Profile for J. C. Amos > Reviews


J. C. Amos' Profile

Customer Reviews: 81
Top Reviewer Ranking: 59,658
Helpful Votes: 866

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
J. C. Amos RSS Feed (Seattle)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
An Autumn War (The Long Price Quartet)
An Autumn War (The Long Price Quartet)
by Daniel Abraham
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.09
34 used & new from $3.98

4.0 out of 5 stars The time of the Andat is coming to an end., January 6, 2015
Daniel Abraham and I have had a long and intermittent reader/author relationship. It's not that I don't consistently enjoy his books, because I do, but there's something about reading a Long Price novel that leaves a full feeling in the literary stomach. Each book is it's own self-contained story, taking place a dozen or so years apart from each other in very different times of the character's lives. There is a serial tale to be told here, as several characters are present in each book, but this is no Song of Ice and Fire, to leave the reader gnashing their teeth in anticipation of the next volume due to copious cliffhangers. Each book is a unique and fulfilling experience that can leave the reader emotionally exhausted. An Autumn War was definitely not an exception.

The premise of Abraham’s third volume reminds me a little bit of Foundation and Empire, at least the first story of that book. One one side we have the Khahiem, the Asian inspired empire with hardly an army to speak of, but with magical beings called Andat who wield incredible destructive potential. On the other side we have the Galt, the European inspired empire who rely on armies of armored men, siege engines and brute force. These 2 nations have always been at an uneasy stalemate. The Galt doesn’t want to risk provoking the Khahiem at the risk of incurring the Andat’s wrath, and the Khahiem must always maintain their Andats lest they lose the only protection they have against the conquering Galt. Insert Balazar Gice, a very determined Galtic general with a grudge (this is the part that reminds me of Fountain and Empire). He’d seen first hand the horrors that the Andat could reap on men and made it his goal in life to extinguish them from the world once and for all. Now he’s found a way.

I really enjoyed A Shadow In Summer, but it had almost no action to speak of. When I wrote a review on amazon, I expressed this criticism of it and actually got a response from Daniel Abraham himself saying that I would enjoy the third book better, which hadn’t yet come out at the time. Well, he wasn’t wrong. Book two had a fair deal of action, perhaps in the way that a Shakespearian tragedy would. But An Autumn War has that level of bloody conflict I’ve come to expect from fantasy novels. Even so, it’s not exactly that the action is exciting in the normal sense. These books focus so much on the emotions of the characters and dealing with their losses that the action sequences tend to lean toward nerve wracking. This of course if the mark of a good writer. Who cares about armies clashing if you can’t care about the end result? In Abraham doesn’t focus too much on the nitty gritty when it comes to action sequences. It’s more about the end result and the consequences. The first actual battle sequence is little more than a few pages.

But action isn’t the reason to read The Long Price books. It’s about the characters. These people that fill these pages are very human and possibly more grounded than any other fantasy characters I can think of. Otah just wants to rule his city, yet not adhere to the tradition that could cause his children to kill each other for succession. Liat, whom we haven’t seen since the first book, just wants the best for her son. Maati just wants to be relevant. Cehmai just wants to maintain his Andat, Stone-Made-Soft, for the sake of the city. At the hands of another author, these characters might be boring. But Abraham makes each character into a complex tapestry. While I enjoyed visiting many old faces again, I found myself most enamored with the character of Balazar Gice. While he’s the antagonist, he can hardly be called a villain as he’s actually quite likable. Sure he’s a cold, calculated man, but he does what he thinks is fair and takes no joy in it. His scenes and dialogues with Otah’s mercenary were my favorite of the book.

His writing style is consistently simple, yet eloquent. It never comes off as pretentious and he doesn’t overuse obscure words like Guy Gavriel Kay (I apologize to fans of the man but I can’t take his writing seriously), and yet his prose often feels borderline poetic, especially in Betrayal in Winter. I don’t like reading these books quickly, rather I prefer to take my time with them.
One thing that can’t be said about these books is that they’re light reading. That’s not to say that the prose is over-complicated or hard to read, but the subject matter itself can get pretty heavy. While there is fun to be had while reading these books, I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re looking for a fun fantasy escape. If you want gritty fantasy but still want fun, read Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard books. The Long price novels are more thinking pieces.

While I thoroughly enjoyed An Autumn War, I think I would still count A Betrayal in Winter as my favorite of these novels so far, so I am only giving this book four stars in comparison to that book’s five. Betrayal seemed to flow like poetry, a family drama with death and betrayal and love and heartache. An Autumn War has a more methodical, singular drive to it’s story. One character says “I’m going to to do this,” and so they do. Another character says “well, this has happened, so we have to respond by doing this,” and so they do. There isn’t much in the way of surprise. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just makes for a very different reading experience. Read Mr. Abraham if you’re looking for complex and emotional character driven fantasy.

Red Country (First Law World)
Red Country (First Law World)
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $8.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Take western setting and insert schizophrenic, murderous barbarian, January 4, 2015
I put off reading Red Country for two years, with the grand plan of re-reading all of the books up to that point. It had been quite a few years since I first started The Blade Itself after all. But my reading list seems to have a mind of its own and I never seem to be able to predict which books I’ll be reading next. The re-reads never happened. One day, several weeks back, I walk into the bookstore and there sits Red Country on the shelf, the first book I actually happen to see. It was a sign. Then I see the cover art, and focus on the hand wielding the sword on the cover. It has only nine-fingers... This changes everything. So I bought it.

Joe Abercrombie never disappoints. His characters are flawed, mostly terrible people and just ridiculous enough that you can still empathize with them. You won’t find an antagonist or protagonist who wanders aimlessly with no goal in mind. Each character is driven by a clear and specific set of values that makes them hard to hate, even when they do the most atrocious things. Which is very often. His books always maintain an air of intensity as you can’t easily predict what’s going to happen and though the character’s motivations are clear, predicting their actions isn’t always easy.

