Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett Review (No Spoilers)

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Today’s book is Monstrous Regiment By Terry Pratchett. This novel follows the adventure of Polly Perks, a young woman who joins the army to search for her brother. Like many Pratchett novels, this book uses ridiculous situations and just general hilarity to discuss serious issues such as gender equality, religion and nationalism.
The characters are really the star of the story, and the reader quickly falls in love with them. Plunged into an impossible situation, they have to figure their way out, as only they can. This book also introduces Sgt Jackrum, who quickly became one of my favourite Discworld characters. There are also some appearances from well known characters, though they play only a small part.
It’s difficult to talk too much about the characters and plot of the novel without getting into spoiler territory so I won’t linger. I’ll just say that the character grow delightfully and the plot is fast paced and very interesting, full of twists and turns.
What really sticks out to me when I think about this book is the way that Pratchett mercilessly attacks certain topics, as I mentioned previously. Gender differences, the insanity of nationalism and warmongering, as well as religions fervour and fundamentalism. All these topics are attacked by Pratchett, so much so that you can feel the anger below the pages, disguised by comedy. The fundamental question that is asked in the book is this; is it possible for a whole nation to be insane and what would that look like? Despite being over fifteen years old, the novel feels timely, as many of these issues are at the very prevalent today.
Despite the heavy undertones and subject matter, the novel is still a very enjoyable read. Pratchett doesn’t come off preachy, as it would be easy. Perhaps parts of the book are a bit repetitive but that is fine, it only drives home the message further. Overall, I loved this book. The characters were great, the plot was engaging and the conclusion satisfying. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, and Terry Pratchett in general.

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The Heroes By Joe Abercombie Review (No-Spoilers)

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This week’s novel is The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie. This is a standalone novel that takes place in the same world and with the same characters as his First Law Trilogy. I’ve said before that that trilogy was the catalyst that made me want to start writing and is my favourite book series of all time.

That being said, The Heroes is my favourite novel by Mr. Aberombie. It incorporates all of the elements that I love about his books. Gritty, interesting characters, intense action, a fast moving plot, all wrapped up in humour.

Like all of his standalone novels, this book brings back some characters from previous books. Shivers, Bayaz, Gorst, Prince Calder, and a few others. Shivers in particular is one of my favourite characters from the universe, just in the sheer depth of his development as human. As usual there is a number of new entries, all large than life figures.

At it’s very core this book is a war story about how useless and horrible war and battle is. This theme is one that I think is very much becoming sewn into the fabric of modern fantasy novels. Gone are the days of glorifying combat and war as noble and exciting. The characters is this book suffer and we see way more death that is comfortable. Abercrombie really makes efforts to show the absurdity of war, and how it destroys those around them.

There are other interesting themes also sprinkled in too. Redemption, friendship, loneliness, fear, Abercombie folds all of these into the story. I don’t really want to go too far into the nitty and gritty of the book because it’s best to go in fresh. The Heroes is an experience, a 600 page thrill ride.

The big question to answer is should you read this if you haven’t read the First Law Trilogy? Personally I would recommend Best Served Cold instead, though you won’t be lost if you pick this book up either. It will just make it a richer experience, as you’ll see characters from the other side of the page. Overall, The Heroes is an amazing novel, one of my personal favourites, so you should pick it up if you like gritty, action filled, fantasy.

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James Reads Pawn of Prophecy By David Eddings (Spoiler Free)

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Pawn of Prophecy By David Eddings is this week’s book. This novel is the first one in the Belgariad. At the time of writing, this books is coming up on forty years old. And it shows. It’s hard to judge this book taken out of it’s time and thrust into modern times. It feels dated in some parts, especially in regards to it’s female characters, something that I’ve notice in other Eddings books.

However the novel is still enjoyable and entertaining. The characters are likeable enough and the plot is engaging if super predictable. The real strength is the world building with is robust and very deep. Gods and magic and prophecy, are all woven pretty deftly.

Honestly there just isn’t much I can say about the novel. If i’d read it as a younger man I would have liked it a lot better. I don’t want to write a criticism because it wouldn’t be fair to compare it against modern works. Books that built upon the legacy that Eddings created. Things fine are tropes now probably weren’t back then.

To sum up, this book just felt kind of left me feeling empty. It almost felt like a two hundred page prologue. It sets the stage for the next book but didn’t really leave me with a burning desire to pick them up.

But that’s okay, not all art ages well. Clearly this novel was very popular when it came out and people loved it. I just wasn’t around then and I probably lost out on the magic. Due to this I can’t really recommend this book like I can others of his. (The Elenium for instance I love.)

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James Reads Jingo By Terry Pratchett (No Spoilers)

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The Pratchett’ing continues this week with Jingo. Jingo is the 21st Discworld novel and the 4th in the City Watch series. Personally, I love the City Watch books. The characters feel like old friends, and the City of Ankh-Morpork is one of my favourite locations in all of fiction, right up there with Hogwarts and the Shire.

This novel really gives the characters of the City Watch room to do their thing.The plot focuses on the reemergence of an atlantean type continent which promptly begins to be fought over by Ankh-Morpork and a rival nation, despite it being a desolate, blasted rock.

This book is surprisingly relevant to current day politics on the global stage. The books title Jingo is a direct reference to Jingoism. Jingoism is defined as “extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy.” This is clearly something that is growing even more present in our current society.

In this book Pratchett dissects and makes fun of aggressive patriotism, racism and xenophobia. The rival faction Klatch is an obvious analog for the middle east and by facing them against Ankh-Morpork, you get a pretty robust comparison. Thought the novel Pratchett shows the dangers and folly of extreme aggressive patriotism, mainly by highlight the character ignorance and also showing how a like people can be, despite living in wildly different places.

Honestly, it’s a bit eerie and more than a little depressing how spot on this novel is, being that it was written in 1997.

The story itself is classic Discworld fun. Vimes is on a case, hunting for criminal, accompanied by the Night’s Watch. What’s more, they get to go traveling to a distant land, creating some ridiculous and hilarious situations. The plot is engaging and has enough twists and turns to keep you more than engaged. The characters live and grow throughout, learning lessons and passing trials.

Overall, this is a very good book, even by Discworld standards. The combination of delightful, entertaining plot combined with the biting satire create a novel that is as relevant today as when it was published. I would recommend this book to anyone, be they a fantasy fan or not. It contains an important lesson, one that many people need to hear in the times we live in today.

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The Light Fantastic Review (Spoiler Free)

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The Light Fantastic is the second novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. For a while now, I’ve had this novel sitting on my bookshelf, gathering dust. I’ve heard, as many of you probably have, that it doesn’t measure up to the rest of the Discworld. That Sir Terry was still finding his footing and readers should avoid it until they’ve read more.

Having finished the novel I can see where these people are coming from. If I were to measure The Light Fantastic against some of my favourites from the series, it would definitely suffer by comparison. However, I don’t think that should be held against this book. Novels likes Small God’s and Reaper Man are amongst the best and most clever books I’ve read. That this book doesn’t measure up, shouldn’t mean that it should be kept of of your reading list.

I enjoyed this book. There, I said it. You can fight me if you want. I thought the plot was interesting, the character fit together well, and there were enough jokes to keep me grinning like a goof on my lunch breaks at work. Sure it pales in comparison to some of the other Discworld books but I still think it’s a good enough read on it’s own.

There isn’t much more that I have to say about this novel. I agree with many people when they say that it is not where they would recommend people start if they haven’t read any Discworld. There are better books, much better ones really, that would hook a newbie reader into the world of Pratchett. Still, the book doesn’t deserve to be avoided like I did to it. It was a quick, fun read that many would enjoy! So don’t be scared and grab yourself a copy today!

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My Second Novel is Released!

After a hectic month getting it ready, my second novel Life Under the Noose has been released on amazon, in both paperback and E-book format!

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Fifteen years ago, Rivers was stolen from his village, under the orders of a King. Forced to serve, Rivers’ life was safe as long as his village stayed loyal. Only now it seems that they have broken faith with the King, and the noose around his neck grows tight. His life is forfeit, unless he travels back to his home, and delivers the punishment himself. Now Rivers is faced with an impossible choice. If the life he has carved out for himself is to survive, he must destroy his old world. How far will he go to save his own life? How far can one man be pushed before he breaks?

Life Under the Noose is a fast paced, character driven novel for readers who love gritty action, and high stakes.

Obviously I’m extremely excited about this novel finally coming out. It’s a long haul, getting a book out and ready for publishing!

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