Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch

(June 2014) Fantasy

Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies is the sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I loved the first book, and enjoyed this one too.

I didn’t think this second book was as good as the first, it wasn’t as fresh, the plot wasn’t as tight, and it didn’t have the same impact.

It was still good (better than most fantasy books) but Lynch wasn’t able to keep the incredibly high standard of the first.

I just downloaded the third, so I hope he gets his mojo back 🙂

Recommended if you liked the first: 8/10

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

(June 2014) Fantasy

lies of locke lamora

This was a real treat. Inventive, charming, gritty fantasy.

The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, is the first in yet another unfinished series (the Gentlemen Bastards). It feels a bit like Prince of Thorns crossed with Oceans Eleven. A really fun concept (gang of swindlers in a city that has no concept of the big con).

Lynch manages to build an intricate and detailed fantasy setting for his likable characters to run around it. It’s pretty grim at times too, but the overall tone is not as dark as some of the books I have been reading recently.

Definitely recommended. Overall score 8.5/10

I’m in the middle of the second book now and have no doubt I’ll be reading the third by next week 🙂

Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson

(April 2014) Fantasy

Words of Radiance

Now, you may have noticed that I am a big Brandon Sanderson fan (this blog might as well be called Ben’s Brandon Sanderson Appreciation Page).

I read The Way of Kings almost three years ago and loved it. It was a very impressive first novel of a planned 10-book series, but I only found out about the rest of the series after I finished it, otherwise I might not have started (had bad experiences with Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones)…

Well, book two came out this month. Words of Radiance takes the world and characters introduced in the first book and builds on them. The story really progresses, and by the end of the book Sanderson has dialed the intensity up to 11.

I really enjoyed the book, but I find it hard to see how he is going to keep this up for another eight books. Also, he is spreading himself so thin with other projects (the Steelheart project, the Rithmatist project, etc.) that I can see this taking another twenty years to finish.

I wish I could just give up on this series. I can tell it’s going to frustrate me immensely. The thing is, it’s also really good. Sigh.

Overall score 9/10

I need a Brandon Sanderson version of this song:

Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and Red Country – Joe Abercrombie

(April 2014) Fantasy

I loved The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Somewhat predictably, I then went on a binge and read all his other books. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the first two I read as much as the original trilogy. The last one, though, made up for it 🙂

Best Served Cold

Best Served Cold

Best Served Cold starts off well with a brutal couple of scenes and a strong hook. It also gives us a strong cast of characters and fast-paced action.

The first third was great, but after that a couple of things started to annoy me. One was that Abercrombie seemed to be trying to cram in every single main character from the First Law Trilogy into the books. A lot of the time it seemed a bit forced.

I also didn’t like the deus ex machina style ending. The book isn’t bad, but it doesn’t live up to the promise of his initial writing.

Overall score:
Best Served Cold: 7/10

The Heroes

The Heroes

The Heroes was much better written than Best Served Cold above. It reads well and introduces a great bunch of northern characters. The plot builds well and keeps the reader engaged.

The problem with the book is that it ends really suddenly. It’s clearly going to be continued, but it left me very unsatisfied.

Overall score:
The Heroes 7/10

Red Country

Red Country

Red Country was a pleasant surprise after the last two books. It combines the best parts of both of them and comes close to the first trilogy in quality.

It brings back some old favourite characters and throws in a completely brutal plot that surprised me a few times. A great read.

Overall score:
Red Country 9/10

The Giver – Lois Lowry

(April 2014) Young adult / SF / Social commentary

The Giver

I read The Giver a couple of days ago. It seems to be very popular among teenagers and teachers in the US, but I wasn’t particularly impressed.

Don’t get me wrong. The Giver is a well-written book with an interesting concept and a well-develop world. It starts off really well and develops in a very interesting fashion. The problem I had with it was the ending.

I felt like the book ended abruptly without resolving things. I also interpreted the ending differently to how Wikipedia does. My take on it was a lot more brutal.

The film is due to come out soon, so it might be interesting to see how Hollywood decides to end it.

In short, this is an interesting book, but not quite good enough to make me want to read the sequels, although I do welcome dissenting opinions, particularly from people who have read all four books. 7/10

Day Soldiers – Brandon Hale

(April 2014) Young adult / Vampires&Werewolves

Day Soldiers

 

Day Soldiers, by Brandon Hale, is dreadful. It’s so bad that I am not even going to link to it. You can search for it on Amazon (it’s free at the moment), but I wouldn’t recommend doing so.

I started reading Day Soldiers last night and after a dozen pages knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I almost never abandon books though, so I read the next three chapters just to make sure.

It got worse.

If I had to describe this book, I would say it kind of reads like someone watched the Blade movies, then decided to write fan fiction about them. Except with more teenagers and cooler werewolves, all of whom alternate between being hairy beasts and flawlessly beautiful naked humans…

I want my twenty minutes back.

I failed to find any redeeming features in this book. If you want to try to do better, it’s free on Kindle at the moment. 2/10

The First Law Trilogy – Joe Abercrombie

(March 2014) Fantasy

The First Law Trilogy

The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie is gritty fantasy, very much in the same vein as Game of Thrones or The Broken Empire Trilogy. If you liked either of those works, you’ll probably enjoy this too.

I read all three books last month over just a couple of days, so I am going to review it as a whole rather than breaking it down into the individual books.

Really strong characters (I particularly liked Glokta), a compelling story, and actually unexpected plot twists made this an ‘I must read now’ experience for me (which is why I finished the whole trilogy in just a few days).

The Blade Itself

If you’re not sure, start with the first book The Blade Itself and see if you like it. You’ll save about three dollars if you buy the set though 🙂

Before They Are HangedLast Argment of Kings

Overall score: 9/10