The Complete Dreamsongs ★★☆☆½

completedreamsongs (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 Complete Dreamsongs
Author: George Martin
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 1146
Words: 494K

 

Synopsis:

Combining Dreamsongs I and Dreamsongs II into one omnibus, this collects the majority of Martin’s short stories from the beginning of his career to its publication date in either 2003 or 2006.

 

My Thoughts:

I really liked how Martin talked about the stage of his life when he wrote each story. It gave some background and made him a person. Even in his own words he comes across as an arrogant jackass and anyone who thinks he’s going to finish Game of Thrones had better look at his own self-proclaimed track record. With that out of the way….

This was some of the best writing I have read in a while. Martin has talent and he’s spent the time honing his skill and it shows. Based on the writing alone, this deserves 5 stars. If you like good story TELLING, then you need to read this.

However, WHAT he writes about is what took this right down to its current rating. Almost every story is sad, melancholic, depressing, horrific or down right twisted. While Sandkings is a fantastic horrorific short story, 1100 pages of that kind of things wears you down. These stories also gave me vivid bad dreams, to the point where I stopped reading this in the evenings.

I read this in small doses (I started in mid-April) and I cannot imagine the affect of trying to read this straight through. I would not recommend that to anyone, no matter how much they might enjoy Martin’s writing. While I plan on re-reading Sandkings every decade or so, I think that will be the limit of my Martin reading. I will assiduously avoid all his others writings.

★★☆☆½

 

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Angry Lead Skies (Garrett, PI #10) ★★★☆½

angryleadskies (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: Angry Lead Skies
Series: Garrett, PI #10
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 364
Words: 105K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Garrett is a detective living in the city of TunFaire. When people have problems, they come to Garrett for help, but trouble has a way of finding him.

Garrett is at home when Playmate visits, with a kid, Kip Prose. Kip has made friends with creatures that cannot quite be described, but because of his relationship with these creatures, other parties are trying to kidnap Kip. Despite his protests, Garrett gets drawn into the mess.

While searching Playmate’s stables for clues, Garrett and company are attacked by another group of indescribable assailants. Morley, Saucerhead, and Pular Singe wake Garrett and Playmate after the scuffle, but Kip Prose is gone.

Playmate and Garrett talk to Kip’s family, hoping to find clues to his whereabouts. Despite some leads, Playmate and Garrett are unable to locate Kip, although they do encounter an “elf” named Casey, who assures them Kip is in no immediate danger.

When Playmate goes missing, Garrett and Pular Singe track him down, with the Roze triplets tagging along. Pular tracks the scent to Casey’s apartment, where there are more mysterious elves. The trail eventually takes Garrett, Pular and the Rozes into the country outside TunFaire, where they find more of the elves, their spaceships, and an unconscious Playmate, Saucerhead Tharpe and Kip Prose. Garrett decides it is time to involve the Watch, who can hopefully clean up the mess.

Meanwhile, a ratman named John Stretch, Pular Singe’s brother, attempts to kidnap Pular for his own purposes. While Garrett and John Stretch come to an agreement, Colonel Block and Deal Relway try to manage the situation with the remaining elves. Garrett strikes a deal between Kip Prose, Max Weider, and Willard Tate, in which the involved parties agree to manufacture “Three Wheels”, a revolutionary new method of transportation for the citizens of TunFaire.

As a final twist, Casey escapes, thwarting the attempts of Garrett and the Watch to discover the true nature of the “silver elves”. Though Relway is angry and suspicious of Garrett, Garrett is on top of the world, with his new stake in the Three Wheel business booming and the Goddamn Parrot missing in action.

 

My Thoughts:

Much like the last book, I once again enjoyed a Garrett story. I’m thankful for that. That being said, Garrett is still a philandering jackass. There were some attempts in this book to steer Garrett towards maturity by making him a one woman man with Tinnie Tate, but honestly, if a man has been having sex with every woman he can at every chance he can for his entire life, the chances of him suddenly going into a monogamous relationship is almost zero. Or, really, staying in that relationship is almost at zero. Leopards and spots and all that.

The story itself was just so much fun, what with Cook bringing in aliens to a fantasy series. Once I realized what the “silver elves” were, I just laughed. The rest of the story with all the action and drinking and fighting and chases and palavers was good enough to keep me reading to the end of the book.

Not the greatest book I’ve ever read but nothing here made me want to quit the series, unlike Petty Pewter Gods.

★★★☆½

 

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Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera #5) ★★★★★

princepsfury (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: Princeps’ Fury
Series: Codex Alera #5
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 350
Words: 153.5K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com & Me

The book begins with Octavian negotiating with Captain Demos of the trading vessel called the Slive, to book passage for Octavian and his contingent to cross the sea and reach the Canean homeland with Varg. Meanwhile in Alera, Crown cursor Ehren reports to Gaius about the Vord having entered Alera and learnt how to furycraft.[2]

Octavian and the Canean survivors face several storms as they make their way for the Canim continent. Octavian learns more about the Canean civilization, which has several tribes with populations in the millions and also learns the Canim tongue as they prepare to disembark. Amara and Count Bernand are helping improve the defensive structures around Calderon Valley, in anticipation of a future Vord assault. However, they are summoned to an Imperial Council by Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, for an urgent mission against the Vord.

Gaius Sextus informs the Council of the threat of the Vord, which was slowly expanding from the Kalare wasteland. The Vord had overwhelmed four Imperial legions, leaving no survivors and the croach[check spelling] was expanding through Alera at an increasing rate. More than one hundred thousand Aleran freeholders and citizens had been killed in less than a month. Gaius requests all the High Lords of Alera to unite their strength and muster all the legions that they could, so that they could force a big battle against the Vord. Gaius appoints High Lord Aquitaine as the captain of the military campaign. The First Lord also meets Countess Amara and Count Bernard and requests them to go behind the Vord enemy lines on a mission to find out how the Vord are using furycrafting when they had been unable to do so.

Amara and Bernard find out that one of the High Lady’s has been taken by the Vord Queen and that Brencis Kalarus is using his father’s slave collars on Citizens to make them fight for the Vord. They take out Brencis and without him and his knowledge, the Vord Queen loses the ability to collar any more Citizens.

Tavi formulates a plan to take down a Vord Queen in Cania, thus allowing the surviving Canim to escape to Alera to regroup and plan how to take back their homeland. His plan fails but Kitai and Varg’s backup plan works perfectly. Everyone escapes on giant ships sculpted from icebergs.

Isana is sent north to the Shield Wall to broker a piece with the Icemen so the Legions guarding the Wall can march South and bolster those fighting the Vord. She realizes the Icemen are empathetic crafters and that the whole war has been a gigantic misunderstanding. She challenges the Lord of the Legions to Juris Macti to force him to march South. She loses but her standing up to him makes him realize the truth of her position.

