The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time #5) ★★★★★

firesofheaven (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 Fires of Heaven
Series: The Wheel of Time #5
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 867
Words: 355K

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

In the Tower, Elaida is struggling to hold on to power, while her advisors are struggling to cope with the idea of Rand. Fain is counseling Elaida. He steals the Shadar Logoth dagger back before leaving the Tower. He gets past Alviarin only by convincingly bluffing that he stands high as a Darkfriend. Rahvin is visited by Lanfear, Sammael and Graendal. They make plans to get Rand. Morgase flees Gaebril after he shames her in front of others. She takes Lini, Tallanvor, Basel Gill and Lamgwin with her. Breane goes with Lamgwin.

In Rhuidean, Rand is living under the roof of the Maidens, the first man ever allowed there. Moiraine loads the various ter’angreal gathered in Rhuidean onto wagons. Rand discusses plans with the clan chiefs, where he learns of what is known as “the bleakness”.

Egwene and Moiraine start ganging up on him and he begins to experience Lews Therin’s memories. Moiraine finds another of the seals, which is extremely fragile. Mat picks up a Shaido woman, Melindhra, who has come to join the Maidens. Isendre irritates Aviendha and the Maidens by constantly attempting to bed Rand. Melaine decides to wed Bael, chief of her clan. Moiraine argues with the Wise Ones about Rand’s plans to take them out of the Waste.

Rand and the Aiel are attacked by Shadowspawn, including Darkhounds. Rand destroys the Darkhounds with balefire. Rand kills a Darkhound which was attacking Mat with balefire. Moiraine Heals Mat after he removes his amulet, and tells Rand balefire is dangerous. Rand agrees not to use it unless he must. The sense of trust between them breaks down so much that Moiraine swears to obey Rand and to not try to manipulate him. Rand is once more visited by Lanfear, who tells him that Rahvin has Morgase.

The Shaido leave the Waste, forcing Rand to follow. Trollocs attack again. Rand and his followers leave the Waste and see a town that has been attacked. One of the survivors says it was a message to Rand, from Couladin. They learn Couladin had been taking Wetlanders as gai’shain.

Aviendha gives Rand Laman’s sword to even out the bracelet he had previously given her. He discovers it was made with the Power, so he gives her the hilt and scabbard back, as they are jewel-encrusted and useless. As a result, she unintentionally makes a huge profit. Trollocs and Darkfriends attack again; Rand believes it is Sammael, trying to goad him, as he remembers him doing the same in the Age of Legends; Rand’s memories from the Age of Legends frighten Asmodean. Rand tells the clan chiefs he will hang anyone who murders or burns anything, even in Cairhien.

Egwene sees Elayne and Birgitte in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien tries to trap her there, but Egwene escapes. Kadere murders Isendre when she refuses to continue to try and bed Rand because of her fear of the Maidens.

Rand and the Aiel move on to Cairhien, which is under siege by the Shaido. A week away from the city, they meet lordlings from Tear that Rand had sent north, as well as Cairhienin soldiers. They tell him Couladin has the city under siege.

Rand accidentally catches Aviendha naked after taking a bath. Aiel customs in this area are considered a little odd; she flees, using the Power to Travel. Rand follows her to a winter landscape, holding her gateway open, and eventually catches up with her, finding her unconscious. He removes his clothes as well and holds her, to keep her warm. Aviendha awakens and admits her love of Rand. They consummate their relationship. The following morning, they come across a Seanchan patrol outside the gateway, which is now invisible. They shield and bind the Seanchan and head through, and as Rand lets the doorway dissolve, a spear is thrown through. He decides to keep the remaining piece of the spear.

Rand decides to attack the Shaido after coming up with a plan with the clan chiefs. Mat also comes up with the same plan after studying the map for a minute. Mat decides to leave for safety and heads south, where he sees a group of soldiers about to wander into an Aiel ambush. He goes to simply warn them, but ends up leading them throughout the battle. He also kills Couladin. Other Aiel who have not agreed to follow Rand hang back and watch.

Rand uses the One Power to influence the battle, aided by Aviendha and Egwene. Someone, presumably Sammael, tries to interfere. They eventually drive the Shaido from Cairhien, leaving Rand completely exhausted. The other Aiel, which remained apart from the Shaido, send their Wise Ones to discuss joining with Rand. Rand enters Cairhien, seeing siswai’aman for the first time. Tairen High Lords and Cairhienin Lords swear fealty to him. Weiramon arrives from Tear.

Colavaere sends young women, including Selande, to try and bed Rand. He puts a stop to it when he claims to prefer more mature women, and invites Colavaere to his chambers, where Aviendha beats her for trying to get near him. Berelain joins him in Cairhien. Moiraine brings letters from the Tower, from Elaida and Alviarin. Alviarin’s is full of flattery.

Mat hears of Morgase’s supposed death and tells Rand, who resolves to kill Rahvin. Moiraine first takes him to the docks where they meet Lanfear, who is in a rage because she has been told by Kadere that Rand has been bedding Aviendha for months. She kills Kadere, then attacks Aviendha and Egwene, who are saved by Rand. She decides to kill him when he says he will never love her. Unfortunately, he cannot bring himself to kill Lanfear. Instead, Moiraine takes Lanfear through the doorway to the realms of the Eelfinn, which melts, thus severing her bond with Lan, who is compelled to go east. Rand learns in a letter that Moiraine knew these events would take place. Mat is attacked by Melindhra, who is a Darkfriend, when he reveals he is off to Tear to lead the assault on Illian. He accidentally kills her.

That afternoon, Rand Skims to Caemlyn with Mat, Aviendha, Asmodean and a group of Aiel, but without Egwene, who is too injured. They are immediately attacked by Rahvin. Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are all killed in that first attack. Rand chases Rahvin into the World of Dreams.

Siuan, Leane and Min are arrested by Gareth Bryne after Logain burns down a barn. Leane practices her flirting on Bryne. Giving false names, they swear to work off their debt, but decide to sneak off at the first opportunity, as they never said when they would repay the debt. Logain rescues them anyway, showing concern for the man he injures in the process. Bryne follows them; he says it is because of Siuan’s eyes.

They discover the Aes Sedai opposing Elaida have gathered in Salidar. Siuan and Leane pretend to barely be able to tolerate each other and convince those in charge of who they are, and manipulate them into choosing their own Hall and Amyrlin. Siuan is allowed to run the spy network, and tells them Logain was set up by the Red Ajah. After being captured, Bryne agrees to build an army to take Tar Valon on his own terms. Siuan is set to work for him.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom and Juilin leave Tarabon to return to Tear, but come across a woman, Ronde Macura, who drugs the girls to prevent them from chaneling and ties them up. She says there is a message: “All sisters are welcome to return to the Tower. The Tower must be whole and strong”. Thom and Juilin rescue them. They realize the Tower has split and set out to find the rebels. Elayne constantly flirts with Thom. Nynaeve and Egwene discover that Elaida is Amyrlin. They meet Galad. In Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene chastises Nynaeve, telling her to cover herself up.

They head into Ghealdan, where they join a traveling circus and act as performers. While travelling with the circus, they take an a’dam from a Seanchan woman. Elayne says she thinks she could make one. They meet up with the Shienarans they left in Falme.

Moghedien takes over the members of the Black Ajah who left the Tower, giving them different tasks and splitting them up.

Birgitte takes Nynaeve to spy on Moghedien and the other Forsaken in Tel’aran’rhiod. Moghedien spots them and follows. They overcome her after Birgitte shoots her with an arrow, but Birgitte herself is severely wounded. She appears in the real world, and Elayne bonds Birgitte as a Warder to save her life.

Moghedien has one of the Black Ajah Heal her. Liandrin fails to persuade the remaining Black Ajah to gang up on Moghedien. She tries to use Compulsion on Moghedien, but she isn’t quick enough or strong enough. She fails, and Moghedien leaves her shielded in such a way that Liandrin is never likely to channel again. Moghedien uses Compulsion on her to make sure she doesn’t give up and take her own life, though. The other Black sisters are sent off with various tasks.

