New Spring (The Wheel of Time #0) ★★★★★


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: New Spring
Series: The Wheel of Time #0
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Words: 122.5K

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Kyria d’Oreyn

Lan’s point of view

The Aiel War is over and Lan rides north to the Blight with Bukama. In Canluum, Kandor, they meet Ryne, an old friend. He informs them that Edeyn Arrel, Lan’s carneira, intends to raise the banner of the Golden Crane of Malkier. Together they ride to Chachin, noticing someone following them. It turns out to be a woman, (Moiraine), who claims the right of a woman alone, and gives them the name of Lady Alys. Bukama pledges to escort her to Chachin. Lan doubts that this woman is who she claims she is. He believes that Edeyn sent her.

Once in Chachin, their ways part and the three men ride on to the Aesdaishar Palace, where Lan is received by Brys, Prince-Consort to Queen Ethenielle of Kandor. A few days later, Lady Alys appears again and wants Lan to spy on Merean Redhill, an Aes Sedai staying at the Palace. When he and Moiraine/Alys uncover a plot of Merean’s that involves killing Brys, his son Diryk and Edeyn’s daughter, Iselle, they rush to save the three innocent victims. Lan confronts and defeats Ryne in a duel. The next day, he rides out of the city. Moiraine rides up to him and asks him to be her Warder.

Moiraine’s point of view

In their time as Accepted, Moiraine and Siuan are present when Gitara Moroso speaks her Foretelling of the Dragon’s rebirth. Later, Tamra Ospenya, the Amyrlin Seat, decides to give out a bounty of one hundred gold marks to every woman who bore a child in the camps around Tar Valon during the last week of the Aiel War. This is actually a plan to find out who the Dragon Reborn might be. At first, Moiraine and Siuan ride out with the other Accepted to record names for the bounty, but the following day they are instead told to re-copy some of the less legible lists. This gives them the opportunity to create their own list, of babies that meet the description of the soon-to-be-Dragon. Moiraine is told by Tamra to take a letter to Kerene Nagashi, asking her to appear before the Amyrlin. Other sisters receive letters as well, which leads the young women to think that Tamra wants to send out searchers for the boychild. One after the other, those sisters leave Tar Valon, and one morning Tamra is announced dead.

After she and Siuan are raised to Aes Sedai, Moiraine leaves Tar Valon to search for the boychild herself. In Canluum, she meets Merean and Cadsuane. Siuan is also there, having left the Tower to tell Moiraine that Tamra’s searchers are all dead, possibly killed by the Black Ajah. Moiraine avoids Cadsuane, and after leaving Canluum, she follows three riders (Lan, Bukama and Ryne), who she believes may be Darkfriends. She claims the right of a woman alone to have an excuse to ride with them. On the way, she looks for the women from the list of possible mothers of the Dragon Reborn, but none of them is who she is searching for.

In Chachin, she meets Siuan again. Siuan has located Ines Demain, the next mother on their list, in the Aesdaishar Palace. When Moiraine hears that Lan is also there, she immediately wants to go back to her rooms to avoid running into him, but on her way there she meets Merean again. No longer sure who she can and cannot trust, and who is and is not Black Ajah, she decides to go to Lan and ask him and Bukama to spy on Merean. Later, after Lan accuses Moiraine of attempting to have him killed, not knowing that Merean was the one behind the attempt, Moiraine becomes certain that Merean is a Black sister. They run to confront her. Merean kills Brys and Diryk before Moiraine kills her. Moiraine tries to save Iselle, but fails. The following day, she rides out after Lan to ask him to become her Warder.

My Thoughts:

(This so-called Kyria d’Oreyn has written over 1000 articles at TarValon.net and the above summary is the best he can do? Torval would totally kick his sorry little summary butt! I’m only complaining because I don’t have to write any of it, hahahahaha!)

This was pretty close to a perfect book and I shall articulate why that is fact (and if you disagree, Lightning from Above Strike your degenerative head!).

* claps hands *

Now pay close attention, class.

First off, there are only two point of views here. One from Lan and one from Moiraine. None of this silly 57 eleventy pov’s like there are in some of the books. While the cast of characters is just as large as in some of the other WoT books, Jordan does an admirable job of simply telling 2 tales and how they intersect. At under 400 pages, this is tight and to the point. Jordan could have taken some lessons from himself and this book. But since he’s dead, my advice will never be followed. Oh, the tragedies I endure as I serenely hand out blessed wisdom left and right like water to parched souls.

Second. Moiraine isn’t a bitch. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t believe how Jordan portrayed her anger and impatience without making her a horrible, terrible, no-good person that I wanted to strangle (all those DO apply to Nynaeve by the way). Moiraine isn’t perfect, but I simply didn’t want to wrap my hands around her throat and throttle her to death. She was actually FUN to read about, you know, like a main character should be?

Third, the story has a definitive beginning and a definitive end. While it was speculated when this was released that it would be a trilogy (and I’m pretty sure Jordan himself lent credence to such rumors), nothing ever came of it and Sanderson expressed zero interest in doing such a project after finishing up the mammoth ending trilogy. Which makes the fact that this can stand on it’s own feet a VERY good thing.

On a side note, when I re-read this back in ’11 I noted that it shouldn’t be read before Book 8 (Path of Daggers I believe). I’m torn whether that was the right place or if where I read it this time (just after Book 5, the Fires of Heaven) was better. Honestly, I saw no reason not to read it at this point. Since I don’t ever plan on re-re-re-reading this series, I guess that particular issue will simply have to remain one of life’s ineffable mysteries 😉

★★★★★

Castle in the Air (World of Howl #2) ★★★★★

castleintheair (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: Castle in the Air
Series: World of Howl #2
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 176
Words: 67K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Castle in the Air follows the adventures of Abdullah, a handsome young carpet salesman from Zanzib, who daydreams constantly about being a stolen prince. One day a strange traveler comes to his stand to sell a magic carpet. During the night, Abdullah goes to sleep on the carpet but wakes up to find himself in a beautiful garden with a young woman. He tells the woman, Flower-in-the-Night, that he is the stolen prince of his daydreams, believing that he is in fact dreaming. Flower-in-the-Night, who has never seen a man other than her father, first believes that Abdullah is a woman, so Abdullah agrees to return the next night with portraits of many men so that she can make a proper comparison. He does so, and Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night decide to get married.

Abdullah returns the next night, but he arrives just as Flower-in-the-Night is snatched away by a huge flying djinn. Soon after, the Sultan of Zanzib captures Abdullah who then discovers that Flower is actually the Sultan’s daughter. Enraged that his daughter is missing, the Sultan blames Abdullah and throws him in jail, threatening to impale him on a 40-foot pole if his daughter is not found. Fortunately, Abdullah is saved by his magic carpet and escapes from Zanzib.

Abdullah ends up in the desert and stumbles upon a group of bandits, who have in their possession a particularly cranky genie who grants only one wish a day. In the night, Abdullah steals the genie and flees. After a wish, Abdullah is transported to Ingary and ends up traveling with a bitter Strangian soldier whose country was recently taken in a war with Ingary. While traveling to Kingsbury in search of a wizard, the two stumble upon a cat and her kitten, whom the soldier names Midnight and Whippersnapper, respectively.

As they travel, Abdullah wishes for the return of his flying carpet, who brings with it the very Djinn that kidnapped Flower-in-the-Night. It is revealed that the Djinn, Hasruel, is being forced to kidnap princesses from all over the world by his brother, Dalzel. The two proceed on the carpet to Kingsbury, which is where they find Wizard Suliman, who, upon realizing that Midnight is actually a person in cat form, returns her to being a human. As the spell is lifted from the woman, who turns out to be Sophie Pendragon, her baby, Morgan is returned to his normal self as well. However, when they go to collect the baby, he is no longer in the inn, where he was left with the soldier.

Abdullah and Sophie then order the carpet to take them to Morgan. The carpet does so, taking them far into the sky, to the castle in the air, which is merely Wizard Howl’s castle, having been greatly enlarged. There they meet the abducted princesses and plot with them to escape the flying moving castle. Led by Abdullah, they overpower the two Djinn, freeing Hasruel who banishes his brother. Flower-of-the-Night had by then wished the Genie free, who turned out to be Sophie’s husband, the top-level sorcerer Howl.

My Thoughts:

My feelings about this book almost exactly what I felt when reading Howl’s Moving Castle. That always makes writing a review that much harder.

The light fairytale’ish feeling permeates the entire book and not at any time did I feel that things weren’t going to work out for Abullah, even if we come to realize that things might not work out exactly how he planned or wants. When I reviewed Castle in the Air in ’08, I ended it with the words “Light and Delightful”. Both still definitely apply in the best sense of the words.

This isn’t exactly a sequel to Howl though. More of another book set in the same world where some of the same characters from the previous book intrude. Just to make things complicated though, Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Beautiful film that is more “inspired” by the book than a direct medium change. The complicated part comes because Miyazaki had previously made a movie called Castle in the Sky. It has nothing to do with this book however. What’s more, this book was written in 1990 while the anime movie Castle in the Sky was made in 1996. Howl the book was written in 1986 while Howl the movie was made in 2004. Confused yet? Good. You’re just a schmuck if that confuses you. But even if it does confuse you and makes you a schmuck, at least now you’re a better educated schmuck about something that nobody really cares about. And if that doesn’t stand for everything that the internet represents, well then, I guess I’M a schmuck.

(no schmucks were harmed (very much) in the writing of this review)

★★★★★

Howl’s Moving Castle (World of Howl #1) ★★★★★

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: Howl’s Moving Castle
Series: World of Howl #1
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 206
Words: 76K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

18-year-old Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters living in Market Chipping, a town in the magical kingdom of Ingary, where fairytale tropes are accepted ways of life, including that the eldest of three will never be successful. As the eldest, Sophie is resigned to a dull future running the family hat shop. Unknown to her, she is able to talk life into objects. Things change however when the powerful Witch of the Waste turns her into an old crone. Sophie leaves the shop and finds work as a cleaning lady for the notorious Wizard Howl. She strikes a bargain with Howl’s fire-demon, Calcifer: if she can break the contract between Howl and Calcifer, then Calcifer will return her to her original youthful form. Part of the contract, however, stipulates that neither Howl nor Calcifer can disclose the main clause, leaving Sophie to figure it out on her own.

Sophie learns that Howl, a rather self-absorbed and fickle but ultimately good-natured person, spreads malicious rumours about himself to avoid work and responsibility. The door to his castle is actually a portal that opens onto four places: Market Chipping, the seaside city of Porthaven, the royal capital of Kingsbury and Howl’s boyhood home in Wales, where he was named Howell Jenkins. Howl’s apprentice Michael Fisher runs most of the day-to-day affairs of Howl’s business, while Howl chases his ever-changing paramours.

When Prince Justin, the King’s younger brother, goes missing while searching for Wizard Suliman, the King orders Howl to find them both and kill the Witch of the Waste. Howl, however, has his own reasons to avoid the Witch; the Witch, a jilted former lover, has laid a dark curse on him. He successfully continues to avoid her until she lures Sophie into a trap. Believing the Witch has taken Howl’s current love interest, Miss Angorian, Sophie goes to save her and is captured by the Witch. Howl spends hours in the bathroom everyday primping himself to look handsome for girls; Michael had said that the day he does not do this is the day Michael will believe that Howl is truly in love. So when Howl comes to save Sophie, unshaven and a mess, it demonstrates his love for her. He kills the Witch and reveals that Miss Angorian was actually the Witch’s fire demon in disguise; the fire demon had taken control of the Witch and was attempting to create a “perfect human” by fusing Wizard Suliman and Prince Justin. It was to be completed by the addition of Howl’s head.

At the castle, Miss Angorian takes hold of Calcifer to capture Howl’s heart. Howl had given his heart to Calcifer. This was the contract between them; the heart kept Calcifer alive, and in return Calcifer put his magic at Howl’s disposal. Sophie uses her ability of bringing things to life to free Calcifer, thus breaking the contract between him and Howl. With his heart restored, Howl destroys the witch’s fire demon, freeing Suliman and Justin. Calcifer, as promised, breaks Sophie’s spell and she returns to her proper age. Howl had realized early on that Sophie was under a spell and secretly attempted to remove the curse; when he had met with failure, he’d figured Sophie simply enjoyed “being in disguise”.

