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.

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Advertisements

Sandworms of Dune (Dune 7 #2) ★☆☆☆☆

sandwormsofdune (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: Sandworms of Dune
Series: Dune 7 #2
Author: Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 628
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Duncan and the crew of the Ithaca, along with several gholas, have adventures and get caught by Omnius. Duncan, as the best Kwisatz Haderach EVAH!!!!!, is the apex of humanity and does some kinky stuff with Erasmus, the thinking Robot. Then Erasmus dies. But not before Norma Cenva, the Oracle of Time, has saved the day with her Guild and using her magic powers makes all the versions of Omnius go poof.

Murbella singlehandedly forces the known forces of humanity to band together, only to have it all fall apart due to the machinations of the face dancers. But Norma Cenva, Oracle of Time, saves the day with her guild!

Before Erasmus dies, he kills all the face dancers across the whole universe using “technology”, ie, magic. And Norma Cenva, the Oracle of Time….oh wait, not this time.

Now Grand Poobah Duncan, more powerful than any human who has ever existed, must guide humanity and the rest of the thinking machines, into a future where they all get along while singing kum by ya and roasting smores around a campfire.

 

My Thoughts:

Back in 2007, I read and reviewed Sandworms of Dune. Overall, I was wicked happy with it, giving it 4stars. That was, unbeknownst to me then, simply due to the finishing up of the storyline of Dune.

This time around I read as a more mature Dune fan and I have to say, I felt like throwing up at this juvenile, facile and stinking putrescence of a book. I didn’t even take notes of all the things I found abhorrent as it would have given this way more attention than I wanted to give it.

Trained Bene Gesserit Sisters being ambushed in plain sight by what amounts to no more than farmers. Duncan ignoring everything that came before about the dangers of prescience and claiming that he was better than both Paul and Leto II and so the dangers didn’t apply to him. Everything that Frank Herbert wrote about, using Paul, as Paul Muad’dib, as the Preacher of Arrakeen, Leto II as the Tyrant, simply flushed down the toilet like it was a huge stinking turd so that that mediocre jackass authors could do what they wanted with this story. I want to blaspheme it makes me so angry.

The writing was just atrocious with its utter banality. Frank usually didn’t write about the Great Big Events either, but he always used the small stuff afterwards to show how the GBE affected everything around it. His writing was masterful in that regards. Anderson put his stamp of complete mediocre writing on this book very heavily. Ham handed and dull, what a combo.

Normally, a bad book like this gets me raving and writing up a storm. This time, I’m just disappointed. Really disappointed. The kind of disappointment that makes a father disown his only son. I’m giving this my “worst book of the year” tag I’m so disappointed.

I now declare:

Henceforth, let it be known amongst the nations, to all peoples, kindreds, tribes and tongues, that Bookstooge, whose works the mighty look upon and despair, shall only read Dune as a standalone. Paul Muad’dib shall live happily ever after and his reign shall be long, prosperous and fair. The known universe shall benefit, from the lowliest servant to the mightiest lord and all shall love Paul and call his named blessed.

Bookstooge thus declares it and thus reality shall alter to his will.

All Hail Bookstooge, Emperor of the Known Bookiverse!

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

 

Gods of the Mountain (Cycle of Blades #1) ★☆☆☆½

godsofthemountain (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:
Gods of the Mountain
Series: Cycle of Blades #1
Author: Christopher Keene
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 307
Format: Digital Edition

 

Background Info:

The author of this indie book convinced me to review it with a rather humorous comment on my “Review Policy” page. Asking for a bad review, that I can handle. He seemed like a nice enough guy when we emailed, so I thought “Sure, why not take a chance.” And if you read the reviews over on GR, it DOES sound like a bunch of paid shills. And he has a BA in English Lit (I believe), so it couldn’t be THAT bad, right?

First hiccup was him emailing me a second version. This was supposedly released in 2017, so I was expecting a finished product. When an author keeps tweaking a book, well, that doesn’t bode well in my eyes.

Second hiccup was him letting me know, in Mid-April, that it was going into audio production and had I had a chance to “look it over” yet . I only got the book in the beginning of March and needed to work it into my rotation.

So, legal schmegal crap: The author gave me a copy of this book for an honest review and boy howdy, is that what he’s going to get. Remember, he ASKED for this.

 

Synopsis:

The Kingdom of Tyrania was conquered by the Kingdom of Aavaria because the Aavarians wanted control of the only supply of a special kind of wood that could be turned into swords that would suck the life out of anyone receiving even a small wound.

