I've been holding this book in my hands in the bookstore over and over again through the last few months. It kept catching my interest with the blurb, but I hadn't really heard much about it. Well, when the whole trilogy was out in paperback I finally went ahead and picked them up (so the other two book reviews should be coming as well).
Well, I am very glad I bought this series. You can wait until the trilogy of reviews is complete to see how it all comes together for me, but at this point- after book one- I feel like I've discovered another George Martin for myself.
I realize this is a big comparison, but I really felt the same as when I first read 'A Game of Thrones'. The world did seem like it was a bit more focuses than Martin's, so there are a few less players on the board than in the other, which would probably be better since this is a trilogy and not a never-ending series.
I make the comparison because of a few big things that I love though: Interesting characters that seem real... there are no clear lines between good and bad, even though you could categorize them for the most part if you wanted, the line is hazy there. A hard world... with winter rolling in and being up north it definitely doesn't hurt the comparison, but life in the world seems very rough as well. Not to mention the 'godless world' aspect, here the gods have actually abandoned the world to it's inhabitants to fend for themselves. Politics... like I said before, even though the board seems smaller because of less pieces you still get plenty of political games between the various kings (or thanes as they are called). And last the pacing... it didn't feel like a book set up to follow an arc. It felt like you got inserted into the world at a decent starting point and then things just kinda move along like they would in life.
The story focuses mainly on "The Black Road", which are the exiled "True Bloods" living in the northern wastes; as they move south to attack and try to take back lands they were driven from long ago. From this you get to see how the races of the world: Huanin (humans), Krynan (a race that come across as almost native american in style, but with a more foreign appearance) and na'krym (half-breeds of the two races) interact with each other. You also get introduced to what are the main characters for this book as the Black Road attacks cities and forces characters to rise to the top or die and as the Thane of Thanes in the south works politics to decide how to deal with the attack. From my review the story might sound a bit politics heavy even, but I felt like the characters and war was the main storyline and the politics just a backdrop to what was happening in the world.
For those that like Magic-light stories, you will be pleased with how it is handled in this world. Only the na'krym half-breeds have any abilities with "magic" and due to their past actions they are outcast and rare because they are seen as dangerous meddlers. They refer to magic here as 'The Shared' and it almost has a connected quality to it where you can sense what is happening throughout 'the shared' because it is such a small community of practitioners. Magic here is more like special abilities that vary from na'krym to na'krym. One of the main characters in the story that uses magic simply has the ability to get a good 'read' on people and tell if they are hiding things, lying, etc. Another can use his voice to influence people and get them to do things he suggests. So magic has a very rare and mysterious quality to it that fit perfectly into this world.
About the only complaint I could have about this are all the names flying around. Other than the main characters I got a bit confuses when some of the secondary ones popped up, especially 'true bloods' with their similar formal name structures. But usually once they started interacting with others or their cities I put it together as the chapter moved on. There are also various names for the same thing, like the "Black Road" refers to the exiles northern True Bloods- which also have formal names like the nobles down south, which also have a group within them referred to as children of the Hundred (which the preface sets up where this comes from) and also they are called Inkallim. So it took me about half the book to get the hang of some of this and I would still get thrown a bit by the formal names of Thanes from time to time. But the book does have a section at the front that lists all the characters and who/what they are. Plus I am not the best at names in the real world, so that probably doesn't help me with something like this.
One thing that stood out to me as a big positive was the author's way of explaining everything. From battle scenes to just the laying out the opening of a chapter and it's scenery I felt like everything was explained perfectly to allow me to build a mental picture in my head and not have to pause on wasted description of too much detail or to figure it out because of not enough detail. This could have been something personal about how I picture scenes as I read, but I don't think I've ever read an author that matched up so perfectly to my mind in this area.
