Friday, July 31, 2009

Visit my store!

I've just setup the bare bones of my Amazon store.  I'll spend more time on it this weekend in order to get it organized better to match my blog.  In the meantime feel free to visit.  Also if you have any ideas about how you would like it organized, please let me know and I'll do what I can to accomodate.
Fantastic Reading Amazon Store

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fool's Errand

I can honestly state that I haven't cried over a fictional animal dying since I was 8 and saw "Ole Yeller". But this book had me bawling like a baby. Unfortunately for me, I was just about to get on my bus for the ride home and people who see me everyday were noticeably worried. I could only croak out "Nighteyes". One like minded literary soul sagely nodded and noted, "Ah, made me cry too."

The "Fool's Errand" is the first book of the second series concerning the characters from the Farseer trilogy. This series is named the Tawny Man and is set some 15 years in the future from when we last encountered Fitz. The story centers around Fitz being recalled to Buckkeep to help find the lost prince. Dutiful (I truly hate her names) has been apparently kidnapped by the Witted, whom have used the legend of the "Witted Bastard" to rally around. In truth, Dutiful has inherited his father's magic (his biological father) and also has the ability to bond with animals.

Also returning in this series is the Fool. I assumed that you had that figured out already based on the name, but one can never be too sure about the sharpness of one's readers. He is no longer the White Prophet of before and has now turned a nice shade of gold. I'm sure that the color change is signifcant somehow, but it's too early in the tale to figure out why. Fitz now goes by the name Tom Badgerlock and becomes Lord Golden's servent (and yes Lord Golden is the Fool). In this way, both of them are able to hide their true identities and still reside at the castle.

After "Assassin's Quest" it would be difficult to achieve the same level of drama and action. While this is still a good story, it didn't appeal to me as much as the last book did. If anything, I felt that the story moved too slow and the "chase" to Dutiful was too drawn out. The climax felt a little contrived and felt as if the entire story were a machination of Chade to get Fitz to become the next Skillmaster, which he does eventually with some trepedation. If I compare this book to "Assassin's Quest" I'm disappointed. However, if I compare it to "Assassin's Apprentice" then I'm more satisfied. I'm begining to see that when Robin Hobb sets out to tell a story, the first two books of a trilogy are just plotlines to build to a truly exciting finish. I hope that is the case.

However, as I started the review I noted at how touching it was to read of Nighteyes fate. I was very pleased with the way which Robin allowed for that character to choose his own ending. The closeness that Fitz had with his companion could never truly be put to words, but I felt like I lost a friend when he went on his last hunt. Farewell my friend, you will be missed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Testing iPhone app

Just seeing what iblogger does for me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


As I've mentioned before, I am an avid gamer. I avoided online games for as long as I could (MMO's that is), but when Sony came out with Star Wars Galaxies. I had no choice but to play. Also, Sony completely Smurfed that up and I finally left it for World of Warcraft 3 years later. Blizzard really knows how to do it up right, and I held on to that game for 3 years as well before I finally got burned out. I would rearrange my schedule based on our raiding and realized that when a game becomes more like a job, then it is time to go.

In SWG, I ran a successful business (now if I could only do that in real life) and amassed a large fortune before I quit. I had over a million credits in the bank (enough I calculated to keep my houses in place for at least 4 years, you know, just in case I decided to come back). At least in WOW, I wasn't as concerned about money (loot is the thing there), but I was browsing recently and saw a Guide to be a WOW Millionaire. I admit it took me a long time to stop laughing. A quick glance at it reminded me that games can indeed be jobs sometimes. At first I thought that it allowed the user to be a RL Millionaire, but then reality hit me and I started laughing again. All of that work! And still nothing but Cheeto stained T-Shirts to show for it. I wonder if it was written by a Chinese Gold Farmer. At least he is making real money!

But, WOW is starting to call me again. I think I'll wait until fall so I don't lose my suntan. And hey, maybe this time I'll be a millionare!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Rest of the Story

My sister in law is sending me the rest of the Assassin series so I'll continue those reviews soon. I recently finished several books before I started writing and I'll endeavor to get those reviewed in the meantime. I really want to do a larger piece on Neal Stephenson. Maybe I'll get that started tonight.

Monday, July 20, 2009

DAW - Penguin Group (USA)

DAW - Penguin Group (USA)

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Royal Assassin

Over the weekend, I finished Robin Hobb's second book in the Farseer Trilogy. Robin maintains the first person narrative and the story takes place immediately after the events of the first book. Fitz, having barely survived Regal's plots seeks only to regain his strength and get on with his life. His ability at the Skill was diminished during his training, but he manages to see the girl of his youth possibly getting killed during a "Forging" (this is when the Red Sail Raiders turn the populace into zombies). He spends the bulk of the book finding his love, Molly, and courting her once he does.

In the meantime, he is unable to stop himself rescuing a wolf pup who draws him via the Wit. Once rescued, he is unable to drive the wolf away and despite his best efforts, bonds to the wolf. This bonding gives him extra physical ability, especially when fighting off the Red Sail Raiders. Unfortunately, this draws a lot of attention to him.

King Shrewd begins to waste away and Regal begins to plot to have the throne once again. It's not until Verity, King-in-waiting, decides for an all of nothing gamble to bring back the "Elderlings" (I'm not sure what they are yet, some sort of winged munchkin able to solve all the worlds problems), that Regal puts his plan into motion. Similar to the previous book, the last part of the book is a bit rushed and Regal's plans come to fruition quickly, much to the dismay of Fitz. Again, I don't want to give everything away, but Robin Hobb certainly understands intrigue. The outcome of the story isn't pretty for Fitz and one can't help but wonder if he will ever truly find happiness. If nothing else, this sets the story up well for the final chapter in the trilogy. I did discover that the trilogy isn't the end of the Fitz storyline. However, that doesn't dissuade me at all for reading the final of the trilogy.

