Review: King of the Murgos (The Mallorean 2)

King of the Murgos (The Mallorean 2)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The infant son of Garion and Ce’Nedra has been kidnapped by Zandramas, the new Child of Dark, to be used as a sacrifce to awaken a new God of Angerak. With Polgara, Belgarath, Durnik, Silk, Errnd, and the mute Toth, Garion and his wife set off on a new quest at the behest of prophecy to stop Zandramas’s plan and to rescue their son.

But the trail will take them far from their homes. They travel south to find it once more in the land of the snake people and from their, into the land of the Murgos. Out of all the four Angerak races, the Murgos were the most ferverant in their devotion to Torak and the most under the control of the Grolim priests. Steeped in barbarism and sacrifice, Garion and his companions find themselves in the court of the beseiged Murgo King.

They are in for one interesting revelation. Prejudices must be adjusted and old enmities put aside for Garion, Ce’Nedra, and their companions, including those new allies they pick up along their way south, to have any hompe of saving the infant Geran before it is too late. Can Garion and his companions escape the machinations of the Grolim priesthood, dark assassins, and petty grievances?

After spending the last series characterizing the Murgos as this despicable race, Eddings peels back the onions to reveal that, in fact, they are just people. Flawed and varied as any other only suffering beneath terrible despotism of mad kings and power-hungry priests. Loosing a war, King Urgit is desperate for any aid, and Garion might prove his salvation or his undoing.

The second book is a great read, building on the first book. It covers most of the original book 2’s contents (traveling through Arendia, Tol Nedra, and Nyissa) within the first third, meeting old characters, encountering new threats, and exposing the existence of the three powers all vying to awaken the new Agerak God. New characters join the party to add a nice counterbalance to the core ones (it’s no coincidence that the group with the most screen time from the last series made it into the party in this one). Velvet, in particular, is a great addition.

Eddings is clearly having fun writing this series, and it shows in the fun diologue, exciting situations, and tense showdowns. He has an entire world to play in and is mixing and matching the threats, combining old foes with new while foreshadowing things to come. Garion and Ce’Nedra are the most changed from the last quest, both grown up and both dealing with the kidnapping of their son in different ways. The vibrant and even aggressive Ce’Nedra is shrunken and withdrawn, verging on depression, while the normally friendly Garion has an anger brewing inside of him that explodes out of him, fueled by frustration and fear.

All in all, the Mallorean continues to be excellent and leaves you wanting to find out what happens next! Luckilly, these books came out in the 80s, so you don’t have to wait long at all!

You can purchase King of the Murgos from Amazon!

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Review: Guardians of the West (The Mallorean 1)

Guardians of the West (The Mallorean 1)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Guardians of the West picks up almost immediately after the end of the Belgariad. It’s been a few months since Garion and Ce’Nedra’s wedding, and the young boy Errand find himself moving to the vale with his new adopted parents Durnik and Polgara the Sorceress. The group is accompanied by the vagabond sorcerer, Belgarath. After he and Polgara spent thousands of years working to see Torak and the Dark Prophecy defeated, they think they can rest. But hints and rumors begin to stir of a new force awakening in the east while the Angeraks struggle to come to grips with the death of their god.

Over the next five or so years, Garion and Ce’Nedra settle into their married. With a few bumps along they way, they grow to find a balance in their relationship. A balance that is disrupted when Ce’Nedra’s lack of pregnancy begins to worry the other monarchs of the world. Stability is needed for the world after the trauma it’s endured, and there are those who seek to take advantage of it.

Once again, Garion and his companions have to defend the West as new threats arise and hints that there is still more to come in the fight between the two halves of the original Purpose of the Universe. That though Torak was defeated, the Dark Prophecy still moves pieces on the board and a new threat boils beneath the surface.

Guardians of the West is a great follow up to Eddings outstanding Belgariad. He returns to his world and spends an entire book on the buildup to the new threat. He’s subtle, showing us our characters as they fit into their new roles in life, growing into full adulthood (like Garion and Ce’Nedra) while shifting many of Garion’s story role onto Errand’s shoulders. For fans of the Belgariad, it’s a great reunion with old friends.

The build up is handled well. It’s a mystery that has you, thinking you already know everything about the world, wondering what is going on. That moment of realization that there is more to “Boundless Mallorea” than that little slice we saw in Enchanters End Game. The misdirects and the plot twists are great. Guardians of the West is like the first few chapters of Pawn of Prophecy stretched into nearly a whole book.

And it works.

This is a great start to a new series with our old character. Eddings has to do little retconning to make it work, just tweaking the expectation that the final battle wasn’t as final as everyone (our characters included) believed. It follows on those dangling plot threads left over from the last series while setting the stage for the new adventure to come. If you enjoyed the Belgariad, then you have to read the Mallorean!

You can purchase Guardians of the West from Amazon!

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Review: An Echo of Things to Come

An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy)

by James Islington

Reviewed by JMD Reid

After the dramatic revelation of who Caedon truly is after the end of the last novel, he has to remember what he’s done. Can he face the crimes of his past while uncovering the dangerous gambit he’s set in motion to defeat El? Will the demons of his past, the friends and allies he’s betrayed, prove his undoing? Or will his knew friends still trust them when they learn the truth?

Davian has traveled south, separating from his brief reunion with Asha and his friend Wynn. With Augurs no longer condemned to death but needed to save the Boundary, Davian has hopes that he and the others coming into their power will be enough to hold back the darkness. However, evil lurks in the hearts of men. Greed and ambition swirl around him as petty officials seek to use the crisis to further their own ambitions.

