Aug

30

Review: Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

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I suck at writing blurbs so this is from Amazon

“The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…but there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had “bested” the environment.

The Empire was shattered in a horrific war; centuries later humanity has lost much of the advanced technology and Artemis is a fable told to children. Until young archeologist Griffin Dane finds intriguing hints that send him on a quest to find the lost world. Stranded on Artemis after crashing his ship, he encounters the Huntress Adara and her psych-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey will lead Dane to discover the planet’s secrets…and perhaps provide a key to give unimagined power back to mankind”.

So there we have it! That’s what this book is about. This book was a review book and I’m not normally into science fiction stuff but for review books I am wiling to step outside my comfort zone.

What Lindskold does well, she does really well. Her world building is pretty great and had me totally hooked, I desperately wanted to know more about this planet and its history. Her characters are totally realistic (apart from one) and she has this love triangle going that I feel actually works, which is such a shock! While she ticks all the normal boxes the one thing I really love about this book is the omniscient narrator. At first it totally threw me off but as I kept reading it really made sense, especially for this other worldly setting. It was so engaging to have access to all the main characters thoughts and feelings and the same time.

The one thing that didn’t work for me was The Old One Who is Young he is ‘adapted’, like Adara and her puma. On Artemis there are a few adapted, some have a connection with animals and take on some of their characteristics and some have gills and are super great swimmers. The Old One Who is Young is an adapted that has lived for generations and still looks in his 20s. Without going into too much, this character is so unrealistic in so many ways. One of the biggest problems I have with this character is while adapted are acknowledge and kind of accepted NO ONE questions what is up with this guy? NOT A SINGLE PERSON thinks it is weird that no one else has this adaptation? I can’t really say much more without spoiling it but as The Old One Who is Young is a large part of the book is it really bummed me out as this was the only real problem I had with the book :(

Overall, Artemis Awakening is an interesting read and I will definitely keep an eye out for the coming books in the series. I think you will like it if you are interested in Science Fiction, are interested in trying something new and aren’t too bothered by not having everything explained to you in detail. It is an easy read and while there are mysteries it isn’t really intellectually challenging.

3.5 out of 5 broken down spaceships.



Aug

24

Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

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Abercrombie’s world is usually full of swearing, sex and violence. Now the thought of Abercrombie doing a YA book gave everyone pause. Can he do YA? What would it be like? Abercrombie without swearing, sex and minimal violence? Can it be so?

Prince Yarvi is studying to become a minister; an adviser, historian, intellect and healer (think Maesters from A Song of Ice and Fire). Yet, once you become one, you renounce all family ties and inheritance. Days before Yarvi is to become a minister, his Uncle rushes into his study and announces that his father and brother are dead, murdered by their sworn enemy, and that Prince Yarvi is now King Yarvi.

King Yarvi is in shock, never in his life did he want this. He wanted to be a minister. How could a king run a kingdom with only one hand? How can he avenge his father with one hand? How could half a king do it? Yet do it he does. He swears an oath and gathers an army, marches forward even though he can barely swing a sword and his crippled arm cannot even hold a shield. What will his followers think of him?

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was light and fun. The best thing about it were the plot twists. There were many and some you just do not see coming. The twists and turns will keep you turning the pages. Yarvi is a likable character, you don’t ever feel sorry for him (not like Fitz in a Hobb book) but you do want him to succeed.

It definitely feels like an Abercrombie book but because I know what Abercrombie is capable of, I felt this was a watered down version of what he could produce. More detail in the fight scenes would have been great for my unimaginative mind. There are some story line quirks that I thought were off and were never explained but none of them deterred from the overall story.

You could call this a YA book because the protagonist is kind of young, but really, it’s an Abercrombie book with toned down violence, no sex and all but one swear word (at least that’s all I spotted). If someone wanted a YA book, this would not be the first book I would recommend, however, if someone said, “I want an entry level fantasy book”, this might be one of my first suggestions from now on.

Again, damn me for starting an unfinished series!

