The Book of Atrix Wolfe ★★★★ ½

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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 Book of Atrix Wolfe
Series: ——
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 254
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Atrix Wolfe, a powerful mage, is drawn into a conflict between 2 Kingdoms. One fateful night he uses his magic to put an end to the conflict and things go horribly wrong. He conjures The Hunter, a living nightmare of pain, terror and death. One king dies, the other flees, broken completely.

Many years later, the 2nd son of the dead king, is attending the Wizards School. He is recalled home and takes a book with him. His elder brother, unable to have heirs, makes him the heir and wants him to settle down and begin stabilizing the royal line, ie, get married and start making babies. Prince Talus agrees but still wants to study the magic book he brought home, little realizing it is the Book of Atrix Wolfe and the words contained are twisted by Wolfe’s despair at what he had done all those years ago.

In his mucking about, Talus calls the attention of the Hunter again, gets kidnapped by the Queen of the Faeries and is the fulcrum upon which turns the fates of many. The Hunter’s nightmare must end, the Faerie Queen’s daughter returned, Atrix Wolfe atoning for his misdeeds and Talus saving his brother’s life.

Just like a fairytale, there is a satisfying ending, even if not a happy ending, for everyone’s storyline.

 

My Thoughts:

The Book of Atrix Wolfe was my first McKillip book. I read it back in ’05 and over the next 2 years gobbled up her back list of books. I had never come across an author who wrote like this and it blew my mind. I became a fan of hers with this book and it holds one of those special places in my mind.

So it was with trepidation that I began my re-read. Things change in 12 years. My “little cousin” was in first grade and a bossy little boy when I first read this. Now he’s 6’4” and graduated highschool. I am now married, bald [well, shaved. Receding hairline isn’t fun for anyone] and about 25lbs more muscular [hahaha]. Of course, most of the changes are inside and not always easy to see or for me to even know. * insert Zen aphorism about mirrors and the back of one’s head *

My concerns were well founded, unfortunately. The story was just as good, the writing even better. But I could not accept the lack of communication between the various characters. The Faerie Queen’s lover and her daughter have disappeared on the fateful night and she has been looking for them ever since. She knows that Atrix Wolfe is responsible, but instead of asking for his help, she kidnaps Talus, uses him as a go between and even then STILL doesn’t actually tell him what is wrong. Atrix Wolfe won’t tell anyone about the Hunter, even while it is active again. Talus won’t tell his brother about the Faerie Queen and just goes off and does his own thing.

It was all extremely fairy tale like, so that type of thing is expected. But it really bothered me this time around and I couldn’t get past it. I knocked off half a star for that. It didn’t help that I’d been dealing with a sore back, lack of work and issues at church. I didn’t have the patience or reserves to accept the foibles of fictional characters.

Other than that issue, this WAS just as good as before. McKillip is a master wordsmith and her use of the english language is enchanting. She doesn’t just use words and sentences “correctly”, she knows them and the rules well enough so that she can “weave” them. It is the difference between a paint by numbers picture of the Mona Lisa and the actual Mona Lisa.

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. The Book of Atrix Wolfe (2005 Review)

Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt #4) ★★★★★

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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: Salute the Dark
Series: Shadows of the Apt #4
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 326
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Empire is spread thin. Stenwold Maker knows this and sends out various people to other cities to stir up rebellion. If enough cities can rebel at the same time, the Wasp Empire’s grasp might be broken.

Stenwold goes to the Commonwealth. Salme continues the fight for the Ant Cities with his Irregulars. Che sneaks off to yet another city while Acheaos, only partly recovered, takes part in a Moth Ritual that kills him. Thalric ends up coming back to the Empire, killing one of the three Rekef Generals and goes back to Capitas in chains.

Tisamon, twisted by his Mantis honor, leaves Felise and heads to Capitas, drawn by the power of the Darakyon Box. Said Box is firmly under the control of Uctebri, a Mosquito kinden. Uctebri is plotting against Emperor Alvdan II with plans to replace him with his sister, who will be Uctebri’s puppet.

Totho and Drephos, tasked with making an example of the Bee City, set up the first chemical warfare test. The creators of the gas kill themselves in remorse and Totho ends up gassing the Wasp soldiers instead and running off with a damaged Drephos.

