Thursday, August 27, 2009

Raymond Feist - Midkemia Novels

Linda has just started reading Raymond Feist and his Riftwar Saga. She commented that she would send me all 4 when she was done if I was interested. I laughed and explained that I'm a big fan of his and have read most of his Midkemia novels, over 20 so far (although not all by him). In order to help her out, I thought I would list all of them here in order of their story.

1. Magician: Apprentice (Riftwar Saga 1)
2. Magician: Master (Riftwar Saga 2)
3. Silverthorn (Riftwar Saga 3)
4. A Darkness at Sethanon (Riftwar Saga 4)
5. Krondor the Betrayal (Riftwar Legacy 1)
6. Krondor the Assassins (Riftwar Legacy 2)
7. Krondor: Tear of the Gods (Riftwar Legacy 3)
8. Prince of the Blood
9. The King's Buccaneer
10. Shadow of a Dark Queen (Serpentwar 1)
11. Rise of a Merchant Prince (Serpentwar 2)
12. Rage of a Demon King (Serpentwar 3)
13. Shards of a Broken Crown (Serpentwar 4)
14. Talon of the Silver Hawk (Conclave of Shadows 1)
15. King of Foxes (Conclave 2)
16. Exile's Return (Conclave 3)
17. Flight of the Nighthawks (Darkwar 1)
18. Into a Dark Realm (Darkwar 2)
19. Wrath of a Mad God (Darkwar 3)
20. Rides a Dread Legion (Demonwar 1)

Interspersed in that list is at least 2 other 3 part series mostly written by others (Janny Wurts, William Forstchen, and S.M. Stirling [there are likely others, but I only had a few minutes during lunch to pull this together]) as well as a video game that stayed on canon (and was eventually novelized as well). We could spend the next two months and never have all of these reviewed. Let me know when you get done with the first 4 Linda, I'll send you the other 16. :)

Sword and Laser

The Sword and the Laser is a very cool podcast around Scifi and Fantasy.  The podcast is done by Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont of Buzz out Loud and Tekzilla fame.  I've been listening to the two of them for a couple of years now, first when they were both on BOL, and then later for Veronica on Maholo and then Tekzilla.  If you haven't gotten into podcasting yet, I suggest that you sign up for this one as your first.  Well worth the price (FREE) and fits right into our genre perfectly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

World of Warcraft - Cataclysm

Sigh. After all this time, I've been slowly becoming more and more interested in playing WOW again. I've always been able to stay away, but with the announcement of the latest expansion I think my will just isn't strong enough. Two new races, the entire world reshaped, and the ability to fly in the main world. Check out all of the details at World of Warcraft.

I wonder if Avian Guild is still around...

Welcome Linda

Everyone please welcome my partner in crime (at least when it comes to books), Linda. As you've surmised by now, I finally convinced her to help write this blog. She's a little nervous so everyone be nice. Her twin boys think she is a Noob and can only Fail at computers. But I think she'll do just fine. Great first post, it takes a little bit to build the confidence up. Just be yourself and you'll do fine. Can't wait to read your first review.

A Test Blog

Wow my first attempt at blogging .It is almost like writting a letter to yourself. This is about books, but I need to test the waters first and this post is it. I love to read ,been doing it since I was a kid. I remember in the fifth grade I was in a special reading group and I was allowed to pick a new book every week from a special box that was above my grade level at the time. I will never forget how excited I was .
Anyway I had nothing to read and someone had left a box of books at work and I picked up this book called the Name Of the Wind by Patrick Roftuss. I can only say Wow. A Harry Potter book for adults.I felt a whole new genre opened up for me. Fantasy fiction. !!! I was tired of the mysteries,intrigue , literature pop fiction I have been reading. So Tony recommends Tad Williams and out I go to the bookstore .8 Tad Williams ,5 George RR Martin 6 Robin Hobb and 4 Raymond Feist (waiting in the wings) books , I feel like its Christmas every day.
But I need to revise when I say that its a new genre for me because I am a huge Stephen King Fan and I have be reading Gaimen , Clive Barker , Rice and others like them for yrs , and they also delve into Fantasy but these just feel different . I also love it that the story continues and since I am new at this I can read all of the books at once instead of having to wait for yrs like you hard core fans... I think I have written enough for my first time so here it comes!!
P.S how did I do Tony

