Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Scarlet Letter ★☆☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Scarlet Letter
Series: ----------
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback Edition


Hester Prynne, a widow whose husband is presumed lost at sea, is arrested for adultery when she becomes pregnant. She refuses to name the father and has to stay in a jail until she gives birth. Once she is freed, she is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her clothing. Hester raises her little daughter Pearl on her own and lives in the outskirts of the village. She sews for her living and does good deeds to both rich and poor. Pearl grows up wild and untamed.

At the same time, an Arthur Dimmesdale, a preacher, is rising up in the ranks of the village. He is overcome by a sickness and an itinerant medicine man stays to help him get better. Turns out the medicine man is Hester's husband, an old sour man who vows he will find out who Hester committed adultery with and destroy that man. Taking care of the minister gives him the excuse to live in the village. Hester agrees to keep Roger Chillingworth's secret for her own reasons.

Years go by and Reverend Dimmesdale is getting worse. Roger has figured out it was Dimmesdale who committed the sin with Hester and has been slowly destroying his spirit. Dimmesdale meets Hester in the words and they agree to flee the village and start life together back in the Old World. They are going to escape, with Pearl, on a ship after the new governor is sworn in. Roger discovers their plans and orders a berth on the same ship and lets Hester and Dimmesdale know. Dimmesdale gives a sermon and then confesses his sin and acknowledges his lust for Hester and that Pearl is his daughter. He then dies.

Hester and Pearl sail off and many decades later Hester returns to continue her life of good deeds until she dies.

My Thoughts:

My goodness, Hawthorne really hated the Puritans and anything that actually had some moral backbone. Ok, got that out of my system.

This book starts out with some piece of garbage fictional “recollection” from Hawthorne's working experience (where he had to work a whole 3.5hrs a day, the horror!) which is where he “discovers” the story of the Scarlet Letter. It was boring and rambling and had no impact beyond allowing the author to write long and complicated sentences while still saying nothing.
I don't know the correct term, but Hawthorne definitely appears to be a Utopian Romanticist. Basically, if it feels good, it is “Good” by definition and therefore the right thing. There are several references to Hester and Arthur's adultery actually being something from Heaven as their love sanctified their sin. This kind of absolute trash talk is why I didn't finish the Monstrumologist series. There is nothing holy or sanctified about adultery or other sins. So that was a huge strike against this book.

Then the writing style almost bored me to tears. While I can handle long descriptions from Dickens, what Hawthorne writes is simply convoluted for convoluted's sake. It became extremely annoying and by the end of the book I was ready to toss this paperback into the garbage. If you want to follow all the permutations of sentence construction then this is the book for you. There are almost no straight lines.

Thankfully, I read this during my lunch breaks at work, so it was broken up over 2 months. If I'd had to sit down and read this in 2 days I would probably have hunted down Hawthorne's grave, dug him up and urinated all over his corpse. The opposite of Holy Water, as it were.

Needless to say, I won't be reading anything else by Hawthorne ever again. What a wanker.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Uprising: Ascension (Pacific Rim #2) ★★☆☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Uprising: Ascension
Series: Pacific Rim #2
Author: Greg Keyes
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Movie Tie-In
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition


Taking place 17'ish years after Pacific Rim, we follow several new recruits into the Ranger program, from which new Jaeger pilots are chosen. With the closing of the portal and threat from the Kaiju vanquished, the Jaegers were re-purposed into peace keeping forces. Nor did technology stand still and the Mark 6 is the latest model.

Jinhai and Viktoriya are both talented candidates with their own issues. Jinhai is the son of a famous pair of Jaiger pilots and has always felt left out of his own family. Vik was raised by her grandparents and told that her parents were the brave Russian Jaeger pilots who went down stopping the Kaiju threat. But from the get-go of everyone's training, things go seriously wrong. A training jaeger is sabotaged and a technician killed. Suspicion rests on Jinhai or Vik and ties to Kaiju worshippers pop up incriminating both of them.

