The magic ships go a little mad…

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)
by Robin Hobb 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Just as good as the first book. Paragon‘s story really takes off. There are some interesting things happening with Reyn and Malta as well. 

Malta evolves from spoilt girl to a more mature person. I did not really buy this change of personality or maturing, it was a bit abrupt. She was an annoying brat and then she was not, from one chapter to the next. It did work out in the end and I really liked her last chapter, where she really comes into herself. I still don‘t like her though.

Kennit is just too enamored with himself. At the end he seems to feel something for Wintrow, maybe because he sees something of himself in him. Other than that he is a nasty piece of work. 

Wintrow takes something of a backseat here, compared to Ship of Magic. Althea is still the best developed character. I am still not sure if I like Brashen. Anyway, many great characters, lots of great developments.

The serpents become very interesting here as well, compared to Ship of Magic, where they felt like superfluous interludes. And the ending was excellent. Great action sequence.

I liked the settings. Divvytown was memorable and I loved Treehaug and the Rain Wilds.

I am really tempted to continue to the last book of this trilogy right away, but I will take a break first… maybe. 5 stars!

PS: Goodness me, it took me two months, with lots of other books in between, to make it through these 900 pages.

Dark elves, dwarves, assassins, the battle is on!

The Legacy (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #7) by R.A. Salvatore

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My second attempt at the Forgotten Realms series. I have a few of them, bought cheaply through Humble Bundle. My first book of the series was The Crystal Shard, which was his first published novel. That one felt a bit like LOTR fanfiction and was not a success for me. I fully expected to dislike Legacy and dump it after the first chapter, plus all of the remaining Forgotten Reals books on my shelf. But lo and behold, I liked it! The writing is a lot better. It is entertaining, low brainpower sword-and-sorcery with dark elves and a fast plot. 

We start off with a lot of dwarves. And some bad guys planning to assassinate Drizzt, dark elf and titular main character. There is a lot of tunnels, darkness, sword fights, intrigue and light humour. Some of the battle scenes were surprisingly graphic and gory for this light read. And there is a lot of battle scenes. Pretty much the second half of the book. This felt a bit like a dungeon crawler, all that was missing was a plan of the tunnels and a few dice for the table-top version.

Drizzt gets to review his past decisions and his psychotic relations. And the baddies underestimate the bonds he has forged with his found family and friends. We are left with a nice blot bunny for the next books. I actually wonder how that will play out, so I plan do continue reading the sequels to this eventually.

Top Ten Tuesday, counting to 10…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

 This week‘s topic / September 13: Books with numbers in the titles

Let‘s see if I manage from one to ten on my shelf of read books…

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)
by Ilona Andrews

I first read this as an online serial on Ilona Andrews’ website, which took most of 2016. I had fun reading the weekly bits and agonizing over them with my reading buddies. However, reading a finished book in one go is a more cohesive affair. It runs smoother, you can read as long as you want, no waiting for the next gripping bit. Also more editing and small improvements on various details. Plus a maturer rating.

“Look, it can be fast, good, or cheap. You can have any two but never all three.”

― Ilona Andrews, One Fell Sweep

Two Ravens and One Crow (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4.3)
by Kevin Hearne

You read that right. I purposefully did not pick The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien… 😜 Instead I picked a short story from The Iron Druid Chronicles. A fun series, if you manage to ignore that a 2000-year-old druid is this dumb and juvenile.

Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1)
by Kelly Meding

Great fun! I almost read it in a day. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey… Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume Four
by Chuck Dixon, Robert Jordan

Another attempt to make headway with this series. I got a very nice hardback edition. Starts with chapter 27 of the book, Shelter From the Storm, and ends with chapter 34 of the book, The Last Village.

Very close to the book. The artwork is nothing breath taking, but well done. Especially the cover gallery in the back has some very nice images.

This takes place roughly in the middle of The Eye of The World, which dragged for me. The pacing of the comic is not much different. I liked it, but it didn‘t tempt me to get another volume right away. If I saw some WoT comics in a second hand store at a reduced price, maybe…

Five Quarters of the Orange
by Joanne Harris

Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story….. Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling.

