woman. Artus ends up killing her. Artus and Pontifex finally make it to Dinosaur Land, only to be attacked by members of the Cult of Frost, who are led by Kaverin Ebonhand. Kaverin also desires the Ring of Winter as it supposedly endows its controller with immortal life.

Pontifex dies, Artus is on his own. Sets off into the jungles with a local guide, only to find out it is a magician in thrall to Kaveron. Artus is captured by goblins, thrown into a pit of a monster that they worship and escapes with the help of 2 talking wombats named Byrt and Lugg.

I am NOT kidding.

Kaveron gets all the goblins to unite and attack the city of Mezro which had 7 magical guardians. One of them revealed that he had had the Ring of Winter but that he couldn’t control it and so threw it into the testing chamber where new magical girls, errrr, guardians were tested and chosen. Artus goes after it, gets it and saves the city because he CAN control the Ring.

Everybody who is still alive is happy and Artus realizes that he’s still a Harper at heart and now with a super powerful artifact he can do lots and lots of good things. Yippeee!

 

My Thoughts:

This was a perfect example of an author forcing the character to act like the author wanted without regards to any past actions, feelings or explanations. Artus starts out as an impetuous, selfish idiot. He hates the Harpers, puts others in danger without regard when searching for the Ring of Winter and generally acts like an ass. The shazaaam, he gets tested by the god Ubtao and suddenly he’s the soul of wisdom, discretion and goodness.

The talking wombats? Besides getting him out of the monster pit the first time, and talking in fake british accents, dropping all their “h’s”, etc, they were pointless. Which leads into all the side characters. There were so many that none of them really got to be “real” people. Kaveron was the perfect example. He’s the leader of the Frost Cult, has stone hands due to fighting with Artus in the past, is in thrall to the mad god Cyric and can make magical icemen assassins. Yet he loses control of a small goblin tribe? He was just a name attached to a vehicle that moved the plot forward. People are introduced and in a lot of cases, die off within 10-20 pages. I gave up trying to keep track because I never knew if someone introduced was a long term character or just another meat bag for the mill.

I felt like this had too many elements contained in one story and it diluted the whole focus on the Ring of Winter. Well, I’m giving the Harpers sub-series one more book and then if that book doesn’t get a 3.5star rating I’ll be done. I’m not 12 or 14 years old.

And the Ring of Winter? It should have been a wicked super awesome cool artifact. Kind of like this M:TG card looks. But no. It is as disappointing as the rest of the book.

ringofwinter

 

★★☆☆½

bookstooge