Elayne and Nynaeve learn that the rebels are in Salidar, and arrange with both Masema and Galad, who has joined the Whitecloaks, for a boat to take them out of Ghealdan. This results in conflict at the docks between the Prophet’s mobs and Whitecloaks. The girls flee to Salidar with Uno and the Shienarans. They are also accompanied by three women: Moghedien, posing as Marigan, Nicola and Areina. Min tells Elayne she loves Rand. The leaders in Salidar decide to talk to Moiraine through Egwene and the Wise Ones. Siuan also forces Nynaeve to teach her about the World of Dreams. Nynaeve makes Siuan agree to let her study being stilled.

Moghedien almost captures Nynaeve in the World of Dreams, but Nynaeve tricks her and captures her with an a’dam. Nynaeve makes her take them to Caemlyn, to try and help Rand. She sees Rahvin and encases him in a sheet of fire, almost killing him, before Rand does kill him with balefire. Nynaeve tells Moghedien she knows where she is and that she’s coming to get her.

Aviendha, Mat and Asmodean are alive again because Rahvin was killed with balefire, but Asmodean is killed for good a short while later. Rand meets Davram Bashere, who had been hunting Mazrim Taim. Rand tells him Taim is off limits and that there is an amnesty for men who want to channel.

My Thoughts:

Whooooowheeeeee! Holy Shazboticon Batman! This was feth’ing, frak’ing, frel’ing awesome (if any of you happen to know any more sf/tv show alternate words, leave a comment please. I’m always willing to expand my fake vocabulary).

This is where the cast of characters begins to get so big that the book doesn’t contain everyone. There is NO Perrin. I didn’t particularly care, but with the addition of the Queen in Exile Morgase and her small band, it just became obvious that things were bloating up. A character like Morgase should not have pushed out someone like Perrin. The fact that she does nothing but escape the Forsaken enthralling her doesn’t help any. Yes, it adds a reason for Rand to attack, but that could have been accomplished without adding her and her retinue with their very own POV chapters. They weren’t bad, just seemed unnecessary, that is all. And that is about all the bad stuff I have to say.

When I read this back in ’11, I noted how angry everyone was. This time around, it became apparent to me that there was a lot of growing out of that anger for several of the characters. Elayne, Aviendha and Egwene all show definite signs of growing up and maturity. It was great to see. Nynaeve, on the other hand, seems to double down on the angry schtick and her being contrasted to the other woman shows her to a great disadvantage in that regards. Of course, Jordan does use that to show a bunch of inner stuff going in Nynaeve, so even she isn’t the hateful harpy I thought of her as back in ’11. Still don’t like her this time around though. Understanding is very different from liking.

Where Perrin was the side character who did a lot of growth in the previous book, Matt gets his chance here. Of course, it isn’t until near the end and isn’t nearly as a big a section as Perrin had but it is there. He’s pretty much told to just grow up and stop fighting his fate. Rand also tightens the reins once he really realizes what a treasure trove of military knowledge is in Matt’s head. Even Matt begins to accept that he has to grow up when he can’t seem to escape fighting battles and winning them, even if against his will.

The big boss battle at the end is just as awesome as before. I’d forgotten how big a part Nynaeve played in determining the outcome of that. While I remembered Moraine’s fate, I hadn’t remembered that she’d taken one of the Forsaken with her. So many details that make these stories so good. While not quite like reading a completely new book, there were enough gaps that I never felt “been there, done that”. Jordan can write and I really like what I’m reading.

With what happens to Moraine in this book, it seems proper that the next Wheel of Time book will be the prequel New Spring.

On a closing note, I’d just like to point out how boring, blasé, uninteresting, uninformative and generally pathetic these recently released ebook covers are. I’ve been using the old covers but wanted at least one example so the future me could see what kind of crap the publishers pull. I’ve heard theories that the publishers did this so as not to interfere with the possible visuals from the upcoming Wheel of Time tv show from Amazon. Of course, that means when the tv show does release and if it isn’t a hot mess of a flopping bomb, that we’ll be getting movie actor covers. Oh Lord, preserve us from such an awful fate. I preemptively SMITE those covers!

★★★★★

David Copperfield ★★★★★

davidcopperfield (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: David Copperfield
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 853
Words: 357.5K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story follows the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, England, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his loving, childish mother and their kindly housekeeper, Clara Peggotty. They call him Davy. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. To get him out of the way, David is sent to lodge with Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth. Her brother, fisherman Mr Peggotty, lives in a beached barge, with his adopted relatives Emily and Ham, and an elderly widow, Mrs Gummidge. “Little Em’ly” is somewhat spoiled by her fond foster father, and David is in love with her. They call him Master Copperfield.

On his return, David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather, who believes exclusively in firmness, and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Between them they tyrannize his poor mother, making her and David’s lives miserable, and when, in consequence, David falls behind in his studies, Murdstone attempts to thrash him – partly to further pain his mother. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to Salem House, a boarding school, under a ruthless headmaster named Mr Creakle. There he befriends an older boy, James Steerforth, and Tommy Traddles. He develops an impassioned admiration for Steerforth, perceiving him as someone noble, who could do great things if he would, and one who pays attention to him.

David goes home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries the local carrier, Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. David’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is arrested for debt and sent to the King’s Bench Prison, where he remains for several months, before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away, with Micawber advising him to head to Dover, to find his only known remaining relative, his eccentric and kind-hearted great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She had come to Blunderstone at his birth, only to depart in ire upon learning that he was not a girl. However, she takes pity on him and agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone’s attempt to regain custody of David, on condition that he always try to ‘be as like his sister, Betsey Trotwood’ as he can be, meaning that he is to endeavour to emulate the prospective namesake she was disappointed not to have. David’s great-aunt renames him “Trotwood Copperfield” and addresses him as “Trot”, one of several names David is called by in the novel.

David’s aunt sends him to a better school than the last he attended. It is run by Dr Strong, whose methods inculcate honour and self-reliance in his pupils. During term, David lodges with the lawyer Mr Wickfield, and his daughter Agnes, who becomes David’s friend and confidante. Wickfield’s clerk, Uriah Heep, also lives at the house.

By devious means, Uriah Heep gradually gains a complete ascendancy over the aging and alcoholic Wickfield, to Agnes’s great sorrow. Heep hopes, and maliciously confides to David, that he aspires to marry Agnes. Ultimately with the aid of Micawber, who has been employed by Heep as a secretary, his fraudulent behaviour is revealed. At the end of the book, David encounters him in prison, convicted of attempting to defraud the Bank of England.

After completing school, David apprentices to be a proctor. During this time, due to Heep’s fraudulent activities, his aunt’s fortune has diminished. David toils to make a living. He works mornings and evenings for his former teacher Doctor Strong as a secretary, and also starts to learn shorthand, with the help of his old school-friend Traddles, upon completion reporting parliamentary debate for a newspaper. With considerable moral support from Agnes and his own great diligence and hard work, David ultimately finds fame and fortune as an author, writing fiction.

David’s romantic but self-serving school friend, Steerforth, also re-acquaints himself with David, but then goes on to seduce and dishonour Emily, offering to marry her off to his manservant Littimer before deserting her in Europe. Her uncle Mr Peggotty manages to find her with the help of Martha, who had grown up in their part of England, and then settled in London. Ham, who had been engaged to marry Emily before the tragedy, dies in a fierce storm off the coast in attempting to succour a ship. Steerforth was aboard the ship and also died. Mr Peggotty takes Emily to a new life in Australia, accompanied by Mrs Gummidge and the Micawbers, where all eventually find security and happiness.

David, meanwhile, has fallen completely in love with Dora Spenlow, and then marries her. Their marriage proves troublesome for David in the sense of everyday practical affairs, but he never stops loving her. Dora dies early in their marriage after a miscarriage. After Dora’s death, Agnes encourages David to return to normal life and his profession of writing. While living in Switzerland to dispel his grief over so many losses, David realises that he loves Agnes. Upon returning to England, after a failed attempt to conceal his feelings, David finds that Agnes loves him too. They quickly marry and in this marriage, he finds true happiness. David and Agnes then have at least five children, including a daughter named after his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood.

 

My Thoughts:

I don’t know how to write this review without resorting to manly beating of my chest and loud hollering of execrations against my enemies in jubilation of their downfall.

