Tag Archives: book review

The Republic of Thieves

The Republic of Thieves
Book 3 of the Gentleman Bastard
by Scott Lynch

republicofthievesAs the third book in the Gentlemen Bastard series, it has already been well established that Locke Lamora excels at being a conman. But what would happen if he was pitted against someone equally as good as him? That’s what The Republic of Thieves seeks to answer. Not only do we get to witness an incredible test of Locke and Jean’s skills in yet another area they have little to no experience (rigging an election), but they are forced to deal with a ghost of their past, Locke’s mysterious heartthrob.

We finally get to meet Sabetha and get to answer a number of the questions that have been hanging over the series. Who is this mysterious Sabetha? What is her and Locke’s history? What happened to them? What happened to her? In addition to being able to explore their joint history (along with a welcome revisiting of Calo, Galdo, and Father Chains), we get to watch them be reunited and pitted against each other by the frustratingly powerful bondsmagi. There are also a number of other little plot points woven throughout the story (including a possible glimpse into where Locke actually came from) adding to the overall tale of The Gentleman (and woman) Bastards.

While I appreciated Locke being thrust (yet again) into a situation that was beyond the scope of his skills, I felt that the con the story was wrapped around was just a side-story to everything else that was taking place. Part of why I’ve enjoyed the series so far is seeing how Locke is able to subtly pull the right strings like a master puppeteer making a marionette dance. This time though, it felt that Locke was dancing more than he was mastering. Granted, he pulled some amazing things off while having his own strings pulled, but I was honestly more impressed with Sabetha’s performance than his.

All that said, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series when it comes out.

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
(x) might read again
( ) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies
Book 2 of the Gentleman Bastards
by Scott Lynch

redseasunderredskies

<Longer Review Pending>

 

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora
Book 1 of the Gentleman Bastards
by Scott Lynch

liesoflockelamora

<Longer Review Pending>

 

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

 

The Last Mortal Bond

The Last Mortal Bond
Book 3 of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
by Brian Staveley

TheLastMortalBondPart of me is at a loss for words as I struggle to describe how fantastic this book (and series) is yet the other part wants to gibber madly in a futile attempt at it. To put it succinctly, this book was excellent!

The story picks up almost a year after The Providence of Fire. So as a reader, there’s a bit of disorientation as we try to understand what all has transpired between books. At first I found it frustrating that so much had been skipped, but I later realized that had Brian tried to fill in that gap with actual story-telling, the final book would have probably been split in two. And honestly, most things that transpired in that period probably would have slowed the overall pace down.

Instead, in just a few short chapters, Brian masterfully tells us what all has transpired in the lives of each character and in the world around them. Some of the backstory was a bit of a shock, others teased at additional, future plot twists, and others took glimmers of hope I had and doused them with cold water. He then spends the rest of the 800+ pages taking us on a rollercoaster of events. Things you had believed to be true become suspect by a single question being asked. Good, heroic characters are morphed into broken, twisted people by a series of inevitable choices, and villians become victims before becoming self-sacrificing heroes.

When their father called them his Blades in his battle against the Csestriim, Valyn, Adare, and Kaden were untempered steel. And in book 1, they were obviously young adults, making young adult decisions. But by the time of book 3, the steel has been tempered. The Blades have been put to use. They’ve been bloodied, broken, mended, sharpened, and used. In the past books, they’ve been wielded by others, but in this book, they each come to a point where they make a decision to wield themselves. I have to say that the character development in this book is absolutely phenomenal. As I look at the arc of each character and see how they have matured and changed, I am simply amazed. These are truly three-dimensional characters. The characters at the end of The Last Mortal Bond are not the same characters from the beginning of The Emperor’s Blades. They’ve grown and adapted, and the voice Brian gives to each of them reflects that!

I will definitely be reading this series again….and probably again after that. It is giving fierce competition for my favorite fantasy series, and for good reason!

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

 

Perfect State

Perfect State
by Brandon Sanderson

PerfectStateI picked up this book for $.99 during a sale as I’m a big fan of Brandon’s and was interested in this Hugo-nominated novella. At just under 50 pages, I anticipated it being a quick read, and sure enough, it only took me about 45 minutes to tear through it.