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tad Williams - Otherland

I've mentioned here before that my sister in law and I share similar tastes in books.  We see each other once a year and typically we exchange books at that time.  She loaned me "Good Omens" by Terry Prachet and Neil Gaiman and started my love of all things Neil about 6 years ago.  I still have the book!  At our last family get together I loaned her my Otherland collection from Tad Williams.  For those of you who don't know, Tad is a very verbose writer and takes great pains to paint his world in your mind.  The first time you read him, you can easily get overwhelmed by the amount of imagery he creates outside of the storyline.  In today's world of instant gratification, he has never taken a short-cut on imagery in order to get the story completed.  In fact, he takes his sweet time telling the story, typically one that is so inter-meshed with plot twists that you never really get the full picture until the climax of the story.  I've read two of his series thus far (The Dragonbone series, and Otherland) and am currently working on the third (Shadowmarch) and I'm always pleasantly surprised when I get to the end.  Admittedly, the first book is always the most frustrating because he always uses that one to open up all of the holes in his story and he scatters loose ends freely in the wind.  Linda (my sis-in-law) had already read the Dragonbone series and started reading the Otherland series a few weeks ago.  She kept me up to date on Facebook as she read through it.

Linda: Hi T I'm halfway thru the 1st otherland book and I still have no clue to whats going on here lol

Me: The first one doesn't start to come together until about 3/4 of the way through (and even then you'll be puzzled). It keeps drawing you along, but you won't really get it until the forth book.

Linda: OMG hope I can make it thru lol

Linda:  I just started the 3rd otherland book. the traveling from world to world is getting slo...w ,wish it would move just a bit faster . I have got a stack of about 15 to read behind this series . To many books and not enough time.

Linda:   Just finished the 3rd otherland.. It took alot of concentration. And I didn't want to see Orlando die.. I was hoping .. Now do I take a break or finish the series.. Hmm!! Think I will continue..

Me: But he has to die. However, I think the ending will surprise you.

Linda:  hope so

Linda:  Done with Otherland . Loved it, amazing story .Tad Williams should donate his brain to science . Thanks never would have read it if you didn't give it to me.  P.S is it me or do you never comment back when someone posts to you. ?

Me:  LOL. Sorry, the comments are automatically emailed to me and I'm just figuring that out. I hoped that you would like it. It takes him a while to get to the end of the story but when he does you typically go, WOW. Can wait for the next one in his shadow series.

Linda:  me either.

I'm glad she enjoyed it.  Typical Tad Williams though.  If you can get through the half way part then you are home free.  I hope Linda doesn't mind that I posted her reactions here, but I felt that it was the best way to get an honest reaction to the books.  I should review them here as well, but that will have to wait until another day.  Unless of course I can get Linda to do it...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Other Blogs of note

I'm short on reading right now as I've run out of books and money to get them.  I tried the local library yesterday, but its an extremely small branch with limited fantasy reading.  Instead I spent some time checking out what others like myself are doing.  As a software programmer, I'm as likely to borrow an idea from someone and then make it better than to try and come up with something from scratch.  As I was doing this, I found Graeme's Fantasy Book Reviews.  He keeps a very clean site and I like the way that he organized the site and his reviews were insightful.  His tastes are a bit different than mine, but I found myself wanting to try a couple of them out just to see.  He is also very dilligent about writing about a book a day (at least as far as I could see).  Check him out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fools Fate


I'm not really sure to begin.  I was sure that the build up to this book was going to be worth it.  And for a while there I was sure it was turning out that way.  But then...  This has to be one of the worst endings to a book that I can remember.  The climax of the book was at about the halfway point and long past when the story should have wrapped up, the story is still going on.  And on.  And ON!  End it already!!!  It was almost like Robin Hobb couldn't let the characters go and she kept writing until she could find some "happy ending" for them, which seemed very contrived to me.  Ok, let me get to the review and then I'll come back to the critique.

