28 September, 2013

Review - Warhost of Vastmark (Wars of Light and Shadow #3) by Janny Wurts

Warhost of Vastmark [US] [UK] is the third book in the Wars of Light and Shadow series, but it was originally intended as the second half of book two. Either way, with all of the set up that happened in The Ships of Merior (review), book two, Warhost was a blast to read from page one.

There will be spoilers from this point in the review on, but I'll try to keep them to the first two books.

Warhost starts right of the bat with one of the biggest mysteries from the last books. What happened to Kharadmon, one of the disembodied sorcerers of the Fellowship? His was the task to find out more about the mistwraith and bring back more information from the universe. 

In each book, I keep thinking that the world and the story is already complicated and intricate and beautiful and unending, and yet each book expands the world and story in unimaginable ways. This book was filled with tiny bits of information that I had to reread a couple times just to stop my head from spinning. This world is so well though-out, so amazingly intricate, and yet I'm still missing so many things and learning plenty more. I just have to stand back in awe at what an amazing talent Wurts is.

Warhost also continues the story of Arithon, the fugitive prince of Rathain, and Dakar, the Mad Prophet. Dakar is attached to Arithon whether he likes it or not, and he definitely does not. Their relationship continues to grow in new and profound ways and I'll stop there because it's such a subtle relationship that I don't want to spoil.

Arithon is still running away from his half-brother, Lysaer, who insists on tracking him throughout the continent. Lysayer continues to convince everyone around him that it's necessary to expend so many troops and moneys on hunting Arithon because ... because he has to! 

Lysaer's a brilliant character in both his motivations and how he is drawn. You want to root against him, but he's so compelling and you know it's not his fault. He will stop at nothing to see his half-brother stopped and you will see what that phrase actually means in this book. The body count is probably the most I've ever read in any fantasy book.

And yet that's not at all the intent of Arithon. Arithon is the scapegoat for every catastrophe, but he is the most compassionate character you will ever read. I've spoken of this before, but it is demonstrated even moreso in Warhost how Arithon will do anything he can to prevent war. I have never seen a character do this much to stop it in all my years reading fantasy. Usually, characters drag their feet going to war or fight knowing it is wrong, but Arithon goes out of his way to stop it and it is the most captivating reading experience I have had.

The characters that Wurts writes are second to none. They will have you crying one moment and cheering the next. They're so powerful and set in the backdrop that is the world of Athera (and all the other worlds), this is a series not to be missed. It only gets better and that really doesn't compute because how do you get better from absolutely stunning?

5 out of 5 Stars (epic emotion-filled fantasy)

The Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts (read in red)
Arc I 
1) The Curse of the Mistwraith (review)
Arc II: The Ships of Merior 
2) The Ships of Merior (review)
3) The Warhost of Vastmark 
Arc III: Alliance of Light 
4) Fugitive Prince 
5) Grand Conspiracy 
6) Peril's Gate 
7) Traitor's Knot 
8) Stormed Fortress 
Arc IV: Sword of the Canon 
9) Initiate's Trial 
10) Destiny's Conflict (forthcoming) 
Arc V 
11) Song of the Mysteries (forthcoming)

Note: Janny Wurts is running a giveaway at the moment through reddit.com/r/fantasy if you want a chance (out of 5) to win the first book in the series, The Curse of the Mistwraith. She will also be doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on r/fantasy on October 15, so get your questions ready.

23 September, 2013

(audiobook) Review - A Discourse in Steel (Egil and Nix #2) by Paul S. Kemp

As usual, my audiobook reviews go up on sffaudio.com. I actually read The Hammer and the Blade (review), Egil and Nix #1, via my Kindle at the end of last year and didn't think I'd be getting to A Discourse in Steel (review) this year, but it so happened that it was released on audio and sent to us for review. And, of course, I'm glad it was. I liked Discourse even better than Hammer.

A Discourse in Steel exceeds The Hammer and the Blade on just about every level (probably even the melodrama). I thoroughly enjoyed Discourse and a lot of that could be because I’ve gotten to know the characters that much more.

18 September, 2013

eBook Deals - Stephen King and Glen Cook

Two more deals to tack on today. My wallet's running on empty here and what am I supposed to do for the holiday season coming up?

[$3.99] The Shining by Stephen King
[$0.97] Chronicles of the Black Company (1st three books in the Black Company) by Glen Cook - This one's not on Amazon but it's in DRM-Free format so you can convert it to .mobi for your Kindle or other reading device using Calibre or this site. (thanks to The Tattered Scroll)

17 September, 2013

eBook Deals - Pratchett and Lynch

Two great authors have books on sale today. I mentioned a couple posts ago that The Lies of Locke Lamora was more than worth the normal price and now it's a steal. I bought it again, just in case I might want to reread it electronically. Plus, I'm gobbling up these Pratchett books too. I've read the first couple and like so many things, I need to get back to the series.

[$0.99] The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Today Only:
[$1.99] The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
[$1.99] The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
[$1.99] Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
[$1.99] Mort by Terry Pratchett
[$1.99] Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

16 September, 2013

Review - The Sword of Angels (Bronze Knight #3) by John Marco

It's pretty safe to say that epic fantasy is my favorite genre reading preference and the more epic the better. I like to change it up, but I always come back to it. I love series that push the boundaries of what is epic, take The Malazan Book of the Fallen, but I will always love the traditional epics.

The Bronze Knight or Lukien trilogy is just that kind of fantasy. Traditional fantasy done right. And even while it is great traditional fantasy, the Lukien trilogy plays with plenty of tropes of the genre. 

