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“Artificial Condition” – M. Wells

This is a review of “Artificial Condition“, the second book in Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries series.

The review of the first book can be found here.

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a research transport named ART, Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

The universe of this world is further expanded. Not only with new places that are fascinatingly depicted despite the minimal attention paid to it. But there is also more information on things from the first book, and even Murderbot realising that the company it worked for wasn’t the be-all, end-all.

Our heroic Murderbot is learning what it means to be human, and all the choices, faults, and consequences that come with it. It is frightening and it would be so much easier to slip back into the antipathy of Murderbot’s previous existence. Murderbot learning to be human might not be deeply detailed, but it gives enough detail to make the journey amazing. This is obviously more important than the mystery of its past.

The humans that Murderbot ends up meeting during this story, were there too short to really make any real impact. But they did give a deeper look into the incredibly varied ways humans have evolved in the future where the story takes place. And they, once again, help Murderbot learn more about being human.

ART the research vessel used for cargo hauling, was a wonderful addition to the story. Snarky and smart, it is like the bot version of a genius professor. It was also a good choice to make it sentient as it was – even if it was verey convenient for Murderbot to end up with the one ship who could help it as much as it did. And although it didn’t do much or feature much in the story, the same could be said for the ComfortUnit/sexbot.

It makes Murderbot more realistic when it isn’t the only bot in existance capable of controlling itself without going rogue.

There is only one thing that is slightly negative about this book, and it might just be a pet peeve rather than anything serious.

The mystery of what happened during the Murderbot’s past, the bit that had been deleted from their memory, was a bit of a disappointment. It was refreshing that there was no great evil plot from anyone, just a simple attempt at sabotage that went wrong. But with how much buildup there was in the previous book and this one, it was a bit of a disappointment. It didn’t quite deliver on the promise of the book’s summary.

I definitely recommend this book and the previous one, and I am already looking forward to reading the third one.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Sci-Fi

 

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“Tower Lord” – A. Ryan

This is a reivew of “Tower Lord”, the second book in Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow trilogy.

Vaelin Al Sorna, the greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was a lie. Now, after years in a foreign prison, he comes home, determined to kill no more. Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s heir, he hopes to find peace in a colder land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm. But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life.

The Faith has been sundered; the new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something ancient and powerful, something that commands mighty forces. Vaelin will find that even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword again.

The world is explored further in this story, giving more information on all the things that might have just been briefly mentioned in the first book. The world grows even more vast, with old places revisited and new continents added. Peoples old and new make an appearance, and it makes for a rich world.

It is wonderful how the author brings back characters previously mentioned or met in the first book. The author is excellent at describing humanity, and how humans react to each other. The people you expect to have grudges, do carry them but don’t let it interfere with their survival. The people you expect to step up in a crisis, do not. And the one’s you don’t expect to, do. It is truly impressive how Ryan writes humanity.

Vaelin’s actions make a lot of sense in this story, and he is more tempered and calmer than he was in the first book. Wiser and older, he is willing to listen to advice, and has an open mind to other beliefs and ways of doing things. The way he develops a relationship with his sister is sweet, and his slow fall for and developing relationship with Dahrena is believable and not overwhelming to the story. It isn’t the focus, not like his previous dalliance with Sherin in the first book.

Frentis’s story arc was almost painful to read at the start. He was under the complete control of an enemy agent, forced to do literally everything she demanded – from killing to fucking her. Although her apparent love for him was a bit odd, it was excellently written, and the way Frentis finally got away from her control wasn’t rushed at all.

Reva’s character arc is incredibly well-written. She starts as a naïve if trigger-happy girl, her world purely black and white, good and bad. And throughout the story she goes from that, to a grown young woman who understands the shades of gray of reality. Her learning to come to grips with her attraction to women despite her religion, is excellently depicted. In the end, Reva turns out to be a strong, powerful female leader of men, and it is obvious how she actually got there.

The little further hint we had of the Seventh Order was tantalising. Finding that their Aspect was actually one of the men we know very well from the first book, was a touch of genius. Nordah’s return is perfect, and the developing and changing view of the Lohrak and those with supernatural powers is excellently written.

