Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thraxas and the Oracle (Thraxas #10) ★★★☆☆

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: Thraxas and the Oracle
Series: Thraxas #10
Author: Martin Scott
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 184
Format: Digital Edition


The armies have come together and they all, under the leadership of Lisutaris, begin the march to Turai to take the fight to the orcs. Thraxas has been made head of Security and his number one job is to find Deeziz the Unseen before she wreaks havoc on the barely holding together armies. Add to that that Lisutaris must consult with an Oracle who has been banned and whose followers have been wiped out by the true church.

Thraxas is going to have a very hard time. Worst of all, there are no taverns and Lisutaris has told him to stop drinking.

The oracle proves right in all her accounts that do come to pass, Thraxas does find Deeziz (who escapes yet again) and the allied armies surprise an orcish one and completely route it. Now they can begin to head to Turai.

My Thoughts:

This was probably the weakest Thraxas story to date. In the middle of an army is not the place to have Thraxas being a gluttonous drunk. It just didn't work for me this time. Thraxas is just hit or miss for me and I can't figure out the why's and wherefore's of the formula regulating that. I guess it's just a mystery! In terms of enjoyment, this was a bunt. I still connected with the ball, but it didn't knock it out of the park for me.

If I were to recommend these books to anyone, I'd say to stop at book 8. Yes, there isn't any resolution at the end of that book, but 2 books later there still isn't any resolution. Also, considering that it has been 3 years since this book was published and there hasn't been another, I'd say Scott has dropped the creative ball and is done as an author. These are not long books. If you are on fire, it doesn't take 3 years to write a sub-200page book. It is only when struggling that that is the case.

Scott needs to write one more book where the armies take back the city of Turai, Thraxas marries Makri, becomes the proconsul of the newly renovated Turai and the whole gang (Lisutaris, Gurd, Tamrose, etc) all hang out at a brand new bar and shirk their duties. The End. Seriously.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Algorithm of Power ★☆☆☆☆

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 Algorithm of Power
Author: Pedro Barrento
Translator: Craig Patterson
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 701
Format: Digital Edition


In 2061, the world decides to be run by a computer program instead of governments and to divide the world up into 100 regions where various ideologies, religions, philosophies and whatever can have their own little place without needing to elect anyone or be in contact with anyone who disagrees with them.

One storyline, in 2300, follows a young woman who leaves her region after her sister's death and in the new region comes across a young man who has unfettered access to the network. She falls in love with another man and through machinations, ends up on a boat with both men heading for this Control Center.

The second storyline is about the rise of the Network and how the world we are introduced to in the beginning of the book came about.

My Thoughts:

Pig Ignorant Eurosnobbery.

North Korea, China, the US Army, they're not all going to just sit back and let something like this happen. A lot of individuals wouldn't just sit back and let this happen either.

And the passive energy field that separate the regions? Beyond handwavium, their application is completely ignored. That kind of tech would have gone into somebody's military and then gone to the world's militaries. World War III was much more likely of an outcome than what is shown.

Don't even get me started on the lack of Religious intelligence here. This author obviously doesn't understand ANY religion. I know that Christians wouldn't accept being corraled into one little part of the planet. The whole point of Christianity isn't to live with people you agree with, but to spread what you believe to others. You can't do that, there is no point in being a Christian. Then the muslims and their jihads? You think they're just going to lie down? Ahhh, the lack of understanding in this book was appalling.

I also didn't like a single character.

The writing. I've got conflicting data here. Antao, in his review, states that this was originally in English. The kindle edition I got states:
Translation: Craig Patterson
So, was that translation of certain phrases in the book, translation from English to Portuguese or from Portuguese to English. Mr Barrento lives in Portugal, so I wouldn't think he would need help translating his book to that language? I couldn't find which language this was written in first, nor did I look that hard. Not worth it.

Either way, no matter, the writing was choppy, didn't flow and kept me at arms length. I always felt narrated AT while reading this book and that was off putting.

