Malazan Read: Gardens of The Moon, Part 2

Spoilers for Gardens of The Moon to Chapter 7| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 1, Gardens of The Moon. This post covers chapters 5-7.


Chapter Five

907th Year in the Third Millennium
The Season of Fanderay in the year of the Five Tusks

Right off the bat, we’ve switched to a whole new calendar system, so I don’t even know where this all fits in chronologically – which I’d at first assumed was the point of dating the chapters.

We begin with a small round man having a dream. It’s not really a typical dream though, he’s quite aware that it’s a dream and seems pretty lucid too. He’s also some sort of prophet, as revealed by this line:

Within the walls of his skull rang the dirge of prophecy, and it echoed through his bones.

See this is why I don’t like fancy prose. Even when it’s good – as this one is – it sort of trips you up, as you take a break from trying to grasp the plot to marvel at it. Continue reading

Malazan Read: Gardens of The Moon, Part 1

Spoilers for Gardens of The Moon to Chapter 4| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Malazan Book of The Fallen, I’m now on book 1, Gardens of The Moon. This post covers chapters 1-4.


Now these ashes have grown cold, we open the old book.
These oil-stained pages recount the tales of the Fallen,
a frayed empire, words without warmth. The hearth
has ebbed, its gleam and life’s sparks are but memories
against dimming eyes – what cast my mind, what hue my
thoughts as I open the Book of the Fallen
and breathe deep the scent of history?
Listen, then, to these words carried on that breath.
These tales are the tales of us all, again yet again.
We are history relived and that is all, without end that is all.

Normally I’m not one for verse (is this even verse?) – especially at the beginning of books, but damn this piece is good. But it appears a work of this scale can’t make do with one opening extract, and so we have another one talking about the Emperor’s death, which I won’t quote because it’s not that good IMO.


Prologue

1154th Year of Burn’s Sleep

Who/What is Burn, I wonder? Must be a big deal for people to measure dates by how long it’s been sleeping. Maybe we’ll get to see it awaken sometime.

Ganoes Paran is overlooking the city of Malaz, where some sort of disturbance is going down. Magic is involved. A soldier comes up to him, whom Ganoes identifies as a Bridgeburner. They chat. Is seems things are happening in other parts of the Empire as well. A famous soldier by the name of Dassem Ultor is dead. Ganoes tells the Bridgeburner that he wants to be a soldier when he grows up. The Bridgeburner tells him he’ll grow out of it, but as the Dramatis Personae told me, that’s not going to happen. Damn spoilers! Continue reading

#38 Orconomics: A Satire, by J. Zachary Pike

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Brimming with swords, sorcery, and wit, Orconomics: A Satire introduces Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. For the licensed wizards and warriors of Arth, slaying and looting the forces of evil is just a job. The Heroes’ Guild has turned adventuring into a career, selling the rights to monsters’ hoards of treasure as investment opportunities. Corporations spend immense sums sponsoring heroes to undertake quests, betting they’ll reap the profits in plunder funds when the loot is divvied up.

Questing was all business for famous Dwarven berserker Gorm Ingerson, until a botched expedition wiped out his party, disgraced his name, and reduced him to a thieving vagabond. Twenty years later, a chance encounter sees Gorm forcibly recruited by a priest of a mad goddess to undertake a quest that has a reputation for getting heroes killed. But there’s more to Gorm’s new job than an insane prophecy; powerful corporations and governments have shown an unusual interest in the job. Gorm might be able to turn a bad deal into a golden opportunity and win back the fame and fortune he lost so long ago.

Promising fun, fantasy, and financial calamity, Orconomics: A Satire is the first book in The Dark Profit Saga, an economically epic trilogy.

Orconomics is, as the title says, a satire. It takes questing to its logical conclusion, with entire economies and stock markets depending upon heroes and their loot. There’s plunder funds, contracts, professionally certified thugs, big corporations. Basically, heroics has gone corporate.

And our protagonists are a ragtag™ bunch of washed up ex-heroes on a seemingly simple fetch quest. What follows is equal parts cliched and fun. Cliched because we have pretty much the standard issue fantasy world with bearded dwarves and graceful elves and dark woods, fun because most of the book is spent poking fun at these cliches.

But that much I expected from the description itself. What I didn’t expect was how much involved I had gotten in the actual plot and the characters, and the emotions I felt when things turned “serious” towards the end. And that’s what really impressed me about the book – Orconomics works not only as a funny satire of the fantasy quest, but also works as a pretty good novel on its own, something that’s rare in such books.

Of course, it’s a fine line to walk between making fun of cliches and becoming cliched yourself, and one area where the book fell into the trap are the characters. Though written well enough, none of them have any real depth, and feel rather generic. Sure it makes sense to have a typical warrior/rogue/mage party for a satire book, but I would have liked for the characters to develop a bit more and break out of their stereotypes by the end, which didn’t really happen.

One more thing I didn’t like is that the economics part of the book is mostly left underdeveloped. It introduces interesting concepts, like a stock market based not on companies but on quests, but mostly ignores them in favor of a typical adventure plot. Hopefully the author will explore these ideas more fully in future novels.

All in all, despite some flaws, this was a fun little book, and I’d recommend it for someone looking for something fun and off the beaten track.


My Rating : 3.5/5

#37 The Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson

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With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

The Bands of Mourning is the sixth Mistborn book overall, and the third one featuring Wax and Wayne. I was rather lukewarm towards Alloy of Law, but loved Shadows of Self, so I had high hopes for this one.

