I’m a little behind on my reviewing lately (three books) so I’m going to combine the two Discworld books I just read into one review. The last review on Discworld pretty much said in general what they are like anyway.

Night Watch was a Vimes book, and it was probably one of the better Discworld books (but then, Vimes is one of my favorite Discworld characters). In this book, Vimes is chasing a criminal and both he and the criminal get taken to the time of a revolution that occurred in the past when Vimes was just starting out in the Watch. The criminal kills Vimes’s mentor when he arrives so now it’s left to Vimes to teach himself everything he knows. It was hilarious and it was fun to see some of the characters as their younger selves.


Monstrous Regiment had brief appearances by Vimes and William de Worde from The Truth, but the main character was a young woman from Borogravia named Polly who has not appeared in any of the previous Discworld books. The Borogravians follow the teachings of a rather unreasonable god by the name of Nuggan, whose teachings state that women should not dress like a man. In order to find her brother during a time of war, Polly disguises herself as a man by cutting her hair and using a pair of socks to make herself look more “manly” and joins the army. This is more serious than most of the Discworld books and doesn’t have as many lines that make you crack up as most of them do, but I loved the themes of gender and religion (and don’t get me wrong, it is still funny and very enjoyable).


I looked up whether or not there was a date for the next Discworld book on Amazon yesterday, and it says the next book Making Money will be available on October 1, 2007. I believe I read in an interview with Pratchett that this book includes the characters from Going Postal and they do something similar for the banking system as they did for the postal system in that book.


Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay, was the first novel by the author I have read. I was fortunate enough to win a copy from Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, which has a lot of book giveaway contests. This will definitely not be the last of Kay’s novels I read; I almost picked up Tigana the other day but opted to buy a copy of Patrick Rothfuss’s debut novel The Name of the Wind without the Fabio cover instead while I had the chance.

Ysabel is supposed to have ties to Kay’s earlier work, The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy. Apparently, a lot of events the character’s mention without really filling in the details of what happened occurred in these books. I’m sure it helps to have read The Fionavar Tapestry before reading Ysabel, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read them first. I didn’t feel lost reading the book because of not having read The Fionavar Tapestry, although I was curious about the parts of the backstory that were referred to without being explained.

From what I understand, the writing style of Ysabel is very different from Kay’s other work. It was not what I had expected after reading about his beautiful prose. Ysabel is very simply written and reads like a young adult novel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it fits since the main character is a 15 year old boy, and although it is not written in first person, the only character’s thoughts who are revealed to us are his thoughts.

This is also different in that it is contemporary fantasy, meaning it takes place in the present (and that was entirely in the present – it wasn’t one of those books where somebody from the modern world gets taken to some sort of fantasy world). I haven’t read much contemporary fantasy, so I found it kind of amusing to read references to Starbucks and google and iPods in a fantasy book.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot of this book since it was one of those books where you didn’t want to put down the book because you wanted to find out what happens next and I don’t want to take that fun away from anybody. So I’ll just say a little about the beginning of the story.

Fifteen year old Ned Marriner is on a trip to Aix-en-Provence in France with his father, a well-known photographer working in the area. Ned explores the Saint-Saveur Cathedral while they are there for a photo shoot, and meets a geeky American exchange student around his age named Kate who knows a lot about the history of the area. While they are in the cathedral, a man comes up through the grate saying that “he” wasn’t there and that “he” enjoyed playing games. Ned and Kate think the man has left, but Ned finds he can sense the man’s presence and tells him to come out. The mysterious man does come out and informs them that they have “blundered into the corner of a very old story” and that they should leave it alone. Of course, they just become further entangled in the events of the story and the competition between a Roman and a Celt.

The characters are all unique and interesting, but I wouldn’t consider it a character-driven book. You don’t really get into any of the character’s heads other than Ned’s and it’s not one of those books where I was sad about leaving the characters behind or felt like there was really deep characterization. It was a page-turner, though, and wanting to find out what happens kept me reading. I also liked the little tidbits about the history of the area, and the details about the area were probably pretty exact since Kay actually wrote the book while staying near Aix-en-Provence.

I’d give it 8/10, and I would definitely read it again sometime.

After reading Hyperion, I decided it was time to read something lighter, so I picked up Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett. At this point, I’ve read most of the Discworld series, but there are a few of them I haven’t yet read and this one was next in publication order.

