Best Served Cold – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: First Law World #4

Pages: 661

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Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

It’s no secret that the last book of The First Law Trilogy left me with a huge stab wound on my back. One that I enjoyed immensely. I was afraid of reading the rest of the books, because the bar was pretty high. But my fears were pointless. Best Served Cold is a superb book that has nothing to envy to the first trilogy.

The time we follow Monza Murcatto and her band of merry men and women in a killing spree to satiate her thirst for vengeance. Seven targets are between them and the peace of mind Monza is seeking. One of those targets is Duke Orso himself, so the quest is far more dangerous that anyone could expect. Lucklily for Monza, she has a lot of gold to buy “loyal” assassins.

As in the previous books, this one has upstanding characters that make that fantasy world much more appealing and enjoyable. But the character development doesn’t hinder the pace. The story is a non-stop festival of different kind of actions: dark alley assassinations, undercover missions, infiltration ala Assassins Creed, skirmishes, full battles… Anything in the field of murder you could think of it is possibly in this book. The book is divided in seven parts, one for every target. Any of those feels different from the others, which is something very positive for such a big book. Obviously, there are better and worse parts. My favourite is the one to kill Mauthis, due to the weird sense of humor displayed in those chapters. The worst (but not bad) the part for the murder of Faithful Carpi… there were too many changes and I couldn’t get over one when the next was happening.

Maybe you are wondering if this story is linked with the shocking finale of the first trilogy. It is a different story, but the “new” political context is mentioned more than once. And Sulfur makes a lot of cameos along the story to let the reader know that the Big Bad Baldy is still out there being the Master Puppeteer I love to hate. The Eater made me so nervous every time he was in a scene. You never know when the kicks to the gut and groin are going to start with this writer… Because I have learned that with Joe Abercrombie is not a matter of IF… it’s a matter of WHEN those kicks will start.

And talking about guts… Man, the other books were bloody, but this one has increased the gore to a new level. It is mostly contained with one character, though: the mysterious Shenkt. A powerful something that is creepily strong and has no problem in using brute force in the most twisted and bloody way you can imagine. I’m talking about fingers drilling skulls or heartbreaking hand-to-hand combat… He is SO scary! But one of the best characters of the book. There are not many pages with him, but all of them are pure gold and full of “I was not expecting that” moments.

The catalog of interesting characters in this book is unending. All the main ones have something special to remember them by. We reconnect with Shivers, the Northman who wanted to claimed vengeance over Logen’s corpse but who changed his mind to pursuit a better life. He ends up in Styria, full of hope and good intentions, but second chances are hard to come by. Monza recruits him for her quest and the journey makes him a different man. His plot line is by far the saddest one. As a reader I felt hopeless and helpless with the events unraveling before me that transform Shivers into a bitter man. I am actually scared of him now…

The Master Poisoner Morveer and his sidekick Day are a joy for the reader. I love the way he talks, how he considers himself superior to everyone else. I know he is a perturbed individual that I should ignore, but the way he sees the world through the “blindfold” he wears is one of the most special characteristics of the story. On the other hand, Day was underused and underdeveloped. I would love to have read more about her. I have the feeling there is much more about her that what we learn.

Other character that should have had more time is Friendly. He is so weird and interesting. We barely get to know any of the background that made him behave the way he does. He may be cold, but his honesty makes him a beacon of light in a world plagued with too much smoke and too many mirrors. I hope he comes back in any of the following books to get to know him better.