Asha, transformed into a Shadow, needs to understand just what she is. Why do her and the others like her exist? The answer to these questions go back to one dark truth: why did she survive the massacre? She will have to brave dangers on her own quest to find the truth.

And last Wynn is beset by political enemies. He has risen to the post of Northwarden and heads the Administration tasked with controlling magic users like himself. He faces resent me, even from those who should love him. Can he enact meaningful change to prevent the Boundary from failing? Or will his enemies tear him down out of fearful prejudice?

An Echo of Things to Come picks off where the last book left off. The entire balance of power has shifted with Wynn becoming Northwarden and changing the Oaths. As the danger of the Boundary nears, Islington delves into the past. He peels back the history of the world and the philosophy behind it.

How can you save the day when everything has already happened. When the past, present, and future were determined by El long ago? How can you stop inevitability from destroying world and does your actions even have consequences? Are you truly responsible for the crimes you commit if it is done at the will of God?

Islington delves into these questions. His philosophical discussion is woven into the foundation of his world. As he peels back the layers, it compels you to keep reading, to understand how Caedon hopes to fight this and if the glimpses of the future can be averted? Can you find redemption for being a monster? Can you save the world fated to die?

Fans of epic fantasy need to read this series. I am eagerly awaiting Book Three! I am glad I picked this one up, and you will be, too!

(Just don’t read the plot synopsis for book three as it spoils a major, and gut-punching, moment in this book. Sigh…)

You can purchase An Echo of Things to Come from Amazon!

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Reread of The Thousandfold Thought: Chapter Eight

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 3: The Thousandfold Thought

by R. Scott Bakker

The Final March
Chapter 8
Xerash

Welcome to Chapter Eight of my reread. Click here if you missed the Chapter Seven!

To merely recall the Apocalypse is to have survived it. This is what makes The Sagas, for all their cramped beauty, so monstrous.

Despite their protestations, the poets who authored them do not tremble, even less do they grieve. They celebrate.

—DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, THE COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

My Thoughts

I really thought I had read this quote earlier in the series, but it must have just stayed with me. It’s a true statement about Achamian’s psychology. We have seen this over and over throughout the books. It’s the criticism of the soldier who fought in war and saw the truth versus the romantic who doesn’t comprehend just what happened. So, what does that have to do with his chapter?

“Apocalypse could feel so light” is something Esmenet thinks when she first picks up the Saga. This is exactly what Achamian is saying with his quote. Reading about the past makes you remote from it. It’s how humans can repeat the horrors that have come before because the farther removed we get from events, the less impact they have. The more likely they’ll be repeated. Communism killed more people in the 20th century than the Nazis did between Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others. Yet you’ll find educated people today talking about the merits of the system because they’ve only read about it, not lived through its horrors.

Then we go to the next paragraph where Esmenet has her own Saga tattooed on her hand. She’s lived being a whore, but for everyone else who sees it, they can’t understand the poverty, smell, degradation, and simplicity of her past life. Especially not surrounded by her new reality. People will write poems about her. They will celebrate her past, showing how she was redeemed by their prophet. They will not tremble or grieve.

Early Spring 4112 Year-of-the-Tusk, Xerash

The scattered Holy War, split up on Kellhus’s orders, converge on Gerotha with the Ainoni Lord Soter being the first to arrive. He marches straight to the city’s gate, soon nicknamed the Twin Fists, to parley. The citizens are scared of atrocities. Lord Soter laughs, withdraws, and begins the siege. Kellhus, Proyas, and Gotian arrived the next day. Kellhus convinced an embassy from the city, demoralized by being abandoned by their ruler who already fled, to surrender the city without condition.

The following morning found the men of the Gerothan embassy strung from the battlements of the great gate, their entrails sagging to the foundations. According to the defectors who managed to escape the city, there had been a coup that night, led by priests and officers loyal to their old Kianene overlords.

The Men of the Tusk began preparing their assault.

Kellhus rides forward to demand answers. A veteran called Captain Hebarata curses him and rants about the Solitary God’s vengeance. Kellhus levels an ultimatum saying, “From this day I count!” The cryptic statement troubles every one.

Meanwhile, Athjeäri continues his patrols. The young earl takes prisoners and learns that the Kianene are seeking to defile Inrithi holy sites to provoke the Holy War. Talking to his captains, Athjeäri decides “if any man should be provoked to rashness, it should be Coithus Athjeäri.” It begins the start of Athjeäri’s Pilgrimage. However, they are too late to stop the shrine of Muselah from being destroyed.

Upon that ground they swore a mighty oath.

Back at Gerotha, the rest of the Holy War has arrived. They see the city as weak since they have made no sorties to test for weakness. Hulwarga and Gothyelk wan to attack immediately. But Kellhus wants them to wait. “Where hope burns bright, patience is quickly consumed.” He says the city will surrender on its own.

On the fourth day of the siege, Esmenet begins reading The Sagas. Before she does, she hears music playing in the background. She’s dealing with morning sickness. Her her body slaves, she learns that it’s a group of three male slaves showing off their skills. Fanashila wants to marry a handsome one, asking for Esmenet’s permission. That makes her feel sad as she gives it. She visits Moënghus and sees his eyes are blue like Cnaiür and feels guilty for not missing Serwë even while thinking of her own baby. Afterward, she has various meetings, including with Werjau to hear his “Summary of Reports.” It felt “deceptively routine” to her. She learns that Uranyanak, a man who Esmenet wants arrested for sedition but whom Kellhus says is too important, continues to curse him.