But there are a few drawbacks.

Suddenly following four characters instead of just the one. I had a big problem with this because after the first book this wasn’t expected at all. It certainly made the story more rich and showed more detail to the world, but it was a bit of a shock.

It was a bit odd that Vaelin didn’t know how to read and write. Yes, he was young when he was given to the Brotherhood as a child, but he was the child of some sort of noble so one would think that he had at least started his education. And if not that, then it seems remiss of the Brotherhood to not teach their Brothers to read and write in case letters and messages need to be sent.

Apart from being burned, Lyrna doesn’t really experience anything special. Not the way other women do. She just suffers a bit of exhaustion and hunger, but isn’t raped or truly hurt. Certainly, not every female can get raped or beaten or run through with a sword or whatever, but as it stands, Lyrna doesn’t actually have a good character arc in this story. She is more likable than in the first book, but other than learning how to throw a knife she doesn’t actually do much. The Shield of the Meldenean Isles also agrees to come out of his hermitage for her far too easily. Perhaps this and all her plotting will bear fruit in the third book.

It is also a bit of a let-down that this book only sets up the third book, and it is obvious. It is an incredibly long book, and though there are battles aplenty and action and adventure, there is only one big truly decisive battle at the very end. This books is mostly to get three of the four characters to one place, while the fourth ends up in a perfect position somewhere else.

If it hadn’t been for the utterly excellent writing, then this story would have been far too long.

I definitely recommend this book!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy

 

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“Vampire Hunter D: The Stuff of Dreams” – H. Kikuchi

This is a review of “The Stuff of Dreams” which is the fifth book in the Vampire Hunter D series by Hideyuki Kikuchi.

Here you can find a review of book one, book two, book three and book four.

In a world where even the smallest, the most remote of villages cannot avoid being terrorized by monsters, there is a hamlet. Prosperous and peaceful, humanity and Nobles have coexisted here for years. This is also where a young woman called Sybille has slept, neither waking nor aging, for thirty years since she first received the vampire’s kiss. D is lured to this tranquil place by recurring dreams of the undying girl. But not everyonoe welcomes D’s presence, fearing he will disturb the delicate balance of the town, and they will stop at nothing to protect that balance. What, exactly, is Sybille’s dream?

There is a lot of improvement in this story!

For once there are no women harmed or raped during the entire length of the story, and it was a wonderful change compared to the past four books. There was no sudden changes in people’s personalities, and though there were stereotypical characters galore, the stereotypes were a bit more muted than in the other books so far.

Humanity in general was very nicely shown in this story. They were always longing for something – the Sheriff for his lost love, Ai-Ling for the Sheriff, Sybille for her life, and it goes on. This is an improvement on the author’s part, so hopefully he will keep it up in the future books.

Some of my favourite characters so far in the series, show up in this book. Sheriff Krutz and Maggie the Almighty were excellent. And even the details of what sort of beasts are for food and just how dangerous they can be, added to the depth of the world. I had been wondering about it for a while now, so it was nice to know.

The fact that it was a dream within a dream within a dream, was really cool to read about. Especially that the dream-world had become sentient and wanted to protect itself. And though the mystery was a bit slow in building, it turned out to be better than expected when it finally reached the end.

Unfortunately there are some bad things.

D figuring out the mystery of the village and how it was connected to Sybill, was weak. Even weaker than normal. True, the story was a bit shorter than the others, and so had less time to use for build-up. But it still could have used a few more hints for us readers, because as it is it just seemed a bit too abrupt.

Which is a bit of a theme in this particular story. More hints could have been really useful about Sybille’s skeleton in the real world at the end, something that could have obviously identified her. Like a necklace she always wore in both dream world and real world. Just a tiny little detail that would have made the story a lot better.

It would also have been nice to get to know a bit more information about the truth of Nan being Sybille. One little scene where apparently they are dressed alike is not enough. Nan in general was also a very annoying and useless character. She was an overly emotional teenage girl, and extremely stereotypical for girly-girl mangas, crying and tearing up all over the place. She could have been a bit more useful.