"Fools Fate" picks up where "Golden Fool" left off with Dutiful and company heading off to the home of his future bride to slay the dragon.  The Fool informs Fitz that killing the dragon is another one of the points in the future that he has to change and begs Fitz to spare the dragon as ultimately the choice will be his, not Dutiful's.  Chade sees this as an affront to the Prince, since Dutiful had given his word that he would lay the head of the dragon on the threshold of the Narcheska's Motherhouse (and if you truly want to know what these terms mean then by all means read the book, I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain it).  Through much conspiring the Fool is left behind, to keep him from influencing Fitz and also because he told Fitz that his death is on the island where the dragon is.  Eventually, they get to the island and find the dragon encased in ice.  The Fool is waiting for them when they arrive and him an Fitz get separated from the rest and they are eventually captured by the White Prophet.  I've not mentioned her before because I wasn't certain how important to the story she was (another oversight from the author as this really should have been the bulk of the story).  According to the Fool there is only one White Prophet per age, but he considered himself the true White Prophet in the Assassin series.  However, he was now Gold and not White whereas the other Profit had retained her White color.  Regardless, she tortures the Fool and promises Fitz that if he doesn't kill the dragon that the Fool will be "forged" and given to her memory stone dragon.  Fitz being the Catalyst choses to save the Dragon, knowing that its the Fools life.  As they free the dragon from the Ice, Tintaglia the dragon from Bingtown arrives for her mate.  The White Prophet manages to quicken her dragon and suddenly there is a fight.  The White Prophet doesn't care which dragon dies so long as they are never able to mate and bring dragons back to the world.  What follows is spectacular and makes it worth reading just for that.  In the end the stone dragon of the White Prophet attacks Tintaglia and only Burrich and his son Swift stand in the way.  Burrich is gravely injured which eventually leads to his death and his son Swift manages to kill the stone dragon with a magic arrow to the eye (ok, so it kind of falls apart with that, but it was still a decent story at that point).

So time to wrap it up right?  Wrong!  The story continues and we find that the Black Man on the island was a previous White Prophet.  It seems that when a profit makes a positive change for the future that they become darker and darker.  Thus the Fool was gold and beginning to darken whereas the White Prophet was still white.  But the Fool is dead and Fitz brings him back to life, etc., etc.  Fitz goes home, finds his ex love, marries her, etc. etc.  The last half of the book is wrapping up all of the loose ends.  This really pissed me off.  The previous book had nothing that really moved the story along, a wasted tree.  And then in this book, Robin Hobb can't seem to finish the story.  Help, I'm writing and I can't shut up!  If there was that much more that needed to be said, extend to another book (I can't believe I just said that after my rant from yesterday, but I'd rather have that than have the story ruined).  Regardless, it was too much.  It made the climax seem unimportant.  Robin Hobb put way too much stock in the reader wanting Fitz to finally be happy than to actually focusing on the story.  I like it when authors create worlds that are their playgrounds.  Raymond Fiest, Anne McCaffery, and Roger Zelazny were perhaps some of the best at doing that.  Each of them have written dozen of books for their worlds, but they rarely (it does happen) seem like the same ole same ole.  I'm going to let Robin in on a secret here.  The real story is the Elderlings and what happened to them and how their civilization began and ended.  How does that tie into dragons and magic?  How do the White Prophets and Catalyst fit into all this?  Honestly, the story of Fitz and the Fool should only be a footnote to the story, an introduction if you will.  Yet, what we got was Fitz's happy ending.  Honestly, it would have been a better story if he had perished. 

