r The Farceur Trilogy

The Farceur Trilogy

Mostly reviews of fantasy and sci-fi books, oftentimes romantic fantasy and sci-fi, with a little of this and a little of that thrown in for good measure.

REVIEW: A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin

It took me two years to finish this book from start to finish. 

Two. Years.

In contrast, it took me about two weeks to finish (all of) Books 1-3 in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.

That alone should sum up my feelings for A Feast for Crows, but, lest I one day forget why I dislike this book so much and decide to give it another read-through, I'm going to put the issues I had with it into detail here.

For those of you that enjoy the ASoIaF series, like I do (did?), you may remember that A Storm of Swords ended with a bang. 

Tyrion freaking kills his father (and Shea) and escapes from King's Landing.

(show spoiler)


Naturally, the main thing I wanted to know going into A Feast for Crows is, what's going to happen to Tyrion? And, being the fan-favorite character that he is, I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

So, what does Martin do? Write a book that contains absolutely no Tyrion. Zero. Nada. None. And, beyond that, it's also lacking chapters about other main characters, such as Jon Snow, Daenerys, and Bran. Somehow, Martin couldn't seem to fit these characters into the 1,000+ pages he produced, because he had to make room for a bunch of slog instead.

Essentially, in A Feast for Crows, you follow the stories of:
-Samwell Tarly (zzzzzzz…)
-Cersei Lannister (urge… to kill… rising…)
-Sansa Stark (aka Alayne, aka zzzzzzz...)
-Jaime Lannister
-Brienne of Tarth
-Arya Stark
-A bunch of people from the Iron Islands (zzzzzzz...)
-Some folks from Dorne (okay, I admit, I actually kind of enjoyed these chapters)
-Occasional other random people (zzzzzzz...)

In writing, there's something known as the "Iceberg Theory," in which the author only presents you with a glimpse of the world (s)he has created - this being the 1/8 of the iceberg that's above water - while there's a lot of story and world-building beneath the surface that the author knows, which is omitted from the reader. 

I've come to appreciate the necessity of the Iceberg Theory after reading A Feast for Crows, in which Martin finds it necessary to substitute chapters about characters that we actually care for with chapters about everything else going on in Westeros. There's just so much stuff in this book that we really don't need to see first-hand. For example, are you curious about what's going on in the Iron Islands? No? Well, too bad, because instead of finding out what happened to Tyrion, you'll be getting a lot of krakenny antics shoved down your throat! Fun, right?

In addition to suffering through the entire iceberg of Westeros, you get chapters about total snooze-worthy characters, such as Sam Tarly and Sansa, as well as sooooooo many chapters from the point of view of Cersei. The Cersei chapters alternate between mind-numbingly boring small council discussions, to testing the reader's patience on just how much they can tolerate a loathsome character such as Cersei.

Then, when it came to the characters I actually do like (Arya, Jaime, and kind of Brienne), I honestly didn't find their chapters to be much more compelling. They just seemed so aimless. Really, for a 1,000+ page book, it seems that nothing interesting or significant happens until you get close to the very end.

The only thing that got me through this book was the urge to keep ahead of the HBO show, and encouragement from other ASoIaF fans, telling me that A Dance with Dragons (the next book in the series) gets the series back to its earlier glory. Spoiler alert: 

It doesn't.

(show spoiler)

If you can find a way to avoid this book (you can find out what happens on the HBO show, you can read the chapter summaries in the ASoIaF wiki, you can quit on the series altogether), then great. If you're going to force yourself to read it anyway… well, then, good luck. You're going to need it.

Hello, from off the face of the Earth!


Hi everyone!


I know that I disappeared off the face of the Earth. I do that sometimes. But, I'm back.


I've gone through a bunch of posts on my feed, which reminded me of how much I missed this place and all of the folks that I follow. Now I have to go and write/post a bunch of reviews for the books that I read while I was MIA.


So, for anyone that remembers me, hello again! For anyone that doesn't, please carry on, nothing to see here.