Red Country takes us some ten years after the end of the First Law series and we find the world not much changed since our last foray during The Heroes. The Union is still looking for excuses to fight something (this time it’s traitors out in the Far Country), The Empire still dominates in the south, mercenaries are still taking contracts and people still kill each other for money. This stand-alone offering takes place among the ruins of the Old Empire where Bayaz and company searched for the Seed, out in the western part of the Circle of the World. The fact that it’s in the west and the story feels almost more like a western than it does a fantasy is probably not a coincidence. Many Western tropes like small ramshackle towns, prospectors, gold diggers, savage natives and wagon trains are all found in abundance. Replace pistols with swords and bows and you’ve got yourself a fantasy-western, partner! Except this time there’s no gunslinger journeying toward an ambiguous tower filled with disappointment. Instead we have a former outlaw woman, Shy South and her stepfather (maybe? this relationship is never made 100% clear) looking for her two kid siblings, recently kidnapped by bandits and taken west into the Far Country for reasons unknown. Shy’s stepfather’s name is Lamb, or so he tells her. As far as she’s concerned, he is a coward and would never raise a finger to hurt anyone. She will soon learn that this was only to fulfill a promise to her deceased mother. He also made a promise to keep her children safe. He has to break the first promise to fulfill the second. Lamb is great at killing. In fact, he admits it was the only thing he was ever good at. Did I mention he only has nine fingers?

As with all of Abercrombie’s books, the pages of this one are also populated with a cast of fully-fleshed, three-dimensional supporting characters. We have Temple, the cowardly yet lovable jack-of-all-trades; Dab Sweet, the legendary frontiersman whose legend may be a bit overblown; and Cosca, the legendary (so he says) mercenary famous for his victories all across the world whose legend is definitely overblown. We also have an out of work actor, a disgruntled Osrung veteran, an uncertain teenager, a horrified biographer, an ex-convict/mathematician and a one-eyed northman looking to settle a grudge, to name a few.

To keep with First Law/Joe Abercrombie tradition, this offering has no shortage of violence. I always find myself mentally exhausted by the time I finish one of his books, this one included. It follows one bloody conflict to the next as our main characters search for what they’re missing. Also keeping with tradition is the endlessly entertaining dialogue. There are tons of quotable bits and truly memorable passages, especially between Cosca and his Company of the Gracious Hand mercenaries.

So why only four stars? This was a difficult decision, as I enjoyed the book immensely. Unfortunately while looking online into any details relating to the next First Law trilogy, I read a snippet of interview with Abercrombie where he said he needed to take a break from this world for a little while due to straining himself for ideas on how to complete Red Country. So while the story has a clear beginning goal, a clear end and ties things up quite neatly, I couldn’t help but notice that the plot meandered a lot in places. Would I have caught this if I didn’t read that interview? Maybe. His last two stand-alone books were very focused. Best Served Cold was about revenge and the lengths one will go to obtain it. The Heroes was about one particular battle and the horror of war. Red Country is about... getting back missing children? Discovering one’s self? Money corrupts everything? Maybe a little bit of all of this. I couldn’t help but feel that Abercrombie only wrote this book because he was contracted to. Perhaps he had two or three different ideas and decided to run with all of them, and also change it up and make it feel like a Western for something different.

This shortcoming doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable and proves that a good author can produce great work even when they’re not necessarily inspired. Despicably lovable characters, brutal action and the return of some very missed faces (well maybe just one face) make this another fun and recommended romp into The Circle of The World. I eagerly await his next trilogy.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2) (Stormlight Archive, The)
Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2) (Stormlight Archive, The)
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.29
135 used & new from $11.16

4.0 out of 5 stars As good or better than Way of Kings, but not without problems, September 21, 2014
As I had neglected to do a review for Way of Kings back when I’d read that, I may be sneaking in a few opinions about that book as well as this sophomore follow up. Now, speaking of second books, when comparing to The Way of Kings, this one definitely doesn't fall into the sophomore slump. For anyone that loved the first book, there's plenty to love here and more. It’s perhaps the best Sanderson book I’ve read yet. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my complaints. Though there are many things I love about Sanderson’s writing, I still have problems with him and this book still doesn’t fix them.

With a book this long, I can hardly think of it as a single entity. Rather, I remember it as several stories put together, because really that’s what it is. Those stories are told by the several main characters the story follows from start to beginning. If you’ve read the first book, you know these characters, and if you haven’t, then why are you reading this review? Stop looking for spoilers, for you shall find none here! (disclaimer: I cannot guarantee there won’t be any spoilers.) There are four characters that we could call main characters in Words of Radiance. While they are all unique in many ways, each follows a particular fantasy archetype. In fact, if you put them all together as a party in a game of Diablo, they’d make a pretty balanced group.

First we have Dalinar, the deceased King’s brother, and uncle to the current king. He’s basically king in everything but name. If he were a class in a fantasy video game, he’d be the knight/warrior. Dalinar is noble to a fault, not unlike Eddard in A Song of Ice in Fire. But Dalinar has the fortune of keeping his head by the end of the first book of his series, so I guess he’s played his Game a bit better. Having Shard Plate helps too. He is a very gifted fighter, and feared by the Parshendi, who his people have been fighting for half a
decade. Dalinar is also blessed/cursed with visions from what he believes to be the Almighty, who is telling him to reform the Knights Radiant and stop the oncoming evil that will soon be upon them. Dalinar can be obnoxious in his desire to always do the right thing, (would you just bed Navani already? ARGH!) but he is still an interesting character to read, namely because of his visions.

Next we have Szeth, the Assassin in White, scourge of the land and fear of nobles in countries all over the continent. His class would be the assassin/monk. While Szeth doesn’t get as much page time in book two as he does in book one, he’s still a very integral part of the story. His actions are what drive many of the decisions and motivations in Words of Radiance. While most of these actions take place “off camera,” they’re shrouded in mystery and intrigue, much like his character. Szeth is definitely a runner-up for my favorite character in these books. His one fault: he is too damn powerful! I know that’s an important part of the story, so I can’t say that I wish it were otherwise, but it still lessens my enjoyment of a character when they are strong to the point of being a god, whether or not it’s justified by the laws of magic set in place by the story.

