The Night Parade (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4) ★☆☆☆ ½

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Night Parade
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4
Author: Scott Ciencin
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 310
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Myrmeen, ruler of a successful city, is approached by her ex-husband. He tells her that their only child never died but that he instead sold the baby girl into slavery to pay off his debts. After lopping off her ex’s head, Myrmeen calls together some of her former compatriots, who are all Harpers.

Their research leads them to the conclusion that every so many years a hideous group of supernatural beings kidnaps children for nefarious purposes and said group is known as the Night Parade. The group finds Krystin, Myrmeen’s daughter but in their rush to leave the city, things happen, people die and the Night Parade is no longer content to let them be.

The Myrmeen and Co group meet up with a vigilante who has a magical item that he uses to kill the Night Parade. They all start hunting down the badguys, For The Children, and the Night Parade hits back, hard. Harpers die left and right, betrayals happen even after death and hardly anybody is who they say they are.

Krystin was a plant to lure in Myrmeen, the Night Parade are barren creatures from another realm that they can’t return to and through the Power of Luv, Myrmeen and Krystin rack up a serious body count of all their friends and tear away the shadow hiding the Night Parade. The Night Parade is prevented from ever recruiting more members and Myrmeen finds out that her biological daughter is being raised in a neighboring kingdom as a Poet Princess. Myrmeen lets her go and sets off on living life with Krystin as her stand-in daughter.

 

My Thoughts:

Wow! And here I thought Red Magic bad. This is the kind of Forgotten Realms book that gives the series its b-class, sub-standard, fantasy is crap, kind of reputation.

I suspect that Ciencin was told to write for horny 13 year old boys, as there were lots of descriptions of generic cleavage and legs and beauty and desire and crap. Sadly, the rest of the writing I’m not sure that even a 13 year old boy would put up with. Maybe?

Myrmeen. Where do I even start? She doesn’t think, she reacts at all the wrong times, she doesn’t consider anyone else but herself and then the eyerolling, gag inducing saccharin sweetness of her desire to be a mom. It was done wrong and it was done lazily and it was done stupidly. It doesn’t help that she seems to be attracted to every male she comes into contact with and that every single one of them dies. Seriously, she’s worse than a black widow.

The only reason I’m not complaining about the other characters is because except for Krystin, they ALL die. That’s just laziness to me. Don’t know how to handle someone’s future? Easy, kill them off. Don’t know how to engage your readers on a gut level? Easy, kill off a trusted companion. Don’t know how to even write effectively? Easy, kill somebody.

If you stuck a gun to my head and forced me to answer the question, which was worse, this book or Bloodwalk I would be really hard pressed to know what to say. I have had a recent string of bad books in the Forgotten Realms and I have to wonder when it is going to end. This Harpers series is on life support and it’ll only take 1 more stinker to sink the ship. I just hate wasting my time on trash.

While I rated this 1/2star higher than Bloodwalk, I am giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as its Mother/Daughter thing was so badly done that I felt nauseous. Bravo! And it turns out that this is the FIRST book to ever have that dubious honor. Double Bravo!!

★☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. Red Magic (Book 3)
  2. Elfshadow (Book 2)
  3. The Parched Sea (Book 1)
  4. The Wizards series
  5. Threat from the Sea trilogy
  6. Return of the Archwizards trilogy

 

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Bane of Malekith (Warhammer: Tyrion & Teclis #3) ★☆☆☆ ½ DNF@27%

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Bane of Malekith
Series: Warhammer: Tyrion & Teclis #3
Author: William King
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

DNF @ 27%

 

My Thoughts:

Nothing was happening. I was not in the mood for some b-quality fantasy book to give me a modicum of entertainment. This was no worse than the previous 2 books but that is damning praise. It was like eating spaghetti but without any sauce or meatballs or spices.

I am really not having good luck with the Warhammer universe. Savageddt has suggested I try some Gotrek and Felix. My only reservation is that those books appear to also be written by William King and I’d really like to try someone else. Guess I’ll be spending some time this weekend checking some other Warhammer series out.

★☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. Sword of Caledor (Book 2)
  2. Blood of Aenarion (Book 1)

The Fire in His Hands (The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1) ★★★☆ ½

firehands (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Fire in His Hands
Series: The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 212
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Micah * insert really long family moniker that nobody cares about * is visited by an “Angel” riding a winged horse carrying a cornucopiea. Micah changes his name to El Murid and begins proselytizing all the tribes that have fallen away from the True Faith. This of course sets him on a collision course with the powers that be. He marries a girl and her brother becomes his general. The powers that be don’t take him seriously and so things progress to the point where the whole area is torn apart.

