Tag Archives: reading

Book Review: ‘The Way of Kings’, by Brandon Sanderson

thewayofkingsWhat I decided very early on was that I’m definitely not a fan of audiobooks, though I am willing to concede that this one is done well, with a female reader for the female PoV chapters and a male reader for all the male PoV chapters. While one might think this a superficial detail, I found it made the whole experience significantly more immersive. Having said that, it took a little while to get used to, and I found it a little jarring to begin with. Once I got used to it however, I found myself enjoying it, though there were a few instances of different pronunciations between readers.

Having been introduced to Brandon Sanderson later (partly due to the end of The Wheel of Time, but also largely due to the desire to read The Stormlight Archive), I have by no means read all of his works, starting with the Mistborn Trilogy last year, before trying Elantris earlier this year. Both had a certain flavour to them, and while the subject matter was in places very dark and grim, I felt the overall tone was light and fun, and I suppose a little innocent. I think the best characterisation of how I personally feel about the books is that they came across a little more as YA (albeit incredibly dark YA) in style and tone.

By contrast, I thought that The Way of Kings seemed considerably more mature, far darker (in perhaps a less obvious way), and far more cynical. As well as this, there was a lot more of an explicitly military focus, which I always love, and the scope was, as is common in Sanderson’s work, epic beyond belief. The plot gathered momentum like a tide, and I found the final battle and its immediate aftermath so gripping I listened to almost the last hour in a single go. I particularly enjoyed the numerous teases seeded throughout for the rest of the series. There is a lot to think about, and even more to be excited about for the coming series.

‘The Way of Kings’, by Brandon Sanderson is the first in The Stormlight Archive.

Book Review: ‘Best Served Cold’, by Joe Abercrombie

A very good, entertaining read. It’s been coming up on five years since I read The First Law trilogy, and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get back to Joe Abercrombie’s writing. While I’m always slightly sceptical about the amount of worldbuilding which can be fit into a standalone book, the way in which Abercrombie manages it is nothing short of artful, revealing the world a little part at a time. While he is aided by the fact that his books are all set in the same world, the level of detail is breath-taking.The style of writing as well makes it very easy and fun to read, with interesting characters.

In terms of content, I do always enjoy –as non-sensical as it might sound- fantasy which does not emphasise magic, as it is all too easy nowadays to find books with poorly thought-out systems. The plot develops very quickly, in the potentially predictable arc of a classic story of revenge. The setbacks encountered are entertaining and unpredictable however, and there is no shying away from maiming main characters – something which, in the least morbid way possible, I also tend to enjoy in books.

In short, I would certainly recommend Best Served Cold, and am looking forward to starting on The Heroes. I cannot believe I’ve managed to read so many other authors without reading Joe Abercrombie again, and it will not be another five years before I read another of his books.

‘Best Served Cold’ by Joe Abercrombie is a standalone.

Book Review: ‘Night of Wolves’, by David Dalglish

Having been disappointed by David Dalglish in the past, with the first of his Half Orcs Series, I was hoping that Night of Wolves might be slightly better. Unfortunately, it was not. The story was different, and had potential, but it was hampered by poor character development and some weak writing.

The thing I found worst about this book was that the point of view from which the story was told jumped around a lot, which meant that I struggled to form any kind of emotional attachment to them. The only characters which seemed to have any kind of personality were the two paladins, Jerico and Darius but even then, only when it served the story.

As with The Weight of Blood, the story had the potential to be good, with the plot maintaining a suitable pace throughout, something which made the book readable.

I’ve now read two books by Davd Dalglish, from two separate series, and enjoyed neither. I’ll not be reading any more of them.

‘Night of Wolves’ by David Dalglish is the first in The Paladins Series.

Book Review: ‘Magic of Thieves’, by C. Greenwood

As I perhaps expected from a YA book, Magic of Thieves is very simply written, with not many long words. While this is not a problem necessarily, I found that it contributed in part to descriptions and exposition not being particularly vivid.

Alongside this, I found the narrative a little ‘clunky’, with sentence structuring feeling a little off to me. When combined with the lack of streamlining put into the dialogue, it makes the whole experience feel a little unnatural. Some of the sentences in the book also contain oxymorons, and the voice of certain characters seems a little changeable too.

In terms of storyline, I think that the whole plot is maybe a little ‘easy’ in spite of the fact that not much happens. Part of this is that the protagonist seems very trusting despite her harrowing past, and almost everyone she meets seems to be inherently good to a certain extent.

