Reading Resolutions for 2013

According to Goodreads I read 102 books last year, of which around 90 of them are actual books and the rest are comics and audio books. So for 2013, I’m going to aim for a little more at 120 actual books which means I will need to read between 2 to 3 books per week. Pretty doable I think.

I’ve been buying plenty of books during the holiday sales and while my “to read” pile is growing ever larger, I hope this year would be a productive year and I’ll make some progress in clearing the pile. So here’s my target for 2013:

Ps: before starting, I want to say thanks to Sarah, a mom blogger, who gave me many ideas for writing. Let’s visit her blog’s latest article – www.kidfriendlyhome.com/best-outdoor-cat-house-shelter-reviews/

Series to Finish

 

  • Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – It’s been a while since I finished the first two books but I can never bring myself to finishing the series.
  • The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – Loved the world building in the first book and can’t wait to see how everything will end.
  • Bel Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley – Another great series with fascinating settings and also love the unique magic/science system.


Series to Catch up on

 

  • Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  • Horus Heresy by Various authors
  • Legend of Drizzt by R. A. Salvatore
I love these series. Even though there are a lot of books in these series, I hope I can catch up with the latest release this year.

Series to Start

 

  • Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  • Space Marines Battles by Various authors
  • Newsflesh by Mira Grant
  • Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

These are all great series that I wanted to read last year but for some reason or another I didn’t start them. I already have the first book in Demon Cycle, Farseer Trilogy and Shadows of the Apt sitting on my Kindle already and I hope to tackle them soon.

Series to re-read

 

  • Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

I loved this series when I was younger. I would love to revisit the books and see if I understand the concepts better now that I’m older.

Any Others?
I’m sure I haven’t covered all the books that I want to read, so what else do you think I should be reading this year?

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

 

Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible, but if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve last done a book review and I’ll get things started again with the long overdued review of Lee Collins’s The Dead of Winter. Another brilliant debut from Angry Robot’s amazing 2012 schedule. If you love supernatural stories then you’re in for a treat with this one.

The Dead of Winter stars Cora Oglesby and her husband Ben who specialises in hunting things that even the most hardened hunters are afraid of. Think of them as a Western version of Supernatural’s Sam and Dean Winchester if you will. Like Dean, Cora has a quick to anger temper and prefers action to words, whereas Ben is a more laid-back, thoughtful fellow. Despite how different they are, they do make an incredible pair and have a long history of monster slaying behind them. So that is why the marshal agreed to let Cora investigate the unnatural deaths of two local hunters in Leadville. But things are never this easy and soon they discover what is really lurking around in Leadville.

I really enjoyed the pacing and structure of this book. The first half serves an introduction to help you familiarise yourself with the characters and demonstrates just how effective and ruthless Cora is at her work. Once you reach the second half though, that is when the real meat of the story begins and you are exposed to a world bathed in rich lores and myths. Even though we’ve read these vampire stories hundred of times before, Collins still made it interesting and thrilling. I even managed to pick up a term for vampires that I never knew before!

A lot of credit goes to how well Cora is written. She is a conflicted character torn by a tragic event in her past. Cora wants to settle down to an easy life once she has made enough money but circumstances drive her to continue her journey on the road. Her character and attitude truly reflects on all the crap she has been through in her life. I can’t wait to see how she will evolve after the events in this story.

The Dead of Winter is a fantastic Supernatural tale set in Western setting with plenty of action and quirky humour. Definitely not to be missed and it makes a wonderful addition to your (virtual) bookshelf. Did you know that Collins was discovered because of Angry Robot’s Open Door Month? I’m just glad they did not pass on this gem.

Cora’s tale will continue in She Returns From War, which will be published in February 2013.

Shield of Secunda by Adrian Collins

The White Frontier has fallen.

Four centuries have passed since the Secundan Empire was all but destroyed. Now Secunda’s people are threatened once more. This time, with their backs to the mountains, they have nowhere left to run.

Uthiel Caellar and his young brothers don their knight’s plate and mail and go to war with the greatest heroes of the land, their youthful lust for glory to be brutally pitted against the horribly harsh reality of all-out war.

As Secunda’s sons start to fall to the horde and a fell god who feeds on the weakness of the proud and strong, can Uthiel and his brothers survive the bloodshed?
Shield of Secunda is an impressive debut that captures both the brutality of war and the camaraderie between battle brothers. This is not surprising as Collins admitted to me that he grew up obsessed with the writings of Black Library authors and Fantasy greats such as Gemmell, Abercrombie and Martin and aspire to their standards.

If you’re a fan of Black Library books then you are already familiar with some of the concepts in the book such as the training of the initiates into knights and how the different Knightly Orders operate independently of each other. In fact the initiation scene reminds me a little of the training recruits went through in Mitchel Scanlon’s Descent of Angels. Even though some ideas are similar, Shield of Secundahas enough differences to keep the concepts interesting.

The story focuses on Uthiel Caellar and follows him as he is picked to join the Grey Wolves and prepare to defend Secunda from the forthcoming invasion by the barbarians. As the story progresses, we see the gradual transformation of Uthiel from a brash, untested youth to a battle-hardened veteran as he deals with the loss of his fellow brothers-in-arms and rejections from those that remain.

There are plenty of battles in the story and you won’t be disappointed by the fights in the book. There’s a sense of urgency and imminent danger in these scenes. Where there is battle, there is violence and it shouldn’t come as a shock to see how the captives are treated in the book. The tortures may be gruesome, but I feel they are necessary to show how depraved and twisted the enemies have become.

Like many stories that focus on telling the story of a heroic protagonist in times of peril, the secondary characters felt a little weak and less memorable in comparison. There are times in the story that made me pause and ask who those characters are. As the book approaches the midway point, we see one of the characters fall to the dark side but I felt the transition happened a little too quickly. I would have loved to see more internal struggles as he slowly accepts his new station.

That being said, the book ends at an interesting intersection, and I wonder which direction the next book will head in now? Can the fallen character ever be redeemed or Uthiel has to put an end to him?

I enjoyed this book and if you are a fan of epic fantasy or the Space Marines books then you will definitely like this one.