Calcifer returns, preferring to stay with Howl. Sophie and Howl admit they love each other when Howl suggests they live happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

When I read Howl’s Moving Castle back in ’08, I only gave it 3 stars. I had enjoyed it, but wanted something a bit “more”. This time around, the light fluffiness hit the exact spot and this rocketed up to a favorable 5 stars. Which means that this is definitely a mood book and depending on how I’m feeling while reading it is going to affect how I rate it. So that might happen to others as well.

But my goodness, this was just delightful. As Mrs B might say on occasion “totes adorb”. This is definitely middle grade edging into ya territory but not once did I feel that Jones was dumbing things down or simplifying. I think is a story that a 5th grader could enjoy as much as a 40 year old (or older).

Part of it is that Sophie is a completely solid, dependable young woman but who has her blindspot. It was so interesting to see how she would be blind sided by something and I could relate exactly. The other part is that Jones introduces a lot of side characters but I was not confused about who was who or who was what at any point. Every single character was them and they slotted into the story perfectly and stuck in my head. That is how characters should be!

Delightfully light, thoroughly satisfying, wondrously fun; that about sums up my experience this time around while reading this book. I had so much fun that I’m going to be breaking my own rule and reading the next 2 books in the Howl’s World series much closer together (weeks instead of months). I hope I’m not making a mistake!

Ps, this is the first post where I’m experimenting with using google drive to host the cover pix. I have to use a stupid “iframe” and can’t get the info block of text to align around it. If you know how to do that or if anything comes up wonky or if there anything you think I should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Thanks!

★★★★★

Cruel Zinc Melodies (Garrett, PI #12) ★★★☆½


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: Cruel Zinc Melodies
Series: Garrett, PI #12
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 407
Words: 118K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

It’s winter in TunFaire, and life has slowed down for Garrett (meaning work seldom intrudes to interrupt his beer drinking and lounging about), until a parade of lovely ladies led by his favorite fiery red-head makes its way through his door. The red-head in question is none other than Tinnie Tate, Garrett’s girlfriend, and she’s accompanied by Alyx Weider, sultry temptress and daughter of the local beer baron, and several other friends. It turns out the girls have aspirations to become an acting troupe for a new theater that Alyx’s father, Max Weider, is building to keep his youngest daughter happy and to have a new vehicle for moving more of his product.

The trouble is that Max needs some help. It seems that construction of his theater, The World, is beset by ghosts, bugs, and break-ins. Garrett figures that this is pretty much a security job, and ends up bringing in some of the usual crew including Saucerhead Tharpe and even Winger.

Right off the bat, Garrett wraps up the break-in problem, as it seems that a gang of kids was trying their hand at the racketeering business. The ghosts and bugs present a bit more of a problem. It turns out that the bugs are of sorcerous origin and the result of some sorcerous experimentation by a group of kids from the Hill, led by Kip Prose. Worse yet, the bugs have been disturbing the sleep of a large entity from a bygone age that has been slumbering for eons beneath the ground that The World is being built upon.

With Garrett’s knack for finding trouble, he ends up attracting attention from the Guard, Prince Rupert, and several nasty sorcerous types from The Hill. In the end, with the help of The Dead Man, John Stretch and his telepathically controlled rats, and a smoldering hot sorceress called the Windwalker Furious Tide of Light, Garrett eliminates the bugs and makes contact with the dormant creature (through the ghostly form of Eleanor), convincing it to be careful of the humans and creatures living above it.

My Thoughts:

Despite the story, this is just as much about Garrett growing up as anything in the mystery part. Of course, considering he’s in his 30’s, I have a hard time accepting it, but better late than never.

With all of the changes in TunFaire, Garrett has rubbed, and continues to rub, shoulders with some pretty impressive individuals. This translates to him having responsibilities shoved onto his shoulders that in earlier books he’d just have sneered at and ignored. Throw in his “relationship” with Tinnie Tate getting serious (which is what SHOULD have happened from Book 1) and suddenly Garrett is becoming an adult, finally.

What I didn’t enjoy was Garrett’s fighting that growing up every step of the way. It was like listening to a gradeschooler whine about how hard their life is because they have TWO math lessons for homework instead of the usual one. Garrett still has a lot of growing up to do.

It is also apparent that Cook is just running out of ideas. The war is over and Cook, and every character in the book, doesn’t seem to know how to write noir’ish mystery story set during a peace time. Cook doesn’t appear to be to good at writing conflict that doesn’t spring from some sort of war. While I’m not looking forward to this series ending, I won’t be sad or wishing for more once it does.

★★★☆½

First Lord’s Fury (Codex Alera #7) ★★★★★

firstlordsfury (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: First Lord’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #7
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 758
Words: 202K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Returning from the ruined continent of Canea, Gaius Octavian, his girlfriend Kitai, the Canim warmaster Varg, and their legions find that most of the Aleran Empire has been destroyed or besieged by the insect-like Vord, a monstrous race led by a single sentient Queen that consumes everything they come across. Most of the Aleran resistance is based in the city of Riva, on the far eastern end of the continent. Octavian and his troops have landed on the northern edge and need to find a way to meet up with the other Aleran nobles in Riva. Meanwhile, Aquitainus Attis, who has been named First Lord in Octavian’s absence, has given the order to salt the earth between Riva and the Vord, slowing the insect’s approach.

After making landfall outside of the city of Antillus, Octavian begins preparations for his march to Riva. However, the Vord queen makes an appearance via watercraft projection, making essentially a hologram of herself out of every pool of water large enough to hold it, all across the continent. She states that her victory is inevitable and that she will accept any Aleran that wishes to surrender and allow them to live out the remainder of their life in peace provided they do not have any children. Octavian then uses the same watercrafting tactic to announce his arrival on the Aleran continent and give a morale boosting speech. Meanwhile, his aircrafting knights use their abilities to fly in and evacuate an occupied village from under the Queen’s nose. In retribution, the Queen kidnaps Octavian’s mother, Isana, as well as Araris Valerian, Isana’s lover and the most skilled swordsman in the realm.