I doubt I'll ever come across another book by this author, but if I some how do, I certainly won't be reading it.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Mara Strikes Back! (Oh My Goddess! #8) ★★★☆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: Mara Strikes Back!
Series: Oh My Goddess! #8
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback


Chapter Stories.

Mara returns. She releases an unhappiness demon on Kei but because of Belldandy the unhappiness is turned to happiness. At the same time Mara also possesses Megumi to try to separate Kei and Bell. With predictable results all around.

Kei and the Auto Club go for a vacation to an old inn and there Kei is visited by a ghost. A ghost his grandfather made a promise to long ago. Kei must fulfill the promise or be possessed.

Skuld makes a new robot, Banpei and there are the typical misadventures. Urd is recalled to Heaven but the goddesses put their heads together and cast a warding around the house, to ostensibly keep Mara out but a side affect is that the gate for Urd can't open either. This crashes the system, again and so the girls are still dependent on moon rocks.

The final story is about Sora trying to make a box lunch for the guy she likes. Belldandy helps her out and Sora gives one to Kei and everyone, but Bell, thinks that Sora likes Kei. Turns out Kei was a test subject and Sora really likes Aoshima, that jerk cousin to Sayoko. No accounting for taste I guess.

My Thoughts:

The stories in this volume were a lot more enjoyable than in previous volumes. The whole Mara Strikes Back was probably the best with the others being slightly funny to meh.

There is so much potential here that Fujishima HAS to get a story right even if by accident. I like his drawings a lot, just kind of wish he'd had a separate manga-ka to do the storylines. But when you write for a monthly magazine, kind of tough to split the cut two ways and have enough to live on I guess.

This time around the picture I chose to showcase stood out to me the moment I saw it and I KNEW it was the one to include. Urd has just messed with Sora's boxlunch with one of her infamous love potions and Belldandy is NOT happy. While Belldandy is usually the levelheaded, peaceable one, she's also the most powerful. It is rather nice to see her looking so determined, with that “annoyed adult” look on her face.
Bell might be sweet but she's also the most mature


Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Murder of Mages (Maradaine Constabulary #1) ★★★☆☆

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: A Murder of Mages
Series: Maradaine Constabulary #1
Author: Marshall Maresca
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 341
Format: Digital Edition


Satrine Rainey, former Intelligence Officer, wife of a former Maradaine Constable and mother of two, must forge her way into the Constabulary as an Inspector Third Class so as to provide for her family. Her husband, hurt on duty, is now a human vegetable and his superiors have hung him out to dry, financially speaking. Satrine successfully gets the job. She is paired up with Minox Welling, an uncircled mage who uses rather unorthodox investigative methods. Minox's nickname is Jinx, as he has already lost 3 partners.

They begin by investigating the murder of a mage who had his heart cut out. More murders follow, apparently without much rhyme or reason beyond them being of mages. At the same time Satrine has to worry about her deception being found out and kicked off the force.

Her deception is found out when her daughter gets involved with a college student and Satrine puts a very public stop to the relationship. The boy retaliates by telling his daddy who knows the Commisioner, whose seal Satrine forged to get her the job. It all comes crashing down and she is off the force and having to seriously think about being a prostitute to support her family.

Then she figures out what is going with the murders, discovers that her former partner is next on the list and sets out to rescue him even while not officially being on the force. She has the help of 2 other Constables and ends up saving Minox, getting reinstated in the Constabulary and bringing the murderer to justice.

There is another storyline involving Minox and another uncircled mage, but it is very much setup for future books and doesn't impact this one very much.

My Thoughts:

After my mis-adventure with the stupidity of the first Maradaine book, I came into this with extremely low expectations. It is a good thing I did.

Thankfully, none of the characters were complete idiots like the guy in the other book. However, everything, from characterers to plot to motivations, were still very simplistic. There are times I want a simple book, especially after reading one of the Malazan tomes, but there is a difference between simple and simplistic.