Some might find this type of fantasy story a bit slow, but I found every aspect interesting from huge battles to history to politics to mundane. I don't understand how this book isn't as hugely popular as a series like Martin's myself. I think any fan of his work, or Jordan, Rothfuss or Sanderson would love this story. I'd highly recommend any fan of those authors to at least check this book out and see if it fits for you. The whole trilogy is available now in paperback....more
The book follows one character, Soren, through a pivotal slice of his life as he is plucked off the streets by a noblemFrom my blog @ Reading Realms:
The book follows one character, Soren, through a pivotal slice of his life as he is plucked off the streets by a nobleman hoping to pull a diamond out of the rough. Though the book is in third person, for the most part, you experience the world from Soren out, with Hamilton's world growing as Soren becomes more worldly. This writing style offered readers the experience you can get from reading urban fantasy, but with a more classic fantasy feel. It fit well with the fast paced tale. We follow Soren from the streets, into the academy where he begins to learn swordsmanship, and then into a variety of adventures of ups and downs.
Soren's story in this first volume takes years to play out, so the pace stays brisk covering both major moments and character growth well. Where a story might normally take chapters, if not a whole book, to play out a battle or small war, The Tattered Banner often takes you directly to the heart of the matter, instead, finding it's suspense elsewhere. This works well to keep the reader on his or her toes, breaking up the usual manner a story flows and offering small surprises as one adventure wraps and another begins. It is not in the battles, the schooling, or other unique moments of his life that the plot is built on, but instead of the schemes going on behind the scenes that Soren is often oblivious to at his young age. It's not a great mystery to the reader, as I would suspect most would put together what is happening far before Soren's revelation. There is a certain knowing sadness as you watch Soren used as little more than a tool without realizing it until it's too late.
Soren, although physically powerful as he grows into his role, is a flawed young man. His decisions are almost always understandable given his lack of experience with the world and his own concerns. You feel a bond with the character that books told in first person narrative offer, without having to be told every single thought running through his mind, allowing you to figure that out simply because you know and understand the character.
As for the world the story is set in, it slowly grows with the character. Initially you know only the city, or even just a piece of the city and learn more about the neighboring kingdoms and conflicts as the story moves along. Magic is rare in the book, outright outlawed in the city of Ostenheim where much of the story takes place. Soren, however, possesses something called the Gift, an ability he barely understands even by the end of the book. This Gift is something that the swordsmen who used to work for the now-extinct mages generations ago possessed, giving them greater strength and speed when needed, but at a cost. Much like the hints you get of the world outside of Soren's knowledge, the history of magic and his abilities will probably continue to develop as the saga unfolds, but offers you a glimpse that there is a much more fleshed out world beyond what Soren knows and the reader initially sees.
As you begin to reach the end of this first volume, it hardly seems like there is enough book left to give you everything you want. Much of the bigger pieces of the plot and world will, of course, play out in future volumes, but Hamilton's jumps from one moment to the next offer much more story than the last handful of pages would make it seem. The tone the book ends on my be surprising compared to what we often see at the end of a first book, but it definitely leaves the reader hungry for more, while wrapping up an era of Soren's life. I look forward to the next volume and hope that Hamilton's story-telling style continues into the future of his Society of the Sword saga. ...more
I love a good zombie book and this was definitely one of the good ones. A little different than some zombie books in that it was more about a group ofI love a good zombie book and this was definitely one of the good ones. A little different than some zombie books in that it was more about a group of reporters (blogging type) that are following a presidential campaign and uncovering government cover-ups. It just happens to take place in a world that has had to live with zombies as a part of life for the last few decades. As someone that not only loves zombie books, but also loves digging around the internet attempting to sift news out of all the crap out there I really got into every aspect of this book: The career portion of the characters as much as the zombie world.
The author Mira Grant does a good job of fleshing out the details of her particular style of zombie-ness (you know, making her version of common supernatural monsters like all writers of zombie, vampire, etc. books have to do) I liked the fact that much of the suspense comes from work they are doing and not just from the zombies. I was happy though with Ms. Grant's version of zombie and how she worked out the methods they lived with, fought against and spread the zombie problem.
