This was like reading an amalgam of the HBO series Deadwood and Rome. I loved those shows. They were raw, violent, and cunningly written, not to mentiThis was like reading an amalgam of the HBO series Deadwood and Rome. I loved those shows. They were raw, violent, and cunningly written, not to mention phenomenal casting.
Abercrombie's writing is wickedly sharp in this fantasy-western. Steven Pacey delivers a rich and engaging audiobook reading. Nicomo Cosca's story arc is worth the price of admission alone. Cosca is one of those Abercrombie characters that I never tired of, and of which I always wanted more. The Bloody Nine is back... but god damn it! Abercrombie never gave me what I wanted with The Bloody Nine. I felt teased, over and over and over and over. By the time I got to the end, I was just done, fed-up, and greatly disappointed. Not much else to tell, really. I feel frustrated right now. I wanted this book to be full of engaging characters, for me, it wasn't. I wanted to get back in the head of The Bloody Nine, I didn't. I wanted the story to mean something, anything, for me, it didn't.
For you, perhaps this will be a fun-filled fantasy western romp. If you like Nicomo Cosca, read this book. If you like The Bloody Nine, then... well, he's in it, kind of sort of. ...more
Joe Abercrombie continues to astonish. As a writer and storyteller, he is mastering the craft. This is the finest revenge story I've ever read, secondJoe Abercrombie continues to astonish. As a writer and storyteller, he is mastering the craft. This is the finest revenge story I've ever read, second only to The Count of Monte Cristo. I listened to the Steven Pacey audio version. Pacey's voice is the bedrock of Abercrombie's world. I recommend listening to the Steven Pacey reading.
A funny thing happened while listening to this book. For nearly two thirds of the story, I was convinced that I understood the overall narrative. And while I was certainly having fun, the story felt thread thin and tired. Yes, the writing was delicious. But the story's engine tasted stale. The characters themselves, individuality and personality, were interesting, and good writing and solid characters are generally enough to slake my hunger. But then it happened. My eyes popped, my jaw dropped, and my perception of Abercrombie's story was snapped into clarity. When it happened, I sat for a long time, grinning like a freshly carved pumpkin. You could have shoved a lit candle into my mouth, and I'd have continued looking vacantly dazzled, and smoking as pumpkins are inevitably prone.
"When did this epiphany occur?" "At the waterwheel." "Really? At the waterwheel?" "Yes. At the waterwheel." "Why the waterwheel?" "Because. What happened at the waterwheel nearly made me weep, which genuinely flummoxed me." "Huh. Seems a touch dramatic if you don't mind me saying." "Say what you please. I am not one to overdramatize, but Abercrombie nearly made me cry." "Right then. But it seems silly to spill any grief over a fantasy tale, or a waterwheel." "No one's asking you, friend."
It's not often a story sneaks up on me, but it's a delight when it happens. Thank you, Mr. Abercrombie. I savor the complexity of book, character, and morality's dialogue.
"Food for thought?" "Yes, quite." "Round a fire, food in a belly is more useful." "Is it?" "Aye." "Hmm..." ...more
Stephen King often notes how he likes to thinkVolume 4 in the Dark Tower series. My review of volume 3.
Hunker a while, and let the shadows reach long.
Stephen King often notes how he likes to think of readers experiencing two distinct types of reads. The first is a white-hot burning sort of read. It's when the reader tears through the story, charring our innards to cinders. The second kind of reading experience is anchored more in reflection than the immediacy of an unfurling story.
The first type of reading experience King points to is becoming more difficult for me. It does still happen, but not nearly as often, and becoming more rare all the time. I blame this on my aging, and my academic concentrations. I struggle to read something without engaging my IANT (inner analytical Note Taker). I can't help it. It's stuck on automatic. I can't help but notice sentence structure, word choice, omission of adjectives or their placement in respect to noun and verb of which they modify. My IANT is so ratcheted down to the bedrock of my reading, that it's become secondary and foundationally fundamental. I don't like it. It gets in the way of my readerly passions. I like to burn in a story just as much as anyone, but it's hard to burn, to dance naked in the moonlight of story when part of you is inspecting syntax.
