The only story I read from this collection is 'Black Dog,' as I wanted to continue on with Shadow, the protagonist of American Gods. It was a really gThe only story I read from this collection is 'Black Dog,' as I wanted to continue on with Shadow, the protagonist of American Gods. It was a really good story, on par with The Monarch of the Glen, the other short story/novella about Shadow's continuing exploits....more
I picked this up at a used bookstore on Bainbridge Island while on vacation for two reasons -- I really like Sir Terry Pratchett, and this particularI picked this up at a used bookstore on Bainbridge Island while on vacation for two reasons -- I really like Sir Terry Pratchett, and this particular novel shares my name. So it seemed like fate I should pick it up. It was so short that I read it mostly in one sitting while still on vacation.
Being the ninth Discworld book, this may sound odd, but you can still tell this is early Pratchett, when he was still feeling out the world and the characters. It's still good, solid work, and it has some great comedic moments, but it's not as refined and sharp as his later work.
That said, if you are looking for a parody of the Trojan Horse myth, the tale of creation, or a "be careful what you wish for" genie story, all with hapless wizard Rincewind stuck in the middle and looking only to flee, look no further....more
I was only made aware of this audiobook -- and the Pathfinder Tales series in general -- because Pathfinder publisher Paizo emailed me letting me knowI was only made aware of this audiobook -- and the Pathfinder Tales series in general -- because Pathfinder publisher Paizo emailed me letting me know it was available for free on Audible.
Well, their promotional strategy was a definite success, as I really enjoyed this novel, and would definitely read another Pathfinder Tales novel -- especially another audiobook from the creative team of author James Sutter and narrator Ray Porter. Seriously, Porter's narration is among the best I've ever heard, and especially chilling when he's voicing angels and demons.
Speaking to this novel, it is set in the Pathfinder role-playing universe, in a very specific land with a distinct Arabian flavor. This made the novel both familiar enough to be accessible and differentiated enough to be interesting. Anyone who has enjoyed the DragonLance and/or Forgotten Realms novels from the Dungeons & Dragons universe will likely enjoy this a great deal....more
I really enjoyed this mystical tale of a Daoist exorcist's daughter in late 1800s San Francisco. There were a lot of fantastical elements, but the stoI really enjoyed this mystical tale of a Daoist exorcist's daughter in late 1800s San Francisco. There were a lot of fantastical elements, but the story interwove them well, so it never felt unbelievable.
There were many interesting characters, including protagonist Li-lin, with the gift/curse of ghost eyes, and many of the supporting cast. Her relationship with her father was particularly interesting, as was her relationship with his severed eyeball, which became the spirit known as Mr. Yanqiu. Other supporting characters, such as the cat spirit Mao'er, antagonist businessman Bok Choy, and the mysterious Buddhist monk who is actually a tiger, helped to flesh out the tale.
I was a bit worried the story would stay in the spirit world once Li-lin ventured there in the first chapter, but fortunately that journey was short lived. While I did enjoy the spirit world, which reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, it was an effect best used in small doses.
All in all, I'd strongly recommend this to anyone that likes fantasy stories that are influenced by different cultures and traditions other than the typical Western European J.R.R. Tolkien archetypes....more
An interesting New Weird novel that stretched to the absolute limit how much oddity I'm willing to read. The style of repetetive, bait-and-switch writAn interesting New Weird novel that stretched to the absolute limit how much oddity I'm willing to read. The style of repetetive, bait-and-switch writing wore thin after a while (Picture a house. It is just like you are picturing, except that it does not in any way resemble what you are picturing), but I understood its purpose in setting the mood of the novel. As far as the story, 90% of the plot is hiding in the last 10% of the novel, although the point of this novel was not the plot, so it's not that much of a detractor. I'm also sure there were a lot of references and other Easter eggs I missed, as I've never listened to the podcast the novel is based on....more
Added to my to-read shelf after seeing this review:
A fun romp through (and at times subverting) tropes; recommended for those who enjoyed Ready Playe
Added to my to-read shelf after seeing this review:
A fun romp through (and at times subverting) tropes; recommended for those who enjoyed Ready Player One and thought, "What this book needs is more time in ZORK." Here’s book one: "It’s a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble. Oh, and boy meets girl at some point. Off to Be the Wizard is a light, comedic novel about computers, time travel, and human stupidity, written by Scott Meyer, the creator of the internationally known comic strip Basic Instructions. Magic will be made! Legends will be created! Stew will be eaten!"