Tisamon and Felise meet as Gladiators in Capitas and attempt to assassinate the Emperor. Unbeknownst to them, they were only a distraction for Uctebri and Seda to kill Alvdan and use the Blood of an Emperor to gain access to the Darakyon Box. Nothing goes according to plan though. Tisamon and Felise kill Uctebri, destroy the Box and are killed in turn. Seda must convince the Wasp populace to accept a Wasp Empress and recalls all the armies to consolidate her power. This recall, along with the various rebellions, allow many city states to survive as Free Cities.

Of the 4 Conspirators we are introduced to in Book 1, Stenwold the beetle, Tisamon the mantis, Atrissa the spider and Nero the fly, only Stenwold is still alive. And of his apprentices, Che, Tynisia and Totho are the only ones still alive by the end of the book. Many of his apprentices die heroic, noble deaths, but die they do.

War grinds bones and hearts alike.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an excellent book. In the previous book I was saying how I wasn’t enjoying this series as much upon this re-read. Well, this book definitely put paid to that idea.

The odd thing, this book is about death. So many characters die. If you just told me the synopsis, I’d probably roll over in despair. But HOW they die, the writing itself, redeems their deaths from a hopeless struggle into something greater. Tchaikovsky manages to show how horrible death is, how inevitable and yet have his characters overcome it by their selflessness. Prince Salme, leader of the Irregulars, is the prime example of this. I can’t put into words, but Tchaikovsky makes him a Hero, even while killing him off.

The other wonderful thing is the character development. Being a sensitive kind of fellow [he says while being reminded that morning by a coworker about the time he chased down and stomped a mouse to death with his combat boots, IN CHURCH], character development has to be done just right. Not enough and I complain about cardboard. Too much and I complain about estrogen and make fun of “feelingz” and talk macho for a couple of sentences. I’m pretty much the Goldilocks of the Male Book Reviewer. It has to be Just Right or I piss and moan like a man baby. In this regards, it is like Tchaikovsky had me as a model for creating and growing his characters. It is Done Right. People change. People question themselves. People don’t change. People don’t question themselves. Sometimes people are stupid and other people are genius.

My only complaint for the book is “Why hasn’t Stenwold Maker groomed another Spymaster to either take his place or at least take some of the burden?” And yet that oversight on Stenwold’s part is what makes him, him. So even my complaint is rooted in one of the best things of this series, the characters.

Last time I read this, I gave it 4 Stars. This time around, I appreciated the writing more and the whole tone. I enjoyed it just as much and found it to hold up to a re-read with no problems. There were a couple of instances when I was reading that I thought to myself “This is astonishing”. I don’t think that about many books I read, not even the ones I really enjoy.

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

  1. Salute the Dark (2011 Review)
  2. Blood of the Mantis (Book 3)
  3. Dragonfly Falling (Book 2)
  4. Empire in Black and Gold (Book 1)

Polity Agent (Polity: Agent Cormac #4) ★★★★☆

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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: Polity Agent
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #4
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 580
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Another jain node is experimented upon, this time by a haiman. But she’s a bit smarter than Skellor and doesn’t allow it access to her, thus putting off its growth and takeover.

At the same time, it turns out that the Maker civilization, which created the Dragon, was also using jain tech and planned on seeding the Polity with the nodes and thus allowing the Polity to destroy itself. Well, the Makers ended up destroying themselves first, but Cormac must track down the remaining nodes that they sent with the Dragon.

And if that wasn’t enough, it appears that a rogue AI, that left the Polity after the Prador Wars, has succumbed to jain tech and is actively trying to destroy the Polity as well.

Bloody jain tech, it just wants to kill everything…

 

My Thoughts:

This was the first book in the Agent Cormac series where things weren’t wrapped up by the end. The Haiman’s [a human who is aug’ing themselves until they can handle AI level of data] storyline was the slowest and the least completed. In many ways her plot line almost felt unnecessary except for when she propelled the other plot lines forward. I can’t remember enough about the next book to know if she plays a big part or not. I guess I’ll just have to wait and find out.

Cormac tracking down the other nodes and the Rogue AI lines were pretty closely intertwined. The rogue AI, named Cerberus, kept laying traps for Polity ships and they kept falling for it. Not sure if that was deliberate or if the Polity AI’s really were that stupid? Considering how long range Earth Central plans, I’m betting on “deliberate”.

I had forgotten how many people died. Almost everyone we’ve met so far, except for Cormac [of course!], the biologist Mika, the Dracoman Scar and AI’s, die. Subsumed by jain tech, destroyed in battles, tortured and killed by bad guys, etc. Even the revelations about Horace Blegg means he is out of the picture, his usefulness at an end. By his own side too, ouch!

