The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen #6) ★★★★☆

bonehunters (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 Bonehunters
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #6
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 804
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Adjunct Tavore Paran continues her pursuit of Leoman of the Flails and the rebels of the Shai’k rebellion. Leoman makes a last stand at Yghatan and in the process of burning the city down as a trap also unleases a Fire Elemental, which kills all of his followers and about 1/3 of the Malazan army. The survivors march for the coast where they are picked up by Admiral Nok and begin making the journey back to Malaz City. They meet up with the Grey Shields who wield incredible magic and have huge boats. They have a run-in with the newly expanding Letheri/Edur empire and scare the crap out of them with a show of magic. Once back at Malaz it is evident that Mallick Rell and Korbolo Dom have been plotting, as they are now heroes and Coltaine’s memory is that of a traitor. All Wickans are now under threat of pogrom. The Adjunct is told by the Empress to hand over the Wickans and control of the Bonehunters (the malazan army) and the Grey Shields. The citizens of Malaz attack the Bonehunters and the Greyshields, stirred up by agents of Mallick Rell. The Adjunct returns to her ship with the help of Kalam and her lover but wades through a veritable sea of blood to do so.

Karsa Orlong is captured by the Edur as a “Champion” so that he may face Rulad Sengir, the Edur emperor.

Icarium is separated from Mappo Trell and a new companion is given him. It turns out all the companions are part of the Nameless, a group that wants to use Icarium’s rages as a weapon. Mappo betrayed the Nameless by being Icarium’s friend instead of pointing him in the direction the Nameless wanted him to go. Icarium and his new companion are also captured by the Edur. They are used in a skirmish against Shadowthrone and it ends with Icarium, unconscious, going through a portal to the Lether/Edur empire.

Ganos Paran, as Master of the Deck, faces down Poliel and chooses sides in the war of the gods. He ends up becoming High Fist of another Malazan army after all its officers are struck down by plague, including Dujek Onearm.

And there are at least 5-10 other smaller plot threads running through out as well.

 

My Thoughts:

There is a lot going on in this book. And to be honest, that is the only thing that stopped me from dropping this a 1/2star. Because here is where the Existential Moralizing really begins. There were a couple of places where characters would talk back and forth for pages and the problem is that I couldn’t skip any of it because Erikson will throw in a line or two about some revelation or other plotline that is really nice to know. You know those Christian books where you get preached at instead of being told a story? Well, Erikson does that here with his own brand of suicide inducing despair filled philosophy. It’s done in really bad taste, as I felt like I was having a razorblade shoved down my throat.

I feel like I used up half my words for this review just typing out the synopsis. Also, for all my complaining about the philosphizing, there is a really good story packed between it all.

I always wondered why Surly/Laseen/Empress let things go downhill so fast and after reading the two Path to Ascendacy books, it’s very obvious that she is afraid of “Hero’s” capturing the people’s attention. To the point that she allows someone like Mallick Rell and Korbolo Dom to advise her, as they are despised by the people. She was skilled enough to run things for awhile but in this book we see her pretty much throwing it all away and no real explanation is given. It is intriguing.

I think that is all I have to say really. You can’t jump into the series with this book and it doesn’t wrap anything up and it is so big, that I feel like throwing up my hands and saying “read it yourself, if you dare” to get all the plot threads. Heck, we’re teased with a possible invasion of short-tailed K’Chain Che’malle and 12!!!! moonspawns. Look how powerfully Anomander Rake used just one, I can only imagine the chaos and destruction 12 might cause. That is just one of a myriad of topics I didn’t even bother to really think about for this review. Trying to cover everything is impossible and it leaves huge amounts of room for re-reading, as your focus will be different each time.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

 

 

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The Monster Hunter Files (MHI #7) ★★★★☆

monsterhunterfiles (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 Monster Hunter Files
Series: Monster Hunter #7
Author: Larry Correia, et al
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories about various monster hunts and hunters, some good, some bad, all interesting. Correia starts the parade but then each story is by a different author and none are overlapping or interconnected. A nice montage to fill your Monster Hunter craving.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection immensely. In fact, I stayed up until almost midnight monday night reading it. I kept on telling myself, ok, THIS is the last story for the night. And before you know it, bam, midnight!

