Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 10 Books I've Read This Year...

Note, this will not be a list of books that came out this year, but just the ones I have read. Sometimes you have to live up to your last name (Powers) and pick up books at the The Iliad.

But without further ado, here is THE LIST

10: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Book 1 of the Gentleman Bastards trilogy. Review: Hnnnng

9: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. Review: One of the best revenge stories I've ever read, all set in the same world as the First Law Trilogy. Read it. I'm sure Mr. Abercrombie would appreciate more book sales.

8: A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin. Review: Words are wind, but where do whores go?

7: A Fortress In Shadow by Glen Cook. Includes: The Fire in His Hands and With Mercy Towards None. Review: I have a soft spot for Glen Cook. His works are, in a word, amazing. And I can definetly see the influences from him in the works of Steven Erikson. (The character of Mocker reminds me of Malazan's Kruppe, for instance). Incredibly underrated author. Buy

6: Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C Esslemont. Review: While not the best Malazan has to offer, I really enjoyed this tale. I won't lie, the name Kyle threw me off for awhile. Not as much as Richard in the Sword of Truth series, but whatever.

5: King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, Book 2 of the Broken Empire. Review: Jorg is back! With Vikings and Fire Mages and an ending that left me grinning like an idiot at work.

4: War Machine by Andy Remic. Review: Yes, its silly. Yes, its over the top. Yes, its the equivelant of an 80's cheesy action movie. But, you know what? I like cheesy 80's action movies.

3: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, Book 1 of the Broken Empire. Review: Holy shit. (Yes, I know there are two Mark Lawrence books on here...)

2: The Black Company by Glen Cook. Review: Fantastic Military Fantasy by the master. Here we are introduced to Croaker, Goblin, One-Eye, Raven, and the rest of the gang.

1: Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson. Review: What can I say? This is one of the best books I've ever read. Period. Right after the Bonehunters, it has been my favorite Malazan book, as well. (Note: I still have yet to read Dust of Dreams and the Crippled God- its just that the used bookstore I go to never has a copy, and Barnes and Noble usually does not, either :() It's an emotional rollercoaster. Enjoy.


The Vacant Throne: Book Two of the Band of Four by Ed Greenwood.
Cities of the Dead by Michael Paine
Shadows Linger by Glen Cook
The Demon Awakens by RA Salvatore.
The Temptation of Elminster by Ed Greenwood
The White Rose by Glen Cook
Shadow Games by Glen Cook
Stonewielder by Ian C Esslemont

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

Started King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence this morning. Yay!

As if I need to praise this series. (There will be spoilers, so... turn away now.)
The Broken Empire trilogy is fantastic for a fantasy series. It is fantastic for a post-apocalyptic series. It is fantastic as a book, period. I can't sing its praises enough. The first one, Prince of Thorns was amazing, with a break neck pace, dry, dark humor, and a nuke. A fucking nuke.
Buy these. Run out now. Buy these now. You're still here. Go.
My son, three, saw the cover for King and wanted that read as a bedtime story. No. Maybe when he's four.
Mark Lawrence has a winner on his hands, here, and I'm excited to see what he'll come up with next.


This was the first fantasy novel I ever read. My Uncle had left it at my Grandmother's house after coming home to visit, and I managed to convince her to let my eleven year old self borrow it. I devoured it. I loved it. It consumed me. In sixth grade I wrote a 300-page scrawled story that was so reminiscent to it, it was cringeworthy. (300 pages in the font of a sixth-grade isn't really that long), it was the book that got me into the fanstasy genre. Shea, Flick, and of course... Allanon. The Druid. The mysterious stranger, the quest giver. The opposite of Brona, the Warlock War.
It was another year or two until my grandfather gifted me a tattered copy of the Lord of the Rings. I loved it, but still thought Sword was better. Sword was mine. I didn't care that it was a rehash of EVERY SINGLE PLOT POINT of Tolkien's work. It was mine. It was fantastic.

It was everything I was looking for at eleven.
Terry Brooks made Lord of the Rings accessible, he brought Fantasy into the mainstream. Sorta. I was the weird kid at school, constantly reading, I'm sure a lot of you can relate. I picked up Elfstones, then Wishsong. Plowed through the Heritage series. And stopped.
Why did I stop?
Well, there were no books left in the series at that time.
That was the only reason.
And I had discovered other fantasy novels by that time. Ed Greenwood, and his delightful Elminster: The Making of a Mage caught my attention. God, was that good when I was thirteen.
The nostalgia for the Shannara series is still strong. Heady with it, I read First King of Shannara, years after I had wanted to. The making of Brona. Bremen, Allanon's father (only not really), the forging of the Sword. I could go on a rant here about how Brooks made the original Sword of Truth here, and call a certain author out, but I won't, because his first novel was fairly decent.) I still need to read the later books, but I'm afraid they won't have the same magic, give the same feelings of warmth I had experienced as a child. Honestly, it would be weird if they did, though I don't blame Terry Brooks for that. I'm the one that grew up, the one who's tastes changed from the Sword style to more of the Black Company, Broken Empire, and Malazan tastes I have now.
In fantasy, Malazan is the steak, Shannara is the hot dog. I like a good steak, but a hot dog sometimes hits the spot. Especially with sauerkraut and good mustard.

