Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – Who’s Interested?

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

It’s time. This has been kicking around in the back of my head for some time. I love doing read alongs and discussing the minutiae of a good book. The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Dart is Book 1) is one of my all time favorite series. In particular, I am forever enamored of Kushiel’s Dart. My man and I have read this book so many times, the covers have fallen off more than one copy.

So why haven’t I done a read along of this book before? Well, in short, it is near and dear to my heart. As such, it is with great pleasure and with a little trepidation, I put it out there for a group read (aka group dissection).

This series is full of political intrigue, spies, betrayal, sword fights, escapes, captures, and no small amount of romance. The characters aren’t static, grabbing the readers hearts as they grow throughout the series. The world is rich in deities, queens & kings, many cultures, and excellent food.

And then there is the sex. It’s one of the reasons I love it. The main character of Kushiel’s Dart, Phedre, is a prostitute, though this term doesn’t fully cover her position in society. In an alternate history, Terre D’Ange (France) is a place of multiple deities and many of those deities have houses of worship that recognize sex as a beautiful and sometimes transcendent activity. If you have ever read Gilgamesh, then you might recognize the concept of temple prostitutes.

But it goes a bit further than that. I first picked up a copy of Kushiel’s Dart when I was 23. I definitely didn’t think I was a prude at the time and yet when I read the spicy scenes I found that I was not as well versed in bedroom antics as I thought I was. Throughout the series, I expect there are intimate scenes that will push nearly every reader’s boundaries. There’s BDSM, and not the non-consensual kind that has made the big screen lately. There are bisexual and homosexual relationships, which I would like to think wouldn’t even raise the eyebrows of my readers. There are some non-consensual scenes in the series, but the author does a great job of showing what a transgression such actions are. These scenes are described in as great a detail as the rest of the book – which means great detail.

So who’s with me? I would like to start with Kushiel’s Dart and if enough folks want to continue with the next book, I am more than happy to do so. In total, there are 9 books in the Terre D’Ange Cycle, comprising 3 trilogies that are related to each other. My little heart would do a happy dance if folks wanted to do a group read of all 9 books.

So what does this read along entail? This read along is for the new-to-the-series read as well as though familiar with Jacqueline Carey’s works. Once we have a group of folks, we set a 1st post date and start reading. At ~100 pages per week (paperback version), Kushiel’s Dart will take 10 weeks. Weekly discussion questions are emailed out to the participators a few days before the post date. Folks can post on a blog, live journal, book likes, or even just comment on the host blog’s site with their discussion answers. Whatever works for you. Some folks like to simply be silent stalkers, which is fine too.

Of course I’ll host, but if anyone else would like to host as well, just let me know. Hosting consists of providing that week’s discussion questions and then folks flock to your blog (or wherever) to comment and leave a link to their post.

If you’re interested in participating in any fashion, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email: nrlymrtl@gmail.com

Once I have enough people interested, I will send out a group email to organize the schedule. Once we have a schedule, I will post here.

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

Pico resting before dinner.

Pico resting before dinner.

Why I Read It: Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings was running a read along of it on Goodreads; how could I resist?

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Looking for a new take on epic fantasy? Check this book out.

Publisher: Orbit (2011)

Length: 555 pages

Series: Book 1 The Dagger & The Coin

Set in an ancient world long since ruled by dragons, the 13 dragon-made races of humans continue on with civilization. Cithrin, a half-Cinnae ward of the Medean bank, grows up with numbers and sums as her nursery rhymes and ledger books as her dolls. Marcus Wester, well known for his military achievements and his ability to instill loyalty in his soldiers, now leads a quieter life with his trusted friend, the Tralgu Yardem. Dawson, an honorable man in his own eyes and according to a certain code, needs everyone in their proper places in society, and will go to great lengths to maintain that order. Geder, a tentative and secretive scholar, unfortunately is part of the military, and also the butt of all his friends’ jokes. All these people will find themselves at the center of big changes that will affect not just their city or country, but the entire continent.