The same with Sheriff Krutz actually being under the dream world’s control and the archer in black. Definitely needed more information about that, too. And what was this thing about Ai-Ling and old Mrs. Sheldon suddenly knowing the truth of the world? Dr. Allen being able to figure it out I can understand, and maybe even Mrs. Sheldon since she is so old. But how did Ai-Ling learn it all? And how can people from inside the dream contact people in the real world? That is something we never understand.

Despite some glaring things that should have been answered or a bit more elaborated upon, this is a surprisingly good story in the end.

It was a totally okay read, short and quick.

Read if you want.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

 

“The Ghosts of Kali Oka Road” – M. L. Bullock

This is a review of “The Ghosts fo Kali Oka Road“, the first book in M. L. Bullock’s “Gulf Coast Paranormal” series.

The investigators of Gulf Coast Paranormal thought they knew what they were doing. The five members had over twenty years of combined experience between them. But when they meet Cassidy, a young woman with a strange gift, the team realises there is much more to learn. When they start investigating the ghosts of Kali Oka Road and the plantation it leads to, they find an entity far scarier than a few ghosts. And time is running out for Cassidy.

The opening prologue starts out very promising. It is tense and builds up anticipation for the horror to come.

This story has really strong female characters. Cassidy, Sara and Sierra are confident modern women who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it. And what they want isn’t a man. Especially Sara impressed me with her drive to go after her dreams.

The male characters aren’t the worst either, but the most impressive of them so far was grandpa Angelos who owned the restaurant. He was closely followed by Ranger. The rest of them were more recognisable through looks than through their personalities.

The idea of Hattie and her evil owl was promising. It was another example of a strong female character, this one with magic and spells and curses. The black evil owl creature was a demonic being from the start, something that could be nightmareish. Bernard Davis and his evil ways were perfect for creating ghosts, and the horrors he performed against his wife were hinted at.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of unimpressive stuff about this story.

The horror promised in the prologue never arrives. The entire mystery about Melissa’s death and what happened to her ends up with such a mundane explanation that it is almost impossible for the police not to have come to the same conclusion. The same with Ranger’s death towards the middle of the book. Beyond ridiculous answers to the entire mystery.

The setting is in a modern day city, so there isn’t much to say about it. Which is fine. But it is supposed to be somewhere in the southern states, but it isn’t really apparant. There isn’t much mention of heat or humidity. There is a plantation and some magnolias mentioned, but there should have been more. The city never need to be noted, but it would have been nice with more.

The entire mystery was revealed far too quickly, and there was no mystery at all. There was some hope with Hattie and her magic, and what exactly that could do to the GCP team. But nothing happened. At all. They went to the plantation, they saw a ghost, they told the ghost the woman he tried to protect 200 years ago escaped, and the ghost left. That was it. After all that buildup this was a supreme letdown.

Cassidy dreaming Aurelia’s struggles could have been much more horrifying. She could have woken up with extreme hunger if Aurelia had been starved. Or aching and bruised. And for being an experienced paranormal investigation team, the members of GCP didn’t really do much on screen. They set up a couple of cameras, they took a walk or two, but that was it. Again, this was a big disappointment.

I did find a couple of spelling mistakes and changes in grammatical perspective, too.

All in all the story was far too short to really pay off all the buildup, and there was no horror whatsoever.

A quick, simple, and generally uninspiring read. Read it if you have nothing else to do one day, takes about two hours at the most.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2020 in Books, Horror

 

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“Blood Song” – A. Ryan

This is a review of “Blood Song“, the first book in Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow series.

Vaelin Al Sorna’s life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together With his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of faiilure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly. Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet, as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

The world

This is not a book that is driven by the character development. It is driven by the story and that isn’t a bad thing. It worked very well. The pace was rapid, the fight scenes frequent and very good, and nothing was bogged down by too much internal drama. At the same time the story was revealing enough when it came to Vaelin’s thoughts, and made his character evolution subtly evident. Vaelin’s development from innocent boy to a worldly man open to new ideas and thoughts, was a fascinating process to witness, and excellently written.