The powers that be end up hiring mercenaries. In one of those mercenary troops is a guy named Braki Ragnarson. We met him in the previous trilogy. We find out how he left his land and joined the mercenaries.

More fighting, El Murid appears to have won the day and Haroun, a younger son, inherits the Crown and begins a guerilla warfare to take back the kindgom.

 

My Thoughts:

El Murid and Haroun were both mentioned in the previous trilogy but weren’t a big part. So I wasn’t sure how to place them at first. But with the introduction of Ragnarson, it all clicked. This A Fortress in Shadow sub-series is a prequel to A Cruel Wind trilogy. What confused me right off was that there didn’t appear to be anything to do with the Dread Empire. I am wondering if perhaps the Dread Empire is the empire that fell hundreds of years ago and not the Eastern Empire we are introduced to in A Cruel Wind. But that contradicts everything I know from those books. Whatever.

I knew things were going to be bad once that blasted Star Rider gave Micah a mission. That guy is bad news and I hate him even more now. What an illegitimate offspring of a donkey’s backside!

The overall story took years and we’d skip years or months inbetween paragraphs. It wasn’t always clear that time had elapsed or it felt very rough. I just held on for the ride. This was as much political machinations and maneuvering between factions as it was about actual battles.

The story ends with Haroun taking up the Invisible Crown and becoming the King without a Kingdom that we know. We actually are introduced to his son in the A Cruel Wind series so we already know that Haroun has a lifetime of fighting ahead of him with no success. Not sure how the next book, or two, will deal with that. I don’t actually know how many books are in the A Fortress in Shadow series. I just don’t care enough to go look for it. 

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. All Darkness Met (Book 3)
  2. October’s Baby (Book 2)
  3. A Shadow of All Night Falling (Book 1)

 

Dancer’s Lament (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1) ★★★★ ½

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dancer’s Lament
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Before there was Cotillion and Kellanved, there was Dorin Rav and Wu. Taking place in the city of Li Heng, this is the story of how they became partners.

The plot of the book, however, is how the city of Li Heng survived a besiegement by a jumped up king who thought he was somebody. The 4 mages of the city, under the direction of the Protectress (a tiste liosan) end up confining Ryllandaras, the man-jackal in a magical prison. The Itko Kan’ians, the besiegers, have the help of a Jaghut and it takes the Protectress unleasing the full might of her Warren of Light to drive back the besiegers.

Wu, and Dorin, have plans to take over the city during the turmoil but they simply aren’t strong enough and end up being exiled from the city. But now they are partners and can begin working together.

 

My Thoughts:

Finally. A Malazan book that I can simply sit down and read straight through and enjoy fully without feeling like I’m juggling 3 different 5000 piece puzzles all mixed together. You have no idea how much that upped my enjoyment of this book.

I think Esslemont showed his true colors with this book. He is a good standard fantasy writing kind of guy. His Malazan Empire novels felt very much like he was trying to copy Steven Erikson’s style and it just didn’t work for me. But this? Besides Gardens of the Moon, this was the most enjoyable Malazan book that I’ve read. Now I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

In the Malazan books, Cotillion/Dancer and Kellanved were shadow’y characters doing things behind the scenes and never being fully fleshed out. Even when they were supposed to be main characters, they were actually hiding and felt like side characters. This time, they were simply people. It was refreshing.

There were lots of hints and little asides from other Malazan characters, so if you’re one of the Book of the Fallen fanboys who who loves unlocking a ton of meaning from 2 sentence fragments, you’ll still have something to chew on with this book. The rest of us can simply sit back and enjoy the story.

In Esslemont’s The Return of the Crimson Guard the malazan army unleashed Ryllandaras and in this book we see how, and why, he was confined. It was nice to make a clear cut connection between one book and the other instead of having to guess and speculate and turn my brain into 77 pretzels to make my pet theory fit.

Another aspect of this that I enjoyed was the lack of Existential Despair philosophy. Everybody was NOT whining about how meaningless their lives were. In fact, they acted like real people and didn’t even think about that. Dorin and Wu had to survive, plan how to take over a newly discovered Warren of Shadow and see if they could take over the city. Not much time to sit on their fat asses and complain about how hard they have it (unlike almost every Steven Erikson character. Man, that guy has his characters doing more talking than doing, in the middle of freaking battles for goodness sake!!!).

