Blackwing (Raven’s Mark #1) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

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Title: Blackwing
Series: Raven’s Mark #1
Author: Ed McDonald
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 325/120
Words: 119K/40K



Synopsis:

DNF’d at approximately the 30% mark.

My Thoughts:

Besides the profanity I mentioned in my previous Currently Reading & Quote post, McDonald also crossed one of the lines for what I’ll not accept in my entertainment reading. As such, I am done with this book, this series and this author.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Lord of Chaos (The Wheel of Time #6) ★★★☆☆


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 & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Lord of Chaos
Series: The Wheel of Time #6
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 976
Words: 405K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Trying to find a way to cure stilling, Nynaeve probes Siuan with the Power. She senses something cut. They learn Siuan can sense Moghedien through an a’dam, but she can’t make her feel anything or touch saidar. Elayne has made an a’dam without the chain, which they can use on Moghedien in her Marigan disguise without arousing suspicion. An embassy is sent to Caemlyn to deal with Rand. Min goes with the embassy. Perrin senses Rand needing him and sets off to find him, with two hundred Two Rivers men. While arranging a meeting with the Aiel, a peddler tells Gawyn that Morgase is dead, killed by the Dragon Reborn. Aginor and Balthamel wake with new bodies and are told by Shaidar Haran that they are now called Osan’gar and Aran’gar. Aran’gar is female, which does not please her. Demandred receives instructions from the the Dark One in Shayol Ghul. Demandred, Graendal, Semirhage and Mesaana make plans. Sammael and Graendal taunt each other. Semirhage tortures an Aes Sedai.

In Amador, Morgase tries to get help from King Ailron. Pedron Niall says she should use the Whitecloaks. She sees Paitr Conel, an Andoran who was helping her escape, hanged for being a Darkfriend. She believes that this was just an excuse and the help he was giving her was the real reason. She gives in and signs a treaty allowing the Whitecloaks access to Andor.

Elayne has been making new dream ter’angreal and teaching Sheriam’s circle about Tel’aran’rhiod. They go to the White Tower to read reports on what Elaida is doing. The Aes Sedai fall into a nightmare, from which Elayne and Siuan are forced to rescue them, though no one believes Elayne went in deliberately. Elayne visits Andor, where she is seen by Demandred.

An ambassador from the White Tower arrives. To put her off, she is told more time is needed before a decision can be made. Nynaeve overhears this and, using need, she and Elayne look in the World of Dreams for an object to force them to help Rand. After first been taken to the Tower, they go to Ebou Dar, where they find a bowl-shaped ter’angreal that Elayne believes will fix the weather.

Theodrin gets Nynaeve drunk to try and clear her block. Angry about this and other things, Nynaeve accidentally Heals Logain of his gentling. She repeats the process on Siuan and Leane, though they are only partly Healed. The Yellows are surprised by her use of all Five Powers. They grab her and make her demonstrate it repeatedly. Leane and Siuan visit her later to ask her to try again because their low strength means they will not be very influential. Aran’gar arrives and stays with Delana.

In Caemlyn, Rand practices the sword in front of sycophantic nobles, with anyone willing to fight him. Bashere tries to stab him, to make the point that Rand doesn’t need to use a sword, and is stopped only by Rand’s quick actions.

Mazrim Taim arrives in Caemlyn and claims to want a compact between them, but agrees to merely serve when Rand refuses. Rand wonders about his sanity and realizes he doesn’t like him. Taim gives Rand one of the seals, which Lews Therin’s voice insists he must destroy. They travel to a nearby farm where there are candidates to learn channeling. The first one tested, Damer Flinn, is capable. Rand learns that several of the High Lords of Tear are now rebelling against him.

Mat sees two men attacking a small boy. He beats them and takes the boy, Olver. He starts preparations to go to Illian.

Bael and Bashere take Rand to an inn, where Verin and Alanna are staying with several Two Rivers girls on their way to be Aes Sedai. Alanna bonds him as her Warder. She tries to use this to make him obey her, but is unable and he shields both of them. He frightens the girls when he tells them he is the Dragon Reborn. He gives Taim permission to go looking for new recruits.

Egwene gets drawn into Gawyn’s dream while supposedly keeping away from the World of Dreams. She learns this can only happen with emotion so strong it leaves no room for much else. She realizes that she loves Gawyn.