Faulk watched as his Commander died in a duel to the Aavarian General and as his homeland fell. Now, 3 years later, he’s a mercenary for hire, drowning his despair with drink. He meets up with a former fellow soldier who specialized in assassination. This Kessler shows Faulk some magic that only a specific tribe in the mountains are supposed to be able to use. This tribe, the Lunarians, are dedicated to pacifism. Kessler was taught by an exiled Lunarian and he begins passing on his knowledge.

3 Lunarians are sent to Tyrania to stop outsiders from using the symbol magic. This will involve taking one of the users before the Lunarian’s gods and those gods severing all connections which will stop that user and all users associated with the initial user.

Faulk goes with them to ostensibly learn more magic, as he’s unaware of the gods true purpose. He ends up being stripped by the gods and then someone reconnecting back to the magic using another form.

While this is happening to Faulk, the Lunarian Exile has set in motion a chain of events that leads to his ascension as Ruler of Tyrania. He makes one of the magic trees grow using all of the stolen life force from the magic blades.

The book ends with Faulk and his Lunarian girlfriend, along with her ex, heading out to explore Aavaria and the Lunarian Exile planning on worldwide conquest.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, the writing. In my recent “Quote” post, I posted just a tiny bit of the book. There were a handful of instances of like awkwardness that had me guessing just what the author meant. I’m not talking about story plots, but plain old grammar use. You can find Editors who will look for and show you how to fix those type of things. Sure, they cost money, but do you want your book to be good? I talked to someone I know, who also has a BA in English Lit, and she said the instances I showed her were what she experiences when reading chinese novels translated by highschool students.Dinged off a ½ star for those instances.

Second, the magic system. The way it was really introduced had me going “That’s a Brandon Sanderson Mistborn knockoff!” Pushing and pulling against magic swords and daggers to move objects or yourself? Vin!checkbox

Thankfully, it does go on to be a “little” more original, but the way it was introduced really wasn’t handled well. Problem is, later things get messy again when Faulk gets cut off from the magic but “magically” is able to reconnect using some other way. Terms are thrown around but it made no sense to me. This happened near the end of the book though so I was pretty much past caring if I had missed something. Ding. There goes another ½ star.

The characters. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be rooting for anyone, or just against the Aavarian overlords and then the Exiled Lunarian. Faulk was this uber-sceptic with the philosophy of a 2nd grader. The love interest, Yuweh, was this magical powerhouse but then would turn around and be this incredibly naive and simple “girl”. Purposeful or not, I didn’t like either of them. At the end, there is this semi-sex scene between them. Up to that point Keene had kept things clean. But they are at a pool bathing together and he describes their foreplay like an awkward 14 year old and then ends with something like “and they laid down and made love”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t WANT to read erotica, or even semi-graphic sex scenes. But it offends my completist sensibilities that you’d clumsily yet graphically describe their foreplay but not the actual act? Considering that nothing like this is described earlier, its obviously put in to titillate the reader. But the only people going to be titillated by such amateur descriptions are 14 year old boys. The rest of us are just going to roll our eyes. Ding, another ½ star.

There is a bunch of other stuff too, but really, isn’t that enough? I’m not getting paid as an Editor here.

So lets do the math, because nothing is sexier than a man in suspenders and a flannel shirt doing “math”.

3 Stars is my starting point.

Add 1 for getting me to read the book in the first place.

Subtract ½ for mucking around it with it AFTER it is already published.

Subtract ½ for acting like an anxious man whose wife is pregnant with their first child.

Subtract ½ for Awkwardness.

Subtract ½ for the magic system and Sandersonitis.

Subtract ½ for the terrible and just plain embarrassing foreplay scene.

The grand total should be…..* calculator noises *

0.5!!!! Oh wait, no. Hold on. Carry the five, divide the 2, add the 1/2’s. Dang this “new math”.

1.5 STARS FOR THE WIN!!! (Where is Vanna when you really need her?)

All kidding aside, this wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, not even close. But it was barely adequate with enough issues that I certainly won’t be reading any more by Keene. Between this and Algorithm of Power, I have also reaffirmed my decision about indies in general.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Bookburners: Season One Volume One ☆☆☆☆½

bookburners (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: Bookburners: Season One Volume One
Series: Bookburners
Author: Max Gladstone
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 295
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

New York Police Detective Sal gets sucked into the world of the Bookburners when her brother opens a magical book and ends up in a coma after a demon possesses him.

Now under the auspices of the Catholic church with Father Menchu, with Presbyterian layman and former demon possessed Liam, super duper fighter secret keeper Grace and Archivist Asanti, Sal is out to capture dangerous magical books that could have a huge negative impact on the human race.

 

My Thoughts:

This is the first half, 8 short stories, of the first volume of the Bookburners. It is a collection of short stories that tell an overall bigger story. Things were flying along right up until the last story. Then I had 2 serious issues.