We also reconnect with Vitari, but her part is not very important except for a revelation that would break your jaw. My brain is still boiling with all the implications… And we also have a lot more of Nicomo Cosca. In this book he shines with all his splendor and he has become one of my favourite characters in this saga. Even though I’m not sure if we can trust him, but I guess that’s the main trait of the character…

Monza… At first I was 100% pro-vengeance, so I was Team Monza all the way. But during the journey we get to know her quite a lot and I wouldn’t like to consider her my friend even if that could cost me my life (so dramatic!!). She is too self-centered. First me, then me and last… ME!! She sacrifices friendships and loyalties with an unsettling easiness and when we discover the truth about Benna… I wasn’t sure if I should support Monza or Orso. I need good guys and bad guys, but I should have learned by now that I’m not getting that with these books. The only good thing about Monza is that she is going to be a thorn in Bayaz’s mighty ass, so she is still on my “OK” book.

An awesome fest full of great moments. I have already bought The Heroes to keep with this saga sooner or later, because this is getting better and better.

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2019 – Book Gallery

 

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Stygian – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #27
Pages: 670

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Born before man recorded time, I lived for thousands of years, believing myself to be something I’m not.
Someone I’m not.
Lied to and betrayed by gods, Daimons, and Dark-Hunters, I’ve struggled to find my way in a world where I’ve been cursed since the moment a vengeful goddess prematurely ripped me from my mother and planted me into the womb of an innocent woman who thought me her son.
Trained as a slayer and predator, I’ve learned to fit in and stay low. To become a tool for evil. Until I was sent to kill the one woman I couldn’t. My hesitation cost her, her life.
Or so I thought. In an act of betrayal that makes all the others pale in comparison, I’ve learned that things are not what they seem in this world and that my Phoebe still lives.
Now I will have to travel into the very pits of Hades to try and save her, even as everyone around me attempts to steal what little soul I have left. There’s only one person at my back and I’m not sure I can trust her either, for she was born of an enemy race. Yet sometimes the road to redemption is one that singes us to our very core. And if I fail to find the answers I need to save Phoebe, more than just my wife will die.
We will lose the world. Both human and Daimon.
~Urian of the House of Aricles

I did it!! I did it!! I’m up-to-date with the Dark-Hunters saga!! *happy dance*. Only 33 more sagas to tackle! Sadly, I start much more than I finish, so it’s an impossible race against my To Be Read list. Well, sure steps and small victories. That’s the trick for a happy reader. I will start with the review now, before I lose myself into the metaphysical concepts of reading goals.

This is the book of Urian. Enough said! We follow the character through more than 11 thousand years. Since his weird birth, to the present time where he has to deal with the truth about Phoebe. A story about family, loss, survival and immortal love. A biography of one of the most charismatic characters of this saga!

This is a milestone book, like Acheron or Styxx; so is much longer than other Dark-Hunters books. But, while the other two were made for lovers of the saga, Stygian’s focus on lovers of Urian. If you don’t like the character, you won’t like the book. Story wise, there is not much to tell. All the focus of the book is on the former Daimon and his lengthy life. Yes, there is still a bit of the epic craziness we love; but if you think that is going to be the main course, you are meant to be disappointed. Even though Urian’s story is a lot of fun, I guess that could not be enough for some readers.

Gladly, it’s not my case. I love the character, so I have enjoyed every single page of this book. After the dragon trilogy that left me with a sour aftertaste, I needed something like this to boost my love for this saga. I have laughed, cried, bitten my nails, jumped in the bed, yelled at it… All the emotions you can imagine. I was eager to finish my work day to reunite with Urian and all the amazing characters that wander around his life. I’ve been team Urian 100%, to the point that I considered the Dark-Hunters my mortal enemies as well. It’s one of the things I have loved the most about Stygian. Getting to know a much deeper point of view of Apollite and Daimon life has made me more empathetic towards them. I know I shouldn’t give the time of day to people like Stryker, Urian, Davyn and the others, but I can’t help thinking they were the true heroes of the book.

I’m extremely happy with this book, but I must point out some of the weakest elements of it. Once we reach the present time, the story becomes a retelling of previous books. Not as heavy as with Illarion’s book; but there is a nice hunk invested in telling us again Wulf’s, Acheron’s, Styxx’s and Falcyn’s books. Thankfully, the author drops some “deleted scenes” and different points of view to tell us again the same thing; so it’s much more bearable than expected. And let’s be honest, those books are important to undertsand Urian’s story, so I guess some readers will be glad for the refresher.

The other part that makes me frown a little is the ending. I have a love/hate realtionship with it. On one hand, it’s a new dawn for the Dark-Hunters and the Daimons. One I’m eager to devour as soon as the next book is published. On the other hand, the part of the story about Phoebe feels a little too short. After the ending of Falcyn’s book, I was breathless with the revelation that Phoebe was still alive. I needed to know Urian’s reaction. But it takes 90% of this book to just reach the same point in the timeline where the previous book left us. It took so long, that I was afraid the resolution of that plot twist was going to be weak and easy. And, sadly, I wasn’t wrong. I don’t mean it was horrible, far from it! I just think it hasn’t made any justice to the cliffhanger we had after Dragonsworn.

I can’t finish without mentioning my recently discovered love towards a character that has been there for a while but never caught my attention that badly. I’m talking about Davyn. If I could make a wish related to this saga, that would be to get his book sooner rather than later. Or maybe the longer wait will make his story sweeter. Ugh! Sometimes being a reader feels like a constant fight against myself…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Axios – Jaclyn Osborn

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Author: Jaclyn Osborn
Pages: 334

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I am Axios of Sparta, and I was born to kill. At age seven, I left home to train with other boys where we were taught obedience, solidarity, military strategy, and how to withstand pain. My harsh upbringing stripped me of my weaknesses and forced me to become strong. Ruthless.

But, I craved something greater—a life I could never have.

Against all odds, and the toughest training a warrior could endure, I found an unexpected love in the arms of a fellow Spartan. He was the very air I breathed and the water that sustained me. Fighting side by side with him, we were invincible. Where he went, I followed.

However, there was no place for love in Sparta. Feelings were for the weak. The only life for a Spartan was one of battle and brutality with no guarantee of tomorrow. In times of war, all men were put to the test, but the greatest challenge for us was not one of swords and spears, but of the heart.

I rarely read Historical books. For some weird reason I don’t enjoy that genre as much as any other. I’m capable of immersing myself in a contemporary book, or in a fantasy world or maybe in a far galaxy full of wonders. But when I have to surround myself with historical events I usually get dizzy and lose the North. So, in order to pick a Historical book, I need a carrot. In this case the carrot was a M/M Spartan tale.

The book is written from the point of view of Axios, a spartan boy who is forced to start his training to become a warrior as every other male in that city. He is different from the rest, though. He is not bloodthirsty and has dreams beyond the so-called glory of battle. The other side of the coin is represented by Eryx, who excels at everything during their training and is a firm believer of the Spartan way. The unlikely friendship between the two of them blooms into sexual attraction and later into deep love. We, the readers, are invited to follow that journey through serveral years.

First of all, I must congratulate the author on the perfect guide tour for that period of time. It is far from being a History lesson, but the readers will get tons of fun facts about the life in the ancient Sparta. And by fun I mean the mostly bloody, cruel and desensitize life they have to follow to a T. Before reading this book, my interest in Sparta was non-existent; but now I know it is much richer and surprsing than what movies have shown us. The fact that this book has made me curious about it is already a huge accomplishment. Thumbs up for teacher Osborn!!

The book has two main weak points that are greatly surpassed by the good ones. One of them is the beginning. The pace at first feels too slow. In order to easy the reader into the way of things of Sparta, the story of the characters has to start when they are pretty young. After that, we have time jumps of two years until they reach their early twenties. Those first chapters felt much longer than they actually are. I understand the need of them, but a faster pace for them would have been great. The other weak aspect of the book is the action or, better said, the lack of it. We are being told the tale of some Spartan warriors, but there are barely any fight scene in the book. The ones we get are usually rushed and just long enough to deliver some emotional blow. I guess I was expecting much more action from a book based on that period of time. With those two complaints it could look like the book could be boring, but nothing would be further from reality. The hard truth is that Axios is not a book about warriors from Sparta. It is a book about love between two people who shouldn’t be involved with each other.

So, when you embrace the truth about this story, you are up fro a treat. This is one of the most beautful love stories I have ever read. It is unexpectedly sweet and full of heart-melting gestures. Every time Eryx looked for Axios’s hand to reassure him before a big event, the butterflies in my stomach would perform several summersaults to applaud that simple gesture brimmig over with true love. The whole book is cramped with those. I will forever be grateful for having been given the chance of witnessing their story through several years. From their initial shy encounters to the full power of their passion during adulthood. From friendship to unbreakable loyalty to each other. I have enjoyed every moment of it: the happy moments, the storytelling, the games, the constant support, the doubts, the fights, the sad moments, the extremely sad moments, the please-kill-me-now moments (yes, the one that will leave you crying like a baby for hours…). All of it!!

It is not perfect, but I will treasure the memory of this book until the end of my days. Even now some tears are threatening to come out just remembering the whole story again. This is the first book by Jaclyn Osborn I have ever read, buy I’m going to make sure that it won’t be the last.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Last Argument of Kings – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #3

Pages: 670

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The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It’s past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It’s a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.

While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…

Last book of the trilogy of The First Law, which I have taken my sweet time to read it and enjoy it. Thankfully, the author has written much more books based on that world. And, after the earth-shattering ending of this one, they are more than needed. I know they don’t follow the same story per se, but I’m hoping for enough winks and nods to put my mind at rest. Fingers crossed! By the way, this review will have heavy spoilers, because I can’t truly write about my feelings without them.

After the disappointment of ending their epic quest empty handed, the group go back home. Bayaz, Quai, Logen, Jezal, Ferro and Longfoot go to the capital of the Union and, from there, they say their goodbyes. Logen travels to the North to meet their friends and help them in the fight against Bethod. The rest stay in Adua with different objectives in mind. Meanwhile, the Gurkish Empire decides it has been in the background of the plot for far too long…

This last book is divided in two big chunks: the war against Bethod and the North and the war against the Gurkish Empire in the capital of the Union. I have enjoyed the later much more than the first one, but that doesn’t mean the brutish Northmen lack the abilty of hooking me up. I was just a bit sad while reading it. In the previous book, Logen blossomed as a character. I really wanted for him to be happy and I thought his going back home could be a first step. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Ninefingers is miserable among his people. I wanted to take him back to Adua and Ferro and let him be happy, but it seems his honor demanded to see the war against Bethod handled. It’s pretty hard to read how his so-called friends turn on him little by little. Even the congratulations after the much needed victory feel empty (which is totally on point taking into account the very final chapter of the book…). The best moments of the plot in the North are those with the focus on West. The soldier shows a lot of cunning and leadership skills that I dind’t know he was capable of. My opinion of this character has improved greatly since the first book.

But the mamia is mostly in the capital of the Union. There stay most of the original team fulfilling diverse roles. Glokta is balancing his many masters in order toi keep his head. Jezal is being catapulted to the top of the noble life thanks to Bayaz. Ferro is Ferro, so she is looking for new ways to get her revenge on the Gurkish Empire. And Bayaz… I will talk about him later (do NOT expect nice words). Jezal is the subject of one of the most shocking and unexpected moments of the book. It made me smile from ear to ear. I was salivating thinking about the reaction of Glokta, so prone to jelousy when the former Captain is involved. Sadly, there is not much time to enjoy the new era due to the massive Gurkish armada attacking the Union. Unexpected allies and returns just in time are two of the main ingredients that save (barely) the situation…

