It's July 2020: What fantasy book are you reading?

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#1
I've been in a bit of a slump for the last two weeks or so.
I started reading 2nd book of A Land Fit for Heroes by Richard Morgan. Problem is even though I loved the first book when I've read it, I can't remember much from it. It's all a haze at this point. I read it two years ago after all.
So there's not much of a point really.
I think I'll give up on the 2nd book for now and choose something else until I'm ready to re-read the first.
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#2
I didn't even realize we didn't have a July thread yet!

I'm 81% done Book 4 of the Warded man. The overall plot hasn't moved very much and the author seems to be weaving in some smaller plot lines where I don't really see the relevance. I still enjoy the characters and books despite the fact it's a very male dominated series.

I'm maybe a bit slow on the reading as I have been playing The Last of Us 2. Almost done it (on chapter 44 of 46). I've enjoyed it so far. Probably an 8.5/10. Possibly higher but I will see how the ending is. I know some have expressed concerns about the ending and/or have issues with the game politically (I am not really sure why so far) but I've done a great job of avoiding spoilers and have been happy with it. Game is very gory and M rated. I may post a spoiler tagged review later on. Hope to finish it tomorrow.
 

Khartun

Journeyed there and back again
#3
I didn't even realize we didn't have a July thread yet!

I'm 81% done Book 4 of the Warded man. The overall plot hasn't moved very much and the author seems to be weaving in some smaller plot lines where I don't really see the relevance. I still enjoy the characters and books despite the fact it's a very male dominated series.

I'm maybe a bit slow on the reading as I have been playing The Last of Us 2. Almost done it (on chapter 44 of 46). I've enjoyed it so far. Probably an 8.5/10. Possibly higher but I will see how the ending is. I know some have expressed concerns about the ending and/or have issues with the game politically (I am not really sure why so far) but I've done a great job of avoiding spoilers and have been happy with it. Game is very gory and M rated. I may post a spoiler tagged review later on. Hope to finish it tomorrow.
I finished TLoU2 the other day. Great game! I really enjoyed it. I don't get all the hatred.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#4
I finished TLoU2 the other day. Great game! I really enjoyed it. I don't get all the hatred.
I haven't played it, yet, but I don't think there's much widespread "genuine" hatred. It seems there are cases of review bombing happening on Metacritic and other places, but they are not reflective of how people really feel. The game has generally received rave reviews, with an overall Metacritic rating of 94/100, indicating "Universal acclaim" in their parlance. However, Metacritic's User Score is only 5.3, which is suspiciously low. Looking into the details, the game has had a whopping 120,000 user reviews (almost half of which were negative).

That itself indicates to me that this was deliberate smear campaign; it's very rare for any game to have so many user reviews. For instance, according to VG Chartz, the 5 best selling games of 2018 (they don't have 2019 figures published) were Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, FIFA 19, Super Smash Bros and Spider-Man. None of those had anywhere close to as many user reviews; the highest was RDR2 with a little over 12,000. This was around the same number that the original The Last of Us had, too. So TLoU2 suddenly having over 120,000 reviews is definitely unusual.
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Finished book 4, the Skull Throne, in the Warded Man series. This book did very little to advance the overall plot for the most part. It starts out interesting and then the majority of the book is minor story lines and character development. It’s not bad but it felt as though the book was spinning its wheels. Then the end of the book flips the script and a bunch of crazy things happen to set up the final book 5. I think there are some holes with regards to the timelines in that one part of the story seems to disappear with nothing going on for a long time.

Overall I will give it a weak 4. Probably a 3.5 max but the crazy finale pushes it up to 4/5.

What the heck are Jardir and Arlen doing for months with the Consort demon? Just interrogating every day for months and getting nothing? That story line went pretty much nowhere and they could have helped in so many other ways. Jardir absence caused all kinds of stuff to happen with his people. The ending and the deaths of so many significant characters was a huge change up for sure.
 

