Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Review – Stonewielder by Ian C. Esslemont

This is the third book in the Malazan world. The previous ones by Ian are Night of Knives and The Return of the Crimson Guard.

Beware, this post will/may contain spoilers.

I’m now roughly 41% through the book (reading it on my Kindle) and I must say that the writing style is fairly similar to the Stephen Erikson books. OK, there’s a bit of change in how the chapters are ordered with the books.

The plots centers around the continent of Fist (also called Korel).Supposedly they would all come together in the end as there aren’t any additional books planned after that would initially appear to be in the same series, but here’s where we might be mistaken. As this book is not directly after The Return of the Crimson Guard (supposedly a few year after, but not directly, there are some gaps). Some of the important characters are common between the books.

http://the-void.co.uk/book/interview-damn-contrarian-steven-erikson-conversation-094/ if you want to know what’s happening after the Malazan Empire, apparently there’s going to be books about the huge Toblakai Karsa Orlong!

Back to the Stonewielder. The Mael priest is now the Emperor and has managed to persuade some highly influential (and old) folks to join the cause to do something about the black stain on the Malazan empire: Korel. It appears that they’ve pretended to be Malaz but have in fact been running their own little empire. Not happy.

There’s also the famous Stormwall, which has been mentioned quite often previously in the books but not too much has been written about the setups and what happens there. I believe Traveller hung out there for a while but he escaped. One side-plot surrounds a few Crimson Guard survivors that are prisoners/defenders on the wall, there are also a few of the Crimson Guard that have been crossing an ice wasteland and later they all meet up for some nasty fighting. Good times.

Kyle with the “normal” name, (he was not a Malazan empire recruit) is quite funny. I mean a guy named Kyle kicking some ass just feels odd after dudes like Greymane, Paran, or Whiskeyjack.

I almost like this book more than the Steven Erikson books, but that I think is because they are different. There’s not as much poetry in them for one, but maybe also because the Crimson Guard are bad ass!

After this one I decided to give Erikson’s Crack Pot Trail a go, but this is one weird book. There is a narrator who is very present. At least in the beginning. This is one odd duck, but I suppose after so many books in normal ‘Malazan’ style this ought to be refreshing.

 

Fantasy Book Review – Steven Erikson – The Crippled God – Part 2

Read about 1/3 of the book now. Here is part 1.

The Review

There’s a lot more ‘Books’ in this one compared to the other one. I’m already at the fourth one. This also means that there is a lot more jumping between sub-stories in this book than all the other ones. It’s really tangible this time: that there’s this huge ‘meeting’ (ok I forgot the word used by Steven Erikson, it’s a big one that starts with co-) of the forces.
Some groups are mentioned maybe once per book, some are not mentioned at all but ‘between’ the lines in some of the other sub-stories’ paths. As usual in the beginning of the Malaz books there is a lot of introspection – not so much action – but instead focus is on building the characters.

This is important but it’s a slow and steady progress which always gets me a bit bored. But then again, a whole book of just action takes the fun out of it, especially with so many characters that it’s hard to keep them separated. I need to have some kind of connection with a character before the action gets interesting. I mean in the end it boils down to some sword/magic fights right? And in earnest just a lot of that sword-hacking is just not for me.

Another thing I enjoy is that it’s not about the same guys in each book! OK, there are some guys that keep on coming back and take quite a central role in the story line(s) – but the actual story is not primarily done through introspection/thoughts by the same characters. This gives the reader the opportunity to get to know some of the other people, surrounding the Bridgeburners & Bonehunters..  they’ve been in basically all books so really – you don’t want another 1000 pages about the same Bridgeburner – it’s just fine with a chapter or snippet here and there – to keep the intrigue up. Also I think there’s a plausible maximum amount of thinking a character can do – or maybe there are these kind of people out there but I guess you never know – this is what’s good with books I guess :)

There’s an abundance of ‘good’ guys in this book. I mean the only really bad folks aren’t really bad (if you discount gods then), they just have a not-so-nice plan to scour the planet of humans. There are evidence/happenings earlier in the series where humans have caught gods unawares (Feather Witch’s stealing of the eye for example) and had  them suffering.

The Kindle

As how’s it going with the Kindle I must say I really enjoy it, except when doing a review like this. It’s just not even close to as handy to jump back a random amount of pages to see what went on there – as it is in a book. But the Kindle wins when it comes to reading while you’re doing other stuff  –  like at lunch – then it’s very handy to just put it on the table and keep on eating and reading at the same time. Just a brief pause every now and then to click to the next page.