Kaladin: When it comes to assigning these characters a video game class, it’s no coincidence that Kaladin rhymes with paladin, because basically that’s what he is. He’s your typical fighter with magic capabilities. Okay, his abilities may not be typical per se, but he’s still the paladin in our Diablo group. While Kaladin is arguably one of the most pivotal characters in these stories, I’m sad to say that of these four he is my least favorite to read about. There just doesn’t really seem to be much that’s original or interesting about his character. Any fantasy story that follows the archetype of traditional high fantasy (which the Stormlight Archive, complicated though it is, definitely does in many ways) has to have the village-boy turned hero character. That’s Kaladin. If this were Wheel of Time, he would be Rand al Thor (okay even Kaladin is more likable a character than Rand.) Now, I realize that any similarities with Wheel of Time in these books isn’t necessarily a coincidence as Sanderson cited Robert Jordan as inspiration, and of course went on to finishing Jordan’s series. But that still doesn’t mean that Kaladin isn’t a bit boring for me to read. I barely made it through all of the Bridgeman sections in book one, which thankfully we don’t have much of in this book. He discovers his powers, he questions his morals, he turns from slave to leader, inspiring his people with motivational speeches. Yawn. The one thing I don’t find boring about him are his fight sequences, which are even more fun in this second book.

Shallan: The daughter of a failing house; the educated, the artist, the soul-caster. Shallan is my favorite character in these books. She would be the sorceress/mage of our party. Even though in book one, her segments were less action packed than most others, I found them the most fun to read. Her chapters were where we learned about most of the intrigue and magic and politics of this world. Her character is rich and complicated and believable. Shallan’s book smart, she has an ability to draw what she sees in a way that’s inhuman, she’s gifted with magics and she’s a clever liar. Her character made quite a change in book two, from reserved and cautious to bold and brash in a rather quick turn, but not in a way that was unbelieveable. A particular set of circumstances guided her hand and it’s interesting to see how the character handled them. So far, each book seems to pick one character as its primary focus for back story, cutting to chapters of interludes in that character’s past, explaining how they got to be who they are. In book one, that was Kaladin (yawn), but in book two, it’s Shallan. I eagerly awaited these segments, as her back-story is... well, kind of messed up. But in a way that’s fun to read, of course. Plus, she’s a pretty, freckled red-head that just so darn adorable. What’s not to like?

My main complaint with these books (and really any Sanderson book that’s part of his Cosmere universe) is the magic. Sanderson himself said that he prefers magic systems that have a clear set of laws in place, so as to avoid any deus ex machina type situations. That’s all well and good, but that type of system also sucks out one very important aspect about magic in fantasy books: mystery. When magic becomes math and science, with clear cut rules that seem to be taken right out of an instruction manual, doesn’t it become less fun to read? To me, yes. I don’t always want to know where the magic comes from and how it works. I’d like to know that the author is at least aware, so it doesn’t feel like it’s being made up on the spot. But at least keep some of that behind the veil. Examples of newer authors with magic systems that I would call vaguely mysterious would be Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. In both of the series by those authors, magic is reserved for special occasions and when it’s revealed, it shocks and surprises. Nobody really explains exactly where it comes from in those stories, but we know who is able to use it with some understanding of some of the types of things it can be used for (never give a Bondsmage your name!). In the Stormlight Archive books, magic is thrown around like cheap candy. It’s not as overused as it was in the Wheel of Time books and definitely not as ridiculous as those Steven Erikson Malazan books (sorry, I know a lot of people like those but I’ve tried and tried and I just can’t get into those) but by the end of this book, it gets a little bit out of hand. The outcome of a battle seems cheapened when magic has to be used to obtain victory.

Another issue I have with Sanderson is the occasional inconsistency in tone. For all intents and purposes, this is a medieval inspired fantasy world, right? Perhaps European renaissance. It’s hard to pin an Earth-like time period on these books b/c the world is very different than most fantasy worlds, but you get the idea. But there are occasional bits of dialogue and character actions that will just suck me right out of the engrossment. Like one character -an interlude character thankfully- kept using the world “awesome”. And not awesome as if to describe something that inspires awe. Awesome like the way a Ninja Turtle would use awesome, with a slang intonation. This character was young and rebellious, like a kid who skips too much school, which is fine if that character weren’t pulled out of a 90s cartoon show into a high fantasy tome. As for Sanderson’s prose, it’s far from eloquent. I would call it highly functional. There are very few “inspired” passages, memorable quotes or hair-raising moments, but the moments where I cringe at some bad bit of dialogue or cheese plot device occur fairly infrequently.

Complaints aside, there is much good here. Sanderson’s scope is huge. And not just in these two books, but in all of his linked fantasy works. Mistborn, Elantris, Warbreaker, Stormlight and yet another upcoming series all take place on difference worlds in the same shared continuity called the Cosmere. If that’s not an ambitious fantasy universe, I don’t know what is. His Stormlight world alone is huge, fully realized and populated with tons of characters. There is action, politics, exploration, discovery, romance, magic... I suppose you could say it has a little of everything. Perhaps these books run a little long and some sections can get repetitive (run with the bridge, drop the bridge, get hit by arrows, drag your wounded away, repeat ad nauseam...) but if it wasn’t enjoyable I sure as hell wouldn’t have finished. I’ve got enough other books to read that I generally don’t read the door-stopper tomes anymore. But Sanderson is at least taking the genre of door-stopper, shelf-bending fantasy to a new level. He’s taken what Jordan made, tore it down and built it up better again.

So, if you’re in the market for another Wheel of Time-esque time-sucking journey, Stormlight Archive wouldn’t be a bad read for you. Sanderson is fairly young still and he writes damn fast, so the chances of this series being completed is actually pretty good. If you’re looking for something more snappy and one third the length, but with just as much action, try Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns.

The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
by H.P. Lovecraft
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.08
204 used & new from $2.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review from a Lovecraftian newbie, June 21, 2014
For an author, creating something that is frightening can be a challenging thing, given that the subject matter is neither seen, nor heard by the reader. Rather it takes place solely in the mind, leaving it up to the reader to decide if what they're experiencing is scary or horrifying. It's almost pretentious, when you think about it. Selling a story as a horror is telling the reader how they're going to feel while reading it. Of course, the same could be said for comedy and many other genres, but horror seems particularly subjective to me. H.P. Lovecraft is called the master of horror, the grandfather. I've been told for years that I need to read him, and for many years this book has gathered dust on my shelf. Well I decided to finally blow off that dust, wipe away the cobwebs and open the portal to the Elder Gods... I mean into a clever and demented mind. I'm glad that I did.

