An Accurate Review

In which a reviewer of fantasy books tries, and quite understandably fails, to finish reading the award-winning masterworks of one N.K. Jemisin:

I believe that the Broken Earth Trilogy specifically the fifth season which is the first book is so bad
that it’s essentially unreadable. I don’t remember a book that I’ve read that I believe personally is as bad as this one, and it shocks me that not only is this book extremely popular, but every single book in the trilogy won the Hugo award for the best book. This is a beloved series that many people claim
this is the best fantasy series of all time and I could not have a more contrary opinion to my feeling about
this book.

The fact that a third of this book was written in the second person is a ridiculous, ridiculous thing. The second person does not work when it comes to books, it works in some other forms of media, it works in video games, it works quite well in video games where you can picture yourself into the main character and people are talking to you in that way, but in a book it comes off so odd that it’s off-putting and difficult to suck in. There is a reason that virtually no books utilize the second person, and it’s not because they’re not as smart as NK Jemisin that they haven’t been able to pull it off, it’s because it doesn’t work.

I believed, constantly, as I read this book, that Jemisin was trying to be too smart and it came off as ridiculous. The second person is horrible, the way that she writes is atrocious. At times where she uses these italics and bolds and all caps within the text to really drive home a point, to really make this strong emphasis, you shouldn’t have to rely on that to make a really strong point. It comes off as kind of crazy.

I thought the twist that was in this book, and there is a major one, and I still don’t know if it actually occurs because I didn’t finish the book. I got 95 percent of the way through, and I said ‘I cannot bear to finish this book’ but I’m about 100 percent confident that there is a major twist that happens at the end of this book that is so obvious that it becomes one of the most telegraphed and poor choices for a twist that I’ve ever read. I can’t say what it is, but I can say that myself, and I suspect a great many readers figured out what it is within the first 50 or so pages. It’s not so much that the twist is ruined, you know. I’ve figured out twists before and it’s disappointing, it doesn’t happen a lot for me. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, I’m oftentimes the last person to pick up on these things, and I really do like it that way. I prefer to be surprised, I don’t want to figure stuff out, I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room. I want to be, you know, the dummy that is the last one to get it, but man, it’s obvious.

The problem is that the way that the book is structured with this bouncing around in a timeline is ruined
because of the twist. It’s a really poor way to tell the story and the story would have been much preferable to be in a more cohesive, clear, linear fashion, and I don’t think that’s true for all books. I think some books that use time jumps and these different point of views and these things can be very very good, some of my favorite books utilize that, but I think the book sacrificed a great deal in quality to do this and it didn’t work. The twist did not achieve its stated goals.

Now when I’ve said this before, I heard a lot of people in the comments say ‘you’re supposed to figure it out.’ No, you’re not! That is a retrospective retelling of the events to try to justify what occurred in this book. Now the last thing I’ll say about a major reason that I disliked this book is the way that characters move on from traumatic events. I think it’s horrible, some horrible things happen in this book, and this book bills itself as being a tear-jerker and just very depressing and these bad things happen, and that
that’s true for the large part, but the characters have these horrible things happen and they reminisce about them for a moment, and they take it in, and then they just move on. That’s crazy, that’s not real life. When horrible things happen people sit with them for great amounts of time, and maybe in later books they reinvestigate this, but in this first book, man, it didn’t work well.

So I can’t say enough negative things about this book and I am absolutely floored at how popular this book and this book series are.

The secret is that the book and the book series are not even remotely popular. By her own admission, N… K… Jemisin can’t making a living off them. This is the problem with manufactured “success”. It simply isn’t real, and no amount of fakery and propping up pets, poster children, and other imposters is going to fool anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

And yes, the reviewer is correct. One of the cruelest things I have ever done is inspire the SFWA crowd to demolish their own awards by handing a Best Novel award or two to N… K… Yes, I knew “the indirect backlash and overcorrection” would happen. Yes, it was intentional. But no, I never imagined that they would do it THREE straight years in a row. That really exceeded my expectations.

The only thing that would have been funnier would have been if they’d actually followed through on their rhetoric and given an award to Chuck Tingle. But even that would have been less damaging than what they actually did.