Remember Neo from The Matrix? He was ‘The One’ in the simulated reality and had god-like abilities in the matrix. Take that image then expand it to where every real person was ‘The One’ in their own, tailored version of the matrix. That’s the setting for Perfect State. Each real person is (knowingly) in an artificial world where they can conquer, rule, and control it however they see fit. The creators of these worlds, the Wode, inform the people of the illusion, and introduce a number of things which break the ‘fourth wall.’

The Wode need the real people to procreate with each other in an artificial meeting place between their artificial worlds to continue humanity’s real existence (this had a hand-wavy answer as to ‘why,’ which I didn’t find all that satisfying of an answer, but hey, it’s a novella, right?). The parties must all be willing participants, and the resulting meeting between the all-powerful, egotistical ‘gods’ of each world is quite humorous. Throw in a little bit of danger with each person’s unique ‘powers’ not working in this meeting place, and you get a surprising amount of action and intensity. There’s also a highly satisfying plot twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

All in all, I’m impressed that Brandon Sanderson was able to pack so much into so little. But then again, he’s one of my favorite authors for a reason!

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

(The sale is still going on! You can pick it up from your favorite ebook vendor here!)

The Providence of Fire

The Providence of Fire
Book 2 of The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
by Brian Stavely

TheProvidenceOfFireWow! I thought The Emperor’s Blades was great, but The Providence of Fire upped the ante on the series and was even better! Not only was it longer (679 pages compared to 545), but the intensity of action and scope of plot increased as well!

The Providence of Fire returns us to the empire of Annur and the roles Kaden, Adare, and Valyn are playing in saving it. We (as the reader) are able to track the situations and thoughts of each of the characters, and it’s a wild ride as each are forced to make decisions that seem right in the moment….but if only they knew what the others knew, they might choose differently! There was one particular (major) plot point where I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go as the characters were being fed conflicting pieces of information. As chapter after chapter passed by, I wasn’t about to discern which was correct until the actual reveal! And even then I doubted the veracity of it.

The difference in the characters’ placement in the story from the beginning to the end is night and day. No longer are the three children trying to work together…instead, it appears that they’re setting themselves against each other! And yet, if they could all just be in the same room and talk to each other, you wonder if they’d resolve everything and present a unified front to the forces that are opposing them.

And those threats have increased as well. In The Emperor’s Blades, the big, bad threat was revealed to be the immortal Csestriim, but that understanding is challenged, and it now appears that the threat is even greater than them. But is it? Or is this just another ploy being made by the Csestriim to wipe out humanity? On one hand, the gods have been described as humanity’s saviors in the war against the Csestriim, but now it looks like the gods are the enemy….or are they? Who should be trusted!??!?

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I saw a thread of confronting bigotry woven throughout the story. Most of the characters had to individually decide what to do with their belief that a different race or people group (eg the Csestriim, Urghals, leaches, etc) was inherently evil. When forced to decide between accepting their help or out-of-hand dismissing (or killing) them, they each struggled…..and I as the reader struggled too! Even looking back on the story, I’m still conflicted about how they handled those decisions.

Each of the characters have been swept up in the current of history; they’re forced into situations where there are no good, easy decisions, and they keep taking the most obvious path. But by the end of the book, they have each come to a point where they put their foot down and started making waves. Whether those decisions will ultimately be for harm or for good remains to be seen.

I am eagerly anticipating finding out what happens in the next book. This series has definitely found a place among my favorite fantasy books, and it’s very possible they’ll take the top spot. Part of that is the intricate plot and how it’s told, and part of it is that Brian Staveley is an author who really knows his stuff. I have time and again stepped back and looked at the fourth wall and been highly impressed and how he’s telling this story.

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

 

The Emperor’s Blades

The Emperor’s Blades
Book 1 of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
By Brian Staveley

TheEmperorsBladesA friend posted on Facebook a few weeks ago about how amazing his wife was to have gotten him the third book in the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series. I hadn’t heard of the series, let alone the author, but it looked interesting, so I pinged our library to acquire the ebook (have I mentioned before how much I love my library?). A few days later, it was loaded onto my phone and I was quickly immersed.

What initially seemed like a typical intrigue plot (the Emperor has been slain and now his progeny are at risk; will they survive and keep the throne?), The Emperor’s Blades quickly set the tone of being much more. The Emperor had three children, two of which bore the flaming eyes required to rule, yet of those two, only one was male – he was thus the only one fit to take his father’s place.

Eight years prior, both boys were sent off for training. The heir, Kaden, was sent to a monastery to learn what his father could not teach him. Valyn was sent to train with the elite military group, the Kettral. Both are near to completing their training, but it is their sister, Adare, who has been thrust into the political turmoil surrounding the Emperor’s death. Both Kaden and Valyn are so immersed in their training that they aren’t allowed to grieve the passing of their father, and Adare is consumed by her rage at the murderer. Even still, all three of them uncover hints of a bigger threat – one that puts the entire human race at risk!

 

I really enjoyed this book. It’s obviously the first in an epic series, and the characters are both likable and flawed. I thought I had known the characters well enough to predict their actions, but for each of them, I was surprised at the choices they made. Those little twists really deepened the characters for me. I also liked both the Kettral (elite military group who command giant birds) and the Shin (a group secretly protecting humanity) and I think both of those groups are pretty well fleshed out in who they are and their importance in the world of Annur.

The part that struck a bad chord with me was the large pantheon of gods – there’s a lot of them, both young and old, and while the names are thrown around quite a bit, only a few are explained well enough for me to have understood who they are. But there’s ample room in later books to remedy this minor complaint.

In conclusion, I’m eagerly waiting for the library to pick up the next two ebooks so I can find out what happens next.

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend

 

(My review of Book 2, The Providence of Fire)

Gemini Cell

Gemini Cell
By Myke Cole

GeminiCellI picked up this book after reading Howard Taylor’s review of the sequel, Javelin Rain, and it was his describing it as “Steven King and Brandon Sanderson perform necromancy on Tom Clancy” that convinced me to start the series. I very quickly realized that Gemini Cell isn’t the first book in a series, but it’s something of a fourth book. It’s another book in the same universe as the Shadow Ops series, but Myke wrote Gemini Cell as another beginning, so if you don’t know anything of his world (which I didn’t), you can pick this up and understand what’s going on.

I’ll give you fair warning, the prequel is slow. Slow enough that it almost turned me off to the book. But Chapter 1 really takes off and the book runs like hell is on its heals for the remainder of the 360+ pages.

Jim is a Navy SEAL – a pristine example of the perfection that the human body is capable of. For him, his excellence at what he does isn’t just a skill, it’s an art. But between his harrowing missions, he has found himself struggling with how to balance his loves of his work and family. Just as he’s realized that he’s going to have to choose between them, everything is ripped from him and he’s thrust into a totally different world….a world of magic.

In my review of The Red Pyramid, I mentioned how I was interested in further exploring what it would have been like to share the body of a god. My curiosity has been sated. Jim ends up sharing his body with a jinn – the magic-imbued soul of a long-dead warrior, and they have to fight for control. The people Jim is working with are amazed at how long he has been sustain that fight, for all the other unions they’ve created have quickly ended with the jinn in full control. But Jim has to do more than just fight for control if he’s going to find out the answers he’s looking for.

There’s so much more I want to say about this book and how fantastic it is, but I’m already toeing the line of giving away too much. But I don’t think a book has grabbed my attention this hard in quite some time. To give an example, I started reading it about 9pm one night and wasn’t able make myself put it away until 2am. I finished the book within the next two days (and would have finished it sooner had I had more ‘me’ time). I’m now keen on reading the next and probably the other three in the series as well.

I’d recommend the book, but I’d be sure to give a caveat about it being quite gory, and it intensely deals with some heavy subjects like death, the afterlife, possession, and zombies.

Re-read Rating
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again

Recommendation Rating
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend