From my blog on 7/21/09... ------------------------------------------------------ I finished reading The Blade Itself last night. The novel had a lot of...moreFrom my blog on 7/21/09... ------------------------------------------------------ I finished reading The Blade Itself last night. The novel had a lot of hype and acclaim, and so I was expecting great things from it. Fortunately, I was not mislead, and I closed the book with a profound sense of excitement and curiosity.
The Blade Itself is the first book of The First Law trilogy. Written by UK author Joe Abercrombie, the book is a realistic, brutal and bloody look at the fantastic. The book starts with Logen Ninefingers fleeing from a group of Flatheads, and I was hooked from the get-go. Logen gets separated from his travelling group and each assumes the other died. He continues on his own. The next character introduced is Inquisitor Sand dan Glokta, a crippled torturer with a dark past. The torture scenes from this book are bloody, but deeply enjoyable. Glokta is charged with getting to the bottom of a conspiracy by any means he sees fit. Enter Bayaz, the First of the Magi. He's a name everyone in the Union knows, but he's a legend, not a real person. Or is he? Finally, Jezal dan Luthar is a Captain in the army, born of high and noble blood, and training for the annual Contest, dreaming of glory and honor.
There are more characters in the novel, making fun and entertaining chapters to read and reflect on. Dogman. Ferro. West. Too many to write on, but they all have a roll to play in the plot. By the end of the novel it almost feels like this book is just an introduction or prologue to what is to come.
Abercrombie hints at magic, but nothing too deep. He writes of the First Law and the Second Law. He talks about the Shanka and the Eaters, never fully describing them, which is unsettling and immensely entertaining.
The writing style reminds me of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The use of profanity and vulgar words are frequent, but not over-the-top and do not detract from the story. Keeping the "magic" as a mystery is also like GRRM.
My favorite character is probably Glokta, but I'm equally intrigued by Logen. I can't wait to see where this story is going, especially for these two. Hopefully I'll get my copy of Before They Are Hanged soon. Overall, The Blade Itself is another reminder why the fantasy genre does not have to be boring and cliche. People like Joe Abercrombie, Pat Rothfuss, and Brandon Sanderson are breaking boundaries and re-defining the field. I can recommend this book easily to you, but be warned, it's brutal and will hook you in, kind of like the way a torturer's blade may pull your intestines out and have you screaming for more. (less)
**spoiler alert** From my blog on 4/28/09.... ----------------------------------------------------------
I've just finished reading Neil Gaiman's Americ...more**spoiler alert** From my blog on 4/28/09.... ----------------------------------------------------------
I've just finished reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. The book leaves me thinking many things.
1. I'm really not sure whether or not I fully understood the book. Some things were explained, others were left up to the imagination. This is fine by me. But what did I glean from the novel? What was the theme? From what I gather, gods need people to believe in them, or they cease to exist. More important is the life of America. Does America change so much, growing in culture and mythos, that it forgets long-forgotten beings?
2. I really liked the style of writing. I felt like I was thrown into a meta-stream-of-conscience/third-person novel. Sure, I was lost on occasion, but I was always intrigued.
3. The fact that I did not, do not, completely understand the book gives me mixed feelings. The concept of magic and mystique was vague, but implied, while grounded in the real world. I felt that this could be explained better or more fully, but Gaiman knows what he's doing.
4. The allusions: there were many, many allusions and references to pop culture and past culture. Several sites, towns, etc really exist here in America, making the novel fun. Also, I felt like many themes and ideas were connected to the Sandman comics, which I've posted on here. Too many to mention, in fact.
5. Mythology: I am a big fan of mythology and folklore. If I ever decided to continue my education, I think I would want to take classes in folklore, fairy tales, myths, and the like. With that, American Gods has extensive characters from many cultures and religions and beliefs from all over the world. I didn't know who some of the characters were supposed to be, but I liked them.
6. Denouement: The conclusion of the story was acceptable. There seemed to be one main plot, the fate of the gods, and a few subplots (Laura, Lakeside, identity), and all were resolved satisfactorily. Though, it did sadden me a bit that Shadow met Easter, while Laura did not.
7. Laura: This was the most confusing character in the book. Laura is Shadow's recently deceased wife. Why does she come back from the dead? How? There were many questions about Laura, but her character was important for the development of Shadow.
There you have it. Some meager reflections on Gaiman's novel. After finishing the book, I thought that it would make for an excellent movie, provided the director, writer, actors, and effects were up to the quality of the book.(less)
From my blog on 5/22/09... A series review ------------------------------------------------------- I do not remember who recommended the Mistborn series...moreFrom my blog on 5/22/09... A series review ------------------------------------------------------- I do not remember who recommended the Mistborn series to me, but I am glad they did. After finishing the third and final volume of the series, The Hero of Ages, I feel the urge to recommend this series.
Mistborn was written by Brandon Sanderson, a relatively new author to the fantasy world. Sanderson’s series received wonderful praise by many colleagues and reviewers, and I want to join my voice with them. Mistborn was a powerful story, one I could visualize with every paragraph. Sanderson’s portrayal of the world and its workings is completely believable, and I found myself riveted by the story.
The series begins with Mistborn: The Final Empire. In this book the world is ruled by a cruel emperor called the Lord Ruler. He is the God of the people and of the lands. He is the result of what happens when a Hero takes the power at the Well of Ascension and uses it for himself. The world is eradicated of culture, religion, happiness, and basic humanity.
In the Final Empire, there are two classes of people: nobility and skaa. Skaa live lives worse than slaves of old, and they are the ones that do the daily labor of cleaning the Empire.
In the Final Empire, ash falls continually, piling onto the streets and fields daily. Skaa must clean the ash before they can begin their work. And then at night, the mists come out. There are things in the mists that skaa and nobility fear, and so no one goes out into them. No one, that is, except for Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin.
Kelsier’s fame spreads throughout the skaa, and he preaches a message of rebellion. He hates the Lord Ruler and wishes to free the skaa. And the things he can do is supernatural. He can fly through the sky, play on people’s emotions, move with incredible speed and resilience, and many other things. Kelsier is Mistborn.
The system of “magic” developed for this series is very well thought out, and quite simple to understand rather quickly. I’ll admit, at first I was slightly confused about what was going on (and even a little unsure whether or not I liked it), but I overcame those thoughts rapidly.
The story, beginning with The Final Empire, becomes more and more exciting with each passage. I found myself reading whenever I had the opportunity.
To keep this simple, I will say nothing of books two or three, save that they were phenomenal. After finishing the first volume, I immediately bought the second, Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and started on it; and, hungrily I moved on to the concluding work, Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, after finishing book two.
The story is interwoven and grandiose. Themes of love and trust and betrayal dominate the characters.
My final offering of praise and recommendation goes like this: if you enjoyed The Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss, then you will love Mistborn. Both of these authors have found a way to transcend the typical fantasy mold and create a masterpiece. In fact, Pat put in a word for it back when he was doing the Heifer Project.
Finally, after finishing the series, I started thinking about a movie. Wow, this series would make for an excellent movie, be it Hollywood or the Sci-Fi channel.
So, friends, take this series and read it when you get a chance. It ranks as one of the best series’ I’ve read in a long time. Give it a try, you won't regret it.(less)
It is no secret that I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. I loved his Mistborn series, and his standalone Elantris was also a thrill-ride. I may be a bit unf...moreIt is no secret that I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. I loved his Mistborn series, and his standalone Elantris was also a thrill-ride. I may be a bit unfair towards Sanderson, but I’ve set the bar high for him and his work, and somehow he still manages to come through.
