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Monthly Archives: March 2013

“The Night Angel Trilogy” – B. Weeks

the way of shadows    shadow's edge

This review is about the first two books of “The Night Angel Trilogy” by Brent Weeks – “The Way of Shadows” and “Shadow’s Edge“.

Azoth, street urchin and guild rat, has had a hard life and has quickly learned how to judge people correctly. And take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint, the city’s most accomplished assassin. With a new name Azoth – now Kylar Stern – must learn how to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death. And then, of course, there is the Godking and his invaders coming from the north and the war they bring with them.

This is a dark and gritty world that has been built up around these assassins, briefly touching upon topics of abuse and rape even at the very start of the first book in which the main character is just a young boy himself. The characters are well thought out, the world is well-built up and it comes alive while you read it. Kylar is a likable character who learns and grows. Durzo Blint is mysterious and very easy to like, and the prince Logan Gyre isn’t like most spoiled princess. With just a dash of romance to balance out the gritty reality otherwise rampant in these books. It works.

However. There are a few drawbacks. The street urchin Azoth, who hasn’t had any sort of father figure to tell him what he can and cannot do, seems surprisingly accepting of Durzo Blint’s rules. Of course, a child against a trained assassin is not a match, but there isn’t much of a protest in any way, shape or form if I remember correctly. And then there is the rape. A horrible subject and reality in this book, but when there is too much of it it loses its shock effect. Azoth was nearly raped, and a female assassin had to pay her teacher with her body. Whores play a vital role in the books and though I like that, again, they are raped to high heaven and back.

And then you have the Godking himself. Almost every scene he appears in he either: 1) kills someone, 2) orders someone killed or 3) rapes a poor young woman who then goes crazy or dies in some horrible way. No fourth alternative. It gets incredibly tiring after a while, and one just wants to skip past those scenes because they become normal. Usual. Just another page of words. Azoth’s almost-rape at the start shocked me, at the end of book two I just really couldn’t care anymore. Nor could I care about finding out about Durzo Blint’s secret.

What also annoyed me was that the second book was over six hundred pages long but with only a little more than two weeks or so (if I remember correctly) passing in-story. It was dragged out. A lot. But that might just be a pet peeve of mine.

So. Good books and a good world, but I doubt I will ever read the third book – “Beyond the Shadows” – after all this.

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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Books

 

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“Theft of Swords” – M. J. Sullivan

Theft of Swords UK

This is a review of “Theft of Swords” by Michael J. Sullivan, a compilation of the first two books in the series the Riyra Revelations – “The Crown Conspiracy” and “Avempartha“.

Royce and Hadrian make a profitable living as agents-for-hire to wealthy nobles, doing everything from stealing to spying to kidnapping. And it works for them, they’re mostly happy with it. What they aren’t so thrilled about is becoming the scapegoats when the king is murdered. Nor are they happy about having to guard a prince on behest of his sister. Oh, and the monk. And there is a wizard, too. Yeah. Not. Happy. Neither will the people who framed them be by the time Royce and Hadrian are done.

This is like watching a medieval Indiana Jones running around, and it works! The pace is fast, the language easy and the characters are wonderful. Royce and Hadrian are perfect foils for each other, playing off of each other and against each other occasionally. The prince is written realistically – spoiled and unused to the harshness of life, but not ridiculous – and his sister the princess is a very likeable female character even if she is a witch. She is just trying to do the best that she can in difficult circumstances.

The monk is delightfully innocent but anything but stupid, and the wizard is ancient when our heroes finally meet up with him. The fact that the wizard complains about the “modern language” people use is masterfully done, and a wonderful touch. Female characters in general are made quite tough and realistic, and I like that there are no weak women around, and the world built up in the book is vast and beautiful, varied and even dark at times.

The bad guys are there, hidden behind the scenes and plotting and planning. It is a very complicated plot and conspiracy going around, reaching out into all sorts of walks of life. The church has done quite a lot of rather horrible stuff during the years, all in the name of religion. And it’s all the brain child of the last person you would expect to be the leader is the leader, as well as their reason for doing all of this. The characters grow and develop, they aren’t static.

