I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this book was the one that put me off fantasy for years afterwards. Part of me was slightly interested...moreI'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this book was the one that put me off fantasy for years afterwards. Part of me was slightly interested in how the whole thing was going to end but it was over-ruled by the knowledge of nine books (at the time) after this one that I was going to have to push through. The story itself is such a fantasy cliche. Kid finds out he's the chosen one, has to defeat the big bad. I liked that story the first couple of times I read it. The characters are unlikeable and I sure didn't want to spend more volumes reading about them.(less)
Homicide cop Arthur Wallace gets recruited by British intelligence agency MI37 and plunged into a secret war against alien horrors called the Progeny....moreHomicide cop Arthur Wallace gets recruited by British intelligence agency MI37 and plunged into a secret war against alien horrors called the Progeny. But one member of his team is a mole and is actually working to bring the unspeakable cosmic horror known as the Feeders into our reality...
This book was almost good. Let's examine the good points first before I tear it a new orifice. - The core concept was well thought out. I love the idea of neighboring realities and horrible maggot like things that live inside people's heads working to bring Cthulhu-like monsters into our reality. - The electricity-based magic system was great. The phrase "Electricity is the universal lubricant" will stick with me for quite a while. - The characters Clyde, Tabitha, and Kayla were quite memorable. You've got the nerdlinger wizard, the angry goth researcher, and the killing machine, all with quirks that make them more than stereotypes. - Copious Kurt Russel references. Come on, the man played Snake Plissken AND Jack Burton! - British humor. No explanation needed.
And here comes the rant: Arthur is a veteran homicide cop but acts more like an insurance agent for most of the book. One of the supporting characters tells him to grow a pair at one point. Arthur apparently needed to grow an entire squadron. He spends most of the book bemoaning that he's not a hero. Like most urban fantasy heroes, he spends most of the book out of his depth and takes a tremendous shit-kicking.
Basically, if No Hero had a lead who wasn't so passive, it probably would have been a four star book. All the winning ingredients are there. Its magic system is very original and I love a lot of the cast. It's not a bad book but the fact that it took me three attempts to get all the way through it should be an indicator of how many problems I had with it. I enjoyed the hell out of a few parts of it but not enough to read the next book in the series.
A phrase that is repeated quite a few times in the book is "What would Kurt Russell do?" Well, he probably would have quit reading this book after fifty pages.
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 tried hard to like this book but in the end decided it was only okay. There were parts of it I really liked, namely The Hunter and his interactions...moreI tried hard to like this book but in the end decided it was only okay. There were parts of it I really liked, namely The Hunter and his interactions with The Bride. Otherwise, I felt like much was left unexplained and more than once I felt as if I'd turned over two pages at once. I didn't really care about most of the characters and some of the story logic was a little suspect. I liked the concept of intrigue in the fairy courts and again, the Hunter was a compelling character. (less)
The Hidden City: In the fifth book in the Dungeon Series, the group is scattered across the eighth level of the Dungeon. Clive and Guafe end up being...moreThe Hidden City: In the fifth book in the Dungeon Series, the group is scattered across the eighth level of the Dungeon. Clive and Guafe end up being giant sized and captured by the Ren. Neville and Shriek are shrunken and join forces with a band of rat riders. Tomas and Sidi meet a gang of feral kids, led by a giant slug named Frenchie while Annabelle and the rest mingle with dead rock stars and a psycho biker named John The Baptist. Another fine day in the Dungeon...
In the fifth volume, a lot of questions get answered but some yet remain. Clive and company find out that the war between the Ren and the Chaffri isn't the only thing going on in the Dungeon. There's a third force jockeying for power and everyone think's Folliot and his gang are part of it. The purpose of everyone in the Dungeon being after the Folliots is answered... or it is?
De Lint's writing continues to be the best in the series. Annie and Shriek's personalities haven't mutated and their dialogue is actually consistent with the last book. A couple of the twists seemed a little forced but five books deep, it has to be getting hard for the writers not to be trampling over one another's stuff.
While I'm digging The Dungeon, I'm really ready for it to be over. I've grown to love Clive, Shriek, and the others, even Neville, over the past 1000+ pages but the story is getting to be like a batch of good chili. You like it for the first couple of days but after a week, you're ready for something else. Let's hope Lupoff can wrap this up in a satisfying manner.
The Final Battle: I'm not going to dignifiy this with a summary. Let's just say that Lupoff shat on books 2-5 and went with what he had in mind when he wrote the first book. I made it to page 100 and just couldn't take it anymore. None of the characters acted the same, none of the events in the previous volume were mentioned, and the ninth level of the dungeon was ignored completely. I can't believe Lupoff even read books 2-5. The whole point of a shared world is to actually share it, not ignore everything you didn't write. I had such high hopes for the end but instead get a piece of crap that doesn't even connect with the previous five books. I would have been better off imagining what happened in the sixth book.
