Archive for March, 2014

Three months ago I started Thelordbaelish blog in what you may call a whim. For a long time I had contemplated starting a blog which specialized in Fantasy and Science Fiction books’ reviews and in the last days of 2013 I decided it was the time to do it. Today I happily admit that I just reached the first milestone of this journey, three months of writing reviews. So I want to use this paragraph in which I usually comment things that in my mind seem important and then in paper they look as interesting as Fireblood (still ranting, still ranting) to thank everyone for their reads, their likes, their follows and their support. Next milestone: January one of2015. Let’s go from a non-very ambitious goal to an ambitious one (middle ground? what is that?).

in

Strong Points: The main characters and their development, the writing style.

Weak points: some parts are somehow dense,some elements feel underplayed.

Innocence, written by Dean Koontz, tells us the story of Addison and Gwyneth. He is a young man who suffers from a strange condition by which when people look at his face they feel and uncontrollable need to kill him; she is a young woman whose social phobia has kept her alone and isolated. In a world that despises them they will have to trust each other, but a change is coming, and the signs seem only obvious for these two outcasts.

There are two points that in my mind make Innocence a novel worth reading and one of them is its main characters. We are told the story from the point of view of Addison, an extraordinary and complex character that will captivate the readers from almost the first moment. Addison has been forced to live his whole life away from other people and the author manages to personified all the innocence but also all the maturity that comes by the singular life style of this character. Addison’s vision of the world matches perfectly with the character himself and his circumstances, and his reactions to everything that happens around him are believable, making him humane and a character in which the reader may find him/herself reflected only because Addison´s depth make him feel like a real human being despite his extraordinary circumstances. On the other hand, Gwyneth hasn’t lived as isolated as her male counterpart, her reclusion being her own choice because of her dislike to directly interact with other human beings, and this shows in her vocabulary and her behavior. The author has perfectly represented a young girl who has lost everything and has been forced the mature faster than anyone around her and even if we see her always from Addison point of view she shares his depth and his complexities making her a very difficult character to predict.

Their development is not less perfect and beautiful than the characters themselves. The subtlety by which the author develops Addison and Gwyneth is astonishing to the point that it feels as the small changes that happen to a person we have been seeing every day for months: you don’t notice the changes immediately until the result is different enough but when you notice you recall the change step by step. The same happens in this novel, by the end you realize how much the characters have changed since the first pages. This development doesn’t feel forced and it seems to flow naturally as a sensible response to the events that occur around the characters. This development, so natural and complex at the same time, deepens the effect already created by the characters themselves in which we feel as if we were in the presence of real human beings opening their minds and hearts to us.

The other point that makes this novel a worthy read is the writing style of Dean Koontz. His timing and his grasp of the English language may only be defined as wondrous. Mr. Koontz’s prose is beautiful, completely poetical with a sense of style and a grasp of vocabulary which sets Dean Koontz as an example for any aspiring author at least where the use of prose is concerned. This beautiful writing style goes together amazingly well with the story, pulling the reader inside the story. I can only compare the author with film director Nicolas Winding, in Drive you get drunk with the colors that fill the screen while in Innocence you get drunk with the words that fill the pages.

Sadly, some parts of the novel feel too dense and slow paced to the point that it may lose the interest of the reader, especially at the beginning and at the very end of the book. The lack of action whatsoever in these parts make it feel as if you were reading a philosophy essay rather than a novel, making it difficult to go on when all you are looking for is a story. Once you get through approximately the 40% of the book, the story picks up in pace with astonishing speed and keeps you turning pages to see what happens next.

Finally, some elements of the story feel underplayed and leave you somehow of a sour taste in your mouth because of the unused potential. An example of this is the collection of marionettes, which are introduced with a dark and rather crude backstory which captivated me and left me wanting to see these terrifying toys play an important role in the story. Sadly, they are never fully explained and their exit is both too soon and too anticlimactic for my taste. There is even a mention that there is one more of their kind but then it is completely forgotten and has not weight in the rest of the novel.

Innocence has been a captivating story as soon as it picks its pace up, using it strong points to keep me reading for the first 40% of the book. I would recommend Innocence to those readers without any kind of prejudice to the urban fantasy genre, because Dean Koontz doesn’t follow any kind of established rule in this novel.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

There is a saying you have probably heard before: “never judge a book by its cover”. Well, I have heard it too but I always thought that its meaning was planned to be metaphorical, not literal. When I saw Fireblood’s cover I liked it so much I decided I was going to read that book. Two weeks later I don’t know whether to admire or to hate the cover designer, the only thing I know is that love is definitely not in the mix.

FB

Strong Points: the lore.

Weak Points: Story development, character development and over explanation.

Fireblood, written by Jeff Wheeler, brings us to a continent which is ravaged by a mysterious magical plague once every generation, decimating its population and leaving civilization on the brink of disappearance every time it strikes. The independent city of Kenatos, built by the joint efforts of every kingdom with the aim to create a place where all knowledge can be stored, has become a beacon of hope for all the races and is ruled by the Arch-rike and his rikes and Paracelsus. Now Paracelsus Tyrus, who failed in his quest to end the plague years ago, is trying to get support for a second expedition and his web will trap a group of unlikely heroes who will become the only hope to end the vicious cycle that the mortal races are trapped in. But in the Arch-Rike’s court no everyone is who they seem to be and soon the lives of everyone in the group will be endangered.

This is the basis of the plot of Fireblood and, in my opinion, it could have made for a story full of potential and unforgettable moments. Sadly, by the time you have managed to end the first three chapters the only thing you will be looking forward to are the small paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter which contain the lore of the world that Mr. Wheeler has created. Once you have finished it you will have read the best part of the chapter. The lore that the author has developed around the world he has created is complex, deep and alluring and helps us to understand the whole situation of what is happening from the point of view of an archivist of the city of Kenatos. These paragraphs are full of subtlety and, even when we know for a fact that the archivist is wrong, we can still find small clues about what is really happening.

