The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions ★★★★☆

919259332f66a3c596f31577077444341587343This 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 Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions
Series: ———-
Author: David Berlinski
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 258
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The title really does sum this up. Written as a foil to Dawkin’s The God Delusion, Berlinski, a non-practicing Jew, shows just how shaky the ground is, philosophically AND scientifically, that many out-spoken atheists stand on.

Using humor, sarcasm and other rather ham handed approaches, Berlinski pokes the High Priests of Scyenze and lets the hot air out of them, much like a balloon. He doesn’t approach things form an angle of “They are wrong and I’m right” but more of a “their attitude is untenable given their arrogant, boasting statements about Faith and Religion”.

 

My Thoughts:

I had a hard time with this. Even while I agreed with much of what Berlinski wrote, I am not a fan of the style he uses, ie, poking the bear with a stick. The problem is, people like Hawkings, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc, NEED to be poked. They are arrogant, proud, boastful and self-centered and all of their might and effort is put forth proving that God doesn’t exist just so that they don’t have to kneel before Him. Reading this was like getting a splinter removed with a needle. It was necessary and good but you don’t like the process.

I was high lighting sentences left and right on my kindle but I don’t care enough to type them all out. Honestly, I don’t know if I was the target audience for this or not. Berlinski is an Evolutionist but realizes that the pat “We Have All the Answers” attitude put out by the scientific community as a whole is a bunch of bologna. He pokes and pokes and shows that no, they don’t have all the answers. In fact, some of the contortions they must go through make the planetary epicycles of Ptolemy look positively straight!

The biggest thing I got was that most of the people he mentions by name are arrogant blowhards and that Pride shapes how they think and how they approach existence itself. Pride is what led to Satan’s fall from grace and Berlinski shows how Pride is still blinding people today, even people of great intellect.

Recommended as a Counter Cultural Argument against the monolithic religion of our day, Scyenze.

★★★★☆

 

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Time Thieves ★★★☆☆

timethieves (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: Time Thieves
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 146
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

Peter Mullion wakes up sitting in his car in his garage and can’t remember a thing about how he got there. He knows he went to his cabin to work on it, but that is it. When his wife comes home and sees him, she tells him he’s been missing for 3 weeks! Peter sets out to investigate just what happened to him.

Unfortunately, he’s having trouble counting or keeping track of time or even where he is. He loses his way one day in his office building and when he comes to his wife tells him he’s been missing again, for several days. Peter sees the same man watching him, at a restaurant, at home, wherever he turns, there he is. Peter and his wife Delia head up to the mountain cabin to see if that holds any clues. They find the cabin painted, which means Peter was there. However, upon further examination, it appears that the painting was done less than a day ago, not weeks ago like it should have. Peter’s paranoia isn’t so misplaced after all.

One night Peter begins hearing voices and he realizes he can hear other people’s thoughts. Peter ends up in communication with an alien being, who has been spying on him using its robot servants. Peter flees, honing his mental skills. During a cat and mouse game, he destroys the minds of the robots. Now he just has to deal with the aliens.

The aliens mentally kidnap his wife and tell Peter that they accidentally killed him 3 weeks ago. They rebuilt him but due to them not being familiar with human biology, accidentally gave him telepathy. They say Humanity isn’t ready for that and they just want to take that ability away from Peter. No harm, no violence, just remove a mistake that they made. Peter refuses and tells them every single human is alone and that they shouldn’t be. Peter kills the aliens, who are pacifists at heart and he and Delia go off to live a happy life, spreading telepathy to all and sundry like corn kernels to chickens.

 

My Thoughts:

First, that cover has ZERO to do with this story. There is no sexy woman with a ray gun, Peter doesn’t dress up like a ninja and crouch on a mountain and the UFO is only talked about. It’s actually parked inside a mountain for the whole book.

The title only makes sense if you consider the aliens to have stolen time from Peter when he went missing those several times. They can’t actually manipulate time. I kept waiting for that right up until almost the end of the book.

