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Friday, May 22, 2020

My Review of. . .

Time of Contempt
Ciri, the foretold child or prophecy, the one reputed to have the power to change the world for good or evil, is finally on the way to the magical college on Thanedd Island. Yennefer, her guardian for this stage of her training, has decided it best that Ciri learn how to master the powers to which she is so instinctively and naturally adept.
A wise move, and one it seems, that is bound to succeed. For who could offer harm in a place full of sorcerers?
Alas, there are other powers at play who seek to intervene. They have also heard of the child of prophecy and seek to control her destiny to their own ends. And as we go on to see, Thanedd Island is nothing but a powder keg. The perfect environment in which to light a fuse that will remove sooo many obstacles at once. But to whose benefit?
Yes, it seems even the highest echelons of the mighty sorcerer’s guild aren’t above a spot of political intrigue. The trouble is, when the magically mighty start throwing tantrums, people get hurt. War. Betrayal. The settling of old scores and the birth of new ones. You just know its going to end badly.
How badly? You’ll find out in yet another thoroughly enjoyable and well written adventure that engages you from the moment its starts, and doesn’t let up until the end. Even better, Andrezej Sapkowski skillfully grants us a deeper understanding of Ciri, Geralt and Yennefer. Their affiliations. Their self-imposed ethics. Their individual love of the land they serve. How their complicated, threefold relationship works. And as the story unfolds and they become separated, how each of them holds up when tragedy and loss strikes. Excellent stuff.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

My Thoughts On. . .

Blood of Elves
Destiny converges, twisting ever tighter, ever faster, toward a building crescendo of probability. And at the center of it all, Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer struggle to stay ahead of the game.
Keeping his word, Geralt adheres to the Law of Surprise, and drops off the face of the earth. Nobody knows where he is. Which is just as well. Everyone, from one end of the land to the other, is searching for him and his child surprise, Ciri. So where else would he take her, but somewhere safe. A place where she can begin her training to become a witcher: Kaer Morhen.
The thing is, Ciri isn’t like any other apprentice they’ve had. Realizing this, Geralt and Yennefer find it necessary to provide a much broader and deeper curriculum, so that Ciri has a better understanding of the power to which she is so naturally adept. And it is only by coming to terms with what she is that Ciri stands a chance of surviving, for war foments all around them. Races that have lived together in relative peace for hundreds of years are now driven by violence toward one another. And the ever-present threat from Nilfgaard can’t be ignored.
Coincidence? Or rather, fulfilment of ancient prophecy?
Find out for yourselves, in this engaging, immersive and rather enjoyable romp through the world of the witcher. Quite a bit of background history is revealed in this novel, allowing you a better understanding of Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer’s circumstances, and how this binds them together into an indomitable force for good.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Review of. . .

The Last Wish
Geralt is a Witcher, a man trained from childhood to protect mankind against the things that go bump in the night – and then some!
Having never played the games for which the Witcher is renown, I developed an interest in the books following the TV adaptation, as I wanted to delve more into the history and background of the world Geralt inhabits. And I have to say, The Last Wish does just that, providing a succession of windows, giving us glimpses of Geralt’s nomadic existence and the prejudices he has to endure as he struggles to live by the tenets he holds dear.
It’s cleverly done too. Despite his reputation as a butcher, Geralt is a thoughtful man who will extend mercy and justice just as often as he exterminates the nightmare creatures he is sent to kill. Dry humor, a gritty appreciation of the human condition, and great action scenes help blend folklore and fairytale together in a magical mix that elevates fantasy to a different level.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

My Thoughts On. . .

Shakes, by Mike Massa, is a rather enjoyable introduction to several of the ‘Lost Soldiers’ from the Caine Riordan Universe – courtesy of Charles E. Gannon & Bain Books.
In a nutshell:
The Lost Soldiers are combat specialists from various countries around the world, who are abducted from Earth at the moment of their deaths. Spirited away by their saviors, they are preserved in an advanced form of suspended animation, and awake over a hundred years later to find everyone they knew and loved is gone – and that their skills are needed to help fight someone else’s war. (A subject very dear to my heart).
In this outing, we are introduced to Major Rodger Murphy, Lieutenant Harry Tapper, and Sgt Marco Rodriguez on their mission to help the indigenous tribes of R’Bak free themselves from the oppressive rule of their cruel overlords.
An easy-going pace; engaging characters; great action; and an environment that combat veterans will relate to only too easily, make for an entertaining story that will keep you turning the page from beginning to end.
As I mentioned at the beginning. I enjoyed Shakes very much, and am sure fans of Caine Riordan – and new readers alike – will find it a worthy addition to an already established universe.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

My Review of. . .

