Waylander (Drenai Saga #3) ★★★☆☆

waylander (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: Waylander
Series: Drenai Saga #3
Author: David Gemmel
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 321
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Drenai Empire, forged by an Iron King, is now under the hand of his son. Said son is soft and would rather play at court than make the hard decisions that a King must. The Vagraim have invaded though, just after the King disbanded the Drenai army. The Vagraim hire an assassin who kills the king thus depriving the country of one leader to rally around.

The assassin, Waylander, goes to collect his money but is double crossed. In retaliation he kills the son of the Vagraim’s most important general. The Vagraim General, Kaem, sends the dark brotherhood after Waylander. At the same time various Drenai forces are after Waylander as well once Kaem releases the fact that Waylander assassinated the king.

Waylander rescues a priest and then a young woman and several children. He is also sent on a mission to find the Armor of Bronze to give to one of the Drenai generals so that said General will become a rallying point. The priest becomes the First of the 30 and Waylander finds the armor. He gets it into the hands of the young woman he rescued and she gets it to the General.

The Vagraim are shattered and Waylander fades into obscurity.

 

My Thoughts:

This takes place before Legend and is how the Duke of Brass came into being (the Duke of Brass being the General that the armor was delivered to).

Waylander was supposed to be this soulless mercenary but right off the bat he doesn’t act like and he and everyone who knows him comments on it. In fact, this book is filled with people suddenly not acting like themselves. There is a lot of pseudo-philosophy talk about the Source and Gemmell even goes so far as to introduce an agent of Chaos that goes by the name Son of the Morning Star, the Arch Deceiver. But all the talk boils down to “I’m the center of the Universe and I have to decide what is right and what is wrong”. If you’ve never thought about some of the issues raised, then this might appear to be brilliant stuff but once you’ve done a bit of research into the real philosophy you’ll realize how shallow this actually is.

Gemmell definitely has a thing for writing about sieges and multi-walled cities. That idea played a big part here as it has in the previous 2 books.

It has been cemented in my brain now that I would have liked this a lot more 10-15 years ago, even 25. But the time for this series and this author has pretty much passed for me. I’ve read enough fantasy that was almost exactly like this that I don’t need to read more like this. I “can” read more like this, but there is no need.

I’m going to read the next book and if my feelings are exactly the same as this I’ll probably be done with Gemmell. Not bad, just no longer good enough for me.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Hyena and the Hawk (Echoes of the Fall #3) ★★☆☆☆

hyenaandhawk (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 Hyena and the Hawk
Series: Echoes of the Fall #3
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 465
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The End of the World has arrived. The Kinden are soulless and whereever they go, they bring that soullessness with them and force The People into their animal shapes and into their animal minds forever.

The People, under the leadership of one of the Bears and with the help of the River Kingdom, prepares a mighty army to resist the Kinden. However, whenever they come into battle, too many of The People are lost by the affects of the Kinden.

Maniye gets captured and realizes that the Kinden can’t transform and know nothing about “the soul”. They watch her as she transforms from wolf to tiger to Champion to human. Beatle researchers are intrigued and one of them tries to transform and dies. Maniye escapes.

There is a big climactic battle and Maniye and some others chase after their gods (who have run away) in the godsland. In the process they allow the gods of the Kinden into their land. Suddenly the Kinden are transforming left and right with no control. They retreat.

Everyone celebrates and prepares for the day when the Kinden return.

 

My Thoughts:

What a disappointment. This is the first book of Tchaikovsky’s that I was disappointed in because I didn’t care one way or another about the characters, the story or anything. If this had been almost any other author I probably would have DNF’d the book.

The whole soul thingy was cool in the first book but then when it kept on going with the Kinden it just started rubbing me the wrong way.

Then the whole “gods” thing pissed me off too. I am sick to death of “gods” being nothing more than some manifestation of the believers will. That isn’t a god. And if the gods were running away from the kinden, good riddance I say. So when the kinden gods suddenly came into being, I rolled my eyes, mentally spit on Tchaikovsky and raced to the very end just to get it over with.

This has really shaken my interest in anything by Tchaikovsky that isn’t directly related to his Shadows of the Apt series. Thankfully I’ve got 4 or 5 books of short stories about them to wash the taste of this dreck out of my mouth.

Highly NOT recommended.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings Prequel) ★★★★★

hobbit (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 Hobbit
Series: The Lord of the Rings Prequel
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 235
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. Who ends up with a wizard and 13 dwarves for dinner. And somehow gets finagled into going on an adventure to recover the dwarves lost treasure, that is guarded by the dragon Smaug.