Her duties as Intricati busied her long into the afternoon. She had grown accustomed to them enough to become bored, especially when it came to administrative matters. Sometimes her old eyes would overcome her and she would find herself gauging the men about her with the carnal boredom of a whore sizing up custom. A sudden awareness of clothing and distance would descend upon her, and she would feel inviolate in a way that made her skin tingle. All the acts they could not commit, all the places they could not touch… These banned possibilities would seem to hang above her like the hazing the canvas ceilings.

I am forbidden, she would think.

Why this should make her feel so pure, she could not fathom.

After a meeting with Proyas, which always feel awkward because he still grieved “their earlier animosity” and another meeting with Werjau, she found herself free to do what she wants: reading The Sagas. She’s learned to enjoy reading, even hungering for it. She gathers them with the same “miserly feelings she harbored towards her cosmetic chests.” But books don’t hide her fear of aging, they allowed her to “so see more.”

“You’ve learned the lesson,” Kellhus had said on one of those rare mornings when he shared her breakfast.

“What lesson might that be?”

“That the lessons never end.” He laughed, gingerly sipped his steaming tea. “That ignorance is infinite.”

She asks how he could know, and makes a joke about his divinity, causing her to throw a pillow which instantly fills her with wonder for “throwing a pillow at a prophet.” She opens her chest containing her library, books she packed up from Caraskand. She sifts through them and feels apprehensive when she finds The Sagas. Feeling foolish, she scoops it up, marveling that “Apocalypse could feel so light.” As she starts reading, she notices her whore tattoo.

It seemed a kind of charm or totem now—her version of an ancestor scroll. That woman, that Sumna harlot who had hung her legs bare from her window, was a stranger to her now. Blood joined them, perhaps, but little else. Her poverty, her smell, her degradation, her simplicity—everything seemed to argue against her.

She reflects on how all her current power would make “the old Esmenet weep for wonder.” She’s second in power behind Kellhus. Men like Eleäzaras and Proyas have to bow to her. “She had rewritten jnan!” Kellhus promised her this and more. She also is a woman of faith now, not the “cynical harlot.” The old her couldn’t have faith, not with how many priests had bought her services.

The old Esmenet would never accept an understanding indistinguishable from trust.

She even carries a “destiny within her womb.” The greatest change, though, is the knowledge she gained. Through Kellhus, she had her world rewritten and understood the “twin darknesses of custom and appetite.” It had outraged her until she found her faith.

The world indeed held miracles, though only for those who dared abandon old hopes.

With a deep breath, Esmenet dives into the scroll, reading one of those “works familiar even to illiterate caste-menials.” To her, the Ancient North, the No-God, the Apocalypse, and the Ordeal were just curious stories, not anything real. Achamian rarely talked about The Sagas, and when he did, he bad-mouthed them. To him they were “like pearls strung across a corpse.” Achamian always spoke of those events with a “thoughtless, first-hand immediacy” that chilled her. Compared to that, The Sagas became something foolish to her and she like-wise would bad-mouth them to others while feeling smug because of her inside information. Despite this, she knows almost nothing about what The Sagas contained and is shocked to learn it’s a collection of different works from different authors, a mix of epic verse and prose.

She had no idea where Kellhus had obtained the scroll, but it was very old, and as much painted as inked—the prize of some dead scholar’s library. The parchment was uterine, soft and unmottled. Both the style of the script and the diction and tone of the translator’s dedicatory seemed bent to the sensibilities of some other kind of reader. For the first time she found herself appreciating the fact that this history was itself historical. For some reason she had never considered that writings could be part of what they were about. They always seemed to hang… outside the world they depicted.

She feels strange reading it on her marriage bed and finds herself carried away. She realizes reading “made gauze of what was immediate, and allowed what was ancient and faraway to rise into view.”

Infected by a kind of floating wonder, she fell into the first of The Sagas.

She feels it’s a curiously erotic experience reading someone’s else thoughts. She feels an intimate connection with the author. Then she realizes the book is talking about her husband’s ancestor, Anasûrimbor Celmomas. The past suddenly feels so close to her through Kellhus and Achamian’s dreams. She’s shocked to learn that there was history before the First Apocalypse. A lot of history, things she never had heard of. She reads and learns Celmomas II was born with a stillborn brother.

After this, the strange intensity that had nagged everything, from the mere thought of reading The Sagas to the weight of the scrolls in her palm, took on the character of a compulsion. It was as if something—a second voice—whispered beneath what she read. Once she even bolted from the bed and pressed her ear to the embroidered canvas walls. She enjoyed stories as much as anyone. She knew what it was to hang in suspense, to feel the gut of some almost-grasped conclusion. But this was different. Whatever it was she thought she heard, it spoke not to some climactic twist, nor even to some penetrating illumination—it spoke to her. The way a person might.

The next four days would be haggard. Jealousy, murder, rage, and doom before all… The First Apocalypse engulfed her.

Esmenet reads about the rule of Celmomas, the last Kûniüric High King (and the guy who gave the Celmomas Prophecy about the Harbinger’s return), how he was warned by Seswatha, via though Nonmen sorcerers of Ishterebinth, that the Mangaecca School (Consult forerunners) were investigating Min-Uroikas and trying to activate the Inchoroi technology, including the No-God. Seswatha’s Long Argument convinced Celmomas to act, though it was too late.

We’re given an overview how the various sagas see Seswatha, from a wise counselor to a scheming foreigner to a lunatic refugee. We get the first reference, I think, to the great Chorae Hoard at Sakarpus. We learn he was the Bearer of the Heron Spear.

Hated or adored, Seswatha was the pin in the navigator’s bowl, the true hero of The Sagas, though not one cycle or chronicle acknowledged him as such. And each time Esmenet encountered some variant of his name, would clutch her breast and think, Achamian.

