Hogfather (Discworld) ★★★★★

hogfather (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: Hogfather
Series: Discworld
Author: Terry Pratchett
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

It is Hogwatch Night and the Hogfather is flying across the world in his red suit and white beard and 4 jolly boars delivering gifts to all the children. However, this Hogwatch Night the Hogfather is looking a little different. He’s a bit bony in the face, he has to stuff a pillow up the suit to give him that jolly fat look and his ho ho ho’s are more like HO, HO, HO! Yes, Death has taken over being the Hogfather for the night.

Now, where did this all start? The Auditors. Of Reality. They hired the Assassin’s Guild to kill the Hogfather. The head of the Guild, thinking it an impossible job, assigns it to Mr Teatime, an assassin who has been causing problems lately with how much he’s been killing. He’s got no style, you know? So the HAG (Head of the Assassins Guild) gives the job to Teatime. Either he’ll succeed and the Guild will get a cavern of gold or Teatime will fail and they can let him go and be done with him. Teatime has thought about just this kind of situation and he has answers.

And that is why Death is pretending to be the Hogfather. He can’t interfere with the Auditors directly but he sets his granddaughter Susan on the case. She tracks down Teatime, who has used the power of the Tooth Fairy make children NOT believe in the Hogfather. She and the newly created god of Hangovers, with the help from a tooth fairy helper, take down the insane assassin.

It is revealed that if the Hogfather doesn’t exist, the sun won’t rise. This will destroy all life on Discworld and THAT is the final goal of the Auditors. Life is messy and doesn’t really fit into neat check boxes, so they want to get rid of it. All of it.

Can Death, Susan and sundry others Save the Most Magical Night of the Year? Of course! Not even Pratchett was so full of bilious hatred and vitriol against Christmas that he’d write otherwise. But he gets his revenge on the readers by getting all metaphysical for at least 3 solid pages. What a rotter.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness, it has been a bloody decade since I last read this! Still 5stars, still a favorite and still just as good as last time.

This time around I concentrated on the character of Teatime. And you know what? He takes up a VERY small portion of the book even while being a main villain and the killer of the Hogfather. It is like he casts a huge shadow over the whole book while only being a skinny little twig. He has such presence though that I “remembered” him having a much larger role. I think it does say something for Pratchett’s skill that he can make a such a small used character be so big. Of course, him facing down Death himself right at the end does show he had some pretty big cojones.

Death gets a great bit of action and I just laughed and laughed. When Corporal Nobbs, the most venal member of the Watch, gets a super duper assault crossbow from the big red sack and he goes nutso with excitement, I just about died. It also made me remember H.P’s review of the lamest Robin Hood movie ever, complete with “assault crossbows”. Maybe it would have been a good movie if Knobby Nobbs had showed up, hahahahaa. Anyway, I did a lot of laughing.

Susan plays a huge part but unlike Teatime she was so exasperated all the time that she couldn’t be “normal” that it wore a little thin. We get it, she doesn’t want to be Death’s granddaughter. Honey, get over it. You don’t really get to pick your relatives. She started out funny with beating the crap out of monsters under the bed with a poker but became almost grating by the end.

The Unseen Academy and the Wizards are involved, as is HEX the thinking machine. HEX going insane and taking digital frog pills to cure itself was just about the highlight for me.

The only downside to this book was the few pages of metaphysics that Pratchett throws in. All crap about Justice and Mercy and Hope being nothing but lies. Then he took it do a bad place where you can’t believe those things if you don’t believe other lies, like the Tooth Fairy. What a hopeless and utterly futile way to live. He just couldn’t resist allowing his bitter hatred against God, or even the idea of God to peek on through. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to spoil the whole book. However, I tend to think I’ll have to wait another decade before I try this again.

★★★★★

 

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Bitter Gold Hearts (Garrett, P.I. #2) ★★★☆½

bittergoldhearts (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: Bitter Gold Hearts
Series: Garrett, P.I. #2
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Garrett is paid to consult on a kidnapping case for one of the rich and powerful folks of town.Everything seems to be just fine until someone murders the girl who was the go between, who happens to be related to the kidnap victim. Then the heir, who was returned, supposedly kills himself. A wagonload of gold has also disappeared. Garrett is then hired by the remaining daughter to ostensibly find the gold but to also find out what is going on.

