Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan (2 out of 5 stars)

***This review contains spoilers***

I’m not sure what is going on with Trudi Canavan, she has written some really good series in the past, I really enjoyed the Age of Five series and the Black Magician series, but her newer series, this one and the Traitor Spy series, are not very good. The latest of her writing is this book and to me it is her worst book so far (The Magician’s Apprentice is not too far behind this one). I had really high expectations for this book, I assumed her last trilogy wasn’t that good because she was writing in the same world as the Black Magician trilogy and it was a minor story that got fleshed out more than it should have. I hoped with this series being in a new world, and with the really cool cover art, that this book would go back to the quality of writing she had in her older series, but I was quite disappointed. I purchased this book in hardcover because I thought it was going to be good, but I know I won’t be doing that for the rest of the series (if I both reading it)

This book is written in two POVs, Tyen is a male student in a school for teaching magic while Rielle is a female in a male dominated society where only a select few are allowed to use magic.  I found that even with the flaws in the Tyen’s story it was the much better story and I was always disappointed when the story switched over to Rielle. The writing in Rielle’s story was better writing to me but I found her entire story to be such a waste of time.

In Tyen’s storyline the school that he is going to does not seem like much of a school, the story never shows any of the teaching that goes on, it only shows the students and one professor on an expedition where they are robbing graves to increase the wealth of the school. With the students basically being slave labor and not receiving anything for the work that the do during the expedition. It was during one of these expeditions that Tyen finds a magic book, that used to be a person, and the conflict of his story is created. He wants to keep the book and learn from it where the school wants to destroy it because of its abilities. I enjoyed the interactions that Tyen had with the book and really wished they would have fleshed that out more, including deeper explanations on the magic in the world. The major problem I had with this story was in the author’s writing, she has some major problems with subtlety and foreshadowing. Either things are so insanely obvious that there is no point of even reading or the complete opposite, the events that occur don’t make any sense with how the story or character is being portrayed or with very little detail in the story telling that I’m not even sure what is happening. There were a few places I had to re-read several times to even understand what had just happened.

I found the Rielle POV to be the better written of the two stories but I found the actual story to be such a huge waste of time. To me it seems like the entire story is written to introduce us to the Angel, who we only see for a few pages and then he is gone. The entire storyline seems to be written to force Rielle to be punished (again some not very subtle foreshadowing makes this obvious from the beginning) and to drive her to meeting the angel. This would be okay if they provided some good explanations/history on how the society became the way it was, but that is lacking in this story and it makes me not care about anyone in this story line. As we see early on Rielle has the ability to do magic but her society forces her to be unable to use it in an acceptable way which drives her to an inevitable confrontation with the priesthood. Along the way she falls in love and runs away with someone her family does not approve of and this drives her, in her mind, her to have no other choice but to use her magic. The church catches her and sends her off to be punished where we finally meet the Angel, whom I assume is going to be a much bigger part of the series now. I’m not sure what plans the author has for Rielle but I feel like she could drop out of the story completely and I would not care in the slightest nor would it seem to affect the overall story.

The other thing I found pretty disappointing in this book was the magic, for a book that calls out the magic in its title I expected there to be more explanation of magic and its uses. Also Trudi Canavan’s other books had very elaborate magic systems with a lot of explanations on how they worked. This was completely lacking in this book, from what I understand of the magic in this book is that you can speed up or slow down the particles of the world (to warm them up and create fire or make it really cold) and that the magic is an intrinsic part of the world with the power of the user coming from how far away they can pull the magic from (the farther you can Reach the more power you can gather and the more powerful you are). There are offhanded remarks about being able to heal which isn’t really explained and there is an in depth explanation on how you can world hop but I found that to be quite confusing on how it actually made you change planets and how you used it to go to specific planets.

All in all I thought this book could have been half as long, with Rielle’s story being completely cut out, and been a much better story. At this point I don’t know if I will continue with the series (I probably will because of my history with the author), but I know I won’t be purchasing any more of her books.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan (4.5 out of 5 stars)

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted.

This is the first book that I have read by Brian McClellan and I have to say I am super excited to have found another great author (if you care my favorite author is Brandon Sanderson). This book was a nice surprise for me; I read it because it is the Book of the Month for my Goodreads group, Dragons and Jetpacks, otherwise it would have never come to my attention.

There are many things about this book that I truly enjoy, the magic system is interesting and unique, the relationships between different characters is very real and shows that no one is perfect, the characters are unique and varied.

So let’s start with the magic system which I found very inventive, not many books in the fantasy genre involve the usage of gunpowder but this is a huge part of this world. In this series there is a group of mages that are called Powder Mages. A powder mage is able to use gun powder to by ingesting into their system, upon injecting it they become stronger, faster, have more endurance and are able to focus better. This is called entering a powder trace and it can be addicting to a powder mage if they allow themselves to do it too often.  A Powder Mage can also interact with gun powder from a distance: the distance varies greatly among mages, with most only being able to do it a short distance but with at least one who can do this from a long distance. The final thing (at least the final thing I can remember) that a powder mage can do is to manipulate a bullet during its flight. They can do this to nudge the bullet just a little bit, which allows them to keep a bullet on target over farther distances, or in the case of the more talented keep two bullets in the air going to two different targets. Among the abilities of manipulating a bullet during flight is the ability to shoot a bullet around a corner, the mage makes the gun ricochet in the air and they can hit concealed targets. This is a very difficult thing to do and only a few people can do it accurately.

This book also contains a more traditional magic system with the user being able to create fire balls and other things of that nature. The Privileged are incredibly powerful in sorcery, it is your more traditional sorcery so there isn’t really a need to explain it, but the way the author balances them with the powder mage is pretty cool. The powder mages are relatively weak compared to the Privileged but have a much longer range, this allows them to take out the Privileged from a distance but puts them at a grave disadvantage when they get closer.  There is one more group of mages in the book and they are called the Knacked, the Knacked don’t have powerful magic and there is quite a range of things that they can do: one does not need sleep while another remembers everything he’s ever seen.

This story centers on a realm where the nobility are corrupt and do nothing to help the populace, in doing this they have set their entire kingdom in debt and now are essentially selling their people to a foreign country to wipe away that debt, part of that treat would be disbanding or killing the powder mages (I can’t remember which). The powder mages overthrow the government and are trying to set up a more democratic government for the country. As you can imagine the nobility don’t take to kindly to this and are fighting back to revert to the old government. Along the way we learn about the gods and there is a group of people looking to summon a god and revert things back to the good ole days.

 

I found this to be a good story, told from three different viewpoints, it was a well-paced story and all the character interactions where believable and stayed true to the characters. I definitely recommend picking this book up.

Night of the Hunter by R. A. Salvatore (4 out of 5 stars)

(This review will stay spoiler free until told otherwise)

I know that the writing of this review probably won’t change anyone’s opinion on the Drizzt series. You’ve either read all of the 20ish other Drizzt books and you are already planning on reading this one or you haven’t read them and in that case you need to stop reading this review and go pick up the the first book of the first trilogy called Homeland. I guess you could have picked up the series because of the Sundering series that recently came out but if you are then you are really missing out on a lot and you need to go back and pick up Homeland.

I really enjoy this series and was really unhappy with the direction brought about by the Spell plague and I am glad that this seems to be over now. I am torn by the way that R.A Salvatore brought the Companions back together, in one way it was pretty ingenious and I really did miss them companions. On the other hand it seems kind of lazy, like he couldn’t come up with new characters that were as likeable as the original so he just brought back the original ones. Personally I liked the Ambergris and Afafrenfere and even Effron while I find Dahlia to be someone that I could do with out. (Which seems to be the exact opposite of R.A Salvatore’s opinion…)

In this book we are building towards a confrontation with the Companions and the Drow/Orcs and as is explained it is also a confrontation between Lolth and Mielikki over Drizzt. This allows R.A Salvatore to bounce around to the viewpoints of many different characters, more than he usually does. You have the companions story line, Artemis/Dahlia’s story line, Tiago’s story line, Gromph/Quenthel and I’m sure I’m missing a few more. Personally I think there are too many balls story lines going on and have a bit of a hard time keeping up with all of them. I really like the companions, naturally, and the Gromph/Quenthel story line. The drow society fascinates me and I like to get more of a look into it, but if an author dwells on it too much (like the War of the Spider Queen series) then I get bored because I have no characters that I actually like, with all of them being evil.

So, in the companions story line we follow them while they are journeying towards Gauntlgrym, there are a few discussion along the way to determine if this is the right destination but after it comes out that Pwent is being held there the discussion stops. All the friends no that they need to help Pwent because he would have never hesitated to help them. I’m really liking the new attitude of Wulfgar, he’s going to live his life this to maximum enjoyment and it’s pretty refreshing after all that he has gone through to see him content. Regis is also interesting though his need to prove that he is an asset to the group is going to get him into trouble. I find the Bruenor and Cattie-Brie are pretty similar to what they were previously though Cattie Brie is much more powerful. This story line contains what you would expect from companions, lots of fights against a superior force (at least numbers wise) with their being very little tension because the companions rarely get hurt, let alone lose a battle.