Dickens’ strength is in his characters. This book showcases some of his best characters in my opinion. From the titular character of David Copperfield to the child wife Dora to the competent Agnes to the never quite his fault Mr Micawber to the sniveling Uria Heep to the selfishly evil Steersforth. Dickens makes every single one of them a real person that you can think is real.

I also appreciated that Copperfield wasn’t a golden boy. He had a hard life and had some pretty bad things happen to him. But it made the happy ending all the sweeter. I NEED the majority of my books to have happy endings of one sort or another. Or at least the chance for a happy ending. I think that is what I like so much about Dickens’ writing. He knows that people need a happy ending in their stories and he’s not afraid to give it to them.

Dickens also isn’t afraid to face the very nature of human nature. He realizes some people are just downright evil and he writes his characters that way. He doesn’t make excuses for people like Uriah Heep or Steersforth, he simply portrays them as they are. While evil can be abstract in ideas and philosophies, it can also be personified in a character.

And that turns out to be all I have to say. I’ve been staring at the screen for almost 30 minutes and nothing else comes to mind. While I enjoyed Dickens earlier in life, I have never enjoyed him more than now. This only excites me about reading him again in another 10-15 years!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Harrowing the Dragon ★★★★☆

harrowingthedragon (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: Harrowing the Dragon
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 86K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

“The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath” (from Elsewhere, Vol. II, Nov. 1982) – a young dragon harrower and a girl from a mining village clash over whether the land’s long winter is caused by a dragon.

“A Matter of Music” (from Elsewhere, Vol. III, Apr. 1984)

“A Troll and Two Roses” (from Faery!, Jan. 1985)

“Baba Yaga and the Sorcerer’s Son” (from Dragons and Dreams: A Collection of New Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories, Apr. 1986)

“The Fellowship of the Dragon” (from After the King: Stories in Honor of J. R. R. Tolkien, Jan. 1992) – Five young women are tasked by their queen with saving her lover, the court harper.

“Lady of the Skulls” (from Strange Dreams, Jul. 1993) – a story of personal transformation requiring a knight to look past what meets the eye.

“The Snow Queen” (from Snow White, Blood Red, Jan. 1993) – retelling the familiar fairy tale in a contemporary setting, highlighting the universality of love, loyalty and desire.

“Ash, Wood, Fire” (from The Women’s Press Book of New Myth and Magic, Nov. 1993) – the story of a cinder-girl who has reduced the people around her to their functions as she sinks into her own essence.

“The Stranger” (from Temporary Walls: An Anthology of Moral Fantasy, Oct. 1993)

“Transmutations” (from Xanadu 2, Jan. 1994)

“The Lion and the Lark” (from The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors, Apr. 1995) – a “beauty and the beast” retelling, in which a young woman loves a shapechanger, loses him, and must prove her love through many tests and trials.

“The Witches of Junket” (from Sisters in Fantasy II, Apr. 1996)

“Star-Crossed” (from Shakespearean Whodunnits, Sep. 1997) – the Verona constabulary investigate the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

“Voyage Into the Heart” (from Voyages: The 25th World Fantasy Convention, Nov. 4, 1999) a heartless hunt to acquire a unicorn’s horn.

“Toad” (from Silver Birch, Blood Moon, Mar. 1999) – a “frog prince” retelling in which the prince is far from innocent.

 

My Thoughts:

It did not feel like it had been 13 years since my previous read of this book. While not quite “just yesterday”, if you had asked me point blank and I had to simply rely on my memory, I would have said from 5-8 years ago. How time flies!

This was a real mixed bag in terms of both interest and writing. Some stories were more interesting than others and some of the writing was much better than others. It also felt like McKillip was really experimenting with stuff and figuring out what worked for her and what didn’t. Considering the stories were written between 1982 and 1999 I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting place for McKillip, as I feel that a familiarity with her style is necessary to be able to appreciate some of the very quirky stories told here. For someone with a couple of her books already under their belt, this would be a solid edition to your reading and to be able to experience some of her writing in shorter form.

This was the last McKillip book I had for this cycle of re-reads. I began back in 2017 with a re-read of The Tower at Stony Wood and now I end in 2020 with Harrowing the Dragon. Three years to read 21 of her books is just a win on every single count. I enjoyed them all, I hopefully praised them enough (I really think I did but covering my bases just in case, you know?) and I trust that I dragged at least one person into McKillip’s sphere of influence.

So while this particular journey has ended, the road is still there and I know I can re-travel it any time I like. Perhaps in another 10-15 years. The question then will be who I am at that point and will you be around?

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Princeps’ Fury (Codex Alera #5) ★★★★★

princepsfury (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: Princeps’ Fury
Series: Codex Alera #5
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 350
Words: 153.5K

 

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com & Me

The book begins with Octavian negotiating with Captain Demos of the trading vessel called the Slive, to book passage for Octavian and his contingent to cross the sea and reach the Canean homeland with Varg. Meanwhile in Alera, Crown cursor Ehren reports to Gaius about the Vord having entered Alera and learnt how to furycraft.[2]

Octavian and the Canean survivors face several storms as they make their way for the Canim continent. Octavian learns more about the Canean civilization, which has several tribes with populations in the millions and also learns the Canim tongue as they prepare to disembark. Amara and Count Bernand are helping improve the defensive structures around Calderon Valley, in anticipation of a future Vord assault. However, they are summoned to an Imperial Council by Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, for an urgent mission against the Vord.

Gaius Sextus informs the Council of the threat of the Vord, which was slowly expanding from the Kalare wasteland. The Vord had overwhelmed four Imperial legions, leaving no survivors and the croach[check spelling] was expanding through Alera at an increasing rate. More than one hundred thousand Aleran freeholders and citizens had been killed in less than a month. Gaius requests all the High Lords of Alera to unite their strength and muster all the legions that they could, so that they could force a big battle against the Vord. Gaius appoints High Lord Aquitaine as the captain of the military campaign. The First Lord also meets Countess Amara and Count Bernard and requests them to go behind the Vord enemy lines on a mission to find out how the Vord are using furycrafting when they had been unable to do so.

Amara and Bernard find out that one of the High Lady’s has been taken by the Vord Queen and that Brencis Kalarus is using his father’s slave collars on Citizens to make them fight for the Vord. They take out Brencis and without him and his knowledge, the Vord Queen loses the ability to collar any more Citizens.

Tavi formulates a plan to take down a Vord Queen in Cania, thus allowing the surviving Canim to escape to Alera to regroup and plan how to take back their homeland. His plan fails but Kitai and Varg’s backup plan works perfectly. Everyone escapes on giant ships sculpted from icebergs.

Isana is sent north to the Shield Wall to broker a piece with the Icemen so the Legions guarding the Wall can march South and bolster those fighting the Vord. She realizes the Icemen are empathetic crafters and that the whole war has been a gigantic misunderstanding. She challenges the Lord of the Legions to Juris Macti to force him to march South. She loses but her standing up to him makes him realize the truth of her position.

The Vord overwhelm the Capital City and Gaius destroys the city and all the surrounding Vord to give the rest of the people a chance to formulate a way to fight back against the Vord.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, this review is where I start using the Calibre Page AND Word count to get my numbers. So while the paperback actually has close to 700 pages, based on characters per page, it is “only” 350. Which is why I want to include word count, to give a better data estimate between. Ok, enough of the nerdy stats/data talk.

Man, what do I say? I loved this book and this series? Tavi is the best hero and everything a proper Hero should be? This is a book of Ideals triumphing over petty base human’ness even while humanity reels from blow after blow from the Vord? You can almost hear the Capital Letters when ideals are discussed or even just acted out? In short, this is exactly my kind of book.

Self-pitying fools and dunces these characters are not. They have no time or place for pseudo-philosophizing while calling good evil and evil good. They have too much to do to drag the reader down into the cesspit of a self-loathing mind. They don’t hate themselves or the world they live in. They love life and it shows in every action they take.

There is no despair.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4) ★★★★☆

shadowrising (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 Shadow Rising
Series: The Wheel of Time #4
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1465
Words: 398K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Min arrives in the Tower, where she tells Siuan and Leane that Rand has gone after Callandor, and also that she has had a viewing that many in the Tower will die in battle on the same day. She is recognized by Gawyn, but not Galad. Neither believe Elayne and Egwene are safe. Elaida and Alviarin begin plotting together. Siuan convinces Min to stay and look for the Black Ajah. In order to accomplish this, Min dresses in a more “girly” fashion and begins calling herself Elmindreda. Siuan receives word from Moiraine that Rand has taken the Stone and tells the Aes Sedai that the Dragon has been Reborn.