I'm curious if she figured that out.  A search on Google informs me that she has two additional books after this concerning a group from around Bingtown and called teh Rain Wild Chronicles (Dragon Keeper [2009] and Dragon Haven [2010]).  Sigh.  I guess I need to read those to find out if I should stay pissed off or find out if she redeems herself.  For the record there is no Robin Hobb.  Her real name is Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden (I guess she has as much trouble finishing her name as her books).  She writes under several pen names (I guess that keeps the mobs at bay better).  I'm hesitant to pick up more of her work for fear it will leave me as unsatisfied as this did.  Such a good start with Assassin totally F'ed up with Tawny Man. 

I give the first half of the book 4 out of 5 stars and the second half 1 out of 5.  Thus I give the overall book 2 out of 5.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Golden Fool

I've a pretty decent tan, but I'm not golden.  But boy do I feel like a fool.  I'd feel robbed if I had actually purchased this book, but since its on loan from my sister inlaw I can only encourage her to return it and demand a refund.  Before I get into the book itself I have a small soapbox to mount.  There is a definitive trend among authors these days to write a storyline that spans at least 3 books, but I'm seeing 4 or more books in a lot of cases (just wait until I move back to reviewing StarWars books).  Its all a money making ploy.  Typically, these authors don't have material for more than one book typically, but they stretch them out as far as they can to maximize their profits.  Regardless of who's fault this is, the publisher or the author, this tactic sucks.  The reader is left unsatisfied, but there is enough there to keep us coming back for the next one.  I don't know when this Crack publishing began, but I've had enough.  I should have seen the signs before I started reading this series.  3 books for Farseer, 3 books for Liveship Traders, 3 books for Tawny Man, etc., etc.  I had thought Robin Hobb above that sort of tactic, as the Farseer trilogy actually built upon itself as it went and gave a spectacular finish.  This series so far is not impressing me.  I truly expect to be wow'ed in diffent ways with each additional book.  I'm ok with history building and I love to see the entirety of a character, but when the book is only about that, then I'm rather disappointed.  I look at my favorite authors and I see how the cream rises.  I mean can anyone name a trilogy by Neil Gaiman (and the Sandman series doesn't count)?  I should count my lucky stars that this wasn't written by Terry Brooks otherwise the story would be exactly the same with different characters.  Ok, I'm getting off topic now so I'll step down off this box.

The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb is the second of three books in the Tawny Man series.  After rescuing Prince Dutiful, both Fitz and the Fool are back at Buckkeep.  Fitz becomes the Skillmaster, much to his chagrin and begins to train the new coterie.  The Queen begins negotiations with the Witted and eventually creates a Witted coterie for Dutiful.  At the same time Kettrichen and Chade find a bride for the young prince from the Outislanders, the same folk who warred against them with the Red Ships some 15 years prior.  The bulk of the book contains itself around the storyline of the Witted and the Piebalds and the betrothal.  Honestly, I was bored.  The only exciting part was when the future bride of Dutiful challenged him to slay a dragon.  That was interesting, but come on!  He's only 16, how the hell is the boy supposed to slay a dragon.  He's a typical teen, full of angst and insecurities and lust.  Useless!  Nevertheless, he accepts and the book ends with the anticipation of the next book where he goes to slay the dragon.  What a waste.  I'm so disgusted that I wasted my time on this book.  I'm more disgusted because I immediately picked up the next one so I could see how the Prince slayed the dragon.  Pathetic!

I have a confession to make.  In the third book of the Assassin series, Starling felt that the Fool was actually a woman disguised as a man who was in love with Fitz. But after reading 5 books with Fitz as the first person, I'm beginning to think that Fitz is the woman instead.  I don't mean this in a bad way to women, but I don't know any men at age 35 who are as insecure as Fitz is.  For someone who has done as much as he has, either as a soldier or as an assassin, to continue to be so damned whiny is starting to make me sick.  Grow a set already!  Sigh, I thought I put away that soap box.  Ok, one more to go.  One more to redeem yourself Robin.  You can do it, make me proud.