The tension was pretty high for most of the book and I liked that. Koontz kept me edgy and wondering just what was going to happen.

My issues came down to the fact that Peter killed the aliens because they were going to take something back that had been given by mistake. His life was not in danger, his wife’s life was not in danger but Peter had something and he wasn’t going to give it up. The justification given is because of how much Peter loves Delia, but that just rang false. He was an adult who knew enough about how Humanity would use such a gift and he was even told that it would spread but he chose to keep it anyway. It almost felt like Koontz was writing about a modern Adam and Eve, but ones that weren’t deceived into eating the forbidden fruit but ones who willfully chose to take and eat such a fruit. Even “love” can be corrupted and that is really applicable in this day and age with every idiot bleating about “love” all the time but having no concrete concept of what Love actually is.

My kindle had this at about 140 pages. I think the paperback runs around 100, so either way, it was a short little novel bordering on the novella. I wasn’t expecting a mind blowing experience and I wasn’t disappointed. On the other hand, I wasn’t disappointed. Glad I read this but don’t plan on ever reading it again.

I am thinking of adding an author’s name as a tag to any series of books that don’t have a series associating them together. I’ve been doing that with Dickens and I’m going to start now with Koontz. I will have to decide if I want to start that with every book or not. The problem with NOT doing it for every author is then remembering which authors I AM doing it for. But if I do it for every author then my tag cloud is going to grow humongously, even more ridiculous than it already is. Do any of you have any thoughts or opinions or anecdotes or experience to shed some light on this issue?

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane ★★★☆☆

savagetalesofsolomonkane (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 Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
Series: ———-
Author: Robert Howard
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The collected works following the adventures of the Puritan Swordsman, Solomon Kane. From the deepest depths of Africa to the windswept shores of England, Solomon Kane follows wither the spirit leads. Avenging wrongs, rescuing maidens, defeating evil incarnate, Solomon Kane knows no fear, for he is God’s Avenging Sword against Evil.

 

My Thoughts:

Not as enjoyable as the Essential Conan collection I read last year. Part of that was that there just wasn’t nearly as much material for Solomon Kane as there was for Conan. Almost 1/3 of the stories in this book were fragments that Howard had started and then either set aside or just never finished. Thankfully each story that was a fragment had the word (fragment), like that, next to the story name. There were also 2 or 3 poems and I’m just not a poetry buff of any sort.

My biggest problem however, was that Kane was supposed to be a Puritan. While he dresses like one, not once does he act in any way that I recognized as a Godly man. He consorts with sorcerers, uses gifts of magic from a devil worshipper, thinks that men are nothing but higher animals and generally displays no reverence for God. He occasionally mouths a platitude or two about “faith” but what he said could just as easily have come from a Hindu, a Muslim or a Buddhist.

Now with all of that out of the way…

There were some fine pulp stories here. Encountering lost civilizations in the heart of Africa, fighting off a tribe of flying cannibal creatures, torching a city of zombie vampires, fighting a whole crew of pirates, Solomon Kane has the chops to keep you entertained. Everydayshouldbetuesday talked about Solomon Kane back in May and that peaked my interest.

I would recommend this if you enjoyed Howard’s Conan stories and wanted to try something different. However, if you haven’t read any Howard, don’t start with this.

★★★☆☆

 

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Death Wish ★★★★★

deathwish (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: Death Wish
Series: ———-
Author: Brian Garfield
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Paul Benjamin is a successful accountant in New York City. One afternoon his wife and married daughter are attacked in Paul’s apartment and savagely beaten. His wife dies and his daughter ends up in a sanitarium, insane for all intents and purposes.

Paul has always been a good guy. He’s done charity work for prison reform, contributes to causes left and right and thinks that if he obeys the rules that Society will protect him. With the attack on his family this delusion is ripped away and Paul must confront what living in a big city really means.

As he mulls these thoughts over, he begins to change. He realizes he has been afraid and he is now going to stop being afraid. But how does one stop being afraid? By taking responsibility for ones self is the conclusion Paul comes to.

