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Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb : Review

Fools assassin

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.
 
Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.
 
Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . . .

Fool’s Assassin: Book One of the Fitz and the Fool by Robin Hobb is the seventh book in the story of the royal bastard and former assassin Fitzchivalry Farseer, and as the seventh book in this series there are minor spoilers ahead if you have not read the previous books. I don’t really have words to describe the way I felt when I heard Robin Hobb was going back to the story of Fitzchivalry Farseer after ten long years away, it was just a mixture of excitement and dread. Excitement for the fact that I may finally get some real closure on the story of the Fitz and the Fool, and dread because life serving the Farseers has never been kind to Fitz. Whenever he has managed to grab something resembling a life of his own he always seems to let it get ripped away from him again.

Fool’s Assassin takes place roughly a decade after the main events of Fool’s Fate and goes into greater detail on the events described in that books prologue. Fitz and his wife Molly live a peaceful life alongside the lady Patience at her country manor Withywoods. Having mostly come to terms with his former life Fitz lives only for the present and the future in an attempt to avoid thoughts of the unresolved events between him and his friend the Fool. Seeming content to live out his life in the country with his wife Fitz actively avoids the intrigue filled events of Buckkeep, no matter how often his former mentor Chade tries to draw him back in. Though he doesn’t realize it, a strange pale skinned messenger’s arrival at his doorstep sets him on a collision course with the past he’s trying to avoid.

To put it simply I thought Fools Assassin was amazing, and I probably couldn’t count how many times I had to put the book down to process some scene I had just read. Or how many times I found myself on my feet in shock or anger and would then have to put the book down and walk away to let my emotions settle or to keep myself from crying like a fool. The best part about it was that the story didn’t go anywhere I had thought it might, and I can honestly say I thought I had imagined every direction it could possibly go. Yet it still managed to zigzag in every single direction and end someplace I had never even considered it might end. I believe there are many scenes that will bring any fan, be they longtime or new, that will have them sitting there in shock over what they had just read

Robbin Hobb’s writing was as good as its ever been, and I found myself completely sucked into the story and unable to put it down. I don’t think I stopped reading to well past seven in the morning and I think that really says something about it, considering I had to be up for work just a couple hours later. It was like revisiting an old friend every time Fitz ran into someone from his past with only a few noticeable absences which I hope will be addressed in the next book. Fool’s Assassin also expands a lot on the skill and just what it means to be a member of a coterie, a clarification I was glad to finally receive.

All in all I would say this book was well worth the read and i will be purchasing it to make sure my collection is complete  once it releases. Although I think anyone could pick up this book and start reading it without being too confused, it would be beneficial to have read the rest of the books in the series. I find myself visiting Hobb’s website at least once a day looking for any announcements about the sequel, and I know I will begin counting down the days till its release once we get an official date, though I dread what the rest of this trilogy will bring us. I believe there are dark days ahead for Fitzchivalry Farseer.

Fool’s Assassin is set to be released worldwide August 12th, 2014

I received a copy of this publication for free in exchange for an honest review

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie : Review

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“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie was a book that hooked me early on and refused to let me go. For years everyone I know has been trying to get me to read Abercrombie’s books, telling me how dark and gritty and just plain awesome they can be. So I was not disappointed in how quickly the deaths and betrayals began to pile up so early in the book. With how grim Half a King got throughout the story I was really surprised to find out that it is considered YA, which guarantees I will read the rest of his books to find out just how much darker his other books can get.

At its heart Half a King is both a coming of age and heroes journey story about prince Yarvi, who, with a withered and crippled hand is destined to be a Minister of the kingdom of Gettland. When his father and older brother are are killed, Yarvi soon finds himself forced into a role he is ill prepared to fill, that of king, but the question on everyone’s mind is if a crippled boy can truly be king. Yarvi’s life soon takes a drastic turn for the worse and he’s forced to struggle to survive after a bitter betrayal with the help of a ragged group of misfits and former slaves.

The best part of this book for me was the characters, Yarvi was a complex and realistic person who made made mistakes and did what he had to to survive. Everything he did was aimed at fulfilling his oath and he wasn’t going to let anyone or anything stop him, but that line of thought did not stop him from feeling the guilt or regretting his actions. Then there was the cast of outcasts and misfits he soon finds himself thrown in with. The story would not have been anywhere near as good without them, with Sumael and Nothing really shining as examples of how side characters need not be merely backdrop. No matter how little time each character got in the story they all felt fully fleshed out and believable.

While the story itself may seemed a bit cliched and overdone, Abercrombie puts his own twist on it which makes it seem new again. With all the twists and turns Half a King takes, and all the betrayals Yarvi must face, I found myself constantly wondering just where the story was going to go, and just who Yarvi could trust on his journey. I’m already eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, and eyeballing all the rest of Joe Abercrombie’s books with interest.

I received a free copy of this novel for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory : Review

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The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.

Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.

Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers

The House of the Four Winds (A Dozen Daughters, #1) is the first book in a new series by veteran authors Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Reading new books by Mercedes Lackey is always a difficult thing for me do, not because I dislike her books — she is without a doubt my favorite author, but because her Valdemar books have set such a high standard that any of her other books do not compare. James Mallory on the other hand has only a few books that I have read, all written with Mercedes Lackey, and each one better than the book written before it. I am more than happy to say the House of the Four Winds stands up very well when compared to anything else either author has written. With swashbuckling pirates, strange magic, and hidden treasures this story has a bit of everything it needs to grab your attention and never let you go.

With her family unable to provide the support and dowries of her and her eleven sisters, Princess Clarice of Swansgaarde sets off into the world in attempt to make a living for herself in her chosen career, a master swordsman, but to be considered a master requires the experience and reputation she does not have. To get both of these things Clarice disguises herself as the well-off traveler Mr. Clarence Swann and signs on with the first merchant ship that will take her on as a passenger. When the crew of the ship she has chosen finds itself forced to mutiny Clarice and the rest of the crew are quickly labeled pirates. She soon finds herself sailing in search of hidden treasure and a way to clear the names of the crew, all while attempting to keep anyone from discovering her secret.

There were only a few minor issues that irked me with this book, one of which was Clarice being a princess. It is made very clear she is from a duchy, part of a larger kingdom, so would she not be merely a lady until she married into the peerage? The only other issue I had is that this book was supposed to take place in an alternate version of earth, one with additional countries and a strange magic, but other than a few similar names there was not much to suggest that we shared a common world in any way, which disappointed me to a small degree.

That being said, this is definitely a book I think everyone should pick up and read. While it seems to be more romance than anything else, it has a great plot with an interesting magic system. The characters are very believable and enjoyable that you can connect with on many levels. Not to mention it’s written in part by Mercedes Lackey, and I don’t think I would be able to live with myself if I didn’t do what I could to convince everyone to pick it up and read it. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Already I find myself obsessively checking to see if the sequel has been announced yet, and if so, when it will be published.

The House of the Four Winds is set to be released August 5th by Tor Books.

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return, by Ian Doescher

Once more unto the Death Star, dear friends! 

The epic trilogy that began with William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and continued with The Empire Striketh Back concludes herein with the all-new, all-iambic The Jedi Doth Return – perchance the greatest adventure of them all. 

Prithee, attend the tale so far: Han Solo entombed in carbonite, the princess taken captive, the Rebel Alliance besieged, and Jabba the Hutt engorged. Alack! Now Luke Skywalker and his Rebel band must seek fresh allies in their quest to thwart construction of a new Imperial Death Star. But whom can they trust to fight by their side in the great battle to come? Cry “Ewok” and let slip the dogs of war! 

Frozen heroes! Furry creatures! Family secrets revealed! And a lightsaber duel to decide the fate of the Empire. In troth, William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return has it all! 

Friends, we have come to the final installment of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, and when I saw it on the shelf as I was walking out of the bookstore I nearly gave myself whiplash. Naturally I bought it right away and began reading it the next day, and loved every moment of it.

The Jedi Doth Return was, stylistically, more similar to Empire than to New Hope; it uses monologues, dialogue, and speeches to explain action sequences; the chorus comes up only a couple of times in the play. This was, overall, a very good choice; the characters could give their thoughts and views on a situation, which fleshed them out and made the sequences more fun to read. Once again, side characters were expanded upon and motives explored more in-depth, and characters who had little to no personality in the original were given clear characters – a prime example being Salacious Crumb, Jabba’s odd laughing pet, who gets several lines in the play. This expanding of dialogue meant that I occasionally got a very different impression of characters than I do when watching the movie, especially regarding the Han-Luke-Leia love triangle, which made reading the play a fresh experience in some ways and a slightly different experience than the movie.

I was curious about how the Ewoks’ dialogue was going to be rendered in the play, and I was amused to find it was written as four-line, half-nonsense little poems; the first and fourth lines were gibberish while the middle lines were odd-sounding English that gave character to the Ewoks and let us understand them while preserving their distinct way of speaking. Doescher had previously used similar tricks to great success in Empire (Yoda speaks in haiku, Fett in prose) but this is the first time he’s done it with an alien language to make that language understandable – Chewbacca’s and Jabba’s dialogue, as well as that of the Jawas and other aliens, is left untranslated. Reading the way they spoke and the conversations they had with C-3PO was quite fun.

Unfortunately, Darth Vader doesn’t say “prithee” in this play like I hoped he would, but it was still a fun read and a nice ending to the trilogy. Nevertheless, we still get great and innumerable shout-outs to the original Shakespeare, like one monologue that references “All the world’s a stage”. By the way, if any of you are planning to put on a production of these plays, now would be the perfect time, because you could perform them all back to back and either invite me to watch or send me a video of it (I’m still waiting). In conclusion, I’ll just say that this series has been great from beginning to end, and that if you haven’t read The Jedi Doth Return yet, you should immediately.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in ARamone, Review

 

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Elderwood Manor by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes : Review

Elderwood Manor

Things fall apart—Bruce Davenport knows this all too well.

On the heels of his wife’s death, laid-off and penniless with an eviction notice on the door, the only thing left for him and his four-year-old son Cody is Bruce’s childhood home, secluded deep within Ozark forests, haunted by the ghosts of his past.

After he receives a strange phone call from his dying mother, who has lived alone in the house for the past 15 years, Bruce reluctantly returns to the estate with his son.

But they soon find that something else dwells in the home, in the earth, in the woods. Unseen things are out for vengeance and blood. If they can survive the night, they may just find out what truly lies within the walls of…Elderwood Manor.

Elderwood Manor by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawks is a new story from publisher DarkFuse’s novella line, and the first book by either author that I have read. I have been on a horror story binge these past couple weeks, always looking for that story that will keep me up at night reading, and leaving on the television before I go to bed afterwords. DarkFuse has delivered yet another creepy story I was unable to put down until I had finished, it kept me up till well past three in the morning, and left me wishing it hadn’t been quite so short.

Widowed and destitute, on the verge of both eviction and starvation Bruce Davenport receives a call from his dying mother and soon finds himself along with his son Cody on the road back to his childhood home. Returning to the dark and foreboding Elderwood Manor after so many years of thinking himself free from his miserable past is a final desperate act for Bruce and an attempt to secure some sort of future for his four-year-old son Cody. Barely reaching the manor ahead of a vicious winter storm that snows in and ices over the road behind them, Bruce soon finds out his mother has been long gone and the dark and malicious force has taken possession of the house, and he and his son must find a way to survive the night if they want any chance of ever leaving the manor with their lives.

The descriptive writing of the authors is one of the things that made Elderwood Manor an enjoyable story, they made it really easy to see the manor in your mind and to feel the dark presence that has taken root inside of it. I’m a huge fan of both horror movies and stories, and it is very rare for something to truly scare or creep me out, but this did it. I found early on in the story that I was huddling in on myself as I read and freezing at even the slightest noises from inside and outside my house. I had to put on something upbeat and funny on the television after I had finished in an attempt to stave off nightmares. It did not work, and that I think is more than enough reason for anyone to read it. Not to mention the fact I found myself attached to the characters very early on, especially Bruce’s four-year-old son Cody, and found myself hoping the story did not have the dark ending that I feared it might.

Elderwood Manor is set to be released July 15, 2014 by DarkFuse.

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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