Winter’s Heart Read Along Part III

WintersHeartBannerWelcome everyone to the continuation of The Wheel of Time saga. Here we are with Book 9, Winter’s Heart. As always, anyone is welcome to join us, so check out the schedule if you would like to do so.

Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia with the non-spoilery fan art is our host this week. Make sure to swing by there and congratulate Liesel on moving in to a new place this weekend. Eivind, our commenter with an encyclopediac knowledge of WoT, can be found in the comments at Liesel’s. Don’t forget to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers for in-depth analysis.

This week we covered Chapters 8-11. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. The Aes Sedai with Elayne and Nynaeve are trying to convince the Seanchan sul’dam that they can channel themselves and then send them back to Seanchan. Do you think this tactic will work to help bring down the Seanchan empire?

If there were lots and lots of time, yes, I think this idea would help bring down the Seanchan by undermining their command structure. However, as we have seen, the Seanchan are very committed to their command/caste structure and I think it takes something extraordinary to even get a Seanchan to consider an action or belief outside what they have known their whole lives.

And I think Randland is going to need a swift solution to the Seanchan issue as they are very, very efficient at conquering.

2. It seems the Borderlanders are on the borders of Andor. We last saw the leaders making a pact in the Borderlands. What do you think they’re up to and what does it have to do with Andor?

Is this Queen Tenoibia and crew? If so, I think we saw these folks at the beginning of the last book. I think they are pissed that they haven’t been invited to any of the big parties yet, the ones where they decide the fate of Randland. I liken this to Boromir from The Lord of the Rings and his speech about how the lands of the elves, the hobbits, and most men are kept safe by the blood of those living on the border to Mordor.

Or I could be completely off about that, in which case, I am sure someone will educate me. ;)

Aren’t some of the folks blaming Rand for this? And it’s not his doing, poor thing. I think these folks will demand to see him though. I can just see Rand wincing over this one. :)

3. Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne meet in the World of Dreams and there are several people spying on them. Who do you think the multiple eavesdroppers are and what are their plans. Did they hear anything that might be damning to our girls?

Well, we know one lady (who stayed hidden) is working under Moghedien’s orders. She reported some of back to these other ladies (and I have obviously forgotten all their names). I suspect these ladies to be Black Ajah and I think they are in Andor.

The man who resembled Rand didn’t seem proficient in moving about Tel’aran’rhiod. Perhaps it was someone trying to look like Rand (as we know one can change their appearance in T’A’R). So maybe it is one of the Asha’men trying their hand at moving through the World of Dreams while in disguise.

Then there was another lady glimpsed who quickly disappeared. Could have been one of the Forsaken, as she disappeared easily.

And yes, openly discussing that not all the Aes Sedai, especially amongst the rebels, are Oathsworn could be an issue. This little tidbit lets the forces of evil know there are several Channelers open to swearing to a dark lord. Also, if this got out to the Randland leaders, then would any of them trust Aes Sedai in general, ever again? Folks trust Aes Sedai, at least to some extent, because they supposedly cannot lie, nor use powers to maim and kill unless attacked or defending others. Not having those oaths in place makes them very human, but with super powers.

4. Newly captained Mellor is Daved Hanlon! Ahhh! What does this mean? What are he and “Lady” Shiane up to?

Well Hanlon was taked with going after a Queen, and it looks like it is Queen Elayne that he is poised to strike at a moment’s notice. I think Shiane takes orders from a Forsaken and she passes those orders on to Hanlon. I don’t know if they intend kidnap capers or outright death. When (or should I say ‘if’?) Elayne becomes queen, I can see Andor being thrown into turmoil by the sudden death of their queen.

5. At the end of chapter 11, Nynaeve has a “plan” that neither Rand or Lan are too fond of. What do you think it is? Predictions?

I think Nynaeve has been thinking about Rand’s ambitions for cleansing saidin. How could she not be intrigued by this? Of course she wants to do this as it would save so many men from going mad, and possibly heal some that have already gone mad.

And I predict, that once the bad guys figure out what Rand and Nynaeve are up to, they will try very, very hard to stop it. After all, one of the few things the Dark One has to over good men who happen to be Channelers is the ability to keep them sane. Remove that bargaining chip, and recruiting goes down.

6. We might finally get Rand, Min, Aviendha, and Elayne in the same room together. Predictions?

Ah, well, Min left Rand on his own in disguise to deliver his message to Nynaeve. I expect Min ran off to fetch Aviendha and Elayne. I don’t think it will be the foursome I am hoping for as these books are pretty PG.

First, I expect each of them to tell Rand what an idiot he is. Then he will protest that he protecting them, tell them how precious they are. Each will then assert that she can take care of herself, thank you very much. He will point out how he is such a good guy and has kept Elayne’s seat warm for her, has obeyed Aviendha’s rules about avoiding impure thoughts of her naked body, and tell Min she looks great in pants and he would never want her to give them up. This will lead to blushes all around and finally hugs and tears on the ladies’ parts and bafflement on Rand’s part. Eventually, he might get to kiss each one in turn behind a curtain, because he is shy about such things. Then he will leave with Nynaeve to go save the world. Elayne will cross her arms and tap her foot. Min will huff and throw herself in a chair and idly carve love notes into the chair arm with her dagger. Aveindha will break down and tell the other two that she is pregnant.

Or something like that. ;)

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

Other Tidbits

I am not sure I agree with Egwene about the Oaths being necessary, though I can see why she wants them in place, at least for now. People already have huge trust issues where Aes Sedai are concerned.

And I also don’t agree with Egwene about the Kin being lower in the pecking order than the Aes Sedai. Arrogance does not suit her!

I guess Lady Dyelin showed her true colors by protecting Elayne with her little lady’s belt knife. I guess I have to take her off the Maybe Bad List.

We had some great descriptions of Lan in this section….but is it just me, or has Lan gotten bigger, more muscley? He’s always been great with a sword, but I thought earlier descriptions had him rangey. Now he has the shoulders of a blacksmith.

Words of Radiance Read Along Part III

SandersonWordsOfRadianceBannerWelcome everyone! We’ve returned with another installment of the Words of Radiance Read Along.  Want to join us? Everyone is welcome. Just check out the schedule post over HERE. Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings and I swapped weeks, so we’ll see him hosting next week.

This week, I am our host, so make sure to leave your link in the comments.

This week we cover Chapter16 through the end of Chapter 28. Spoilers abound below!

1) We have a new character on the scene: Zahel, a swordmaster. What do you think of his interest in Kaladin?

Zahel might very well turn out to be a favorite character. I like how he handles Renarin, giving him simple training at first and praising his efforts. I like how he handles Adolin, telling him he is a dumbass for tossing a non-Shardbearer around the training yard.

And I really like how he sees the potential in Kaladin. Prior to Zahel entering the story, I thought Kaladin would be forced to reveal his powers fighting Szeth or the Parshendi. Now I think it might happen while sparring Zahel, or Zahel will guess. Or Kaladin will get in a pissing contest with Adolin and he will start to glow Stormlight.

2) We learned a bit more about Shallan’s past. What do you think her brother Heralan was doing all those years ago, coming and going as he did, and where did his Shardblade come from?

There is so much we don’t know about Shallan and her family. Perhaps Heralan was the one who started working with the secret order (brotherhood? I forget what they are are called) and that is where he got the Shardblade. And then perhaps he had to go run errands for them. Maybe later on, his efforts with this brotherhood go the family the fabrial. Anyway, that is my best guess.

3) What do you think of Shallan’s recent actions with the caravans? How about her growing friendship with Tyn? And her first interaction with Kaladin?

Shallan is turning into a badass character and I like it! I love how she convinced the deserters to be heroes once again, how she took Tvlak’s slaves in ‘payment’ for his life. She is really learning how to be assertive and to use confidence to mask her fears. Oh, and to use her powers to glamor herself up so others are awed by her.

Her friendship with tyn is built on some major assumptions (by Tyn) and a few lies, or at least hidden truths (by Shallan). So I am not sure it will last long. Tyn seems to be able to roll with the punches, but once she realizes that Shallan is exactly who she said she is, I am not sure Tyn will stick around for long.

Haha! The meeting between Shallan and Kaladin was one of my favorites for this week. Boots!

4) Kaladin took Syl’s advice and confided in Dalinar concerning Amaram. What do you think Dalinar will do with this information?

Yikes! I so want to believe Dalinar will do the right thing. But if he has to way the right thing for Kaladin versus the right thing for the kingdom, I am pretty sure the kingdom will come out on top. I am a little surprised that Kaladin decided to confide in Dalinar so soon after his chat with Syl. I expected more hand-wringing over it. After all, Kaladin has HUGE trust issues.

I am not sure how Dalinar can investigate this matter without tipping off Amaram that he is looking into it. So, either way, he has to confront Amaram – either up front or after the investigation begins. Could get ugly, and at a time when Dalinar needs all the support he can get. Yeah, Kaladin’s concerns may be pushed to back burner.

5) There has been yet another attempt on the King’s life. Do you think this is another faked attempt (as Ehlokar did with the saddle girth in Book 1)? If not, who do you think is the most likely culprit?

My first inclination was to to think that Elhokar faked this assassination attempt in order to test his current group of body guards. I haven’t completely dismissed this suspicion. In fact, I think I need Dalinar to kick the king around a bit before I do let go of this suspicion.

But then I thought that it would be a little obvious, right? Wouldn’t that be one of the first things Dalinar would consider? And yet, it didn’t come up. Hmm…..

It appears to be someone who had access to the balcony after the highstorm and who also had a Shardblade. Unless Moash has been hiding a Shardblade in his trousers, I doubt it is him. Perhaps one of the king’s guards who train with the king’s Shardblades?

6) Gaz has returned to the story, after having mysteriously dropped out in Book 1. What do you think he isn’t telling Shallan? How do you think the men of Bridge 4 will react upon seeing him again?

Wow! I had wondered where Gaz had gotten off to, but I didn’t expect this. Desertion takes some balls and I was pretty sure Gaz’s had been removed long ago.

Shallan questioned Gaz about his debts and suspected gambling at the root. Gaz said he rather be turned over to the authorities and kind of walked off. It seems that whatever the cause of his debts, he doesn’t want to tell Shallan about it. Could Gaz be protecting someone? Or is that a little too noble for him. Maybe it is an old family debt and he is embarrassed by it, or a brother’s gambling debts, etc. At any rate, I really look forward to learning more about Gaz.

I am not sure how Bridge 4 will react. Before Gaz disappeared, he and Kaladin kind of had a truce going. So maybe Gaz can earn their respect. It seems most of the men know what it is like to make the bad decision, to feel ashamed, and they have come out the other side, becoming worthy men. So hopefully, they can see that potential in Gaz.

7) Eshonai and Adolin had a brief chat on the Shattered Plains. What will come of it? How will the Parshendi ever get a messenger to Dalinar?

Yet another unexpected turn, at least for me. Right now, only Adolin knows of Eshonai’s request. If he passes it on to Dalinar, I expect that Dalinar will leap on it. But will Adolin pass it on? People already have doubts about Dalinar. If Dalinar starts accepting Parshendi messengers into his camp, what will the other Highprinces do? I can see Adolin having heartburn over this one and keeping it close to his chest while he mulls it over.

I can see the Parshendi using their Dull Form spies to get a meeting time and location (probably somewhere on the Shattered Plains) to Dalinar. Of course, Adolin would counsel that it could be a trap.

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Other Tidbits:

Gaz was a source of amusement this week with Shallan’s quip about his breath, and then later Gaz’s quip about tongues!

I didn’t realize how attached I was to Bluth until he exited the story. :(

Those pesky numbers showed up again after the latest Highstorm. I am starting to suspect the red lightning spren we hear about in small bits.

Gaz was the first to take Shallan up on her offer and run off to help the caravaners. Gaz! Of all people!

My Fellow Horneaters:

Musings on Fantasia

Lynn’s Book Blog

Over the Effing Rainbow

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

Books Without Any Pictures

Making My Mark

Stainless Steel Droppings

The Sekhmet Bed by L. M. Ironside

IronsideSekhmetBedWhy I Read It: Ancient Egypt has long fascinated me, so this looked like a great historical fiction to become lost in.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Ancient Egyptian buffs will find this book entertaining.

Narrator: Amanda C. Miller

Publisher: Libbie M. Grant (2013)

Length: 9 hours and 18 minutes

Series: Book 1 The She-King

Author’s Page

Ahmose was raised to be a priestess, to be a dream interpreter. But life takes a turn when the Pharaoh dies and her mother and grandmother chose her to be the Great Royal Wife. Wedded to a soldier, Thutmose, her God Chosen status gives him a bit of legitimacy. However, Mutnofret, Ahmose’s elder sister, holds a long-simmering resentment for being passed up; she was raised to be the Great Royal Wife, not Second Wife.

L. M. Ironside tells this tale with depth, lush settings, and interesting characters. From the beginning, I was attached to Ahmose. She’s thrown into a difficult situation at such a young age, given great responsibility, and has to face many opponents (including her own sister!). Early on, she witnesses a birth that does not go well and thus, one of her greatest fears is childbirth. This fear shapes some of her important decisions, thereby shaping not only her life, but those around her.

I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptive scenes of ceremonies. Of course, there was the wedding feast of Thutmose to his two brides. There are also several religious ceremonies, especially once we see God’s Own Wife, a title granted to a woman who then has much power over the priesthood. These scenes were told so clearly that I felt like I was a spectator there enjoying the ceremony.

There’s chariot rides. Yep. I have been tempted to build a chariot for me and my donkeys, but never seem to get around to it. So I live vicariously when I can through books with chariot rides.