We also get flashbacks about Jinhai and Vik growing up that show the forces that have shaped them.

Eventually the Kaiju worshippers make their move. They kidnap Jinhai and Vik and plan to sacrifice them as they detonate a bomb drenched in kaiju blook (thus exponentially increasing its power) under an island, thus opening a new portal to the anteverse and the Kaiju. They are stopped in time but it is obvious that Jinhai and Vik weren't random selections for the sacrifice.

The Kaiju will return and humanity must be ready.

My Thoughts:

Last time I read a movie prequel book was Terminator: Salvation: Cold War. I had already watched the movie and absolutely loved it. The book was enjoyable as a backstory filler and it led me on to Terminator: Salvation: From the Ashes. That was a direct prequel and I loved it. All of this leads up to say that I had decent expectations for this prequel movie tie-in.

This was the novel prequel to Pacific Rim: Uprising. I have not watched the movie yet but since I enjoyed the first movie so much at some point I know I'll watch it. So I figured why not read the prequel to get me ready for the movie? Man, what a mistake. The thing with Terminator: Salvation is that I watched the movie first. I should have done the same thing with this book.

There was nothing wrong with this book but I was bored for most of it, as it was almost all setup for the movie. There was way too much “I'm a poor hurt teenager, feel bad for me while I sulk and act like a spoiled brat” and not any jaeger fights. Thankfully, we do get simulated jaeger fights in their training and it was fun to see them work through scenarios that previous pilots had battled through. The kaiju worshipers were the big threat and they were poorly done. Caricatures and barely there.

I had the movie novelization on my tbr, but after this and re-reading my review for the original Pacific Rim, I'm going to pass and just watch the movie “sometime”.


Monday, March 18, 2019

[Manga Monday] The Shamanic Oracle (Shaman King #17) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Shamanic Oracle
Series: Shaman King #17
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy


The Asakura's and the Tao's have a meeting to discuss what is happening with the rise of Hao. Yoh's parents prepare to give the Tao's their super secret sauce, errrr, special magic moves so that Ren can be powerful enough to fight alongside Yoh as an equal. Mr Tao is an ass and challenges Mr Asakura to prove himself. Mr A says “bring it” and the fight begins.

Yoh admits to his friends that Hao is so powerful that it is impossible for any shaman to overcome him. Yoh is not daunted and won't let his friends despair. Ren is out walking with his team when Mr A attacks them. Ren is his typical arrogant self and Mr A has to teach him some manners. They end up having a barbeque together. Yoh sure didn't fall far from the proverbial tree. Mr A reveals that everything is up to the kids because the adults have reached their limits and only the kids can still “grow”.

Hao lets his followers know that he intends a great cleansing once he becomes Shaman King, a global cleansing.

Two Patch officiants show up with a defeated Shaman, who is now Hao's minion and while not directly attacking Mr A (who it turns out is a member in the Shaman fight), sic the defeated shaman on him to delay him so he can't participate in his fight, thus automatically losing it. Another defeated shaman group also attack Yoh and Anna.

Team Ren is wiped out and their will broken with knowledge of their own low mana scores. Yoh shows up just as they're about to be killed and the volume ends.

My Thoughts:

Lots and lots and lots of talking. The few bits of fighting were so buried between exposition that it didn't engage me at all.



Friday, March 15, 2019

Carry On, Jeeves (The Jeeves Omnibus #2.3) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Carry On, Jeeves
Series: The Jeeves Omnibus #2.3
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 260
Format: Digital Edition


A collection of short stories which starts with the introduction of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster and ends with a story from Jeeves' point of view.

At least half of the stories also revolved around various family (immediate and extended) members of Jeeves, usually in an ancillary way.

My Thoughts:

I have given up trying to understand any reason or logical thinking in the way these books are put together in these Omnibus editions. This is the book where Jeeves and Bertie meet because Bertie's last gentleman's gentleman was a kleptomaniac. I believe that Wodehouse wrote this 3rd but with the advantage of hindsight, wouldn't you order this first in an omnibus instead of as the sixth book? It makes me want to punch somebody (and no Miiiiiiiiister Newton, you got yours the other day. I pick on Mr Newton because he loves these books so much! Just say Bertie, Martini and Engagement to him and he's rolling on the laughing so hard he's in danger of suffocating.)