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Reading List 2023

Whereas 2022 was primarily devoted to Japanese murder mysteries, I binged on two Italian detective series in 2023, one written by a Sicilian set in Sicily and the other by an American set in Venice. On the whole, I tend to slightly prefer Commissario Brunetti to Inspector Montalbano, but both series are thoroughly entertaining and well worth exploring. Of the 119 books I read in 2023, I’d say the best of those I read for the first time were From Caesar to the Mafia, Some Prefer Nettles, and Chronicles of a Liquid Society.

Caravan of the Damned, Chuck Dixon
Westmark, Lloyd Alexander
Kestrel, Lloyd Alexander
Beggar Queen, Lloyd Alexander
A Death in Tokyo, Keigo Higashino
The Illyrian Adventure, Lloyd Alexander
The Lake, Banana Yoshimoto
Asleep, Banana Yoshimoto
Lizard, Banana Yoshimoto
Hardboiled Hard Luck, Banana Yoshimoto
Novelist as a Vocation, Haruki Murakami
First Person Singular, Haruki Murakami
Black and White, Junichiro Tanizaki
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami
The Shape of Water, Andrea Camilleri
The Terra-Cotta Dog, Andrea Camilleri
The Snack Thief, Andrea Camilleri
Voice of the Violin, Andrea Camilleri
Excursion to Tindari, Andrea Camilleri
The Scent of the Night, Andrea Camilleri
Rounding the Mark, Andrea Camilleri
The Patience of the Spider, Andrea Camilleri
The Paper Moon, Andrea Camilleri
The Wings of the Sphinx, Andrea Camilleri
August Heat, Andrea Camilleri
The Track of Sand, Andrea Camilleri
The Potter’s Field, Andrea Camilleri
The Age of Doubt, Andrea Camilleri
The Dance of the Seagull, Andrea Camilleri
Treasure Hunt, Andrea Camilleri
Montalbano’s First Case, Andrea Camilleri
Angelica’s Smile, Andrea Camilleri
Game of Mirrors, Andrea Camilleri
A Beam of Light, Andrea Camilleri
A Voice in the Night, Andrea Camilleri
A Nest of Vipers, Andrea Camilleri
The Pyramid of Mud, Andrea Camilleri
Death at Sea, Andrea Camilleri
The Overnight Kidnapper, Andrea Camilleri
The Other End of the Line, Andrea Camilleri
The Safety Net, Andrea Camilleri
The Sicilian Method, Andrea Camilleri
The Cook of the Halcyon, Andrea Camilleri
Studies in Napoleonic Warfare, Charles Oman
Forbidden Colors, Yukio Mishima
The Jungle Grows Back, Robert Kagan
The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Robert Kagan
Quantum of Nightmares, Charles Stross
The Pit of the Blind God, Chuck Dixon
People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck
Death at La Fenice, Donna Leone
Death in a Strange Country, Donna Leone
The Anonymous Venetian, Donna Leone
Venetian Reckoning, Donna Leone
Acqua Alta, Donna Leone
The Death of Faith, Donna Leone
A Noble Radiance, Donna Leone
Fatal Remedies, Donna Leone
Friends in High Places, Donna Leone
A Sea of Troubles, Donna Leone
Wilful Behaviour, Donna Leone
Uniform Justice, Donna Leone
Doctored Evidence, Donna Leone
Blood from a Stone, Donna Leone
Through a Glass, Darkly, Donna Leone
Suffer the Little Children, Donna Leone
The Girl of His Dreams, Donna Leone
About Face, Donna Leone
A Question of Belief, Donna Leone
Drawing Conclusions, Donna Leone
Beastly Things, Donna Leone
The Golden Egg, Donna Leone
By its Cover, Donna Leone
Falling in Love, Donna Leone
The Waters of Eternal Youth, Donna Leone
Earthly Remains, Donna Leone
The Temptation of Forgiveness, Donna Leone
Unto Us a Son Is Given, Donna Leone
Trace Elements, Donna Leone
Transient Desires, Donna Leone
Intervention, Julian May
Jack the Bodiless, Julian May
Diamond Mask, Julian May
Magnificat, Julian May
Marshal of Victory, Giorgy Zhukov
Present Dangers, Robert Kagan, ed.
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
The High Window, Raymond Chandler
The Lady in the Lake, Raymond Chandler
The Little Sister, Raymond Chandler
Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
Stupefying Stories 24, Rampant Loon
T, Haruki Murakami
Dead-End Memories, Banana Yoshimoto
The Last Train, Michael Pronko
The Moving Blade, Michael Pronko
Tokyo Traffic, Michael Pronko
Tokyo Zangyo, Michael Pronko
Azabu Getaway, Michael Pronko
Some Prefer Nettles, Junchiro Tanizaki
Red Roofs and Other Stories, Junchiro Tanizaki
Longing and Other Stories, Junchiro Tanizaki
A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, Junchiro Tanizaki
Levon’s Time, Chuck Dixon
Levon’s Home, Chuck Dixon
Season of Skulls, Charles Stross
From Caesar to the Mafia, Luigi Barzini
Things That Happened Before the Earthquake, Chiara Barzini
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
A Night in the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny
Between Planets, Robert Heinlein
Red Planet, Robert Heinlein
Tunnel in the Sky, Robert Heinlein
Margin of Victory, Douglas MacGregor
Pirate Freedom, Gene Wolfe
Equal Danger, Leonardo Sciascia
An Italian Education, Tim Parks
Chronicles of a Liquid Society, Umberto Eco