— (another review below) —

When I first heard Joe Abercrombie was writing a YA novel, I waited patiently for the punchline. When finally assured this wasn’t a joke, i found myself intrigued to see whether Fantasy writings answer to Tarantino would be able to pull this off and can safely report that while Half a King may not be as good as some of his previous works, it certainly pulls no punches for his younger intended audience.

Half a King is Abercrombie’s first foray in writing a YA story as well as his first novel outside his widely popular Circle of the World setting. The first in The Shattered Seas trilogy, Half a King tells the story of Prince Yarvi, a young man despised by his father as a weakly due to a deformity at birth that has left him with only half a hand. Yarvi’s soft nature seems well suited to a religious life in the Ministry but the untimely death of both his father and brother means he is thrust onto the Black Chair as King of Gettland.

Unfortunately kingship fits him as well as a glove on his mangled hand. But you never know what you’ll miss until you no longer have it. Vowing to avenge his father and brother Yarvi seeks out to wreak vengence on those who killed them, but he in turn is betayed. Sold into slavery Yarvi finds he must find his inner strength so that one day he will be able to take down those that betrayed him.

What follows is a coming of age-type story where Yarvi bands together an unlikely crew of slaves to assist him in his quest for vengeance. There’s plenty of the tropes you’d expect from a YA fantasy novel but Abercrombie manages to weave his story around them and still manages to keep his characters sufficiently morally grey that they easily blend into the story and somehow become less noticeable. And I imagine when viewed through a younger person’s lens these misgivings are probably not even as issue.

If you’re not expecting depth of character or story line then Half a King will deliver for you a very quick enjoyable read. At around 350 pages, this is a much smaller book then his other novels and most probably a lot more in line with what a YA novel should be. There’s plenty of plot twists, a cast of likable characters and the characteristic Abercrombie humour interspersed throughout the novel which makes this good reading fare. And say one thing for Mr Abercromie, he still is the best finisher of stories going around in fantasy currently.

Overall, I found this to be an uneven read in terms of quality, but have faith that the follow up book, Half a World, will build upon the solid platform laid down by Half a King and continue to reward readers and Abercrombie’s vast legion of Grimdark fans.

 

Review by Antoxx

 



Aug

8

Review: Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

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With the success of The Broken Empire, Mark Lawerence’s first delve into fantasy, it was not a surprise to see him quickly produce another series in the same world. Prince of Fools is the first book in the Red Queen’s War series which details Jalan Kendeth, a prince of Red March but 10th in line to the throne.

Jalan is a womaniser, a compulsive gambler, lair and a coward, all traits that would be terrible on anyone else but a prince of Red March. Yet, due to his own greed and misfortune, a magical aura struck upon him and an unsuspecting Norse man, Snorri ver Snagason. This aura compels them to always be together, an unease fills them when they are a part, and it also compels them to head north, to the icy wastelands of the Bitter Ice.

One of my first thoughts when I heard about Prince of Fools was “oh no” because it was set in the Broken Empire. I like my authors to be a little bolder and branch out, but as I read the book, most of my concerns dissipated.

Again, it is written in first person but instead of a brooding, psychotic, physical specimen of a man anti-hero, we get a humorous, sex hungry, pragmatic, coward of an anti-hero. I instantly liked the first few paragraphs and wondered how Lawerence would interweave the Jorg Ancrath story into this one, since it is set in a parallel timeline to Prince of Thorns. What happens is a very plausible and funny outcome.

As story unfolds I found that Lawrence does a great job with developing Jalan and Snorri’s characters, how they both interplay with each other, and how the story telling evolves in the story. I also loved the more traditional fantasy feel of this book. There was barely a hint of technology from the old world.

What I did find was that Lawrence still needs to work on is his combat scenes. I just don’t find these to be quite right. Nothing is unbelievable but I just don’t find they flow or captivate me like most fight scenes in fantasy books do.

Pick up Prince of Fools if you haven’t read anything by Mark Lawrence yet. He definitely is one of the best authors to have come out this decade, and you don’t need to have read his Broken Empire Trilogy.