The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings is this week’s book. I’ve read a number of his novels but not in any seeming order. They just tend to slip their way into my bookshelf via some sale or another. They are in many ways, the essence of fantasy novels. Nigh invincible knights mixed with magic, intrigue and deep world building.
The Sapphire Rose is no exception. Eddings stuffs the book full of well worn and familiar cliches. From the start you can guess the path the characters will take and what will happen to the obstacles and antagonists that stand in their way. In fact, Sir Sparhawk may as well have just crushed them with the might of his plot armour.
Despite this, the book is both comforting and extremely entertaining. The writing is so earnest and the treatment of the genre so loving that you can look past it’s shortcomings. Endless cheesy banter and a pace that could give you whiplash aren’t enough to make me dislike this book. Sure the characters might be thin and certainly lean towards stereotypes but you still like them, even when their murdering just for the convenience of it.
The plot is perhaps where Eddings shines the brightest in this novel. It is engaging and sharp, with enough odds and ends to keep you both intrigued and focused. The antagonists have reasons for their actions and the ending is satisfying.
Overall this is a difficult book for me to recommend, not because it is in any way bad, but because it is so far from where the current fantasy meta is at the moment. This novel was published in 1991, two years before I was even born and the age shows. Still, I loved it as I have loved all of Eddings work that I’ve come across. I would say it is at the very least worth picking up, if you can find it for cheap and seeing if you like it.
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This weeks book is The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler. It is the second novel in the Shadow Campaigns series. Second books often tend to struggle. Executing them properly can be extremely tricky.
Firstly they have to keep the momentum of the first book going, while simultaneously raising the stakes. This is key to keep the readers interested in the characters. They must be given room to show their growth while still remaining underdogs. Furthermore, they must continue to develop and grow, which can be a challenge. Finally, the second novel must end strong, in order to keep interest building for the next book.
I found that the Shadow Throne was largely successful in accomplishing these goals. The pace remained as quick as the first with the plot chugging along at a good pace. New and interesting characters and locations are introduced while meshing well with the characters from the first. Wexler manages to keep many of the same strengths from the first book in this one. The characters are immensely root-for-able and interesting. The battle scenes crackle with energy and the conclusion leaves you wanting more.
However, in my opinion it is a weaker book than the first. At times the chapters did drag as the book’s momentum was ground to a halt. This was only for a short time but I did find myself struggling. The first book was filled to the brim with the discovery of the unknown. This is not as evident in The Shadow Throne and the book suffers for it. In addition, the antagonists fell a little flat when compared with the ones from the debut. I felt as though I was not delivered what was promised in that regard.
Despite this, I still really enjoyed the novel and I am looking forward to continuing the story. If you are a fan of military fantasy, I would strongly recommend taking a look at this series!
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You can pick up this book up on amazon here
This week’s novel was Pyramids by Terry Pratchett. The last few books that I’ve read have been long, dark, and full of complicated intricate and complicated plots. Pyramids was a much needed and enjoyable palate cleanser. Lighthearted and hilarious, Pratchett takes you on a memorable romp through it’s pages.
As in all of his books, Pyramids is chock full of interesting and ridiculous characters that play off of each other very well. Jokes that at times make you laugh and groan are scattered like mines throughout the pages. In particular I found that the dialogue was particularly sharp in this novel, requiring the reader to pay close attention.
Pyramids takes a very close, and critical look at religion, royalty, and tradition and the lies that must be told to keep them in check. With almost vicious abandon, Pratchett tears them apart, uncovering the folly that lays beneath. As you would expect by the title, the ancient civilization of Egypt is largely the butt of the joke. Mummies, cat worship and the like are all examined and found silly.
In fact, this may be the most silly and absurd of the disc world books that I’ve read, which is saying quite a bit. The intersectionality of time and different dimensions make for a variety of truly ridiculous situations and encounters.
Overall the novel was extremely enjoyable and I sped through it happily. While it was at times quite lighthearted, I was left with quite a lot to think about. What traditions and dogma’s exist in my mind, only because they have always existed? What in our society do we believe in whole heartedly because we have always done so? As always when you look through the microscope you inevitably see some part of yourself. Pyramids was Pratchett at the height of his powers, weaving charming characters with a engaging story, topped off with a generous helping of gags and jokes. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would fully recommend it to anyone who enjoys his work or fantasy at large!
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