Right off the bat, this book has my favorite opening line of any book ever. I'd relate it here but I don't want to spoil it. Never the less, it was wh...moreRight off the bat, this book has my favorite opening line of any book ever. I'd relate it here but I don't want to spoil it. Never the less, it was what made me decide I was going to enjoy this book and its predecessor, Mordred's Curse.
Merlin's Gift was a great sequel and a logical follow up to the first book. It's ten years later and Mordred and Guinevere are keeping things on the down low after the climax of the last book. Guinevere's sister is changing and Mordred goes to Merlin for help. Little does he know the size of the can of worms he opens in the process, leading to the end of Camelot.
To sum up: Interesting take on the Arthurian legend, full of black humor, and finished in just two short books(less)
Jonathan Rebeck, a homeless man, lives in a New York cemetery. His companions are a talking raven and two new ghosts. While the ghosts explore the cir...moreJonathan Rebeck, a homeless man, lives in a New York cemetery. His companions are a talking raven and two new ghosts. While the ghosts explore the circumstances of their deaths and fall in love, Rebeck meets a widow named Mrs. Klapper. Will Rebeck's feelings for Klapper be enough for him to leave behind his cemetery home?
I bought this for a quarter at a book sale and the story was worth a thousand times that. I was hooked from the moment the talking raven tried stealing the salami in the first chapter.
Beagle crafted quite a tale. While it's a fantasy story on the surface, it's really a story about relationships. The relationships between the four main characters is what drives the story and sets it apart from other fantasy tales. Rebeck's fear of the world outside the cemetery was a tangible thing and the revelation of how Michael Morgan really died was one of the more powerful parts of the book. I loved that there was no big bad menace other than the characters' own personalities.
I recommend A Fine and Private Place to fans of fantasy stories that are about people rather than quests.(less)
Black God's Kiss: Joiry falls to a conqueror named Guillaume and Jirel goes to hell for a weapon to use against him.
The first story was pretty good. T...moreBlack God's Kiss: Joiry falls to a conqueror named Guillaume and Jirel goes to hell for a weapon to use against him.
The first story was pretty good. The writing reminds me of Michael Moorcock and the trip to hell uses the strange geometry Lovecraft made popular. The weapon she brought back was a surprise but probably shouldn't have been given the title. Jirel seems like one tough cookie so far, years ahead of her time.
Black God's Shadow: Tormented by the guilt of Guillaume's fate, Joiry returns to hell to put his soul to rest.
The second story wasn't as good as the first and felt like a retread. The setting was the same and the plot was very nearly so. It still had its moments, though.
Jirel Meets Magic: Jirel pursues the wizard Giraud into another realm, intent on killing him.
Yeah, it's pretty much the same story as the first two. Jirel goes to another realm to do something or get something, then kills her enemy. The writing is still good, evocative of Moorcock or Karl Edward Wagner, but the stories are getting tedious.
The Dark Land: On her death bed after a pike wound, Jirel gets whisked off to another realm to be the bride of Pav of Romne, Lord of Darkness.
Seriously? Another plot where Jirel goes to another realm and returns to have everything back to normal? Bleh. I realize the Jirel of Joiry stories weren't meant to be read back to back but come on! The stories are good but they're formulaic as hell.
Hellsgarde: Jirel goes to the ruins of Hellsgarde Castle to find the treasure the long dead owner died for, only to find it inhabited by his descendants. But what hellish purpose would cause them to live there?
At last, a story that breaks from the formula. Even though it's a fairly standard S&S tale, it's probably the best one in the collection.
Quest for the Starstone: Jirel teams up with C.L. Moore's other series character, Northwest Smith, in a tale that spans space and time.
Like a lot of team-up tales, this one failed to meet expectations. The Starstone was kind of a flimsy excuse to get Jirel and Northwest Smith together. Still, it wasn't bad.
The collection of Jirel of Joiry tales wasn't bad but I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I waited a week or two between tales. The first four were essentially the same plot. I can give it a 2.5 but not a 3.(less)
I was really into King Arthur as a kid and when I saw this book and it's sequel in the Science Fiction Book Club's flyer one day years later, I decide...moreI was really into King Arthur as a kid and when I saw this book and it's sequel in the Science Fiction Book Club's flyer one day years later, I decided to give it a chance. King Arthur's story from Mordred's point of view? Sounded interesting.
Interesting was an understatement. The story is told by Mordred and he's bitter as hell about Arthur, his supposed father Lot, and has a strange relationship with his mother. Launcelot is nowhere in this book or its sequel. The things Launcelot is known for, ie romancing Guinevere right under King Arthur's nose, is done by Mordred. And Merlin, don't get me started. He's a half-demon and a pedophile.
The story is engaging, dealing with Mordred growing up on Orkney, eventually joining King Arthur and falling for Guinevere.
If you're looking for a new take on King Arthur, look no further. Plus, the second book in the series, Merlin's Gift, has my favorite opening line of any fantasy book ever.
Sometime in the mid 1980's, Philip Jose Farmer came up with the concept of The Dungeon, a six part saga of Clive Folliot searching bizarre worlds for...moreSometime in the mid 1980's, Philip Jose Farmer came up with the concept of The Dungeon, a six part saga of Clive Folliot searching bizarre worlds for his missing brother, and turned other writers loose on it.
The Black Tower: Major Clive Folliot leaves his post in the army and his lover behind in order to go to equatorial Africa to search for his missing brother Neville. Along the way, he runs afoul of shady gamblers, meets an old friend of his, Horace Hamilton Smythe, and a new friend, Sidi Bombay.
However, once Clive gets to Africa, he finds his journey has just begun when he is plunged into another world, The Dungeon, and has to contend with its mysterious inhabitants while searching for his missing brother...
The concept of The Dungeon is remniscent of both Riverworld and the World of Tiers, two PJF favorites. People are plucked from various worlds and time periods and whisked to the worlds of the Dungeon to take part in some kind of cosmic chess game. The worlds are odd and straight out of PJF. I'm sure Richard A. Lupoff knew what Farmer had in mind when he conceived the Dungeon and tried to stay close to the blueprint.
I've never heard of Richard A. Lupoff before this undertaking. His prose is okay. Nothing to shout about but most of PJF's is the same way.
The characters are fairly well done. I know both Smythe and Bombay are still hiding things. Folliot isn't as skilled as most PJF heroes but the devotion to his brother keeps him going. Finnbogg, the humanoid bulldog, is an endearing sort. I hope nothing ghastly happens to him before series end. I have to say I wasn't surprised by User Annie's true identity. It seemed obvious.
The Dark Abyss: The Dark Abyss starts minutes after the conclusion of The Black Tower. Clive and friends flee the Black Tower and travel to more layers of the Dungeon, still on the trail of Clive's brother and the missing Sidi Bombay. Along the way, Clive earns the nickname Serpent Slayer and a strange relationship developes between he and Shriek.
The Dark Abyss was better written than the Black Tower and more exciting. Clive and company continuously go from one peril to the next. The layers explored in the Dark Abyss were more exotic than those in the previous volume. My two favorite parts of this volume involve Shriek, the humanoid spider woman. The image of the assembled party climbing down Shriek's spider silk rope toward the ocean below was spectacular. The best/weirdest part was the strange telepathic love blossoming between Clive and Shriek. Though I was initially disgusted, part of me was hoping those two would hook up.
The only complaint I had was that Annie's dialogue was nothing like it was in the first book.
Trollslayer: Introducing Gotrek Gurnisson, a dwarven Slayer sworn to die a heroic death and Felix Jaeger, the poet who's sworn an oath to chronicle it...moreTrollslayer: Introducing Gotrek Gurnisson, a dwarven Slayer sworn to die a heroic death and Felix Jaeger, the poet who's sworn an oath to chronicle it. In the stories in the first book contained within this omnibus, Gotrek and Felix encounter cultists, wolf-riding goblins, a ruined dwarven stronghold, a mutant-creating sorceror, and werewolves, among other things.
For years, people have been telling me to read this, saying it's comparable to Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series. After half a decade of putting it off, I finally picked it up. The big Warhammer logo on the front was off putting, so much so that I almost put the book back down. I mean, fiction based on a role playing game? And who is this William King person anyway?
So, I've read through the first story. Are they as good as Leiber's stuff? Of course not. Don't be ridiculous. But they are a rip-roaring good time. I enjoyed myself tremendously. Gotrek is a one-dimensional killing machine but he has funny lines. Felix, on the other hand, is a well developed character that continually examines his place in the world.
William King isn't a bad writer, either, despite me never having heard of him and this being a RPG tie in. Honestly, I'd say his writing is as good as David Gemmell's. The stories are well done, although there are some fantasy cliches present. One thing that pleased me is that the setting seems to be more Eastern European based than most fantasy.
All in all, I'm enjoying the heck out of these.
Skavenslayer: Felix and Gotrek settle in Nuln for a time and find work first as sewerjacks and then as bouncers, all the while encountering the machinations of the skaven in the city's sewers. Can Felix and Gotrek foil the sinister pllots of the skaven?
The second book in this omnibus is a collection of short stories, much like the first. The stories in this one, however, are much more closely tied together. While I liked Skavenslayer, I didn't enjoy it as much as Trollslayer. The stories were a little too Felix-heavy and I never thought the skaven were compitent foes for Gotrek and Felix. Still pretty enjoyable though, good action and a lot of laughs. On to the third book!
Daemonslayer: Felix and Gotrek join a Dwarven expedition into the Chaos Wastes aboard an airship, searching for the lost Dwarven citadel of Karag Dum. But what will they find when, or if, they get there?
Daemonslayer has the epic feel the other two books were lacking and is full of dwarfish goodness. More of Gotrek's pre-Slayer past is revealed, but there are still many questions. Snorri Nosebiter, another Slayer, is introduced. The airship is described well and actually seems plausible. I like that the Warhammer dwarves are good at technology. The journey to Karag Dum doesn't drag, as many epic journeys do, and the final battle is probably in my top ten fantasy final battles of all time.
Upon completing the First Omnibus, I will say that I liked it a lot. It was 700+ pages of pulpy fantasy goodness and I plan on getting the Second Omnibus soon. Gotrek & Felix won't make you forget about Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser but they're entertaining as hell. I'd recommend this book to pulp fantasy fans, as well as fans of David Gemmell.(less)
I bought this years ago in order to read Little Sisters of Eluria, a short story featuring Roland the Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series. It was ye...moreI bought this years ago in order to read Little Sisters of Eluria, a short story featuring Roland the Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series. It was years later when the story made its way into Everything's Eventual. I've never read the other stories.
The plot of Little Sisters is fairly straightforward. Roland gets injured fighting some mutants and is taken to a convent so his wounds will be treated. Only, there is much more to the convent than meets the eye.
If all you're looking for is the Dark Tower story, I'd go with Everything's Eventual instead. That way, you also get the story of Dinky Earnshaw, one of the Breakers.(less)
Imric the Elf Earl steals a human baby and leaves a changeling, Valgard, in his place. Little does he know the changeling will start the worst war the...moreImric the Elf Earl steals a human baby and leaves a changeling, Valgard, in his place. Little does he know the changeling will start the worst war the elves have ever seen. But what of Skafloc, the child that was taken, and the broken sword given to him as a baby by the Aesir?
I originally picked this up because Michael Moorcock frequently cites it as an influence on his Elric saga. Upon reading it, I can see what he means. The Broken Sword has a lot of the epic feel of the Elric saga, complete with a huge war at the end, a sword with a mind of its own, and some tragedy.
The characters were interesting but not developed all that well. You knew from the beginning that Valgard would turn out bad and Skafloc would have to put him down at some point. While a lot of the story was predictable, the ending was a surprise.
One aspect of the book that I really liked was Anderson's elven culture, much more like Moorcock's Melniboneans than Tolkien's elves. The elves are almost amoral and don't just act like humans with pointy ears. They're more like the beautiful yet cruel faeries of some tales.
Anderson draws from Norse myth, as well as Irish and English stories, to craft his saga. He manages an epic feel that many writers don't achieve in several phone-book sized volumes. The two major campaigns both had an end of the world kind of feel to them. I'd say that while this isn't the best fantasy I've ever read, it's a must read for fantasy fans due to the influence it's had on the books that have come afterward.(less)