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

bonehunters (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Bonehunters
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #6
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 804
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

 

 

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Grey Seer (Warhammer: Thanquol & Boneripper #1) ★★★☆☆

greyseer (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: Grey Seer
Series: Warhammer: Thanquol & Boneripper #1
Author: C.L. Werner
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 296
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Thanquol is a skaven magician, one of the Grey Seers. After having several of his plots foiled by Gotrek and Felix, Thanquol is sent on a dangerous mission to Altdorf, capital of the Empire, to recover the Wormstone, a huge piece of warpstone that will give its user tremendous power.

Of course, being skaven, Thanquol plots how to seize the stone for himself or at least how to use it to climb up the rungs of power. But since his “allies” are skaven too, they all are also planning on how to take it for themselves.

Upon finding out that the Stone is actually weapon more effective against skaven than humans, Thanquol plots on how to wipe out the city of Altdorf AND the skaven city of Under-Altdorf, thus gaining prestige and favor with the Council of 13. A human wizard of Altdorf has been keeping an eye of the skavens and with his cronies does his best to stop said plan. The other skavens of Altdorf also do their best to stop Thanquol, since dying isn’t really what they want to do.

The book ends with Thanquol’s plan going awry yet again, most of the skavens fighting him dying and most of the humans fighting the skavens dying.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, Boneripper is just a name that Thanquol gives to his current giant rat bodyguard. It’s almost more of a title than a name, as he seems to go through them at a pretty rapid pace. Now that I know that, I won’t be expecting a real duo as main characters.

I’ve not read any of the Gotrek and Felix books, which I gather is where Thanquol is originally introduced. From the little bit that is referenced, I’m not sure I WANT to read those books. They sound like a right pair of brutal thugs. Given, I’m getting that from Thanquol’s viewpoint, but even still.

So, I finally read a book about the skavens. Giant magical rat people with all the characteristics of rats. Cowardly, self-serving, backstabbing and generally bad guys. You’d think that would depress me but for some reason it really didn’t. What DID get me down was how the humans opposing the skavens were just as much scumbags, even the wizard guy. With characters like that fighting against Chaos, I’m kind of glad Chaos ends up taking this world.

I keep going into these Warhammer books thinking they’re alternates to the Forgotten Realms books. Ha, not even close. Warhammer is bleak, bleak, bleak. It is a good thing I have a month or two between them. Any sooner and I’d be overwhelmed and have to defenestrate myself, which just wouldn’t be cool.

I’ll definitely be finishing this trilogy. I’ve also got 2 more Age of Legends trilogies to work through but after that, I don’t know that I’ll be staying in this world anymore. It’s just too bleak and depressing for me.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

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

skinner (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
The Skinner
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 433
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

 

Stinger ★★★☆☆

stinger1

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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Stinger
Series: ———-
Author: Robert McCammon
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 542
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

2 Aliens come to the dying town of Inferno, Texas. One takes over the body of a 6 year old girl and the other takes anything it wants and turns it into a human/scorpion hybrid thingy. One is chasing the other and the whole town of Inferno is now involved.

Taking place in one night, we follow various townspeople as they do their best to survive not only the night but the threat to all of humanity that the Stinger represents. Lots of people die, the whole town has a coming together change of attitude and the good alien wins and steals the starship to go back to its planet to fight against the forces of the bad alien, who gets blown up by old dynamite.

 

My Thoughts:

Sadly, after my Stinger Update, there was no mindblowing’ness. This felt exactly like McCammon’s The Border and while that’s not bad, there was nothing in this book to make me want to read more by the author.

As much as I rant/complain/whatever about hating touchy-feeling’ness in the books I read, I still do want some characterization. In this story there were just too many people who were all focused on, hence diffusing any possible connections. And the characters that did have some page time, well, they felt very forced. The 2 young men who were leaders of their respective gangs, coming together as friends after the attack, yeah, yeah, yeah. The cowardly sheriff who overcomes his fear and while not a hero, at least isn’t hiding. The airforce officer who stops the planes from shooting down the good alien right at the end and thus ending his career. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then you have the good alien who takes over a 6 year old girls body and her parents.

The other thing that stood out to me was the lack of guns. Apparently, the only people who have guns are either the law enforcement officers or a crazy gang member who has a huge stash of guns along with dynamite. Nobody else has guns. IN TEXAS. That is like writing a story about the city of Boston and writing all the drivers as polite people who follow the rules of the road and are safe drivers. It just ain’t so! That whole town should have been bristling with guns and that phracking alien wouldn’t have known what hit it.

There was also no sense of menace, no atmosphere. Competent enough writing but nothing outstanding or great.

