Archive for June, 2012


“And there is the difference between us.

Your people live to fight,

while mine fight to live.”

I was quite surprised when I had finished this book. The Desert Spear is everything the Painted was and everything it wasn’t. It’s the same story, has the same progression and arc, and has a similar character-building, yet it is so very different. The world of the corelings seems a bit empty and leaves much to the imagination of the reader, but what the book lacks in description of the surroundings, it more than makes up for with its interesting and memorable characters.

Saying that I have mixed feelings about this book would be a great understatement. On the one hand it feels so real and pristine when it deals with how a Chosen One would act and be manipulated in real life, especially in the opening third of the book. I’ve always been of the opinion that a Chosen One can never unite the forces of mankind behind him with sweet words and valor, which is often the case in epic fantasy. A more realistic Chosen One would however achieve unity through strength and necessary – albeit often cruel – deeds, which we have seen throughout our own history. DS shows us this in a great way. But on the other hand it suffers from the same flaws that made me think The Painted Man was a good novel and a fastpaced story, but nothing that I would remember in a few years. The world of Arlen and his friends seems so wierdly constructed, it doesn’t have the same bite and stark surface Krasia has. The reason for this is because the general setting of the story is a standard European medieval world, which shows clearly in the Free Cities, yet it seems the rural regions have been inspired by 18-19th century America, and it’s this mix of inspirations I find a bit odd.

The plot: This is one of those books that you either love or hate. It opens up were we left off, some time after the great battle where the previous book ended. The plot in DS is good and I didn’t find it too predictable. I was unsure about the relevance of a few passages, but I’m positive they’ll be important for the third and final book. Some find the fact that the book opens with a series of flashbacks of Jardir’s life to be a bad choice, but I think it’s a good way of opening the book with a slower pace and offering insight into the character of Jardir. He becomes more likeable after those first two hundred pages and it becomes easier to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing.

The setting: DS continues to have some of the problems PM had. Brett doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on describing what the surroundings look like, or how people are. Sometimes this can be good, as it doesn’t slow down the pace, but as in PM the world tends to feel empty. The Desert Spear doesn’t have this problem to the same extent as its predecessor, because much time and effort have been put down in building the city and culture of Jardir’s people. I love fantasy set in medieval pseudo-arabic worlds, which I rediscovered after reading Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed earlier this year, so it’s just another reason why this book appealed to me. However, one of the few things I didn’t like with DS is the fact that it is set in a postapocalyptic world! By the Gods, if I have to read one more fantasy medievalesque novel that features a long gone advanced civilization, I think I’m going to be sick.

The characters: This is one of the major things I liked about this book, especially when it comes to Jardir. The main characters are all refreshingly deep and interesting, as are most of the minor characters. Heck, even Leesha’s mother seemed to have a few more dimensions this time around. But I have to say that Abban is one of my two favorites. Although he seems to be the humble servant of Jardir he’s more sly and cunning than what he shows the world and I think he’ll have a bigger part to play before the end. Leesha is better in DS, even though for a moment I feared she would turn before my eyes into one of Robert Jordan’s creations from the Wheel of Time. But she never becomes one of those insufferable harpies and I have to say that she was the second of my two favorites. The interactions between the characters are great, as are the dialogues.

The technique: Brett knows how to write a fastpaced book. I thought the slang the farmers used was a bit irritating, but I guess it is a necessary thing to distinguish the rural regions from the cities. I don’t know. DS has a satisfying buildup towards the climax as it starts with a rather slow pace and finishes with a bang. And I didn’t find any passages to be boring. The book had my attention from beginning until the very end.