I was not impressed with this book at all, but I also didn't feel like throwing it out the window. That's about the only praise you'll get out of me for this. I'm done with Maresca and will leave him to those who enjoy his writing. I am not one of those people.


Friday, March 09, 2018

Reaper's Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen #7) ★★★★☆

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: Reaper's Gale
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #7
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 940
Format: Digital Edition


The Edur/Letheri Empire continues to totter on. Rhulad Sengar, instrument of the Broken God, continues to fight against various champions and continues to die and be resurrected. He is cut off from his Edur family and allies by the Letheri beauracracy and it is really the Prime Minister who is running things.

The champions. Karsa Orlong has a plan and he can't let Icarium get in his way. But after a confrontation in the streets, he realizes that Icarium has his own plans which do not involve fighting with the Emperor. Icarium unleashes an instrument of magic but something goes wrong and we don't know if he survives the magical conflagration or not. Karsa faces Rhulad, treats like the boy he is, takes the magical sword and with the help of all the spirits chained to him, forces a path to where the Broken God resides. Instead of killing the Broken God, he simply rejects him and has the blacksmith who made the cursed sword destroy it, along with all the power invested in it by the Broken God.

Gnoll, the Prime Minister, has setup a secret police, the Patriotists. Their end goal is to destroy the Edur, take wealth for themselves and become the rulers in the shadow. Much like any secret police, they end up going to far and with all the other events going, the populace rises up and kills most of them.

Tehol Beddict, with the aide of his manservant Bugg who is the elder god Mael in disguise, continues his economic war against his own people. His goal is to bring down the whole economic system so as to bring about something different that can last. Successful in the end, Tehol becomes the new Emperor.

The Awl, tribal plainsmen, are the latest people under seige by the Letheri. With the arrival of a prophesied leader, Red Mask, who is guarded by two K'Chain Ch'malle, the Awl have a chance of not only surviving but of destroying the Letheri army sent after them. It turns out that the Greyshields were allies of the Awl against the Letheri but the Awl betrayed them and left them to die on the battlefield earlier. Redmask fails and his “guardians” turn on him and kill him for said failure. In his death it is revealed that he was an outcast Letheri and was simply using the Awl to get revenge on Lether. A handful of Awl children survive and are taken underwing by the newly arrived Barghast army which destroys the Letheri army. The two Ch'malle return to their matron, their reasons still a secret.

The Malazans, the outcast Bonehunter army, land on the shores of Lether and begin an invasion. Adjunct Tavore is as silent as ever and nobody in the army knows what is going on. Fiddler speculates that she is simply going after the Broken God and not just Lether. The Malazans split up and fight their way to the capital, only to find it already in chaos due to the Patriotists, Karsa Orlong's killing of the Emperor, Icarium's machine gone wrong and Tehol Beddict's plans. They put Tehol on the throne and are set to go elsewhere, whereever Tavore decides.

There is yet another storyline dealing with a disparate group of Tiste Andii, Letheri slaves, Tiste Edur, Imass, Eleint dragons and the birth of a new Azath House. Dealing with betrayals from long ago, it has no direct impact on the overall storyline in this book and as such, I'm not typing up the details. This “summary” is already longer than most of my whole reviews.

My Thoughts:

My “review” from 2010 is a good 1 paragraph sum up of the book. Obviously, as shown by my summary above, there is a bloody lot more to this book.

While I enjoyed the storyline immensely, I have to admit that Erikson's philosophy once again ruined what could have been a 5star book. Pages upon pages of selfish mutterings and hopeless thoughts and the dwelling upon of pain and hurt real and imagined, past and future. My main problem is that Erikson is great at pointing out flaws, in people, in situations, in institutions, in laws but then he doesn't have his characters propose any solutions beyond “I will Endure”. He spends a section using his characters to talk about how the whole of existance itself was nothing but a betrayal by forces of chaos conspiring against each other. If Erikson thinks even half of what he writes, how does the man get out of bed each morning? He writes the true Existential Existance. It is pointless. That is depressing and it really brought home to me how much Hope I have being a Christian. Thank God.