I don't read a lot of short story collections. I love the idea of short stories but when it comes to writing and reading them, I'm always thinking that I'd rather cut my teeth on something longer instead. I think I've ruined myself with door-stopper epic fantasy tomes. But Lovecraft only wrote in the short so alas, short stories it is. I wish I had read Lovecraft sooner. As I’m reading these stories I can see where Stephen King and various other horror writers have pulled influence from. I remember being a kid and reading IT (which was quite terrifying when I was in 7th grade, by the way) and reading about the Turtle, a strange god-like being outside of time, thinking “what a strange and interesting concept.” Well, I’m pretty sure if King hadn’t read about Lovecraft’s Elder Gods, he wouldn’t have had the idea. I’d give more examples, but honestly I’m not too well-read in the horror genre so I can’t think of any more at the moment.

As for the stories themselves, I won’t touch on all of them, but I will give my thoughts on a few; particularly my favorites of the bunch.

Rats in the Walls: This was a great way to begin my Lovecraft experience. What starts as a standard horror tale of a potentially haunted home becomes much, much more. You’ll learn just by reading this story that Lovecraft doesn’t deal in ghosts and spirits, but in things far more terrifying.

Pickman's Model: This one is about an artist of the macabre variety whose subjects may or may not be derived from his imagination. While this story was one of the shortest with the simplest of premises, it stuck with me as one of the more chilling tales in this collection. Pickman's Model is truly meant for the short story format. I couldn't see it being worked into a film and I can't see the premise working as a full length novel. It's an idea, and that idea is creepy as hell.

Call of Cthulu: I suppose I couldn't write a review of this book without touching on the great Cthulu. I won't spend too much time talking about the most famed Lovecraftian creation, but it's definitely a story that's worth a read. Whereas most of the stories in the collection focus on one subject finding themselves in an unspeakable situation of isolation or insanity, Call introduces horror on a grander, world threatening scale. Also tentacles (and not the kind that Krieger is into.)

The Colour Out of Space: This one is my favorite story in the collection. It's just disturbing in the best way. The sheer sense of helplessness and horror is in full swing here as an object falls from space and disturbs the fabric of reality itself, slowly decaying anything living into dust. And of course that includes humans. The visuals this story conjures are definitely enough to induce chills. I'd love to see this one in some sort of film capacity.

The Dunwich Horror: This is one of the least typical Lovecraft stories in the collection. A family makes a contract with an Elder God and creates a couple of Elder Godly horrific children that terrorize the podunk town of Dunwich. What makes it unique is that instead of humans being helpless against this threat, this story actually focuses on a various group of people attempting to solve the problem. Its definitely one I could see made into a modern movie, even one that's purposely campy like Slither or Tremors.

It's obviously not necessary for me to go into each and every story here as there are 20 or so, but this collection has definitely whet my tongue for more HP Lovecraft. He perhaps wasn't the best fiction writer as his characters don't have a lot of depth and he reuses a lot of the same descriptors. But every writer has their strengths and weaknesses and Lovecraft's strengths lie in digging into your imagination and conjuring images and fears you didn't even know you had. A lot of horror these days lacks subtlety and likes to take its subject and best you over the head with it. Lovecraft's work does not have that problem. Every writer, director or actor of the horror genre should be given this book to be reminded what horror really is.

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey
by Arthur C. Clarke
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.00
137 used & new from $1.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution, discovery and a journey through our solar system like no other, March 19, 2014
If one were to gauge what makes a perfect science-fiction story, what elements would have to be in place? You could start with a very open question. For example, who else is out there besides us? You could take realistic human beings, bound by the laws of science as we know it today, and throw them at that question. Throw in an epic journey through space, a nearly unstoppable adversary and a mind-warping ending that exceeds the wildest expectations. And to top it off, wild sex with beautiful alien women. 2001: A Space Odyssey has all of these elements but one. It is a nearly perfect sci-fi experience.

Now I’ll admit to one little bit of sci-fi fandom heresy. I’ve never seen the 2001 movie. I’ve seen countless other classic science fiction films, but for some reason just never watched it. I was just thinking recently that I should watch the film, but as I'm on a bit of a classic reading stint right now I decided to read Clarke's book first. Really I have no idea what took me this long. Aside from Michael Chrichton, Clarke was my introduction to science fiction. I read Rendesvous With Rama in middle school and absolutely loved it. Having returned to reading Clarke after so many years, I can say with a surety that he is one of my favorite science fiction authors.

If you asked who the book's main character was, I suppose I would have to say that it's David Bowman. But 2001 doesn't really follow a typical format where one character can be pinpointed as "it." The book has several acts, two just happen to be smaller than the last acts featuring Mr. Bowman. The book starts 3 million years ago, when humans handn't quite developed from man-ape... things. Our POV character here is Moon-Watcher, a man-ape that encounters a monolith, one such object that each "main" character will encounter in 2001. This monolith, obviously extra-terrestrial in origin, changes Moon-Watcher and sets in motion a change in the entire human race. Fast forward three million years, give-or-take some centuries or so. Our next POV character, Dr. Heywood Floyyd, a famous scientist, is called to the moon to view a new discovery. Yet another mysterious monolith has been revealed, hidden from the news-mongers on aearth under the pretext that it's a plague broken out on the lunar base. This brings us to David Bowman.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and Bowman and a few other crew members are hurtling through space in a new state of the art ship, on a mission whose purpose isn't revealed until the end of the story. Their constant, ever-awake companion is an on-board ship AI with an agenda of its own. ("What're you doing, Dave? I can't let you do that, Dave.") Though I haven't seen the movie, I've known about Hal since I was a child. Being surrounded by movie quoting nerds my whole life, it'd be impossible not to. Hal is an immediately recognizable sci-fi icon and it was entertaining to finally learn what it was all about, even if it wasn't the medium that most people first experienced "him" in.