REVIEW: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings ... well now, this book is kind of hard to describe. It's not an easy book to summarize, or review. I'm not even going to attempt to write a synopsis here. It's a book where a lot seems to happen, while not much seems to happen at the same time. What I mean by that is, I almost view this book as 1,000 pages of exposition for The Stormlight Archive series, which is meant to include 10 books in total, probably all of a similar length.

This is not the kind of book that necessarily feels rewarding to read in-and-of-itself. However, one of the recurring themes in the book is "Journey before Destination," and I feel like that is a perfect way to describe this book. It's not about the destination, whatever that will eventually be. It's about the journey. Once I was able to come to grips with that, and stopped expecting more of a standard book structure, I was able to enjoy the book a lot more.

And enjoy it I did. It's strange, as there isn't really much payoff - how can there be without a "destination," so to speak? There were just too many (intentional) loose ends here to feel satisfied with the conclusion. Yet, the book was satisfying in so many other ways. I was never bored, and I never felt that the story was dragging. I just enjoyed the ride, including the characters and their stories, the world and its magic.
“People see in stories what they’re looking for, my young friend.”
I grew very attached to the characters and their plights, even though it took me longer to warm up to some characters than others. As for the world, Roshar - there is so much going on, and so much is still unknown. I always talk about world-building when I read Sanderson, because I think that this (including the creation of his magic systems) is his true strength. Being a 1,000 page book, there is a lot of world-building (as you might expect), but there is also a lot that's still unexplained. The reader is ultimately left with many more questions than answers. The history of Roshar is a black hole, still waiting to be discovered, presumably in future books.

So, yeah, The Way of Kings. You're either in it for the long haul, or you're not. You'll either enjoy the journey, or hate the lack of destination. You'll either trust Sanderson to take you on a great ride, or you'll resent the fact that he needs 10,000 pages to be able to accomplish this.

I won't lie. There is a part of me that craves the answers and conclusions that weren't provided in The Way of Kings - hence the four stars and not five. For the most part, though, I'm putty in Sanderson's hands. It definitely helps that I've read and loved most of Sanderson's other works, and so I trust him as an author. If this was my first Sanderson book, I think that I might be a lot more annoyed, skeptical, or angry. So, I don't recommend this book for people as their first Sanderson work, and I certainly don't recommend this for people who don't want to go on a 10,000 page journey with him. Also, I should warn you that this entire book has a depressing tone and feel to it.

I do, however, recommend this to people who love epic/high fantasy, and who don't mind a "slow burn" type of storytelling.

Journey before Destination, indeed. And I'm ready to continue the journey with Sanderson in Words of Radiance.

DNF Anxiety

Why do I have DNF (or "Did Not Finish") anxiety when it comes to books? It's so hard for me to commit to DNFing a book. Does anyone else have this issue?


I actually created a shelf called "Hiatus" for books I can't get through, because that implies that I might actually finish them at some point.


I currently have three books on my "Hiatus" shelf.


(1) A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (20% finished) --- This one, I'm actually planning to finish at some point, only because I want to continue on in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. But this book has been a struggle.

(2) The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen's Race to the South Pole (Modern Library Exploration) The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen's Race to the South Pole by Roland Huntford (53% finished) --- This one, I'm planning to finish, too. I just haven't been in the mood for this kind of book recently.


(3) The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1) The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1) by Cinda Williams Chima (33% finished) --- Now this one... to be honest, I have a hard time psyching myself up to continue this. I actually moved this from "Hiatus" to "Abandoned" (that's my DNF shelf) on Goodreads recently, and then, minutes later, after a bout of DNF anxiety, put it back to "Hiatus." I told myself that, the next weekend, I would spend a couple hours on it, giving it one last try. (This was weeks ago, and I still have not touched it.) I'm having a hard time committing to the DNF because so many other people liked this book, and loved the Seven Realms series.


As for my "Abandoned" shelf - I only have *one* book on there - Endgame (Sirantha Jax #6) by Ann Aguirre. And that book was truly, truly terrible (not just incredibly boring like The Demon King and A Feast for Crows). And even then, I DNF'd at 22% but skimmed the last 78%.