With Alviarin’s help, Elaida organizes a coup and overthrows Siuan, proclaiming herself Amyrlin. Siuan and Leane are stilled and imprisoned before being rescued by Min, who is helped by the Mistress of the Kitchens, Laras. They are allowed to leave the Tower by Gawyn, who had organized the resistance when those loyal to Siuan tried to free her. They are joined by Logain, who Min insists is important in some way. Siuan promises to help Logain get his revenge.

Rand is attacked in his room by his own reflection, scaring Berelain, who was attempting to seduce him at the time. Perrin is attacked by his own ax, while Mat is assaulted by playing cards. Moiraine claims that these attacks are the result of “bubbles of evil” rising from the Dark One, and that although they are likely to occur only around ta’veren at first, they will eventually become commonplace.

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve question the two captured members of the Black Ajah, both of whom claim to be willing to help them. They are told of a plot to rescue Mazrim Taim and blame his activities on Rand, and also of an object in Tanchico, which could be used to control Rand.

Elayne and Egwene try to teach Rand about channeling, but all he is able learn is that he can sense when women channel. Egwene is surprised to learn Rand is far stronger than she is. He and Egwene tell each other that they don’t love each other anymore, giving Elayne the chance to move in on him.

Mat asks Egwene for advice and she tells him about a ter’angreal which will grant three answers to any who enter. He claims not to be interested.

Lanfear visits Rand in his room, and whilst she is talking to him, he is attacked by a Gray Man. The Stone is attacked by Trollocs and Myrddraal, which Rand eventually kills using Callandor. Afterwards, the members of the Black Ajah are found dead in their cells.

Perrin looks for rumors that could lead Faile away from Tear, as he fears it is too dangerous. Instead, he hears that Whitecloaks have taken over the Two Rivers and are looking for a yellow eyed Darkfriend. He decides to go there and give himself up to be hanged in order to free everyone. He tries to put Faile off going with him. Faile and Berelain fight, with Berelain promising to take Perrin away from her until she gets bored with him. Rhuarc splits them up and punishes both of them. Perrin gets Loial to take him through the Ways, though Loial and Faile have an agreement that he must take her. They are accompanied by three Aiel.

In spite of his earlier feigned disinterest, Mat enters the ter’angreal that takes him to the realm of the Aelfinn and is supposed to give him true answers to any question he asks. However, the answers he receives – that he is to die and live again, that he must go to Rhuidean and that he is destined to marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons – leave him more unhappy than ever. The area inside the doorway starts shaking and he is forced out. When he leaves, he meets Moiraine and Rand, who are also leaving.

Thom stays in the Stone, plotting against the High Lords that oppose Rand, and also advising him. Moiraine does not approve of this, so she promises to give him the names of the Red Ajah responsible for illegally gentling his nephew Owyn if he will go to Tanchico with the girls.

Egwene enters the World of Dreams without the ter’angreal for the first time. While there, she meets Amys, who says that if Egwene wants to learn, she must come to the Waste. She also goes to Tanchico, which Amys says contains an evil worse than men can make, whatever that means.

Rand calls a meeting, where he tells all the Tairen Lords that they must trade with Illian and restore order to Cairhien, which is caught in the throes of a civil war. He sends the Tairen Lords who are plotting against him most to deal with it. Rand says he is going away and drives Callandor back into the Heart of the Stone. He then tells Mat and Moiraine that he is going to Rhuidean in the Aiel Waste.

Rand and the Aiel, together with Mat, Egwene, Moiraine and Lan go directly to the Waste using a Portal Stone, which Rand requires an angreal to use. They arrive next to a city – Rhuidean.

Perrin and company are attacked by Trollocs in the ways and only just escape Machin Shin, which kills the Trollocs. In the Two Rivers, Perrin shuts the Waygate so it is only possible to open it from the outside. He discovers someone is killing the wildlife. In dreams he chases the man responsible for this, who is called Slayer. Slayer disappears through the Tower of Ghenjei, which leads to the worlds of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. Here, Perrin meets Birgitte, one of the heroes of legend who warns him that Slayer is dangerous and that he is in the World of Dreams physically.

Perrin learns his entire family has been killed. Trollocs have been blamed for this. Perrin decides against giving himself up to the Whitecloaks and instead to rescue people from them. Padan Fain has linked up with the Whitecloaks, and we learn that he was the one who killed Perrin’s family. Bornhald does not trust Fain, as Whitecloaks sent to accompany him tend to die. Fain has killed two Gray Men sent after him and is keeping a Myrddraal prisoner in his tent.

Perrin learns that two Aes Sedai, Alanna and Verin, are in the area, ostensibly to look for recruits. He meets several families and convinces them to move to the village for their own safety. He also meets a man calling himself Lord Luc, who he does not trust, though the others think highly of him. Some of the young men agree to go with Perrin to free the Whitecloaks’ prisoners. After doing so, he goes hunting Trollocs. After initial success, he and his men are ambushed and many of them are killed. Perrin is severely injured. They spend the night with the Tuatha’an before returning to Emond’s Field, where Alanna Heals him. Faile tells Perrin about her father, Davram Bashere. Perrin talks to Slayer in dreams and notices how much he resembles Lan. Loial and Gaul go to shut the Waygate permanently; Slayer has told Perrin it is open again.

Trollocs mount an attack on the village and are beaten back. They also attack a group of Tuatha’an, who Perrin convinces to come into the village for safety. When they return to the village, they see a wolf’s head banner, as well as a Manetheren banner. The Aes Sedai are behind this. One of the Tuatha’an, Aram, picks up a sword and asks to be taught to use it. Perrin allows it. Whitecloaks arrive to arrest Perrin on charges of being a Darkfriend. Perrin agrees to go with them if they stay and help defend the village against the Shadowspawn. The men and women of the village start coming to him for instructions.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, Perrin shoots Slayer before returning to the real world. Lord Luc runs through the house injured. Perrin realizes that Slayer and Luc have a similar smell and decides he is to be arrested if he reappears.

Perrin sends Faile off to tell the Queen what went on, though in reality he just wants her safely out of the way. She agrees, on the condition that he marries her. They get married. The village is almost overrun by Trollocs chanting “Isam”, but is rescued by men from the other Two Rivers villages, some of whom were led there by Faile. They receive no help from the Whitecloaks during the battle, which enables Perrin to refuse to go with them when they try to arrest him. People start referring to Perrin as Lord Perrin, which displeases him.

Nynaeve and Elayne, along with Thom and Juilin, set off for Tanchico on a Sea Folk ship, which only agrees to take them because they believe they are serving Rand. Elayne suspects that she knows Thom. The Windfinder teaches Elayne a great deal about controlling the weather.

The girls arrive in Tanchico, where they again meet Bayle Domon, who agrees to help them look for the women they are seeking. Elayne gets drunk and makes Thom tell the truth about himself. They also encounter a Seanchan captain, Egeanin, who has remained in Tanchico, looking for escaped sul’dam. She is paying Floran Gelb to look for them. When he mistakenly goes after Nynaeve, she stops him. Egeanin is interested in Aes Sedai and the Power, so she meets with Nynaeve and Elayne. She attacks Domon when he walks in, for which they blame him. Egeanin releases the captured sul’dam.

After using the Power, the girls are visited by Moghedien, who uses Compulsion to make them reveal their plans. She tells them to forget about the visit and leaves them alone, as she doesn’t believe they will interfere with her. They locate the Black Ajah, and enter the World of Dreams to check if it is safe. They also locate the object of danger to Rand, using a method taught them by the Wise Ones. Nynaeve sees the Black Ajah holding the Panarch hostage before seeing Moghedien and remembering their encounter. She is prevented from attacking her by Birgitte. Slayer attacks Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod.

They head for the palace. Egeanin accompanies them. Elayne goes to rescue the ruler of Tarabon, the Panarch, from Temaile. Nynaeve’s objective is to find the object that could hurt Rand. She finds some bracelets, and is interrupted by Moghedien, who tells her the bracelets can be used to control men who can channel. They battle with the Power, and are evenly matched until Nynaeve throws the bracelets at her, then shields Moghedien and ties her up. She retrieves the bracelets and one of the seals, and is attacked by an Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah using a ter’angreal that produces balefire. By the time it stops, Moghedien has escaped. The girls then leave the building.