GreyMouser

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Finished the Night Angel Trilogy. It is definitely one of my favorites. Probably top 5 for me and maybe higher. I'm still letting it all sink in.
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#7
Finished the Night Angel Trilogy. It is definitely one of my favorites. Probably top 5 for me and maybe higher. I'm still letting it all sink in.
I've heard a lot of people give this series a high rating, here and elsewhere, but for some reason I just didn't like it. I read it a few years ago, so don't remember much, but I recall finding it pretty corny and the characters one-dimensional. Maybe it's just me...
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#8
Finished up Winter's Heart tonight. Yet another solid book with an incredible ending. Some spoiler thoughts:
Just as with The Path of Daggers Rand's was the most interesting story by far and it again took up only something like 1/5 of the book. Completely understandable that there's more focus on the other characters but the biggest issue is that while Rand almost always has a smaller storyarc that concludes by the end, Perrin, Mat, Egwene and Elayne/Nynaeve's arcs have all been going on for several books now.
Now this is obviously no major issue for me since I can binge all the books but I definitely see the ''slog'' the readers had to go through when they waited years between these books and so little were concluded in each one.
Still great books but it's a little jarring considering how perfectly (IMO) the first 6 books were paced.

EDIT: A few other thoughts:
I really, really liked that a few Asha'man went rogue at the end of The Path of Daggers. I thought it added another layer to the story that wasn't just everyone vs Forsakens. So of course it was a slight disappointment when in Winter's Heart it turned out the renegade Asha'man were either Forsakens in disguise or darkfriends obeying the Forsaken.

Another gripe I have with the series is that I just finished book 9, and only a single main character has died so far. Not a fan, a lot more people should have died by now.
 
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GreyMouser

Journeyed there and back again
#9
I've heard a lot of people give this series a high rating, here and elsewhere, but for some reason I just didn't like it. I read it a few years ago, so don't remember much, but I recall finding it pretty corny and the characters one-dimensional. Maybe it's just me...
There was definitely some corniness and the characters weren't perfect but from beginning to end I had a hard time putting it down. I actually am relieved to be finished so I can start getting more sleep.
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#10
Finished up Winter's Heart tonight. Yet another solid book with an incredible ending. Some spoiler thoughts:
Just as with The Path of Daggers Rand's was the most interesting story by far and it again took up only something like 1/5 of the book. Completely understandable that there's more focus on the other characters but the biggest issue is that while Rand almost always has a smaller storyarc that concludes by the end, Perrin, Mat, Egwene and Elayne/Nynaeve's arcs have all been going on for several books now.
Now this is obviously no major issue for me since I can binge all the books but I definitely see the ''slog'' the readers had to go through when they waited years between these books and so little were concluded in each one.
Still great books but it's a little jarring considering how perfectly (IMO) the first 6 books were paced.

EDIT: A few other thoughts:
I really, really liked that a few Asha'man went rogue at the end of The Path of Daggers. I thought it added another layer to the story that wasn't just everyone vs Forsakens. So of course it was a slight disappointment when in Winter's Heart it turned out the renegade Asha'man were either Forsakens in disguise or darkfriends obeying the Forsaken.

Another gripe I have with the series is that I just finished book 9, and only a single main character has died so far. Not a fan, a lot more people should have died by now.
The lack of major character deaths is an issue. It’s old school and definitely not GOT. Book tries to argue it’s because they are t’averan or whatever. Didn’t really bother me though.
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#11
10% in on the final book of the Warded Man who has been absent for long stretches in the previous book. I have enjoyed this series but there is some really juvenile writing at times. The writing of every major female character as a gorgeous woman, many of whom are to serve the sexual desires of men, gets tiresome. It's like the author is a 16 year old male with a one track mind at times. And this sexual encounter between a couple minor/new characters in the early parts of book 5 just continues some of this nonsense. This feels like an HBO show on energy drinks at times.