Along the way Bilbo meets elves, runs away from goblins, plays a riddle game in the dark with Gollum for his life, finds a ring of invisibility, flies on eagles’ wings, fights giant spiders and is almost eaten by 3 trolls.

Eventually he and the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain and Laketown. They rouse the dragon and Bard of Laketown kills Smaug and then elves, humans and dwarves prepare to fight over the treasure. Until a huge goblin army shows up and everybody fights them. The good guys win, the treasure is shared and Bilbo returns home a better, wiser and more eccentric hobbit than ever.

 

My Thoughts:

What a book. I’ve read this enough times that nothing is a surprise. And yet… I am still in awe at how Tolkien weaves such a children’s tale so as to keep me intrigued, for the umpteenth time.

What do I say? A simple tale of adventure that is the prequel to one of the worlds most renowned fantasy series? A tale of bravery, generosity and kindness overcoming perils, greed and hatred? A stout heart being greater than a dragon? I just don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of this just like I have all the previous times and I don’t have any issues with it.

Well, except maybe all the singing. I wouldn’t have minded if there hadn’t been any singing. In regards to the singing though, the only thing I can say positively about the horrific movie trilogy is that the song by the dwarves in Bilbo’s house is absolutely haunting and enchanting. Who knows how long this link will exist, but here’s a youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ymgFyzbDo

If only the Silmarillion had been this interesting. Well, at least I’ve got the rest of the Trilogy to look forward too!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Target Rich Environment (TRE #1) ★★★★★

targetrichenvironment (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: Target Rich Environment
Series: TRE #1
Author: Larry Correia
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Short Story Collection
Pages: 359
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of many of Correia’s short stories that have only been published in magazines throughout the years. 2 Audible Exclusives were also turned into text, one taking place in the Grimnoir Universe and one about an Interdimensional Insurance Agent.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a rollicking good time. I was reading along, having a blast, figuring I’d give it 4 stars and then I read the final piece about Tom Stranger the Interdimensional Insurance Agent and this rocketed up to a 5 Star lickety-split! The humor in Tom Stranger might not appeal to everyone but it was certainly right up my alley.

I’d read a couple of these before, namely Tanya, Princess of the Elves that takes place in the MHI universe and is about how Tanya and Edward the Urk meet. Just as good the second time around. There were 2 Grimnoir Chronicles stories, one a prequel, Christmas in Detroit and a sequel, Murder on the Orient Elite. Jake Sullivan is a fantastic protagonist as he’s smart, capable and not just a Gary Stu.

The rest of the new stuff was a lot of fun to read too. Several of the stories took place in pre-existing franchise universes (mainly games) and while good, didn’t stand out to me. The one that really did stand out was a Cthulhu horror’esque story about a planet where humanity accidentally awakens an old one of that world which ripples out and the story ends with the Old One on Earth beginning to stir, so you know Humanity is DOOMED! If you’ve ever read much Lovecraft, this story would have fit in perfectly.

I don’t know what else to say. I never review each story in a collection, as that would make a review of a short story collection about 10,000 words and that would kill any joy for me. I am giving this the “Best Book of the Year” tag not for any richness or deep insights but because it kicked ass in every single story and I had so much fun reading it. After the debacle of Valor, this was needed to restore my faith in authors as a whole. If you ever do read this, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Highly Recommended

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Changeling Sea ★★★★☆

changelingsea (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 Changeling Sea
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 142
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Peri’s father went to sea in his rowboat and only his boat returned. Her mother has retreated inside herself and Peri is angry at life itself. She leaves her mother’s house and lives in a shack by the sea where an old woman taught her the fine art of hexing. Peri creates as many hexes as she can think of and one day throws them all into the sea and hexes the sea for stealing her father.

The King of the Island and his son Kir come into their summer residence and Peri meets Kir one night on the beach. He confesses that he has found out he is a changeling and part sea creature. He desires to go to the sea but can’t find the way. Peri is interested against her will. Then a monstrous sea creature is seen with a golden chain around its neck. The villagers hire a magician, Lyo, to tame the sea monster and take the golden chain for them. Lyo gets Peri to help him and accidentally turns the golden chain into a rain of periwinkle flowers. Nobody is very happy with Lyo, who disappears.

The next night Peri is at her shack when she sees the sea monster approaching the shore. It comes onto the shore and turns into a young man, very like Kir in appearance but golden where Kir is dark. This young man can only repeat words he has heard and so Peri begins to teach him words. But each night before the sun rises this golden prince returns to the sea and his monstrous form. Peri is bewildered and Lyo reveals himself to her. They figure out that the golden boy is the prince by the King’s dead wife who was taken by the Queen of the Sea, who was the lover of the King. She substituted her own son, Kir. Now each son is yearning to return to their native element but neither can figure out how.

