Magician’s Ward (Magic and Malice #2) ★★★★✬


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Magician’s Ward
Series: Magic and Malice #2
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 77K



Synopsis:

Kim is swamped. Between studying magic and learning a whole new life as a monied lady, her life is full, maybe too full! When a particularly inept burglar tries to steal several books from Mairelon’s library, it’s up to Kim and Mairelon to figure out why.

At the same time, several magician’s from Kim’s street life have disappeared and a Russian Magician shows up. When on the track of the thief, Mairelon loses his magic, it’s all up to Kim to deal with the rogue magician, who isn’t a magician at all!

And if that all isn’t enough, Kim has to have her coming out ceremony as a Magician’s Ward, where she realizes she’s in love with Mairelon.

By the end of the book, Kim has stopped the rogue magician, completed her ceremony and gotten Mairelon to propose to her. Now her life as a magician is going to get really busy!

My Thoughts:

If you happen to remember That Book, where I told Romance to get the heck out of my Action Stories, you might have gotten the impression that Bookstooge is a stone cold, heartless killer with no time for the softer things in life. And you would be wrong, dead wrong! (because I’d stone you coldly!) I like romance, in small doses and in its proper place. Jane Austen is the example that made me realize I could like romances.

Anyway, this book is as much a young adult/middle grade romance as a fantasy story. The obstacles that Kim needs to overcome are simplified, the villain appropriately stupid and even Mairelon takes side stage as he loses his magic, thus giving Kim the spotlight from all directions. She shines well too.

I didn’t think the story was quite as “fun” as the first but it felt more satisfying, hence the half-star bump. While I read this way back in 2000 and I have no real review, I remember liking this then and it seems I liked it just as much this time around too. I’m going to call this a Complete Success then.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ps,
Can we all agree that is the worst cover ever and that it should be cast into the Stygian pits?

Path of Daggers (The Wheel of Time #8) ★★★★☆


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Title: Path of Daggers
Series: The Wheel of Time #8
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 562
Words: 228.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

The four rulers of the Borderlands form a pact for unknown purposes and take a huge army south. Verin uses what she knows of Compulsion on Aes Sedai prisoners to encourage them to swear fealty to Rand. Moridin demonstrates his insanity. Hanlon visits Mili Skane and sees Carridin killed. Mili also has Falion captured, and claims to have another Aes Sedai.

Nynaeve warns one of the Tower embassy about the Black Ajah and Moghedien, but is not taken seriously. The girls leave Ebou Dar with the other Aes Sedai, the Knitting Circle and twenty Windfinders, leaving Mat behind to look for Olver. After moving through the gateway, Aviendha sees Moridin, so she unweaves it. This is something the Aes Sedai, as well as Moridin himself, thought impossible. Elayne, Aviendha and Nynaeve look for angreal amongst the things found with the Bowl. They are told of Martine Janata, the last Aes Sedai to study ter’angreal, who was burned out twenty five years previously, despite being careful.

The group arrives at the retreat run by the Kin, where the sight of Aes Sedai faces causes panic. Alise manages to calm everyone down. They continue searching through the things found with the Bowl while waiting to see if anyone is strong enough to join the circle. They find three angreal.

The girls, along with the most powerful memebers of the Kin and the Windfinders, use the Bowl, with the circle led by one of the Windfinders. The Bowl unexpectadly draws saidin. It also causes the Power to behave strangely. The Windfinders try to keep the Bowl and one of the angreal, but Alise puts a stop to it.

The use of the Bowl has exhausted them all, but they have to flee when the Seanchan attack. Elayne makes the gateway to Travel and tries to unweave it as Aviendha did, but fails, and it explodes, destroying everything around it. Aviendha and Elayne decide to adopt each other as first-sisters.

One of the Kin is revealed as a novice who ran away seventy years previously, and another admits to running away almost three hundred years before. Adeleas and Ispan are both murdered, apparently by someone they trust. Elayne takes the palace and sits in front of the Lion Throne. She meets Dyelin, who says she will support Elayne’s claim to the throne. Elayne amuses her by telling her of her plans for Rand.

Sevanna uses an Oath Rod on Galina to make her swear to obey her, Therava, and the rest of the Wise Ones. The Wise Ones tell Sevanna she is no longer in control of them.

In Ghealdan, Perrin sends Berelain to meet Alliandre. He rescues Morgase and her party, who are traveling under false names. Faile takes them into her service after Morgase learns of Perrin’s connection to the Dragon Reborn. Perrin again encounters Elyas, who advises him on living with a Saldaean.