The Vord overwhelm the Capital City and Gaius destroys the city and all the surrounding Vord to give the rest of the people a chance to formulate a way to fight back against the Vord.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, this review is where I start using the Calibre Page AND Word count to get my numbers. So while the paperback actually has close to 700 pages, based on characters per page, it is “only” 350. Which is why I want to include word count, to give a better data estimate between. Ok, enough of the nerdy stats/data talk.

Man, what do I say? I loved this book and this series? Tavi is the best hero and everything a proper Hero should be? This is a book of Ideals triumphing over petty base human’ness even while humanity reels from blow after blow from the Vord? You can almost hear the Capital Letters when ideals are discussed or even just acted out? In short, this is exactly my kind of book.

Self-pitying fools and dunces these characters are not. They have no time or place for pseudo-philosophizing while calling good evil and evil good. They have too much to do to drag the reader down into the cesspit of a self-loathing mind. They don’t hate themselves or the world they live in. They love life and it shows in every action they take.

There is no despair.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4) ★★★★☆

shadowrising (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 Shadow Rising
Series: The Wheel of Time #4
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1465
Words: 398K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Min arrives in the Tower, where she tells Siuan and Leane that Rand has gone after Callandor, and also that she has had a viewing that many in the Tower will die in battle on the same day. She is recognized by Gawyn, but not Galad. Neither believe Elayne and Egwene are safe. Elaida and Alviarin begin plotting together. Siuan convinces Min to stay and look for the Black Ajah. In order to accomplish this, Min dresses in a more “girly” fashion and begins calling herself Elmindreda. Siuan receives word from Moiraine that Rand has taken the Stone and tells the Aes Sedai that the Dragon has been Reborn.

With Alviarin’s help, Elaida organizes a coup and overthrows Siuan, proclaiming herself Amyrlin. Siuan and Leane are stilled and imprisoned before being rescued by Min, who is helped by the Mistress of the Kitchens, Laras. They are allowed to leave the Tower by Gawyn, who had organized the resistance when those loyal to Siuan tried to free her. They are joined by Logain, who Min insists is important in some way. Siuan promises to help Logain get his revenge.

Rand is attacked in his room by his own reflection, scaring Berelain, who was attempting to seduce him at the time. Perrin is attacked by his own ax, while Mat is assaulted by playing cards. Moiraine claims that these attacks are the result of “bubbles of evil” rising from the Dark One, and that although they are likely to occur only around ta’veren at first, they will eventually become commonplace.

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve question the two captured members of the Black Ajah, both of whom claim to be willing to help them. They are told of a plot to rescue Mazrim Taim and blame his activities on Rand, and also of an object in Tanchico, which could be used to control Rand.

Elayne and Egwene try to teach Rand about channeling, but all he is able learn is that he can sense when women channel. Egwene is surprised to learn Rand is far stronger than she is. He and Egwene tell each other that they don’t love each other anymore, giving Elayne the chance to move in on him.

Mat asks Egwene for advice and she tells him about a ter’angreal which will grant three answers to any who enter. He claims not to be interested.

Lanfear visits Rand in his room, and whilst she is talking to him, he is attacked by a Gray Man. The Stone is attacked by Trollocs and Myrddraal, which Rand eventually kills using Callandor. Afterwards, the members of the Black Ajah are found dead in their cells.

Perrin looks for rumors that could lead Faile away from Tear, as he fears it is too dangerous. Instead, he hears that Whitecloaks have taken over the Two Rivers and are looking for a yellow eyed Darkfriend. He decides to go there and give himself up to be hanged in order to free everyone. He tries to put Faile off going with him. Faile and Berelain fight, with Berelain promising to take Perrin away from her until she gets bored with him. Rhuarc splits them up and punishes both of them. Perrin gets Loial to take him through the Ways, though Loial and Faile have an agreement that he must take her. They are accompanied by three Aiel.

In spite of his earlier feigned disinterest, Mat enters the ter’angreal that takes him to the realm of the Aelfinn and is supposed to give him true answers to any question he asks. However, the answers he receives – that he is to die and live again, that he must go to Rhuidean and that he is destined to marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons – leave him more unhappy than ever. The area inside the doorway starts shaking and he is forced out. When he leaves, he meets Moiraine and Rand, who are also leaving.

Thom stays in the Stone, plotting against the High Lords that oppose Rand, and also advising him. Moiraine does not approve of this, so she promises to give him the names of the Red Ajah responsible for illegally gentling his nephew Owyn if he will go to Tanchico with the girls.

Egwene enters the World of Dreams without the ter’angreal for the first time. While there, she meets Amys, who says that if Egwene wants to learn, she must come to the Waste. She also goes to Tanchico, which Amys says contains an evil worse than men can make, whatever that means.

Rand calls a meeting, where he tells all the Tairen Lords that they must trade with Illian and restore order to Cairhien, which is caught in the throes of a civil war. He sends the Tairen Lords who are plotting against him most to deal with it. Rand says he is going away and drives Callandor back into the Heart of the Stone. He then tells Mat and Moiraine that he is going to Rhuidean in the Aiel Waste.

Rand and the Aiel, together with Mat, Egwene, Moiraine and Lan go directly to the Waste using a Portal Stone, which Rand requires an angreal to use. They arrive next to a city – Rhuidean.

Perrin and company are attacked by Trollocs in the ways and only just escape Machin Shin, which kills the Trollocs. In the Two Rivers, Perrin shuts the Waygate so it is only possible to open it from the outside. He discovers someone is killing the wildlife. In dreams he chases the man responsible for this, who is called Slayer. Slayer disappears through the Tower of Ghenjei, which leads to the worlds of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. Here, Perrin meets Birgitte, one of the heroes of legend who warns him that Slayer is dangerous and that he is in the World of Dreams physically.

Perrin learns his entire family has been killed. Trollocs have been blamed for this. Perrin decides against giving himself up to the Whitecloaks and instead to rescue people from them. Padan Fain has linked up with the Whitecloaks, and we learn that he was the one who killed Perrin’s family. Bornhald does not trust Fain, as Whitecloaks sent to accompany him tend to die. Fain has killed two Gray Men sent after him and is keeping a Myrddraal prisoner in his tent.

Perrin learns that two Aes Sedai, Alanna and Verin, are in the area, ostensibly to look for recruits. He meets several families and convinces them to move to the village for their own safety. He also meets a man calling himself Lord Luc, who he does not trust, though the others think highly of him. Some of the young men agree to go with Perrin to free the Whitecloaks’ prisoners. After doing so, he goes hunting Trollocs. After initial success, he and his men are ambushed and many of them are killed. Perrin is severely injured. They spend the night with the Tuatha’an before returning to Emond’s Field, where Alanna Heals him. Faile tells Perrin about her father, Davram Bashere. Perrin talks to Slayer in dreams and notices how much he resembles Lan. Loial and Gaul go to shut the Waygate permanently; Slayer has told Perrin it is open again.

