A Path to Coldness of Heart (Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #3) ★★☆☆☆

pathtocoldnessofheart (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: A Path to Coldness of Heart
Series: Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #3
Author: Glen Cooke
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 445
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The world has come as close as it ever has to having some peace, so obviously the Star Rider will stir things up. However, due to him having been so visible in the last 50 years, the main characters on the stage all know about him, from The Dread Empire to the King without a Throne to Bragi to Varthlokkur.

Mist, queen of the Dread Empire, secretly assembles a cast of people all presumed to be dead who have had interactions with the Star Rider. They begin a massive plot to take him down, all along parallel tracks not connected so that if one plot fails, another may get through.

This involves a whole new generation of people and we get hints of horrible things the Star Rider has actually been keeping contained for the world’s safety. The plotters succeed and the tale peters out.

 

My Thoughts:

While there is a book of short stories still left in the Dread Empire saga, this was pretty much the wrapup to the overall story. Except it didn’t really wrap anything up, it just “ended” while introducing the vague new threats the world would have to face and vaguely introducing the next set of people to face those threats. Cook seems to revel in showing the heroes growing old and failing in one way or another.

And here’s my biggest caveat about this book. We are introduced to a minor wizard who is, for all intents and purposes, a pedophile. He’s into pre-pubescent girls and while its made clear nothing is done against their will, the whole idea is abhorrent and Cook makes it out to be “just another thing”. I don’t think I’ve seen that before in any of his books and if I do come across it again, that’ll be it. The wizard is a major side character in this novel, so that keeps popping up.

Overall, it is apparent that Steven Erikson, of Malazan fame, stole much more from Cook’s Dread Empire than from his Black Company series. When I finished this book, I just felt “ehhh”. Between the pedo-wizard and the non-closure of an ending, I had to ask myself “What did I get out of this”and the answer is “not much”.

The writing is at the same level as all the previous books, so without pedo-wizard this probably would have been a 3 ½ star book, but that inclusion dropped things pretty hard. I do plan on reading the collection of short stories to truly wrap up the Dread Empire series and then I have to decide what of Cook’s writings I want to read next. I’ve got one or two trilogies/short series and then his much longer Garrett, PI urban fantasy series. I’m thinking of holding off on Garrett just because me and Urban Fantasy don’t get along for the most part. Ahh well, that is months away, plenty of time to make up my mind and change it several times too!

★★☆☆☆

 

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An Ill Fate Marshalling (Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #2) ★★★☆½

anillfatemarshalling (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: An Ill Fate Marshalling
Series: Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #2
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 381
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Shadowing the events that take place in Reaping the East Wind, at least for the first half of the book, we see the events that Ethrian set in motion from the side of the likes of Bragi, Varthlokkur, etc. We also see the fallout from Bragi’s decision to force Varthlokkur to deal with Ethrian. Varthlokkur and Nepanthe return to their fortress along with Mist’s children and Varthlokkur swears to Bragi that he won’t help him anymore.

Thus, Bragi must begin ruling Kavelin with brains and soldiers alone. Unfortunately, for him, his wife Inger is plotting against him and he can’t face that. He heads out with an army to take down a rogue Dread Empire general, the one hold out who won’t accept that Mist is now defacto Empress of the Dread Empire. Mist has her uses for this rogue general though and lets him run amok. Mist eventually takes out the general but that is not known to Bragi. He attacks the Imperial troops thinking they belong to the rogue general when in fact they belong to Mist. She was planning on this all along though and wipes out Bragi and his army. All so that the nation of Kavelin, and its neighbors will be fighting amongst themselves.

The book ends with various factions beginning to fight over Kavelin and it turns out that Bragi didn’t die. Now he’s a secret captive of the Dread Empire, a captive who can live in peace and luxury.

 

My Thoughts:

It was interesting to see the events that take place in Reap the East Wind from another viewpoint. That only took up the first half of the book though, so whenI came to the end of the events and the book kept on going, I was pleasantly surprised.

Of course, that is, until I realized that this was a story about the disintegration of the order that Bragi Ragnarson was slowly establishing in Kavelin. I kept hoping, right up until the end, that things would turn out ok. I should have known better.