Garrett figures everything out but has to reveal it all to the Head of the Family who has just returned from the war. She’s a Storm Lord of no small power and she ends up killing almost everyone involved to cover it all up so her “honor” won’t be besmirched. Garrett realizes what is happening in the nick of time and wraps things up neatly and presents the “evidence” to the other Storm Lords. They strip her of her power and the daughter inherits.

And that wagonload of gold? It disappeared, just like the Steward, who hired Garrett to consult in the first place.

 

My Thoughts:

Garrett sleeps with a lot of women. First, there’s the woman from the previous book, who is away for this one. Then there’s the cousin who ends up murdered and is the cause of Garrett really staying involved in the whole thing. Then there’s the daughter of the Storm Lord. Between all that wenching and the gallons of beer he consumes, I’m surprised Garrett hasn’t died from either syphilis or his liver giving out.

Other than bit of moralizing, I had a blast reading this. Garrett and some shady characters invade a criminal troll stronghold and end up burning the place down. It was violence and action and comedy and humor all in one situation and I loved it. Garrett does a lot of skulking around and I could have done with a little less of that, but eh, he’s a P.I., skulking is part of the job.

I really liked the ending, with the Storm Lord going full on murder spree and Garrett stopping her before she murders him and his friends too. I didn’t see it coming, so when Cook sprang it on me, I was quite surprised, as it meant the book didn’t end with a little “oh, I’ve solved things, lets go home now” from Garrett

I don’t think that I could tell you that the guy who wrote this series is the same guy who wrote the Black Company books. It’s not just the change in sub-genre (comedic detective fantasy versus dark fantasy) but so far, I’ve seen nothing related to or from the Black Company or the Dread Empire. Not a phrase, not a character type, not a situation. That is really good. After 10 books of the Black Company and almost as many with the Dread Empire, I like this change. I hope this tempo can be sustained for another 12 books.

I just realized that maybe I should be adding the mystery tag, as Garrett is private detective after all. But while I will be, these don’t strike me as mysteries. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been steeped in the Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters type of mystery for so long or what.

★★★☆½

 

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Seal of the Worm (Shadows of the Apt #10) ★★★★½

sealoftheworm (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: Seal of the Worm
Series: Shadows of the Apt #10
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 641
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Che and her compatriots are stuck in the kingdom of the worm. They find out that the worm kinden found an alternate source of power to magic or aptness in the form of a giant centipede that they worship as a god. This god wipes out all thought of magic and aptness from the minds of those in its vicinity. Che tries to raise the populace to revolt but it ends up turning into a run for survival as the Worm begins to devour all of its underground slaves in preparation for breaking forth upon the surface.

Empress Seda figures out a ritual to re-seal the seal of the worm but she needs so much power to do so. To obtain this power, she will use the death of the thousands of Inapt subjects of the Wasp Empire. She begins a progrom using the Slave Corp and once the camps are established, uses the Red Watch to oversea the setting up of machinery to distribute the bee-killer gas in the camps.

General Tynan, now governor of Collegium is torn between his duty to the Empire and plain old common sense. The Empress has him rounding up Inapt instead of fighting the Empire’s enemies. He is eventually driven out of Collegium by Stenwold Maker and his sea-kinden allies. Tynan retrenches in the Wasp capital and prepares to face multiple armies that are all taking advantage of Seda’s preoccupation with the ritual instead of running her Empire.

The Worm begins breaking out all over the world and destroys half of Capitas (wasp capital). When Seda begins her ritual, a lot of the guards at various camps rebel and do not use the bee-killer on the prisoners. Seda reaches out to Che, as her sister in magic and Che drags Seda to the underworld. They duel and Che wins. Totho, rogue artificer and rejected lover of Che, is also in the underground kingdom. He is captured and taken to be fed to the worm but has a belt of grenades. He is able to use the grenades and destroys the giant centipede. This destroys all the worm segments attacking the surface world and fighting grinds to an immediate stop.