What was really nice was that the usual awkwardness of teenagehood and discovering the other sex is there, but it’s not the focus. There are no pages upon pages of moaning and mooning over some girl or boy. It was nice to read a story where the main characters were more or less celibate. The fact that sex was finally had in the very last bit of the book was almost awkward, and definitely weird. It didn’t really fit in with the rest of the story, and I do wish that it had been left out.

The characters Master Sollis and Nortah were some of the best. Master Sollis was hard but fair, and his evolving relationship with Vaelin was very realistic. Nortah’s evolution as a character was a delightful surprise. King Janus was a realistic king. He was a good man, but still a master of puppets and webs, and still a man who had to rule a rather divided kingdom with all the choices that came with it. Princess Lyrna is fascinating in that the reader doesn’t really know if she is on the side of the good or the bad. There is even some ambiguity built up around several of the characters that lasts throughout the book, and it certainly had me fooled – unless it was a double bluff.

There isn’t much bad stuff to say about the book, most of these are just pet peeves.

I found some oddly phrased sentences that were a bit difficult to understand in a couple of places, but that was the worst of it. I also wish that there was some more hints about some of the things that happened possibly being more than they seemed, but I suppose that Vaelin wouldn’t necessarily know everything just because he was in the thick of the plot, or the one who discovered it.

The ending was a bit odd. It almost seemed rushed compared to the rest of the book, almost a bit of a let-down, but it was a good ending to this bit of Vaelin’s life and adventure. Not really a surprise, but a good end nonetheless.

There are bits of the story that strongly remind me of Robin Hobb’s books about Fitz. Altough not a bastard Vaelin is still a noble who learns how to be a spy/assassin/Warrior instead of the traditional pursuit of the nobility. And just like in Hobb’s first book, Vaelin gains a faithful dog companion who saves him at the end. This isn’t necessarily the author copying Hobb – at least not deliberately – but it is perhaps worth keeping in mind. And it’s not really a bad thing either, the author makes it work.

I am definitely recommending this book, and I’m already hungering to tackle the sequel!

Read this one!

Seriously, just read it.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy

 

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“Vampire Hunter D: Tale of the Dead Town” – H. Kikuchi

This is a review of the fourth book in Hideyuki Kikuchi’s series about the Vampire Hunter D.

You can find the reviews of book one, of book two, and of book three here.

The City, a tiny metropolis of a few hundred sheltered souls, floating serenely on a seemingly random course. It has long been thought safe from the predation of the marauding monsters on the ground. It seems like a paradise. But it is shattered when a n invason of apparent vampires threaten the small haven. While D struggles to exterminate the scourge, the brash John M. Brasselli Pluto VIII is up to something. And when the city lurches onto a new and deadly course, D’s travails are just beginning.

Although there wasn’t much development in D’s personal story, there was more than enough things about this story to keep it interesting. The flying town, secluded and insular as it is, made for a perfect setting. Mayor Ming’s dream and philosophy was definitely worth exploring more, but otherwise the characters themselves were excellent.

The sherriff and his cronies were a bit stereotypical, but Mayor Ming was much better. He had a depth and a desire to his dream for what the flying town should be and represent, and it was almost freaky to see just how far he was willing to go to make it happen.

Pluto VIII was a joy to read about, and he definitely needed more screen time in the book. He could have been so much more of a hindrance and a help. What was truly a joy was that for once there was a female character who wasn’t raped or lusted after by every male around her. Lori Knight is so far the strongest female character in the series, and Dr. Tsurugi was an excellent addition with a tiny little detail that harked back to the very first book in the series.

The freakiest thing was the vampire-infection and the dead Nobility cemetary where the experiments ended up. That bit had so much potential to be down right freaky and frightening, and it needed more screen time.

There isn’t actually much really back to say about this particular story.