I guess that's the long way round of telling you I never got to burn in this story. Well, there was one part, one small magical section when I felt the story-flames charring my insides black, and I liked it. I won't divulge precisely where this kindling occurred, but it was towards the end, and it was a section that looked far forward into the overall arc of this narrative. Truly, King played my spine like a bone xylophone.
Reading Observations: This is a wonderful example of the imbedded story. I caught myself marking down the different levels (i.e. level 1 for the top level, level 2 for the next one down, and so on). Now I wonder if it's my OCD shining through, but I had fun keeping track of the various levels and how they bridged with one another. Sometimes King would plunge deep, then bob up only to dive down further. If you're not careful, you can soon lose track of where (on which level) you are. I never felt on crumbling footing with King's imbedded bridging. I like the story architecture of this book.
Seeing Roland and his friends as young men growing into men, was something I took more note of this time round. I feel King does a better job of showing character growth than I had first imagined. Watching Roland fall in love, that deep hopeless first-time love triggered an emotional response, something a reflective and more objective reading will render. Tracking how Roland's friends react to his love, and his subsequent judgments was more intricate than I had previously noticed.
Throughout this reading, I kept thinking about Scott Lynch and The Lies of Locke Lamora. More specifically, how Lynch conveys the camaraderie of youth, and its molding of the future self. King certainly strikes a note in this general area, but the story feels like it took precedent, leaving Roland and his two friends to play second fiddle. I leave this book feeling hungry for more, which is great for an author to hear from a reader, but I can't help but feel wistful for not having gotten more of the friendship dynamic. But we can't have everything we want, can we?
This time through, I felt bombarded by King's constant mirroring of Tolkien. This is not intended as a negative, far from it, I never felt as if King was leaning on Tolkien, but rather paying homage to those who have come before. The wizard's glass/the ring, the old witch Rhea/Gollum. Of course, the comparison to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz shouldn't be overlooked, but even with the emerald castle, I got more of a Tolkien vibe than a Baum vibe. This may simply be that Tolkien is more prevalent in my mind than Baum. King slips a lot of Baum in this story, but I keep returning to Tolkien. I'd be curious to know which author influenced King more, Baum or Tolkien.
Final Thoughts: While I enjoyed this Dark Tower installment, it was more tedious than I remember. It felt like every time I started gaining momentum, it stalled, and I'd have to begin all over again. This frustrated me, and I wasn't able to determine whether the story's stalling was more a product of King's writing style, or if it was my own impatience with what was not happening. I suspect the blame should be dropped on my shoulders, as I am the reader, and I am the actor prime. ...more
I'll sum up this book in a single breath. First, breathe in, slow and deep through the nose. JVolume 3 in the Dark Tower series. My review of Volume 2.
I'll sum up this book in a single breath. First, breathe in, slow and deep through the nose. Journey, from the western sea to the city of Lud. See the roaring Plaster Man, meet the son yet to be, dodge the Tick-Tock Man, and ride the riddling pink lunatic Blaine — clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.
This volume of the Dark Tower consists of two books. Book I failed to hold my interest until the very end, not until we step onto the spongy rotten-meat porch and enter the house of the Plaster Man. When Jake's foot hit the soft wood planks, my heart drummed a triple beat canter against my ribcage. Paint me naked with ripe raspberries; I was there! For the majority of Book II, I was cresting my Dark Tower high, surfing the beam to trippy oblivion, man.
What stands out most in this reread, is just how unengaged I felt with Book I. I remember it being much more gripping. Am I to chalk this up to aging? Certainly I am at a different stage of life now than I was then. Book I is all about preparation, setting one's feet firmly on the proper path. Book II feels more like the realization of training. So, not to be all warmly introspective, but maybe I should take this as a reckoning that I'm on the right path and ready for whatever the beam dishes out.