On a business trip to the Mid-West Paul has a one night stand with some stranger at his hotel. When she leaves he realizes how empty his life is. How empty those hoodlums have made his life. He buys a small calibre pistol at a fishing shop and takes it back to New York with him hidden in his carry on baggage.

Paul begins roaming the city at night, exposing himself to danger so as to kill the perpetrators of violence and crime. After several kills the papers pick up on the fact that there is a vigilante on the loose. The book ends with Paul having just shot 4 teenagers who were throwing 50lb rocks onto a train to kill people inside and a cop seeing him. The cop raises his hat and deliberately turns his back and Paul walks home.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness, another fantastic book for this year. Definitely gets the “Best Book of the Year” tag.

So, this review might be long and rambly, please bear with me or just skip it. Either way, it’s all good.

I had heard about this through the 1974 film starring Charles Bronson. Knowing the type of movie Bronson usually starred in, I never got around to watching it. Then in 2018 a remake with Bruce Willis was made and it eventually came to Amazon Prime. I watched the reboot, as I really like Willis. That led me to watching the original with Bronson and then to hunting down the book. I plan on talking about the movies in a Versus post later this month. Death Wish vs Death Wish vs Death Wish!

Based on the synopsis and the movies, I was expecting a book about a vigilante getting his revenge. A soft, pasty, weakminded fool seeing reality for the first time in his life and going all gung-ho to the other extreme. What I got was a psychological book that impressed me over and over and over. Paul never finds the hoodlums who killed his wife and he never expects to. What I read was the mind of a man pushed beyond its self-imposed limits. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t always easy to read about but it was good.

I’ve always considered Crime & Punishment to be THE book on what a criminal mind goes through after a murder. Death Wish is entering the same territory in my mind but from the other end. What does a man go through when he truly realizes how broken, destructive and unsafe his world is? This book shows the answer to that.

Given the fact that I already agree with most of the statements made in this book (see my Quote post from the other day) it is no surprise that I liked this. The only part I struggled with was Paul taking the role of Executioner into his own hands, not lightly, but so determinedly. I believe that every human has the God given right to defend themselves. I believe that laws like the Stand Your Ground laws are essential to a free society. However, when defense of Self moves into the defense of Society then I cannot blindly accept or promote it. But neither do I blindly negate it. Evil, and people who commit acts of Evil ARE evil, must be resisted not only by the dutifully elected officials of Law and Order but by every conscientious citizen as well. The flip side of the Right to Self-defense is the Responsibility of Self-defense. This book was written in 1972 and is pretty dated but the battle that Paul goes through in his mind is as relevant today as it was then.

I don’t know what someone who is in staunch opposition to the right of self-defense would make of this book. I don’t think it would change their mind. It is not meant to however. This was a book written to all of those people who sit on the fence and think they are safe because “of the police” or that “it couldn’t happen here in Safe Safe Happy Funland.” Brian Garfield also NEVER ridicules those who think like Paul at the beginning of the book. I really appreciated that.

I would love to unreservedly recommend this book but honestly, I can’t. For me, it was the right book at the right time. People can have their minds changed and responsibility can grow from even the stinkiest compost heap.

To end, this was not an action/adventure novel of revenge and over the top violence. This was the story of a man finally growing up.

★★★★★

 

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Epilogue IV (Shaman King #23) ★★★☆☆

epilogueIV (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: Epilogue IV
Series: Shaman King #23
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh and his friends face off against the Golem and Hao’s gang but Hao is reminded of the one friend he had, Matamune the cat spirit, who taught Yoh a lot of what he now knows. Hao decides to amble off.

Anna and Manta are slowly making their way to the scene and Anna begins to tell Manta a story about Yoh’s past.

The golem revives, fully under the control of the ghost of it’s creator. To replenish its mana it must consume the souls of other shamans, so it begins to attack Yoh’s group. Horohoro and Ren are first in line. With Lyserg’s help they slow the golem down but then everyone is running away on Lyserg’s new angel ally. The golem gives chase and the crew has to figure out how to stop it without killing the little girl inside. Suddenly a stronger than ever Joco shows up and fights off the golem.

