Knife of Dreams, Part I

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind is our host and you can probably find him in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s Musings on Fantasia for cool non-spoilery fan art and hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

I had to post late this week because we had a flood last week and I was just wiped out from the actual event and then clean up efforts.

This week, we covered the Prologue and Chapter 1. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Eamon Valda finally buys it, and Galad is now (at least de jure) Lord Captain Commander. Do you think he will be able to muster the children and fight back in any meaningful way? Or is this effectively the end of the order?

Well, I was looking for something else perhaps 2 months ago (perhaps a list of the Forsaken) and the answer to this question was revealed. I guess folks aren’t big into spoiler warnings for this series since it has been out for so long. Perhaps I should reveal the ending to The Hobbit?

Digressing…….Back to the question. First, before stumbling upon that bit of info, I would NEVER have expected Galad to rise to Lord Captain Commander. While he is a stickler for the rules, he is also a good person. I can’t see him raping and torturing his way through a country like Masema’s men do (and some of the Whitecloaks). And the 2 previous Lord Captain Commanders have been pretty ruthless.

So with that in mind, Galad is going to have to get a bit more ruthless, and suspicious, in order to stay alive, let alone retain the title of Lord Captain Commander. But I can’t see Jordan just letting this constant nuisance dressed in snazzy cloaks & armor fade out. So I expect them to be around for the end of the world.

2. The Seanchan suffer some shocking defeats at the hands of Ituralde. Suroth is furious and sends away almost all the air scouts. Will this help Mat out? What do you think is in the future for Ituralde?

First, Ituralde has incredible fashion sense, with the lace and the beauty patch on his face. Very chic.

I think anything that unbalances Suroth, who we know to be a Darkfriend, will help Mat or one of our other heroes. So if Ituralde’s sense of style (on or off the battlefield) does that, I am all for it.

Some of our WoT Quad have mentioned that Ituralde is the last of the greatest battle generals to enter the storyline. So I expect him to win a lot of battles, some of them decisive. I don’t know if he will survive to the end as we have had only tiny little bits of him so far. And I expect some of the key players will have to die in the final 3 books.

3. Semirhage has been busy in Seandar, and Seanchan as we know it (or more accurately, didn’t know it), has ceased to exist. Without support from their homeland, do you think the return is now doomed (in the long term)? Might this force them into accepting an alliance with Rand, once it becomes known?

Yes!!!!! Oh, when I heard this, I did a little dance. I know, I shouldn’t root for Semirhage, but the Seanchan have been pissing me off since they first appeared on Randland thinking they could just conquer the entire land and that they were entitled to do so.

Now with their homeland all in tatters, I hope they realize they will need to make alliances, respect the various peoples of Randland, in order to simply maintain their existence and their possible chance to return home and resurrect their homeland.

4. The Black Ajah hunters have stalled, and Pevara is now being sent away on a mission to bond Asha’men. Talene managed to hide, but Alviarin is still on the right track. Where do you see this storyline going?

Uh….Well, perhaps I wasn’t paying close attention….again.

I expect Pevara to fail at forcing a bond upon Asha’men. Period. Though it could turn rather amusing if she is bonded to one of them.

Alviarin is highly motivated to serve the DO, so I expect her to continue to cause trouble until someone kills her.

5. Of all the things that could happen between Galina and Perrin, what were you wishing for? Do you suppose she succeeded in stalling him?

Galina was doing a lot of lying and I wondered if Perrin could smell her lies and played along with part of it? Of perhaps he could only smell fear on her, which could be explained by the Aes Sedai fear and revulsion towards Asha’men.

If he didn’t pick up on Galina’s lies, then I want to slap him upside the head. He knows that things may not be as they seem. He has met and fought with Wise Women. So he knows that just because you can channel doesn’t mean you are bound by oath to tell the truth.

The rude little evil part of me wishes that Perrin had tortured Galina to verify the truth.

As for stalling Perrin, no. It sounds like they were nearly set to follow through on some plan anyway and that grabbing Galina just gave them a little extra info.

6. Egwene has been installed as a novice again, and sees advantages in her situation. How badly do you think will Elaida regret not having her tried? Is Egwene right in refusing rescue? And do you think she will manage to hold the rebellion together by proxy (in tel’aran’rhiod)?

Oh yes, I definitely hope that Elaida comes to regret not having Egwene beheaded on the spot. I really want Elaida to regret that decision just before she is exiled, Stilled, or killed. Or perhaps all 3. I’m easy that way.

Yes, Egwene is right to refuse rescue just yet. She is in a unique position to learn a lot about her enemies in the White Tower and get that intel to the Aes Sedai outside the Tower through T’A’R.

As for being able to hold the rebellion together….well, I think the Aes Sedai who greatly desire power and see the rebellion as a way to it will hold the rebellion together. Of course, they might not do much to help free Egwene so I hope she packed some clean undies for her (probable) long stay in the Tower.

Guest Post: Jim Bernheimer, Author of Prime Suspects

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanFolks, please welcome Jim Bernheimer back to Dab of Darkness. I have enjoyed a few of his novels and a short story collection to date. ‘Enjoyed’ really is too light a term. I tore through three of Jim’s books back to back. Little housework was accomplished that week. So it is with great pleasure that Jim agreed to do a guest post and tell us about his latest book, Origins of a D-List Supervillain. You can also check out the Dab of Darkness interview along with my reviews of Prime Suspects, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, and Horror, Humor, and Heroes.

A Post That’s Pretty Much About Nothing

I’ll start with thanking Susan for allowing me to come on and do a guest post.

She gave me a plethora of topics to choose from, which was cool, and it gave me the opportunity to use plethora in a sentence. Unfortunately, as I read on it became crystal clear that all her imaginative ideas weren’t clicking with me. The good news was she said I was free to come up with my own topic.

I’m a writer. How hard could that possibly be?

The answer is very. In the aftermath of finishing my latest novel, I find myself devoid of any meaningful ideas, so I’m going to try and totally wing it.

BernheimerOriginsOfD-ListSupervillainObviously I want to talk about my new book, Origins of a D-List Supervillain (available in paperback, Kindle/Nook, and with the audiobook coming soon). However I figured I shouldn’t be blatant because savvy and intelligent readers, like those visiting Dab of Darkness, can spot a shameless, self-promoter hawking their wares from a mile away. So I figured I’d have to be clever when I insert a paragraph promoting the prequel to one of the highest rated novels in the superhero genre. Y’know, so people won’t roll their eyes at me when they read this and do so without seeming to pander to this well-read and fascinating audience.

Prequel? Yeah, I wanted to be like George Lucas and go there – only with less Jar-Jar, because that’s how “Meesa Roll.” Anyway, I just did a single prequel. That’s all I had material for, which is also sort of like, well movies 1-3.

Maybe I should get rid of that last bit? Picking on the prequel trilogy and Jar-Jar is low hanging fruit. Then again, most everyone laughs; so I guess it stays.

What am I working on now? That’s always good to talk about. People like that, but that’s usually at the end of the guest post and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Plus, it’s fairly self-evident. I’m reasonably certain that everyone can see that I’m out contacting blogs and trying to promote my latest novel. Also, there are all those tasks that my wife has reminded me that I’ve been neglecting while writing my latest rollicking adventure that’s already receiving a number of excellent reviews from readers.

I told her that I needed to spend most of July marketing it, so I’m safe for a few more weeks. The deck has lasted this long. Sanding it down and then applying a new coat of stain during the hottest months of the year doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of fun in the sun. Really, I should be thanking you folks for helping me delay that particular bit of nastiness. If sales continue to improve, I can probably make it to fall before the honey-do list becomes a get your butt off the computer and do something other than convert oxygen into carbon dioxide list.

I can’t really say I suffer for my art. It’s more like I suffer without my art or whenever my wife of twenty years realizes she married a slacker. I’m not sure.

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainSo thanks in advance for doing me a solid. What does that really mean anyway? It’s a good thing I’m just typing this and not saying it. After all, I’m about to turn forty-five. Isn’t it embarrassing when middle aged men try to use hip terms to try and sound cool and with it? The pinnacle of my wild side is usually Friday Night Magic or playing Cards Against Humanity, which clearly makes me a rebel without a cause. (Perhaps a rebel without a clue is more appropriate?) That’s when I’m not busy writing a number of really excellent books that are so good that everyone should take a moment and check out my Amazon author page right here – http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Bernheimer/e/B0028OE2UA

I figured putting my youngest daughter in the picture with me would help my sales better than one of just me. We just got a new puppy, so he’ll probably be in the next picture I upload there along with my daughter. My goal is to get enough cute things in there to offset my ugly mug because I’m kind of like the Grumpy Cat without the viral Internet presence. Heck, I just searched Amazon and discovered that the Grumpy Cat has an author page. It has a book out with 298 reviews! That eclipses even the 263 reviews for Confessions of a D-List Supervillain! Though, my story has a significantly higher rating. I can still hang my hat on that.

Now I can say I did some research for this guest post.

Do you think Susan will notice? If you folks are reading this either she didn’t or is tolerant of my rambling and feeble attempt at humor.

Wow! I’ve got over eight hundred words done and it’s about time to tie off the loose ends. This might prove to be difficult because the whole thing has been just one big loose end covering for a marketing ploy.

BernheimerSorceressI suppose now would be the right spot for talking about the next books I’ll be working on. My wife and several fans want to see the third Dead Eye novel and there is also a small, but rather vocal group who are eagerly awaiting the third Spirals of Destiny installment, but considering how well the D-List books are doing, I’d be an idiot (or an even bigger one than I already am) not to write more in that universe. So yes, I’m hoping to have two more D-List books ready by the end of the year. Also, I’m collaborating on a screenplay adaptation of my novel Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective mystery because I want to be that author who is muttering how Hollywood corrupted my art while cashing their check. For enough money, I’d even let them write Jar-Jar into … No! I’d have to draw the line somewhere.