Well that review clearly didn't correspond to how I felt about this book, which I couldn't even finish. The review's comparison to Ready Player One was unfair to that novel, which was fun and engaging and nerdy in all the right ways. Where RPO was a modern, socially acceptable and fun nerd, this book was a stereotypical 1980s basement-dwelling neckbeard troll nerd, as unlikable as they are socially inept -- just like protagonist Martin Banks. And it is hard enough with an unlikable main character, but add in a flimsy, ridiculous set-up and a blunted writing style that did not explain the character's motivations or actions and you've totally lost me.
Note, my one star review is not a reflection in any way of narrator Luke Daniels, who does a kick-ass job on Kevin Hearne's Hounded urban fantasy series....more
When I was about sixteen years old, a family friend lent a paperback copy of this to me. I read a number of chapters, becoming less and less interesteWhen I was about sixteen years old, a family friend lent a paperback copy of this to me. I read a number of chapters, becoming less and less interested when each started out with an entirely new cast of characters and the previous characters never cycled back to the forefront. At that time, the fantasy I was reading was much more straightforward -- David Eddings, David Gemmell and the like -- so the impressive scope of the work was entirely lost on me, and I returned it shortly thereafter, mostly unread.
Now, as an adult, I have little doubt of my ability to handle the complexity of the work, but I also refuse to attempt reading it again until the author finishes the series -- my solution to the Rothfuss conundrum. So, someday in the distant future I may restart and finish this series, if GRRM sees fit to conclude it. Until then, I will be blissfully unaware of the significance of the water cooler chatter surrounding weddings both red and purple, and of winter coming, and of Jon Snow, et al....more
Does everything that Brandon Sanderson touch turn into gold? I'm not 100% sure, but I am beginning to suspect so, as this is yet another hit in a longDoes everything that Brandon Sanderson touch turn into gold? I'm not 100% sure, but I am beginning to suspect so, as this is yet another hit in a long string of hits for the author. And how does he keep writing them at such a breakneck pace? This is yet another well executed story stemming from a very interesting, and original, idea that bends fantasy, science-fiction, and all its constructs together....more
I ordered this and had been meaning to read it to my kids at bedtime, but hadn't found the time. When Terry Pratchett passed away, I promised myself II ordered this and had been meaning to read it to my kids at bedtime, but hadn't found the time. When Terry Pratchett passed away, I promised myself I would do it that night as a little tribute to him, and I went home and did. Unfortunately, life is not a fairy tale, and my kids were not interested at all, and so I finished reading the title story to myself while my kids jumped frantically around me. It was still a strangely cathartic experience. In another year or two I'll give this book another shot with my daughter, the older of my two kids, and see if it catches her interest at that point....more
It would be impossible to write a review about this novel without mentioning the non-traditional format in which it is written, so I'll just get thatIt would be impossible to write a review about this novel without mentioning the non-traditional format in which it is written, so I'll just get that out of the way first; The author uses diaries, letters, audio and video recording transcripts, and snippets of books and newspaper articles to piece together the narrative. While this may sound gimmicky -- it is gimmicky -- it faded to the background very quickly to me. This surprised me as I thought it would be tough to read something in this format, especially because the novel literally starts in the middle of a sentence. But it genuinely works for this story, so let's move on.
