Tag Archives: Review

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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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: 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: Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad 1)

Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad 1)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

On a remote farm in the back end of nowhere, Garion grows up under the watch of his Aunt Pol. He has no idea of his true heritage or his true destiny. Nor does he know of the great adventure about to be thrust upon him when the traveling storyteller he’s nicknamed Mr. Wolf shows up with urgent news for his Aunt.

News that sees Garion setting off from the farm he grew up on and out into the world. Confused by events and realizing his Aunt Pol is more than a simple cook at a farm, Garion will have to grapple with a world of magic as he comes of age!

Pawn of Prophecy is a book I first read in the sixth grade. It was the perfect book to read. I was only a few years younger than Garion, just moved and had no friends, and was in need of escape. Garion’s quest resonated with me. Even now, twenty years later, the book retains all its charm.

Is the story of the farm boy with a secret destiny played out? It is now. But when David Eddings penned this story, he was creating something special. Drawing on the grand romances of the Middle Ages, he pens a Fantasy quest with skill few other authors lack. His world is rich, full of colorful characters that Eddings quickly endears you to. He straddles the line between the dark and the light-hearted.

Pawn of Prophecy is a wonderful escapist fantasy, particularly for a young boy. If you’re looking for a fantasy novel for a preteen or teenage boy, this is a book I’d recommend! Action, adventure, magic, danger, and a flight princess with a temper!

You can purchase Pawn of Prophecy from Amazon!

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Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive 3)

Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive 3)

by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Oathbringer starts up right where Words of Radiance left off. The Everstorm ravages across Roshar. The Knights Radiance need to unite the nations of the world the face this new threat. But Dalinar, the new leader of the Knights Radiance, has a dark and troubled past. In his youth, fighting to help his brother conquer the nation of Alethkar, he committed many acts of wanton destruction.

How can the peoples of the world trust a man with such a bloodied past?

As Dalinar seeks to unite, Shalan has to deal with her fractured psyche. As she delves into her illusionary powers, and creates new identities with which to spy, who she truly is becomes harder and harder for her to recognize. But Shalan cannot afford to fall apart. Not when the world itself is at stake. And Kaladin will have to learn a valuable lesson of his own, that tries he might he cannot protect everyone.

Sanderson has delivered another epic door stopper to enthrall fans of epic fantasy. Oathbringer brings to life the characters of the world of Roshar telling us into the past of Dalinar. The characters are tested like never before as a struggle against the ultimate enemy of their world, a being of immense power and malevolent designs.

For fans of epic fantasy, Sanderson once again shows why he is one of the modern masters of the genre. Oathbringer is a book that gripped you from beginning to end, letting you live in the characters heads, and bring them to life. This is a must-read book for all fans of fantasy. I can’t wait for the next exciting volume of the series.

You can buy Snapshot from Amazon!

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Review: Snapshot

Snapshot

by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Davis and Chaz are two detectives assigned to a very unusual division: the Snapshot division. Thanks to some sort of flobltinum, a psychic being can accurately recreate any day in the past. Davis and Chaz’s jobs are simple: to enter the snapshot and confirm details of crimes that have already happened to ensure the bad guys are caught.

Only catch, they have to keep their actions from altering the recreation. Everything they do has consequences, creates divergences. If they do too much, they might never figure out what happened. And today, the stakes have never been higher.

They have a chance to catch a serial killer who’s doing all he can to evade the Snapshot program.

This short story is why I love Brandon Sanderson. He is always coming up with new and exciting stories to read. He’s not locked into one fantasy universe or even one genre. He’ll write in them all to share his imagination with us.

And Snapshot is no different. This time, he delves into the murder mystery with his own style. He’s put that Brandon Sanderson spin on this tale and makes it wonderful. This is a great one that will keep you reading through its various twist and turns.

For fans of speculative fiction, this novella is a must read!

You can buy Snapshot from Amazon!

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Review: The Witchwood Crown

The Witchwood Crown

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Once again, Tad Williams brings us back into Osten Ard. Over three decades have passed since the climatic battle at Green Angel Tower and the defeat of the Storm King. King Simon and Queen Miriamele have ruled the High King’s Ward to the best of their abilities. In their fifties now, they face the greatest challenge to their rule as slowly, bit by bit, a new darkness creeps in, subtle, stealing away their allies, and making new enemies beneath their very noses.

Their heir and grandson, Prince Morgan, would rather drink in taverns and bed whatever accommodating girl he can than learn statescraft. Unable to please his grandparents and haunted by memories of his own dead father, he will have to find himself if he has any chance of facing the growing darkness that seeks to engulf Osten Ard once again.

Because Uttuku, Queen of the Norns, has emerged from her decades long coma. And she hasn’t forgotten her hatred of mortals.

The Witchwood Crown is a dense story, with dozens of characters spanning across the world. From familiar characters grown old like Simon and Miriamele, to new characters, Tad Williams breathes new life into his world, building on the fallout of the last trilogy to set the stage for this new one. From politics to action, he weaves it all together wonderfully.

And it is both a treat and a sadness to revisit the world, seeing our characters grown older, some who’ve died over the years, or vanished without a trace. Other times it’s a wonderful reunion, like meeting old friends you haven’t seen in so long, catching up with them, seeing how they’ve changed in someways and how they’ve stayed the same in others. If you’re a fan of Tad Williams work, then you have to read this series.

And if you’ve never read any one of his books, he provides enough background information for you to understand this series and enjoy it. His prose flows, his characters are entertaining, and the tension that courses through the books, simmering in the background, keeps you going as it builds and builds towards its finish!

You can buy The Witchwood Crown from Amazon!

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Review: The Heart of What Was Lost

The Heart of What Was Lost

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Storm King has fallen. The Norns have been defeated. And now Duke Isgrimnur, under the commands of the newly crowned King Seomon and Queen Miramele, seeks to end the threat of the dark and immortal race of fairies once and for all. After the misery they and their Queen caused to Osten Ard in the events of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy. With them travels two Predurinese mercenaries, men far from home and thrust back into another war.

Viyeki is a Norn builder, fleeing north with the remnant of his people who survived the battle at the Hayholt. Hunted by Duke Isgrimnur’s army, seeing little hope for survival, they prepare to defend their people’s mountain fastness against the mortals. But the Norns stand at a crossroads: do they die in a hopeless standa against the mortals, or do they find a way to survive?

And will the mortals even let them?

The fate of an immortal race hangs in the balance as they pay the price for the crimes of their Queen. The Heart of What Was Lost is a fascinating story, diving into the culture of the “evil” race from the original trilogy, showing their character, the arrogance that has led to their disdain of humans, the scores of vengeance they remember inflicted upon them by men long dead, and their obsession with the past. With what was lost.

Like most fantasy series, Tad Williams ended his with the Norns defeated and assumed by the readers to be finished. But by returning to them, he has a chance of showing us a side to his enemies, to give them a chance to grow and change and learn from their mistakes. Or to cling to the past and fall into extinction.

Fans of Williams work, especially his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, need to read this book. I have a feeling it sets up his new sequel series just debuting wonderfully. It is a great Fantasy read about the clash of cultures and the weariness of war upon the soul.

You can buy The Heart of What Was Lost from Amazon!

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