Red Iron Nights (Garrett, PI #6) ★★★☆½

redironnights (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: Red Iron Nights
Series: Garrett, PI #6
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Garrett has been coasting on the success of the last several cases but the money is getting low. Dean moves in full time to escape all of his nieces and bugs Garrett every day. Even the Deadman gets in on the action, taking a job and handing it off to Garrett.

Then the Watch hires Garrett. Against his will. Young women, from The Hill (where the rich and aristocratic live), have been slumming it down with the plebes and something has been ritually kidnapping them and then eviscerating them, on a downward spiraling time cycle. Garrett figures out that the killer is going after a certain “type” of woman, ie, black hair in a certain style with a certain body type. They catch the killer, only to have him die and the process start all over again. Garrett realizes a curse is involved and does some digging to get to the origins of it all.

At the same time, the daughter of the local Crime Lord is on the run from the 2 cronies who are her father’s head men. The Crime Lord is being used as a puppet by the Head Men (as they tried to kill him in the last book and didn’t quite succeed) and they want to get the daughter out of the way. Said daughter also fits the bill for the type of woman the curse is seeking. Garrett helps the daughter meet many of the rich and influential while “protecting” her and she makes a power play of her own. She takes over, ousts the 2 Head Men and ends up doing the same exact thing as them.

Garrett and the Deadman finally figure out what the curse resides in and tell the Watch. They capture the latest carrier of the curse and lock the cursed object away for wizards to study when they all come back from the Cantard.

Speaking of the Cantard. Glory Mooncalled makes a huge push and partially succeeds. This cripples the ability of one of the two kingdoms fighting over the region (for the silver mines. Silver is essential for magic users). Things are looking good for Mooncalled’s Republic until the Kingdom that Garrett belongs to begins using aerial recon. This gives them such a huge advantage that everyone is talking about the war ending in a year or less. The Deadman is heartbroken, as Glory Mooncalled is his hero and Garrett realizes that things are going to change in TunFaire if all the soldiers suddenly return home.

During the process of catching the Cursed Object, the Watch begins to function like it is supposed to. However, one of it’s more zealous members initiates a new group within the watch, a nascent secret police. It is super successful and Garett and the Deadman realize that social changes are about to happen to TunFaire as well.

The book ends with Garrett having a lot of money, no woman and with the realization that the whole world is about to change and not necessarily for the better.

 

My Thoughts:

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. There is nothing spectacular that I can point to and say “THIS is what I like about the Garrett, PI books” but so far, every book I have read I simply enjoy a lot. Cook is a solid author and he knows his stuff. This is no work of art, but at the same time neither is it some grade school finger painting.

The whole thing with the Cantard and the possible changes to the city of TunFaire makes me wonder if Cook is going to go down the “Social Changes Propel the Plot” route. The whole economy of TunFaire is based on a war footing and a sudden change in that will almost literally shake the town up. Throw in the Secret Police and people not being real happy with the Nobles, well, stories with those elements can almost write themselves. Personally, I liked the Glory Mooncalled aspect, how it is revealed through dispatches and with talks between the Deadman and others. I’d be sorry to see that disappear.

I don’t ever plan on re-reading these books, hence the overly long synopsis. But if all my 3 ½ star rated books were this enjoyable, I’d be a very happy camper.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Ragged Man (Twilight Reign #4) ★★★★☆

raggedman (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 Ragged Man
Series: Twilight Reign #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 612
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

At the end of the previous book Isak killed the son of Lord Styrax, the most powerful man in the world. In his rage, Styrax did not just kill Isak, but sent him directly to Ghenna (hell) to be tortured forever. Isak had dreamed about this scenario and he and his friend Mihn, the failed Harlequin, had set in motion a plan. Mihn had covered himself in magical tattoos of invisibility to both physical and spiritual entities. With the help of a witch, Mihn travels to Ghenna and recovers Isak. Upon their return though, Isak is a thoroughly broken man and it is up to Mihn to nurse him back to some normalcy.

Styrax is a broken man by the death of his son and heir and it takes the child Azeur to snap him out of his funk and to begin leading his Menin army again. Azeur posits a passive coalition with Styrax without revealing it’s actual goal and Styrax agrees. Styrax forces a non-aggression pact with the Farlan since Lord Isak is dead and half their army destroyed. They accept since if they refuse they’ll face civil war. This allows Styrax to concentrate on the one man who might be able to stop him, King Emin.

Azeur has set in motion its plans for the Harlequin nation and has recruited them to act as preachers and messengers for it. They begin by slightly changing their stories to make the gods appear more buffoonish or tyrannical or any extreme than originally intended. The Harlequins also begin preaching about a child savior that will lead the entire land without any interference from the gods. King Emin sees the danger of this and hires men and women to kill these preachers. Many Harlequins are killed but almost nobody understands what is going on, as Harlequins have always been neutral parties before this.