In this series, we have the typical warring kingdoms vying for power when a peace-loving king, Akeela, decides peace is more valuable than rights to a disputed river. The only problem is that his best friend and highest-ranking officer, Lukien, betrays him by falling in love with the king's wife. 

This is the last straw in Akeela's increasingly stressful and frustrating world and he snaps. He goes mad and even though this is high treason, Lukien isn't beheaded, but banished. 

I love how Marco plays with madness in his works. Usually in traditional fantasy, it's the big bad guy has his bad reasons for being so bad and it's not so in this trilogy. Marco makes you second-guess your gut feelings because these are still good people who may not be responsible for their actions. Akeela is still someone who Lukien considers his friend even through all the terrible events. 

These events all occurred in the first book, The Eyes of God, and Marco goes even further with this idea of madness in this final book of the trilogy, The Sword of Angels [US] [UK]. Here, another of Lukien's (and Gilwyn's and many others') best friends makes a decision that leads him on the path of madness. They've all been warned of the dangers of the Devil's Armor, but Baron Glass ignored the warnings, thinking he could overcome any problem. However, the Devil's Armor begins to change him nonetheless.

In this final volume, the Devil's Armor, and really the Akari inside the armor, has really had an effect on Glass. It makes him kill when he never would and even though everyone else sees the signs of his growing madness, he remains willfully blind. 

Lukien learned at the end of the prior book that he was no match for the Devil's Armor even with his Eye of God which makes him immortal. In The Sword of Angels, Lukien must go on a quest to find this elusive sword, which is the only way to defeat the Devil's Armor.

It all seems so straight-forward, but you'll never guess how this ends. It was both a comfortable read with a great quest story, but also surprising in ways I never imagined to be lead. The Lukien trilogy is at the height of the game, it's traditional fantasy with just enough to challenge you while excelling in all the ways that make this genre great. I'm looking forward to reading the stand-alone book, The Forever Knight, that just came out earlier this year.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)

The Bronze Knight/Lukien/Inhuman trilogy [Read in red]:1) The Eyes of God (review)
2) The Devil's Armor (review)
3) The Sword of Angels

The Forever Knight (up next)

09 September, 2013

(novelette) Review - Daddy's World by Walter Jon Williams

A favorite author of mine, Daniel Abraham, and I'm sure many others often mentions Walter Jon Williams as being one of those highly underrated (and therefore under-read) authors, so I've been slowly taking notice. In addition, I thought his story in the Songs of the Dying Earth anthology was just about perfection. 

Then I found out that this novelette was free and even won a Nebula award, as nebulous it is whether these awards actually matter (see what I did there, I'm sure I'm first). So it was a win-win situation. I just checked, however, and it's no longer free, and $1.99 is on the higher end for a novelette (looked it up, it's not a novella at least as far as the Nebula Award was concerned). 

Sadly, that's probably about the amount of things that have to line up for an author to really get their name out there. And they say this is a tough business to break into...

Okay, now that that's out of my system, I use Goodreads quite a bit and I know a lot of you do too, so I thought the warning was still important here. I was spoiled from the blurb and I think it ruined the effect I could have had realizing what this weird, magical world was instead of knowing from the beginning. Then again, there's that whole theory that spoilers actually enhance your reading experience that I don't know if I completely buy, but I think has some merit.

Anyway, Daddy's World is a strange world, almost like Adventure Time (sorry, no LSP in this one) if you've ever seen that. But nobody is that childish who reads this blog... 

(While I love this sentiment, this story is not about being stupid at all which is why I love AT so much, but kind of a bad comparison other than it's a fairytale land of fun stuff.)

A boy goes around his world and random things talk to him (like a flying kite) and there's princesses and castles that only let him in if he knows Spanish irregular tenses (or something like that). 

He enjoys exploring this magical land and then hanging out with his family for dinner. But then he starts noticing that his younger sister is actually much more advanced than he is. It wasn't so at first, but now she not only reads and does math at a higher level than he, she also looks older.

Any more and I'll do what the Goodreads blurb does such a good job doing. I'd highly recommend this captivating novelette filled with plenty of imagination. If you like Adventure Time, this isn't nearly as odd or weird or crazy, it's quite a few degrees from that. Instead it's an interesting, magical fairy-tale land you'll enjoy with plenty of things to think about such as what defines prison and who should be in control.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

06 September, 2013

Kaiju Rising Kickstarter Opens Today

I don't get behind too many Kickstarters, but that's mostly because I just don't have the funds to pledge to the thousands of things I'd love to back. I wanted to let you know about another to get behind, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, edited by Tim Marquitz and Nick Sharps. I don't know how many of you saw Pacific Rim, but boy did I have a good time with that movie and I think this anthology will be a blast as well. I mean, look at that author list!

Now check out the list of authors, it's got some big names:

With not even a day under its belt, Kaiju Rising already has a quarter of the $10,000 goal. From copies of the book to authors killing you or your city in their story and even a video made just for you, its no wonder this Kickstarter is filling up fast. For you writers, there's even an opportunity to get a short story in the anthology.

Of all the Kickstarter projects, this is one of the few that gets me this excited. You probably know by now that I love Tim Marquitz, but there's so much to this anthology to love in addition to a great editor. Head over here to pledge.

03 September, 2013

eBook Deal - Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

This one's thanks to r/fantasy, which you should have seen this last weekend getting lit up with AMA's from authors at Worldcon. There were so many authors answering so many fan questions, it was great.

It's amazing that Promise of Blood is a debut because McClellan already seems like a seasoned author. There's no doubt in my mind he has a long career ahead of him with or without mention of his writing teacher. (From my review)
[$1.99] Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan

The Crimson Campaign, book two of the Powder Mage trilogy, is one of my top books I'm looking forward to next year. It looks like Orbit want more people in the same boat.