There were only 2 stories I actively disliked. One was a Jane Yellowrock/Faith Hunter story. It reminded me why I don’t read 99% of Urban Fantasy. Bad attitude assholes with chips on their shoulders so large that they have their own gravitational pull. If I had my druthers, Yellowrock would get run over by her own motorcycle while having her shotgun shoved up certain orifaces. That’s how she makes me feel after just a short story. Imagine a book, a whole series? No thank you. The second story was about some vietnam vet who rescues a commune of hippies from a vegetable demon. First, it portrays Vietnam vets as nothing but mentally disturbed violence seekers. You know how many Vets from that time settled down afterwards and just got on with life? Yeah, you don’t hear about all of them, they don’t make the news. Second, the hippies turn out to be semi-intelligent and OK people. Yeah, I’ll believe that in a heartbeat. Hippies are just soft Commies. In fact, if you put a Hardline Communist and a Hippie in a sealed room and gave me a Sig P938 and ONE bullet and told me to choose, I know exactly what I’d do. I’d line them up, Hippy first. At least if the Hardliner survives I’ll know he’ll go for my jugular. /End ranting and raving/

Here’s 2 of my favorites. One about a girl and her hippy dad (hahaha) who move into the Enchanted Forest trailor park because the girl tried to kill her science teacher because he was a werewolf. Not even her father believes her. Of course, moving in where the Queen of the Elves lives doesn’t help things. But when the girl helps take out an invading clan of garden gnomes, it’s all good! My second favorite was about Janitor One who hooks up with talking mice because his janitor2 coworker opens up a portal to hell to summon a demon because the janitor2 is jealous of how Janitor One actually does his job. I think part of the appeal was how Janitor One would literally try to fight anyone who looked down at him, even Owen Pitt 🙂 That takes some serious balls.

The rest of the stories varied between pretty good to hohum. Some were funny, some were sad. One of the ho-hum ones dealt with the douchebag hunter from the Monster Hunter Memoirs series. But overall it was nice to get another MHI story. It’s about the only Urban Fantasy series I look forward to reading or can even stomach in most cases.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld ★★★★☆

forgottenbeasts (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 Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 242
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sybel is the grand-daughter or great grand-daughter of a nameless mage. She has inherited the power to control things by naming them. She has no bigger ambition than to call the Lyralen.

Until one day a knight drops off a baby boy in her lap and rides away. As the boy grows, Sybel’s heart grows and she comes to love Tamlorn as her own. But Tamlorn is the son of a king and the king, one Drede, comes looking for him. Tamlorn was given to Sybel by Drede’s enemies, the house of Sirle. Once Tam realizes he has a father, he goes to live with him and Sybel tells Drede that she has no interest in the war between him and Sirle.

Then the knight comes back, one Coren. He wins Sybel’s heart and manages to give up his hate of Drede and all that he has done. Drede, afraid of Sybel’s power and not believing she won’t use it against him, buys the service of another wizard who will take Sybel’s name, break her will and make her a willing, loving puppet for Drede to marry. Sybel escapes and tells Coren’s brothers that she will use her power for them against Drede, wthout telling Coren what happened to her or why she is suddenly fighting against Drede.

In a fit of remorse, Sybel frees all her magical animals who were to lead the attack against Drede and she flees back to her home in the mountains, convinced that Coren can no longer love her and that Tam can no longer love her since she orchestrated the attack on his father Drede.

It ends with things not turning out at all like Sybel imagined, as her animals do their thing and Tamlorn becomes king without bloodshed. She and Corin are re-united and he teaches her the lesson of love.

 

My Thoughts:

This was the first McKillip book that I would say had a real edge to it, some bite. It takes some uncomfortable subject matters and deals with them specifically but non-graphically.

Sybel’s forebearers all took their mates by force. They used the power of naming to call and control them. Sybel gets a taste of this very thing when the wizard takes control of her. It wasn’t just attempted, or in the case of her ancestors, actual, rape, but also the complete loss of self within the mind. It was the rape of body AND mind and McKillip doesn’t shy away from showing how it affects people.

