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

A Sunset Finish by Melinda Moore

MooreSunsetFinishWhy I Read It: Set in NM, a violin or two, with Native American culture – how could I say no?

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

Who I Recommend This To: Fans of the paranormal, such as body snatching ghosts, would enjoy this.

Publisher: Jupiter Gardens Press (2013)

Length: 65 pages

Author’s Page

Stephanie Minagawa has struggled with depression since her teen years. She has also struggled with the expectations of her parents as she wants to be a musician and her parents want her to be an engineer. So she tells her parents she’s off to far away New Mexico to work at Sandia National Labs but really she packs her violin and has hopes of joining the orchestra. Too bad the dry air of the desert splits her violin within hours of her landing there. But her stand partner recommends a violin repair shop on one of the local pueblos. And there she sees and hears the Sunset People. Their magical music calls to her and she can’t let it go. She returns again and again, demanding to know, even after she is loaned a violin while hers is being repaired.

The main character struggles with her depression and inclination towards suicide throughout the book. While I like how the author delved into this aspect (including self-mutilation and the altar of deceased relatives), I was a little unsatisfied that a reason, or series of reasons, for the depression was not revealed. Perhaps there was none in the fictional life of Stephanie……but for a novella, it nagged at me a bit. Whatever the reasons, or not, for her attraction to suicide, it was an integral part of the plot. The Sunset People’s music is for those who are ready to let go of life and move into the next realm of being. Stephani hears the music and is strongly drawn to it. Meanwhile, a lady she becomes friends with is struggling with a serious illness and can’t hear the music or see the Sunset People; she is not ready to let go. I liked the juxtaposition of these two.

Then we have the romance of the story. Granted, it’s a little like a whirlwind. He works at the violin repair shop and lends her his own violin. The two have a near-instant bond in their love for music. However, he still misses his deceased wife, Theresa. Poor man, I don’t recall his name. The ladies in this story were more interesting. Though he did get a few great lines about wanting to live, etc. Stephanie reacts angrily to these lines and he has to apologize later, which I thought was a bit unfair. She was dancing with death, toying with it, not fully living her life, but not quite able to give it up either. That aspect had me thinking a lot about life and not living it half-assed, no matter if you are suicidal or not.

Anyway, we get a paranormal aspect a bit later in the story as Theresa returns as a ghost and tries to take over Stephanie permanently. This creates another quandary for our main character. She could let go of her life, easily, with no pain, no fuss. Her parents wouldn’t even know she was gone. There would be no guilt over her leaving people behind. What do you think she picked? I won’t spoil it for you. I will say the ending was very satisfying.

What I Liked: Setting in NM; main character comes with long-term conflict (suicide inclination); the ending was quite satisfying.

What I Disliked: There wasn’t any reason(s) given for Stephanie’s depression.

What Others Think:

Obviously Opinionated

Ruth Hull Chatlien

Words of Radiance Read Along Part I

SandersonWordsOfRadianceBannerWelcome everyone! I am so excited to be diving into this book, and such a great group of folks to be sharing the experience with. Want to join us? Everyone is welcome. Just check out the schedule post over HERE.

This week, Liesel is our host, so make sure to swing by her place (Musings on Fantasia) to see her answers and links to everyone’s posts.

This week we cover the Prologue through the end of Chapter 8. Spoilers abound below!

1. We basically get the same prologue from the first book except from Jasnah’s POV. She tells Gangnah that her father’s assassin walked on the wall, and it’s ignored. We also see the Parshendi leaders immediately take credit for the assassin. What did you make of it all? Insights? Impressions? How will this affect the story going forward?

I think it would be easy to dismiss a report of the assassin walking on walls, as Jasnah just lost her father, and so many others during the fight. Plus, it’s been how many thousands of years since anyone has seen a Surgebinder and what they can do. Well, anyone who doesn’t know about Szeth. Well, perhaps the Shin and the Parshendi both have Surgebinders on a regular frequency, but we don’t know that. That’s totally my suspicion.

And the Parshendi taking credit for the assassination right up front like that. Wow! All last book I was thinking that they were framed or used somehow. But with this new info, that may not be the case at all. I wish we knew more of their culture!

If the Parshendi wanted Gavilar dead, and Dalinar is becoming more and more like him, with similar goals, that means I need to be concerned for Dalinar. Perhaps the Parshendi will try to off him.

2. Adolin and Shallan are unofficially engaged. How do you see this relationship panning out?

Snort!!!! OK, got that out of my system. I think someone for the read along of Book 1 wondered what it would be like to have Shallan and Adolin in the same room. I can’t wait to see Shallan unleash her sharp, and amusing, tongue on the poor man. And Adolin could teach Shallan about Shardblades. I expect initial amusement and maybe exasperation followed by some touching mishap that brings them together.

And Shallan was so very practical about it too! She was relieved to be engaged to such a powerful family, and the cousin of Jasnah. I have no clue how Shallan will get to Navani and/or Adolin now, but she’s a resourceful young lady. Good thing Navani was all for the engagement, with Jasnah gone.

3. Kaladin wants to keep his Radiant powers a secret for as long as possible. How successful do you think he’ll be? How long will he remain hidden? Do you think he’ll succeed in training the thousand?

I think Kaladin’s ability to keep his secrets depends on how soon his powers are needed. Since his men are willing to keep his secret, he can train in secret. After all, no one is going around looking for people with Radiant powers….well, no one other than Jasnah. Well, there might be some evil doers doing the same. Oh, and the Parshendi know he has Radiant powers. And once Szeth makes it to the scene to follow through on his assassination (that we learned about near the end of Book 1), he’ll surely recognize Kaladin’s powers. Shit, this list is getting longer and longer.