As she goes about her day, she’s haunted of the images The Sagas conjured of the brutalities and atrocities committed by the Sranc and other servants. A war that engulfed everything “even the unborn.” She realizes that this is what he dreams night after night. “Each night, he literally relived the No-God’s dread awakening, he actually heard the mothers wail over their stillborn sons.” It makes her think of his mule, Daybreak, and what that name meant to him. A “poignant hope.” She realizes she never knew and feels guilty that she, a whore, didn’t realize he was “debased by hungers vast, ancient, and rutting.”

You are my morning, Esmi… my dawn light.

What could it mean? For a man who lived and relived the ruin of all, what could it mean to awake to her touch, to her face? Where had he found the courage? The trust?

I was his morning.

Esmenet felt it then, overpowering her, and in the strange fashion of moving souls, she struggled to ward it away. But it was too late. For what seemed the first time, she understood: his pointless urgency, his desperation to be believed, his haggard love, his short-winded compassion—shadows of the Apocalypse, all. To witness the dissolution of nations, to be stripped night after night of everything cherished, everything fair. The miracle was that he still loved, that he still recognized mercy, pity… How could she not think him strong?

She understood, and it terrified her, for it was a thing too near to love.

She has a dream of floating over a dark sea, fighting to keep from being dragged beneath it. She is tossed and turned by it and she sees Achamian in the current his arm “waved dead in the current.” Kellhus wakes her up and she clings to him, crying out that she doesn’t want to share him. He doesn’t want to share her.

His words remind her of her kiss with Achamian. Though she never told Kellhus, he knew but didn’t talk about it. She alternates why he hasn’t questioned her and cursing herself. It confuses her when he had drawn out her other flaws. She feared to ask while reading The Sagas. The images it conjures of destruction haunt her. “She watched it all from afar, more than two thousand years too late.” It’s the darkest thing she’d ever read, and Achamian relived it every night.

And though she tried to beat the words from her heart, they rose nonetheless, as cold as accusatory truth, as relentless as earned affliction. I was his morning.

As she nears the end of her reading, she finds Achamian soaking his feat in a river. She feels a moment of gladness and urges to make a joke, to sit down, and fall into that old relationship with him. This frightens her.

It was his fault for dying! If only he had stayed, if only Xinemus had said nothing of the Library, if only her hand hadn’t lingered in Kellhus’s lap… She felt his heart hush for terror.

Esmi, he said the night of his return from the dead, “it’s me… Me.”

She watches him sitting stun, ignoring the boisterous contest of a group of Thunyeri showing off for a group of women. Esmenet feels like she woke up from a “devious nightmare” that mimicked real life. That she hadn’t betrayed Achamian and could cry out his name.

But it was no dream.

She has memories of Kellhus touching her body while Achamian begs and pleads with her. They clash in her. She sees all those moments she betrayed him with Kellhus as she remembers the horror in Achamian’s eyes. She is horrified that she could betray Achamian like this. She things she’s not capable. Then she remembers she sold her daughter into slavery. Clutching her pregnant belly, she fled, leaving a survivor of the Apocalypse to grieve “his single trust” and to mourn “the whore, Esmenet.” That night, she finished The Saga, and wept as she finished it.

She wept and she whispered, “Akka.” For she was his world, and all lay in ruin.

Achamian is dreaming that he’s in Golgotterath, the Ark-of-the-Skies with Nau-Cayûti, the son of King Celmomas. As he dreams, he hears someone calling his real name, begging for him. They have spent days in the dark, “too terrified to dare any light.” They are using the sapper tunnels the Sranc built during Celmomas’s siege of Golgotterath that “dissolved in acrimony and cannibal pride.”

Who would dare what Seswatha and the High King’s youngest son now dared?

The distant voice asks Achamian to wake up as in the dream, he and Nau-Cayûti have reached a postern that leads into the Ark itself, the entrance at a strange angle since the Ark didn’t crash level. Sranc lounge outside of it. Seswatha things it’s madness to continue, but the woman Nau-Cayûti loves in here. He will save her and leaps across a gap to a smaller entrance. The voice continues to intrude and Achamian comes awake.

Akka, you’re dreaming...

A spark of light, frail and glaring.

“Please…”

At first she seemed an apparition before him, a glowing mist suspended in void, but as he blinked, he saw her lines drawn off into darkness, the lantern illuminating her oval face.

“Esmi,” he croaked.

He’s confused that she’s there, that his Wards hadn’t awakened him. He’s still clutched by “the horror of Golgotterath.” He sees she’s been crying, but she flinches when he tries to hug her, reminding him who she’s with. He asks her why she’s there, and she has to tell him something.

Her face crumpled, then recomposed. “That you are strong.”

She fled, and once again all was dark and absolute.

The Synthese flies through the night. “Urgency did not come easily to such an ancient intellect.” It is introspective, though thoughts are limited by being in the construct. It has been thousands of years since they had a true contest. Kellhus has upset all their plans and the Holy War has been “reborn as an instrument of unknown machinations…” It is shocked that Kellhus, a vermin, could be so cunning.

Golgotterath would not be pleased with this new disposition of pieces. But the rules had changed.

There were those who preferred clarity.

My Thoughts

Back to war and the Historical scope with the siege of Gerotha. We can see just how badly shaken the Fanim are. The Kianene have abandoned their subject people, the Xerashi, and this has demoralized the leadership. Belief is everything in war, and they believe they’ve lost. But the fanatics in there aren’t about to give up with out a fight. This leads to Kellhus cryptic threat and the “hope” of the people that they need to surrender if they want to survive. This will consume their patience with the coup and… the city will surrender itself. He’s applying his knowledge of humans to the group level.

