UPDATE: I've just reread this book so I've updated my review, which you can find at the end of my little lovenote here. :)
Why Read The Malazan Book ofUPDATE: I've just reread this book so I've updated my review, which you can find at the end of my little lovenote here. :)
Why Read The Malazan Book of the Fallen, or A Love Note to Steven Erikson (Okay, not really the latter)
If you've even attempted to read Gardens of the Moon, the first book in the 10 book epic that is the Malazan Book of the Fallen, you'll see very quickly that you're not given much as a reader. It's confusing, it's complicated, it's full of mysteries and myriad of characters and magics that you can easily become overwhelmed. Not to mention, Gardens of the Moon isn't nearly as well-written as the rest of the series.
Not the most ringing endorsement so far, but we're getting there.
The Malazan Book of the Fallen series is easily the most epic series I've ever read. The history is mysterious (and murderous) and vast, the races are plentiful and old, and the magic is as powerful as it gets.
How many times do you pick up a book that sounds epic, but you start to read and it really isn't? This happens to me all the time. Because of a drawback of the medium, there can only really be a focus on so many characters. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it takes away from the epic-ness. The consequences of a few characters may have far-reaching effects and the history and world may even be vast, but there's still no denying that the scope is limited. It can't really be anything else.
Steven Erikson does something that has yet to be seen in epic fantasy. He has created the standard for what is truly epic. I'll not deny that his characters suffer somewhat from this, many seeming to be essentially the same, but he has truly created a world that is so vast and detailed you won't care.
This is also part of the genius. The characters don't even know what's going on, who's killing whom or why. They rarely even know who's actually in charge. And Erikson puts you right there with them. In addition, they're the ones narrating the story, which means you really have no idea who to trust. This is yet another aspect of his genius because as humans, we tend to want things to go our way, to see things our way, even to tell stories that go our way. Many characters are humble enough to see their shortcomings, but the story is told from very human people... well, and gods.
And like George R.R. Martin, Erikson has no problem killing off main characters. It IS the book of the fallen after all.
Another reason to read this series is what I call the Superman phenomenon. Erikson creates characters who have it all when it comes to magic or military prowess or swordsmanship or you name it. They are all-powerful and when they clash it will blow your mind.
At the same time, he creates tragedy filled with pathos that at one point had me devastated for weeks. This is not a bad thing, not only is it good for the soul, it's powerful writing that evokes emotions in you so strong you feel like you've lost a friend when all you did was finish a book. This makes me wonder how he can possibly be accused of having thin characters when he made me feel like that about them.
Finally, and fittingly, Erikson has written simply the best endings I've ever read. Any bit of confusion, and believe me there's quite a bit in every book of the series, is rewarded ten-fold with an ending that you will never forget.
For most books, you may get a hundred pages as you climax after 500 pages worth of build-up. Erikson gives you at least 200 and in some books even more than this. The Crippled God , the final book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, starts a part of the climax with 400 pages to go in the trade paperback.
Simply put, read this series. When you're 400 pages in and you still have no clue what's going on, it's okay, I've been there too. It will be worth it, keep pushing on. How many authors really trust you, the reader, to put things together on your own? Have you felt how rewarding that is, have you even been given the chance? Now's your chance.
As Logan Ninefingers always says (or rather, his father), “Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it."
---------------------- Updated Review:
There are few books you put down and immediately want to reread. Gardens of the Moon is one of those books for two reasons. One, it's that good. Two, it's that confusing.
On a reread I already know I missed a lot the first time, but I quickly realized I missed SOOOO much that first time and most of it is because I wasn't used to having to use my brain as much. I was constantly amazed at how much foreshadowing is in this first book. So much is mentioned from the origins of the T'lan Imass and Tiste Andii to the Jaghut and even a little about the Forkrul Assail.
And the epigraphs made sense! They ACTUALLY made sense! I always thought they might, but they are tell quite a bit in fact. Some I was amazed actually give away events in the following chapter, but you have no idea when you first read it. You wily bastard, Erikson!
