Posts Tagged ‘Book’

So here we are, after one year of reviews and Reading the lists of the top books of the years have started appearing all around and, since my first post was the top five books of 2013 (all of them amazing, read them right now), with the top five books of 2014 I celebrate a year on Thelordbaelish’s blog, again, thank you for taking the time to read my posts and thank you for the follows, the likes and the favorites.

Well, Time to get down to business! This year has been filled with wonderful books and deciding which ones were the best books of the year hasn’t been easy. Several times I have been tempted to make a top 8 instead of a top 5, but these lists’ aim is to choose a few books among many, so sacrifices must be made!

So, with a Spanish beer on my hand, a hat in my head to I can take it off to honor the writers in this list and my mouth stuffed with Christmas pastries (you have to try the Spanish ones [of course you would say that (shut up)])I present you 2014’s Top Five Books for Thelordbaelish blog!

5) The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuinn


This position has been the toughest to decide, but, after much thought, I think The Left Hand of Darkness deserves to be named one of the greatest books I have read this year.

Ursula K. LeGuinn brings us the story of First Contact completely reversed. A human diplomat named Ai is sent by an intergalactic alliance to convince the inhabitants of the frozen planet Gethen to join after they have been deemed prepared to do so. What Ai can’t suspect is that this action will destroy the fragile political balance between Gethen’s most powerful nations, endangering both himself and every potential ally he may find.

The Left Hand of Darkness is an impressive, dark and well written political thriller which takes place in an unknown world, filled with wonders and with cultures so well created and developed that you will feel as if you were reading history rather than science fiction. As the story advances, we witness how these cultures change and become more radical in a wonderful cause-effect scenario, always answering to the stimuli provided by Ai’s presence, which creates a dynamic world subjected to constant change. By the end the reader will have witnessed several allusions to our own 20th century political situation: from the rise and fall of a radical, race-centered movement similar to Nazism to the political development of a nation similar to Stalin’s Russia.

I also enjoyed Ai’s figure, a man bent into doing the right thing even when he knows that it may have tragic consequences for himself and those who defend him, but I admit that I personally would have preferred for him to have a bigger internal conflict. Though it is true that he spends the novel trying to decide who can be trusted, it may have been interesting to see a darker side of his personality, or at least to see some preoccupation about his own well-being beyond the need to complete his mission.

If you enjoy political science fiction, vivid, beautiful and ever-changing worlds and well-written books, then The Left Hand of Darkness is the book for you.

4) The Postmortal by Drew Magary


I feel that the idea Immortality and what it may entail for the human race is a subject which can produce really interesting debates just as long as it is not discussed in YouTube (seriously, when I am feeling adventurous I read YouTube comments and by the end I always feel that 90% of them are written by crack addict monkeys having a particularly bad day). How would it affect us? Would we be able to function as a productive society or would we sink into utter chaos? Drew Magary offers his own thoughts on this debate and the image he creates is not a pretty one.

The story takes place over 73 years, in which we witness the utter self-destruction of the human race from the point of view of John Farrell, a divorce lawyer whose life is changed forever from the moment he decides to become immortal. John Farrell will try to survive and find meaning to his life in a society without morals, ambition, decorum and, finally, without resources.

Let me tell you now, The Postmortal may be a tragic and depressing story, but it is also a deeply satisfying one due to its great quality and the amazing character work, which makes John Farrell vividly human, a character in whom the reader can see himself and with whom we feel connected.

The Postmortal is, at its core, a tale about humanity, and an intensely fatalistic one, at that. But it also shows us really beautiful moments which give us hope and provide some lights in the great ocean of darkness which is The Postmortal’s society.

If you enjoy dystopian societies, fatalistic futures or original apocalyptic stories, then The Postmortals is the book for you. A book which does not only entertain, but also gives the reader something to think about


3) Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence


You know a book is good when you read it on January and in December you still considering it one of the best books of the year. It can also be due to a bad reading year, but since that is not the case, we are going to agree that Emperor of Thorns is an amazing book filled with unforgettable characters and spectacular moments. Of course it is not only the story, but also the writer, Mark Lawrence has managed to be on this list for two years in a row (Prince of Thorns, the first installment to the trilogy, was one of my favorite books for 2013), and he has done it through his intelligent, sometimes witty, dialogue, his beautiful world and his great writing style

Emperor of Thorns offers closure to the Broken Empire trilogy and to Jorg’s story, and it does it masterfully, staying loyal to its main character without trying to make him more sympathetic or a better person. Jorg is still a complete bastard, a horrible human being who is one step away from being considered a psychopath (or maybe he is one by this point, not quite sure) and who sees almost everyone else as pieces to be played with to protect those he loves and to reach the throne.

The secondary characters are not much better, from his wife, a plotting young woman who could go toe-to-toe against Lady Macbeth in ruthlessness, to his men at arms. The book soon becomes a mix of complex, unpredictable characters that play to fulfill their own goals and ambitions.

The Broken Empire trilogy has been an amazing treat, a dark and thrilling tale which has given me hours of enjoyment, a vivid proof that the Eragon’s effect doesn’t always apply to book sagas with great first books.

I would recommend Emperor of Thorns, and the Broken Empire trilogy as a whole, to anyone who enjoys an original dark fantasy saga set in an enormous and dynamic world filled by possibilities and unpredictability.

2) The Thousand Names by Django Wexler


As I said when I was reviewing this book, I love it whenever I find a strong female protagonist capable of staying away from overused clichés and who doesn’t need a man in her direst hours. Female characters and fiction have had a complicated relationship, and usually we find the so-called Trinity Syndrome, strong female protagonists who end up helplessly depending on the male hero in the final part of the story. Therefore, it was a great surprise when I read The Thousand Names and found that not only it has a strong female character, but she also keeps her strength throughout the novel.