Granted, things could have been explained better, and more time could have been used on really getting the mood and the setting just perfect, but there were only two really bad things that were noticable:

1) An entire conversation with a doctor that introduced important characters and relayed information that is somewhat important, seems to have been entirely skipped. Either it was just bad writing by the author, or the translator forgot this bit and then no one caught the mistake.

and

2) Mayor Ming having lived for two hundred years in a world where only vampires can do it, and no one bats and eyelash? It does not make sense. There was a single hint given as to how he could be so old, but it came far too late. And the explanation as to what he was could have been given more backstory as to how it was possible.

Other than that, this was the best Vampire Hunter D story I have read so far!

I really recommend this book!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2019 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

 

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“The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn” – T. Whitesides

The Thousands Deaths of Ardor Benn” is the first book in the Kingdom of Grit series by Tyler Whitesides.

Ardor Benn is a ruse artist extraordinaire. Hired by a mysterious priest to attempt his most daring heist yet, Ardor knows he’ll need help. Assembling a team of forgers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known. But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake thana fame and glory. Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilisation.

This is an excellent world. Clearly a lot of thought went into creating this book, for the world is expansive and well developed. The history is rich and deep, the peoples are varied, and the use of magic is incredibly original. It is impressive, and unlike anything I have ever read before.

Despite its size, the book is an easy read. The language is simple, there are no flowery turns of phrase, and the chapters are short and quick. The story is also further divided into sections and each section into chapters, which also help to make it simpler to get through.

The characters are excellently crafted. Ardor, Raek, Quarrah, the crazies, and Isle Havalend are definitely the best of them. Prime Isle Chauster deserved more screen time, and King Pethredote has potential that unfortunately falls flat in the last bit of the story.

Ardor’s plots and schemes are well thought out, and everyone has their moment to shine. Not to mention that the magic system is one of the most fascinating ones I have ever come across. It alone was beyond incredible and worth the read.

Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of things that detract from the book.

Every situation that is supposed to be a detriment, a hindrance to the heroes, turns into a big success. Someone tries to expose Ardor while undercover? He gains access to the king far quicker than ever expected. Ardor blabs to the king about the evil plot he now knows about? He manages to completely avoid the consequences, and turns the entire situation into becoming the king’s most trusted subject. It goes on and on, major problems turned into trifles or into triumphs by Ard’s silver tongue. It became ridiculous.

Then there is the complete undermphasis of the Moonsickness. There was no reason to care about this strange sickness. A short scene about 25% through the book was not enough to make the reader horrified at the possible fate. And since I didn’t care about the sickness, I found that I really didn’t care much about the plot either, nor the impending doom.

Tanalin Phor deserved more than what she got in the end, serving as a throw-away character even with all the time Ardor had spent putting her on a pedestal. And the romance with Quarrah Khai could have worked if she and Ardor had thought and reacted to it differently. As it was, it was just weirdly forced whenever it came up.

There is also a severe lack of tension in sections of the book, and parts of them drag on. I almost gave up on reading it several times several times over. That the plot picks up int he last 200 pages isn’t enough to save it because by that time I had lost more or less all interest.

In essence this is a good book. It has a solid plot, good characters, and fascinating magic. Also, dragons.

In reality, the lack of tension, the focus on things that drag out needlessly, and lack of focus on the things that needed more focus, killed it stone cold dead.

I will, unfortunately, not be reading the sequels.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2019 in Books, Fantasy

 

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“Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deathchase” – H. Kikuchi

“Demon Deathchase” is a review of the third book of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s series Vampire Hunter D.

The review of the first book can be found here.

The review of the second book can be found here.

When a desperate village elder learns that his daughter has been abducted by a Noble, he turns to D to save her. He also employs the Marcus clan, a dangerous and renegade family of Hunters as infamous for killing their competition as they are for getting their man. D’s task becomes ever-more daunting when the fleeing Noble enlists a horrific cadre of human/monster half-breeds. Can D prevail against the force of sheer numbers of his advesaries – both human and not?

Excellent adventure as usual. It is undeniable, Hideyuki Kikuchi writes very good adventure stories.

