WWW Wednesday: 8 March, 2017

WWW Wednesday weekly blog meme

WWW Wednesday is hosted each week by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

The Judging Eye

The Last Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Wish, Witcher book #1 and The Judging Eye, Aspect-Emperor Book #1. Both are excellent so far.

What have you recently finished reading?

Red Sister

This was one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. Review coming soon!

What are you planning on reading next?

The White Luck Warrior

This is the second book of Aspect-Emperor, I need to catch up by the time The Unholy Consult comes out!

What have you been reading lately?

Waiting on Wednesday: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

new-wow
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine.
I am waiting for Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, to be released on April 4, 2017.

Red Sister

Here is the blurb:

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

I’m looking forward to this one because:

I’m a huge fan of Mark Lawrence and I’m reading the e-ARC at the moment. It’s totally different from the other books he has written and it’s truly glorious. Even though I have the e-ARC, it would be real nice to have the hardcover copy on my shelf.

What new release are you looking forward to? Share your post in the comments below!

Book Review: The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

The Wheel of Osheim

Genre: Dark Fantasy
Series: Red Queen’s War
Author info: http://www.marklawrence.buzz/

This book picks up the adventure where The Liar’s Key left it, with a bang -quite literally! This book is one of the best conclusions of a series I have ever read to date and it answers all of the questions in the most brilliant way with mind blowing twists and reveals. No question was left unanswered for me and the climax was brilliant.

And, if you are a Jorg fan, you will get a stunning scene featuring Jorg and Jalan’s dialogue with Jorg is one of my favorite parts in this book. Jalan’s desert scenes were splendid, but his journey through Hell with Snorri was even more so. Snorri is one of the best fantasy side characters ever and the emotional depth in Snorri’s character arc is incredible.

I am not a fan of battle scenes featuring the zombie/undead enemy armies, those bore me to death but the battle scene in The Wheel of Osheim was an awesome read with ingenious twists and turns. The prose is amazing and the flow of the story is smooth as usual. Jalan’s change and the way he gradually leaves his old life behind along with old Jalan is one of the best parts of the entire series. So is his relationship with Snorri, it’s something only a master wordsmith could write so beautifully.

Red Queen, Silent Sister and Garyus are superb minor characters, I enjoyed their scenes in The Liar’s Key and they get their awesomeness show in this book. The other great thing about this book is the way the answers to all of the questions raised in Prince of Fools and The Liar’s Key are revealed one by one, sometimes with a bang. The major reveals are the sort no one will see coming.

This book, like the previous two, is peppered with hilarious moments and clever quotes, the dialogues are damn good as usual and the action doesn’t let up. One thing I love about Mark Lawrence’s books is that there is always the great philosophy and the reflections of the characters which make you stop reading and think, without letting up the action and the thrill one bit. That is one hell of a feat few authors can accomplish.

If you are a fan of journeys you will love this book and series, there are quite a number of different journey arcs, some featuring just Jalan, some with Jalan and Snorri and some featuring the whole gang (Jalan, Snorri, Kara, Hennan) in different lands, with all kinds of crazy stuff happening along the way.

There are so many things I could say but I can’t say any more for the sake of keeping my review spoiler free. I can’t recommend this book enough, in fact I can’t recommend Mark Lawrence enough.

Book Review: Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

Last Argument of Kings
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Series: The First Law
Author info: http://www.joeabercrombie.com/

This is the third and last book of The First Law Trilogy, check my reviews for book #1 and book #2.

This book, as I expected, was much like the final glory part of a majestic fireworks show. The roller-coaster ride didn’t ease up the least bit with its wild twist and turns, leaving me a bit dizzy in the end. That pretty much sums it up.

I have seen folk mentioning ‘too modern phrases’ in criticism of the series, but the amazing character ridden plot threads, sharp dialogues and the superb action scenes make it very hard to notice, and even then, I didn’t care at all cause the story and the characters are that badass.

The plot twists are so cleverly done that I saw none of them coming. I didn’t even have the tiniest hint of suspicion about quite a few. The characters, even though grow and change, end up back to square one in many aspects, but it’s so amazingly well done it doesn’t quite feel like it at first. I might be starting to sound a bit cryptic, but that’s about the best way I can describe it without stepping into spoiler territory.