Berelain returns with Alliandre, who swears fealty to Perrin and grants him all her lands and titles. He tells her she can rule for him as his faithful vassal. Perrin goes to meet Masema and instructs him to gather his people and go meet Rand. Masema is obviously mad. Faile is captured by the Shaido, but Berelain escapes.

Graendal is visited by Moghedien and a girl called Cyndane, who is stronger than Graendal in the Power. They tell her to go see Moridin. They turn off the lights, and, believing it a trap, she drops a web of Compulsion on them. She is forced to free them by Shaidar Haran.

In the Tower, the Aes Sedai deny the possibility that damane could exist. Alviarin continues to use the fiasco of Rand’s kidnapping to make Elaida give bad orders. She makes Elaida accept penance. Mesaana teaches Alviarin Traveling. The Ajahs are barely speaking to one another. Seaine and Pevara use the Oath Rod to force Aes Sedai they believe may have told a lie into obeying them. They discover rebel agents spreading rumors of Logain and the Red Ajah. They are interrupted by a group of Sitters, one from each Ajah. All but one of these swears on the Oath Rod that they are not a Darkfriend. The last, (Talene Minly), refuses, thus exposing herself as Black Ajah.

Logain leads a group of Asha’man to capture one of the parties of Aes Sedai who were intending to destroy the Black Tower. He bonds Toveine in something that resembles a Warder bond. One of the other Asha’man states Taim will not be pleased. Logain says he thinks Taim would rather he was dead.

Egwene has a dream. She learns an army of Murandians and Andorans plan to stop rebel Aes Sedai moving through Andor. She arranges to meet them. Lelaine and Romanda both demand that they be given control over negotiations with the nobles. Siuan believes she sees a pattern in the Sitters ages – they are too young. Sheriam is beaten by someone using the Power. Egwene uses the meeting to make public announcements that the Hall cannot overrule, such that women of any age will be allowed to become Aes Sedai and that the army is to wait a month where they are. She talks to Talmanes, who says he can feel Mat needing him and he wants to stay. He is going to try and help King Roedran unify the country. Aran’gar kills two of Egwene’s maids. Egwene horrifies Siuan by revealing she wants to free Aes Sedai of the Three Oaths.

Egwene calls a meeting of the Hall and convinces them to declare war on Elaida, which gives her total control over anything involving the war. They wait a month, and then Travel to Tar Valon to begin the siege.

Sorilea and Cadsuane agree to cooperate with regards to Rand. Sorilea teaches Cadsuane Traveling. Torval tells Rand of deserters and insanity amongst the Asha’man. Narishma is sent to fetch Callandor. Rand takes some Asha’man to fight the Seanchan. Rand is attacked by Illianers. Two of the noblewomen with him appear to be discussing whether or not to kill him.

Suroth has Liandrin as a slave and another Aes Sedai as damane. Rand captures damane and sul’dam. They proceed to a spot outside of Ebou Dar, where saidin is difficult to handle, and damane become ill. Bashere suggests retreat as they are heavily outnumbered by the Seanchan. Rand draws Callandor, but is unable to control it and Bashere is forced to stop him. Adley is killed. Rand and the Seanchan both withdraw.

Rand returns to Cairhien, where Dobraine is in charge. Merana and Rafela reveal the details of the Sea Folk bargain, which is not to Rand’s liking. He calms down when Merana reminds him everything was going in his favor until he left. Three Maidens give Rand a beating. Rand asks Cadsuane to be his advisor in Illian. She demands an apology for his rude behavior. She tells him Callandor is dangerous and shouldn’t be used. He gets upset when he learns that Elayne tore his banners down. Sorilea brings five of the prisoner Aes Sedai, Elza, Nesune, Sarene, Beldeine and Erian, who swear fealty to Rand. Min sees visions around them, including one that they will serve him in their own way, Sorilea included.

He leaves the throne room just before it is destroyed. He sees Dashiva, Gedwyn and Rochaid in the ruins. They attack him. He survives the attack and they leave. Morr goes mad and Rand is forced to poison him. Rand tells Min that they are leaving.

My Thoughts:

You can tell this was one of the shortest Wheel of Time books, not only because of the page count of the book but because the synopis by good ol’ Delvar isn’t 7 pages long. It’s only 3 😉

This was the first Wheel of Time book I read back in the 90’s that I had had to wait for. I hadn’t gotten into the series until Crown of Swords was released and I have to admit, I am extremely thankful for that. My recollections of this are of it being wicked slow and nothing happening.

How wrong I was. This ranks right up there with the first book in my opinion. Part of it is it is the shortest book and so Jordan HAD to make stuff happen. The Bowl of Winds fixing the weather? I had completely forgotten how that changed things everywhere so radically and so quickly. Going from an oppressive summer to a wicked bad winter in the space of a week or three? It definitely made things tough for the characters.

Jordan also pretty much shut Nynaeve up for the entire book and everything was better for it. While it didn’t happen in Sanderson’s ending, I’m beginning to wonder if Jordan was setting up Nynaeve to become one of the new Forsaken. Why else would he make her such a horrible person and on the same level, in terms of characteristics, as the other Forsaken? It would have explained a lot.

At this point the number of story threads is out of control. While I enjoyed the book, there is just too much going on and Jordan continues to introduce yet new threads. He’s like a kid with a brand new glitter gun and is putting glitter on EVERYTHING whether it should have it or not.

Path of Daggers was originally published in ’98 and I read it upon publication and then again in 2000 and again in 2011. Each time it has been a very different read and that says more about me changing over the years than it does about the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wonders of the Invisible World ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Wonders of the Invisible World
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 276
Words: 98.5K



Synopsis:
  • “Introduction” by Charles de Lint
  • “Wonders of the Invisible World” (from Full Spectrum 5, Aug. 1995) – a researcher goes back in time to record Cotton Mather’s religious visions, finding his ravings not what they expected.
  • “Out of the Woods” (from Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy, Jun. 2004) – a reflection on how magic is often missed by those searching for it.
  • “The Kelpie” (from The Fair Folk, Jan. 2005) – a story of courtship and obsession illustrating the overlap between life and art.
  • “Hunter’s Moon” (from The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, May 2002) – a seductive, chilling encounter with the dangers of Faerie.
  • “Oak Hill” (from The Essential Bordertown, Aug. 1998) – an ugly young woman on the way to Bordertown is trapped in a terrifying cityscape known as Oak Hill, and explores it in search of magic.
  • “The Fortune-Teller” (from The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, Jun. 2007) – a young woman thieves a pack of strange cards from an unconscious roadside fortune-teller.
  • “Jack O’Lantern” (from Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy, Apr. 2006) – a young girl struggling with the impending marriage of her sister seeks out magic during a picnic, fearing it will her last chance before she grows up.
  • “Knight of the Well” (from A Book of Wizards, May 2008) – a society built around the veneration of water finds that element inexplicably rejecting them.
  • “Naming Day” (from Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, May 2007) – a teenage witch who cannot decide on her magical name is compelled to chase after an imp during the titular Naming Day Ceremony.
  • “Byndley” (from Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sep. 2003) – a man who once escaped the world of faerie seeks to return that which he stole.
  • “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” (from A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, Jul. 2000) – a macabre retelling of a traditional fairy tale.
  • “Undine” (from The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Jun. 2004) – a water spirit falls victim to her own prey.
  • “Xmas Cruise” (from Christmas Forever, Nov. 1993) – a surreal tale that follows two couples aboard an environmentalism cruise.
  • “A Gift to Be Simple” (from Not of Woman Born, Mar. 1999) – a fictional pseudo-Christian religious faction realize that their numbers are dwindling and decide to take drastic action.
  • “The Old Woman and the Storm” (from Imaginary Lands, Dec. 1985) – an allegory.
  • “The Doorkeeper of Khaat” (from Full Spectrum 2, Apr. 1989) – a science fiction tale regarding two alien species with very different cultures, and the poet who attempts to cross that divide in search of meaning and art.
  • “What Inspires Me: Guest of Honor Speech at WisCon 28, 2004”
My Thoughts:

I was sure that when I read Harrowing the Dragon last year that that was my last McKillip read until I started the cycle again. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across this book of her short stories but stumble I did and so I have one final McKillip to read and review.

McKillip is an odd duck when it comes to short stories. Some of them are so fantastic that you wonder why she doesn’t stick with the format. Then you read some others and are like “Oh, that is why”. Some of these just ended, like she’d taken a butcher’s knife to the story. It was very disconcerting. Others, you could see the same genius flitting about the story that she exhibits when writing her novels.

I did enjoy the final chapter where she talks about her life and writing. Now, as many of you know, I am firmly of the camp of “Authors are not People” so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading her recollections. I do need to track this down in hardcover and get a copy for my collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wicked Bronze Ambition (Garrett, PI #14) ★★☆☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Wicked Bronze Ambition
Series: Garrett, PI #14
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 438
Words: 127K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Garrett is a human detective in the fantastical city of TunFaire. And now he’s getting tangled up in the worst sort of laws…

In-laws.

Garrett is set to stow his wandering heart with his fiancée, Strafa Algarda. But for Garrett, even true love comes with its share of headaches—namely, the Algarda family.

Strafa’s family needs Garrett’s unique skills in the worst way. Rumors are spreading that someone is organizing a Tournament of Swords—a brutal contest that magically compels the children of sorcerers to battle until only one is left alive. The winner will absorb the power from those he has killed and thus become a demigod.

Strafa and her family want to protect her daughter, Kevans, from being forced to take part in the lethal contest…and they’ve asked Garrett to find out who is organizing the tournament and nip it in the bud. The only problem is that finding the culprit is most likely impossible. But the Algardas are used to getting what they want….

My Thoughts:

This is the final Garrett PI book and I have to admit, it wasn’t good. Garrett’s new almost-wife (they’re going to be married in a week or so) is killed right from the get-go and then is returned/resurrected/whatevered right at the end. I really disliked her being killed, but to have her return was even worse.

Then Garrett is about the stupidest I’ve ever seen him in the series. Cook uses the old “I’m in shock, I’m stressed, I’m excuse, excuse, excuse” but it was total caca. He wrote Garrett dumb and then shut the Deadman out of the picture to make this last longer. Pile on that many other characters DO seem to know what is going on but are not telling Garrett because of “you have to figure it out on your own” caca and you had a LOT of caca in this book.

Everything in this book felt like a whimper instead of bang. A series shouldn’t end like that. Bleh.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Steal the Sky (Scorched Continent #1) ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Steal the Sky
Series: Scorched Continent #1
Author: Megan O’Keefe
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 340
Words: 117.5K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

My Thoughts:

I read this back in 2016. I wasn’t that impressed then, as I had some real issues with the story structure. I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews for O’Keefe’s Protectorate series though, so wanted to give this series another chance. It was a smidge bit better, enough to bump it up half a star and to get me onto the second book, unlike last time.

Reading my review from ’16, I can still see what I meant. It just didn’t bother me the same way, as I was already familiar with the characters. I’ve also realized that I enjoy the “Lord and Servant” trope. Detan & Tibbs. Wooster & Jeeves. Whimsey & Bunter. It simply works for me.

I did find Detan to be more of a useless ass this time around than last. I rather dislike using pejorative body parts as descriptions for someone, but really, it seems to be the most accurate, universal fit. Tibbs was less involved than I remember while all the women (the rest of the cast) played a much more decisive role.

Upon some investigating, it turns out that O’Keefe wrote a prequel novel after she finished this series. If she had written that first, even if not published it, it would go a LONG way towards explaining some of the “familiar” banter between Detan and Tibbs and would give some weight to their obvious history in this book. In that same investigating I have come across enough issues that I have decided to not delve into the Protectorate series. Now I just have to hope she doesn’t tip me off a cliff with this trilogy.

Honestly, I can’t say if I enjoyed this more than last time. I certainly had much less “dislike” than last time though. I’m pretty ambivalent and this review definitely reflects that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Darkwalker on Moonshae (Forgotten Realms: Moonshae #1) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@29%


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Title: Darkwalker on Moonshae
Series: Forgotten Realms: Moonshae #1
Author: Douglas Niles
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 351/110
Words: 121.5K/40K



Synopsis:

DNF’d at 29%

My Thoughts:

I haven’t read a Forgotten Realms book in almost 3 years. My tastes had matured enough that I simply could not enjoy them anymore. So rather than rage or rag on them for being what they are, I simply stopped. Then, as has seemed to happen several times this year, I allowed myself to be convinced by another book enthusiast that this one might be a cut above the herd. A really fat juicy cow amongst a herd of starving and anemic animals. Verily, Pharoah himself would have dreamed of this cow and Joseph would have delighted in interpreting it. Well, as a modern day Joseph, I’m declaring that this cow was ugly and bony, more ugly and bony than any cow ever seen in the entire land of Egypt!

I dnf’d this at the 29% mark because I couldn’t take any more. It was trope’ish, written at the level of a 12-15 year old and was EVERYTHING that made me stop reading Forgotten Realms books in the first place. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed. I had had hopes that this just might be enjoyable.

So I quit and began looking for some higher quality covers, as the ones on amazon were blown up to the 500xwhatever from old 165pix. Turns out, this book was written in the late 80’s and was either the first FR book, or one of the first. Which explains a lot.

In all fairness, this really isn’t worse than all the other FR books I’ve read in the past. Don’t let that 1star fool you into thinking it’s somehow worse than them. It is on the exact same level as all the others and that 1star represents my disappointment that it wasn’t a big fat juicy cow that exploded into steaks and then served themselves to me. Douglas Adams would have been disappointed too!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

A Crown of Swords (The Wheel of Time #7) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Crown of Swords
Series: The Wheel of Time #7
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 727
Words: 296K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Elaida sends fifty Red sisters led by Toveine to the Black Tower to gentle any men learning to channel, under the impression that there will be at most two or three men who can channel. She believes that raising Egwene means the Aes Sedai in Salidar will return to her, since if they were serious in their rebellion, one of the more senior Aes Sedai would have been chosen. She has secret plans working among the rebels. In Alviarin’s presence she has a Foretelling that the Tower will be whole again and the Black Tower rent. Mesaana teaches Alviarin Traveling.

Sevanna, along with the strongest of the Wise Ones who can channel, prepares to attack those holding Rand. They attack and are driven back. Sevanna and her Wise Ones summon Sammael, who arrives with Graendal. Moridin (probably) watches. Therava brings Galina, who has been captured. Galina is named da’tsang. Sammael brings them an Oath Rod. He gives them something he claims will let them Travel. They use it and it spreads them everywhere. Sevanna takes the Wise Ones with her. Shaidar Haran watches.

Morgase urges Niall to help her take Andor back as soon as possible. He learns of the Seanchan, but is murdered before he can tell anyone. Valda takes control and pressures Morgase into sex. The Seanchan attack. Morgase is taken to Suroth, who is angered by her use of Suroth’s first name. Morgase renounces the throne and the High Seat of House Trakand. She is stopped from commiting suicide by Lini. Balwer takes them away.

Rand gives the Aes Sedai into the care of the Wise Ones, to Taim’s displeasure. He takes Asha’man bodyguards. They Travel to a point outside Cairhien, then walk the rest of the way. They are told that Colavaere has taken the throne. Faile and Berelain are both acting as Colavaere’s attendants. It is revealed that Colavaere had Meilan and Maringil murdered. Instead of sentencing her to death, Rand strips her of her titles and exiles her to a farm. She commits suicide. Rand learns Aes Sedai are in Cairhien.

Rand goes to Caemlyn, hoping to find Elayne, and learns Caraline Damodred and Toram Riatin are setting up in opposition to him. He learns there are nine Aes Sedai known to be in Caemlyn. He leaves Morr there. Rand sends the army gathered in Tear off to Illian with two of the Asha’man, Hopwil and Adley.

Back in Cairhien, Rand tries to send Berelain back to Mayene after an assassination attempt. Cadsuane arrives and tries to provoke him, asking if he’s started hearing voices. Idrien arrives from the school and tells him of Fel’s death. Rand tells Min of this and they comfort each other.

Perrin and Rand stage a fight over the Aes Sedai prisoners, to give Rand an excuse to send Perrin away, though in reality he goes to Ghealdan with Grady, Neald, Masuri and Seonid, as well as Wise Ones. Loial goes with one of the Asha’man, Karldin, to visit the stedding and guard the Ways.

Rand convinces himself that he raped Min and withdraws completely. She brings him out of it and makes him see sense. They admit their love for one another. She tells of a viewing of Rand and another man merging, and one of them dying. Rand goes to meet the Sea Folk, taking Bera, Alanna, Rafela, Faeldrin and Merana, putting Merana in charge of them. Min sees that they will be loyal to him. His ta’veren effect helps in the negotiations, with the Sea Folk giving away much. He leaves Merana and Rafela to negotiate and goes with Min to deal with the rebelling nobles.

Caraline recognizes Rand but says nothing. His ta’veren effect works on her and Darlin, who reveals he would be happy to support Rand, but feels he no longer has a choice. Cadsuane and several other sisters are in the camp, as is Fain, with Daved Hanlon and Toram Riatin, who, due to Fain’s influence, hates Rand.

Toram and Rand duel with practice swords This is interrupted by fog attacking the camp. One of the Red Ajah sisters present is killed. Rand uses balefire, causing Cadsuane to slap him and tell him never to use it again. Fain stabs him with the dagger from Shadar Logoth. Samitsu partially Heals him, but she says she believes he will die. Darlin carries him out. Min tells the full story of Rand’s capture and they return to the palace in Cairhien. Here, Flinn tries his Healing, sealing the wound away.

Rand wakes two days later, having been Healed further by Corele. Min tells him that Cadsuane is to teach him and the Asha’man something they need to know. He hears the army is almost on Illian, so he Travels to Bashere and his men. He takes them and the Asha’man directly into Illian, where the Asha’man set off all of Sammael’s traps. He chases Sammael to Shadar Logoth. Here he sees Liah. While Rand is attacking Trollocs, Sammael strikes at him and he loses the Power. A man, probably Moridin, arrives and helps Rand. They both use balefire, with the streams crossing, causing double vision. He drops hints that Sammael is at the Waygate then leaves, claiming plans will have to be abandoned if Rand is killed. The man didn’t use saidin. At the Waygate, Rand sees Sammael turn to look at Liah, who Rand balefires, as she is about to be killed by Mashadar. Sammael is then gone. On his return to Illian, Rand is pronounced King.

Moghedien is taken by Shaidar Haran to Moridin, who has two cour’souvra, one of them hers.

Elaida is woken by Alviarin, who tells her that Rand has broken free and twelve sisters have returned. Alviarin takes control of Elaida by threatening to reveal both this and the fact that sisters sent to the Black Tower. She orders some sisters punished for keeping angreal and others praised, in order to cause dissension amongst the Ajahs. Elaida visits Seaine and sets her looking for traitors, which Seaine take to mean Black Ajah. Seaine enlists Pevara on the search.

Egwene struggles for some control over the Salidar Hall, using the fact that Sheriam, Lelaine and Romanda can’t stand each other to occasionally get her own way. Talking with Siuan, she learns Sheriam has sent sisters to the White Tower and hasn’t told the Hall because she fears Darkfriends. It occurs to her that Elaida may have done the same. She feels Moghedien escape, which prevents her taking advantage.

Nicola tries to blackmail Egwene about pretending to be Aes Sedai before she and Elayne were raised. Egwene threatens her and Areina in the real world and in Tel’aran’rhiod. She talks to Melaine, Amys and Bair and reveals she is Amyrlin and warns them of Moghedien. She has visions of Gawyn and Mat.

Theodrin and Faolain swear fealty to Egwene. Faolain also tells her how much she dislikes her. Egwene sends them to see if anyone saw Moghedien escape. She tells Siuan it shouldn’t matter how strong in the Power she is. Romanda and Lelaine complain about Delana wanting to name Elaida Black.

Halima “heals” Egwene’s headaches.

Elayne and Nynaeve go to the Sea Folk to get help with the ter’angreal they are looking for. They recognize the description as the Bowl of the Winds. After no success in finding it, they send Birgitte to Mat to tell him he is to help them.

Mat gambles on horses, with Olver as a jockey. He sees Mili Skane, a Darkfriend, and follows her to Jaichim Carridin’s place. On the way he picks up a signet ring of a fox scaring birds. Sammael tells Carridin not to go after Mat unless he gets in the way.

Mat goes to see Tylin and leaves a note about Carridin. Her son, Beslan, takes a liking to him. Returning to the inn, Mat is attacked by a man in his room. Birgitte visits Mat, who remembers Birgitte from Falme, and they talk in the Old Tongue. They agree to keep each other’s secrets. They get drunk, which affects Elayne. On Birgitte’s return she tells Elayne that Mat wants an apology and thanks for rescuing them from the Stone. Aviendha and Birgitte both agree that he is owed an apology.

Mat annoys Elayne and Nynaeve by saying that it was nothing when they apologize. They promise not to demean him and to listen to his advice. He moves to the palace. Upon leaving, they are accosted by Setalle Anan, who refuses to believe they are Aes Sedai and takes them to the Kin. When they insist they are Aes Sedai, Reanne throws them out and threatens to spread their descriptions. Setalle recognizes one of them as someone she met, but the woman claims it was her grandmother’s sister. Elayne begins to think about the ageless look. They are attacked on the way back to the palace.

Mat is pursued and caught by Tylin. The girls set him watching the Kin. He attends a festival with Beslan and his friends, where they are attacked by beggars.

Elayne is brought before the other Aes Sedai, who threaten to punish her for talking to the Kin. When she learns Carridin is claiming her mother is arriving, she loses her temper and threatens the others, who realize she stands above them. She forces them to go and meet the Kin.

Moghedien tries to balefire Nynaeve but is put off by pigeons. Nynaeve’s boat and bodyguards are destroyed. She almost drowns, but gives in, thus overcoming her block against the Power, and survives. Lan pulls her out. They get married and she fetches the Windfinders.

They go to the Kin, who agree to take them to the store of Power-related objects. Mat arrives, having just found it himself. They thank Mat, who is told of Moghedien by Lan. At the store, they are confronted by Falion and Ispan. Mat saves Elayne from a gholam, which is injured by his medallion. It kills Nalesean during the battle. They return to the palace, where Mat uses his being ta’veren to make the Windfinders agree to go wherever Elayne and Nynaeve want. Mat goes off to find Olver with his men, Thom and Juilin. The Seanchan attack and he gets trapped under a wall.

My Thoughts:

This would have easily been a 5star book, especially storywise, if Elayne and Nynaeve weren’t in it. Everyone else seems to be growing up, even Matt, but those 2? Bitching, moaning, complaining and generally acting like people who I would gladly kill. Their storylines weren’t huge but as silly as it may sound, it ruined everything for me. Ok, maybe “ruined” is a bit strong, but when a book goes down a whole star because of one of the smaller plotlines, I call that a “ruin”.

Everything else was what made this series the wonder that it became. While Jordan tends to being a bit too verbose, even that doesn’t truly stand in the way of the story or the skill with which Jordan weaves the various plot lines.

This book puts me at the half-way mark for this final re-reading of the Wheel of Time series. I am glad I am doing this but like I’ve said in previous reviews, this will be the last time I read this. I just can’t deal with the way that some of the women act. Nor can I put up with the supposed good guys being no different, in essence, than the bad guys. All Nynaeve can think about is punishing the various people around her who annoy her or “insert reezons”. She thinks exactly the same as one of the Forsaken and it just disgusted me.

For such a long book, I’m having a remarkably hard time coming up with something to say. So I’m done.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mairelon the Magician (Magic and Malice #1) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Mairelon the Magician
Series: Magic and Malice #1
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

Kim, a 16 year old street rat is realizing she can no longer hide the fact that she’s a girl. She takes on a final job of spying on a market magician to earn enough money to give her time to figure out what she can do. She is caught but instead of being punished, Mairelon offers her a job of being his apprentice, as he is a real magician and not a street performer.

It becomes obvious to Kim that Mairelon is MUCH more than just a magician though. His references to his time abroad, his connections to various muckety-mucks make Kim aware that Mairelon has been working for the government on the highest levels. And he’s some sort of lord as well.

The story centers around the recovery of the Saltash dinner ware. A platter, a bowl and 4 balls, which when combined, give the user the ability to compel their victims to tell the absolute truth. The British government wants it but will settle for it not falling into French hands. Kim and Mairelon are chasing down the platter in this story and have lots of adventures.

In the end, it is revealed that Kim has a natural affinity for magic and Mairelon adopts her as his ward so he can live in the same house to teach her magic without scandalizing “Society”.

My Thoughts:

I originally read the Mairelon duology (I’ll be reading book 2 in a month or so) back in the 90’s when the Science Fiction Book Club released a hardcover omnibus edition. I still own that baby. I then re-read the duology in 2000 when I was beginning my record keeping. I won’t be bothering to include a link, as it consists of just naming what genre the book was in 😀

This is that elusive middle grade book that is written well enough to still be read and enjoyed by adults. Wrede seems to excel at that particular skill.

Fun, enjoyable, easy on the brain (well, except when Mairelon or somebody else starts monologuing and connecting all the dots) and a sure fire pleasure for fans of Regency Era England. My guess is that Wrede was aiming for “Jane Austen with Magic for Kids”. She hit the mark, that is for sure. Since I’m a big Austen fan, this worked fantastic.

Unfortunately, the one downside to this book, which isn’t really a big thing, is the cover. That is supposed to be Kim on the cover, in her “street urchin boy” disguise. While it is tough to see in the small picture I include here, when I look at it in a larger format, it becomes really horrible. Kim has this squinty, “something” look where her eyes are just messed up. It’s unpleasant to look at. Plus, the byline of “Is it possible? Could his magic …. be real?” is just so wrong. Magicians are a part of the fabric of society in this book, so it would surprise anyone that Mairelon was a real magician.

Those are just quibbles though, because I feel like complaining about something. If you’re a fan of Austen, Regency Era England or Middle Grade Fantasy, go try this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

God of Night (God Fragments #4) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: God of Night
Series: God Fragments #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 421
Words: 145.5K



Synopsis:

When the Cards released the seals on Magic, not only did more magic enter the world, thus stirring up all the creatures that used and fed on magic, and not only did it make mages more powerful, but it also had the side effect of making the god fragments even more powerful. One of the Militant Orders has figured out that if they can bring enough god fragments of their particular deity together, it might just resurrect it. And with a resurrected god on their side, they’ll rule the Riven Kingdoms as undisputed masters.

Does anyone think the Cards are just going to sit back and let this happen? Of course not. When they discover that one of their mages of Tempest has the ability to destroy god fragments merely by touching them, they hatch a plan, a daring plan to capture as many of the god fragments as possible and destroy them. Doesn’t matter that most god fragments are housed in the Militant Orders most secure locations, nothing is going to stop the Cards.

