On Dolorous Edd. Also, A Clash o Kings

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

A Clash of Kings
George R. R. Martin
Bantam, 1999

Some people might tell you that A Clash of Kings broadened scope and fresh perspectives are what make it such an engrossing read. Some might say that Tyrion’s scheming is top notch, or the Hound really gets some fantastic character moments. But really the thing that makes A Clash of Kings worth reading is one man. Dolorous Edd Tollett.

Introduced on page 180 (of the ebook version) as follows:

 Jon was paired with dour Eddison Tollett, a squire grey of hair and thin as a pike, whom the other brothers called Dolorous Edd. “Bad enough the dead come walking,” he said to Jon as they crossed the village, “now the Old Bear wants them talking as well? No good will come of that, I’ll warrant. And whose to say bones wouldn’t lie? Why should death make a man truthful, or even clever? The dead are likely dull fellows, full of tedious complaints—the ground’s too cold, my gravestone should be larger, why does he have more worms than I do…

That last bit is brilliant. But it only gets better. I chuckled at this line “All I smell is the shit of two hundred horses. And this stew. Which has a similar smell now that I come to sniff it.” Dolorous Edd has a pretty strong following on the internet, particularly as he is a character whose primary job is to complain with droll humor. I can’t say why in particular Dolorous Edd enchanted me as much as he did but I found myself looking forward Jon Snow’s chapters in A Clash of Kings more as a result. For such an event and plot driven novel that Martin has such command over the characterization of even the most minor players is impressive almost beyond belief.

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The Mongoliad: Epic Fantasy via the Mongol Invasion

Caught this via BoingBoing to night apparently Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, and others have a little subscription based online fantasy novel (with fan participation) going on.  The premise is pretty neat, while the few BoingBoing commentators are whining about the potentially draconion registration agreement, no-one (outside Doctorow’s initial post) had yet to comment on the nature of the fiction itself.  From The Mongoliad’s FAQ:

The Mongoliad is a serial novel, the kind of thing that Charles Dickens wrote. It’s also an experiment in fiction and technology… Fast Company said that we may be “the future of the novel.” The Mongoliad is set in the thirteenth century of a universe very much like ours, a world we call “Foreworld.” We publish chapters every so often (about weekly), and every chapter has associated discussions and other ways for readers to interact with each other and with us. Sometimes we’ll also have graphics to share as well, or movies, or music. There is a user-editable ‘Pedia with information about Foreworld-related topics, general-purpose user forums, and soon we hope to have easy ways for people to contribute their own stories, art, and music to our shared Foreworld experience.

Hit up the Boing Boing article for more details or head straight over to the Mongoliad now; this is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Review: The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

The Dragonbone Chair is the first book in Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and one of the better traditional epic fantasies that’s out there.  The novel follows the young castle scamp Simon an apparently unassuming and unimportant young man who gets drawn into a dire events far beyond his meager station.  Apprenticed to the castle doctor Simon spends most of his days dreaming of being a hero but the machinations of an ancient evil soon creep into his own and Simon soon finds himself on the road and on a desperate to uncover the truth behind whats going on.  On the way Simon meets a troll (in Williams’ world of Osten Ard and hearty though diminutive folk) who rides a wolf, rescues an elf-like Sithi, a kindly witch, and even manages to fall for a princess.   If you’re a fan of epic fantasy and haven’t experienced The Dragonbone Chair it is a wholly familiar affair thought not without its own merits.

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Review: The Warded Man by Peter Brett

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man
Peter V. Brett (twitter, website)
Del Rey, 2009

The Warded Man is Brett’s US debut just released in Mass Market (originally released last year) this year prior to the second volume in this series The Desert Spear. The Warded Man takes place in society overwhelmed by a culture of fear thanks to nightly attacks by demons who rise from the Earth. The story centers around three characters Arlen, who wants to fight demons; Leesha a young woman apprenticed to a herbalist; Rojer an apprentice jongleur whose family was murdered by demons.

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Review: Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan

Avempartha by Michael J SullivanAvempartha
Michael J Sullivan
Ridan Publishing, 2009

Avempartha sees our “heroes” from The Crown Conspiracy back in action and in as fine a form as ever. The opening scenes in the novel, the set-up, is a fantastic intro for readers who read the first book and an excellent and highly entertaining way to recap a bit of back story for new readers. It is a quick little conversation between Royce and Hadrian and a third-party and while it manages to encapsulate parts of The Crown Conspiracy it does an even better job at managing to illuminate the moral complexities of the roguish heroes.
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