OK. So let’s say no one recognizes his powers and tells the Lighteyes, because really, the people in power are the ones he really has to watch out for. Then he can keep his secrets for quite some time.

But I expect some thing will happen that forces Kal to use his powers, potentially in some showy way. Like Szeth showing up.

4. Jasnah thinks Shallan’s spren is a Cryptic, as opposed to an Honorspren which is what Syl is. What do you think is the significance of this? What does it mean for Shallan? For Kaladin?

Based on just these two spren, it seems the spren are well suited to their companions. And they appear to have a learning stage. I remember from Book 1 that Syl started off very much like a simple Windspren and over time became more and more communicative and eventually morphed into that full fledged Honorspren. Shallan’s Cryptic (Pattern) appears to be going through the same learning curve. I can only imagine what Pattern will become. Very exciting!

5. How will Kaladin accomplish all of the tasks Dalinar has laid on him? Do you think Dalinar’s plan with the duels will work to stave off civil war and help unite the high princes?

Kaladin is going to have to delegate more work. And I think he is going to have to eventually bring more men into his inner circle. He’s already delegated Teft to doing the basic training for the 1000. Rock and Sigzil have the task of supplying and cooking and training cooks for Kal’s little army. Still, he needs more trustworthy men to accomplish it all. I expect he will be hardest on himself and wear himself out and the others will chastise him for it by stealing all his clothes one day, so that he is forced to stay in bed and rest.

Personally, I am really looking forward to seeing Adolin duel. I know, it’s the little barbarian in me. Still, it is what the culture understands and Adolin can earn much honor for his house in these duels while capturing Shards and teaching the other high lords lessons. Will it help unite the high princes? I am not sure. It could unite them against Dalinar and his family. After all, if Dalinar & family hold the bulk of the Shards within 6 weeks, then the other lords may be quite disgruntled and even feel threatened.

And that voice in Dalinar’s visions that keeps telling him to unite them may not be talking about the High Princes. It may be encouraging him to unite the humans with the Parshendi. Until some greater foe rears its ugly head, that is unlikely to even occur to Dalinar.

6. After the incident with the ship, do you think Jasnah is truly dead? Predictions?

Such a tough question. I actually had to listen to this section twice. Jasnah’s death broke my heart. I have to say that I am pretty sure she is dead, at least her body. Perhaps there is some slight chance that her spirit will be able to chat with Shallan in Shadesmar. I really got attached to Jasnah in Book 1 because she made me think (remember that incident in the alley with the cutpurses?).

I wonder what happened to her spren, Ivory. Will Shallan find Ivory again?

With Jasnah’s death, and Shallan lost at sea (at least until she reaches shore, because I assume we can’t lose two main characters to early in Book 2), I don’t think anyone will notice until the ship is reported missing at their next scheduled port. Eventually word will reach Navani & family. Perhaps they will contact Shallan’s family.

I did sniffle a little at the thought of all their books being lost to sea.

7. What are your first thoughts/impressions of Pattern? How do you see his and Shallan’s relationship developing?

Haha! It was fun to watch Shallan and Jasnah watch Pattern explore his new world and Shallan finding him a bit imbecilic. I mean, Shallan, and even Jasnah, must seem like children (or imbeciles) when they go to Shadesmar, knowing so little.

If Shallan continues to spend time with Pattern and nurture his inquisitive nature, I expect he will continue to grow as Syl did with Kaladin. Also, I think Pattern will teach Shallan about Shadesmar.

Does anyone else want a crawling, talking cryptic tattoo? I know I do!

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Tofu actually believes he is hiding behind this book.

Other Tidbits:

Jasnah was meeting with a lady assassin shortly before Szeth struck. She ordered that Elhokar’s wife be watched. I really, really want to learn why, and what the assassin learned. Since Jasnah is now out of the picture, what will happen to her little spy networks?

Shallan and her immense sea creature. I have to say, that is totally me. More than once, I have asked my man to pull off the road 9or done so myself if I am solo) so I could play with some critter. Snakes are a big one around here. Once it was tarantulas migrating to water and mating. Buffulo in a national park….what else, Oh! A moose! My one and only moose! Once we came upon a full grown mountain lion at night on the way home. Did not leave the car for that as that would have been immensely stupid. That cat was in no hurry to get off the road and stared us and the car down.

That was pretty touching about the Bridge 4 tatts and the badges.

Haha! Kaladin thinks Elhokar is a whiny little snit too!

Only 62 days to get things right. I wonder if this book will cover those full 62 days, or if those days will be stretched over multiple books. I can’t see Szeth waiting 62 days to make his attempt on Dalinar. I wonder who wrote the glyphs?

Dalinar’s latest vision was so full of clues and I have no idea where they all go! Spren with red eyes, being hunted? Used as spies? giant rock like beast rising from the riverbed – is it a spren?

I love that Kaladin keeps calling Dalinar ‘sir’ and that he takes the time to explain why to Dalinar. And Dalinar accepts it! It’s great to have these two teamed up.

Is anyone else listening to the audiobook? Why did they change the accent for Yalb and those of his race? They now all sound French, and they definitely did not in Book 1.

My Fellow Cryptics:

Musings on Fantasia

Lynn’s Book Blog

Over the Effing Rainbow

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Making My Mark

Stainless Steel Droppings

Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers