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review 2020-06-30 20:53
The Last Life of Prince Alastor, Prosper Redding #2
The Last Life of Prince Alastor - Alexandra Bracken

Prosper Redding has obtained a fragile understanding with the demon inside him, but now he has to rescue his sister from the demon realm. The second book in the 'Prosper Redding' series is as convoluted as the first volume, with less grounding.


The demon realm seems to have suffered and changed during Alastor's centuries away. The old order has been shaken up under his sister's rule and status is no longer based on birth or form. Alastor is horrified. To him, only slightly worse is the fact that the realm is falling to the Void. His home world is slowly dissolving into nothing after having squandered its magical resources. Prosper and Alastor must team up with friends old and new to rescue Prosper's sister and perhaps save the demon realm from collapse.


The book did its job, and a younger reader may enjoy it, especially the humor. For me, though, it lacked spark.


Prosper Redding


Next: '?'


Previous: 'The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding'

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review 2020-06-11 21:22
Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay
Growing Things and Other Stories - Paul Tremblay

Tremblay is an author that I'd really like to like, but I can't put my finger on why. He writes about his style as "ambiguous horror" which sounds unremarkable.


Many of these stories are remarkable, but they don't often go anywhere. Tremblay doesn't flinch at hard-hitting emotional trauma in his characters and certainly the children aren't safe, but there's a distance to the narration that keeps me from really caring at all about their fates. There's only so much ambiguity you can throw in a story and still have it mean anything. His novel 'Cabin in the Woods', on the other hand, was so much unrelenting darkness that it was hard to get through by the end. The imagery is good though. There was a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' style story that was interesting, too, but felt like that game where you try to write a sad limerick. The author's intention was clear, but it didn't quite succeed. I don't know. 


In any case, I'll probably pick up one of his books again. I was interested by what he had to say regarding characters from his novel 'Head Full of Ghosts'. Two stories used them: the title story of this collection was especially good; 'The Thirteenth Temple', on the other hand, felt like a waste of time. I'm pulled in two directions. Thanks, ambiguity.

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review 2020-05-06 20:48
Oathbringer, Stormlight Archive #3 by Brandon Sanderson
Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive - Brandon Sanderson

This book quite literally sat on my bedside table for two and a half years. I brought it home from work the day it was released in hardcover in November '17, employee discounts are a beautiful thing, and it just sat. I loved the previous books, but I never felt in the mood. Then the mass market came out and I thought to myself, the Stormlight books I have are mass markets, so let's go ahead and buy that and donate the other one to the library.


So I did. And it sat some more.


I don't know what took me so long, but it was worth the wait. 'Oathbringer' is a behemoth, but still lighter, at least in tone, than previous books. Epic showdowns and mental anguish occur, but nothing felt as world-shaking as the revelations we've seen. I think Sanderson backed off so he could save momentum. This is only part three of a planned ten-part series after all.


'Oathbringer' focuses on Dalinar's backstory, in particular his lost memories of his wife, which had been supposedly lost after a bargain with the Nightwatcher, an entity that grants boons for a terrible, Monkey's Paw-esque price


Shallan, meanwhile, has the dissociative break we've all been waiting for, while she, Navani, Adolin, and others explore the city and attempt to form a coalition to defeat the Voidbringers.


Kaladin does some brooding. 


This was a lot of fun and finally broke the ice on my long-frozen reading mental state. I held off reviewing this for awhile thinking I'd come up with something more to say, but, afraid not.


Stormlight Archive

Next: 'Rhythm of War'


Previous: 'Edgedancer'

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review 2020-03-31 21:43
Lady Ruin by Tim Waggoner
Lady Ruin - Tim Waggoner

One of the very last Eberron novels published and in many ways the only true standalone novel, 'Lady Ruin' runs only 250 pages and does not make the best use of its brief time. 25 additional pages are given to the 'Abyssal Plague' prelude cross-over event, but as there's no sign of it having anything to do with Eberron I'm skipping it. Waggoner's 'Blade of the Flame' trilogy is strong writing, but I can't say the same here unfortunately. 


A Karrnathi warlord sponsors a secret weapons-development scheme involving bonding soldiers with symbionts to create a powerful army. The problem is that symbionts are creations leftover from the Daelkyr War nine thousand years ago. Products of chaos, the symbionts are dangerous to their hosts and nearly-impossible to control.


Captain Lirra is second in command of the effort, working under her father and supervising her artificer uncle in his experiments to master these weapons. An experiment goes wrong...and Lirra is the only one strong enough to do what must be done to prevent A Daelkyr from crossing over into Eberron and remaking the world in its twisted vision.


Lirra is our primary viewpoint character with only the occasional visit to other officers in the Outland Guard and the baddies scheming to unleash chaos. The story make little attempt to follow a "party" structure, Lirra is mostly on her own, and Waggoner can't seem to carry the story without it. There was little time for development of character relations, so when we reach climactic fight scenes I didn't feel any attachment to the characters. The book's saving grace is the examination of how symbionts behave with hosts and several scenes of horror as people and monsters are molded like play-doh to suit the needs of the villain.

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review 2020-03-30 20:47
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
Empire of Wild - Cherie Dimaline

Well known in Canada, Metis writer Cherie Dimaline is set for big U.S. debut with this novel in July, but since it has been published in Canada to acclaim, I'm posting now.


'Empire of Wild' begins with the story of the movement and isolation of the Metis from their original lands to unwanted territory outside of Western settlements. The town of Arcand is stubborn and poor, but some cling to old traditions. Joan of Arcand has been searching for her missing husband for over a year. It was struggle to get him, an outsider, to be accepted by her family, but after a minor fight, he vanished.


Joan is without hope until she finds him in a Wal-Mart parking lot preaching in a Revival tent. The problem is, he claims to not recognize her and has a different name. Is this abandonment? Or is there something more sinister going on?


Dimaline uses the legend of the Rougarou to tell a story of love and family, but also to highlight the continued exploitation of indigenous people. Reading this sparked memories of a few stories of the "loup-garou" I remembered hearing in childhood from my father. My family has a drop or two of first nations blood, but I had thought assimilation and time had done its work and nothing had been passed down to us. I like the idea that something survived.

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