Peri, with help from Lyo, solves the mystery. Her hex worked and it was so powerful that it hexed the whole sea. Peri unhexes the sea and that allows them to commune with the Sea Queen and Kir can return to the sea while the golden prince can return to the land. Peri realizes how powerful she is and Lyo says he’ll stick around to help her out.

 

My Thoughts:

Very enjoyable, very short and one of the most “romance’y” of McKillip’s books. While not Harlequin Romance or even most Paranormal Romance level, this was on the edge of what I’d be willing to read. That is about the only caveat I have for this book.

The shortness of this book really struck me this time. I started it one evening during the week and I was done the next night. It was kind of nice actually. I felt like I had gotten a small personal pan pizza instead of some huge buffet. Just enough to get a good taste but not enough to satiate or make you sick of it. Gluttony of words by authors is as much a sin, as far as I’m concerned, as is actual gluttony.

This lacked something, a richness I guess, that I’m used to in McKillip’s writing and that is why I’m only giving it 4 stars. Still, that is a Star upgrade from 2007. If you like McKillip’s other books, you’ll like this. Whether you’ll like it more, less or the same as her other books will depend on your personal tastes.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Valor (The Faithful and the Fallen #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@10%

valor (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: Valor
Series: The Faithful and the Fallen #2
Author: John Gwynne
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 680 /DNF@10%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

DNF’s don’t get a synopsis. They are crap and have forfeited the right to any effort on my part that might in any way convince someone else to try them. In fact, I consider it my Civic Duty to NOT do any sort of synopsis for a DNF book and view it as akin to shooting a Communist.

TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY!!!

 

My Thoughts:

Ok, I got it out of my system. I’m ok now, honest.

However, 94 characters, 120 chapters and 120 point of view changes majorly contributed to my continued blaseness about this book, this series and this author.

I simply didn’t care. This, and Malice too, had all the earmarks of an Epic Fantasy that I would eat up with a spoon. But I didn’t. It wasn’t even hate this time but just a complete and utter appalling cloud of apathy.

I won’t be reading any more by this author. He just pushes my buttons wrong for some reason.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Knight of the Black Rose (Ravenloft #2) ★★★☆☆

knightoftheblackrose (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: Knight of the Black Rose
Series: Ravenloft #2
Author: James Lowder
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 324
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Lord Soth was the highest in the Order of the White Rose. He was brave, virtuous, courageous and was a paragon. Until he committed adultery with an elf maid, had his first wife killed and then in a paroxysm of jealous rage burned his castle down killing his elven wife and new born son. For hundreds of years Soth wandered the land of Krynn as the Black Knight, a cursed, powerful, undead being in the service of the dark goddess. Soth met a beautiful general and even though she died, Soth plotted to bring her back. His plans went awry when he and his seneschal were sucked into the alternate realm of Ravenloft.

Told of a portal that will let him escape, Soth attacks Count Strahd’s enemy, a vampire duke of another portion of Ravenloft. Surviving all attacks, Soth survives only to find the portal is a fake. It leads nowhere. He heads off into the mists to force his way out. The dark gods of Ravenloft present him with a choice, renounce his pride and return to Krynn once again as a warrior of Light, or hold on to his damnable pride and be the owner of the Red Rose, a new portion of Ravenloft. Soth damns himself and vows vengeance against one and all.

 

My Thoughts:

I had read a Forgotten Realms book by Lowder a while ago, the Ring of Winter and it did not impress me. Therefore I lowered my expectations, already pretty low from the first book, and I made the right choice.

The first book was about a noble sun-elf turned vampire but he was still a good guy fighting against Strahd’s machinations. In this book we have someone even worse than Strahd and I was hoping to see some anti-hero action from Strahd. Vampire versus Undead Power Knight. A clash of Dark Titans, powerful destructive magic unleashed across the land. Nope. Strahd is a manipulator and he doesn’t change. He gets Soth to do some dirty work for him instead of clashing with him.

Soth wasn’t bad for a villain. He’s powerful, motivated by pride, hate and lust and yet has never forgotten his origins as a Knight of the White Rose. Unfortunately, he’s also as flat as a pancake. He had a few instances to shine darkly but his power was wasted. I don’t know if I hope he returns as a nemesis to Strahd or not.

Considering that Ravenloft seems to grow at the whim of the unnamed dark gods’ whims, I have this feeling Ravenloft will soon be full up of ultra-powerful badguys, who do nothing. Somebody powerful needs to die and they need to die spectacularly. Killing off gypsies just doesn’t cut it.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)