Deadhouse Gates (Malazan Book of The Fallen 2) by Steven Erikson: Review

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So its not unusual for me to be vocal whilst reading. In fact its a very common thing. Its usually in the form of things like this.

-Character gets in trouble-
Me: BLOODY* HELL!

-Something unexpected happens-
Me: Wuh! Whoa! Wow! (Not necessarily all three.)

-A particular nasty thing happens-
Me: Noooo! (Followed by yelling at the characters)

You get the Idea.

These outbursts were common and many throughout Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson.

In the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha’ik and her followers prepare for the long prophesied uprising named the Whirlwind. Enslaved in the Otataral mines, Felisin, youngest scion of the disgraced House of Paran, dreams of freedom and vows revenge, while the outlawed Bridgeburners Fiddler and Islam conspire to rid the world of Empress Laseen (although it seems the gods would, as always, have it otherwise.) And as two ancient warriors -bearers of a devastating secret- enter this blighted land, so an untried commander of the Malaz 7th Army leads his war-weary troops in a last , valiant running battle to save the lives of thirty thousand refugees.

So many revelations, twists, turns and moments of pure wow! I laughed, I cried, and was left feeling the affects of some of the books most fantastically crafted scenes, and events. Not to mention an absolutely jaw dropping ending.

When I read GoTM, Kalam the assassin was more of a prominent character than Fiddler, whom I acknowledged in GoTM but didn’t really notice much. This changed for me in Deadhouse Gates. Fiddler, the sapper Bridgeburner who has a broken fiddle on his back and shoots deadly munitions from his crossbow, has become my favorite character.
He is the everyday you can get behind, and becomes your counterpart in a wonderful but dangerous world.

Of the new characters that feature there is, Heboric the historian and ex priest of Fener, Baudin the thug, Fist Coltaine, Duiker the historian, and Icarium the Jhagut and Mappo Runt the Trell.
There are many more characters and all are listed in the book.

Erikson, once more, weaves a fantastic plot of stories interwoven surrounded by fates insurmountable. Raraku is full of many dangers if the lack of food and water dont get you, then the shapeshifting Soletaken, and D’ivers will, whose presence can be detected by a strong, spicy smell.
On the subject of which, whilst reading this I went to kitchen to fetch a snack, and upon opening the fridge I caught the smell of something spicy and Immediately thought, “D’ivers!”

The pacing of Deadhouse Gates is a lot smoother than GoTM, and DG is incredibly well written, as Erikson unveils each scene, the reader finds themselves totally immersing themselves into the world.

I dont want to spoil anything for anyone so Im going to leave it there.

Needless to say, I am so enthralled with this series so far and am now reading the third installment.

Deadhouse Gates is out now, and available from Bantam Books http://www.transworldbooks.co.uk

Gardens Of The Moon (Malazan Book Of The Fallen: 1) By Steven Erikson

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A few months ago I read and reviewed my first Erikson read and, as many of you who read my humble bloggage will know, I didn’t like it very much. So naturally I was apprehensive starting a massive series by the same author.
But, dear friends, I bit the proverbial bullet and ventured forth into book one of the Malazan series. And goodness me, what a venture it was.

The Malazan series has always been described to me as the height of Epic Fantasy. And the author’s Magnum Opus, so to speak.
Gardens of the Moon throws the reader into the deep and then proceeds to lead them on a vast voyage of discovery. The Empire are seeking more control and with Empress Laseen at the helm, it seems it won’t be long till the world Is in the palm of her hand.
Now, Laseen has her sight set on the City of Darujhistan, the last of the Free Cities of Genabackis. However the disbanded Bridgeburners (a veteran unit of the Malaz army) and an unlikely group of Darujhistan citizens will be moved like pieces around a board by the meddlesome Gods of the world, and Gods can be ever so unpredictable.
It has been described by many to be very much Influenced by Greek mythology.

Gardens of The Moon is the first book that I have read that has made me somewhat grateful to be a slow reader. Every detail is important and even if at first glance it doesn’t appear to be. Im telling myself that the questions I have upon finishing GoTM, will be answered in later books.
Erikson sets up a wonderful cast of characters against a backdrop that has wonderful worldbuilding, and adds a really exciting magic system to the mix. Talking of which, the system of Warrens (a source of magic among other things) felt to me, like a world within a world. And I had a horrible dream in which I was chased through one of these Warrens by a rather creepy sorcerer.
Needless to say that I was absolutely riveted by this book and the cosmic storytelling by Erikson. It has everything a fan of Epic Fantasy would love. Nuances that one will not soon forget and characters that you can really invest in and see the world through their eyes. As I write this I am reading book two (Deadhouse Gates) and I can happily say that I think I shall be spending a lot more time in Erikson’s world.
On a complete tangent, before I read this, I pronounced it Mah-lah-zahn, which makes it sound like a fantasy alternative to the clothing retailer Matalan. I don’t think that is the correct way but it made me, with my silly sense of humor, smile.
I loved Gardens of The Moon and that’s my truth.