She then goes on to show how Sybel reacts in some really bad ways, such as erasing her husband Corin’s memories of what he sees when he catches her plotting with his brothers for war. She violates him just like she was violated and it destroys her inside. So much that she tries to lose herself at the end of the book by calling the Lyralen.

And yet, at the very end when Corin AND Tam come to her and show her the power of real love, it redeems it all. I think that was what this book was all about. Just how strong love is and just what it can conquer.

I love a Love Conquers All story and this was that in spades.

When I read this back in ’07, looking at my rating and review, I can tell I wasn’t really impressed back then. But a decade more of life experience, being married and some down and dirty church politics has shown me that yes, Love is the be all and end all. Being a Christian helps narrow down what Love actually is and I’m even more convinced today than I was 10 years ago of just how much God loves His creation.

I’ll end this like I began it. This has an edge and a bite that most of McKillip’s other books don’t. If it bothers you, try some of her others. If you like it, don’t expect it to be there.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

The Sea Watch (Shadows of the Apt #6) ★★★★★

seawatch (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 Sea Watch
Series: Shadows of the Apt #6
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 720
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The city of Collegium is trying to catch it’s collective breath since the cease-fire agreement with the Wasp Empire has gone into affect. Stenwold Maker continues his job as an embassador and is trying to get 2 more Ant Cities to at least become trading partners with Collegium.

Of course, the Wasp Empire has it’s own agents in the city and they are doing what they can to undermine Collegium for when the Empire resumes it war footing.

At the same time, it is revealed that the Spider Family Aldenrael, which pretty much rescued Collegium during the last war with Vek, has been preying on Collegium ships and playing pirate. When one of those “pirates” is killed and turns out to be a minor Aldenrael member, the entire Spider Nation goes on the warpath and prepares an armada to take over Collegium.

Since that’s obviously not enough, it turns out that there is an entire underwater culture of Kinden, which wants to invade and take over Collegium as well. Stenwold is kidnapped by these kinden while dealing with the other 2 issues (Wasps and Spiders) and gets sucked into another whole world. He must survive, escape and somehow broker a peace deal with these Sea Kinden. To seal the deal, he must find the lost ruler who is now a young man.

Neither the Empire nor the Spiders want peace, so treachery continues to abound and things look really bad for Collegium. Until Stenwold finds the heir, brokers a deal with the Sea Kinden, sinks a whole bunch of Spider ships and wipes out a nest of Rekef Inlanders (Wasp agents) in Collegium.

Now it’s back to business as usual with the Wasp Empire being the main threat.

 

My Thoughts:

My Review for This from back in 2011 still stands true as all get out.

This was the perfect way to end my reading year, on a very good note. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and since it’s been 6 years, enough things were dulled that it wasn’t a slog. In many ways, this re-read made me appreciate Tchaikovsky’s writing skills even more. I liked this book. I begrudged my time away from it and made the most of when I was reading it. I read the final 30% this afternoon in one sitting.

To see Stenwold having almost everything taken from him (Che’s not returning from Khanaphes, Arianna’s demise, Teornis’s betrayal, Sten’s capture and imprisonment under the sea) and not have it break him? I thought Tchaikovsky did a fantastic job of creating Sten and turning him into someone I want to cheer on and hope that things work out for. He was a true Hero, even if deliberately not cast into the Warrior Knight mold.

It was also nice to simply have the focus be on one character. Stenwold is our point of view for the whole book and everything is through him and revolves around him. It made for a nice linear read. It also wasn’t a puzzle with trying to fit 5 different storylines together. Sometimes I like complexity but other times I just want something straight forward. Tchaikovsky gave me that in spades with this.

When I bought this series in trade paperback (I’m going to try to do a shelfie of just these 10 books for the last book) I almost immediately had buyers regret as I wasn’t sure I was going to like them enough to read them again. Well, this re-read has grabbed those regrets and tossed them into the Marianna Trench. These have been BETTER this second time around and I’m already looking forward to another go in 10 years or so even while I’m not finished this first Re-read!

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

Love Potion #9 (Oh My Goddess #4) ★★★★☆ (Manga)

lovepotion9 (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: Love Potion #9
Series: Oh My Goddess #4
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 117
Format: Paper Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sayoko and her cousin Aoshima continue their scheming to break up Bell and Kei so that they can have their respective picks. Of course, with Urd running interference and Bell’s love of Kei, things never turn out for the dastardly duo like they had planned.

There are also several instances of completely ridiculous things being overlooked and ignored. How do you bulldoze a clubhouse that is also a mechanics garage, overnight and have NO repercussions? You really have to enter the spirit of the manga, ie, campy and silly and just flow with it.

The other major plot point is the introduction of Mara, demon first class. While a very androgynous looking fellow, Mara is indeed a fellow. Somehow he’s tied to a Demon music cd and he ends up in cahoots with Sayoko, promising to get rid of Bell so Sayoko can be Queen of the Campus and have Kei all to herself.

While Mara is foiled at every point, he’s not banished and it’s obvious he’s here to stay and cause nothing but problems.Yet another recurring character. The character list is really starting to grow.

 

My Thoughts:

Every chapter was once again a single episodic adventure. Now, most of them revolved around various schemes by Sayoko and Aoshima so the whole book kind of felt more like a romantic comedy than anything.

I can’t really remember what part Mara ends up playing in future volumes, but I think he’s the beginning of the multi-volume story arc. It’s also our first introduction to the opposite of Belldandy’s family. Fujishima is obviously thinking ahead and planning on opening up this world for a full on experience. Having extra powerful beings, on opposite sides of the moral spectrum, is the obvious way to go.

Urd is involved, but not nearly so much as in the previous book. She really is eye candy and comedic relief. The funny thing is, she “represents” eye candy more than she actually is. That makes for a surprisingly clean “smexy” fun drawings without going anywhere near smut. Of course, this is still male driven fantasy, so you get little bits like this. And how cute is a mini-Urd anyway?

 

 

Now on a different note. I am reading the original Darkhorse release manga. I am finding that the chapters are out of order in regards to the original intent and that that has been rectified with the re-release of the OMG manga in it’s original numbered format. Not that I’m going to go out and suddenly buy volumes 1-20 just to be a completist but I am realizing that I’d recommend people start with the new numbered versions and not these “Titled” Darkhorse editions.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter (Riyria Chronicles #4) ★★★★☆

32177852This 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 Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter
Series: Riyria Chronicles #4
Author: Michael Sullivan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 344
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Royce and Hadrian are hired to avenger the death of Genevieve Hargrave who is the daughter of Gabriel Winter, a rich merchant. She married Leopold Hargrave, the Duke of Rochelle and Winter is convinced that Leopold married her for her dowry and then murdered her. But no body has been recovered. So Winter wants the duo to find out what happened to her and then avenge her death with a fountain of blood, a fountain he is willing to pay for with everything from his coffers.

Once the duo reaches Rochelle, things don’t quite add up. At the same time the head of the Church of Novron is calling for a new King and every noble must be present to be in the running. This leads into Church politic’ing and a desire for revenge by a Mir, a half-human, half-elf named Villar.

Villar wants to murder all the nobles, take over the city of Rochelle and make it the capital of a new Mir city-state. What looks impossible isn’t so when it is revealed that he has the help of dwarves who can bring stone golems to life.

All this time Genny is alive and held captive by a faction of the Mir who just want equal rights in the town and a peaceful resolution to everything.

Everybody collides in a finale of bloody death but thankfully Hadrian and Royce rescue Genny, she is reunited with her husband who really does love her and events are set in motion that will have repercussions in the Riyria Revelations series.

 

My Thoughts:

Most Important!

This ebook says it has an ISBN of 978194336317 but if you can count, that is only 12 numbers. The hardcover I got through the Kickstarter has the correct isbn listed as 9781943363117. Goodreads still has it wrong. Business as usual for that place!

/End Important!

I really enjoyed this read. The banter, the danger, the mystery. It all came together just like every other Riyria book has. There is a flavor, a tone, to the these books and Sullivan keeps it unique and never strays from it. I like that.

I also liked that we didn’t have to wait until the end to know if Genny was alive or dead. She had her POV almost from the beginning and while it lessened that particular mystery, it simply increased the tension on other parts as I tried to figure out WHAT was going on and who was motivated by what.

I tore through this in about a day and a half. Kind of sad since I had been waiting 2 years since Death of Dulgath but hey, I’m not going to waste time artificially stretching my read out. I paid my money and I’m going to get my enjoyment Right Now!

Now that I’ve read this, I kind of want to re-read all 6 Riyria Revelations books and the previous 3 Riyria Chronicles books. Just to get a fuller picture. Also, to see how Sullivan’s writing has progressed. Well, maybe in a year or two. Honestly, I’d really like to wait until there are 6 Chronicles books to balance the Revelations books and then have a go. But since Sullivan is independently releasing these through Kickstarters and he has contractual obligations for other books, I doubt that will happen any time soon.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

The Skinner (Polity: Spatterjay #1) ★★★★★

skinner (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 Skinner
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 433
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sable Keech, a dead ECS agent, is a member of the Anubis cult. When he died 700 years ago tracking down infamous slavers who sold their product to the Prador during the Prador War, he was reified and continued his hunt for the Eight most prominent members. Jay Hoop was their leader and Sable has accounted for the other seven members. Rumors bring Sable to the world of Spatterjay, named after Jay Hoop. A world where a peculiar virus gives immortality but with the risk of becoming inhuman.

Janer, a human who was indentured and now works for, a Wasp Hivemind, is on Spatterjay on orders from the Hive. He doesn’t know why and in all honesty, he doesn’t want to know why. But the Hive wants to expand and a world outside of the Polity would suit it perfectly. Janers is along for the ride and the promise of ten million new carth shillings, enough to allow him to be free of the Hive forever.

Erlan. Young hooper. A hooper is someone with the virus. A young hooper is anyone infected for less than 200 years. She was infected and then left Spatterjay to explore the galaxies. But now she’s back and she’s not sure she wants to keep on living. Her mission is to find Captain Ambel and either have him kill her or show her how to live, as all the Captains of Spatterjay are over 700 years old.

Throw in a Prador trying to clean up its trail from the Prador War 1000 years ago, one of the Eight who isn’t dead, Jay Hooper who is now a 12foot tall monstrosity that is practically unkillable, some mercenaries and a couple of AI’s and you’ve got yourself quite a story!

Oh, I forgot to mention the sentient Sails, which might just try to take the planet for themselves.

 

My Thoughts:

This was the best Polity book by Asher so far. It had super bloody ultra violent action. It had dead people, it had the Skinner. That thing is surviving even after having its head cut off and kept in a box by Captain Ambel. Hiveminds and Prador and the list goes on and on and on.

While the Prador War was mentioned in passing in the Agent Cormac books, it was more of a blip than anything. Here, while it was 1000 years ago, we get a lot of information about it that helps develop the Polity into a more realistic society. It isn’t all knowing and all powerful and the Prador War showed that. That is a good balance to some of the power we saw in Agent Cormac where it appeared the Polity just rolled over everything.

If I had to recommend a place to start the Polity books, this would be it. It is filled with awesome new ideas and the action and thrillaminute ride never stops. The other thing is that while this is part of a trilogy, it tells a complete story. The Skinner is brought to justice, each of the characters finds closure in one way or another and there are no dangling threads “forcing” you to read the next 2 books. You could read this and see if Asher’s style is for you and if it isn’t, you don’t have that “incomplete” feeling that a lot of series rely on these days.

This is a good sized book. This edition is only 400+ pages, but when I read it back in 2010, it was over 700 I think? Probably those larger numbers were based on a paperback edition. Either way, this is not something you skim through in an afternoon. I spent a day and a half devouring this and “devour” is a good word. Everything on Spatterjay is trying to eat something else, all the time.

I also liked the introduction of the Hive Mind. Sadly, beyond a couple of short stories in some of his later collections, Asher never really delves into this aspect of the Polity. So don’t get too excited about it as it never pans out.

As a re-read, this almost came across as a new book. I remembered the basic details of Spatterjay being a world where everything was eat or be eaten and that there was stuff to do with the Prador and that a dead guy was involved. But honestly, this book and my review from 2010 are part of why I now review the way I do. That review did nothing to help me remember what I had read, while I’m hoping this one does when I decide to re-read it again in another decade or so.

Last time I rated this 4 stars. This time around, with it still being so enjoyable and such a fun read, I’m slamming that up to 5 stars.

★★★★★

bookstooge