Of course there is romance. Ahmose and her sister, Mutnofret, vie for Thutmose’s affections. Unfortunately, this also increases the tension between the sisters. Through these two plot devices, we see sorrow and loss, hope and love. Thuthmose is often gone on one military campaign or another. Most of the time, he leaves one sister pregnant and the other to run the country. Rumors spread of secret lover, adding to the tension. There was this one poignant scene that involved rain and the disapproval of the gods.

My one small criticism is that I wish we could have seen more of the governing that went on while Thutmose was off shoving spears into one disagreeable group or another. Ahmose and Mutnofret are young (in their teens) when they start running the country. It must have been intense for them. We have one brief scene that is more about the power play between the two sisters rather than governing. Nearly all the interactions between the sisters concerns a man, and we have so many other issues that could be discussed.

The Narration: Amanda Miller was a great choice for the voice of Ahmose. She was young and innocent at first, but gradually became more confident and firmer in her decisions. Miller was able to portray this shift in the character’s voice. I also enjoyed her voice for Mutnofret (who was most times condescending). While her male voices could use a bit more masculinity, they were still distinct and I had not trouble discerning one character from another.

What I Liked: The setting; each character grew throughout the story; the gods are real in Ahmose’s visions; great use of ceremonies; the cover; chariot rides.

What I Disliked: I would have liked a bit more on the governing of the country, since it did take up a good chunk of Ahmose’s life.

What Others Think:

Historical Novel Society

Diane Dooley

Just Wondering

Scroll of a Modern Scribe

Historical Novel Review

Blatant Deception by Mary Jo Fay

FayBlatantDeceptionWhy I Read It: I thought it would be a fun thriller.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Readers who enjoy the faked ID theme in a cat & mouse game that involves sex scenes.

Publisher: Out of the Boxx Publishing (2013)

Length: 442 pages

Series: The story ends with a cliffhanger, so I expect this is only Book 1.

Author’s Page

Claudia is an accomplished woman. She is educated and has her own psychology practice. She pays her bills, has a car, and a little dog (Max). She fought her demons and won, and now uses those childhood horrors to help other women recover from traumatic relationships and/or sexual violence. Yet she lacks a serious love interest. So she surfs the dating sites, including Craig’s List. Jonathan Fardy is a single, middle-aged real estate agent who likes to mess with women’s emotions from the safety of a faked ID via computer. He comes across Claudia’s posting and decides she would be a worthy opponent. The game is on and Claudia has even noticed.

This wasn’t the story for me. It started off decently with a good set up of each character and the basis for the plot. But then it dragged on too long. I felt that many of the passages were repetitive. Often the reader would read one of Claudia’s or Jonathan-writing-as-Diego’s letters as the character was composing the letter, only to have to reread the letter again in the next chapter as the recipient read the email. I can see that this was done to show each character’s thoughts as they either composed or received a message, but it did drag the story a bit.

The first fifth or quarter of the book had suspense. I knew what Jonathan Fardy was up to, but Claudia didn’t and I wanted her to figure it out. But once I got past that initial story setup, and I was privy to all the moves by both characters, the suspense petered out. The book became predictable for me.

Claudia herself held much promise as a character. I like that she is renting and in between places – her life isn’t set in stone. Her dog Max is her faithful companion. She faced her childhood trauma and decided to give back to the world by helping others that faced similar situations. And yet…..Well, this book is about her love life. Period. We catch little glimpses of this professional career she has, but only in relation to her love life. Either she is concerned how a man will see her once they know what she does professionally, or she is bored by her clients and can’t wait to get back to her computer to check out the next sexy email from the mysterious Diego. When she does talk to the handful of female side characters, it is about men and love lives instead of something substantive. I started off liking this character, but then lost interest.

The ending was not satisfying. SPOILER ALERT Claudia’s house is vandalized and she has an idea that it is tied to the mysterious Diego. She stays over at a friend’s house, has another friend pack a bag for her, and she flies off to Cozumel for three weeks. Instead of facing her problems, she runs away. I get that she is shocked, horrified, and embarrassed. But I had to wonder where her professional side went off to. Here is a person in serious need of 1) being locked up and 2) therapy. I really, really wanted her professional side to kick in and help catch the guy and then, perhaps, even see that he got some help. But, no. Our main character flees. Sigh…..END SPOILER.

Now let me tell you about the sex scenes. There were several erotic dream/memory sequences and erotic emails. Normally I quite enjoy these bits, especially set within an interesting plot line. However, since I wasn’t emotionally attached to the characters, these scenes didn’t do much for me. I can tell you that they are well written and detailed. I will even say that some of them are educational. ;)

In short, I think this tale would have been much more powerful if it had been edited down a bit, maybe even to novella size. At 442 pages, with all the repetition and lack of suspense, I found it a bit of a chore to chew through.

What I Liked: Max the dog; initial suspense; set up of characters.

What I Disliked: The repetition; the suspense petered out pretty quickly; I was not attached to the characters; the ending was not satisfying.

Winter’s Heart Read Along Part II

WintersHeartBannerWelcome everyone to the continuation of The Wheel of Time saga. Here we are with Book 9, Winter’s Heart. As always, anyone is welcome to join us, so check out the schedule if you would like to do so.

This week, I am our host this week. Eivind, our commenter with an encyclopediac knowledge of WoT, can be found in the comments. Don’t forget to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers for in-depth analysis and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for non-spoilery fan art.

This week we covered Chapters 3-7. Spoilers are having a party below!

1) What did everyone make of the Shaido’s treatment of Faile, Maighdin, Alliandre, Bain, Chiad, Lacile, and Arrela during the march through the snow? Harsh? As expected?

At first, this made sense. It is much, much harder for captives to get all uppity and host ideas of escaping if they are trussed up naked and forced to march through the snow. But then things got a little weird. We had Faile being carried over Rolan’s shoulder and repeatedly slapped on the ass – and her deepest thoughts liking it because it kept her awake (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). We had two of the ladies thrown naked into the snow and switched, leaving red stripes on creamy white buttocks. Uh…..yeah. Totally the wet dream of 13-30 year old males. If we had a few males captives that received the same treatment, I could have lent this scene more credence. As it stands, I think it was written to appeal to a certain segment of the fans.

Why don’t we take a moment and picture some of the guys naked, trussed, and marching through the snow. They have learned to ignore their nudity and are just focused on surviving. But now they are faltering. Do the Shaido sling them over their shoulders and carry them the rest of the way? Do the men balk at it? Do they scream and contort as they get switched? Do they learn to like the slaps on the ass because it helps keep them awake?  Hmm…..Well, I know who I pictured for this scene. Who did you picture? ;)

2) Faile and crew meet the Shaido Wise Ones (Therava & Someryn) and also the Aes Sedai Galina. What do you think of the Wise Ones speaking so openly of Sevanna’s orders? Will Galina be of any help to Faile?

I was a bit surprised that the Wise Ones were so openly disparaging Sevanna’s plans to take so many captives. I wonder if this is a reflection of the huge level of dissent among the troops, or is it a reflection of Aiel culture – meaning that the Aiel don’t expect gaishan to make anything of their comments, good or bad, about the leadership. It’s build into the Aiel culture that the gaishan are completely subservient, so they might feel 100% comfortable discussing nearly anything around them.