I will be glad to have a conclusion to this book at the story and world are interesting. But stay on task Peter V Brett! I really hope I do discover the history of this world and have key questions answered by the end or I am going to be annoyed.

This is a dystopian world that is only briefly teased here and there. What happened to get it this way? What is the nature of the demons and what caused them to come to the surface? How are the demon bones and demon magic able to foretell the future through dice rolls, see auras and other things? Why does music affect them so much?
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Finally finished Promise of Blood, Book 1 in Brian McClellan's The Powder Mage trilogy.

I've been in a reading funk for quite a while now. Read only 3 books last year. I actually hadn't finished a single book this year, though I had started this one months ago, as well as Deadhouse Gates (Book 2 of Malazan) on Audible. I've put the latter on hold. Audiobooks are something I would listen to on my daily commute, but since I've been working from home for 4 months and won't be going back into office for a while, I'm not going to be listening to anything for a bit. Just as well, really; I had actually restarted Deadhouse 3 times but couldn't get into it.

As for Promise of Blood - good book. The time I took to finish it is my own fault, and not a reflection on the quality of the book. I enjoyed it. I don't think I've ever read a Flintlock Fantasy before (unless Sanderson's Mistborn Era 2 novels count?), so this was quite a different one for me. I like how there were different "levels" of ability shown in the world. You have people with Knacks, which is a specific special ability that some people have that is not quite magical, but rather an unusual talent for something. For instance, one of the main characters' Knack is that he has eidetic memory, while another's is that he doesn't need to sleep, and so on. Then there are the titular Powder Mages, who can manipulate gunpowder in a variety of ways, including ingesting or snorting gunpowder to enter into a "Powder Trance" that significantly enhances their senses and also makes them stronger, faster and more resistant to pain. Finally, we have the Privileged, the most powerful and traditional magic users, who can do a whole variety of magic things.

The story is mainly told from the POV of three characters - Field Marshall Tamas, a strong Powder Mage who spearheads a coup at the start of the novel; Taniel "Two-Shot", another powerful Powder Mage and Tamas's son; and Adamat, a private investigator hired by Tamas to uncover traitors in his midst. Of the three, I generally preferred the chapters with Tamas and Adamat; it was a bit of a refreshing change to have main characters who were middle-aged rather than young and in the prime of life, like Taniel, as is generally more common. I also found their chapters to just be more engrossing, and well done with slow burns that escalate into a precarious quasi-climax towards the end. Taniel was fine, I didn't have any strong feelings about him one way or another. His chapters are a bit more action packed.

McClellan might be a protege of Sanderson (he studied under him at university) but their writing style is quite different. Compared to Sanderson's more "old-school" style of Epic Fantasy, McClellan is grittier and more character driven. It's not quite Grimdark, but almost like a blend between the two. Where McLellan does seem more influenced by Sanderson is the heavier use of magic, and the more detailed explanation of the magic use, though he doesn't go into the minutiae of it like Sanderson does.

As a criticism, I was a little confused about the existence of Powder Mages. As cool and unique as the ability is, I found it a bit odd to see a magic that is so heavily dependent on the existence of a particular technology. Privileged and Knacked could, presumably, have existed since the beginning; but what about Powder Mages? Did they conveniently just start popping up after the discovery of gunpowder? Or did they always technically exist, but didn't even know they had powers because there was no gunpowder around to manipulate?

All in all, I'd give it a solid 4 out of 5. I look forward to finishing the trilogy (I have all 3) but I'm going to take a detour first. Since I haven't been reading a lot recently, I'm going to try to get myself back in the game by reading shorter books/novellas to whet my appetite, before delving into a proper novel again.

Next up: The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke.
 
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ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#13
Just finished Peace Talks. Great stuff but it definitely reads like half a book because it really is only half the story. Honestly I think they could have kept Peace Talks and Battle Ground as one single novel. Cold Days is close to 550 pages so 750 would have worked for sure.