Twilight of Dragons
Our heroes are in trouble.
Having lost one of their number during the escape from the dwarven slave mines, they long for the simple pleasures of the sun on their faces and wind in their hair. But such pleasures are hard to find when you’re heading in the opposite direction, and trekking ever further underground.
But why on earth would they do such a thing when there’s nothing to stand in their way?
Because they’re heroes, that’s why. And the dragons are free, spreading death and fiery destruction upon the descendants of those who locked them away, so long ago. And nothing can stop them celebrating their liberty in an orgy of violence. . .
. . . Or so it seems.
Longtime enemies face off. Unlikely alliances are made. Old scores are settled, while new ones are kindled. Ancient magicks are unleashed. Unearthly powers come into play.
And all the while, a dark peril lies forgotten. Yes, a thousand dragon eggs are nearing maturation, awaiting the catalyst that will give rise to a new reign of terror.
How do you prevent an apocalypse when the world is coming down around your ears?
Find out, in this spectacular, action-packed saga filled with heroic deeds, traitorous scum, and sinew rending battle scenes. It won’t give you a moment’s rest. The pace really is that exhilarating, setting off at a sprint and maintaining its momentum until the breathtaking finale.
What I particularly liked about Twilight of Dragons is the fact that it takes a series of unexpected, sometimes heartrending/sometimes welcome turns as it nears the end. I’m usually a jammy so and so at working out the plot and guessing how things will turn out. So, when I’m taken by surprise – which doesn’t happen very often – I love it.
So, accept the challenge. Turn the first page and enter the quest. Death and glory await you, toasted in your enemy’s blood.
Awesome fun!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Absolute Genius. . .

The Genius Plague

In this time of outbreak and self-isolation, what better way could there be to spend your day than by reading a story highlighting just how bad things could be if the virus creating havoc around the planet right now was driven by an inhuman intelligence, hellbent on survival at our expense.
The Genius plague, by David Walton, does just that. In this case, using an insidious fungus as the catalyst for mayhem.
Neil Johns is a down-to-earth kinda guy who has just landed his dream job by following in his father’s footsteps as a codebreaker for the NSA. Meanwhile, his brother, Paul, a research fellow and mycologist, nearly dies in an unprovoked terrorist attack while of a field trip to the Amazon jungle. When Paul eventually makes it home, it becomes apparent he’s a changed man. Different in ways that can’t be explained rationally.
The thing is, Paul’s not alone. Other people throughout South America are changing too. Not only does their cognitive functioning become off-the-charts strong, but no matter who they are or where they’re from, they all begin working toward a common goal. One that becomes increasingly aggressive and dangerous as time goes by.
Of course, these events come to the attention of the NSA, who has to devise an appropriate response.
What that response is, you’ll find out in a skillfully crafted, fast-paced and engaging story that will insinuate itself into your mind until you can’t fight the urge to read ‘just one more chapter’. It’s intelligent, subtle, and compelling. Timely too, revealing just how ignorant we are of the potential surrounding us as we go about our self-centered lives.
And the thing I especially liked about the Genius Plague? It has the appeal to make you think . . . 
What if?

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Story Epitomizing
the Union of Joffrey Baratheon and Harley Quinn 

Last Argument of Kings
In this, the third installment of “The First Law” series, Joe Abercrombie brings his trilogy to an end. And I have to say, I thought it was cleverly done.
Logan has business – bloody business – to attend to in the north. Bethod has had his rampaging way for far too long, and it looks as if it’s up to the Bloody-Nine to sort things out!
Sand dan Glokta faces an equally tricky – and just as gory – situation in the capital, where political intrigue, treasonous jockeying, and assassination attempts by friend, foe, and demon alike come thick and fast, forcing him to take extreme measures in order to survive.
The Gurkish Empire, not content with annexing Dagoska, the Union’s southernmost province, continue their assault and bring the war to the heart of the Union.
And Jezal dan Luthar, having made it safely back from the edge of the known world, wants nothing more than a quiet life. To settle down with the woman he loves to raise a family. But the king is dying. Added to all the turmoil festering in one place after another, it’s no wonder the common folk are terrified and start revolting. And guess who the powers-that-be task to deal with it?
A veritable cauldron of strife and torment, if ever there was one. To help heat things toward boiling point, we have all the usual accelerants: Narcissistic wizards; incompetent rulers; revolting peasants – and lords too, come to that – restless, warriors itching for a fight; and devious, flesh-eating ghouls, all crowing for the world’s end.
And the thing is, though Joe Abercrombie builds the series to a climactic conclusion, he doesn’t just end it after an epic battle. Oh no. He adds a cunning touch of realism to the mix that helps us appreciate that, at the end of every epic – when the fabled deeds are done and our heroes and heroines come to rest from their labors – picking up the pieces is never easy. Life goes on. But for the survivors, that life might be so drastically changed, that they’ll never be the same.
Kudos to Joe Abercrombie. He leaves us with a bittersweet taste of a world where the lovechild of Joffrey Baratheon and Harley Quinn is allowed to take the reins of a shattered kingdom, only to steer it in a Pulp Fiction direction.
Ultima Ratio Regum.