Thief of Time is definitely an enjoyable, humorous story. Other than Death and Susan and a couple of brief appearances by Nanny Ogg, it does not contain any of the usual Discworld characters but it does introduce several new ones. Somebody could pick up this book without having read any of the other Discworld books and still enjoy it, although it might be helpful to know some about Susan’s past just to see where she is coming from in the story (but that certainly is not necessary for reading this book).

In Thief of Time, a woman known as Lady LeJean visits a young clockmaker named Jeremy and gives him supplies (including an Igor) for building the world’s first truly accurate clock. Jeremy, who is very obsessed with time and clocks, is intrigued by this idea and begins work on the clock not knowing that it will cause time to stop once it has been completed.

Meanwhile, a sweeper/monk of the order of the Monks of History named Lu-Tze is training a new apprentice, Lobsang, who has a natural talent. Lu-Tze learns all about Lobsang’s mysterious abilities while Lobsang learns all about Rule 1 (“Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man”). Lu-Tze and Lobsang find out about the imminent destruction of the Discworld and travel to Ankh-Morpork to try to stop it.

Death begins preparing for the upcoming Apocalypse. He first tries to get his grand daughter Susan involved in trying to stop the end of the world, then rides off to attempt to gather the other 3 horsemen of the Apocalypse, which turns out to be harder than he thought – Pestilence is too frightened, Famine is too arrogant, and War is too hen-pecked by Mrs. War.

This was not my favorite Discworld book, but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite either. (I tend to like the Watch books, Death books, and Small Gods – a great stand alone Discworld book – the best and the Witch books the least.)

Thief of Time is a fun book you can read pretty quickly, but while it could be considered light reading, it still contains deeper meaning. I’ve never seen anybody able to write humorous, non-verbose books that are still very philosophical like Pratchett does. He must be a genius to have that talent.

I would definitely read this book again.


I was quite busy for a while and unfortunately hadn’t had time to write. Or the time to read much, for that matter. I seem to be getting more time to read in now, though. Currently, I’m reading Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett. It was time for a lighter read since I just finished the four books in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos (Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion).

Overall, I liked the series, although I would not consider it one of my favorites by the time I was finished with it. It was definitely an enjoyable series, but it had a few continuity issues that were mildly annoying to me, and were even more annoying to others (like my fiance, who couldn’t even bring himself to finish the series because of the continuity issues). The other problem both my fiance and I had with the series was how fantastic things just happened with no explanation whatsoever as to how or why. The last two books seem to me as though perhaps they would have been better as a part of a separate series since Simmons had to change parts of the previous two books in order to make them work and they used mostly different characters anyway. They also failed to answer a lot of the questions I had after reading the first two books, and a lot of the mysteries that were repeatedly mentioned in The Rise of Endymion were never solved.

The first book in the series, Hyperion, starts with 7 individuals who have been sent on a pilgrimage to the planet Hyperion. To pass the time, the pilgrims decide to each tell their story about why they were chosen for this pilgrimage, so the book is basically made up of a few short stories with their journey told in between each tale. I am not generally a fan of short stories, but I found each of these stories to be interesting, although some were more than others. I found I appreciated some of the ones I did not enjoy as much initially far more when I read the sequel and found out more about how the stories related to each other and the world Simmons created.

My favorite story was the tale of the scholar Sol Weintraub about his daughter Rachel, followed by Brawne Lamia’s telling of her involvement in a murder case as a private investigator. I also loved the stories about Martin Silenus writing his Cantos and the priest Lenar Hoyt’s search for Father Paul Dure, who had been exiled to Hyperion. Colonel Kassad’s story focuses on his military experience and encounters with a mysterious woman named Moneta. The Consul’s tale tells of his grandparents fated meeting on the island of Maui-Covenant. Each story is, of course, much more interesting and involved than that, but I don’t want to spoil the most interesting parts for people who have not read the book!

Hyperion set the stage for The Fall of Hyperion, which delves more into how the various stories told in Hyperion tie together and what the actual society is like. It introduces a new character who has the ability to dream about what is happening to the Hyperion pilgrims. Their stories on Hyperion are completed in this book. I don’t want to say too much about the plot and spoil the book because I found the way all the stories tied together a lot of fun to discover. I did enjoy this book more than Hyperion for that reason.