Hao reveals to his minions that he can read minds and that he left the golem fight so he didn’t have to fight Yoh yet.

Super-Joco begins beating the ever living daylights out of the golem with new shaman powers and his ghost teacher shows up and starts lecturing the gang (and the audience by extension). The audience then gets a flashback sequence via Ghost Teacher about Joco’s training in the other-world.

Joco and the golem continue their fight but Joco isn’t fighting to defeat the golem but to make it realize its dreams so the ghost will pass on. The fight ends with Joco lying in a pool blood.

 

My Thoughts:

Super New Joco looked super new stupid. I have no idea where the manga-ka gets his ideas for what looks cook, but Joco was a complete fail in this regard.

The manga-ka also can’t seem to help himself from preaching at his audience. It is really getting annoying. If it was consistent or more than skin deep pop psychology I could deal with it better. But it isn’t and it comes across as Dr. Phil-lite. If you don’t know who Dr. Phil is (and good for you if you don’t), he’s a tv personality who hands out self-help advice like gummy vitamins.

How can the manga-ka go on and on about shamans being keepers of peace and not interested in politics and greed and all the other crap he spews while at the exact same time he has not just Hao in complete opposition to that but every single one of Hao’s minions. They are all shamans too. And they’re evil shamans. My running theory is that everyone in the last volume will have a kum-bai-ya moment and suddenly be all fething lovey dovey with every one else.

I hope I’m wrong.

This probably would have gone down to a 2 ½ if it weren’t for the fights. Takei can draw a most excellent fight scene.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen #10) ★☆☆☆☆

crippledgod (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 Crippled God
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #10
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 934
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Adjunct Tavore and the Bonehunters separate from their erstwhile allies as they make a 3 pronged attack on the heart of the recently arisen Forkrul Assail empire, which holds the Crippled God’s heart. Along with gods, various elder races and even the dead, all conspire to set the Crippled God free to return him to his own world and thus begin the healing of their own world. The Perish Grey Helms turn traitor and massive amounts of people die.

At the same time an Ototaral Dragon is resurrected and set free. She is the opposite to all the other Eleint, dragons, who are at heart forces of chaos while she is a force of utter negation. The embodiment of Chaos, known as Tiam begins to manifest but the Ototarol Dragon is chained thus setting the Eleint free from their own frenzy, which dissolves Tiam’s hold over them and dissipates her own Manifesting.

Lots of other things happen.

Tavore and the Malazans and their allies are able to free the Crippled God and he returns to his own world. Shadowthrone and Cotillion hint at each other that everything has been part of an even bigger plan but mention zero details or anything concrete.

As good an ending as one can hope for with the author’s known penchant for deliberate obfuscation and outright misdirection.

 

My Thoughts:

I read over my review from 2011. Eight years later, not one single thing has changed in my mind about this book. It is remains a piece of trash where the author masterbates to his own supposed cleverness with words and is nothing but a dung heap of rubbish pseudo-philosophy.

I finished this and all I could think was “Why did Erikson even bother writing this?” The battle scenes were incredible and show that the skill in writing the first book was no fluke. Which makes my question even more pertinent, as it means he wrote such pointless reams of words on purpose. FOR NO PURPOSE.

What a killjoy way to end a series that started out so promising 2 years ago. And this re-read did not change my mind about the series overall, as I was hoping it would. Well, it does reinforce that I’ll not read another book by Erikson, no matter what. He wrote this book and ended the series this way, he doesn’t deserve any more of my money, time or attention. I almost feel like I’m doing a disservice to book bloggers everywhere by even bringing attention to his name now. Bleh.