A transgender character is one of the main side characters and everybody in the group is perfectly fine with it, including the Catholic Priest and the layman Presbyter. The one character who does have a problem with the whole transgender issue is literally demonized by the author. Not going to be reading more of that!

Then you have the relationship between Sal and Liam. They end up sleeping together once and then wonder where things are going. By the end of this volume, Liam has decided since he was damned for being demon possessed, what’s a little fornication on the side? It was horrible to read and yet shows the mind set of most 21st century people in this day and age. There is no mention of Jesus Christ, just the Catholic Church’s traditions. There was no power towards Salvation.

So no more of this for me.

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge

 

The Punch Escrow ☆☆☆☆ ½ DNF@42%

punchescrow (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 Punch Escrow
Series: ———-
Author: Tal Klein
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 333
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things
 yet to be
among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

English Standard Version

 

My Thoughts:

 

SYLVIA
“I had an abortion, Joel.”

….

“I guess about a month later , I realized I was pregnant. Keeping it was never an option. I had career plans, and my dad wasn’t well,so I…”

….

“I’m sorry I never told you.”

….

 

JOEL

“I love you, Syl. You made the right choice.”

That “you made the right choice” killed this book completely. Between the, once again, complete lack of originality [go watch the movie The Prestige, or read some foundational science fiction] that I moaned about in Dark Matter and that complete disregard for the most helpless of human life, I am done.

☆☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

 

The Night Parade (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4) ★☆☆☆ ½

nightparade (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 Night Parade
Series: Forgotten Realms: The Harpers #4
Author: Scott Ciencin
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 310
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Myrmeen, ruler of a successful city, is approached by her ex-husband. He tells her that their only child never died but that he instead sold the baby girl into slavery to pay off his debts. After lopping off her ex’s head, Myrmeen calls together some of her former compatriots, who are all Harpers.

Their research leads them to the conclusion that every so many years a hideous group of supernatural beings kidnaps children for nefarious purposes and said group is known as the Night Parade. The group finds Krystin, Myrmeen’s daughter but in their rush to leave the city, things happen, people die and the Night Parade is no longer content to let them be.

The Myrmeen and Co group meet up with a vigilante who has a magical item that he uses to kill the Night Parade. They all start hunting down the badguys, For The Children, and the Night Parade hits back, hard. Harpers die left and right, betrayals happen even after death and hardly anybody is who they say they are.

Krystin was a plant to lure in Myrmeen, the Night Parade are barren creatures from another realm that they can’t return to and through the Power of Luv, Myrmeen and Krystin rack up a serious body count of all their friends and tear away the shadow hiding the Night Parade. The Night Parade is prevented from ever recruiting more members and Myrmeen finds out that her biological daughter is being raised in a neighboring kingdom as a Poet Princess. Myrmeen lets her go and sets off on living life with Krystin as her stand-in daughter.

 

My Thoughts:

Wow! And here I thought Red Magic bad. This is the kind of Forgotten Realms book that gives the series its b-class, sub-standard, fantasy is crap, kind of reputation.

I suspect that Ciencin was told to write for horny 13 year old boys, as there were lots of descriptions of generic cleavage and legs and beauty and desire and crap. Sadly, the rest of the writing I’m not sure that even a 13 year old boy would put up with. Maybe?

Myrmeen. Where do I even start? She doesn’t think, she reacts at all the wrong times, she doesn’t consider anyone else but herself and then the eyerolling, gag inducing saccharin sweetness of her desire to be a mom. It was done wrong and it was done lazily and it was done stupidly. It doesn’t help that she seems to be attracted to every male she comes into contact with and that every single one of them dies. Seriously, she’s worse than a black widow.

The only reason I’m not complaining about the other characters is because except for Krystin, they ALL die. That’s just laziness to me. Don’t know how to handle someone’s future? Easy, kill them off. Don’t know how to engage your readers on a gut level? Easy, kill off a trusted companion. Don’t know how to even write effectively? Easy, kill somebody.

If you stuck a gun to my head and forced me to answer the question, which was worse, this book or Bloodwalk I would be really hard pressed to know what to say. I have had a recent string of bad books in the Forgotten Realms and I have to wonder when it is going to end. This Harpers series is on life support and it’ll only take 1 more stinker to sink the ship. I just hate wasting my time on trash.

While I rated this 1/2star higher than Bloodwalk, I am giving this book the “Worst Book of the Year” tag as its Mother/Daughter thing was so badly done that I felt nauseous. Bravo! And it turns out that this is the FIRST book to ever have that dubious honor. Double Bravo!!

★☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

  1. Red Magic (Book 3)
  2. Elfshadow (Book 2)
  3. The Parched Sea (Book 1)
  4. The Wizards series
  5. Threat from the Sea trilogy
  6. Return of the Archwizards trilogy