When you read a lot of fantasy or speculative fiction in general, you quickly come to the conclusion that dead doesn’t really mean dead. Even when there’s a body. Even when limbs have been flung to far corners of the word and the head has been squashed like a grape. There is always a Horcrux or some idiot on a mad quest to collect the limbs. That’s the beauty of stories.
The Wyrd is ruled by ‘the story’. Therefore Ragnarok can’t really mean the end of the world because stories don’t end, they simply reach conclusions which can be altered by whatever happens next. But every story has recurring themes and Ragnarok is a beauty. I mean, what’s more compelling than an apocalypse? So when Lain (aka Loki, etc.) returns to Asgard to say ‘Hey’, it’s hardly surprising that his presence is just the kick off the end of times game needs to start rolling all over again. This is the bad news.
In Asgard, Lain’s welcoming committee is made up of Thor’s kids, humorously referred to throughout the book as the Thunderbrats and the Brat Pack. Despite the fact Thor was apparently an amazing husband and father, his kids are jerks. Except for his daughter. She’s actually pretty sweet, which is why she’s being married off to the dwarves in exchange for a set of magic gloves and belt which are needed to wield Thor’s hammer. Only Lain knows where the hammer is hidden. Consequently, he is captured, chained and tortured by Thor’s brats until he agrees to help them gather up their birthright.
Meanwhile, Sigmund is back in Australia settling into his new home, the apartment he’s sharing with Lain. His first visitor is Hel, who is sort of Lain’s daughter. I say ‘sort of’, because Lain is a lot of people and he’s related to a lot of people. She has a favour to ask and in doing so reveals the fact Lain has yet another wife and son causing trouble in Asgard. Hence, Sigmund finds himself inducted into his own quest, best friends and former Valkyries, Em and Wayne at his side.
While I really enjoyed Liesmith, I loved Stormbringer. I was already prepared for Franklin’s quirky style – which really suits the characters she writes – but also felt she’d toned it down a little. This book is easier to read and the story is much more linear. If Liesmith represents a bit of a learning curve, Stormbringer works with what you know.
What doesn’t change is the inventive blend of myth and reality, Lain’s awesome Loki-ness and Sigmund’s adorable cluelessness. He’s no warrior, but he loves Lain with a ferocity that gives him courage. Also, he’s a gamer, so he’s got the strategy part of every fight down and he has great friends he can rely on. The novel is peppered with extra stories that are relevant to Loki’s past and they’re fascinating. Cultural references abound, some of which will resonate more strongly with an Australian audience. There is also plenty of action and more than a few sweet moments, with one in particular having me all sniffly. I really do love books that touch all points of the emotional spectrum. Finally, the story has a great conclusion that wraps up this episode nicely without precluding further adventures. After all, dead isn’t really dead and even Ragnarok isn’t really the end of the world.
I’m looking forward to whatever is next, whenever Alis Franklin gets around to writing it.
I found Tover an unsympathetic hero and thought Cruz was under represented. I didn't 'feel' their romance. But I did like Tover's journey of self discI found Tover an unsympathetic hero and thought Cruz was under represented. I didn't 'feel' their romance. But I did like Tover's journey of self discovery, which might have had more impact if I had liked him more. The navigating stuff was pretty cool....more
Having finished The Warded Man only yesterday, I was eager to read anything set in Peter V. Brett’s world, particularly if it was an Arlen story. "Brayan’s Gold" fit the bill perfectly. Set during Arlen’s apprenticeship to Cob, "Brayan’s Gold" tells the tale of Arlen’s first encounter with a fabled snow demon.
Arlen has undertaken a few trips to the Duke’s mines but, since being rescued on the road at age twelve, he hasn’t travelled overnight, so he’s pretty excited. Fans of The Warded Man and ‘The Demon Cycle’ will smile fondly in reminiscence of the younger Arlen. When the scheduled run is postponed so they might take a shipment of thundersticks farther into the mountains to Brayan’s Gold, Arlen is fairly bursting with eagerness. Ten days on the road! The messenger he is to accompany is harder to convince, but enough gold to pay his bar tab and settle him into retirement proves to be the right price.
"Brayan’s Gold" being a novella, I don’t want to give any more of the story away. Suffice to say, it’s as a good a read, with plenty of action and adventure as well as another look at Arlen’s keen sense of justice. There might also be another encounter with One Arm, the rock demon he cripples in The Warded Man. As an introduction to ‘The Demon Cycle’, the novella works well. Arlen is an engaging hero. I enjoyed the chance revisit his character, seeing as he changes so much after his apprenticeship. "Brayan’s Gold" is the perfect episode to remind us just who Arlen is.
Each story in this volume is prefaced by an introduction. In introducing "The Great Bazaar", Brett explains how writing a novel is as much about what you leave out as what you put in. In a story spanning fourteen years, this is particularly important. Arlen, Leesha and Rojer’s journeys to adulthood are an important part of The Warded Man, but not every day, month or year needs to be accounted for. In skipping much of Arlen’s time as a messenger, Brett was better able to show the contrast of who he became. Still, those years were obviously filled with great stories and authors love nothing more than telling stories.
In The Warded Man, finding the lost city of Anoch Sun is a turning point for Arlen. "The Great Bazaar" is the story of how he got the map. Maybe. Abban has given Arlen the map to a deserted hamlet and a promise any pottery he finds there will bring a great price. Arlen does find the pottery but also a type of demon he has not encountered before. Upon his return to Krasia, Arlen takes Abban to task for this and he effects surprise that Arlen has never heard of this particular type of demon. In recompense, they agree on a new exchange: a book of wards for the demons plaguing the desert and a map of the location of the fabled city of Anoch Sun. Obtaining this book and map are not a matter of simple barter, however.
What makes this short novella worth the read is the opportunity to spend more time with Abban, the merchant Arlen befriends in Fort Krasia. The scenes from his point of view offer a unique insight to a culture that obviously fascinates the author as much as it does Arlen. There is also plenty of excitement. I flipped through the pages in less than an hour and immediately moved on to the other two stories included in this volume, which are both deleted scenes from The Warded Man. Brett’s notes detail the reasons they were cut and his excitement at finally being able to share them.
The Great Bazaar And Brayan’s Gold is rounded out by a Krasian Dictionary – useful in preparing the reader for the next book in ‘The Demon Cycle’, The Desert Spear – and an illustrated guide to many of the Wards.
While this collection of stories may serve as an introduction to ‘The Demon Cycle’, I do think they’ll be more appreciated by fans. For me, they bridge the gap nicely between the first and second books of the series, even if the stories are all set during the time period covered by The Warded Man. I hope Peter V. Brett is inspired to write more short adventures for Arlen and his companions.
At first, I wasn't sure I'd like this. The story starts out with a young protagonist, Arlen at age ten. The idea of reading his life didn't excite me.At first, I wasn't sure I'd like this. The story starts out with a young protagonist, Arlen at age ten. The idea of reading his life didn't excite me. I was looking for a 'grown up' novel. Then I got caught up by the soap opera of village life and met the other two main characters, Leesha and Rojer. By then, Arlen's future was in peril and I had to read on.
Despite the quick progression of years, the characters are 'grown up' at very young ages. Their days are hard and their nights are cruel. The demons stalking the land every night have just as devastating an effect during the day, imprisoning the populace with fear.
Engrossing, emotionally absorbing and, at times, more exciting than is healthy. :) And there's an impossible love affair. Oh, and there is a hint that this world didn't always exist in such a primitive state. Yep, I'll be reading on....more
Though it sometimes stretched the bounds of the believable, that's kinda why I really liked this book. It was ridiculous, from start to finish. It madThough it sometimes stretched the bounds of the believable, that's kinda why I really liked this book. It was ridiculous, from start to finish. It made me laugh. And Floyd was just such a good sport. ...more
A really interesting series, concept wise. No two books reads alike. Prosperity introduces the 'cast', and from there each story explores one of the cA really interesting series, concept wise. No two books reads alike. Prosperity introduces the 'cast', and from there each story explores one of the characters in more detail. There is romance in some stories, not in others. Two of the stories are collections of documents - one just letters, the other court transcripts and evidence. If I hadn't liked the world and AH's writing so much, I might not have been able to read all of it? As it was, I found the entire series sort of fascinating.
Then there are the love stories, which are in books 2, 4 & 5. Very nicely done.
The steampunk world both is and isn't a pervasive element. It's a fascinating world, but not so out there you can't imagine it. And AH doesn't rely on the world to be more interesting than the stories. It's not a gimmick. It's a setting that's obviously well thought out and kinda awesome to boot.
What I liked best about the series was the writing. Man, AH can write. Sorta makes me want to go whimper in a corner for a while. ;)...more