Wow, I forgot how emotionally invested I become with Oy. King writes him with such tenderness... oh Oy.
I'm ready to ride Blaine now, because he's a pain. I'm ready to riddle him into dust, a handful of dust. But more than anything, more than life itself, I must see the Falls of the Hounds again.
Strong standing doors randomly spaced on a dangerous coastline. The story begins with RolandVolume 2 in the Dark Tower series. My review of Volume 1.
Strong standing doors randomly spaced on a dangerous coastline. The story begins with Roland awaking on the sand, wet from the sea, and in a daze. Saltwater is corrosive. It fouls powder and eats metal. Large lobster-like crustaceans tumble out of the breakers pressing their endless queries upon the night, the waves, the Gunslinger, anything that'll listen. They are indiscriminately a'hungry. Gulls, boot leather, even fingers will do the trick.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story structure. King starts us off and slams the reader and Roland into one hell of a fix. The entire story after this is just trying to get back to the initial starting point. Now, imagine drawing a large capital V on a blackboard with white chalk. Can you see it? The rectangular blackboard is tall, wide, and clean. It smells like grade school. You pinch a stubby piece of chalk and slash an oversized V from nose to navel. See this V, this gaping upturned alligator snout. The story starts on the left side, it plunges down, down, down. So far down that we wonder if there's any way we'll be able to make it back up the other side. But we do, and when we arrive, we realize that we're pretty much where we started. Oh there are a few changes sure enough. But the majority of this story is climbing up the other side of that V. And what a climb king gives us. It's full of delicious language, engaging characters, and a constant sense of immediacy.
I don't know what else to say, aside from FUN. A lot of fun.
I was slightly amused with the speed at which Roland befriends Eddie. The first time I read this, I remember thinking and feeling the friendship was natural in pace and didn't pay it much mind. This time through, the friendship seemed artificially compressed. It felt like there was too much trust earned in too short of time, and Eddie's rehab from heroin was nearly nonexistent. Is this a big deal? Did it get in the way of my Dark Tower high? Nope, not in the least, man! The story surrounding Detta/Odetta also felt compressed, as did the love between Detta and Eddie. But I'll take what I can get, and be happy.
Oh christ! Lets be honest. I'm hooked. Hooked bad. I'd dance naked in the moonlight snow for more story. ...more
I decided to journey this series again, see how it fares in the shadow of age. Immediately I was disappointed with tVolume 1 in the Dark Tower series.
I decided to journey this series again, see how it fares in the shadow of age. Immediately I was disappointed with the nonexistent "green paper" story that I remember being enthralled with. Then I realized that this edition is different from that earlier edition of The Gunslinger that holds this magic story. I was tempted to stop reading this edition for the sole sake of continuity, but I chose to continue.
I was mildly surprised at how disengaged I felt with the first portion of the story. It wasn't until I reached the way station before those delicious tingles of fond recollection began shivering my spine. I smiled in sad delight, drew breath through nose, and passed through the now tangible heavy timbered door. I didn't even glance back when the latch clicked shut.
When I first read this, I thought it was the most incredible piece of story I'd ever stumbled across. It is still quite good, but I am different, and so the story is also different. Enter Wolfgang Iser, stage left. Okay, Okay. No critical theory pucksy dust.
I'm excited to be in this world again. Part of me will never leave. I really like King's vocabulary, both its range and application. ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed the Arabian worldbuilding that Saladin Ahmed renders. It's a fresh take on fantasy, and the world possesses a depth beyond the geI thoroughly enjoyed the Arabian worldbuilding that Saladin Ahmed renders. It's a fresh take on fantasy, and the world possesses a depth beyond the generic. I've been fortunate to see numerous interviews with Saladin Ahmed, and all of them are great. Mr. Ahmed is witty, creative, and wise.
I feel it's important to recognize that this is Ahmed's first novel, and for a first book, is pretty damn good! I can only hope that my first publishing will be as well received.
The storytelling is where I stumbled. The language struck me as passive, the verbs were lethargic and lacked vigor, and the exposition was clunky. I'm not trying to be harsh, just honest. I know many others have glowed about this story, and it's not my place to argue. But it didn't shine for me.
Phil Gigante narrates the audiobook. He does a nice job, though a touch too dramatic for my taste. Still, an all-around good reading.
I'm looking forward to reading more of Saladin Ahmed's work. I have no doubt that he will only improve with time and experience. ...more
Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie; say he's a damn good writer.
Chapter 45 was amazing. Not in the unfolding events, but rather in its seamless continuSay one thing for Joe Abercrombie; say he's a damn good writer.
Chapter 45 was amazing. Not in the unfolding events, but rather in its seamless continuity.
The only reason I'm not slapping a 5-star rating on this? The middle sagged with too many sprawling story-threads, and the tension was lost due to the number of important characters telling their POV. But still, the ending is... is... the ending is how it ought be. And it be beautiful. I know, a gristly fantasy story possessing a beautiful ending? Yes. Yes it does, and yes it is.
I experienced genuine surprise at my emotional investment in some of these characters. And when they died, I felt sad. What does this matter? It matters because Abercrombie managed to make me feel sadness for a character he invented. That is a special talent in an author. ...more
Sometimes reading becomes an act of deep-sea diving. Words replace water, but the sense of walking on the ocean floor, the deeps pressing, lingers, esSometimes reading becomes an act of deep-sea diving. Words replace water, but the sense of walking on the ocean floor, the deeps pressing, lingers, especially when the book is special. When the story is over, I am forced to return to the surface, the here and now of reality. Often moments become great spans of time in which I suffer a re-acclimation to the present. I am a fish landed, my mouth gapes, I try to breathe, my eyes pop, I have been hauled from the depths before I was ready.
Such books are a rarity.
Joe Abercrombie could not have written a better sequel. I do not see how this could be improved. Whereas The Blade Itself was good, this is great. Where once characters were interesting, now they hold gravity. They live and die upon the page, in the mud, and I feel their presence, their hopes, their blood pulsing, their agony, and their deaths.
All the characters are back in this installment of the First Law Trilogy. Abercrombie braids the various stories into a single living tapestry of gristly fantasy.
If you've already read The Blade Itself, you're going to read this book and you don't want a drawn out review.
I listened to the audiobook, and Steven Pacey reads flawlessly. I stand in stunned awe of his narrative mastery.
And thus, it is back in the water with me. I must return to the ocean floor, to the dark deeps. ...more
I'm not certain, but I believe I've just been Abercrombied.
This was my introduction to Joe Abercrombie. The writing is solid, polished, and shines witI'm not certain, but I believe I've just been Abercrombied.
This was my introduction to Joe Abercrombie. The writing is solid, polished, and shines with competency. Even when the story lost momentum, Abercrombie's rich style and talent for crafting sentences stole my attention. The Blade Itself is book #1 in the "First Law Trilogy," and shows all the expected trappings of a foundational story. This is not to say it is ripe with tropes or weary with jagged plot construction, far from it, but it also fails to provide any true sense of conclusion or major goal achieved. It does however set the table for the series, and it does this well.
I appreciated the growth and diversity of character. It does tip a little heavy to male POV, but maybe in future books we'll get more female characters interacting on the page. There are two prominent female characters but neither one feels like they get to have time of their own in this first book. I was flatly stunned at how quickly the character Glokta became a favorite. Glokta is no saint. He's a crippled remnant of the man he once was, yet his grit is iron. He's not too nice though. I mean he is a torturer who once was tortured and still suffers. But still, my heart went out to him. Which begs the question, what the hell is wrong with me.
