Saturday, January 14, 2017
Frith, the crippled, last surviving son of a noble house arrives in a foreign city intent on exploring the caverns beneath a vast and ancient Citadel. Rumours say it belonged to the lost mages and that great power is there for the taking, power Frith intends to use to take back his home and get revenge on those who killed his family. To aid him he hires two mercenaries, Sir Sebastain a knight who was forced to leave his order due to his sexual orientation and Wydrin, better known as the copper cat, a sassy thief and daughter of a pirate. The two adventurers have a reason of their own for entering the citadel, one of their companions ventured in weeks before and never returned. Together the three manage to find what Frith seeks but unwittingly unleash an angry god, bent on nothing but destruction on the world.
While the three protagonists have a certain charm to them, I found all three unoriginal and based on tired sword and sorcery tropes. Pacing was uneven being slow and steady throughout most of the novel before rushing through a finale. World-building was adhoc and unconvincing and I couldn't help but feel that names and places were thrown together without the author having any idea of their relation in her own mind. The villains were one-dimensional and lacked any depth. While the writing was tidy enough it often felt clumsy.
Overall this novel had multiple problems and was a chore to slog through. 4.5/10.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
This was a collection of two novellas by Donaldson.
The Kings Justice: A stranger named Black arrives at the isolated village of Settler's Crossing tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a child. While Black is much more than he seems so is the murder. 8.25/10
The Augur's Gambit: Mayhew Gordian is a self-effacing Hieronomer who is attempting to aid the queen of an isolated island nation to avoid two fates of enslavement from an unknown power from across the ocean or a descent into barbarism after protracted civil war. What's more Mayhew is in love with the queen's daughter. 8.5/10.
My experience with previous shorter fiction by Donaldson is that he is able to effortlessly create intriguing world's in minimal words that leave the reader wanting to see more. These two pieces are no exception. Both stories were well-paced with well developed protagonists and support casts. I enjoyed the The Augur's Gambit slightly more as I found Mayhew quirky and more human that Black and for that reason I'm glad of the order the stories were printed in.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Hope Arden is afflicted with a rather peculiar condition. When she was a teenager those around her gradually came to forget she existed until even her own family forgot they had a daughter. Now everyone she comes into contact with will forget her within a few minutes of being out of her company. Hope uses her peculiar condition to become a master thief. After a woman Hope has grown found of kills herself due to a mobile phone application called perfection, Hope decides to publicly embarrass it's creators, not knowing that there may be far more sinister forces in play.
The concept is similar to North's two previous novels, a protagonist who is afflicted with an unexplained condition that the majority of the population are not effected by. Hope is an interesting character and North captures the emotion of her plight beautifully. The little nuances she adopts to help herself cope are cleverly incorporated into the prose and make this a very human story. I found the support characters slightly inconsistent especially towards the end of the novel where their actions did not gel with what had gone before. Once the plot moves away from Hope's personal struggle I found the perfection angle less engaging.
Overall North once again has built a very human and engaging protagonist, less care with the support characters and plot detract slightly from what could have been a masterpiece. 8/10.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Matt lurched, almost falling, as he mounted a table.
His boss frowned but screw it Matt was salesperson of the year. Noticing his empty glass Matt made a beeline for the bar.
Pamela from accounts glanced at mistletoe above them.
“Not on your life Pimply Pam.” Matt scoffed.
“Mistletoe wards away evil spirits.” The bartender huffed and poured a shot of whisky.
“This is the only spirit I’m interested in.” Matt countered snatching the bottle.
“A woman scorned is nothing to scoff at either.”Just as he found a quiet corner to enjoy his whiskey icy fingers encircled his neck.
Carya eyed the river of stone distrustfully. All was quiet but recent experience had made her wary. Without warning one of those mechanical monstrosities could appear in a blaze of flashing lights and howling noise.
Taking a deep breath she dashed across. After all she had nothing left to lose. Her daughter was dead and she would know why.The increasingly faint pulse of her daughter’s heart tree had led her to this strange dwelling. Steeling herself she peered inside and keened in agony.
Then…….she didn’t know.
Then…….she didn’t know.
Why had they desecrated her daughter’s body in garish colours and twinkling lights?
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Alastar has settled well into role as Maitre of Colleguim. However the promise of a poor grain harvest exacerbates already existing problems between the Upper Class High Holders and the increasingly powerful merchant class. Alastar attempts to assist Solidar's barley competent rex to navigate through these problems but when someone begins assassinating students of the Colleguim he realizes a bigger game is afoot.
I found Alastar to be an engaging protagonist and thought his own struggles with a mid-life crisis added a very human element to him. The supporting cast are well-developed and the plot interesting and well-paced. World-building was subtly and effectively incorporated and I felt up to speed throughout despite never having read a Modesitt Jr book before and coming in mid-series.
Overall engaging characters and unobtrusive yet effective world-building make for a solid read. 8.25/10.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Athalus is a talented bronze-age who has gone through an extended spell of bad luck. In desperation he accepts a job from Ghend, a shady-figure who wants Athalus to steal a book from a house at the edge of the world. Athalus finds himself trapped in the house and is befriended by a talking cat who is more than she seems. Soon Athalus realizes he is caught up in clash between the gods themselves with the fate of the world at stake.
The main characters all have that certain charm (aside from the villains who are one-dimensional) that all Eddings' characters share, though as usual I find the shared sense of humour is a bit hard to accept. Pacing is a real struggle with lots of repetition of events whenever a new character is introduced. This leads into another issue of too much telling rather than showing the reader. The biggest issue was a lack of tension throughout the novel as the villains are so incompetent it is impossible to believe they could actually succeed.
Overall this novel suffers from some major pacing and character issues which made it a slog to get through it. 5/10.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Fire is a "monster" an impossibly beautiful woman who can entrance people with her beauty and influence and even control their minds. This ability comes with costs. Animal "monsters" are drawn to her blood and wish to devour her. While Fire's father misused his power to manipulate the former king for his own personal gains. Fire does not want to follow in her father footsteps so has chosen to live a quiet life on the outskirts of the kingdom. However events conspire to draw Fire into a larger world, a mysterious poacher with a strangely empty mind is murdered under strange circumstances and The new king Nash and his brother seek Fire's aide in averting civil war.
This novel's biggest strength is the the well realized protagonist and her journey of self worth and discovery. She is well supported by a well developed cast of support characters. However pacing is a major issue with a very slow beginning and conclusion. I think the story could have been better balanced by perhaps including another point of view character as since Fire lacks knowledge and interest in some of the wider events in the war it can seem very vague.
Overall Fire is a wonderful example of character-driven story-telling but could have been a better balanced read. 7/10.