Styrax and his army marches on the kingdom of Narkang and begins razing it to the ground. Isak and Emin concoct a plan, one throw of the dice, where all will be won or lost. Emin confronts Styrax and his army at a castle and a huge battle ensues. Isak catches Styrax in a trap because he doesn’t try to kill him. Isak forces the gods to help him and they strip all memories of Styrax from the land and take Styrax’s identity from him. Styrax is now the Ragged Man, a legend of a man who lost his soul and now kills in the shadows to try to get it back. The Menin army falls apart without any memory of Styrax but Emin and the kingdom of Narkang have paid for this victory in more blood than they can truly afford.

Azeur can begin its plans in earnest now that Styrax isn’t around to keep it in check.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I’ve said it before, but I am watching Lloyd’s writing skill increase right before my eyes with this series. The first 2 books were pretty rough but now, things are flowing smoothly. His skill in handling multiple points of view no longer leaves me stumbling about and the awkwardness from before is almost gone. It’s not perfect, but it is noticeably different. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever noticed such a skill increase from an author before? Maybe I never started with one that was so amateurish though. But whatever, this was good!

Mihn’s journey to hell and back was a bit slow and not very action oriented. It had me worried that the entire book was going to be like that. Thankfully, once the main story switched back to Styrax and King Emin, things got moving. The battle at the end of the book was massive. It was enjoyable. It was everything I wanted from a big epic fantasy book.

While I had serious reservations about recommending this series based on the previous books, I’d now recommend this series as long as you’re willing to deal with Lloyd’s lack of skill in the first couple of books. I realize that is a back-handed compliment, but it’s the truth. But even with that, I’d still recommend starting with Lloyd’s God Fragments series. It starts off, skill-wise, where Twilight Reign ends.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Spoils of War (Tales of the Apt #1) ★★★★☆

spoilsofwar (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: Spoils of War
Series: Tales of the Apt #1
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 278
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of 8 (I believe, I didn’t keep track) short stories taking place in the world of the Shadows of the Apt. However, these stories all take place before the first book, Empire in Black and Gold begins. Definitely meant for fans who have already read the entire decalogy and want more.

 

My Thoughts:

I am a fan of collections of short stories by a single author. You get lots of ideas and little bits and bobs without having to commit a huge amount of time. This book was under 300 pages, so each story was something I could sit down with and read in a sitting and not feel like I had started something that I needed a week to commit to. It was perfect for lunch breaks and an hour or whatever in the evening.

The stories themselves I enjoyed but none of them really stood out to me. However, that is how I usually am with collections like this so it isn’t a slur on the book, but a reflection on me. While I do review every book I read, I have never felt like I needed to review every story in a collection like this. I don’t like writing THAT much 🙂

Tchaikovsky also gave a little note after each story with an anecdote of how it came to be or how a character tied into the Shadows series. It was enjoyable but also made me realize that even side characters who I’d completely forgotten about played a big part in the author’s mind when he was writing. Good for him, I guess?

Most of the stories dealt with the 12 Year War between the Empire and the entity ruled by the dragonfly, the Commonweal perhaps? I can’t remember. Thoroughly enjoyable but I’m not sure I’d recommend this for someone who hasn’t read the Shadows series first. A lot is assumed here in terms of understanding the Kinden. That kind of thing is explained in the Shadows series so it’s not a stumbling block coming into this, but if you were just starting out with this, I can see it being very confusing.

Final verdict is that I enjoyed the bejabs out of this and highly recommend it for anyone who has read and enjoyed the main Shadows series.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #1) ★★★★☆

fellowshipofthering (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: Fellowship of the Ring
Series: Lord of the Rings #1
Author: John Tolkien
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bilbo, after the events from The Hobbit, has settled down to a nice slightly eccentric life. He adopts one of his nephews, Frodo, as his heir and begins to write his memoirs. On his One Hundred and Eleventieth birthday, Bilbo disappears and leaves everything to Frodo. Only Gandalf knows that Bilbo has gone to Rivendell.

Several decades later Gandalf visits Frodo and reveals that the little gold ring that allowed Bilbo to turn invisible, and that he left to Frodo, is actually a ring of great power, possibly The One Ring that was made by Sauron to control all the other rings of power. Gandalf tells Frodo he needs to go to Rivendell to take counsel and that he, Gandalf, will return in a year to help guide him there.

A year passes and no word of Gandalf. Frodo has been preparing and his cover story is that he is moving to Buckland, another settlement of hobbits. Two of his cousins, Merry and Pippin, along with Frodo’s gardener Sam, have all been helping him move. On the way to Buckland, Frodo runs into a black rider that inspires complete unreasoning terror in his heart. No longer knowing who to trust, Frodo and his companions begin their trek to Rivendell.

Having several adventures, the hobbits meet up with Strider, a human ranger who Gandalf trusted. They all head for Rivendell, doing their best to avoid the attention of the Black Riders, who Strider reveals are Ringwraiths, Sauron’s powerful underlings. The Group makes it to Rivendell and Gandalf shows up. He tells them that the head of the Wizard’s Council, Saruman the White, has been corrupted by a lust for power. Now the world must deal with Sauron and Sarumon, both who want the One Ring for the power it contains. Elrond, the elven lord of Rivendell, tells that the Ring will corrupt any being who uses it and that it must be destroyed. The only way to destroy it is to cast it back into the fiery Mount Doom from which it was created.

A Company is gathered. They set out. Hindered in many ways, they must eventually decide what they are going to do with the Ring. Gandalf perishes defending them from a Balrog, a being almost equal in power to Sauron himself. Eventually, one of the Companions, a human named Boromir, falls under the influence of the Ring and tries to take it from Frodo.

Frodo flees, along with Sam and heads off on his own towards Mt Doom. The book ends with the Fellowship breaking apart and heading their own ways.

 

My Thoughts:

This is going to be a lot shorter of a review than my 2012 one.

I enjoyed this but was not raving about it. A thoroughly good story that is at once personal and cozy and yet epic in scope all at the same time. It is no wonder that this trilogy ended up spawning the Fantasy Genre as we know it today.

The reason this doesn’t get more than 4stars from, and never will, is all the blasted songs and poetry. Sometimes they contained pertinent information to the current story and other times they were simply a history lesson and at others they were just an expression by the character. You never knew which. I ended up just skipping them, plot points be forsaken.

Anyone who reads Fantasy should read this trilogy. Period.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Od Magic ★★★★★

odmagic (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: Od Magic
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 328
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Brenden Vetch saved most of his village from the plague but he couldn’t save his parents. He learned the magic of plants all on his own and now he wanders, listening to what the plants tell him. One day a woman named Od appears before him and tells him to go to her school in the big city, as she needs a gardener. He’ll know the entrance by the sign with the boot on it. Sick at heart and ready for a change, Brenden goes and finds the door. He enters, meets a wizard and finds out that only very special people ever find the door with the boot on it. All the other students enter through the front gate.

The King of the city, and his ancestors, started the school in honor of Od when she saved the kingdom hundreds of years ago. Slowly they have usurped its powers and decreed that only magic they control is allowed.

A wandering magician enters the city, only to entertain. But circumstances set the king off so he sets his own wizards on the trail of the magician to either control him or remove him and his troupe (said magician performs magics of illusions for the crowds) from the city.

At the same time the princess is to be married off to the head wizard, a man who is controlled completely by the rules of magic that the kings have set up. When she realizes this wizard will never allow her her own small magics taught her by her grandmother, she runs away to find the wandering magician to learn outside magic and to gain her freedom. This sets the King off even more.

At the same time Brenden accidentally shows what he is capable of to the head wizard. Realizing what he has done, Brenden runs away. The Head Wizard chases after him.

Everybody ends up in the North Country where there are 8 Stumps, which are beings of immeasurable power but who are afraid of humanity. Turns out Od is their representative to Humanity so they can all co-exist. Brenden must help the human magicians look beyond the limits they’ve set for themselves so that they won’t be afraid of unknown magic.

 

My Thoughts:

This hit the spot. I really needed a good book after the stinkers I had last week. I slid right into the rhythm of the story like sliding into silk pajamas. My mind and senses felt caressed by the writing. It was just plain soothing.

There was a LOT going on. Brenden’s story, the wandering Magician, the Princess, the Stumps, Od herself, and all of the side characters swept along by each of the main characters. In a good way, it was easy to lose myself in the story. But I never felt like McKillip lost a thread or made a mistep there. Each character was balanced within the overarching plot and at no time did I ever feel like a particular point of view was too long or too short. It just flowed together perfectly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, every sentence of it. I had no issues with anything, well except maybe for wishing it was slightly longer, but I feel that way about every McKillip book. Of course, she writes just the right amount for the story she is telling.

If you haven’t started to read McKillip’s body of work by now, then nothing I can say will galvanize you. You won’t get any contempt from me, just pity. And trust me, getting pitied by me means you’re pretty low on the totem pole…

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dance of the Dead (Ravenloft #3) ★☆☆☆½

danceofthedead (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: Dance of the Dead
Series: Ravenloft #3
Author: Christie Golden
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Franchise Fiction
Pages: 310
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Raoul Dumont, captain of a paddle boat, steams up and down the rivers of Ravenloft bringing cheer and entertainment to all the small towns he visits. His troupe of actors regular perform a play he has written and Dumont’s young ward, Larissa Snowmane, is growing into her role as the villain of the piece.