I don't want it give anything else away for the few people like me who don't know the story. In summation, I will say that 2001 has everything I love and forgot I loved about science fiction. With a great mystery to look forward to, I was eager to know what was going to happen from the first few pages onward. Clarke's writing is fantastic. Not only was he a visionary (he wrote this book before the moon landing for frakk's sake!), his writing was incredibly detailed and gripping. I am absolutely never bored when I'm reading Arthur C. Clarke. He pulls beauty out of the plain and excitement out of the mundane. During Bowman's journey, you will have no trouble believing that this is exactly what mankind's first trip to the outer planets will really be like. I felt like I was really staring at Jupiter and Saturn and seeing it with amazement through Bowman's eyes. While the ending of the book is worth the wait (not that this is a particularly long book) and utterly mind-warping in scope, the true majesty of 2001 is realizing the wonder that already exists in our own non-fictional universe. Everyone who is even remotely interested in science fiction or who just loves a good story about human discovery should read 2001: A Space Odyssey

Deryni Rising (Chronicles of the Deryni)
Deryni Rising (Chronicles of the Deryni)
by Katherine Kurtz
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.87
39 used & new from $0.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A light fantasy snack, held in a land of pseudo-English inspired lore, March 5, 2014
Deryni Rising

I tell myself quite often that I'm going to go back and read classic, older fantasies that I feel I should have read as a kid. Then I do it and remember why I stick with the newer contemporary works. My foray into the fantasy genre was a little irregular. Naturally, I started with Tolkien in Middle School and decided then that fantasy was my new favorite genre. And it still is I suppose. Then a friend of mine got me into Terry Brooks, so I read a ton of those books, all the while finding them to be lacking in ways I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then I started reading Wheel of Time and from there jumped into Song of Ice and Fire, and the game was forever changed. I couldn't read Brooks anymore. I tried reading Feist and found it too cheesy. My fantasy reading nose was held too high. I keep a lot of those "older" books still on my shelf because I tell myself one day I'll be able to look past the cheesy dialogue and happy endings and heroes on their quests for magic relics and see the value in these classic stories. So just recently I saw a coworker reading the Deryni trilogy and thought I'd give them a chance. Was it enough to change my prejudice against older fantasies? Eh, not really.

I was at least compelled enough to keep reading until the end. Her writing, while still afflicted with a lot of the general cheesiness that I find in earlier fantasies, is adequate if not eloquent. For a first novel, it's pretty decent prose. She doesn't abuse metaphors, her descriptions of characters and setting are detailed. The dialogue is believable enough but also tends to run into the cheesy territory, with many moments ending with characters grinning at each other due to some clever comment or snappy remark. The amount of times that Kelson, Morgan and Duncan verbally patted each other on the back was, well... too damn high! I found myself rolling my eyes on a few occasions. Otherwise I would consider Kurtz a capable writer and I would bet that her style improves much as her career goes on.

As for the plot of the book, simple would be an understatement. There isn't much in the way of surprise here. We know in the first chapter who the main villain is and who the mole/betrayer is. Everything that the characters (namely the king's general and adviser Morgan) say will happen does happen. Newly appointed King Kelson will be confronted by the evil sorceress Charissa. She says so herself. And he is. There are some non-simple aspects, however, like the politics. This isn't George R.R. Martin caliber politics here, but there's some decent political maneuvering and back-stabbing going on. I can dig that and I'd be curious to see if this is a trend that keeps up in her stories. As for the magic system, it's strength is that it's not baseless and the author at least offers a small bit of information as to how it works. Magic in this world is based on ritual and bloodlines. The Deryni are human-like but with magic blood in their ancestry, and they can use magic apparently very easily, even if they don’t really know what they’re doing or didn’t previously know that they were Deryni. As for humans, apparently they can use it too but they have to be taught and this subject doesn’t come up much, in this book anyways. It also apparently helps if sorcerers are poets, as they seem to come up with clever rhyming spells on the fly.

I’m torn on my decision for what to rate this book. The world seems interesting but we really only see one city (or one castle) of it in Deryni Rising. The characters aren’t two dimensional but I also didn’t get to know them enough to know whether or not I like or care about them. There’s some decent politics but not much in the way of action. The magic isn’t overused but it’s also kind of ridiculous at the same time. This book seems a bit mediocre in almost every way. It reads more like a prologue for this world than a whole book in itself. Will I read more? I already own the next two in the trilogy and they’re not lengthy books, so I don’t see why not. I am intrigued by the English folklore/Celtic inspired backdrop rather than the traditional Tolkien cloned story, which is why I started reading this in the first place. So, I’m not overly impressed, but I said the same thing when I read Assassin’s Apprentice and I still went on to read Royal Assassin and then Hobb’s series went on to become one of my favorites. So I'm going to rate this a 2, but really I'm giving it a 2.5. I'll keep an open mind for the future, as Kurtz may well yet surprise me.

Brave New World
Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.42
452 used & new from $2.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Genetic engineering, mass industry and drugs rule our far future., February 28, 2014
This review is from: Brave New World (Paperback)
Having just finished reading Brave New World, I have now concluded what I am calling the Future Dystopian Trilogy. Beginning with 1984, then on to Fahrenheit 451 and finishing with Huxley's visionary piece that was written almost two decades before the other two. The time in which it was written is possibly the most extraordinary thing about Brave New World. When I read 1984, I was thinking constantly that Orwell was some sort of prophet to have imagined his world in the late 1940's. Now I can see that some of these ideas possibly were borrowed from Aldous Huxley's Utopian vision of the far future. Which is funny because apparently Orwell accused Huxley of borrowing from a previously published book called "We." And then he proceeds to write a similar novel of his own. Oh how we humans do justify our actions.

In Huxley's classic work, we have a sharp contrast to Orwell's book. 1984: oppression, misery, fear, war. Brave New World: cleanliness, peace, "happiness", perfection. Gosh, Huxley's world seems much more a pleasant place to live now doesn't it? Well I guess if one were going to compare the two, sure. I suppose I'd rather live in this bright, shiny far future than I would in Orwell's ultra-bleak one. At least I'd have a better chance of not being vaporized. But Brave New World is bleak for totally different reasons and in some ways it's a far scarier vision of a foreseeable future for humanity.

The book begins with a group of students taking a tour of an embryonic facility. That is a place where humans are literally grown in bottles, tweaked, manipulated and otherwise conditioned to be the most perfect humans they can be. The author wastes no time dumping information on you as an introduction into his world, but it is not a boring info-dump. The way in which it's presented, with us learning at the same time as this group of students, was actually a fairly engrossing way to start the book. The book quickly got its hooks in me and I found myself in awe of such a horrible idea and in awe that an author gave us this idea in 1932. We learn that humans are created in certain castes; epsilons, gammas, deltas, betas and so on. Each caste is designed for a specific purpose. The lower the caste, the more remedial the work they are accustomed to. In this world, nobody is complaining about their jobs because they wouldn't
know how to do anything different and they wouldn't want to. Nobody is striving to be better than they are because they are all already the best they are going to be and thanks to their conditioning, nobody can change that. Now, even so, people are always inclined to question their environment and their superiors and think that the grass is always greener on the other side. So how do you keep these people happy? Drugs. Lots of drugs. Soma is a drug that they take on a regular basis, lest they find themselves depressed and the world they live in unbearable. And when people are happy, they consume and consume. Industry is another subject of Huxley’s satire in BNW. In fact, instead of God, they worship Ford, the founder of the car company. I’m not joking about that.