This was a brilliant book. I love my epic fantasy and I walked into this book expecting a good story with some typical epic fantasy tropes (stuff I enjoy and why I keep returning to the genre). Yet Daniel Abraham gave me more than that. First, the world of The Dagger & the Coin series is ancient. It has evolved. It was once a place ruled by dragons, where the races of humans were created to serve or entertain the rulers of the world. Now, the dragons have long since disappeared, all but fallen into myth. The races have intermingled, have their own religions, commerce, cities, and politics. Next, the characters we follow are interesting, with pasts of their own, and caught up in circumstances that they must navigate successfully, or perish. Several of the characters grow throughout the book, and there were a few twists of circumstances that turned some characters in a different direction than I expected. Political intrigue, a bank’s treasury on the run, military action, manipulation, a troop of actors, and the occasional drunken bout fill these pages. It is a hell of a ride!

Of course, I developed my favorite plot lines with the chapters moving from character to character. Cithrin and Marcus Wester were a lot of fun to ride around inside their heads. Cithrin probably grew the most in this book and I found myself rooting for her at every turn. The conversations, clipped as they were, between Marcus and Yardem often had me chuckling with the dry humor. In fact, if life was a bit different, I could see my man and I having some of those same conversations. At first, I wasn’t too interested in Dawson, but as time went forward, I saw how his rigid view of the right and the wrong of the world made him a very complex man. Of course, this same trait also makes him a volatile man in the sense that if you step out of your place he can’t help but try to shove you back in it, or even eliminate you entirely. I had the same reaction to his wife Clara, at first practically ignoring her as a woman primarily interested in appearances. Later we learn that she is quite a bit more than that. Of course Geder turns out to be a very complex man. I don’t want to say too much here as I mean to avoid spoilers, but damn! I loved watching his story line as it took turns I did not expect.

What I Liked: The detailed world-building; the complex characters; there’s several characters with mysterious pasts; the dragon myths; Geder’s story line; the ending sets the reader up for Book 2 perfectly.

What I Disliked: Not a true complaint, but it did take me most of the book to start picturing the different races in my head. Abraham has a good description of each on his website. Perhaps this could be in the books too?

What Others Think:

Stainless Steel Droppings

Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews

Susan Hated Literature

Two Dudes in an Attic

The Ranting Dragon

The Call of Agon by Dean F. Wilson

WilsonCallOfAgonWhy I Read It: The cover is what first drew me in, and then the epic, mythological story line.

Where I Got It: From the publisher via Orangeberry Book Tours (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who love an epic story with an old world feel.

Publisher: Dioscuri Press (2013)

Length: 384 pages

Series: Book 1 The Children of Telm

Ifferon is in hiding, and has been successfully hidden as a cleric for 10 years. But now evil forces have set upon his village and he must flee again, as he has always done. See, Ifferon thinks he can hide what he is, and in hiding, escape the unfair responsibility that was laid upon his shoulders by his bloodline. One of his ancestors got frisky with a now dead god, Telm. This god fought and imprisoned Agon ages ago, and now the jerk is threatening to win his way free. Ifferon may be the only last surviving direct descendant of Telm, and therefore, the only one who could go toe-to-toe with Agon. First, he will venture through many lands in his continued attempt to flee, and then further travel will ensue in his attempts to prevent the freeing of Agon. Lots of friends, foes, and unknowns will assist and hinder him along the way.

Ifferon and Teron part ways hurriedly while battle approaches their village. Ifferon is assailed by black chasing shadows almost immediately as he and another (wannabe cleric Yavun) run willy nilly like startled bunnies. Soon, they bump into Herr’Don The Great, savior of damsels in distress, bringer of the sword, major task accomplisher, and blow hard. They all leave, running into the magus Melgales who reveals hidden things. Next enters Thalla, the lover of Herr’Don and apprentice to Melgales. She also has a bow but rarely uses it. In fact, she starts off strong and interesting but then quickly slides into Silly Lass With Breasts role. For nearly half the book, she is the only female character. Other heroes, magi, women, bad guys, and youngins make an appearance as we move forward.

So far I have made this book sound a bit light hearted. It isn’t. This is a thick book, not so much in page numbers, but in the fact that so much is going on on every single page. Additionally, the book is told in limited third person, like Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. This means that we see everyone’s actions and hear everyone’s words, but we never know what is going on in anyone’s head. In some instances, this can be challenging, and in some it makes the plot that much more interesting because you truly have to weigh everything about a character to figure out if they are the spy and betrayer.

I enjoyed the intensity of this book. The serious, desperate need to defeat Agon and his minions weighed on all the characters and drove the plot. There was a variety of ages; not just the young and beautiful were key to this novel. Eventually, we do get some warrior women, one with sense and the other without. I do have to mention that nearly all the women are called sluts or prostitutes or whores by some man at some point in the book (and those male characters are soundly booed by other male characters). But it stood out in my mind as I was reading it. Perhaps because the main female character, Thalla, was driven by the need to be attached to a man and had to be protected, or fought over, for most of the book.

By and large, the book was very interesting with beautiful prose, good guys with personality flaws, and large, well-developed world to play in. From a technical aspect, I only have two points that stand out for me as minor detractions: 1) Occasionally the reader would be following a group of heroes and several pages into the scene, a character, who I thought had gone with the other hero team, speaks up. Ooops, where did you come from? Been here all along, have you? 2) The ending left several of the smaller story arcs unanswered and I felt I could have used at least a few more pages to wrap things up for this book. I know it’s a series, but there were just some nagging questions. Nothing major for those who plan to continue with the series.

Definitely interesting, full of mythological flavor and dressing, and I still love the cover. Ifferon is a worthy lead character, conflicted about his role in life and running from a hidden, deep, gnawing guilt. Despite Herr’Don’s bluster and self-importance, I want to know more about why he isn’t home playing the prince he is. Delin Trueblade makes a respectable aged knight in shining armor and I hope his sense of right and wrong leaves him untarnished. It will be interesting to see where Dean Wilson takes his characters, and his readers, in the rest of the series.

OnceUponATime7What I Liked: The prose; built-in mythology; characters of all ages; knights in armor (cling-clang!); Elly the warrior woman; Ifferon the conflicted.

What I Disliked: Thalla started off interesting and then turned silly….and stayed silly; author could be a little more creative with his rude male characters insulting the ladies; the ending was a little abrupt, but wouldn’t bother me if I had Book 2 to jump into right away.

I received this book as part of the Orangeberry Book Tour. If you want to see other reviews, interviews, and guest posts, click HERE for the schedule and links.

Tis the season for all thing fantastical over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Stop by and enjoy Once Upon A Time, a celebration of the Fantasy Genre.


The Shadow of the Sun Read Along Part III

Pico consented to pose with my book.

Pico consented to pose with my book.

Welcome back everyone. Today, as part III of the read along, we are covering Chapters 16-21 of The Shadow of the Sun. Over here is the SCHEDULE if you would like to join us. Barbara Friend Ish is graciously offering a free download of her book for the duration of the read along and you can find that over HERE. Also, there is a GIVEAWAY going on for the duration of April where you could win a signed paper copy of the book or your own choice of ebook from Mercury Retrograde Press.

1) Up to this section, we believed the Basghilae could not cross water, but we learn to the detriment of our heroes that this is not so. What further hidden abilities do you think might crop up from these walking dead?

Bows and arrows? I mean that would pretty much end the Tanaan and any who defended them. Would probably make for a shorter story. Hmm….Maybe the Basghilae can’t see good enough to operate bows appropriately – being dead and all with the soft tissues going first.

2) As the party enters the human lands, they come up with a cover story and request that Letitia remove her torc. She refuses. Do you think her decision was the correct one?

This is pure pride. Letitia even shot a look at Easca, probably gauging how she would take it if she did remove her torc. I get that the torc is a hard won crown. On the other hand, Letitia has already lost a great number of her retinue and if removing the torc would keep them (and consequently her) alive longer, that would be a simple and good thing to do. I am guessing that she is still shook up over the Tuaoh Stone not recognizing her at all. I say it’s just a stone and you can’t expect too much out of it anyway. It has a limited number of ways to express itself and apparently it was saving itself up for a big reaction to Ellion. And let’s face it, Ellion has gotten a big reaction out of everyone he’s come across in the book, from Coran Mourne to Letitia’s papa to Amien to Letitia and her retinue.

3) At one point Ellion lingers over the warding process, specifically warding Letitia, and how a person must be completely nude for wards to be put in place. I’m going to leave this one wide open for comment ;).

Well, that alone should have motivated Ellion to give up his vow of no magic and do the personal wards himself. And why is Letitia the only one warded? Surely the closest of her retinue should also be warded too. Perhaps Amien only has so much magic, or he can only stand warding so many naked Tanaan a day. I wonder if the male Tan would be OK with human males doing personal wards on them? Do they have nudity taboos? And then Amien and Ellion could take some time to ward each other……which might be awkward and I as the reader would be OK with stepping outside for that scene.

4) Ellion makes a tough decision to leave the Tanaan and while he watches them leave he has a huge epiphany about his inner motives. How do you think this will affect his actions and motivations the rest of the book?

I think this is excellent characterization for several reasons. Many folks believe that men by and large have a one tract mind. Ellion certainly demonstrates this – he has this vow of no magic, and he sincerely believes that he is a threat to the party because of the mysteriously appearing/disappearing assassin. He hasn’t really thought outside those tracts and merely goes over them again and again until he makes this decision that he can’t go with the party. And as they float away he sees how selfish that decision is and how he could be an asset to the party, has been an asset, if he allows himself to be open to other possibilities.

Then of course the balloon crashes and the party is reunited. Ellion swears his undying protection for Letitia, which makes everyone uncomfortable, but made me sigh in satisfaction as the reader. And this of course takes us back to the one tract mind. He is now dedicated, completely focused, can’t even consider another path. I want to muss his hair and tell him he chose well.

5) We saw the Tanaan and Ellion in some interesting situations of a more personal nature in these chapters, from the Night Butterflies to cutting in at a dance. What did you make of these instances, what further cultural differences along these lines do you foresee happening, and have you ever been a part of such a situation?

Hehe! Comic relieve built specifically for ME. Yes, I found these situations funny, especially when Ellion had to explain to the Tanaan about purchasing the affections of the night butterflies. Of course, Letitia then has a closer look at her scarf and gives Ellion a look. I would too. I mean, we don’t really know what that scarf was used for…..It might have been subjected to hazards of the night life, right? Perhaps it was used to clean up after the last assignation. I hope it was a newish scarf…but still.

This feeds back into my question about nudity. Do the Tanaan in general have a nudity taboo? Could be interesting to find out.

As for personal faux pas along this line…..Explaining to a male cousin on my man’s side about the use of condoms was unexpected. Oh, and I read that book Bonk by Mary Roach and told my knitting circle all about it. Hmm…and I did use the phrase ‘wild monkey sex’ the other day in a mixed group. You could hear the crickets afterwards.

Once again, we were treated to some fight scenes. What stood out for you about these scenes?

Wow! When Ellion and Amien fought back to back, I could see them whirling and slicing and defending each other like some of the best choreographed sword scenes of Hollywood. How could you, as either one of them, not be addicted to the power and connection to another human that magic like that affords.

Then of course there is the scene with Manannan giving his life for the party. He was on his way out through a slow death anyway and he chose to take a quicker ending doing something to defend many. I felt like I needed a strong drink along with Ellion after that myself.

Other Tidbits:

Amien has been trying to summon aid and so far that aid has not arrived. At the end of Chapter 21, he fell into a elementary trap and now the Bard’s Wizard has his name. All these things do not bode well for the party.

When Ellion’s harp was ruined I was quite sad with him. Well, we don’t know how ruined yet. There may be a chance that it won’t warp. Perhaps, if things settle down and he can baby it.

My question for Barbara for this section: As we get to know Ellion more and more, we definitely are not spared from his private thoughts, including his romantic thoughts. In making your main character the opposite sex of yourself, what came easy and what came hard? How did you overcome obstacles of those nature?

For a nice long and entertaining answer, check out Barbara’s post: The Sex Lives of Male Characters

Here is an additional bit on the subject: Writing About Sex: Love Through Other Eyes

What Others Think:

Just Book Reading

Lynn’s Book Blog

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

The Shadow of the Sun Read Along Part II

Tofu sniffing my book suspiciously.

Tofu sniffing my book suspiciously.

Welcome back everyone. This week we are covering Chapters 8-15 of Barbara Friend Ish’s epic fantasy The Shadow of the Sun. Lots of interesting stuff happened in this section. If you think you’d like to join us, there’s still time to do so – here’s the schedule. Also, Lady Ish is offering her book as a free ebook download for the duration of the read along. And we also have a giveaway going the entire month of April that features both ebook and paper of The Shadow of the Sun, a swag pack, and a winner’s choice of ebook from Mercury Retrograde Press.

1) Ellion has quite a mystery on his hands with yet the third assassination attempt. The assassin is the same dude, and once ‘dead’, he proceeds to disappear once again. What do you make of this elusive, reappearing, dead guy assassin?

Well, like Ellion, I believe some hither to untried/undiscovered magic is at work. Reanimating a dead guy twice – not such a big deal. Somehow forcing that body to move, heal, and pump blood like a living man – pretty friggin awesome magic. Bringing said dead guy back around after burning the corpse – What the Hell! Yeah, I’m a bit freaked out, so I can only imagine how this must be disturbing for Ellion. Although, he took that last attempt like a macho man and simply washed off and acted like nothing happened. On the other hand, we don’t really know why he is being targeted, so maybe it is best he play it cool.

2) Throughout this section, Ellion and Amien have several exchanges of words. Did you have the urge to ask them politely, yet firmly, to step out back and settle the matter for the duration of the trip?

Haha! Letitia and Iminor sort of did that, in their ever so polite (and slightly confused) way. Still, if I was around for some of those confrontations I would be tempted to ask those guys to simply lay them out on the table and measure them so the rest of us could get on with the important present day nonsense of staying alive. They obviously have a history – one of past friendship, mentor-student relationship, disagreement on studying certain dark arts, and Ellion’s horrible accident. Still, none of that angst is helping Letitia and her retinue stay alive.

3) The Tanaan suffered a great loss in the past, calling it The Deluge, believing it to have been brought upon them by a wrathful goddess. Do you believe this Deluge was due to a goddess striking a disobedient people? What could the Tanaan have done to warrant such action?

I think this is probably some natural calamity – perhaps a smaller dome volcano? That would explain the reshaping of the land, the loss of plant life, and the current smell. Humans have been interpreting acts of Mother Nature as divine acts forever – literally. It is very much human nature to blame yourself first, because that means you actually have some control of the situation and can change yourself/your actions to prevent the event from happening again. Alas, I don’t believe such thinking will benefit the Tanaan in this case.

4) The Tanaan are use to fighting in tourneys, one-on-one, and not in formations with team goals. How do you think they will take to Ellion’s attempts to school them in real combat tactics?

Not well. Many more will die because this is just too hard, too foreign. Even if they want to make the effort, in the heat of battle they will react on what has worked before – the one-on-one personal glory thing that they have been training for and competing in for years. A few odd days, perhaps weeks attempting to train under team formations will do little good.

5) Letitia has been wearing her mother’s diamond on her torc, which turns out was a gift from Amien. He crafted it himself and says it is a tool. What kind of tool do you think it is?

Yes, I’ve read this before and I should remember this, but I don’t. The way Amien said ‘tool’ and avoided explaining in detail makes me think that Letitia would not like the answer. As with all ego-driven persons, they like to go on and on about their work. Amien simply clammed up on this one. Perhaps it is like a GPS chip in magic – allowing Amien to track the diamond…or overhear conversations?

6) What is up with the Tuaoh Stone having a strong reaction to Ellion?

Hmm….Well, I would say the Tuaoh Stone wants Ellion badly, in a way he isn’t willing to give. Yep, that stone has plans for Ellion – and I think those plans involve rulership. Which is OK as Ellion kind of wants to be a ruler anyway. He already enjoys being acknowledged as royalty, so this shouldn’t be to big of a leap for him. However, he is fighting it because he doesn’t believe he is worthy in a way. I say that if he just took some time to practice impulse control, then he wouldn’t have to worry about blasting anyone else to death, unintentionally. I would say he could start by controlling the impulse to put his penis into every willing lass, but that would probably offend some ladies and would cut down on my entertainment as a reader.

Other Tidbits:
Poor Easca! She seemed to really have a thing for Niede, who fell off a cliff during one of the skirmishes. And she is next in line to rule Arian, which received the brunt of The Deluge.
Letitia must feel like her world is coming apart – loosing so many friends and followers, her mother’s disappearance, and then the Tuaoh Stone doesn’t recognize her at all. And she knows something about her mother’s disappearance but chooses to keep it to herself. Very curious.
Rishan seems to have figured out that Ellion can at least receive telepathic communications directed at him. He’s not as daft as I was thinking.

My question for Barbara this week: You have used language throughout the book as a way to sew culture clash, create bonding, and swear creatively. How did you go about building the various languages into your story?

You can catch the short answer from Barbara in the comments below. For the awesome full answer, check out her blog post in response to this question: That’s Not Even A Real Word!