The most important role in the events that are into play during the battle is the one conducted by Bayaz. He could be mistaken as the hero who stopped the dreadful Eaters of the Gurkish Empire. by far the most formidable adversaries. But it is also during the first days after the victory that all pretenses are dropped. Bayaz is bad news. Very bad news. He is a liar, a murderer, a tyrant, a master manipulator. Everything that happens was to enhance his glory, no matter if the puny mortals that surround him are oblitarated. He put all the pieces together to create and solve the issue, as if it were a simple game for him. The cruelty, the coldness, the emotional impact that he provokes in every character… I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was fuming with pure anger. The real bad guy of the books was walking free… I was so invested in the story that I truly felt his traitorous backstabbing. I hate him with a passion. I can’t think of another character in any other book that I would like to see suffer as much as Bayaz deserves.

If Bayaz getting away with his crimes wasn’t bad enough, he leaves his “friends” in a sorry state. Ferro has been touched by the Other Side. She is hearing voices, but the First of the Magi doesn’t care at all. He has used her as a kleenex. Use once and drop it. Yulwei is trapped or dead in the Tower, after being left there by his supposed friend. Another one who has outlived his usefulness. West… man… that one is hard. After all he has done to get the North back and save the capital, he is affected by a weird illness that has transformed him in little more than a corpse. A disease released by Bayaz experiments. And it wasn’t an accident. He knew about it and he didn”t care. Even wrose, I bet he could do something to cure it… but he just shrugs and turns around. He despises everyone who is not Bayaz. Disgusting fella… Jezal’s situation is not better. He has been placed as King thanks to the lies of Bayaz, but the Magi expect full obedience. When he doesn’t agree with his methods, Bayaz uses his power to submit Jezal thorugh pain in a really cruel exchange that left me speechless and trembling. And I could keep going with Glokta, Logen and more.

I must congratulate the author on the mastery of the plot. He creates a fully character driven story through the first two books to make the reader at home with them. To make the reader feel like part of the group. Like a friuend to them if you get into books as much as I do. And then he drops the bomb and the reader is too close to avoid collateral damage. I have had a knot in my throat while writing this review. I don’t know when I will recover. I just wish that we will see Bayaz fail in the future books sooner or later. I am like Ferro now. Only driven by vengeance.

Well played, Mr Abercrombie. Well played. These books are going to be amongst the most special ones I have ever read.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Before They Are Hanged – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #2

Pages: 584

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Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It’s enough to make a torturer want to run – if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, is leading a party of bold adventurers on a perilous mission through the ruins of the past. The most hated woman in the South, the most feared man in the North, and the most selfish boy in the Union make a strange alliance, but a deadly one. They might even stand a chance of saving mankind from the Eaters. If they didn’t hate each other quite so much.

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven – but not before they are hanged.

The year is almost over and I can already say that the first two books of the First Law Trilogy are the best ones I have read in 2018. I’ve been always too scared of the Epic Fantasy genre, but in reality it has given me a lot of happy moments during my whole life (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones…). Joe has revived my interest for a kind of book I thought it wasn’t for me.

This second book is split into three different threads of action: the war in the North with West and Threetree’s gang, Glokta defending Dagoska from the Gurkish Empire and the quest of Bayaz and company. All of them are challeneged at every step and they will have to do their best in very tight situations.

Even though the three stories are not connected (at least not yet), that doesn’t make the book convoluted or hard to follow. Joe’s style helps the reader to enjoy the story and the characters without losing any step through the differente chapters of the book. Not time to breathe, though. The pace is so much faster than the one in the first book. All the presentations were done, so the author had plenty of time to feed us lots of action and epic battles. All of that without forgetting some character development for his amazing cast.

In the North we follow West and his annoying task of babysitting Prince Ladisla through the war agianst Bethod and his forces. The Prince is in command of the worst soldiers, because his duty was supposed to keep him far from the war. But between the cunning of the enemy and the glory starved idiots that follow the Prince, eveyrthing goes the south way. West is forced to drag the Prince all over the North in order to flee the enemy. At least they had the help of Threetree and his gang. During this ordeal, I didn’t want to sympathize with West after what he did to his sister; but he claims to be sorry over and over again and I guess that I believe him… That’s not enough to forigive him, but it’s a first step. West should check his anger issues or he is going to be very alone the rest of his life… Which could not be very long, because the situation in the North doesn’t look promising with Bethod and Flatheads working together… Kudos to the author for being able to add some good sesne of humor in the middle of a war!!

Glokta had it easier, but this guy is always uncovering hidden plots and corruption at every step he takes. His luck is holding, but sooner or later… His first task was uncovering who was the traitor among the Union in Dagoska. The one that tried to sell the city to the Gurkish Empire. I don’t think becoming a traitor was really necessary. With the war in the North, most of the Union forces were comitted there, so taking the city was a done deal without any hjelp from the inside. But give Glokta a mission and he will stick to it until the end!! He discovers the traitors in the city and tries his damndest to save the city. But it was hopeless, so he is ordered to abandon it before is too late. So far he seems almost lucky, but that is about to end. I foresee a third book with a lot of trouble for Glokta: the mystery of the murder of the other son of the King, the favours he owes to the bank, his soft spot for Eider will bite him in the ass sooner or later… I wonder if he will be still alive to meet Jezal again and see what his adventure has done for the cocky captain. Will his jelousy grow bigger or smaller?

And finally, the main quest: going to the end of the world to retrieve the Seed that will help Bayaz to fight Khalul. For that pupose, he recruited Logen, Ferro, Quai, Jezal and Longfoot. Everyone has their own pupose: Ferro can hold the Seed and fight, Logen can talk to spirits (the keepers of the Seed) and fight, Quai is there to take care of Bayaz, Longfoot is the navigator and Jezal… I still don’t know why the First Magi needed the Captain. It’s by far my favourite character, but his purpose in unclear. He can’t barely fight, complaints about everything and he is more of a burden than a help. Am I missing something? All in all, I’m SO glad he is in the quest. I knew this journey would change Jezal. Make him more humble and even more heroic. He is even badly wounded, which has left an ugly scar in his fomrley handsome face. All of that has made him a different person. A much better person. I loved him before, but now… I am a passionate defender of Jezal. I’m a groupie!!

Another character from that group that has gotten a lot of points on my particular ranking is Logen. I still don’t know what his Bloody-Nine persona is, but his “normal” self is amazing. Such a good guy. He may be big and dangerous looking, but his emotional intelligence is boundless. The Northman has an uncanny ability to offer everyone what they need at every moment. Friends like that are rara avis, so I hope the rest of the group appreciates what they have found. The one that has fallen several positions in the before mentioned ranking is Bayaz himself. He is on edge almost the whole journey, being very unfriendly to the rest of the company. And after that ending, I guess his sense of humor is not going to improve any time soon…

I’m going to be strong and not dive into the third book so soon. I will let this one rest and enjoy other genres for a while. The truth is I don’t want it to finish. I’m enjoying this saga so much!!

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2018 – Book Gallery

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #1

Pages: 517

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Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

I enjoy reading Epic Fantasy, but lately I was hitting really slow paced and boring books in that genre. I was recommended to take a look at The First Law saga. The promise was really good characters. If there si something I love about a book is special characters that I will remember for a long time. Joe Abercrombie delivers a bunch of them that has made the reading of the first book a truly great experience.

This book is basically a big character presentation. We have Logen, the warrior from the North with too many enemies and few friends. Jezal, the arrogant swordman who wants as much as possible with as much little effort as possible. Glokta, the cripple who wants to show that he is still very capable of great things. Ferro, the “dagger-happy” woman from a dangerous land. And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, a great magic user with a quest in mind: gathering all the others to embark for a dangerous mission.

Even though the book is in the thicker side, there is not much story development. It’s just the first stones for a good looking foundation. We have several side stories, being the main ones Glokta’s investigations and Jezal’s Contest for best swordman of the Union. Both of them very enjoyable and fun to read. When those threads end, the story is all about getting them together to meet each other. Beyond that, the rest are just glances to the political situation of the Union’s neighbours: the war against Bethod in the North, the brewing trouble with Gurkhul, the unstable situation in the Old Empire… I bet those stories will get a much more relevant role in the next books.

This book is not meant to hook you up with the story. The story is also good, don’t get me wrong; but the main asset of this first part are the characters. I have loved their company most of the time. Maybe the weakest link in that aspect is Ferro, but she doesn’t have as many chapters as the rest of them. Logen has made my blood very cold. He seemed such a good-hearted guy… but in the end… when he becomes the Bloody-Nine for a brief moment… I’m still digesting it!! Glokta is grumpy, but it’s obvious he is a good guy. At first I wanted to see him fail his tasks, but little by little has grown on me and now I’m worried about his new assignment.

My favourite is Jezal. Since the first moment I met him, I knew he was my kind of character! Arrogant, too sure of himself; but more often than not he is proven a fool. Gladly for him, his luck knows no bounds, which makes his ego a really fat creature. I love his biased look at everything that happens to him. I’m going to enjoy so much when he is thrown from the high horse he is riding… Of all the members of Bayaz’s crew, Jezal’s part is the most unclear. Why do they need him? His only skill is just fencing and we know he is not the best at it… Too bad no one has told Jezal about it!! Some of my favourite scenes with him are: the self-worship in front of the mirror, his ego burst during the final match of the Contest when Bayaz was buffing him, his kind of cute declaration of love and everytime he throws a tantrum behaving like a spoiled kid.

We don’t have many details about Bayaz’s quest. I guess that is going to be the main course of the next book. It looks interesting with such strange band of heroes. The worst part of my devotion towards them is that, if some of them die, I’m not going to recover any time soon.

So, yeah, I love the book! I can’t wait to read the next one, so I will try to grab it before the end of the year. That date is approaching fast, so I don’t know if I will make it.

 

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2018 – Book Gallery

Fire Bound – Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

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Authors: Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Series: Belador #1.5
Pages: 95

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A dangerous creature is on the loose. Evalle, Tzader and Quinn take a VIPER team just outside of Atlanta for a sting operation that takes a deadly turn. Killing the half-human creature would be easy, but national security is on the line until the team can discover who created the monster, and whether more like it are waiting in the wings to be unleashed on the human world. The op goes bad with Beladors in the middle of it, and nothing turns out as expected, least of all for Evalle.

This is a short story that you can get for free in many places. One of them is the official page of Sherrilyn Kenyon. I want to stop starting sagas and then forget about them, so one of my really late New Year resolutions is going to be keep reading at least the book series I have started this year. And reconnect with some of the ones I forgot about a lot time ago (soooo many!!). I have even created a Goodreads shelf for them in order to keep them in mind.

The story of this book takes place several months before the first one. Some VIPER agents (Evalle included) have to investigate the weird killings of several expensive cows. They find that the culprit is a bizarre creature that someone has engineered. They must investigate the issue and neutralize the crazy guy experimenting with monsters.

Taking into account this is a pretty short book, I don’t have much to say. It’s pure action, which is what I was looking for. There is not character development. The contrary would be weird, because this story takes place before the first book. Fortunately, there is enough asskicking to forget and forgive that there is no kind of depth storytelling in the bunch of pages of Fire Bound.

OK. Maybe I have lied a little bit. We get to know the origin story of Evalle’s pet, so that’s kind of great and unexpected. He is such a cute gargoyle thingy!! I wonder if what we have learned about it (him? her?) will have an impact in future books… Wait and read, I suppose. Will I stay true to my word and read Alterant this year? I hope so!!

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2018 – Book Gallery