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Review: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (Book 2: The First Law)

Hey everyone, Werner here.

When I read The Blade Itself, I was completely blown away. It was a success on every level – the story-line, the pace, but most of all the characters. It had everything that I look for in fantasy. So I was a little hesitant when it became time for book two. I had it so built up in my head and, hearing what other people had said, I wondered if the book would reach expectations. It did, boy did it…

The story picks up where it left off with the Union fighting a war on two fronts and a quieter war within. In Dagoska, the cripple questioner Sand dan Glokta is sent as the new Superior after the previous one disappears. His objective? Find out what happened, and keep Dagoska out of Gurkish hands. Glokta is only too happy to do this as years ago the Gurkish Empire tortured him and he has no intention of repeating the experience.

Win or lose, it doesn’t mater, all he knows is they will never take him alive again. In Angland the Union faces Bethod, the new ‘crowned’ king of the north. Marshal Burr is given the command and with his aide, Collem West, they need to stop the northmen. This is harder as it sounds – the dandy Ladisla, who is also the crown price of the Union, wants glory and, if given his way, West might not make it home. They meet some northmen who are not under the sway of Bethod, northmen who know the area and Bethod better than the Union. Northmen who once fought with Logen Ninefingers the most feared and hated man in the north.

And where is the Bloody nine? He is traversing the Old Empire with Bayaz, the first of the Magi, looking for something…

I enjoyed ever second of this book. It keeps the pace and complexity we have come to expect from Joe, and the characters, all of them, are some of the best drawn I have had the pleasure to read in quite some time.

But the most important thing to me was that they grow and change with the story, which they do. They are people that can make mistakes and some make big ones, and then they redeem themselves in the most unexpected ways. The story and characters are gritty and unapologetic, dark and beautiful at the same time, just like life.

If you are looking for something that’s just that little different, just that little more, then this might be for you.

8/10

Before They Are hanged

To order your copies of Before They Are Hanged, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And don’t forget to check out Joe’s website here.

P.S. I was asked a question the other day: If I could choose five people to have dinner with, alive or dead, who would it be? Well, if I could have chosen fictional people then Glokta, Logen and West would have made the cut. Though with Glokta there we probably would only have soup.

Werner

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Canticle by Ken Scholes (Psalms of Isaak Book 2)

A few years ago I was given Lamentation to read. At that stage it was a book that most people I knew were talking about. So, as you can imagine I was really looking forward to reading this book. I have to say that it was not as great as everyone kept saying and I found myself a little disappointed – though I will say that I could see the potential in the story. I had gotten book 2 and 3 at the same time and for a long while they just sat on my shelf. So with book 4 on the way I decided to read book 2 and later 3 so I would be ready when 4 dropped.

Now I can say after reading Canticle that I am angry with myself for leaving such a good book unread for that long! The potential I found in the first book comes out and punches you in the face! His writing is clear, the vision crystal and the flow so natural that hours pass around you without you being aware of it. The surprises in this book are so varied that I gave up trying to plot what would happen next, because just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, Ken kicks you in the stomach and laughs while you try to figure out what’s going on.

This book finds Rudolfo – The Gypsy King, trying to rebuild the library that was destroyed in the desolation of Windwir. At his disposal he has Isaak, friend and metal man with others like him who have locked in their memory scrolls most of the information that was lost. His wife Jin Li Tam is desperate to find a cure for he sickly son and will stop at nothing to find it.

Petronus moves back to his small hut in Caldus Bay hoping to find some quite so he can find the enemy none knew they had. Neb joins the gypsy scouts and when word reaches them of sanctorum lux they move with haste to the churning wastes, the ruins of the old world, to get there before anyone else does. Neb needs to go as he is, according to the queen of the Marchvolk, the home-seeker and this is his destiny – little does he know that some out there would see him as a abomination. While he struggles in the wastes the queen has some problems of her own. She is struggling to hold on to her people and the cause my be closer than they all realize.

8/10

canticle-by-ken-scholes

 

Canticle

And what of Vlad Li Tam? Ill just say this…what the hell!?

If you haven’t discovered the Named Lands yet then then jump on the wagon, we all must help to preserve the light.

For more info on Ken Scholes and his work, check out his official website here; to order your copies of Canticle, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa.

Werner

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Review: Fade to Black by Francis Knight – Rojan Dizon Book 1

They say not to judge a book by it’s cover. That is true, for with Fade to Black even though the cover drew my attention the story struggled to keep it. It felt a bit like paint by numbers where plot points were being ticked of a list.

Rojan Dizon is a bounty-hunter in the city of Mahala, a city ruled by the opressive Ministry. The Ministry is the new ruler after they did away with the old regime. Pain mage’s use to rule using their magic to fuel the city. The Ministry replaced their magic with ‘synth’ but people started dying slow, horrible deaths so ‘synth’ was replaced by the cleaner, safer ‘glow’. Rojan himself is a pain mage and that makes him good at his job.

Rojan I found was the stereotypical male detective / bounty-hunter. Womanising, likes beer and generally rough around the edges. The story kicks off when his brother’s daughter is kidnapped and Rojan is put on the case to find her. His search takes him into the bowels of Mahala.

I really liked the city as it is a character in its own right, and no matter where you are in the story, the city is there always looming around and above you.

The story read like a YA book though some of the themes makes it unsuitable for that group of readers. All in all I was a bit disappointed as I read a blurb promising a combination of “the fantastic imagination of China Miéville with the murky atmosphere of Sin City.” and it just fell short.

5 / 10

Fade-to-Black

Werner

To order your copies of Fade to Black, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And don’t forget to check out Francis Knight’s official website here. You can also read an excerpt from the first chapter of Fade to Black here.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Review: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – Book 1 of Raven’s Shadow

Let me just start off by saying that it has been a long time since I picked up a book and halfway through didn’t wonder what was going on in the other books on my shelf. Also been a long time since I was mad at an author for writing only 500 odd pages and not 800. I’m talking about Blood Song the first book in the Raven’s Shadow.

The story focuses on Vaelin Al Sorna whose father abandons him at the gate of the Sixth Order of the Faith. The Sixth Order being the military arm of the Faith where he starts his training to become a brother of the Order. Training that has seen many a young boy dead and only hardened men emerge.

There are many people he meets though his training and travels, some with more definition to them than others, though my favorite was King Janus as I’m still not sure if he is mad or a genius or if I like or hate him, and his daughter… well like father like eh..daughter. The faith-aspect in this book is different from what I have seen (God is a lie) but it felt normal, since there are both good and bad people in the faith; it’s not bad in itself. The structure is straight forward and the different orders intriguing in the roles they inhabit within the faith.

The book begins where it ends and that made it fun for me. You know were Vaelin will end up, but how he gets there was what made it so much fun. He is given a lot of names by other people e.g. Hope Killer, and the names alone show that there is still a lot that Vaelin has to do (If you believe in prophecy that is).

The world they inhabit (The Unified Realm) feels cold and hard, like we always think the north would be. Even though 90% of the book plays off in the Unified Realm there is not a lot that you know about it and the rest of this world even less. That being said the ending of the book shows that we will learn more about what threatens them and that there will be more traveling that should fill in the blanks.

8 / 10

                                                    Blood Song Anthony Ryan

 

Well that’s it for now, I don’t want to give too much away with this one as the journey of discovery is really worth it. Just one more thing…READ IT

Werner

To order you copies, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. Also, don’t forget to check out Anthony’s official blog.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Reviews

 

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