★☆☆☆☆

 

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Play the Man ★★★★☆

playtheman (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: Play the Man
Series: ———-
Author: Mark Batterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Synopsis taken from the book:

“Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood, leaving generations of men and men-to-be confused about their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and the reason God made them men. It’s into this ‘no man’s land’ that New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson declares his mantra for manhood: play the man. In this inspiring call to something greater, he helps men understand what it means to be a man of God by unveiling seven virtues of manhood. Mark shares inspiring stories of manhood, including the true story of the hero and martyr Polycarp, who first heard the voice from heaven say, ‘Play the man.’ Mark couples those stories with practical ideas about how to disciple the next generation of men. This is more than a book; it’s a movement of men who will settle for nothing less than fulfilling their highest calling to be the man and the father God has destined them to be. Play the man. Make the man.”

 

My Thoughts:

I read this book over the course of July for our men’s group at church. One of the reasons there were so many “man” posts in July.

It started out a bit rough. I felt like it was an updated version of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and I didn’t find that particular book at all helpful. But once Batterson got into the 7 Virtues of Manhood, things turned around.

The specific 7 Virtues didn’t really enter into the equation. I was more encouraged in how Batterson showed that being a Man of God was something purposeful, something you had to set your mind to. It was goal oriented and something that will last for your whole life. Just because I’ve done X, Y and Z in the past doesn’t mean I get to slack off and coast later on. A Godly Man is always striving after God and since God is Infinite, our striving will never end. Some days I might have found that thought discouraging, but not during this book. It reminded me of just how great our God is and how much He loves us.

Batterson also goes into Jesus as Man a little bit and that was good too. Too often I think of Jesus as a superman just gliding through His life, snapping His fingers and making everything work. It was good to be reminded that He had to learn to read, that He pooped His diapers (or whatever the equivalent was in 4BC) and that He had hormones too. And yet through it all, He was Perfect.

The final thing that really made this work for me was that Batterson isn’t trying to change the whole culture with some “7 Virtues” program. He doesn’t say that this book will change the whole nation if only we all follow it. He presents it as something that each man must do on his own and must pass on to his sons. He makes being a Godly Man that individuals responsibility. He looks at the building blocks. If the foundations are solid, you can then build a good house. He also practices what he preaches with his kids and I found that immensely encouraging as well.

★★★★☆

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Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8) ★☆☆☆☆

tollthehounds (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: Toll the Hounds
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #8
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1299
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

I’m really struggling with this.

The Tiste Andii have a big part. Nimander and the young Andii, led by Clip, are on a journey to Black Pearl to pledge allegiance to Anomander Rake. During this journey Clip is possessed by the Fallen god and it is up to Nimander to stop him. Rake himself leaves Black Coral and faces down Hood himself and kills Hood with Dragnipur, thus bringing Hood into the realm of Dragnipur. This allows Hood to bring his armies of the dead against the forces of Chaos within that realm. Rake then faces Traveller, who is revealed as Dassem Ultor, First Sword of the Empire and not only dies in a battle with him, but is killed by Dragnipur as well. This places him in Dragnipur’s realm as well and somehow makes it possible for him to confront Mother Dark and convince her to take her children back.

Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev had been travelling with Traveller and are witnesses.

There is a lot going on in Darujhistan itself. Cutter and others have returned. The remaining Bridge Burners who run a bar, have a contract taken out on them by the Assassins guild. Rallick Nom and Vorcan both recover in the Azath House and get back into the thick of things. Gruntle ends up working for the Trygalle Guild and Mappo takes their services to try to get back to Icarium. Only Mappo and Gruntle get called into the Realm of Dragnipur to help lead the forces of the Dead against Chaos.

The Broken god is also making a play outside of Black Coral to subsume the newly ascended Itkovian, now known as the Redeemer. Using his own corrupted blood, a black addictive druglike sludge, he enslaves the high priestess of the Redeemer and it is up to a former Pannion Domin of all people to defend the Redeemer, who has chosen not to defend himself.

After the battle between Rake and Traveller, and the battle that ensued for control of Dragnipur, Caladan Brood emerged in control of the sword. With the help of the remaining Torrud Cabal, he destroys the sword with Burn’s Hammer, thus releasing all the souls still in existence within the sword.

 

My Thoughts:

Last time I read this, I called this a bloated piece of crap (to summarize). This time around, I have much more to say.