Fantasy Book Review – Steven Erikson – The Crippled God – Part 1

Warning: this post contains spoilers if you haven’t read Dust of Dreams or the previous books in the series Malazan Book of the Fallen.

This post is part of a series, I will create additional one throughout the book (basically I’m just testing which is best: use one post and make updates or create new one every now and then? What do you think?)

End of Dust of Dreams: I didn’t particularly enjoy the K’Chain Che’Malle early in the book (read: before the last three-four chapters). But then I kind of started to like them. Why are they so uncomplicated? There’s a lot of unknowns at the end of this book – which is nice. Some folks haven’t even been clashing yet – Draconus/Ublala – Torrent/Mappo/Setoc – Silchas Ruin. Which proves that the next(last) book is going to be very very exciting. What happened to the Bonehunters? How crazy was Yil’s shadow dance? Is Quick Ben really dead? Was this the meaning? Is Icarium the Azath? Or did he close the gate that the Sky Keeps came from?

When Sinn/Grub arrived at the end and with fire stopped some Sky Keeps, before that there was another poem heard about Held/Rutt and Badalle where she spoke with Icarium. They are connected somehow?

So much unknown going on here. Maybe it will all make sense in the last book? At least some of it I hope will be explained :)

Crippled God

Cover

The Crippled God

Read the end of Dust of Dreams on the Kindle – liked it a lot. Especially when sometimes there is a word I don’t understand I can just point to it and then get a definition. I will read this book completely on the Kindle – what better way to get a good feel for the e-book reader than to give a behemoth like this a go?

 

 

 

 
There are a few tricky words in Erikson’s books.
Off the top of my head I am fond of this word but rarely get the use for it:
susurration (low continuous whispering sound)
altruism (opposite of selfishness)

At this point I feel happy that I’m reaching the end of this series. Will there be more books related to this world by Erikson? The co-creator Ian C Esslemont should come out with three more books (six in total).

Buying Kindle in Finland

On the 28th I purchased it around 1900. Today on the 30th at 0820 it arrived in the airport in Helsinki. Also yesterday somebody called and said it would come this week.

*** Update: It’s now on the way to my work! Got it around 12 or so. Less than 48 hours to get the Kindle (and it came from Reno, NV, US!).

 

Purchase

I got it from the American amazon.com – where it cost 140$ – totally it came to 240$ (got a black cover without light, shipping and VAT charge as well). Cheapest? Maybe not, but the dollar is pretty weak at the moment.

The amazon.co.uk price is 111£.

Currency converted: 140 USD is worth 96.6 EUR. (1 USD : 0.69 EUR)
Currency converted: 111 GBP is worth 123.21 EUR. (1 GBP : 1.11 EUR)

So I’m pretty confident that those 30€ is worth it, it still wouldn’t be free shipping it from the UK page. But it’s on the way!

Thoughts

Have been looking forward to this a while now, but after I tried reading a little on a friend’s Kindle (larger screen) I just had to go for it. I went with the smaller screen because I don’t want to carry something in magazine size. Pocket size now that’s more like it.

But I wonder if I will miss reading large ass 1000 pages books like ‘Dust of Dreams‘ or ‘Game of Thrones‘? What I won’t miss is carrying that book around though maybe it does make my arms a little stronger? =)
First book I’m going to try is ‘The Crippled God‘ by Steven Erikson.

Unwrapping & First sight

It comes in nice no-tape boxes (well the larger package does but not the smaller ones inside). Environmentally friendly – I like.  I never held one of this size in my hand before – but it feels pretty good. Not heavy at all (in comparison to my normal books), not too light either.

