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review 2018-03-12 14:21
Exile / R.A. Salvatore
Exile - R.A. Salvatore

Hostile in ways that a surface-dweller could never know, the tunnel-mazes of the Underdark challenge all who tread there. Among these souls are Drizzt Do’Urden and his magical cat, Guenhwyvar. Exiled from his drow homeland, Drizzt must fight for a new home in the boundless labyrinth. Meanwhile, he must watch for signs of pursuit—for the dark elves are not a forgiving race.


The books in this series have the virtue of being quick & easy to read, perfect for a Friday evening after a long work week. This is book two of Drizzt’s back story—wherein he lives by himself in the tunnels of the Underdark until he can’t take the solitude anymore and seeks companionship with mixed results.

As one of my cousins pointed out to me, Salvatore writes great fight scenes and they are very much on display in this installment. In fact, the book is basically a series of fights, stitched together with a very little bit of plot. I will also give Salvatore credit for inventing some great Underdark creatures and cultures for Drizzt to fight with.

Book number 274 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2018-03-01 21:40
Tigana / Guy Gavriel Kay
Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay

Tigana is the magical story of a beleaguered country struggling to be free. It is the tale of a people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the tyrant king Brandin that even the very name of their once beautiful home cannot be spoken or remembered. But years after their homeland’s devastation, a handful of men and women set in motion a dangerous crusade—to overthrow their conquerors and bring back to the world the lost brightness of an obliterated name: Tigana.

Against the magnificently realized background of a world both sensuous and brutal, this masterful epic of a passionate people pursuing their dream is breathtaking in its vision. A spellbinding novel in which myth comes alive and magic reaches out to touch you.


Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that Guy Gavriel Kay can do no wrong in my eyes. I adore his novels and this one is no exception. The bonus this time? I met Mr. Kay at a convention last August and I can now hear his voice in my head, reading the novel to me (he has a very nice voice).

Tigana is a kingdom under a curse: the people were conquered and the name of their country can no longer be heard or remembered (except by those who lived through the conquest). When a former citizen says “Tigana,” others hear only a garble or an empty spot. Can those who remember find a way to break the curse and restore Tigana to its former glory? Their lives get braided together in some convoluted and heartbreaking ways.

As with any sweeping tale like this one, there are casualties along the way, some expected, some surprising. The ending was a bit messy, something I appreciate in a book, as I find that real life endings are rarely neat. I read most of the novel on a long plane flight and it was the perfect distraction—I was able to submerge in this fantasy world and ignore the passage of time.

Book 271 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project

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review 2018-02-23 17:38
Homeland / R. A. Salvatore
Homeland - R.A. Salvatore

In exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow is home to Icewind Dale prince Drizzt Do'Urden, who grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark elf kin. Possessing honor beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, can he live in world that rejects integrity?


This novel relates the first installment of Drizzt Do’Urden’s back story, namely his birth into Drow Elf society. As I have come to expect from Salvatore, it is melodramatic in the extreme. Drow society is over-the-top evil, bad in every way. Despite the fact that Drow females don’t produce many offspring comparative to their extra-long lifespans, Drizzt was conceived as a sacrifice to the horrible spider goddess Lloth and he is spared this fate when one of his brothers murders the other. Lloth’s supremacy as spider goddess has yielded a matriarchal society, where women are dominant and, like female spiders, are quite willing to dispense with a male once his purpose has been served. There is nothing resembling honour in Drow circles—not even between family members. So Drizzt’s violet eyes and moral sense set him apart from his own society.

We also learn how he became involved with his side-kick, Guenhwyvar the black panther and how he became the fighting machine that we are familiar with from previous books.

I can see where in a gaming situation, OTT characters such as these would be fun to play. It’s often more fun to be a villain than a hero because you get to do the awful things.

Book number 273 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-01-08 18:21
The Great Hunt / Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. For centuries, gleemen have told of The Great Hunt of the Horn. Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages.  And it is stolen.


My second step on the Wheel of Time! The best part about it was that it got me feeling things about these characters. I mean, I wanted to bash heads together with Rand being all stubborn and Mat not helping himself a bit and Perrin not accepting who he has become! And despite that, I realize that these would be hard realizations to come to—they aren’t just country lads anymore. Plus, Nyaneve irritated me every bit as much as I appreciated her.

The echoes of the King Arthur story are strong—Galad, Gawyn, and Elayne have been added to the cast. And there was a reference to a sword in a stone that only the Dragon Reborn could use. References to the legendary warrior Arthur, who is born again in the Dragon—like Arthur Pendragon, who is said to be asleep and ready to return to the world if he is needed.

The Horn of Valere and its ability to summon warriors of the past reminded me of Tolkien’s Paths of the Dead. It felt to me like this was being used up awfully early in the course of the WoT—after all, this is only volume 2 of 14!

There are obviously many unanswered questions and I shall look forward to reading The Dragon Reborn as soon as possible. (One of the advantages of getting a late start on this series is that they are all available now.)

Book 270 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-01-05 19:07
The Difference Engine / William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
The Difference Engine - William Gibson

1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full and inexorable swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. And three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with history - and the future: Sybil Gerard - dishonored woman and daughter of a Luddite agitator; Edward "Leviathan" Mallory - explorer and paleontologist; Laurence Oliphant - diplomat and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for...


As many others have pointed out, this book is one of the first in what we now know as the Steampunk genre. It explores the question of what would happen if the Industrial Revolution and the development of the computer had coincided—what would Victorian society have looked like?

It’s a complex novel, with a lot of layers. I read most of it in airports and on planes and didn’t have the best circumstances to be able to concentrate on those details. On the other hand, if it had been really riveting, I wouldn’t have noticed my surroundings, so I apparently didn’t find it all that compelling.

I appreciated the re-structuring of British society, from being run by the blue-blooded to being administered by the scientific. It was nice to see paleontologists and poets being recognized for their skills and not just dismissed as soft science or whimsy. And there must always be a resistance movement, which was well realized and sported realistic details, in my opinion.

The story frequently got bogged down in the details, however, and then just eventually petered out, leaving me disappointed. After a strong start, the weakness of the ending was a let down.

Book number 269 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading project.

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