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review 2017-03-16 23:47
The One Kingdom (The Swan's War #1)
The One Kingdom - Sean Russell

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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The One Kingdom
Series: The Swan's War #1
Author: Sean Russell
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 544
Format: Digital Edition



Magician's don't die. If they're powerful enough, they can exist without going through Death's Gate.

Hundreds of years ago, the children of the most powerful magician the world had ever known were each given a gift from their father. Their choices split the One Kingdom and resulted in death and devastation.


Now, the families of the Renne's and the Wills have their own feud that could tear apart the fragile peace of the land. One of the Renne's is determined to make the peace last while his family plots to assassinate him for such thoughts. The Wills plot to strengthen themselves through marriage with an outside family, the Innes. The Innes are being “guided” by a man who is much more than he appears and much more dangerous than they know.


At the same time, 3 young men from the Northern Vale take a trip down the river to buy horses. They come across a man name Alain and their misfortunes/adventures start. They come into contact with a Naga, the embodiment of the daughter of the magician.


The Naga, Alain and the Guide are all so much more than the people around them know. Can the land survive the return of the Children?



My Thoughts:

I went into this really wondering if I was going to like it as much as I did back in '09. Thankfully, this lived up to my memories and my current expectations of a good book.


This is a slow book. It meanders like the river that much of the story takes place on. In many ways, the river itself is a character, at times benevolent, at other times very malevolent.


Besides being a slow book, it is also very character driven. The Valemen trio start out as the main characters, but Russell deftly moves from group to group, from individual to individual in such a way that I never felt either bored or wanting something else. There is a lot of description of landscapes and what surrounds the characters but for whatever reason I didn't blow by it like I usually do in other books. I was able to sit back and take it in.


Where I have described Patricia McKillip's writings as “silk”, Russell's writing is like a river. Some times meandering, some times fast and furious, some times appearing calm, some times dragging you along a current you don't even realize you are in. I felt like I was sitting in a boat going down a river while reading this. Why I was intrigued instead of bored, I do not know. But I loved this story.


I also like how Russell portrays magic. It is something dangerous, subtle and never good. It destroys those who use it and hurts those around them. It is not flashy fireballs or the calling forth of demon lords. It is influence, power, strength, persuaviness and the ability to bend others to your will. It is scary.


So another fantastic re-read. Definitely glad that I bought this in hardcover.





  1. Review from 2009


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-09 23:53
Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1)
The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks

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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Way of Shadows
Series: Night Angel #1
Author: Brent Weeks
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 659
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis: Spoilers

Azoth becomes apprenticed to Durzo Blint and becomes Kyler. Magic, politics, love and death all roll into one super messy ball.


Kyler becomes the possessor of a magic ball that gives him extraordinary powers. And just as he's gaining them, he's forced to kill his master and watch his city fall to invaders. Throw in a prophet, some other magic balls, a complete godking of evil, best friend becoming king and teen love and you have this story in a nutshell.


Oh, don't forget the violence. Lots and lots and lots of violence.

My Thoughts: Spoilers

I had forgotten just how brutal this book was. It was heart wrenching to see everything falling apart for Kyler. Yes, he's successful in apprenticing under Blint, but by the end of the book, all Kyler has is his life and the life of the girl he loves. He sees, and we experience, everything else going to the pit. Friends? Dead, killed, imprisoned. Mentors? Poisoned, paupered, destroyed. It is all torn away.


The book ends on a slightly hopeful note, as the city nobles and craftsmen flee and destroy everything to deny it to the invaders. Kyler is alive, even though he died. The legend of the Night Angel has taken seed and the invaders know “something” walks the shadows. The prophet has set things in motion to stop the godking from total domination. The War has Started.


The writing definitely shows that this is Weeks' first book and is not nearly as polished as his Lightbringer series. Nothing stood out as wrong, but some things weren't just as “right” as they could have been.


To end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book again and both cheered and groaned at the triumphs and tragedies woven throughout this story.








  1. Previous Review from 2009


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review 2017-03-05 16:34
Night of Knives (Malazan Empire #1)
Night of Knives - Ian C. Esslemont


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,, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Night of Knives
Series: Malazan Empire #1
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 308
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis: Spoilers

On the night of a Shadow Moon, when the division between our world and the world of the Warrens thins, Kriska and Temper have an adventure.