Trollocs mount an attack on the village and are beaten back. They also attack a group of Tuatha’an, who Perrin convinces to come into the village for safety. When they return to the village, they see a wolf’s head banner, as well as a Manetheren banner. The Aes Sedai are behind this. One of the Tuatha’an, Aram, picks up a sword and asks to be taught to use it. Perrin allows it. Whitecloaks arrive to arrest Perrin on charges of being a Darkfriend. Perrin agrees to go with them if they stay and help defend the village against the Shadowspawn. The men and women of the village start coming to him for instructions.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, Perrin shoots Slayer before returning to the real world. Lord Luc runs through the house injured. Perrin realizes that Slayer and Luc have a similar smell and decides he is to be arrested if he reappears.

Perrin sends Faile off to tell the Queen what went on, though in reality he just wants her safely out of the way. She agrees, on the condition that he marries her. They get married. The village is almost overrun by Trollocs chanting “Isam”, but is rescued by men from the other Two Rivers villages, some of whom were led there by Faile. They receive no help from the Whitecloaks during the battle, which enables Perrin to refuse to go with them when they try to arrest him. People start referring to Perrin as Lord Perrin, which displeases him.

Nynaeve and Elayne, along with Thom and Juilin, set off for Tanchico on a Sea Folk ship, which only agrees to take them because they believe they are serving Rand. Elayne suspects that she knows Thom. The Windfinder teaches Elayne a great deal about controlling the weather.

The girls arrive in Tanchico, where they again meet Bayle Domon, who agrees to help them look for the women they are seeking. Elayne gets drunk and makes Thom tell the truth about himself. They also encounter a Seanchan captain, Egeanin, who has remained in Tanchico, looking for escaped sul’dam. She is paying Floran Gelb to look for them. When he mistakenly goes after Nynaeve, she stops him. Egeanin is interested in Aes Sedai and the Power, so she meets with Nynaeve and Elayne. She attacks Domon when he walks in, for which they blame him. Egeanin releases the captured sul’dam.

After using the Power, the girls are visited by Moghedien, who uses Compulsion to make them reveal their plans. She tells them to forget about the visit and leaves them alone, as she doesn’t believe they will interfere with her. They locate the Black Ajah, and enter the World of Dreams to check if it is safe. They also locate the object of danger to Rand, using a method taught them by the Wise Ones. Nynaeve sees the Black Ajah holding the Panarch hostage before seeing Moghedien and remembering their encounter. She is prevented from attacking her by Birgitte. Slayer attacks Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod.

They head for the palace. Egeanin accompanies them. Elayne goes to rescue the ruler of Tarabon, the Panarch, from Temaile. Nynaeve’s objective is to find the object that could hurt Rand. She finds some bracelets, and is interrupted by Moghedien, who tells her the bracelets can be used to control men who can channel. They battle with the Power, and are evenly matched until Nynaeve throws the bracelets at her, then shields Moghedien and ties her up. She retrieves the bracelets and one of the seals, and is attacked by an Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah using a ter’angreal that produces balefire. By the time it stops, Moghedien has escaped. The girls then leave the building.

Rand asks the Wise Ones’ permission to enter Rhuidean. Permission is granted, and Mat makes the same request. He is refused permission, but when Rand tells them he is going whether they allow it or not, they relent. Couladin attacks Rand and Mat, and is stopped by Melaine and Amys using the Power, to Moiraine’s surprise.

The boys leave all their weapons and head to the city, which is surrounded by a strange fog, one which cannot be penetrated in Tel’aran’rhiod. In the center of Rhuidean, Rand enters a crystal ter’angreal, where he starts to see visions of Aiel long dead, including most of the important events from their history. He learns the truth that most Aiel don’t know; that once, they followed the Way of the Leaf. In fact, the original, full name of the Aiel, “Da’shain Aiel”, means “dedicated to peace” in the Old Tongue. Rand also learns that the Tuatha’an are descended from the same people in the Age of Legends. He sees Couladin’s first-brother, Muradin, apparently dying.

Mat enters a separate ter’angreal, this time to the land of the fox heads (Eelfinn), in the belief this will also allow him to ask questions. Instead, he is given gifts, based on requests he makes. These are memories of dead lords, soldiers and generals, to fill up holes in his memory from when he had the dagger, an amulet to protect him from Aes Sedai and the One Power, and the ashandarei, which is like a spear, but with a more sword-like blade on the end. He also gains the ability to fully understand and speak the Old Tongue. The people behind the doorway leave him hanging from the Tree of Life. Rand resuscitates Mat after leaving his ter’angreal. They make their way out of Rhuidean, overcoming another “bubble of evil” on the way.

They arrive at the camp outside at dawn and Rand reveals dragons on both arms, showing him to be the Car’a’carn. Couladin attacks him and is threatened with being outlawed. He learns Moiraine has also gone, as has Aviendha, and they have been gone seven days. He also learns of his mother and how she became a Maiden of the Spear. She is obviously Tigraine, though Rand doesn’t realize it. He learns how his real father died, killed by a man who looked like his mother.

Rand and Mat journey with the Aiel to Al’cair Dal, following Couladin, who has said the Shaido will not accept Rand. Rand is accompanied by Aviendha, who claims to dislike Rand because he has treated Elayne badly. Despite this, she is told by the Wise Ones to teach him Aiel ways, which she does.

They stop off at Cold Rocks Hold, which is where Rhuarc lives. Couladin asks to enter as a clan chief but is welcomed as a beggar. Rand gives Aviendha a bracelet as a thank you, and to try and pacify her. Her friends take this to mean he is trying to attract her attention, and they approve of him. Lanfear appears in his dreams and argues with Asmodean. Aviendha accidentally reveals that the Wise Ones are watching Rand through his dreams. The hold is attacked by Trollocs and other Shadowspawn. One of the Wise Ones, Seana, is killed by a Draghkar. They are joined by a group of peddlers, who Rand knows to be Darkfriends. Couladin heads for Al’cair Dal, prompting Rand to leave earlier than he wished.

At Al’cair Dal, Rand announces that the Maidens carry his honor, which pleases them greatly. He and Couladin both announce they are the Car’a’carn. Both have dragons on their arms. Rand is accepted only after revealing the secret of the Aiel’s history. He confronts Lanfear, who was masquerading as one of the peddlers. She tells him that Asmodean has gone to Rhuidean in search of something useful. Rand Skims after Asmodean to Rhuidean, where they battle with the Power next to the Tree of Life, after grabbing a ter’angreal that links them both to the giant sa’angreal outside Cairhien. Rand cuts Asmodean off from the Dark One, and Lanfear shields him partially so he will not escape. She almost kills Asmodean when he accidentally calls her by her original name, which Rand recognizes as one of the Aes Sedai who created the bore in the Dark One’s prison. Asmodean agrees to teach Rand to channel, as the other Forsaken will turn on him if they get the chance. A great lake is created in Rhuidean, the fog having been dispersed.

 

My Thoughts:

Just want to say, AGAIN, that Toral Delvar IS THE MAN!!! All that work for a synopsis each time, saves me 100 million headaches. And I’m only slightly exaggerating.

Going through the various storylines here.