I see people DNF books all the time and I have DNF envy. I mean, it makes sense - with so little time in our lives, and so many books to read, why waste time reading a book that you're not enjoying? But ack, why do I have so much trouble doing it, then?


Am I alone here :P


My kind of romance
My kind of romance

Goodreads hasn't been anyone's favorite place lately, but I do love what it has recommended for me based on my "Romance" shelf. Goodreads seems to know that my true love is space. Naturally when I'm in the mood for romance, I'd pick up a Scalzi book (I'm not even being completely sarcastic right now). I'm happy with whatever algorithm led GR there.


P.S. - I'd be really impressed if there was a dinosaur book recommendation in there too, since dinosaurs are my other love.

Reading progress update: I've read 499 out of 1001 pages.

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson

Woohoo, halfway mark! (Well, close enough, math sticklers.)


So, I'm enjoying this book, but I'm kind of waiting for the following:


(1) To find out what it's about? Yeah folks, 499 pages in, and I'm still not quite sure. It just kind of seems like four completely separate stories right now. I'm not going to hold this against the book just yet, but I hope that it comes together with some sort of focus eventually.  The stories don't have to converge or anything, I just want to know the point of them. I have faith in Sanderson, though. The Mistborn trilogy taught me that the man is a master weaver. (BTW, if you've read this before, and I'm "missing the point" or something, feel free to let me know.)


(2) To get more emotionally invested. Maybe I just have high expectations for Sanderson after sobbing like a baby upon finishing The Hero of Ages - I mean, it did take an entire trilogy to get me that invested, after all. But, I want to feel like this 1,000 page investment has some sort of emotional payoff. I'm not saying it needs to make me cry, mind you - just that I want to really feel something, anything, on a deeper level than "this is enjoyable".

I am NIGHTCRAWLER - boo ya!

Which Member Of The X-Men Are You?

You got: Nightcrawler
Ed McGuinness/Marvel Comics

You don’t have an easy life, but that doesn’t keep you from having an optimistic outlook on life. You’re kind and generous to all, and know how to have fun even when things seem very bleak.

REVIEW: The Martian

The Martian - Andy Weir

Note: This was a buddy read with the ever-wonderful Me Grimlock King!. She was nice enough to let me choose the book for our BR, and for that reason, I think it was more up my alley than hers (*understatement*). Regardless, thanks for reading with me, Grim!




I went into my read of The Martian with pretty high expectations. Everyone I know who has read it has had some pretty lofty opinions of it.

As I started it, I could immediately see why. This book, which tells the (fictional) tale of a stranded astronaut on Mars named Mark Watney, sucks you in immediately. I mean, here's how it starts:

I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.


However, as I was reading The Martian, I started to become a little wary. Yes, Mark's plight and his efforts to survive were interesting, but it started feeling a little one-note. All of the hard science included was cool, but it didn't necessarily help the book with regard to the "riveting" factor. I started to think that this was a book that I would end up being the "odd man out" on, enjoying it to a degree but not understanding why it's so beloved.

Well, after finishing it, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. Turns out, this was a great damn book.

Now, with that said, it's not for everyone. You probably have to enjoy survival stories, and you have to at least be able to tolerate, if not like, hard science. It would also help to have at least some interest in sci-fi, space, astronauts, and that sort of thing.

But, when it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure that I've never wanted a fictional character to live as much as I wanted Mark Watney to live. Following the story to find out whether he ultimately makes it or not is completely nail-biting. It's stressful. I'm not kidding - I had stress dreams about this book (it probably didn't help that I had a fever at the time, but I digress).

Initially, as stated above, I thought the story was going to be one-note, but once it ventures away from the diary-style writing and shows what's happening on Earth, the change of pace is refreshing. I still loved the stuff from Mark's point-of-view of course, but it was nice for that to not be the whole book.

I'm also super impressed by Andy Weir's knowledge of the subject matter, and the research it must have taken to write this book. (Then again, he could have made 95% of it up and I'd be none the wiser, but hey, at least it sounded really impressive!)

As I got about 50% into this book, I couldn't put it down. I needed to know what was going to happen to Mark. The things he did in the story to try to survive were amazing (I'm sure if I were in Mark's position, I would have given up and taken the morphine shots), and I had to find out what it all amounted to.


If I had one "complaint," if you could call it that, I just wish that there was more. I wish that there was an epilogue to tell the events of what happened after the book's story ended. I kept pathetically hitting the "forward" button on my Kindle when I was done, just wishing, hoping, and believing that there had to be more.

(show spoiler)


So yes, great book. Riveting. Compelling. Suspenseful. Go read it.

My first buddy read!

The Martian - Andy Weir

I'm starting The Martian by Andy Weir, my first ever buddy read, with Me Grimlock King!


I've heard great things about this book, so I'm pretty excited. I just hope that I'm not hyping it up too much in my head.

REVIEW: On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, #1)

On Basilisk Station 20th Anniversary - David Weber

What can I say, this book just didn't do it for me. Although the ending was pretty exciting, the majority of On Basilisk Station was just too slow-paced and dull for my liking. It took me a while to make myself finish this.


On Basilisk Station is a space opera that follows the command of Honor Harrington on the HMS Fearless in the Royal Manticoran Navy. The HMS Fearless has been exiled to Basilisk Station, a humiliating post which Honor's crew holds against her, despite the assignment being no real fault of her own. Honor must find a way to rally her crew, deal with the situations arising from the only habitable planet in the system, put a stop to the prevalent smuggling going on under the RMN's nose, and figure out what the star-conquering Republic of Haven is up to.


The best thing about this book is Honor Harrington herself. She's a strong, capable, and competent female character, and despite the number of issues she has to deal with, she's not a complainer - she's a problem solver. As great as she is, though, her character isn't enough to carry the book.


I thought that On Basilisk Station had a lot of potential, especially as I was reading the early chapters, but it just seemed to fizzle. For one, there's Weber's luxurious writing style, which seems to go into exquisite detail on every little thing. For example, here's a passage from a battle scene:

The missile belched from Fearless's number two missile tube and sped ahead at an acceleration of 417 KPS2, building on Fearless's own velocity of just over eighteen thousand kilometers per second. It could have accelerated twice as fast, but reducing its acceleration to 42,500 g raised its small impeller's burnout time from one minute to three, which not only gave it three times the maneuvering time but increased its terminal velocity from rest by almost fifty percent.

Is there a more boring way to write about a missile being fired?


Weber also has a tendency to start chapters in the points-of-view of entirely new secondary characters, most of whom hadn't even been mentioned in the book previously, some of whom would never be mentioned in the book again. I always found myself groaning when a chapter would yet again start this way, as I got extremely bored having to suffer through the POVs of these characters.


There were also a lot of shifts in POVs within chapters, and sometimes (in my Kindle ebook version at least), there was no space between paragraphs to denote the change. I found this especially confusing at the end, when the POV was continually shifting between people on different ships. One second we are seeing things through Honor's eyes, while in the next we are seeing them through the eyes of a captain of an entirely different ship, with no visual queues to mark that this was happening.


I also wish there had been a glossary included, or at least an appendix with a who's who of characters. There were so many secondary characters (for example, all the officers on Honor's crew), and it was impossible to remember which character was responsible for what on her ship, so I eventually gave up even trying. Furthermore, the majority of these secondary characters had no personalities or differentiating characteristics, making it even more difficult to tell them apart.


It should have been more sad than it was when some of the characters lost their lives. Yet, since there was not a lot of character development outside of the characters' jobs on the ship, the deaths that occurred were nowhere near as devastating as they should have or could have been.

(show spoiler)


All in all, I think this book had a lot of potential that it didn't quite live up to. After reading On Basilisk Station, I personally have no desire to continue on in the Honor Harrington series.

This Chicago Weather is Killing My Audiobook Experience

I'm not sure if any of you know how bad this winter has been in Chicago, but let's just say it's been spirit-crushingly cold. I know it's been the same way elsewhere as well.


I have to walk a lot during the day to get to/from work, which I love because it gives me a lot of time to listen to my audiobooks.


But this winter, I can't seem to concentrate on my audiobooks at all while walking in the Chicago cold. All I can think is "Brrrrrrrr, shiver, brrrrrrr, gahhhhhh! Brrrrrrr," and the next thing I know, I haven't been able to concentrate on a good five minutes of audiobook. Then, I have to make the decision on whether it's worth it to take off my gloves in the freezing weather, in order to rewind the book on my phone.


I know, I know, "First World Problems" and all that - but are any other audiobook lovers having this issue during this brutal winter?


(And if you live someplace where it's warm and wonderful all the time, please don't rub it in :P)

Getting to Know Me (aka My Grim List)

I'm late to the party, as per usual, but I decided to do my own "Grim List" and post 10 things about me.



So, here it goes:


(1) I’m pretty passionate about everything. I generally tend to either “love” or “hate” something (at least in the moment), and there’s not much middle ground.


(2) I have two questions that I tend to ask people that I will potentially be good friends with, just to see if we'll “click,” and those two questions are: [1] Which Fieval movie do you prefer: An American Tail or Fieval Goes West?; and [2] Do you prefer Reese’s Pieces or Peanut Butter M&Ms? For people who don’t answer “An American Tail” and “Peanut Butter M&Ms,” I then head into the relationship more skeptically (although a few of said people are now some of my closest friends, for what it's worth).



(3) I want to die in space. If there was an asteroid coming toward Earth and they needed volunteers to go on a suicide mission to blow it up, I would volunteer. This is not because I’m heroic, but because I want the view of Earth from space to be the last thing I see before I die.


(4) I love dinosaurs. I’m an paralegal in real life, but if I could go back and re-do my life, I’d be a paleontologist. It seems like a nerdy field, which I love, plus, <3DINOSAURZZZ<3.


(5) I'm a gamer. Video games are like interactive books, and for me, they provide the same level of “escapism” enjoyment as books do. Story-driven games appeal to me the most, so I prefer RPGs, but that includes pretty much any kind of RPG (although my absolute favorites are Strategy RPGs). My top series is the Fire Emblem series, and every time a Fire Emblem game comes out, I get ridiculously happy. I also love quirky Japanese games like the Gyakuten Saiban or Ace Attorney series (which is how I got into the law field for my profession to begin with, hah), and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, etc.



(6) As the years go on, I'm getting more and more introverted. I’m not sure if this is a result of being more comfortable with being by myself, or being less comfortable being with people. (Probably a little of both.) I hate going to places where there are a lot of people or big crowds.


(7) I’m not good in romantic relationships. For one, I have huge commitment issues. Also, I can’t imagine ever liking someone so much that I’d want to spend as much time with them as is required by being in a serious relationship.


(8) My favorite foods, in no particular order, are: steak, pizza, nachos, and peanut butter. (Yep no healthy foods make my favorites list, though pineapple is close to being there.) My favorite saying is: "Every pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself."



(9) I want to live in Scotland one day. I did my study abroad there in college, and I’m convinced that it’s the most beautiful country in the world. I also thought the people there were, for the most part, pretty damn awesome.


(10) I love 80’s music (as cheesy as it is), and I love karaoke. Put the two together, mix in some alcoholic beverages, and I’m in heaven.


REVIEW: Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain

Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain - A. Lee Martinez



Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain is a charming and humorous read. The story centers around Emperor Mollusk, a native of Neptune, who's a supervillain (but not really the overly evil type), mad genius, and the former Warlord of Earth. Now that he's already accomplished world domination, though, he's finding himself somewhat bored and unchallenged in his life. Fortunately (or, unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), an up-and-coming megalomaniac doesn't plan to let Mollusk have an easy, boring retirement.

In its essence, Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain is smart, clever, and ridiculous, which of course makes for a great combination.

"So you admit it then. Deep down, in your heart-"

"Neptunons don't have hearts. We circulate our blood via a system not unlike osmosis. Even if we had hearts, we'd avoid assigning them any functions outside of a strict biological design. So you are probably trying to appeal to my basal ganglia."

This book is a fun ride, I'll give it that. I particularly loved that nothing seemed "too ludicrous" to be out of reach in this book, and it was never afraid to stretch the limits of ridiculousness.

The main issue here, though, is that it's kind of one-note. That doesn't matter as much when you're enjoying the particular note, as I was, but the result is that the book isn't as memorable as it should have been. Even though it's funny, all of the humor is derived from Mollusk's sarcastic, clever, and/or condescending thoughts and remarks. For most of the story, his unwilling Venusian bodyguard Zala plays "the straight man" character, and even though the dynamic between Mollusk and Zala is humorous, it eventually starts to feel a bit formulaic. This book doesn't have the comedic depth, say, of something like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Even the plot seems a bit formulaic, with Mollusk consistently getting himself into and out of perilous jams.

Regardless, deep down in my basal ganglia, I think that this is a fun read that I'd recommend to anyone looking for something light and humorous in the sci-fi genre.

REVIEW: Warbreaker (Warbreaker, #1)

Warbreaker (Sci Fi Essential Books) - Brandon Sanderson

I really struggled with myself over whether to go with 3.5 or 4.0 stars on this one - 3.5 somehow seems to be too few, while 4.0 seems to be too much. I finally settled on 3.5 because I felt that this book, while great, had a few glaring issues, which I think are more accurately reflected by the 3.5 star value.

Ahem. Anyway.

Warbreaker takes place in a city of gods, the city of T'Telir, which is the capital of the kingdom of Hallandren. Siri, who is a princess from the kingdom of Idris, has been sent to Hallandren to wed its God King (Susebron). Despite the marriage, tensions of war are brewing between Hallandren and Idris, as the two kingdoms are like oil and water, with a lot of religious/political/historical factors dividing them. Meanwhile, Vivenna (Siri's sister) goes to Hallandren to try and rescue Siri from her fate.

Now, let's talk about the world-building. Those of you familiar with Sanderson's works will know that the man always shines in world-building, and Warbreaker is no exception. The book features a complex magic system, as well as a fascinating religious structure (both of which are closely intertwined to each other). Politics, religion, history, life in the city, and everything else you could need or want to know were comprehensively detailed throughout the story. By the way, I thought that one of the coolest (and strangest) things about this world was the sentient, talking sword, Nightblood. It makes me insanely happy that the sequel to this book (which we probably won't see for like, 5 years at least, with all the projects Sanderson has lined up) is called Nightblood.

Speaking of, the book sets itself up wonderfully for a sequel, while at the same time tying up most of its loose ends. I always appreciate when an author does this - that is, leaves me wanting more, without making me dependent on it for closure.


The book also had some amazing characters, my absolute favorite being one of the "Returned" gods of T'Telir, Lightsong. [He might take the crown from Kelsier (from the Mistborn series) as being my all-time favorite Sanderson character, but really, it's so hard to choose!] The main reason that Lightsong is so beloved by readers is his witty sense of humor, which Sanderson pens wonderfully.

“I swear, my dear. Sometimes our conversations remind me of a broken sword."

She raised an eyebrow.

"Sharp as hell," Lightsong said, "but lacking a point.”

(Hmmm... sounds kind of like my reviews! Well, at least the "lacking a point" part.)

Lightsong's story arc, though, is also brilliantly done, and was (in my opinion) the only story arc in the book to be handled completely perfectly.

So yes, there were a lot of really spiffy things about Warbreaker, and predominantly it was a great book, but, let's face it - this book also had a lot of issues.

One being, the characters. Wait, what?!? But I just said earlier that the characters were amazing! What I actually said, though, was that there were some amazing characters. At the same time, I thought there were some not-so-great characters. Susebron (the God King), for example - I felt that so much more could have been done with his character, but he was basically a snoozefest. I also found myself PO'd with Siri, who started off with so much potential, but didn't turn into the kickass female character that I wanted her to be. Instead, she seemed much more concerned about her own happiness than about the happiness and wellbeing of her people (*both* of her peoples, actually, since she was both a Queen of Hallandren and a Princess of Idris). I mean, that's only human of course, but there was no "growth" out of this way of thinking or internal agonizing about it - this just bugged me, and I expected more from her.

Furthermore, I felt that Warbreaker had a relatively weak over-arching plot. All the Sanderson books I've read (with the exception of The Well of Ascension, maybe) have had strong, clear plotlines. In Warbreaker, though, it just felt like a bunch of stuff was happening, without there being a clear sense of what the "main story" was.

And, finally, here is my biggest gripe about Warbreaker: I had to read the annotations to understand and/or find out things that I think should have been explained more clearly (or in some cases, explained at all) *in the book* itself. While I absolutely love that Sanderson provides chapter-by-chapter annotations for his books, I don't think that the reader should need to read them in order to grasp everything.

There were also some questions I had that didn't seem to be explained by the book *or* the annotations.

Overall, there just seemed to be a lot of gaping holes in Warbreaker. While this didn't ruin my enjoyment of the story, as I still thoroughly liked it, the holes left me from really, truly, loving it like I do with most of the other Sanderson works that I have read.


(Random Note: Way to pick the blandest cover for this book in existence, Booklikes! Normally that wouldn't bother me, but that cover is like the complete antithesis to the spirit of this book!)

REVIEW: The Walking Dead, Compendium 1

The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 - Cliff Rathburn, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman


Okay. I wish that this book hadn't pushed all of my big, red, ragey buttons (to be detailed below), because there was a lot of engaging stuff in here. With that said, rage issues aside, I'd still think that these comics are quite a bit overrated. But yes, they're generally commendable, with some excellent commentary on the true nature of mankind.

Let's start with the good, then.

Like many people, prior to watching the show or reading the comics, I had always thought that the term "The Walking Dead" referred to the zombies. Truly, though? It's the survivors of the zombie apocalypse that are "The Walking Dead."

It's hard to imagine how any of us would act if put into a zombie apocalypse-type situation. If we were thrown into that situation, however, we would have to adapt to survive, and The Walking Dead is a story about humanity's adaptation.

The commentary on this is dark, and let's just say, the results aren't pretty. At some point, it even becomes difficult to tell the difference between the zombies and the monsters that some of the survivors have become. But, are humans and zombies really all the different to begin with?

"We can learn so much from them, y'know -- just by watching them. They've been at it all night. They just don't stop -- they're resilient. They eat until it's gone and then they're content.

I almost admire them.

The thing you have to realize is that they're just us -- they're no different. They want what they want, they take what they want, and after they get what they want -- they're only content for the briefest span of time.

Then they want more."

The questions that these comics pose are fascinating. Is this what humanity would become in a zombie apocalypse? Is it necessary to become a monster to survive? Can evil actions be considered evil when they're necessary to survival? And, once you cross that line, where do you stop?

I feel like the comics press these issues even more than the television show. In the show, I feel like Rick (the main character) tries to hold on to his morality, and struggles greatly over the tough, morally questionable decisions that he's forced to make. In the comics, however, I think that Rick is more of a pragmatist, and although he may not be happy with what he's become, he doesn't anguish over it.

Even though the message posed by the comics is compelling and thought-provoking, there are quite a few dull moments throughout the book. The pacing is just very slow, and while that works sometimes to set the eerie survival-horror mood and atmosphere, it's also sometimes just downright boring. It took me ten months to finish this compendium because I was never dying with need to know what was going to happen next.

I also have some issues with the art - mainly, that a lot of the female characters look too similar. I often had a tough time telling who was who, and had to make a point to remember hairstyles since the facial features looked the same.

Finally, let's get ragey.

I just could not, could not stomach the sexism in these comics. The Walking Dead promotes the idea that, in this kind of survival situation, mankind would adopt more "natural" gender roles. The offensive part is the implication that having the menfolk be in charge is "natural." For example, the survivors create a committee of four men who are in charge of making decisions for the group. It's not the fact that the committee is all men that's offensive, but rather, the way that the women's reaction to this is described.