Places to Stalk Jim Bernheimer

Website

Amazon

Goodreads

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VIII

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This week, your host is Eivind and he can be found in the comments.Make sure to check out Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. And catch Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 27-END. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. After letting himself go with the Shaido prisoners, Perrin abandons his axe in the forest, as predicted by Elyas. What do you think of his way of breaking the Aiel? Is this a defining moment for him, and in what ways?

I thought Perrin did really well. It was quicker and more humane than letting the previous methods of torture continue. I think it was the concept of being so crippled and left in a city to beg that broke the Aiel resolve. Also, I believe it showed others (like Masema) that Perrin is insightful, decisive, and quite capable to taking care of business.

Unfortunately, I do think this is a defining moment for Perrin and he has defined it all negative. As much as I really enjoy Perrin, he can be an idiot and he will be an idiot over this one. I can see him moping over his decision to remove a hand in order to gain info, beating himself up over it for the rest of the series (all 4000 pages or so).

And, really, who leaves weapons lying around in the woods during times like this? I hope Aram or Elyas fetched it back for him, just keeping it tucked away until in the heat of battle, Perrin swears up a blue streak for having left his axe behind.

2. Tallanvor suggests to team up with Seanchan to defeat the Shaido. Should Perrin agree? Will he just end up having to rescue people from the Seanchan instead?

As far as we know, the Seanchan only enslave female channelers. So if he sends those ladies off, or keeps them in hiding, teaming up with the Seanchan may work. However, if the Wise Ones refuse to be sidelined, and the Seanchan are arrogant pricks (and we all know they will be) then I expect inviting them to the party will only increase Perrin’s headaches as the Seanchan make a point of enslaving the Wise Ones, and the Aiel retaliating by removing some Seanchan heads. It would be immensely entertaining for me, but I would feel sorry for Perrin (eventually).

3. From the female or male viewpoint, what do you make of Mat’s courtship strategy, and Tuon’s response? Bewildered? (I am!)

Quite frankly, I was very surprised that Mat was so able to change his tactics. After all, most other women have fallen for the jewelry lure.

But, yeah, I am still a bit confused. We know so little about Seanchan customs, let along how they go about courtship and marriage back home. I am guessing that Tuon had to be the first to make a move (since she is of the highest royalty). So direct gifts were an insult. But that final little gift of cloth rose buds, simply set beside the game board, well that left all the decisions in Tuon’s hands. She could have tossed them or given them away. But later she deigns to wear them. I am hoping this is a good sign. I think. Can I root for the Seanchan in this instance?

4. Renna betrays our heroes and Mat is presumably forced to leave the circus. Were you surprised? How happy are you to be rid of Valan Luca?

Mat was going to have to leave the circus sooner or later – I mean he has this part to play in saving the world, right? But I was not expecting Renna to stab Egeanin in the back. I didn’t fully understand what she thought she was gaining by that either. I guess her dedication to the Seanchan way was stronger than her obedience to Egeanin or Tuon (if she realized fully who Tuon is).

And since Mat wasn’t putting on a sparkly, thigh revealing suit and doing a high wire act, I am OK with Mat & crew leaving Valan Luca behind.

5. Egwene’s plan is revealed, and the harbor chains of Tar Valon are now cuendillar. How will this change the siege?

The plan was revealed? Hmm…..Well, OK, I thought we had a small smidgeon revealed. I expect the chains being cuendillar will allow Egwene (or some other Sister) to seal the harbor. Egwene wanted to prevent the boats from going in and out, because they allowed movement of the people inside the tower and restocking of goods. So by blocking the Tower harbor off, there would have to be some sort of attack from the Tower or some sort of surrender from the Tower. Anyway, that is what I was thinking. Did I miss something?

6. Egwene is captured! Should she have sent Bode after all? Is she stupid for having risked herself? Never mind the harbor chains… how will THIS change the war?

Well, yes, Egwene was stupid for having risked herself. But this falls back to that fond phrase, ‘The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills’. So Egwene had to be on that boat one way or another.

How does this change the siege? Well, it depends on who captured her. If it is Sisters completely disgruntled with Elaida, then Egwene should be fine because they will want to undermine Elaida. If it is Darkfriends or Black Ajah, then Egwene may be in some danger from them directly, but not from Elaida (as the Dark wants to undermine Elaida). If they are Elaida supporters, then Egwene will have to worry about being stilled and possibly executed.

Then Egwene also has to worry about her detractors in her own camp. I expect they will try to wrest control for themselves no matter Egwene’s status inside the harbor. So Egwene will have to work quickly and come out smelling like a rose to remain Amyrlin.

7. Rand will meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons, but we know she’s nowhere to be found (by Suroth, anyway). An obvious trap or just a really obvious trap? What do you expect to happen?

As the reader, I know that Suroth is a Darkfriend and that Tuon has gone missing, so this is such an obvious trap to me. But Rand doesn’t know those two things. I am hoping that the colorful mind-to-mind phone among our ta’veren will start working soon and Mat can tell Rand about Tuon.

But until then, I expect Rand to agree to meet with Suroth and the Daughter of Nine Moons. If that meeting goes down, I expect Rand to escape immediately with minimal blood shed. After all, he can Travel. Unless they have a convenient leash for male channelers. In which case, i expect Rand to be the first ever to break one with his belligerent personality.