The finish: All in all, the Desert Spear is a huge step forward from the Painted Man. It has its flaws, as well as its ups and downs, but its a fantastic book and offers a different approach to the stale institution that is the Chosen One in the fantasy genre. Brett is a great writer. He knows how to keep your attention throughout the book and suggests some fantastic scenes, which he leaves to the reader to assemble for himself. Some will hate this freedom, meaning he didn’t spend enough time describing the surroundings, others will love it for what it does to the pacing. He doesn’t shy away from the more grittier and darker parts of the story, but writes it all stark and raw and real, giving the reader the choice to form his own opinion about the characters.  Murder, rape and violence are ‘ordinary’ things. And nothing is free in his world, because every gift demands something in return. Some moments will fill you with disgust, but it’s all part of the story and shouldn’t be kept behind the scene. Gone is the naivety that I thought plagued its predecessor and I can’t do anything but look forward to the third and final book, which will without a doubt deliver a bittersweet conclusion to this terriffic trilogy.

Final verdict:

  • Good character progression and great interactions between them
  • Arabesque fantasy! That’s always a plus in my book
  • Great pace and straightforward writing from the beginning to the end
  • An unorthodox approach to a certain cemented aspect of the fantasy genre
  • Postapocalyptic nonsense… Ugh…

This is it. This is the one. The big one. The one that will define the year of 2012.

You could say that I’m looking forward to this book. That I’m eager to delve into it.

But that would be an understatement.

If Abercrombie decided to write about how he does his taxes, I’d devour the stuff and claim that it was the best fantasy book of the year. Maybe I’m biased.

And Logen is still alive. So, ‘Body found floating in the river?’ Not this time.

They say the Kindle version will be released on October 18th on Amazon. I say I can’t wait that long.

I’ve already pre-ordered it. So why is it still June?

‘There is always time for antics’, moaned Zaphod

from his foetal position around a chair stem.

‘Antics get me out of bed in the morning.’

Guide Note: Quite possibly the steamiest pile of Vogon poetry on this side of the Horse Nebula. The characters are hysterical (not in the funny way), neurotic and off. Neither the Arthur nor the Ford or the Trillian from Douglas’ books seems to have made it to this one, as the trio in this book seemed to be some new edition to the series. The interactions between the characters are artificial and forced, and the story is of secondary importance as apparently much more time was devoted to formulating “funny” sentences and coming up with “hilarious” names. One should ask oneself why Colfer was chosen to write the (hopefully) last entry in the H2G2 series, as he has only written books for young adults, which clearly shows in the neurotic and erratic behavior of the characters. Did someone actually think that Douglas’ original pentology was aimed towards children? No personal insults directed at Mr. Colfer, but he clearly wasn’t the most suitable for the task. And the other question one should ask oneself is why, oh why was another book in the series even necessary? To fabricate a happy ending? Or to earn some easy cash? The answer is sadly both.

Even Trillian from the horrible motion picture is more enjoyable than the one encountered in Colfer’s book…

Forget this unnecessary footnote in the H2G2 series if you can. It’s pointless and a waste of time, effort, paper and ink. There are a few funny and good moments in this book, but they aren’t enough to make And Another Thing… a book worth reading. H2G2 is done and finished and we should leave it that way.

Related Reading:

So Long And Thanks For Failing At Trying To Ruin This Franchise, Colfer! by An Angry Fan

Anything But This by Anyone Who Has Ever Drawn Breath And Is Or Was Capable of Using A Pencil For Writing And Not For Cleaning His Or Her Ears.

Status update from Skyrim

I bought Skyrim when it was hip and fresh just like you, but then life came between me and this awesome game. I haven’t played it for real since January and I don’t plan to touch it for a good while because it screwed things up pretty royally for me at the university. And I’m still paying for my folly… Still, I used to love this game just like you did, so here’s some screenshots of my character.

Marcus hasn’t been the same since January when I left him in Solitude, overencumbered and with that racist Belrand for company.

Name: Marcus

Race: Imperial

Level: 51

Home: Breezehome. It’s pretty messy and there’s tons of stuff there so I’m probably what you might call a hoarder. But it isn’t my fault that none of the merchants have enough money to buy all my stuff.

