Honour Under Moonlight (The God Fragments 1.5) ★★★★☆

honourundermoonlight (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: Honour Under Moonlight
Series: The God Fragments 1.5
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 79
Format: Digital Edition



Lynx and the Cards are taking the winter off, thanks to the money they earned in Stranger of Tempest. However, Lynx gets shanghai’ed into attending a Costume Ball with Toil. When he goes to pick her up at her place, he finds 2 dead assassins, one live assassin and no Toil. Thus begins Lynx’s night.

He tracks down Toil using clues she has left behind. Unfortunately for Lynx, Toil is using him to draw out the leader of the assassin group Lynx found in her home. After some good old fashioned torture, there is a showdown in a graveyard and Lynx, Toil and a mysterious stranger in a gold mask take down the assassins.

Lynx is left wondering just what the Cards have signed up for in working for Toil.


My Thoughts:

I’m usually not a fan of short stories taking place between books but I wanted to stretch this series out, as book 2 was only released in March. I’ll have to wait at least a year before book 3, so lets make the fun last, you know?

Also, my last 2 High Priority reads were real downers. Algorithm of Power and Gods of the Mountain both left me holding an empty dried out husk when I really wanted a juicy watermelon. Thankfully, Honour Under Moonlight gave me a splatterific watermelon of a time!

Encompassing 8hrs or less, Lloyd packs a lot of goings-ons into one story. This relies upon the reader knowing what happened in Stranger of Tempest, so this would not be a good starting place. But as an appetizer between main courses, it is delightful. Lynx is as brave, snarky, pragmatic and relatable as ever. It really helps that he’s getting older and fatter. Both of those things I can totally relate too, sadly.

I gave the first book the “profanity” tag, as most of the mercs swore like sailors. This time around, only Sitain, who was drunk for most of the story, was the mouthy one. It wasn’t enough to warrant that tag. I have a feeling the next book will return to form though.

The action is intense and since this is less than 80 pages, the non-action scenes don’t last very long before we’re up and running again. Or fighting or being tortured. I’d call it High Octane. I have the next book, Princess of Blood, already in the next High Priority slot and I’m hoping to get to it by the end of this month or the beginning of next.


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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 ★★★★★

sfhalloffame (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 Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964
Series: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame #1
Editor: Robert Silverberg
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 576
Format: Trade paperback



A collection of short stories voted by members of the Science Fiction Authors Guild (or something or other like that) as the best of. A popularity contest of stories from the 30’s to the 60’s. No author had more than one story and the book was presented chronologically, so we as the readers could see how things progressed storywise in 30 years.


My Thoughts:

Danielle from Books, Vertigo and Tea reviewed this recently and brought it to my attention. What a fantastic read.

First off, this was originally published back in 1970, I believe. It was released again in 2005 and then just released digitally in 2018. Obviously not a new book. I read this at lunch beginning sometime in March and just finished it this past week. Short stories really lend themselves to no pressure reading and going at a slow pace. Sometimes you need that in a busy, hectic book life like mine.

I had read over ½ of these 26 stories, as growing up in the 80’s and addicted to SF meant I was familiar with almost all of these authors, even if just by name. This was good stuff! If you’ve never read Vintage SF, this is a good place to start. Even if you don’t like every story (and I didn’t like every one either), you’ll get the flavor of what those years produced and if an author strikes your fancy, you can then go on and investigate on your own.

In many ways, I think that Science Fiction shines through the short story medium. Ideas are presented and there is no extraneous fluff or junk to ruin it. And if your imagination isn’t up to snuff to get you excited about ideas, then you probably shouldn’t be reading SF in the first place.

I bought this used in trade paperback through Amazon but I think the stories are good enough that I’m going to have to put the hardcover on my wishlist. In terms of Short Story Collections, this falls squarely between Asimov’s Complete Stories Vol 1 and Asimov’s Complete Stories Vol 2. I do plan on buying, in used trade paperback again, Volumes 2 & 3, which are the best novella’s of that time period. Hopefully they are as good as these stories.




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No Thoroughfare ★★★★☆

nothoroughfare (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: No Thoroughfare
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens & Wilkie Collins
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 256
Format: Digital Edition


The synopsis will have some real spoilers, so if you think you might ever read this book and don’t want it spoiled, just read the “My Thoughts” portion.

Synopsis: Spoilers

A baby boy is given to an Foundling and in his teen years is adopted by an older lady. She educates him and reveals that she is his birth mother. She sets him on the path of success in the Wine Business and promptly passes away.