Endymion takes place 247 years after The Fall of Hyperion ends and has a new set of main characters. The narrator, Raul, is found by Martin Silenus and sent on a mission to rescue Brawne Lamia’s daughter Aenea from the clutches of the Catholic Church (which is now a major force in the universe due to their control of a symbiote allowing people to resurrect when they die). This book focuses on the travels of Raul, Aenea, and the android A. Bettik as Father Captain de Soya of the Catholic Church tries to capture them and fulfill the mission given him by the pope. This book tells you about what the future in this universe is like, but it does not really involve further world building. There are some really humorous lines in it and I found both the beginning and end of the book a lot of fun, but around the middle it seemed to go a bit slowly.

The Rise of Endymion could be infuriating, but it was also my favorite book in the series. This book had a lot of continuity problems and it said that a lot of what happened in The Fall of Hyperion did not happen the way the book said it did. It also mentioned a lot of things that just kind of happened without any explanation as to why or how. A lot of mysteries went unsolved. I found the lack of closure about who the Others were very annoying since they were mentioned many, many times throughout the book. Also, I had predicted the largest parts of the ending to the novel about 3 or 4 hundred pages before it was done (and I’m really not at all good at figuring out how books will end).

If you can look past all that, the story of Aenea and Raul told in The Rise of Endymion is beautiful. There were moments toward the end that I kept thinking about and was still thinking about two days later. I even went back and read some of them again the next day.

Characterization is one of my favorite parts of reading, so I’d like to say something about the characterization. The characters are certainly interesting, but we never get to see inside enough of the characters in the first two Hyperion books for me to feel too attached to them. They have their good points, and they have their flaws, but I think there are just too many of them in a short span to really get attached to any of them too much. The exception to this is Sol. I loved his story and I loved his character, and it always seemed to me like all the other characters liked him best and looked out for him the most. I guess he was just a likable guy.

Since the Endymion books focus more on a smaller cast of characters, I felt like you got to know them a bit better, but other than Raul and Father de Soya they seemed a bit flat to me although I liked them well enough. Raul was a bit on the slow side but he had some great humorous lines as the narrator and he was loyal to Aenea and very courageous and unselfish. Actually, the Ship was a great character – I found it more amusing than most of the other characters when I was reading Endymion.

So that’s basically what I thought of the Hyperion Cantos. I had a lot of mixed feelings about the books, but overall I think they’re worth reading.

Would I read them again? Yes, but probably not immediately.

I would rate them as follows (on a scale from 1 – 10):
Hyperion – 7.5
The Fall of Hyperion – 8
Endymion – 7
The Rise of Endymion – 8.5

Here it is! The big news George R.R. has been talking about on his website!


I am so, so excited! I really hope it comes out well. I’m a little skeptical that they can even fit everything in one book in the series into one season since so much happens and so much of it is important to developing the wonderful characters that Martin has created, but I can’t wait! I hope to be able to afford HBO by the time the series starts (if it does, I hope it will)!

I’ve moved into my new place, but still have more to move and a ton to unpack. Hopefully I can write more after things settle down, but I just had to write about that piece of news!


My fiance and I are moving this week so we’ve been packing up all our books and no matter how many we pack, there’s always more. And I even have a bunch that never got unpacked from before. It’s amazing how many we have, and how many of those I haven’t yet had time to read (many of which are on my To Read list for 2007).

Here are a few of the books I came across that I’d recommend (something like an amazon list without the books and prices):

George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire

If you haven’t read these yet, what are you waiting for? The first book, A Game of Thrones, is a little hard to get into at first, but it is worth it. The storyline is pretty well done, and the characterization is amazing (even if there are so many characters that it’s hard to keep track of them all). There are so many good characters, and they are not the stereotypical black and white/good and evil characters at all. Some of the ones you start off loving to hate, you end up hating to find you love (such as Jaime Lannister, when he is introduced as a point of view character in the third book). A Storm of Swords very well might be the best book I have ever read – from start to finish, it was hard to put down. A Feast for Crows admittedly does not live up to the previous books, but I am hoping that’s just because a lot of the best characters were missing and the author actually wanted to continue the story 5 years later but couldn’t because he would have had a hard time explaining some events. In any case, the first three books are amazing. Very realistic without being too fantastic. But do be forewarned – Martin is not afraid to kill off his characters, and characters you are attached to may die.