Warbreaker is an interesting and highly entertaining tale that I can easily recommend for the hardcore fantasy buff, the fledgling bird in the genre, or anyone looking for a story that’ll keep you turning the pages. Vivenna is a beautiful, proper princess that has been engaged to the God King of Hallandren since infancy. This marriage is to end the growing tensions between the small nation of Idris and the pagan lands of Hallandren. Siri, the youngest daughter of the Idris royal family, is an obstinate trouble maker, spending her time doing whatever she pleases. Soon the time comes for Vivenna to be off to T’Telir and wed the vile God King, but not everything goes as planned…
Lightsong the Bold is a Returned god of Hallandren. He spends his days idly drinking and eating, getting into verbal conundrums, and trying to convince his high priest Llarimar that he is not a god. Despite his attempts, the people still worship him, petitioning to him and offering him elaborate gifts in hope of receiving a blessing. Something happens in the Court of Gods and Lightsong becomes fascinated, searching for clues, and stumbling into something greater…
Vasher is a mysterious and powerful figure. A strong Awakener, he never lacks Breath. His black sword, Nightblood, is even more mysterious than he is. Vasher’s intentions are only known to him, but it’s clear that he’s after something grand…
The weaving of characters, ethnicity, and religion throughout this book was gracefully done and masterfully written. The religious system involving colors was unique and completely believable. Like metals were to Mistborn, colors are to Warbreaker, and I found this fascinating.
Though I really enjoyed the book, there were parts that I found tedious and eye-rolling. For the most part, I did not like the character Lightsong. His constant banter and flippant mannerisms had me bored from early on, and I wish this character would have been developed a bit differently. Sure, some of it was funny, and most of it was very clever, but I grew bored of constantly listening to him whine/speak.
In the end, Warbreaker was a great book to read and finish off the year with. By the time I reached the end, I really wanted more pages to read, and that is a good thing. While not up to par with Mistborn (few things are), it was better in some ways than Elantris and worse in others. (That is not to say that Elantris is bad by any means.) If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, entertaining fantasy novel, Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker is it. (less)
Before They Are Hanged is the second book in The First Law trilogy. Picking up on the heels of The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged is a fast-pace...moreBefore They Are Hanged is the second book in The First Law trilogy. Picking up on the heels of The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged is a fast-paced adventure taking place all across the Circle of the World. The book is split into three different factions: Bayaz, Logen, Ferro, Jezal, Longfoot, and Quai are journeying to the Edge of the World to obtain a dangerous relic; Gokta is dispatched south to investigate the disappearance of a Superior in a city filled with folks of questionable loyalties; West is deployed to the North, to fight and engage with Bethod's men; and Dogman, Threetrees, Grim, Dow, and Tul, the North's most bloody men (save, maybe, Ninefingers), are looking for ways to upset Bethod.
Yes, there are a lot of characters, but Abercrombie writes in such a way that you can feel each one's personality leaping off the page. You can feel West's regrets, his confusion. You can understand the animosity behind Ferro, the cock-sure noble attitude inside Jezal, and the compassionate ruthlessness that belongs to Logen.
Other than the breathtaking action scenes, the permeating mystery hanging on every page, and the magnitude of the quest, one of the best parts about Before They Are Hanged is the character development. As the rag-tag group with Bayaz makes their way Westward, Logen sets it in his mind to get everyone on the same side, namely instilling respect in Jezal and trust in Ferro. This process was immensely enjoyable and satisfying.
Like with The Blade Itself, by the end of the book I was left scratching my head, much like Glokta. The answers we get from Before They Are Hanged only lead to more questions. I have no idea where The Last Argument of Kings will take me. I feel like there are loose ends, like there are wrongs that need to be righted, like there is truth that needs to be revealed, but I don't have the slightest idea of how it's going to happen. That's part of the fun of this series. Abercrombie can throw a wrench in his characters, having them do something completely unexpected, and leaving the reader scratching his head from not seeing it coming.