Said young man, Walter Wilding, is in poor health and so takes on a partner to help with the business, one George Vendale. Walter also hires a new housekeeper and in the process it is revealed that she was a former nurse at the Foundling. It is also revealed that there were several “Walter Wilding”s and the lady got the wrong one. This distresses young Wilding to no end and he begins to seek out the rightful heir. It also places an incredible stress upon his already weak constitution and he soon passes away. He leaves it to his partner George to find the heir and if he can’t, to take Wilding’s share of the company.

At the same time, George is woo’ing Margeurite Obenreizer, a young swiss woman who is under the guardianship of her half-uncle. During this whole thing, it is revealed by an inquiry of George’s that someone in a high position of trust, has been stealing money from the company that Obenreizer works for.

George ends up taking a hike over the Alps to give his evidence and of course it is Obenreizer, who goes along to try to either steal the evidence or kill George. Margeurite senses something is wrong, follows with the help of faithful retainer of George’s and saves George only to apparently have him die in her arms.

Several months elapse and Obenreizer, now let go from his previous job, is working for a lawyer with the aim of stealing his secrets and using them for personal gain. He learns something about Vendale, who he thinks is dead. Then Margeurite and George spring forth, alive and whole and reveal the treachery of Obenreizer in full. Obenreizer, thinking he is getting revenge, reveals that George Vendale is actually adopted by the Vendales and that he was a foundling. Of course, it turns out that George Vendale was the heir that Walter Wilding was looking for the entire time.

The book ends with Obenreizer dying in an avalanche and George and Margeurite getting married.


My Thoughts:

I remembered a few things from my initial read in ’03, but in so many ways it was like reading it for the first time. I enjoyed this a lot.

This was drama of the finest vintage. Orphans and searches for lost heirs and love and evil villains and love triumphant and just desserts. This has it all in spades. And it is short, so anyone who might be intimidated by Dicken’s rather lengthy style won’t be put off. I don’t have anything else to say. I’m tired and worded out.


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Orbus (Polity: Spatterjay #3) ★★★★½

orbus (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 
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Digital Edition



Captain Orbus is now captain of a Space freighter instead of a sailing ship on Spatterjay. He’s trying to reform himself from the masochistic brute he was before. Unfortunately, he’s rather bored, as the ship AI Gurnard, pretty much does everything. Then they are hired by a reif to recover a prador exoskeleton from the Graveyard, an area in space that acts as a buffer between the Polity and the Kingdom of the Prador. Orbus uncovers a lot of dirty dealing and the fact that Oberon, King of the Prador, is actually infected with the Spatterjay virus and has been for centuries. The wardrone Sniper and submind Thirteen hook up with Orbus and Gurnard to get this info to the Polity so the AI’s can use it.

At the same time, Vrell, a prador who survived on Spatterjay and worked his way offplanet, has taken over a Prador warvessel. He too realizes the King is mutated and that this knowledge will kill him. Vrell is faced with fighting and losing to the Prador, running to the Polity and possibly being killed out of hand for his actions in escaping Spatterjay or running away into unknown space. Vrell is also infected and his mutating brain suggests hiding out in the Graveyard. He takes his ship, and reprogrammed Kings Guards, who are also mutated Prador, into the graveyard. This leads him into conflict with the Golgoloth.

The Golgoloth is a Prador that is over 1000 years old and has kept itself alive by growing replacements for itself (as it is both male and female) with its children. It was the kingmaker for the 1st and 2nd Prador Kingdom and fled to the Graveyard when Oberon took power. Through the centuries Oberon has approached the Golgoloth to return to the Kingdom to work for him and the Golgoloth has always refused. Now, with his secret about to be revealed, Oberon forces the issue with the Golgoloth and tells it it is either it or Vrell.

The conflict between Vrell and the Golgoloth suck in the crew of the Gurnard. It also places incredible strain on Vrell’s resources, which reveals a hidden genetic code in the Spatterjay virus. This genetic material turns out to be Jain in nature and is a squad of Jain Soldiers. The Jain are resurrected and it takes everyone, including Oberon and his dreadnaughts, to destroy them. In the end, Oberon sacrifices himself to gain crucial knowledge about the Jain and passes it on to his successor, Vrell.

The Jain are destroyed, the Golgoloth gets its punishment at the hand of King Vrell, Orbus realizes his desire for action isn’t crazy, the Prador Kingdom is in upheaval and the Polity can breathe easier for a few decades.


My Thoughts:

In all honesty, my review from 2011 still sums up my thoughts. Awesome violence between super powered beings (whether of mind or body or both) and we get Jain soldiers. I had completely forgotten they were introduced here. It is good to be reminded of them, since Asher’s latest series is called Rise of the Jain and the first book is titled The Soldier. After this book, I’m totally ready for that.