Told in first person, with great characters in the book, it was hard to put down. I would highly recommend picking it up. As a side note: This is also the first book in the series "Newsflesh" ("Blackout" being the next), but it felt very much self contained....more
The Crown Tower revisits the world of the Riyria Revelations, taking the readers back to the beginning where HadriaFrom my blog at ReadingRealms.com--
The Crown Tower revisits the world of the Riyria Revelations, taking the readers back to the beginning where Hadrian first meets his partner, Royce. As a prequel, readers can jump right in here, or if they wish to read them by publication, wait until after they've read the Riyria Revelations trilogy. It doesn't require any knowledge of the prior trilogy, but returning readers will recognize some characters and pieces that later play a role in Revelations.
It's a smart move to revisit the world as a prequel since Revelations wrapped things up with the characters so perfectly. Trying to find a way to continue with the same characters after Revelations would have taken something away from that ending, but throughout the trilogy we heard of the many adventures of Riyria so its a perfect fit to bring those tales to readers.
Much of the novel focuses initially on Hadrian, who hopes to leave behind his days of spilling blood for gold, but is not quite sure what else he can do. With his father's passing, he at least has one destination ahead of him as he travels to meet a friend of his father's holding some things that have been left for Hadrian. Royce, as he is to most in the world of the novel, remains on the outskirts of the story, in the shadows. It's not until Hadrian begins to chip through the wall Royce has built around himself that we get to experience the world from Royce's point of view.
Sullivan passed up many opportunities to manufacture a reason for the two to begin working together, instead having them be forced -- dragged kicking and screaming practically -- to work as a team. This pays off in the end, showing how the two men, despite their opposing personalities, don't just have the ability to become a good team, but eventually good friends.
For readers interested in the amount of magic in their fantasy: The world itself is very magic-lite, but here in the prequels it is virtually non-existent. A sword and sorcery without the sorcery, offering up only hints that magic may have once played a larger role in the world.
Some of the most enjoyable parts of stories, for me, have always been the beginnings. Not necessarily the origin, but the start of a book or series when the story is more about the adventure and less about the the grand plot. Although Sullivan did a great job through all three books of the Riyria Revelations offering up that adventure, it is great to take readers back to the time when it was all about the adventure and not saving the world. Most of all, it's fun....more
I dug right into this book without taking note that it was the first in a trilogy and I have to say first of all that it worked very well as a stand aI dug right into this book without taking note that it was the first in a trilogy and I have to say first of all that it worked very well as a stand alone. I can see the story continuing I suppose, but for readers hesitant to jump into a multi-part saga you honestly wouldn't know it by the way this reads and ends.
The story follows Eyul- the emperor's knife he is called, or simply an assassin, Mesema- a young girl from the grasslands being brought into the city for an arranged marriage, Tuvaini- the emperor's advisor, the Emperor Beyon and his brother Sarmin- long locked away in secret, as they work together or against one another for the good of the Empire.
Read more of the review (may contain minor spoilers-marked) at readingrealms.com
Promise of Blood focuses mainly on three point-of-views throughout the story. Tamas, the field marshal of the 'Powder Mages' you see pictured on the cPromise of Blood focuses mainly on three point-of-views throughout the story. Tamas, the field marshal of the 'Powder Mages' you see pictured on the cover, his son Taniel, a skilled powder mage under his command but with a tense relationship with his father, and Adamat, an investigator hired by Tamas. There is one additional POV that gets a much smaller part of the story, Nila, a laundress that watched over one of the heirs of the former king, but her story seems like it is only just getting started and I'd expect to see more of her in the following novels. Taniel's former lover, Vlora, another powder mage, seems fit for a major role as well, despite not getting much time in the book and overall, McClellan has no shortage of interesting characters.
