Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Blood of Dragons - Robin Hobb

From Amazon: Blood of Dragons completes the story of the dragons, their keepers, and their quest to find the lost city of Kelsingra—and the mythical silver wells that the dragons need to survive.

Blood of Dragons was the last book in the Rain Wild Chronicles. I was eager to get my hands on it when it came out, and I wasn't disappointed with the ending of the series when I had finished reading. Robin Hobb's ability to masterfully create characters is what makes her such a well loved author. She has an ability to imbue animals with a will and mind of their own to make them characters in their own right (Nightetyes comes to mind). The Dragons in this series are no different, they are alive in every sense of the word and are main characters in the story, especially as it comes to a close.

As a stand alone book, it was decent, not great. From start to finish it felt like Hobb was just picking up the strands of plot and tying them together. This isn't so bad when you want the series to end with a neatly tied bow, but if you are expecting action and more calamities to happen before the end, Blood of Dragons will disappointed you.

I can't go into too much detail without spoiling it all for those of you who want to read it, but have not, or those of you who haven't even started on the Rain Wild Chronicles. I can tell you Hobb's stunning characterisation is present. I can also tell you that not much time passes and most of it is spent in misery (typical Hobb there). There are more point of views then just the dragons and their keepers and not all of them are pleasant or interesting to read. I did find myself wishing a few of the point of views would hurry up and get back to the character I liked the most, or a plot point would hurry up and appear.

I enjoyed the book as I was one of the readers that wanted everything tied up in a neat little bow. I got the endings I was hoping for, which I find a most favourable way for authors to end a book :P

As a ending to a series it gets 3.5 out of 5 arrogant talking dragons

My future tattoo

I don't have a tattoo, I'm scared it will hurt too much. I know what I want if I ever got one though!

I am SOO kidding, I would never get this but I can definitely appreciate the sentiment!

Mythago Wood - Robert Holdstock

This was the book club book!

For those of you who don't know I'm the person that 'runs' the book clubs over at BestFantasyBooks.com and here is a link to the review that I complied. It gives everyones opinions as well as my own.

The only other comment I want to make was that even though I enjoyed it, I don't really want to read the others. I think because it was so different. It was why I wanted to try it, but now I have I am satisfied that I enjoyed it. The lack of characterisation probably doesn't help and that is probably why I ma not emotionally interested in investing more time into their life of Stephen. Maybe I'll get back into it when I don't have so much to read.

Last comment i promise! What this book does well is beautiful prose and a cunning look at philosophy and psychology in a first person narrative. The lack of characterisation is made up for by a stunning ability to hold a reader captive by the sheer beauty of the writing (Especially considering the plot is really slow too).

4 out of 5 myths created from our own minds.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch

I have just finished Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. This book was really good! The novel is about a nice young London police officer and how his life is changed when a ghost tells him he witnessed a murder. He unwittingly tells a superior officer he is ghost hunting and gives him his identification and we are off! This then tumbles him into a magical apprenticeship and a police hunt that incorporates magical and normal police work.

I loved how seamlessly Aaronovitch switches between the ordinary and magical police work of Peter Grant. I could almost imagine I am reading a policeman’s autobiography full of helpful little hints. For example if someone is being difficult even after you haven shown them your identification, you can suggest they call your superior office because “members of the public are generally lazier than they are suspicious”. I may have a nefarious mind because that seems to me like I can totally trick people with a fake badge and then give them a fake number and it’ll be honky dory. OH! and this one was particularly helpful, Grant tells us that he learnt in a course on conflict resolution to, “stress your neutrality while allowing both parties to think you’re secretly on their side”.  

But it isn’t all light heartened and interesting glimpses into the world of a police officer. He mentions being the first on the scene of an accident and that seeing a body doesn’t get all the much easier. He also struggles with having to the ‘strong’ person on the scene of some horrific magical crimes with people clustered around or panicking. These little inner monologues and soliloquies are so much apart of Aaronovicth’s style of writing but it is also they way in which he allows the audience to connect with Grant, and connect I did.

The way magic works hasn’t yet been fully explained in the book and I don’t care. I have been finding lately that too many authors are info dumping their magic system on me and to be honest, post it on your blog for people who want to know more, or put it in an appendix. I love that magic is something that exists, it happens, and because Grant has some kind of aptitude for it, is being trained in it. I really enjoyed the history between The Folly and the Police Department and that is something I do want to know more about. I am grateful it wasn’t an info dump and I can handle the information coming out in a trickle, keeps things interesting.

As you may have guessed (or known) Rivers of London would be classified as urban fantasy. A criticism I found before I read the book was that if you aren’t from or have never been to London you wouldn’t understand what Grant is experiencing. I didn’t feel like that at all. Aaronovitch paints a clear picture, it’s no different from me reading books set in America. Grant does use a lot of street names, moans about the traffic and harps on about peak hour but so what? It’s set in a busy city and it adds to the tension you feel as Grant rushes around trying to get to people and places before their faces fall off (Yep, you read that right).

Now let’s take a moment to compare this to the Dresden Files shall we? While it is similar in a few respects, I am in no way shape or form saying something stupid like it’s a copycat or any of the garbage. The first thing I immediately noticed was that Grant has friends, well in the very least a young fellow police officer that he would like to be intimate with, but he has other people around too. He is an apprentice and he digs into his magical studies with relish (not so much the Latin or ancient languages) and he develops a relationship with his ‘master’ (hehe it makes me giggle) and senior officer. He makes friends along the way and he isn’t trying to be a lone wolf (13 books of Dresden pushing people away gets kind of old). I understand the intrinsically dangerous nature of the job, being a normal police officer and the added element of magic doesn’t make it any less so, but Grant hasn’t gone into self-pity guilt mode … yet and I hope it stays that way. I like the other characters and don't want them to have even less of a role because Grant wants to keep them 'safe'.
US name and cover (so much uglier!)

I am having a really hard time not picking up the next two books, another is due out this year (yay!) but I want to try and pace myself (yeah I know, I’m only delaying the inevitable, and not by much I suspect). I hope Aaronovitch is going to do a release a year but that may well depend on you ALL picking up his books and reading them. If you’re in the UK, they are like 5 pound on kindle, here in Aus it was $12, but trust me, you won’t mind paying it!

4 out of 5 poor police officers ‘wanting to scream’

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

An UPDATE on my status

 I have finished two books and I have started another, so at least in this respect I am progressing. I have been really lazy with reviews lately but the book we read for the book club I feel deserves an in depth review (It will probably just be a link to BFB's website, I'm too lazy to write two reviews). The other book I read was the last instalment of Robin Hobb's Rain Wild Chronicles, I really liked this book and I am keen to write a review for it. The book I am currently reading is a Dresdenesque quality which I am enjoying immensely. It's called River's of London by Ben Aaronovitch. This month has been a great month of books for me, hope the rest of it is too.

Oh and I am also one year older and have gained some rather cool turtle slippers to add to my collection of things. So go me! :) Feel free to email or comment if you want to send me a gift :P

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Blackhand - Matt Hiebert

This was a book sent to Best Fantasy Books for someone to review, and I accepted.

I wrote the article for Best Fantasy Books Blog and here is it!

And yes I am totally being lazy in not writing another one review for my own blog. Guilty as charged :)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman

This is a pretty long book for a collection of short stories, especially when a few of the stories are only a page long. I've read anthologies before but it isn't quite the same thing, this is only one author. To be honest though, sometimes it didn't feel like just Gaiman. I was pleasantly surprised to see such versatility in the stories of Fragile Things. There was some great stories in there and some weird ones and some cough crap ones cough. I talk about versatility because I have written in pervious posts that Gaiman writes one thing and one thing well, his well known books are about a man being thrust into a magical world and dealing with that transition, there isn't any of that here. There is a large clash of genres as well, horror, fantasy and poems. Funnily enough, the poems I didn't like :)

Here are a list of my favourites, in order of awesomeness :P

"Bitter Grounds"It is my favourite, just an incredible amount of depth. I like at the start it hints at the life of the character before he decided to leave it all behind. Then very quickly we get involved in a strange and vibrant lifestyle in New Orleans. It was going with the flow that lead the main character there and a strange chance meeting with a man. I wonder if the chance meeting meant more then I originally thought, he did say a few times about "meeting people and coincides" or something. I might be over thinking it.

"Closing time"I was actually really nervous about reading it, the eerie setting of the club and the man starting with 'it happened to me' and then the twist! What a GREAT story! The atmosphere was tense and i felt it in my bedroom while I was reading. The slow build up and the confusion of the young boys in the story was amazing. The visuals that Gaiman created for me was astounding, I felt like I could see what those boys were doing. It was like watching a movie, rather then reading a book. 

"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" 
I really loved this one! I really enjoyed the two story lines and the interweaving of his reality and our own. It was a really nice stylistic change. The tone was more horror then fantasy and it was so beautiful to read. The twists and turns in one of the stories keep it fresh and the effort to understand the blaring similarities in stories but getting no satisfaction at the end drove me crazy. I really liked that though, it seems Gaiman just wanted to tease the reader.

Unfortunately it was down hill from here. There were a few more good ones but the second half of the book was a huge flop for me. I think the draw card was meant to be the "American Gods' novella, but that wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. Shadow was such a good in American Gods but not in this story, great twist in there though, really great.

3 out of 5 ghost stories in a dark and almost empty pub. (The three stories mentioned above brings it up from a 2.5)