The return to a short story form worked well. Little snippets of Bertie and his bumbling friends is probably a good way to ease people into the world that Wodehouse portrays. Myself, I read this one Saturday while lying on the couch. I was chortling away and after the second time of asking “What's so funny?”, Mrs B just let me be. She's pretty much on Miiiiiister Newton's side when it comes to the humor in these books. I on the other hand am entertained greatly.

The thing with Jeeves and Bertie is either you like these kind of stories or you don't. Heck, read 2 of the short stories within one book and you'll know by the end if Wodehouse is an author for you or not.

On a side note, I just finished up watching “The Blandings” on Prime the other day. It is a tv series based on a series by Wodehouse in this same vein. Once I'm done with Bertie and Jeeves, I plan on adding all 12+ books to my tbr. So buckle up folks, you've got at least 2 more years of Wodehouse offerings coming your way
* evil laughter *


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cold Copper Tears (Garrett, PI #3) ★★★☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Cold Copper Tears
Series: Garrett, PI #3
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 249
Format: Digital Edition


Garrett is taking it easy, what with all the success from previous cases. However, a sultry blonde perks his interest, especially when it is obvious she is hiding the real reason for coming to him. Then the Grand High Inquisitor of the Church comes to Garrett, wanting to hire him. After accepting these two curious cases, Garrett is suddenly assaulted. For no reason that he can tell.

He gets some help from the major Crime Boss, who is then assaulted by a godlike being. Garrett, with some help from some potions from an earlier client, drives it off, thus continuing the debt of gratitude the Crime Boss owes him.

After lots of action, and a street girl suddenly becoming his understudy and claiming she's going to marry him, Garrett puts it all together. A long dead, malevolent loghyr, has been masquerading as a god of destruction so long that it has come into being. Garrett tracks down the loghyr, informs the Crime Boss, and let's nature take its course. A loghyr body might not decompose but it sure can be eaten by hungry rats!

Garrett is richer than ever. But now he has to figure out what do with the street girl and with Tinnie. Garrett isn't the marrying kind.

My Thoughts:

I had fun reading this. I didn't bother to try to figure out anything ahead of time. I just sat back, let Garrett get the crap beat out of him, watched him beat the crap out some others and generally had a fantastic old time.

The humor continues to work for me, Garrett hasn't annoyed me yet and his womanizing hasn't crossed the line yet either. I do have to say, that is what caused this book to stay at 3 1/2 stars instead of moving up to 4. Poor Garrett gets ambushed in his own bed by the street girl (well, she's 18...). I'm getting the feeling that Female X will show up for a book or three and then shove off. I was kind of hoping that Tinnie would move into friendship territory and become a regular part of the cast. Not looking too promising at the moment.

My other gripe is the tired old cliché about gods taking their power from their believers, etc, etc. This story is dealing with gods and churches and what not, so while I was kind of expecting it, it just really hit me wrong this time. As I was reading through I had ask myself what kind of person worships a god that they themselves have created? What's the point? Made me glad I'm a Christian who serves the One True God. He's said He's the only God. So either it is true and I'm all set, or it is a lie and I've got nothing to fear from a being that can lie about Reality itself. Despair, yes, but not Fear.

Cook writes well here and as long as he doesn't start recycling story lines (something I can see happening with 14'ish books in the series) I don't foresee any problems with continuing on until the end. Of course, the series did kind of peter out in '13, so I'm only getting closer and closer to landmine territory with each new book.

My goodness, for a book I thoroughly enjoyed, I certainly rained on it enough didn't I?