DISCUSS ON SG


Mailvox: a brief review of ASOS

AD writes the first review of the complete A SEA OF SKULLS.

I’ve finished A Sea of Skulls. Bought it, set out to read a chapter a night…which became two, and then three, and by the time I reached about the 1/3 point, I put the whole world on hold and finished it in two days.

As usual, your writing skill and style are impeccable–entertaining and engaging. For every plot thread closed you’ve managed to dangle three more…though, I think the next book will have to crack the planet and drain an ocean to top this ending.

Thoroughly enjoyable. I appreciated how the races have their own issues that so perfectly mirror modern ones, and enjoyed working out the foreign words from context. And I remain impressed by your skills–you managed to take a thoroughly repulsive Orc, turn him into a viewpoint character, and make him understandable, if not necessarily empathetic. I was convinced he was going to join Skuli any minute when he was ordered to throw himself onto the shield wall.

And, speaking of Skuli, his last quest was excellent. Here’s to the next book–unless, of course, you retire to the tropics and dump the whole thing into the lap of Brandon Sanderson.

I think Brandon Sanderson is too busy counting his crowdfunding money these days to be available to finish off anyone else’s epic fantasy series. So, I’ll just have to finish it myself.

UPDATE: The Didact graciously named A SEA OF SKULLS one of his best books of 2023:

Has he stuck the landing with the full version of Book 2?

Mostly, yes, he has.

ASOS has a few flaws to it, most of which relate to the difficulties in keeping the various plot-lines straight. You may have to go back and read the first book again to understand all the machinations behind the Amorran side of things – it has, after all, been eleven years since the first book saw the light of day, and quite a lot has happened since then.

The biggest flaw with the book has to be the ending, which definitely feels rushed and more than a little forced. I get the distinct impression that OBADSDL(PBUH) found himself getting lost in the details and realised this giant door-stopper of a book was getting really crazy – the full book will probably clock in at around 914 (!!!!!) pages, and that is a monumental text by any measure.

None of this changes a fundamental fact:

This is one of the best high fantasy books ever written.

High praise indeed. And while I never object to any reader’s impressions – they are simply what they are – in the interests of accuracy I will point out that the endings were neither rushed nor forced from my perspective, as they were always bound to take the various shapes they did by virtue of the character perspective limits. Remember, I’m not George Martin, and while I don’t do outlines, I do strictly limit how many characters get their own perspective and how many sections they get apiece. So, I always know roughly how much space I have with which to work in order to get to the close I have in mind.

You may notice that the word and page counts are almost identical to ATOB. That’s not an accident. And AGOG will be the same.

This isn’t to say one can’t reasonably criticize the particular sections of the story on which I choose to concentrate the detail. Perhaps it would be better if the middles were shorter and the ends longer. My choices are almost certainly suboptimal in some senses, and some characters get less “camera time” while others get more than various readers would prefer.

DISCUSS ON SG


The Worst Form of Government

I’m not certain that democracy is definitely the worst form of government. Certainly, representative democracy is making a powerful claim to the title, and it’s true that the more the franchise expands, the worse the elected governments get. But it is certainly a lot easier to understand why the American Founding Fathers were so skeptical of the concept and determined to limit it.

This review of Dr. Fadi Lama’s book, WHY THE WEST CAN’T WIN, certainly makes it look worth reading:

Westerners have almost uniformly come to live under democracies. Drawing on both Republican Roman experience and the traditions of Greece, Cicero believed that democracy was one of the worst forms of governance possible, along with tyranny and oligarchy. Thomas Jefferson, in his own interesting way, expressed a similar sentiment. Listen to any Clown World heathen, like fake US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and within two or three minutes some platitude about democracy will be incanted with sacred solemnity. Lama masterfully walks his readers through the history of the Money Powers-driven West and the Powers’ absolute obsession with democracy. He exposes the clear pattern of the ruin of nations by eliminating religious and nationalistic controls and replacing them with democratic perversions, degeneracy, and usury. The end result, in France, America, or India, is a form of slavery and societal pillaging. That is why all attempts to democratize government, such as the US’s 17th Amendment, allowing for the supposedly “free” popular election of Senators, act to subvert freedom, prosperity, and true representation of and for the people. Lama mathematically demonstrates, on page 88, that “from a socioeconomic standpoint, democracy is the worse form of governance throughout history. That is natural, as it was made by the Money Powers for the Money Powers.”

As much as the book is a warning to those who need it and might hear it, it is equally an optimistic appraisal of where the majority of humanity stands moving forward in this century. In between and all around, a history is woven—from the ancient world, through the Middle Ages, through the horrors of the Enlightenment, across the financial capitalistic terror of Bretton Woods, ending with the emergence of multipolarity. Lama nicely sums up the where-we-are-now as follows, from page 20: “The current global geopolitical clash is in essence a struggle between the colonial powers wishing to preserve the Bretton Woods system that facilitates siphoning the wealth of nations and sovereign nations striving for independence and an end to a millennium of their oppression.”

The irony is that true democracy, in which citizen referendums are neither limited by elected representatives nor judiciaries, appear to be considerably better than the representative systems designed to fix the problems of mob rule. Indeed, as the Western “democracies” increasingly crumble under the mass invasions of the global south and east, history’s verdict may well be that democracy, at least in its limited and representative mode, is not a sustainable form of government.

DISCUSS ON SG


Bran Stark is Sauron

This is a theory put forth by an SG reader. I made a few minor edits for clarity.

TLDR: We know that Bran is Sauron from the nature of A Song of Ice and Fire. ASOIAF is the Satanically-inverted Lord of the Rings, so the winner, by definition, has to be Sauron. QED.

Leaving that aside, let’s look at Bran as Sauron using LOTR, the Silmarillion, the Appendices, the Bible, and vampire lore. When we look at Bran as Third-Age Sauron we have to see him as inverted from the Dark Lord all-seeing eye in the movies. We also have to see Bran as Second-Age Sauron, aka Annataur.

Second Age Sauron is a very seductive figure who Tolkien writes as the Antichrist from the Book of Revelation. Also keep in mind that vampires are a representation of the Antichrist . Now that we’ve laid that ground work, let’s look at how we know that Rape Rape made Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven (3ER) into a combination of Sauron and The One Ring.

The Wall and the Land Beyond is the inverted Mordor. Mordor is fire and ash. The land beyond The Wall is a world of ice. The White Walkers are the Black Riders. The Wall is the Mountains of Shadow and the Ash Mountains which were either raised by Sauron himself or by Morgoth as a fortress against the world. The Wall was raised to protect the world from the Three-Eyed Raven. 3ER’s cave is Barad Dur. We see Sauron watching the whole world from Barad Dur and 3ER watches the whole world from his cave and sends out emissaries from his cave.

Bran/Sauron as vampire: In ASOIAF, in the Cave Bran eats acorn paste which is highly likely the ground up remains of his friend Jojen Reed. This was done to turbo-charge his powers. This is vampiricism of Bran consuming his friend to gain more power. This is likely also some kind of satanic Eucharist, to use the Catholic term which is appropriate here.

Sauron was portrayed as a vampire in The Silmarillion. When he was defeated by Luthien, Sauron turned into a bat and flew away. Bran also sacrificed others so he could live. We saw Bran sacrifice Hodor and Bran sacrifice a whole freaking army at the Battle of the Long Night. These are the actions of Sauron, who loves to sacrifice other to advance his agenda

Sauron uses the Palantir to spy on the whole world. Likewise Bran uses the weirwood trees and ravens to spy on the whole world, and likely cause chaos as well.

