5 Stars for The Emperor's Blades

Wow.  This is really a good story and good start to a possible great series (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne).  It has the Wheel of Time + Game of Thrones + Malazan feel of greatness.  For me, the best new Fantasy since The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

I can not recommend this book enough. The characters are well thought out, the world building is epic in scope, yet the details are clear and the story absorbing.  I have been wanting to find another Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, George RR Martin, and Robert Jordan.  And I have found him in Brian Staveley.

If you like your fantasy to have a vast world with a rich history, characters with real human flaws, excellent story arc and good old fashion action, you will love this.

Hurry up The Providence of Fire.

The Black Magician Trilogy

Instead of reviewing each book in this trilogy individually, I decided to complete all 3 books and then do a single overall review.  It was the story itself that caused me to do this, as after reading the first book, I had mixed feelings and felt it was to soon to make a decision regarding.  Overall It was just OK.  I am not seeking out the second trilogy.

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<SPOILERS>

The series focuses on a Sonea, a young poor orphan slum girl from the wrong side of the tracks (walls) that learns she has magic and follows her as she develops into a young women thrown into the mechanizations of the Magicians Guild, higher society and higher magic.   


The first two books in the series seem to be more adolescent novels than adult.  The first half of the first book is about Sonea on the run from adults (Magicians) thinking they all want to kill her, and the second half is about bad adults trying to set her up for a fail to prove their superiority due to wealth & status.  It was an essay on the prejudices and bigotry of the rich and privileged against the poor.  Basically the moral of the story is that the rich and privileged will become worse than the underprivileged to prove their superiority.  Other than that, when I finished I thought "what is this really about?".  I had no idea, so no review because I committed to reading all three so I kept going.


The second book seems to be only about Sonea being teased and abused by other children while the adults do nothing.  It is stalking, harassment, physical and mental abuse driven by one (again) rich and privileged student.  That is really all their was for a majority of the book.  The secondary arc in this book is a story about the Magician Dannyl coming to grips about his sexuality.  Bringing this in as a plot point seems only for the purpose to provide more moral questions than just class war.  But does not seem to really help the overall story. Yes there are some developments in the two arcs that moves towards a darker and greater story involved, but it is very far in the background.  Again I finished this book and thought "why is this moving so slow?"


I knew there had to be more than just these teen angst and class/culture war stories.  Something else was going on and just hints are given in the first book and expanded in the second.  You finally get a slight view of darker things happening.  So I held off on my review.  That said, the first two books did have a lot of character development, but the plots were frustrating.


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Once I started Book 3, it explodes.  Really.  It takes two books to set up everything?  Would I say it was worth it?  Probably not (OK, no).  But the 3rd book takes off early.  The overall plot is revealed, a back story withheld is suddenly known, all of the tidbits slowly released in books 1 & 2 collapse into a stronger and more powerful plot.  What was hidden is revealed and we can finally get on with a worthwhile plot.  It is non-stop action which leads to a satisfying completion.  


That said, there are still annoyances.  The arc involving Dannyl really can be removed from the whole series as his personal struggle accounts to nothing in the 3rd book.   A lot of the books writing was devoted to this issue for no real reason other than adding more moral and ethical questions without plot affect.

I really loved the last book.  Really did not like the first two.

 

The Wheel of Time, Book 14, A Memory of Light, The End

This is not necessarily a book and author review, but a personal review of my reactions and thoughts after finishing the last book of The Wheel of Time. If you are looking for an intellectual book review or how great Robert Jordan is, go read the reviews at Tor.com.
 

About this book, A Memory of Light specifically: 
How bittersweet to finally end the series and to have no more Wheel of Time to come. It seems like the story would never end and I would be experiencing it forever.  Part of me wishes for that.
Wow. Wow. Wow. I have never read a book with so much happening so fast.  The first two books of A Memory of Light Trilogy (The Gathering Storm - book 12 and Towers of Midnight - book 13) both moved at a terrific pace vs. many of the other books in the series.  I seem to remember one 800 page book in the series that no one even moved. Maybe not.  But the final book was insane in pace & action.
What I found interesting as I read the final book is as I have been with many of these characters for over 20 years in my life watching them grow and change, I thought I had a good grasp on each character and how much they each meant to me.  But it was only while reading the last book that you learn truly how much they mean to you or whom.  In my case I was surprised.  I got a little emotional at 3-4 points through this book, and all of them where in relation to Lan.  I have always liked Lan's character, but did not feel he was the one I connected with the most until my reactions in reading this book.   I was surprised. I was amazed.
I am also astonished with how many of the loose threads (pardon the pun) are wrapped up.  It was a satisfying end to a great journey I began when Eye of the World was released.  The series had it's ups and downs, its beginnings and endings, its fast pace and miserably slow pace.  The amount of characters that we came to know and love (and literally grow up with).
<SPOILER> The only question I have is regarding the five original primary characters from The Two Rivers, is why the character that does not survive.  Why not let them all?  What not more of them dying in The Last Battle?  Why that one?<\SPOILER>
If you have "read" the series, I do say it is worth the money and time (about 1 billion hours) to "LISTEN" via Audible books as well. I have done this and highly recommend.  You will not regret it.  If you have not read the series, then listen. 

 

Favorite SciFi and Fantasy Books

Recently,  the SF Signal posted a blog post on which Sci Fi books make up a perfect library.  While that is a tall order and up to much discussion, I thought I would give my "must reads" based upon what I have read and liked.  It is my opinion alone.

Since most of what I read are "series" or multiple volume books, I am keeping it to this vs. stand alone books.

Here are my Science Fiction Series: (In no particular order)

  • Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds
  • Saga of Pliocene Exile - Julian May
  • Honor Harrington Series - David Weber
  • Deathstalker Series - Simon R Green
  • The Demon Princes -Jack Vance
  • Dorsai/Childe Cycle - Gordon R Dickson
  • Old Man's War series - John Scalzi
  • Foundation/Galactic Empire/Robot Series - Issac Asimov
  • Dune Series - Frank Herbert
  • Dragonriders of Pern Series - Anne McCaffrey
  • Vorkosigan Saga/Adventures - Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Saga of the Skolian Empire - Catherine Asaro
  • Heechee Saga - Frederik Pohl
  • Ringworld Saga - Larry Niven
  • Rama Series - Arthur C Clarke
  • Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe
  • Sunset Warrior Series - Eric Van Lustabader
  • Lensman Series - EE Doc Smith
  • Faded Sun Trilogy - CH Cherryh

Here are my Fantasy Series: (In no particular order)

  • Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
  • Earthsea Trilogy/Cycle - Ursula K LeGuin
  • The Wheel of Time - Robert Jordon
  • Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind
  • A Song of Ice and Fire - George RR Martin
  • Elric Saga - Michael Moorcock
  • Xanth Series - Anthony Piers
  • Shannara Series - Terry Brooks
  • Lynoneese Series - Jack Vance
  • Deryni Series - Katherine Kurtz
  • Memory, Sorrow and Thorn - Tad Williams
  • Belgariad & Mallorean Series - David Eddings
  • Thomas Covenant Chronicals - Stephen R Donaldson
  • Chronicals of Narnia - CS Lewis
  • Horseclans - Robert Adams

I have to mention one more author with loosely connected books, Robert Heinlein. You can not miss with Heinlein.

There are many many more I love, but I tried to limit to under 20 for both.  I would provide this list to any who are interested in starting down a SciFi or Fantasy path.  As you can see from my list, there is one author on both lists - Jack Vance.

What are the series you love?