Kriska is a young thief who wants to join the Claws and get off of Malaz Isle. But nobody takes her seriously and even her aunt wants her to stay inside this night. Getting caught up in the battle between Kelenved & Dancer and Surly. Also involved in the mix is Tayschren, master mage, Surly's cadre of Claws and a group of cultists dedicated to Kelenved as a god. Kriska has to survive the night and all the terrors it holds.


Then we have Temper, a former soldier of the Malazan Army who has deserted. The desertion saved his life, as he was one of the Shields of the Swords, a might warrior protecting Dassem Ultor, the First Sword of the Malazan Empire, the mightiest warrior alive. The problem was, Surly doesn't want heros in her army and she has begun to purge them. Temper runs to Malaz Isle to become a lowly guardsman to survive. But others know his secret and on this night of Shadow Moon, Temper will be used once again, just as he was before.

My Thoughts:

Man, I had forgotten, or never realized, just how much foundational information Esslemont packs into this book. There is a lot about Dassem that I didn't realize was important but will definitely impact my read of future Malazan Book of the Fallen books. Chronologically this comes before Gardens of the Moon but I wouldn't recommend reading it before unless you're doing a re-read of everything Malaz.


There are some great battles here. Hounds of Shadows everywhere, monsters springing out of various Warrens, magical assassins fighting magical cultists, a hidden group of people trying to protect the whole Isle from some underwater threat, it all weaves together into one night of blood the likes of which the Isle has not seen in ages.


This was a short book, clocking in just over 300 pages. For a Malaz book, that is practically a short story. But as I was reading, it was dense. It had so much packed in that I felt like I had read a 500 page book by the end. I didn't mind that feeling at all, but others might and it is something to keep in mind if you decide to delve into this universe.


One downside, which is typical of the Malaz books, is that there are no real answers to any of your questions. Inferences, asides, round about explanations of Subject X which reveals bits about Subject Y. Nothing direct, nothing concrete. It is building a bridge in your mind. Esslemont gives us the materials and a rough architectural plan but it is up to us, the readers, to actually build the bridge and succeed or fail on our own. Some will see that as a weakness and others as a strength of the writing. I'm ok with it but have to admit, I'd prefer a bit more concrete facts baldly stated. Oh well, I'm not going to get it and neither will anyone who reads these books.





  1. Previous Review from 2010


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-05 12:39
Weirding It Out without Weird Enough: Dune Re-Read Update #3
Dune - Frank Herbert




Brief Recap


1. We meet Kynes, the Emperor appointed ecologist on Arrakis who is also a whole lot more but not letting on. People are scared of him and by people, I mean Harkonnen spies! He plans on hating the Atreides but they are just too cute and cuddly for him to loathe. Oh, and he is beginning to link Paul with the Messiah myth in his head, even when he doesn’t want to.


2. The Duke saves some men harvesting spice from a worm attack, even though they have to abandon the harvested product. Who can guess the party behind the almost-accident? That’s right; the Harkonnens! Two Fremen are spotted riding the worm by Paul, which Kynes denies vehemently.


3. It is hinted that the Emperor doesn’t really hate the Atreides but is scared about how popular and loved the Duke is, making the latter a threat that must be dealt with.


4. Jessica and Hawat have a psychic showdown, which Jessica wins (duh) but causes Hawat to be more attentive towards her (not that it did any good)


5. Harkonnens’ plan comes to fruition and the Duke dies while Yueh is not a complete bastard and gives Jessica and Paul a fighting (and since they succeed, escaping) chance.

6. It is revealed by Paul who turns into a computer-ish freak that Atreides and Harkonnens are genetically related.


7. Oh, and the evil Duke is a pedophile who has the hots for Paul!


Find the rest of the review here.


This time, we started with:


When my father, the Padishah Emperor, heard of Duke Leto's death and the manner of it, he went into such a rage as we had never before seen. He blamed my mother and the compact forced on him to place a Bene Gesserit on the throne. He blamed the Guild and the evil old Baron. He blamed everyone in sight, not excepting even me, for he said I was a witch like all the others. And when I sought to comfort him, saying it was done according to an older law of self-preservation to which even the most ancient rulers gave allegiance, he sneered at me and asked if I thought him a weakling. I saw then that he had been aroused to this passion not by concern over the dead Duke but by what that death implied for all royalty. As I look back on it, I think there may have been some prescience in my father, too, for it is certain that his line and Muad'Dib's shared common ancestry.


and read all the way until the end of the second book.