This book is available now from Bantam Books

Mage’s Blood by David Hair (Moontide Quartet book one): Review

I do like a nice intricately woven tome now and again. I had heard a lot about this series from Steph (Aka Mogsy) who is one of the reviewers from the wonderful Bibliosanctum .

So when I finished it, my wife asks me if I had enjoyed it? My reply was full of mumbles until i finally said, “I didnt hate it.”

It was only when I let the contents of the story swim around my mind, thinking more on its finer points, did i decide that actually I had just read something that was pretty bloody special. And I stand by this.

So the basis of the story is the lands of Antiopia and Yuros are separated by what appears to be a rather large ocean. Something pretty cool happens each Moontide when the Leviathan bridge rises from the depths to connect to both of these places for trade etc. But  as with all things there are those that are not very happy and the bridge has been used for conquest. So tensions are slightly at breaking point as another Moontide is around the corner. War is at hand.

Amongst all this the story focuses on several different characters and their own trials and tribulations on the build up to Moontide. Antonin Meiros, who is a very old mage is looking for a wife, so he travels to Lakh in Antiopia where we meet his wife-to-be, Ramita but my dear friends, she is already betrothed to Kazim. And then in the North the reader meets Elena Anborn who is the bodyguard of a royal family but yet much more than just a bodyguard. And then we meet Alaron Mercer who is about to take his final exams to lawfully become a Mage in Noros. Alaron is Elena Anborn’s nephew (its worth mentioning that Alaron’s mother and Elena’s sister has a pretty cool name … Tesla. Just thought I would mention that.) And finally one of the stories main antagonists is Gurvon Gyle who seems to be in control of a lot of things and makes life very difficult for Elena and the Javon  royal family, which in turn effects everything else.

This book has been likened to A Game Of Thrones and even though I can see that link I think this is a book that deserves to be read without any preconceived ideas of GoT. As I have mentioned everything is connected and even with things that dont seem to be integral to the storys’ plot, it turns out they very much are. So In this I really applaud the attention to detail that the author has shown. I felt at times this book had elements of grimdark but it was done in a way of emphasis and not in a gratuitous manner, also, I give this book the award for “Sex-scene-that-will-put-you-off-your-dinner.”

The ending of this novel is a proper “Wow!” moment, and rather unforgettable. It really left things nicely for The Scarlet Tides to carry on with.  A smooth but powerful ending.

So if someone were to ask me if I enjoyed Mages Blood now? I would tell them that I certainly did enjoy it and would recommend it to anyone who loves Fantasy. And thats my truth.

You can find out more about the author here

Mages Blood is available now from Jo Fletcher Books 28118-mage27sblood

The Slow Regard Of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss: Review

I recently read the first two books in Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle and loved both of them, so when I heard that Rothfuss was releasing a novella concerning one of my favourite characters I was sold.
This is Auri’s story, and this book gives the reader an insight to the inner workings of her world whilst still keeping a lot of the mystery about her. The story takes place in her home of the Underthing which is underneath the University it is as mysterious as our character with its labyrinthian corridors which lead into rooms and staircases, pools and doorways to goodness knows where. Each of these places in the Underthing has a name, and like most things in Auri’s world has a true purpose along with its true name.
I find the way Auri does things enthralling. Auri seems to be not all there but then again looking at the world through Auri’s eyes is a much nicer way to view everything, although there does seem to be part of her life that is tinged with a very deep sadness, this however, doesnt seem to show itself a lot of the time. Auri has a fragility to her but also a great strength within her soul.

In truth this is really an odd sort of story but I mean that in a good way. The main focus is on Auri and there is not a speck of dialogue to be found but it really doesnt need it. What I loved about this novella is that although it shone a light on Auri’s life it didnt ruin the mystery about her. She still remains very much an enigma and one thing this story does very well is add more mystery to her. when I was reading this I likened Auri to a sort of invisible caretaker under the University making everything just so, so that everything above is working in order. Then with this thought still in my mind I came to the conclusion that Auri may just not be an invisible caretaker, but almost an integral part of Rothfuss’ world of Temerant, making sure everything is happy and is in its rightful place, making sure that world is turning and the balance is being kept from the confines of the Underthing.

I really loved this story and It made me fall in love with Auri even more. The story is accompanied by illustrations by Nathan Taylor and they really are wonderful.

At the beginning of the book there is a disclaimer of sorts by the author which starts by saying “You might not want to buy this book.” then it goes on to explain that this is has nothing to do with Kvothe’s storyline etc. At the end of the book Rothfuss has explained how The Slow Regard Of Silent Things came to be, and at first I thought that both of these things were a little unnecessary. Then something about these two things reminded me of how I am when it comes to creating things such as a piece of writing or a piece of music. So, I’ll write something or record something then more often than not I show it to my wife as she is the most honest person I know, but before I show the writing/music to her I will explain to her my thought process behind making it, and then say things that almost defend its purpose or reasons before she has even heard/read it. The foreword and afterword by Rothfuss has an honesty to them. I think sometimes we all think that writers can craft these amazing stories as easy as breathing and already know how brilliant they are going to be even with the blank page before them but we know that that is not the case at all, and it is obvious that Rothfuss was unsure about The Slow Regard Of Silent Things, but he need not be as it really is a very special book and It is one I am going to revisit again and again.
One thing I have almost forgot to mention is that the cover for the Uk version (Gollancz/Orion) is absolutely wonderful and truly captures Auri’s free spirit and beautiful soul. TSROSTpic

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is out now via Gollancz http://www.orionbooks.co.uk to find out more about the author visit his website at http://www.patrickrothfuss.com

Your Servants And Your People (The Walkin Trilogy book 2) by David Towsey: Review

YSAYPjpg I have a lot of love for David’s debut (Your Brothers Blood) and If you have not read that then you simply must.
The basic thing to remember when reading YBB and Your Servants and Your People, is that you take everything you knew and thought you knew about Zombies and throw it out the window.
The re-imagining of the Zombie genre is something that has arisen a lot (no pun intended) some are brilliant and others fall flat on their undead behinds i.e the recent zomromcom anyone? But David Towseys creation of a Zombie-Western is truly sublime and its creation breathes new life to what can sometimes be a very tired sub-genre.

So, in Your Servants and Your People we see the Mcdermott family seven years after the events that took place in Your Brothers Blood. Thomas Mcdermott is obviously still dead and a’Walkin and himself and his family (wife Sarah and daughter Mary) are desperately trying to find and start a new life away from the troubles and prejudices from most places in Towsey’s world that dont really like a’Walkins. Thomas wants to start a farm and has set his heart on a piece of land near Fort Wilson and along the way meets a small group of soldiers who travel the rest of the way with the Mcdermott family. Strangely, it reminded me of an old episode of the old Western series Gunsmoke, except for the whole a’walkin thing.
Mr Towsey has created something very wonderful with Your Servants and Your People in the sense that although the whole tone of the book has this elegiac quality to it I personally never found it overly depressing, it instead moves with a lot of beauty and an insight to both sides of life.
About halfway through the book I wasnt sure where it was going, and I dont mean that in a bad way, I was literally on the edge of my reading spot, worrying about the futures of the characters.
Your Servants and Your People also introduces some new characters being that of the blue coat soldiers and their time at Fort Wilson. All I am going to say is Fort Wilson is not a place one would want to go and has that foreboding feeling of say the house from Amytiville Horror and like the town of Barkley in the first book, it becomes a character that in my mind plays a much bigger part in the story than what Barkley did. Towsey has offered up another helping of lovely undead goodness in his second of the Walkin Trilogy and I shall leave you with this- The third book is going to be all kinds of awesome!

Your Servants and Your People is available now via Jo Fletcher Books (www.jofletcherbooks.com) the author can be found on twitter @D_Towsey

Willful Child by Steven Erikson: Review

Right … Where on earth do I start with this.
Ok, here goes.
Despite being warned not to start here with regards to Steven Erikson’s body of work, I liken myself to one of those characters who are told not to push a red button and then end up pushing it to see what happens. This book for me was the red button I shouldnt have pushed. But, my friends, I did.
But thats on me. Sometimes you have to make errors to learn from them.

I went into this book with a completely open mind. This homage/spoof to Star Trek and other SciFi films/tv shows, should have ticked all the boxes for me. It really didnt, and then some.

The book is supposed to represent the many adventures of Captain Hadrian Sawback of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child, but to be honest half the time I was really confused as to what was going on within the story, although I use the term “story” loosely. It was messy and all over the place. One second there is killer kittens and then something involving a large chicken, amongst other things. I get this is to represent the tv series in some ways. Each week Kirk would get himself in all sorts of trouble and it would all be ok as he would be back with his faithful crew next week. I felt it really didnt work in Wilfull Child.

I cant really talk about the characters (except for one, which I will get to) as I felt that all the characters were rather vapid and I really didnt care about any of them. They seemed to always try and challenge the chain of command because of a megalomaniac for a captain. Then we come on to the captain himself.
Wow, where do I even start with the likes of Captain Hadrian Alan Sawback?
Well, for starters he is a bloody idiot who constantly objectifies his subordinates of the opposite sex. Now, Im all for humour and spoof and I would like to consider myself not easily offended. But I really found this book so derogatory and offensive toward women, it actually stressed me out reading it, and I have never felt like that before. Ever.
But really the jokes about assualt/rape were really just vile. Even the overall constant jokes of Captian Sawback being somewhat a sex addict was tiresome from the beginning.
I reached the end and I said to my wife, “I have to put this in another room, as I really dont want to look at it anymore.” After this I felt really drained and actually quite crap in myself, I think that this was because I pushed myself to finish this book even though I would have rather done something else and perhaps it because I was mentally searching for that would redeem this one. Please dont think Im saying, “Read this and it will mess you up.” because Im not saying that Im just trying to relay how it made me feel.
I may sound like Im running this book into the ground and that ostensibly is the truth to a certain degree, but I, myself could find nothing that I liked in it whatsoever. So Im sorry for being frightfully negative. I suppose that summed up this book was just not for me. Im going to leave it at that because I really hate being negative but I also dislike being dishonest. So Im sorry if my view differs from others but Wilfull Child is not a book I could recommend, to do so would be against my truth.

Wilfull Child is out on the 6th November via Bantam Books UK and the 4th of Nov Tor/Forge US/Can

The City Stained Red (Bring Down Heaven Book 1) By Sam Sykes: Review

 

 

The City Stained Red-

 

If you are not already familiar with the “fantasy legend” that is Sam Sykes, then get thee to a book shop! I had previously read the Aeons Gate trilogy by the same author so was very pleased to hear that another series was to be expected and with the same characters.

Sam Sykes weaves a gritty, twisting and winding staircase of a story. And this novel is no exception. There are dark moments, there are moments in which there is enough destruction to rival the explosions of a Michael Bay picture, and of course all of this sprinkled with a delicious frosting of Sam Sykes humour.

                  “You can’t lie to a sword.”

But more importantly to all of this, its about the characters. And as previously mentioned, The City Stained Red sees the Lenk, Kataria, Asper, Dreadaeleon, Gariath, and Denaos tracking down the priest who owes the adventurers gold. And to do this they must enter Cier’ Djaal, the City of Silk. Oh, and do it without killing each other first.

Sam Sykes has taken a city that in theory sounds wounderful in name, but is hell in so many ways. The spiders are the main source of income to the city’s fashas and the poor are very poor. The city devours its own and spits their carcasses into the Souk. There is tension everywhere, on a knife’s edge ready to fall one way or the other, and thats just a glimpse of the Cieer’ Djaal! Oh, and to add a very dangerous weight to tip the balance, a demon by the name of Koth Khapira is trying to return, and his cultist followers are making way for his impending arrival.

“I cant imagine any God would be boring enough to want to know how everything ends.”

The story takes place completely in the confines of Cier’ Djaal and is a very engaging read.  The character POV switches keep the pacing nice and quick and this book definitely had a real nice pace to it. The timing of fight scenes and of the humour is absolutely bang-on. At times there are moments after a bloody big scrap (and I mean bloody) where all seems to be calm-ish and something particularly funny will be said. And this one thing I wanted to mention the humour from the characters is done in an incidental manner i.e no one is trying to be funny. When Gariath says something that could come across as humorous, he isnt doing it because he thinks its funny, he is doing it because he is a large, red dragonman who has little patience for humans and their conversational behaviours, and saying one thing but meaning the opposite. Now to the reader his impatience and abrutness can come across as funny in the way that he does things.

                  “Moustaches are inherently villainous.”

Sam Sykes has crafted a splendid adventure story here, and I really had times where I could not put the book down and forced myself with eyes so tired to read one more chapter, and then another. The diversity between the characters and their voices is fantastic and I noticed that my favourite character changed constantly, (right now its Gariath … Or, Kataria. Doh!) Im very much looking forward to what happens in book two, and as for The City Stained Red there are some moments that you will really not see coming and some that will leave the reader wondering how the characters are going to get through it all. Alive.

 

The City Stained Red is out now from Gollancz and you can find more about the author from his website http://www.samsykes.com also on twitter where is tweets are rather brilliant, so if you are not already following him he is @SamSykesSwears