What Others Think:

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

Just Book Reading

Lynn’s Book Blog

P. S. Here is another entertaining video from Rachael Murasaki Ish – It’s her unpacking the dolls to be used for Story Time of The Shadow of the Sun.

The Eye of the World Read Along Part VI

eyeoftheworldbannerWelcome back everyone! I hope everyone got an eyefull (or earfull) with this week’s reading (Chapters 34-40)! My, oh my, did some big things happen here. Definitely getting interesting. Remember that this week Anya over at On Starships and Dragonwings is hosting. So, make sure to stop by her space to read her thoughts and add your bloggy link.

Also, we had a winner in The Wheel of Time audiobook giveaway. Congrats to @mattperrin! I hope he is still doing a happy dance, as we are excited for him too.

Last bit of administrative stuff before we play: When do you want to start Book 2, The Great Hunt? Yes, we do care what you think. Read alongs are funner with friends. So, below you will find a poll to answer on this most serious question before you leave today. Or, just leave me a comment on your preference. We will most likely go with Majority Rules as there are no American Politics involved in this vote ;) For your reference, Book 1 read along ends on Sunday Feb. 10th.

Now, onto the questions! Spoilers Abound!

1. Looks like Rand and Mat met another ally finally. What do you think of Master Gill? Do you think his hope in Thom is well placed?
I’m not done with Thom. I want to know the backstory of what he muttered to the boys just before throwing himself at the myrrdraal. And now that Master Gill hints at other tough scrapes, I want to know about those too. So, I really hope that Thom is merely suffering greatly in some sodden ditch instead of dead. I have needs that only he can fulfill by turning up again and revealing more abut himself.
2. Loial the Ogier! How adorable right? We only get a brief glimpse into this new race, but what do you think? What part do you think he’ll play in the story?
I had totally forgotten about Loial from when I read this over 10 years ago. Bad me! He is such an interesting character. I have vague memories of what he does for the rest of the book, but nothing clear on his significance. I do like how Jordan keeps pulling in more and more of the larger world, and scaring the poo out of the kids while doing it!. I think we all have some inherent prejudices and incorrect assumptions of the world and other cultures based on where and how we were raised, and the various experiences the kids have in this book reflect that (like Egwene’s initial reaction to The Tinkers, and now Rand’s response to Loial).
3. During the rescue of Perrin and Egwene, did it seem like Lan was overly concerned about Nynaeve to anyone else? >.> <.<
Ah! Do we have our first adult romance in the blooming? I hope so. Nynaeve has a stiff enough spine to be an equal to the Warder, but will Lan’s past allow him the freedom to pursue a relationship? Hmm…..
Somewhat related, the rescue was intense! Child of the Light Byar even had me believing there for a moment. I am so glad Perrin had his wits about him and thought things through. Also Nynaeve was excellent to grab the horses. Yeah Bela!
Picabuche - Just a smidge demon?

Picabuche – Just a smidge demon?

4. The Dark One has been blamed for all sorts of things lately. Do you think that the Dark One is the root of Perrin’s power like Moraine fears? How about Rand’s?

I don’t think the Dark One is the source of all the bad stuff going on. I mean, we have humans with free choices (some bad, malevolent, or just stupid) going on left and right. Then some of the things that would be labeled EVIL by aes sedai I don’t think really are, but are simply a state of being (like Perrin’s new power). As for Rand… wow. I am going to have to see how the series turns out to really weigh in on that. I have been very careful to avoid spoilers for the series, especially for the final book, so I honestly don’t know if the world is still standing.
5. Very briefly Rand encounters a beggar who is obviously determined to find him specifically. Who do you think this is? What do you think is going to happen with this beggar in the future?
I believe the beggar is Padan Fain, as his neurotic behavior in these chapters is similar to his behavior displayed before. I would guess that a) he is a Dark Friend or b) he is being compelled against his will by the Dark One to track Rand. Rand and crew are not exactly inconspicuous, so I would say sooner or later the beggar will track Rand down. I expect he will try to coerce Rand or try to kill him, just as previous Dark Friends have done.
6. We learn a whole lot about Queen Morgase in this section, including getting to meet her in person! What do you think? Do you like the tradition of sending the royal children to study with the Aes Sedai and Warders?
That was super intense, and filled with humor. I think Rand’s meeting with royal family has been one of my favorite scenes so far. The kids’ dry humor had me laughing out loud at inappropriate moments. I am glad that Queen Morgase upholds her land’s laws, otherwise Rand would be in a world of hurt – the Queen’s aes sedai is intense! I think both kids should get the basic Warder training as no matter how skilled you are in sorcery, there will come a time that tracking your next meal, or wounded enemy, through muddy forest terrain will come in handy. Also, knowing some basics of hand-to-hand combat is healthy for everyone. Once both kids have the basics, then they can go off to specialize.
7. Rand had quite an adventure in the palace there, wow! And we finally get to meet another Aes Sedai. What do you think of Elaida and her dark assessment of Rand’s future?
Fuck Elaida! she may be the most dangerous and deadly thing we have come across yet. I bet she turns up later (maybe not this book, but in the series) and there will probably be a reckoning. Rand is very lucky to have been able to get out of the palace.
And why is everyone going around predicting Rand’s future, like he has no free will, etc. It’s like he has a floating tarot deck about his head that only certain folks can read, but those inconsiderate folks go right ahead and do so, scaring the crap out of Rand with their predictions.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Smudge does not snuggle books, even really good ones.