***Minor plot line spoilers***

The Quenthel/Gromph/Jarlaxe story line there is a lot less fighting and a lot more scheming, which is what you expect from the drow. As we all know the drow society is matriarchal and the men are seen as far inferior, though in the recent books it seems like Jarlaxe is on the way to becoming one of the most powerful in the society, if not the most powerful.  In this story line the balance is reverted by a plan put in place by Jarlaxe (though he is given the instructions by Lloth and it’s not like he can ignore them…) We see Baenre reestablish themselves as the number one House in the city and we are left to guess what the will be the end result of all the scheming. There is more tension in this plot line because with the drow no one is ever really safe except for the main protagonists (and sometimes not even them)

Really those are the only two plot lines that I enjoyed, the Artemis line was interesting but not a huge amount of significance happened, his line is more about developing him as a person than the events that happen. The Dahlia story line is intertwined with Artemis with some deviation at the end, but again not much happens there other than the furthering of the drow schemes.

****SPOILERS AHEAD****

I was really bummed when Ambergris and Afafrenfere leave the companions, though I’m not surprised. There are far too many characters for R.A Salvatore to juggle well and those two had very little presence in this story. As I said before I liked these two and really wish R.A Salvatore got rid of Dahlia instead.

I had a real problem with what Lloth has planned for Dahlia, it seems completely out of character for the drow.

I really liked the restoration of the D’ourden household to the drow society, even though they were evil I was saddened when they were destroyed.

I really hope that this isn’t the last of the Clan Battlehammer…

As this is just the beginning of the series there is a lot of plot building going on, which R.A Salvatore breaks up with fight scenes, but no big confrontation like you would expect from the final book of a series.

One final comment about R.A Salvatore’s writing style, good god does he always have to end a chapter with a cliff hanger. I don’t mind this once in a while but he uses it all the time.

 

Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (3 out of 5 Stars)

I finished two books this weekend but I’m going to do two separate posts for them. First I finished Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews and then Night of the Hunter by R. A. Salvatore.  I’m going to try to do a little different review this time, with a spoiler free part at the top that will allow people who haven’t read it to read that part and then talk about specific points at the end. I will mark this section before I start.

On to the review, first I’ll start off saying that I knew from the start of reading this book that it would never be a five for me. Part of the reason for this is that the book is a part of a series but each book focuses on different character instead of sticking with the same cast of characters. This always disappoints me because it really takes me a while to get a good picture of characters in my head and actually care what happens to them. And the second reason I knew that I wasn’t going to give it a 5 is that I knew there was going to be a bit of romance, and probably a highly sexual scene in it, as there is usually with this author. I don’t mind a little romance but it can quickly get on my nerves and I skim over those scenes and get back to reading when it’s over. The rest of the story was pretty good not great but I was entertained and that’s what I’m looking for out of a book.

I started writing this review a few days ago and had to stop and now that I’m going back to it I find that I really don’t remember that much about it. It wasn’t an extremely memorable book, the author was very blatant in foreshadowing what was going to happen and that makes it less climatic and exciting. The two main characters in this book are Richard and Charlotte. The book starts off with Charlotte getting a pretty raw deal from someone that she loves, then going on to rebuild her life in the Edge and then having her life fall apart once again. Richard is fighting a brutal battle against the slavers and they slowly reveal why he is so obsessed with beating them.  Richard meets Charlotte when he is severely injured while fighting the slavers and needs a healer.  This is where the main confrontation of the story starts and were we begin the crusade to wipe out the slavers. I am going to get into the spoilers now and hit the high points of the story as I remember them. (I’m going to basically ignore the relationship of Richard and Charlotte because it really doesn’t interest me)

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

After the slavers kill Eleonore and Tulip Charlotte becomes obsessed with seeing them all dead and conveniently she has just met a man with very similar views and they begin their crusade. First Charlotte must rescue Richard from the people that have just killed one of the people that she loves the most and this is the first time that we really see Charlotte use  her healing abilities to kill in the most forbidden of ways. After killing the slavers Richard and Charlotte now have a common cause and come to an agreement on how to proceed fighting the slavers together. Richard does not really want to take her but he feels like she is a kindred spirit and if he doesn’t let her come she will just do it without his help. From the dead slavers they get the information they need to trick the slavers and get them to bring them to the slave auctions. They journey to the city to get some help from a criminal and get a crew so that when they get to the rendezvous the slavers will be able to sneak onto the boat and head to the Market. In the city we meet up with some familiar character, George and Jack, I really like these two and knew that despite Richard’s protests they would be end up joining the fight. And they did when they find out that the captain of the slaver ship happens to be their dear old dad that abandoned them. I thought that this plot point was a little contrived to though it did bring along George and Jack and those two are my favorite characters in the series (probably because they are in a majority of the story lines). Well the slave crew takes out the slavers and find out who is behind the whole slave trade and are shocked to find out it is the king’s cousin which changes everything and that they need to tell Richard’s superior Declan, the same Declan from the first book in the series, but before they can get to Declan there is the issue of the dad to deal with. George wants to kill him himself but Richard is having none of that and sets up the dad to end up killing himself and proving to George at the same time that the dad does not deserve any more of his thoughts and time.