I have very little negative to say about this book. There are a few characters that annoy me to death and back, but they are more or less minor characters and can be survived. The fact that there is a princess who is a witch and who is the only one to side with Royce and Hadrian, is a bit stereotypical but it is done quite well. Having the bad guy revealed early on is also a bit irritating for it loses a bit of the mystery, but the plot line develops so this is mostly a pet peeve of mine.

In general it is a wonderful book, anda I definitely recommend it and I will read the two sequels – “Rise of Empire” and “Heir of Novron“.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Books

 

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“The Legend of Eli Monpress” – R. Aaron

eli type mockup

This review is about “The Legend of Eli Monpress” by Rachel Aaron, a compilation of the first three books in the series – “The Spirit Thief“, “The Spirit Rebellion” and “The Spirit Eater“.

Eli Monpress is talented, charming and a thief. He is the greatest thief of the age, and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his companions he’s going to put his grand plan into effect. Because Eli won’t rest until he has amassed a fortune, and step one is to increase the bounty on his head. He’ll start small, though, something no one will miss. Like a king.

And so starts the adventures of Eli and his two partners. It is like someone made a land-bound medieval Jack Sparrow – without the rum – but it works. With excellent world-building, funny, fast paced writing and characters that you can easily love this is a great book series. The ideas are pretty different concerning wizards, and the spirits inhabiting everything is a great touch, and the spirits are as diverse, as funny and as sassy as any human characters walking about. Sometimes even more so.

The main bad character freaks the hell out of me, she is scary obsessed with Eli Monpress, and what’s worse is that she’s a goddess of sorts. And the secondary main character has such incredibly evil, warped potential that I really want to know what he is up to and what his role within the story is apart from the obvious one. And then you have those characters – like Miranda Lyonette, the representative from the Spirit Court who is sent after Eli to catch him – who both are and aren’t enemies all depending on the situation and your view of it. They can be quite fun or annoying to read about.

However. There are some things that though not directly bad did annoy me quite a lot. Eli Monpress as a character doesn’t seem flawed. Sure, he is cocky and unable to resist a challenge, but it all works out in the end after a bit of danger. He doesn’t seem to actually learn something from that. The same with Miranda Lyonette, and she annoyed the frick out of me in the end. One of Eli’s companions – Josef – at one point or another in the book has revelations about something big that seem quite… rushed. Glossed over. Kind of like “But we can’t… yeah, okay, sure.” It lost the potential and gravity in that. There are a few other smaller annoyances, but those are also more like pet peeves of mine.

Generally speaking it was a fun romp of a read, and at some point I’m probably going to read the two sequels – “The Spirit War” and “Spirit’s End” – at some point in the future.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Books

 

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“Luck in the Shadows” – L. Flewelling

lits

This review is about “Luck in the Shadows” by Lynn Flewelling.

When young woodsman/hunter Alec, who has recently lost his father, is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, he doesn’t expect his cellmate Seregil to get them out and make an offer to take him on as an apprentice. Travelling together from then on, Alec and Seregil are headed straight into adventure, danger and war – and perhaps even love.

It’s a good book, with excellent world-building. The descriptions were good and it was easy to get lost in the cities and the fields and the forests, and the same with the characters. They come alive on the page. Alec’s learning curve is very good, and he is actually surprisingly good at winging it. Seregil and his friend are both equally as good and even better – although Seregil spends a surprising amount of the start and journeying unconscious. The slowly romantically developing relationship between Alec and Seregil – actually more like a slow realisation of the attraction – is well done and believable.

The one thing that I didn’t like about this book is the sudden remarks that Seregil occasionally has about whatever it is that Alec is wearing. Or about his blond hair. It simply doesn’t fit with Seregil’s character the way he is built up throughout the rest of the book, and it throws one out of the rhythm of reading. I have also looked ahead at what will happen in the future books (thanks, Wikipedia!), and it seems to slide more and more into cliché fanfic plot. Perhaps not obviously and perhaps it would have been a well-written story, but what I know about the future books it doesn’t give me much incentive to read further.

So, all in all, good book but I won’t read the rest.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Books

 

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