To make the march across the continent, Octavian receives help from the great fury Alera and the northern icemen to coat the north in a thick layer of ice, as well as cause hurricane strength winds that constantly blow east. He has his engineers rig their ships with steel keels and support struts, so that they can sail across the ice like giant sleighs. While Octavian’s forces are on the march, Riva falls to the Queen’s onslaught. Her vast number of troops are bolstered by the feral furies of all the Alerans the Vord have slain, and Aquitainus is forced to retreat and evacuate civilians to the Calderon valley, where Bernard and Amara, Octavian’s uncle and his wife, have been fortifying the valley in preparation for the Vord. During the assault, Aquitainus makes a show of claiming new furies to bolster his power in an attempt to draw out his wife Invidia, who had betrayed Alera and joined the Vord Queen and become the Queen’s right hand. He succeeds but loses the ensuing fight, and is mortally wounded while Invidia escapes.

During Octavian’s march, one of his military advisers, Marcus, is revealed to be Fidelias, one of Octavian’s grandfather’s spies who had been a double agent for Invidia and caused a lot of deaths in previous books. Fidelias, who as Marcus had come to redeem himself somewhat, is condemned to death by Octavian. However, instead of immediate execution, Fidelias is allowed to die in Octavian’s service, as his skills are too great to waste with the Vord threat. Afterwards, Octavian’s force reaches Riva and decides to assault the Vord-occupied city. Octavian uses his strength in furycrafting to bring down the cities walls, and after the battle his firecrafters burn the Vord larders, cutting their supply lines to the Calderon valley. Octavian’s force then moves to the valley to pin the Vord force between his own legions and the valley’s defenders. While marching to the valley, the Queen herself makes an appearance and attacks Octavian’s camp. She kills many and wounds Octavian.

Meanwhile the Vord have begun to assault the valley. Invidia goes to Amara in an attempt to betray the Vord Queen, and gives Amara enemy troop compositions and the time of the next attack as proof of her intentions. Later, the remaining High Lords and Ladies gather to assault the Queen with their combined strength, using Invidia’s information. However, the Queen expected Invidia’s betrayal and prepared for it, and begins slaughtering the attackers. Invidia again turns to the Vord as the Queen forgives Invidia, but Amara manages to assassinate Invidia before she can turn on her fellow Alerans again. The Queen retreats, leading to Isana and Araris’ freedom.

Octavian’s forces have arrived at this point, and the Queen takes to the air off towards the mountains in an attempt to take control of the colossal great furies there. Octavian and Kitai pursue the Queen and duel her while she is simultaneously claiming the extraordinarily powerful furies there. Meanwhile, the defenders of the valley are fighting against the endless Vord, and slowly losing. After a protracted battle and managing to interrupt the Queen’s attempt to claim the furies, Octavian and Kitai manage to kill the Queen, causing the Vord to become feral without her guidance. The Vord break, and the survivors of the battle rejoice.

After the Vord’s defeat, Octavian becomes the First Lord of the realm and marries Kitai, while both of them as well as Octavian’s advisers begin rebuilding. The series ends with an opening for sequels, as on the continent of Canea there are several lesser Vord queens to be dealt with, as well as the consequences of some of the climate-changing furycrafting Octavian had to perform in order to defeat the primary Queen and save Alera.

My Thoughts:

Just as good as before. Which allayed my main worry that this whole series wouldn’t be as good and that I was remembering it through a lense of “good times” instead of it actually being a fantastic story. Have no fear, Bookstooge, this WAS a great story.

I also found it to be the story that made me the most emotional out of the 6 books. I do suspect that life conditions when reading this (super stress, physical stuff, etc, etc) played a very large part of that. I was needing some emotional outlet and choking up on obviously manipulative writing on Butcher’s part allowed me to get rid of some of the internal emotions without having to mentally acknowledge the basis for my even needing to vent like that. Just like opening the flood gates on a dam. Doesn’t matter if the extra water behind the dam came from a huge rainstorm, or 10,000 hoboes pissing in the lake all at once, all that mattered was opening the gate to bring the waterlevel back to normal levels. Now with that wonderful image in your minds….

I would say this was the weakest of the series. The action is hot and heavy but the lack of indepth characterization really shows. For this series, that didn’t bother me. In another series, maybe it would. Either way, it was something I noticed and it might bother others, so it is something to be aware of.

One thing that was really well done, in my opinion, was Butcher making his characters realize that their current actions would have lasting affects for the next several generations. From the death of the Fury of Alera (while she chose to give up herself to help Tavi against the vord, she still is dead as an entity), to possible alliances with the both the Canim and the Icemen (on top of the already cemented alliance with the Marat), to the future repercussions of creating storms and awakening Great Furies liked Galadros the Mountain, Butcher has enough of his characters cognizant that the world doesn’t begin and end with them. It was really a small part but it was nice to see it included.

When I read this for the first time back in ’10, I wanted more Alera, a lot more. Then when it became evident that Butcher wasn’t going to write more Alera, I was despondent. Now, at this point in life, I’m satisfied with where the series has ended and I don’t want Butcher to write any more in this world. After watching what Dresden fans are going through, I don’t want any part of that. No amount of Alera is worth that to me.

To wit, I enjoyed this book and this series, just as much as before but with this re-read am more than satisfied with how and where the series ended. Consider me a very happy customer.

★★★★★

Awakenings (Guardians of Aandor #1) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@49%

awakenings (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: Awakenings
Series: Guardians of Aandor #1
Author: Edward Lazellari
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 246/DNF@49%
Words: 89K/44k

Synopsis:

DNF’s don’t usually get a synopsis from me unless the DNF is ALL about me. This doesn’t fall into that small category.

My Thoughts:

This was pretty grim and bleak so I was wondering if I could handle 3 books of it, but the story was humming right along. I figured I could handle grim and bleak with a fast paced story.

Then along came a very low blow political statement and so I was done. Done with this book, done with this series and done with this writer. It isn’t worth my time or emotional energy to get upset about it but I won’t spend a second more on it than this.

Not quite the way I was hoping to start the month, but I guess you can’t win them all!

★☆☆☆☆

Whispering Nickel Idols (Garrett, PI # 11) ★★★☆½

whisperingnickelidols (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: Whispering Nickel Idols
Series: Garrett, PI # 11
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 311
Words: 90K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Things seemed to be going pretty well for Garrett one morning until he finds a strange kid named Penny Dreadful hanging around his house, gets summoned to a meeting by Harvester Temisk, Chodo Contague’s lawyer, and nearly has his door knocked down by an ugly thug wearing green plaid pants. Garrett meets with Temisk, who fears there are unnatural events occurring associated with Chodo Contague, who may not be as paralyzed as he appears. Garrett agrees to look into the matter that evening, at a birthday party being held by Belinda Contague for her father.