Fascinating to learn more of the world it is set in, and just how much of the old folklore about vampires that the author has incorporated. Like being unable to cross running water unless there is a bridge, how earth actually enhances their regenerative abilities giving them an interesting reason to carry earth with them.

Again there are small hints about D’s parentage that are doled out. And though it is quite obvious who his father is, the way the hints are scattered about and never actually come out to say it, still make it more interesting. The sunlight syndrome is a curious but welcome weakness when it comes to D, and even if he does get over it remarkably quickly it will be interesting to see if it does show up again in later books.

Leila Marcus is a strong female character, who fights and isn’t a fraid to come face to face with monsters. Although she does wobble a bit when it comes to D and a female dhampir, she still comes up on top at the very end, which is truly enjoyable. Leila’s waning interest in monster/vampire hunting is also a good – though very subtle – touch to her character. Charlotte, the girl who ran off with a Noble, is strong but in a more quiet way, and her bravery doesn’t show much until the very end.

The writing is a bit annoying with the omniscient author who keeps asking questions as if he were a storyteller with an audience rather than a book. It breaks the flow of the story, stopping it up and throwing the reader out of it. The author seems to be getting into a rut with these questions since there were fewer of them in the first book.

Also, the fact that there have been people who suddenly change into rapists without logic or hints of it earlier in the book, bring the quality of the book down. The Mayor in book two, Kyle in this book (although all of the Marcus brothers are revealed to be rapists in the end). The story would have been a lot better without this, and especially if the insta-love/lust people feel around vampires and D had been just a tiny bit less emphasised.

The movie “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” has to be mentioned since it was based on this book. Apart from the general changes in the story to make it simpler and more concise, the movie actually manages to follow the book very closely. The movie does away with the insta-love Leila feels for D and the Marcus-brothers being rapists, which is good. But Mayerling has no trouble going through quite a deep, fast flowing river in order to cross to the other side, and that was an annoyance.

They also use a lot of Christian symbolisms in the movie which never appear in the books – most notably the cross. In the first book it is noted that the Nobility made humanity forget about crosses and how much they affect vampires, and they keep maintaining this ignorance even now – whether by a world-covering spell that is tied to the symbol of the cross, or by enchanting humans who try to use the cross against them whenever they actually come across one such person. D has also used a drawing of a cross to check if someone is a vampire, and no one reacts to it as if they recognise it.

Several things that happened in the book never happened in the movie, and some characters exist only in the movie world – most notably Countess Carmilla Elizabeth Bathory. The ending of the movie differed with the ending of the book, both being perfect in their own way, and the movie presents a good story that is more concise and at times more logical than the book is.

All in all, this third book was definitely not my favourite of the stories so far, but I will continue reading a few books more if nothing else.

I still recommend this series!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2019 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

 

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“Jim Henson’s Labyrinth” – A. C. H. Smith

This is a review of the novelisation of the Jim Henson movie “The Labyrinth“.

Sarah has thirteen hours to save her brother from a land where everything seems possible, and nothing is what it seems.

That is the blurb on the back. And if you have seen the movie, then you know what happens. This is a retelling of the movie in book form. Every scene, every line, everything is the same. The author sat there and literally wrote down what they saw on the screen.

So how the hell could they manage to fuck that up?

Yes, you read that right.

The author (needlessly) tried to add depth to the characters, and they fucked it up.

Sarah was turned from an understandably frustrated teenager, into a selfish, bullying bitch who admits to wanting to hurt her little brother. The more I read about her, the more I wonder why in heaven’s name she would ever go after Toby considering her attitude towards him, and also exactly why in the name of all that is holy should I care about her as the main character?

Jareth is no longer the suave, charmingly dangerous Goblin King. Gone is the bad guy we all loved, with his songs and mysteries. Instead he seems more like a paedophile who is terrified of growing older. Like a bad knock-off version of a drag queen Voldemort.