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Merchant of Venice ★★★☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Merchant of Venice
Series: ----------
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 140
Format: Digital Edition


A merchant of Venice, Merchantio has all his funds tied up in ships out at sea. His friend, Romancio, needs to borrow money to woo a rich woman from another town. Merchantio allows Romancio to stretch his credit to the limit with a moneylender named Shylock. Shylock hates Merchantio and makes part of the credit deal that if Merchantio defaults Shylock gets to cut off a pound of flesh.

Shylock's daughter runs off with a friend of Merchantio's and takes a small fortune with her. Shylock doesn't know which he misses more.

Things go well for Romancio. The woman's father had setup a riddle to win her hand. If a suitor guessed wrong, he couldn't tell anyone what he had guessed AND he had to remain single for the rest of his life. Romancio guesses right and marries the woman. His friend, Friendo, then marries the maid servant.

Things go bad for Merchantio and all his ships are sunk, pirated or go missing. Shylock claims the Law and says he'll sue Venice and ruin her international reputation of Law Abidingness if the Duke of Venice won't fulfill the law.

Romancio and Friendio run back to Venice with treble the amount owed so buy back Merchantio's life. Unknown to them, their wives follow, dressed up as young men and claiming to be the friends of a very important Judge. The Duke of Venice brings the case before them. Shylock turns down the treble payment and wants his pound of flesh.

Romancio's wife decides in his favor and Shylock rejoices. Then she drops the bombshell that he can only take a pound of flesh, no blood, nothing. If he does so and Merchantio dies, then Shylock will die and all his estates go to the City of Venice. The Duke rules that if Shylock won't take his pound of flesh, the only way to avoid the punishment is to convert to Christianity and give half his estates away and lots of it to his estranged daughter. Everyone but Shylock is happy.

Then the wives decide to be clever and cause problems for their husbands. They beg, as the young men, to have some rings from Romancio and Friendio, who cave like $3 bills. Then the wives meet their husbands at home and demand to see the rings. Upon not seeing them, the wives claim they will sleep with whoever has the rings and follow that up immediately that it has already happened. Romancio and Friendio moan about being cuckolds and then the wives reveal the truth, everyone laughs and goes into a feast.

My Thoughts:

I was really enjoying this up until the end. I dont' think I'm going to ever find amusing made up drama between husbands and wives. Also, the names completely eluded me 5minutes after I finished the book, hence my little nicknames there.

There were boatloads of quotes that lots of people today know. When people here them, they know they're from Shakespeare even if they have no idea which play. It made me wonder why certain quotes have attained that status and not others. Not all of them are epic, or particularly wise or stand out above other bits, as far as I can see. Just rather random.

I did laugh when Shylock's daughter ran off and became a “Christian”. Shylock is bemoaning his loss of ducats and jewels and is complaining to a non-Jew about it. The non-jew starts complaining about how the price of pork is now going to rise because there is another pork eater (because obviously it follows that to show one is a Christian one must eat pork). It was so silly and ridiculous that I was just grinning through the whole back and forth.


Monday, March 11, 2019

[Manga Monday] Trust No One (Shaman King #16) ★★★☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Trust No One
Series: Shaman King #16
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy


Ren has an encounter with Hao and Hao invites him to join his team. Ren attacks Hao, who easily stops it and destroys the very weapon that Ren was using, all without visible means or even an oversoul. The encounter leaves Ren very shaken.

Yoh seeks out Lyserg and lets him know that he holds no hard feelings against Lyserg for joining the X-Laws. Apparently Lyserg broke curfew to see Yoh and the other X-Laws catch him. Marco deals harshly with Lyserg and prepares to pit himself against Yoh, until the Iron Maiden intervenes, telling the X-Laws that Yoh is not a minion of Hao's. She invites Yoh to join the X-Laws and he refuses. This sets off Marco and Yoh has to threaten him just to leave.