At the party, when Chodo is introduced to the guests, a number of people mysteriously burst into flames, and in the confusion that follows, Belinda and Chodo somehow get separated. The whole mess seems to have some connection with the Ugly Pants Gang, who continues to harass Garrett at his home and on the streets. In addition, Garrett is getting more attention than he likes from subordinate underworld bosses who suspect that Garrett knows where Chodo Contague is hiding. Garrett can only escape the warring mafia factions for so long, and eventually he is captured, poisoned, and blackmailed by one aspiring leader named Teacher White.

With the help of his friends and the psychic powers of the Dead Man, Garrett survives the worst of the ordeal. While he rests and recuperates at home, the Dead Man organizes efforts geared towards unraveling the mysteries of the Green Pants Gang, the criminal factions, and the spontaneous combustions. Compiling the efforts of Garrett’s many friends, the Dead Man deduces that the Green Pants Gang is actually a religious faction from outside of TunFaire, and Chodo Contague had at one point worked with the gang to help him rise to the top of the Outfit.

With some clues from the Dead Man, Garrett, Morley, and company track down and capture Harvester Temisk, who had been hiding out with Chodo Contague. More clever deductive reasoning by the Dead Man reveals a few final plot twists: Penny Dreadful is in fact Chodo Contague’s daughter, Chodo was partially responsible for the previously unexplainable spontaneous combustions, and the Green Pants Gang actually knows the secret to drawing dark emotions out from within the body. With the help of Garrett and the Dead Man, Chodo’s condition improves, so that he is no longer completely physically and mentally impaired.

As a finale, Morley Dotes drops by Garrett’s house, with none other than Mr. Big, Garrett’s much-despised parrot which had gone missing for some time, perched on his shoulder.

My Thoughts:

Another good Garret PI read, with the usual caveats about him being a womanizing scumbag. Cook does seem to be trying to “mature” Garrett, as things are getting serious between him and Tinny Tate, but Garrett still balks at the word “marriage”.

The city has changed, as has Garrett in many ways, to the point where it seems obvious that Cook is trying to wrap up the series in a few more books. It obviously helps that I know that the series ends, but if I had been reading these as they came out, I would like to think I could see the hand writing on the wall. Law and Order are becoming entrenched in Tun-Faire and even those Up on the Hill are starting to feel the affects of it. The need for a PI is shrinking. Garrett is also becoming involved in bigger business issues, so he’s financially secure, with no need to do private investigating to earn his beer money. So between the city becoming more orderly, Garrett having no need to be a PI and things getting serious with Tinny, yeah, the end is in sight.

Cook also makes it apparent how much Garrett’s reputation has grown throughout Tun-Faire. With him having had all his adventures with various big names from the Underworld to those Up on the Hill, he’s earned a name as a Power to Be Reckoned With. Of course, Garrett tries to ignore all of it, as he just wants to wench, drink and sleep 24/7. What a jackass.

So, a pretty average Garrett PI story alround. If you’ve liked the previous books, you’ll like this one. I’m just glad this didn’t nosedive like I thought it would.

★★★☆½

The Well at the World’s End DNF@9% (Unrated)

thewellattheworldsend (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 Well at the World’s End
Series: ———-
Author: William Morris
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Fantasy/Classic
Pages: 449/ DNF@9%
Words: 228.5K/21K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Using language with elements of the medieval tales which were his models, Morris tells the story of Peter, King of Upmeads, and his four sons, Blaise, Hugh, Gregory, and Ralph. These four sons decide one day that they would like to explore the world, so their father gives them permission, except for Ralph, who is to remain at home to ensure at least one living heir. From that point on, the plot centers on the youngest son, Ralph, who secretly departs contrary to his father’s orders.

Ralph’s explorations begin at Bourton Abbas, after which he goes through the Wood Perilous. He has various adventures there, including the slaying of two men who had entrapped a woman. That woman later turns out to be the Lady of Abundance, who later becomes his lover for a short time.

In one episode Ralph is staying at a castle and inquires about the Lady of the castle (the so-called Lady of Abundance), whom he has not yet seen. Descriptions of her youth and beauty suggest to him that she has drunk from the well at the world’s end. “And now in his heart waxed the desire of that Lady, once seen, as he deemed, in such strange wise; but he wondered within himself if the devil had not sown that longing within him …” A short time later, while still at the castle, Ralph contemplates images of the Lady and “was filled with the sweetness of desire when he looked on them.” Then he reads a book containing information about her, and his desire to meet the Lady of Abundance flames higher. When he goes to bed, he sleeps “for the very weariness of his longing.” He fears leaving the castle because she might come while he is gone. Eventually he leaves the castle and meets the Lady of Abundance, who turns out to be the same lady he had rescued some weeks earlier from two men.

When he meets her this time, the lady is being fought over by two knights, one of whom slays the other. That knight nearly kills Ralph, but the lady intervenes and promises to become the knight’s lover if he would spare Ralph. Eventually, she leads Ralph away during the night to save Ralph’s life from this knight, since Ralph had once saved hers. She tells Ralph of her trip to the Well at the World’s End, her drinking of the water, the tales of her long life, and a maiden named Ursula whom she thinks is especially suited to Ralph. Eventually, the knight catches up to them and kills her with his sword while Ralph is out hunting. Upon Ralph’s return, the knight charges Ralph, and Ralph puts an arrow through his head. After Ralph buries both of them, he begins a journey that will take him to the Well at the World’s End.

As he comes near the village of Whitwall, Ralph meets a group of men, which includes his brother Blaise and Blaise’s attendant, Richard. Ralph joins them, and Richard tells Ralph about having grown up in Swevenham, from which two men and one woman had once set out for the Well at the World’s End. Richard had never learned what happened to those three. Richard promises to visit Swevenham and learn what he can about the Well at the World’s End.

Ralph falls in with some merchants, led by a man named Clement, who travel to the East. Ralph is in search of the Well at the World’s End, and they are in search of trade. This journey takes him far to the east in the direction of the well, through the villages of Cheaping Knowe, Goldburg, and many other hamlets. Ralph learns that a maiden, whom the Lady of Abundance had mentioned to him, has been captured and sold as a slave. He inquires about her, calling her his ‘sister’, and he hears that she may have been sold to Gandolf, the cruel, powerful, and ruthless Lord of Utterbol. The queen of Goldburg writes Ralph a letter of recommendation to Gandolf, and Morfinn the Minstrel, whom Ralph met at Goldburg, promises to guide him to Utterbol.