I think Esmenet sees something in young Fanashila. She sees herself in the girl, the way the girl has no control over her life. Esmenet was lucky to marry over her social status, but this girl can only marry another slave.

Deceptively routine… Interesting. We know Werjau is maneuvering against Esmenet. Nice bit of foreshadowing for something that goes no where.

Some people like to bitch about their bosses but are happy when given importance. They might never like the boss, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do their job properly. Kellhus is the type of boss that doesn’t have an ego so it doesn’t bother him if people curse him.

Esmenet is still that same whore as before, but now she sees herself as elevated, better than all the others because of Kellhus. She’s reveling in this knowledge. It’s a self-deception that makes her feel special, pure. Something she hasn’t been in a long time, not since she was a child before her father raped her. Last chapter, Xinemus said she smelled horny, well, she is horny a lot of the time it seems. She always enjoyed sex as a whore. She always tried to own her pleasure, which is why her encounter with the Synthese in book frightened her because she didn’t own her pleasure that time. She was just a puppet being controlled through bliss and rapture. She still owns her pleasure. She feels her attraction and can control who gets it more effectively than before. For now, she thinks that’s only Kellhus so by denying her desires she reaffirms her special status as Kellhus’s wife. She’s reinforcing her own identity the way we all do.

Esmenet thinks she’s old, but in our society she would be seen as young. She’s only in her late twenties right now. But when you marry at fourteen or sixteen, that’s a woman that would have a few kids in their society.

Even to a Dûnyain, ignorance is infinite.

Kellhus does a good job keeping Esmenet believing in his divinity even while playing the role of her lover. While Kellhus may care for Esmenet in his own stunted way, he has to pretend to be what Achamian is natural. It makes him seem human to Esmenet, keeps her invested in the relationship.

Yeah, it’s hard to believe in a religion when the priests of it violate its teachings by paying to have sex with you.

It’s sad hearing Esmenet talk about her faith. She’s merely traded one dogma’s darkness for another. No longer is custom binding her, but Kellhus. There is no escape in this world from cause and effect, not even for the Dûnyain. That is their goal. To attain the Absolute, to become a self-moving soul. Perhaps Kellhus found this at the very end of The Unholy Consult. His son certainly did. We’ll have to wait for the final series to find out.

That’s a nice touch. How Esmenet would feel smug because she knew about the Apocalypse from Achamian, her “doorway to the past.” Don’t we all get that when we know something that someone doesn’t. Something secret and of seeming great important. Then we get to explain and talk like we have any idea what we’re discussing when it’s truly just second or third-hand information were passing off as truth. Why?

Because we get that dopamine rush in our brain, and that makes us feel good.

The Sagas are a mix of literary styles, much like Bakker’s Second Apocalypse series, from the limited 3rd person and intimate POVs to the “prose chronicles” of the historical settings.

Anyone who has ever seen an illuminated, medieval bible can appreciate how a work can itself be historical divorced from what the contents are about. It makes you wonder about the person who produced a book that is as much a work of art as the contents of the writing.

You don’t become an author without loving reading, so never be surprised to have passages in a book talking about how books carry you away to another world. Make the world gauzy is a nice metaphor from Bakker.

Celmomas was a twin whose brother died in childbirth. His namesake, Kelmomas, has a similar relationship with a twin brother. It’s an interesting literary device to have these two character mirror each other. But both have vastly different fates.

I’ve had books do this to me like The Sagas do to Esmenet. Consume me. Leave me thinking, locked in a world, transported from my own to ponder things that shouldn’t bother me, but did. Words that affected me to my core and shook my foundations.

So, the Heron Spear… What happened to it? If you didn’t know, it’s a powerful laser brought by the Inchoroi and the only weapon that could kill the No-God. Seswatha got his hands on it. The Scylvendi, supposedly, carried it off after looting a city, its fate unknown. Another laser is seen at Golgotterath, but it’s not the same one as the Heron Spear, its light a different color. After the events of The Unholy Consult, I hope someone can find it.

What’s a navigator’s bowl you’re asking? A compass. The earliest ones were bowls of water with the needle floating on it pinned to the bottom.

Esmenet is beginning to realize what Achamian truly felt for her. She’s gaining empathy for him. An empathy she’s warred against since he returned since he was the proof of the crime she committed with Kellhus, the betrayal she tries to forget because he threatens her current happiness. She meant more to Achamian then she can ever mean to Kellhus. She’s trying to deny what she’s feeling, because it’s her love for Achamian rising up again, no longer buried by grief, mourning, acceptance, and her newfound happiness. In other stories, this would be the shift of her working back towards Achamian. To having their reunion at the end of this novel. It comes so close…

But she’s a mother. And that’s more important to her then being a woman.

I am sure Kellhus has his reasons not to pry at Esmenet about Achamian. Perhaps he needs Achamian to feel there is some hope of getting Esmenet long enough to gain the Gnosis from him? Perhaps he needs her to fully feel her love so he can cut it out of her in a whole and clean manner.

She lists all the things she’s angry about: him dying, him leaving, Xinemus bringing up the library that lead Kellhus away, and her hand lingering in Kellhus’s lap, awakening her to new possibilities. If only she hadn’t let herself be seduced, she would be sitting with Achamian the way she used to, his morning once again. That’s what she’s truly angry at herself about. Allowing herself to love someone else.