While I personally want to see Tuon kill Suroth, I expect that Suroth will be kiled by one of our ta’veren or by the Dark side for incompetence.

Other Tidbits

Mat still doesn’t see his own influence on Olver when it comes to the ladies. This is amusing and distressing at the same time.

Mat pushed their mounts in order to catch Renna, and then pushed himself to order her killed. And yet he returns to Tuon to see that she signed a bit of paper than made the circus and Mat & crew untouchable no matter what Renna told the Seanchan outpost. He had trouble with that……and yet I still want to give him a wake up call. Having a vagina and boobs doesn’t protect you from being killed in war, especially when you stab someone in the back and run off towards the nearest enemy outpost.

Remanda (or is it Remilda? Anyway, the high & mighty snot whose name starts with an R) didn’t take the news about the Oathrod and longevity very well. I thought Egwene had a strong argument – it would keep the Kin tied to the Tower but also give the Sisters a reasonable retirement option.

New Spring Read Along: The Schedule

JordanNewSpringAnd the WoT Quad bravely continues the world’s longest read along with the prequel, New Spring, Book 0 of The Wheel of Time series! We figured we would complete the Robert Jordan solo books before launching into the final three cowritten with Brandon Sanderson. Below is the schedule. If you would like to receive the weekly emails with the discussion questions a few days before post dates, just leave a comment or email me (nrlymrtl at gmail dot com). Eivind, our Scandinavian WoT encyclopedia, will be kicking us off. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia and Sue at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers will be keeping us in good company.

New Spring – 334 pages

Week 1: September 14th, Eivind Chapters 1-6, 111 pages
Week 2: September 21st, DoD Chapters 7-16, 110 pages
Week 3: September 28th, MoF Chapters 17- END, 112 pages

Knife of Dreams Read Along: The Schedule

JordanKnifeOfDreamsAnd the WoT Quad bravely continues the world’s longest read along with Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series, Knife of Dreams! Below is the schedule. If you would like to receive the weekly emails with the discussion questions a few days before post dates, just leave a comment or email me (nrlymrtl at gmail dot com). Eivind, our Scandinavian WoT encyclopedia, will be kicking us off. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia and Sue at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers will be keeping us in good company.

Knife of Dreams – 837 pages

Week 1: July 20th, Eivind, Prologue – Chapter 1, 117 pages
Week 2: July 27th, DoD Chapters 2-7, 96 pages
Week 3: August 3rd, MoF Chapters 8-12, 114 pages
Week 4: August 10th, CCCP Chapters 13-18, 100 pages
Week 5: August 17th, Eivind, Chapters 19-23, 113 pages
Week 6: August 24th, DoD Chapters 24-26, 90 pages
Week 7: August 31st, MoF Chapters 27-31, 108 pages
Week 8: September 7th, CCCP Chapters 32-END, 95 pages

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VII

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

This week, your host is Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Make sure to catch Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.  Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s.

This week, we cover Chapters 21-26. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. I am sure that we are all so sorry for Alviarin, now that she is about to be outed as Black Ajah by Elaida and has seen Mesaana reduced to a terrified wreck by Shaidar Haran . . . or perhaps not! Do you think that Elaida actually has any evidence to use against Alviarin, or is it all bluff and self-delusion from the Amyrlin we love to hate? Has Alviarin got any hope of uncovering the Black Hunters, even with her newly minted ‘Mark’?

I think Elaida is all bark and no bite concerning Alviarin at this point. Sure, lots of Aes Sedai are tired of Alviarin being all high and snooty, but no one can toss her in chains (or they would have done so by now).

I thin Alviarin is desperate and will try exceedingly hard to locate the Hunters. And unfortunately, the Hunters haven’t been as subtle as they could have been. I mean, Alviarin could just bitch slap Elaida a few times with the Power and get an answer from her about who brought her the info on the Black Ajah. From there, Alviarin can hunt down the Hunters.

2. Last week we were thinking about what the Reds might do now that male channelers will not go mad, and now we have some actively talking about Bonding Asha’men! Do you think Elaida would have a fit strong enough to bring on a stroke if this idea was suggested to her? Or will we need to wait until she hears the news from Toviene?

Personally, I think most of the Reds would be a bit more relaxed if they indulged in some male company….nude. But that’s just my personal opinion.

And yes, Elaida doesn’t want to share power and bonding Asha’men as Warders would be a type of sharing. As we have seen, even when the bond is forced, the bond does work both ways for several things, like the sharing of feelings.

While I think this would be a good way to chill the Reds out, I doubt the Asha’men will see it that way. So far we have seen the bond work one way or the other. I would be very interested to see if it can be a mutual bond, so that one is not dominant over the other.

3. Life seems to be throwing a lot of surprises at Cadsuane at the moment. What do you make of her distrust of Verin, an Aes Sedai who seems to have been a whole-hearted supporter from the very beginning? Were you surprised that she almost lost her cool when she discovered that the Asha’men had Bonded some Sisters?