I do have to admit that I don’t understand the reason for the title. Captain Orbus plays as big a part as Sniper but nothing compared to Vrell, the Golgoloth or even Oberon at the end. He’s the human connector between us the readers and the various factions in the book (Polity AI’s, alien Prador, even the world of Spatterjay) but I didn’t find him integral to the story.

The reason for this not getting bumped up to a full five stars is the tech descriptions that is a regular weakness of Asher’s. He just can’t resist writing about gadget X, Y and Z doing A,B and C and then being totally obliterated by O,F and U. It’s like gun porn, but on a larger level. Tech porn maybe? Whatever you want to call it, it bores me, even more than scenary descriptions would.

I think that Orbus is probably the most violent of the whole Spatterjay trilogy and the Spatterjay trilogy is the most violent, to date, of his Polity books. Be aware of that when diving into these books. Mutated Prador are even worse than a Hooder on a ship of reifications!


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Assail (Malazan Empire #6) ★★★★☆

assail (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: Assail
Series: Malazan Empire #6
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 784
Format: Digital Edition



Gold has been found in in the land of Assail. This leads a lot of people, in groups and as individuals, to suddenly have an interest. There are also those who are interested with longer term plans.

The natives, however, aren’t going to just sit down and let their lands be over run by foreigners who don’t care about the land and will destroy it in with their gold fever. These natives, also known as Icebloods for the trace of Jaghut blood they carry, are protecting the land from the Assail who sleep in the mountains. If one greedy miner or soldier awakens the Assail, the Assail will cleanse the continent of all life. The problem is, most of the Icebloods don’t believe the Assail are real.

Remnants of the T’lan Imass make their way to Assail, as it is the last bastion of Jaghut magic and in its heyday denied them entrance. Now that it is weakening, they can continue their purge of any Jaghut blood. Silverfox opposes these renegade Imass who rejected the transformation back to flesh and who do not know that there now exists a pocket world protected by one of their own. Silverfox must stop the massacre and let these Imass know that their vow is completed and they can rest.

Fisher Kal Teth, the bard, and Kyle the ex-Crimson Guardsman, who is now known as Whiteblade, are both Icebloods. Fisher meets up with an amnesiac Tiste Andii who has lost his memory but who Fisher suspects is Anomander Rake. Fisher, Kyle, Jethiss (the name the Tiste Andii takes on) meet up with other Icebloods to prevent the awakening of the Assail. In the end they are part of a new agreement between races to prevent the Assail from destroying them all. Jethiss makes a deal with the Assail for a sword and they cut off his arm and use the bones to make him a new legendary sword.

The Crimson Guard make their way to Assail as that is where the 4th Company is hanging on. Kazz, the leader of the Guard and the Avowed, knows something but won’t reveal it to anyone else. By the end of the book it is revealed that the Vow of the Guard used magic from Tellan and the Vow will not allow the Avowed to truly die. They have, in fact, become a new clan of Imass, but one that has not found their own redeemer who can give them final peace in death. So their search goes on.

Several other storylines wrapped around the above fill out the general picture of what is going on in the land of Assail. But these, the Chronicles of the Crimson Guard, are done.


My Thoughts:

Man, what a difference several years can make. Last time I read this was burnt out on Malaz, disappointed that there was no over-arching storyline and sick to death of existential philosophy. I gave this 2.5stars then. I suspect Life was kicking my butt back in ’14 and when that happens I just can’t handle any kind of sadness or despair things. It gets all blown out of proportion. I think I stated that I was completely done with Erikson and Esslemont?

And look at me now! I enjoyed this quite a bit on this re-read. Whenever a character began waxing philophical (which happened a lot less than I remembered), I just skipped it. Also having realized that these Malazan Empire novels are actually the Chronicles of the Crimson Guard, the ending was much more fitting. I also put Esslemont’s latest books in the running for the coveted Best Book of the Year award last year. And this is why it is good to re-read books.

This book seemed like it went at a slightly slower pace than the previous book, Blood and Bone. Another thing I noticed is that this ebook edition says it is only 542 pages but the paperback edition stands at 782. This felt much more like an almost 800page book rather than a sub600 one. I changed my info to reflect the larger number. Because I can 🙂

This finishes up the Malazan Empire novels and I can see myself reading them again in another 5-10 years. Unlike the Malazan Book of the Fallen, which I suspect my current re-read is my last, these books by Esslemont leave me feeling that I’d like to come back again some day. No rush but I’m definitely considering a third read through in the coming years.