I give this book 1 star out of 5.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I'm really digging blogging. There are so many cool tools to use. Testing Twitterfeed which automatically posts my blog posts to Twitter.

Tuesday, August 11, 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.

I give this 3 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Assassin's Quest

I finished Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb last night. My first impression.... WOW. I had reservations on the series. Where I had found it enjoyable and full of intrigue, I didn't really have a good idea of what this had to do with Fantasy. If anything, the series was a great representation of royal intrigue, but not necessarily of fantasy. I had previously expressed my concerns that although there was some hints of fantasy via the Wit and the Skill that I wasn't really sold on the idea that this really fit the genre. Ok, I humbly submit that I was wrong. Very wrong.

The book starts off where the last one ended. Fitz was dead, by Regal's hand, more or less. But Burrich and Chade had conspired to save him via the Wit. Somehow it works and Fitz is saved. Instead of being grateful, he starts his revenge on Regal and plots to kill his uncle. I'm shortening the story quite a bit, but suffice it to say that he doesn't succeed and his uncle Verity instead comes to his aid, but forces him via the Skill to "Come to me". Suddenly the entire series becomes a fantasy novel. Fitz meets up with the Fool, Kettrichen and a few other individuals. They all set off to find Verity who has been gone the bulk of a year. They follow in his footsteps and find the remains of an ancient civilzation. Only Fitz senses this and he discovers that the path they follow is somehow Skill wrought. Later he travels to the heart of the ancient civilization via a "Skill stone" which instantly transports him to the city. He discovers what direction his uncle Verity took and the group moves closer to finding him. A reminder to those who don't remember or didtn't read the second book, Verity left to find the Elderling's, a race that promised to come to the aid of the Farseer's should they ever need them.

The group continues to search for Verity. By this point we find that Veity's son was still born and that the only heir to the Farseer throne is Fitz's daughter with Molly, whom he has desperately tried to keep hidden, but both Regal and Chade know of her existence. Chade conceives to bring her to Kettrichen to be the heir and Fitz is wiling to do whatever it takes to prevent that. Ultimately the expedition finds Verity, looking much older and worn than ever, and solitarily chipping away at a large dragon statue. We find that Verity was unable to wake the Elderlings and had to create his own. Fitz is puzzled by his uncle's words and doesn't understand how and why he has spend the last months creating a life sized legend. One of the expedition, Kettle reveals that she was once a part of a coterie and can help Verity "awaken" his dragon. Events continue until Fitz realizes that the awakening means the end of Verity the man. He concedes to his uncle whatever he needs to go forward, with the desire that his own child be spared the throne. Verity does just that and in his waning moments creates an heir (you will have to read the book to discover how) and then awakens his dragon. Verity as dragon then proceeds to rid the coast of the Red Sail Raiders along with the remainder of the Elderlings whom Fitz discovers how to awaken at the last possible moment.

Fitz and Nighteyes remain behind as the rest of the expedition travels with Verity. Fitz is finally able to get revenge on Regal, but does so without having to be the King's assassin, which he vows to never be again. The Six Duchies are safe and Regal lives up to his name finally. Fitz, the changer, the catalyst, has done his duty and suddenly has his whole life in front of him.

Again, let me say that I'm now hooked and have to read the second series (actually started that today :) thanks Linda!). I did have some problems with the series overall. While in the end I was happy with how the author brought the fantasy to us, as the hero himself found out about it, I was not thrilled with the secondary narrative that she put into each chapter. It became obvious that the hero was writing this, some years after the events, although it was often hard to distinguish what was future and what wasn't, at least in the first book (although this was not really an issue later). The other issue with first person narrative is that it leads the reader to believe that the hero survives. Although not a huge issue, it is often better to not know if the hero survives as it gives the reader a better sense of suspense. Other than that I had no real problem with the series. If this was Robin Hobb's first then she is well on her way to being a force in the genre. Ok, time to read the second series.

I give this a 4 out of 5 stars.

I dream of carving my own dragon.