From the cover, you might assume the story is about Tamas overthrowing a kingdom, but it actually begins after he has already taken over. This puts him in a much more challenging role as a warrior trying to govern a city instead of just trying to fight someone, though he finds out there is no shortage of people willing to bring a battle to him. The novel gradually builds, focusing at first on Tamas' challenges with the city after taking over, dealing with rebels and a tense population at first, but more and more of the larger picture is revealed to Tamas and the reader as the story progresses. Though I try to avoid spoilers when possible, so won't offer many specifics, it should be said that as that focus shifts, the tone of the story shifts with it. From that more grounded story, to one that focuses on old legends, magic and gods. The story isn't just about a new age as guns and industry grow in the world, as is it about the legends of a world of ancient fantasy not being so easily dismissed.
Adamat, his investigator, offers a different perspective on the story than what we get from Tamas and his son Taniel. Adamat, a much weaker character than many of the other players in the story, relies more on his experience and intelligence than on power and is one of the more relatable characters of the story, but Taniel is probably the main 'heroic adventurer' of the novel. If Adamat is Tamas' investigator, Taniel is his hunter, sent to kill some of the traditional royal mages that escaped his purge at the beginning of the novel. As Tamas and Adamat slowly discover more and more of what is really going on in the world, Taniel is thrust into it head first as powerful magic and old gods take over the plot and he is forced to fight against powers beyond anything he imagined possible.
Various forms of magic play a major role in the story. Powder Mages, or Marked, can magically control the black powder used to fire flintlock weapons, setting it off with their own power, taking some into their own bodies to enhance their strength and senses, and more. This puts them at odds with the more traditional mages, Privileged, who use their own gifts and rune covered gloves to control the 'Else', the source of magic. The relationship between Marked and Privileged plays a major role in the dynamic of the world. Lesser magically gifted characters also exist, with simple abilities like perfect memories, the ability to go without sleep, etc., referred to as Knacked. As the story gets deeper, more powerful sorcerers of an older age are also revealed. With old gods and ancient mages at the forefront by the end, the worry could be losing the story in the sometimes outlandish aspects of fantasy and high magic, but in Promise, McClellan manages to keep it grounded, mostly thanks to his excellent work with the characters.
Due to McClellan being a student of Brandon Sanderson, the desire to compare their work is there, and though the quality of his work is comparable, I found it more similar in feel to work from Brent Weeks myself. From the other flintlock fantasy stories I've read, this also rates among the best, and probably does such a good job of mixing the more modern flintlock age with fantasy that it barely feels like it should be labeled as a sub-genre. His character work shines through whatever category the book might fall in and makes this one of the best debuts in recent years, as well as places it among the best novels this year.
Originally published at my book review blog: ReadingRealms(dot)com...more
Eli Monpress might be the star of this series, but in this volume he seemed more a secondary character. The book suffered none for it however, as every character in Rachel Aaron's work is as strong as the main. The demonseed Nico, as seen on the cover of the book, might be considered the star this time; though her friend Josef as well as returning Spiritualist Miranda play solid roles as well.
The overall story takes a darker turn than the last couple books. Both because of the growing reader knowledge of the demon threats to the world and the lack of Eli's lighthearted quips. But the direction is welcome as the characters and world have become more than just liked, but familiar and loved. We have come to see a much larger story unfold than just Eli's capers from book to book.
Though I try to keep reviews somewhat spoiler free, I'll dance a little on the edge here since I would assume anyone following this closelly would have read the previous two books: We get to meet a few new characters in the game and a few characters from the past return as well: Slorn and Sted playing key roles. We learn more about Josef's sword "The Heart of War", Eli, The Shaper Mountain and the god-like figures in background of the saga.