Hand in hand with the foreshadowing I'm amazed at the level of detail in this book, there's hardly a sentence without extra meanings behind it. But the problem is - you just don't know who to trust when you're going through this on your first time and it's so hard to catch it when so much is revealed in such an offhand manner.
I still remember being so confused the first time and then figuring something out. That's what sold me on the series and why I still consider it one of the best, if not the best out there. A second reading sealed the deal.
Having said that I also saw a lot of why people say it's the least well-written of the series. It's well done, leaps and bounds ahead of most I think, but it can be inconsistent. For most of the series it's told in third person limited, and while that seems to have been attempted for most of this book, there were instances where it drifts to omniscient within a section. The pacing is also a bit off, but that's not really any different from the rest either.
Despite that, I stick with what I said above. :) These complaints are drops in the bucket compared to this vast, epic tale filled with history and magic and plans within plans.
At the moment, The Malazan Book of the Fallen is my all-time favorite series. This may or may not change when George finishes his series (in 2113, zing!), but I have a hard time right now seeing how it will be possible to top. Yes, there's a similar level of detail and even camaraderie you feel with some of the characters, but how do you top this kind of epic? I don't think there's a better feeling in reading than figuring something out that the author withheld, that's what sold me on my first read and what continues to make this my favorite.
5 out of 5 Stars (Not even a second thought)
Note: I also highly recommend reading this with a group, or just checking out the discussions from the group read I've been participating in. Being able to toss around ideas and theories is priceless and having people to explain some of it is also very helpful....more
Amazing book. I have never read or watched anything that has made me respect, admire, love, appreciate, etc all those who serve in the military as mucAmazing book. I have never read or watched anything that has made me respect, admire, love, appreciate, etc all those who serve in the military as much as this book has....more
This short story, by the author of the excellent Prince of Thorns and Red Queen's War trilogies, was a powerful story. I was up late already and couldThis short story, by the author of the excellent Prince of Thorns and Red Queen's War trilogies, was a powerful story. I was up late already and could not put it down once I started - talk about creepy. I will say no more for fear of ruining it. (5/5)...more
I actually helped beta read for this short story, though my notes and commentary I'm sure was less than useless. In my defense, at the stage I was "brI actually helped beta read for this short story, though my notes and commentary I'm sure was less than useless. In my defense, at the stage I was "brought in" (read *volunteered on Twitter*), it was pretty much finalized.
And maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like a genuine fan's reaction to a book, with reveals and introductions of characters you already know and love, would be valuable. To the ego at least if not in the narrative itself.
Murder at the Kinnen Hotel is one of the series of prequel novellas that Brian McClellan has been releasing set in his Powder Mage universe. It's a great mystery with Adamat as the primary character and some others we know and love pop in as well.
I don't want to say too much, it's not long, but it's worth the price of admission. Highly recommended....more
This book got our TWINS to sleep through the night at 2 months old without making them cry it out. Love this book because it gave us sleep, need I sayThis book got our TWINS to sleep through the night at 2 months old without making them cry it out. Love this book because it gave us sleep, need I say more?...more
Very impressed with how good this was. I count myself in the party that there shouldn't have been anything past Ender's Game (like The Matrix and mostVery impressed with how good this was. I count myself in the party that there shouldn't have been anything past Ender's Game (like The Matrix and most any sequels Hollywood makes nowadays), but I have to admit this was great.
As a parallel novel to Orson Scott Card's classic Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow follows Bean, the kid Ender treats like the teachers treated him.
While hesitant to pick this up, I had heard that the Shadow series is better than the original quartet, but I couldn't get away from the feeling that it would pretty much be the same book. I'm glad I was wrong.
The first quarter or so of the book takes us from Beans upbringing in the slums of Rotterdam as he barely survives on the streets through the child gangs and bullying to his discovery and entry into Battle School.
Already, Ender's Shadow is completely different from Ender's Game. Bean has obviously survived because of his immense intelligence, which not only rivals Ender's, but far surpasses it. The only problem is there is one other person on the streets who happens to have it out for Bean because of what Bean's done to him. Achilles (pronounced Asheel) holds grudges like no one else, but also knows how to work the system, especially adults.