This is fun to read and I enjoy the violence and blazing guns and super weapons and smarty pants AI’s. I don’t feel that this book lost anything upon re-read. Things might not be as “new”, but it was just as exciting as before. If you’re looking for some bloody good science fiction, try this sub-series of Asher’s Polity Universe.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Polity Agent (2010 Review)
  2. Brass Man (Book 3)
  3. Line of Polity (Book 2)
  4. Gridlinked (Book 1)

♪Some of My FAVORITE Things♪ (Part 7)

The idea for this series of posts was inspired by Lashaan at Bookidote. He asked what some of my favorite books were during my initial start of my Malazan Journey.  That got me thinking, as I do have a “favorite” tag that I use in Calibre. So I did some exhaustive investigating [typing in “favorite” and hitting enter in Calibre is a real workout!] and out of the roughly 2900 books that I’ve read since 2000, there are around 300 that earned the Favorite moniker. There are a bunch of Favorites that are duplicates, as I’ve obviously re-read some of my Favorites time and time again.

However, listing 300+ books all in one post seemed like information overload. Therefore I have decided to do a much smaller list each month until the end of the year. You will get to see what I like in manageable doses and I get “thought free” posts  😀  Win-Win all around. I’m simply listing them Alphabetical by Author with just a word or four attached.

 

Patricia Wrede

Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Mairelon the Magician duology
Frontier Magic Trilogy

I’m currently re-reading the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and they’re as fun as ever. Mairelon is a Magical England story with a young Lord taking on a street rat as his apprentice and raising her as a Lady. Frontier Magic follows Ef, the 13th child of a 13th child as the United States begin to push west.

 

Phillip Wylie & Edwin Balmer

When Worlds Collide
After Worlds Collide

I found this duology from the 50’s in the library in the early 90’s and I’ve been reading and re-reading it ever since.  The American Can-Do spirit can overcome even rogue planets!

 

Raymond Feist

A Darkness at Sethanon
Silverthorn
Magician: Apprentice
Magician: Master

The original Riftwar Saga.  A typical European fantasy world, with knights and magicians, etc, gets invaded by japanese’esque warriors from another world. And that’s the least of the problems. The Riftwar Universe has been wrapped up in the last couple of years, but beyond these 4, I never cared for most of it and stayed away.

 

Riichiro Inagaki & Yusuke Murata

Eyeshield 21 manga

Another series that I am currently reading. A sports manga about American football in Japan.  Doesn’t sound like much I know, but my goodness, this has all the Heart and Soul of a young man growing up!

 

Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time (13 books)

I will complain as much as the next person about this series but in the end I still like it even with all its faults. It tells a fantastic, epic story. Also, Jordan dying in the middle of the series was great drama. While Sanderson finished this off, it is still Jordan who birthed it.

 

Sean Russell

The Shadow Roads
The Isle of Battle
The One Kingdom

Another recent re-read that stood up well. A slow, river like journey through a land where 3 magical siblings arise again and their father and uncle must battle death incarnate. Of course, in true Russell style, most of the story is told from other character’s viewpoint. The Children of Wyrr might be the main movers and shakers, but it is the people of the time who flesh and clothe the story.

 

Stephen Lawhead

Arthur
Merlin
Taliesin

The Pendragon trilogy. It is an Arthurian legend story from a Christian perspective.

 

Steve Bein

Daughter of the Sword
Year of the Demon
Disciple of the Wind

The Fated Swords series takes place in Japan in both modern day and far past. The present focuses on one policewoman who becomes heir to a Fated Blade and must face off against other artifacts of power in the hands of nutjobs and terrorists. The far past has chronicled the beginnings of the swords and how they’ve been used through history.  Probably the closest I’ve ever come to a Police Procedural.  Also, I absolutely love these covers.

These should be clickable for Hi-res versions.

 

Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon

I used to have the entire Malazan Book of the Fallen listed in my favorites, well, except for the last 3 but with my current re-reading I am finding they are even better written than before but the Existential Whine cuts like a buzzsaw through my skull.

 

 

And that wraps up this month’s Favorites. I’ve only got 1 more post’s worth of Favorites, so this little monthly segment will be ending soon. I was hoping to stretch things out to the end of the year, but each time I got excited and added an extra author or 3 and bam, I wasn’t going to make it to year’s end.

 

bookstooge

 

 

  1. Previous Favorite posts

 

 

 

Monster Hunter Siege (MHI #6) (ARC) ★★★★☆

seige (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: Monster Hunter Siege
Series: Monster Hunters International #6
Author: Larry Correia
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 399
Format: Digital Advanced Reading Copy

 

Synopsis: Super Spoilers!