The Thousand Names is a tale of survival set on a colonist-like period in a fantasy world. Trapped on the middle of a religious uprising, the imperial army stationed in a faraway colony tries to stay alive by any means necessary while the wait for the ships which will get them home. To their surprise, they are not to abandon the colony, but try to retake it following their new commander in chief, the mysterious and eccentric coronel Janus. By his side, Janus will have Captain D’Ivory, a man struggling with his own sense of self-worth, and private Winter, a girl posing as a man who would rather not being noticed.

The author manages to create a set of unpredictable, likeable characters and an entertaining and carefully-built world which offers a realistic reflection on our own colonial period. All of it while managing to develop one of the most enthralling stories I have read this year. The Thousand Names is a book I could read over and over again without getting tired of it, a book I recommend to anybody who enjoys a good fantasy story.

1) The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss


This year has been filled by marvelous books and unforgettable stories, but sadly only one can be considered the Top 1 book of the year. That honor belongs to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear.

An amazing tale of adventure, worthy of classical heroes such as Conan or the Company of the Ring, The Wise Man’s Fear continues the story of Kvothe as he remembers the incredible adventures which led to his tragic and mysterious downfall.

Patrick Rothfuss has managed to create a breath-taking world which will entrap the reader because of its enormity and the detail by which it has been created. Once you put down the book, you feel as if you had just contemplated the work of a master craftman, who has managed to pour life into an inanimate object, transforming it in a spectacular work of fiction filled with humane characters and magical situations.

As I said while reviewing this book several months ago, The Wise Man’s Fear is an ambitious tale which will provide any reader with hours of enjoyment, whether they usually read fantasy or not. If you are looking for a book to start 2015 on a high note, look no further: This is it.

So, those are, in my opinion, the best five books I have read on 2014, but I do not want to finish my post without three honorary mentions to the runner-ups which didn’t make it: The Scorpio Races, Steelheart and One Second After.

Now all that is left is wishing you a Happy New Year and I shall see you on 2015

¡Hasta la próxima!

Since the book I am reading right now has got quite a healthy number of pages I think The Better Part of Valour will be the last book completed on 2014. I am not going to go on and on about the other books because I need something to write about in the Top 5 post’s introduction but I just wanted to thank you for the reads, the comments, the faves and the follows, we are getting near the year’s milestone


The Better Part of Valour, by Tanya Huff, tells us the story of Staff Sergeatn Torin Kerr, an efficient and heroic soldier who is assigned to a dangerous mission under the orders of a uselss, arrogant, would-be-hero after she gets on the bad side of her superior. The mission. To explore a recently discovered space ship which design has never been seen before. What starts as a routinary mission will soon become a living nightmare as they struggle to survive the dangerous structure and to get everyone out alive.

The Better Part of Valour has got  some positive points, one of them being the setting. Ms Huff knows her busines when it comes to trapping the reader in a carefully designed setting. In one hand she manages to create an enthrilling galactic civilization in which the most “advanced” races used those which they consider more savage (among them the Humans) to wage war for them, the races are amazingly different and the bureocratic and social aparatus manages to be interesting as she describes de different cultures and believes. (Though I must admit that some of these races remind me to those of Mass Effect’s, but hey, Mass Effect is awesome [No, I am not going to talk about its ending])

On the other hand, the military aparatus is precise and dinamic, up to the point that I investigated if she had served in the military at some point (she is canadian, so she is too nice for that). Her decriptions of the relationships between military personel and the complexity of the chain of comand stroke me as realistic and interestind, and she manages to show us this without boring the reader. The result is a realistic (as far as I can tell, never served in the military myself) and fast paced story which provides for several hours of enjoyment

Sadly, while the setting has been amazingly well worked, the characters are not as complex nor interesting, the only character which stands out is Torin, who sadly feels underdeveloped during the story. She has got some basic conflicting qualities such as her social akwarness with everyone who isn’t military mixed with her undying loyalty to those who earn it and her coldness when it comes to yielding satisfactory results, but beyind that she fills a role and her actions become greatly predictable as the novel advance. She is a likeable character, that’s for sure, but by the ending it feels as if her potential hasn’t been used as much as it could.

The res of the crew fares mauch worst. The platoon’s soldiers lack personality and are so underdeveloped that in most cases can’t be told apart. Other characters are just there as the embodiment of a role: the undeserving comanding officer, the annoying journalyst whose death every reader wishes, the pain in the ass general, and several unnecesary secondary characters who made you wonder what’s their role in all of this.

If Torin is predictable, this guys are worse. The lack of flexibility on their nature and of development makes it very difficult not to guess the exact ations these characters will have done by the end of the novel. Some of this events are forced (Ryder overcoming his fears in such a fashion didn’t make much sense) while others earn the prize to the biggest clichés of the year, like the “mandatory” love story.

Over all this novel doesn’t go beyond enjoyable. It gives you hours of entertainment and makes up for a nice read while you are in a waiting room or in pulic transportation, but if you are looking for a rich, character driven, science fiction story you will have to look elsewhere.


¡Hasta la Próxima!

So, with the New Year almost upon us soon we will have to choose the top five books for 2014, and let me tell you, it won’t be easy. There have been many great novels I have had the pleasure to read in the last twelve months and, while it is true that in the last three months my posts have become irregular, I am ready to retake this beautiful tradition for a whole new year. But, before I announce this year’s greatest books in barely 21 days, I will quickly review those which I haven’t been able to write about due to my tight schedule:

The Woman who rides like a Man


This year I have discovered the amazing adventures of Alanna of Trebond, a young girl whose deepest desire is to become a knight. Both Alanna, the First Adventure and In the Hand of the Goddess got a 7/10 punctuation because, even if the books usually don’t offer as a deep account of the stories we are presented with, the characters, the writing style and the sheer imagination of Alanna’s world make up for it.