Card is a master storyteller, even turning what is essentially the same story in Ender's Game into something new and unique. Characterization is flawless and while Bean is a super-intelligent kid, he is in every way relatable to the reader. Let's be honest, kids can be brutal and Card understands this perfectly.
Bean is able to out-think everyone at flight school from the kid commanders to the teachers and officers. He knows what will get him in trouble whether it's bullies or teachers, but he also knows most everything else that is going on in Battle School even those things the teachers don't want him to know. Those things that make him a risk and have the teachers wondering whether he belongs.
There is a full cast for this one and Scott Brick, playing Bean, does an amazing job. In fact there's not one bad performance and even the great Stefan Rudnicki plays a minor role (Worth it just to listen to him).
At the end of the book, Card gives an afterword that mainly discusses the movie Ender's Game that he says will be a combination of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. This wasn't the original decision, but actually helped to cut down the script being able to play from both point of views.
Card also mentions that once someone writes a book everyone starts asking when it's going to be made into a movie, to which he replies, it's already in it's perfect form, it's a book. Too true!
Sadly, this movie will probably never come to pass - I don't know how long these talks have been going on, but it's been a while. [EDIT: Obviously this was written a couple years ago because it's definitely going to be a film]
Why Should You Read Ender's Shadow?
This is a great follow up (or beginning) to the classic, Ender's Game. It puts you right into the setting and mind of the main character and everything becomes real. Coupled with Card's writing, you can't go wrong - this is a great book. Highly Recommended.
I've always considered myself a Neil Gaiman fan, but then I realized how can that be? Yes, I watched the movie Stardust and I DID read Good Omens...buI've always considered myself a Neil Gaiman fan, but then I realized how can that be? Yes, I watched the movie Stardust and I DID read Good Omens...but wait. I never actually read a book solely by Neil Gaiman.
What kind of fan does that make me? A terrible one (if you were wondering about the answer).
But now, all that's changed...kinda. I'm still a crappy fan, but a fan nonetheless, one who's actually read a book solely written by the author. This will also not be the last. I loved Stardust.
The best way to describe this book is that it's a modern day fairy tale. It's lyrical, it's magical... whimsical would also work here. And the modern day part is evidenced in that Gaiman doesn't shy away from sex and one hilarious use of profanity.
Niel Gaiman is a master.
I can't help but compare the book to the movie. I watched the movie first, so I was constantly comparing throughout, catching the subtle and brilliant uses of foreshadowing.
I know plenty of people hated the movie after reading the book, but having been sullied prior to my reading, I thought the movie did a great job capturing the atmosphere and humor of the book. Obviously there are some changes, especially with the ending, but overall the movie stays true to the book.
This is a movie I can watch over and over and over again...to my wife's constant chagrin (she's not a big fantasy fan).
Why Read Stardust?
If you watched the movie and loved it, this will only heighten your enjoyment. It's a quick read and a masterpiece. The movie captures the book impeccably, but it is still well worth your time to read.
If someone were to describe this book to me (if they even could), I don't know if I would believe how much I absolutely enjoyed it. Dan Simmons is a mIf someone were to describe this book to me (if they even could), I don't know if I would believe how much I absolutely enjoyed it. Dan Simmons is a mad genius.
Shakespeare-quoting humanoid robots, Greek Gods, post-humans, and old-style humans somehow make the craziest awesome story imaginable.
Ilium is a story told through essentially three unrelated viewpoints. First, there's Hockenberry. This is told in first person. Hockenberry is called a "Scholic," a human from our the 20th century (our time) who was rebirthed in a future where Homer's Trojan War is being fought. His job is to report on the war ... to the Greek Gods.
At first, this is completely confusing. Why? is a question I asked myself over and over, but it begins to make sense with time. Plus, it's hard not to be fascinated with the events of the Iliad. It's also impressive how much research went into it, though that's only an assumption since my knowledge of the Trojan War is essentially from the movie, Troy (but I have read the Odyssey!).
The second viewpoint is the humans, mainly Daemon. Daemon is a self-involved fool who is unlikeable to say the least. But who wouldn't be when you have everything handed to you on a silver platter by robots called servitors (sp - I did listen to the audio so forgive me), like all humans everywhere. Pleasure is their life, knowledge ... is lacking.