Rand asks the Wise Ones’ permission to enter Rhuidean. Permission is granted, and Mat makes the same request. He is refused permission, but when Rand tells them he is going whether they allow it or not, they relent. Couladin attacks Rand and Mat, and is stopped by Melaine and Amys using the Power, to Moiraine’s surprise.

The boys leave all their weapons and head to the city, which is surrounded by a strange fog, one which cannot be penetrated in Tel’aran’rhiod. In the center of Rhuidean, Rand enters a crystal ter’angreal, where he starts to see visions of Aiel long dead, including most of the important events from their history. He learns the truth that most Aiel don’t know; that once, they followed the Way of the Leaf. In fact, the original, full name of the Aiel, “Da’shain Aiel”, means “dedicated to peace” in the Old Tongue. Rand also learns that the Tuatha’an are descended from the same people in the Age of Legends. He sees Couladin’s first-brother, Muradin, apparently dying.

Mat enters a separate ter’angreal, this time to the land of the fox heads (Eelfinn), in the belief this will also allow him to ask questions. Instead, he is given gifts, based on requests he makes. These are memories of dead lords, soldiers and generals, to fill up holes in his memory from when he had the dagger, an amulet to protect him from Aes Sedai and the One Power, and the ashandarei, which is like a spear, but with a more sword-like blade on the end. He also gains the ability to fully understand and speak the Old Tongue. The people behind the doorway leave him hanging from the Tree of Life. Rand resuscitates Mat after leaving his ter’angreal. They make their way out of Rhuidean, overcoming another “bubble of evil” on the way.

They arrive at the camp outside at dawn and Rand reveals dragons on both arms, showing him to be the Car’a’carn. Couladin attacks him and is threatened with being outlawed. He learns Moiraine has also gone, as has Aviendha, and they have been gone seven days. He also learns of his mother and how she became a Maiden of the Spear. She is obviously Tigraine, though Rand doesn’t realize it. He learns how his real father died, killed by a man who looked like his mother.

Rand and Mat journey with the Aiel to Al’cair Dal, following Couladin, who has said the Shaido will not accept Rand. Rand is accompanied by Aviendha, who claims to dislike Rand because he has treated Elayne badly. Despite this, she is told by the Wise Ones to teach him Aiel ways, which she does.

They stop off at Cold Rocks Hold, which is where Rhuarc lives. Couladin asks to enter as a clan chief but is welcomed as a beggar. Rand gives Aviendha a bracelet as a thank you, and to try and pacify her. Her friends take this to mean he is trying to attract her attention, and they approve of him. Lanfear appears in his dreams and argues with Asmodean. Aviendha accidentally reveals that the Wise Ones are watching Rand through his dreams. The hold is attacked by Trollocs and other Shadowspawn. One of the Wise Ones, Seana, is killed by a Draghkar. They are joined by a group of peddlers, who Rand knows to be Darkfriends. Couladin heads for Al’cair Dal, prompting Rand to leave earlier than he wished.

At Al’cair Dal, Rand announces that the Maidens carry his honor, which pleases them greatly. He and Couladin both announce they are the Car’a’carn. Both have dragons on their arms. Rand is accepted only after revealing the secret of the Aiel’s history. He confronts Lanfear, who was masquerading as one of the peddlers. She tells him that Asmodean has gone to Rhuidean in search of something useful. Rand Skims after Asmodean to Rhuidean, where they battle with the Power next to the Tree of Life, after grabbing a ter’angreal that links them both to the giant sa’angreal outside Cairhien. Rand cuts Asmodean off from the Dark One, and Lanfear shields him partially so he will not escape. She almost kills Asmodean when he accidentally calls her by her original name, which Rand recognizes as one of the Aes Sedai who created the bore in the Dark One’s prison. Asmodean agrees to teach Rand to channel, as the other Forsaken will turn on him if they get the chance. A great lake is created in Rhuidean, the fog having been dispersed.

 

My Thoughts:

Just want to say, AGAIN, that Toral Delvar IS THE MAN!!! All that work for a synopsis each time, saves me 100 million headaches. And I’m only slightly exaggerating.

Going through the various storylines here.

As Gru, from the movie Despicable Me, would say “The Goils”. Much better than in the previous book but that is ONLY because they are all split up from each other and in ones or twos can only be so catty and bitchy. I do not understand why Jordan chose to write them all this way. You can write about females acting irrationally without making them be unlikable. For me, the biggest pitfall is how Nynaeve and Elayne are in Tanchico seeking the Black Ajah and as such they can’t channel without drawing attention to themselves and the city is filled to overflowing with refuges and violence. But they want to go out on their own and “sniff” (Oh, I am beginning to HATE that word) at the men who want to give them some protection while out on the street. It takes them almost being kidnapped and killed to even make them consider they might not have acted so wisely. Other than that, their storyline was actually pretty cool. Going head to head with a Forsaken, how much cooler does it need to get?

Perrin and Faile. Perrin is a control freak and is one of those people who feel guilty about everything that happens around them even if it is totally outside of their control. Faile provided a good foil to his mopiness and I can’t wait until he gets rid of the axe and takes up the hammer. I seem to remember that is when his attitude changes and he stops being such an insufferable bore and resigns from being the General Manager of the Universe.

Matt & Rand. Matt has accepted that he’s going to tag along on Rand’s coattails and pretty much decides to have as much fun as he can while doing it. Rand has the biggest changes so far. He has taken to studying various prophecies of the Dragon and has formulated his own set of plans to make things work. He’s studious, powerful, assured in his Dragon’ness but oh so afraid. I really enjoyed his parts of the story.

Overall, Jordan wrote a crackerjack of a novel here. The world building continues to expand, the Forsaken are introduced as real beings of power rather than just vague “Oh, the Forsaken, they exist, somehow, somewhere”. However, this also seems to be where the storylines start to get big enough that every storyline can’t fit in each book. The Seanchan are pretty much ignored and the Children of Light are only ancillary to Perrin’s tale. Nothing was unwieldy here but knowing what is coming, now I can see the proverbial cracks in the foundation.

While this was a fun read, I am not sure that I’ll feel the same way in another 10 years. I’ve already downgraded this from a 5star read in 2011, so I’m thinking it might be wise to let this series rest after this re-read.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Sketches by Boz ★★★☆½

sketchesbyboz (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: Sketches by Boz
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 874
Words: 252K

 

Synopsis:

A series of “sketches” about places, people and situations culled from Dickens’ tenure as a newspaper columnist.

 

My Thoughts:

The full title this book is Sketches by Boz: Illustrative of Everyday Life and Everyday People. So you have a 800+ pages of little short sketches that Dickens used to fill in blank spaces when he was writing at various newspapers.

Dickens gets very preachy about his pet issues in several of the sketches. I’m a teetotaler and even I was reacting against his emotional manipulation about gin shops. I was like “Ok, time to start drinking hard time, that will show him!”

When I read these back in 2007 I read them as part I and II (as that is how they were broken up in the hardcovers I own) and that worked much better. Honestly, these should be treated as a short story collection and perused at leisure. This time around I was better able to appreciate the technical side of Dickens’ writing which is why I’m bumping it up to 3 ½ stars.

That being said, I highly doubt I’ll ever read this again. No stories, no plot, doesn’t really work for me.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kingfisher ★★★★½

813bb0ae2cd9d5bf7e732d08597f0bd9This 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: Kingfisher
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 302
Words: 87K

 

Synopsis:

From Tor.com & authored by Alyx Dellamonica

Pierce Oliver lives in a world that fuses our high-tech present day with the top-down political structure of a high fantasy medieval kingdom. It’s the kind of place where limousine-riding kings preside over jousts, where the court magicians argue over the academic citations and feminist interpretations of their ancient texts, and where the bastard princes are doing well if they manage to stay out of the tabloids. The country’s biggest ongoing problem is keeping its surplus of troublesome knights from taking it into their heads to overthrow the government.