You can find out more about Adrian Collins and his works over at: http://adriancollins.com.au/

Shadow of Kings by Jack Whitsel

Steel and sorcery clash as the Harhn incursion sweeps through the Hugue. Mankind faces its greatest peril without the Order Knights of legend to defend them. Crusading deep in the frontier, the Order is unaware of the savage beasts threatening their homeland as the Hugue realms muster their armies for war. Between a cunning Harhn sorcerer, and an alliance forged with the decadent Darkfey, the horde threatens to extinguish the domains of men. Only Lord Baudouin and Lady Lucia, a Dragon Maiden from the Order, stand in the enemy’s path. One must find the strength to unify the realms. The other must discover the strength within her, while coming to terms with the agendas of her Order. But only together will there be any hope to repel the onslaught, and preserve the future for a mysterious girl they do not know.
Shadows of Kings is the debut novel from author Jack Whitsel, a traditional fantasy story about the struggles of war and a promising start to the series. Thanks Twilight Times Books for providing me a copy of the book.

The story is mostly told from the viewpoints of Lucia and Baudouin. Lucia starts off as a young and naive Dragon Maiden in service to the Order and by the end of the book we see Lucia growing up and adapting to her new found powers. Lord Baudouin is a chivalrous knight with the duty to protect people of the Hugue from the impending invasion of the Harhn.

The world has a fascinating history and it is obvious that the author has given much thought on all the key players that helped shaped the world into what it is. However throughout the book I can’t help but feel that the author was withholding information and saving up for a big reveal in the later books. Despite this, the book does come to a satisfying conclusion.

In short, Shadow of Kings is a fun quick read but I feel the author played it safe by sticking a little too close to traditional fantasy idea of good versus evil, human versus the others. I would be interested to see if the second novel will spice things up a bit.

About the author
Jack Whitsel is a native Californian, but has made Oregon his home since 1982. His favorite genres are fantasy and historical fiction. Shadows of Kings, the first novel of the Dragon Rising Series is the love child born of these two passions. “I love the elements of fantasy when mixed with the gritty aspects of a medieval society.”

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods–and a skrayling ambassador–to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally–and Mal his soul.

Anne Lyle’s The Alchemist of Souls was my May book club read with Fantasy Faction. I don’t usually read fantasy stories based on real history but I think Lyle has found the right balance between the real and the imaginary. For me the story would have worked just as well as a historical fiction with the fantasy elements omitted.

Lyle is a great writer as evident in her expertly described vision of Elizabethan England and her fascinating characters. Although I struggled a bit at the beginning as I found the pacing a little slow but the plot and mystery had me intrigued right to the end. I really want to understand why the skrayling ambassador is so interested in Mal, who seems like just a regular sword for hire. Besides the plot, I also enjoyed reading the developing relationship between Mal and Coby and I hope we get to see more of it in the next book.

It is interesting to see how Lyle’s believe was brought to life in this book in regards to gender issues. Coby is a budding young woman who has to hide her sex in order to survive on her own in a male dominated world; the skraylings revolve around a matriarchy where they would seek approval from the females and then there are the gay characters who have to deal with persecution. I think it is great that Lyle is calling attention to these issues as we still face them in this day and age.

The ending leaves me with plenty of questions and I wonder how they will be addressed in the forthcoming book The Merchant of Dreams?

The Alchemist of Souls is a wonderful début and a brilliant start to the Night’s Masque series and will definitely appeal to both historical fiction and fantasy fans.

Beyond the Wall edited by James Lowder

Go beyond the Wall and across the narrow sea with this collection about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons.

The epic game of thrones chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. In Beyond the Wall, bestselling authors and acclaimed critics offer up thought-provoking essays and compelling insights:

Daniel Abraham reveals the unique challenges of adapting the original books into graphic novels.
Westeros.org founders Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García, Jr., explore the series’ complex heroes and villains, and their roots in the Romantic movement.
Wild Cards contributor Caroline Spector delves into the books’ controversial depictions of power and gender.

Plus much more, from military science fiction writer Myke Cole on the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shapes many of the leading characters to author and television writer Ned Vizzini on the biases against genre fiction that color critical reactions to the series.

Thanks BenBella Books and Smart Pop Books for providing me a review copy of Beyond the Wall. If you are a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire then you will definitely love the essays in Beyond the Wall. Each essay explores a different facet in A Song of Ice and Fire with contributors ranging from some of the biggest names in modern Fantasy to experts on the series.

My favourite essays were the ones that looked at things in the series that a casual reader would miss. Such as in “An unreliable World”, Adam Whitehead talks about how unpredictable seasons affect the ability for people to tell time. Due to this uncertainty, people in Westeros rely on personal anecdotes as a scale on history.

Daniel Abraham has a wonderful piece in this book detailing the difficulty in the story’s transition from book to comic. I always thought this is something very trivial to do and never imagined so much work must be put in to ensure there is a climax in each comic issue. Reading his essay also made me realise why the characters in the HBO series is a lot older. This is because the producers cannot legally show children in brutal situations.

In “Art Imitates War” Myke Cole analyses the series from an angle that I never thought of before, which is how the characters in the series deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it empowers or destroys them. I’ve never been to war myself so it was extremely fascinating to read about the different conditions that people go through to cope with crisis and how the characters in the book mirror them.

This is a wonderful companion book to A Song of Ice and Fire series and is highly recommended to any fan who wants to dig deeper into the series.

Into the Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan

Thirteen-year-old Gabe Wrenn has always taken refuge in his imagination. Refuge from his hovering mom and bullying brother. Refuge from the smirks and stares of his classmates. Refuge from his epilepsy. But now his imagination seems to be running wild. And he can’t stop it. And the only person Gabe can confide in is a girl who thinks his “weird brain” is the key to unlocking the secret of the Brynmor Witch.

Into the Mist: Silver Hand is a brilliant novel that brings back a lot of memories for me. It reminds me of reading fantasy novels when I was young and the excitement and thrills that I get when turning through the pages. The book is basically two stories in one and Finegan does a marvellous job balancing and blending a modern day coming of age story with a traditional fantasy story set to a Celtic background.

The story is about Gabe, a 13 year old boy who is suffering from mild Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. His mother overprotects him because of this and as a result he doesn’t get to do things boy of his age do and branded as a freak by some. Despite his condition, one thing that Gabe does well is his drawings of a heroic figure he calls Corvus. This talent is quickly spotted by Ellie, the girl next door at his new home.

Through their adventures together they discover that Gabe’s epilepsy is not as simple as it seems. In fact when Gabe has his seizures or auras as his mum would call it, he would appear in an ancient wood as the Celtic legend Mabon. Ellie believes that Gabe is somehow linked to this Mabon and Gabe must do everything he can to save Mabon’s world.

As I said before this novel is two stories blended together. In the modern world Gabe has to deal with alienation and embarrassment because of his condition. Through his actions as Mabon, Gabe gains the strength to face his fears and to stand up to the bullies which ends in an intense and dramatic confrontation. At the same time, Mabon’s world, Elfyth is facing an invasion from the Grayman and his undead army. Gabe has to juggle between being himself, as well as Mabon as he faces challenges in both worlds.

Just as Rick Riordan has brought a new perspective to ADHD and dyslexia in his Olympians series, Finegan has turned TLE into something that is a gift in this book. Some of the world’s most creative mind suffered from epilepsy and some argues that it was epilepsy that gave them the extra insight and flair in their works. In the book, Gabe went from being afraid to finally accepting it as part of who he is and he can’t rely on drugs to make him feel better.

While staying true to Celtic mythology, the author does a pretty good job bringing it to live. However in this first book we are only getting glimpses of Elfyth but I’m sure we will see more of this world in the next book when Mabon faces the Grayman and his army.

Just as the book reaches its climax, the story ends. I don’t dislike cliffhanger endings and I understand why it ended like it did but I still prefer if it didn’t finish with so many loose ends.

Gabe and Ellie are fantastically well written characters and it was an extreme pleasure to read the exchanges between the two of them. Overall, I found Into the Mist: Silver Hand to be a marvellous read and I look forward to the second part Into the Mist: Bringer of the Dawn which comes out in 2013.

For more information on Steve Finegan and Into the Mist series, please visit his website athttp://www.stevefinegan.com/.

Challenges read for:


2012 Self-Published Reading Challenge – Book 10

 


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 18

Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke

Charles Dickens lived and breathed London in a way few authors ever have, before or since. In his fiction, his non-fiction, and even his own life, Dickens cast an extraordinary shadow over the city he so loved – so much so, indeed, that his name has become synonymous with a certain image of London. A London of terrible social inequality and matchless belief in the human potential; a London filled with the comic and the repulsive, the industrious and the feckless, the faithful and the faithless, the selfish and the selfless.

Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke is dedicated to bringing together original short stories by some of today’s finest genre authors – stories about London and inspired by Charles Dickens, the self-styled Sparkler of Albion.
Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke is a collection of highly imaginative short stories inspired by Dickens and his London. There is a great variety of stories in this collection with works by both established and emerging authors. There are plenty of gems in this book and I’m sure everyone can something that they like in this collection of Dickensian short stories.

The stories that stood out the most for me were Inspector Bucket Investigates by Sarah Lotz, The Hound of Henry Hortinger by Michelle Goldsmith, An Unburdening of the Soul by David Thomas Moore, andAye, There’s the Twist by James Wallis.

Inspector Bucket Investigates is a wonderful mix of science fiction and the Dickensian world. Set in a theme park based on Dickens’s stories, Inspector Bucket must investigate who is killing off the clones in the park. The Hound of Henry Hortinger is an atmospheric and unrelentingly fast-paced story about the demise of Henry Hortinger. An Unburdening of the Soul paints a great picture of the poverty faced in Dickens’s London, although a little short and Aye, There’s the Twist is a modern day Dickens story with great twists and turns.

Recommended for anyone who is looking for something that is a little different to their usual science fiction and fantasy.

For more information on the Pandemonium series, please visit Pandemonium Fiction.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 17

Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along – Final Week

So we’ve finally reached the final week of Red Seas Under Red Skies read along. It’s been another epic journey, this time we see Locke and Jean navigating the treacherous waters of the Sea of Brass. Thanks for all your comments, it was great to see what you all thought about the story and really expanded my experience with this book.

The final week’s questions are provided by Lynn at Lynn’s Book blog.

1. Oh my god, such a lot going on I thought the showdown between the Poison Orchid and the Sovereign was brilliantly written and they were holding their own until Utgar and his nasty device turned up. Well a lot of you had kind of predicted it, and I suppose we’d been let off too easy so far in terms of deaths of well-liked characters – but come on, did you expect something like that? And how on earth will Jean ever recover?
I always thought it would be the Archon that wipes out the pirates and never expected the pirates to fight amongst themselves. I knew deaths would be coming and it was really sad to see Erzi to go the way she did. At least she died by saving everyone on the Poison Orchid. I wonder how Jean would cope? Probably the same way as Locke did at the beginning of this book.

2. The deceit, the betrayal, first Rodanov and then Colvard. Even now I’m not entirely sure I understand Colvard – Rodanov was never keen on the oath but Colvard seemed okay with it all and yet in this final deceit she was more devious than Rodanov – what do you think was her motive?
I don’t think there’s any real honour among thieves, and it’s only fear that keeps them in line. So maybe Colvard wasn’t ok with the plan but didn’t want to voice out in case of angering Drakasha. So she seized the moment and turned on Drakasha when everyone is least expecting it.

3. Merrain – such a puzzle, no real answer, the mysterious tattoo, the determination to kill everyone to keep her identity and that of her master a secret. Does anybody have any ideas where she’s from and what she’s up to exactly and who the hell is she working for??
I’m guessing this based on the synopsis for Republic of Thieves. If you don’t want to know what will happen in the next book then I suggest skip ahead to the next question.

From the synopsis we know the Bondsmagi are at war with each other and Sabetha is working for one of them. So I think Merrain is actually Sabetha and the tattoo represents the Bondsmagi clan the she is working for.

4. Finally we get to the point of the GB’s latest scheme, all that elaborate planning for two years, fancy chairs, gambling, dust covered cards, abseiling lessons – all for one gigantic bluff. I loved the diversionary tactic here but having finally reached the end of the story and, more to the point, the end result – do you think the GB’s are as clever as they think they are?
It’s great to see how they all fit together and I really like how they had to go into so much trouble just to steal a few paintings from Requin. However to be honest, I feel slightly let down. I really thought we would see how they will break into that impenetrable vault. Maybe Locke and Jean will one day come back and rob Requin for real.

5. I must admit that I liked Requin and Selendri – particularly at the end – I don’t think Requin will go after Locke and Jean, he was even sort of cool and composed about it all, in fact he came across as a bit pleased with himself because he had the last laugh. Plenty of good characters this time which did you enjoy reading most about this time?
I agree Requin was pretty proud of himself because he outwitted the thieves and it was pretty sweet what he did for Selendri at the end. They do make a great couple. However my favourite character in this book has got to be Captain Drakasha. I just really enjoy reading this interesting character. On one hand she’s a strong and fearless captain, while on the other she is also a caring mother who wants to keep her children safe from harm.

6. Finally, a triple barrel question, I know I shouldn’t ask this BUT, on reflection do you have a favourite between LoLL or RSURS?? And why? Are you going to pick up Republic of Thieves? And, where do you think Lynch will take us to next??
I prefer LoLL to RSURS. I’m not really a sea person and I found parts of the voyage boring. When reading LoLL, I had no idea that the deaths were coming and I felt sad to see so many GBs dead, whereas in RSURS I knew something bad is bound to happen.

On the whole I think LoLL is a more compact and refined experience. RSURS is still good but just some parts felt like it was dragging on for no apparent reason. I am also looking forward to RoT. I’m glad I don’t have to wait as long for this book as some other people who have been following this series from the beginning. All I know is that the third book will be set in Karthain, so maybe we get some answers to how magic in the series really works.

Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along – Week 4

What an exciting week this has been. Love that cliffhanger ending we’re left with and I look forward to see what everyone think is going to happen. This week’s questions were supplied by nrlymrtl at Dark Cargo.

1. I was much relieved when Jean and Locke made up, which started with Locke’s gesture of a cup full of honesty with Cpt. Drakasha. Do you think that was hard for Locke? Or was he using this bit of honesty like any other weapon in his arsenal to get what he wants in the end?
We all know how good Locke is at reading and calculating people. I think he weighed all the possible actions and found out that being honest with Captain Drakasha is the only way to keep them both alive in the long run.

I was surprised Locke was honest to the Archon as well and told him everything that happened at Port Prodigal. I wonder if Locke’s plan will work out in the end.

2. The Parlor Passage: We still don’t know Locke’s true name, but whatever was in that mist does. What do you think it is?
This is a hard one but whatever it is, it obviously doesn’t want to be found. It must have some serious mojo to cast such a big spell around itself.

3. There was an interesting section of the book that started about where Locke assisted Drakasha in selling the Red Messenger; he put on the persona of Leocanto Kosta and used the alias Tavras Callas and then Drakasha was still thinking of him as Ravelle….. Did using all those various aliases in such a short amount of time have your mind spinning a little? Do you think Lynch did this on purpose to give the reader a sense of Locke’s mind?
The wonderful about Locke is that he can be a completely different person but essentially the same person and this is what makes him interesting to read. I don’t find it confusing as these personae are quite distinct. I really like how Locke can slip into another personality just like he did when he faced the Redeemers.

4. That was a sweet little kiss between Cpt. Zamira and Cpt. Jaffrim at the end of the Captains’ Council. Do you think they have some history, or is it just innocent flirting that’s been going on for some time?
I’m sure there is some history between the two. Maybe they used to sail on the same boat before they both became captains.

5. Jean and Ezri. Cue dove-cooing and little winged hearts with sparkles. Do you think Jean will stay with the Poison Orchid or that Ezri will leave her ship to pal around with Jean and Locke?
Ezri has spent most of her time at sea and I think it will be harder for her to adjust to a life on land. Jean being the gentleman that he is, I’m sure he will side with Ezri even though if it means abandoning Locke. However I still think something will happen to prevent Jean from ever making that decision.

6. What is Utgar up to? What are his motivations?
Utgar wants to move up to the biggest and baddest ship in the Sea of Brass. I wouldn’t blame him for what he’s doing, it’s just how life is like for pirates. I wonder if it’s only simply spying that he has been charged to do or something more.

7. So last week we hashed over that Merrain killed some of Stragos’s guards on Windward Rock. But when Jean and Locke visit him, he doesn’t mention it. What is up with that?
I think Stragos still has those deaths at the back of his mind but he doesn’t want to bring them up yet until Locke and Jean has succeeded in their task. I’m sure he will make them pay for it soon enough.

8. This week’s section left us where the book began – Jean pointing a crossbow at Locke’s throat. Do you think Jean knows who sent these crossbowers? Is he on their side? Is it a clever ploy to get him and Locke out of this predicament? Did you find it excruciatingly hard to stop here?
Yes this was a very bad place to stop. I think this is a ploy but I really have no idea who the employer is and what is going to happen. Currently there are so many things happening and not that many page left, will this book have a satisfying ending for the duo? I really can’t wait to see how this book will end.

Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along – Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of the Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along. This week’s questions are from Ashley (@ohthatashley) over at SF Signal.

1. Locke and Jean’s ability to find themselves at the center of a serious mess seems unparalleled. At this point, do you think that Stragos will get the return he expects on his investment in them?
Locke and Jean are really in some serious mess. I never expected Caldris to die of a heart attack. How will they get the antidote in time when they have no ship of their own? I don’t know how they will do it but one thing I’m sure is that they will come up with an amazing scheme to commandeer a ship in time. At the same time I bet they will also incite all the pirates in Port Prodigal to wage war with the Archon.

2. Merrain’s activities after our boys leave Windward Rock are interesting. What do you think her plans are?
Merrain sure is a mysterious figure. Who is her ultimate employer? I think whoever she is working for wants to upset the stability in Tal Verrar and probably wish to establish a new leader to rule over the city.

3. Does anyone know why having cats aboard the ship is so important?
Well cats are important because they help catch vermin that eat away at the ship’s supplies and it seems they are a sort of lucky charm in the eyes of the sailors and pirates. Also cats are pretty fun to watch when you’re out at sea for a long time.

4. The word “mutiny” creates a lot of mental pictures. Were you surprised? Why or why not?
I wasn’t that surprised it happened. Locke and Jean are good at faking but usually they spend a long time to prepare for the schemes and have plenty of chances to practise. Whereas this time, all they had was a month and their expert suddenly dropped dead. Of course it wouldn’t take long for the rest of the crew to catch on that Locke and Jean are not who they claim they are.

5. Ah, the Poison Orchid. So many surprises there, not the least of which were the captain’s children. Did you find the young children a natural part of the story?
It makes sense that the captain wants to keep the children on the ship with her. It’s better than leaving them at port where there is no guarantee to their safety. I wonder if the children will play a bigger role in the latter parts of the story.

6. Jean is developing more and more as a character as we get further in to the book. Ezri makes the comment to him that “Out here, the past is a currency, Jerome. Sometimes it’s the only one we have.” I think several interesting possibilities are coming into play regarding Jean and Ezri. What about you?
No matter how much Jean might like Ezri I don’t think they will have a happy ending. Lynch just loves torturing his characters and there’s also another five books for Locke and Jean to survive through. I hate to say it but it’s just too early for Jean to settle down. I really can’t see Ezri becoming a part of the Gentleman Bastards.

7. As we close down this week’s reading, the Thorn of Camorr is back! I love it, even with all the conflict. Several things from their Camorri background have come back up. Do you think we will see more Camorri characters?
I know there’s one Camorri that I really want to see. I think her name begins with a S…

Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along – Week 2

OK, so here are the questions for week 2 of the Read Along. As usual, please visit Little Red Reviewerfor everyone’s discussions.

1. Now that we know a little more about Selendri and Requin, what do you think of them? I worry Locke is suddenly realizing this con might be a bit tougher than he expected.
Requin really cares for Selendri and there is obviously something much more to their relationship. I don’t think this revelation affects Locke’s plan that much as he is always able to get out of tight situations. In fact I think Locke will take advantage of this relationship and use it in some way to get into the vault.

2. Isn’t the Artificers’ Crescent just amazing? If you could purchase anything there, what would it be?
Everything is just amazing there and I would just purchase the whole thing. If I can only pick one then it would be some type of mechanical pet. Something that can rival a scorpion-hawk.

3. What did you think of Salon Corbeau and the goings on that occur there? A bit crueler than a Camorri crime boss, no?
I agree with Locke that these sort of games are not to my taste. I’m just wondering does lawlessness always bring out the worst in people and do people with power always want to abuse it? I just hope Locke teaches them a lesson.

4. The Archon might be a megalomaniacal military dictator, but he thinks he’s doing right by Tal Verrar: his ultimate goal seems to be to protect them. What do you think he’s so afraid of?
I think he’s very proud of Tal Verrar and maybe upset that they lost the Thousand-Day War against Camorr because the Priori gave in. I don’t think there’s anything the Archon is afraid of. He just wants to prove to the entire world that Tal Verrar is a force to be reckoned with.

5. And who the heck is trying to kill Locke and Jean every few days? they just almost got poisoned (again!)!
Well I don’t think its the Bondsmagi because they’ve already handed Locke and Jean over to the Archon. I think if Requin wanted them dead then he would have pushed Locke out of the window already and obviously the Archon has an important task for them to do. I don’t think the new Spiders want them dead either. So I guess Locke did something in Salon Corbeau that pissed a lot of rich people off and now they want to get their revenge.

6. Do you really think it’s possibly for a city rat like Locke to fake his way onto a Pirate ship?
If it were any other people I would say no but it’s Locke and Jean after all. They have been faking it since they were a small child, I have confidence they will pull this off.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men–and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game–or die trying…

After over a month of discussions on The Lies of Locke Lamora read along, I’m finally writing down my thoughts on this story. The following is not exactly a review, more like a summary of my read along and contains spoilers so I advise you to seek another review if you want something spoiler free.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is definitely one the most interesting fantasy books I’ve read lately. First off, Lies takes place in a bustling port city similar to a Renaissance age Venice. This is so refreshing compared to the typical fantasy story that is set in a generic medieval style country. This slightly more modern setting allows Lynch to create a vibrant city that is filled with lives and activities, as well as exotic goods that you rarely find in other novels.

What further impressed me is the attention to detail in this book. Lynch has created a world so rich that you could mistake it for real. There’s a mysterious forgotten race, a fascinating religion system, a hierarchy of classes that separates the nobles from the common folks and then there’s food with description so vivid that causes salivation on the very thought of them. Can you honestly say you don’t want to take a sip of Austershalin brandy or taste the sweet nectar from Orange Sofia? What’s even more phenomenal is that Lynch created all these for his debut novel. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all these information, I was mesmerised throughout by how natural and how well suited they are to the story. The writing was so good that these details didn’t feel out of place at all.

Many people complained about the language, saying the profanities are inappropriate or too modern for the society of that period. Well for the first point, these people are known as the Gentleman Bastards and not just the Gentlemen. You can’t really expect thieves and con artists to behave like some uptight nobles even when they’re being themselves. Whereas for the second point, you have to remember this is a fantasy fiction and not a historical fantasy and Lynch can use any language that he sees fit for his characters. I think the swearing would stick out like a sore thumb if he were to use anything else.

And then there’s the complaints about the interludes. Some find the flashbacks interspersed in the story off putting but to me this is similar to the flashback device used on television shows to introduce a new episode. I find the flashbacks add a rich layer to the storytelling, providing just enough background information to introduce the new scenes. It was great to learn how powerful the Bondsmagi are and then the next chapter opens with Locke swearing at one of these mighty Bondsmagi.

Finally there’s the Gentleman Bastards themselves. Locke, with his exceptional skills in scheming and plotting makes for a fitting leader after the departure of Father Chains. Jean, fighter and saviour of the group, strong but not stupid. Then there’s the Sanza twins who provide much of the comedy relief of the group and last but not least Bug, the youngest one of the group who looks up to the older boys as idols. These are some of the most sympathetic thieves that you will ever come across. I just love the sense of camaraderie between the Gentleman Bastards. Except for the whole dying thing, wouldn’t it be great to be part of the gang?

It was pretty shocking to see them killed off so early in the series. I knew the deaths were coming but I thought these Gentleman Bastards could at least make it for a few more books. I wonder how Locke and Jean will move forward now without the other boys. Can they ever accept someone new to replace the friends they lost? And what about that mysterious Sabetha? I wonder what she did to get Locke so in love with her.

Lynch has created a fantastic story with The Lies of Locke Lamora. Yes, there is a lot of swearing and scenes of brutality but the Gentleman Bastards do live in a dangerous era and operate with some of the meanest and roughest criminals. I found there is a good balance of humour and light-heartedness alongside the thrills and excitement to make this story an extreme pleasure to read.

I can’t highly recommend this enough but seeing that this book is voted as one of the top 10 books published by Gollancz in its fifty years of publishing more than speaks for itself. A must read for any fantasy fans.

Discussion Posts:
Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 1
Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 2
Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 3
Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 4
Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 5

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 15

Red Seas Under Red Skies Read Along – Week 1

I had a lot of fun in the first Gentleman Bastard read along so I’ve decided to continue with part 2 of the series, Red Seas Under Red Skies. This time I will actually stick to the schedule and won’t read any further than what is specified in the reading guide. Let’s see how different my answers will be from the book.