And that isn’t even mentioning the weird wording that sometimes crops up. Like Jareth’s boots being “shod on”, or Hoggle having a “twinkling scowl” or a “smirking little blush” or his “eyebrows beetled” or he is “hoggling around”. I can understand what the author wanted to say, but I doubt that they truly understood the meaning of even half of the words they tried to use.

Perhaps the worst thing that was done to the story, was to turn it from a coming-of-age story into a sexualised mess full of victim blaming.

I do my best to find something positive about each book I read, even the ones that I don’t like, but there is really nothing good here. I am amazed that Jim Henson let this drivel be published, or that a single editor gave this the go-ahead.

Don’t touch this book unless you want a good movie to be ruined by horrible writing.

I really don’t recommend this book at all. Stay far away!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2019 in Books, Fantasy

 

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“Retribution Falls” – C. Wooding

This is a review of “Retribution Falls“, the first book in Chris Wooding’s series about the Tales of the Ketty Jay.

Darian Frey is the roguish captain of the Ketty Jay, and leader of a small and highly dysfunctional group of layabouts. They are small-time smugglers and pirates, making a nuisance of themselves while avoiding the Coalition Navy frigates. When a hot tip on a cargo freighter seems too good to be true, Frey should have known something was dreadfully wrong. The freighter explodes, Frey is suddenly public enemy number one with both the navy and bounty hunters after his head. But Frey knows something they don’t: the freighter was rigged to explode, and Frey isn’t about to take this lying down.

The world is excellently built. It is interesting and fascinating to read about, and the technology is grounded and explained enough to make sense to the reader. It is nice to know how things work, and it is realistic how the desire for aerium would have started more than one war. Although it is clear that airships are quicker, it is still unclear to me why no other mode of transport was really mentioned – nor was it explained why these potential modes of transport would or wouldn’t work.

The action is rapid and imaginative, and the book itself is a quick read. The chapters pass by quickly as the ships fly through the skies in dogfights, or enchanted swords help their owners in swordfights.

As a character, Frey was easy to both like and dislike. It was refreshing to meet a character who doubts themselves, doubts their plans working, and then being quite surprised when they do end up working. Or when they end up actually shooting someone, the confusion as to why that person didn’t simply pull back from the gun like they were supposed to. But he is also a coward and a shameless womaniser, and he is terrified of being tied down. All of it makes him human.

Trinica Dracken was a truly fascinating female character. She is smart, strong, vicious, powerful, and incredibly dangerous – and not only because of the large amount of men loyal to her. The relationship between Trinica and Frey that was revealed almost at the end of the book, was excellent. It was good to read a romance story that went wrong and where both parties agree that they are both at fault. It is far more realistic than most romance that shows up in fiction, and though it was the main reason for the antagonism between Trinica and Frey, it wasn’t allowed to overwhelm the plot.

I do have some complaints about this book.

The story was very formulaic. There were little to no surprises along the way. A happens and then B and then C. Not once did Frey and his crew actually have real trouble with what they were trying to do. There were no real setbacks. Everything goes smoothly for them even when they are afraid that it won’t. There is action and danger, but the characters never feel like they are, in fact, in danger. Or running around trying to avoid the enemy.

Pinn, Malvery, Silo and Harkins were quite flat. An omniscient author explained more or less everything about Pinn and Harkins whenever they had screen time, and Malvery wasn’t that interesting to begin with. And though Silo’s story was good, it was barely a footnote and he barely showed up as a footnote in some scenes. Crake’s story, though tragic, came far too late – and the same with Jez. All in all it was quite difficult to actually care about the crew, even Frey despite him being one of the more developed ones.

With the way the story was written and the characters, it was difficult to force myself to finish reading, and I ended up skimming for the past 130 pages. I just didn’t care about the crew or the plot. Either one got far too much information about someone which made one wonder why one should care for him or her, or one got far too little information far too late and one had simply stopped caring.

Considering all the action and the world it was set in, this would have made a good movie with a delightful Pirates of the Caribbean feel to it. As a book it simply falls short.

I will not be continuing with the series.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2019 in Books, Fantasy

 

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