Or they might be ready to gut Sevanna themselves.

If Galina does help Faile and crew, I expect it will come at a high price. I do have to say I am a little concerned that Faile and crew will botch any escape attempt and have to pay a steep price for it. Galina knows this and I don’t think she will lightly risk her hide to help Faile (even if Galina stayed behind).

3) It seems that Berelain is taking advantage of Faile’s absence and Perrin’s fatigue. Where do you think her flirtations will take her? Given the chance, what would you do with her at this point?

In general, I don’t agree with hitting people in the face (unless it is a bit of slap to bring them out of some hysteria or to keep them from sticking a knife in someone you care about), but I may just make an exception in Berelain’s case. And I think Perrin should be the first allowed to smack her.

As to what it will get her? I am not sure what she is playing for. Is it simple lust? Does she think that Perrin has lands and armies to offer Berelain and her country? She would have a stronger alliance in Faile if only she could make friends with her, but I can’t see that happening after this last bout of stupidity. Perrin isn’t going to want to bed her, even if she manages to break him and Faile apart.

Perhaps the Aes Sedai could lend her a smooth white rod? ;)

4) They are on the hunt! Talanvor left on his own to pursue the Shaido hours ahead of Perrin and crew. Perrin had to chastise the Cha Faile for their spying activities. The Asha’men want to lead the charge. Add to that, Masema offering to assist. Will Perrin’s anger explode? How can this hunt possibly be derailed?

So many possibilities! For entertainment’s sake, let’s say Talanvor finds the Shaido first, but decides to try to rescue the ladies all on his own instead of heading back and getting reinforcements. So he ends up captured and forced to walk naked in the snow, trussed in his own pants. Maybe he will even get switched or carried like a sack of grain. We can only hope, as we have heard how handsome he is.

I expect the Cha Faile will totally forget they promised to follow Perrin’s orders as soon as they catch sight of the Shaido. They are not thoroughly trained as warriors, not like the Aiel, and I expect plenty of blundering into the Shaido, ending in them being captured too. Meanwhile, the Asha’men are teleporting all over the area scouting for the Shaido. They may have some success and it would be interesting if one or two of them actually teleported directly into the Shaido camp. They may even kill a few Shaido before teleporting out or being killed. This should stir the pot.

Then we got Masema and crew who are fanatical idiots. I am sure they will find some reason to hate the Shaido and therefore, want to eradicate them from the face of Randland (for the good of the Dragon Reborn, may the light illumine his name for all eternity!). At this point, I think Perrin should lead a group of his Aiel into the fray and quietly and quickly collect all the people they want left alive and remove them to some hilltop to watch the fracas.

5) The men escorting Naean and Elenia were ambushed and killed outside Caemlyn. What do you think this portends? Will Elayne be able to unite the houses behind her or is this move the first of several by houses against her? Should the ladies be more concerned about defenses instead of clothing?

It didn’t sound like Naean and Elenia were killed, so I am guessing they were either freed and helped away or captured for whatever info they can give on Elayne and the current state of Caemlyn. Is Elenia one of those ladies who came on to Rand and then had to explain to him how she is not related (at least not even closely) to Elayne?

Anyway, sounds like someone wanted these two free of Elayne – and probably so that they can go against Elayne. I know Elayne is concerned that not all the house are for her, so I am expecting at the least some major political pushing and shoving, and at worst some kind of rebellion, even civil war. Knowing that we still have so many books, I am leaning towards the later.

And, yeah, if I can be concerned over the possibility of civil war, than Elayne can too….which means a focus on defenses is needed instead of forcing her most trusted friends (and now guards) into ‘proper’ attire.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

Other Tidbits

Is Someryn (one of Sevanna’s Wise Ones) the one with the hawk nose? Is this suppose to be the hawk that Min sees around Perrin? Is she and Faile going to hook up and become the best of friends?

Haha! When master Gil was going on about Perrin sampling from too many dishes and Perrin pointed out that he had not even had breakfast, I had to laugh. Giggling over that aside, I was a little sad at how easily people believed Perrin had been dabbling in Berelain, even against his protests.

That short scene with Perrin as a wolf was great. Really enjoyed the switch from wolf-Perrin to groggy, confused, angry, naked Perrin.

Words of Radiance Read Along Part II

SandersonWordsOfRadianceBannerWelcome everyone! We’ve returned with another installment of the Words of Radiance Read Along.  Want to join us? Everyone is welcome. Just check out the schedule post over HERE.

This week, Lisa is our host, so make sure to swing by her place (Over The Effing Rainbow) to see her answers and links to everyone’s posts.

This week we cover Chapter 9 through the end of Chapter 15. Spoilers abound below!

1) We learn a bit more about Syl and her connection to Kaladin, and that there are more spren out there, “trying…to reclaim what was lost”. Yet Syl was forbidden to come, and chose to do it anyway. What do you make of this new information?

It sounds like Syl risked an awful lot in coming – not only in the disapproval of whoever/whatever forbade her to come, but also in possibly loosing herself for good and being trapped as a simple Wind Spren for eternity. One of the things that I found particularly interesting was that Syl mentioned that she was one a Wind Spren and Kaladin contradicts her, saying that she is Honor Spren. I think that Kal (and most humans) believe that Spren are one kind and one kind only – they can’t switch from one kind to another. But based on what Syl said, I now wonder.

2) Chapter 10 is brief, but creepy! It looks like Shallan was responsible for her mother’s death, among others, when she was young. What are your thoughts on this scene?

On the surface, Shallan seems like such a simple, even happy, person. She does take everything in stride, perhaps is a bit gullible. Then we get a scene like this. Shallan is really into repressing heavy shit, ain’t she?

I know this is just my impression on the matter, but I think perhaps Shallan’s father had been pushing or training Shallan from a young age to manifest and use her Shardblade. I have to wonder how much of this scene was Shallan doing something wrong, versus her trainer forcing too much on her too soon. I expect we will get more of this story sooner or later and that it will not be simple. We already know that Shallan’s father was a control freak, one of her brothers died in some accident (am I remembering that right?), and at least one of her brothers is a sadist.

3) Highlord Amaram is back, and still has Kaladin’s Shardblade. He also seems to be close friends with Dalinar. Do you think Kaladin will tell Dalinar what really happened between him and Amaram? If so, what do you think might happen?

Well, this is awkward! I expect all sorts of angst for Kaladin and plenty of entertainment for me. If Dalinar puts Amaram in close proximity to Kaladin for some reason, or even orders Kaladin to temporarily take orders from Amaram, I think the shit may very well hit the fan (as opposed to being cooked up for High Lord Sadeas by Rock). I don’t think Kaladin trusts Dalinar enough to tell him the full truth of the matter just yet. However, Amaram may confess it in a moment of surprise or fear (like if Kaladin is holding a blade to his neck).