Using double and triple dealing, backstabbing, betrayals and general kick assery, the Cards manage to destroy the majority of fragments from 3 of the 4 Orders. The last Order is the most powerful however, and it’s cache of fragments is located in a duegar stronghold underground and is currently being overrun by magical underground creatures.

Once they’ve gotten into the Stronghold, the Cards find out that the gods were using a chained creature of magic to siphon power from. Now that the gods fragments are being destroyed and the magic has been released back into the world, this elder god is awakening. The Cards must therefore defeat the final god fragments, which are reassembling into its god AND defeat a creature so powerful that it made gods from mere duegar hundreds of millennia ago.

Tons of people die, the Cards succeed and Lynx is elected the new leader of the Cards because Anatol was one of the people killed. There are still god fragments in the world and the warlord of his people is still alive, so Lynx figures their new mission will be to invade So-Han and kill the warlord. Thus the book and the series ends.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this but by the end, with some realizations, was glad this was the end of the series.

The fights were awesome. Realizing what the Militant Orders were up to was even awesomer. Finding out there was an elder god involved and that the Cards were going to kill it was the awesomest of all! The final massive battle in the Duegar ruins between the Cards, the remaining Militant Order personnel, the magic monsters and the elder god was everything I could have asked for. Magic galore, flintlock fantasy bullets and grenades by the metric ton and a monster so huge and gruesome that it made the monster from the first book look like a teddy bear? How could I not like everything about that? Even the ending was good. Lots of the Cards die. Important Cards die, like Anatole. Lynx becoming the new Master of the Deck slotted in perfectly with the series.

Unfortunately, and this is ALL me, was that I was used to the god fragment bullets and the grenades and bombs, etc. They didn’t have the same impact on my as they did in the first book. I also realized, after finishing reading, that Lloyd had worked in some homosexual characters without playing it on a trumpet. I suspect if I were to go back and re-read the other books, I’d be finding more understated circumstances like this. Hence why I’ll be done with Lloyd from here on out.

In regards to the series overall, I really enjoyed my time reading each book and short story and thought it was about 100 times better than Lloyd’s Twilight Reign series. I’d recommend this wholeheartedly if mercenaries using dead god bodies to power their flintlock guns sounds like your kind of thing.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blood Relation (Arcane Casebook #6) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Blood Relation
Series: Arcane Casebook #6
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 306
Words: 102.5K



Synopsis:

Alex Lockerby, now working on commission for one of the Great Sorcerers, tries to keep his head in the detective game by doing small jobs here and there. He has also hired a small time rune wright who he is teaching to use the finding rune to find lost objects, thus ensuring a steady trickle of business.

A string of gruesome murders start occurring and Alex is called in, as all of the scenes are covered in what appear to be runes. If they are runes, they are a type that Alex has never seen before, nor has Iggy.

German spies attempt to poison Sorsha and Alex and when that fails, to shoot Alex point blank. Sorsha is guarding a political big wig who is in town on secret business.

Turns out that the blood runes and murders are being committed by a man who was gifted much like Alex but then turned on his mentors and lost the ability to use standard runes. As such, he turned to blood magic to stay young and to build his power. Alex defeats him, but no body is found.

Alex also figures out what the secret project is and has to warn Sorsha to prevent the Germans from stealing a flying bomb and destroying half the city.

In the end, Alex has a talk with Moriarty and realizes that the magic Rune book has another whole level that Iggy never found. This opens Alex up to another level of Rune Wright’ery and shows him just how small the knowledge he has is.

My Thoughts:

Once again, I enjoyed myself immensely while reading this. This time around, the two biggest things I enjoyed was the pace wasn’t as frenetic as before (Alex isn’t investigating 7 cases all at once) and the Power Creep slowed down.

Having a Rune Wright be one of the main villains this time around was also refreshing. He shows Alex that magic or even runes, aren’t a monolithic entity, but a fractured puzzle that can be put together in almost infinite number of ways. This has the side effect of allowing Alex to be on a bit more of an equal footing with the likes of Sorsha, his sorceress on again off again girlfriend.

I think my only real issue is how Willis creates characters only to not use them as much as they could be. Danny Pak is the perfect example. He started out as bosom buddies with Alex but he barely gets a mention now. I’m afraid Alex is entering into the “Only I can do anything” zone. I guess I’d like to see more of the side characters fleshed out beyond a name and a function.

Other than that, this review really suffers from “I Like This” syndrome. This was another great book in the series and I enjoyed it. I just can’t muster up much to talk about it. I’m sure you can relate. Willis has been writing this series pretty hard and I am impressed that he’s keeping the quality to what it is. I am looking forward to the next book and we’ll see what the world brings into Alex Lockerby’s life next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.