I was absolutely floored by the scene in which Logen becomes the Bloody Nine. Abercrombie yanked the carpet out and I tumbled, arms and legs akimbo. I suspect this is partly because Abercrombie is just a damn good writer, but also he skilled in the craft of stoking anticipation in his readers. By the time I get to see the Bloody Nine, I'm god damned ready for it! What does this mean? It means that Abercrombie manipulated me like a puppet on a string. He told me to dance, and I danced. Only good writers achieve this without inducing gross irritation. I'm not irritated, I want more.
This should appeal to all fans of good writing, but especially those who enjoy their fantasy with a little gristle.
Wow, what a pleasurable read. The writing is crisp, clever, and brimming with wit. I lost count at how many times I laughed out loud, but I'll bet itWow, what a pleasurable read. The writing is crisp, clever, and brimming with wit. I lost count at how many times I laughed out loud, but I'll bet it was more than twenty, and I'm not overly prone to outbursts of literary inducing guffaws. Michael Page, as narrator, is flawless in his reading.
It was a delight to encounter some of the original characters back in action. One issue I had with Red Seas Under Red Skies was that it didn't address the gaping wound that The Lies of Locke Lamora left with the reader. And while I didn't care for the end of the main story, I loved the epilog that Lynch left us with. ...more
This book is a delight. Hearing Neil Gaiman voice his words is wonderful and moving. His narration gives this story just the right amount of gravity.
TThis book is a delight. Hearing Neil Gaiman voice his words is wonderful and moving. His narration gives this story just the right amount of gravity.
Thank you, Mr. Gaiman. Thank you for writing a story that made me cry, that made me remember how many steps there were (eighteen) on that steep stairway in the stout old farmhouse of my childhood, and that made me remember we are not all alone. I wish I could give you a hug. Not a long smothering sort of hug, reserved for seldom-visited overenthusiastic grandmotherly women who rarely see the open smiles of children, but a firm brisk hug. Yes, I would like to give you a quick hug of appreciation. I would tell you how much I enjoyed this book. I would of course say thank you because it is the polite thing to do after all. And then I would smile and let you go about your life... Oh who am I kidding, I want to be invited to Pat Rothfuss's party, I want to talk about which doctor was my favorite, and...
Let there be more stories like this. Let the bright moon shine on those stairs, let the ocean call us all to sit and remember how things were, and how they might yet be. Let more stories remind us of those twisting corridors, winding passages, and endless doors that are just waiting for fingers to test their locks, to push them open, to explore what is beyond the commonplace.
I figure that if you want to know what this story is about, you'll red the synopsis. I always assume that this goes without saying, but then again herI figure that if you want to know what this story is about, you'll red the synopsis. I always assume that this goes without saying, but then again here I am saying it... To my mind, the rating system isn't so much about determining a definitive degree of a book's good/bad but rather the reader's experience with the book.
I liked what Jemison sets out to do in this story and I found her attention to detail regarding culture and tradition nicely constructed. A few times I was drawn into the narrative and for these moments, it was a pleasure. But too much of the time I spent wanting to know more about this or that, wishing Jemisin would supply more texture to the world with respect to "showing" rather than the abundance of "telling" that is present in this book. Jemisin spends a great deal of time "telling" the reader this or that but doesn't invest the same amount of time "showing" the reader these things. I wanted to feel the grit of sand or taste the spice on my fingers... If an author can show me these things, I am happy. But when an author simply tells me of these things, I turn away and feel empty.
I wanted Jemisin to make me feel something, anything, about these characters... never really happened though. I was interested to know what was going to occur in the same way I am interested to see how a sporting event plays out at the end after investing time, but Jemisin failed to instill any measure of genuine interest in her characters for me. I wanted to care but in the end, I didn't give a damn one way or the other, and this feels like a missed opportunity.