It IS a bloated piece of crap. At 1300 pages, this easily could have been pared down to 800 or 900 pages simply by removing the monologuing by every character about despair, hopelessness, the pointlessness of existence, etc, etc. I found myself skimming pages at a time and not missing any actual plot points. Erikson becomes as bad as Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged with the monologue by John Gault. Erikson gives full vent to his existential beliefs and in all honesty, it is horrible.

Lots of Christian theology and personal philosophy coming up, so be warned.

Sometimes, books can affect us in deep and profound ways. We always hope that it is for the better but sometimes it isn’t. This time around, it wasn’t for the better. Over the last 10 years I have learned that I am particularly susceptible to the weakness of hopelessness and despair. Whether in a sermon or in a book, if the negative is at the forefront, it will bring my spirit down and affect me physically. I can not live without Hope. That is part of why I am a Christian.

Erikson puts forth that Oblivion is the end of everything. Good, bad, right, wrong, all will end in nothingness. You can only witness existence and hope someone else will witness you as well. This directly cuts across the fact that God Himself is our witness. He has always been and He will always be. Oblivion is not the end of God, even though it is the end of humanity who are not saved by Jesus Christ. Our lives are being watched and recorded by God and we are not alone.

Erikson also writes how everything good is essentially pointless since it is tainted in one way or another. God is not tainted. God is Good. Everything good flows from a Perfect God and it IS good because it aligns with His character. Erikson takes everything that is written on our very hearts as good and drags it through a shit hole and stabs it with a rusty butter knife all in an effort to show how it really isn’t good.

Sadly, it wasn’t until I was at the 80% mark that I realized how this was affecting me. My attitude was horrible about pretty much everything and the world seemed grey and blah even while I was objectively having a good time. I could have taken steps to counteract this much earlier if I had realized what was going on. I do plan on reading either Mark of a Man by Elizabeth Elliot or one of C.S. Lewis’s books immediately after this.

In the future, I will never read this book again. I also plan on waiting an extra cycle before attempting the next Malazan Book of the Fallen. I’m giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as well to help remind my future self to never even look at this thing again.

★☆☆☆☆

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Assail (Malazan Empire #6) ★★★★☆

assail (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Assail
Series: Malazan Empire #6
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 784
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge

 

Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen #7) ★★★★☆

reapersgale (Custom).jpgThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Reaper’s Gale
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #7
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 940
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Edur/Letheri Empire continues to totter on. Rhulad Sengar, instrument of the Broken God, continues to fight against various champions and continues to die and be resurrected. He is cut off from his Edur family and allies by the Letheri beauracracy and it is really the Prime Minister who is running things.

The champions. Karsa Orlong has a plan and he can’t let Icarium get in his way. But after a confrontation in the streets, he realizes that Icarium has his own plans which do not involve fighting with the Emperor. Icarium unleashes an instrument of magic but something goes wrong and we don’t know if he survives the magical conflagration or not. Karsa faces Rhulad, treats like the boy he is, takes the magical sword and with the help of all the spirits chained to him, forces a path to where the Broken God resides. Instead of killing the Broken God, he simply rejects him and has the blacksmith who made the cursed sword destroy it, along with all the power invested in it by the Broken God.

Gnoll, the Prime Minister, has setup a secret police, the Patriotists. Their end goal is to destroy the Edur, take wealth for themselves and become the rulers in the shadow. Much like any secret police, they end up going to far and with all the other events going, the populace rises up and kills most of them.

Tehol Beddict, with the aide of his manservant Bugg who is the elder god Mael in disguise, continues his economic war against his own people. His goal is to bring down the whole economic system so as to bring about something different that can last. Successful in the end, Tehol becomes the new Emperor.