Morfinn turns out to be a traitor who delivers Ralph into the hands of Gandolf. After some time with the Lord of Utterbol and his men, Ralph escapes. Meanwhile, Ursula, Ralph’s “sister”, who has been enslaved at Utterbol, escapes and by chance meets Ralph in the woods beneath the mountain, both of them desiring to reach the Well at the World’s End. Eventually their travels take them to the Sage of Swevenham, who gives them instructions for finding the Well at the World’s End.

On their journey to the well, they fall in love, especially after Ralph saves her life from a bear’s attack. Eventually they make their way to the sea, on the edge of which is the Well at the World’s End. They each drink a cup of the well’s water and are enlivened by it. They then backtrack along the path they had earlier followed, meeting the Sage of Swevenham and the new Lord of Utterbol, who has slain the previous evil lord and remade the city into a good city, and the pair returns the rest of the way to Upmeads.

While they experience challenges and battles along the way, the pair succeeds in all their endeavors. Their last challenge is a battle against men from the Burg of the Four Friths. These men come against Upmeads to attack it. As Ralph approaches Upmeads, he gathers supporters around him, including the Champions of the Dry Tree. After Ralph and his company stop at Wulstead, where Ralph is reunited with his parents as well as Clement Chapman, he leads a force in excess of a thousand men against the enemy and defeats them. He then brings his parents back to High House in Upmeads to restore them to their throne. As Ralph and Ursula come to the High House, Ralph’s parents install Ralph and Ursula as King and Queen of Upmeads.

My Thoughts:

I am not rating this because while I DNF’d this, it was because it was all on me. I don’t blame Morris for what is obviously my issue alone. I’ll add a quote and then discuss further.

So when he had eaten and drunk, and the damsel was still there, he looked on her and saw that she was sad and drooping of aspect; and whereas she was a fair maiden, Ralph, now that he was full, fell to pitying her, and asked her what was amiss. “For,” said he, “thou art fair and ailest nought; that is clear to see; neither dwellest thou in penury, but by seeming hast enough and to spare. Or art thou a servant in this house, and hath any one misused thee?”

She wept at his words, for indeed he spoke softly to her; then she said: “Young lord, thou art kind, and it is thy kindness that draweth the tears from me; else it were not well to weep before a young man: therefore I pray thee pardon me. As for me, I am no servant, nor has any one misused me: the folk round about are good and neighbourly; and this house and the croft, and a vineyard hard by, all that is mine own and my brother’s; that is the lad who hath gone to tend thine horse. Yea, and we live in peace here for the most part; for this thorp, which is called Bourton Abbas, is a land of the Abbey of Higham; though it be the outermost of its lands and the Abbot is a good lord and a defence against tyrants. All is well with me if one thing were not.”
~Page 51

This was published in 1896, so the choice of using a medieval era voice is deliberate on Morris’ part. I hated every second of it and I do mean every single word. I was ready to DNF this at 1% but wanted to make sure I wasn’t just being extra crabby so I persevered for another eternal 8%. While I “might” have been extra crabby, that didn’t change that I simply hated the archaic writing as a style.

While Wikipedia claims that this influenced both Tolkien and Lewis, even that isn’t enough for me to keep on slogging. Sorry Cleo, but I couldn’t deal with this.

The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time #5) ★★★★★

firesofheaven (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 Fires of Heaven
Series: The Wheel of Time #5
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 867
Words: 355K

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

In the Tower, Elaida is struggling to hold on to power, while her advisors are struggling to cope with the idea of Rand. Fain is counseling Elaida. He steals the Shadar Logoth dagger back before leaving the Tower. He gets past Alviarin only by convincingly bluffing that he stands high as a Darkfriend. Rahvin is visited by Lanfear, Sammael and Graendal. They make plans to get Rand. Morgase flees Gaebril after he shames her in front of others. She takes Lini, Tallanvor, Basel Gill and Lamgwin with her. Breane goes with Lamgwin.

In Rhuidean, Rand is living under the roof of the Maidens, the first man ever allowed there. Moiraine loads the various ter’angreal gathered in Rhuidean onto wagons. Rand discusses plans with the clan chiefs, where he learns of what is known as “the bleakness”.

Egwene and Moiraine start ganging up on him and he begins to experience Lews Therin’s memories. Moiraine finds another of the seals, which is extremely fragile. Mat picks up a Shaido woman, Melindhra, who has come to join the Maidens. Isendre irritates Aviendha and the Maidens by constantly attempting to bed Rand. Melaine decides to wed Bael, chief of her clan. Moiraine argues with the Wise Ones about Rand’s plans to take them out of the Waste.

Rand and the Aiel are attacked by Shadowspawn, including Darkhounds. Rand destroys the Darkhounds with balefire. Rand kills a Darkhound which was attacking Mat with balefire. Moiraine Heals Mat after he removes his amulet, and tells Rand balefire is dangerous. Rand agrees not to use it unless he must. The sense of trust between them breaks down so much that Moiraine swears to obey Rand and to not try to manipulate him. Rand is once more visited by Lanfear, who tells him that Rahvin has Morgase.

The Shaido leave the Waste, forcing Rand to follow. Trollocs attack again. Rand and his followers leave the Waste and see a town that has been attacked. One of the survivors says it was a message to Rand, from Couladin. They learn Couladin had been taking Wetlanders as gai’shain.

Aviendha gives Rand Laman’s sword to even out the bracelet he had previously given her. He discovers it was made with the Power, so he gives her the hilt and scabbard back, as they are jewel-encrusted and useless. As a result, she unintentionally makes a huge profit. Trollocs and Darkfriends attack again; Rand believes it is Sammael, trying to goad him, as he remembers him doing the same in the Age of Legends; Rand’s memories from the Age of Legends frighten Asmodean. Rand tells the clan chiefs he will hang anyone who murders or burns anything, even in Cairhien.

Egwene sees Elayne and Birgitte in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien tries to trap her there, but Egwene escapes. Kadere murders Isendre when she refuses to continue to try and bed Rand because of her fear of the Maidens.