Rainbow Six (Jack Ryan Universe, #10)
by Tom Clancy

Unusual, as it is one of the rare books where Jack Ryan is not the main character. John Clark is not as black and white and makes for an interesting character. There is the usual body count and a lot of gadgets, all in all a solid thriller.

Sherlock Holmes: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
by David Tipton,  Scott Tipton,  Ron Joseph (Illustrations) 

I have the seen the movie several times, it is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes movies. 

This is a very close retelling of the story. The dramtic chase and the big reveal of Holmes’ secret at the end are well done, as well as the artwork. An enjoyable read and a surprising take on the life of the great detective. Sherlock Holmes fans should not miss this.

Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule from Ecuador to Cuzco
by Dervla Murphy

I really wanted to like this, but after spending ages getting past the first 50 pages I decided to give up. The great thing about travel literature is the things that happen on the way. But as far as I got, the main thing was going up the mountain, over the mountain, down the mountain…. And I did not think the descriptions of the most likely stunning scenery were very good either. Very disappointing.

Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
by Daryl Gregory

Free short story on Tor.com.

“When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely.“

https://www.tor.com/2018/09/19/nine-last-days-on-planet-earth-daryl-gregory/

I‘m Groot! Interesting. I liked it, fascinating take on evolution and alien invasion, great character development. I felt with LT and almost cried with him at the end. Not sure if I am a fan of that quasi open ending. 

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That Will Improve and/or Ruin Everything
by Kelly Weinersmith,  Zach Weinersmith

My NetGalley version only consisted of the introduction and the first two chapters: How to get into space cheaply and asteroid mining. Once I realized that, I mostly skimmed and just perused a bit here and there.

Entertaining, amusing style, that borders on slightly silly. Amusing, very simple comic strips—I recommend reading the ebook version on something that allows colour. Easy to understand explanations of complex topics. Space elevators, reusable rockets, Elon Musk and the odd Star Trek joke make an appearance.

It‘s ok, if you are looking for something light to flick through, when you have a few minutes to spare. Coffee table reading, mostly decorative.

Brandon Sanderson, past and future…

In 2016 I finally started my first Brandon Sanderson book, because people kept raving about him. It took me two years, switching to audio and hiking up the speed to make it through…

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)
by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Here is my review from 2018:

I finally finished, halleluhjah. Only took me two years. I really did not enjoy this book. A lot of my friends love Brandon Sanderson to pieces. I am bowing out. Done, not going to pick up this author anytime soon. Endless, mind numbing details and blah blah blah. Sorry.

Yes, lots of world building, great magic system, lots of good ideas and concepts. 

But eventually it all was just so boooooring. The book is long. Long book. It takes forever for something to happen. Long book is long. More plot would be better. A faster evolving plot would be better still.

I started the ebook in May 2016, read about 200 pages and then stopped to pick up something shorter and more exciting sounding. I never went back to it. People kept raving about Sanderson and my buddies continued the series, full of enthusiasm. So, in another attempt at this I got the audiobook, all scary 45h 34m of it… I listened at 2x speed, to end my suffering sooner. I really had to force myself to pick this up every now and then and plow through another hour of it.

Besides the ridiculous length, the institutionalized racism of the book really bugged me. Yes, it is obviously an integral part of the story, but I found it tiresome and the variance of human appearances unlikely. It somehow rubbed me the wrong way.

I was also not a fan of how women were portrayed.

Have I mentioned how boring I found the book for very long stretches of the way?

And many characters were TSTL. I don’t expect this amount of stupid in a fantasy novel. And they all did too much navel-gazing. I don‘t care for pages and pages of what, if, why, if it leads to no action.

What else? The book felt old-fashioned. Lack of humour, sarcasm or irony. Have I mentioned that the book is too long? And lacks action? Too much repetition and endless build-up? Boring?

I am sooo glad I am done with this. I am now going to delete Warbreaker from my kindle. Tried Brandon Sanderson, done, thank you.

1.5 very relieved-to-be-done-with-it stars


At around the same time I started the above, I got a Sanderson comic from Netgalley, that I read a lot faster. Here is my review from 2016:

White Sand, Volume 1 (White Sand, #1)
by Brandon Sanderson,  Rik Hoskin,  Julius Gopez (Illustrations) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The artwork is disappointingly grainy and blurred, which does not make it very enjoyable to read. I had a look at a preview on Amazon, where it was better. So I am guessing it is not the fault of the comic as such, but rather of NetGalley offering a not very good ARC.

The story is intricate, there is a lot of world building, explaining and introducing of various characters and settings. So it’s pretty complex for a comic/graphic novel. If that is your kind of thing and you are a fantasy fan, this is a pretty great offering. If you are a Sanderson fan, you will probbaly end up missing the detail and depth of his writing.

Later chapters alternate between different POVs, which makes it pretty lively and a little confusing at times. I had a hard time to take the main character Kenton seriously though. I was not sold on the petulant teenager morphing into a responsible adult.

But the story definitely has a lot of potential. And if the artwork in the published comic has a better resolution, it should be very nice.


So, got another comic from Netgalley, currently reading:

Dark One
by Brandon Sanderson,  Jackson Lanzing,  Collin Kelly,  Nathan C. Gooden (Contributor),  Kurt Michael Russell (Contributor) 

PROLOGUE & THE UNSAFE BOY

So far not much of an idea what this is about. Fantasy prologue (city under siege) and now a present day setting (New York?) with a slightly dysfunctional teen who sees and talks to a ghost (his sister?) and has a lawyer mum, who is preparing to defend a serial killer.

Went back to the beginning and read the comic‘s jacket…

9-CEF4647-812-B-4-F90-AA71-C715-DFBD8677

Visions of a dark and fantastic world haunt Paul Tanasin, but when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything.

from the back cover

More to come, as I make progress with this…

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Forgettable realm

The Crystal Shard (The Icewind Dale Trilogy #1)
by R.A. Salvatore

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My first dive into the Forgotten Realms, written in 1988. Salvatore‘s first novel. You can tell that he must be a huge Tolkien fan. For example Regis (cough*Bilbo*cough) sounds awfully familiar with his short height and furry toes… And we get an elf and a dwarf engaging in funny banter…. right!

Spine of the World twanged my memory as well. I checked and the first Wheel of Time novel was published two years later. That book also very heavily copied elements of LOTR.

Ok, so we have a halfling, an elf and a dwarf. Now we need a wizard and a human with mysterious heritage and two more sidekicks to get the party going… Eventually we get a barbarian to fill the spot of the humans. Our bad guy is not quite Saruman, but a rather sad example of the evil wizard in thrall of a higher force.

A nice touch is the dark elf with his magical animal sidekick. He‘s the only original and somehwat interesting character in this tale.

The whole book had one female character and she did not show up often or have a lot of dialogue. Definitely not passing the Bechdel test. Granted, Tolkien didn‘t do better in that regard. However, roughly 35 years later Salvatore could have done so.

This is very underwhelming. A bit like average LOTR fanfic. Although Salvatore moves away from the LOTR plot a lot more quickly than for example the first book of WOT. 

First book, right? Who knows, the following books might become more imaginative and suspenseful. I have a few of them, bought cheaply through Humble Bundle. I am not in a hurry to get to them, but will do so eventually, hoping that the writing will get better. 

I skimmed through large parts of this book. What where my issues? Very predictable, therefore boring. It never felt as if the good guys (with shades of grey) where in any danger to not make it to the sequels. The bad guy was really stupid, the typical, cackling cardboard version of evilness. The characters were all pretty one-dimensional and unreflected. There was nothing new or inspiring in the story. If you want some shallow sword-and-sorcery without surprises for a chilled afternoon on the sofa, go for it. I was bored.