Jemisin is a talented writer! I just feel her characters don't breathe and act on the page yet without her telling me that they are doing so. ...more
It was fun to pick this back up and reread it as an adult. And while the writing may be slightly clunky with a few too many adverbs, it remains enjoyaIt was fun to pick this back up and reread it as an adult. And while the writing may be slightly clunky with a few too many adverbs, it remains enjoyable. I found it equally interesting to observe the story's structure and how it is presented to the reader with regards to the craft of writing and storytelling. I suppose I'd normally give this three stars but for the sake of nostalgia, I give it four – Damn it!...more
I liked this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next one but this didn't knock me on my ass like Lies did. Make no mistake - Lynch delivers iI liked this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next one but this didn't knock me on my ass like Lies did. Make no mistake - Lynch delivers in the quality of his writing. But there were too many times when the story itself felt as if it were unraveling or wabling like an overly tired top....more
New to Abercrombie? Then set this aside and pick up The Blade Itself. It's quite good, and will provide a comprehensive beginning to the world and cNew to Abercrombie? Then set this aside and pick up The Blade Itself. It's quite good, and will provide a comprehensive beginning to the world and characters.
If you're not an Abercrombie newbie, by all means, proceed good reader; proceed.
Blood, violence, the relative importance of war, political taint, reveling in butchery, and all in three days. My my, isn't brutality busy.
We're introduced to many new faces, and a good deal of familiar ones. There were parts of this story that were unbelievably good, so good that I felt the here and now slipping away. The battle scenes are well crafted, and when Abercrombie focuses the lens, providing us with an intimate glimpse surrounding one or two characters, the writing is spectacular. I appreciated how war is presented. We're not force-fed the over troped-out version of battlefield heroics, last stands, and the worthy rewarded with riches and validations. Rather, we are shown the honed edge of reality, where men, good men, die for no greater reason than where they happen to be standing, or wearing. The magic in this book lies in Abercrombie's talent for showing, not telling, and in character authenticity. I will add that this book contains one of the best endings I've read yet, certainly in the top five of all endings I've come across.
The audiobook is amazing. Thank you, Steven Pacey, thank you.
I gave myself a few days before writing this review. Needed some distance for perspective and rumination. This is a solid Abercrombie book. When it is working, it is tight. I feel the story suffers from an awful lot of good, with a few towering pillars of incredible. When such a story involves so many characters, it develops a few thin spots, slack points in the narrative when you feel uncertain to your footing. I understand that this is a necessity, especially in a book about so much combat. We can't always be all ahead full, blades slipping, axes splitting, shields smashing. We must have some moments for pause, breath, and rest. But this balance felt slightly oblong, wobbly in its inability to spin slip-true. ...more
Such a good story. I don't mind admitting that the bonds of friendship and love between boy, dog, and Burrich pulled heavily on my heartstrings. I'm lSuch a good story. I don't mind admitting that the bonds of friendship and love between boy, dog, and Burrich pulled heavily on my heartstrings. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy. For myself, any time the author is successful at evoking an emotional response from me, I know the story is told true and well. This book had me reading late into the night in order to remain within the story.
If you're looking for a solid and well-written fantasy that may tickle one's nostalgia for good story, look no further. I think you will be nicely satisfied with Assassin's Apprentice. I know I was. ...more
A true delight to read. I only experienced one small period of doubtful hesitation as to whether or not I should continue reading and this occurred quA true delight to read. I only experienced one small period of doubtful hesitation as to whether or not I should continue reading and this occurred quite near the beginning. I am so happy I stuck with the sudden shifts of story until I got used to them and found myself enjoying them.
Lynch creates a wondrous city crammed full with grit, intrigue, and a narrative that never sits still for long. Oh, and he also tells a beautiful story that swallows the reader whole.
It's a good story and I'll read the next book in this line but I was disappointed with how the narrative fell into a run-of-the-mill wagon rut which aIt's a good story and I'll read the next book in this line but I was disappointed with how the narrative fell into a run-of-the-mill wagon rut which at times, seemed all too predictable. Brett is a better writer than this book shows....more
I stepped into this story so completely I'll need some time to decompress. Even though it was a long book, it doesn't seem long enough. This was an enI stepped into this story so completely I'll need some time to decompress. Even though it was a long book, it doesn't seem long enough. This was an engaging and well-written story. I'll be back for more....more