With so much going on, I had to simply sit back, enjoy each section as it was presented to me and not try to put it all together. Even though this is book 7 in the series, Erikson is still just giving us pieces of an overall puzzle that has a lot of missing pieces. Erikson knows the whole picture but is only giving the readers some of the pieces of the puzzle and forcing us to figure out what the whole might look like from the little we do know. Forcing each reader to become a literary archeologist or to give up the series in disgust.

Now, with all of that out of the way...

I still liked this a lot. When the various plots were rolling along, I couldn't put this book down. The Malazan storyline didn't start until past the halfway mark and I kept waiting for them to be included which I think took my attention away from earlier parts of the book. There was a Segulah woman as a champion but she never fought Rhulad. She escaped, which kind of disappointed me, as I wanted to see how she would have fared against the Emperor. Karsa was just an obnoxious twit the entire time and it was obvious that Rhulad couldn't defeat him.

The whole Awl storyline almost more about the mystery of the K'Chain Ch'malle than anything else. For a species supposedly extinct for a million years, they're surprisingly active. So where have they been hiding out? I also wondered who Redmask actually was. I'm sure there are two sentences in one of the earlier books that explains it but I suspect I'll just go on the Malazan Wiki and find out. Why do all the hardwork when someone else has already done it?
Aaaaaand I just looked. No other references to Redmask. Just one of those loose puzzle pieces that Erikson likes to scatter about.

While the storylines are interesting and engaging, there is almost no point in saying “this was a good part” because somebody dies in every “good part”. Hence the name of the series. And yet I still read this series for a second time. Not sure if that means that Erikson is actually a really good writer or that I'm just a sick reader who needs help.

This was the last book in the series that I rated highly when I read them initially. I have a feeling that the next 3 will be just as bad the second time around. I am girding up my loins for that.


Thursday, March 08, 2018

Robin: Tragedy & Triumph (Batman/Robin #4) ★★★★☆

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: Robin: Tragedy & Triumph
Series: Batman/Robin #4
Author: Chuck Dixon & Alan Grant
Artist: Norm Breyfogle & Tom Lyle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 192
Format: Paper Edition


This graphic novels entails 2 different stories that aren't related.

The first story, entitled Rite of Passage, is the backstory of the tragedy surrounding Tim Drake's parents. How his mom died and his dad was totally incapacitated. They were multimillionaires, investors and their plane was hijacked. They were held for ransom by the Obea Man in Haiti but he had planned to kill them along no matter what. Batman rescues them but not before they drink poisoned water, which kills Mrs Drake and puts Mr Drake into a coma. While all of this is going on, Tim is back in Gotham tracking down a computer hacker who has been stealing from Gotham banks and depositing the funds into peasants accounts across the world.

The second story is the Robin II set of comics that introduces the new Robin as his own character. Batman is out of town, the Joker escapes and it is mid winter with a huge storm coming in. The Joker kidnaps a computer programmer and takes over the city and demands Batman deliver him a billion dollars. The Joker blows the truck up to kill Batman and in the ensuing confusion (As Robin has set things up) Robin takes down the Joker and puts him back in Arkham. Thus he puts to rest any doubts he has about being capable of being Batman's partner.

My Thoughts:

I can understand why they put these 2 stories together, but they really didn't mesh well. The tragedy surrounding Tim's parents is only touched upon in Robin: A Hero Reborn so it is good to get the full story. It is amazing how the birth of a hero always seems catapulted by some sort of deep tragedy in their own lives. Nobody, as far as I can tell, just wakes up in Comic World and decides to fight crime for the fun of it. I obviously haven't read every about superhero, nor do I have that desire, but Motivation seems to half the battle when it comes to creating a “hero”. Nothing beats a good old death of mum n dad to help someone along the path.