This series has been one of my favorite this year. I can't think of a series where I've liked every single character as much as I do in these books. My concerns in the review of first volume of Rachel Aaron overusing magic and powerful characters in the series has come to seem silly to me as she has weaved her tale with a masterful balance. I couldn't recommend this book more to anyone interested in a fun fantasy adventure series....more
This book (and series) has the makings of one of the all time great fantasy series. I felt the same way reading this as when I sat reading "The WheelThis book (and series) has the makings of one of the all time great fantasy series. I felt the same way reading this as when I sat reading "The Wheel of Time" or "Game of Thrones" for the first time. There are plenty of good fantasy stories out there, enough variety for anyone; but this is high fantasy done at it's best.
It took me a little time to get started on this. I was sick the last week and nyquil and late reading don't seem to mix well. As this cold is fading I've been able to dig in and finish it the last couple days. Partly because of the addicting nature of the story as well.
As someone who loves characters first and foremost, every character in this book is well done. Kaladin was the character I got into quickest, others took a bit longer for me to form that eagerness for; but eventually they all came to the same level.
His world feels nearly alien in it's uniqueness. Not something I require of my fantasy, but knowing this is going to be a ten book series it's nice to see. He does such a good job with fleshing out the world that by the end, it really doesn't feel alien anymore. In fact at one point a good way through they come to an area that seems fairly "earthlike" and the characters there find it odd and I was right along with them.
The plot is exactly what it should be for something that will last ten books and probably over a decade of writing. Epic. The single novel itself reads well enough and wraps up well enough, but you still feel like you read the first chapter and want more. Not so much because of major cliffhangers, but because you are involved in the world and the characters and want to stay there. Sanderson does an outstanding job of weaving the plots together as it moves forward.
The magic is unique, well done and well explained. Still more left on the table to learn; but I feel like the reader got plenty to understand what was happening and how. Most of all it fits the world's unique feel.
Outside of the overall review, I have to say a couple things I normally don't like in fantasies: Odd quotes that don't make sense under chapter titles and prophecies and guidance by godlike figures that are more riddles than anything else. Both of these were in the book and handled beautifully. The prophecy thing when it finally crested most I nearly started to get frustrated, when the explanation came and it all made sense (more sense than any other time I've seen it tried). and, Once you are into the story you understand the purpose of the quotes and they just become additional artwork.
Speaking of artwork, I loved all the extras in this book. Of course it had the map many fantasy stories have, but it also had drawings throughout the story of cities, creatures and other sketches (work that looked like you were peaking into sketchbooks of that world, not just standard art). It also had nice headers to every chapter.
I can't recommend this story enough if you are a true fantasy fan. Especially if you like series like the Wheel of Time (fitting he is finishing that for Jordan) and a Song of Fire and Ice....more
"Amortals", for the most part, comes across as a typical detective story told in the first person- it just happens to be set a couple hundred years in the future.
First of all I have to say that Matt Forbeck does a great job with his (or our) future world. Things seem pretty much as you might think they would be: hovercars, better surveillance tools, advanced computer systems and implants, etc. The only real technological leap forward is the 'Amortals Project'. This technology allows one to be reborn in a fashion into a clone body, their latest 'memory backup' transferred into a clone after they die. This creates an interesting twist in society between the haves and have-nots (as most things do) but here we are talking about life and death. The rich and famous having access to what is essentially immortal (and somewhat youthful) life. Health insurance has been pushed aside and the average life span for normal mortals has dropped. Not to mention many in society find the process unnatural and sinful.
The story starts off with the rebirth of what is the oldest man on earth in a sense: agent Ronan Doonan. He is a highly decorated Secret Service agent that is nearing 200 years of age (through several rebirths). Most Amortals are wealthy, but Ronan being an early guinea pig and presidential savior was granted amortallity as a reward. His most recent death was a gruesome and highly publicized murder which the plot is based around his attempt to solve.