As Gru, from the movie Despicable Me, would say “The Goils”. Much better than in the previous book but that is ONLY because they are all split up from each other and in ones or twos can only be so catty and bitchy. I do not understand why Jordan chose to write them all this way. You can write about females acting irrationally without making them be unlikable. For me, the biggest pitfall is how Nynaeve and Elayne are in Tanchico seeking the Black Ajah and as such they can’t channel without drawing attention to themselves and the city is filled to overflowing with refuges and violence. But they want to go out on their own and “sniff” (Oh, I am beginning to HATE that word) at the men who want to give them some protection while out on the street. It takes them almost being kidnapped and killed to even make them consider they might not have acted so wisely. Other than that, their storyline was actually pretty cool. Going head to head with a Forsaken, how much cooler does it need to get?

Perrin and Faile. Perrin is a control freak and is one of those people who feel guilty about everything that happens around them even if it is totally outside of their control. Faile provided a good foil to his mopiness and I can’t wait until he gets rid of the axe and takes up the hammer. I seem to remember that is when his attitude changes and he stops being such an insufferable bore and resigns from being the General Manager of the Universe.

Matt & Rand. Matt has accepted that he’s going to tag along on Rand’s coattails and pretty much decides to have as much fun as he can while doing it. Rand has the biggest changes so far. He has taken to studying various prophecies of the Dragon and has formulated his own set of plans to make things work. He’s studious, powerful, assured in his Dragon’ness but oh so afraid. I really enjoyed his parts of the story.

Overall, Jordan wrote a crackerjack of a novel here. The world building continues to expand, the Forsaken are introduced as real beings of power rather than just vague “Oh, the Forsaken, they exist, somehow, somewhere”. However, this also seems to be where the storylines start to get big enough that every storyline can’t fit in each book. The Seanchan are pretty much ignored and the Children of Light are only ancillary to Perrin’s tale. Nothing was unwieldy here but knowing what is coming, now I can see the proverbial cracks in the foundation.

While this was a fun read, I am not sure that I’ll feel the same way in another 10 years. I’ve already downgraded this from a 5star read in 2011, so I’m thinking it might be wise to let this series rest after this re-read.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Faded Steel Heat (Garrett, PI #9) ★★★☆☆

fadedsteelheat (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: Faded Steel Heat
Series: Garrett, PI #9
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 453
Words: 131K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

This ninth installment in the Garrett series sees Garrett visited at home by three lovely young ladies, Tinnie Tate, Giorgi Nicholas (Nicks), and Alyx Weider, daughter of Max Weider. Alyx explains that she has been sent by her father to get Garrett to investigate an apparent extortion attempt on the Weider business by The Call, a group of human rights activists headed by Marengo North English. Meanwhile, Colonel Block and Deal Relway strike a deal with Garrett: Garrett will attempt to infiltrate The Call, reporting back to Block and Relway on their activities, while Relway and Block will try to help solve the extortion attempt on the Weiders, as well as ensure the safety of the Weiders and Tates during the ordeal.

In typical Garrett fashion, things start to get complicated when Garrett is attacked by a group of thugs while poking around the Weider brewery. After cleaning up and meeting with Max Weider, Max decides it may be best for Garrett to come to Ty Weider’s and Giorgi Nicks’ engagement party the following night. When Garrett returns home, the Dead Man concurs, pointing out that it will allow Garrett to investigate the motive of his assailants, as well as help him infiltrate the upper echelons of The Call’s society.

With Belinda Contague as his date for the evening, Garrett stumbles into a party that turns dark quickly. By the end of the evening, two of Max Weider’s children have been murdered, Max Weider’s wife has died, and multiple shapeshifters have been discovered, incapacitated, and arrested. To make matters worse, Belinda Contague gets kidnapped by Crask and Sadler as the evening is winding down.

Garrett quickly hightails it to the Palms, where he has Morley hire an expert tracker, a ratgirl by the name of Pular Singe. With Pular’s help, Garrett and Morley track down Crask and Sadler, freeing Belinda and dealing the mafia skull-crackers a serious blow. When Garrett returns home, he’s shocked by what he finds: Dean and the Dead Man are gone!

The next day, with help from Colonel Block, Garrett tracks down and arrests Crask and Sadler, who are barely alive from their wounds. With this out of the way, Garrett starts his search for information on the shapeshifters, starting by visiting his friend at the Royal Library, Miss Linda Lee. After getting nowhere fast, Garrett heads back to the Weider’s estate, where he and Colonel Block manage to sort out just how and why shapeshifters infiltrated the Weider household.

With Tinnie Tate in tow, Garrett heads out to the estate of Marengo North English, where he continues his search for the shapeshifters. North English, who gets injured in a surprise attack against The Call, has little to offer, but Garrett and Tinnie still manage to uncover one shapeshifter in the midst. With the help of Morley, Belinda Contague, and Marengo North English, Garrett hatches a plan to reunite all the guilty parties back at the Weider manor in an all-inclusive finale.

In the end, Garrett manages to solve the intertwining mysteries of the Weider murders, the shapeshifters, and The Call, and he even unearths an embezzlement scheme that has bankrupted North English and The Call. After a little more detective work, Garrett and company manage to ferret out the last remaining shapechanger in TunFaire, ending the string of murders and impersonations and bringing a small amount of peace to the city. The Dead Man, who returned home with Dean, actually helped mastermind the finale at the Weider’s estate, where he had overseen the night’s events from his hiding place in a large tank of beer.

My Thoughts:

This was much better than the previous book but just wasn’t as good as the first few books. I don’t know if I’m really starting to notice Garrett’s womanizing ways more, or if Cook is writing it more, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Something has changed in my enjoyment of this series, but I just can’t tell if it is me or the books. I’m going to try one more book and see what happens.

This was one busy book. So much was going on and there were these abrupt changes in directions, that I felt like a horse being yanked around with no idea of the how or why. Any confusion I felt while reading this I’m laying squarely at Cook’s feet. I’ve read enough of him to know he can write clearly, succinctly and has the ability to convey his thoughts without confusing me, so why this is happening is either because I don’t care and am skipping things OR Cook is trying to be clever and letting 1 sentence from 3 chapters ago suddenly have way more meaning than it ever should have. If the meal tastes bland, blame the Cook! Hahahahahaha.

Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed with this novel. I just wasn’t quite as satisfied as I’ve been in the past. If this series was a bunch of slices of cheesecake, I’d say that somebody started using inferior ingredients, not that my taste in cheesecake was getting jaded.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kingfisher ★★★★½

813bb0ae2cd9d5bf7e732d08597f0bd9This 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: Kingfisher
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 302
Words: 87K

 

Synopsis:

From Tor.com & authored by Alyx Dellamonica

Pierce Oliver lives in a world that fuses our high-tech present day with the top-down political structure of a high fantasy medieval kingdom. It’s the kind of place where limousine-riding kings preside over jousts, where the court magicians argue over the academic citations and feminist interpretations of their ancient texts, and where the bastard princes are doing well if they manage to stay out of the tabloids. The country’s biggest ongoing problem is keeping its surplus of troublesome knights from taking it into their heads to overthrow the government.