Before They Are Hanged is filled with battles, bloodshed, treachery, and magic, with more than enough mystery to keep you reading well into the night. Hopefully with the end of the series more will be revealed and loyalties will be shown.
I can highly recommend this series if you want to read something with realistic characters that have realistic expectations, set in a world where there is more than a hint of supernatural activity and intrigue. Of course you wouldn't want to start with this book, as it is Book Two. Overall, Before They Are Hanged was a great and fun read, leaving me eager to see where things are headed and how it's all going to end with the characters that I've grown quite fond of.
And now, two of my favorite quotes from the book. (Don't worry, they're not revealing.)
"What? You got a crowd of friends back in the Badlands, all asking after you? Where did Ferro get to? The laughs all dried up since she went away."--Logen, to Ferro
"No one enjoys an elbow in the face while they sleep."(less)
Last Argument of Kings is the concluding volume of Joe Abercrombie’s breathtaking debut trilogy, The First Law. There’s not a whole lot of things that...moreLast Argument of Kings is the concluding volume of Joe Abercrombie’s breathtaking debut trilogy, The First Law. There’s not a whole lot of things that I can say in this review if I wish to remain truly spoiler-free, but I shall do my best, but I make no promises. You have to be realistic about these things.
It’s been two months since I read book two, Before They Are Hanged, and picking this book up felt like a meeting between old familiar friends. All those characters that I had grown to love were returned. Split between wars on both sides, the Union looks to be in quite a mess. Scores are settled amazingly. Loose ends are all tied up neatly. When the smoke clears and the dust settles and you finally finish the book, you’ll be left as speechless as I was. (Actually, I busted out laughing in disbelief, which led to “huh.”, which led to “wow".”)
Like with the previous novels, Last Argument of Kings is a novel about characters. You feel as if you’re inside the head of Logen Ninefingers as he contemplates what to do about a dire situation. You hurt with Jezal as he struggles with his day-to-day existence. You feel your neck crack and your eye leak with Glokta and wonder with him why he does it. The plot is chiefly character driven and the experience is perfect.
If you’ve read the first two books then you know that there is a lot going on in the Circle of the World. A lot of stuff you don’t understand, but you suspect Bayaz knows more than he’s telling. A lot of mystery and lies, and sorting the truth from fiction is a thrilling activity.
Over all, and to keep my mouth shut to remain spoiler-free, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The entire series was an absolute joy to read. The ruthlessness and brutality is reminiscent of GRRM, but at the same time different and unique. Everything reads realistic, and it’s easy to relate to most of the characters. I strongly urge you to pick up these books and read them. Enjoy them. Bask in their wonder. And when you finish, you’ll know that you’ve read something like you’ve never read before. The conclusion of Last Argument of Kings was a perfect fit to the series and I strongly recommend you try this series out.
And now, like with my review of Before They Are Hanged, I give you some of my favorite quotes.
"That's what war is. A lot of folk getting killed that don't deserve it." Dogman "No, it ain't ever that simple. We all got our reasons. Good men and bad men. It's all a matter of where you stand."--Logen Why do I do this?—Glokta(less)
This book has been in my TBR pile for a very long time, and finally I can remove it. I'm sad to say, but I did not really care much for Something Wick...moreThis book has been in my TBR pile for a very long time, and finally I can remove it. I'm sad to say, but I did not really care much for Something Wicked This Way Comes. I found Bradbury's writing tedious and odd and often unable to relate to. The main characters, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, were not well defined or developed, and I didn't really care much about their lives. Will's father, Charles Halloway, an older man who is dissatisfied with his life, was equally pathetic and cliche. In fact, the characters I liked were of the Carnival.
Yes, Mr. Dark was fascinating, and it was his story I wanted to know more of. The scene featuring the electric chair is the only memorable scene and the only time in the book I was actually captivated.