The Awl, tribal plainsmen, are the latest people under seige by the Letheri. With the arrival of a prophesied leader, Red Mask, who is guarded by two K’Chain Ch’malle, the Awl have a chance of not only surviving but of destroying the Letheri army sent after them. It turns out that the Greyshields were allies of the Awl against the Letheri but the Awl betrayed them and left them to die on the battlefield earlier. Redmask fails and his “guardians” turn on him and kill him for said failure. In his death it is revealed that he was an outcast Letheri and was simply using the Awl to get revenge on Lether. A handful of Awl children survive and are taken underwing by the newly arrived Barghast army which destroys the Letheri army. The two Ch’malle return to their matron, their reasons still a secret.

The Malazans, the outcast Bonehunter army, land on the shores of Lether and begin an invasion. Adjunct Tavore is as silent as ever and nobody in the army knows what is going on. Fiddler speculates that she is simply going after the Broken God and not just Lether. The Malazans split up and fight their way to the capital, only to find it already in chaos due to the Patriotists, Karsa Orlong’s killing of the Emperor, Icarium’s machine gone wrong and Tehol Beddict’s plans. They put Tehol on the throne and are set to go elsewhere, whereever Tavore decides.

There is yet another storyline dealing with a disparate group of Tiste Andii, Letheri slaves, Tiste Edur, Imass, Eleint dragons and the birth of a new Azath House. Dealing with betrayals from long ago, it has no direct impact on the overall storyline in this book and as such, I’m not typing up the details. This “summary” is already longer than most of my whole reviews.

 

My Thoughts:

My “review” from 2010 is a good 1 paragraph sum up of the book. Obviously, as shown by my summary above, there is a bloody lot more to this book.

While I enjoyed the storyline immensely, I have to admit that Erikson’s philosophy once again ruined what could have been a 5star book. Pages upon pages of selfish mutterings and hopeless thoughts and the dwelling upon of pain and hurt real and imagined, past and future. My main problem is that Erikson is great at pointing out flaws, in people, in situations, in institutions, in laws but then he doesn’t have his characters propose any solutions beyond “I will Endure”. He spends a section using his characters to talk about how the whole of existance itself was nothing but a betrayal by forces of chaos conspiring against each other. If Erikson thinks even half of what he writes, how does the man get out of bed each morning? He writes the true Existential Existance. It is pointless. That is depressing and it really brought home to me how much Hope I have being a Christian. Thank God.

With so much going on, I had to simply sit back, enjoy each section as it was presented to me and not try to put it all together. Even though this is book 7 in the series, Erikson is still just giving us pieces of an overall puzzle that has a lot of missing pieces. Erikson knows the whole picture but is only giving the readers some of the pieces of the puzzle and forcing us to figure out what the whole might look like from the little we do know. Forcing each reader to become a literary archeologist or to give up the series in disgust.

Now, with all of that out of the way…

I still liked this a lot. When the various plots were rolling along, I couldn’t put this book down. The Malazan storyline didn’t start until past the halfway mark and I kept waiting for them to be included which I think took my attention away from earlier parts of the book. There was a Segulah woman as a champion but she never fought Rhulad. She escaped, which kind of disappointed me, as I wanted to see how she would have fared against the Emperor. Karsa was just an obnoxious twit the entire time and it was obvious that Rhulad couldn’t defeat him.

The whole Awl storyline almost more about the mystery of the K’Chain Ch’malle than anything else. For a species supposedly extinct for a million years, they’re surprisingly active. So where have they been hiding out? I also wondered who Redmask actually was. I’m sure there are two sentences in one of the earlier books that explains it but I suspect I’ll just go on the Malazan Wiki and find out. Why do all the hardwork when someone else has already done it?

Aaaaaand I just looked. No other references to Redmask. Just one of those loose puzzle pieces that Erikson likes to scatter about.

While the storylines are interesting and engaging, there is almost no point in saying “this was a good part” because somebody dies in every “good part”. Hence the name of the series. And yet I still read this series for a second time. Not sure if that means that Erikson is actually a really good writer or that I’m just a sick reader who needs help.

This was the last book in the series that I rated highly when I read them initially. I have a feeling that the next 3 will be just as bad the second time around. I am girding up my loins for that.

★★★★☆

bookstooge