Nau-Cayûti fell in love with a woman that wasn’t his wife. His wife was jealous. She plotted with the Consult, arranging for the girl to be kidnapped. Seswatha than used this to convince Nau-Cayûti to steal into Golgotterath and retrieve the Heron Spear. They are successful, though the girl isn’t found… intact. Like any myth, going into the underworld, into Hell, to save a loved one never works out for the hero. Nau-Cayûti returns home to his wife and she gives him a poisoned drink. Everyone thought he died, but he was left in a paralyzed stupor, buried alive, then dug up by the Consult and taken to Golgotterath to become the No-God. Perhaps stealing the girl was the first attempt to capture Nau-Cayûti and he managed to escape, so they went with Plan B.

Bakker employs a subtle way to show when Achamian wakes up. “Akka, you’re dreaming…” It switches from italics to normal in mid sentence, making that transition.

“That you are strong.” This is the only way that Esmenet can tell Achamian right now that she still loves him. She can’t admit the truth to herself. Not when Kellhus’s child grows in her belly. Not when she thinks she loves the Warrior-Prophet, the God Incarnate.

And we end with the even the ancient enemies of the world, these beings who are the equivalent of Sauron and Morgoth from Tolkien’s legerdemain, are realizing that Kellhus is a true threat. No more taking their time. That has only allowed him to take command. They have to listen to the Scylvendi. This is tacked onto a chapter all about what the Synthese and the Consult has already done, giving us more glimpse into the horrors of the last Apocalypse. It tells us what the stakes are via Esmenet’s fresh eyes. It’s no coincidence he appears here at the end of a chapter focused on her since she’ll be the next “benjuka plate” where the contest will be held.

Hi, if you like my Analysis, you can connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, and you can check out my short stories on Amazon! Also,  please leave any comments or criticisms below! They help keep me motivated!

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Review: Enchanter’s End Game (The Belgariad 5)

Enchanter’s End Game (The Belgariad 5)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The final volume of the Belgariad has begun. The dark god Torak stirs in the east and Garion travels with the sorcerer Belgarath and the thief Silk to confront him. But standing between him and the god lies the lands of his followers, the Agerzaks.

In the south, Garion’s fiancee, acting in his name, leads the army she’s raised to distract the Agerzaks. She will keep the world’s attention on her to give her fiancee the chance to slip through and defeat the dark god once and for all.

Danger swells for everyone. War has come to the West while Garion and his small group has to dodge trackers, demons, and Grolim priests eager for new sacrifices for their altars. Two prophecies hurtle towards each other and their titanic conclusion.

Enchanters End Game brings all the story threads together. The book is epic, bouncing around most of the world, seeing the impact of the impending war. Last book was Garion’s coming into adulthood and responsibility, and now Ce’Nedra has her own lessons to learn. War isn’t a game. It’s deadly and serious, and those she cares for will suffer for the decisions she makes.

Garion’s arc is much… simpler. He has already reached the pinnacle of his character growth is nearly over. He’s made his choice in the last book, now he’s marching towards his fate, facing the fear and dread as he comes closer and closer. His final lesson is a profound one, though.

Compassion.

Eddings does a phenomenal job bringing this series to a close satisfactory. I particularly enjoy his epilogue and the efficiency of which he gives all the characters their codas without bogging the narrative down with scene after scene by using a dream as a framing device, allowing him to spend a few paragraphs sketching out the important details and flowing onto the next. The only complaint I have is how little Garion we get in this with half the novel devoted to the war. I also would have wished him to have a more active role in the decisions. Eddings had him grow up into a man, ruling Riva and making decisions only to have him surrender to Belgarath and Silk again. I can see why, but it would have been nice for him to be more in command as our hero.

There are a few loose threads which Eddings uses to take us into a second series. He must have been thinking about the Mallorean because there is enough seeds planted to make the second series mostly work without having to do any major retconning of the ending (this is billed as THE final battle, but there’s an extra round still to come).

All in all, the Belgariad was an amazing experience. It’s always a pleasure to revisit Eddings in his prime. Fans of Fantasy, especially boys, will enjoy this series.

You can purchase Enchanters End Game from Amazon!

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New Release: Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad 4)

Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad 4)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In the ruins of Rak Cthol, Garion and his companions have accomplished their goal. They have recovered the Orb of Aldur. But Belgararth the Sorcerer lies in a stupor, exhausted by his magical duel with Ctuthik and the mountains keep shakes from the earthquakes. They are deep in enemy territory and will have to use their wits to escape.

It’s up to Garion to step forward and leave his company to safety. But can the young man handle the weight of leadership thrust upon him? Will his fledling sorecery powers be enough to see them safe through the lands of the Murgos? And what will happen when they make it back to the safety. What does it mean for their quest now that they have reclaimed the Orb of Aldur?

Garion’s true destiny still awaits him.

Castle of Wizardy brings a major narrative shift to the series. The goal, finding the Orb of Aldur, is accomplished at the end of book 3. Now this book deals with Garion maturing into adulthood and leaving behind childhood. From his first foray into command at the start of the book to the revelation of his true role (which any reader paying attention to will have figured it out long ago). Where as he had no choice at the start of the quest, like any child, now he has to make his decision.

How will he deal with the responsibility thrust upon him? What choice will he make with the burden placed upon him? Garion’s journey is nearly over, and this book is the most crucial one. The decisions he makes shape the man he is becoming.

Castle of Wizardry starts of tense. The chase by the Murgos is some of the tensest sections of the book. With Belgarath out of commission and Polgara forced to defend the Orb bearer, their company has never been at their weakest. Eddings transitions this into the lightness of the rest of the book to the surprising fun that is Ce’Nedra’s section at the end of the book as she, too, discovers the responsibilities of adulthood and makes her choice on how she’ll help Garion with his destiny.

This series continues to be one of my favorite fantasy series and it’s been a delight to dive back into it.

You can purchase Castle of Wizardy from Amazon!

