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Shadows Linger: A Novel of the Black Company (The Second Chronicle of The Black Company)
Shadows Linger: A Novel of the Black Company (The Second Chronicle of The Black Company)
by Glen Cook
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
45 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Problems, December 31, 2007
Everyone has a problem:
* The Black Company feels it is stuck in a never-ending campaign to root out the last traces of a vanquished foe.
* The city-state of Juniper is watching (yet trying to ignore) a mysterious, otherworldly, and sinister castle build itself on a hill overlooking their town, and bodies of the dead (and sometimes not-so-dead) are disappearing from the slums without any trace as to where they are going.
* Raven, one-time member of the Black Company, is trying to get as far as possible from a continent-spanning empire which would stop at nothing to capture him, if only it knew where he was and who he was protecting.
* Marrion Shed is in hock up to his eyeballs, and about to lose the one thing that matters most to him.

They are all desperate men doing desperate things in a struggle to stay alive. All of them will end up enmeshed in a struggle for survival as dark magics swirl and plots thicken.

Once again the Black Company finds itself in the middle of things. This is the 2nd book in the series and should not be read out of order. Cook is an excellent writer with a very sparse style: you learn much more by action rather than be exposition. His works are always gritty with murky moral quandaries and clever dialog: this book is certainly no exception.

Highly recommended.

Future Indefinite: Round Three of the Great Game
Future Indefinite: Round Three of the Great Game
by Dave Duncan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
37 used & new from $0.01

1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mocking the Belief of Millions, October 11, 2004
This is the book that made me swear off Dave Duncan forever.

The first book, while slow from time to time, held a great deal of promise, and I was looking forward to seeing the interaction between those of our world, those of Nextdoor, and those from other worlds which were said to also connect to Nextdoor -- only that never happened.

Instead of being given a rousing, epic tale of power, sacrifice, and triumph, we're given an unabashed and cynical debasement of Christ's procession and death. I kept thinking, as I was reading it, that he would sort of richochet away from it: that he would only touch on the matter briefly and move on. But he didn't. He mocked it, and millions of believers, right through to the final paragraphs. I was stunned, and I was appalled.

I have read a great many books from Dave Duncan, and thought him a reasonably good writer, but I will not be buying another book from this author.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2013 7:18 PM PDT

Wheel of Time
Wheel of Time
12 used & new from $15.00

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Try, But No Dice, November 10, 2003
This review is from: Wheel of Time (Video Game)
"Wheel of Time" by Atari is based off of Robert Jordan's ongoing (interminable) series by the same name. It is a FPS with both Single Player and Multiplayer modes.
As far as its actual graphics goes, they are pretty good for the time . Sound, also, was done reasonably well.
However, gameplay was horrible. While the missions themselves did make some vague amount of sense, the devil is in the details, and this is just one of the places the game failed. There were many instances where I was able to trick the computerized enemies (MOBs) into standing in places where I could hit it at my leisure and it would just stand there and take it. I also was able to use certain spells through walls when it made no sense for it to do so.
Another problem was the control system. Movement worked fine, and I never found myself stuck anywhere. But the selection of items (all "spells" in the game are derived from items which you collect and in some cases use up) for use, particularly in combat, is problematic to say the least.
The plot is in many cases highly dubious if one knows much about the series it is based from. In fact, it borders on absurd. Also, I found the ending to be highly anti-climatic, to say the least.
In all, this is a game that tried hard to be something great, but fell far short. Like the author of the series, it appears that SquareSoft bit off more than they could chew.

by Patricia A. McKillip
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.88
139 used & new from $0.01

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peerless Prose and a Great Story, August 21, 2001
This review is from: Riddle-Master (Paperback)
Patricia McKillip writes the best prose in fantasy, better even than Tolkien. Her sentences are like glittering jewels that sparkle and enchant with their beauty. Happily, the story itself is not dimmed by the splendor of the author's words.
The story is of Morgan, Prince of Hed, whose life has been marked by Mystery in the form of three stars upon his brow. What these stars mean, both to him and his world, is the main plot of the story and the answer to this mystery is satisfyingly astonishing and impressive.
Riddles and magic, ancient kings and timeless wisdom, powers of wind and earth, fire and sea, each portrayed with wonder and elegance are encountered by Morgan on his journey. Most importantly, the reader is never entirely sure how things will turn out until the very end -- in fact, we are rarely sure how things *are* until the very end. It is when you re-read the story that you really appreciate how deft she was weaving the threads of her story into the wonderful tapestry that is the Riddle of the Stars -- The Riddle-master Trilogy.

by Frank Herbert
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
205 used & new from $1.75

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Greatness of Vision Seldom Matched, June 20, 2001
This review is from: Dune (Mass Market Paperback)
Occasionally a person attains a moment of great clarity of vision and thought; much more rarely, this vision can be communicated to others. 'Dune' is such a vision clearly seen and expertly told.
As with most epics, 'Dune' can be appreciated on many levels. It is a story about the rite of passage of Paul Atreides from boy to man. It is a tale of the end of an age-old feud between two major Houses. It contains morals and warnings, politics and religion, loyalty and betrayal, and all of the things which have become the staple of truly great Science Fiction.
But the one thing that makes this book stand out is its clarity. Herbert had a story to tell, one he fully grasped, and he told it without extraneous details, without excessive dialog or inane side-plots. He revealed the secrets of Dune in a deliberate, timely manner, making every word count.
There are few works in Science Fiction that come close to what Herbert has written here. If you want to see the best of what Science Fiction has to offer, read this book.

Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham
Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.99
121 used & new from $0.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusement, Inspiration, and More, May 28, 2001
This book contains two complete stories, each of which illustrate a fundamental aspect of all good fantasy: to inspire and entertain.
'Farmer Giles of Ham' is a fanciful story of a farmer who, through no fault of his own, is embroiled in a series of Adventures. It is a story of wit, humor, and wry commentary that any lover of 'The Hobbit' will appreciate and enjoy.
'The Smith of Wootton Major' is about many things. It is about the love of Beauty, of those things both higher and deeper than ourselves. It is about humility, honor, and, in the end, courage, sacrifice, and loss. It is about loving something so much that you let it go. It is a simply told story -- an autobiography -- yet no less deep and moving for its simplicity.
Some may wonder that two such different stories were bound together in the same spine, but each of these stories represents a necessary part of Fantasy and together they brilliantly illustrate why fantasy is a necessary and proper part of human existance.

Blade of Tyshalle
Blade of Tyshalle
by Matthew Woodring Stover
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $26.83

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Fantasy, May 17, 2001
This review is from: Blade of Tyshalle (Paperback)
Make no mistake, this is a harsh, relentless book; it is a story full of sharp edges and barbed points that grab and cut and wont let you go. It is an excellent book.
There is no point in trying to describe the plot: it is just too convoluted. It would be like trying to describe the Lord of the Rings as an adventure story. What can be said about it is that it is dark and grim and often gory. It depicts Man's most base instincts and also some of his most noble. It is an intelligent work, written by a man well aware of human nature as well as human aspirations.
Stover doesn't pull punches. There is death in this book: lots of it. There is pain and sadistic brutality. But against this bleak backdrop are acts of heroism in the face of hopelessness.
Buy this book if you like gritty fantasies. Buy it if you like wit and intelligence. Buy it if you don't mind hard language and gruesome, sometimes disgusting scenes.
Finally, as others have noted, this book should be read after reading 'Heroes Die'. Only after reading the first book can this one be fully appreciated.

Dragons of Summer Flame (Dragonlance Chronicles, Volume 4)
Dragons of Summer Flame (Dragonlance Chronicles, Volume 4)
by Margaret Weis
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
106 used & new from $0.01

48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Bad End to a Great Series, February 25, 2001
Once upon a time, there was a great trilogy of books called the Dragonlance Chronicles. They were a bit simplistic, it is true, but they were a great deal of fun to read and the characters were all particularly captivating. In spite of its flaws, I came to love both DL Chronicles and Legends.
Dragons of Summer Flame (DoSF) is *not* a book that compares well to the rest of the Chronicles. Weis and Hickman start killing main characters from previous books in the Dragonlance universe right off the bat and they continue throughout the book, progressing from relatively minor characters to major ones. Nor are they content to stop there, but in the end alter the fundamental fabric of Krynn, turning it into an early edition of Earth.
The Plot is also weak, with a rather flat and predictable villian, with Paladine and Takhsis acting like scared children instead of major gods, with Raistlin brought back for a cameo role when his death was so well done -- it undid all the closure of the end of DL Legends.
I have often wondered at the reasons behind the way DoSF was written, and my conclusion is that Weis and Hickman were impelled by contract obligations to 'usher in the 5th Age' so that TSR could sell a bunch of new products. I believe they resented it and the story they wrote reflected that fact. I simply cannot believe they wrote such a horrid story by accident.
Unless you have a desire to read books about the Fifth Age of Krynn, I do not recommend this book. Stop after Chronicles and Legends. Do yourself a favor and avoid the pain of this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2012 3:59 AM PDT

The Map of Tolkien's Middle-earth
The Map of Tolkien's Middle-earth
by Brian Sibley
Edition: Paperback
36 used & new from $1.27

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Map, January 26, 2001
This is a review of the map itself, not of the pamphlet that comes with it.
The map is clear, correct, and large enough to make out place-names that are almost illegible if you look at the maps in the paperback editions of Tolkien's works. The pictures are also excellent, but there is one flaw which has caused me not to give the map five stars: the paintings of Minas Tirith and various Good Guys are on the East side (right side) of the map while the pictures of Barad Dur, the Nazgul, and assorted other Bad Guys are on the West side (left side) of the map. Now, the problem with this is that the West contains the lands of the Good Guys and the East contains the lands of the Bad guys. It seems to me that these pictures should have been flipped so as to more accurately represent the political realities of Middle-earth.

The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth: From the Hobbit to the Silmarillion
The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth: From the Hobbit to the Silmarillion
by Robert Foster
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
36 used & new from $0.01

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Tolkien Guide Around, January 26, 2001
This Guide contains the two things most necessary for any serious study of Tolkien's works: clarity and correctness. Foster clearly did a lot of homework when creating this Guide, because it covers all the Ages of Middle-earth and so can be used both by those who have only read 'The Hobbit' as readily as those who, like myself, own and have read almost everything Tolkien has ever written.
When I need to know some fact about Middle-earth and don't feel like hauling out the appropriate book, I turn to Foster's Guide -- you should, too.

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