It’s a little uncomfortable to write things on it (tried to set up wireless access). So I’ll have to do that when I come home and are sure of the passwords/logins :)
Set the wireless up when I was at home, worked great. No problem at all. I think the writing on it just takes a little bit to get used to. It’s not buttons like on a keyboard, it’s more like round thin buttons.

kindle bottom

kindle bottom

Eject on Linux

If you run linux on your PC – you cannot start using it from scratch. It will tell you that you need to eject the Kindle before – and it’s not charging. The command you type is:

eject /dev/sdb1

/dev/sdb1  can vary. I just hit ‘dmesg’ and saw that there was a 3GiB device connected on
[sdb]. Be careful not to eject your other disks :)
You may have to have root access to do this, if so, try: sudo eject /dev/sdb1

In the end of ‘dmesg’ you should see this after you connect the kindle:

scsi 5:0:0:0: Direct-Access Kindle Internal Storage 0100 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
sd 5:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 0
sd 5:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
sd 5:0:0:0: [sdb] 6410688 512-byte logical blocks: (3.28 GB/3.05 GiB)
sd 5:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
sd 5:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through

This was on my RHEL 6 – Red Hat workstation. The syntax is the same for Ubuntu so it sounds more like a Linux thing than a distribution specific thing. Of course you might also be able to do it graphically – depending on your window manager.

Reading

Also did some reading with it in the sofa and in the bed and it’s just perfect. Thinking that maybe when I’m at home I don’t need the cover – which would make it less heavy – which is good when lying down.

Fantasy Book Review – Steven Erikson – Dust of Dreams

Dust of Dreams

Dust of Dreams

Grabbed this book a week or two ago and have been steadily pulling myself through it. Not done yet, some 300 pages left. I have crappy memory so if I write down what’s going on right now, maybe that will help me remember the book later :)

It is the 9th book in the series (there are other novellas before, in between these if you look at things chronologically) and it’s happening at the same time as Toll the Hounds and it’s in a ‘pair’ with The Crippled God – the fabled last book of the series.

Beware – this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t read the previous works in this series you probably shouldn’t keep on reading.

I like that whenever people see me reading an Erikson book they always say wow it’s so big and then their jaws drop when I say it’s the 9th in the series :p
Some of the books do feel longer than others, it all depends what is happening, perhaps if there are long stretches in the book about characters that I don’t like or feel a ‘connection’ to, the book will feel longer.

Moving on – closer to topic:

The Akrynnai vs. Barghast war in this book I don’t feel much for and I’m kind of relieved now when it appears to be coming to a conclusion (some 300 pages left). Maybe that’s because I hope the Malazans will do something. Or maybe this will start making more sense in the 2nd book.

There was a lot about the Bonehunters in the beginning of the book but pretty soon they set out on a march – and there’s not much about the march – as there’s been quite a lot about that in the previous books I can understand why there’s less of it, not that I particularly like it. Things like scorpion matches/bets and the dark humor might be what I like best, majestic battles do get a bit boring/repetitive? Or maybe have I also turned into one of the veterans in the Bonehunters? Been there, done that, “just get on with it for feck sake”.

The other groups I do actually enjoy – the Taxilian/Ghost investigation inside that huge mechanism – the snake of children walking in the desert (I actually read longer poems here, which I must admit I usually don’t when they are in the beginning of each chapter, although if I paid more attention that would probably give me more clues as to what is happening). Do you read the poems? Do you ever read poems? Any ideas / tips for how to get my interest up a bit? Please comment or drop me an e-mail :)

Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books in Helsinki

Where to find them?
Where are some good second hand shops, new book shops, any tips on buying from the Internet.

Number 1: the library.

The library system here in Finland is actually quite awesome. You can go to their website and search and reserve books (costs 50c this year, 2011) and stuff. Nice. They can also send stuff from one library to another. When you reserve a book you decide where you want to pick it up. Then you show up with your card and 50c and you’re good!

If you are new to Finland, you do not need a social security number to get a loan card. You can get a temporary card that’s cool for six months. When you do get a card, just drop in (I showed the papers I got from maistraati) and they’ll add it to your profile.

Second Hand

Kampintorin Antikvaarinen kirjakauppa oy – location. It is on Fredrikinkatu and next to the hobby store, quite close to the spåra stop on Kamppi.

The one mentioned above has lots of fantasy in English. One rack and the bottom 5-6 or so are double stacked with two layers of books so you have to pull out the first row to see what is behind :)

Book Crossing looks like a nice concept!

So you get a label, put it on a  book you want to give away and either send it to somebody who has it on their wish list or just drop it off somewhere =) I have not tried it though. If I ever get my hands on a bunch of books I don’t want I’ll try to remember it. Or if I get back in touch with my old books that I’ve given away ;)

New Books

Suomalainen Kirjakaupa and Arcadia book shop.

Also Akademibokhandeln has lots of good English fantasy, several book shelves actually.

CDON.com has a good selection and bookdepository do free postage to Finland.

Fantasy Book Review – George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones

Warning, this article may contains spoilers (I am trying to be sublime about them though) and have written them in white text just to be on the safe side.

Terminology

According to Wikipedia these books are in these subgenres:

High Fantasy – lots of fantasy stuff going on – like magic and monster. Opposed to low fantasy that has less magical components and is set in familiar world.
Dark Fantasy – a bit of horror

Tips

If you are reading the same book, check in the back for the family trees! Not any real clues that kills the book and comes in handy.

Notes

000- Got the book in Academic Book shop near Aleksanderinkatu, Helsinki.
001- Haven’t even read the prologue yet. Goes right into it though with a guy named Gared who’s old ‘n’ sturdy. Will and some noble on a high horse travelling through a dark (and scary) forest.
002- Lots of introductions (short chapters with names of characters) in the beginning, primarily of young people – indicating that these probably will be people we will be following later on in the series.
003- I like this. Pretty fast paced now in the introductions, beginning of the story; it’s not like the first book of LOTR.
004- Some animals / species or plants are real, as in they exist in our world too. For example Aurochs. One example I found is not the name of a tree ‘here’, but maybe they are taken from the name of a place – like the tree specie Weirwood.
005- Other animals are of course the dire wolves that are introduced to the reader very early in the book. There is a nice page on wikipedia about them :)
006- People can die! Even “good” ones. At least that’s what I hope. But I guess in all fairness it probably won’t be malazan style but I will hope!
007- About half-way through now. Some characters are less introspective, or is that just how I feel it? Because they ‘must’ be hiding something?
008- Ahh, beautiful. I think I will most definitely be reading more. Good character building in this book. Not too much “boring” – I mean it did not feel like the first book in Lord of the Rings which was relatively devoid of action. This book is definitely not and doesn’t feel like a classical ‘first’ book. For example lots of references are being made to the war when the current king Robert took the throne with the help of Ned/Edward. But not too much specific, it sure sounds like a lot of good action/stories happened ‘back then’.
009- See 002- :)
010- Done with the book now! Man am I hooked!
011-  Deaths? Yes. Definitely deaths by high-profiled characters in the book. But not by ‘surprise’ as in the Malazan. Maybe I should stop comparing everything to the Malazan series..

Ending Notes

In terms of proportion action/politics I believe the book is in par with the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan. Probably a bit more action. Now will this change? I sincerely hope so, good action is something I enjoy. As long as it’s not too repetitive. Maybe it’s easy for authors to get stuck in the ‘same’ kind of action – describing quite detailed how the actual swords play go. This I find boring. But every now and then it’s nice – especially if there’s something besides the-hero-wins happening.

Now the ‘heroes’.

There’s the usual ‘we believe in the good and we are awesome’ – represented by the Stark family.
There’s the ‘Dr. Evil’ crowd  – represented by the Lannister family.
There are two outsider threads: Jon Snow and the Dragon siblings Dany and Visy.

Jon is ‘good’ but he is a hidden gem for the Starks. Maybe he will go his own way and pwn the Wall/north. Maybe he will come in handy later to fix the rest of the continent after the dragons/others come back. I hope both :)

Now as George R.R. Martin takes like 3 years between each book I will read something in between, then I’ll get on to the next in the series.

Book Review – The Hunter’s Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore

Another great thing about being around home is to go find a proper library, I even found a fantasy/sci-fi shelf in the English part of the library on Rikardinkatu.

I have been on the lookout for some new long series to get my hands into but just I just have not been able to get excited about any of my attempts lately. Not since I read the Stephen Eriksson’s books about the Malazan Empire. Now that’s some fantasy that keeps my attention up most of the time. Not the boring kind where there’s a lot of introspection and very detailed fights – like in first and half second book of the Hunter’s Trilogy(see after that I could not handle it anymore and let the book go).

The characters in the Hunter’s Trilogy does not feel real!
Maybe this is because you get this hunch that even though they may get seriously injured they always tend to make it in the end due to some heroic effort by one in the gang.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated, I’ve read loads of Terry Pratchett, David Eddings, Tad Williams (Otherland) and Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time epics) which I enjoy.

So I went for this book I found at a flea market the other day: Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – Good Omens. Good so far, most things about gods/religion fascinate me.

Maybe the Malazan books has gotten me spoiled? What will I do now? Do I have to look for books in another genre or sub-genre at the least?