It's really obvious now why Battle Ground was announced at almost the same time as Peace Talks and why it's releasing only 2 months later. Getting this one after a 6 year wait with no news of the sequel would not have gone well over with the fans. I kinda hope they release an omnibus later.

Anyway that was my break from Wheel of Time so now I'm gonna pick up Crossroads of Twilight. I understand it's the ''worst'' book in the entire series so if I have trouble with it and need a longer break I want to try Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#14
Just finished Peace Talks as well. Like all of Dresden it was an entertaining book but I definitely agree that it could have been longer and offered more. Especially after so long a wait. I should have came away excited about the big bad coming up and what the next book will bring but a bigger part of me is going "thats it?".

Another thing is how often Butcher feels the need to explain to us how hot Lara Raith is and also what the winter mantle does for Dresden. I knew from the previous 67 books about both of those things and got another 12 explanations on each in about 300 pages of book here.

With this book in the rearview and I am now stuck again on exactly where I want to go in my fantasy adventures. There isn't a lot out there I haven't read that excites me to pick it up and I am not sure if there is something I maybe want to re-visit. After Dresden I am kind of considering going back to try out the Peter Grant stuff. I remember enjoying it but once I was caught up forgot all about it.
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#15
Just finished Peace Talks as well. Like all of Dresden it was an entertaining book but I definitely agree that it could have been longer and offered more. Especially after so long a wait. I should have came away excited about the big bad coming up and what the next book will bring but a bigger part of me is going "thats it?".
It ends on a random chapter in the middle of the ''real'' book. Peace Talks was close to 800 pages originally.

It could have used some more editing and continuity checks. The unnecessary fluff was added after the split to make PT slightly longer. It sounds like Butcher had to spend so much time making the forced split work that minor details and editing suffered for it.

There's been a lot of criticism here so hopefully his publisher lets him publish a longer book if it's what he feels works best.

I enjoyed Iron Druid. If it's not something you've tried give it a go. Peter Grant is also on my list but I don't know when I'll get to it.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#16
It ends on a random chapter in the middle of the ''real'' book. Peace Talks was close to 800 pages originally.

It could have used some more editing and continuity checks. The unnecessary fluff was added after the split to make PT slightly longer. It sounds like Butcher had to spend so much time making the forced split work that minor details and editing suffered for it.

There's been a lot of criticism here so hopefully his publisher lets him publish a longer book if it's what he feels works best.

I enjoyed Iron Druid. If it's not something you've tried give it a go. Peter Grant is also on my list but I don't know when I'll get to it.
Good info. Is there a reason why they wanted him to split it?

Yeah I have finished Iron Druid and also read the Alex Verus stuff which is really good IMO. It doesn't necessarily have to be urban fantasy but since PT was kind of short and fun and energized me I figured maybe that was the genre to stick with for now until something else comes out that catches my attention.
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#17
@Cyphon Unlike TOR for example his publisher don't have the capacity to manufacture hardcovers in the 800 page range. If they were to try it anyway the book would have cost about 50$, so they say.

So it's a shame, I can totally see this being my favorite book in the series so far if it had been one book.

Hm I haven't read Alex Verus either but it's on the list too. Wheel of Time is kinda stopping me from going through that pile..
 

Derk of Derkholm

Journeyed there and back again
#18
nother thing is how often Butcher feels the need to explain to us how hot Lara Raith is and also what the winter mantle does for Dresden.
Yeah, I guess he has some automatic texts explaining what he has already explained 15 times in the earlier books with slightly different wording, so once he has pushed all these, 100 pages of the latest novel are already written, and he's 30% done.

Now, with "Peace Talks" being published in 2 parts, it's not only 100 pages, as usual, but 200 in total...
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#19
Almost halfway done the final book The score in the Warded Man/Demon Cycles. Really feels like the author has been spinning his wheels from books 3-5. I hope this book has a good conclusion.