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 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. 

 

The Omen Machine

Warning: Some spoilers

I have read all of the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind as they have been released and was pleasantly surprised that a new book continuing the adventures of Richard and Kahlan was to be released.  I felt the series ended very well in the last book Confessor and felt it complete.  I have to say that after reading the new book The Omen Machine, I still feel the same.  It should have stopped.

 

I am not sure what specifically about this book that led me to feel this way.  My favorite characters are all back, but they seemed changed.  Is it that I am remembering them in a different light?  I do not know, but found myself thinking during the reading that I just want to get it done and over with.
The power of the previous books was the grandness of it all, the adventure, the travel, the new and exciting twists and turns and here in The Omen Machine you feel stuck in one place with a bunch of stupid characters.  Not stupid as in useless, but stupid as in brainless.  And the most sad is Zed.  He is reduced to either not believing what Richard says or repeating what Richard says back to Richard.  A smart, powerful character minimized to a shadow of who he use to be.  Everytime Zed spoke, my eyes rolled in my head.  Sad.
Another disappointment is that with 11 previous books, that there would be some reference to the experiences in which they have had to make decisions now.  We are but products of our past experiences.  However, it is like the previous adventures did not happen other than the "war is over".  With all that has happened to them previously, why would they ever not take something seriously, especially if they have a "feeling".  And all the conversations of doubt was mind numbing.  And it was really strange that the whole affair with Kahlan forgetting all and the aftermath of what happened in the 3 Chainfire series are not even hinted at.  This book takes place right after those books!  It is like it never happened to Kahlan.  
Overall I feel let down.  I will continue to read the series, but the excitement and grandness has been lost.
I gave The Omen Machine 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

 

Ice, Fire and Dragons (with Spoilers)

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Adwd1
I read the George RR Martin's first 4 books of A Song of Ice and Fire as they were published, so it has been a long time since I have even thought of the books since the last book was released/read in 2005.  Not until both the new HBO series and news of the next book in the series (A Dance With Dragons) being released had me thinking once again about the Stark's and the Lannister's. Strange that I think of the series as the "Starks and the Lannister's" as they may have been the focus in the first book or two, but no longer.


My memory was a bit shady as the books are extensive and the number of characters is mind numbing, but I did remember the first book pretty well, Bran's fall, Jon Snow going to the Wall, and of course, Eddard's death.  But somewhere between the years and other 3 books, my brain added stories and lost some stories since 2005.  For some reason I thought Jon Snow left the Wall in search of his real mother in Dorne and that Lady Melisandre died by fire.  Those that have read the first four books obviously know neither are true, but somehow these crawled into my brain and remembrance from those books. Strange what the mind remembers and what it makes up.


So I decided to take a dive back into the series both to prepare for the TV show and the new book.  My avenue was to re-read via Audible books all four books before A Dance With Dragons was to be released in July.  Unfortunately, I did not take into account how many hours each book would be.   I fiinished the first book by the start of the TV show in April 2011 and the second book by the release of A Dance with Dragons, both of which books I seemed to remember the most accurately.   It was obvious that the 3rd and 4th books are the ones I was having trouble with (besides remembering the the Red Wedding) which is interesting since they are the most recent books.  One would think it would have been the other way around, that I remember the early books, but not the recent books.  That may say something about this series.

Asoiaf

Therefore I went to the web to find chapter by chapter synopsis of both A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows (I have since found a more detailed chapter by chapter synopsis).  While reading these summerized versions of each chapter, the "what has gone before" slowly returned, as well as the "why" I could not remember.  Less so for A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows was just not engaging to me.  I was not emotionally attached to most of these characters therefore not feeling connected with the decisions that the characters were making or the caring about the outcomes.  And I was missing so much of the other characters not included that are my favorites.

Adwd2Thus the newly released A Dance of Dragons would by my savior.  More of Daenerys whom I loved more as the series progressed, Tyrion and his honesty(yes, I said honesty), Jon at the Wall (I just can't get enough of this!),  and my favorite character of all, Arya.  Please, no Sansa (I just can't comprehend her) I prayed.


Now that I have finished A Dance of Dragons, did it re-ignite what I felt with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings?  Or was it just a continuance of the A Feast of Crows and monotony of bad characters making stupid decisions and the ramifications of such (ie. Cersei).

Adwd3<sarcasm>

First, Let's focus on the title "A Dance of Dragons". I do not remember any dragon dancing but I do remember:

  • Theon is George RR Martins Bitch
  • The Taming of Daenerys
  • The Misadventures of Tyrion
  • The Fat Men Across the Narrow Sea
  • Weddings-R-Us (with more to come!)
  • The Storm of Lost Ships
  • The Knives at Night

</sarcasm>

Now on the book itself, what I immediately liked was the book began right after A Storm of Swords and caught up to the A Feast of Crows about two-thirds of the way through the book.  This may confuse some people and finding some of the earlier stories from a different perspective a bit confusing.  I enjoyed it as it went back to a time in the story that I was still somewhat engaged with the characters and this portion of the book really focused on the the big 3 (Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion). Please note, I realize that any criticisms coming may in fact be wrong as I do not know the future of the story.  All my opinions are based upon the books to date.


Cersei returns at the convergence point, but please George, just put her out of her misery.  She has become a characature of herself that I no longer care about in any way. Am I to have some emotion or connection with her now that she is humiliated and weak? I do not care about her any longer, or have cared for about 3 books.  This may be just me.


The emergence of long 'lost/supposed dead' characters that have not been in the series at all previously seems a way to make changes the "easy" way.  Although in most cases I did like the new characters, a part of me could not help but feel a bit let down.  It seems like the process is to kill off the old characters and bring in new to advance the story.  Fine.  I guess that is real life.  I just don't read fantasy for real life.  Unfortunately, the story did not reveal anything that I wanted revealed, and only left more threads unsolved with more mysteries.  The forums are ripe with peoples predictions and who they think is Jon's parents, Tyrion's parents, etc…


My favorite characters:

  • Jon - Although there was a good portion dedicated to Jon, not much moved or changed of significance that I did not expect other than the final scene.
  • Daenerys - All I can say is that she was the focus, even in other POV chapters, and her strength was taken from her and made weak in this book.  Made me sad.
  • Tyrion - I think everything but death happened to him during his romp across the narrow sea.  He was fun to follow, but it seemed like he did move forward in character, but in significance to story.
  • Arya - although she only had a few chapters, I was rivited.  I want a book of nothing but her story!  I am on the edge of my seat anticipating how her story will develop.
  • And thank you for a very little of Sansa.


In the prologue, bringing Varys back and exposing his spiders may be the only real reveal in the book.  Makes me wonder when Arya will join them.


I could give my thoughts a feelings chapter by chapter, but this blog post has gone on long enough.   To sum it up, I did give it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, mostly because it reignited my love for the series, even with its weaknesses.  I look forward to the second series on HBO and the sixth book.  I must have an ending…. Even if it is in ice or fire.