A summary of what has happened until now:


1. Paul & Jessica finally meet Fremen, Stilgar's clan, who are about to kill them but are convinced to take them along. This decision is due to convergence of multiple factors, including Kyne's (who is the Liet) last decree to the Fremen, Jessica's sharp mind, BG myth-seeding, Fremen legends, the duo's weirding ability to fight etc.


2. Kyne is left to die in the desert by Harkonnen and takes part in a huge info dump before he kicks it. The main idea behind that dump and what Stilgar lets on to mother & son is that the Fremen are slowly amassing enough water to change the face of Arrakis. It won't happen in a day, it won't even happen in their time, but the world'd better watch out when it does!


3. We meet Paul's future intended, Chani, who is also Kyne's daughter & Stilgar's niece.



Paul struggles with the pressure of the impending bloody future, crippling presence of prescience, and killing a person not because his life was in danger but because the Fremen was an idiot! The Fremen's wife and two sons are now under his care and will remain so for at least a year. His legend continues to grow and overshadow what he is trying to do.


4. Jessica enters into a whole ritual back at the Fremen settlement and walks out irreversibly changing her unborn daughter and with the memories of the previous Reverend Mothers.


5. Harkonnen is his evil, loathsome self but Feyd isn't a lightweight either. Then there is the emperor who is trying to make things uncomfortable for the both of them.


6. Of the Atreides can, Idaho is dead, Hawat has been employed by Harkonnen (and seems to be driving a wedge between the Duke & his nephew), & Halleck is on board a Guild ship along with a few of his men.



My Thoughts


Wow! A lot happens in this part of the book. I'm not even sure that I got all of it in the summary but I tried. Some parts that stood out to me, included this interaction between Hawat and his men:



The "fight" between Fremen and the much dreaded Sardaukar, if it can be called a fight. The Fremen are way way cooler than the Sardaukar, as you will see with this quote:



The Sardaukar approached the waiting group of Fremen in an enclosing half-circle. Sun glinted on blades held ready. The Fremen stood in a compact group, apparently indifferent. Abruptly, the sand around the two groups sprouted Fremen. They were at the ornithopter, then in it. Where the two groups had met at the dune crest, a dust cloud partly obscured violent motion. Presently, dust settled. Only Fremen remained standing.



Paul has all the charm his old man had and commands loyalty from whomever he meets is plain to see in this interaction he has with Idaho:




The imagery that Herbert uses to describe the desert is beautifully done and without any floweriness:


The sun dipped lower. Shadows stretched across the salt pan. Lines of wild color spread over the sunset horizon. Color streamed into a toe of darkness testing the sand. Coal-colored shadows spread, and the thick collapse of night blotted the desert.




Something that bugged me was why, if Jessica is so smart & all-knowing, did she manage to get herself silenced by the Fremen, just when Paul needed her advice the most. He could have used her help while fighting Jamis to death. I mean, look at her in this scene where the Fremen are about to leave; she is so regal and everything and then she goes behaving like a pouty teenager!



Oh and the craftiness of the BG! They're like the Aes Sedai all over again:


(Irulan) You must remember that he was an emperor, father-head of a dynasty that reached back into the dimmest history. But we denied him a legal son. Was this not the most terrible defeat a ruler ever suffered? My mother obeyed her Sister Superiors where the Lady Jessica disobeyed. Which of them was the stronger? History already has answered.


(Jessica) Paul must be cautioned about their women. One of these desert women would not do as wife to a Duke. As concubine, yes, but not as wife.

Then she wondered at herself, thinking: Have I been infected with his schemes? And she saw how well she had been conditioned. I can think of the marital needs of royalty without once weighing my own concubinage.



Since I have been scouring the internet for anything and everything on Dune, here is what I have for you today:


Things that the New Dune Adaptation Should Have


Dune Tattoos!







The song is, “Weapon of Choice” by Fatboy Slim and not only does it contain the line, “Walk out rhythm, it won’t attract the worm”, it also features a dancing Christopher Walken. Watch it!


Oh and this joke that cracked me up:




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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-26 14:16
Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1)
Dealing with Dragons - Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons

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