A few things annoyed me and kept this from being a 4.5 or 5 star book. The whole Jethiss/Anomander Rake thing. Fisher suspects but won’t even say his suspicions or say the name Anomander Rake out loud. Also, Fisher is just about the only one who believes that the Assail are real and yet he refuses to name them or tell anyone why awakening them is a bad thing. He just says it is a bad thing and then shuts up and sulks. I just realized, I didn’t like Fisher. He’s an ass actually. Everyone else, I had no problem with but him, he pissed me off. Too bad he didn’t die. Other than that, this was right on par with the other Esslemont books.

I’m still shaking my head at how much of a change I had with this book from the last time. A modern day miracle I guess.





Sentenced to Prism (HumanX Commonwealth #5) ★★★★★

sentencedtoprism (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: Sentenced to Prism
Series: HumanX Commonwealth #5
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Mass Market Paperback



Evan Orgell: Troubleshooter, Fixer, Company Man, Confident. If there is a problem, you send in Evan Orgell and your problem gets taken care off. There is no one better on Samstead.

The Company has a problem. They’ve discovered a new world and their presence there isn’t quite exactly legal. But the payoffs could be huge, so they’ve sent down a full research team with labs and defensive outpost. But the team has gone silent. The Company needs Evan to go in alone and find out what is going on. One man, alone, won’t draw the attention of rival companies, the United Church or the Peace Forcers. Equipped with a suit of mobile armor with the latest gadgets, Evan is all set to investigate the mysteries of Prism.

Unfortunately, neither The Company or Evan are truly prepared for what Prism holds.

Evan finds the remains of the base and it is overrun by prismatic lifeforms feasting on all the rare-earth metals in the base. All of the staff, except for one Martine Ophemert, are dead. Evan begins the process of tracking down the missing staff member. During his pursuit, his suit, his superdupercan’tbreakcansolveeverything suit fails. Evan is forced to proceed on foot and comes into contact with a native, a scout named Azure. Azure saves Evan’s life and they head back to Azure’s Associative.

There Evan finds a fully functioning society. The lifeforms of Prism have all specialized and then come together instead of being multi-use creatures that standalone. Evan gives them the idea of a battery, as they are all photovores so they can function through the night. In turn they grow him a locator so he can track down Martine easier.

On the way to finding Martine’s tracker, the group is attacked and Evan is partially destroyed. The Associative rebuilds him so he is part biological and part Prismatic. A true synthesis of Prism and the Commonwealth. They rescue Martine, who has also been rebuilt by another Associative and they all head back to the base to try to contact The Company.

Turns out one of the former crew was working for a Rival Company and said Rival Company is on site when they return. After being taken prisoner and then rescued by their Associative, Evan and Martine send the scouting party packing. The Rival Company returns with a military complement, only to run into the Peace Forcers and the United Church, who Evan has contacted using a homegrown space contact thingy grown by the Prismites.

Prism is now considered a Class One world and must be left alone. Evan and Martine are left as Liasons considering their new “forms” and their mission is now to get the various Associatives across Prism to form one Super Associative. And the Associatives have already considered this, agreed and are planning on growing a spaceship so Evan and Martine can travel as official representatives of Prism to the Commonwealth.


My Thoughts:

You cannot steal information, Evan,” Azure said reprovingly. “Library says you can only borrow it…”

That just made me laugh coming from an author. Being intimately involved with the de-drm’ing of ebooks back in the day, I’m very aware of arguments on both sides of the Information Must Be Free fight. Anyway, on to the review.

This is the fourth recorded time that I’ve read this. Much like Way-farer though, I had also read this several times in highschool and through Bibleschool. So in reality, this is probably my sixth or seventh time and I still love it. Reading it for the first time now I’d probably pooh-pooh this as mediocre SF and move right on. But this is one of those books that got its hooks in me early on and has never let go.

This was a “fun” idea and Foster executes it well in one book. There is a lot of time building things up before Evan gets transformed into a Prismite and yet each time it comes as a surprise to me. I suspect part of it is that events with him and Martine as Prismites are bigger in scope whereas the previous stuff is smaller so it comes across as a bigger portion even though its not.

Basically, I like this book no matter what. For me, this is the quintessential standalone science fiction adventure story. It is Perfect even while I acknowledge that it really isn’t. But reading it 4 times in 18 years? I think that speaks for itself and the fact that I still enjoyed it this time around as much as I did back in 2000. After my mis-adventure with Dragon’s Gold and realizing how my tastes have matured, it is good to find that some books can withstand even me being more mature * wink *

Another plus to reading the same book multiple times is that I can see how I have grown as a reviewer and not just as a reader. I think you’d agree that this review is VERY different from my first one in 2000.