The combination of jarring time jumps, and stunted character development also meant that by the climax of the book, there had been no real sense of her developing caring or meaningful relationships with anyone. As such, this left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

In spite of these flaws, I thought it had all the basic ingredients of a good, old-fashioned fantasy story. Overall though, I felt it did not quite live up to its potential.

‘Magic of Thieves’ by C. Greenwood is the first in The Legends of the Dimmingwood Series.

Making time for reading?

This summer, I’ve been trying hard to make time for reading, following three years of what feels like nothing but during the course of my degree. As mentioned in a prior post, I’ve also decided that I need to put myself out there somewhat more. As such I’ve expanded my social networking, to include the wonderful people of reddit, mainly of the /r/Fantasy and /r/Fantasywriters. Alongside this, I’ve endeavored to become an active member of the community of Fantasy Faction, a forum I would highly recommend to fantasy readers and writers both.

All of this has combined to open my eyes to just how many great fantasy books there are which I’ve never heard of, or simply not considered reading. The results have been quite startling. I’ve started keeping a ‘to read’ list, which has grown rapidly, and quickly spiralled out of control. Something I’m finding to be true is that, even without having a job at the moment, I simply cannot find enough hours in the day.

With five hours of training a week, I’m also juggling searching for jobs, writing one book with the aim of 1500 words per day, and editing The Shadow’s Herald in preparation for the second wave of  agency submissions (at roughly 4000 words per day). Part of this juggling is due to the fact that I don’t particularly enjoy editing, and I find that doing a little a day keeps it fresh.

The aforementioned ‘to read’ list is a pretty random blend of recommended fantasy books, the ends of series, historical fiction, and free kindle downloads (only the top 5 are in any kind of order). If there are any suggestions of things to add: please, feel free!

  1. Django Wexler, The Thousand Names, The Shadow Campaign, Book 1
  2. Brian McClellan, Promise of Blood, Powdermage Trilogy, Book 1
  3. Mark Lawrence, Emperor of Thorns, Broken Empire, Book 3
  4. Anthony Ryan, Blood Song, Raven’s Shadow, Book 1
  5. Brandon Sanderson, Well of Ascension, Mistborn, Book 2
  6. Paul Hoffman, The Beating of His Wings, The Left Hand of God Trilogy, Book 3
  7. Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Book 1
  8. Brent Weeks, The Way of Shadows, The Night Angel Trilogy, Book 1
  9. Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes
  10. Joe Abercrombie, Red Country
  11. Mark Lawrence, Prince of Fools, Red Queen’s War, Book 1
  12. Brian Staveley, The Emperor’s Blades, Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, Book 1
  13. Sam Sykes, Tome of the Undergates, Aeon’s Gate, Book 1
  14. Richard Ford, Herald of the Storm, Steelhaven, Book 1
  15. R. Scott Bakker, The Darkness That Comes Before, The Prince of Nothing, Book 1
  16. David Hair, Mage’s Blood, Moontide Quartet, Book 1
  17. Patrick Rothfuss, Name of the Wind, The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1
  18. Michael J. Sullivan, Rise of Empire, Riyria Revelations, Books 3-4
  19. Michael J. Sullivan, Heir of Novron, Riyria Revelations, Books 5-6
  20. Sam Barone, Battle for Empire, The Eskkar Saga, Book 5
  21. Sam Barone, Clash of Empires, The Eskkar Saga, Book 6
  22. Daniel Arenson, Blood of Requiem, Song of Dragons, Book 1
  23. M.E. McNally, The Sable City, The Norothian Cycle, Book 1
  24. Robert E. Keller, Knights: The Eye of Divinity, The Knights Series, Book 1
  25. E.J. Gilmour, The Sword of Light, Veredor Chronicles, Book 1
  26. Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire
  27. Jon Sprunk, Blood and Iron
  28. Steven McKay, Wolf’s Head, The Forest Lord, Book 1
  29. Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season
  30. Raymond E. Feist, Daughter of the Empire, The Empire Trilogy, Book 1
  31. Raymond E. Feist, Krondor: Tear of the Gods, Riftwar Legacy, Book 3
  32. Peter Brett, The Painted Man, The Demon Cycle, Book 1
  33. Ben Kane, Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, Hannibal, Book 1
  34. Douglas Hulick, Among Thieves, Book 1
  35. Bernard Cornwell, The Burning Land, The Warrior Chronicles, Book 5
  36. Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Scarab Path, Shadows of the Apt, Book 5