When Pierce is a young man this hardly matters, because he lives in a small town far removed from the capital, a backwater whose existence is known to but a few. His home is in fact concealed by magic, an enchantment wielded by Pierce’s somewhat clingy mother, Heloise, a retired witch living incognito as a slow foods restaurateur. One day three knights stumble through town by accident, and by the time they’ve moved on, Pierce has decided to strike out on his own, seeking information on the father he never knew and–perhaps as importantly–cutting the apron strings that have bound him so tightly to his mother’s chosen refuge.

Packing up his car and charging his cell phone, Pierce heads down the road and almost immediately stumbles into–rather surprisingly–another restaurant, this one in a dilapidated hotel called the Kingfisher, a place that has fallen on hard times. There he encounters Carrie, a hard-working chef who also dreams of escaping her particular Nowheresville of a community. Pierce partakes of a peculiarly ritualistic fish fry there, before spending the night in one of their rooms. On his way out the door, he gives in to an irresistible not-quite-whim to filch a cooking knife from the place.

The theft, of course, is less a failure of moral fiber than a magical imperative, and by the time Pierce makes it to the capital, the effects of his minor act of banditry are reverberating throughout the land. The King has decided to declare a nationwide quest for… well, definitely for something. A grail? A relic? A fountain of youth? Whatever the Object in question is, his upstart knights will surely know it when they see it. In the meantime, if their motoring forth and scouring the kingdom keeps them from getting up to revolutionary scale trouble, so much the better.

The problem with this scheme is it isn’t entirely a PR scam. The quest Object is real enough, and the mere idea of seeking it sets off a feud between two major religions, a fight that breaks down more or less on gender lines: there’s a cult with masculine, metal-dominated values and a male god, and a watery, priestess-led faith centered in the ladies’ birthing chamber. Both sides are absolutely, positively sure that the quest’s Object belongs to their patron deity. And for at least some of the men and women on the hunt, this ambiguity is awesome, simply because it means they have a license to stampede around the whole countryside, kicking over lesser shrines, sifting through their relics, and beating on anyone who might object.

Carrie and Pierce have other problems too, in the form of a third restaurant owner, a slippery figure called Stillwater who is almost certainly in the know about whatever it is that has blighted the Kingfisher Inn. Now he has his sights set on Carrie herself, and is tempting her with job offers she definitely ought to refuse.

Publishers Blurb & Me

Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on the way to the legendary capital city. “Look for us,” they tell Pierce, “if you come to Severluna. You might find a place for yourself in King Arden’s court.”

Lured by a future far away from the bleak northern coast, Pierce makes his choice. Heloise, bereft and furious, tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.

As Pierce journeys to Severluna, his path twists and turns through other lives and mysteries: an inn where ancient rites are celebrated, though no one will speak of them; a legendary local chef whose delicacies leave diners slowly withering from hunger; his mysterious wife, who steals Pierce’s heart; a young woman whose need to escape is even greater than Pierce’s; and finally, in Severluna, King Arden’s youngest son, who is urged by strange and lovely forces to sacrifice his father’s kingdom.

Things are changing in that kingdom. Oldmagic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to its former glory—or destroy it.

In the end, Stillwater is recaptured by the women of Ravenshold, Prince Damion brings peace between Ravenshold and Wyvernshold, the magic is brought back in balance to the Kingfisher and the Holy Grail is revealed to be a magic cooking pot used at the Kingfisher.

My Thoughts:

The reason this still only gets 4.5stars instead of 5 is because of the cover. I’m sorry, but Kinuko Craft covers are the physical embodiment of the stories that McKillip tells. This bland, no-nothing cover is a blot. Now, that is the fault of the publishers, so I don’t blame McKillip one iota but it still plays a part. Penguin, and their imprint Ace, should be heartily ashamed of themselves. In fact, I would gladly volunteer to help them commit seppuku for this disastrous, face shaming act they committed against this great book.

Now, there are some differences from her previous books. This takes place in “modern” times even while magic is in existence. There is also a much larger cast of characters. There are also several concurrent storylines instead of just the one or two. These various differences, while not bad, definitely contributed towards this feeling like a highly embroidered neckerchief instead of a wall scroll with one central picture. Smaller in scope but more “things” going on to keep one occupied.

I was thinking this was the last McKillip I had on my re-read journey and was pretty sad about that. It was coloring this whole read until about half-way through I realized I still had a collection of short stories to go through entitled Harrowing the Dragon. Then the sun came out, the birds began chirping and cherries fell directly into my mouth, already pitted. Life was wonderful again 😀

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Captain’s Fury (Codex Alera #4) ★★★★★

captainsfury (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: Captain’s Fury
Series: Codex Alera #4
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 656
Words: 175K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Two years have passed after the Night of the Red Stars and the Battle at the Elinarch (in book three of the Codex Alera, Cursor’s Fury). Rufus Scipio/Tavi had been repelling attacks from the Canim forces for two years and the war against Kalare raged on. Senator Arnos, who is in charge of the war committee, is pushing for the destruction of all of the Canim forces in Alera. Isana is faced with telling Tavi who his father is and confronting her own abilities. Tavi must find a way to end the conflict between the Canim and Alera or it may mean the destruction of all of his forces. Gaius Sextus and the Count and Countess of Calderon take on a secret mission to stop Kalare.

Senator Arnos comes to the Elinarch to take over military command against the Canim. Senator Arnos is working with Invidia Aquitaine to remove Tavi as the leader of the battle and to eliminate him entirely. Arnos is accompanied by several singulares, who are a constant threat to Tavi and who attempt to eliminate him throughout the book.

Isana, after several attempts of trying to tell Tavi that she is his mother and that his father was Gaius Septimus, was unable to do so. Araris delivers the message instead.

Tavi has a meeting with the Canim leader, Nasaug, where he tells Nasaug that he knows that the Canim are trying to build ships to get them back to their homeland. He strikes a deal with Nasaug that he would help them but Nasaug says that the only way that a deal can be struck is if Tavi returns Ambassador Varg to them. Arnos spies on this meeting and through the plotting of Arnos, Invidia and Marcus/Fidelias, Tavi is removed from his command as Captain for conspiring with the enemy. Prior to leaving, Tavi places Crassus in charge of the Alerian forces.

Tavi escapes from the prison and with Isana, Kitai, Ehren, and Araris, they board a ship to take them to Aleria Imperia. During the voyage, they are attacked by Arnos’ singulares and the group uses furycrafting to board the enemy ship and kill the witchmen that are hiding their presence from the leviathans. The enemy ship is destroyed by leviathans but Arnos’ singulares escape. During this battle, Isana’s powers grow and she is able to heal Araris who was seriously injured without a bathtub, a feat usually performed only by the most powerful healers and high lords and ladies.

Gaius takes Amara and Bernard into Kalarus’s lands, as he tells them that Kalarus has woken one of the Great Furies in the Kalare mountains and if Kalare is killed, the mountain will erupt and kill everyone in the region. Gaius intends to disarm the Fury. During their journey, Gaius cannot use his powers as this will signal Kalare that he is on Kalare’s lands and ruin their mission. Gaius gets an infection as his feet blister from walking 300 miles to the mountain and he must be tended to along the way. As they approach the mountains, the group is discovered by a legion of Immortals led by Brencis Minoris, Kalarus’s son. Gaius heals himself and destroys the legion. He then releases the great fury which destroys Kalare and all who reside in the area. Amara, who is angry at the First lord for lying to her, throws her silver coin in his face and leaves him.

At the same time, Tavi is able to free Varg from the Grey Tower and returns him to the Canim forces. He then announces his identity as Gaius Octavian and challenges Arnos to a Juris Macto. Phrygiar Navaris, who is the deadliest cutter/sword in all of Alera, represents Arnos in the duel. Marcus (Fidelias) is instructed by Invidia to kill both Arnos and Tavi after the duel, using a balest, to make it look like a Canim attack. Marcus aims the balest and is able to strike both Arnos, as he tries to escape after Tavi wins the duel, and Invidia who Arnos grabs for protection. Invidia survives the initial injury but has the poison of the garic oil in her system.

Tavi is able to strike a deal with Gaius Sextus allowing the Canim to return home and to send a cohort with them to ensure their safe passage and assist them in destroying the Vord that have taken over their lands. In the end it is also revealed that Tavi is now able to furycraft.