Did it deliver? Well, mostly yes, but there were a few not so minor bumps. The book starts off well enough, with some really fascinating details on the nature of the Feruchemical abilities of Identity and Investiture, which is precisely the sort of thing I love about Mistborn.

And then it’s a quest to find the eponymous Bands of Mourning. I enjoyed the adventure, with fights and action scenes sprinkled throughout to keep up the tension, but to be honest the star for me was the character development, especially getting to know Steris better, and the way her and Wax’s relationship develops is a real delight. I like how it’s not your typical meet-and-fall-in-love sort of romance, and how these two very different people support and complement each other.

On the flip side, there’s Wayne. I get that he’s supposed to be Wax’s sidekick and the funny guy, but increasingly, he just feels like a total dick to me. OK, maybe not a total dick – Wayne had his moments too, but he definitely got on my nerves at times, especially with all the casual stealing stuff and his behaviour towards Steris. Of course, not all characters have to be likable, but this feels more like a case of Sanderson trying to write quirky likable ruffian but not pulling it off properly.

As for the plot, after the initial excitement I felt at the beginning of the quest, the rest was a bit meh – it’s still fun, but not mindblowing. Unlike Shadows of Self, this book’s big plot twist was rather predictable. For that matter, the whole quest for the Bands of Mourning – despite being really high stakes – didn’t have the same tension for me as the Bleeder plot in Shadows of Self. Plus that sort of fetch quest has been done too many times, and feels a bit cliched at times.

I was much more excited at finding out more about the other peoples of Scadrial and what they’ve been up to, and the many really, really intriguing hints that the prologue drops about the past and the future, and things that involve more than just Scadrial, other parts of the Cosmere.

I think that’s also part of why the book fell a bit flat for me – the western style adventures, train robberies and gunfights, are just not for me. Sanderson’s written them well enough, it’s just that I’m much more interested in the Mistborn world and magic system and the larger Cosmere than I am in seeing Wax beat up yet another gang of thugs. So while all these big fights are going down, a part of me is always thinking can we just hurry up and have another infodump about Feruchemy?

I’m still eagerly looking forwards to the conclusion of this trilogy with The Lost Metal, and I still enjoyed the book, but it was probably the weakest Mistborn book for me. Which makes it sound bad, but all I mean is that it’s less great than the others. You’re spoiled us rotten, Mr. Sanderson.

One last thing – I freaking hate the cover! I know it’s a subjective thing, but seriously, it’s basically the same as the one for Shadows of Self with a new background. Can we please have something other than two people looking vaguely determined for the next one?


 

My Rating : 3.5/5

 

WoT Read : Final Thoughts

Spoilers for the entire series | More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events I’m spoiler proof now!

In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m done with the series!


 

I started reading the Wheel of Time almost nine months ago. Since then, I’ve been reading and posting about the series almost exclusively. Fourteen books and almost seventy blog posts. My own word count across posts is enough for a decent sized novel!

So yeah, WoT is huge. That’s no surprise – that’s sort of the series’ thing. It’s the big huge epic sprawling mega long fantasy saga. You can’t be a fantasy buff and not hear about it. I mean, the series has it’s own meta-story of sorts, with twists and turns like the slump in the middle, RJ’s death, the worried fandom and then Sanderson coming through at last. For people who read the books as they came out, it must have been quite the ride.  Continue reading

WoT Read : A Memory of Light, Part 7

Spoilers for books 1-13 and A Memory of Light to Chapter 49| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 14, A Memory of LightThis post covers chapter 38-49.


The Place That Was Not

Rand is still being assaulted by the Dark One, not to mention all the pain he’s feeling at the deaths, with Lan added to that list now. But Tam’s advice is still ringing around in his head. Let go.

He realises that, in the end, he has to let the people fend for themselves. He can’t be doing all the saving and sacrificing for himself. And then, Egwene talks to him. Well of course, we know WoT has souls and stuff, but isn’t Rand outside the normal Pattern? Whatever, I’m just happy we get to hear from her again. She tells him the same thing he’s realising, except with an added “You fool.”. Good old Egwene.

Let go, Rand. Let us die for what we believe, and do not try to steal that from us.

You have embraced your death. Embrace mine.

Damn these ninjas cutting onions.  Continue reading

WoT Read : A Memory of Light, Part 6

Spoilers for books 1-13 and A Memory of Light to Chapter 37| More info and previous posts  |Please no spoilers for future books/events

In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 14, A Memory of LightThis post covers chapter 37.


The Last Battle

Dawn broke that morning on Polov Heights, but the sun did not shine on the Defenders of the Light. Out of the west and out of the north came the armies of Darkness, to win this one last battle and cast a Shadow across the earth; to usher in an Age where the wails of suffering would go unheard.

With that not at all scary quote from Loial’s legendary notebook, we begin the much anticipated and feared Last Battle.

Fittingly, it begins with Lan. I missed some finer details of troop maneuvers in the earlier fightings, but this time I’ll be sure to keep track with the handy map of Merrilor. By the way, I find it rather annoying that it is not at the start of this chapter, but the earlier one.

Lan’s cavalry reaches Hawal Ford, where Logain has a Moses moment, moving up the river’s flow, out of Lan’s way. And then they  charge towards the Sharans and the Trollocs, while Dragons breathe fire from nearby Polov Heights. Continue reading