23 October 2013

Emperor of Thorns - Mark Lawrence

The BlurbThe path to the throne is broken - only the broken may walk it.

To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don't look to me to save you. Don't think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don't follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

This is the third and final installment in the Broken Empire trilogy with Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns the previous brilliant two books. Could Lawrence bring this epic  series to a satisfactory close, or would the ending leave me scratching my head and feeling mildly irritated. 

This book left me depressed. But in a good way.

The structure of the book follows the recipe of the previous two, with two timelines being interwoven throughout the book. The present and five year back flashbacks. We also have a few chapters from Chella's viewpoint, the necromancer who tried to kill Jorg in PoT, and who Jorg resurrected in KoT.

Chella is in service of the dread Dead King, and the rare glimpse into another character helps to show the motivations and machinations of the other side quite well. Chella is one bitter lady, hating Jorg for some good reasons. It was interesting to read quite a bit about the Dead King, and having another viewpoint of the Broken Kingdoms was pretty refreshing.

Jorg is on the road and close to his goal. Attending the Congression with his plans moving along to help him become Emperor, the first in hundreds of years. His motivations isn't completely selfish which shows that our favorite psychopath has a little bit of a soft side. Maybe it's because he became a father, maybe it's because Jorg isn't as evil as everyone thought after Prince of Thorns.

Being the King of seven kingdoms and married, Jorg has certainly grown up. He's not a kid any more. He is certainly more calculating in this book, thinking, scheming and planning ahead. Less compulsive neck stabbing. He has grown by leaps and bounds over the three books, and you cannot help but love him. He's easily one of my favorite characters in literature. 

The whole flashback thing was perfectly done. During the previous two novels it felt at some times that the flashback wasn't really there for any other reason than to show why Jorg is well, Jorg. Thinking back now, each and every one was critical to the story. It should actually be viewed as one book with three parts, with the flashbacks interweaving the story and binding it all together. As soon as I have time I'm going to read all three back to back, which should make this close to perfect series even better.

The ending is intense, and comes as quite a shock. Lawrence always said that this is a trilogy, and he ended it strongly and perfectly. 

I really do not want to spoil this book for anybody, so if you've read the other two and liked them, read it. If you haven't, go buy them. This is easily my favorite trilogy ever.

I was depressed after reading this book because, after I've finished it, I couldn't read anything else for about two weeks. Hell, it's taken me a month to get my thoughts together to write this quick review. And that is what a book should do to a reader. It should make them emphasize with the characters, think about the story and influence them in real life. 

This one certainly did that, in spades. I'll never forget Jorg and his Brothers.


01 October 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer

Three posts in two days? Miracles do happen!

Now I'm a massive fan of The Hobbit. The book of course. The first Hobbit movie irritated me quite a bit, but it was pretty at least. The full trailer of the second movie has been released today. This will also be an irritating movie for me to watch, but watch it I shall. Enjoy.

Drakenfeld - Mark Charan Newton

The Blurb“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and peace keeper. Although sometimes it seems I am the only person who wishes to keep it …”

The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.

Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.

Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

I was honored to receive an ARC of Drakenfield from Mr. Newton, and with the publication date around the corner here are my thoughts on it.

First off I really like the cover. It's bold, colourful and will surely stand out on the shelves between all the hooded men and daggers populating the shelves. According to Mr. Newton himself, the cover is the banner of Detrata, the nation in which the story plays out. The plan is that the following books covers' will also depict the nation's flag in which the story takes place. That's a pretty smart idea and should make for a real striking collection of books.

The main character, Lucan Drakenfeld -who has possibly the coolest name ever in fantasy- , is a detective. As an Officer of the Sun Chamber it's his job to keep the peace and find those that disturb it. The first time that we are introduced to Drakenfeld he is busy overseeing the sentencing of someone who broke the law. It's not pretty, but shows that Drakenfeld is damn good at his job, fair and that the Sun Chamber is not to be messed with.

Lucan is summoned home on the death of his father, who was a highly placed member of the Sun Chamber. The travel home reveals quite a bit of the world we find ourselves in, and sets the first blocks for the rest of the woldbuilding that is necessary to the story. His struggle fitting back into society in the capital also helps the reader get the lay of the land and to figure out who some of the power players are early on,  which makes for fascinating reading.

The interaction between Lucan and his assistant, Leana, is well done throughout the book. Leana comes from a neighboring kingdom and the outside view she brings to proceedings is quite a nifty way to slip a few facts about the world into the story, fleshing out the world at large as well.

This book is light on the magic, seeing as it's honestly a detective novel. There aren't priests running around with godly powers, no wizard tower that rule the skyline and no flashing lights. Well, at least not yet. Some hints are made, but mostly as rumour and quickly dismissed by the involved parties. It makes for a refreshing change, seeing as we are spared the explanation of how the magical system works which can bog down a book for chapters at a time. This is a character driven story and I love it for that.

The main plotline of solving the impossible murder of the King's sister is well thought out and a real whodunnit headscratcher. False trails are laid bare and obstacles galore are placed in Drakenfeld's path. Drakenfeld also comes to realise that his father's death wasn't as clean cut as he was lead to believe and this personal case works well to add a lot of depth to the character.

There are more than enough twists throughout the novel to keep the pages turning at a brisk pace, and the conclusion of the case of the murdered princess is quite a doozy. Looking back on the book there were enough hints to figure out who was ultimately responsible, but how they accomplished the murder was brilliant.

I really like Mr. Newton's writing style, and it makes his prose a joy to read. I've not read that many murder mystery novels, but I'm surely going to be following this series very closely. This is a very fun book that made me think back on it, well after I've read it. Now that is what I look for in a story.