Glokta continues to shine and kick butt as usual, so does Logen Ninefingers. But Bloody-Nine is ever scarier and we get to glimpse the soulless nature of that one. Blood-chilling stuff, not for the faint of heart. Neither are Glokta’s cruel, necessary evil torture scenes. Say what you will about Glokta but he’s one clever and practical dude. After all, you gotta be realistic about those things.

We get to spend more fun time with the Northern men and Logen, who goes back there to join them in the fight with Bethod. Collem West is also there, pulling some kickass tricks and saving the day each time. West became one of my favorite characters in the whole series, and he’s the only genuine good guy here without massive flaws.

I found the fighting scenes of the Northern gang in the mountain fortress a bit dragging but things got interesting before it bored me too much so I can’t really complain. It’s just that I don’t care much about the endless hack and slash and hand to hand combat scenes dragging on.

I must admit, the rather unfair and awful situations some of the characters ended up in put a tear or two in my eye. The moral of the story here is that life is a bitch and no one gets what they deserve. This is perhaps why this series is incredibly realistic.

In the end, none of the messed up characters are able to truly get away from who they really are. None, other than one certain character who turns out to be a horrible villain, and Ferro. Cause Ferro doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything other than her vengeance, which she embraces gladly.

As an experienced grimdark reader, I was expecting a total bloodbath and relentless character slaughter leading to a depressing ending, but the ending of The First Law is not nearly as grimdark and tragic as I expected. It’s a much nicer ending than Harry Potter, I daresay.

All in all, this book completed the splendid job of upending every single epic fantasy trope out there and then some. Glokta has taken his place as one of the unforgettable characters of the fantasy genre in my personal hall of fame along with Ferro.

I am so going to re-read this series. If you are into character driven stories and delightfully complex characters, you will be a fan. Go order a copy, you will thank me later.

Book Review: Road Brothers – Tales From The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

Road Brothers : Tales from the Broken Empire

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Author info: http://www.marklawrence.buzz/

Disclaimer: I have received a review copy from the author.This is an indie book by Mark Lawrence, a collection of short stories set in The Broken Empire world, each one featuring one of Jorg’s infamous band of Road Brothers. If you haven’t read The Broken Empire, I must say the stories and the footnotes contain spoilers for all three books, so this book is best suited for those who have read and enjoyed The Broken Empire trilogy.

I must admit I’m not quite over The Broken Empire hangover yet, even though Red Queen’s War books are awesome and set in the same world, I missed Jorg and his brothers a great deal. These stories give a great insight to the characters’ backgrounds, let them shine on their own without Jorg’s majestic presence and show you how they ended up there. I would categorize these stories not as just grimdark fantasy but also as literary fiction. The way they depict the human condition and how the choices people make shape their whole life remind me of the rather grim short stories from the grand masters of literary fiction I’ve read in my younger days.

Two of the stories are about Jorg, the rest feature Jorg’s band of brothers. Red Kent didn’t have a huge presence in the trilogy but his story is pretty powerful and as a lover of rustic settings, I found it a delight to read. Brother Sim was one of my favorites from The Broken Empire, his piece is superb and full of almost lyrical dark suspense. The leucrota Gorgoth has a killer show. Father Gomst story has the best cameos and ‘a-ha!’ moments.

We even get to see a cameo of Snorri’s father (for those who haven’t read Prince of Fools, Snorri is one of the main characters there) in the Nuban story. Nuban was one of my favorite brothers and his story is a true masterpiece, showing the tribal culture and spirit in poetic beauty. The book made me want to re-read The Broken Empire so badly, but alas, I have a lot of other grimdark books to read and review. But then again I might cave in and just do it. Then I will re-read The Road Brother tales, too, for these stories are the kind that warrant multiple re-reads.

Amazon link: Road Brothers – Tales From The Broken Empire

Book Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

Beyond Redemption

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Author info: http://michaelrfletcher.com/

I have received a review copy from the author in exchange of an honest review. My opinions are my own.

A lot of reviewers call Beyond Redemption ‘The grimdarkest of grimdark’ and as a grimdark fan, I agree with them. It’s the epitomy of grimdark but far from depressing. It has plenty of twisted humor and dark satire between the lines. The best way I can describe this book is that it’s immensely dark and gritty with slivers of hope, witty philosophy and stunning black humor scattered around. The point of view characters are horribly vile and amoral, perhaps with the exception of the little boy, whose innocence turns out to be tarnished like everything else in the book. Everyone is batshit crazy except for the one sane character.

