Tag Archives: Magic

Reread of the Darkness that Comes Before: Intro

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 1: The Darkness that Comes Before

by R. Scott Bakker

Intro

darkness-that-comes-beforeMore than a few years back, I was in the Borders (yep, that far back, I miss you Borders) at the SeaTac Airport killing time before my flight. While browsing the fantasy section, the Darkness that Comes Before caught my eye. I read the description on the back with talk of an apocalyptic past and a gathering crusade. The book promised a mysterious traveler named Anasûrimbor Kellhus. I was hooked. I bought the book on the spot and devoured it on my trip. I have since come to love the Prince of Nothing Trilogy and its sequel the Aspect Emperor Trilogy. Together these two series plus a third as yet written series form the greater Second Apocalypse meta-series.

R. Scott Bakker is a controversial author. His books are deep in the genre of modern fantasy called Grimdark. And that is what it is. He has created a world whose roots mankind struggles to rise from. It is not a pleasant place. Very few people are allowed the luxury of agency, and those tend to be men. Like most of human history, women hold little power in his series. He is accused of misogyny. There will be no female character bootstrapping feminism and rising above the shackles placed upon her.

But calling his books misogyny is missing the point. R. Scott Bakker is showing just how bad humans can get. He is also writing this towards men, not to show them treating women is bad but to illuminate some of the darker aspects of male fantasy and thoughts while at the same time showcasing the misery most of human kind has toiled under through most of our history. If anything, I would say the books are more misandrist. The every man a rapist trope is almost a reality in this series.

But there is still hope and light to be found.

With the third book of the Aspect Emperor Trilogy, the Great Ordeal (formally titled the Unholy Consult), release approaching in July I felt the need to reread the series in preparation. Of course, there is no way for me to even hope to catch up before the release, but I’ll give it a valiant try. This is a repost of a blog series I never finished from four years ago on my original blog, the ReReid blog (see, I was trying to be clever). But no one ever visited my blog so after several months, well, my interest wained.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the Darkness that Comes Before.

SPOILOR WARNING: Please read the book before any of these posts. This is intended for those who have read the books. I will discuss both the events of the chapter and even their ramification for future events.

Bakker opens the book with a quote. Not a fictitious quote from his own setting, but a quote of the German philosopher Nietzsche.

“I shall never tire of underlining a concise little fact which those superstitious people are loath to admit—namely, that a thought comes when ‘it’ wants, not when ‘I’ want…”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

My Thoughts

Philosophy is a large part of the Second Apocalypse and Bakker starting the series with a quote of Nietzsche informs us of one of the major themes he will explore in the series. Nietzsche was an atheist who promoted the philosophy that without God there is no moral authority upon man. Nietzsche believed in ideas like “self-consciousness,” “knowledge,” “truth,” and “free will” were inventions of moral consciousness. Nietzsche believed the “will to power” explained all human behavior.

According to Nietzsche, the will to power illuminated all human ambition—the drive to succeed, and reaching the highest position in life. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche writes, “Even the body within which individuals treat each other as equals…will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant—not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power.”

The quote that Bakker opens his book is quite clear that we human have no control over the origin of our thoughts. This idea is directly related to the title of the book and one of the overarching themes of the series—the Illusion of Free Will.

If you haven’t gotten bored yet, click her for the Prologue

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Review: Spark of Defiance (Game of Fire 1)

Spark of Defiance (Game of Fire 1)

by Autumn Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

B01D3VUJ9O.01.LZZZZZZZSix months after the war that broke the Church of the Four Orders and freed the other temples from Solaire’s control. But the scars remain. Two events, both innocuous and seemingly innocent, spark off a new conflict.

When Zhao, an air elemental, returns home to visit his sister. His people fear elementals. Zhao had been kept confined to a shrine, quarantined from his people. When he arrives now that the war is over and elementals should be free, he discovers his new niece is an elemental and the chief of his tribe looks to inflict the same punishment. With his friend Laisseg, he rescues his sister and niece.

And sparks off a war between neighboring people. As the war spirals out of control, Zhao seeks help from his friends, pulling Ria from her search for the escaped Sinika, the villain responsible for the war and held as a prisoner for the last six month until his supporters freed him.

Meanwhile, Lavinia and her husband Darag have finished their pilgrimage to all the temples to allow Lavinia to touch all the spheres and use all the elements. Wanting to fulfill a promise to the Ashanti Jeif and Leifa, they visit the short-lived and mysterious Ashanti. Their message sparks off a chain of events that could forever change the world.

War has returned, but an even great threat looms and the survivors of the last war will have to reunite to stop the new threats to their world.

Sparks of Defiance (and the Game of Fire series) is a sequel to her Rise of the Five Orders series. It was great to return to her world and see old characters. The war haunts the characters, particularly the death of Beite. She does an excellent job reworking reminders of the previous plot without exposition dumps. The plot moves fast, keeping you reading.

Autumn ratchets up the tension as the book builds to its climax. All your favorite characters that survived the last series are once again in peril.  I was on the edge of my seat through the climax.

Sparks of Defiance is a great start to another amazing Fantasy series from Autumn. If you enjoy great, fast-paced fantasy, then you’ll enjoy Autumn’s Rise of the Five Orders series and the start to Game of Fire. I am eager for Book 2 to be released.

You can buy Spirit of Life from Amazon!

I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review, though I had planned on buying it before the author sent it to me and have preordered it.

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Review of Mistborn: Secret History

Mistborn: Secret History

by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

B01B0NS93U.01.LZZZZZZZSPOILER WARNING: Just reading this review will spoil major events of the original Mistborn Trilogy. If you haven’t read those amazing books, stop reading this review, buy them, and discover the awe-inspiring world of Scadriel that Brandon has created.

I am really serious.

This review will totally spoil and ruin those books.

Last chance…

Okay, here we go. This novella came out of nowhere for me. I hadn’t heard it was coming out (of course, I am not the best at staying current on books). I knew Bands of Mourning was coming out and I was shocked when I got to the end there was a note from Brandon revealing the existence of the untold story of the original Mistborn series. That’s not surprisng. If you’ve read the trillogy there were hints of stuff going on behind the metaphysical scenes.

This story lays it out. What happened after Kelsier died? Well, first off he punched god. And by god, I mean Preservation, one of the Shards of Adolnasium that inabits Scadriel. In dying, Kelsier discovers an entirely new world. He learns just how small Scadriel is in the process, and he works behind the scenes to ensure that our heroes victory at the end of the series against Ruin can happen.

There were hints, but to see it laid out was exciting and emotional. To get to see Kelsier struggle to help his friends from beyond the grave was poignant. He is the Survivor, and he never gave up. This Novella shed light on a lot of the strange events that hapepned and even gave new context to things I thought I had understood (like the first time Preservation tried to stab Elend or why Vin avoided talking to Hoid).

This book also did more to shed light on the greater Cosmere than any previous published story. The curtain has been pulled back, and we are getting glimpses of the larger universe that has better things to do then worry about one little planet. I drank this book up. It was wonderful to see all the characters one last time, to have one more chance to say goodbye to them. Fans of the Cosmere, this novella is a must read.

Bands of Mourning is available from Amazon.

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Review: Born of Water (Rise of the Fifth Order Book 1)

Born of Water (Rise of the Fifth Order Book 1)

by Autumn M. Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

81vG6hkWFyL._SL1500_On the night of the summer solstice festival, Niri, an acolyte of the Church pf the Four Orders, hunts through the streets of to find the girls he had witnessed during the ceremony. The girl had shone with potential—she was an Elemental. And Niri had to find her. Niri was a water elemental, like all elementals, she was raised by the Church, taken from her family at a young age. And if she doesn’t find this girl and returns empty handed, she knows her punishment will be sever.

But when she finds Ria, the potential, with her best friend Lavina and Lavina’s brother Ty, Niri can’t bring herself to ruin this girl’s life. But when a group of armed men accost the group, Ria uses magic. Not elemental powers, but the forbidden arts that had caused a war a thousand years ago.

Panic fills Niri. She knows that the Curse, a shape-changing beast bred to hunt down mages, is even now coursing from the Temple of Solaire to hunt them down. Niri can’t stand by and let this young, innocent girl be killed and flees with Lavinia, Ria, and Ty by boat, sailing south to the lost Temple of Dust where, according to a message from Niri’s mentor, answers might be found.

Born of Water is a fun read. Autumn sets the stage right from the beginning, putting you in Niri’s panic mind as she searches the city for Ria while reflecting on the cruelties the Church of the Four Orders is capable of committing. When she decides to betray her order and join the youths in flight, you understand why.

The journey is full of much bickering. Niri is the oldest, but she’s barely an adult, and Ria and Lavinia are teenagers. Their flight is punctuated by teenage squabbling and angst that seems quite real, but can be a little tiresome.

But the book really shines with the magic, from the way Niri’s eyes cry tears of lavender when she works magic, to the battle between elementals. The action scenes are crisp and imaginative, with some creative uses of the powers. The book has a level of adrenaline through much of it that keeps you reading, wanting to find out what new obstacle the band of four will have to contend with as they sail the world. And while the teenage angst can be annoying, it fades as the four work through their problems.

If you’re a fan of fantasy and great world building, then you’ll love Born of Water. I can’t wait to start reading the sequel, Rule of Fire. Born of Water is a great foundation for a fantasy series!

You can buy Born of Water from Amazon. Follow Autumn on twitter @Weifarer and check out her blog.

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