However, while staying at an elven town, the main starlet of the show turns up dead and Dumont suspects the Elven Lord. He and the Crew make a run for it and pass through the mists. They come to a small town that Larissa recognizes as the one she grew up in many years ago before her father abandoned her to Dumont’s care.

Dumont begins to show his true colors and tries to take advantage of Larissa. She escapes, meets a young man named Willen and finds out that Dumont has a group of magical creatures as slaves in the hold of his boat. Dumont’s goal is to find a magical creature in this small town and in this he is aided by a Necromancer named Lond. Lond begins turning the crew into zombies that are directly controlled by Dumont. Lond wants out of the town, as he has made an enemy of the Lord of the Manor, a vampiric necromancer of immense power.

Larissa escapes into the swamp, finds out her white hair (hence the name Snowmane) gives her a special connection and is taught by the Swamp Witch. However, before they can attack Dumont or Lond, they must get permission from the Lord of the Manor, as nothing occurs without his personal approval. He teaches Larissa the Dance of the Dead and sends her on her way.

A battle ensues between the gang on the boat and denizens of the swamp. Things aren’t looking good for Larissa’s friends as Lond is just resurrecting them and using them for his side. Larissa dances the Dance of the Dead (which she was told would allow her to control all zombies) only to find out that not only can she control all zombies but she makes zombies of anyone who watches the dance. Willen gets zombified and Lond kills Dumont to try to escape. Lond ends up dying in a contest of wills and Larissa’s group wins.

The book ends with the remaining non-zombies asking Larissa to be the Captain of the Boat and she begins making eyes at one of the men.

 

My Thoughts:

What an utter piece of tripe. This had every cliché and trope possible for “Young Heroine Comes Into Her Own”.

Also, nothing about this seems to actually be in the Realm of Ravenloft. If Dumont could travel willy-nilly through the mists, he could have made himself king. This was just a Grl Power fantasy book with the name “Ravenloft” stamped on it.

A stinker of a book. If the next Ravenloft book is anything close to this I’m done with the series. I always knew this would happen but I have to admit I was hoping it wouldn’t happen until later in the series.

C’est la Vie!

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dread Brass Shadows (Garrett, PI #5) ★★★☆½

dreadbrassshadows (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: Dread Brass Shadows
Series: Garrett, PI #5
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Garrett walks out his front door one day and sees his sex buddy, Tinny Tate, stabbed in front of his eyes. He and one of his buddies chase the perp down but the guy knows nothing, almost like whoever sent him knew the Dead Man lived at Garrett’s house. Garrett tells Tinny’s uncle and he has her taken home where she receives the best medical care money can buy. Uncle Tate also tells Garrett to find whoever sent the perp and that he, Uncle Tate, wants a piece of them.

The next day a nude, wounded redhead who looks remarkably like Tinny collapses on Garrett’s front step. He brings her in to recover. The Dead Man tells Garrett to go visit the local head of the Dwarves. After the interview in which Garrett learns that a “Book of Shadows” is somehow involved, he is attacked by an out of town gang of dwarves. He is saved by two of the guys who work for the local Crime Lord. When Garrett gets home the redhead has disappeared.

The next day yet ANOTHER redhead shows up, wanting to hire Garrett to find this book of Shadows. It was created by a witch and can allow anyone who reads it to turn into other people. Garrett can only imagine what could be done with that and sets out to find it just so he can destroy it.

The Crime Lord gets involved as he knows he can almost live forever with a book like that under his control. He knows Garrett will get in his way and so he tries to kill him. The 2 henchman, who are the Crime Lord’s Right and Left Hand, abandon him when they realize they’ll never be able to replace him, as he will never die. They contact Garrett and ask for help in assassinating the Crime Lord.

Everybody, Tates, Dwarves, the Witch who created the Book, Garrett and Henchman, and Others, all converge on the Crime Lord’s estate. A huge blood bath ensues but nobody knows where the book is. Garrett eventually remembers that the Nude Redhead had a parcel with her and finds it at his house, under the bed. Voila, the book. He destroys it.

Life settles down back to normal, as normal as life in TunFaire can be anyway.

 

My Thoughts:

Cook did a very good job of keeping me as mystified as Garrett. I hadn’t a clue what was going on and while a sharper minded person might have remembered the package and deduced everything, I’d completely forgotten about it and so was completely at sea.

A simple mystery for a simple man. I was happy, for the most part, with what I read. Each book I have to wrestle with Garrett being a womanizing, immoral pig. It’s the main reason these will never get a real high rating from me, no matter how much I might enjoy them. But once I deal with that, then I enjoy the rest of the book. It has been that way for every book and I suspect it will be that way for each future book as well.

I did like the shakeup of the Crime Lord getting whacked and his two subordinates taking over. That should help make any future storylines a tad bit different, even if only superficially. But considering these are superficial stories, that should be enough.

More of the same, more of the same.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)