We are introduced to one new team, who we don't even see fight, as they finished their match so quickly. Then things get interesting as one of Hao's group is set to fight and it includes Hao himself. Opposing them is one of the X-Law splinter groups, X-III. Hao sends his minions off and X-III attacks him with their 3 angels. Hao kills one of them immediately. X-III was sacrificial lambs, meant to find out about Hao so the future X-Law teams could exploit that knowledge and defeat Hao. Hao toys with the remaining X-III and kills them too, revealing nothing but how incredibly powerful he is. After winning the fight, Hao then resurrects the souls of the fallen X-III and feeds them to his oversoul of Fire. Hao is evil.

Yoh reveals to his team mates that Hao is an Asakura and that this fight has been going on for a 1000 years. One of the Patch Officiants is also a descendant of Hao and he has vowed to stop Hao. He get some secret video and is seen by 2 other Patch officiants. Yoh reveals a bombshell that Yoh isn't just an ancestor but is actually his twin brother. Yoh's father revealed this all to him and now Yoh is telling his team mates so they won't be blindsided later on in the Shaman Fight.

It turns out that Yoh was born with a twin, who Hao chose to reincarnate in. Yoh's grandparents tried to stop this from happening, but with no success. Now it is up to Yoh to stop Hao, impossible as that may seem.

My Thoughts:

Well, I did NOT see that bombshell about Hao coming, not one tiny bit. Thinking about it though, I'm not sure it actually changes anything. Hao is still an evil son of a gun bent on world domination and it is up to Yoh to stop him. The fights that Hao were in with the X-III's really show just how evil he is. His soul is rotten to the core.

There was a lot of talking going on in this volume and not much fighting. Even the previous volume had more fighting. I'm here for the fighting so I'm hoping things ramp up next volume, or I'm going to be very disappointed.


Friday, March 08, 2019

Seize the Night (Moonlight Bay #2) ★★★☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Seize the Night
Series: Moonlight Bay #2
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Paranormal/Thriller
Pages: 482
Format: Digital Edition


It has been a month since the events in Fear Nothing. Chris Snow is just chilling in Moonlight Bay, waiting to see if the end of the world will come quickly or slowly. He's out bicycling one night when he meets an old flame. She lost her husband 2 years ago and that very night her 6 year old boy has gone missing. Chris begins to track down the kidnapper and ends up at the Wyvern Base. He has a run in a psycho who tries to kill him and then in the process of leaving, has another encounter with the Troop. Also, Orson the dog has gone missing during the initial attack on Chris. While hiding from the Troop, he's rescued by his surfer friend and they continue the hunt for Jimmy. They find a room that appears to take them somewhere else and they appear to see things that have happened in the past. They barely escape with their lives when some kind of monster infects a past researcher and they're stuck with him. Thankfully, the “time machine” brings them back before they get axed.

Once home, before daybreak, Chris and Bobbie are confronted by the police and told to ignore everything, as “Higher Ups” are taking care of it. Considering the past track record of these “Higher Ups”, Chris and Bobby decide to ignore the cops and keep on looking for little Jimmy once night falls. They are told that the retrovirus burns itself out as the victims implode psychologically (ie, suicide) and that there are humans with natural immunity. Humanity is saved from the devastation Chris's mom let loose. Hurray. They still have to find Jimmy and some other children who have gone missing.

Chris, Bobby, Sasha (Chris's girlfriend), Mungojerrie (an intelligence enhanced cat) and some others all had to Wyvern to rescue Jimmy and the other missing children. Mungojerrie detects that the kids are beneath the time machine room and the machine is running while they make their rescue. Bobby is killed by security from the past and everyone sees into another dimension and a being comes through. It turns out that a murderous psycho who has been groups of children over the last 2 years is the head of the Mystery Train project and he wants to go to the other world so he can kill to his hearts content. It would appear though that he has tried to open a door to hell and something gets through. The group meets themselves on the elevator and Chris grabs Bobby and takes him with them. They escape and the time machine goes nuts. They watch it un-make itself, thus undoing the whole project but they still remember it.

Turns out the murderous psycho is still alive but now working on another project. Chris vows to stop him again and they all live happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

This was much more paranormal than the previous book. That just had a retrovirus turning everyone into bestial creatures who were just slathering to kill, pillage and rape. Here, the Mystery Train is a time machine only it turns out to “sidewise” in time and bad things have happened, hence why the project was shut down.