I think that anyone who hangs out with Rand for a length of time starts loosing their cool more easily. Cadsuane is just another example of the exasperated female.

I think Verin hunts knowledge. So far Rand and all the events and people around him are fascinating enough to her that she has sided with him. But as soon as it becomes more interesting to go against Rand or even side with Black Ajah, etc. I think Verin would very well be tempted. Hence, I believe Cadsuane’s distrust to be a good thing.

Cadsuane started off cool (slapping Rand when he needed it) and stayed cool…until this little section. I don’t know why I keep being surprised by Aes Sedai being all high and mighty. Of course Asha’men will be bonding their version of Warders. Silly Aes Sedai!

4. Loial has returned, but with mixed news. Were you surprised that not all the steddings were willing to listen to his advice? What do you think will be discussed at the Great Stump and will Loial’s mother be there to force him into marriage?

No, I was not surprised that the Steddings were not all in total agreement. That would be too much to ask for. And I have to wonder if there are Dark Friend Ogier in some of the Steddings mucking things up. We have seen Dark Friends every where else, so why not among the Ogier?

I think Loial may be very surprised when Erith agrees to travel around with him. :)

5. Logain has finally decided to warn Rand about Taim. Do you think that Taim’s influence has gone too far, or can Rand save the Black Tower from becoming a center of Darkfriend recruitment? Also, were you surprised that Rand had decided to seek a compromise with the Seanchan?

Yes, I think Taim’s influence has gone too far. Even though Rand has been butting heads with the man, even though there have been these reports from others about the heads on spikes, Rand has not done anything. So even if he believes Logain 100% and jumps on the Black Tower tomorrow, it is going to be very, very difficult to bring it into line. Should be a lot of drama and violence to entertain the readers.

No, I was not surprised that Rand wants a peace with the Seanchan. He was pretty shaken by that ‘loss’ that he incurred and he has all this other shit on his plate. Also, we have enough examples now of the Seanchan restoring order and trade once they have taken a city/country, that Rand now knows they won’t destroy Randland.

6. Elza is revealed as Black Ajah. Were you surprised and who do you think she will send her evil Warder to kill?

OK, I didn’t really remember this character from before though she has probably made a previous appearance. At this point, I am not really surprised when I little known side character turns out to be evil. And I don’t know who her Warder will be sent to kill. There are plenty of choices and knowing Jordan’s plot devices, we could end up with a body and never be told who did it.

7. So Harbor: I have to admit that I was expecting trouble because Masema sent Perrin to the town, which seemed unusually helpful of him. Please discuss how freaky and spooky the place is: what stood out to you as the most chilling aspect? Do you think that the Seanchan have had a good look at it and decided to stay away?

This town is messed up. I get that there are dead walking, or at least the highly visible spirits of the dead haunting the place. Then we have the whole populace spooked and occasionally, accidentally, killing each other. But why are they not washing? That is the part that is bothering me a great deal. I mean clean running water has long been associated with keeping evil spirits at bay. So why not wash regularly? Why not keep clean dishes, etc.? I think there may be more to this mystery than we have been told so far.

Other Tidbits

Did I understand that correctly? Did THE Dark One use Shaidar Haran’s body to Mark Alviarin and terrorize her at the same time? Those seals must be getting pretty weak!

Cadsuane doesn’t know what all her angreal do! I really want her to test them, in a public place, with Loial available to write down the details for posterity.

Shanghai Sparrow by Gaie Sebold

SeboldShanghaiSparrowWhy I Read It: It was the cover.

Where I Got It: ARC from Netgalley (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Steampunk fans!

Publisher: Solaris (2014)

Length: 373 pages

Series: Book 1 Shanghai Sparrow

Author’s Page

Set in Victorian times, Eveline (Evie) Duchen and her family live in the country, a life of privilege, and also a life that rubs elbows with the Fae. But then tragedy strikes, and Evie, her sister Charlotte, and her mother must move to the city and live with her uncle. But then tragedy strikes again and Evie finds herself living on the streets, until she is taken in by the steampunk tinker Ma Pether.  From there, things get even more odd for Evie. A British agent (Mr. Holmforth), who is stationed in Shanghai, has an unhealthy interest in the little known (and quite under appreciated) science called Etherics. Believing that Evie has inherited some family talent for this esoteric field, he hunts her down. And that is when she finds herself forced into a school for girls, one that trains them to be spies for the British Empire.

The world of Evie was so easy to fall into. The steampunk and fairy elements weren’t all glitzy and distracting. No, they were subtle and a part of Evie’s every day life. And that allowed me to focus on Evie and her storyline, which was very engaging. She’s cheeky, but also tries very hard to take care of those she cares about. Her life of hard knocks has taught her the value of listening at doors, sneaking around, and being nimble of mind as well as foot. And all those skills are put to the test in her interactions with Mr. Holmforth.