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Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy 1)

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy 1)

by James Islington

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Two decades after the social fabric has been overturn. Once, the Augurs and the other Gifted controlled the world. But now the survivors of the war are chained to their nation, bound by oaths sworn on their behalves. Hated and feared, there are those who plot to restore their power to what it once was.

And to the north, an ancient evil lurks beyond the boundary.

Davian is in a panic. The testing is coming up. He is one of the Gifted, but he can’t access his magic. If he can’t learn to control it, they will strip it from him and make him one of the Shadows, forever marked. Without even his magic, he will be loathed by all. However, there are those in power who know what he truly is.

And they wish to see his destiny met. He can rise to meet it or he can gamble on gaining his power in time.

The Shadow of What Was Lost is an intriguing fantasy book. The world building is deep and the story flows fast. The plot twists and turns, with new revelations peeling back every few chapters. Islington builds up his story through his three storylines, dropping hints here, clues there as he builds towards the ending of the first book in his fantasy series.

An engrossing book that keeps you reading, wandering what happens next. With foreshadowing hinting at character’s fates via prophetic visions and time travel, these tantalizing clues keep you wondering what will happen to the characters to lead to these fates.

The plot turns can be shocking, but the story holds together well. It doesn’t feel haphazard but planned. Islington is in control, important when dealing with his themes of time travel and prophetic visions. The characters are heroic and villainous, cryptic and intriguing. I’m intrigued to where this story goes and glad book 2 is coming out next.

You can purchase The Shadow of What Was Lost from Amazon!

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Review: Magician’s Gambit (The Belgariad 3)

Magician’s Gambit (The Belgariad 3)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

As ash falls on Nyssa, Garion grapples with his sorcerous powers. Wracked with guilt for what he did to the man who killed his parents, Garion needs to understand his new abilities. How he can live with the consequences.

As Garion deals with what type of man he will become, Ce’Nedra can’t help the burgeoning attraction swelling in her heart for the young man. She knows nothing can come of it, as a Tolnedran Princess, she’ll marry a man to enhance the empire and her family’s goals. How can she love a peasant? What future can they have?

As the company heads north into the haunted lands of Maragor, Garion and Ce’Nedra must both come to terms with adult responsibilities. All while dealing with mad gods, dangerous assassins, and bloodthirsty monsters.

The Magician’s Gambit continues the growth of Garion. Adult responsibilities, represented by sorcery, are thrust upon him. And now he has to figure out what to do with them. The decisions he makes will shape the sort of man he’ll become. Eddings weaves these themes into his story with skill, tying the coming of age plots into the fantasy quest adventure narrative he is weaving.

The characters continue to be delightful. As always, Eddings can straddle that line between the humors and the serious, between the dark and the bright. The Belgariad series is one that both young people can read and enjoy but has more mature themes for us older folks to enjoy.

This is a fantasy series for all ages to enjoy, but it will especially resonate with young boys!

You can purchase Magician’s Gambit from Amazon!

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Review: Queen of Prophecy (The Belgariad 2)

Queen of Prophecy (The Belgariad 2)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The quest to recover the Orb of Aldur continues. Garion, once a simple farm boy, finds himself thrust into the company of sorcerers, warriors, and conniving princes on a journey to save the world. As he struggles to find his place in the world, his true destiny begins rearing its head.

While traveling south through new lands, new members join Garion’s party. From the resolute Mandrollan to the flighty princess Ce’Nedra, the company continues following the thief into the dangerous lands of the serpent queen.

Those who know Garion’s destiny seek to seize him. He will have to grow into a man if he wishes to survive!

Queen of Sorcery picks up a few weeks after Pawn of Prophecy. Eddings skips us a farther south, not treading over familiar ground of Sendaria and setting us into a new country. His world building expands even more as he takes us into cultures new and varied from the solid lands Garion grew up in. Edding’s sardonic humor can tread into the macabre from time to time, but the series continues to be fun and adventurous.

Garion continues growing up, on the verge of true adulthood on this book. He’s in the last stages of that rebellious teenage phase as responsibilities of the world began to weigh on his shoulders. This series continues to be a fun romp and a great series for young boys to read as well as older fans. Eddings dialogue continues to be some of my favorite in Fantasy.

You can purchase Queen of Sorcery from Amazon!

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Interview: Clay Gilbert

This week, I got to get to know a new indie author. Clay Gilbert is man who writes what he loves: horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction! He’s just released his seventh novel onto Amazon, The Kind Memory’s Children: Book One The Golden Road. And that’s just one of his intriguing novels!

First, let’s get to know Clay with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.
The Bible, Moby-Dick, and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Dune, that’s a good choice. My favorite science fiction novel, and there is a reason the Bible has endured the centuries whether or not you believe in god or even Judeo-Christianity. Lot of truth about reality found in there.

What animal best describes your personality?
Cats.
Interesting.

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?
Oakley Court, near Windsor, in the UK, the location for much of the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Are you a cat or dog person?
Cat
I had a feeling after your personality answer!

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?
Hmm. Maybe Frank Herbert or Robert Heinlein.
Frank Herbert had such fascinating ideas about the great man fallacy.

 

Now let’s get down to brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?
My Christian faith, and the Bible; music of all sorts, but particularly the music of the Grateful Dead; movies, and books.