When Pierce is a young man this hardly matters, because he lives in a small town far removed from the capital, a backwater whose existence is known to but a few. His home is in fact concealed by magic, an enchantment wielded by Pierce’s somewhat clingy mother, Heloise, a retired witch living incognito as a slow foods restaurateur. One day three knights stumble through town by accident, and by the time they’ve moved on, Pierce has decided to strike out on his own, seeking information on the father he never knew and–perhaps as importantly–cutting the apron strings that have bound him so tightly to his mother’s chosen refuge.

Packing up his car and charging his cell phone, Pierce heads down the road and almost immediately stumbles into–rather surprisingly–another restaurant, this one in a dilapidated hotel called the Kingfisher, a place that has fallen on hard times. There he encounters Carrie, a hard-working chef who also dreams of escaping her particular Nowheresville of a community. Pierce partakes of a peculiarly ritualistic fish fry there, before spending the night in one of their rooms. On his way out the door, he gives in to an irresistible not-quite-whim to filch a cooking knife from the place.

The theft, of course, is less a failure of moral fiber than a magical imperative, and by the time Pierce makes it to the capital, the effects of his minor act of banditry are reverberating throughout the land. The King has decided to declare a nationwide quest for… well, definitely for something. A grail? A relic? A fountain of youth? Whatever the Object in question is, his upstart knights will surely know it when they see it. In the meantime, if their motoring forth and scouring the kingdom keeps them from getting up to revolutionary scale trouble, so much the better.

The problem with this scheme is it isn’t entirely a PR scam. The quest Object is real enough, and the mere idea of seeking it sets off a feud between two major religions, a fight that breaks down more or less on gender lines: there’s a cult with masculine, metal-dominated values and a male god, and a watery, priestess-led faith centered in the ladies’ birthing chamber. Both sides are absolutely, positively sure that the quest’s Object belongs to their patron deity. And for at least some of the men and women on the hunt, this ambiguity is awesome, simply because it means they have a license to stampede around the whole countryside, kicking over lesser shrines, sifting through their relics, and beating on anyone who might object.

Carrie and Pierce have other problems too, in the form of a third restaurant owner, a slippery figure called Stillwater who is almost certainly in the know about whatever it is that has blighted the Kingfisher Inn. Now he has his sights set on Carrie herself, and is tempting her with job offers she definitely ought to refuse.

Publishers Blurb & Me

Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on the way to the legendary capital city. “Look for us,” they tell Pierce, “if you come to Severluna. You might find a place for yourself in King Arden’s court.”

Lured by a future far away from the bleak northern coast, Pierce makes his choice. Heloise, bereft and furious, tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.

As Pierce journeys to Severluna, his path twists and turns through other lives and mysteries: an inn where ancient rites are celebrated, though no one will speak of them; a legendary local chef whose delicacies leave diners slowly withering from hunger; his mysterious wife, who steals Pierce’s heart; a young woman whose need to escape is even greater than Pierce’s; and finally, in Severluna, King Arden’s youngest son, who is urged by strange and lovely forces to sacrifice his father’s kingdom.

Things are changing in that kingdom. Oldmagic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to its former glory—or destroy it.

In the end, Stillwater is recaptured by the women of Ravenshold, Prince Damion brings peace between Ravenshold and Wyvernshold, the magic is brought back in balance to the Kingfisher and the Holy Grail is revealed to be a magic cooking pot used at the Kingfisher.

My Thoughts:

The reason this still only gets 4.5stars instead of 5 is because of the cover. I’m sorry, but Kinuko Craft covers are the physical embodiment of the stories that McKillip tells. This bland, no-nothing cover is a blot. Now, that is the fault of the publishers, so I don’t blame McKillip one iota but it still plays a part. Penguin, and their imprint Ace, should be heartily ashamed of themselves. In fact, I would gladly volunteer to help them commit seppuku for this disastrous, face shaming act they committed against this great book.

Now, there are some differences from her previous books. This takes place in “modern” times even while magic is in existence. There is also a much larger cast of characters. There are also several concurrent storylines instead of just the one or two. These various differences, while not bad, definitely contributed towards this feeling like a highly embroidered neckerchief instead of a wall scroll with one central picture. Smaller in scope but more “things” going on to keep one occupied.

I was thinking this was the last McKillip I had on my re-read journey and was pretty sad about that. It was coloring this whole read until about half-way through I realized I still had a collection of short stories to go through entitled Harrowing the Dragon. Then the sun came out, the birds began chirping and cherries fell directly into my mouth, already pitted. Life was wonderful again 😀

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Captain’s Fury (Codex Alera #4) ★★★★★

captainsfury (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: Captain’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #4
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 656
Words: 175K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Two years have passed after the Night of the Red Stars and the Battle at the Elinarch (in book three of the Codex Alera, Cursor’s Fury). Rufus Scipio/Tavi had been repelling attacks from the Canim forces for two years and the war against Kalare raged on. Senator Arnos, who is in charge of the war committee, is pushing for the destruction of all of the Canim forces in Alera. Isana is faced with telling Tavi who his father is and confronting her own abilities. Tavi must find a way to end the conflict between the Canim and Alera or it may mean the destruction of all of his forces. Gaius Sextus and the Count and Countess of Calderon take on a secret mission to stop Kalare.

Senator Arnos comes to the Elinarch to take over military command against the Canim. Senator Arnos is working with Invidia Aquitaine to remove Tavi as the leader of the battle and to eliminate him entirely. Arnos is accompanied by several singulares, who are a constant threat to Tavi and who attempt to eliminate him throughout the book.

Isana, after several attempts of trying to tell Tavi that she is his mother and that his father was Gaius Septimus, was unable to do so. Araris delivers the message instead.

Tavi has a meeting with the Canim leader, Nasaug, where he tells Nasaug that he knows that the Canim are trying to build ships to get them back to their homeland. He strikes a deal with Nasaug that he would help them but Nasaug says that the only way that a deal can be struck is if Tavi returns Ambassador Varg to them. Arnos spies on this meeting and through the plotting of Arnos, Invidia and Marcus/Fidelias, Tavi is removed from his command as Captain for conspiring with the enemy. Prior to leaving, Tavi places Crassus in charge of the Alerian forces.

Tavi escapes from the prison and with Isana, Kitai, Ehren, and Araris, they board a ship to take them to Aleria Imperia. During the voyage, they are attacked by Arnos’ singulares and the group uses furycrafting to board the enemy ship and kill the witchmen that are hiding their presence from the leviathans. The enemy ship is destroyed by leviathans but Arnos’ singulares escape. During this battle, Isana’s powers grow and she is able to heal Araris who was seriously injured without a bathtub, a feat usually performed only by the most powerful healers and high lords and ladies.

Gaius takes Amara and Bernard into Kalarus’s lands, as he tells them that Kalarus has woken one of the Great Furies in the Kalare mountains and if Kalare is killed, the mountain will erupt and kill everyone in the region. Gaius intends to disarm the Fury. During their journey, Gaius cannot use his powers as this will signal Kalare that he is on Kalare’s lands and ruin their mission. Gaius gets an infection as his feet blister from walking 300 miles to the mountain and he must be tended to along the way. As they approach the mountains, the group is discovered by a legion of Immortals led by Brencis Minoris, Kalarus’s son. Gaius heals himself and destroys the legion. He then releases the great fury which destroys Kalare and all who reside in the area. Amara, who is angry at the First lord for lying to her, throws her silver coin in his face and leaves him.

At the same time, Tavi is able to free Varg from the Grey Tower and returns him to the Canim forces. He then announces his identity as Gaius Octavian and challenges Arnos to a Juris Macto. Phrygiar Navaris, who is the deadliest cutter/sword in all of Alera, represents Arnos in the duel. Marcus (Fidelias) is instructed by Invidia to kill both Arnos and Tavi after the duel, using a balest, to make it look like a Canim attack. Marcus aims the balest and is able to strike both Arnos, as he tries to escape after Tavi wins the duel, and Invidia who Arnos grabs for protection. Invidia survives the initial injury but has the poison of the garic oil in her system.

Tavi is able to strike a deal with Gaius Sextus allowing the Canim to return home and to send a cohort with them to ensure their safe passage and assist them in destroying the Vord that have taken over their lands. In the end it is also revealed that Tavi is now able to furycraft.

 

My Thoughts:

Another fantastic entry in the Codex Alera series. By this point I hope you all realize I am hopefully biased in favor of this series (this is my 3rd read since 2010) and I simply cannot find any faults. I enjoy my time reading this and while I acknowledge it isn’t at Dickens level of character development, it fulfills every expectation that I have for an Epic Fantasy.

If I HAD to choose something to complain about (because really, when don’t I complain about anything online?), it would be the whole sub-story with Gaius, Bernard and Amara. Just like they were slogging through miles and miles of marshes and swamps, reading those sections was a slog too.

I really liked reading about Tavi though. You know what though? It took me until this time around, with the author shoving it right under nose, that “Tavi” was short for Octavian. Sigh, sometimes I wonder how I put my pants on in the morning and drive to work. Tavi is smart, kind, empathetic, charismatic, mentally pliable and above all, most competent. He is the wish fulfillment of all my dreams for myself.

On the story side, the Canim make for great antagonists. As a race they are 9ft tall bipedal wolves. Individually, Butcher has done a great job of creating some really interesting characters among them. Nasaug, Varg, etc are fun to read about and the interactions between them and Tavi gives me that feeling you get when going down a slide, one of fun and wonderment. The scene where Tavi and friends break Varg out of the maximum security prison was fantastic.

Finally, Tavi learning that Isana is his mother and that Septimus was his father hit the emotional side of things just right for me. Couple that with the continued assassination attempts by Senator Arnos and his fury-assisted Assistants and you get a perfect combination of action and emotion. I enjoyed it all.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Sword-edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse #1) ★★★☆☆

swordedgedblonde (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: Sword-edged Blonde
Series: Eddie LaCrosse #1
Author: Alex Bledso
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Words: 82K

 

Synopsis:

Eddie LaCrosse is a sword jockey, ie, a private detective. He’s hired by his childhood friend King Phil to prove that King Phil’s wife didn’t kill and then eat their newborn baby.

Along the way Eddie has to revisit his past and the reason he left the kingdom that Phil now rules.

Eddie solves the case, vindicates Phil’s faith in his wife, takes down an evil dwarf that has been alive over 500 years and finds the love of his life prophesied about over 10 years ago.

 

My Thoughts:

While I was reading this I was fully into the story and enjoying it. However, once the story ended and I began thinking about what I had read, a couple of things came to the forefront for me.

First, I am reading more and more noir’ish Private Eye books. What’s more, I am generally liking them too. The Grimnoir, The Arcane Casebook, Garrett PI, etc. The thing is, those all have elements of the PI AND some other element (urban fantasy, fantasy). This, though, only gave lip service to the fantasy element. The only fantastic thing was that the wife of King Phillip used to be a goddess and that the evil dwarf was actually just a human who had messed with the goddess and been punished. That’s it. No other races, no magic spells, no grimoires, not even one magic sword. Not cool.

In conjunction with that was the deliberate anachronisms that the author uses. Between names of people that you’d expect to meet on the street today, to terms about weapons and businesses that fully belong in the 21st century, Bledsoe kept pulling me out of the story. It was obviously deliberate and meant as some sort of selling point to distinguish the series but it did not work for me one tiny bit.

I’ve been debating about whether to keep on with the series. Like I said, while I was reading I was enjoying, but the moment I stopped, well, it all came crashing down. And it wasn’t like I was enjoying the read on a Neal Asher level. This was a grocery store frozen cheese pizza kind of enjoyment. With that, I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series. There are so many other books I can try out (and hopefully enjoy more) that it isn’t worth continuing this “just because I didn’t hate it”.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) ★★★★☆

dragonreborn (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 Dragon Reborn
Series: The Wheel of Time #3
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 986
Words: 268K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Byar returns from Falme and tells Niall his beliefs regarding what occurred there, and of his hatred of Perrin. Niall tells Jaichim Carridin not to try and stop Rand, as he hopes to make the people turn to Children of the Light to protect them. Fain tells Niall stories similar to Byar’s. He persuades Niall that the Two Rivers is full of Darkfriends, and that he should send men there. Carridin is given new orders, from an unusual Myrddraal, to kill Rand.

Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve head back to Tar Valon with a severely ill Mat, who, it seems, has mere hours to live. They are also joined by Hurin. Nynaeve tries Healing Mat, but accomplishes nothing. On the way, they are confronted by Whitecloaks, led by Dain Bornhald. The girls disperse them using the Power, something which incurs Verin’s anger.

Once in the Tower, the three are severely reprimanded by Siuan, who sets punishments for them all for running away, to keep the link between them and the Black Ajah secret. She tells Elayne and Egwene that they are to be raised to the ranks of the Accepted. She also sets Nynaeve and Egwene Black Ajah hunting, knowing that she won’t be blamed when Elayne is brought in on it. They are given a note from the Amyrlin, granting them permission to do almost anything. Verin tells Siuan about Mat blowing the Horn, and Siuan tells her the two false Dragons were defeated at the moment Rand proclaimed himself.

Nynaeve brings Elayne in on the hunt at the first opportunity. Egwene and Nynaeve are attacked by a Gray Man, who fires an arrow at them. Nynaeve captures the man using the Power, but finds him dead. Sheriam tells them to keep quiet about it; she is later revealed to have found a second Gray Man in her bed. Elaida comes to question the girls about Rand.