The Robin II storyline, with Tim facing off against the Joker, was your stereotypical comic book storyline. A whole city helpless, only one man, or boy in this case, can save the day. The Authorities completely stymied, every person in power panic'ing and their brains nullified. It is the dream of every teen. It also showcased how comics in the 90's were still grounded in our world. None of this alternate reality, science fiction, fantasy kaka I see nowadays. Once a Superhero moves out from “our” world, they become just another character, no longer a Superhero.

This Robin book didn't impress me as much as the previous book. It wasn't as good but it also wasn't as ridiculous. It was a comic book about a teenager (Drake's only 14 for goodness sake!) for teenagers. I've been looking around at other Tim Drake/Robin books and I think I'll be leaving them alone. Drake's origin and first real mission, that's a good place to stop.

I've got one more Batman/Robin graphic novel coming up, Under the Red Hood, which deals with the return of Jason Todd. I have no idea if Drake is involved or not, but either way, I'm ok with this little bit I already own and have no real desire to chase down more.


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Hunters of Dune (Dune 7 #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: Hunters of Dune
Series: Dune 7 #1
Author: Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 644
Format: Digital Edition


Duncan Idaho, Sheena and others escape in the noship Ithaca. They journey in another universe altogether for years before coming back to ours. Once back they have multiple run ins with the Old Couple, who are revealed to be Erasmus and Omnius, who are in control of the new Face Dancers and for some reason need a kwisatz haderach of their own to “win” Krazilec. Sheena ends up recovering lots of genetic secrets from their resident Tleixu master, Scytale. She ends up resurrecting many of the Atreides and their retainers “because”. Duncan wants to keep on the move to avoid the Old Couple while other Bene Gesserits on board want to find a planet to settle down on to restart the Bene Gesserit Order without the “impurity” of the Honored Matres that Murbella introduced.

Meanwhile, Murbella has forced her New Sisterhood down the throats of the Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres. Not all Honored Matres submit though and Murbella must subjugate them so as to show a united front for when the Unknown Enemy makes it appearance. She also must contend with the Spacing Guild and Ix and the tech world of Richese. She begins pouring the New Sisterhood's spice reserves into Richese to build a fleet unlike anything the Old Empire has ever seen.

Khrone, the leader of the New Face Dancers, while under the control of the Old Couple, has plans of his own for the Face Dancer Myriad. Using the last Lost Master of the Tliexu, Krone raises a ghola of the old Baron Harkonnen and one of Paul Atreides.

This book ends with the forces of Omnius beginning the invasion of the Old Empire.

My Thoughts:

Ok, this is my 3rd time reading this. What struck me the most was how busy this was while taking 20 years. A lot of hurry up and wait. The second thing that struck me was this book did not fit in with the previous 2 by Frank Herbert. If you hadn't read the Legends and Houses of Dune trilogies by Herbert&Anderson, much of this is inexplicable and makes no sense. Frank Herbert wouldn't have written a book like this. I can see the bare bone ideas that Frank might have used but some of the specifics, not at all. The third issue I had was that in the previous 2 books the Honored Matres were presented as this completely overwhelming force but here they fall before Murbella and the New Sisterhood like a row of dominoes. It didn't scan.

I found that as long as I didn't stop to think too hard about things, I had a better time with this. It's nice to get the final story of Dune but really, it feels as much a sellout as a dedication to a great series. I wasn't sure if how this would turn out after my 2 other times, but it was still decent. Now though, no more re-reads of this. I've still got Sandworms of Dune to finish this duology, but once I'm done with that, I'll stick to just re-reading Dune every decade or so.

I would recommend this for a hardcore Dune completionist and that's about it. If you made it through Heretics and Chapterhouse, then I don't see that kind of person having a hard time with this. They might not like it a lot, but it will scratch the itch of wondering where Frank might have taken us. Consider this authorized Dune fan fiction and you'll have a good grasp of the style and skill.