The third installment of the tetralogy  begins with a very promising start, in which our protagonist and her manservant must battle hill people just to be taken prisoner by the dessert tribes and the situations which take place from this point are heartwarming, optimistic and enthralling for the reader, captivating both adults and children alike as Alanna struggles to be accepted and change an old society which ignores women.

Sadly, we find again that the writer just scratches the surface of all the situations she creates without offering us a deep look at the reality which these characters are living in. What’s more, several conflicts which have been several books in the making, such as the love triangle between Alanna, George and Jonathan, are abruptly ended and solved without stopping to think twice about it.

Finally, for the first time in the series I believe character development becomes a weak point of the novel. The characters don’t answer to external stimuli as they have in the last novels and their reactions seem forced. Just a way for to create drama at the expense of a sensible storytelling. One example of what I am saying is the moment in which the male apprentice grabs the sword. Yes, he is proud, but we never seen a trace of sexism in his behavior until the moment in which there needs to be a new conflict.

Final score: 6/10



Annihilation, written by Jeff VanderMeer, is a delightful thriller which tells us the story of an all-female expedition  to an area known as the Southern Reach, a piece of the United States which, because a never explained natural mutation, has been closed to the general population. After the tragedies which have struck the last expeditions, this group of four women is sent with the mission to observe and categorize everything they see, but their mission will soon be jeopardized as it becomes clear that whoever send them there never thought they would make it back.

Annihilation is a mostly fast paced, captivating thriller, which present us with amazing and complex characters, all of them working to achieve their own goals because of their own selfish motives.

One of the greatest achievements of this small novel resides in its writing, which really creates an atmosphere of tension which surrounds the reader and allows him or her to feel the anguish which these women are experiencing in their own flesh.

The main character is also a complex creation, filled by conflicts between the best and the darkest parts of her personality, debating at every step whether to behave selfishly or help her mates. This makes for an enthralling read which will have the readers on the edge of their seats.

The only weak point that I see to the novel is that the pace sometimes loses its strength and fastness with no apparent reason, leaving us some sections which may interrupt the otherwise great reading experience.

Final Score: 8/10

The Scorpio Races


The Scorpio Races, written by the incredibly talented Maggie Stiefvater (thanks god I don’t have to pronounce that, tells us the story of a young man and a young woman who leaves on a mythical situated near northern Europe, where every year there is a race in which the inhabitants try to compete against each other by riding cannibalistic sea horses. Each of them has his or her reasons to want to compete, but only one of them can win.

This spectacular novel is a mix of amazing storytelling, enthralling main characters and beautiful writing style which have transformed the Scorpio Races in one of the best books I have had the pleasure of reading this year.

Both characters are complex figures which will captivate the reader, who by the end will just be trying to decide who does he want to win the race (not an easy choice, I am still not sure myself). They are likeable, but at the same time they are far from perfect, creating a couple of human beings with whom you may identify.

The imagination an amount of work put into this novel have been rewarded with several well deserved awards, which are just one more proof of the literary value of this amazing YA novel.

Final Score: 9/10

The Left Hand of Darkness


The Left Hand of Darkness, written by Ursula Le Guinn, tells us the story of a human ambassador calles Ai who arrives to the frozen planet of Gethen with the mission to convince the autochthonous sentient hermaphrodite race to join the Ekumen, a trade alliance of worlds. Ai will have to maneuver in order to fulfill his goal while surviving among the conniving alien species, being witness of how his presence alter the social and political status quo of Gethen.

The Left Hand of Darkness is a gritty, realistic tale of political science fiction which, if you enjoy the genre, is a must read. The complexities of the characters and the situations in which they find themselves  make for a brilliant experience which always leaves the reader wondering what will happen next.

Probably the strongest point of the novel is the way by which the setting changes and evolves, allowing us to bear witnesses as a society evolves responding to the presence of a recently discovered alien who they consider a sexual freak. The way the different countries react to his attempt to contact their governments, becoming more radical in their own ideals as said government tries to maintain the illusion of absolute control: We witness the rise of a movement similar to Nazism, a government which acts as Stalin’s communist regime… all of it told through a beautiful evolution of events which don’t feel forced or overly dramatized.

Final Score: 9/10



What happen when four NPCs witness the untimely death of the heroes of the story? That’s the premise that Drew Hayes uses in order to create a somewhat enjoyable but sometimes superficial and uninteresting novel. NPCs takes place in a role playing game world ruled by a mad tyrant who goes around giving impossible quests to heroes and murdering anyone who may stand in the way of his little game. Fearing to be blamed by the heroes’ death, the four NPCs will take their places and live the adventure of their lifetime

The premise is enjoyable, and some parts of the book are incredibly funny, especially if you have played classic RPG be.  NPCs  is filled with internal jokes and crazy theories that you may appreciate and it has a fine sense of irony, offering to even the most casual player something to laugh about.

Sadly, that only constitutes a part of the book and the pages between these jokes are filled with a superficial storytelling, sloppy conflict management and non-existent character’s development, which makes this book a slow and irritating page turner with no interest whatsoever for those who have never played role playing games before.

Final Score: 3/10


If there is something I like in a book, movie or videogame, that’s a Strong and independent female character. It always gives me great pleasure when authors treat female characters as human beings, who will fight and try to resist any actions against them, while it gets in my nerves whenever the female characters are helpless damsels in distress who spend the story screaming the hero’s name.

Fiction has come a long way when it comes to provide with strong and independent female characters. In this blog we already have mentioned Alanna, from the Song of the Lioness Quartet or Kata, from Unwrapped Sky both of them women who are willing to fight for what they believe and society’s prejudices be damned. In movies we have the so-called Trinity Syndrome, by which the story introduces a strong female character who becomes useless towards the end to allow the male hero to get up and shine, but I am sure that, after big blockbusters such as Maleficent and Lucy, it is just a matter of time we start getting over that.