General Tynan, now in charge, makes treaties with the various armies and their cities. Stenwold dies in a worm attack. Tisamon is finally set free from Seda’s magical imprisonment as her bodyguard. Che and Thalric make their way to the surface.

 

My Thoughts:

I did not race through this book. I would read 20-30 pages here and there and it took me almost 2 weeks to finish this off. Yet at the same time it was not because I wasn’t enjoying it. I immensely enjoyed this re-read. It just felt like a big steak that I simply couldn’t gulp down. I had to take the time to cut it up into small pieces and then chew each of those pieces thoroughly.

My only real complaint was how the worm god died. As I was reading it, it struck me how exactly the same it was as the movie Edge of Tomorrow. Both this book and that movie came out in 2014. They were released within months of each other so I find it hard to believe that one influenced the other. At the same time, the whole idea of a belt of grenades killing the big baddie almost at the end of the story seems too similar to ignore.

I had forgotten that Stenwold dies. I was under the impression that he went back under the sea with his lady friend. It was rather fitting though, since the group that started the book are now all dead. Very “circle of life” and all that.

In that vein, I thought Tchaikovsky did a good job of wrapping up all the various characters and their storylines. Very few have a happy ending but those who live have a decent ending and a chance to go on. After 10 books of almost continual warfare, you really can’t ask for much more than that.

The series overall upon this re-read came out even better. Tchaikovsky can write and each book told a good story while advancing the series narrative. The quality of his writing was top notch and shows that he has mastered the art of writing entertainment. I bought this decalogy when it came out and this re-read has shown me that that was money well spent. I started this re-read back in February of 2017 and am finishing it now, so its been 1 ¾ years of making my way through this. I have enjoyed my time and don’t begrudge it in any way.

I realize that Tchaikovsky isn’t going to be for everyone, but he is one of those authors that I think everyone SHOULD try at least once. Highly recommended.

★★★★½

 

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Alphabet of Thorn ★★★★½

alphabetofthorn (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: Alphabet of Thorn
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 300
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A foundling, named Nepenthe, is working at the royal library. She has a talent for interpreting odd languages. She meets a young mage-in-training named Bourne and gets a book written in an Alphabet of Thorns. She begins to translate the book and it appears to be the story of Axis and Kane, a king and wizard from so long ago that they are only myth.

The more Nepenthe translates, the more confused she becomes. Kane records Axis conquering kingdoms that don’t exist, yet. Nepenthe and Bourne figure out that Kane has figured out how to move through time. And next on the agenda, is the Kingdom that Nepenthe lives in.

During all of this, Bourne’s uncle has risn in insurrection against the new Queen. The Queen, a mousy recluse, must master her own unknown powers while the old Magician who runs the school that Bourne attends, must keep the kingdom from falling apart.

In the end, it is revealed that Nepenthe is the daughter of Axis and Kane but she forces her mother Kane to choose between her and Axis. A life of conquering all in her path or a life of peace. Kane chooses her daughter.

 

My Thoughts:

This was one of those tough reads. I wanted to shake Nepenthe so much, even knowing she was under the spell of the Alphabet. It was rough watching her keep secrets knowing that if she could only tell someone things would be better.

But other than that, this was another fantastic book. It had the taste of a fairytale with the story of Axis and Kane but it was the old school kind of fairytale, the one with that darker edge. It was mysterious as we the reader didn’t know what was going on or how everything was going to tie together.

Some books you can just rush through and let the story kind of overwhelm you, like eating 5 hamburgers at a picnic. This was not that kind of book. None of McKillips’ books are though.This was a smooth vanilla icecream with a peanutbutter ribbon running through the whole thing. The sweet smoothness of the icecream is offset by the rough saltiness of the peanutbutter. It just doesn’t get any better! Well, chocolate icecream makes it better.

alphabetofthorn

 

★★★★½

 

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Sweet Silver Blues (Garrett, P.I.) ★★★☆½

sweetsilverblues (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: Sweet Silver Blues
Series: Garrett, P.I.
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Garrett, a Private Investigator, is hired by the Patriarch of some cobbler elves to carry out his sons last wishes. It doesn’t hurt that the son and Garrett both served in Cantard and survived their army stint in that region. The father reveals that his son was getting rich in speculating on silver prices, with help from a woman in the Cantard who is probably on the enemies side. This same woman is one that Garrett fell in love with back in the day. So to help out an old dead buddy and maybe see the love of his youth, Garrett agrees to go into the Cantard and get the woman back to TunFaire where she will inherit a small fortune.