In Book 1, Amaram seemed sorrowful at the ‘need’ to kill all of Kaladin’s men and brand him as a slave, while taking the Shardblade for his own. He spoke of some greater need. I think Kaladin needs to hear what that greater need is. So if there is some type of confrontation, I expect Amaram will have to explain this. Beyond that, I am not sure. I wouldn’t be sad if Kaladin killed Amaram, but once Kaladin hears the reason, he may not take his life.

4) We get an Interlude, and more, with one of the Parshendi – the Shardbearer who fought Dalinar, a woman named Eshonai. We finally get a real look at the Parshendi and learn a bit about what they’re doing on the Shattered Plains. What are your thoughts on this?

Wow! I loved learning about the Parshendi. Of course, it creates a kind of sweet anxiety too for me as the reader. Now I know things about the Parshendi that would be very helpful to Dalinar (who wants to try to understand them a bit) but of course, i can’t tell him.

I found the whole thing about the different Forms very interesting. In fact, it made me think a little of the Spren and what Syl said about once being a Wind Spren. Eshonai’s observations on humans and that they are always in Mate Form, and how it may cloud their thinking, was funny. It seems they lost some knowledge a long time ago and are rediscovering some forms (like Nimble Form). Perhaps after the last Desolation, all known Parshendi were enslaved and became what is known as Parshmen. And perhaps some Parshmen broke away from humans several generations back and the Parshendi were birthed anew as they rediscovered a few forms.

The Storm Form sounds dangerous. Perhaps we will finally see why Jasnah thought the Parshmen were once called Voidbringers? Could be very exciting, and deadly. This could be the thing that brings Kaladin’s secrets out in the open.

It appears that they don’t have a Scholar Form or Artist Form, and yet, really, really want these forms. I am not sure why. And it seems they need to attract the right kind of Spren because one of them can transform into that desired Form. It’s all very interesting.

5) We also learn that Eshonai wants to speak with Dalinar and sue for peace. Do you think that’s likely to happen?

I think Dalinar’s vision voice (Unite them!) wants the humans and the Parshendi united to face some greater foe. Of course, Dalinar hasn’t come around to my way of thinking yet. And it looks like Eshonai just wants peace or a truce anyway, just to let her people live. She’s not looking for an alliance. What we need is a bigger, uglier, vastly more dangerous foe in order to get these two peoples talking to each other and allying. Will that happen this book? I am guessing no. Will there be a chance or two for some words to be exchanged? I hope so. I want to see Dalinar and perhaps Shallan or Kaladin wondering about the Parshendi.

6) Adolin’s first duel doesn’t exactly go as anyone expected… What did you make of how it was won? Do you think it will force people to take Adolin, and by extension Dalinar, more seriously?

I’m not too sure what came over Adolin, but I was glad to see him treat this bout like a one-on-one war. After all, they are in a war. If that fight had happened on the field, it would have been quick and brutal (just as Adolin performed it). I think Adolin might have grown up another notch. Perhaps he can show the other nobles that fighting is not a game, but is a brutal action taken for some higher purpose? Or perhaps I am asking too much of the talented peacock…….

It will take a while for folks to take the Kholins seriously. Until recently, Dalinar and Jasnah were the serious ones – and Jasnah was off on her research and Dalinar has these visions that allow people to write him off. Adolin is best known for his ability to strut like a peacock, Renarin is seen as a physical weakling, Navani is something of a flirt, and Elhokar is nitwit. With Adolin finally showing a serious side, we shall see.

Oh! And he gave Renarin the won Shardblade! That was nice, though I am not sure what Renarin will do with it.

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Other Tidbits:

Shallan manages to rescue herself (with the help of the sea beastie) and some of Jasnah’s belongings. Of course, she’s stuck with slave traders for now. I wonder where this precarious adventure will take her…..

Rysin was quite daring in her trading efforts. Unfortunately, it might have cost her the ability to walk. And was that the tattooed guy, hanging upside down, who was studying all sorts of Spren (what was the inebriation spren he categorized?) in Book 1?

Haha! Sigzil does have a bit of humor – making Rock hang from the stuck rocks just for fun. And that sparring scene between Kaladin and the guys was great, especially when Rock attacked him with a tree!

Shallan lost nearly all her drawings, except for the one of Jasnah that was safely stored in Jasnah’s trunk. I still wonder if there is something more to Shallan’s drawings. Could she possibly capture a piece of a person and imbue the paper with that? Is there any hope that even a small piece of Jasnah is left on this plane of existence to help guide Shallan?

My Fellow Storm Forms:

Musings on Fantasia

Lynn’s Book Blog

Over the Effing Rainbow

Books Without Any Pictures

Making My Mark

Stainless Steel Droppings

Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers

Rise to Power by Uvi Poznansky

PoznanskyRiseToPowerWhy I Read It: I really enjoyed Poznansky’s Twisted so decided to check out her historical fiction.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Those interested in 1st-2nd century BC history, and/or bible stories told from a secular point of view.

Narrator: David George

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 7 hours and 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 The David Chronicles

Author’s Page

The story opens with an old king, one who has had his claws and fangs pulled. Indeed, he is not a particularly impressive specimen. Through the course of one night, his memory flashes back to younger days. David started off as a court entertainer – a poet, a dancer, a harp player. But then one decision after another leads David down a road of tough choices, choices that often lead to blood. Set in the land of Israel in the 1st or 2nd century BC, we watch as David rises in power, watch as that power is snatched away, and then watch as David claws that power back.

This story was new to me as I am not religious, though I am pretty certain that the life of David is chronicled in the Christian and Hebrew bibles. So some of you may already be familiar with many of the details of this story. Even I, who lives under a rock, had heard the tale of David versus Goliath. I have to admit that my overall ignorance of David and his deeds added to my pleasure in discovering this tale through this book. except for the David versus Goliath fight, I had no idea what would happen to David. So, yes I fretted over him.

He started off so simple and care-free. He was a court entertainer and a bit of a ladies’ man. A young lad soon to be a man who had little a need to be noticed. Of course, the King (King Saul) offers him a daughter’s hand in marriage for defeating Goliath. This turns out to be a bit of a ruse and David ends up with another daughter. But don’t worry, later in the story he collects a few more wives. He has plenty of companionship in the bedroom. Just as he has plenty of conflict in the king’s court and later in the battlefield.

David is a complicated guy. He starts off on a bit of a lark, off for adventure. Then marriage and court intrigue send him into a series of conflicts that bloody his hands. By the end of the book, we have a very different picture of David. I am not sure I like the man he turned into, even as I am sure that I am quite intrigued by him. The ending left me ready for the sequel in the series, wanting to know if David can redeem himself of his misdeeds, or if I am going to want to behead him.

