Friday, January 25, 2013

A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

A Memory of Light which was published by TOR Books on January 8, 2013, is the final installment in the epic fantasy saga, The Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan wrote the first eleven volumes in the series, nearly completing the final volume which was so huge it had to be divided into 3 books.  Unfortunately Robert Jordan passed away before the last book made it out of draft form, and after Jordan's death, Brandon Sanderson, who is famous in his own right for the epic Mistborn series, stepped in and finished the colossal undertaking, writing the final three volumes.
The Blurb:
Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.
When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.
Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
My Review:
I confess, I had my copy on pre order for a l-o-o-ong time, just waiting and drooling for this final installment, so on January 8th I hit the ground running with this book.

First off, if you haven't read the first thirteen books in the series this book will make little sense to you as it is the culmination of many, many storylines. This book is no less complicated than the thirteen books that have preceded it, so I will not be giving you a plot summary.  Instead I am going to give you my impressions and say only that some of my dearly loved characters who should have lived, die, and some who should die, do not.

Each and every one of the main characters have matured and become the sort of leaders we knew they would have to be if they were to succeed at Tarmon Gai'don, the final battle with Shai'tan, who is the personification of evil. I liked that particular twist, and feel vindicated for having stayed with the series even when it went so far afield in The Path of DaggersMost of the many threads are brought together in this volume although  some  threads are never resolved. 
Rand, Mat, and Perrin each fight the battle from a different front, and their stories and unique skills are each central to the final resolution. Logain and Olver both play crucial parts in the last battle. Many minor characters have major parts to play in determining the outcome of Tarmon Gai'don.  The strong roles played by Elayne, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moraine and the other Aes Sedai in this final battle are clear and integral to the success of Rand's bid to win this battle.  Love, loss, sorrow and the immense will to survive are part and parcel of the tapestry Sanderson has woven from Jordan's notes in this very fitting end to a monumental series.
The final battle is nothing less than epic. This encounter between Rand and Shai'tan begins with a contest of morality tales, which in the end determines Rand's course of action.
I shed tears many times, but most especially at the deaths of two important characters in particular, believing they could have accomplished so much had they lived. Yet that is what makes this book and indeed this series so fantastic - the reader CARES about the characters, and this loss makes the outcome more poignant and meaningful.
I liked the way Demandred is finally exposed and introduced into Tarmon Gai'don, and I really enjoyed the plot twist in regard to Taim, now known as M'Hael, and the way he is ultimately dealt with. All of the Forsaken are dealt with in ways both creative and fitting.
In the end, the final resolution is satisfying, and was well worth the journey. There is a large contingent of people who are upset that the epub edition won't be released until April 9, 2013, but this was a choice made by Robert Jordan's widow. I don't buy too many hard copies of books, being a fan of the Kindle, but I did make an exception for this book.   For me, some books need to be in hard copy form and the Wheel of Time Series is one of them, as are the Harry Potter books.

Amazon's reviews are rife with trolls and nay-sayers who couldn't wait to emerge from the woodwork and have their say. Apparently very few of these people purchased the book, much less read it. That is the price of success and these days it's almost an honor to have so many haters just spoiling to knock you down. But their strident caws and self-important rants should have no effect on the true fans of this series. In my humble opinion this work is a masterpiece and is a triumphant finish to the series.
I love Brandon Sanderson's handling of this series finale, and feel I more than got my money's worth from this book, as I will definitely read it again and again; it's that good. If you love this series, you will love the way it ends!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Magnus Opum, Jonathan Gould

Today I am reviewing a fantasy, Magnus Opum published in 2012 by Aussie Jonathan Gould. I didn't know what to think when I began reading this book. It is a bit like Monty Python  and Weird Al Yankovic meet J.R.R. Tolkien at a fraternity party and they all get really, really drunk and decide to write a book.  Needless to say, while it is painfully funny at times, it kept me turning the pages. And I do mean PAINFUL at times, in the way Monty Python can be painful. But still we keep watching it and urging our friends to watch it too.

First off, there is NO blurb for this book, only a list of complimentary comments from reviewers that I won't post here. I admit that put me off, but the cover art is wonderful, very reminiscent of the old Tolkien covers and I always buy a book for it's cover.
The Story:
Magnus Mandalora lives in the small, homely village of Lower Kertoob.  Kertoobis are a bit ridiculous, and are quite given to celebrating the boredom of their regular, predictable lives.  One day Magnus's brother Jangos is stricken with a terrible disease that occasionally strikes the residents of bucolic Kertoob--the Grompets.  This is a terrible thing--it is a case of wanderlust in the highest magnitude.  Magnus's brother goes out into the world to see the sights and for several months his letters home are filled with delight at what he has found. Then one day Jangos's letters simply stop arriving. Magnus's worst fears are realized when he is told by  some wandering Doosies that his brother is dead, ambushed by a band of roving Glurgs.

Glurgs are a race of vile creatures with violent tendencies and apparently have no redeeming qualities.  All the histories of all the world's diverse people involve them being at war with them at some point. After all, anything that ugly and ill-mannered must be evil.

Magnus is overcome with anger at his brother's death, and decides to do something very un-Kertoobish--he decides to go join the war against the Glurgs.

Magnus meets a Cherine named Shaindor, a member of a race of people who are so beautiful it nearly hurts to look at them. Everything about them is beautiful, their art, their city, their faces. They have an army that is poised to go to war with the Glurgs and this is where Magnus's adventures really begin.
The changes Magnus goes through as he discovers the reality behind his most cherished misconceptions and discovers the true beauty of the world he lives in makes for a wonderful adventure.
Jonathan Gould's characters have a real life, even if it is one that is so obviously fantasy.  While you are reading this tale, they will seem real, even if some of the scenery and creatures described make you say "hmmm...."
I enjoyed this free-for-all and reccomend it to anyone who likes a painfully good laugh. 
Magnus Opum is available at for the very reasonable price of $2.99.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Two Moons of Sera, Pavarti K Tyler

Two Moons of Sera  by Pavarti K Tyler is a book released in serial form and is comprised of four volumes, each available for .99 US. This review covers all of them, volumes one through four. Once you come to the end of volume one you will get them all!
The Blurb: Two Moons of Sera Synopsis: In a world where water and earth teem with life, Serafay is an anomaly. The result of genetic experiments on her mother's water-borne line Serafay will have to face the very people responsible to discover who she really is. But is she the only one?

The Story: Sixteen-year-old Serafay and her mother are alone in the world. She has no father, as she was the result of lab experiments carried out on her mother by the technologically advanced land dwelling people, the Erdlanders. Her mother is of the underwater race known as the Sulawet people and was rejected by them when she refused to abort her unborn child. Not welcome in either world, they live in solitude on a forgotten coast.
Sera has many characteristics of the Sulawet people such as webbed toes and the ability to absorb oxygen through her skin. She is completely at home in the ocean. However, she has the long hair of the Erdlanders and needs to occasionally surface and use her lungs.
The two races are eternally at war, and the ocean is a dangerous place. Because of this, Sera is not allowed to forage with her mother when she returns to the sea for food and supplies.
One day while her mother is out foraging, Sera is surprised to meet a young man who is an Erdlander, but is an outcast. She keeps her friend a secret from her mother. As time goes on she finds out his name is Torkek. Tor and Sera develop a close friendship, as the need for comapanionship builds a bond between them.
One day her mother is killed, and Sera is forced to flee. Tor leads her to safety, and to his home.  This is when she discovers he too is an outcast because he is not, as she thought, an Erdlander. She doesn't know what race he is. He has the ability to create fire with his mind. He has been hunted by the Erdlanders all his life, though he'd been briefly adopted by a family.
I LOVED this series.  Sera and Tor are a great couple, and their struggle to find safety takes them to many dangerous places.  Still, they find others like them, others who do not fit in and who are unhappy with the atrocities committed in the name of war.
You won't be able to rest until you have read them all.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winds of Khalakovo, Bradley P. Beaulieu


I am going to begin the year with a book that is not written by an indie author, but is a debut novel of great promise. Published in 2011, Winds of Khalakovo is an adventure from page one until the very last word.  I expect to read great things from the pen of Bradley P. Beaulieu in the future.

Khalakovo, a group of seven mountainous islands is center of trade and is serviced by amazing windships. Khalakovo stands at the crossroads of trade, making them prominent as a world power. Unfortunately, conflict exists between the ruling people, the Landed, and two other cultures, the Aramahn who are indigenous and the Maharraht, a strange, fanatical sect. Making matters worse, a terrible wasting disease has become epidemic.

A meeting of the nine Dukes is planned, but an elemental spirit attacks the windship carrying the Grand Duke, murdering him and all his retinue.

The heir to the scepter of Khalakovo is sent to discover the child who is believed to have performed the summoning, and discovers that the boy is an autistic savant. More importantly, Nikandr believes he holds the key to lifting the blight.

Nikandr suffers from the wasting disease, and the only known possible cure is both illegal and disgusting.  He cares about one woman, but is to be married to another for political reasons. He is not sure how he feels about his intended bride. He knows much intigue goes on in his society, but he knows nothing of what swirls around him, or of what the people he loves are really up to.  Still, he trusts few people, and he keeps many secrets of his own. The way Nikandr handles the various situations he finds himself in is real and honest, and I really liked the way he is written.

Revenge, magic, love, political intrigue and great plot twists – this book has it all.  The scenes are beautifully imagined, and the characters have been given a breath and life that makes them believable. I especially enjoyed the smoothness of the narrative, and found myself reading the book to the exclusion of everything else!  

It is not cheap – even the kindle download is $7.99. But every now and then I will splurge and buy a download that costs a bit more and I am glad I did. The New Year weekend was well spent reading this book. I give it four and a half stars!