Mat is healed of his link to the dagger by a circle of thirteen Aes Sedai using a sa’angreal. During the Healing, he speaks in the Old Tongue and gives battle orders after experiencing a sort of flashback to a battle in the Trolloc Wars. He is visited by Lanfear, who tells him he is destined for glory, and Siuan, who he tries to avoid making any commitments to. He tries to leave, but is not allowed to do so. He also sees Lanfear, masquerading as Else. She is abrupt with him. He defeats both Gawyn and Galad in a friendly duel, using only his quarterstaff.

Verin gives Egwene a ter’angreal that is linked to the World of Dreams, and does not require channeling, to help her discover if she is a Dreamer. Egwene is raised; her test for the Accepted involves abandoning Rand under various circumstances. She learns that anyone who can channel can be turned to the Dark One by a circle of thirteen Myrddraal and thirteen Aes Sedai. The ter’angreal she goes through acts very unusually, and almost burns down, prompting Alanna to see Sheriam to ask for punishment, as she noticed something but kept quiet. Elayne’s test was similarly hard for her.

The girls are given clues to the whereabouts of members of the Black Ajah who fled the Tower by Lanfear, who is posing as a novice. They realize it is probably a trap, but tell Siuan they are going to head for Tear to try and spring it.

Egwene uses the dream ter’angreal. She first sees Rand, who attacks her. She then sees a woman calling herself Silvie, in the Stone of Tear. The woman seems to think she knows Egwene and tells her to say Ba’alzamon is a fool. The woman sends her out of Tel’aran’rhiod to prevent Be’lal from discovering her.

The girls ask Mat if he will deliver a letter to Queen Morgase. Mat tauntingly tells them he will do so, under the condition that they get him off the island, which he considers impossible, as the Amyrlin has told all the guards he is not to leave. They give him one of the notes the Amyrlin gave them, allowing the bearer to do whatever they wish.

The girls travel downstream on a boat, which runs aground. They go ahead on foot and encounter a group of Aiel, including Bain, Chiad and Aviendha, who reveal one of their number is severely injured. Nynaeve Heals her, and they set off again. They are then captured by Darkfriends, who wish to hand them over to a Myrddraal. They are freed by the Aiel, though they would have escaped on their own. Nynaeve uses balefire against the Myrddraal. The leader of the Aiel, Rhuarc, says they are going to Tear. The girls make their own way to Tear where they stay with a local healer, Mother Guenna. She enlists Juilin Sandar, a thief catcher, to help them find the Black Ajah, though of course he isn’t told they are Black Ajah. He is not careful enough and Liandrin makes him reveal their location. The girls are captured, and are severely beaten for refusing to give in.

Mat leaves the Tower and wanders around Tar Valon gambling, winning every throw of the dice. He is attacked by Darkfriends posing as thieves, but gets away from them. He meets Thom, who is drunk, and persuades him to go to Caemlyn with him. Thom agrees, since Caemlyn is dangerous for him and he is looking for danger after his lover’s death. They are attacked by Darkfriends on the ship they board. After getting off, they spend a night in a stable, where Mat rescues Aludra, an Illuminator. Out of gratitude, she gives him some fireworks. He messes with one to try to find out how it works, and throws it in the fire. They are attacked by Darkfriends again on the way to Caemlyn. Thom kills a woman, which displeases Mat.

They go to Caemlyn, again staying at Basel Gill’s inn. The guard on the palace gate refuses to let Mat in, even threatening to have him arrested as a Darkfriend when he reveals he has come from the Tower, so he goes over the wall like Rand had done previously. He overhears two men discussing a plan to kill Elayne. He is later taken before Morgase and her lover, Gaebril, who was one of the men Mat overheard. He meets Tallanvor, another member of the palace guard, who takes him to the Queen. He gives her the letter, then sets off for Tear, to help Elayne and Egwene.

Mat arrives in Tear and comes across Lord Comar, who he had heard ordered to kill Elayne by Rahvin. They fight and Comar is killed before Mat can learn anything. He meets Mother Guenna, who tells him of the girls’ capture. Leaving a sick Thom behind, he heads off to try and break into the Stone. He is accosted by Aiel, including Gaul and Rhuarc, on the rooftops, but once he makes it clear he has no plans to interfere with them, they agree to leave him alone. He meets Juilin, who had been having second thoughts about what he did. They agree to work together. Mat accidentally blows a hole in the wall with fireworks while trying to create a diversion. He enters, fighting Defenders of the Stone and nobles. On his way he and Juilin fight High Lord Darlin, who says he intends to watch as the skin is stripped from their bodies.

At the camp of the Dragon Reborn, Rand has spent the winter arguing with Moiraine. He accidentally damages the camp when he draws too much of saidin and has to release it randomly. A Tuatha’an comes with news for Moiraine. Perrin sees Lanfear and Ba’alzamon in the World of Dreams. They both talk to him. He also witnesses an argument between three of the Forsaken. Whilst he is asleep, he is warned by wolves that Trollocs and Myrddraal are attacking. Rand is powerless to help, but they defeat the Darkspawn anyway. Masema takes the aid of wolves as a sign that he should go to proclaim the Dragon Reborn and recruit for him. The Tuatha’an messenger is killed.

Rand sets off on his own to Tear, without telling anyone. On the way, he kills a group of people who come to join him at the camp fire. These include a woman and a Gray Man. He also continues to be plagued by dreams, and almost kills Egwene in one, when he mistakes her for a dream creation.

Moiraine realizes that Rand has gone to Tear to try and seize Callandor when many of the people with them reveal having dreamed of glowing swords and red stone columns. Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial follow, the Shienarans being injured. Chasing after Rand, they encounter villages where strange things have been happening – mass weddings, insanity and others – a sign of Rand’s being ta’veren. Meanwhile, Min goes to Tar Valon.

Perrin comes across a man who could talk to wolves, but who has lost his human side. He again enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where he meets Hopper, a dead wolf. They learn of Masema stirring up trouble in Ghealdan. He also meets two Hunters of the Horn, and a captured Aiel, Gaul. There are children throwing stones at the caged man, who he later frees. He tells Gaul he is off to Tear, and Gaul announces that is his destination as well, though he will not go with them. They kill some Whitecloaks, and are then forced to flee the village, along with a young woman who decides to call herself Faile, who keeps staring at Perrin. She is also a Hunter and believes they make a strange trail, which Hunters should follow. Perrin again sees Ba’alzamon and Lanfear in Tel’aran’rhiod, and tells Moiraine they are free. Rand sees him and attacks him.

They travel through Illian, where they discover Sammael is in control of the country. They are attacked by Gray Men in an inn before Sammael sends Darkhounds after them; Moiraine kills the hounds with balefire. They then head on to Tear, where they learn Berelain has given in to Tear’s demands. Perrin finds himself growing uncomfortable around Faile. She springs a trap meant for Moiraine, and is caught in Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Perrin’s wolf abilities allow him to enter this world, and he does so, in order to free her. Moiraine and Lan head for the Stone to help Rand.