Smudge does not snuggle books, even really good ones.

Why I Read It: Because I like riding on the tail of wagons. Oh, and this dude in line for Sanderson signatures at Bubonicon highly recommended the series.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To:
Epic fantasy freaks who love their characters grey and their plots twisted about each other.

Narrator: Roy Dotrice

Publisher: Books on Tape (2004)

28 CDs

Series: Book 1 Song of Ice and Fire

This is a very complex book. I suggest you check out this wikipedia article if you want a comprehensive summary of the book. I will simply tell you every little thing I loved about this book. First off, the characters are complicated; while there are some few that are more evil or more good than the rest, by and large they are all grey, each having a gentler side and a ruthless side. At first, the Starks of Winterfell seem driven by honor and therefore, will hold the bulk of the good deeds for the book, while the various competing families of the capital city King’s Landing appear to hold the lot of plotting, scheming, nefarious deeds. But the plots quickly become much more interesting, especially as the ‘heroes’ are forced into hard choices and the supposed villains show hints of decency (such as Tyrion Lannister)

Add to that a removed, but related, plot line occurring across the seas on the grassy plains of the wandering tribes of the Dothraki. The last remaining Targaryens live in exile among these horse nomads, dreaming of the day they will reclaim their throne. Daenerys became one of my favorite characters because she grows so much throughout this book. While I know her end goal could put my other favorite characters in jeopardy, I couldn’t help but root for her.

Much closer to home, the Wall north of Winterfell is manned by the Night’s Watch and they keep eyes on the forest and the possibility of The Others, a race thought to be mythological by most. Jon Snow, the bastard son of Ned Stark, joins this Watch along with his direwolf. I am really looking forward to see what George Martin does with Jon, the Night Watch, and the walled-out forest in the next book.

I loved Arya right away, the younger daughter of Ned Stark. She’s strong-willed and much more interested in being self-sufficient than her very lady-like Sansa. I found Sansa young and vapid, until the last bit of the book, where she is forced to grow up quicker than she wanted to. Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf and the younger son of the Lord Tywin, a hard man who has little use for his ‘deformed’ son. Tyrion had some of the best lines throughout the book and I always looked forward to the sections told in his voice.

The narration was excellent. The cast of characters in this book alone is HUGE and Roy Dotrice did an incredible job of making each one of them distinct and recognizable. He varied the accents and ages of each, as appropriate. If I have any criticism, it is that his feminine voices just aren’t really feminine. Distinct, but more like soft-spoken males. Still, I loved his narration and plan to continue the series with him, as I can’t imagine Tyrion’s voice any other way.

And no, I haven’t watched HBO’s series yet, and have been very diligent about avoiding any such spoilers.

readandreviewbuttonWhat I Liked: Direwolves; dragons; spies; traitors; death; the well thought out intricate plots; complex characters; Tyrion Lannister; plenty of sex; Martin world building includes these full-fledged varying cultures.

What I Disliked: The narrated voices for the ladies could benefit from a bit more femininity; alas, there are no maps with an audiobook.

This review is part of the Read&Review Hop hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings. Make sure to stop by there to see more great reviews.