The story that is told is a new-weird/horror/mystery amalgam that hooked me very early and delivered through the end. Despite being set in 1995 Virginia, a gothic mood palpable, and as is often the case, the spooky Axton House almost becomes a character itself. There are very few actual characters other than protagonists A. and his "companion" Niamh, and very little is learned about these characters either, other than the fact they like The X-Files, so anyone seeking a character study can look elsewhere. But the mystery is compelling, as is the cryptography mentioned that A. and Niamh employ to discover what exactly is going on in the recently inherited estate. I won't say more about the plot, but will say that anyone that liked Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore will almost definitely also like this book, as they share similarities on multiple levels....more
'A Year and a Day in Old Theradane' by Scott Lynch
An excellent short story about a team of former rogues,The stories I read from this collection are:
'A Year and a Day in Old Theradane' by Scott Lynch
An excellent short story about a team of former rogues, including a wizard and a steampunk robot, who have retired to the city of Old Theradane, a magical place with psychedelic colored rain and a pub inside the skeleton of a dragon, only to be brought out of retirement to steal an entire street. I hope that this isn't the only story Lynch writes featuring these characters, as I really enjoyed the brief time I spent with them. And I wonder, due to the team's all-female gender make-up, if this story was originally slated for the previous Dangerous Women anthology.
'How the Marquis Got His Coat Back' by Neil Gaiman
I loved Gaiman's novel Neverwhere, and loved revisiting the Marquis of Carabas in this inventive short story, filled with twists and turns and colorful characters that could only have come from Gaiman's imagination. My only criticism is the multiple deus ex machina moments brought on by the appearances of the Marquis of Carabas' older brother.
'The Lightning Tree' by Patrick Rothfuss
Whereas I found Rothfuss' short story 'How Old Holly Came to Be' extremely disappointing, this story, which focused on Bast during the Kvothe-as-innkeeper-Kote years, conversely, made me yearn to revisit the world of the Kingkiller Chronicles. Written as a day-in-the-life narrative, it didn't push too deeply into the mythos of the world, but did give some insight into this mysterious fae apprentice character, and told a satisfying small-scale tale....more
I first want to note the only reason I am not giving this five stars is that I'd already read two sections of the novel, "The Girl in the Mirror" in DI first want to note the only reason I am not giving this five stars is that I'd already read two sections of the novel, "The Girl in the Mirror" in Dangerous Women and "The Duel" in Unfettered, as previously published short stories, and that rereading them as sections of the novel became a very anticlimactic chore, taking away from the flow and suspense of the final novel.
That gripe aside, I really enjoyed how this tied up Quentin's -- and all the "Physical Kids," for that matter -- journeys through Brakebills, the real world, and, of course, Fillory. Every character has an opportunity to shine, with a great deal of character growth and maturation shown, and all the major plot elements are resolved, without anything having a bow tied on it too cutely. Seeing how the trilogy wrapped up, my recommendation of it couldn't be higher -- although I'd suggest skipping those two short stories and just reading the three novels. ...more
Update: I am going to leave my earlier rant about Rothfuss below, since it received so much commentary -- both positive and negative. Here I will leavUpdate: I am going to leave my earlier rant about Rothfuss below, since it received so much commentary -- both positive and negative. Here I will leave my thoughts on the novella, now having read it.
There is no way I can review this without it looking like I am just piling on and confirming what I ranted about, but let me assure you, despite my wish that he finish the Kingkiller trilogy first, I really wanted to like this. I did enjoy The Lightning Tree, another diversion of his, a great deal.
That all said, this is a beautifully written and illustrated story in which almost nothing happens -- except Auri being generally strange, giving names to various objects, and making soap. Mysterious minor characters like Auri seem to work a lot better in smaller doses, not following their every odd action for an entire week. The only time the prose wasn't beautiful was when the title -- "the slow regard of silent things" -- was awkwardly inserted into the text at one point. Kvothe isn't even mentioned by name, although he is clearly alluded to. The end of the novella did allude to Kvothe's future in an interesting way, although it wasn't worth the 160 pages getting to it.
Also, I wasn't a huge fan of Rothfuss's afterward non-apology apology, that read, "If you’re one of the people who found this story disconcerting, off-putting, or confusing, I apologize. The truth is, it probably just wasn’t for you." I didn't find it any of those things, I just didn't find it compelling.
This is not a review of this book, as it is not out yet. I just needed to vent after hearing about the upcoming release of this novella.
Am I the only person that thinks that Patrick Rothfuss may be getting lost in the echo chamber of his fanboys' squeeing adulation?
Let me back up and explain a bit. The Name of the Wind is an amazing book, and it brought me back to reading the fantasy genre, so don't think I hate this author or all of his works. But he committed to the Kingkiller trilogy, saying, for one thing, that it would only be a trilogy, and for another, and I will just quote this directly from his blog:
The second and third books of the trilogy should be coming out fairly quickly, considering how long they are and the fact that I’m fairly obsessive when it comes to my writing. That means book two should be out about two years from now. Book three will be a year or so after that... The trilogy is already written all the way through to the end, but there is still some editorial work to be done. I want the second one to be at least as good as the first, if not better. That takes time.
This blog was written on April 18, 2007. Note that it says the books are "already written all the way through to the end" and that the releases should be in 2009 for The Wise Man's Fear and 2010 for Doors of Stone. The reality is he overshot both of those predictions by not publishing The WiseMan's Fear until 2011, and there is no sign of things improving, since Rothfuss has already said Doors of Stone won't be out until at least 2015-2016.
So why am I mad that I am getting this in the meantime? Shouldn't this help tide me over until the final book in the trilogy comes out? Shouldn't I be more supportive of his creative process and understand that "it will be done when it is done?" Maybe, but I think I also have a right to be annoyed that I was promised something by the author and not only hasn't he delivered, he is more than five years overshot his estimate. I get optimistic estimates, but this is well beyond that.
I think its possible that Rothfuss has become too enamored with his own celebrity, hosting shows about writing, penning children's books, running an annual charity drive, becoming involved in a myriad of Kickstarter projects, and now writing three short pieces in the Four Corners universe -- How Old Holly Came to Be, The Lightning Tree, and now this novella -- instead of finishing his long-overdue promised trilogy.
And despite all this stalling, all I see is his fans tripping over themselves to placate his procrastination. I think he should remember what made him famous in the first place and focus on that. And I realize it is not popular to shame authors into writing, but fact is, he claimed this was written back in 2007, and no amount of editing could take this long.
Will I read those short stories and this novella? Almost definitely. But I won't pay money for them, and I will likely be annoyed the entire time that Rothfuss refuses to instead deliver what he promised seven years ago. Sour grapes? Surely. A valid complaint? I think so, obviously....more
I cannot recommend this highly enough. This is the distilled, Pappy Van Winkle 15-year-old whiskey of Joe Abercrombie books. It has everything I likeI cannot recommend this highly enough. This is the distilled, Pappy Van Winkle 15-year-old whiskey of Joe Abercrombie books. It has everything I like about his work -- great characters, grit, excellent writing -- without anything I don't like about some of his earlier works -- being overlong, too many character perspectives, being incredibly depressing (Abercrombie's earlier books are not grimdark, they are GrimDark).
It seems taking a break from his First Law series and writing in this new world, and for a new market -- being as this is classified as YA -- has really refreshed him. His pacing has drastically improved from his last book, Red Country. That one was, sadly, a bit of a lengthy slog, as it seemed he was burnt out coming up with new dragons to slay in the sixth book in that world.
But back to this book, it starts off as a typical epic fantasy, although without any magic. The protagonist is Yarvi, a young prince thrust into the throne after the death of his father and brother, which is, to put it mildly, a task he is ill equipped to handle. But instead of following that formula further -- that would be the one where a wise mentor selflessly guides him and helps him avoid the pitfalls of his new responsibilities while molding him into the one and true king of all fantasy tropes -- this instead took many, many twists and turns I will not enumerate here at the expense of spoiling your reading pleasure.
And that is part of the beauty of Abercrombie's work, he deals with likelihoods instead of formulas, as you have to be realistic about these things. Is it more likely a benevolent mentor helps Yarvi without an agenda of their own, or that Yarvi will have to go floundering through this transition with a target on his back and little more than his wits to guide him? You know what Abercrombie's answer to that question is.
While this reads well as a stand-alone novel, it will be a trilogy, and the second book, Half the World, is due out in February 2015, and the third, Half a War, is tentatively due out in July 2015, according to Abercrombie's blog. I am very much looking forward to reading them.
One final note to anyone put off by the YA marketing of this novel, don't be, this is Abercrombie's best work yet, for readers of any age.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review....more
**spoiler alert** The Companions, the previous book featuring Drizzt and the Companions of the Hall -- although it almost exclusively followed Bruenor**spoiler alert** The Companions, the previous book featuring Drizzt and the Companions of the Hall -- although it almost exclusively followed Bruenor, Catti-Brie and Regis, and not Drizzt or Wulfgar -- set-up this book up nicely, reuniting Drizzt and his closest friends, now resurrected into new, nearly identical bodies.
This book starts off with the protagonists in Icewind Dale, with the group's immediate goal of travelling to the abandoned dwarf stronghold of Gauntlgrym to bring peace to the now-vampiric Thibbledorf Pwent. It also follows, separately, anti-hero Artemis Entreri and his band of rogues, and the dark machinations of the drow elves in Menzoberranzan, which are colonizing Gauntlgrym for themselves with the help of an illithid, a.k.a. a mind flayer.
My only real issue with this book was that I was not nearly as engaged in the segments that did not feature Drizzt and company. While all three plot-lines did converge into an exciting, intertwined third act, I feel like a lot of the other plots, especially those with the drow political intrigues, could have happened off screen. Salvatore's writing is definitely at its peak when his characters are adventuring and skirmishing, and not politicking.
All in all, another solid entry in the Drizzt saga that was slightly weighed down by extraneous side characters.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review....more
Not Neil Gaiman's finest work -- it was written back in 1986 -- but an interesting short story from the point of view of dread Cthulhu himself. It canNot Neil Gaiman's finest work -- it was written back in 1986 -- but an interesting short story from the point of view of dread Cthulhu himself. It can be found here for a free quick online read....more
A charming, whimsical story I look forward to reading to my children -- because it doesn't get better than time-traveling dinosaurs and alien invadersA charming, whimsical story I look forward to reading to my children -- because it doesn't get better than time-traveling dinosaurs and alien invaders. Unfortunately, with all those rather convoluted elements, I may have to wait a bit longer to introduce them to this than I'd otherwise like. No matter, I enjoyed reading it to myself in the meantime.
Update: I just read this to my six-year-old daughter, and she loved it....more
I added this to my to-read shelf after seeing it on the AV Club's Best of 2013 list. After reading it, my initial take is that I found it a bit underwI added this to my to-read shelf after seeing it on the AV Club's Best of 2013 list. After reading it, my initial take is that I found it a bit underwhelming. Maybe I expected it to be more exciting? Faster paced? More charged with the clash of its disparate cultures? I'm honestly not sure. I can see why it made the best of the year list. It is beautifully written, and magical realism is a critical darling of speculative fiction.
The beginning was interesting -- the creation of the golem and her journey across the ocean, the unleashing of the Jinni and his adjustment to New York -- but somewhere in the middle I lost interest. While I found the Jinni's story more interesting than the Golem's, neither compelled me to keep reading. It also didn't help that the Golem and Jinni didn't meet until halfway into the novel, and even then the plot seemed content to meander aimlessly along. Things did pick up eventually, and I am glad that I stuck with it, although I do feel that one aspect of the conclusion was a bit incongruous with the magic system that was set up (view spoiler)[Why wasn't the Golem compelled to release Yehudah Schaalman, her new master, from the flask after Mahmoud Saleh imprisoned him? (hide spoiler)].["br"]>["br"]>...more