For all that complaining, I still enjoyed this read. The alien burrowing through the ground and snatching people and creating dopplegangers with metal teeth and stuff? That was cool. When it happens to a horse, even cooler! Then when the dopplegangers are just appendages and can turn into people sized scorpions? Awesome! Blowing it up with dynamite in its own ship? THE BEST!

I don’t think I’ll be reading any more McCammon. Neither of the 2 books of his that I have now read make me want to read any more. If I had no tbr and that is all the library had, then I’d dive right in. But I have a huge tbr and hundreds of books I WANT to read. “Ok” just doesn’t cut it in that situation.

I think these cover variations show rather well my feelings on this book:

stinger

What I was expecting

 

stinger1

What I actually read

 

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

 

The Scarab Path (Shadows of the Apt #5) ★★★★ ½

scarabpath (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Scarab Path
Series: Shadows of the Apt #5
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 721
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Lowlands are not at war but Stenwold knows that won’t last. In an effort to help Che get over the death of her lover Acheaos and to fulfill his mission of finding new allies, Cheerwell is sent as an ambassador to the near mythical city of Khanaphes, where a small Collegium delegation has been studying their history. When Che finds out that the whole city is supposedly Inapt, she jumps at the chance, figuring she can find a way to fix her own Inaptness.

Thalric, now Regent and forced lover of Seda the Wasp Empress, finds himself the target of high level assassination attempts. He is also being drawn deeper and deeper into the Empress’s bloody magical rituals and it is destroying his soul. The Empire is trying to co-opt the natural enemies of Knanaphes and Thalric jumps at the chance to get away from the Empress and figures he’ll be safe from assassins as well. Thalric is given the ambassadorship and he believes he is trying to find allies in Khanaphes, not knowing that the Rekef are working with the Many of Nem, scorpion kinden, to destroy Khanaphes.

Totho the halfbreed, after rebelling from the Empire and running off with Drephos, has started his own Arms Dealer company called the Iron Glove. He is in Khanaphes to expand his market but everything takes a back seat when he finds out Che AND Thalric are in the city. He ends up fighting for the city and eventually realizes that Che will just never be his.

Everyone meets up in Khanaphes and nothing goes according to anybody’s plans. The beetles are not Inapt, the Collegium delegation from before is either dead or mad, Thalric is still being hunted and no one can believe that the Scorpion horde attack will be any different from all the previous times.

Che and Thalric hook up for mutual survival, awake the Masters of Khanaphes (the Slug kinden, the original masters of magic), save Khanaphes, find out that Che is being haunted by Tisamon’s ghost and then they both go chasing after said ghost when it is freed from its ties to Che and begins to hunt for its daughter Tynisia.

 

My Thoughts:

Every time I go into this Shadows of the Apt re-read, I wonder if the book will be as good as I remember from my previous read. So far, every book has been as good, if not better, than the original read. This was one of the better times.

My only complaint was Che. She can be a real Debby Downer and at times is just frozen with self-doubt, recriminations and fear. It is awkward to read about and rather embarrasing actually. But she’s not that way ALL the time and most of the time I liked reading about her. But that is the only reason I knocked a halfstar off, other than that, this would have been a 5star read.

Tchaikovsky can write! I know I say that in these reviews, but I just sat back half way through this book and thought about it. He has talent and it’s obvious he’s worked hard as well. The combination of hardwork, practice and talent make for a fantastic book, or series in this case. It isn’t just that he can follow the rules of grammar, etc, but he knows how to use his words outside of the written rules. It is kind of like watching a true martial artist. They can take any formalized move in their art and turn it into a thing of beauty just by executing it.

I liked the story this time around, a lot. It is really interesting how the Apt races want to not only turn their backs on magic but pretend it never existed. With Che being Inapt now, she must learn to do away with that attitude. It separates her from so many people, because they don’t believe it and she can’t explain it. The Battle for Khanaphes was awesome! The Khanaphir were just not ready for modern warfare and it was only thanks to Totho and his Iron Glove associates that the city even stood a chance. But even that wasn’t enough and it was only through the magic of the Slug Kinden that Khanaphes survived. But even then, they aren’t a very nice Kinden, very much an old Master Race of Inapt magicians. But no worries, they just go back to sleep, like the sluggards they are.

Finally, I enjoyed how Tisamon has gone from a hero, albeit, a somewhat broken one, to a ghost who will do anything and use anyone to further its aims. I know he plays more of a part in later books, but right now, I can’t really remember how and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out.

Completely recommended, but definitely part of a series. Start at the beginning and enjoy!

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

 

 

Line War (Polity: Agent Cormac #5) ★★★☆ ½

Linewar (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Line War
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #5
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 580
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Erebus, the rogue AI that has been corrupted by Jain nodes, is on the path to destroying the solar system. With fake attacks and whatnot, he manages to clear the way to Earth itself. Standing in his way is the haiman who committed murder for a jain node and Ian Cormac.