Egwene enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where she meets two of the Black Ajah. She stills one and shields the other, leaving them trapped in Tel’aran’rhiod. Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve, however, remain shielded in the real world. Mat opens the cell and frees them. They knock out the Black Ajah sister and the shield disappears.

Rand enters the Heart of the Stone, where Be’lal tells him to take Callandor. They fight, with Be’lal forcing him toward it. Moiraine enters and kills Be’lal, again using balefire. Rand is attacked by Ba’alzamon, who almost kills him before he takes Callandor, chasing Ba’alzamon and killing him. This time, he leaves a body, which many people take for the Dark One until Moiraine points out how absurd that idea is. The Defenders of the Stone, who had been fighting Aiel, fall to their feet to proclaim Rand the Dragon Reborn. Berelain brings Rand a message from Lanfear.

My Thoughts:

The final 25% of this book was pure gold. Stuff was happening at a breakneck pace, it felt like everyone was running for their lives and the story was awesome. The problem was it meant you had to go through the first 75% and man, it was tough.

Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are all together and my goodness, with “friends” like that, who needs enemies? They spend as much time and energy catfighting with each other as they do actually anything else it seems.Nynaeve is still stuck on getting revenge on Moraine for “something” (this is at least my 4th time reading this book and I still don’t understand completely why Nynaeve hates Moraine so much) and while her feelings for Lan are supposed to be a part of that, well, she shows more emotion and thinks more about Moraine than she does Lan. Egwene and Elayne, while not quite as bad, aren’t much better and I just felt exhausted every time I finished reading one of their sections.

Matt’s sections, while giving huge amounts of setup, also come across as him being nothing but a jerk and a pigheaded jackass. Meanwhile Perrin is so obsessed with ignoring his wolf powers that all of his energy is spent on that. If he had spent half the energy on even trying to learn about it as he did in fighting it, he would have been WAY ahead of the game. Plus, the whole golden eyes thing. Everyone who looks at Perrin is shocked at his golden eyes. I can see women paying that much attention, but the men? I couldn’t tell you the color of eyes for almost everyone I meet. I can’t tell you the eye color of my pastor, much less some stranger I met once on the streets. It’s just ludicrous that this gets as much page time as it does.

These characters are just plain unlikeable! I have to be honest, I’m not sure that I’ll be reading this series ever again once I’m done with this read through. The bad guys are more likeable for goodness sake!!!! I don’t understand why Jordan wrote them this way. It doesn’t advance, or impede, the story really. It just frustrates me as a reader.

Now, with all of that, this was still a great story. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this was an excellent story. So many cool things happen. Plus, the switching between characters was well done. At each chapter I felt like Jordan had given me enough for that group so I was satisfied to read some about another character group. That is a real balancing act and certain authors (like a jackass whose name rhymes with Gohn Jwynne) would have done well to learn something from this.

Reading back over what I’ve just written makes me realize how negative I’m being. While I was reading the book I enjoyed it, even while being frustrated by the characters, but as soon as I stopped to think about it, the negative really came to the forefront. I’m not sure if says more about me or about the story. Either way, I’m still recommending this series, just not as enthusiastically as in the previous 2 books.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Cursor’s Fury (Codex Alera #3) ★★★★★

cursorsfury (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: Cursor’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #3
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 654
Words: 177K

 

Synopsis:

From BN.com and Me

The power-hungry High Lord of Kalare has launched a rebellion against the aging First Lord, Gaius Sextus, who with the loyal forces of Alera must fight beside the unlikeliest of allies-the equally contentious High Lord of Aquitaine.

Meanwhile, young Tavi of Calderon joins a newly formed legion under an assumed name even as the ruthless Kalare unites with the Canim, bestial enemies of the realm whose vast numbers spell certain doom for Alera. When treachery from within destroys the army’s command structure, Tavi finds himself leading an inexperienced, poorly equipped legion-the only force standing between the Canim horde and the war-torn realm.

Steadholder Isana finds herself trapped in a city under siege by Kalare and his forces. The Canim have cast some sort of spell that turned the sky read and has filled the clouds with intangible monsters that can kill anyone who comes within reach of their clutches. This means that air travel is nigh impossible for the Knight Aeries and that the city is on its own. Fade protects Isana from an arrow but it is poisoned and he begins to die. Isana performs a very dangerous form of healing and during the process we learn what happened at the first Battle of Calderon where Isana gave birth to Tavi and Septimus died. Fade, now fully Araris, is healed and reveals his love for Isana and she returns it.

At the same time, Amara and Bernard team up with Lady Aquitaine, her 2 underlings from the first book and Rook, the woman controlled by Kalare. Lady Placida is being held hostage by Kalare and only Rook knows where. Everyone agrees to rescue Rooks little daughter while they rescue Placida. Once Lady Placida is rescued, her husband Lord Placida can unleash his forces against Kalare and help the First Lord. The rescue happens, the expected double cross from Lady Aquataine happens and Amara handles it all.

Tavi, now leading the Legion in the area of the Canim incursion, realizes that the Canim are divided between the warriors who are loyal to their War Leader Nasaug and the Ritualists who are loyal to Sarl, who we briefly met in the previous book. Tavi throws the Canim back and eventually breaks their spirit. However, he finds out that the boats were carrying the Canim nation, not just warriors, when he finds a Canim female with a newly birthed litter of pups. Tavi realizes that the Canim were not invading Alera but were fleeing their homeland.

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness! Oh My goodness!! Oh My Goodness!!!

This is exactly what I want in my Epic Fantasy. How can this book be written by the same guy who writes that whiny loser Dresden? It must be a miracle!!!! Or Butcher is just that good of an author and knows what exactly to write for each genre his series is in. Give this man a cookie. Phhh, give him the whole box of oreos!!!!

Once again, this was my “lunch break”, “down time at work (hahahahaha!”) book and I found myself making excuses to read it outside of the normal parameters. Get to work 5 minutes early? No problem, just sit in the car and read this for 5 minutes. After work, let the car warm up and read until I’m ready to drive home. Heck, have my bookbag with me with this in it and sitting in a parking lot waiting for a Craigslist deal to go through, read this!

With this being my 3rd read of this book, there obviously weren’t any surprises. Yet I wasn’t bored in any way nor did I ever come to a section and feel like “oh, here we go, hang on until we get back to the good stuff”.

The story, the characters, how the plot unfolds, it just works for me. These aren’t Dune level of books, in that there are deeper, underlying themes and ideas, but for pure entertainment that is well written and stands up to multiple re-reads, The Codex Alera just can’t be beat.

The only thing to be aware of, which might be an issue depending on your personal psychological make up, is that each book usually only takes a week to happen and then there are 2 year skips between books. From the first book to this has been 5 years. But you don’t get 5 years worth of data about Tavi growing up. You get little snapshots. That doesn’t mean there is no character growth, you just get it compressed. It works well for me but I know that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

These are big books (this was almost 700 pages) but Butcher never gets bogged down. He skillfully keeps the story moving at a breakneck pace. Onward to the next book!

★★★★★

 

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