To end, I really enjoyed this book. A lot. In fact, I plan on buying it in hardcover, I enjoyed it so much. How don’t know how much more of an endorsement I can give a book. * grin *

★★★★ ½

 

bookstooge

Stonewielder (Malazan Empire #3) ★★★☆ ½

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Stonewielder
Series: Malazan Empire #3
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 638
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Emperor Mallick sends another army and navy to take over Korel, where all previous attempts have failed. Not only that, but the one time a Malazan army DID make it through, they cut off ties and setup their own little kingdom. Time for the Emperor to remind them that they’re still his subjects. Almost all green troops bolstered by a navy of Blue Moranth. Facing them are veterans and turncoats and a whole contingent of Black Moranth.

Kyle and Greymane, trying to live life as teachers at a dueling school, aren’t doing quite so well. Greymane gets drafted by the Emperor to lead the invasion. I’m still not sure how the Emperor convinced a former Crimson Guardsman to do that! Kyle’s along for the ride as an Adjunct.

Lord Hiam is protecting the Wall that borders the sea and Korel. He and his special guards fight year after year for The Lady, throwing back the annual attacks by the Stormriders, magical sea people. For years they have used unwilling prisoners as well. This year, unbeknownst to them, they have some captive Crimson Guard. Understaffed, the Wall in desperate need of repair and the Lady’s Favor apparently turning against her own Chosen, Hiam has only his faith to sustain him and with the revelations about the Lady at the end, even that will shatter.

The Cult of the Lady is trying to wipe out all other religions in Korel. The Lady thrives on blood sacrifice and it is by that power that she can hold back the power of the Stormriders. She also negates all magic associated with the Warrens, so Malazan magicians are almost useless. In response, all the poor people of the land unite under a mystical prophet who quickly dies and passes on his legacy to some Arena Champion who has vowed to never kill again.

Politics and religion each using the other to further their own agenda.

And some little side thing with Kiska, from Night of Knives, looking for Tayschrenn, who has been sucked into some sort of vortex’y thing’y.

 

My Thoughts:

I had waited to read the Malazan Empire novels until after I’d finished the Malazan Book of the Fallen. So when I was reading these and their lack of pages of banal philosophizing, which I got in spades in the last 3 Books of the Fallen, I was overjoyed. So much action, so much story actually moving forward.

This time around, I wasn’t quite as enthused. My main complaint is that there are just too many story lines going on. Not storylines that all come together in the end, but that are multibook. My other complaint was HOW the stories were broken up. Sometimes you’d get pages and pages and pages. Then would come a 2 paragraph insert. Then on over to a 3rd storyline, etc, etc. And as far as I could tell, there was no repetitive order to them to help you remember. It felt like a jumble all thrown together.

The action was pretty good. I liked that.

With all of that, I’m definitely going to be reading Esslemon’t latest, Dancer’s Lament, before I read anymore of the Malazan Empire novels. If I don’t like it, then I won’t feel guilty about stopping these as well.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. Stonewielder (2011 Review)
  2. Return of the Crimson Guard (Book 2)
  3. Night of Knives (Book 1)

House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen #4) ★★★★☆

houseofchains (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: House of Chains
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #4
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1044
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Plot Line One:

Karsa Orlong, a young Teblor, sets out on an adventure with 2 of his friends. They discover out in the wide world that the Teblor are enslaved and an insular people. Karsa vows to become the warleader his people needs, even if he has to fight each and every Teblor. Along the way he gets involved with Leoman of the Flails and becomes Shaik’s bodyguard. Read Deadhouse Gates to see how that turns out. At the same time, the Teblor gods reveal themselves to Karsa and he bursts the bonds holding his people enthralled. Karsa’s plotline ends with him becoming the Knight of the House of Chains and everyone who knows him saying that the Broken god will regret doing so.

Plot Line Two:

Adjunct Tavore sets out with a green army to subdue Shaik’s Rebellion, not knowing that Shaik is now her younger sister Felisin. The green army has a handful of seasoned warriors, one of which is Fiddler, who is now going by the name Strings. Shaik the goddess is trying to control some bit of magic and in the process control the desert Raraku. The desert rebels and lots of ghosts rise up and destroy Shaik’s army. Tavore’s army does a tiny bit of fighting, but more mop up than anything. Tavore kills Shaik in single combat, never realizing it was her sister Felisin.