MHI finds out that a group of Hunters is still alive in the Nightmare Zone, after being sucked in there from the story in Legion. Owen has the prophecy talk with his Dad, finds out he has been chosen to fight a World Ending Being that can hold its own against the Old Ones.

Coincidentally enough, the rescue mission that Own wants to run to get the survivors will take them right to the Big Bad Guy. So there is a lot of getting ready, figuring out how they’re going to survive the Zone and how their going to get back to the portal.

The push to get to the portal is pretty intense. Multiple Hunter Companies are taking part and it is on a Russian island. They bring a tank. Only Owen gets through the portal, as his Chosen One status is a bit better than Anakin’s and he rescues his comrades. Only to be captured and frozen in the ground for 6 months.

He escapes back to our world only to find that the Big Baddie has escaped and is on the loose. And his wife and newborn son are missing.

 

My Thoughts: Spoilers x5

This was an e-arc, so any errors in words, grammar, etc in the book were ignored. But by gum, reading this early was worth it.

The previous book in the series, Nemesis, really blew me away, So my expectations were pretty high. I KNEW my expectations were high and looked over my previous MHI reviews to help ground me. It was good that I did. I ended up enjoying this quite a bit and I wasn’t disappointed because it wasn’t Nemesis 2.0.

There was a lot of setup to this story. There had to be. It was 6months to a year I think? Lots of logistics, training Hunters to work together who just 3 months ago were competitors, at best, and enemies, at worst. Throw in the multiple languages, the fact that the portal to the Nightmare Zone is on a Russian island and the Russkies don’t want to admit that the island even exists and you’d better have some solid planning under your belt.

I like reading about Owen. He’s not a slimeball like the guy in Monster Hunter Memoirs and he’s someone I like reading about. One of the reasons I like him is because he’s everything I am not. He’s big, he’s tall, he’s emotionally stable and doesn’t go into a tailspin if his wife doesn’t text him, he’s a leader and he’s wicked good with guns. Reading these books, for a couple of hours I can be somebody who I want to be.

The invasion of the island was tops. Skippy the orc flying a helicopter is always amusing to read about. A tank versus a giant was wicked cool and 100+ hunters in armoured jeeps versus a whole island of monsters, well, that is just what I want to read about.

When Owen goes into the Nightmare Zone by himself, the action didn’t slow down very much. He’s on the run from the Big Baddies’ lackeys the whole time and it turns out that the guys he needs to rescue have been taken by a High Hunt of Fey. He singlehandedly invades their castle, frees his men and then stays back to fight the leader of the Hunt so his men can escape. A 6’5”, 300 pound man versus a 7ft tall nigh indestructible warrior? Yes please! And it is a fantastic one on one fight.

Only to be interrupted by the Big Baddie. Who has been using Owen the whole time for his own ends. So the book ends with the Big Baddie out in the world and Owen’s wife and son unreachable. That kind of catch fits exactly with the previous MHI books. The main story wraps up and then Correia throws out a hook so you’ll read the next book. It’s worked well enough on me that I don’t even mind anymore. But it is something to be aware of.

Another solid entry into the Monster Hunters International series. Good stuff.

However, that cover. I am not a fan of sexual fan service. That cover is nothing but sexual fan service. Ignore the cover, seriously.

The links below, to previous books, are probably just as spoiler’y as this. Just so you know.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Monster Hunter International (Book 1)
  2. Monster Hunter Vendetta (Book 2)
  3. Monster Hunter Alpha (Book 3)
  4. Monster Hunter Legion (Book 4)
  5. Monster Hunter Nemesis (Book 5)

The Shadow Roads (Swan’s War #3) ★★★★ ½

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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 Roads
Series: Swan’s War #3
Author: Sean Russell
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Hafyyd, having made his deal with Death, now faces Alaan and Elise and unleashes his fury. He wants to deliver his father, Wyrr, who is sleeping in the river, into Death’s hands. The other two thwart him in that and so Hafyyd returns to the normal land and begins his conquest.

Tam is given an arrow with a magical jeweled head and instructed to shoot Hafyyd in the eye and that that will kill him. This is accomplished and the Rennes and the Wills start trying to figure out a way to have peace between their families. The most promising way looks to be through intermarriage of Lord Caral and Lady Lynn.