So to propel this story forward, we need an odd-man-out, a stick in the spoke of the bicycle wheel. That man is Bernard... kind of. He's definitely an odd duck but he's not as well defined of a character as Winston in 1984. But he has a lot of similarities. He is miserable because he knows that what's happening around him is wrong. He strives for something better. He also chooses not to take his soma, which causes many irregularities in his personality, and garners unwanted attention from superiors and others. But regardless of his unsavory reputation, he attracts the attention of a female co-worker named Lenina who wants to have a fling with him. (In Brave New World, everyone belongs to everyone else, so there are no marriages or family or “relationships.”) So they go on a vacation to New Mexico to be among the savages (the Native Americans) to witness their strange way of life in the reservation. But there they meet someone unexpected. John. John was born of someone who came from the “new world” but he never lived there. He was raised among the “savages” only ever hearing about the new world in stories told by his mother, and imagining it to be this amazing place.

This is the point in the book that the narrative took a dramatic turn. The primary protagonist became John, and Bernard just a side character. Now, as John goes into the new world, he gets to see with his own eyes and learn that it’s not what he had imagined it to be. What he thought to be amazing advancements, he learns are really great drawbacks. With a head full of Shakespere (something entirely forbidden in the new world) and romantic ideas about the human race, he is destined only for disappointment. As he goes to the Feelies, which are like movies but involve all of the senses, he realizes that art no longer has value or substance. He questions how people could enjoy a movie with a stupidly simple plot that's called "Helicopters." This isn't entirely unlike Mike Judge's satirical movie, Idiocracy. Just replace John with Luke Wilson and "Helicopters" with the movie "Ass."

At this point is where I believe the ideas of this book supercedes the story and characters. The narrative has a strange flow to it and there is a lack of a central protagonist. Rather there are three or perhaps even four characters that seem to jointly share that roll. Bernard seemed like the key character but once John was introduced it was almost as if Huxley just thought, "you know, I like John better, so I'm going to turn Bernard into an unsympathetic whiny brat who thinks too highly of himself for discovering John and make JOHN my new protagonist." I find it curious that John wasn't made to be the main character. It seems the story would have been more compelling had it started with John, a white man living amongst the savages, who suffers all his life as an outcast. He just wants to be among people that are like him. He listens in awe about a world where everyone is equal and dreams to go there. Then we could have been introduced to the new world from his eyes, experienced him reel in horror as he tours the embryonic facility. We could experience the pains of this depraved world from someone that had expected so much better. I feel it would have driven Huxley's message home on a whole new level and made for more compelling reading besides.

But regardless of useless rewrites that take place in my head, I really did enjoy Brave New World. It gives satire and commentary on a great number of issues, from mistreatment of Native Americans to the way our society did, and still does, emphasise mass industry. Is it right to give a book an extra star just because it's considered "old" or a "classic?" I'm not sure, but it's happening here anyways. What may only be a 2-3 star book as far as plot and story becomes a 4 star book for leaving an impact on me and making me look at our current society retrospectively. Any of the 3 books that make up the future dystopian trilogy are highly recommended reads, and reading them all consecutively was quite an experience. I think now, however, I'm ready for some light reading for a while. Isn't Don Quixote supposed to be a quick and easy read? Maybe I'll check that out next.

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
by Ray Bradbury
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.79
257 used & new from $4.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another gripping and rather haunting look at the future (or would that now be present?) from decades ago., February 20, 2014
I am calling Fahrenheit 451 part 2 of the Future Dystopian Trilogy that I'm currently reading. The first book being Orwell’s 1984 and the concluding volume (which incidentally I’m almost finished with) being Brave New World. As I’m reading all 3 of these books back to back, you can expect this review and the next to be ripe with comparisons between them. I’m sure countless other people have made these comparisons but I haven’t read their reviews, so alas you’re stuck with me giving opinions you may already have heard on a book that came out more than sixty years ago. I know, I’m excited too!

To start with, this book was much different than I had always envisioned in my mind. I’d read The Illustrated Man back in high school but remember almost nothing of it, so I didn’t have a feel for what Bradbury’s writing voice was like. Well, now I can say that it’s incredibly unique. He writes with a lot of ambiguities that at first seemed unnecessary and sort of irritating, but I later found compelling once I got used to his style. His writing is also full of metaphor, which in some passages I had to read more than once just to make sure it WAS metaphor. He doesn’t always bother with expressions like “it was as if...” This oddity with his prose was a little strange to get used to at first but like the rest of his writing, I ended up finding it compelling.

Fahrenheit 451 centers around a fireman, being a man who sets fires in this perverse backward world. There are no accidental fires in the future, since everyone’s homes are flame retardant, unless a fireman comes to burn it. What’s the reason they burn people’s homes, you may ask? I’m sure you already know the answer is books. In Orwell’s 1984, books are allowed but they are edited to the extreme, so the government has complete control of the content. In Fahrenheit, they are strictly forbidden and anyone caught with them gets their home (and in some cases themselves) burned. Guy Montague, the main character, enjoys this job until he meets a young woman that asks him a series of strange questions, sewing doubt into his head that will be stuck with him for the rest of the book. In 1984, Winston knows he’s oppressed all the while, but can do nothing about it. In Fahrenheit, the protagonist is just waking up. Guy begins to question the world around him, he sees that there is nothing of substance on the television his wife is always watching. He questions the plot and story of programs she’s hooked on, and listening to her try to explain makes her realize that not only is the content insipid, but she sort of is too. He realizes that what he does for a living might be wrong. He realized he’s unhappy in his marriage and that his wife, and so many others, are just sheep glued to televisions (or the equivalent in this, which are full wall screens.) He wants to read books and find out what he’s missing.

