Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Exiled Blade: Act Three of the Assassini - Jon Courtney Grimwood

The Exiled Blade (The Assassini) this is the final book in the Assassini trilogy. What a pretty awesome finish!! Jon Courtney Grimwood did a pretty great job.

Here is what amazon says: A violent attack on Lady Giulietta's son forces Tycho from his new-found happiness and back into the treacherous intrigue of the court. For Giulietta's sake he would go to the world's end to track down those responsible.

As Venice teeters on the brink of civil war, its warring families prepare to discover who is a player and who a pawn in the coming struggle for power. 

It was non stop action. Characters acting and reacting the the political turmoil that continues in this book. The politics between Duchess Alex and Prince Alonzo is stepped up a notch in this last book and I loved the conclusion to this plot thread. Tycho our friendly 'whatever he is' leaves a trail of blood wherever he goes and it is always interesting to indirectly participate in his inner turmoil as he tears people apart (gosh that sounds odd doesn't it?). 

The best thing about this book was the ending, both of this book and the series. Full of twists and turns and things I did not see coming. The characters grow and change and readers can see a real difference from the start of the series. Plot lines are tied up and yet more new and interesting things about this world are shown to us. Grimwood stuck a great balance between new information and the tying up of the lose ends, it is something that rarely happens in books these days. Grimwood used three books to tell his story and tell it well and I respect that, the less the author fluffs about with random crap the more I love the book!

The worst thing was that the ending tore out my heart a little, and that as your realise, is a good thing. I can't say any more with out spoiling it, but the ending of the series did not go the way I thought it would. I certainly did not see it coming. This is a testament to how well Grimwood wrote his characters and there are a few main ones. I think he needs to be acknowledged for that as he writes in 3rd person and doesn't use character segments. 

Wondering if you should read this series? I will give you a few things to consider. 
1. Grimwood draws heavily on the old Venice to create his world. It dragged on a bit in the first book and was all but gone in the third. so if you dig a world rooted in historical context ...
2. The characterisation starts off a little flimsy but gets better and better as the series goes on. (Think Week's Night Angel trilogy) 
3. The series as a whole is pretty action packed and there is plenty of cloak and dagger action, tempered with interesting politics.

To sum up the series is light and sort. Interesting main characters and the journey and growth was really fun to read about. Action packed and lots of fighting with a few wars thrown in, not the focus however.

4/5 young ones wondering what the hell to do

The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson

^^ This dude. What a prolific writer!!

The story is about a young boy living on the campus where Rithmatists study. This Rithmatists, as we discover, protect the world from the dangerous chalklings that threaten to overwhelm the world. Problem is Rithmatist students start to disappear DUH DUH DAAA. Joel (main character) becomes somewhat of a detective and tries to solve the case.

The Rithmatist is a YA novel and it reads like one. The main character is super cute to fun read about, all young and teenagerish, but no angst thank god! Sanderson focuses on the plot and the unfolding of the investigation and the dropping of clues to keep his main character busy and readers turning ages quickly.

It's a great read. Of course it is, it's Sanderson! Here is where I insert all the buzz words that any reviewer writes when they talk about Sanderson ... interesting world building, great characterisation, plot twists. blah blah blah. This guy can write, and we all know it.

If you are hungry for some of Sanderson's work while you wait for the next instalment of The Stormlight Archive by all means pick this up. You know in your heart of hearts this will not satisfy you. It is YA fiction and like all of Sanderson stand alones/novellas or YA novels this does not read like Mistborn : Final Empire Series (Book #1) (Mistborn, Book 1) or The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive). Nonetheless it's a great fun read, nice and light with plenty of action and intrigue to keep you turning the pages.

4/5 cute chalk unicorns.


My bad. It's been a month since I last updated. This is the kind of thing that means people don't read your blog anymore. Hopefully I will be able to update more regularly, my apologies to those who kept looking but there was nothing new to see!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Fantasy!! not History

No I don't want to make a detailed and well thought out comment about women and their representations in media, specially fantasy books, because right now I am tired and sick. 

I would however like to point out, if authors can do WHATEVER they want with an alternate reality why do some still subjugate women to second class citizens? Or why suggest the only power they have is to use their bodies? Or portray them as powerful because they can be manipulative bitches?

Answer me that please!

Fated and Cured - Benedict Jacka

These are the first two books in a series about a mage who lives in London. I read them as part of my crusade to open up my reading horizons to include all manner of Urban Fantasy. My verdict ... scroll down and look at the rating if you don't want to read the whole review :P

From Amazon "Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success."

If you have a close look at the pictures the writing on the page is an endorsement from Jim Butcher saying that Harry Dresden would like Alex and maybe be a littler nervous around him.  HMM maybe, but I'd still put my money on Dresden, I would also say that maybe Butcher is more understanding of beginning writers then I am and wonder if he actually read it.

The best and the worst aspects of these books are that they are too easy to read. It makes for a quick turn around time but they are not hugely detailed and full of depth. Alex as a character is developed well and so are the supporting characters but not in any outstanding way. The setting is modern day London and a few references are thrown out and don't detract from the story or make me pay extra attention to it. The plot is very easy to follow and some would say it is very easy to see where it is going (me not so much, I never like to think about it). The way magic works and the societal structure is interesting and I think will be developed more over time.

Fated (An Alex Verus Novel) is the first and establishes Alex as reluctant hero who can hold his own despite his powers being more passive then active. Cursed (Alex Verus) has more complexity in regards to character development and the writing of conflict gets better and so I enjoyed this one much more.

It wasn't ground breaking, and I kinda expected it to be considered Butcher added it to his 'must-read list' but that's ok. I will keep it in reserve for when I don't know what to read and want something quick and ... easy to digest. I think it will get better as Jacka continues to write but right now I have other things to read and this didn't hook me.

2.5 out of 5 mages dodging bullets.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison

This isn't a review of Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, Book 1), this is a collection of thoughts so far. Just letting you know.

So I have only read a few pages of this book and I think it's crap, pretty terrible. I am aware I take a lot longer to warm to female characters then male ones, but I honestly don't know if I will continue this book, it just feels too much like work.

All I have read is the female protagonist whinging about how hard her life is because she fucked something up and should not have been reduced to this kind of work .... suck it up you whinny (calls her a name) and deal with a mistake, thats just life.

So authors please note: stream of conciseness - only use it when someone's head is interesting enough to be inside.