The story actually starts with Mr. Holmforth in Shanghai. He’s trying to climb the ranks of the bureaucracy of the British Empire but something about his bloodlines holds him back. Or rather the prejudices of his fellow workers and, well, the whole British society hold him back. We learn he is scheming, trying to get his hands on a weapon in development that could launch his career, make him a shining star in the eyes of his coworkers.  And then he tracks down Evie and only tells her the barest of information while motivating her with promises of security balanced by threats to those she calls friend.

I loved the way the Fae in and out in this story. We learn a tiny smidgeon of their lives away from humans, but mostly we see how Evie interacts with a few choice Fae. They find humans a pleasant distraction, and interesting digression from their normal lives. Liu, who is more fox than linguistics teacher, shows more of an interest in Evie and her talent in Etherics. In fact, he is the one to give a most potent warning: Do not threaten the Fae, for if they take you seriously, they will annihilate all of humanity. Gulp! That can’t be good. So Evie has to try to navigate that while keeping Mr. Holmforth happy.   

If I have to put down a criticism it is that the story starts out with Mr. Holmforth in Shanghai, and then jumps in time and location to Evie in England. It took me a while to figure out that not only had a geographical leap been made, but also a chronological one. That was early on in the book and I got over it quickly and went on to happily enjoy the rest of the novel.

Steampunk, fairies, precocious young lady, secret spy school for young girls, and an esoteric science known as Etherics. Yeah, all that goodness wrapped up in an awesome book cover. go get yourself a copy!

What I Liked: Evie was so easy to connect with; little bits of steampunk placed into the crannies and corners of the narrative; Liu and his foxy tail; the side story of Charlotte; how Evie sorts it all out; spy school for young ladies; the cover.

What I Disliked: There was one leap in time and place early on in the narrative that threw me off. But I got over it. :)

What Others Think:

Tolerably Smart

Drunken Dragon Reviews

Koeur’s Book Reviews

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VI

JordanCrossroadsOfTwilightBanner

And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

Sorry for posting late this week. The pain of my donkey-squished foot has been sapping my energy, and I have been doing plenty of weekend activities. Plus farm life. Anyway, I hope to be better this week.

This week, your host is Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.  Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Liesel’s .Make sure to catch Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers.

This week, we cover Chapters 17-20. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1) Nicola and Areina are still around causing trouble. Do you think they’ll stay around? Reveal Egwene’s secrets? Get sent home?

Perhaps one or the other will end up dead and Egwene will save the other from certain doom? Then she would have a fateful follower forever, and quite frankly, she could use a few of those. But most likely these two idiots will keep pushing the boundaries of Egwene’s benevolence and eventually one or both will be sent on long rambling necessary but yet not important missions. Or Egwene will wrap their heads in flows of power and suffocate them.

2) What do you think Egwene is planning with the newly-rediscovered method of making Cuendillar?

I have to say I was VERY surprised by this turn of events. I think Egwene is planning to have new seals and/or weapons (or shields) made of the stuff. But first, folks must practice and get good at it. Hence, all the trinkets. But she is wise to have so many, even the trainees, practicing. If she is going to have them make weapons or shields later on, the more who know how to do it, the more that will survive.

3) Siuan has discovered a strange trend of sisters too young to be Sitters being made Sitters. What do you think it means? Who or what is behind it?

Well, we know that some of the Aes Sedai voted Egwene in as Amyrlin because they thought she was young and malleable. Perhaps the same idiots are hopeful that young Sitters will be the same way and will give them more control.

4) There is talk in Egwene’s camp of taking the Red Ajah out of her stole entirely. Given that the Red’s main purpose had to do with controlling men who can channel, and now things have changed, both because of Rand and because saidin has been cleansed, do you think the Red Ajah has become obsolete? Will they disappear completely?

I think there will always be a small and precautionary need for Red Ajah. Say, after Rand saves the world, and we have Asha’men and Aes Sedai working together and having kids together, there could always be some male channeler that goes rogue and wants to rule the world (imagine Masema channeling!). So the Red Ajah would have the knowledge and skill to at least bring the rogue under control. The other side of the coin is that the Black Tower will eventually have their own form of Ajahs and they will have an Ajah with the skill to bring rogue Aes Sedai under control.

5) Egwene’s Hall is arguing about a possible agreement with the Black Tower. It’s based on bad information (or just a lack of info, I suppose) but it sounds like it might happen. Do you think this is a good or bad thing? What will it lead to? What form will it take?

I think it is a good thing because I as a reader have all this other knowledge. I know that Logain is planning something, probably involving going head to head with Taim. We need that jerk out of there and probably without a head. I also know that Asha’men and Aes Sedai have started working together here and there and the Aes Sedai haven’t fainted dead away or turned into geese from the experience. And I also know that Rand has cleansed saidar, which takes a lot of the wind out of the sails for those arguing against it.

But of course, our rogue White Tower doesn’t know all this. So, they will make a bungle out of it and I expect the Black Tower will come out on top of any deal.

Eventually there will be mating between Asha’men and Aes Sedai and then we will have all these geeky, socially inept channelers running around.

6) Egwene dreams both of a Seanchan woman who will save her, and of the Seanchan attacking the Tower. What do you think these dreams mean?