Varthlokkur, in abandoning Bragi, showed that he was just as miserable a scumbag as that other magician, on the flying horse and the magic cornucopia thing that we read about in previous books. He watches through his magic mirror as Bragi is apparently overwhelmed and killed but because of his pride, does nothing active. It just goes to show that Cook has an excellent grasp on human nature and how someone who has been hurt by someone else will do, nor not do, all sorts of things because of that hurt.

The other storylines, about the succession, the various heirs (Bragi having had multiple children through his now dead wife and his current wife), the Dread Empire dealing with the Matrangan attack, it all was interesting. Then to find out that Bragi is alive, that made me wonder if Cook was saving him up for something or if it was so that at least one character can live out his days as sop to the readers?

This book was published in 1988. Apparently, the sequel, and the final Dread Empire novel, wasn’t published until 2012. Ouch. Glad I already have it on hand. There is also another book, a collection of short stories, that was released in ’08. I’m on the fence if I’ll be reading that or not. Probably depends on how much I like, or dislike the final Dread Empire book.

★★★☆½

 

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Reap the East Wind (Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #1) ★★★☆½

reaptheeaastwind (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: Reap the East Wind
Series: Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire #1
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 259
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Mocker and Nepanthe’s son was held against Mocker’s attempt in killing Bragi Ragnarson. When Mocker failed, Ethrian was thrown into a torture cell. He escaped and came to a desert. There he meets a sleeping god and it’s servant Sahmanan. The god wants a conduit and Ethrian wants revenge against the Dread Empire. They form an alliance and using undead, begin to attack the Empire.

Lady Mist has used her time in Ragnarson’s court to play political games back home in Shinsan. With Ragnarson’s help, she sets in motion a coup to regain the throne of the Dread Empire. She plans on double crossing Ragnarson and destroying the upstarts who stopped the Empire before but Ragnarson wasn’t born yesterday and realizes this. His plan is to get Mist to be queen but with enough instability to keep the Empire from his door for a generation.

Nepanthe, now married to the sorcerer Varthlokkur, is pregnant with their child but can’t let go of the idea that Ethrian is still alive. Varthlokkur won’t try to find his grandson (Mocker was Varthlokkur’s son) and when the issue is forced, it causes a split between Varthlokkur and both Nepanthe AND Ragnarson.

Ethrian is taken over by the god due to his hatred and despair but is destroyed through the combined efforts of both Varthlokkur and the Empire’s magicians. He dies in Nepanthe’s arms.

The book ends with Mist and Ragnarson in control of their respective kingdoms but both are weakened and more fighting is on the horizon. This trilogy is truly the Last Chronicle of the Dread Empire.

 

My Thoughts:

I was introduced to Ethrian in All Darkness Met back in July ’17 but then I completely forgot who he was due to the prequel duology that I read next. So it took me some time to work out just who this boy was that was so important.

This book felt a LOT darker than the previous Dread Empire books. Part of it was Nepanthe’s giving in to despair and Varthlokkur’s refusal to look for Ethrian. Throw in Lady Mist’s complete acknowledgment that she will destroy the kingdom that Ragnarson rules even though he gave her sanctuary from her enemies and you just end up with a lot of nobodies that you can root for. Ethrian’s slide to the darkside was depressing as all get-out too.

The whole zombie/undead thing was pretty nifty but Ethrian just didn’t have the military experience to make full use of it. The Empire’s general was simply able to outmaneuver him. Shows why the Dread Empire has lasted as long as it has.

Once again there were what I term “skips” where a lot happens in the background but I the reader am apprised of it through a one sentence mention of the fact even while it has big implications for what is going on. That type of thing has to catch me in the right mood for it to work. This time it did. But next time? I might end up savaging Cook for being a complete jackass for using such a plot device. Even being aware that he uses it doesn’t help.

I found the writing to be better than the previous duology. That helped keep my interest, as well as not having those wretched characters, El Murid & Haroun, involved. I’m just waiting for them to stick their nose in in the next book and ruin it for me. I just don’t like those guys.

★★★☆½

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