Rand and the Aiel move on to Cairhien, which is under siege by the Shaido. A week away from the city, they meet lordlings from Tear that Rand had sent north, as well as Cairhienin soldiers. They tell him Couladin has the city under siege.

Rand accidentally catches Aviendha naked after taking a bath. Aiel customs in this area are considered a little odd; she flees, using the Power to Travel. Rand follows her to a winter landscape, holding her gateway open, and eventually catches up with her, finding her unconscious. He removes his clothes as well and holds her, to keep her warm. Aviendha awakens and admits her love of Rand. They consummate their relationship. The following morning, they come across a Seanchan patrol outside the gateway, which is now invisible. They shield and bind the Seanchan and head through, and as Rand lets the doorway dissolve, a spear is thrown through. He decides to keep the remaining piece of the spear.

Rand decides to attack the Shaido after coming up with a plan with the clan chiefs. Mat also comes up with the same plan after studying the map for a minute. Mat decides to leave for safety and heads south, where he sees a group of soldiers about to wander into an Aiel ambush. He goes to simply warn them, but ends up leading them throughout the battle. He also kills Couladin. Other Aiel who have not agreed to follow Rand hang back and watch.

Rand uses the One Power to influence the battle, aided by Aviendha and Egwene. Someone, presumably Sammael, tries to interfere. They eventually drive the Shaido from Cairhien, leaving Rand completely exhausted. The other Aiel, which remained apart from the Shaido, send their Wise Ones to discuss joining with Rand. Rand enters Cairhien, seeing siswai’aman for the first time. Tairen High Lords and Cairhienin Lords swear fealty to him. Weiramon arrives from Tear.

Colavaere sends young women, including Selande, to try and bed Rand. He puts a stop to it when he claims to prefer more mature women, and invites Colavaere to his chambers, where Aviendha beats her for trying to get near him. Berelain joins him in Cairhien. Moiraine brings letters from the Tower, from Elaida and Alviarin. Alviarin’s is full of flattery.

Mat hears of Morgase’s supposed death and tells Rand, who resolves to kill Rahvin. Moiraine first takes him to the docks where they meet Lanfear, who is in a rage because she has been told by Kadere that Rand has been bedding Aviendha for months. She kills Kadere, then attacks Aviendha and Egwene, who are saved by Rand. She decides to kill him when he says he will never love her. Unfortunately, he cannot bring himself to kill Lanfear. Instead, Moiraine takes Lanfear through the doorway to the realms of the Eelfinn, which melts, thus severing her bond with Lan, who is compelled to go east. Rand learns in a letter that Moiraine knew these events would take place. Mat is attacked by Melindhra, who is a Darkfriend, when he reveals he is off to Tear to lead the assault on Illian. He accidentally kills her.

That afternoon, Rand Skims to Caemlyn with Mat, Aviendha, Asmodean and a group of Aiel, but without Egwene, who is too injured. They are immediately attacked by Rahvin. Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are all killed in that first attack. Rand chases Rahvin into the World of Dreams.

Siuan, Leane and Min are arrested by Gareth Bryne after Logain burns down a barn. Leane practices her flirting on Bryne. Giving false names, they swear to work off their debt, but decide to sneak off at the first opportunity, as they never said when they would repay the debt. Logain rescues them anyway, showing concern for the man he injures in the process. Bryne follows them; he says it is because of Siuan’s eyes.

They discover the Aes Sedai opposing Elaida have gathered in Salidar. Siuan and Leane pretend to barely be able to tolerate each other and convince those in charge of who they are, and manipulate them into choosing their own Hall and Amyrlin. Siuan is allowed to run the spy network, and tells them Logain was set up by the Red Ajah. After being captured, Bryne agrees to build an army to take Tar Valon on his own terms. Siuan is set to work for him.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom and Juilin leave Tarabon to return to Tear, but come across a woman, Ronde Macura, who drugs the girls to prevent them from chaneling and ties them up. She says there is a message: “All sisters are welcome to return to the Tower. The Tower must be whole and strong”. Thom and Juilin rescue them. They realize the Tower has split and set out to find the rebels. Elayne constantly flirts with Thom. Nynaeve and Egwene discover that Elaida is Amyrlin. They meet Galad. In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene chastises Nynaeve, telling her to cover herself up.

They head into Ghealdan, where they join a traveling circus and act as performers. While travelling with the circus, they take an a’dam from a Seanchan woman. Elayne says she thinks she could make one. They meet up with the Shienarans they left in Falme.

Moghedien takes over the members of the Black Ajah who left the Tower, giving them different tasks and splitting them up.

Birgitte takes Nynaeve to spy on Moghedien and the other Forsaken in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien spots them and follows. They overcome her after Birgitte shoots her with an arrow, but Birgitte herself is severely wounded. She appears in the real world, and Elayne bonds Birgitte as a Warder to save her life.

Moghedien has one of the Black Ajah Heal her. Liandrin fails to persuade the remaining Black Ajah to gang up on Moghedien. She tries to use Compulsion on Moghedien, but she isn’t quick enough or strong enough. She fails, and Moghedien leaves her shielded in such a way that Liandrin is never likely to channel again. Moghedien uses Compulsion on her to make sure she doesn’t give up and take her own life, though. The other Black sisters are sent off with various tasks.

Elayne and Nynaeve learn that the rebels are in Salidar, and arrange with both Masema and Galad, who has joined the Whitecloaks, for a boat to take them out of Ghealdan. This results in conflict at the docks between the Prophet’s mobs and Whitecloaks. The girls flee to Salidar with Uno and the Shienarans. They are also accompanied by three women: Moghedien, posing as Marigan, Nicola and Areina. Min tells Elayne she loves Rand. The leaders in Salidar decide to talk to Moiraine through Egwene and the Wise Ones. Siuan also forces Nynaeve to teach her about the World of Dreams. Nynaeve makes Siuan agree to let her study being stilled.

Moghedien almost captures Nynaeve in the World of Dreams, but Nynaeve tricks her and captures her with an a’dam. Nynaeve makes her take them to Caemlyn, to try and help Rand. She sees Rahvin and encases him in a sheet of fire, almost killing him, before Rand does kill him with balefire. Nynaeve tells Moghedien she knows where she is and that she’s coming to get her.

Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are alive again because Rahvin was killed with balefire, but Asmodean is killed for good a short while later. Rand meets Davram Bashere, who had been hunting Mazrim Taim. Rand tells him Taim is off limits and that there is an amnesty for men who want to channel.

My Thoughts:

Whooooowheeeeee! Holy Shazboticon Batman! This was feth’ing, frak’ing, frel’ing awesome (if any of you happen to know any more sf/tv show alternate words, leave a comment please. I’m always willing to expand my fake vocabulary).

This is where the cast of characters begins to get so big that the book doesn’t contain everyone. There is NO Perrin. I didn’t particularly care, but with the addition of the Queen in Exile Morgase and her small band, it just became obvious that things were bloating up. A character like Morgase should not have pushed out someone like Perrin. The fact that she does nothing but escape the Forsaken enthralling her doesn’t help any. Yes, it adds a reason for Rand to attack, but that could have been accomplished without adding her and her retinue with their very own POV chapters. They weren’t bad, just seemed unnecessary, that is all. And that is about all the bad stuff I have to say.

When I read this back in ’11, I noted how angry everyone was. This time around, it became apparent to me that there was a lot of growing out of that anger for several of the characters. Elayne, Aviendha and Egwene all show definite signs of growing up and maturity. It was great to see. Nynaeve, on the other hand, seems to double down on the angry schtick and her being contrasted to the other woman shows her to a great disadvantage in that regards. Of course, Jordan does use that to show a bunch of inner stuff going in Nynaeve, so even she isn’t the hateful harpy I thought of her as back in ’11. Still don’t like her this time around though. Understanding is very different from liking.

Where Perrin was the side character who did a lot of growth in the previous book, Matt gets his chance here. Of course, it isn’t until near the end and isn’t nearly as a big a section as Perrin had but it is there. He’s pretty much told to just grow up and stop fighting his fate. Rand also tightens the reins once he really realizes what a treasure trove of military knowledge is in Matt’s head. Even Matt begins to accept that he has to grow up when he can’t seem to escape fighting battles and winning them, even if against his will.

The big boss battle at the end is just as awesome as before. I’d forgotten how big a part Nynaeve played in determining the outcome of that. While I remembered Moraine’s fate, I hadn’t remembered that she’d taken one of the Forsaken with her. So many details that make these stories so good. While not quite like reading a completely new book, there were enough gaps that I never felt “been there, done that”. Jordan can write and I really like what I’m reading.

With what happens to Moraine in this book, it seems proper that the next Wheel of Time book will be the prequel New Spring.

On a closing note, I’d just like to point out how boring, blasé, uninteresting, uninformative and generally pathetic these recently released ebook covers are. I’ve been using the old covers but wanted at least one example so the future me could see what kind of crap the publishers pull. I’ve heard theories that the publishers did this so as not to interfere with the possible visuals from the upcoming Wheel of Time tv show from Amazon. Of course, that means when the tv show does release and if it isn’t a hot mess of a flopping bomb, that we’ll be getting movie actor covers. Oh Lord, preserve us from such an awful fate. I preemptively SMITE those covers!

★★★★★

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) ★★☆☆½

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: Red Sister
Series: Book of the Ancestor #1
Author: Mark Lawrence
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 467
Words: 170K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The planet Abeth was originally settled by four tribes with various abilities. The hunska have superhuman speed; the gerant have superhuman strength, the marjal can work elemental magic; the quantal can work larger magics. Children born on Abeth may have access to one (or rarely, multiple) bloodline powers. Abeth’s dying red giant sun cannot generate sufficient heat to prevent a global ice age. Abeth’s man-made moon refracts sunlight onto a narrow strip of land circling the globe. This Corridor, only fifty miles wide, is the only unfrozen land on the planet. It comprises several kingdoms fighting for control of the planet’s resources.

Nona Grey is a peasant girl living in a remote village in the Corridor. She is purchased by a slave trader who recognizes that she has hunska blood. She is brought the to capital of the Empire, where she attacks a noble named Raymel Tacsis. She is saved from execution by Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy Convent.

Nona trains in the arts of combat and subterfuge at Sweet Mercy. Along the way, she meets fellow novice Arabella (Ara). Various nobles believe that Ara is the Argatha, a savior destined to save Abeth. Abbess Glass convinces the nobility that Nona is the Shield, destined to protect the Argatha. With her training, Nona recognizes that she also has quantal and marjal talents. Nona also meets a mysterious student named Zole and her bodyguard Yisht. Nona realizes that Yisht is attempting to steal a valuable artifact from Sweet Mercy: the shipheart, which was left by the original settlers of Abeth. With four shiphearts, one can control the moon which is protecting Abeth from a permanent ice age. Nona and the other students defeat Yisht and save the shipheart.

In a frame story, an adult Nona and Ara are attacked by members of the Empire’s nobility. They are betrayed by Clera, a former student at Sweet Mercy. Nona attempts to convince Clera to join them against the Empire’s army.

My Thoughts:

Well, this book confirms that Lawrence is an author I cannot read. Between nuns sleeping together, young almost prebuscent girls flirting with each other, psychopathic killers (who aren’t the bad guys), a failing sun, a hopeless world being encased in ice, the devolving of technology and failing technology, plus the absolute soul destroying underlying philosophy, I got a soup that was pretty as anti-me as you could get.

While Nona was more likeable than that hellbound Jorg, she wasn’t really fun to read about either. While I didn’t hate my time reading this, by the end I had to ask myself if I cared about anything in this story enough to want to read another book’s worth (and that’s not taking into account that this is a trilogy). I answered with a resounding “NO!” If there had been even a hint that the “moon” could have been repaired, or that someone had even entertained the idea of repairing it, even that tiny, small shred of hope probably would have been enough to keep me going.

But that was the whole problem I have with Lawrence. There is no hope, anywhere. I looked high, I looked low, I even looked at sub-minor-side characters. No where did I find any hope. All I did find was an existential existence for 10 year old girls who had a choice of being raped/tortured/killed or becoming merciless killers themselves. On the killer side things, there was no justice. There was no Justice because there was no Law. There was no Law because there was no Law Giver.

As much as I despise Lawrence’s philosophy, I do have to admit that he is honest enough to take it to its logical end. It is just that that end is a maelstrom of  death, despair and destruction.

★★☆☆½