Even though the characters are all insane and horrible, you still root for them. Don’t ask me how that is possible, this book is a work of genius and makes you care about those awful cretins. You end up feeling sorry for them. There’s only one character I (and I think everyone else) hated, which is the gluttonous, greedy slug Erbrechen the Slaver. Erbrechen one is 1000 times more revolting than all other characters and I’d say I hated him as much as I hated Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and Joffrey from Asoiaf/The Game of Thrones. None of the fantasy books I recently read featured such a horrible villain. Reading this book made me realize how much I missed reading a well written, awful villain I could hate like no tomorrow.

One of the female characters, Stehlen the kleptic, is all kinds of awesome. She’s hideous and messed up beyond any hope, and she’s a horrible cutthroat bitch with no shred of morals or honor, but she’s still an awesome character and I liked her. The other female character, Gehirn the pyromaniac, is equally hideous and even more messed up. She also behaves like a damn weakling but I rooted for her more than anyone else. Two thumbs up to Mr. Fletcher for this stellar accomplishment.

The most entertaining parts for me were 1)the constant bickering between the three main characters and 2) the bantering and plotting between the doppels of the other main character Konig. Doppels are the aspects of personality becoming real beings of flesh. Kind of like the multiple personality disorder, but they are fragments of the same person’s character and they have the exact likeness. But delusions make reality in this crazy world, so everyone else can see and hear those delusions, too. The doppels are creepy as hell but quite intriguing, full of surprises and great fun to read. I really hope Mr. Fletcher writes some short stories featuring the doppels.

The other thing I found great about Beyond Redemption is the totally unpredictable twists and turns. If plot twists and fresh, original stuff is your thing, you will love this book without question. If you like magic systems you will love it, though it’s a different kind of magic system than you see in most fantasy books featuring significant magic elements. If you hate magic systems you will still love it for the same reason.

The concept of death is also quite original and unusual. I can’t say much for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free, but you will have a lot of fun after the character deaths. That’s all I can say, you have to read and see for yourself.

The morbid adventures of Bedeckt, Stehlen and Wichtig are insanely entertaining and the action never lets up. There’s also deliciously dark philosophy and black humor to be found in this story. Hilarious and macabre dialogues, messed up events and the cleverly woven satire making this book a 2 am in the morning page turner. It ends with a cliffhanger with the promise of a sequel. What can I say, I’m dying to read the second book.

Verdict: Buy it ASAP! If you love grimdark and complex characters, you will be a big fan. If you don’t like grimdark, you might still enjoy this book a great deal cause it’s much more than just grimdark.

PS: Someone opened a rather interesting discussion thread on reddit as I finished writing this review. There’s a bit of controversy about the book and the author chimed in to answer some of the questions. Here is the link.

Book Review: The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence

The Liar's Key

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Series: Red Queen’s War
Author info: http://www.marklawrence.buzz/

““Throw away too much of your past and you abandon the person who walked those days. When you pare away at yourself you can reinvent, that’s true enough, but such whittling always seems to reveal a lesser man, and promises to leave you with nothing at the end.”

― Mark Lawrence, The Liar’s Key

Prince of Fools was great but this book erased the last traces of The Broken Empire hangover for good. Our guy Jalan goes on adventures with his companions, he travels through the North and the South, incredibly funny things and very sad, dark things take place along the way.

I had to put the book down due to an uncontrollable laughing fit -The Liar’s Key features the most hilarious sex scene ever. I can’t say much lest I spoil the fun, you will have to read and see for yourself. We get to find out more about Loki’s key and Snorri’s hopeless quest to bring his slain family back to life using it.

Jalan, Snorri and Tuttugu pick up another companion, a young Völva called Kara, who has a few tricks up her sleeve. I must mention there is another hilarious scene where I had to put the book down to laugh like a madman. Considering quite a few people put King of Thorns down to weep, I can say Mark Lawrence is a true genius.

Read my full review on Grimdark Alliance:
http://grimdarkalliance.com/blog/2015/11/23/the-liars-key-red-queens-war-2-by-mark-lawrence/