So to kick off this second read along, we have Bryce from My Awful Reviews supplying the questions covering the beginning of the book to the end of chapter 3. Also remember to check out the other great discussions at The Little Red Reviewer.

1. The Sinspire. It looks like our heroes (can they really be called that?) find themselves in search of a way into an unbeatable vault. Do you think they have what it takes to make it happen?
I think Locke always have some ingenious plans to make things happen. I am really interested to see what Locke will do to beat this apparently undefeatable vault. I also wonder if they will ever recruit new members to the Gentleman Bastards or it will remain as the dynamic duo from now on.

2. Anyone want to guess how they’re going to make it happen?
Like Locke said, if you can’t cheat the system then you have to cheat the players. So I think Locke is going to gain trust from Requin then when the opportunity present itself, Locke will stab Requin in the back and rob him blind.

3. It’s a little different this time around, with us just being focused on Locke and Jean. Is anyone else missing the rest of the Bastards as much as I am?
I really enjoy the conversations between Locke and Jean but I miss the other GBs too. Like I said earlier, I hope they will add new members to their group.

4. I love the section where Jean starts to build a new guild of thieves. It really shows just how well trained and tough he is. Do you think the Bastards will end up training others along the way again like Bug?
I think that will be the end goal for Locke. It’s still too early in the series for them to settle down and start up a thief school. I imagine that at the end of the series, Locke will become a Father Chains like figure to a bunch of aspiring con artists.

5. For those of you looking for Sabetha, we still haven’t spotted her yet. Anyone else chomping at the bit to see the love of Locke’s life?
I think Sabetha is a myth to keep the GBs happy at night. I won’t believe she’s real until she actually appears in the book.

6. It’s early on, but the Bastards are already caught up in plots that they didn’t expect. How do you think their new “employer” is going to make use of them (The Archon, that is)?
I wonder what The Archon wants to achieve by “employing” the GBs. I don’t think he cares about Requin’s money. Maybe The Archon wants to use the GBs to get back at the Bondsmagi for some reason.

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Final Week

It’s the final week of the Lies of Locke Lamora read along and it has been a fantastic journey. I really enjoyed reading the book as well as discovering what everyone else thinks of it.

The final questions to the read along are provided by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog. Without further ado, the questions are:

1. The Thorn of Camorr is renowned – he can beat anyone in a fight and he steals from the rich to give to the poor. Except of course that clearly most of the myths surrounding him are based on fantasy and not fact. Now that the book is finished how do you feel the man himself compares to his legend. Did you feel that he changed as the story progressed and, if so, how did this make you feel about him by the time the conclusion was reached?
Legend tends to blow things out of proportion and obviously Locke is not Robin Hood. He doesn’t give to the poor and he only does things when it suits him or challenges him.

I think the events in the book has given Locke a new perspective in life. Before he was satisfied with conning the nobels out of their money but I believe he nows want to accomplish more. I’m not sure if he’ll do something good or bad though but would be interesting to find out.

2. Scott Lynch certainly likes to give his leading ladies some entertaining and strong roles to play. We have the Berangia sisters – and I definitely wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of them or their blades plus Dona Vorchenza who is the Spider and played a very cool character – even play acting to catch the Thorn. How did you feel about the treatment the sisters and Dona received at the hands of Jean and Locke – were you surprised, did it seem out of character at all or justified?
I think the sisters got what they deserved. Afterall they are trained warriors and Jean beat them both in a fair fight. And Vorchenza thought Locke to be a gentlemen, but how wrong was she? Despite what happened to her, I think Locke treated her fairly well under the circumstances.

3. Towards the end we saw a little more of the magic and the history of the Bondsmagi. The magic, particularly with the use of true names, reminds me a little of old fashioned witchcraft or even voodoo. But, more than that I was fascinated after reading the interlude headed ‘The Throne in Ashes’ about the Elderglass and the Elders and why their structures were able to survive even against the full might of the Bondsmagi – do you have any theories about this do you think it’s based on one of our ancient civilisations or maybe similar to a myth??
I don’t have an explanation, maybe the Elderglass is magic proof and immune to any form of damage. I wonder if we’ll ever know where the Elderglass comes from.

4. We have previously discussed Scott Lynch’s use of description and whether it’s too much or just spot on. Having got into the last quarter of the book where the level of tension was seriously cranked up – did you still find, the breaks for interludes and the descriptions useful or, under the circumstances did it feel more like a distraction?
I still enjoyed the interludes, because I like reading about the backstory. They offer a short break from all the action in this intense finale.

5. Now that the book has finished how did you feel about the conclusion and the eventual reveal about the Grey King and more to the point the motivations he declared for such revenge – does it seem credible, were you expecting much worse or something completely different altogether?
I know some people can really hold grudges so I’m not surprised that the Grey King waited for so long to get his revenge. I am a little surprise that he doesn’t have more people around to protect him. Maybe he was over confident with the bondsmage? I did secretly wish that the Grey King is someone Locke knows though. That would have driven Locke nuts.

6. Were you surprised that Locke, being given two possible choices (one of which could possibly mean he would miss his chance for revenge on the Grey King) chose to go back to the Tower – especially given that (1) he would have difficulty in getting into the building (2) he would have difficulty in convincing them about the situation and (3) he would have difficulty in remaining free afterwards? Did anyone else nearly pee their pants when Locke and the rest were carrying the sculptures up to the roof garden?
I knew Locke would go back to save those people. After everything he’s done, he never intended to hurt his victims and he would never want to see so many people dead. Yeah and the moment with the sculptures was tense.

7. Finally, the other question I would chuck in here is that, following the end of the book I was intrigued to check out some of the reviews of LOLL and noticed that the negative reviews mentioned the use of profanity. How did you feel about this – was it excessive? Just enough? Not enough?
I thought the profanity suited the situation, afterall they are thieves and you can’t expect them to talk like nobles when they are by themselves. Another issue that I see people have is that the profanity is too modern but this is a made up world so Lynch can use anything that he sees fit. However if this was a historical fantasy then I can understand where their concern is coming from.

8. Okay one further, and probably most important but very quick question – having finished, will you pick up the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies?
Yes, definitely! Just waiting for the next read along to start.

OK, here’s a question of my own. Do you think Locke went over the top with Falconer or he got what he deserved? Afterall the Bondsmage is only a gun for hire and did what he was told.

Remember to check everyone’s answers over at Little Red Reviewer.

Waiting Game by J.L. Ficks and J.E. Dugue

Shade has grown into the deadliest assassin the men of Doljinaar have ever known. Thirsting for a challenge, Shade accepts a job to slay an ultra powerful crimelord that could brand him an enemy of his own criminal underworld. A tale of pride and confidence, Shade chooses to take his mark head on. This time he waits for his enemy to come to him. How many waves of monstrous foes can Shade gamble before the sheer numbers prove too much? How long can one lone assassin last until he falls victim to his own deadly waiting game?

Waiting Game is the first novel set in Covent, a world created by J.L. Ficks and J.E. Dugue. This is a massive world similar to Forgotten Realms with an extensive list of races and creatures. What attracted me to this book is the awesome cover by Thom Scott and the amazing website. This is one of the most detailed and interactive websites I’ve seen for any book series.

The character Shade reminds me of R.A. Salvatore’s Artemis Entreri when we first meet him in Streams of Silver. Like Entreri, Shade is a trained killer and he is sure of himself and proud of his abilities.

The story itself is simple enough. While looking for a challenge to pass his time, Shade takes on the seemingly impossible job of assassinating the powerful crimelord Lewd. Before Shade can reach his mark though, he must first dispatch hordes of opponents standing in his way.

I’ll start with things I didn’t like as much. Covent is an immense world and obviously the authors wanted to show that off. However the first part of the book was presenting too much information for worldbuilding sake without driving the story forward. Also I feel detached with the third person narrative. Much of the story was just simply Shade did this or Shade did that. I would like to get into Shade’s head to understand his motives and what makes him tick.

That said, the fight scenes I thought were great. First there were tension. Then the description of the fights themselves paint a vivid scene in your mind. It also doesn’t hurt that these scenes are backed up by some amazing illustrations.

Visit Chronicles of Covent to see what else is happening in the project.

Challenges read for:


2012 Self-Published Reading Challenge – Book 4

 


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 11

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 4

Welcome to another week’s questions and answers for Lies of Locke Lamora read along. Once again, do visit Andrea at Little Red Reviewer for everyone’s answers to the questions.

This week’s questions are brought to us by Ashley at SF Signal.

1. In the chapter “A Curious Tale for Countess Amberglass” we learn of the tradition of the night tea in Camorr. I found that not so much fantastical as realistic – how about you?
I really love these details that flesh out the world. It shows that there is life outside of the main arc of the story and the author has put in a lot of work into imagining all aspects of this world.

2. When Jean meets with what will become the Wicked Sisters for the first time, the meeting is described very much like how people feel when they find their true work or home. Agree? Disagree? Some of both?
It does sound like Jean has found his true love. I was pretty surprised how fast Jean picked up using the Wicked Sisters and how natural he was at fighting though.

3. Salt devils. Bug. Jean. The description is intense. Do you find that description a help in visualizing the scene? Do you find yourself wishing the description was occasionally – well – a little less descriptive?
I don’t mind descriptive scenes, as long as it’s not redundant or too flowery. I think the description Lynch used for the scene was spot on. It added to the tension and sense of danger that the gang faced in that situation and made it that much more exciting.

4. This section has so much action in it, it’s hard to find a place to pause. But…but.. oh, Locke. Oh, Jean. On their return to the House of Perelandro, their world is turned upside down. Did you see it coming?
Let just say I made the mistake of reading some discussion threads which spoiled the surprise. Anyway I would never have guessed it coming in a million years. It’s fitting but I would like see that GBs together for a few more novels.

5. Tavrin Callas’s service to the House of Aza Guilla is recalled at an opportune moment, and may have something to do with saving a life or three. Do you believe Chains knew what he set in motion? Why or why not?
Chains wanted the boys to be prepared for all kinds of situations. He might not know exactly what mess the GBs will get into but at least he gave them a good foundation.

6. As Locke and Jean prepare for Capa Raza, Dona Vorchenza’s remark that the Thorn of Camorr has never been violent – only greedy and resorting to trickery – comes to mind again. Will this pattern continue?
Well Locke learnt his lesson at a young age and he swore that he will never get anyone killed because of his schemes. So I don’t think he will hurt anyone unless they deserve it.

7. Does Locke Lamora or the Thorn of Camorr enter Meraggio’s Countinghouse that day? Is there a difference?
I don’t think there is a difference between the two. Both the actions of lying and conning are so ingrained in Locke that he can’t simply just be himself. The Thorn of Camorr will always live on in Locke.

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 3

It’s time for another The Lies of Locke Lamora read along. This week’s questions come from Bryce at My Awful Reviews. Once again you can find other people’s answer over at the Little Red Reviewer.

1. This section is where we finally get to sneak a peek at the magic in The Gentleman Bastards books. From what we read, what are your initial impressions of the magic Lynch is using? Is there any way that Locke and Company would be able to get around the Bondsmage’s powers?
I like it that magic isn’t that common in this world and it actually costs an arm and a leg just to even hire someone who can casts spells. I’ve read too many stories that are spoiled by way too powerful magic. This means that Locke and Co. have to rely on their wit to overcome the challenge that is the Bondsmage.

2. Not a question, but an area for rampant speculation: If you want to take a stab at who you think the Grey King might be, feel free to do it here.
At first I thought it could be Jean because his background is a mystery. Maybe he became an orphan because of the Capa and now poses as the Grey King to get his revenge. Then I thought maybe it’s Chains, he did say he wants to disrupt the Secret Peace. Where is he now anyway? We never know what happened to him in the story.

2.5 (since 2 wasn’t really a question) Anyone see the Nazca thing coming? Anyone? Do you think there are more crazy turns like this in store for the book? Would you like to speculate about them here? (yes, yes you would)
I didn’t see the Nazca thing coming at all. I think Lynch sucker punched me with the idea of a wedding between Locker and her. Since I’ve finished the book already, let’s just say I never expected what happens at the end of the book.

3. When Locke says “Nice bird, arsehole,” I lose it. EVERY TIME. And not just because I have the UK version of the book and the word arsehole is funnier than asshole. Have there been any other places in the books so far where you found yourself laughing out loud, or giggling like a crazy person on the subway?
I don’t remember laughing out loud but I do recall there were plenty of places that I thought were awesome. (Is it wrong that I love a particular scene with Locke and the Falconer which appears later on in the book?) I also really like the exchanges between Locke, Falconer and the Grey King. This definitely one of my favourites because Locke just wouldn’t take shit from them no matter what.

4. By the end of this reading section, have your opinions changed about how clever the Bastards are? Do you still feel like they’re “cleverer than all the rest?” Or have they been decidedly outplayed by the Grey King and his Bondsmage?
I still think they are clever but definitely not as smart as the Grey King who played them like a pawn. It was obvious that the Grey King never intended them to get out alive. I thought that Locke would have a better contigency plan before going to meet the Capa.

5. I imagine that you’ve probably read ahead, since this was a huge cliffhanger of an ending for the “present” storyline, but I’ll ask this anyway: Where do you see the story going from here, now that the Grey King is thought to be dead?
Now that the Grey King is dead, Capa Barsavi will think he got his revenge and begin to relax… Can’t say much more since I know what happens but what came afterwards didn’t surprise me.

6. What do you think of the characters Scott Lynch has given us so far? Are they believable? Real? Fleshed out? If not, what are they lacking?
I’m really loving the characters so far. Locke is maybe too good at what he does but it doesn’t mean he is invincible. Scott Lynch shows that nothing is safe even if your character has talent.

7. Now that you’ve seen how clever Chains is about his “apprenticeships,” why do you think he’s doing all of this? Does he have an endgame in sight? Is there a goal he wants them to achieve, or is it something more emotional like revenge?
Chains wants to use the Gentleman Bastards to destroy the Secret Peace but why does he hate it so much? He’s training the boys to be well-versed in high society, so he must be planning something to get back at the nobles. Exactly what Chains is planning though, I’m not too sure.

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 2

This is the second week into the Lies of Locke Lamora read along and this week’s questions were supplied by Susan at Dark Cargo. Click here, if you missed my responses for week one’s questions andhere to see what other people has answered for week two.

1. Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game – and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!
When I found out Locke is also the Midnighter I thought how is this con going to work? Then I realised that the Midnighter role gives him a way out of the situation he set up. But why does it have to be so elaborate and complicated? I think it’s because Locke is cocky and in order to look for some excitement and challenges, he has to create these handicaps for himself in the games he plays.

Since we’re only at around the half-way point of the book, it’s obvious that something’s bound to happen to make it difficult for Locke to pull off the con.

2. Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?
The Austershalin brandy sounds so good. An alcoholic drink that gives you all the benefits of getting drunk but without the hangover‽ Sign me up! Now where can I find a bottle of 502?

3. Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?
Actually I really want to know more about this mysterious Sabetha. From the dialogue it’s obvious that Sabetha is the one that got away but who is she? And at what point in Locke’s life did he meet her?

4. Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?
Yeah I was a little taken aback by the usage of Wraithstone. I admit the thought of creating Gentled animals is tempting but it’s not necessary. If we can’t tame them by normal means then what right do we have to force them into a life of servitude? It will be a complete disaster if Wraithstone ever falls into the wrong hands and used for nefarious purposes.

5. I got a kick out of child Locke’s first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?
I think Nazca has a crush on Locke but his heart will forever be with someone else. The marriage is just going to be a marriage of convenience, something to keep the Capa happy and take his mind off other things.

I think both of them can work well together if they marry. Locke has the brains and Nazca has the authority. However this can only work if Locke lets Nazca into his little secret about the Gentleman Bastards’ real job.

6. Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?
Oh is he known as the “Gray King” in the US edition? I prefer to call him the Grey King. Anyway I think Capa Barsavi has gotten too old and not as powerful as before. He has finally met his match in the Grey King and looks like he won’t be able to keep his reign over the city for much longer.

7. In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can’t ‘create’ the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke’s solution to this conundrum?
I had something similar in mind when I first read about the task. If you can’t create a corpse then the most logical place to look for one is a place where they store dead people, like a morgue. Locke’s solution is pretty creative and shows just how convincing his lies can be.

It’s funny how Locke cannot resist complicating such a “simple” task with his over the top theatrics. Good thing that everything worked out according to his plans.

Giant Thief by David Tallerman

Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.

Big time.

I’ve been reading a lot of books on thieves lately and each author manage to bring something different with their creation. Giant Thief is a fun and humorous take on this trend, and on many ways it succeeds. In this book we have a thief who has the charisma to charm his way out of any situation, and there are plenty of scenes where Easie Damasco uses his wit to weasel his way out of the direst confrontations. However its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness for me. At no point I felt that Easie is in any danger because I know that he will always get out of him. In fact he made it through the story pretty much unharmed.

Another weak point is that the story can be considered as one long chase sequence and after a while you just get tired of all the running. Since most of the book is filled with action and running, very little space is left for world building. Due to this, the world just failed to make an impression on me. The setting feels very much like a generic version of a medieval fantasy land with the usual nobles and peasants that inhabit it. For an imprint that is known for its genre-bending stories, Giant Thief feels a little too linear and ordinary.

As for the characters, I never liked Easie as the protagonist but maybe that’s the point. He is a typical selfish egotistical thief who has tremendous confidence in himself and the only person he cares about is himself. There is nothing wrong with that but I just find it harder to get into a story when I can’t emphasise with the lead.

There are a few other important characters in the book but they too failed to make an impact on me. Moaradrid is supposed to be the villain of the story but at no point was the reader made clear on his motivation for his actions and we just have to trust that he is the bad guy. Marina Estrada, the mayor of Muena Palaiya is a fierce woman and the source of her town’s strength against the invasion. Here’s an interesting character that I wanted to get into but feel that the part wasn’t as fleshed out as I hoped.

I think one thing that all readers would agree on is how adorable the stolen giant Saltlick is. Most of the time the giant just bumbles along and acts as the butt end of the jokes. As the story goes on we realise that he may not be as dumb as we think and that there is real intelligence behind those dopey eyes. Saltlick may seem simple but at least he knows what his values are and what he needs to do to keep them intact. For me, Saltlick is the real undeniable hero of the book. It would be a shame if he doesn’t feature in the sequel book titled Crown Thief.

Even though I didn’t enjoy the protagonist that much, I still had a good time reading the book. Giant Thiefis one of those books that is a bit of a laugh and is interesting enough to keep your turning the pages. It is a fun adventure that you can relax and escape to during your downtime.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 6