There is a lull in the story now where the team needs to come up with a plan on how to take out the king’s cousin with irrefutable proof and we learn some more background on Richard and Charlotte. Basically Richard’s wife was an oppurtunist and given the chance to leave him for a better life out of the Edge she does as soon as she can and that Charlotte’s husband was only using her for kids (which we knew already). To me the whole thing with the king’s cousin being the guy running the slave trade just seemed out of place, it doesn’t surprise me that this would happen but it just seemed out of place to me.  Anyway they come with a plan to use the main villain’s temper against him (I can’t remember the guys name at all and I no longer have the book to check). I won’t get into the end so I can leave a little surprise left but it did set up a confrontation with the Hand and also the expected showdown of Charlotte’s use of her healing magic for evil.

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley (3.5 stars out of 5)

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****SPOILERS AHEAD***** I enjoyed this book, but not as much as most people it seems, I had some problems with some of the plot points and I thought one was contrived and just used as a way to pull the plot in the direction the author needed it to go. My first problem with the book was brutality in Kaden’s plot line, I thought that it was unnecessary and counterproductive to the point of the religion being portrayed. If you are trying to teach one to be in an emotionless state then I really don’t think beating the crap out of them is really going to do that for you. I’m okay with the deprivation and instant obedience and even burying the kid in the sand but beating the crap out of him because he is missing something in the picture he drew is stupid to me. That being said I did enjoy his plot line and him as a character and thought the thing with his eyes was pretty cool. As for Valyn’s plot line, I thought the level of brutality in that one was spot on, you have a group of arrogant tough people learning to be the best at something and there should definitely be brutality in it. I was hoping that the author would be a little more subtle in who the conspirators where in this plot line. If you had to pick who the conspirators where from your initial impressions of the people in that plot then you probably end up being correct. The story does try to point the finger in a different direction a few times but it is very easy to determine that it’s just misdirection. Especially in the case of Annick, the author makes it look like she could be the one trying to kill him but that only lasts for a little while before he shows that she is not the one. And her big secret wasn’t hard to figure out…  My biggest problem with the entire book occurs in this plot line and it’s the inquest, am I the only one that thought this was a bit ridiculous? I imagine there are big rivalries and grudges held in a group such as the Kettrals, so I would think accusations like the one made by Yurl may not be commonplace, but they definitely happen often enough, as shown by the fact that they have a procedure in place for it.  I would think that a group that handles these things would not just take the word of one rival vs. another rival about a murder that happened months ago, especially to a prostitute. A group like the Kettrals, composed of vicious, arrogant people cannot value the life of a prostitute higher that it does the use of a whole wing. I just thought this was completely out of place and a ridiculous way to make the wing commit treason against the Kettrals. I’m guessing we will see more of the Anare plot line in the books to come, but to me it was pretty boring and not much happened in it. The big twist in that one was not shocking, the regent was just too perfect to be true and his continued insistence that he didn’t want the job was just a huge red flag to me. Though I did like the way that plot line portrayed the intelligence of the emperor and his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his family/empire. I know that I mostly talked about the bad in this review, but all in all I did like this book. I thought the characters where well thought out and that no one did anything out of that was inconsistent with the characters being built. I also liked the author’s willingness to kill an important side character, I was not expecting that and it makes me start to worry about the other characters. I think it is a little annoying when your main group of characters go through this huge ordeals and crazy battles and not one of them dies or is even barely injured. Thanks for reading my review!   Image

Currently Reading

I have started this book to be able to put down my thoughts about a book and do a review of them. I am hoping that this exercise will allow me to better remember the books that I have read and to also improve my writing skills. So, let’s get started talking about what is my current reading situation.

Currently I am participating in a book challenge at goodreads.com so I am reading a bunch of new authors. I have recently finished Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick and A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K Dick. These were two authors that I had never read before and I’m still undecided if I will continue reading them in the future. I’m going to try and review them but I wasn’t really reading them with reviewing them in mind so the reviews may be a little light.

Right now I am reading Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews and The Emporer’s Blades by Brian Staveley. I am about halfway through both books so I will try and write a better review of them when I am finished.