Cormac has been running all over the Polity, ostensibly chasing down Erebus but in reality picking up clues that lead him to only one conclusion. ECS, the Head Honcho AI, colluded with Erebus right when Erebus first found jain nodes. Its justification was that humanity was stagnating,but with millions and possibly billions dead, Cormac puts the smack down on that particular AI and kills it. A submind takes over but with the spectre of Cormac haunting it should it ever decide to go so outside of bounds.

The Dragon Sphere takes Mika and allows her access to Jain AI, which in turn allows her to deal with the gabbleduck/Atheter AI, possibly.

 

My Thoughts:

Nothing from my original review from 2010 has changed. This was a particularly wordy story and there were a lot of details that just didn’t need to be there. It really bogged the story down. Instead of an adrenaline filled gorefest of robots and monsters I got an indepth tour of things I didn’t care one whit about. That’s why I knocked half a star off this time.

There is still a lot of action but sometimes it felt like it was really hidden away. Also, Cormac played a MUCH smaller part. The biggest thing he did was at the end when he killed ECS. I guess this just didn’t stand up to a re-read as well as some of the previous books. The ideas were really cool the first time around and covered up all the weak points. This time around, I was seeing the weakpoints.

I had forgotten that the Atheter memcrystal came into play so early in the Polity books. I just read a big part of it’s conclusion in the Polity: Transformation trilogy last year. That is one nice thing about re-reads, seeing various threads that you’d forgotten about being more deeply woven into the story.

I do wonder if we’ll ever see Agent Cormac again. He hasn’t shown up, that I’m aware of, in later Polity books. But if we don’t, I’m completely satisfied with how this 5 books sub-series ended.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. Line War (2010 Review)
  2. Polity Agent (Book 4)
  3. Brass Man (Book 3)
  4. The Line of Polity (Book 2)
  5. Gridlinked (Book 1)
  6. Polity: Transformation Trilogy

 

Dancer’s Lament (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1) ★★★★ ½

dancerslament (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dancer’s Lament
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Before there was Cotillion and Kellanved, there was Dorin Rav and Wu. Taking place in the city of Li Heng, this is the story of how they became partners.

The plot of the book, however, is how the city of Li Heng survived a besiegement by a jumped up king who thought he was somebody. The 4 mages of the city, under the direction of the Protectress (a tiste liosan) end up confining Ryllandaras, the man-jackal in a magical prison. The Itko Kan’ians, the besiegers, have the help of a Jaghut and it takes the Protectress unleasing the full might of her Warren of Light to drive back the besiegers.

Wu, and Dorin, have plans to take over the city during the turmoil but they simply aren’t strong enough and end up being exiled from the city. But now they are partners and can begin working together.

 

My Thoughts:

Finally. A Malazan book that I can simply sit down and read straight through and enjoy fully without feeling like I’m juggling 3 different 5000 piece puzzles all mixed together. You have no idea how much that upped my enjoyment of this book.

I think Esslemont showed his true colors with this book. He is a good standard fantasy writing kind of guy. His Malazan Empire novels felt very much like he was trying to copy Steven Erikson’s style and it just didn’t work for me. But this? Besides Gardens of the Moon, this was the most enjoyable Malazan book that I’ve read. Now I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

In the Malazan books, Cotillion/Dancer and Kellanved were shadow’y characters doing things behind the scenes and never being fully fleshed out. Even when they were supposed to be main characters, they were actually hiding and felt like side characters. This time, they were simply people. It was refreshing.

There were lots of hints and little asides from other Malazan characters, so if you’re one of the Book of the Fallen fanboys who who loves unlocking a ton of meaning from 2 sentence fragments, you’ll still have something to chew on with this book. The rest of us can simply sit back and enjoy the story.

In Esslemont’s The Return of the Crimson Guard the malazan army unleashed Ryllandaras and in this book we see how, and why, he was confined. It was nice to make a clear cut connection between one book and the other instead of having to guess and speculate and turn my brain into 77 pretzels to make my pet theory fit.

Another aspect of this that I enjoyed was the lack of Existential Despair philosophy. Everybody was NOT whining about how meaningless their lives were. In fact, they acted like real people and didn’t even think about that. Dorin and Wu had to survive, plan how to take over a newly discovered Warren of Shadow and see if they could take over the city. Not much time to sit on their fat asses and complain about how hard they have it (unlike almost every Steven Erikson character. Man, that guy has his characters doing more talking than doing, in the middle of freaking battles for goodness sake!!!).

To end, I really enjoyed this book. A lot. In fact, I plan on buying it in hardcover, I enjoyed it so much. How don’t know how much more of an endorsement I can give a book. * grin *

★★★★ ½

 

bookstooge