More of Bran as a vampire. Bran with 3ER had to be invited into the world of the living when they were permitted to enter Castle Black from the land beyond just like how vampires have to be invited in. This has correlation to Sauron in the Second Age where first he disguised himself as Annataur, the Lord of Gifts to Celebrimbor in Eregion. He presented himself as wise and beautiful. Annataur just wanted to “heal the world” aka “Tikkun Olam” from the damage of the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age. He always provided the Noldor with hidden knowledge.

Sauron/Annataur used this hidden knowledge that he provided to pit Celebrimbor against Galadriel and divided the Elves to prevent them from uniting before he destroyed Eregion. Sauron used the same trick against the usurper king of Numenor at the end of the Second Age. He allowed himself to be taken prisoner to Numenor where he corrupted the king and people.

Bran is the inversion of Annataur. Annataur cloaked himself in beauty, wisdom and hidden knowledge. Bran cloaked himself in weakness, autism, false humility and hidden knowledge. Bran uses his hidden knowledge to pit people against each other. The best example is how he used his hidden knowledge of Jon’s true identity to pit him against Dany. This was a major cause of driving Dany mad and making her burn King’s Landing, delegitimizing Jon as a contender to the throne and paving the way for Bran’s ascension to total power

In conclusion, Bran’s actions are Sauron’s action. Bran acts as vampire, Lord of Gifts and pathetically inverted Dark Lord in Martin’s satanically-inverted manner. But it’s all good because Rape Rape approves of Bran’s tax policy.

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A Review of PLUTARCH’S LIVES

Charles Synard reviews the Castalia Library publication of the two-volume behemoth after devoting two years to reading the whole thing.

After more than two years chipping away at the colossal classic, finished reading Plutarch’s Lives. This was the Castalia Library leatherbound edition, limited to 750, and uses the Bernadotte Perrin translation. Two years may seem like a while for a recommended pair of books, but these tomes total something like 1600 pages, so even turning a page every day, this is how long it will take, so a considerable commitment for all but the fastest readers.

Many of these biographies are of exciting, admirable statesmen, and so it is no wonder that in centuries past, Plutarch was enjoyed by boys for the battlefield action, good examples to follow, and witticisms. After a few lives of semi-legendary Greek and Roman founders, this is almost all drum-and-trumpet history, and more often than not, the subject meets a violent death! Even the rhetoricians who make it in end up little more than propagandists for some power-hungry faction. Clearly, the Lives as a whole are much too long for practical use in instruction; it would be challenging to fit them into a single academic year, and even then there would be gaps. Besides, after a while, the Lives start to blend together, and it can feel like you‘re reading about a compsoite or averaged Greco-Roman marching his troops around, swapping wives, and saying amusing things, so the most distinctive Lives should be set apart, as the student will have a better chance of retaining the information. For an advanced placement high school course, or a 100 or 200 level college course, I think these ten select Lives would give students a rich taste of classical history, while more than holding interest and providing fruitful inspiration to greatness in our times:

—Lycurgus and Numa, wise founding lawgivers
—Alexander and Julius Caesar, unparalleled conquerors
—Agis & Cleomenes and the Gracchi, attempted restorers in a decadent age
—Timoleon and Brutus, supernatural intervention in human affairs?

In English translation, Plutarch is the canonical writer I have read who most closely follows one of the standards of writing that was most drilled into us in my school days: the thesis statement. Because the Lives are mostly paired, Plutarch usually includes prefatory remarks to explain why the two belong together, and then follows the biographies with a comparison.

Read the rest of it there. This is the sort of book review that I really like to see, because it reviews the book rather than just discussing the reader’s reaction to the book. One thing that many reviewers fail to grasp is that the subject of the review should be the thing reviewed, not the reviewer himself.

Obviously, many editions that purport to be Plutarch’s Lives are actually an abridgement of them, which is normally abhorrent to us; we’d rather divide a massive tome into two or even three volumes rather than cut it down to a size that will not destroy itself on the bookshelf with the assistance of gravity over time. But, in the event that we ever decide to do a Homeschooling subscription, an abridged version of Plutarch might make sense.

While the Library edition is now out of stock, there are about 20 copies of the more exclusive, superdeluxe Libraria edition available.

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The Globalists Have Lost Control

And they know it, as demonstrated by a review of Klaus Schwab’s book, The Great Reset:

The Great Reset is not a book that begins with a fully-formed argument, which it seeks to articulate through successive proofs. Nor is it a book that finds its purpose along the way. It is of that still more miserable variety, that is always on the verge of discovering what it means to say, but can never quite get there. I have a vision of Schwab in his study, typing furiously with extended index fingers like a bicephalic chicken, marshalling all his meagre powers to reconstruct the very unexpected pandemic in which he found himself, such that it might better resemble the kind of global ESG stakeholder capitalism woo crisis that Schwab would really prefer to pronounce upon. “We must get back to my pet themes” is what Schwab is trying to tell us in The Great Reset. It is above all a childish book…

An interesting point is how much pessimism Schwab harbours about the future prospects of globalisation. He writes that “hyperglobalization” (whatever that is) “has lost all its political and social capital and defending it is no longer politically tenable” (p. 112f.), and that even normal globalisation is in decline. Thus politicians must strive “to manage” its “retreat” by making it “more inclusive and equitable,” as well as “sustainable, both socially and environmentally” (p. 112). These are curious admissions, and if you take them at face value, you’d begin to think that the Davos set really do feel under threat, especially from the left, and no small part of their political programme represents some kind of confused effort to appease imagined opponents.

Schwab writes that the pandemic happened because of “a vacuum in global governance” and because “international cooperation was non-existent or limited” (p. 115). He reveals a real childish yearning for “global governance” (p. 118), lest we end up “in a world in which nobody is in charge” (p. 114). The undercurrent of fear returns, and the pandemic recedes from view as a mere example of the kinds of disasters that will befall us if the globalist institutions fail:

There is no time to waste. If we do not improve the functioning and legitimacy of our global institutions, the world will soon become unmanageable and very dangerous. There cannot be a lasting recovery without a global strategic framework of governance… The more nationalism and isolationism pervade the global polity, the greater the chance that global governance loses its relevance. (p. 113)

Kissinger, being rather smarter than Schwab, recognized the historical trend years ago. But the vacuity of Schwab and his anti-intellectual cohorts should not be terrifying. Because it’s now manifestly obvious that one has to be more than a little vacuous in order to cling to the retarded idea that centralization and globalization is going to make anything better for the human race.

The globalists have nothing going for them except inertia, credit money, and influence. And history clearly demonstrates that such things will not be sufficient for them to withstand the rising power, both material and intellectual, of the nations.

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Book Review: HITLER IN HELL

A review of HITLER IN HELL by the ever-insightful John C. Walker:

Hitler tells the story of his life: from childhood, his days as a struggling artist in Vienna and Munich, the experience of the Great War, his political awakening in the postwar years, rise to power, implementation of his domestic and foreign policies, and the war and final collapse of Nazi Germany. These events, and the people involved in them, are often described from the viewpoint of the present day, with parallels drawn to more recent history and figures.

What makes this book work so well is that van Creveld’s Hitler makes plausible arguments supporting decisions which many historians argue were irrational or destructive: going to war over Poland, allowing the British evacuation from Dunkirk, attacking the Soviet Union while Britain remained undefeated in the West, declaring war on the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, forbidding an orderly retreat from Stalingrad, failing to commit armour to counter the Normandy landings, and fighting to the bitter end, regardless of the consequences to Germany and the German people. Each decision is justified with arguments which are plausible when viewed from what is known of Hitler’s world view, the information available to him at the time, and the constraints under which he was operating….

This could have been a parody, but in the hands of a distinguished historian like the author, who has been thinking about Hitler for many years (he wrote his 1971 Ph.D. thesis on Hitler’s Balkan strategy in World War II), it provides a serious look at how Hitler’s policies and actions, far from being irrational or a madman’s delusions, may make perfect sense when one starts from the witches’ brew of bad ideas and ignorance which the real Hitler’s actual written and spoken words abundantly demonstrate.

Read the whole thing. It’s always interesting to read Mr. Walker’s reviews, regardless of the subject.


Dragon Awards deadline

If you want to nominate for the Dragon Awards, you’ve got to do so today or tomorrow. Here are my recommendations. Remember that a work cannot be nominated in two categories.

On a not-at-all-unrelated note here is a pair of recent book reviews by Jevaughn Brown, the latter of which concerns A SEA OF SKULLS, which is eligible in the Best Fantasy Novel category and is written by an author who is not only handsome and charming, but is also said to be “the most underrated fantasy author in fiction.

