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

 

 

 

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

 

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld ★★★★☆

forgottenbeasts (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 Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 242
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sybel is the grand-daughter or great grand-daughter of a nameless mage. She has inherited the power to control things by naming them. She has no bigger ambition than to call the Lyralen.

Until one day a knight drops off a baby boy in her lap and rides away. As the boy grows, Sybel’s heart grows and she comes to love Tamlorn as her own. But Tamlorn is the son of a king and the king, one Drede, comes looking for him. Tamlorn was given to Sybel by Drede’s enemies, the house of Sirle. Once Tam realizes he has a father, he goes to live with him and Sybel tells Drede that she has no interest in the war between him and Sirle.

Then the knight comes back, one Coren. He wins Sybel’s heart and manages to give up his hate of Drede and all that he has done. Drede, afraid of Sybel’s power and not believing she won’t use it against him, buys the service of another wizard who will take Sybel’s name, break her will and make her a willing, loving puppet for Drede to marry. Sybel escapes and tells Coren’s brothers that she will use her power for them against Drede, wthout telling Coren what happened to her or why she is suddenly fighting against Drede.

In a fit of remorse, Sybel frees all her magical animals who were to lead the attack against Drede and she flees back to her home in the mountains, convinced that Coren can no longer love her and that Tam can no longer love her since she orchestrated the attack on his father Drede.

It ends with things not turning out at all like Sybel imagined, as her animals do their thing and Tamlorn becomes king without bloodshed. She and Corin are re-united and he teaches her the lesson of love.

 

My Thoughts:

This was the first McKillip book that I would say had a real edge to it, some bite. It takes some uncomfortable subject matters and deals with them specifically but non-graphically.

Sybel’s forebearers all took their mates by force. They used the power of naming to call and control them. Sybel gets a taste of this very thing when the wizard takes control of her. It wasn’t just attempted, or in the case of her ancestors, actual, rape, but also the complete loss of self within the mind. It was the rape of body AND mind and McKillip doesn’t shy away from showing how it affects people.

She then goes on to show how Sybel reacts in some really bad ways, such as erasing her husband Corin’s memories of what he sees when he catches her plotting with his brothers for war. She violates him just like she was violated and it destroys her inside. So much that she tries to lose herself at the end of the book by calling the Lyralen.

And yet, at the very end when Corin AND Tam come to her and show her the power of real love, it redeems it all. I think that was what this book was all about. Just how strong love is and just what it can conquer.

I love a Love Conquers All story and this was that in spades.

When I read this back in ’07, looking at my rating and review, I can tell I wasn’t really impressed back then. But a decade more of life experience, being married and some down and dirty church politics has shown me that yes, Love is the be all and end all. Being a Christian helps narrow down what Love actually is and I’m even more convinced today than I was 10 years ago of just how much God loves His creation.

I’ll end this like I began it. This has an edge and a bite that most of McKillip’s other books don’t. If it bothers you, try some of her others. If you like it, don’t expect it to be there.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

The Sea Watch (Shadows of the Apt #6) ★★★★★

seawatch (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 Sea Watch
Series: Shadows of the Apt #6
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 720
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The city of Collegium is trying to catch it’s collective breath since the cease-fire agreement with the Wasp Empire has gone into affect. Stenwold Maker continues his job as an embassador and is trying to get 2 more Ant Cities to at least become trading partners with Collegium.

Of course, the Wasp Empire has it’s own agents in the city and they are doing what they can to undermine Collegium for when the Empire resumes it war footing.

At the same time, it is revealed that the Spider Family Aldenrael, which pretty much rescued Collegium during the last war with Vek, has been preying on Collegium ships and playing pirate. When one of those “pirates” is killed and turns out to be a minor Aldenrael member, the entire Spider Nation goes on the warpath and prepares an armada to take over Collegium.

Since that’s obviously not enough, it turns out that there is an entire underwater culture of Kinden, which wants to invade and take over Collegium as well. Stenwold is kidnapped by these kinden while dealing with the other 2 issues (Wasps and Spiders) and gets sucked into another whole world. He must survive, escape and somehow broker a peace deal with these Sea Kinden. To seal the deal, he must find the lost ruler who is now a young man.

Neither the Empire nor the Spiders want peace, so treachery continues to abound and things look really bad for Collegium. Until Stenwold finds the heir, brokers a deal with the Sea Kinden, sinks a whole bunch of Spider ships and wipes out a nest of Rekef Inlanders (Wasp agents) in Collegium.

Now it’s back to business as usual with the Wasp Empire being the main threat.

 

My Thoughts:

My Review for This from back in 2011 still stands true as all get out.

This was the perfect way to end my reading year, on a very good note. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and since it’s been 6 years, enough things were dulled that it wasn’t a slog. In many ways, this re-read made me appreciate Tchaikovsky’s writing skills even more. I liked this book. I begrudged my time away from it and made the most of when I was reading it. I read the final 30% this afternoon in one sitting.

To see Stenwold having almost everything taken from him (Che’s not returning from Khanaphes, Arianna’s demise, Teornis’s betrayal, Sten’s capture and imprisonment under the sea) and not have it break him? I thought Tchaikovsky did a fantastic job of creating Sten and turning him into someone I want to cheer on and hope that things work out for. He was a true Hero, even if deliberately not cast into the Warrior Knight mold.

It was also nice to simply have the focus be on one character. Stenwold is our point of view for the whole book and everything is through him and revolves around him. It made for a nice linear read. It also wasn’t a puzzle with trying to fit 5 different storylines together. Sometimes I like complexity but other times I just want something straight forward. Tchaikovsky gave me that in spades with this.

When I bought this series in trade paperback (I’m going to try to do a shelfie of just these 10 books for the last book) I almost immediately had buyers regret as I wasn’t sure I was going to like them enough to read them again. Well, this re-read has grabbed those regrets and tossed them into the Marianna Trench. These have been BETTER this second time around and I’m already looking forward to another go in 10 years or so even while I’m not finished this first Re-read!

★★★★★

bookstooge