It is true that there are some storied where the kidnapped princess is needed as a Plot element. I don’t defend the elimination of female victims just as I consider unfair the absence of male victims, sometime someone needs to be the victim for the hero or heroine to start his or her adventure. What I am against is the gratuitous representation of women as helpless beings who allow themselves to be kidnapped, killed or hurt meekly, always expecting the male hero to save the day.

To finish this reflection I would want to mention a beautiful play called “Compleat Female Stage Beauty”, which is about the moment in which English women were allowed to act in stages. An actor specialized in playing women asks an actress att he end of the play why his Desdemona wasn’t perfect, to which she replies “because you didn’t fight on her last scene, you just looked pretty and died”


The Thousand Names, written by the awesomely named Django Wexler (insert Django unchained soundtrack here), is set in a fantasy world which finds itself undergoing its own version of the colonial period. When a religious uprising threatens its control on one of its faraway colonies, the king of Voran sends an army of raw recruits commanded by the mysterious colonel Janus. There he will join with the colonial soldiers which have survived the uprising to try to take back the colony. On his side he will have Marcus D’ivory, the honorable though unimaginative captain of the colonial army and Winter, a young colonial ranker with a knack for command but whom would rather not being noticed.

Mr Wexler manages to create an unforgettable group of characters, all of them full of humanity, inner conflicts and contradictions which enrich the novel with every passing page as they win the reader’s affection. Janus is a mysterious charming bastard who likes to keep his men and, through them, the reader, guessing about his motivations and where his true loyalty lies. His charisma comes from a carefully built development and the author’s skill to give the reader peeks of information in the precise moment when it has the biggest effect but never revealing too much.

D’Ivory is a captain whose loyalty and lack of ambition has landed him in an office everyone tries to stay clear from but that he happens to like, he is a conflicted character torn between his loyalty to his fellow officers and rankers and the loyalty he owns to Janus as his commanding office. His development is probably one of the most entertaining that I have read in a long time it is fluid and sensible, his actions always in the line with the character we have been introduced.

But if there is a character which, in my opinion, deserves a mention, that is Winter. A girl posing as a man who has managed to fool her platoon for years, she suddenly finds herself being noticed by Janus, who recognizes her military genius and her talent for command. She is a complex and humane character whose character and development have been carefully crafted and are as realistic as they get. Her own inner conflict, as powerful as D’Ivory’s, between passing unnoticed or getting her platoon out of every battle alive is a realistic situation that will make the reader sympathies.

The colonial representation of The Thousand Names’ world is a realistic set which will enthrall the reader and keep him reading as much as the novel’s main characters. The military strategies, the cities lay down and the military columns marching through the dessert are elements which surprise because of their realism and the amount of research the author must have put into them. The setting fulfills its mission going beyond simplistic scenery in which the story takes place and becoming a vehicle that transports the reader into this mysterious and mesmerizing world.

Finally, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the writing style of the author. It is fluid, simple and allows for an easy reading without trying to use complicated language as a mean to show off his talent, but at the same time is filled with colonial and military terms which, again, is a master class for the aspiring author about the importance of research.

The first thought that hit me after finishing The Thousand Names is that it is a worthy successor for the Malazan Book of the Fallen. A thrilling tale which I recommend to the lovers of the fantasy genre in general and those in love with military fantasy in particular. Undoubtedly I will keep reading books of Mr. Django Wexler as they come along.


Ps: My apologies for this month of silence. Saint Sebastian Film Festival has been crazy but now it is finished and I have again free time in my hands. I will try to catch up by posting two reviews per week

Well, I am back and, after an August of intense Reading, I have got a lot of catching up to do. August’s Reading has been a variable experiences, having read some fantastic books such as Tuf Voyaging, The Thousand Names and Steelheart and other novels which could be categorized as dissapointments, such as Clash of Lions or Masks itself. I shall upload my different reviews in the coming days.


Masks, written by E.C. Blake, brings us the story of Mara, a young girl who lives on a medieval totalitarian society in which the citizens are forced to carry magical masks whenever they go outside their homes. These masks have been enchanted to warn the Watchmen whenever the bearer is thinking treason, allowing them to detain anyone who could potentially go against their supreme leader, the Autarch. Mara, the only daughter of the Master Mask Maker, has leaded a very comfortable life, hardly ever questioning the system. But when her masking ceremony fails and she is arrested and carried to the mines to work as a slave with the other UnMasked her believe system will be shattered and she will be forced to open her eyes and really see the suffering that the Autarch has brought to his people.

I am personally torn about this book. On one hand the author manages to create an entrapping and mesmerizing society which shall entrap the reader’s attention due to the amount of detail put in the system itself but, on the other hand, this amazing effect is lost due to the superficiality and the lack of life we start appreciating on Mara as the novel develops.

Mara is a passive protagonist, and those are two terms that, quite frankly, should never go together. She is carried by the narrative from one point to another without taking an active role during the whole story. For example, as she escapes she gets discovered by a man who, from the very first moment they meet, tells her he is taking her to the mines, where she belongs. In this situation we are expecting some kind of resistance, right? After all she just killed a man and even if her magic has run off temporarily, she could run or try to put up a fight. But no, she just sits there, not even tied, and lets the man carry her to the mines.

Mara, just like Tungdil was on The Dwarves, is a plain character with little development throughout the story, but while Tungdil’s personality was that of the perfect hero’s, Mara’s resembles the personality of an NPC: Passive and mostly useless. Of the two sides of the spectrum I personally prefer Tungdil, and I dislike perfect heroes.