Then you keep reading the chapter and you think “what the hell happened with the subtlety and the complex and wonderful world the author promises me in every chapter?” Well, your parents promised you a fat, white bearded man was going to bring you presents every Christmas and look how that turned up, this is very much the same case-scenario.

The story becomes a chaotic, badly pasted puzzle full of overused clichés and random events that would have worked in a RPG, but definitely not in a novel. That’s how it feels, that the author just kept throwing dices to decide what was going to happen next and didn’t bother to double-check the result to see if it made sense. There is not a construction towards a climax simply because there is not climatic event in the whole novel making this a slow and dense read. Finally, whenever a conflict appears that the group doesn’t know how to solve suddenly the author brings forward a new rule or just decides that one of the characters has a skill or magical hability which hasn’t been named before and that is perfect for the situation at hand. The story isn’t interesting because you know that the heroes will always overcome the odds without effort; they are too perfect and complement each other too well to keep the reader turning pages for any other reason than to finish the book.

The characters and their development don’t fare any better: Annon, who is introduced to us as a guy with anger issues, can control his anger quite well and is probably the calmest person in the whole group. Paendrin is wise, young, handsome and one of the best warriors of the kingdoms, he is also boring and doesn’t evolve in the whole book. Hettie is an unbearable spoiled brat which is introduced as fiercely independent but, just as Annon is as calm as a Buddhist monk who has reached Nirvana, she is useless and does everything her brother tells her to do. That’s it, these are the characters and that’s the way they stay for the whole book; no change, no evolution whatsoever neither in their relationships nor in their ways of life.

Over explanation is everywhere in this book and, at least for me, it kills the few good moments it may have, such as the twist concerning Hettie’s intentions which then the author proceeds to use a whole chapter to describe; meaning he repeats his explanation over and over again until the reader feels tempted to throw the book out of the window. Everything is explained, you know all the possibilities and, therefore, the book contains no mystery as it makes its way towards a predictable and uninteresting ending.

As you may have guessed, I haven’t enjoyed this book much and I am not ready to recommend it. Of course this is an opinion and I may have become a little pickier after reading The Postmortals, but Fireblood has been a huge let down almost from the first page, tempting me many times to put it down and forget about it. On the other hand, I have heard that it is probably the worst book written by the author so I will probably check more books from Mr. Wheeler in the future.

FINAL SCORE: 2/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

I admit it, I like depressing novels. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine, the darker and more dramatic a story is, the more I like it, and maybe that’s why I love Game of Thrones so much. There is something about these stories that keeps you reading despite yourself, because if a dark story is approached right, it becomes unpredictable and that’s something that as a reader I appreciate. Let me tell you, The Postmortal is as dark and depressing as Science Fiction gets and I very much enjoyed that.

TPM

Strong point: Characters and their development, the setting.

Weak points: the ending felt rushed.

The Postmortal, written by Drew Magary, invites the readers to ask themselves a question: What would happen if everyone in the world had access to a cure against aging and, therefore, against dying of natural causes? From the point of view of divorce lawyer John Farrell we witness around 73 years of history in which the human race plunges in a world without morals, ambition, decorum and, finally, without resources.

John Farrell is an amazing character: complex, introspective and deep. The author has managed to create a personality so rich in fears and dreams that makes us wonder if we are not reading about a real human being. He is likeable, or at least charming, from the very first moment that we meet him and since then he becomes probably one of the most alluring characteristics of the novel. He doesn’t want the cure to make history or live an extravagant life, he is just terrified of the idea of death and this fear, along with his desired of being loved, are the main forces that move him through the story making each moment we spend with him a touching and unforgettable experience. The amazing cast of secondary characters who surround him is not less, they are excellently built, each of them with their unique charismatic personality that will either make you love them or hate them: Katy, John’s father and sister, Allison, even small characters such as Keith make this book a treat you will hardly forget.

John´s development is also quite interesting, following a well-built story-arc and having a cause-effect relation with the changes around him and the decisions he takes during the novel. From a naïve young man to a cynical old man living in a young body, John delights us with his story and his point of view´s evolution. Believe you me, rarely have I witnessed a character development so well defined and as intense as John Farrell’s, making me turn page after page to find out how the character would react to the different events the world had to offer.

And what a world, ladies and gentlemen, it is alive; there is no other way to put it really. Mr. Magary has not only created an space where the story take place, but he also have surround it with a complex net of side information that are told to us through newspaper headlines and blogs every few chapters, making us really el as if we were reading about a real event. But it goes beyond that, the changes on the cities and on the people are carefully described through the book, the idea of the evolution of trolling, for example, was interesting and terrifying, which starts consisting in blinding people or leaving marks they won’t be able to remove for their entire existence. The level of completion reminds me to Hawkwood and the Kings, the world didn’t begin with the story and neither will finish after the last page, is a world which we feel will live on.

The only downside of the entire novel is that after the even-paced narration we enjoy for almost the whole novel the ending is rushed and sometimes confusing. It doesn’t spoil the novel. I won’t go into detail in order to avoid spoiling the book to anyone who wants to read it, but suddenly we are presented with a fast chain of events which makes us lose perspective what is happening.

The Postmortal has been a real treat to read and I have enjoyed every single page of it. The ending, though a little blurry, doesn’t affect my opinion on a book which hooked me up from the first paragraph. The Postmortal, along with Emperor of Thorns, is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read in 2014.

FINAL SCORE: 9/10

¡Hasta la próxima!