I rather enjoyed Forbeck's take on the near future. I thought the tech he used, the society (not just rich/poor, but also things like the Indian Mafia and other little touches), as well as the lingo he used all came together well and just made sense to me. The plot was pretty good as well, taking a few twists and turns including a final one that took the plot in a great direction for what the story had been saying all along. The character of Doonan, although somewhat generic, was a good voice for the story and became a bit deeper along the way.
If you are fan of sci-fi, cyberpunk or just good 1st person detective stories I think you would enjoy this book. ...more
The second novel in the Riyria Chronicles series, like the first novel The Crown Tower, a reader doesn't have to have read the Riyria Revelations to follow along. This novel did contrast the first, however, in that it introduced several new characters (new for new readers) and dived more into the political landscape of the world of Elan. Though it doesn't make the story difficult to follow, it's Riyria Revelations and perhaps even future Chronicles novels. worth paying attention to all the players here as many of them play a role in
For readers of Revelations, they will be all to familiar with many of the characters that make their first appearance here. Like Gwen from the first novel, they were all interesting characters that deserve more 'screen time' and here, they finally get it. Though at times, revisiting these characters can be a bit bittersweet.
Royce and Hadrian's role in this story is much more reactive and their time in the story may have even been smaller than the time we spent with the new characters. Fortunately, it doesn't hurt the book, as all the characters featured are integral to the story and interesting as well, especially the guardsman Reuben Hillfred. As the plot progresses, Royce and Hadrian play a larger role which adds to the pacing and makes the book difficult to put down once you're a few chapters in.
As for the dynamic duo, we get a look at how they've bonded, if ever so slightly, since the first novel and at the growing pains they are still going through. Royce in particular has an important moment of growth as he discovers falling back into his own murderous ways isn't the best solution to all of his problems as Hadrian, in a smaller way, learns the same about his pacifism.
Again, a bit of a different type of story than the first novel and we may see that with this series. With each book able to stand on it's own, every story could end up having a different feel to it, something that may benefit a book about the growth of two characters in a rapidly changing world set a year apart.
I probably don't need to say that readers who enjoyed previous Riyria books would enjoy this, but I just did. So far, all of Sullivan's Riyria books have been very well paced, sword and sorcery style action with strong characters, making them fun and easy to read. I would recommend them to any fan of fantasy, new or veteran, young or old. ...more
As the first volume, THE NAME OF THE WIND, was highly praised I think the first thing that should be mentioned is how well the second volume stands next to it. THE WISE MAN'S FEAR is just as good as the first and any fan will be more than happy with the work.
As the cover blurb above mentions, the story (as volume one does as well) is told in first person as Kvothe dictates his story to a chronicler that seeked him out for it. Only a few interludes here and there at breaks in telling the story do we come back to "present day" and the story reverts to third person. The cover blurb itself wasn't really accurate in giving you the path of the story though, so take it with a grain of salt if you read it.
Young Kvothe still spends quite a bit of time at the University until he goes abroad. I felt the story drag a little here and there during the mercenary, fae and Adem portions because it was probably supposed to a bit -- some things can only happen so fast in life. But the story was richer for taking time in those portions.
Magic is still much the same as in the first book. Though he manages a few more amazing feats this time around, mastery to the point of magic becoming commonplace for him has not been reached. All in all you get a pretty "realistic" look at magic as far as fantasy stories go and those that like their magic mysterious and lofty to grasp will be happy with Rothfuss' work.
I don't delve into the plot or spoilers much in my reviews and the cover blurb gives away more than I think it should. Personally I didn't read it until I just transcribed it and I think the story is better read without knowing some of the twists it will take. I would like to add though, that Rothfuss does a great job not only with giving us a very rich and interesting story of Kvothe's past, but also the current mystery surrounding Kvothe of the present only deepens. I'm very curious as to how this story will wrap up with the next volume (assuming the next volume is the last of the series?).
If you loved the volume of this series, chances are you already have the second as well. But if you haven't picked it up yet, do so. It is well worth it and probably (along with the first) some of the best writing I've ever read....more