A THRONE OF BONES

A Throne Of Bones in one book is the kind of story/world in essence that I had thought A Song Of Fire And Ice was going to develop into by now, but hasn’t quite. I loved how thoroughly embedded and powerful the Magic systems are into the fabric of Selenoth, yet they’re not a cure-all in the slightest, playing a part at fitting moments within “believable” limits.

The interactions between characters based on their circumstances and personalities had the feel of Real People rather than caricatures acting in contrived ways only to advance the plot. When we’re taken inside a character’s perspective, you really get how justified they feel in their worldview – as we all are.

I personally haven’t read more detailed yet visceral battle scenes. Vox retains the grandness of ancient armies and big sword-and-shield battles without washing out the fear and carnage and courage and confusion and skill and luck they really entailed.



A SEA OF SKULLS

As richly developed as its predecessor was, A Sea Of Skulls added many new dimensions to this world and the crisis it’s in. All the positives I spoke of in my review of A Throne Of Bones, and more, were leveled up.

The standout achievement of this novel could be how well Vox takes us into the minds of the non-humans of Selenoth, and gives us just a taste of their civilizations – The underground dominion of the Dwarves, the stagnant decadence of the Elves, and the structured melee of the Orcs. Such is the depth Vox goes with such viewpoint characters that you may even find yourself *almost* starting to kinda sorta briefly feel a little empathy for an orc!

Minor characters are used meaningfully and there’s no one I would want to cut out. There’s a lot of traveling or being camped-out for extended periods, but we don’t get lost in dozens of pages of interminable wandering or stagnation, a major grievance I had with parts of both A Song Of Fire And Ice and the Wheel Of Time series.

Also much appreciated was the expansion on Dalarn culture as its warriors made their last stand, and on the Savondir side of the world through Marcus’ struggles and Theuderic serving his kingdom. If Book 1 left you asking for more elves and more battle magic, then your wish was granted. But again, the magic is the icing on the cake of well-scripted battles that feel as real as epic fantasy can get.

Things get unapologetically dark several times, so gird your mental loins going in. Every fan of Epic Fantasy should read this series.

You really should read it. At present, Theuderic is busy assisting the Marquis de Poncheaux perform a fighting withdrawal at a bridge near the town of Rouvillier. It’s a cracking scene.


REVIEW: A Throne of Bones

This is a nice, detailed review of ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT Book One, A THRONE OF BONES. 854 pages and free on Kindle Unlimited.

This is great a fantasy book and a insanely promising start to the series.

  • Great set of characters and their development. Unlike ASOIAF saga, there is no boring point of view in the book, and all the main characters are interesting and different between them. Very glad also that honorable characters are not stupid, and the “bad” ones have interesting motivations and aren’t just doing evil things so the good guys can fight them. My favorite is Marcus.
  • Attention to detail. This creates interesting, logic and spontaneous situation development. Unlike other books where it seems the author is cheating every time to move the pieces at his will, Vox moves pieces, but it seems he limits himself with some set of rules based on rational causes and effects, and this makes the narration more natural. It’s clear Vox is very knowledgeable about:
  • War strategy and tactics. No insta teleporting troops, or building entire navies like in GoT show. This creates interesting progression and great battle narration.
  • High Fantasy conventions and role playing games. It’s great to see interesting mages lore, and spells. Very important to give authenticity to the world.
  • Female psychology. The female characters are very interesting, especially Severa being her very enigmatic and humane at the same time, and not femme fatale, psycho, mother or strong woman boring templates.
  • World building. The setting is fascinating. From the more realist aspects like the roman empire-like territory, to the supernatural characters and lore. This last thing is obviously only teased, but can’t wait to read more about it.
  • Non-materialist human perspective. Shit happens in the book and people make bad actions, but most of them (not all) are not only moved by money, lust and power, and have religious convictions. I find this refreshing in a world full of nihilist fiction, despite some of it being very good, like the Abercrombie saga. Here the violence flows naturally although brutally, it has reason to appear more than shock value. No more rapes or tortures every 20 pages for the sake of it, like in Rape Rape Martin books.
  • Some powerful crafted scenes. And not only flashy and with shock value, but with real emotional power. Very good rhythm despite the amount of pages without neglect attention to detail.

I can’t recommend this book enough for Fantasy fans or people who wants a good novel. I’m going to start the continuation ASAP.