My recommendation: 3 stars.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I took the kids to see the movie yesterday and thought that I would give you my impressions of the movie. Admittedly, this book had a LOT of information in it concerning Voldemort and the horcrux's, the movie seemed to short cut them. In fact, the movie gets to the end with Snape telling Harry that he was the Half Blood Prince. The movie never examined that relationship outside of the title and Snape proclaiming it at the end was completely out of place. As a whole I was dissappointed in the movie. The effects were stunning (as expected) but the whole movie seemed convoluted and out of place with the book. I order the movies:

1. Order of the Phoenix
2. Goblet of Fire
3. Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Sorcerers Stone
5. Chamber of Secrets
6. Half Blood Prince

It was rated PG so my youngest could go. Fortunately, he missed the one truly scarry part. My wife suddenly wants to read the final book, so the movie did entice her to follow the story a bit closer. Overall, this movie had a wider appeal, even though I didn't like it near as much as the others. Unless you have your own home theater, go see it on the big screen. If you have your own, wait until the DVD comes out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Assassin's Apprentice

"Assassin's Apprentice" by Robin Hobb (1996).

I've found that the older I get the less that fantasy stories interest me. It may be that I'm simply growing out of it, or perhaps I've just read enough of these books where they all seem the same. The Assassin's Apprentice isn't the typical fantasy novel that I've read in the past. In fact it almost doesn't fit into fantasy at all. At least with the first book in the trilogy (of the Farseer trilogy, Robin wrote at least one more trilogy about the same characters in a later discussed series) there is little mention of anything that would move it into the fantasy genre. What keeps it in the fantasy genre is the "Skill" and the "Wit". The Skill is akin to a medieval Force (sorry George) that allows the user to interact with people from afar. I guess without cell phones this is the next best thing. The Wit is a similar talent, but with beasts, and one that is seriously frowned upon. Our hero, Fitz (also FitzChivalry) appears to have both skills. Did I mention that Fitz is the illegitimate son of the "King-in-waiting"? It doesn't matter, Chivalry soon dies and is effectively out of the picture before the action begins.

It annoyed me no end that every character in the book is named for some attribute that they outwardly show. King Shrewd is... well, shrewd. Chivalry was the man everyone looked up to. Etc, etc. The youngest son of the current king, Prince Regal was perhaps the most poorly named, or perhaps it was a sign of what the future holds for the character. For the record, "fitz" means son in Norman. Regardless of the names, I eventually put that past me and went on with the business of reading the book.

The story itself isn't a fantasy novel. If anything it's more like a day to day account of the life of the bastard son of anyone coming up in the 14th century. Instead of the Farseer line, this could have easily been the Tudors, or the Stuarts (that is if they existed a few hundred years earlier than they did). Fitz recounts his life through a first person narrative. It's obvious that he survives all that we read because its his hand that is documenting the story, obviously from a future state. This somewhat bothered me because it leads you to believe that Fitz lives to be an old man. Regardless, on quickly forgets this and moves forward with the book.

Fitz is trained to be an Assassin. King Shrewd feels that Fitz would be best useful as a member of the royal family (from the outside) and bids that he deal with situations from time to time. The kingdom is beset upon by Raiders from the north, who suddenly have an ability to remove humanity from their victims. Imagine "Night of the Living Dead" but wearing peasant clothes. This, although a major story point, really has little to do with the final outcome of the book. I assume that this will be a plotline throughout the series and possibly become more intriguing.

I don't want to tell you everything that happened. I honestly feel you should read it yourself. I always had a problem with the early works of Neal Stephenson, he never really knew how to end a story. Robin Hobb doesn't have that problem. About the time that I'm starting to get frustrated with the book, she suddenly within the space of a few chapters, completely wraps it up. I did feel like she rushed it a little bit, but at least there were no threads left hanging. If anything, I was left wondering why she needed a sequel. Let me just say that Robin understands intrigue, and how messy royal families can be. Ok, I'm impressed, let's read the second one.

I recommend this book with 3.5 stars. Read it and let me know what you think. My sister in law left me the second book and I'm going to read that next. She left me a note on Facebook saying that she picked up the final of the series and some of the second series as well. Lin if you are reading this, let me know what you thought of the first book.

NEXT UP: "The Royal Assassin" by Robin Hobb.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Favorite Authors

In no order:

Roger Zelazny
Ray Bradbury
Neil Gaiman
Neal Stephenson
Tad Williams
Anne McCaffrey

I used to like Terry Brooks until I realized that he kept rewriting the same story over and over.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Assassin's Apprentice

I'm about halfway through the book which is a good sign. That means that it has my attention. It is written by Robin Hobb and this is the first of several books concerning the cast of characters she created for this book. For more on Robin Hobb. Initially I was a bit confused about the writing style. While written in the first person, it starts off with the protagonist writing about his life, his early years. The primary problem I had with this tactic is that there was no definitive narrative switch between writing about the past to living as in the present. It was a gradual shift one that left me not exactly a clear idea as to what was going on at the time. Finally I realized that the narrative had changed and I was able to truly enjoy the tale. I'll hold off on the actual review until I've completed reading the book.

Del Rey Announcements

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Latest Star Wars Schedule

July 2009

The Force Unleashed (Star Wars)

August 2009

Star Wars: The Essential Atlas

And my pick of the week:

Assassin's Apprentice

I've just started reading this book. My sister in law and I have similar tastes in books (sometimes) and she recommended this one to me. On the cover it looks no different that a thousand other fantasy books out there. Regardless, I'm going to dive into it and let you know what I think. Look for a full review once I'm done.