Unfortunately, the dead brother has a sister named Rose and Rose wants all that money for herself. She tries to hire Garrett, seduce Garrett, threaten and assault Garrett and eventually she is forced to team up with Garrett. Garrett also hires the help of various people to go on this trip with him.

Turns out the Lady is a vampire now. Garrett and Co kill the Bloodmaster, escape with the Lady and another vampire Garrett’s coworker wants for reasons of his own and make it back to TunFaire. The Lady is welcomed by the cobblers as an unofficial inlaw and given the best treatment to reverse the vampirism. Morly, Garrett’s coworker uses his vampire to destroy the local crimelord who has been making threats against Morly.

Everyone is relatively happy and everybody gets paid. Garrett also hooks up with Rose’s cousin so the detective fulfills the mission AND gets the girl. Not bad.

 

My Thoughts:

Nothing brilliant with this book but it was the most fun I’ve had so far this month besides with Shaman King. Light hearted rompy fun.

Cook is obviously riffing on the Hardboiled Noir Detective thing and if I was better versed in that genre I might be able to appreciate this even more. As it is, a hard drinking, hard headed, hard fisted detective living in an Urban Fantasyland works really well. I guess this isn’t strictly Urban Fantasy, as it isn’t our world at all, but it has all the earmarks of a mixed group of humans and supernatural and a city and the goings ons that happen in cities (the stinking, filthy, cowflop places).

Cook still yanks his readers around with making his characters know things that aren’t revealed to us and having “things happen” very suddenly with almost no warning. I know I missed particulars but I just sat back and let the story roll, even if I didn’t perhaps catch all the whys & wherefores. Cook has a style that while not exactly the same, is similar enough so an astute reader can pick up on it from his Black Company books or his Dread Empire series.

I have zero interest in straight up detective fiction. Not mysteries, but Detective Fiction. However, throw in some paranormal stuff and bam, it really works for me. And Garrett is no whiny, crybaby, “poor me, the Council doesn’t like me” miserable sodding jackass like some other character I can think of whose name rhymes with Harry Dresden. I can’t say that if you hate Dresden you’ll like Garrett, but if Dresden made you give up on Urban Fantasy, Garrett might be able to punch you in the head until you admit you really DO like Urban Fantasy now, honest sir!

As long as no pedophile wizard shows up to ruin the series like Cook did with his last Dread Empire book, I suspect I’ll be glad to work my through the 15+ books in this series.

★★★☆½

 

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Fail Harder (Caverns & Creatures #2) ★☆☆☆½

failharder (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: Fail Harder
Series: Caverns & Creatures #2
Author: Robert Bevan
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 305
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Gang of merry losers runs into some other humans who have been sent to this fantasy world by Mordred. They team up with them and learn of yet another group, of middle graders, who were Mordred’s favorites and are sure to run rampant once they learn of his demise.

Katherine, Tim’s sister, is kidnapped by a vampire who has also been brought here by Mordred. He turns her before the group can rescue her but they do rescue her and kill the vamp. With the loot and stuff they raid from the dead vamp’s castle, they pay a dodgy magician to get Tim back to the real world so he can find Mordred’s dice and figure out how to get everyone back.

Tim makes it back, but still in his halfing body and finds Mordred still alive in the freezer. The dodgy magician, having a glimpse of our world through Tim’s mind, decides he wants to check things out and brings the whole Gang back with him.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I barely even noticed the profanity this time around. However, the reason I didn’t was because of the crass humor and the complete stupidity of just about ALL the characters involved.

This group of people who got sucked into the fantasy world? They deserve to die. In fact, the United States is a better place if these people really did die. The fact that scum like them get their vote to count as much as mine, it infuriates me.