The magic system deserves a positive mention in this review. If you enjoyed the Warbreaker’s magic system, a magic which is considered almost a natural resource and is based in the color scale, you will love Masks’ system. In this novel the magic is extracted from the ground as if it was a metaphor of the oil industry: it is running out but people are more dependent to it than ever before. The magic in this book is also based on colors, creating a magic system in which your future is decided in accordance of the color you see. Children can see all of them and, as they get older, the colors start to disappear to the point in which they can see only one.

Though this Caste System has been utilized in other fantasy and dystopian novels, the magic in Masks is so important throughout the lives of the different characters instead of just being limited to the “choosing moment” as I like to call it, as happens in so many other novels, that the reader really feels that magic plays a fundamental role on the society he is witnessing.

The story development, sadly, is highly predictable. Narrative twists, character’s real intentions and even the ending can be guessed way before they come to happen. My opinion is that this may be a result of the fact that the events of the novel feel forced by the author. Allow me to explain myself: So, in the novel they talk about the mining camps, right? Then it is sensible to think that the main character will end up in one of those camps, and she does, independently of how many times she is rescued before she arrives, even though, as I said before, the means of her arrival are flawed at best (seriously, it bothers me a lot that she didn’t try to run, you should have seen me on the bus as I was reading this part). She arrives there because is expected and needed for the narrative but the way she does isn’t natural, it is forced.

And what about the setting? As I said before, the society has been masterfully created, achieving a result which stands up for its sheer originality and its realism. It is especially frightful when the mining camps are described, the amount of detail Mr. Blake managed to put into that location and the behavior of the characters which inhabited it make it a terrifying experience not only for Mara, but also for the reader, who can find in it numerous references to the concentration camps used in World War II. There is a particular scene where another inmate threatens Mara to asphyxiate her with the pillow if she keeps screaming at night, which really allows the reader to understand the inhuman experience all those characters are going through. E.C. Blake doesn’t try to make anything look sweeter; he captures the brutal realities of a totalitarian regime so rigorously that just for that I would say reading this book was worth it.

If you liked Divergent or other similar books, you probably will like Masks, for the bases of the story are quite similar. Though the main character was a huge let down, the world that surrounds her made this book an entertaining summer reading.


One of the things I like the most about fantasy and science fiction books are the different races which populate the different worlds in which the stories take place. There is something oddly reassuring about the thought that humans could be sharing this planet, or the universe, with other races, as the Terry Pratchett’s amazing Bromeliad Trilogy reflects. Except if those creatures happen to be Trollocs. (No, seriously, screw the Trollocs, we are not sharing anything with those guys). During my travels as a reader I have come to know and love different races which populate the Multiuniverse such as the Kenders, the dragons, the minotaurs and, of course, the Dwarves.

You may have noticed that it doesn’t matter how many races a book contains, the hero will usually be at least half-human. It has always struck me as a quite an optimistic view of our race, but most authors seem to have an enviable faith in humanity. So when I find a book which breaks free from the Human hero allowing other member of another race to take the position of the main character I usually become incredibly excited.

I found The Dwarves exactly one year ago on a library in London, where, using all my self-control I manage not to buy it (Believe me, it was like Frodo trying to resist the ring’s influence) because it probably wouldn’t have fitted on my luggage. Two weeks ago I came across it on Kindle store and, been unable to find a reason not to, I bought it and started reading it immediately.


Strong Points: The secondary characters, the descriptions

Weak points: The main character, the story development

The Dwarves, written by Markus Heitz, tells us the story of Tungdil, a lonely dwarf raised by humans (of course, freaking humans) who’s never been able to meet any other member of his race. But when the King of the dwarves finds himself almost on his deathbed and discovers that his appointed successor plans to declare war to the elves, he will send his warriors to bring Tungdil to his kingdom, presenting him as a long lost heir. Now, everything depends on young Tungdil’s skill to play his role because if he fails, if the elves and the dwarves go to war, an ancient evil who has been waiting for its chance will attack and will destroy them all.

Even if The Dwarves as a whole was a rather uneventful book, it still had some very good qualities which made me continue reading, and one of those qualities was, undoubtedly, its secondary characters. While Tungdil is just a quite simple Cliché collection, his companions are interesting beings with some really curious backstories and with their own goals and objectives, making the reader feel closer to them than to the main character himself. They are all painted in different shades of gray, with very distinct personalities and driven not only by their desire for goodness, but also by their own aims, some of them altruistic, such as Andokai’s or Boendal’s and some of them selfish, such as Rodario’s or Boindil’s. Furthermore, all of them experience a transformation through the story which develops their individual personalities and their conscience as a group, resulting on the reader either loving them or hating them, but never being indifferent to this little, uneven group of unforgettable characters.

The descriptions are also powerful and manage to entrap the reader in a way few authors can. The scenery changes as their travel progresses, but Mr. Heitz manages to entrap us in every single one of them, really investing time in helping the reader to understand what the characters are seeing and what are they really feeling as their journey takes them to places they never dreamt to visit. The description of Ogre’s Death, in particular, is quite spectacular, with such a description and such amount of detail that the author really manages to make the reader understand the perfection of the dwarves’ masonry as the image appears vividly on our mind. The characters’ descriptions are also vivid a very different between them, making the chacarters not only unique because of their personality, but also because of their physical appearance. It is surprrising in a good way to find an autor nowadays who allows himself to stop and to provide the reader wth detailed descriptions of the events of the book and Mr. Heitz does that perfectly

Sadly, the book needs to rely on those two qualities to get the reader through the story, because the main character and the story development itself is one big cliché which doesn’t uphold any mystery at all. Tungdil can’t really develop during the novel simply because from the very beginning he is superficial, more a role (the orphan who wishes to meet his people) than a real “person” finding himself in that situation. He is also wise, a gifted warrior and quite a charming fellow, quickly overcoming his minor imperfections so by the middle of the book he is completely perfect. Tungdil doesn’t step out of his role as the “perfect, honorable, savior” during the whole novel. Sometimes the book tries to bring up his doubts about seeing himself as a leader, but by the next paragraph they are completely forgotten and they never become important enough as to define the character.