So what is this story trying to tell us? What is the message that Bradbury is getting at here? The theme would appear to be, and has been marketed as, government censorship. But besides the fact that so many critics seem to agree that this is what it’s about, Bradbury had said otherwise. This book is about the dangers of getting your information from television rather than books. Now can we also just say that it’s also about government censorship even though he says it’s not? Sure! I am. The fact that Bradbury unintentionally (so he claimed) wrote about a subject that happened to become more and more relevant as time went on only increases the value of this book. Bradbury just saw a device that many people had in their homes that could potentially turn them into intellectual sluggards. Well, he wasn’t wholly wrong. And now there is so much more than just TV in people’s homes feeding people more useless drivel than helpful information. Sure, I partake in those things, but I’m also an avid reader, so I’m in the clear... right? Well come to think of it, I do play a LOT of video games... I’m scared. As with 1984, the morals here are just as, if not more so, relevant today than they were when it was written. READ BOOKS! They’re good for your brain and whatnot.

One con about Fahrenheit 451, perhaps my only complaint: it’s too short! I’d love to read more about the little girl and know more about her story. I’d love to know more about why Beatty, Guy’s fireman boss, knows so much about books while simultaneously preaching against them. I wanted to see Guy burn more houses! FIRE... Well, perhaps that’s just the intellectual dullard in me talking. Otherwise, this is a great book. Sure it’s short, but it was written in a time when books didn’t have to be 500 pages. There is as much content in the 170+ pages as there is in most other books I’ve read. The story is fairly compelling, the writing is elegant, the message is good. Unlike 1984, Bradbury gives this message in a much more subtle way. He doesn’t spoon-feed anything to you. There’s nothing about this world that’s cut and dry. You get the feeling that there’s so much more you could learn, but this one story about Guy Montague will have to be enough. It may not be perfect, but I’d recommend this book to anybody. Procure a copy, read it and pass it on.

1984 (Signet Classics)
1984 (Signet Classics)
by George Orwell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.00
664 used & new from $3.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Big Brother is interested in Winston, and you will be too., February 9, 2014
I’d like to think of myself as a well read person, as in I read a lot. But can I really be well read if I’ve hardly read any “classic” literature outside of Lord of the Rings? I decided this year that I would pepper various books that could be considered classic literature into my reading plan. I want to read a lot of the books that every reader is presumed to have read, so when people ask me “did you read such and such?", I can say “why yes, I did read such and such.” If for no other reason, than to at least say that I’ve done it. I’ve started this new found reading goal with (you guessed it) George Orwell’s 1984.

I just finished the book and have had a few days to collect my thoughts about it and formulate an educated opinion. My opinion? It’s kind of depressing... But that’s fine! I like depressing (to an extent. This isn’t The Road or anything.) After all, this isn’t real life is it? Right? I mean, what happened to Winston isn’t really happening to us now is it? That question is not only what makes this book slightly depressing, but also a bit eye-opening as well. But enough of that kind of talk! Let’s get on to the book review.

Meet Winston, average every-man. Forty-something, divorced, tedious job, lives in a run down apartment. Except he’s not really average. Not in the society he lives in. A society in which everything you do is watched, every action and even thought, scrutinized. “Big Brother”, the only real thing that Wilson’s world has to an authoritarian/presidential type figure, is not really a person at all. Rather a presence personified in the form of a mustachioed man whose eyes follow Winston from posters, billboards and telescreens nearly everywhere in this dystopian version of London. Winston doesn’t like that Big Brother is always watching him. Winston knows he’s a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Somehow he’s always known. He’s not comfortable with the way people seem to ignore what’s going on around them. He wants to live in a society where people are free to think and do what they want and people don’t just disappear when they don’t fit in. Well, we’d love for Winston to break free of this oppressive society but the more we read on, the more we realize how bleak that outlook becomes.

Orwell wastes no time at the beginning of the book (actually throughout the entirety of it) making sure we know how his world works. There isn’t really much in the way of subtlety here. Through Winston’s eyes, we see children who turn their parents in for acting strangely. We see people rallying to telescreens daily for the “Two Minute Hate” in which people are forced to watch propaganda depicting Big Brother as the destroyer of all enemies. Nobody has privacy. Even in their own homes, people have screens that can see them. In fact, Winston has to hide in one little corner, a blind-spot of his telescreens, where he can write in his diary, something else people aren’t really allowed to do anymore, lest they write material that demotes the beloved Big Brother. Not that it matters what people write down, because the Thought Police will snag you simply based on treasonous thoughts you may have had, even in your sleep! Yup, this world is pretty bleak. It’s definitely not a future I’d want to live in. But, isn’t that the point of this book?

There are definitely comparisons that can be drawn to our present time, like the editing of facts and knowledge before it is released to the public. In 1984, this is done to the complete extreme, where ALL data that is printed, televised or otherwise is filed through a department called The Ministry of Truth, whose job it is to sculpt every fact to the Party’s liking, pertaining to the present and even the past. Did the Party invent the airplane? No, but that doesn’t matter because they say they did. Nobody will argue with them because these facts will be slowly taken away and changed until everyone forgets that there was once anything different. It is not that extreme in the present (at least in the United States, I can’t speak for all other countries) but we do have a government that can control what we watch on TV, what we see in movies and are working at controlling what we are allowed to see on the internet. And how about our privacy? There is definitely something creepy about the way that Orwell predicted this future before such things like cell phones and even computers were even invented. And I realize that it wasn't Orwell alone and that other great minds of the time had envisioned the way society could head. But specifically to predict the way surveillance is everywhere and our every communication could potentially be always monitored seems borderline prophetic. Of course George couldn’t have known that I’d be reading his book at a time when the NSA has admitted to reading millions of text messages every day, but that still doesn’t prevent the chills up my spine. Is there any text, phone call, email, search engine entry or chat message we can send that we can assure will only be read by the intended recipient?

