Wednesday, March 3, 2021

I read fantasy? #fakenews

But wait, it isn't, for I have indeed been reading fantasy fiction! True, it's just one book out of the fifteen books I've read so far this year, but hey, it's a start. So what did I read? A classic.

Yes, the first book in Roger Zelany's classic Chronicles of Amber series. What drove me to read this was two things: First, Daniel Greene included Nine Princes in Amber in a video of books that he wanted to read this year and that planted the seed. While I've read classic fantasy before, NPIA didn't really catch my interest for some reason. Seeing someone include it in their TBR in a YouTube video was evidently enough to do so. The second thing is that my favorite used bookstore happened to have a copy and I felt like it was worth the $2.50 to at least see if it was something I wanted to read. And it was.

So how was it? It was fine. I liked the way Zelany mixed the real world with a wholly fantastical one. I didn't expect it to go where it did in the last part, but I liked that it did. I plan or hope to read the next book in the series, provided I can find a copy.

I do feel like I'm starting to recover from this slump I'm in. I've been reading The Black Prism, which I need to get back to soon. My hope is that I can read at least four or five more fantasy novels before the end of the year. Far from what I've read in the past, but it's something.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Random thought: A Song of Ice and Fire as historical fiction

I can't tell you why this thought first popped into my head because it's been so long that I can't even hope to remember the reason. Nonetheless, it was something that spawned from my noggin like Athena from the head of Zeus and for lack of anything better, I thought I'd share it here.

So yes, reading A Song of Ice and Fire as if it were historical fiction is an odd notion and probably not one that occurred to George R.R. Martin when he conceived the series, but it's something that I don't think is that far-fetched. Historical fiction at it's biggest and grandest is simply the retelling (with liberties) of historical events as told from a mix of historical figures and wholly fictional ones. The stage is which ASoIaF is set is not dissimilar to that. If you were to excise the more fantastical elements like the dragons, white walkers, and magic, then you have a retelling of events that wouldn't be that far removed from what you'd read in a historical fiction novel or novels.

Indeed, you could take it one step further and argue that if the plot of the series were distilled down to just the events that occur, then the entire series could be read as a historical record. Political upheavals, assassinations, and wars of succession are exactly the kind of thing that happened in Europe for centuries, just sans dragons, zombies, and Kitt Harrington's perfect hair. In fact, when I finally get around to re-reading A Game of Thrones and (hopefully) the rest of the series, I'm going to try and do so from the point of view that I'm reading historical fiction.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Obviously, I bought more fantasy books

 Because when you're in a never ending slump, that's the sensible thing to do.

A Goodwill find and an impulse buy.

Found at a used bookstore that I've fallen in love with. I've never been heavy on urban fantasy outside of the like four Dresden Files novels I've read, but I'm willing to give this a try.

Bought this on Google's ebook store for like $.99 and read in fairly quickly. It was good enough to make me want to buy more of Parker's books.

Bought at a new-ish bookstore in town. I've reading it off and on and I'm going to make a concerted effort on this one.

Bought at same store as above. Lemme just quote you the opening:

In the myriadic year of our Lord - the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death! - Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

I'm hyped to read this one.

Another used bookstore purchase. Thought I'd take a chance on it.

Another new one. I've read it before, but wanted a copy of my own.

Does anything stand out for you? Read any of these before?

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Finished reading: Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Or should I say I finished re-reading Arrows of the Queen. Books are always better on the second go around. You remember some things while forgetting enough that it doesn't feel like you're just retreading.

Fun fact: I started writing a review for this novel after I read it for the first time, but never finished it. It was too long, over 7,000 words and was more of a synopsis than a review. Spoilery too.

Oh a whole, Arrows of the Queen still holds up as I remembered it on the first go. The same parts still gave me a lot of the "feels" (as the Internet calls emotions) as they did before.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Winds of Winter next year, maybe?

George R.R. Martin provided an update on his blog concerning his full throttled progress on Winds of Winter, the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. As it turns out, a global pandemic is conducive towards writing door-stoppers, as GRRM seems to be boogieing along:
If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write. I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress. I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week.
He also makes important note that he still has a ways to go, but is hopeful that maybe, just maybe it'll be finished by next year.

Of course, this won't suit the dipshits who constantly complain and hound the man for not writing as fast as say Brandon Sanderson. Hell, GRRM could release Winds of Winter tomorrow and they would still find reason to complain. "But he's taking forever to write A Dream of Spring!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

If you're a fan of the Dresden Files, then boy, has your year been made

Because there's going to be not one, but two Dresden books released this year.