 

My Thoughts:

Another fantastic entry in the Codex Alera series. By this point I hope you all realize I am hopefully biased in favor of this series (this is my 3rd read since 2010) and I simply cannot find any faults. I enjoy my time reading this and while I acknowledge it isn’t at Dickens level of character development, it fulfills every expectation that I have for an Epic Fantasy.

If I HAD to choose something to complain about (because really, when don’t I complain about anything online?), it would be the whole sub-story with Gaius, Bernard and Amara. Just like they were slogging through miles and miles of marshes and swamps, reading those sections was a slog too.

I really liked reading about Tavi though. You know what though? It took me until this time around, with the author shoving it right under nose, that “Tavi” was short for Octavian. Sigh, sometimes I wonder how I put my pants on in the morning and drive to work. Tavi is smart, kind, empathetic, charismatic, mentally pliable and above all, most competent. He is the wish fulfillment of all my dreams for myself.

On the story side, the Canim make for great antagonists. As a race they are 9ft tall bipedal wolves. Individually, Butcher has done a great job of creating some really interesting characters among them. Nasaug, Varg, etc are fun to read about and the interactions between them and Tavi gives me that feeling you get when going down a slide, one of fun and wonderment. The scene where Tavi and friends break Varg out of the maximum security prison was fantastic.

Finally, Tavi learning that Isana is his mother and that Septimus was his father hit the emotional side of things just right for me. Couple that with the continued assassination attempts by Senator Arnos and his fury-assisted Assistants and you get a perfect combination of action and emotion. I enjoyed it all.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) ★★★★☆

dragonreborn (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 Dragon Reborn
Series: The Wheel of Time #3
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 986
Words: 268K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Byar returns from Falme and tells Niall his beliefs regarding what occurred there, and of his hatred of Perrin. Niall tells Jaichim Carridin not to try and stop Rand, as he hopes to make the people turn to Children of the Light to protect them. Fain tells Niall stories similar to Byar’s. He persuades Niall that the Two Rivers is full of Darkfriends, and that he should send men there. Carridin is given new orders, from an unusual Myrddraal, to kill Rand.

Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve head back to Tar Valon with a severely ill Mat, who, it seems, has mere hours to live. They are also joined by Hurin. Nynaeve tries Healing Mat, but accomplishes nothing. On the way, they are confronted by Whitecloaks, led by Dain Bornhald. The girls disperse them using the Power, something which incurs Verin’s anger.

Once in the Tower, the three are severely reprimanded by Siuan, who sets punishments for them all for running away, to keep the link between them and the Black Ajah secret. She tells Elayne and Egwene that they are to be raised to the ranks of the Accepted. She also sets Nynaeve and Egwene Black Ajah hunting, knowing that she won’t be blamed when Elayne is brought in on it. They are given a note from the Amyrlin, granting them permission to do almost anything. Verin tells Siuan about Mat blowing the Horn, and Siuan tells her the two false Dragons were defeated at the moment Rand proclaimed himself.

Nynaeve brings Elayne in on the hunt at the first opportunity. Egwene and Nynaeve are attacked by a Gray Man, who fires an arrow at them. Nynaeve captures the man using the Power, but finds him dead. Sheriam tells them to keep quiet about it; she is later revealed to have found a second Gray Man in her bed. Elaida comes to question the girls about Rand.

Mat is healed of his link to the dagger by a circle of thirteen Aes Sedai using a sa’angreal. During the Healing, he speaks in the Old Tongue and gives battle orders after experiencing a sort of flashback to a battle in the Trolloc Wars. He is visited by Lanfear, who tells him he is destined for glory, and Siuan, who he tries to avoid making any commitments to. He tries to leave, but is not allowed to do so. He also sees Lanfear, masquerading as Else. She is abrupt with him. He defeats both Gawyn and Galad in a friendly duel, using only his quarterstaff.

Verin gives Egwene a ter’angreal that is linked to the World of Dreams, and does not require channeling, to help her discover if she is a Dreamer. Egwene is raised; her test for the Accepted involves abandoning Rand under various circumstances. She learns that anyone who can channel can be turned to the Dark One by a circle of thirteen Myrddraal and thirteen Aes Sedai. The ter’angreal she goes through acts very unusually, and almost burns down, prompting Alanna to see Sheriam to ask for punishment, as she noticed something but kept quiet. Elayne’s test was similarly hard for her.

The girls are given clues to the whereabouts of members of the Black Ajah who fled the Tower by Lanfear, who is posing as a novice. They realize it is probably a trap, but tell Siuan they are going to head for Tear to try and spring it.

Egwene uses the dream ter’angreal. She first sees Rand, who attacks her. She then sees a woman calling herself Silvie, in the Stone of Tear. The woman seems to think she knows Egwene and tells her to say Ba’alzamon is a fool. The woman sends her out of Tel’aran’rhiod to prevent Be’lal from discovering her.

The girls ask Mat if he will deliver a letter to Queen Morgase. Mat tauntingly tells them he will do so, under the condition that they get him off the island, which he considers impossible, as the Amyrlin has told all the guards he is not to leave. They give him one of the notes the Amyrlin gave them, allowing the bearer to do whatever they wish.

The girls travel downstream on a boat, which runs aground. They go ahead on foot and encounter a group of Aiel, including Bain, Chiad and Aviendha, who reveal one of their number is severely injured. Nynaeve Heals her, and they set off again. They are then captured by Darkfriends, who wish to hand them over to a Myrddraal. They are freed by the Aiel, though they would have escaped on their own. Nynaeve uses balefire against the Myrddraal. The leader of the Aiel, Rhuarc, says they are going to Tear. The girls make their own way to Tear where they stay with a local healer, Mother Guenna. She enlists Juilin Sandar, a thief catcher, to help them find the Black Ajah, though of course he isn’t told they are Black Ajah. He is not careful enough and Liandrin makes him reveal their location. The girls are captured, and are severely beaten for refusing to give in.

Mat leaves the Tower and wanders around Tar Valon gambling, winning every throw of the dice. He is attacked by Darkfriends posing as thieves, but gets away from them. He meets Thom, who is drunk, and persuades him to go to Caemlyn with him. Thom agrees, since Caemlyn is dangerous for him and he is looking for danger after his lover’s death. They are attacked by Darkfriends on the ship they board. After getting off, they spend a night in a stable, where Mat rescues Aludra, an Illuminator. Out of gratitude, she gives him some fireworks. He messes with one to try to find out how it works, and throws it in the fire. They are attacked by Darkfriends again on the way to Caemlyn. Thom kills a woman, which displeases Mat.

They go to Caemlyn, again staying at Basel Gill’s inn. The guard on the palace gate refuses to let Mat in, even threatening to have him arrested as a Darkfriend when he reveals he has come from the Tower, so he goes over the wall like Rand had done previously. He overhears two men discussing a plan to kill Elayne. He is later taken before Morgase and her lover, Gaebril, who was one of the men Mat overheard. He meets Tallanvor, another member of the palace guard, who takes him to the Queen. He gives her the letter, then sets off for Tear, to help Elayne and Egwene.

Mat arrives in Tear and comes across Lord Comar, who he had heard ordered to kill Elayne by Rahvin. They fight and Comar is killed before Mat can learn anything. He meets Mother Guenna, who tells him of the girls’ capture. Leaving a sick Thom behind, he heads off to try and break into the Stone. He is accosted by Aiel, including Gaul and Rhuarc, on the rooftops, but once he makes it clear he has no plans to interfere with them, they agree to leave him alone. He meets Juilin, who had been having second thoughts about what he did. They agree to work together. Mat accidentally blows a hole in the wall with fireworks while trying to create a diversion. He enters, fighting Defenders of the Stone and nobles. On his way he and Juilin fight High Lord Darlin, who says he intends to watch as the skin is stripped from their bodies.

At the camp of the Dragon Reborn, Rand has spent the winter arguing with Moiraine. He accidentally damages the camp when he draws too much of saidin and has to release it randomly. A Tuatha’an comes with news for Moiraine. Perrin sees Lanfear and Ba’alzamon in the World of Dreams. They both talk to him. He also witnesses an argument between three of the Forsaken. Whilst he is asleep, he is warned by wolves that Trollocs and Myrddraal are attacking. Rand is powerless to help, but they defeat the Darkspawn anyway. Masema takes the aid of wolves as a sign that he should go to proclaim the Dragon Reborn and recruit for him. The Tuatha’an messenger is killed.