The higher ranked Andoran lords visit Rand. Dyelin tells him about Tigraine, and he finally realizes Tigraine was his mother. The lords threaten to rise against him if he tries to keep the throne. Sammael offers a truce, which Rand refuses. Sammael claims Rand accepts it, using this to gain some control over Graendal. Rand Travels to Cairhien.

Rand sets Berelain to running the city. The Wise Ones take to her, much to Egwene’s confusion. Berelain is allowing noblewomen to form societies based on the Maidens. Rand visits a school he has set up, where people are inventing all sorts of things. He talks to Herid Fel about Warders and the seals. On his return, Egwene asks for help with the Wise Ones. He refuses.

Ogier arrive and ask about Loial. Rand convinces them to tell him where the Waygates are. They go to Shadar Logoth to place a trap for Shadowspawn around the Waygate there. Sulin talks to one of the gai’shain as though she is still a Maiden. To make up for this, she becomes a servant. One of the Maidens, Liah, disappears. They spend the rest of the day looking for her before Rand Travels to the Two Rivers, where he leaves the Ogier.

Vanin finds murdered Tinkers. That night, one of the Forsaken drops Aiel into Mat’s camp, but they are killed before they can seriously harm him. Mat gives Olver a job carrying messages, mostly as an excuse to keep him around and ensure he is fed and looked after.

Egwene goes into Cairhien and sees the Tower embassy. She also meets Gawyn, who is convinced Rand murdered Morgase. She makes him promise not to harm Rand. They reveal that they love each other, and Egwene says she’ll bond him as her Warder.

Whitecloaks try to kill Rand, killing one of the Maidens instead. Rand hangs them, but sends one to Pedron Niall, to tell him that he will hang for it. Egwene goes to Rand to try and tell him how to behave with the Aes Sedai. They arrive while she is still there, so he hides her. He tells them he can feel when they embrace saidar, though Galina doesn’t believe he can sense it. Later, Rand senses a Gray Man and holds him in Air. Taim arrives and kills it. He tells Rand that a student, Narishma, has the spark, and would channel without being taught. Rand is sent a letter from Queen Alliandre, which is very friendly.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene is summoned to Salidar while Rand watches secretly. She enters in the flesh and goes in one night, after first having the Wise Ones beat her for lying to them. When she arrives, she is told she is to be Amyrlin. After a little opposition, mostly formalities and Sitters trying to show they won’t be pushovers, the Hall agrees. As her first decree, she raises Nynaeve, Elayne, Faolain and Theodrin to full Aes Sedai. Rand sends Mat and the Band to Salidar to fetch Elayne. Aviendha goes with them to make up toh to Elayne. Lan arrives in Salidar in secret.

Egwene is told about Moghedien and agrees that they can learn from her. She says there will be no more putting people out of the Tower and that anyone will be allowed to enter if she can. Egwene learns from Moghedien how to Travel, though she had already figured it out herself.

Mat arrives and Egwene uses the presence of the Band to force the rebels to move towards Tar Valon. Elayne and Nynaeve go to Ebou Dar with Mat, who has promised Rand that he will stay with Elayne. Aviendha tells Elayne of what happened between her and Rand and offers to let Elayne beat or stab her. Elayne decides that she doesn’t want to. On the way, Elayne goes out of her way to irritate Mat. The girls move into the palace, while Mat moves into an inn run by Setalle Anan.

Min and the Salidar embassy arrive in Caemlyn and she goes straight to Rand. She sees Melaine and reveals that she is to have twin daughters. Min gives her opinions on the Aes Sedai that came with her. Rand goes to warn Taim away from them. He tells the students that they are to be known as Asha’man.

Perrin arrives and talks to Bashere, who is very much annoyed about Faile’s marriage. He threatens to take her away, and Perrin threatens him in turn. He stands up to Deira, Bashere’s wife, and they decide that Faile is old enough to marry. Perrin makes Faile promise not to spy on Rand. One of the Aes Sedai in the embassy is attacked by Aiel. They go to tell Rand that it is unacceptable and that they will do as they wish from then on. He has no idea what they are talking about and tells them things will remain and they are to show respect. He dismisses them. Bera and Kiruna arrive and take control. This takes the number to thirteen, the number traditionally used to gentle men. Rand flees to Cairhien, taking Min, Perrin and Loial. He tells Merana to follow with no more than five others. Bera and Kiruna ignore this, taking nine.

In Cairhien, Rand tries to put the Tower embassy off while Berelain stalks Perrin. Eventually they grow tired and kidnap Rand, claiming that Rand has gone and they are fed up of waiting. When Dobraine reveals Meilan and Maringil have been murdered, probably on Colavaere’s orders, and Berelain reveals Rand has left his sword, Perrin realizes that the Aes Sedai have taken him and resolves to get him back. Sulin stops acting as a servant.

The Aes Sedai punish Rand for trying to escape and killing Warders when he saw Min being beaten. Sevanna visits to discuss her arrangement with the Aes Sedai. She has her Wise Ones kill one of their own, who is against her, and blames the Aes Sedai to get the Shaido to fight them. Perrin takes Maidens, siswai’aman and Wise Ones with him. On the way, he talks to wolves, who are furious to learn of Rand’s capture. They are also joined by the Two Rivers men and the Aes Sedai from Caemlyn. Sulin and another Maiden, Nandera, fight for leadership of the Maidens. Sorilea and Amys talk to discuss leadership of the Wise Ones.

They catch up with the Tower Aes Sedai, who are besieged by the Shaido. Led by Perrin, they charge. Taim and the Asha’man arrive through gateways. In the confusion, Rand breaks through the shield on him, stilling the three still holding it. He wanders around, shielding and knocking unconscious any Aes Sedai he sees. Gawyn escapes. The area is secured and the Shaido dispersed by the Asha’man who simply butcher them. Taim forces the Salidar Aes Sedai to swear fealty to Rand as punishment for bringing more than six.

Egwene releases Logain, who goes to join Rand. Moghedien is rescued by Aran’gar and goes to Shayol Ghul. Herid Fel is killed by a gholam.

My Thoughts:

Thank goodness for good ol’ Toral. He has saved me years of work (at least it feels that way) AND if I ever get the itch to re-read this series, I can just read his synopses and be done.

This book is where I start to struggle with the series overall. It also appears to be the same book that I struggled with in the past. Back in ’11 I only gave this 3 stars. I didn’t rate it in 2000, but that is because I wasn’t rating anything back then. In fact, as I type this, I still don’t know what I’m going to rate this. I guess I’m going to write what I write and then add the star rating after the fact.

I was really torn about this book. There were times where I was almost jumping up and screaming “Yes! AWESOME!!!!!” and other times where I just stopped reading because I was so angry/annoyed/disgusted. This was a big book, at over 400K words. In fact, it is the longest book in the series so far.

The best part of the book, for me, was the battle at the end where everyone comes together to rescue Rand from the Aes Sedai and the Shado Aiel. The ashaman, the male version of Aes Sedai that Rand is gathering, just rip apart the Shado. Jordan aptly describes it like a meat grinder and I completely got that vibe from how he describes it. It was horrifying and yet perfect for the situation.

The bad parts though? Just ugh. The quote I did from my Currently Reading post really expressed it well. Unfortunately. Egwene was about the only woman who didn’t act like a complete bitch for the entire book. It was beyond aggravating to read such characters. Then the guys were just stupidly “take charge and protect” and ignoring just what the girls were turning into (powerful Aes Sedai able to take care of themselves). Nobody actually talked to each other, they just told and did and commanded. Everybody. And of course, it didn’t turn out well for anyone. You can’t tell the Dragon Reborn what to do. You can’t tell the Amyrlin Seat what to do. I think what really got me though was the little bit about Perrin and Faile. They are married but Berelain, a woman who is a queen of a small country is chasing Perrin. Perrin is doing his best to avoid her but somehow pisses off Faile in the process. But neither Perrin nor Faile will talk to the other about what is going on and it gets worse and worse. Stubbornness, pride and stupidity were on display at all times.

I don’t want to read that. There is no need for it. It also reinforces my decision to not re-read this series again. I will finish this series this time, but never again. Which means that I’m going to give this 3 stars again.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Gilded Latten Bones (Garrett, PI #13) ★★★☆☆


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Gilded Latten Bones
Series: Garrett, PI #13
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 348
Words: 101K



Synopsis:

Garrett’s taking a stab at domestic bliss with the fiery Tinnie Tate, who tells him just how high to jump. He’s even sworn off his investigations, causing the criminal element no end of joy. Then he waylays a pair of home intruders in the middle of the night and learns they’ve been paid to kidnap Tinnie. But even they are not quite sure who hired them.

Not many in TunFaire have the brawn — or lack of brains — to tangle with the Tate clan., But as Garrett rushes to find out who is suffering from a deadly attack of hubris, he learns he’s not the only one with unwanted callers: His best friend, Morley Dotes — a half elf of stunning good looks and dubious moral fiber — has been attacked and left for dead. Now Garrett has to track down both malefactors.

Unless they’re really one and the same — in which case Garrett might be next.

Turns out Morley saw the Royal Carriage where he shouldn’t, at a completely evil necromancer’s place and the King was the customer. With pressure from Tinnie to stay out of it, to a royal decree by Prince Rupert to stay out of it and all of his friends telling him to stay out of it, Garrett stays out of it.

Yeah. He nurses Morley back to health, is the mastermind at the hub of a ring of informants (because the Deadman is pretty much out of commission by a confrontation with the evil necromancers) and defies both Law, King and the Criminal Queen to get to the bottom of it all.

In the end, Tinnie leaves Garrett because she can’t stand sharing him with his friends or his job and Garrett wastes no time jumping in bed with one of the Sorceress’s from the Hill. Garrett also realizes that he isn’t the “beat” detective he used to be and his actions affect a whole slew of people, so no hairing off to get clubbed on the head just for the heck of it.

My Thoughts:

I actually enjoyed this for the most part. Except for 2 parts. First, Garrett is as big a lech as ever and I’m not even referring to the Sorceress, but almost every other lady. Second, Tinnie and Garrett’s breakup just rang of Cook wanting to try something new and making each of them behave in ways that simply don’t fit with how they’ve acted previously. Sure, Tinnie is bossie and Garrett has known her all his life, but that’s not enough of a reason for them to simply call it quits. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the last season of the tv show “Frasier”. Frasier, the main character, has been searching for a romantic partner since the beginning of the show and suddenly in the last season, she appears and is shoe-horned into the story. That’s how this felt. Not natural but shoe-horned.

Other than those 2 items, this was as confusing as ever 😀 I had no idea who the bad guys where, what they wanted, why they were doing what they were or why they even existed. Thankfully, I’m an old hand at this kind of read and simply sat back and let the author reveal things when he thought it was time, even if it was stupid.

Garrett has become a powerful enough entity in Tun Faire that he essentially can tell the Crown Prince to shove it and the Crown Prince can’t do much. Garrett is connected with powerful people, on all sides of the legal spectrum and he’s not afraid to use those connections.

With only one more book to go, we’ll have to see how Cook wraps things up. The Deadman obviously has to leave, Garrett doesn’t need him anymore but I don’t see where he’ll go. Garrett is going to hook up with Miss Sorceress and the money will keep rolling in from his investments managed by the rat girl. Everything is going to get wrapped up, I just hope it’s not too quick a wrap up like the change in this book between Garrett and Tinnie.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Copper Assassin (Tales of Wyverna #1) ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Copper Assassin
Series: Tales of Wyverna #1
Author: Madolyn Rogers
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 238
Words: 88K



Synopsis:

Gorbo Oribul, a young rich spoiled youngling of a semi-important house, has too much time on his hands. When the pleasures that keep his peers occupied begin to pale for him, he starts looking elsewhere. When an assignation with a water wizards leads him to overhearing of a plot to destroy the ruler of the city of Wyvernia, Gorbo starts down a path he can never turn back from.

Having found out that an unstoppable magical construct, known as the Copper Assassin, has been recovered from a city that destroyed itself using the Assassin, Gorbo must figure out how to stop the assassin from killing the Warlord and plunging Wyvernia into civil war and utter ruin.

Overcoming many odds, picking up a magical spider sidekick, making his way through magical obstacles, Gorbo is able to warn the Warlord. She in turns uses the confusion of events to take down the usurper, control the construct and recruit Gorbo into her ranks.

The book ends with Gorbo realizing he’s entered a phase of life that he desperately wants to escape from. The problem is the only way to escape is to go deeper into the system setup by the Warlord.

My Thoughts:

This was an “ok” read. I have a bad feeling I’m reaching that stage of life where I’m starting to see more and more of “read that, been there”. This had some cool ideas and while the world building was a bit rough nothing in it turned me off. But it just felt like I’ve read it all before.

I’m going to lump all my negatives in one paragraph, just so it doesn’t seem I’m doing nothing but ragging on this book. First off, Gorbo gets break after break and it really bothered me. Plus, at 18 he’s preternaturally wise. Then there was this couple of sentences and one in particular really bothered me:

Gorgo prowled forward, nerves on edge. No sound startled him, no shadow moved, yet the frozen deathliness of that place only frayed his nerves more. The view around him never changed. The icy glob of light never neared. Hairs prickled along the back of his neck, and sweat chilled his skin.

