Review: Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks
Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows
Brent Weeks
Orbit, 2008

Needless to say spoilers for both The Way of Shadows and Shadow’s Edge lay ahead.  Look out!

In Beyond the Shadows, the final volume of Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy, Kyler Stern has defeated the Godking though it as at a price.  With the horrible truth behind his miraculous revelations reveals Kyler must lay his debts to rest before reunited with his lost love.  Meanwhile Logan Gyre, haven forsaken the the crown for honor, relentlessly pursues the vanguard of  another army invading his homeland.  Yet elsewhere the prophet Darien, having burned out his gift for prophecy in order to escape the goddess Khali, is forced into becoming the new Godking; albeit a Godking with a revisionist agenda.

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Review: Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks

Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks
Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks

Shadows Edge
Brent Weeks
Orbit, 2008

I’m slowly making way back to the multitude of sequels I’ve neglected since starting this blog and I’m starting by reading the last two volumes of Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy (partially because his new book Black Prism is due out in August).  I read and reviews The Way of Shadows more then a year ago and I was initially worried that jumping straight into Shadows Edge would leave me a little lost.  Luckily, my fears were for naught as Weeks does a great job of covering most of the previous novel’s highlights with distracting from the main plot of Shadow’s Edge.  If you’ve yet to read The Way of Shadows there are likely spoilers ahead.

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Music Monday: With Sprinkles by Beefy

With Sprinkles by Beefy
With Sprinkles by Beefy

You should all know by now, if previous posts are anything to go by, that I am a fan of nerdcore.   I feel a little bad that I’ve yet to devote a full post to nerdcore rapper Beefy but, with last weeks release of his newest album With Sprinkles I’m about to change that.  Beefy’s previous album, Rolling Doubles is one of my favorite rap albums of all time.  Indeed, it still finds its way onto my iPod to this day.  So when I somehow missed the initial release of With Sprinkles last week I was certainly kicking myself.  With Sprinkles is a glorious explosion of nerdcore awesome feature guest stars, great hooks,  precision rhymes that leave you hungry for more.

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Review: Changes by Jim Butcher

Changes by Jim Butcher
Changes by Jim Butcher

Changes
Jim Butcher
Roc, 2010

Chapters 1-4 available here!

Changes is the 12th novel in Jim Butcher’s consistently excellent Dresden Files.  Of all the series I read the Dresden Files is one I most frequently question whether or not I should even bother reviewing.  Not because it isn’t good, but because it is so consistently excellent I find it hard to not recommend this series to anyone and everyone.  Point in fact I’m almost convinced that when it comes pure edge of your seat action few authors come close be being as skilled as Jim Butcher.  Changes weighs in at a fairly impressive 448 pages yet it reads like it’s half as long.   As the jacket copy tell us it seems that Harry may be father by way of half-vampire ex-girlfriend Susan Rodriguez.  Unfortunately for Harry the news isn’t as happy as it could be as it seems that in a bid for revenge against Harry’s meddling the nefarious and bloody minded vampires of the Red Court have abducted his daughter.  Thus Harry sets out on a quest to save his daughter from certain death.

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BFBC2 is full of win.

I dash for across the rusting deck of the half-submerged wreck of the ship leap over the crumbling rail and smile in grim satisfaction as my knife sinks into the neck of the unsuspecting ruskie below me. Sure I die a half a second later as his companion pumps hot lead into my back, but it was totally worth it.

Twenty minutes earlier I had sprinted across across the snow covered street of a Russian village to take cover in a ruined building.  I barely had time to recognize the crash of artillery or the groan of overstressed supports before the entire building tumbled down on top of me.

There are about a thousand similar moments, most of them ending in a death either glorious or inconsequential, but all of them leave grinning like crazy.  Its the type of grin that would have been worth the $60 I might have spent had I bought Battlefield Bad Company 2 new instead of used.  It is both a sensation unexpected and hoped for and an encapsulation of everything I remember about the Battlefield series.  While I owned and played Battlefield 2 I played Battlefield 1942 for much longer; in particular a wonderful mod called Desert Combat (despite being made by most of the same guys Desert Combat was, IMHO, better then Battlefield 2).  I have many many fond memories of Desert Combat and Battlefield Bad Company 2 is the first game that comes close to living up to those memories and is well on the way to forging shiny new ones as well.

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Review: Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne
Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon
J. L. Bourne
Permuted Press, 2007 (now available through Pocket Books as of 2009, linked at left)

Day by Day Armageddon was one of the earliest title released by Permuted Press, an independent publisher specializing in apocalyptic fiction (and especially zombie fiction), and was recently re-released as part of 5 book co-publishing deal with Simon and Schuster.  Much like the fantastic World War Z, Day by Day Armageddon purports itself to be a true-to-life diary of man surviving a zombie apocalypse.  The edition I read is complete with the occasional blood splatter, circled text, infrequent handwritten margin notes, and black and white photographs.  The diary, of an unnamed navy pilot, details his attempts to simply survive.

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Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Gunslinger
Stephen King
Plume, 2003 (nook  edition)

First Line: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Despite being the book that kicked off Stephen King’s Dark Tower series I originally read it third, during the long wait between The Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass, oddly enough I never felt that this spoiled my reading of the series; it marks the only time I know of that I’ve managed to read a series out of order.  The Gunslinger is based loosely off of the Robert Browning poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” a poem based off of a line from Shakespeare’s King Lear, a line itself referencing a traditional fairy tale, a fairy tale which may have been inspired by an old Scottish ballad.  Which is all fascinating, if slightly confusing, but perhaps more fascinating is that The Gunslinger, and the rest of the novels in the series, create something of a unifying mythology for most of Stephen King’s novels.

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Review: Shadow Prowler by Alexy Pehov

Shadow Prowler by Alexy Prohov
Shadow Prowler by Alexy Prohov

Shadow Prowler
Alexy Pehov, translated by Andrew Bromfield
Tor, 2010 (orig.  2002)

In Shadow Prowler, the first in a famed Russian fantasy series, the Master Thief Shadow Harold is tasked to find a means to stop the seemingly inexorable advance of the Unnamed One.  Joined by a motley cast of characters he sets off on a quest that will save the world and, perhaps more importantly to our hero, make him a very rich man.  While the jacket copy for Shadow Prowler, with its mention of the Unnamed One, and an elf princess, as well as it’s quest based nature appears to be a very traditional epic fantasy.  Even Booklist’s review cites similarities to Tolkien’s work.  Of course saying <insert epic fantasy series here> bears similarity to Tolkien’s work is kind of like saying water is wet.  The jacket copy cites similarity to Moorcock’s Elric series which, while I haven’t read it yet (a travesty, I kn0w) hits a bit closer to the mark in placing Shadow Prowler closer to the sword and sorcery line of the fantasy world.  Shadow Prowler reminded me most strongly of when I first read R. A. Salvatore’s The Halflings Gem,; especially give Pehov’s sense of action which as akin to Salvatore’s.

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Music Monday: Volbeat

I thought for sure I’d posted here about Volbeat before.  But it looks like I was wrong.  Volbeat are a Danish hard rock/metal band that are like some bizarre cross between Elvis, Metallica, and Social Distortion.  I know that combination doesn’t sound possible, but seriously these guys pull it off and then some.  Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil, in addition to having a baddass title, has absolutely no bad songs on it…seriously not a one.  I’ve got three videos for you here, laboriously culled from youtube, of my three favorite songs off Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil.   If you like what you hear hit up your retailer of choice for the whole album; you won’t regret it!  (I don’t own it yet but Guitar Gangster and Cadillac Blood sounds pretty awesome as well.)

1.) The Human Instrument.

2.) Sad Man’s Tongue (this is probably the most Elvis sounding song on album, great stuff)

3.) Radio Girl (this one reminds me a bit of Social Distortion)

April Summary…and Beyond!

Spring always feels so busy.  With PAX East at the end of March followed be Easter followed by being sick I’ve spend most of the last 4 to 6 weeks trying to get back into my normal routine.  It doesn’t help that the siren call of sunny days wars against the harsh glow and lulling hum of televisions and computers.  If I weren’t prone to particularly virulent allergies during the spring (though there is something year round that is always bothering me) I might have disappeared all together.  I managed to get six reviews done despite the mountain of other crap clamoring for my attention:

The Black Hand by Will Thomas

This was the last book in my hard-boiled reading project.  It was pretty good stuff, a hard-boiled Victorian era novel set on the mean streets of London.  I enjoyed the project immensely so expect me to pepper in some hard-boiled/noir/mystery titles every once and a while.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

I’m a bit behind the curve on this one.  Despite some troubling treatment of his female lead I couldn’t put Brett’s novel down.  I’ll hopefully get around to reading the Desert Spear either this month or the next.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Though not quite as engaging as The Warded Man above, Carrie Ryans’ teen zombie post-apocalyptic coming-of-age romance novel was some excellent work that should be enjoyable for adults as well as teens.  I do plan on reading the Dead Tossed Waves some time in the not-too-distant future.

The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg

A rennaisance type fantasy mystery featuring a former librarian as the protagonist, The Spirit Lens was almost (see below for why it just missed) my favorite novel this past month.  If you missed this one do yourself a favor and give it a try.  I can’t wait for the sequel!

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Though not as great as I hoped it would by this was still a good read in an interesting and original fantasy world.  It took a bit of warming up but the characterization in the novel, particularly of the villains, was quite excellent.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregiliss

This was my favorite novel read this month and by-and-large one of my favorites of 2010.  The supernatural and super-science collide during the height of the Blitz.  The first book in a three book series, the Milkweed Triptych, from one of the writers in George Martin’s Wild Cards writers group.  Great stuff here.

As my recent review of The Dragonbone Chair indicates I’ve decided to add a couple of rereads to the schedule.  I don’t know if I’ll get to the rest of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (To Green Angel Tower’s size scares me) it was a fun time and while it is definitely old school it is still well worth a look.  I’m glad I read it before I read Shadow Prowler which has had the “traditional” label leveled at it like a threat of some kind; I’m not sure I agree but more on that when I review it.  I’m almost done with my reread of The Gunslinger.  Honestly that novel might be King’s best work, the prose is quality if occasionally quirky and the scope of the world it hints at is truly amazing (why has no come up with a pen and paper RPG for that series?  It seems well suited for it!).  I’m fairly certain I will go through a reread of that whole series, particularly with the news that Ron Howard has been attached to turn them into films, and may even give some of the companion volumes a whirl (of which there are a few).  I managed to lay my hands on two ARCs from the bookselling job: Mission of Honor by David Weber (hell yeah!) and The Passage by Justin Cronin.  I’m slowly working through the latter while I expect to devour the former soon.  I also have yet to lay my hands on Changes by Jim Butcher, but I will.  I’m behind on my audiobook reviews as I didn’t put up my thoughts on the latest Fate of the Jedi novel (Backlash) as well as The Name of the Wind audio.  I’m currently listening to Makers by Cory Doctorow and absolutely loving it and plan listening to either A Mighty Fortress by David Weber or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson next; whichever comes back to the library first.

We’re entering into beach book season and things are starting to look good, if a bit overwhelming!  There is just a ton great things (movies, games, books, music) coming around that I’m really excited about.  On that note I’ll leave you with this bit of awesome!