Half the World (Shattered Sea #2) by Joe Abercrombie

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Synopsis: “Thorn Bathu was born to fight. But when she kills a boy in the training square she finds herself named a murderer.  Fate places her life in the hands of the deep-cunning Father Yarvi as he sets out to cross half the world in search of allies against the ruthless High King. Beside her is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in her eyes and his own, the voyage is his last chance at redemption.  But warriors can be weapons, and weapons are made for one purpose. Will Thorn always be a tool in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path? Is there a place outside of legend for a woman with a blade?”

Spoilers – this is book #2.

It’s taken me a while to get around to reading this book.  Partly out of a run-of-the-mill sense of trepidation over a sequel to something that I enjoyed – will he mess it up?  will I regret even reading the first one?  And partly out of simple logistics – I’m not a big fan of buying books that I haven’t read, and I have a lot to read besides all that.  But I got it and I read it, and I liked it. Continue reading “Half the World (Shattered Sea #2) by Joe Abercrombie”

Half the World (Shattered Sea #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

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From the cover: “Daniel Carter used to be a homicide detective, but his last case-the hunt for a serial killer-went wrong in strange ways and soured the job for him. Now he’s a private investigator trying to live a quiet life. Strangeness, however, has not finished with him. First he inherits a bookstore in Providence from someone he’s never heard of, along with an indignant bookseller who doesn’t want a new boss. She’s Emily Lovecraft, the last known descendant of H.P. Lovecraft, the writer from Providence who told tales of the Great Old Ones and the Elder Gods, creatures and entities beyond the understanding of man. Then people start dying in impossible ways, and while Carter doesn’t want to be involved, he’s beginning to suspect that someone else wants him to be. As he reluctantly investigates, he discovers that Lovecraft’s tales were more than just fiction, and he must accept another unexpected, and far more unwanted inheritance.”

Spoilers maybe.

Let me just start off by saying that I haven’t read Lovecraft.  Maybe one or two stories here and there, but not a lot, and nothing with Cthulhu.  I considered leaving this book until I had delved further into it, but then I thought this might be a good opportunity.  Usually with something like this, when someone tries to carry on someone else’s work, I will have read all or most of the backstory, or seen the films – both in some cases.  I’ve always found it hard to separate out the quality of the new author from the old established works, and will judge it based on how closely the feel is to the old, how well the new author knows the history, including all the little things that often escape a casual reader.  This time, however, I had the advantage of knowing next to nothing about the subject at hand, and feel that I could judge more objectively. Continue reading “Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard”

Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

Truthwitch by Sarah Dennard

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From the inside cover: “In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.  Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.  Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.  In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.”

Spoilers, a bit

I actually walked past this book a couple of times before I picked it up.  I’ve said before that I judge books by their covers, and this one wasn’t really giving me a good vibe, which I guess is as good a reason as any to avoid something.  What finally made me pick it up was the name under the quote on the cover.  Robin Hobb is a favourite author of mine and I decided to trust her, even though the quote didn’t seem to have much substance to it and my instincts had warned me away.  It could be good.  It was fantasy and Robin liked it. Continue reading “Truthwitch by Sarah Dennard”

Truthwitch by Sarah Dennard

Pathfinder by David Blakeley

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Synopsis:

“First in – the official motto of one of the British Army’s smallest and most secretive units, 16 Air Assault Brigade’s Pathfinder Platoon. Unofficially, they are the bastard sons of the SAS. And like their counterparts in Hereford, the job of the Pathfinders is to operate unseen and undetected deep behind enemy lines.

When British forces deployed to Iraq in 2003, Captain David Blakeley was given command of a reconnaissance mission of such critical importance that it could change the course of the war. It’s the story of nine men, operating alone and unsupported, fifty miles ahead of a US Recon Marine advance and head straight into a hornets nest, teeming with thousands of heavily-armed enemy forces. This is the first account of that extraordinary mission – abandoned by coalition command, left with no option but to fight their way out of the enemy’s backyard.

And it provides a gripping insight into the Pathfinders themselves, a shadowy unit, just forty-five men strong, that plies its trade from the skies. Trained to parachute in to enemy territory far beyond the forward edge of battle – freefalling from high altitude breathing bottled oxygen and employing the latest skydiving technology – the PF are unique.

Because of new rules introduced since the publication of Bravo Two Zero, there have been no first-hand accounts of British Special Forces waging modern-day warfare for nearly a decade. And no member of the Pathfinders has ever told their story before. Until now. Pathfinder is the only first-hand account of a UKSF mission to emerge for nearly a generation. And it could be the last.”


 

Review

I’m going to complain a fair bit about this book, then give it a good rating.  Just a heads up.

So I was told that there was a bit of a theme in my other reviews.  Even though fantasy is a realm of infinite possibility in which dwell a multitude of characters some of whom you might think are lost or misplaced but absolutely deserve to be there, and even though according to Terry Pratchett, fantasy is the only true literature (which I agree with) there are yet some who may not appreciate it.  You know who you are.

I read this a while ago. Continue reading “Pathfinder by David Blakeley”

Pathfinder by David Blakeley

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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From the back cover:

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.  Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.  But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.  Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Spoilers a little, though generally I try to be careful.  This may run a little longer than the others.

I realise this is not entirely a new book, but I just read both it and Golden Son again and Morning Star is taking longer than I thought to reach me.

The cover has a quote from Scott Sigler “Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow.”  And that is true.  To a certain extent.  The thing is though, you can’t capture the feeling of Red Rising in so few words.  Instead of Ender or Katniss, I would compare him to Kvothe.  That’s the level that Pierce is writing on.  Some sort of unholy mix of Kvothe, Jorg, Kylar and something else.  He’s an original character, hard to pin down. Continue reading “Red Rising by Pierce Brown”

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

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Taken from inside the front cover:

“Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.  Illustrated by the amazing Gary Gianni who is known for his work on PRINCE VALIANT, the Wandering Star limited editions of SOLOMON KANE and BRAN MAK MORN, and of course for his stunning 2014 ICE & FIRE calendar.” Continue reading “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin”

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

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From the back cover:

Think you know magic?  Think again.  Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.  Not Callum Hunt.  Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician.  And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing.  Now he must enter the Magisterium.  It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister.  And Call realises it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.  The Iron Trial is just beginning.  Call’s biggest test is still to come.” Continue reading “Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare”

Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare