logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: sword-and-sorcery
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-06-17 20:20
"Recursion" by Blake Crouch - Abandoned at 10%
Recursion - Abby Craden,Blake Crouch,Jon Lindstrom

"Recursion" was a mis-buy on my part. An intriguing premise but written in a way I struggled to engage with-

 

I pre-ordered Blake Crouch's "Recursion" because I thought the premise, the emergence of a disease labelled False Memory Syndrome was intriguing. I also wanted to give Blake Crouch another try. I didn't get on well with his "Pines" trilogy, opting out after the first book. Given the reviews his books get, I wanted to see what I was missing.

 

The premise is an intriguing one: in 2008, a well-intentioned and heavily funded scientist sets out to save the world from Alzheimer's and ends up creating a technology that will undermine our whole sense of who we are. Ten years later, a New York City Robbery Division Detective with a tragic history and a drinking problem is present at the suicide of a woman suffering from False Memory Syndrome. He starts to research the phenomenon and can't let it go.

 

With a premise like that, I should be happily hip-deep in a mystery /thriller with some cool science at its heart rather than writing a review of a book I've abandoned at the 10% mark.

 

I abandoned the book because of a number of small things that, when I added them together, told me I wasn't looking forward to spending another ten hours with this book.

The plot structure, with the two asynchronous but converging timelines is a nice idea but the delivery is dull and the pace is slow.

 

The NYC cop didn't interest me. He's a fully-loaded cliché: late middle-aged white man, divorced, the tragic death of his daughter has broken him and his marriage, lives alone, drinks too much and is married to the job. Are you bored yet? I was. There was nothing distinctive about the man to make me care whether he's going to get involved in hunting down the cause of False Memory Syndrome or not.

 

The scientist is a mirror image, thirty-eight-year-old scientist, still seeking funding for her big idea, nothing in her life but her work which is in part a crusade to help her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's.

 

Then there's the memory science, which seems to model human memory as if it where computer memory only on a larger scale in terms of data set size and complexity. My understanding is that memory doesn't work like that. It's not a tape we play, it's something we reconstruct each time we recall something.

 

Setting the science aside, how these characters remember things doesn't match my experience. They seem to be watching 4K HD TV while I'm tuned to the radio.

So I'm putting this one down as a mis-buy and sending it back to audible.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-05-29 22:20
"Kill The Queen - Crown Of Shards #1" by Jennifer Estep
Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep,Lauren Fortgang

"Kill The Queen" is an intrigue-filled, action-packed romp, set in a classic fairy-tale setting, with castles and princesses, except that some of these princesses hold lightning in one hand and sword in the other.

 

In this world, ruthless, magic-wielding royals rule, gladiators fight to the death to entertain the crowds and creatures that morph into beasts, dragons and ogres attend royal courts. This is not a happy ever after kind of place. Here the poisonous politics have deadly consequences and the blood and guts spilt by blade weapons are vividly described.

 

At the centre of the book is a pay-no-attention-to-me minor princess who has spent her orphaned life hiding her power and doing her best to seem harmless but who now finds herself running for her life and seeking revenge for her murdered family. She is a princess we can all cheer for: brave but broken, modest but charismatic, rage-filled and lethal.

 

Although the book starts a little slowly, in order to establish the fairly large cast of characters, it is most fast-paced, lunging from one nail-bitingly tense crisis to the next. I love the way the plot let me guess the next crisis while keeping the Princess blind, which made me feel insightful, yet was complex enough that I couldn't guess how the crisis would be averted, which made me keen to read more.

 

This is the best Jennifer Estep book I've read, I have great hopes for this series.

 

I recommend the audiobook version of "Kill The Queen". Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear an extract.

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/kill-the-queen-by-jennifer-estep
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2019-05-17 22:06
Reading progress update: I've read 64%. Wow - this is such an improvement over the "Elemental Assassin" series
Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep,Lauren Fortgang

I read the first few of Jennifer Estep's  "Elemental Assassin" series, carried along by the originality of the ideas and some of the character building. Eventually, I put them aside because there was so much repetition, even within the same book. 

 

I picked up "Kill The Queen", the first book in the "Crown Of Shards" series because it had good reviews, a great cover and I really WANTED to like Jennifer Estep^s books.

 

The start felt a little slow but I think, in retrospect, it was just laying necessary groundwork. Once the action started, I couldn't put this down. The world being imagined here is a sort of fairytale environment except with all the blood and guts split by real weapons and all the poisonous politics of real courts. There's magic and creatures that morph, gladiators who fight to the death and vicious royals. And at the centre of all this is an engaging woman, filled with rage, that we can all cheer for.

 

Part Two of the book tripped my geek switch. It's called Black Swan so I immediately assumed that it was going to be about a statistically unlikely event that has a strong impact and is then rationalised away - yep, that's how geeky I've become) so I was surprised when It turned out that the title referred to: the name of a gladiator troupe, the name of a gladiator, and two actual black swans. Although the other definition does seem to apply.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-30 16:42
Bloodsong Trilogy by Asa Drake (aka C. Dean Andersson)

I’ve always been an avid reader; a quiet moment to me means a chance to get a chapter or two in.  Back in the 80s while I was in the Marine Corps we had lots of down time on weekends, and thankfully a lot of Marines were into AD&D, so there was that.  Heck- once we even brought our books with us on a week-long field deployment so we could finish a module featuring a vampire named Strahd von Zarovich.  Good times.

 

ravenloft_i6

I always wonder how much this one would be worth without all my notes marking it up...[/caption]

 

One slow Saturday I went to the PX to find something to read.  I’m a longtime fantasy fan (who isn’t these days, but I’m old so I can stake my claim!) who loves a good hack-n-slash featuring a female protagonist.  Back in the 80s that type of novel was in woefully short supply.  That day I came across two titles that seemed to fit the bill: The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon (also a former Marine- Semper Fi!) & Werebeasts of Hel by Asa Drake (aka C. Dean Andersson- a former Airman, but I won’t hold that against him).

 

Now, as much as I tried to like Moon’s book, I couldn’t.  The titular character was female practically in name only- she was asexual to the point of almost becoming her defining trait and the story plodded along like a broke down mule in knee deep mud.  Even back then I understood the issues with female leads in SF/F and making her a fully-fleshed person with loves, hates, needs & desires would’ve been tricky at best, but it didn’t even seem like there was an effort made there.

 

Then I read Werebeasts of Hel.  

 

Even though it was the third book of the trilogy, there was enough backstory involved so it wasn’t hard to follow.  Most importantly, I was now dying to read the first two.

Built from Norse mythology & history and billed as the “Heavy Metal of Fantasy” by Publisher’s Weekly, all three books even featured cover art by Boris Vallejo!  In the 80s that was pretty much the Seal of Approval!

 

n20639

 

Starting with Warrior Witch of Hel, the story arc centers upon a woman named Freyadis whose village was raided by the evil sorcerer, King Nidhug, who served Hel, Goddess of Death.   With her husband and infant son killed & her daughter Guthrun taken captive, Freyadis was subjected to various abuses, bound to a tree and left to die, her infant son’s corpse tied to her breast.  Never passing up an opportunity, Hel offered Freyadis a chance to return as an undead Hel warrior if she would pray to her as she died. 

 

Nidhug, of course, has betrayed Hel by stealing a relic of her power called the War Skull for his own ends.  After enduring even more of Nidhug’s depravities- including in gladiatorial combat- and finding her daughter in Helheim, Freyadis- now known as Bloodsong from her arena fights- is tasked by Hel to recover the War Skull and bring Nidhug down in exchange for freedom.  Must’ve been a Tuesday.

 

Along the way Bloodsong finds allies like Huld- an elf-blooded witch in service to Freya, Jalna- a slave unfortunate enough to catch Nidhug’s attention & Tyrulf- the warrior in Nidhug’s army who’s attracted to Jalna.  Bloodsong also has a very nasty surprise waiting for her when she reaches Nidhug’s fortress.

 

1866306

 

The second book, Death Riders of Hel, picks up a few years later: Guthrun is discovered to be a witch and studies with Huld while Bloodsong and her friends have forged a life in the aftermath.  A new threat arises from Thokk- a Hel-witch determined to both finish what Nidhug started and convert Guthrun to the dark side.  Thanks to her mistress, Thokk has a way of striking at Bloodsong where it’ll hurt her the most.  Bloodsong forms an alliance with a tribe of shapeshifting berserkers and is willing to pay any price to save Guthrun from becoming a Hel-witch.  But will the lure of darkness be too great for Gudrun to overcome, especially when being lured by a familiar presence?

 

1866308

 

Werebeasts of Hel takes place years later, but unfolds much the same way.  Years of peace after defeating Hel, life goes on, friends & lovers… then, BOOM!  Third time’s the charm, eh?  An old adversary returns to lead Hel's armies- one who knows Bloodsong's weaknesses and she's hard pressed to stand against him alone.  This time Odin himself provides a little divine assistance and Bloodsong has to forge an alliance with an altogether new breed of creatures to help stop Hel from conquering them all.

 

The best thing about these books is they are what they are.  Nothing fancy or elaborate- it's all straightforward, fast-paced, in-your-face adventure: here's the situation, now let's do something about it!  It’s a gloriously grim & gory Nordic hack-n-slash with good doses of horror and a few splashes of romance tossed in for variety.  This is a bleak, icy world teetering on the edge of apocalypse.  Death lurks around every turn, defeat is all but certain, friends are lost, sacrifices appear pointless and at times it takes all the heroes have just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

 

It’s fucking great!!!  My copies of these are lovingly well-worn for good reason.  I’m glad I found ebook copies to help save them even more wear and tear.

 

Now I’ll admit the omnibus edition doesn’t thrill me at all.  Though the alterations fleshed a lot of things out it was also watered down and a lot of things were added that just flat out confused me.  But it’ll probably do for you if you haven’t read the originals.  If you can find the originals or individual ebooks, get ‘em!  You won’t be sorry!

 

4.5/5 stars

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-09-26 17:37
Theft of Swords by Michael Sullivan
Theft of Swords - Michael J. Sullivan,Tim Gerard Reynolds

This epic fantasy includes a little breaking and entering, plenty of snarky insults, political intrigue, magical beasts, and a chaotic neutral maimed mage. For me, the tale started off fun but not particularly special. It wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through the book that the tale grabbed me. Royce and Hadrian are a lot of fun. They’ve known each other for years and each is well into their adult years. This was a nice break from all those epic fantasy adventures that feature teen/young adults bumbling through their first adventures.

Royce was my favorite because we have the same dark sense of humor and have to sometimes be talked into doing the right thing. Hadrian is an enthusiastic believer in honor and all things good. It’s a very good thing these two have each other to balance things out. Each has a history veiled in questions and half truths. I look forward to Book 2 revealing more on this note.

The one weakness to this tale is the ladies. It’s not all bad, but for the most part they are comforters and romantic interests and need to be rescued. Arista shows promise with her wit and ability to grasp politics. Also young Thrace has a shining moment at the end of the novel. The ladies aren’t the worst I’ve seen in epic fantasy but I did want just a bit more from them.

There’s a big fat mystery with the elves. Ancient conflict and truces are eluded to and I expect that will become a big deal later in this series. There are a few elvish slaves in some areas of the human realms, but no elves roam free… or if they do, they can pass for human. The maimed mage Esra provides most of what we know about the elves. He’s ancient and was imprisoned for perhaps 900 years (if I recall correctly). Esra is a big enigma. I don’t know what he wants and he might not know either. He has to keep his head down as he’s still a wanted criminal.

Then there’s Myron. I adored this character because of his wide eyed wonder of the bigger world. He grew up in a monastery and had never been off the grounds. He had seen a few horse but never rode one and he’s never seen a woman. As he gets swept up into the adventure, he provides several chuckles. I too wish there were blue horses.

By the end, I had fallen in love with the main characters. I really look forward to adventuring further with Royce and Hadrian. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds gave a great performance for this book. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices were believable. He sounded like he had a lot of fun narrating this story too. I did notice a few short repeats but there were no other technical issues with the recording. I loved his voice for Myron (always full of wonder), his skeptical voice for Royce, and his honorable voice for Hadrian. 4.75/5 stars.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?