Let’s be honest, the only reason why the story develops is because the characters happen to be the luckiest guys on the planet, literally. The book is written for them to win, and that is obvious from the very beginning, as every minor difficulty they come along in their journey is basically solved by sheer luck: suddenly someone (be it an army, a magician, an ancient ghost or a companion they believed long gone) burst into the scene and makes everything right or they group discovers someone among them has a skill that can help them (without this skill having been hinted before, of course, and then being forgotten as soon as they use it). Furthermore, the story’s plot twists and surprise are quite unsurprising, as they can be seen a hundred pages before they occur, add up an uneven pace and events which feel random and by the end you get the feeling of a lacking story development.

As I said before, the book felt rather uneventful and, quite frankly, quite forgettable, without anything to put it apart from the other books except the nature of his main character. Even though is hasn’t been the amazing story I expected, I will continue reading the series, out of an honest desire for it to improve.


Do any of you have a contingency plan in case of apocalypse? I admit it, I started working on mine as soon as I read the Zombie survival guide but until this moment I hadn’t really understood how unprepared I am. When it comes to Apocalypses, the Zombie apocalypse is probably the easiest to survive, think of it: Zombies are slow, which means they aren’t good at hunting, this constitutes an advantage for two reasons: they can’t hunt animals, lowering the risk of starving us out and they have troubles catching up with you, climbing, swimming… apart from that you have an earth with a perfectly normal climate, electricity during the first months until you figure out a way to hook up your own small generators and several places where you can find refuge. Now, we go to an EMP, an Ice Age or an international pandemic and that’s like playing the game in the higher difficulty levels, and you only get one life. No electricity means of heating systems or air conditioning, highly reducing the places on earth where you can live, eternal winter means no spring, meaning no food, animals would starve out and so would we. International pandemic… well, that would just be mean an unnecessary.

I find certain romanticism in the concept of the apocalypse (theoretical apocalypse, of course, I thought it would be better to clarify it for our friends in the Interpol and the CIA). Think about it, humanity thrown back to its darkest ages, trying to survive and fight its way back to civilization while the political and social map changes forever. There is certain optimism in these stories, no matter how tragic they are, which always helps me recover a little of my lost faith in humanity.

In ten years, in the middle of an actual apocalypse, you will remember me saying it is romantic while you are working hard to survive… that will get some fun reactions.


Strong Points: Characters, Realism, writing style.

Weak Points: pace in the final part of the novel.

One Second After, written by William R. Forstchen, brings us the catastrophic consequences of an EMP attack over America from the point of view of John Matherson, a military history professor working in a college located on a small community in North Carolina. As it becomes more and more obvious by each passing day that electricity is not going to come back, John must help rally and organize his community if any of them is going to make it through this ordeal alive. Facing tough, immoral choices, sickness, starvation, violent gangs and the impending death of his diabetic daughter John must fight with the help of his neighbors in order to survive until external help arrives… If it ever does.

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest achievements of Mr. Forstchen in One Second After is his characters. The author manages to create exactly what he is looking for: an ordinary man thrown into an extraordinary scenario. John Matherson is a delightful, carefully built character which resembles a man who could very well be your next door neighbor or your college professor: past, believes and personality are mixed in order to create a could-be-real entity with whom the reader will soon relate, there are things about him you will like and others that you won’t, and that makes him human. Possibly the fact I found more interesting is that while he has tragedies in his past, as a real human being he is not entirely consumed by them though they have strongly affected his personality.

Other characters, such as Charlie, Kate or Tom also enrich the novel by their presence and their evolution, and that is one of the beauties of this book, it doesn’t matter how small the character is, he or she will change in a believable way, answering to the external impulses they receive. The city council’s member’s evolution is subtle through the whole novel, but is there and in the moment you reach the final pages of the novel you discover the great personal travel each one of them has made. Maybe John is the main character of the story, but they are all heroes in their own way, breaking with the old tradition that the main character is the only useful person in the story and leaving us with a sense of community seen in very few novels.

When you are reading the novel it becomes obvious that Mr. Forstchen is that he has done his homework, not only is the novel filled with actual data extracted from the commission to assess the threat to united states from electromagnetic pulse, but the novel is filled with clues of how to survive without electricity, of the different sicknesses and their consequences and of other details which really allow the reader to submerge in the author’s wonderful world. But it goes beyond that, behaviors, character psychology, what each season means to the survivors… all is recorded to the utmost detail and is showed in such a realist way that readers will notice shivers imagining themselves in that situation. This is not a book filled with heroics, this is a book about survival in which morality takes a step back so we can see how our values collapse as they surely would in that situation.

One last positive quality in this novel which I must point out is the Mr. Forstchen writing style or, to be more precise, his talent to convey emotions and awake feelings in the readers. I have ended up teary eyed more than once reading this book because of its superb dramatic economy and the subtlety of some of the tragedies the characters live throughout the novel. It is not a poetic language, filled with style or beauty, but a simple, every-day one filled with emotion and human sympathy.

The only downside, in my opinion, is the dramatic increase in the pace of the final part of the novel. Blurring the details and, instead of accompanying John through the different tragedies described, the author refers through them as a memory in the past, just skipping through two hundred days of disease and starvation that decimates the survivors. I personally would have been interested in discovering how John lived those difficult moments and which decisions did he have to make in order to ensure the survival o the highest number of people.

One Second After has been an amazing surprise, a delicious treat that kept me reading from the beginning to the very end of the book while suffering with its characters and desperately hoping for their survival. I would recommend it to all of those people who enjoy apocalyptic literature and science fiction, for it will surely provide you with unforgettable moments and hours of enjoyment.