Friday, March 02, 2018

Cobra Traitor (Cobra Rebellion #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: Cobra Traitor
Series: Cobra Rebellion #3
Author: Timothy Zahn
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Trade Paperback


Merrick Broom is on a world to find the war drug that the Trofts are going to use on humans to infiltrate the Dominion of Man and cause havoc. He hooks up with some freedom fighters and a Troft from an opposing Demesne.

The Dominion of Man has taken over Aventine, the capital Cobra world and now it is up to the Cobras there to figure out a way to throw them off without getting the entire planet scorched. Or every Cobra with a slave collar on.

The Qasaman's are playing their own games, with various drugs and secret cobra soldiers.

Everything ends with the “bad” Troft alliance falling apart due to the various other characters all working together. Jody Broom and the Cobra Traitor head to the main Dominion of Man world to show what happened and to sway public opinion in favor of the Cobra worlds.

My Thoughts:

Well, besides the original Cobra, none of these other Cobra books have really worked for me. This is book 9, the third trilogy and I'm done. Zahn was a favorite of mine growing up and he wrote some cracking good books, but this recent stuff, it's boring and stilted. It doesn't help that I was reading this on my lunch breaks and so only got in 20minutes at a time.
Funnily enough, my review of Cobra Outlaw really sums up how I felt about this book. Too many viewpoints, too much going on and not interesting enough. It came across as a political thriller in space with more focus on the Cobra worlds trying to deal with bigger forces by means other than violence. Sorry, Cobras are super weapons, use the heck out of them and let the chips fall where they may. I know that Zahn CAN write politically oriented SF very engagingly, as evidenced by his Conquerors trilogy but this wasn't the series of books to do that. Super Soldiers, Super Soldiers, Super Soldiers. Come on, USE them.

It also doesn't help things that I read Cobra Outlaw almost 3 years ago and Cobra Slave almost 5 years ago. If I were going to force myself to read any more Cobra books, I'd have to wait until the entire thing is completed and go through it in a couple of months. Zahn is not a fast paced author in terms of plot and action and so his stuff really relies on ideas, which get fuzzy after a couple of years.

Can't recommend this to anyone besides really diehard Cobra fans. Honestly, I might just go read the original novel and pretend none of these other books exist.


Thursday, March 01, 2018

Use of Weapons (The Culture #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: Use of Weapons
Series: The Culture #3
Author: Iain Banks
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 433
Format: Digital Edition




Zakalwe, a man outside of the Culture but brought in to be used in situations where the Culture couldn't officially act, is a warrior and warleader of great ability. Given Culture longevity and weapons and support, Zakalwe is wielded by the Culture like a katanna. Not always on the side of Right or on the Winning side, Zakalwe fulfills the aims of the Culture without knowing what those aims are.

The real payment for working for the Culture is so that Zakalwe can visit his sister after each year/decade long mission and plead for forgiveness of the breach between them. The breach is a shadowy affair involving the death of their younger sister and how a family friend was involved. This was all long ago and not fully revealed until the very end.

There was a LOT of time skipping and flashbacks to various previous battles and fights. While the current battle and latest visit to Zakalwe's sister are the focus, the whole story is one interlocking cube where the past locks certain things into place that the current Zakalwe can't alter. He fulfills his mission, gets to visit his sister and then the author slams us with the fact that Zakalwe isn't Zakalwe but the family friend from long ago who killed Zakalwe's sister. Zakalwe killed himself and this friend, who had turned the little sister into a chair made of her bones, tries to take on Zakalwe's identity to do penance for what he did.

What a bloody scumbag!

The End

My Thoughts:

This is my last Culture novel. I simply don't like Banks' style or how he writes or what he writes about. For example, this time around, with all the flashbacks in non-linear fashion and all the hidden psychological crap going on, I simply felt lost. Others might love it and revel in it, good for them. For me, it simply wasn't enjoyable at all.
I liked the overall story and if things had been a straight up adventure story, I would have liked this a lot more. More linear, less hidden things, more focus, less dreamy, makes no sense kind of thing. The reveal about Zakalwe didn't surprise me, as it explained so much, I was just so lost in Banks trying to be clever with his writing that it was just one more “trick” that he used. So instead of being impressed, I was annoyed.

Unfortunately, Banks riled me the wrong way from the first book of his that I read and the next 2 books, while written well and telling a decent story, have never un-riled me. I would certainly recommend these books to others if they asked about them, but I would never recommend them on my own initiative. There are just to many things about the whole universe that annoy me and make for a non-enjoyable read.

The biggest issue is that the Culture just doesn't show humans acting like humans. Handwavium goes on in the background to explain that Humanity has “changed” but it's so much bullshit. And then every story shows certain humans acting like humans but Banks excusing it as not really representative of the Culture. I call bullshit again. I do not find the Culture believable at all, especially with what Banks reveals about certain parts of it. That disconnect is enough for me to not be able to enjoy the stories, as the overarching framework is crooked, rotted through and not able to support the stories that Banks tries to hang on it.

Glad I tried these. But they are not for me and I won't be reading any more by Banks. He frustrates me too much. The two stars denotes my frustration with the series and not that this was badly written or poorly executed. I simply didn't like it.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Queen of Vengeance (Oh My Goddess! #7) ★★★☆☆

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: Queen of Vengeance
Series: Oh My Goddess! #7
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 152
Format: Paperback


And we're back to chapter stories.

With the goddess computer system down, the goddesses can't convert the energy they need. Plus Skuld and Urd begin aging differently so Urd gets kiddiefied and Skuld grows up overnight while Belldandy has to split herself into tiny versions to conserve energy. Keiichi ends up solving the mystery by making moon rocks and turning them into bracelets for his 3 houseguests.

Then Skuld and Megumi get into a robot battle and while Megumi wins, Skuld throws a tantrum and blows everything up.

The volume ends with Sayoko trying to steal Kei away from Bell again and failing, again.

My Thoughts:

Thank goodness we return to the chapter stories. Much more slice of life. The ridiculous factor gets dialed down, as it is physically impossible to stuff as much nonsense as we read in the previous book into a single chapter story here. I just read them, was amused and moved on to the next story.

Also, trying to get a decent picture is getting harder and harder as these Dark Horse original releases are out of sync with the actual release and there are no chapter numbers or even page numbers in these paperback copy releases. I have to hope that the digital volume number contains most of the chapters the paper one has and then start diving around. Since chapters are moved around for the paper copies, I feel like I'm throwing a bent fork at a target sometimes.

I was a huge fan of this series when I was in my 20's but now, I have to admit, I am having some real serious doubts about just how far I'll go. Obviously I'm not the target audience anymore, but there are manga that still interest me. It's not even that I don't like romantic comedies, as my owning W Juliet and Karo Kano shows (of course, I haven't re-read those since I bought them either. Oh dear....).

I enjoyed this more than the previous book and think that at this juncture that Fujishima can tell a better short story than he can a novel. However, I had to drop it down 1/2star because being honest, it feels like I've been rating the previous volumes with some serious nostalgia goggles and I can't do that anymore. The cold cruel reality of the weaknesses of this manga have clawed their way into my brain and eaten my eyes and filled my ears with maggots. Ok, that last sentence was just to see if anyone was paying attention * wink *

This is the picture that stuck out to me this time around. I'm not exactly sure why, but something about Kei and Bell, both looking up, it is almost like they are inviting me into the story, into the romance of their life. Being on the motorcycle and in the sidecar, with no other goddesses, grounds the picture in hard reality. But they are both smiling and looking happy and content. THAT is very appealing.