Shadow Games: The Black Company Goes South

Just look at that beautiful cover.
Look at it.

We seven remained at the crossroads, watching the dust from the eastern way.Even irrepressible One-Eye and Goblin were striken by the finality of the hour. Otto's horse whickered. He closed her nostrils with one hand, patted her neck with the other, quieting her. It was time for contemplation, the final emotional milemark of an era.

And so begins the fourth chronicle of the Black Company. Seven down from hundreds, a company in search of its past. Now, its no secret that this is one of my favorite series, followed by the Dread Empire for works by Cook. I'm going to try to resist gushing about this particular tome, and highlight some of the better parts.

Croaker, the unreliable narrator is now Captain of the Company, and good for him. Lady, the quasi-villain from the first three books is along for the ride. Otto. Hagpop. Goblin and One-Eye, the sorcerers. Murgen, the youngest guy in the Company at twenty eight. The last of the Company, which was shattered at the battle of the Tower of Charm. And the Barrowlands.

Lady muttered some very unladylike sniggen snagen riddly rodden racklesnatzes under her breath..

Croaker's fanfictions about the Lady finally become reality, so good for the old man.

I have to run to the bookstore to get the next one, since they're pretty hard to find in brick and mortar stores.
Do yourself a favor, and read this. Read them all. Cook is being shadowed by other heavy hitters, and that's sad, considering he's been consistently releasing great content for as long as I've been alive. (30-odd years).

The Omnibus collections are great. Get them. They have them at Barnes & Noble. Or go to the small, used book stores, like I do. The Iliad is my go-to, and if you live anywhere near Los Angeles, I highly recommend them.
Yay! Books!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Note on Salvatore.

So, there seems to be some division in 'fantasy fans' regarding the works of RA Salvatore, and I can sorta see why. Bubblegum sword and sorcery, plots that seem to revolve around cool fight scenes, Drizzt. Now, I have to admit, I am a fan of the Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons setting. I've been reading the novels since, like, eigth grade or so, after picking up Elminster: The Making of a Mage by Ed Greenwood at a small bookstore next to a grocery store in the small town of Topsham, ME. I read that book in a day, devoured it. It was the third fantasy novel I had read, Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony being the only other two. Ed Greenwood's breakneck pace through the plot, the mage duels, dragon fire, and overall cheesiness appealed greatly to me. In fact, it still does. One of my favorite bands is Hammerfall.

The first book by Salvatore that I read was Streams of Silver, book two of the Icewind Dale Trilogy when I was working at both Shaws (a grocery store in Maine), and WalMart. I finished it that night, and bought the boxed set of the trilogy the next day. From there, I went out and purchased all of the others, in order, going back to the prequel trilogy (Homeland, Exile, Sojourn), and then the one after that, and the one after that. (It was nice being young and having disposable income). The stories of Drizzt and gang had captivated me, and I dove in with relish (no mustard, sadly) with their daring fights. The Hunters Blade Trilogy came next, and those were neat, and then I took a break from the series.

They... don't... they don't really stand up to rereads. The Sellswords trilogy (or... well, two, since the first one was really part of the Drizzt series at one time) was alright, they read more like a dungeon crawl than anything else, and Selune is a goddess, god damn it. The Transitions trilogy was alright. Nothing special. And then I took another break.

The Neverwinter quadrology (or whatever) I read in a week, just a couple of months ago. I enjoyed the slightly darker tone, but it did nothing special for me. Have I grown up? Am I unfairly comparing it to A Game of Thrones, or Malazan, or the Black Company? And yes, it would be unfair to compare the Forgotten Realms works with these other works. And of course Barabus the Gray was Entreri. That was obvious.

There will always be a place in my heart for Drizzt. Always. It's just I like fantasy that stabs me in my guts much better now.

And Wulfgar was much cooler than Drizzt.

His work in his own setting, Corona, is a bit better, though it does seem to follow the same formula, not that I'm faulting him for that. (Still, a character named Pony...)

Are RA Salvatore's books worth reading?

Yes. Of course they are.

Are they worthy of having every gaming table have a drow ranger?


An Introduction

Well met, have a seat. Oh. You're sitting. Good.
We are here to discuss fantasy. Novels. Short stories. Movies. Music. Art. Comics. Shows. And the like.

Still here? Good. I like your style.
So, let us continue.

This blog will contain reviews, rants (imagine that, on the internet of all places), exerpts, random pictures, and maybe, just maybe, snippets of my own work. But not much. Because it's not as good as the things I'll be reviewing. Probably.

I'm a big fan of the 'gritty' military side of fantasy, not that I shy away from the farm boy-becomes-hero-saves-world-from-dark-lord type stuff. My favorite series so far have been the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and the Black Company by Glen Cook. Both fantastic series.

So, here we go. To adventure. And stuff.