It turns out that everything was precipitated by a magical Black Swan who fell in love with Tusival, Hafyyd, Sainth and Sianon’s grandfather. She had 3 children by Tusival, 2 sons (Wyrr and Aillyn) and one daughter. The daughter was taken by Death in a bid to to gain the Swan’s Love. That lead to Wyrr and Aillyn walling Death up which further led to the Swan trying to gain her daughter back by any means necessary, including selling out Tusival, her sons and her grandchildren.

With Hafyyd dead, Alaan begins researching the spell to wall Death in and to strengthen it. Elise retires to a small island on the river to watch over 2 children who have been possessed by Wyrr and the Swan’s dead daughter but who now are their own. Tam, Baore and Fynnol return north.

 

My Thoughts:

A lot gets packed into this book. First book deals with the Rennes and the Wills and the introduction of the Children of Wyrr. Second book introduces Wyrr and Aillyn and now in this book we deal with Death incarnate and everybody’s magical Grandmother. It went wicked deep into Fairytale territory.

Russell’s style of writing took some mental adjustment on my part. I couldn’t race through. I had to read at the pace he set. It was this way with each book and yet each time it came as a surprise.

I think my only gripe is that the 3 young men from the North, Tam, Baore and Fynnol, were not main characters. They were important secondary characters, but the story had moved beyond them and I missed having the bulk of the story from their view. They were the Everyman of the story. The Rennes and the Wills were nobility. Hafyyd, Alaan and Elise were all possessed by magicians. It was hard to relate to any of those, whereas Tam was just a young man suddenly thrust into an adventure far beyond his imagining.

I would sum up this trilogy with the word “Melancholy”. It wasn’t depressing, it wasn’t necessarily sad but everything was tinged with Melancholy. The pacing of the story definitely added to that feeling. To finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this re-read as much as the first time and suspect I’ll enjoy it as much again in another decade or so. Definitely worth owning the hardcovers.

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

  1. The Shadow Roads (2009 Review)
  2. The One Kingdom (Book 1)
  3. The Isle of Battle (Book 2)

The Winner Is… (Eyeshield 21 #31) ★★★★ ½

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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 Winner Is…
Series: Eyeshield 21 #31
Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Sports Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Scan

 

 

Synopsis:

The final 5 minutes between the Devil Bats and the Dinosaurs. The Dinosaurs make a touchdown and kick the ball for a 7point lead. Now there is only 2 minutes on the clock. Kurita MUST face, and overcome, Gaou if he is going to open a path for Sena to run through. Sena makes the touchdown and so the Devil Bats are only 1 point behind.

Their choice is to kick the ball for 1 point and go into overtime or to try for a 2 point conversion by running the ball and winning the game. With Hiruma’s fractured arm, Sena’s worn out body and the rest of the team utterly exhausted, the Devil Bats don’t have a hope in hell [ha, “Devil” bats & “Hell”, get it?] of winning in overtime. So a 2 point run it is. Hiruma does his tricky stuff and Kurita and Gaou faceoff for the final showdown and the Devilbats win.

The rest of the volume is Sena and Monta and Suzuna scouting out the competition for the Christmas Bowl. And what they find is an All Star Team with a female quarterback [at least, I think she’s the quarterback, it was hard to tell if that was what was said]. And not only that, their running back receiver is the son of the man who inspired Monta. Fighting against his idol’s son might more than Monta can bear.

Hiruma is aware of ALL the dynamics and has asked various members of the defeated teams to help train the Devil Bats.

 

My Thoughts:

Excellent. A fantastic volume.

Kurita’s battle against Gaou was great. It was everything he’d fought for and cried for and trained for and in the end it was Kurita’s experience AND strength that overcame Gaou. That was a pleasure to see.

The end of the volume with the 3 characters scouting out the opposition was kind of weird. The opposition was so confident that they gave them their play book of 1000 plays. I’m still a bit confused if the girl who carried luggage around was the quarterback or not. Sadly, reading this on an 8in tablet made some of the text rather small and hard to read. I’m getting older and diabetes sure isn’t doing my eyes any favors. After this series, if I read any more manga or comics on a tablet, I’m going to have to buy myself a 10-11in tablet. So part of me is hoping that she is, because that’ll add a really weird mix into the game. But on the other hand I don’t want that to happen. No woman should be placed in that situation, period.

I don’t know if the emotional punch I experience from this series is deep enough to stand up to a re-read. Honestly, I’d rather not find out. I think that I’ll read this, enjoy it immensely and move on. But my goodness, this initial read is SO GOOD!

 ★★★★ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. This is American Football (Vol. 30)