This book was only 48hrs and my goodness did Koontz pack in the thrills and chills. He's very descriptive and I have to admit I wanted to skip it all but his descriptions really set the mood. Very atmospheric writing and downright creepy in place. I really liked it.

I also liked how Koontz unabashedly talks about the spiritual and how it is just as real as anything “scyenze” today can try to explain. In one paragraph Chris the main character is talking to his friend Bobby and Bobby says:
That doesn't bother you like it does me, 'cause you've got God
and an afterlife and choirs of angels and palaces of gold
in the sky but all I've got is broccoli.”

It is kind of silly but it really got across the hope I have as a Christian. It's refreshing and encouraging.

I think the only thing I didn't really care for was how open ended the book was. Yes, the Mystery Train project is revealed, the retrovirus appears to be either burning itself out or a cure quickly on the way but with the whole Tornado Alley project throwaway line and the revelation that the murderous child burning psycho is still alive and working, well, it came across as Koontz leaving the door open for more books if he needed it. He didn't have a definite “This Is the End” like he did for Odd Thomas.

And that reminds me of the only other nitpicky thing I can blab about. The recycling of ideas. Depending on how things continue in this vein, I might end up having to read these books a bit further apart than I have been. Time machines, evil materialized, calm and rational head character, creepy and spooky looks into a horrible dimension or the future, it all is extremely familiar. Now, Koontz does a fantastic job of not making the stories (so far) clones of each other but I'm leery of the same ideas being used in different ways. We'll see what the future holds.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased and the taut thrill of reading this was just what my brain needed.


Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Stormcaller (Twilight Reign #1) ★★☆☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Stormcaller
Series: Twilight Reign #1
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 516
Format: Digital Edition


Isak is a white-eye, a special sort of human that tends to be bigger, faster, stronger, longer lived and more angry. White eyes are something either the gods created or magicians and are now simply part of life. Isak's father blames him for his birthing killing his mother. Isak has been taken under wing by a retired “Ghost” soldier who has taken up the gypsy life and trained as much as a young man can be.

When the gypsy train is confronted by a high ranking White Eye, who claims to have come from the lord of the land, Lord Bahl, Isak refuses the summons but the gypsy train as a whole begins making their way to the Capital. Once they reach the city the men of the train work themselves into a drunken stupor and try to kill Isak for bringing them all to Lord Bahl's attention. Isak makes it to the palace and is given refuge. Turns out he is supposed to be Lord Bahl's heir. He is trained by a swordsmaster, given a magical suit of armor and a magic sword (from the elf warrior who started the revolt against the gods thousands of years ago and killed a bunch of them) and finds out that he might be the focus of a prophecy predicting the rise of the Elves, the fall of humanity and yet another round of god-slayings.

While Lord Bahl and Isak get along, they are both powerful white eyes and Lord Bahl sends Isak to a neighboring kingdom to learn as much diplomacy as is possible. Isak is beginning to surround himself with his own group of people so when the time comes for Lord Bahl to die, he can step in and rule the Land, with all the blessings of their god.

Mischief is afoot though and the neighboring kingdom is at the focus of several plots by powerful factions, all of whom want to control the Prophesied One. A coup is planned and while the king knows of the coup, he is counting on Isak and his soldiers' help in overcoming it. Isak sees Lord Bahl cut down by a mysterious figure in black armor in a vision during the battle. He then gets the blessing of the storm god and uses that power to smash those attempting the coup.

He meets up with some rebel Knight Templars who believe the prophesied one is to be their ultimate leader. They present Isak with two Crystal Skulls, which are artifacts of great power that can kill even the gods. It turns out to be a trap and Isak must face down the mysterious knight in black, who is the original elf warrior. Isak defeats him and now that prophecy has been turned aside, decide where to go next.

My Thoughts:

First, I did enjoy this. This review probably won't reflect that and neither does the rating, but there is reason for that. I am very glad that I started reading Lloyd's work with his God Fragments before this. Those were well written adventure stories with fleshed out characters and well crafted writing.

This book, and I'm guessing the series, is a very much a first attempt. Too many instances of things being described that don't advance the story and just bloat up the word count. I could tell the author was trying to flesh out characters or situations but it wasn't done right and just made things feel long. Transitions between scenes was horrible. A double line break was all we got, within chapters. I don't know how many times I had mental whiplash trying to get my head around that we were now on a boat where as in the last paragraph the whole group was riding horses and would be days into some vast plain.

There were a lot of names thrown about. Honestly, outside of the group of 4-5 people that Isak began surrounding himself with, I found it overwhelming. Especially so as I never knew until much later if this character was going to stick around or be central to the story or was just a one-off. The author tells a LOT of history and sadly, it is handled roughly and confusingly.

I don't know if it was just the edition I had (I'm reading the omnibus edition ebook offered through Amazon) but near the beginning of the story there were at least 5 instances of a word missing and “[MISSING]”, all in caps just like that, inserted in its place. It felt like I was reading a scanned copy of a paperback version that had been OCR''d and then not hand checked.

With all of that being said, I did enjoy the book. The author can write great fight scenes and that makes up for a lot. I also like the core idea of the story and want to see where it all leads. Having read his God Fragments series, I know he doesn't stay at this level of ability. I'd like to see if I can watch progress through the series.

If you want to check out Tom Lloyd, start with his God Fragments books. If you like those, then come back to check out these earlier works. Don't start with these as they're not representative of what he is capable of as a writer.


Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Legend (Drenai Saga #1) ★★★☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Legend
Series: Drenai Saga #1
Author: David Gemmell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 369
Format: Digital Edition


The horse tribes have united under one leader, a charismatic man who is brutal, bloodthirsty and visionary. He has kept the peace with the Drenai Empire for the last number of years with treaties. Now the time has come for him to ignore those treaties and engulf the Drenai. The first step is taking over the gateway fortress.

Druss the Legend is now an old man. Throughout his life he has been in many battles and earned that title of Legend. He has been called to the fortress to defend against the horde. What he finds is a corrupt series of officers, a demoralized, understaffed army and a citizenry already talking of surrender. Druss is a warrior though, not a leader. He can inspire and kill, but he can't really lead. The Duke of the fortress is a good friend of Druss, but he's riddled with cancer and dies just a few days after Druss arrives.

Thankfully, the Duke was a good man and knew his time was near. He sent out his daughter to hire the 30, a group of ascetic monks with temporal powers that translated into physical powers. They are also master strategists. Between them and Druss, the Duke hopes to give his city a fighting chance. The daughter runs into a warrior and ends up marrying him. He becomes the next Duke even though he hates fighting.

The city has 7 walls and everyone fights until the last wall. With a million warriors, it would appear that the warlord is assured victory. However, he gets a missive that his nephew has revolted back home and is trying to usurp him. He leaves and the couple of hundred survivors among the Drenai get to live. Druss has fallen in battle, the 30 have fallen, except for one who will start the next 30 and the Duke and his wife magically survive.

My Thoughts:

This was decent epic fantasy. It would seem to be the end of the Drenai Empire, so either the next set of books go back in time or there is a resurgence. My guess is going back in time to see how Druss became the Legend that he is here.

The city/fortress reminded me of Tolkien's Minas Tirith, what with its sets of walls. Also, the whole tone of the book was Forgotten Realms, just with better writing and plotting.

The magical deus ex machina at the end concerning the Duke and his wife was a bit tough to accept but when you want a happy ending, that's pretty much your only option. That, or they both survive the entire battle, which I would find even more unbelievable.

I've avoided Gemmel for decades because the descriptions just never drew me in. Now that I've actually read one his books, I expect I'll be searching out all his stuff and reading it. It is very enjoyable and exactly what I am looking for in a fantasy. Good triumphs, Evil is conquered and lots and lots of fighting. The battles on the walls were great.