Book Review – Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind

My review of Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind. 2/10

http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/Terry-Goodkind/Severed-Souls.html

First and foremost, I wish to apologise to Terry Goodkind. I am sorry for the words I am about to write, but they come from a fan and a reader who once loved and took great pleasure in The Sword of Truth series, from Wizard’s First Rule to Confessor.  These books encompassed everything they were meant to, they were magical, dark and compelling, a true fantasy series.

When The Omen Machine was released I was thrilled, as the series for all intents and purposes had finished its storyline in Confessor. But after reading this new arc I was left sorely wanting. Once done with The Omen Machine, I remember thinking, you can’t write a winner all the time and waited for the next in the series to bring me back to the world of Richard and Kahlan. The Third Kingdom, much like its predecessor, was still missing that spark, that engagement and level of commitment I had previously experienced from the original books, and much like The Omen Machine I found it a struggle to finish.

I was unsure if I wanted to read Severed Souls, I had been burnt twice now and didn’t think I could handle it again, but thanks to the good people at HarperCollins I obtained (probably my last after this) a review copy of the book and decided to give the series one last try. In the end, I had two attempts at reading Severed Souls, in the first effort I put the book down after thirty pages, not a lot but it was enough to make me stop. In my initial read, I found the story flat and un-engaging, but considered this could be my own mood or frame of mind at the time not allowing me to get into the story. So I stopped and gave it a week. Taking the book up once more, I reread from the beginning and this time made it through the one hundred pages before with bewildered heart and heavy head I closed the cover for the last time.

I could go into a litany of the elements I found off with this book, but think I will keep it to some main points. Firstly, the writing was bland and uninspiring, I could not believe that this was the same author who captivated me for eleven novels. Take a moment and think back to Phantom (I could be wrong in which book) when Richard is searching for Kahlan and he hides in the Jagang army. I remember strong emotions leaping of the page: fear, hope, strength and resolve. Unfortunately, none of that past writing comes out in this book or the previous two. From the opening scene where Richard is meant to be in a rage and fighting the Shun-tuk, the words are written without energy, come across forced, and are bereft of promise to the reader.

The single greatest flaw I feel, and I am not sure if this was down to Goodkind’s vision for the stories, was the editing/writing style. There was repetition after repetition of words, sentences and themes. Basic grammatical treatment was thrown out the window leaving me confused at structure and flow. A good example of this was the recurrence of single adjectives used numerous times over a few lines consistently throughout the pages I read.

Where had it all gone so wrong? I have heard stories of some authors feeling that their works should not be edited and I have no idea if this is the case, but it feels like it. Have we come to a point where our favourite and most successful writers believe in their own skills to the point they forget we all make mistakes, that the input of others, whether it be an editor, proof-reader, beta-reader or fan boy could can add to the work. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, I think someone needs to be very cruel to these last three novels.

In a contrast, I have just finished reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss and while a short story, the thought, skill and devotion placed into this piece dwarfs the banality that was the first one hundred page of this work. It’s a rare thing that I don’t finish a novel, even if I know I will return to it later, but I can say with raw sadness that I won’t be attempting a rereading and I do not see how I could come back to another in the series, if one is being considered.

I understand that I have written a lot of very negative comments, and I really wanted to finish with something positive but the best I can offer is this – if you are of the younger generation a YA fan and have never read the first eleven novels in the series, maybe you can make this new story your own.

While I do not think it’s appropriate to provide a score out ten, as I could not finish the story, I will because it’s expected. Based solely on what I did read and the immense respect I have for Goodkind and his early works, as well as the respect I have for any author who has the courage to write and be successful, I give the book 2/10.

For even more reviews, author interviews and biographies, check out the site Fantasy Book Review.

Book Review – Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

My review of Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia 8/10

http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/Larry-Correia/Monster-Hunter-International.html

Initially, I did not think I would enjoy this style of book (Vampires, Werewolves etc), but I was pleasantly surprised when I did. I had lifted it at random from the shelf at my favourite bookshop, Pulp Fiction, read the blurb and had my interest piqued. In the end what actually pushed me over the edge was something a little sillier and real world. It was the feel of the pages as I flicked through them, soft, silky and very tactile. I know it sounds ridiculous but it was the combination of these things that encouraged me to purchase the book, which I was thankful for, as I did really enjoy the story.

In MHI we inhabit a world of werewolves, vampires, trolls, orcs and much much more. It’s a hidden world known only to those who fight these creatures and those who have suffered at their hands. From the opening pages this book contains a lot of action and gun love, and continues in this vain from the start to end. Think of it as a book that runs up hill without stopping and then jumps off.

The main character Pitt is a hulking beast of a man, tall, strong, skilled and smart. A dark past as a bare knuckle fighter he initially hides away as an accountant to escape his sins. Trained from an early age by his military father in all things war, he is the perfect monster fighting machine. Stepping back I will say the idea behind Pitt was little on the nose, for me he could have had some bigger flaws and a little more of a learning curve as he deals with his new world.

We still have the traditional fantasy memes, only one person has the innate skills, untapped power and destiny to save mankind and that man is Owen Pitt. We have the expected love interest, an over arching villain with their willing and unwilling agents and a hidden Evil. This main agent of destruction, The Cursed One was a well throughout character that inspired distrust and dislike from the moment the reader is introduced to them. ** SPOILER ** He even has a shred of humanity at the end and saves the day for an even greater evil, so you kind of feel bad (only a little) when he dies.

Soapbox time! I have said it before and I am sure to say it again, I am not a fan of vampire/werewolf fiction. Within the last ten years these creatures have been done to death (pun intended), the only original aspect I took away from the vampires in this story was the idea that a vampires strength and mental control did not come from age (being an old vampire) but from the creature who turned them in the first as well as the amount if blood they have drank to date.

I did have issues with the amount of gun love throughout the book, but considering the biography of the author, it is not surprising (have a read, you’ll see why). Don’t get me wrong I am not basis to some gun action but it was taken to another level in this book. The author gave great detail and description for each weapon used or mentioned, almost like he was writing a manual on how to perform brain surgery.

SPOILER

Certain concept points cam across a little transparent and while not taking away from the story they didn’t leave much of a mystery for the reader. For example, there is an ancient obelisk with writing across its surface, which the Cursed One thinks relates to him and a prophecy, but it was fairly obvious from the words written and the “hidden” context it was meant for Pitt. It may have just been easier to write it as such and have it done with.

This was enjoyable book, which came as a surprise. The shape and flow of the story is well defined and you easily breeze through the pages with glee. I do hope the gun love is toned down for the next book, but I doubt it.

8/10
Best day ever, you get to kill your werewolf-ass of a boss.

For even more reviews, author interviews and biographies, check out the site Fantasy Book Review.

Interview with Renee Scattergood author of Shadow Stalker: The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate

The Quiet Fantasy Book Blog

Today I have had the pleasure to interview author Renee Scattergood in the week leading up to her Pro-Blitz Tour for Shadow Stalker: The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate (Episode 2). You can obtain further information of the tour buy clicking here.

Renee Scattergood is the author of the YA Fantasy series, Shadow Stalker. She lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, their daughter, Taiya, and their four fur friends. She prefers to spend her free time with her family and reading fantasy novels.

Visit Renee at Renee Writes and sign up to her mailing list to get future episodes of Shadow Stalker for half-off, sneak peeks of future episodes, and you will also be automatically entered in a monthly draw to get 12 free episodes.

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Book Review – The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

My book review of the The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/Patrick-Rothfuss/The-Slow-Regard-of-Silent-Things.html

Each day a name and each name a promise, Auri wanders the Underthing, the forgotten home to the dark and the nowhere, giving birth to longing and wild imaginings. Ethereal, tatter and hidden for the world above Auri repays each day uncovering the mysteries of every stone and the promise of each bone. In seven days he will come and a gift is needed. The right and correct gift, a gift to match the who if him and the being of him. Today is a finding day.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a tender tale of childlike imagining seen through he the eyes and voice of a wounded mind finding friends, family and meaning in everyday objects. Under it all is a masked element of unnamed atonement and a desire from Auri to bring balance and nurture to her world.