My few criticisms are small, as I quite enjoyed my time with this book. The first partly stems from my own cultural and (perhaps) historical ignorance. There is a scene where David must collect the foreskins of 100 Philistines. Now I assume that the only way to do that is to convert the uncut men to Judaism, and part of that conversion means the willing circumcision. The other option is to kill the Philistine men and then collect their foreskins. I can only imagine that would be a grisly task left to servants and they would probably do it quickly, so there might be a few extra tips thrown in with the foreskins. Ugh! Oh, and these were a wedding present. As you can see, I had to make some assumptions there as to why David would be tasked with foreskin collection duty.

The other criticism is that the ladies are mostly wives and sex objects. We’re told one lady (Abigail, I think) is particularly clever, but in the few lines she had, I did not see it. The ladies don’t seem to have anything other than David to talk about, so I didn’t get a sense of their personalities.

Still, with those in mind, I did enjoy this book, and I enjoyed learning a bit of history from it. David is a complex character that evolves through out the book and while I may not end up liking him and wanting to have him over for tea, I want to know more about him.

The Narration: David George made a good David, scoffing and pouting and womanizing in all the right places. He also did a good job expressing incredulity (like the numerous times King Solomon has to throw his spear at someone in court). I especially liked his voice of the taunting David when certain items were liberated (quietly and sneakily) from an enemy’s camp. His female voices were rather similar, but as the women didn’t have major roles and didn’t chat with one another, it was easy to keep their characters apart.

What I Liked: David is a complicated man; learned a bit about history; the cover; I haven’t decided if I like the main character yet and this keeps me intrigued.

What I Disliked: The female roles were limited.

What Others Think:

Christoph Fischer

Reviews by Amos Lassen

DW Headrick

Winter’s Heart Read Along Part I

WintersHeartBannerWelcome everyone to the continuation of The Wheel of Time saga. Here we are with Book 9, Winter’s Heart. As always, anyone is welcome to join us, so check out the schedule if you would like to do so.

This week, Eivind, our commenter with an encyclopediac knowledge of WoT, is our host this week. You can find him in the comments. Don’t forget to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers for in-depth analysis and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for non-spoilery fan art.

This week we covered the Prologue through then end of Chapter 2. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. With Talene’s capture, do you think we have seen the beginning of the end of the Black Ajah? Do you think the rebel moles will do more good hunting darkfriends than they did spreading dissent?

I think it is going to take quite a bit more to bring down the Black Ajah. While they haven’t been the best at planning, they have done a decent job of compartmentalizing. Many only know a few others, and I expect very few, if any of them, know all the Black Ajah. Besides, I want to see some momentous stand off between the Black Ajah and some good guys.

Considering how many Darkfriends, etc. are in the White Tower currently, I think the moles will spread dissent and disquiet by ferreting out Darkfriends. Pretty amusing, if you think about it. They weren’t very good at spreading rumors and dissent on their own. Maybe they saw it as a stupid task. But hunting Darkfriends is real, something they can sink their teeth into. They can do a very good job of causing disorder behind the scenes by forcing the Black Ajah to swear loyalty to them.

And is that messed up or not? What if they had been wrong? I wonder what they would have done after torturing Talene so thoroughly if it turned out she was not Black Ajah.

2. Elayne expects to have to battle for the throne. Do you think so too? Are we overdue for Gawyn to come back? Where is he anyway?

Yes, I expect Elayne will have to battle someone in some way for the throne….just as Rand had to battle various people to keep it safe for her. Of course, she is going to chose to have a fight with Rand over the fact that he ‘gave’ her the thrown. I still find that immature in the extreme. One can acknowledge the effort, the gift (if you must call it that) and still draw the line at allies instead of one being subservient to the other.

But back to Elayne and her real enemies. Yes, folks see the opportunity to yank the thrown out from Elayne’s family line. And why not, with her off doing far more important tasks like trying to seduce Thom, perfecting her high wire act, and pursuing the angreal of all angreals (the Bowl of Winds). Maybe my opinion on Elayne and her ‘right to rule’ are leaking through a bit. I am hoping that she is tested through conflict and that she proves worthy of ruling. Hoping. Not expecting.

Oh, yes! Let’s bring angry, sullen, deadly Gawyn back into the mix! That could be quite fun. Hie heart is torn in two or three between Andor, Egwene, and the White Tower. It is probably time something forced him to chose a side, instead of three.

3. Elayne and Aviendha are ‘born again’ as sisters! What did you think of this birth scene? Do you expect Min to have to go through the same thing?

This scene was way more intense than I expected. Aviendha and Elayne really had to lay everything out there and once having done so, had to decide if they still wanted to be sisters. I was pretty impressed with this scene actually. For every point, good or bad or silly, that the two had to proclaim aloud, the Wise Ones then shot it down, showing how human they each are. I do wonder what the bond will do going forward. Is it something like a Warder bond in that each will feel some of the other’s feelings or pain or inebriation through the link? If so, maybe that is why Aviendha has been so open with Elayne about Rand.

In Aiel culture, do women married to the same man have to be bonded Sisters? Or are they simply just sister wives? I am not sure Min will have to go through the same ritual. After all, she has spent far less time with the Aiel, isn’t as familiar with their culture. Perhaps she will refuse to marry Rand anyway and will just be a sort of friend with benefits. I can see her doing that as it allows her to keep her independence – both from Rand and his wives.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

4. Taim added a few ‘deserters’ of his own. Can we now finally add him to the evil list? Do you think Logain might be able to do something good? Maybe Elayne will be able to help, now that she has visitor’s access?

Yes, I think we can add Taim to the Evil List even though it is quite a long list and it would be nice to add a few more people to the Good List (but we seem to keep killing off the good guys so it’s hard to get new people to apply). It seems that Logain is already very suspicious of Taim and has collected a circle of guys loyal to him. They also seem to have independent plans from Taim and keep tabs on his comings and goings. So as long as Logain doesn’t get killed any time soon, then yes, I think we can see some good come from him.

Elayne’s access to the Black Tower may be her chance to shine as a leader. After all, many people want the Black Tower dead and buried; let’s see how and if she defends it. Next, there is Taim who is just bad mojo in a nice impressive suit. I look forward to seeing Elayne square off with him.

5. Rand has decided to leave palace life and go hunt bad guys. Are you excited? How do you even hunt someone who can travel anyway? And what do you think his idea is to cleanse Saidin?

Well, I always get excited when Rand leaves his entourage behind. It usually means he is off to do something stupid, and may also mean that he will get his ass beat when he returns to the entourage.

It sounds to me like he is trying to lay false trails. As Min points out, he should lay a trail he wants someone(s) to follow and wait in ambush. Short Min with her knives, hiding in the bushes, tall Rand standing behind a tree, sword drawn. OK, they should sit down and work out some of the details. But for a start, that isn’t too bad. I wonder if they will catch Slayer or Moridin or a Forsaken or two. At least some Darkfreind underlings.

I have no idea how Rand will cleanse Saidin. I can’t see that happening easily. He’ll probably run the risk of burning himself out. Min will probably have to carry his near-carcass back to civilization. Honestly, I think this task is so huge, so momentous, that it can’t happen until the last book. And wouldn’t it need more than Rand, like maybe 13 Asha’men and Aes Sedai linked to carry it out? If it was simple, something a single determined man could do, then it probably would have been at least attempted before if not accomplished.

6. Perrin’s problems are just piling up: Masema will join him, and now he has to chase down Shaido while keeping his own Aiel safe from his other soldiers. Will this unlikely alliance ever hold together, or do you expect some spectacular blow-up sometime?

Blow up. We need one. Since Faile can’t be yelling at Perrin or throttling Berelain while she is held captive, we need some other source for the drama. So, yeah, I can see some of the wool-headed louts in Perrin’s entourage deciding to go after the Aiel in Perrin’s group. The Aiel will not take this well and they are already on edge, having lost some of their own. I am also not sure about Berelain and which road she will take. At first, it seemed she was trying to give Perrin sympathy (in a professional way) but then she went all seductive on him. So inappropriate. I liked that Perrin told her off, but somehow, I don’t think she will take the hint.

Then the wolves are even telling Perrin to let Faile go, to mourn her, and to move one. So sad. But it would be wrong to slap the wolves, wouldn’t it?

Other Tidbits

Mazrim Taim kept stealing glances at Elayne’s bum! While I understand that Elayne wants to handle Taim herself, does she really expect no one else will tell Rand?

Very interesting about the 51 Aes Sedai captured by Logain and his men, and all bonded to Asha’men. Logain himself has two now, and the one bedding him found the experience quite educational and exhilarating. ;)

Very cool to have some steam engines going on at the university. I foresee some Steampunk goodness in the WoT future!

Interview: Georgina Garrastazu, Author of Jaguars

GarrastazuJaguarsEveryone, please welcome author Georgina Garrastazu to the blog. She recently published her first book, Jaguars, and even with the whirlwind madness of all that, she still had time to do an interview here. We chat about lucid dreaming, Divergent, dinner menu for dead authors, and a few historical texts.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

I see modern fantasy definitely affecting human culture. It affords people the opportunity to examine concepts, such as good and evil, outside of the parameters set by religion, nationality, and race. By taking the reader into a new dimension, reality, and mindset, the author gently moves the reader into new and cleaner parameters. Cleaner because ideas, words, and their definitions become imbued with meaning through life and usage. By cleaning these extra meanings out, the reader can start anew with his/her examinations of core concepts without the weight that certain “items” have acquired.

I can give an example of this, kind of. I haven’t read the Divergent books, but I did see the movie this last weekend. In Divergent, you have what appears to be a society repairing and rebuilding itself by classifying its citizens into personality types. The real story, at least to me, is not about some girl who chooses a new more exciting life, but about whether one trait can truly be superior in a person’s life to the exclusion of all other traits. Can intelligence truly be what is best for society without the balance of the others? Without the balance of honesty, joy, action, or compassion? Bruce Lee would say no – “It is compassion, not the principles of justice, which guard us against being unjust to our fellow man.” I would agree. Any story is a simplification, in a way, yet this one successfully forces us to examine the idea of utilitarian intelligence unfettered by compassion and the dangers such a state might lead to.

I also see fantasy as a way to slip certain ideas into modern thought. More to the point, it is a way to reintroduce certain entities in under the radar for the “talented” to rediscover and contact. Not all fictional characters or beings are truly fictional. But this is another matter, entirely.

What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays? Is there a fictional holiday that you would like to take part in?

I wouldn’t mind spending any solstice with the Elven peoples. Imagine the beauty and magic of how they must celebrate!

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

They are on my t.b.r. list, I swear!
a) Three Books of Occult Philosophy - Agrippa
b) The complete works of Thomas Aquinas
c) The Hindu scriptures

a) & b) – because I want to know the thoughts they had before they repudiated, reconsidered, or recanted them.
c) – because the double is found in the Hindu pantheon. The double is what my own work concentrates upon and revolves around.

In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

I agree with that, in general, just not in my book. My main aim is to teach people how to reach the double and how to use it. Everything else is extraneous. I use the story to frame this aim and put it into context or to explore other actions related to the double. My own research was in lucid dreaming and I first performed the double in 1996. Since then, I have experimented with it and other aspects of dreaming and related activities, such as gazing. All of these I write down in my practitioner journals. Then I lift them from the journals and insert them into the story. So the lucid dreams in the story are fairly factual, even though some of them are out of order to when they actually occurred.

That’s what I do. I don’t know what real fantasy writers do.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I don’t know enough about self-promotion and I despise the idea of telling people to read my book. I find it embarrassing. I would like to get to the point where I could talk and discuss the finer points with the readers, especially if they are practitioners of dreaming. All I’ve done is mention my book on Facebook and WordPress.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

When I was real little, I was super-cute with long hair, a happy disposition, a smile, and little patent leather Mary Jane’s. Then I went to school and it was all downhill from there. I became very shy, introspective, and weird. The type of kid who doesn’t care to conform to how their peers think they should be. Since I went to Catholic school, I used to spend a lot of time in church, just sitting there in the early afternoons. So I was a loner at an early age.

I wanted to be a dentist. I had this incredible dentist named Dr. Thompson who had his office building framed with Mayan stone glyphs. He also had a little treasure chest that I would raid after my appointments. There were plastic trinkets in it along with lollipops. Then one day, he disappeared. He was piloting a small plane and was lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Except for that last part, I wanted to be like him. He was kind, compassionate, and a gentleman. That was a real loss to humankind.

If you could sit down and have a fancy meal with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would everyone choose to eat?

I’d invite Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Anton Wilson, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff and Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenski for dinner. Wait, I also want to invite Ovid because he was the catalyst for me becoming a bookworm. So he stays even though he ups the diners to 7 for dinner. As far as I’m concerned, they will eat whatever I put on the table. People who aren’t cooking may not control the menu in my house. There will be fine wines to drink, along with Coke and water. For appetizers, we will have Tortillas de Patata which are Spanish omelettes made with fried potatoes and onions. There will also be chicken croquettes and Papas Rellenas which are fried and breaded potato balls filled with seasoned ground beef. Then for the entrée we will have a dish I make that is a cinnamon and ground almond chicken stew over rice. We can have espresso and flan for dessert.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I’m not the right person to ask about this because I like plain books without cover art, those that just have the title printed on the cover. But those are non-fiction books.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I have an article coming out in Affluent Magazine sometime in the summer. I’ll let you know if anything comes up. Oops, the print edition is coming out mid-April, so I guess that counts.

Places to Find Georgina Garrastazu

Blog – The Toltec Arts

Facebook

Amazon

GarrastazuJaguarsAbout The Book, Jaguars

Lonely and dissatisfied with eternity, Zaki Raxa Palo is an immortal seer from the golden age of the Toltecs, the time during the emergence of the great Lord Quitzalcuat. He is alive today because of the arcane secrets he learned. He describes the first twelve days of his instruction in the esoteric as they occurred thousands of years ago, when the tight knot of immortality was unraveled before him and he was taught to wrap it around himself.