In conclusion, the first five books of Philip Jose Farmer's The Dungeon were passable to good. The final book, however, shouldn't be touched with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole.(less)
Raised in an abbey, Erevis Cale's son Vasen lives a life of peace despite being born of shadow, until he gets caught in the schemes of demons and devi...moreRaised in an abbey, Erevis Cale's son Vasen lives a life of peace despite being born of shadow, until he gets caught in the schemes of demons and devils. Can Vasen and his new friend Orsin stop the machinations of Mephistopheles and prevent the world from being destroyed?
I got this courtesy of NetGalley and Wizards of the Coast.
When I got the first two books of The Sundering from Netgalley, I assumed they were closely linked. They are not. They both are set in the Forgotten Realms around the same time period but that's about as far as it goes.
The Godborn is the tale of several beings that are the chosen of various gods, some trying to prevent the Cycle of Night, others trying to stop it. Vasen Cale, son of the presumed deceased Erevis Cale, was whisked forward in time 70 years while still in the womb in order to hide him from his father's enemies. He lives a life of peace in an abbey until trouble comes knocking.
I was not a tremendous fan of this book, especially compared with The Companions. First of all, the Companions was accessible to me, a Forgotten Realms noob, whereas this one had me in the dark a lot of the time. None of the characters were very likeable or interesting and a lot of the book seemed like filler between battle scenes.
The thing that stopped me from giving this a one was Paul S. Kemp's writing. I'd like to read something of his not set in the Forgotten Realms and featuring likeable characters. Also, the ending was pretty good, from what I understood of it.
The Godborn is a hard 2. I'm not sure if I'm going to read the final book in The Sundering series.
Edit: Young Anthony tells me there are seven books in this series, not three. My relationship with The Sundering has been Sundered.(less)
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.
**spoiler alert** Stannis Baratheon marches on Winterfell from the Wall. Daenerys's empire is threatened from within. Tyrion finds himself enslaved. C...more**spoiler alert** Stannis Baratheon marches on Winterfell from the Wall. Daenerys's empire is threatened from within. Tyrion finds himself enslaved. Cercei finds herself in chains. The Crow's Eye desires Daenerys for his own but so do several other would-be suitors. And Jon Snow faces dissent from his brothers of the Watch...
In the latest installment of Incest and Intrigue, more of the pieces are placed on the board. Daenerys can't trust anyone. Jon Snow can't trust anyone. Iron Lords cannot trust their own brothers. Sellswords in general cannot be trusted. In short, no one can trust anyone while the Game of Thrones is being played.
This one had its share of memorable moments, both good and ill. I really like how Arya's story is developing but I don't see how it's going to tie back into things. The revelation of Young Griff's true identity was a game changer and its repercussions will be felt in the next couple books. I liked that Brienne is still alive and that Jaime Lannister chose to follow her instead of rushing to Cercei's defense. Jon Snow getting knifed on the Wall by his sworn brothers didn't sit well with me. I'm really hoping he's still alive come next book, whenever that may be.
It looks like Theon is headed for redemption but I'd rather see him dead or taking the black. Bran is progressing nicely. Whatever happened to Ricken and that bastard of Robert's that isn't Gendry? And who is Cercei's new champion Robert Strong, the Mountain, perhaps? Barristan rose a couple notches in my estimation. I'm hoping he continues to draw breath in subsequent books.
I honestly don't think Martin will be able to wrap things up in two more books, not with all the balls he has in the air. Plus, it would be all too easy for him to throw more players into the mix to keep the saga going indefinitely. Still, with A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin has made an Oathbreaker out of me. I once swore I'd never get caught up in a neverending fantasy series. In fact, I believe I said I'd rather eat my own testicles. However, I'm pretty caught up in this one. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to join the tent city on George R.R. Martin's front lawn, to wail and gnash my teeth every night until the next book is ready.(less)
**spoiler alert** The corelings will rise en masse under the new moon and Arlen and company only have a month to prepare for it. Can they survive the...more**spoiler alert** The corelings will rise en masse under the new moon and Arlen and company only have a month to prepare for it. Can they survive the month and the Krasians that draw near Deliverer's Hollow?
After three years of waiting, the third book in the Demon Cycle is upon us. Was it worth the wait?
Meh. I don't know if it's because I've just devoured five George R.R. Martin books in record time or because three years have passed since I read the Desert Spear but The Daylight War didn't blow my doors off the way I thought it would. It wasn't bad but I guess was expecting a whole lot more. Maybe it's just that the newness has worn off but it felt like cotton candy compared to A Song of Ice and Fire.
Much like the Desert Spear, about half of the book is a long flashback involving a secondary character, in this case, Jardir's first wife, Inevera. Inevera's tale is an interesting one of scheming and betrayal.
Unfortunately, it is by far the most interesting part of the book, way more engaging than the main story in my opinion. The way things are going, I'm expecting the next book to have an extended sequence from a demon's point of view.
Worse, both Arlen and Leesha were really getting on my nerves for most of the book. Arlen is now ridiculously powerful and also kind of annoying with his inspirational speeches and modesty. Arlen's relationship with Renna doesn't seem even slightly real to me and feels like a stalling tactic until he inevitably ends up with Leesha. And Leesha is just a mess. She's 28 years old and a healer so she likely knows how babies are made and therefore shouldn't be the least bit surprised when it turns out she's pregnant with Jardir's baby after they've spent quite a bit of time going at it like particularly randy rabbits on a Spring Break field trip to the Viagra factory. Rojer is about the only character I still really like. In fact, his relationship with his two wives is my favorite part of the book with all the maneuvering by various Krasians a close second.
For most of the book, there's too much talking and preparing and not enough payoff. The fights with corelings were good but nothing revolutionary. The last fifty or so pages seemed rushed, however, and end in a cliffhanger. We've been waiting a long time for Arlen and Jardir to square off and we're denied any sort resolution. What we got was good but making us wait untold years before we find out how the fight ends is kind of a cheap shot.
I guess this all sounds kind of harsh. I did like the book overall. Three stars and I'll likely be picking up the next one.(less)
While acting as a middleman on a ransom case, Henghis Hapthorn runs into an amnesiac woman calling herself Hespira. Hapthorn's attempts to restore her...moreWhile acting as a middleman on a ransom case, Henghis Hapthorn runs into an amnesiac woman calling herself Hespira. Hapthorn's attempts to restore her memory take them all over the Spray. Meanwhile, the ransomer and the ransomee both have Hapthorn in their sights. Can Hapthorn restore Hespira's memory before he becomes just a memory himself?
As always, Hughes' love for Jack Vance takes center stage. The Age of Magic draws ever nearer and Henghis Hapthorn ponders his place in the impending Age. Oh, and he attempts to solve the mystery of Hespira's memory loss while having a lot of humorous lines.
Osk Rievor continues his development as a character independent of Henghis. I was pleased that the death of Tabanooch in the previous novel wasn't swept under the rug and I was also delighted to see another Grinnet show up.
You wouldn't think a mystery set in a Jack Vance-like setting would be as complex as the ones Hughes puts forth but this one takes the taco. (view spoiler)[How many mysteries have you read where the origin of an expensive dessert is an integral clue? (hide spoiler)] The setting is nearly a character in itself, what with the multiple worlds, odd cultures, and the whimsies.
Any complaints? Not really. It was quite an enjoyable tale. 3.5 out of 5.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When the instructor at the Combat College is found dead, it is determined that Asodo Hatch and Lupus Lon Oliver, the two best Startroopers, will battl...moreWhen the instructor at the Combat College is found dead, it is determined that Asodo Hatch and Lupus Lon Oliver, the two best Startroopers, will battle for the instructor position in three years time. But will they survive that long with revolution brewing and the religion of Nu-chula-nuth gaining a foothold?
Hugh Cook doing science fiction? In the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness? What gives? Well, this book reveals the truth about things long-hinted at in earlier volumes. The world Cook fashioned has lots of remnants of super science lying around and this book reveals where it all came from.
The Worshippers and the Way takes place in the far flung past of the Chronicles. It turns out the planet was once part of a transcosmic empire called The Nexus, but the Chasm Gate connected it to the rest of the Nexus was 20,000 years dead at the point this story begins. The story is only tangently related to the rest of the Chronicles, though Ebrell Island and The Hermit Crab are mentioned, as are the Golden Gulag. I'd say it's most tied to books 6 & 7.
Enough of the background, this is essentially the story of Asodo Hatch and Lupus Lon Oliver, two soldiers doing their duty and butting heads. Hatch is far more like the standard fantasy or sf hero than most of Hugh Cook's leads. He's the best of the best but Cook makes up for it by having his personal life be a damn mess. Lupus doesn't fare much better. By the end of the tale, it's very apparent how this story is related to the others.
Cook's humor is very apparent in this volume, as is how much effort he put into conceiving the world of Age of Darkness. I'd say there's more world building in this volume than any two other Chronicles put together. It's still good but it feels a bit bogged down at times. Also, I found the sf kind of jarring compared to the other chronicles, though it had to be done eventually.
Still, it had it's moments. How many stories have you read where someone is killed and a plastic bag of dog semen is found lodged in their throat? 3 stars, leaning slightly toward 4. It's by far at the tail end of my list of favorite Hugh Cook books.(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)