Heirs of the Blade (Shadows of the Apt #7) ★★★★☆

heirsoftheblade (Custom).jpgThis 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: Heirs of the Blade
Series: Shadows of the Apt #7
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 644
Format: Digital Edition



Che, dragging Thalric in her wake, goes on a quest to save her foster-sister Tynisa, who has gone off into the hinterlands of the Commonweal to die nobly as a true Mantis would. Even though Tynisa is half-spider and looks fully spider-kinden.

Che, in her chase of Tynisa, must face the fact that she, Cheerwell Maker, is now a magician and inextricably linked with Seda the Wasp Empress as a cosmic joke by the Slug-kinden. Che has terrible premonitions about the Seal of the Worm, something so terrible that no one will talk to her about it and it has pretty much been erased from the history books. At the same time, with the ghost of Achaoes excised, Che begins to realize she is falling in love with Thalric, even with their horrible history.

Tynisa has a view of the Commonweal based on what she was of Salme Dien before he died. Unfortunately, Dien was a truly noble Dragonfly and the rest of his family and most of the nobles in fact, are nothing more than the usual spoilt aristocracy with no desire to actually shoulder their responsibilities. Tynisa ends up being possessed by her father’s ghost, who had survived the destruction of the Darakyon box by haunting Che. When he was cast out by the Slug-kinden he was free to go where he wanted and ended up possessing Tynisa. This gave her all of his skill but also all of his twisted up ideas and thoughts. She hooks up with the Salme family and becomes a merchant of death for them against a peasant rebellion.

Che and Thalric hook up with a necromancer who promises she can free Tynisa from Tisamon’s ghost. It doesn’t go so well at first but eventually Tynisa is freed and end up siding with the rebels. The Salme family is brought to bloody justice by the King of the Commonweal for their multiple abuses of power.

While all of that is going on, Seda makes a pilgrimage to Kanaphes, city of the Slug-kinden. Ostensibly to investigate the “black mineral” found out in the desert, which will transform her army and give her a true airforce, but in reality to seek out the Slug-kinden and wrest power from them. Already a powerful sorceress from her instructions from various Inapt mystics, Seda knows she is capable of more. The Slug-kinden grant her wish but link her to Che where each can occasionally have visions of what the other is doing, has done or will do.

The book ends with the Empire of Black and Gold on the move again and breaking all treaties signed to that time. War is come again.


My Thoughts:

I have to admit, I was hoping that this time this book would go up a half star, maybe even a full star from my previous read of it back in ’13. Earlier Shadows of the Apt had improved with a re-read and so my outlook was a rosy glow full of optimism and ♪Strength for ♪Today and Bright ♪Hope for Tomorrow♪ Sadly, it didn’t improve. However, it was just as good as the time before, so don’t take it that this was bad in any way.

This book is where the titular “Shadows” comes into play as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know what Tchaikovsky meant when he titled this Shadows of the Apt but I’ve taken it to mean that the Apt cast a long shadow and bad things happen within that shadow (ie, war). It can also mean that things exist in their shadow (ie, blindspot) that they aren’t aware of, like magic. Either way, this was a grim book full of shadows indeed. From Tynisa learning that the Commonweal was NOT a textbook fairytale filled with Heroes and Good Guys to Che sensing a glimpse of something truly horrific, to just the exigencies of war, it all casts a shadow.

There was another whole storyline in which Amnon, the First Champion of Kanaphes and his Collegium lover came back to Kanaphes and Dariandrephos and Totho are in the middle of trying to get the Iron Glave Consortium back into the good graces of the Empire. It started out feeling important and then just ends. That is one of the problems with a really big series. Not every storyline can be fully fleshed out.

My biggest issue that caused me to keep it at the same level as before is Che’s refusal to accept that she is a magician and that magic is real. It came up so often in this book, her lack of belief, that it got rather annoying. Even with EVERYTHING that happened in the previous book, she still doesn’t want to believe in magic. I wanted to slap her and tell her to accept reality as she knew it, not as she wanted it. And that was really my only complaint. So if people refusing to accept the truth before their eyes doesn’t bother you, then it might not affect your read of this at all.

Overall, this series is just fantastic. This re-read is really cementing my love of Tchaikovsky’s writing and the ideas he has. I no longer have any qualms about having bought all 10 books in trade paperback. Completely worth the money and the shelf-space.