The Twenty-sided Sorceress (3)

 

I had to! I couldn’t help myself! I wanted to continue with another Curious Book, this one about space travel, but I just bought Pack of Lies, and it was sitting there on the shelf, just calling at me. I had to know what happened between Jade and Alek.

It is those damned teasers at the end of these books before you realize it, they have already dragged you into a new crime mystery. This time there were blood and entrails right up from the beginning! Whose were they? I have to know. I’m a total sucker for a who-did-it scenario.

This is the third book in this series. it looks like there are about 8 now. Let see how far we get.

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Pleasantly surprised

4/5

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

I’m not sure what I expected when I started this book, but this was a great story.

There was magic and tattoos, yes… But there was also political maneuvering, gypsies, murdering whores and tragic love stories. There were powerful enemies and allies, and there was a good dose of fighting and gore.

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler
Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

It honestly has everything it needed to be an amazing mindblowingly fantastic book, but it isn’t. I’m not sure I can tell you what’s missing, but I know there’s something lacking.

I think it might have something to do with the details. The strange thing is that there’s so much going on, and so many different points of view… And still I felt like I missed more than one thing and that the important things were being left unsaid.

SPOILER ALERT

For example… We met the commanding officer in charge of pursuing the young Duchess, Rina Veraiin, and while I always appreciate the point of view of the enemy… We never know what he thought of his supposedly hapless quarry after the slaughter at the temple. That would have been an awesome insight.

And then, there was the mysterious third Mage to arri pave from the enemy’s land. We get a small glimpse, meant to build him up as the ultimate opponent. Powerful, knowledgeable and greedy. And then, it took one chapter to see him in action and get rid of him all together. That was a bit anticlimactic.

Like they say… It is all in the little things. There are little things that make this story awesome, like the magic tattoos that can be collected, the loyal friends/subjects that follow and support our main character, the different perspectives from the same conflict that help you see the bigger picture… But it was also the little things that keep this story form being all it could have been.

All this is not to say that I won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy. As most books nowadays, this one is part of a series… A Fire Beneath the Skin. It might take me sometime to get the other two books, but I definitely want to know how this story will end. Maybe our cool Duchess will end up with a full-body tattoo!!

War, heartbreak and friendship

3/5

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

While there not as many little action sequences as in the previous one, this one did have more mass violence and strategy. It felt more like a book about war, almost as if I were back at college reading about all the disturbingly creative ways people have devised over the centuries to systematically kill each other.

The Last Four Things does take the massacre and disturbing imagery farther than The Left Hand of God did. There were some people being blown to pieces, bolts raining down from the sky to kill dozens, and most gruesome of all, the almost complete annihilation of an entire envoy of women and children for the sake of making a point.

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman
The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

It never reaches the disgustingly gory level, if only for the couple of times we…

reserve the right to look away

…instead of going into detail about the most horrendous war crimes that are talked about. Because that’s what it all feels like… a series if hideous and unnecessary war crimes.

That is to say, this is most assuredly not an uplifting read. And it is definitely not for everyone. It has many religious reference that could easily be offensive for some and a heavy handed criticism of many things… from holy war and the politics withing religious institutions, to the decision-making processes of all kinds politicians or leaders and the easily swayed loyalties of people.

One of the positive things that come from all the killing and betrayal, is the seemingly reluctant friendship between two of these kids that have survived the grueling upbringing of abusive monks seeking to make ruthless soldiers out of children, Thomas Cale and Vague Henri.

They mostly don’t agree with each other’s choices and decisively tell one another all that’s wrong with their actions… but continue to follow each other to the origin of their traumas, to war, to perilous travels, and even to the middle of potentially treacherous political alliances.

What better kind of friends? Even when they keep on saying that…

“He’s not that much of a friend”

Everything seems more depressing and more uncertain after finishing the second book, so I will surely read the last one, The Beating of his Wings, if not right away.

the Angel of Death

4/5

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

The one thought that kept repeating itself in my head: This wold make a great movie.
With all the lame books being made into movies lately, I don’t understand why this one hasn’t been picked up yet. It has it all!

A mysterious warrior lead character? Checked!

An evil and even more mysterious enemy? Checked!

Suspense and excitement? Checked!

Action-packed scenes? Checked! Checked!

Love interest and some non-explicit sex? Checked!

War, death and betrayal? Checked, checked, checked!

I admit that it was not what I was expecting. I thought we would be talking more about paid assassinations and pro-assassin training, but this was more about innocent kids being prepped to die on a holly war without regard for their identity as individuals.

One of those kids is our main character, along with his two friend Vague Henri and Kleist.

I think the anti-hero thing always makes for a good story. You know, the one that’s not sure why he saved the girl and continues to regret it to the end? That’s precisely what we get here.
The few and reluctant acts of kindness Thomas Cale performs are special mostly because they’re unexpected. As much for the reader as for the character himself.
And it is his incomprehensibly good actions and reactions that make you sympathize with him when others try to manipulate him or when he gets finally betrayed by his girl.

“The older I get the more I believe that if love is to be judged by most of its visible effects, it looks more like hatred than friendship”.

At least by the end, we can see he still has friends, loyal ones… even when they are as confused about their friendship’s origin as he is… they don’t abandon him.
One of the things I liked was that it never felt overly depressing even with the descriptions of all the hideous things done to those boys. It never gets too gory, even with the vivisection part and the slaughter/war chapter. And, more importantly to me, it never gets too corny nor too melodramatic even with all the underhanded betrayals and political maneuvering. And I think the reason for this is the running (funny) commentary and (serious) explanations that we get from IdrisPukke and Chancellor Vipond.
The wise elder that have lived through so much that they can get by with telling it as it is, have always been my favorite.
There’s no choice but to read the other two books from this trilogy if we want to know Cale‘s ultimate fate.
Would he put and end to all humankind? After all that has been done to him, can you really blame him is he does?