Robin Hobb’s Farseer/Liveship Traders/Tawny Man trilogies

Robin Hobb’s three trilogies tie together, even though the second one contains a different set of main characters. They are simpler than some of the fantasy books I’ve read and sometimes not very subtle, but the characterization is top notch. The story is unique, particularly that of the liveships, which is a different and compelling concept. I thought I’d find the Liveship Trader trilogy hard to get into after being so attached to Fitz, the main character from Farseer, but I read them since I understood Tawny Man was supposed to make more sense after reading the second trilogy. Am I glad I did, since I enjoyed them even more than the Farseer trilogy. They’re definitely a fun read, and they are better than most of what is available for fantasy today.

Hobb’s writing pace is amazing – she consistently writes about a book a year and they come out well. The only one of these nine books I had trouble getting through was Assassin’s Quest, the last book in the Farseer trilogy. It just seemed to plod to me somewhat, but that is the only one of those nine books that I didn’t find nearly impossible to put down.

I just got Shaman’s Crossing, the first book in Robin Hobb’s new trilogy. I have not read it yet, but I am looking forward to reading it.

Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles

You may have heard or read the story of Merlin and King Arthur, but never like this (unless of course, you have indeed read this series)! Whyte’s writing style is far superior to that of most authors I’ve read; it’s very intelligent. The only thing that irked me about it was that a few times he did use the so-called word “irrespective”; I hate incorrect grammar, but that seemed especially out of place when the rest of the writing was superbly done.

This series is generally in the fantasy/sci fi section in the bookstore, but I think of them more as historical fiction books. The emphasis is not on King Arthur and magical events, but starts with Merlyn and Arthur’s grandfathers and later is told through Merlyn’s eyes. There’s a lot of background about the Roman Empire and Britain. It’s a very realistic vision of Camelot, and it shows how (mostly) realistic events could have evolved into the fantastic stories about Merlin and Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and Excalibur.

The last book in the series just came out about a week ago, and I haven’t read that one yet, but all the others were wonderful.

Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen

Unfortunately, only four of these novels are currently out in the U.S. (and at least two novellas). At least they did eventually come out in the U.S.; I heard Erikson was originally told that American authors were not intelligent enough to appreciate this series. This was disappointing, since I had heard good things about the series when it was not out in the U.S., so I was thrilled when they were finally here. I was worried they were not selling well enough to continue publishing them, but they seem to have so far since the fifth book is supposed to come out here next spring.

I’ve read the first three novels as well as one of the novellas (Blood Follows). The fourth book, House of Chains, is one of the books I packed the other day and is on my list of books to read when I have time to concentrate on a massive, involving book.

So far, the series is amazing and I can definitely see what the hype is about. They’re intelligently written, and the worldbuilding is well done. The dialogue is entertaining, especially in the third one which often made me laugh, and there’s a wide cast of well-developed, three dimensional characters. There’s an interesting combination of magic and a realism in this series as well. Erikson does a masterful job of drawing gods into the tale and making them powerful yet human, much as the Greek gods are depicted.

Maybe it’s just something about Canadian authors, but Erikson and Whyte both really struck me as having the most intelligent writing style of any of the modern authors I can think of (with the exception of Martin, of course).

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

There are currently 30 novels in the Discworld series, as well as various illustrated books, maps, Science of Discworld books, GURPS Discworld, and probably more. I have to admit, I was skeptical about this series at first since I generally like books that have an engrossing storyline with realistic 3 dimensional characters, so I thought a comical series would not really appeal to me. Luckily for me, my fiance became addicted to them and read them all and kept trying to get me to read them. They may be short, they may be funny, but they’re also a great piece of satire with a lot of subtle philosophy about modern life thrown in.

I was also surprised to find I really like some of the characters. No, they’re not as “real” as Tyrion from Song of Ice and Fire or Fitz from the Farseer trilogy, but you’ve just got to love Death, Sam Vimes, and Captain Carrot. The books focus on a small selection of characters and Death is the only one who generally makes at least a small appearance in all the books. The books about Death and the Night’s Watch are the best; the witch books aren’t as good. There are also a couple of books that do not have any of the regular characters, such as Small Gods and Pyramids. Small Gods, which deals with Greek philosophers and religion, is one of the best in the series.

Those are probably my top 5 series at the moment, but I keep thinking of a few others that I find hard not to include on my top 5 list. I’ll write about some of those and some other decent reads later.

P.S. I don’t know what it is with this HTML editor but the font size just is not working as expected. Yes, I know, I do websites for a living, which is probably why I’m too lazy to go rewrite the HTML.