What drew you to the craft of writing?
I started writing and reading early, and from the time I realized that there were people who wrote as a job, the way that my father went to his office every day, that’s the job I wanted. I published my first short story at the age of thirteen, in Scholastic magazine. They paid me $25. I never really looked back after that.
Awesome! I never shared what I was writing with anyone at thirteen. Too scared. That, and I couldn’t finish a story before a new idea caught my attention.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planner or do you fly by the seats of your pants?
Thank you for not using the term ‘pantser.’ I don’t outline. I don’t plan in advance, much. At the same time, my process isn’t as random as what ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ suggests. I usually start with a character, or pair of characters, and let them tell me what the story is. In other words, the conflicts, situations, end goals, and the world my story happens to be set in are all centered around and suited for the people in the story. And I find that they know what’s best for the story much more than I would, if I were to force things. Outlining to me seems like trying to have control over something I don’t want control over.
Interesting take on it.

What has attracted you to writing across such diverse genres as science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror? Of the three, which is your favorite to write about.
I probably consider myself mostly a science fiction writer, although I do have a strong love for horror and urban fantasy as well. I just published a second horror novel, Cassie’s Song, the sequel to my vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and I plan on publishing two more horror novels next year, along with more science fiction. The Kind, Book One: The Golden Road is the first of a two-part urban fantasy, and while I like that genre, I don’t know if I’ll have more to say in that area once the second book, To Terrapin and Back Again, is published this fall. We’ll have to see.

Tell us about Annah, the heroine from your Children of Evohe Series. What makes her such an intriguing character to read about?
I sometimes refer to the first book of that series, Annah and the Children of Evohe, as ‘Jane Eyre’ in space. Like Charlotte Bronte’s heroine, Annah is an outcast in her world, and an independent thinker. Also like Jane, Annah finds love with a much older man—the human Gary Holder, whose ship crash-lands on Annah’s homeworld of Evohe, and whom she nurses back to health. Unlike Jane, though, Annah becomes a messiah figure to her people, similar to Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s Dune. And that was one of the things I wanted to explore when I started that series—why are there no female messiah-figures in fiction, science fiction specifically? What would it be like to merely want to fit in, and to have this sort of destiny put upon you? Annah’s interesting because she has a strong desire to belong, but the other things she feels called to do can’t help but divide her from her people in some ways. She’s also not some kind of flawless, perfect heroine. She has many strengths, but she also has fears and weaknesses and failings, and certainly doesn’t always do the right thing.
That does sound interesting. Nice foundation to build off of!

Eternity and its City sounds intriguing. What was the inspiration behind Eternity’s quest to lead it to freedom?
I wrote the original draft of Eternity between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, or, in other words, between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, the same time period that passes for Eternity in the novel. I revised it a number of times, but it’s surprising to me that, in its published form, it’s still about 75% the book that seventeen-year-old me wrote all those years ago. The inspiration was twofold, really: I’ve also enjoyed dystopian books like Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’ s 1984, but I also enjoy coming-of-age stories like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I wanted to write a dystopian novel in which the broad political struggle was more a metaphor for the growing-up process of adolescence. It was very immediate struggle to me when I first wrote the book, because it was pretty much my life, or how I experienced it, internally. Revising it, later, as a adult, I was able to refine the raw emotions and the inexperienced prose style of my younger self into a form that, if seventeen-year-old me could see it, I think he’d say that was what he meant in the first place. Next year, I’m writing a sequel called Islands of Light. It takes place thirty years later, and, like the original book, will attempt to function on two levels. What do the struggles of youth look like to an adult, thirty years on? And also, what happens, politically, when you win a war? We won, but do we become the oppressors now? What does that look like? I’m looking forward to going back to the City and exploring those issues.

What do you have coming up next?
So far, in 2018, I’ve published The Conversationalist, Book One: Out of the Blue, the first part of a sci-fi romantic comedy, Cassie’s Song, the second book in my vampire series Tales of the Night-Kind, and the first book of the urban fantasy The Kind, entitled The Golden Road. This fall, I’ll be publishing Book Two of The Kind, titled To Terrapin and Back Again, the second Conversationalist novel, entitled Mission to Mercy Prime, and the fourth Children of Evohe novel, Annah and the Arrow.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?
Write what you love, not what you think is going to sell. You must be your primary audience, starting out. If you write a story you are passionate about, other people will be, too. Write from passion, not fashions or trends. Write every day. Treat it like a job. Same time, same place, every day, for as much time as you can spare. Dismiss the idea of ‘writer’s block’ from your mind. ‘Writer’s block’ is made up BS that people use as an excuse not to do their work. If you had a stopped-up toilet, and the plumber showed up and apologetically said he couldn’t do his job because he had ‘plumber’s block, would you stand for that? Don’t stand for it in your writing, either. Set a goal. I try for an average of 20,000 words, or ten pages, a day. Whatever your daily goal is, don’t stop until you achieve it, and eliminate ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary.
That is some great advice that I personally agree with. Writing is my job, and I try to keep a schedule for it.

Well, thank you for letting me get a chance to talk to you! I wish you well on your writing!

Clay Gilbert says he’s always liked stories, and that from the time he knew there were people who told them for a living, that’s what he wanted to do. Clay’s work in various genres has been in print since his first short science fiction story, “The Computer Conspiracy,” was published in Scholastic magazine when he was just thirteen. Clay is the author of the science fiction series Children of Evohe, including the novels Annah and the Children of Evohe, Annah and the Exiles, Annah and the Gates of Grace, and Annah and the Arrow. He is also the author of the YA dystopian novel Eternity, the science fiction novel The Conversationalist: Out of the Blue and its sequel, The Conversationalist: Mission to Mercy Prime, as well as the vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and its sequel, Cassie’s Song, all published by Dark Moon Press. He lives and works in Knoxville, TN. His author blog can be found at http://portalsandpathways.wordpress.com/, and the official website for his Children of Evohe novels resides at https://childrenofevohe.com/.

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