Rick: “No women?”

Dale: “No, that’s how they wanted it.

Patricia said something. She wanted Lori [Rick's wife] on the committee instead of you. Of course, as soon as she realized on one else, including Lori, agreed with her — she shut up.

I don’t know how Michonnne really feels about it. She’s just happy to be here. She went through hell out there a lot longer than any of us. Lori, Carol, Andrea, Maggie — they all said they wanted us in charge. They figure the four of us have pretty much been making the decisions anyway — but making it official would lift some of the burden off you. But yeah. They’re fine with us making the decisions. Truth be told, it’s not just the women, Glenn [an Asian-American male] feels the same way.

I think they just want to be protected.”

If you don't find this to be incredibly offensive while reading it, then there's probably nothing that I can say here to convince you otherwise. My personal preference in the books I read, however, derives enjoyment in having strong female characters.

Now, that's not to say that there are no strong female characters in The Walking Dead - Andrea is the group's best shot, and Michonne is a true badass. But, the overall message regarding gender roles is, quite frankly, bullshit. I found this to be incredibly frustrating, and it definitely soured my overall enjoyment of the comics.

REVIEW: The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson

I both adored The Emperor's Soul and was frustrated by this book at the same time.

The story revolves around Shai, who has been captured after forging the Emperor's Moon Scepter. "Forging" in this book isn't forging in the sense that you and I understand it in this world (uh, that is to say, the real world). Instead, it's a magic-based process that involves copying, creating, or changing any item by rewriting its history. (It's a bit hard to explain in a synopsis-like fashion, as it's a bit complex, but it's also really cool.) Shai faces execution for her crimes, but is allowed to live under the condition that she forges a new soul for the Emperor, who is alive after an assassination attempt, but lives in a vegetable-like state.

The Emperor's Soul takes place in the same world as Elantris, although honestly, if I hadn't known that before reading it, I might have never made the connection. There are none of the same characters, and the empire/locations in The Emperor's Soul are different than those found in Elantris (although I remember a very brief mention of Svorden and Jindo). The closest connection is the magical system, because like AonDor and Dakhor in Elantris, the Forging in The Emperor's Soul involves using a writing-based technique in order to evoke some sort of extra-normal event.

Although The Emperor's Soul was absolutely beautiful for what it was, I felt that it could have been on another level entirely had it been fleshed out more. Now, keep in mind that this book is only about 175 pages, so it's a short book. It's amazing what Sanderson was able to accomplish given the length of The Emperor's Soul - the story was (more than) aptly told, and the message was powerfully delivered. But yet, there were just some critical things that I felt were missing.

For instance, the books centers around Shai, and we get to know her well by being privy to her thoughts and feelings throughout the story. We never learn much about her past, however, and this vexed me because I was so, so curious! There is one brief scene in which a tiny bit of her past is revealed, and I found it completely fascinating. It just wasn't enough for me. This is just one example, but there's so much more that I wanted to know that I was never able to learn.

With that said, there are a lot of things that I loved about this book. The highlight, for me, was the development of the relationship (*not* romantic) between Shai and Gaotona. I don't want to go into detail on this for spoilerific reasons, but it was just well done and poignant. The nature of Forging was also really cool, and Sanderson used great literary imagery to bring this magic system to life. Finally, the story had the kind of ending that makes you want to take a moment and stop what you're doing, so that you can soak it up and let it ruminate. I don't know if the book's message was particularly strong - at least, it didn't resonate with me, personally - but it certainly felt strong at the time it was delivered.

This also seemed a bit unique in style to the other Sanderson works I've read (Elantris and the Mistborn series), so it was nice to see Sanderson show some versatility.

All in all, this is a wonderful read, but it fell a little short of perfect due to some missing details and it's lack of overall staying power.

Currently reading

Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations) by Michael J. Sullivan
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, Alfred Birnbaum