Plot Line Three through Fifteen: (actually not kidding, really)

Tisten Liosan, white skinned bastards, are looking for their god Osric/Osserc/etc. They get they’re butts handed to them on several occasions and decide to go home.

Various Imass do various things, like chasing after renegades, fighting with Liosan’s and defending the true Shadow Throne.

Cutter and Apsalar take service with Cotillion and end up going their own separate ways because they love each other too much to hurt the other with the duties they have to perform.

Lots of other stuff that had no immediate import and might not have any at all. Impossible to tell.

 

My Thoughts:

I am at the point where I am disgusted at Erikson’s choice of storytelling mode. He is fragmenting his overall storyline just because he can. I can’t assign a real motive to this mode of telling, so I’m going to call him out for just being a jerkwad.

Each successive book that I go into this Malazan re-read it gets harder and harder to overlook how deliberately obfuscated Erikson makes his story. A good story will only go so far and he’s fast approaching that breaking point where I give up in disgust. When I was originally reading this back in ’10, it was at this book that I basically gave up trying to keep track of what was going on for a synopsis because the story fragmentation really started to spread here. I am no longer seeing this approach as a positive thing like I originally did.

This was an engaging story and that is the only thing going for it. Part of that was because the first 23% of the book dealt strictly with Karsa Orlong and getting him from when he was a wee young lad of 100 or so to where we met him in Deadhouse Gates. He’s not a particularly bright or likable fellow but at least I was able to follow one complete story narrative for a long period of time.

I was having a hard time giving a crap about some of the storylines because they were such small fragments of the overall book. How do they tie in? You mean I have to wait for 3 more books to find out? No thank you.

The philosophizing got a little ridiculous. Felisin the younger, an adopted waif by Felisin, is kidnapped by one Felisin’s major allies, a twisted wizard. He destroys her. Sexually, emotionally, psychology. And when she gets rescued and is secretly recovering, she waxes loquacious on the subject of how her mother needs the wizard and so her rescuer’s vengeance needs to be put on hold. And she is 14. I just about threw my kindle on the couch at that. Girls who are raped and tortured don’t calmly discuss why their attackers are justified or how the greater needs of a geographical area outweight their own personal needs.

My main issue now is when does the story no longer outweight the twin sins of soapbox preaching and story fragmentation? I am going to do my best to read the whole series, but will definitely be noting the point where the balance finally does tip.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

  1. House of Chains (2010 Review)
  2. Memories of Ice (Book 3)
  3. Deadhouse Gates (Book 2)
  4. Gardens of the Moon (Book 1)

Hand of Mars (Starship’s Mage #2) (★★★★☆)

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Hand of Mars
Series: Starship’s Mage #2
Author: Glynn Stewart
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 279
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Damien is sent to a planet, as an Envoy under the tutelage of a full Hand. They are ostensibly looking into terrorist activity but in reality are on planet to arrest the governor who is corrupt as they come. What the Hand nor Damien realize is that the Martian Navy personnel have been co-opted by the governor as well.

This all leads to the death of the Hand, the destruction of her ship and crew and Damien on the run in a hostile world where his only allies are the “terrorists” he was publicly investigating. He has to survive the governer and his forces, the Martian navy and it’s corrupt Captain and the rebels.

Making an alliance with the rebels, Damien gets off a message to the King, who sends out a force of sufficient size to handle the rogue Navy. Damien must take care of the governer and his forces so that the arriving Navy, with its marines, don’t have to invade the planet. Things get complicated when one of the governer’s loyal generals has nukes planted under 7 of the major cities and threatens to blow them all up if the Martian Navy doesn’t leave.

Damien “does magic” and things get all straightened out.

Dang. I was hoping to “play a game of Thermonuclear War”. That Broderick was a pansy and I would have shown him up by WINNING the game I played!

 

My Thoughts:

I actually enjoyed this more than the first book, mainly because this was one single novel instead of 4-6 “episodes”. However, I kept it at the same rating because Damien has power jumped so high, so fast that the suspense wasn’t really there.

I am really enjoying this mix of magic and technology. Stewart has combined them in a way that doesn’t annoy me or set my teeth on edge. It is also just fun. The story is full of fighting and trials and battles.

There really isn’t much else to say. I enjoyed this, it was fun and Damien is a bit too powerful.

And speaking of too powerful, now I’m off to read some Eyeshield 21 manga, ha!

0d75ded8-4c77-4295-9588-aa351c983dafI could have totally won that game!

 

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Starship’s Mage (Book 1)