¡Hasta la próxima!

I admit it; I’ve got a soft spot for Wizards Of the Coast and their two biggest books series: Dragon Lance and the Forgotten Realms. The reason for this undying fondness is that my adventures as a book reader and a massive nerd started with one little book lots of you may have never heard of: The Black Wing. Not a big book, not a narrative jewel, but an entertaining little spin-off from the Dragon Lance Chronicles. That was when I was in sixth grade and for three years I only read Dragon Lance novels. When I reached ninth grade I decided to try to get a little bit of variety in my literary life so I started reading the Forgotten Realms (what did you expect? I was a high school freshman, I probably didn’t even understand the full meaning of variety).It could be said that Wizard of the Coast ruled my literary tastes with an iron fist until I was in eleventh grade, when a little book called Game of Thrones found its way into my hands. This is the first time since then that I have read one of their books and it felt just like when I eat something I loved as a kid. Its taste is never as good as I remember.

By the way, I am curious. Which was the first book that really got you into reading? Which is the one responsible for you to hook up? (Because, let’s face, none of us would be in a book review blog if we weren’t crazy about reading).


Strong Points: Action narrative.

Weak points: Character development, story development.

The Reaver, written by Richard Lee Byers, tells us the story of a continent scourged by what seems a never-ending rain. This has caused people to abandon their gods and to turn to Umberlee, the evil goddess of the ocean, making her church the most powerful political force in the land. Moved by the reward offered by this church in exchange for the capture of the god of light’s chosen, Anton Marivaldi, a fearsome and merciless pirate, must find a way to carry the chosen boy to Umberlee’s temple while surviving mutiny, rival political factions and corrupt church officials. If he succeeds his reward will be more riches that he could dream of, if he fails hos reward will be death.

The first thing I must point out is that Richard lee Byers knows his business when it comes to narrating action sequences. Lots of writers seem to shy out of narrating battles, being very general or superficial when it comes to put them on paper; several times I have felt that some final battle of some very good novels were anticlimactic. In The Reaver, though, the author manages to bring us a precise, delicious narration of the events without affecting the pace of the action. Everything the character feels or does finds its way into the pages thoroughly, giving us always a good picture of the fight and managing to make almost every combat an epic explosion of action and description (except the one with the lions… was that one really necessary?) The result is some amazing chapters that make the book enjoyable at some points and keep us reading through the weakest part of it.

I like dark selfish characters as much as the next guy (provided the next guy likes dark, selfish character a lot), and I don’t mind a good redemption story once in a while (neither does the next guy), provided that such redemption and the needed process to achieve it make sense. It is never quite clear where Anton’s starts. Suddenly a bloodthirsty pirate who has not qualm about sending men who have served under his command for years to their deaths starts feeling bad about betraying a boy he just met. These shorts of paradoxes can be found all over the novel, transforming Anton’s development in an awkward process full of unorthodox advances which make no sense in the eyes of the reader. There is not fluidity in his internal development, just emotional objectives he must reach for the narration’s sake, which he does without a continuous evolution to get him from one point to another.

The other two main characters fare no better. Umara’s evolution makes even less sense than Anton. She experiences two major stages throughout the novel: the “I am your enemy” stage and the “oh, ok, let’s be friends” stage without any short of development in between. Since the first moment she meets Anton she switches stages without there being a real process in between to make this friendship anything special for the reader to look forward to. The worst part, though, goes to poor Sven, whose character’s development doesn’t exist. Doesn’t matter what he gets dragged to, the kid never changes, nor does his vision of life or his faith in the god of light who has screwed his whole life because he couldn’t just pick and older chosen. Sven behavior doesn’t respond to the external stimuli he gets from his surrounding, making this character a behavioral anomaly whose actions keep us from accepting the “truth” of the story. One example would be his reaction after being betrayed by Marivaldi, it doesn’t affect their relationship, doesn’t cast a shadow of doubt upon them, Sven acts as if it never happened.

Finally, the story development feels uneven and badly put together. It feels, in a similar way to fireblood (still ranting), as if we were reading about a role playing game someone played, the events feel as encounters decided by dices. The solutions are similar between them, there being two major groups: “let’s kill the enemy” or “let’s exorcise the enemy”. As a result, the novel becomes repetitive and predictable, knowing every spot in which there will be some of this “events”. The directions it takes, the presentation of subplots later left untouched or the characters or actions given importance when they appear but later forgetting completely about them of having them killed anticlimactically leaves us with the feeling that the author wasn’t really sure which ones to choose and decided to forget about them, leaving just the basics but without completely erasing the mark of those sub-stories.

The Reaver is definitely not one of my favorite forgotten realm novels, which is a pity for Iw as really looking forward to read the novels of the Sundering. I would recommend it to the fans of the forgotten Realms or Dragon Lance. To those of you who aren’t fans but are curious about those worlds I recommend to start with other books such as those written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in Dragonlance or RA Salvatore and Elaine Cunningham in the Forgotten Realms.


¡Hasta la próxima!

Do you think there really is a creativity crisis in the cultural media? I have been hearing that for a long time and it is true that reboots, remakes, sequels and prequels are on vogue nowadays in movies, videogames and books. There is also a rise on adaptations from one media to another and not always of the best quality (Dragon age books and Death Island books? Anyone? No? Then stay away from them). On the other hand we have witnessed some original stories coming out lately: movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel or Gravity or books such as Apocalypse Now Now while some of the greatest classics of all time have been based on pre-existing works, such as the Godfather. I really don’t think it is a problem about creativity, it is about franchises, which is something entirely different: as a producer your wet dream is to find a franchise which interests the studios and that the public will like; it really has nothing to do with the lack of imagination of the script writer Association, it has to do with an effort to make a complicated sector safer for the investors.