The third viewpoint is that of a sonnet-loving humanoid robot called a "moravec" and named Mahnmut. Specifically, and only, Shakespeare's sonnets. It's work consists of exploring the moon of Jupiter called Europa. Mahnmut is called in on a mission with a group of moravecs to explore some occurrences on the planet mars.
At first, I was highly entertained, though confused, with the events of the Trojan war and the other parts were just above boring. Slowly, the story takes hold and it had me hook, line, and sinker.
Listening to the audiobook, I was looking forward to my morning and evening drives and not too sad to do errands on my lunch hour either. Somehow, it ALL makes sense even though it sounds like the oddest collection of classics to make up a cohesive story all its own. What does Shakespeare have to do with the Iliad or Proust (his work makes appearances too) for that matter, all set in the future with technology that gives humans everything they ever want or need?
It's crazy I tell ya. Crazy! How did I like this book this much? I'm telling you, Simmons is a mad genius. I will just sit back and let him take me on his journey. It's amazing. I question not.
Kevin Pariseau is the narrator of this audiobook and while at first I thought he over-acted the part of Hockenberry, though somehow not the other parts, I really grew to like him and found out that it was literally just the character of Hockenberry that he was playing. And it's impressive given how many Greek words and names he's got to ...erm... name.
The only problem is that Ilium is only half the story. It stops at a huge cliffhanger and I'm already heading to Olympos to see how this ends.
It was a great time getting back into the Westeros universe. I forgot how much I missed it. Great knight adventure, unexpected twists, and I was dyingIt was a great time getting back into the Westeros universe. I forgot how much I missed it. Great knight adventure, unexpected twists, and I was dying for the contest to start. Was Dunk a great knight? The contest told it all....more
I'll get straight to the point on this, read it, read it now. The Last Unicorn (1968) is a classic and not without reason.
The third-person narrative cI'll get straight to the point on this, read it, read it now. The Last Unicorn (1968) is a classic and not without reason.
The third-person narrative centers on a unicorn who, believing she is the last of her kind in the world, sets off on a journey to discover what has happened to the others. She encounters a host of diverse characters as her journey progresses, each of them bringing her closer to her goal. (Wikipedia)
I thought I'd do this review a bit different than my normal routine and just list the reasons for reading it. I don't have any grand delusions of thinking that I can actually do the book justice. :)
Why You Should Read The Last Unicorn...
-The prose flows beautifully, keeping the plot moving and your imagination enriched.
-Along the same vein, the metaphors used are amazing and perfectly describe the situation giving it that quality that stays with you.
-This is not your typical journey tale.
-The characters are magical and can be hilarious at times, especially Schmendrick the Magician and Molly Grue.
-Ever want to live in a fairy tale for at least a few minutes. The Last Unicorn immerses you in a world of unicorns, harpies, witches, and magic.
-This is a story of hope or maybe more accurately of no hope. I once heard that if you don't just accept that life sucks you're not an optimist, you're an idiot. One theme in The Last Unicorn reminded me exactly of this quote that I think is ridiculous. Life will throw things at you all the time no matter what you do. If you don't learn to enjoy life through those hard times you'll always be miserable. This is exactly the mistake that is commented upon in The Last Unicorn.
-It's only 294 pages with large font. You can hammer that out in a few hours right?
-Did I mention The Last Unicorn is a classic?
-If you don't like cats, The Last Unicorn has the answer for you: ...there is no such thing as a cat-it is just a shape that all manner of imps, hobs, and devilkins like to put on, to gain easy entrance into the homes of men...
-If you don't read The Last Unicorn, the red bull will come get you.
Why You Shouldn't Read The Last Unicorn...
-I do have to warn that there are plenty of poems and songs interspersed throughout. I know lots of people get turned off by that sort of thing, but I thought it only added to the fairy tale atmosphere. But again, I realize that's not for everyone.
-I guess if you're not a true fantasy fan (tsk tsk)...do you really want me to go there? Did I mention everybody's doing it? Peer pressure usually works on me. ...more