Rand sets off on his own to Tear, without telling anyone. On the way, he kills a group of people who come to join him at the camp fire. These include a woman and a Gray Man. He also continues to be plagued by dreams, and almost kills Egwene in one, when he mistakes her for a dream creation.

Moiraine realizes that Rand has gone to Tear to try and seize Callandor when many of the people with them reveal having dreamed of glowing swords and red stone columns. Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial follow, the Shienarans being injured. Chasing after Rand, they encounter villages where strange things have been happening – mass weddings, insanity and others – a sign of Rand’s being ta’veren. Meanwhile, Min goes to Tar Valon.

Perrin comes across a man who could talk to wolves, but who has lost his human side. He again enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where he meets Hopper, a dead wolf. They learn of Masema stirring up trouble in Ghealdan. He also meets two Hunters of the Horn, and a captured Aiel, Gaul. There are children throwing stones at the caged man, who he later frees. He tells Gaul he is off to Tear, and Gaul announces that is his destination as well, though he will not go with them. They kill some Whitecloaks, and are then forced to flee the village, along with a young woman who decides to call herself Faile, who keeps staring at Perrin. She is also a Hunter and believes they make a strange trail, which Hunters should follow. Perrin again sees Ba’alzamon and Lanfear in Tel’aran’rhiod, and tells Moiraine they are free. Rand sees him and attacks him.

They travel through Illian, where they discover Sammael is in control of the country. They are attacked by Gray Men in an inn before Sammael sends Darkhounds after them; Moiraine kills the hounds with balefire. They then head on to Tear, where they learn Berelain has given in to Tear’s demands. Perrin finds himself growing uncomfortable around Faile. She springs a trap meant for Moiraine, and is caught in Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Perrin’s wolf abilities allow him to enter this world, and he does so, in order to free her. Moiraine and Lan head for the Stone to help Rand.

Egwene enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where she meets two of the Black Ajah. She stills one and shields the other, leaving them trapped in Tel’aran’rhiod. Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve, however, remain shielded in the real world. Mat opens the cell and frees them. They knock out the Black Ajah sister and the shield disappears.

Rand enters the Heart of the Stone, where Be’lal tells him to take Callandor. They fight, with Be’lal forcing him toward it. Moiraine enters and kills Be’lal, again using balefire. Rand is attacked by Ba’alzamon, who almost kills him before he takes Callandor, chasing Ba’alzamon and killing him. This time, he leaves a body, which many people take for the Dark One until Moiraine points out how absurd that idea is. The Defenders of the Stone, who had been fighting Aiel, fall to their feet to proclaim Rand the Dragon Reborn. Berelain brings Rand a message from Lanfear.

My Thoughts:

The final 25% of this book was pure gold. Stuff was happening at a breakneck pace, it felt like everyone was running for their lives and the story was awesome. The problem was it meant you had to go through the first 75% and man, it was tough.

Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are all together and my goodness, with “friends” like that, who needs enemies? They spend as much time and energy catfighting with each other as they do actually anything else it seems.Nynaeve is still stuck on getting revenge on Moraine for “something” (this is at least my 4th time reading this book and I still don’t understand completely why Nynaeve hates Moraine so much) and while her feelings for Lan are supposed to be a part of that, well, she shows more emotion and thinks more about Moraine than she does Lan. Egwene and Elayne, while not quite as bad, aren’t much better and I just felt exhausted every time I finished reading one of their sections.

Matt’s sections, while giving huge amounts of setup, also come across as him being nothing but a jerk and a pigheaded jackass. Meanwhile Perrin is so obsessed with ignoring his wolf powers that all of his energy is spent on that. If he had spent half the energy on even trying to learn about it as he did in fighting it, he would have been WAY ahead of the game. Plus, the whole golden eyes thing. Everyone who looks at Perrin is shocked at his golden eyes. I can see women paying that much attention, but the men? I couldn’t tell you the color of eyes for almost everyone I meet. I can’t tell you the eye color of my pastor, much less some stranger I met once on the streets. It’s just ludicrous that this gets as much page time as it does.

These characters are just plain unlikeable! I have to be honest, I’m not sure that I’ll be reading this series ever again once I’m done with this read through. The bad guys are more likeable for goodness sake!!!! I don’t understand why Jordan wrote them this way. It doesn’t advance, or impede, the story really. It just frustrates me as a reader.

Now, with all of that, this was still a great story. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this was an excellent story. So many cool things happen. Plus, the switching between characters was well done. At each chapter I felt like Jordan had given me enough for that group so I was satisfied to read some about another character group. That is a real balancing act and certain authors (like a jackass whose name rhymes with Gohn Jwynne) would have done well to learn something from this.

Reading back over what I’ve just written makes me realize how negative I’m being. While I was reading the book I enjoyed it, even while being frustrated by the characters, but as soon as I stopped to think about it, the negative really came to the forefront. I’m not sure if says more about me or about the story. Either way, I’m still recommending this series, just not as enthusiastically as in the previous 2 books.

★★★★☆

 

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Master Humphry’s Clock ★★★☆☆

masterhumphriesclock (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: Master Humphry’s Clock
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 158
Words: 46K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Master Humphrey’s Clock was a weekly periodical edited and written entirely by Charles Dickens and published from 4 April 1840 to 4 December 1841. It began with a frame story in which Master Humphrey tells about himself and his small circle of friends (which includes Mr. Pickwick), and their penchant for telling stories. Several short stories were included, followed by the novels The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. It is generally thought that Dickens originally intended The Old Curiosity Shop as a short story like the others that had appeared in Master Humphrey’s Clock, but after a few chapters decided to extend it into a novel. Master Humphrey appears as the first-person narrator in the first three chapters of The Old Curiosity Shop but then disappears, stating, “And now that I have carried this history so far in my own character and introduced these personages to the reader, I shall for the convenience of the narrative detach myself from its further course, and leave those who have prominent and necessary parts in it to speak and act for themselves.”

Master Humphrey is a lonely man who lives in London. He keeps old manuscripts in an antique longcase clock by the chimney-corner. One day, he decides that he would start a little club, called Master Humphrey’s Clock, where the members would read out their manuscripts to the others. The members include Master Humphrey; a deaf gentleman, Jack Redburn; retired merchant Owen Miles; and Mr. Pickwick from The Pickwick Papers. A mirror club in the kitchen, Mr. Weller’s Watch, run by Mr. Weller, has members including Humphrey’s maid, the barber and Sam Weller.

Master Humphrey’s Clock appeared after The Old Curiosity Shop, to introduce Barnaby Rudge. After Barnaby Rudge, Master Humphrey is left by himself by the chimney corner in a train of thoughts. Here, the deaf gentleman continues the narration. Later, the deaf gentleman and his friends return to Humphrey’s house to find him dead. Humphrey has left money for the barber and the maid (no doubt by traces of love that they would be married). Redburn and the deaf gentleman look after the house and the club closes for good.

In the portion of Master Humphrey’s Clock which succeeds The Old Curiosity Shop, Master Humphrey reveals to his friends that he is the character referred to as the ‘single gentleman’ in that story.

 

My Thoughts:

Although it pains me, and in a sane world this wouldn’t be a negative, I could only give this short book 3 stars. Isn’t that just terrible?!?

It wasn’t really bad, mind you, just that the short stories mostly centered around the ghostly and/or supernatural that Dickens liked and that I don’t care for in my classic historical novels. The other downside was that everything with Pickwick felt extremely forced. Like Dickens was trying to emotionally manipulate his readers by introducing a beloved character from another book so they would love this current book. Then the whole “I’m from this other book” thing also felt forced.

I know that Dickens was a manipulator (he would have been at the forefront of the SJW movement today, for sure and lying through his teeth about any and all) but most of the time I like it in his stories. I like having my emotions pushed around. This time though, it felt very cheesy. More like he was clapping 2 coconuts together and telling me he was riding a horse while he obviously wasn’t.

Recommended for those who really like Dickens and are completionists. Not really recommended for the casual Dickens fan. (does such a mythical being even exist? I have my doubts!)

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)