Spouse: Lydia. I feel pretty bad about this. Really. I had to use the console to get her to marry Marcus, which isn’t cool. But he still misses her. This college for bards isn’t his style and the people are still crazy obsessed with an execution that took place like forever ago. Plus, the Queen always says inappropriate stuff and tries to touch Marcus where he doesn’t want to be touched. And Belrand is driving him nuts with the smell of his greasy, unwashed hair!

Most used follower: Lydia. One of the reasons I married her was so she would be invincible.

Favorite Weapon: Dawnbreaker. I used to despise the Daedra, but then I realized that they had cooler weapons than the good guys. Plus, there’s no way to join the Vigilants of Stendarr or what they’re called. A troubling thing is that Marcus has been recently walking around in Solitude with a drawn sword, and I think it’s just a matter of time before he snaps and kills every single killable NPC in the town. Starting with Belrand.

Main quest progression: Oh please… After that battle with Alduin I decided to level up to get stronger, but I didn’t count on it to take so  long. So now I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to side with Paarthurnax, the Greybeards or Max von Sydow. As an Imperial I feel I should go with the latter, but it wouldn’t be cool if that meant I had to kill Paarthurnax later in the game…

Bunnies slaughtered: 4.

Behold the weapon I use for breaking dawn!

Skills:

Destruction 99

Restoration 66

Smithing 100

Heavy armor 96

Enchanting 99

One-handed 91

Try spending half a year with a bigoted racist who never washes his hair and you wouldn’t be so happy either.

So Marcus is what you might call a Battlemage. Heavy armor, wicked blade, fiery balls. Cool stuff.

Chance that I will get the DLC: Oh please. I haven’t even finished the main quest yet. And I still need to play the entire expansion for Oblivion. Plus, I haven’t finished Dragon Age 2 (which I started playing when it was released), and I haven’t downloaded that DLC with Felicia Day yet. Plus, I’ve heard rumors that Mass Effect 3 has been released already. And Diablo 3 apparently.

But first things first. Marcus needs to empty his backpack so he can get the hell away from Solitude. And Belrand.

“Invest in wheelbarrows instead of motorized vehicles they said. It will be the mode of transport of tomorrow they said!”

Why the hell do I get all the best ideas when I have no time to follow up on them? Currently I have two witten exams I need to study for and I’m jacked up on coffeine, niacine, glucose and lots of other substances that will sooner or later wreck my metabolism. Still I’ve come up with ideas that could make an interesting novella and I have no time to write it all down. Damn you, scumbag brain!

I guess it’s best to write it down so I remember it all when I’m finished with the exams…

  • Steampunk in 19th century pseudo-Göteborg
  • Microbiology! (Heck, I have to make use of these past four years I’ve was- dedicated to this science)
  • Kill-cam!
  • 3rd P-POV.

Could be a mix of good elements, could be a cess pool of clichés and rubbish. We’ll see.

Also, I have no idea what the picture has to do with this post. I Google searched Microbiology and Steampunk and this is what showed up. Well, among other things…

“I’m looking for my sister. She’s highborn, only three-and-ten, a pretty maid with blue eyes and auburn hair. You might have seen her travelling with a man. A knight, perhaps a fool. There’s braaaains for the man who helps me find her. “

This is the ridiculously short review for the audiobook version of A Feast for Crows (by George RR Martin) read by John Lee. It deserves a 3/5.

Feast for Crows is still a very good book, despite the fact that almost nothing happens in it and this audiobook was a nice refresher course in aSoIaF. They say that on your second readthrough you notice a lot of things you missed when you first finished it and I’m quite ashamed to say that I missed a whole POV character when I read it back in 2009! This time I had the pleasure to follow the adventures of a honorable young woman, called BRAAAAAAIN!!, while she was searching for her lost sister. I have no idea how I could’ve missed her. And I hope we get to see a lot more of her, because of my weakness for the zombie genre.