Strong points: Originality, narrative.

Weak points: Tries to tell too much, some events feel forced.

Apocalypse Now Now, written by Charlie Human (Highly suspicious last name if you ask me. It is like when your roommate tells you something like “I didn’t have sex with your Teddy Bear” before you even go into your room), tells us the story of Baxter Zevcenko, a teenage kingpin who controls the porn market of his school’s yard. When his kleptomaniac girlfriend is kidnapped by a notorious serial killer Baxter hires the help of a supernatural bounty hunter, starting a series of events that will take him to places that he only expected to visit in his worst nightmares.

Apocalypse Now Now shines for its original setting. Everything that we find and feels as fresh air in an age when the risks of originality are not easily taken. This version of South Afrika exceeds in craziness, darkness and magic in an alluring way which will have you reading onwards just for the sheer strangeness you find. The criminal societies which populate the Westridge high school are built in a way by which every one of them is different and the monsters that populate Cape Town have unique qualities in their design and in how they integrate in the human society that surrounds them. The world that has been crafted in this novel is unique and highly enjoyable.

The narrative is both fresh and alluring, managing a fast and captivating pace which fits perfectly with the story at hand. The author manages to change the speaking patterns and the vocabulary used by the different characters, creating through the dialog itself very different personalities.

Sadly (and this is something I never thought I would say) the novel has too many good ideas, which results in the author not developing them to their fullest potential. For example, the idea of a high school dominated by gags which act as if they were corporations, mafias or even the Nazi Party is an alluring idea which has many narrative possibilities, but sadly as soon as the next plot starts it is all forgotten and falls into obscurity.

Some events feel forced and clumsily fitted in just as a way to advance the story: Like the conversation by which Baxter finds out Esme has been kidnapped, which feels awkward and unnatural to say the least.

Apocalypse Now Now is an original novel which I highly recommend to the fans of the urban fantasy genre and t those readers that are looking for something new and fresh. Maybe it ain’t perfect but it is enjoyable and will give readers a good time.

Ok, so book review: check! Next item in the list: investigate the author. If you don’t heard of me in the next two weeks, call the Men in Black.

too… human


¡Hasta la próxima!

I want to thanks Tor and Netgalley for the opportunity of Reading an advance copy

Gritty fantasy has always being a personal favorite of mine, at least since the moment I picked Game of Thrones and started to read it six years ago (I am going to stop pointing out how long ago things happened, because this is starting to get depressive). There is, in my opinion, something human in gritty fantasy; it has both faces of reality: the optimistic and the ugly one. That combination, I think, manages to offer a story where everything can happen, just as the real world. You are afraid your favorite characters aren’t going to made it but you still rooting for them anyway and that produces a mix of Agony and Emotion which gets addictive. (Yes, I am still mourning Oberyn Martell, that’s what all of this is about, and yes I had read the book, but it was nothing comparable to his death in the show).


Strong points: The characters, the story development.

Weak points: some elements feel underplayed.

Unwrapped Sky, written by Rjurik Davidson (who also can boast of having the most fantasy character-like name ever), invites the reader to Calei-Amur, an independent city full of magic and mystery ruled by three merchant houses. From the points of view of Kata, a philosopher-assassin trying to escape her contract with one of the houses, Boris Autec, a once factory worker who finds himself rising to a position of power, and Maximilian, a young dreamer who is part of the rebel group known as the Seditionists, the reader will witness a story about change and revolution as a small group of people try to fight against the brutal rule of the three houses.

If there is something in this novel that really helps the readers to connect with the story is its unforgettable characters. Their complexities offer us an alluring game of lights and shadows within each one of them which will capture the readers pulling them into the pages. Possibly Boris is the most interesting and tragic out of the three main characters; his slow degeneration offers the reader a heartbreaking character development of a man who just wants to make the world a better place but finds himself overrun by the sheer pressure of the events that unravel around him . We witness an emotional journey that takes place step by step, almost unnoticed, until we are in front of a much changed character and we realize the subtle process that has taken him there. Kata and Maximilian also have their own share of complexities and internal conflicts that make the characters feel alive: Kata will do anything to escape her actual life even if it means to continue committing the crimes that have driven her to hate it. Finally Maximilian offers a lighter character but also marked by the fight between what he should be and what he is, being particularly interesting the fact that he is trying to ignore that his actions are driven by a desire of glory.

The story development is astonishing. The novel unravels itself masterfully driving us towards its climax while playing with the pace. The way Mr. Davidson has developed Unwrapped Sky manages to attract the readers and trap them in the book, making it increasingly difficult to put down (I read the last 40% in one go). The subtlety by which the author provides information is also a strong point in its development, managing to dodge the (personally hated) over explanation effect and allowing the reader to discover some answers through the hints he provides; one example being the true identity of the Elo-talern, which is never provided directly but is hinted through the book.

The story had an amazing start, an army of minotaurs marching through the streets of Calei-Amur, going to join an annual celebration where they are the guests of honor. Imagine my dismay when, after building my expectations, I find out the minotaurs are forgotten by chapter six. This is the weak point of Unwrapped Sky, some elements feel underplayed, not used to their full potential, leaving races such as the minotaurs or the new-men or even the Elo-Talern almost as side notes in the story when it was hinted they would be important on the story (There is a freaking minotaur on the cover, I call that a hint). Luckily, the ending suggest this won’t be a stand-alone novel, so in the future we can hope for some of this elements to become increasingly important.

I have really enjoyed Unwrapped Sky and I recommend it to anyone who happens to love interesting characters, political fantasy and gritty narrative. Mr. Davidson must be congratulated for this amazing piece of work and for having the most awesome name I have encountered. Now I am going back to listening “Let it go” while mourning Oberyn.


¡Hasta la próxima!