I think Egwene is going to have a very, very hard time accepting help from the Seanchan. But eventually, she will, and together they will take out the White Tower. Perhaps Mat and Tuon will work out their thing and then Tuon will order Seanchan assistance to Egwene.

7) Who do you think killed Anaiya and her warder, and why? What was she doing on the outskirts of the camp in the middle of the night?

I think Halima the Evil lured Anaiya out there and then killed them. I am just not sure why yet. Perhaps Anaiya is working against Egwene (like for an opposing Sitter) and hoped to get some juicy intel from Halima.

Other Tidbits

I think the rainbow stole looks better with a bit of red in it. It’s not a true rainbow without red, so the Browns would argue that a rainbow stole without red would need a new name. That would spark a very tedious discussion.

During this section, Egwene commented on Elayne’s pregnancy outside of marriage, how things were different from the Two Rivers, and then on Halima’s light skirts. I found it interesting that in passing (mostly just Egwene’s thoughts), Jordan covered this range of what is socially acceptable for a woman, or not, depending on circumstances and culture.

Wytchfire by Michael Meyerhofer

MeyerhoferWytchfireWhy I Read It: The cover drew me in & I needed some darker fantasy in my life.

Where I Got It: A review copy via the blog tour (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Fans of Tolkien-like fantasy will find this fulfills the need.

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (2014)

Length: 375 pages

Series: Book 1 The Dragonkin Trilogy

Author’s Page

We open with Fadarah, who is a kind of warrior mage, a half-breed, and a key person in the siege of the city. The Shel’ai control the nightmare that can tear down city walls, and if let off its leash, completely destroy a city. Then we meet Rowen Locke who is a down-on-his-luck wannabe knight. He failed his goal in achieving knighthood, and then fails to sense a trap on the highway and becomes the victim of a nasty mugging. Penniless, injured, and jaded concerning the bulk of the human race, his adventure begins.

Wow! Just, wow! This was a fun, entertaining, impressive work of fantasy fiction. If you enjoy your Tolkien-esque adventures, then this is definitely a book for you to check out. There was plenty of world-building (peoples from various ethnicities – fictional and real) along with characters of depth. The book had my attention from the beginning because Fadarah seems to genuinely regret what he must do, seems a little disgusted at the methods for conquering the city, and yet he goes forth and does it. Then Rowen. Ah, the poor man walked on stage with so many secrets! He was a tantalizing character to follow and watch some of those secrets come into the reader’s light.

I quite enjoyed the mixing of elements from the legends of King Arthur and feudal Japan. The Knightly Order of the Lotus was a nice touch. And the action was quite engaging. There’s sell swords, brigands, warrior mage, etc. The average farmer seems to be in some sort of recession, which makes sense with war here and there. But sprinkled among the action are moments of introspection by the characters, so the reader doesn’t get battle fatigue.

While I would have liked to see a few more female characters, it seems I am always saying that. I can just pretend Rowen or Fadarah is a woman in disguise. ;) There were a few typos in my version, but it is an early ebook review copy; these typos were not enough to distract me from enjoying the overall book.

What I Liked: Multi-dimensional characters; various ethnicities represented; plenty of world-building; the mix of King Arths and feudal Japan was very fun.

What I Disliked: Could use a few more female characters.

What Others Think:

Adventures in Storyland

Footnotes

CS Fantasy Reviews

Places to Find Michael Meyerhofer

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K2DPJ60

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wytchfire-michael-meyerhofer/1119392198?ean=2940149291106

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/wytchfire-3

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20935130-wytchfire

Book Page on RAP: http://redadeptpublishing.com/wytchfire/

Author page on RAP:  http://redadeptpublishing.com/michael-meyerhofer/

Giveaway!

Click the link below to take you to the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win some great Red Adept Publishing Swag!

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Crossroads of Twilight, Part V

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

This week, I am your host. Make sure to catch Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 13-16. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1) Chapter 13 starts with Elayne returning to her bath and Aviendha alludes to some joke Birgitte played that relied upon the feedback loop built into her bond with Elayne. Any guesses as to what this joke was?

Well, I recall Elayne once acting drunk and Nynaeve giving her a scolding, and in actuality it was Birgitte who was drunk and dancing and having fun.

Then there was that one time that Elayne found a rather unusual *cough, cough* angreal. She woke up in bed with everyone grinning at her and not answering questions. Perhaps that angreal gave her some fun sexytimes or close enough to it and Birgitte caught the afterglow through the bond.

2) Dyelin returns with the High Seats of Mantear, Haevin, Gilyard, and Northan. Do you foresee any issues concerning the ages of these High Seats? Dyelin seems to have an unhealthy curiosity about Brigitte. Do you think she is merely in disbelief about Brigitte’s abilities, or do you think Dyelin is studying her for more nefarious reasons?

I fear the other High Seats won’t take these four seriously. Additionally, I am also concerned that their own houses won’t take them seriously. In fact, them proclaiming their fealty to Elayne may cause a bit more dissension if their elders disagree with them, or feel snubbed because they ran off and did this thing without consulting them.

