Showing posts with label Epic Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Epic Fantasy. Show all posts

Monday, November 21, 2022

Origins of The Wheel of Time Book Chat

November 15
th (which was this past Tuesday) marks a full year since I finished and closed my reading of the final book in The Wheel of Times series, A Memory of Light. Still remember that day. Still remember when I began reading the series in 2019. Still remember many of my high points and low points. And frankly I still miss reading the books, however exhausting the journey had been. So, naturally, seeing a WOT-ish book coming out earlier this month, there was no question I was going to grab it. To my bookstore I went to grab a copy of Origins of The Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston. 

Now the thing is that I don't have a "galaxy brain" when it comes to all the ins and outs and machinations of The Wheel of Time, in both the intricacy of the overall story as well as the fandom. So, no, I'm not gripping the deeper threads of details. I'm not chewing on theories and conspiracies related to WOT's all encompassing being. Heck, I don't even have a connoisseurship when it comes to reading and critiquing fantasy novels in general. But this book was great for me as well, because of my casual interest. I mainly had an interest in Jordan's writing style, choices, and the string of ideas implemented in The Wheel of Time books themselves. I do love taking the opportunity to learn something from an author as is.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share a few of my takeaways from indulging in this book. First, my interest lay primarily in the first half of the book where the author focused on relaying Robert Jordan's (or his actual name James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) beginnings as a child up until adulthood and his ultimate passing before the series was completed. It's always cool to relate how an author's life experiences translates into their fictional world; here, Jordan had a plethora of life experiences he could somehow fashion and relay into The Wheel of Time. Nevertheless, though I've heard the story, I was particularly interested in how The Wheel of Time came about from its original conception, the timeframe in which Jordan mulled over it before writing, the subsequent publications of the books, and his final days in maintaining his work for afterwards. All of these are shared within this book. Shoot, for a moment I felt as if I were reading a memoir. Nevertheless, I appreciated this portion of the book because it made me feel closer to Jordan and The Wheel of Time.

(Side story here. The Wheel of Time was actually introduced to my reading life after Jordan's death in 2007, despite my having started reading the books twelve years later. At the time, I was working at a Borders in Atlanta. After the news of his death, several of the staff members were broken. I specifically remember one assistant manager at her desk bawling her eyes out. I was bemused, but aware at how the expressed gravity of the situation was how The Wheel of Time would never be finished now. Anyway, of course the books were suddenly flying off the shelves, so I grew increasingly curious.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings - October Reading Jumpstart

"Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar's niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan's motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war."


I decided to pull this 1000-something-page epic fantasy book off my shelf. To do what? I guess actually–finally–attempt to read it. All intimidation of its length aside, Brandon Sanderson’s first The Stormlight Archive book, The Way of Kings, was a planted consideration for epic fantasy goodness post my reading of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. And, as of late, I could use a fantasy distraction more than ever.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Sailor Moon & Mini (mini) Book Haul & Possible Karen Chance Reading

Tuesday seemed like a day for some minor retail therapy. It appears the stars have aligned for some small, small fortunes.

I went to Gamestop early in the afternoon looking for some of those thumb grippers for an Xbox Series X controller. And while that mission was successful, I happened across these Sailor Moon travel hand sanitizer sleeves (or whatever). Now, for any other item/IP/brand/whatever I wouldn't even look twice at purchasing something unnecessary like this. But finding these stacked up shook me to my core. So much so that I knew right away if I didn’t buy one of each character now, I ran the risk of never finding them all at once again. Therefore, I got one of each and kept it moving. The guy at the register was pretty much like "you ain't playing around." Never with Sailor Moon, buddy. Never!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Lies of Descent Let Down

"The Fallen Gods' War drove the remnants of a victorious army across the ocean in search of a new homeland. A thousand years later, the lifeless continent of Draegora is largely forgotten, a symbol for the regiments that remain. Demons to some. Protectors to others. The power of their god-touched blades has forged a nation, though many resent their absolute control.
Riam and Nola are unknowing descendants of the old world. When it’s discovered they carry enough Draegoran blood to serve in the regiments, they are dragged away from their families to begin training. If they survive, they will be expected to enforce the laws of the covenant, to fight the Esharii tribesmen who raid along the border, and to be judge, jury, and executioners for those accused of crimes.
For Riam, who welcomes his escape from an abusive father, the power to protect those who cannot defend themselves is alluring. For Nola, who wishes to return home, it is a betrayal by all she holds dear.
Neither is given a choice...and neither may ever get the chance to serve."

So let me be clear: THIS BOOK HAD FULL COMMAND OF MY ATTENTION WITHIN THE FIRST 70 PAGES. Unfortunately, by page 136, I could no longer deny the loss of interest. Bad news came in and just never left. So what happened? Well, the worldbuilding portion had gleamings, glimmerings, and gatherings of an indigenous/Native American/tribal nature or coloring to it. Different tribes. Different customs. So forth and so on and a touch icky in all its killing and slaying of each. However, I got tired of trying to keep up with this setting, along with the bloodthristy faction tribes and customs. I got tired of the killing between each tribe, and just the conflict in general. For a moment I found them all villians. Then I began to pick up on what the author was actually obscuring.

Sidebar: There was a scene featuring giant, homicidal wasps that just… did… not… work… for me. As they were attacking, I was thinking to myself “where is this coming from”?

Then there was an issue with the POV. Two young characters carry the overall story. One is named Riam, the other is Nola. While they find themselves together on their journey's start, eventually they are split apart and so goes the adventure I was actually looking forward to reading. Nevertheless, Riam’s narrative grew increasingly boring to me without Nola to bounce off of. His narrative started off really well, as readers got to look into the trauma surrounding his home life. Same applied for Nola, though within a happier context.

However, the more time Riam and the story itself spent away from Nola's perspective, the more my disinterest grew. I suppose I needed a balancing of perspectives to keep the pacing and suspense afloat as a reader watching this world unfold between the two. During the extensive brackets of time spent within Riam’s story, I wish the author took some kind of cue to push in Nola's narrative to keep the interest going. Now it's true I didn't get far enough to witness any changes, but Nola had a breadcrumb moment and from within the pages I've read I was too hungry for more of the loaf. In short, I needed balance to carry me though. And I believe the reversal in perspectives would result in the same feeling, because my issues weren't so much with the characters of Riam and Nola themseleves. As a matter-of-fact, it was the bellicose tribes people who did it in for me. Along with all the cryptic messaging regarding gods and change and evolution and all that jazz.

So, ever inpatient and desperate to find out what the author had in mind for Nola, I did something I hardly ever do. What's that? I peeked at the spoilers. I figured I was done with the story anyway. So why not? Nevertheless, what was Nola’s direction and fate? Well, let’s just say when I found out she was supposed to be a vessel of sorts I immediately was like "forget this, man." The whole women's bodies as obligatory birthing vessels to "usher in a new dawn" just ain’t it for me, personally. I was instantly troubled and sad for Nola.

With this information, I wanted to cry for Nola and the story I was hoping I was getting involving two teens going on a journey together to change the world (ala T. A. Barron or something). But in all the DNF'ing, I realized for those stories I was better left looking into the middle-grade and young adult section. And I'm cool with that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Another Elizabeth Moon Book Fail (For Me)

Freakin' WOWZERS on this DNF–as of now–experience. I landed on The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion Trilogy, Book 1) by Elizabeth Moon. The experience didn’t exactly fair well. I found myself bored about 30 pages into the book. The main character, Paks, was written just too dry for my taste. Her stance was to run away from her life as a farmer's daughter, as well as her father's controlling ways. He wants Paks to marry a pig farmer. Paks, on the other hand, desires to become a warrior or mercenary. Therefore, as many stories like this one goes, Paks runs away from home to enlist in an army to fulfill her dreams. 

The issue is that I didn't know what drove her to choose this profession, outside of her acknowledging how her cousin was a warrior. The expansive issue I had was that I found Paks severely lacking in personality. This made it incredibly hard to engage with the story when neither her motivation nor personality didn't seem to be catching any wind. So with battle after battle approaching, I didn’t see the need to hang around any further.

Unfortunately, this is my second attempt at experiencing Elizabeth Moon's work. I tried to read her science-fiction space opera book, Trading in Danger, back in 2018. That book had the same issues as The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter where I found the main character rather dry and boring.

Nevertheless, I am going to regard The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter as the same as Trading in Danger with a “for another day”. Then promptly pick up something else.

Monday, August 22, 2022

My 1st Salvatore = A DNF

"When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home.

The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night."

Here’s a bit of an unfortunate truth: I’ve recently DNF’ed my non-way through my first attempt at reading an R. A. Salvatore book. The book was Child of a Mad God; found in the bargain section of a local bookstore. The cover art drew my attention, as it gave me Horizon Zero Dawn vibes (to a hesitant degree).

Unfortunately, the book didn’t work for me after 65 pages. I couldn’t feel the characters, setting, and premise out! From as much I’d gathered, the story is fairly brutal and dark in its magical “prehistoric” tone. And, yet, the further I read the more I could not connect. The further I read, the more my urgency to bail rose because I could not see myself investing in this 600-something-page story. I think the biggest offender arrived in how the story didn't lead with the main character, Aoleyn. I went in hoping to be driven through the story through the character of Aoleyn, whose name is a little too close to Aloy from the Horizon series. I could have stuck around if she was presented more. Instead, all of the setup, world-building, views, staging, and so on were illustrated and driven through the perspective of a host of side characters. Not that that was a direct issue, but it wasn't what I was hungry for. Child of a Mad God didn't lead with Aoleyn in the center, and I just didn’t feel like waiting page after page for her to stand in the spotlight as the guide to this expansive world/story waiting before me.

With that said, I did not want to abandon this author. So I found one of these recommended classic offerings instead…

Monday, February 8, 2021

How My The Wheel of Time Hardback Book Collection is Coming!

Hee-Haah! I got the final three books in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series in hardback the past two weeks. I'm upgrading my collection from the mass market editions. I've learned how the hardcovers are better suited for my reading experience. For real, The Wheel of Time books are thick, super involved high fantasy books that begs for patience and comfort. I will go back and upgrade the first three books one day. But since I am still on book nine, I'll wait until I finish the series to do so. (I'm telling myself that barely legal lie.)

Anyway, the key question now is when will I pick the series back up again? I have been having a hankering for them (or at least to see what Rand, Mat and Nynaeve are up to).
And whenever that feeling comes knocking, I know it is almost time to cross the threshold back into The Wheel of Time. Either way, I am committed. I made it through book seven, A Crown of Swords, with complete relit enthusiasm for the books. I made it over a hurdle, and enjoyed book eight as well. However, I stalled again on book nine, Winter’s Heart. This is the “heart” of the so called “slog”. But if I can push through that one, as well as the following book, I will supposedly be good to go with the rest of the series. As readers have stated, books eleven to the end are sensational.

the slight bowing in my shelf holding the series up shows I am a dedicated fan.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

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