Can you pick out the offending sentence? I asked Mrs B, our household’s resident holder of a Bachelors English Lit degree and she said it was technically correct. It felt like fingernails on a chalkboard to me though. Finally, the Copper Assassin is described as a female even when in construct form. I’m including a high res cover at the end of this review because it is so awesome. Does that look in anyway what you’d describe as female? Nothing in the book description led me to the conclusion that it was female and while covers usually lie their backsides off, I’m still choosing to say the cover adequately shows the Copper Assassin.

Most of the good stuff was more like “not bad” stuff. For an indie book, I noticed no errors nor did the writing throw me out of the story. Gorbo (Mr Gorbo, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL! Hahahahahhahaa) was fleshed out enough as a character that he had zero cardboard attached to him. He wasn’t an idea of a character but WAS a character. Sometimes indies seem to have problems with that, but not here thankfully. The little magical spider was a good touch and wasn’t the least bit creepy.

To end, if there had been more books immediately available (this was released this past March I believe) I would have read them. As it is, I’ll wait a couple of years to see what else Mrs Rogers produces in this series. Hopefully I’ll remember :-/

I’d like to thank Off the TBR for bringing this book to my attention. He showcased it in a Book Haul and the cover immediately caught my eye. I don’t think he’s reviewed it but I couldn’t find any way to search his site to confirm one way or another.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

House of Many Ways (World of Howl #3) ★★★★☆


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: House of Many Ways
Series: World of Howl #3
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 162
Words: 70.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

Charmain Baker has led a respectable, and relaxing sheltered life. She has spent her days with her nose in a book, never learning how to do even the smallest household chores. When she suddenly ends up looking after the tiny cottage of her ill Great-Uncle William she seems happy for the adventure, but the easy task of house-sitting is complicated by the fact that Great-Uncle William is also the Royal Wizard Norland and his magical house bends space and time.

Though she is supposed to clean up the mess William has left the house in, Charmain knows next to nothing about magic, and yet she seems to work it in the most unexpected way. The house’s single door can lead to almost any place – from other rooms like the kitchen, to faraway places like the Royal Palace, and even other time periods. In her first days in the magical house she ends up looking after a magical stray dog named Waif, encounters a horrible lubbock, has to share a roof with a confused young apprentice wizard named Peter, tries to work some spells from William’s library, and deals with a clan of small blue creatures called Kobolds.

When Charmain is caught up in an intense royal search to remedy the kingdom’s financial troubles, she encounters Sophie Pendragon, her son Morgan, a beautiful child named Twinkle, and their fire demon Calcifer. One of the messes Twinkle gets Charmain into results in Twinkle climbing onto the roof of the Royal Mansion. She is soon involved in curing the kingdom of its ills and rediscovering the long-lost mystical Elfgift.

Calcifer destroys the Lubbock, Howl turns the Lubbockin (children of the Lubbock) into tiny versions and Waif eats them, as she turns out to be a magical dog and the Elfgift. She is bonded to Charmain, who it looks like will be the next royal wizard after her ever so great Uncle William passes on. Peter turns out to be the next heir of Norland and all the missing money is found, making Norland solvent again.

My Thoughts:

This was pretty good, rather good in fact, but there was something missing that I can’t put my finger on that made me give this 4 stars instead of 5. Pretty much what I’ve written about Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air still apply here, but something didn’t quite fill me perfectly up.

Other than something that I can’t even describe or figure out, this was another fantastic entry in the World of Howl series. Reading this trilogy so close together has been a very enjoyable experience and I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve tried other DWJ books and they didn’t really work as well for me, so I’m going to just wish there were more Howl books and leave it at that.

Having such success with this does make me wonder what other middle grade books I should try. I don’t know if I’m brave enough or willing enough to attempt that though. I think my best bet is to just relish what I’ve read here and leave it alone. No need to get greedy.

★★★★☆

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


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

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

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Kyria d’Oreyn

Lan’s point of view

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

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

Moiraine’s point of view

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

* claps hands *

Now pay close attention, class.

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

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

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

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

★★★★★

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

castleintheair (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Castle in the Air
Series: World of Howl #2
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 176
Words: 67K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

★★★★★

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

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Series: World of Howl #1
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 206
Words: 76K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★★

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


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

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



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

★★★☆½

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

firstlordsfury (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: First Lord’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #7
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 758
Words: 202K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★★