Overall, I was disappointed in this book. Perhaps I expected too much, or maybe I just waited too long to read it. Whatever the case, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. There were a few times when I thought Bradbury's word usage was perfect and fitting, but mostly I felt that he was trying too hard for unnatural choices. Perhaps my problem was that I read this book as an audio book, I'm not sure. Or maybe one day, when I'm older, I'll give it another try and appreciate it more.(less)
Cycles continued the journey of Yorick, 355, Dr. Mann, and Ampersand. They meet many challenges and new characters on their way across the ruined coun...moreCycles continued the journey of Yorick, 355, Dr. Mann, and Ampersand. They meet many challenges and new characters on their way across the ruined country and to California.
I enjoyed Volume 2 of this series, and the story was still very compelling.(less)
**spoiler alert** Green is a prequel and/or a sequel to Ted Dekker's The Circle series. To me, I can't consider it a prequel, as there is too much ext...more**spoiler alert** Green is a prequel and/or a sequel to Ted Dekker's The Circle series. To me, I can't consider it a prequel, as there is too much extra information that would have me feeling lost without having first read the other books. That said, I have read Black, Red, White, Showdown, Chosen, and Infidel, and I enjoyed the original trilogy immensely.
I was excited to learn that Green was coming out, eager to dive back into the life of Thomas Hunter. While Thomas is a main protagonist of this book, he's not the only POV character, and (at times) I felt like the story suffered some because of this.
The book takes place ten years after White. The Circle is suffering. They've been hunted and hounded by the Horde for too long. Their resolve is failing. Many are struggling to follow the command from Elyon, to love the Horde. All are beginning to doubt the existence of Elyon and wonder if he's forsaken them. When Samuel, Thomas of Hunter's son, decides to take up arms against the Horde, Thomas decides to issue a challenge to Elyon, hoping to prove to everyone that he still cares.
Meanwhile, back on earth (2000 years in the past), a strange man walks into Raison Pharmaceuticals and proclaims he has a strange power: the ability to read minds. He wants to travel to Thomas' world and demands the man's blood. Events unfold that will leave both worlds shaking.
The story of Green is about the end of all things, as well as the beginning. Throughout the novel, Dekker alludes to Christian theology (Great Romance, drowning, etc.), offering that the faith and hope of the Circle is the only good. Teelah's power and influence is prevalent and taking over the world, similar to earth today. For the most part, I really enjoy the symbolism and allusions.
For the most part.
There was one large element that didn't quite fit with the theology, in my opinion. The idea of reincarnation. The idea of a second chance. When the Battle of Migdon climaxes and everything ends, I felt let down. Not only was the battle hastily written (and slightly confusing), the aftermath was unexpected. Christian theology was replaced with something akin to Hinduism. Thus, a unsatisfying and predictable ending was thrown in the book.
Overall, I liked the story, but it fails to capture the power and originality the original trilogy held. I felt like some scenes were rushed or pointless, as were some characters. I felt like Dekker dropped the ball at the end. Our life is a one-chance deal, and I think thinking otherwise could be dangerous to a Christian mindset.(less)
This introductory graphic novel to the acclaimed series was brilliant. While the idea is not necessarily unique (there have been "last man on earth" s...moreThis introductory graphic novel to the acclaimed series was brilliant. While the idea is not necessarily unique (there have been "last man on earth" scenarios a-plenty), the story is compelling enough to keep you reading along.
This TPB deals with the immediate aftermath of a world devoid of men and all mammals with the Y chromosome. For some reason a New York City man named Yorick and his male pet monkey Ampersand survive the global devastation.
The comics contained in this TPB include a group of hardcore Amazonian type women that hate all things related to men, a large group of politician's wives trying to keep things running, a brilliant doctor that has successfully cloned a baby, and Yorick's missing sister and girlfriend, one's whereabouts unknown and the other's in Australia.
The collection read quickly and leaves you wanting to immediately dive into Volume 2. This series contains crude language, violence, and potential nudity, so I wouldn't recommend it for the young ones. (less)