I should resume reading this series at some point soon. I kind of gave up after reading some spoilers, but I feel the urge to give them another try. I made it up to Death Masks before quitting and I enjoyed all the previous books.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Here, have a hodge podge of D&D articles

One of these is several years old, but the rest are from within the last couple of months. Interest in D&D seems to be on an uptick, which I'm sure is delighting the sales departments at Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro.

From Polygon: We asked a simple question about the D&D timeline and got a wild answer

The Guardian: No more nerds: how Dungeons & Dragons finally became cool (I'm not a fan of the headline)

io9: ​The 20 Most WTF Magical Items in Dungeons & Dragons (The Wand of Misplaced Objects would be useful if facing a well equipped foe, wouldn't it?)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Review: Devlin's Justice is an only okay ending to the Sword of Change trilogy (SPOILERS)

Click the links to read my reviews for the first two books, Devlin's Luck and Devlin's Honor.

First off, let's talk about that cover. The only thing accurate about the cover (besides the title, author's name and such, obviously) is the Sword of Light, which matches the description of it in Devlin's Honor. Everything else isn't remotely accurate, including the blurb. "His own magic"? Aside from the Geas spell that binds him to his duties as Chosen One, Devlin has no magic whatsoever. I feel like whoever did the cover didn't read the book beforehand. But that's just the cover, let's talk about the book itself.

It's only okay. Going by the blurb on the back of the book, I was expecting a lot of excitement, drama, and adventure. Unfortunately, expectations slammed into reality like a race car into a wall at 190 miles per hour. Devlin's Justice felt rushed, as if Ms. Bray was just trying to get the thing done and out the door or she was trying to meet a specific word or page count. As a result, a lot of meat was left on the bone. There were so many ways the story could have been expanded or enhanced and none of them were used.

Before I go on, let me tell you what happens in this book. Devlin is returning to Kingsholm after successfully retrieving the Sword of Light in the previous book. Upon returning, he's betrayed by King Olafur of Jorsk and handed over to the Selvarat Empire as part of their deal to send "aid" to help the Kingdom of Jorsk stave off an invasion by an unknown enemy, along with like a third of the kingdom itself as it turns out. So Devlin spends a good chunk of the book imprisoned and tortured by the main antagonist while his friends believe him dead and struggle to find a way to save the kingdom from both the Selvarats (who, "shocker", are the unknown enemy) and the king himself. Four of them - Drakken, Stephen, Didrik, and Oluva - are forced to escape the city and go in search of Devlin once they discover that he is in fact still alive. Devlin eventually escapes, joins up with the others and the rest of the book is them leading a guerrilla campaign against the occupying Selvarat forces and setting things to right.

All of that sounds exciting, but as I said, a lot of meat was left on the bone and what we got instead didn't live up to the potential. For example, there's never an explanation given for why King Olafur did anything he did. Yes, he was led to believe that there was a major threat to the kingdom and yes he had a big legacy to live up to, but betraying Devlin and giving away a huge chunk of the kingdom for aid just doesn't make any sense and there was no indication that he was being manipulated by the Prince Arnauld, the main antagonist of the series or anybody else for that matter. It also doesn't explain his slide into despotism which is both sharp and sudden.

There are other examples I could point out but I don't want this post to run too long, so we'll leave off them. The other thing that I found disappointing is the lack of a big finish. I was expecting to see Devlin and Arnauld face off in a big fight, but it never happened. It was a letdown given that Arnauld was the mind-sorcerer that had been plaguing Devlin since the first book. Instead, he's brushed off like some mid-level villain and we're denied the payoff that should have been.

The ending was also lackluster as it felt rushed. Olafur commits suicide just before Devlin arrives back at Kingsholm to confront him and Devlin names himself regent until Olafur's daughter is old enough to rule in her own right. He also marries Stephen's sister which comes straight out of left field and makes about as much sense as Olafur's actions. Devlin also secures the independence of his homeland of Duncaer which I liked.

All in all, I found Devlin's Justice a letdown. It had a lot of potential that was largely squandered. I would rank it as the weakest of the trilogy.

Rating: 5/10.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

So I might own a first edition of Tad Williams' The Dragonbone Chair I guess?

I found a hardcover of the book at a Goodwill last month and just started reading it today and one of the things I noticed immediately is the year of publication listed is 1988 and no other dates or markings that would indicate that it's a reprint or anything. It also has Tailchaser's Song as Williams' only book published up to that point. The inside flap of the dust jacket says "Book Club Edition", so that probably disproves it as a first edition. A relief and preference, honestly, because I don't like the idea of owning first editions of classic SF&F series or really books in general.


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