What Patrick Rothfuss has brought us are soft words spoken with reverence, love and lost of a character little understood. Words alone are unable to describe the investment of you in this short story. There is a commitment of emotions and feelings for each page and paragraph and the texture of the words are just as important as how they were written, leaving you with a gentle feeling of longing and sorrow.

What I loved about this story was its structure and phrasing. Growing up, one of my favourite pieces was Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky. Its use of nonce words engaged and illustrated to me the power stories and words have over the reader. Truly admirable works like this captivate and instil feelings of love, lost, joy, sadness and fear. Patrick Rothfuss has given us all of these and more in the telling a single girl, her hidden world and the life and names she brings to it.

The story itself is broken up to the days until the visit of Kvothe. While searching for the perfect gift for Kvothe, we are given a brief glimpse into the inner workings of Auri and her splintered self as she brings her need for order to the unseen voices and lives of the items in the Underthing.

Its surprising and wonderful the investment and sense you gain from the interactions Auri has with the objects and places in the Underthing. Patrick Rothfuss masterfully expresses and projects for the reader the voice Auri gives to these objects, so much so you can sometimes forget that they are not individuals or beings with their own personalities.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is joyous offering of literary excellence and a heartbreaking delving of loss, loneliness and the mysteries that are Auri.  10/10

For even more reviews, author interviews and biographies, check out the site Fantasy Book Review.

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! Sequel

My mind says no, but my heart says hell yes. Beetlejuice Sequel!

http://www.mtv.com/news/2026955/tim-burton-beetlejuice-sequel/beetlejuice

I loved and still love this movie, it’s got everything a good dark fantasy comedy needs. Death, ghosts, Michael Keaton and sandworms.  What is hasn’t got is a sequel, and up until this point I say thank you Tim Burton.  So when I read that a sequel is now on the cards, I felt conflicted. I am happy as I would love to see another Beetlejuice movie, but I am also sad because the actual likelihood of it being watchable is quite small. Yes, it’s possible it could come out good, but only as long as they don’t go Hollywood nuts on it and keep it more to the original tone, but the odds are stacked against it.

What it does have going for it is Burton will direct and Ryder is meant to be on on board.  What we don’t have is Keaton and no Keaton means no Beetlejuice.  Sure, they could make it with someone else but what would be the point.  It would be like having another actor playing Chunk in the Goonies sequel (also on the fence for this one) or having someone else play Cameron if there was ever a Ferris Bueller sequel.

If this thing is to happen, Go Keaton or Go Home, look what happened when they replaced him with Val Kilmer in the Third Batman movie.

Lets start the ball rolling #KeatonforBeetlejuice

Book Review (Graphic Novel) – War Cry by Jim Butcher and Carlos Gomez

My review of War Cry by Jim Butcher and Carlos Gomez

http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/Jim-Butcher/War-Cry.html

The War between the Red Court Vampires and The White Council is not going well for the wizards. Short on people many have been pressed into service, including our own Harry Dresden. Skilled in survival, but inexperience in leading, Dresden must guide a dysfunction and inexperienced team of wizards on deadly missions. Dispatched to the middle of nowhere America, on a secret assignment, Harry and his team do not know the trouble they are walking into.

Warning to reader, I do not have much familiarity reading Graphic Novel (GN).   I read the Asterix and Tintin comics as a child, but that’s really as far as I got in the genre. My thoughts and opinions most likely will come across a little skewed, and while I know its not right to compare a traditional novel to a graphic novel, it’s the only frame of reference I have to work with.

While browsing NetGalley this week I came across this little nugget and being a huge Dresden fan I was quite excited.