Okay, I realize I’m getting a little heavy handed here and possibly off topic. Back to the book itself. As I said, Orwell’s writing may not be the most subtle. He throws some far-fetched ideas out there. I can’t believe that any government could ever truly go to the extremes that the Party does in 1984. But his writing is incredibly readable and for a “classic” it is instantly accessible. The setting here isn't just bleak because of what is happening, but because of how Winston is affected by it and how those emotions are described. We’re always in his head, so in a sense, we are oppressed by the same government. The only time in the book where I admit to being tempted to skim was when Winston gets a hold of some contraband literature that gives him in depth detail on the Party’s true history. Well not only does Winston read it, but YOU get to as well. An entire chapter of it (and a little bit of another chapter too.) This was interesting reading and provided a lot of insight into the world, but it was like reading a text book. I’ve never been too fond of information dumps in books and this seemed like a cheap way of unloading ideas and info about the world of 1984.

So, 1984 can be a little unbelievable in spots, and a little dense in others, but it’s still a very good book. I don’t regret reading it and the underlying message it sense will stick with me always. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see a security camera on the wall without having the words “Big Brother” appear somewhere in my mind. This will be one of those books I’ll want to acquire a second copy of, so I can always have one on my shelf and another to pass around from hand to hand. Quick, read it before the government finds out it’s too close to the truth!! *hides copy under the floorboards*

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastards)
The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastards)
by Scott Lynch
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from $5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Gentleman Bastards tackle their two newest enemies: politics and love., February 1, 2014
It’s hard to decide how to write a review for a book that I’ve waited five years for. Does anything that is anticipated for so long live up to expectations? Perhaps not. But while Republic of Thieves may not have been quite what what I’d prepared for it to be in my mind, it is a very enjoyable book and it shows that Scott Lynch has not lost his flair and the Gentleman Bastards are as bastard...ish as ever they were before. Now, let’s get to the bastardly details shall we? (This review will be as spoiler free as I can possibly make it.)

As you probably expected, this book picks up immediately after Red Seas. Which is a good thing, since that book ended in a horrible cliff hanger. So never fear, Lynch gets right to it and soon you’ll get to know what becomes of Locke. However, not before a prologue which takes place back in Shade’s Hill with Locke’s first Garrista, The Thief Maker. The prologue finally introduces us to the main reason all of us Gentleman Bastard fans have been eagerly anticipating this book: Sabetha. That’s right, in case you didn’t read anything about this book and didn’t glance at the jacket cover, Sabetha is in this book. In fact, she pretty much IS this book.

In true Lynch fashion, standard linearity is out the window. The book alternates chapter by chapter, back and forth between the present and the past. It is, however, more linear that Red Seas Under Red Skies was. That book was all over the place, but Republic of Thieves reads, for the most part, in two straight lines. In fact, it’s like reading two books at once. One story arc brings us back to the very enjoyable time of Locke's (and the other bastard's) childhood under the tutelage of Chains. This section fills in a lot of gaps during this time that we didn't get to read during book one, namely events involving Sabetha. We also get to read about Calo and Galdo again, which is great and bittersweet at the same time. We see how Locke and Sabetha first met, how they established their places in the gang.

The other story arc, naturally, involves Locke and Jean in the present. I will assume you’ve read the jacket cover and know at least that this plot thread involves the Bondsmagi. I think we all knew that this was the direction the story was heading in, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Locke being stuck with an incurable poison seems to me like a setup for them to head to Karthain. As usual, the two Bastards attract the attention of powers they don’t want, and as usual, what can they do about it? Drawn into a deal they can’t refuse, they soon find themselves becoming tools in a dangerous political game. What’s more, is they find out that their long absent fellow Bastard Sabetha is tied up in this political game as well. So we have Locke and Jean involved in several impossible situations at once. Business as usual right? Well, not quite...

The major difference between book 3 and the first two is that this one really is more of a thinking piece than it is an action piece. That’s not to say that there isn’t any action, but it’s more of a light touch compared to the blood baths that were the first two. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lynch hasn’t gone soft on us. It's not like Crossroads of Twilight (Book 10 of the Wheel of Time) where after each chapter you're thinking, "well I could keep reading, or I could just kill myself... I guess I'll keep reading." It’s still incredibly engrossing and I gobbled it up pretty fast for a man with as little free time as I have, (let’s just say a lot of video game time was sacrificed so I could find out what happens in this book.) Still, engrossed as I was, I found myself thinking numerous times throughout the novel, “okay, here is where it’s going to start getting messy!”, only to have things go a totally different direction than I thought. Also, not a bad thing. Lynch is not a one-trick-pony and he keeps me surprised quite often. But as fair warning for anyone about to read this book, know that the fun lies in the intrigue, the mysteries and the characterization. And the love. As we have a lot of catching up to find out what the hell made Locke so head-over-heals for this woman, a lot of the book really is a love story. In the past, we learn how their love formed, and in the present, we find out if their love can be reconciled. Emotion is the action here.

Speaking of such: Sabetha. Let’s talk a little more about her. Does she live up to the image I had of her in my mind? Well, I knew she was a thief, I knew she was a redhead and I knew that she was the unfettering object of Locke’s desire, and she definitely is all of those things. There was a small hint of disappointment once the veil was lifted and I learned more and more about her, but only because she became less of a mystery. She’s as flesh and bone as Locke and Jean and everyone else, has a back story, has faults, has strengths and yada-yada. One thing I’ll say about her though: she is just as clever conniving, if not more so, than Locke himself. In a sense they are at odds in this book and she’s the only character we’ve seen yet that can outmatch Locke for wits and trickery. So I say yes, she lives up to the hype.

Another great thing that kept me turning pages in this book is the world itself. Lynch has a great way of only lifting the curtain a little at a time when it comes to revealing the mysteries of his world, and in this book that is no different. However, what he does reveal is very intriguing. From some insights on the Bondsmagi and their theories on Eldren magic, to some major happenings in other parts of the world that are going to set the stage for some goings-on later in the series. Oh how I wish I could say more! *evil grin*

How do I rate any of these books with a system of five meager stars? Well it’s hard, but I will do what I must. Overall, this is a great book. It has everything the first two had except the one thing that left me feeling a tad unsatisfied by the end: the action. I wanted some blood, I wanted some death. Alas, the blood-thirsty child inside me will have to wait for the next installment. Overall, this is a setup book, a necessary cog in the wheel of Bastards. But a damned fine setup book at that. By the time the end rolls around and hits us with a couple surprises, we know we’re going to be in for a hell of a ride with the next four books. To Mr Lynch, all I can say is this... Bring on Thorn of Emberlain and please write faster than George R.R. Martin!

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9