Dyelin, so far, has been very true to her word and therefore Elayne. However, she is also in a position of greater knowledge of Elayne’s plans, etc. If I was a smart, planning evil person, I would definitely take the measure of those guarding Elayne. Which would mean studying Birgitte in her boots and tight pants. I can see how someone could get distracted by those attributes and not think seriously of Birgitte. However, Dyelin is not enchanted by swaying female hips and has been studying Birgitte. Right now, I think Dyelin is just trying to get a read on if Birgitte believes she is truly her namesake and living a silly tale,. or is she truly competent. I don’t thin Dyelin has any evil plans for Elayne.

3) While Elayne met with Master Norry and Mistress Harfor (just how many spies does Elayne have in the her Palace, and can she keep them ignorant and in play?), Aviendha sheilded their conversation. Once the meeting was concluded, she told Elayne someone had attempted to listen in. Who do you think that was, and why?

Sounds like Elayne has a ton of spies within the Palace. But I think this would be n0rmal during a time of great change and upheaval. And not all would be spies in the sneaky sense of the word, but could just be people trying to ride out the change by keeping multiple parties happy.

I really am not sure who was attempting to listen in. We had a Wise One and a trainee waiting to come in and examine Elayne (the saidar version of the ultrasound). I guess one of them could have done so, but I think Aviendha may have recognized their energy, perhaps? We also know there are slew of Aes Sedai creeping around the city, coming and going. Perhaps one disguised made it into the inner palace and made the attempt.

The ‘why’ is probably the simplest question – to gain info, any info, that concerns Elayne and her plans.

4) It appears that Arymilla, who is vying for the crown of Andor, isn’t above holding prominent people hostage in order to strengthen her claim. Do you think she is as daft as Elenia believes she is? Elenia has a plot to use Naean Arawn in order to further her own claims for the thrown; do you expect that to go well for Elenia? What is up with the seemingly mad and definitely violent Nasin?

No, I don’t think Arymilla is that daft. First, she is holding together a sizable force, one large enough that Elayne takes her as a real threat. Two, she doesn’t appear to be anyone’s puppet.

Even if Elenia manages to wrest some followers from Arymilla, I don’t expect her path to be easy. And Naean could totally be playing her. And of course, even if she past those hurdles, she has to deal with Elayne, and I think we all know how that will turn out (even if Rand has to step in and assist).

I really am not sure about Nasin. Can he be a male channeler that went a little crazy? I assume the users of saidin are like the users of saidar – there are different levels and some can only channel a trickle and are easily overlooked (think of all those Kin). Whatever the cause of his madness, he is violent and probably needs to be put down.

5) We spent some more time in Hanlon’s head. He and Falion have some sort of an agreement wherein they exchange info behind Shiaine’s back. Which of the three do you expect to end up dead first? Shiaine asks three things of Hanlon: free some sul’dam and/or damane, shift some guards away from the food warehouses, and entertain Elayne in bed. Which of the three do you expect Hanlon to accomplish and what do you think is the master plan?

Well, I am guessing that Hanlon will be the first to die, either from trying to get into Elayne’s panties, or killed while attempting to kill or abduct Elayne, Birgitte, or Aviendha.

Hanlon said that freeing some sul’dam or damane would be easiest. So, I expect him t do that first. Perhaps with guards hunting them, he could then shift men away from the food warehouses, which will then be torched. I expect Birgitte and/or Aviendha to become highly suspicious of Hanlon at this point. And I expect Elayne to be very hesitant about listening to those suspicions because Hanlon once ‘saved her life’.

Master plan: Create chaos and new foes by freeing channelers, burn the food to sew dissension among the commonfolk (who wants to back a leader who can’t keep the masses fed?), and bed Elayne to learn more of her plans and secrets. Then kill and burn and run amok at the appropriate time to keep Andor in turmoil until one of the Forsaken or a very special Dark Friend can seize the reigns and rule Andor in name for the Dark One. There will be much festivities, but please dress in black goth style to show support for your new overlord.

6) Delana shares a few shocking tidbits with Egwene: 1) Several Aes Sedai suspect Egwene has bonded Gareth Bryn; and 2) Many Aes Sedai are considering negotiations with Elaida. Which did you find more amusing? Would either benefit Egwene’s efforts to make the Tower whole before the end of the world?

I found it very amusing that some suspect that Egwene had bonded Gareth Bryne! Of course, she wants Gawyn, but only a few even suspect that. Still, I could see a certain logic to having Bryne as a warder. There would be no way to pay the man off and he would have to take her orders instead of acting as a free agent. He wouldn’t like it, but he would also buckle down and be the best warder he could be.

I don’t expect Elaida to agree to Egwene’s terms, so negotiation with her will not be of any use except to appease some of Egwene’s followers. She can say, look, I tried and Elauda just would not see reason. So you see, I really did have to take her head.

Other Tidbits

I loved Dyelin’s comment to Birgitte about dragging your bait all over the lake.

Elenia dresses her maid in fancy clothes and believes she treats her well. She really had a huge disrespect for anyone ‘below her’.

I find it very interesting that Falion and Hanlon have this agreement, and part of it is him leaving bruises on her to keep up the ruse.