Having never reviewed a GN before I was unsure how to shape my review. Deciding the best way being the simplest, I decided to list it’s positives and negatives. So here I go.

The lead-in for the back-story was handled very well, having read the books I can’t fault it. If you have never read the Dresden novels, you are given a good introduction to the Dresden universe so that the rest of the story line in the GN makes sense.

The story thought all 5 GN’s was consistent and in keeping with the narrative being told. Obviously, I would have liked a bit more wording, but I know you can only do so much with a speak bubble.

The colouring and tones of the GN was very good and highlighted the dark nature of the theme, as well as not coming across too cartoony.

The depiction of magical usage was not too flashy or over the top. When the characters when employing magic, it was restrained and within context for the action being portrayed.

True to form even in this shorten story line, there were a few funny moments that made me chuckle. During one scene Harry is engaged in battle but unable to use his magic. He does what I think Harry would do in the books, he kicks his opponent in the nuts.

In the fifth and final series of the GN we see Harry try one of his crazy schemes in order to save the day. This felt like a true representation of Dresden’s character from the novels, and I was glad to see it come across in the GN.

This is obviously a personal opinion (yes, I’m aware a review is always a personal opinion) but the GN Dresden is not the Dresden I know or imagine. One large example where I felt he was lacking was his Rune inscribed coat (which I will be honest I don’t remember if at this stage of the books was missing or damaged). In this version of Dresden his coat is not Rune inscribed, it kind of like Big Bird without his feathers, you know it’s Big Bird (or a reject from Jurassic Park), but it’s just not right.

While the dialogue is consistent as mentioned previously, it doesn’t feel like Dresden dialogue, its came across more Power Rangers than scrappy, rebellious wizard.

One issue unrelated to the GN style and form was consistently missing dialogue from the speech bubbles. While not a big negative, it did make the scene before and after their occurrence a little hard to understand.

The action noises (words for actions) used in the GN kept reminding me of the old Batman series with Adam West, BLAM, KAPOW, etc. I’m sure I’m being a little picky but it just felt wrong.

Overall, the transfer of Dresden from Novel to Graphic Novel should be one that ports well. The Dresden universe has magic, violence and monsters, just like every good GN and cartoon needs. Speaking as a traditional novel reader however, I would say this is a nice interlude in to the Dresden universe, but I would probably still prefer to have read the story.

Due to the fact this isn’t my usual genre for review I will try something a little different for my marks out of 10. I will start at 5 (middle of the road) and remove a point for each negative and add a point back on for each positive.

6/10

For even more reviews, author interviews and biographies, check out the site Fantasy Book Review.

Fantasy Stories told in 140 Characters

I recently did a twitter thing to tell a fantasy story in one tweet (140 characters), I actually come up with three, and thought I would share.

Story 1
Scorched land. Dragon breathe. Kings folly. Hollow throne. Forgotten son. Fatal thrust. Bloods release. Fallen hero. Loves grief.

Story 2
A hero roams alone. Evil to fell. Sharp of ear, immortal & fair. Sure of arm his riven blade falls. Evil slain the land is free.

Story 3
A high tower & wizards hand. Cold spell & dark release. Apprentice’s faith, hope renewed. Able mind, valor’s heart & Lords demise.

Writing this I do have a fourth.

Story 4
Waves break & a bow touches lands. A hero waits sword in hand. Wind & night, cold they meet. Blood, death & release a sacrifice for save all.

Comment with your own.

Writing 201: A How-To How-To

Yum Yum Vietnamese BBQ Chicken

I first tried this dish when I was in Vietnam on holiday a few years ago, it was and is still my favourite dish to eat (along side banh mi).  Hot, spicy, sour and sweet, you get golden chicken and crisp salad, hmmm (HUNGRY NOW).  To ensure I would know how to make it correctly once home, I took a one day cooking class while in Vietnam and it is now one of my stable weekly meals, even if my wife is sick to death of me making it.

If you haven’t heard of this dish, do you and your tummy a favour, cook it.

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