Although he is a prince with a questionable birthright, once he hits puberty the learned seers and sorcerers around him seize upon the moment as they groom him for kingship. Suddenly, Zaki is forced to learn and take notice of the world around him; no longer can he be the isolated and lazy boy he was. Accompanied by his pet, Chahel, an orphaned jaguar, he is led into the reality of myth. The lead instructor of wisdom, the Cabicacmotz, introduces him to the frightening practices of the Toltecs. Who knew that awareness could dwell in one’s shadow?

Zaki has seen a few games of Bateh, the deadly ball-game, but he has never seen it as it is meant to be played, where intent can propel the ball towards the goal and defeat can be complete. On the day of the Festival of Adults, a private affair within the tribe, he sees the royal team upon the grand ball court. The Cabicacmotz leads him around the festival to receive omens from different groups he must learn from. The Chuchmox will teach him gazing, the sneaky Etamanel Evan will make him smoke a spiky plant, the Balam Ch’Ab will show him how to transform himself into a jaguar, he will learn to play Bateh with The Jaguars, and the strange Ahtoobalvar will show him how to fly over mountains in a new body.

Fate has conspired against little Zaki. His instructor, the Cabicacmotz has the ability to set Zaki’s hair on fire and he just might become his brother-in-law. Worst of all, the Cabicacmotz can read his mind and rifle through it at ease. How does one only think good thoughts? It’s a trick worth learning when one’s hair is on the line.

Being a boy was a luxury, no one paid any attention to Zaki. Now he is counted as a man, it seems, and all of the tribe knows his business. Disappear once while trying to gaze at one’s shadow and everyone hears about it. They even think he might have been transported away by the Xibalbans, the denizens of the underworld. Zaki can’t understand what all the fuss is about. He doesn’t understand that it’s best never to be noticed by those beings. Now he is under constant observation.

The only good thing that has happened is that Zaki now has friends. Only the noble-born children get to learn the arts or those who have been pointed out by omens. Two brothers, Hac and Cham, of the lowest caste are chosen to learn alongside Zaki. Quiet Hac and the cocky Cham are the only boys who are confident or stupid enough to befriend the prince. At least Zaki no longer feels invisible and unworthy. Friends can make all the difference.

Not everything is going well in the tribe, however. Spies have delivered devastating news to the Toltecs. Once, long ago, the Toltecs rebelled against false gods and their followers within the tribe. They thought they had destroyed them all, but now they know that is not so. The idolaters have thrived and they are forcing the tribes around them into subjugation. Do their gods still exist? No one knows. They only know that they must be stopped and war is in the air.

No matter what, though, he is still going to have to learn all that his teachers demand. He’ll have to wear a navel stone, practice dreaming, smoke things that make him think oddly, learn where his sense of self is at all times, live with purpose, and discover that the childhood stories of his tribe contain incomprehensible and esoteric truths. The world is much more mysterious than he ever imagined…

Dastardly Bastard by Edward Lorn

LornDastardlyBastardWhy I Read It: Having read other Edward Lorn novels, Hope for the Wicked and Life After Dane, I couldn’t wait to delve into Dastardly Bastard.

Where I Got It: A won a copy in a giveaway by the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: This is for the paranormal ghost story fans who like an outdoor setting.

Narrator: Glenn Marcum

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (2013)

Length: 6 hours 38 minutes

Author’s Page

The story starts off tame enough. We get to know each of the characters a bit and why they all end up at Waverly Chasm, near Bay’s End, on the same day. Justine and Trevor camped over night and plan to join the guided hike. Justine isn’t really the outdoor type, but she’s making an effort for Trevor.  Mark, a professional photographer, is tasked with doing a piece on the Chasm which is a step down from his war correspondence he recently wrapped up. He’s an obese guy and a 6 hour hike isn’t really something he is looking forward to. Marsha, recently widowed, takes her fancy-phone addicted kid, Lyle, out to the woods because it is something her dead husband would do. Donald is a world-famous author, but he as chosen a pen name and a full size model to play him in public as he is dwarf and doesn’t want to make his books about his size. Finally, Jaleel is stuck with all of them, being the guide for the hike. As they get warmed up, they talk of one of the main features of the hike – Scooter’s Drop (or was it Plunge?). It’s where this kid fell off into the Chasm, never to be recovered. As they near it, shit starts happening. And the real personalities come out.

Rainbow rug, cotton rayon blend, 28inX89in.

Rainbow rug, cotton rayon blend, 28inX89in.

Edward Lorn’s writing does strange things to me. This is a horror story. Bad things happen to good people. Lots of suspense, a bit of blood, a touch of innards, a swirl of scary. What did I do while listening to this book? I wove a rug. Not just any rug. A rainbow rug. Yep. And when I was done with that, I had over an hour left of the audiobook. So what did I do while finishing out the book? I baked a cake. From scratch. And not just any cake, but a 3 layer chocolate cake. It weighed perhaps 7 pounds when I was done. 6 eggs, a pound of butter, sugar, cocoa, and love. I shared with the volunteer fire department.

Three layers of home made cake.

Three layers of home made cake.

Yeah, his books do odd things to me.

Now you probably want to hear about the book. In short, I loved it. It was fast-paced, full of wit and suspense. Each character came with their own baggage, their own horrors, that they had to face. Justine was my favorite. She was a real hero in this story, pulling folks together, leading the way when the path was not clear. At first I didn’t care for Donald the writer. He was a bit of a dick. But then we get a peek at his deepest horror and shame and I think my heart cracked a little for him. After that, I liked him quite a bit. Mark was also a favorite as he faced a professional quandary as a war correspondent – what to publish and what to delete, how much truth to tell?

I liked that not everyone survived (because I do find it unrealistic when all the good guys survive a paranormal attack of some sort). The pacing was good (never a dull moment). And the mix of people was great – various sizes, various skin tones, single, paired up, widowed, etc. The ending was more upbeat than the other two Lorn books I have read, so that was unexpected for me (but I liked it!). I really enjoyed that the characters had to go through some tough crap, face it, makes friends with it, and then they could attempt to come out the other side. Nothing was just given to the good guys.

I’ve now read three Lord books and quite enjoyed each one. This one did not disappoint and may have been even more enjoyable because it was an audiobook and I could listen as I worked.

Narration: Glen Marcum was an excellent fit for this audiobook. He infused the story with tension, tenderness, pissed-offness, etc. as needed. Edward Lorn writes well, and Glen Marcum did a great job of giving those characters a voice. I especially like his voices for Lyle and for Justine. Oh, and Trevor (who sounded stoned throughout the book).

What I Liked:  Lots of suspense; outdoor setting; such a variety of characters for so many different backgrounds; the fears the characters faced (real shit, nothing half-assed); the ending.

What I Disliked:  I too wondered why the police didn’t ask about Trevor’s lack of pants.

What Others Think:

Zigzag Timeline

Books, Books, & More Books

J. Marie Ravenshaw

Big Al’s Books & Pals