Yeah, I was pretty pissed off for almost the whole book. That is how pathetic these people were. So I’m done. I knew I was going to be done with this book one way or another, but my goodness, the amount of idiocy the characters packed into a mere 300 pages was astounding.

Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with them being hardcore gamers. I can sit around and play Magic the Gathering for hours on end. But I’m not an idiot who just does whatever he feels like whenever he feels like. I realize I haven’t pointed out specifics for you to judge for yourselves. But just think of someone you know who does what they want, when they want, regardless of consequences and you have this group. I’ve been using the term “stupid” but it is more along the lines of irresponsible in the worst way.

I still would like to thank Swords & Spectres for his very enthusiastic take on this series. For some non-frothing at the mouth reviews, check out his reviews. Maybe he can convince you to read them.

★☆☆☆½

 

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Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book of the Fallen #9) ★☆☆☆½

dustofdreams (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: Dust of Dreams
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #9
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 950
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The White Faced Bargast, now returned to their ancestral lands, are hemmed in by the lands current sets of clans and misused.The Bargast are now led by Onos Toolan, a resurrected T’lan Imass. He is trying to change their ways but in the face of a hostile land, the Bargast reject Toolan’s leadership, kill him, hobble his wife and drive off his children. Toolan comes back as a T’lan (hence the Dust of Dreams). The Bargast face their enemies but everyone is destroyed when “something” simply freezes them all into little pieces. Toolan hunts down the survivors and kills them all to fulfill his vengeance against the Bargast. In doing so, he ignores a summons by Adjunct Tavore and the Bonehunters.

The Bonehunters are leaving Lether to head through the Wastes into a kingdom where a piece of the Fallen god is. The Adjunct’s plan is to destroy said piece. They are supposed to meet up with the Bargast (that obviously doesn’t happen) and the Grey Helms, a mercenary branch. The Bonehunters are accompanied by Brys Beddict and his elite guards from Letheri.

A Skykeep of K’chain Che’Malle origin, with the help of a lone surviving human, must find a Shield Anvil and a Mortal Sword if this set of K’Chain want to survive. They get Stormy and Gessler. They meet up with the Bonehunters.

Icarium is now a ghost and haunting a group of people who have found an abandoned Sky Keep. They begin to awaken the Keep, which was created just to destroy the short-tailed K’Chain, the Narruk.

The Narruk, who have a dozen skykeeps from another realm, invade the world of Malaz and end up in the Wastes. It is up to the Bonehunters and everyone else in the area to destroy them. But without the help of the T’lan Imass, the outcome is in doubt.

There is a huge devastating battle at the end and whole armies are destroyed. We don’t know who survives.

 

My Thoughts:

Before I started writing this review, I went and read my original one from 2010, just to see if my perspective on this book had changed. A lot of the time the years give me a new viewpoint and something I used to like I no longer do or something I hated I now enjoy. Unfortunately, the review from 2010 is pretty much exactly the same as what I’ll be writing here.

With this book Erikson has cemented in my mind that he is a real bag of crap. Out of 950 pages, the plot is only forwarded by maybe 200 of those pages. The rest is devoted Erikson spewing out depressing cant and nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. When somebody does do something good and heroic, Erikson makes sure to piss on it by having other characters destroy the moment with their own regrets and melancholy and depression. Any possible good thing Erikson squats over and craps on with a diarrhea quality.

This is a junk book and once again, while the series starts out so awesomely with Gardens of the Moon, it has descended into a morass of soapbox preaching and what’s worse, extremely BORING soapbox preaching. I no longer recommend this series because of the last 3 books.

This is the level of bloviated writing that destroyed the sales of his Karkanas trilogy (which is stuck at book 2 and looks like it will never get finished). Thankfully, Ian Esslemont seems to be doing a good job of actually writing a real trilogy with a real plot and keeping the world of Malaz alive. I do plan on reading the last book in this series but after that, I’ll just stick to Gardens of the Moon if I ever feel the need to dip my toes into the world of Malaz. It just isn’t fun sticking my head under this faucet of filth.

★☆☆☆½

 

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