Welcome to my November wrap-up post featuring all of the fantastic posts on my blog that I posted during the month of November.
A quiet month on the blog this month.
My November Posts.
In her arms, as her boy fades from this world and as he breathes his last breathe his mother curses William Abbey. Abbey made his choice, to do nothing and choices have consequences. His lack of action, lack of caring and lack of thought cursed him, he could have stood up and been counted, could have made a change, could have told the gang to stop…but he didn’t. Instead, the privileged white man, he chose to stand idly by as Langa, who, due to his colour is seen as a nobody and a nothing was brutally murdered. The curse, that the ghost of, the shadow of Langa, her son will follow Abbey to the ends of the earth, across the expanse of the known world. The shadow won’t ever stop following him, no matter how far or how fast he runs Langa will always be there, endlessly tracking him, walking, across different countries, different continents, across oceans, deserts, mountains and land always at the same steady pace, never wavering and never tiring. For the rest of his days, Langa will be there dogging his every step, haunting him.
North has crafted a clever, complex, harrowing and thought-provoking story that is full of suspense and tension. The Pursuit of William Abbey spans the breadth of the globe, takes place across many years and is layered with depth. I was gripped by it and found it utterly fascinating. The blurb doesn’t give much away and honestly, I think that it is for the best as it allows you to experience how the story unfolds for yourself with only the bare minimum of information. Prior to reading the book, I had read the blurb and apart from the vague outline, I didn’t know what awaited me within the pages, what dark and disturbing roads the story would travel down. But, whatever I expected it wasn’t what I got with the story going far above and beyond what I envisioned happening and it is a powerhouse of impressive storytelling on display by North…just go buy it, read it and love it.
The story in A Little Hatred is complex, fast-paced and sprawling. Featuring battles, betrayal, conspiracies, politics, revelations, treachery and violence. it is never anything less than being both hugely entertaining and totally gripping. There are lots of connected and interwoven parts that unspool over multiple locations and are told through the several different and distinctive PoV characters of Leo dan Brock, Prince Orso, Savine, Rikke, Vick, Clover and Broad. I’m hard-pressed to pick a favourite PoV character as I enjoyed reading about them all. But, after finishing the book and looking back. I’d have to say that my favourites were Leo dan Brock, the Young Lion, the headstrong and impulsive young warrior who is fighting against Stour Nightfall, the Great Wolf and the invading army of the North. Rikke, who is forthright, honest and who is, well, Rikke is just Rikke with no false facade or mask and she is the daughter of the Dogman. Rikke is struggling to come to terms with the gift of the Long Eye and what the glimmers, glimpses and visions she sees portent with the aid of the older hillwoman Isern-i-Phail. Crown Prince Orso. Orso is the foppish, indolent and unreliable son of High King Jezal who spends most of his time in a miasmic haze of drink, drugs and whores but has a vague desire to both be and to do better. And, finally Savine dan Glokta. Yes, if you just smiled at the mention of Rikke being the daughter of ‘the Dogman‘ and Orso being the son of ‘Jezal‘ two names known to all who have read the original The First Law trilogy. Then, at the mention of the name ‘dan Glokta‘ you will be absolutely ecstatic. Savine is an astute and ruthless businesswoman. She is ambitious, cunning, power-hungry and shares many of the same traits as her father. But, she is also very much her own woman too.
Some of the characters you will love, some you will hate and, at times you will love the ones you really should hate. There are bastards galore in A Little Hatred and you might even say that A Little Hatred is a brutal yet beautiful bastard of a book.
Through tragic events, experiences and hardship we get to see Janel grow as what she endures changes and shapes her. She is a terrific and fully-fleshed main character, fearless, flawed, headstrong, stubborn, strong and tormented. There are plenty of other well-drawn and individual characters (Dorna, Ninavis, Qown and Arasgon) that have roles to play in the story too.
By setting the story in different locations to The Ruin of Kings and by featuring a (mostly) different set of characters (some familiar faces from The Ruin of Kings do pop up during Janel’s story and for the finale too) it really aids in expanding the world. There is a depth to the world-building and every aspect of Lyons creation is complex and elaborately stitched together. It is a cruel world, hard, harsh and savage. A world that is sharpened like a blade and that will cut you if you let it. It is a world that is steeped in history, a rich and bloody history that has continued to echo through the ages with reverberations that are still felt in the present. The history, the lore, the mythology, the politics, the different cultures (the Joratese and Yoran are both fascinating) and religions are singular, all highly impressive. But, put all together, they are all pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly and form an exquisitely constructed and intricately detailed world that feels real and that comes alive on the pages.
There is plenty of bloody, brutal, heart-pounding and visceral action in A Time of Blood. From small scale skirmishes through to large scale battles against a variety of foes and fell creatures. All engagements have a heft, a weight to them and make for edge-of-your-seat reading. Mesmerising, bone-jarring and chaotic battle scenes where the sounds of battle, the thrum of the bowstring, the pounding of horses hooves, the clash of swords, the screams of anguish, the grunts of pain, the shouting of war cries, all emanate from off the pages and transport you onto the field of battle.
On the surface, the story is a tale of good vs evil. But, beneath the surface, it is so much more. There is a depth to the multi-faceted story, the lines between good and evil are blurred, murky, the water clouded and, on both sides, things aren’t always as clear cut as they might, at first appear to be. Remember, history might well be written by the victors but it also changes depending on who is doing the recounting of events with some shining a light on themselves instead of what really happened.
A Time of Blood is a fitting name for the book as much blood is split during the course of the story. It is an exciting book to read, fast-paced and rousing with chapters that often end on cliffhangers, hooks that reach in, grab you and make you want to keep reading, to find out what happens next. Gwynne is a master storyteller who effortlessly draws you into his world and the unfolding story that he is telling. There are contemplative, reflective and quieter moments interspersed with intense action, betrayal, revelations and a tangible air of foreboding to the story. An ominous air, a dark atmosphere that follows the characters and seems to cloak the world in a shroud as you know that everything is leading to a climactic conclusion and what an absolutely stunning conclusion it is!
- Review snippet:
Wells writing is descriptive but archaic and can often read as quite stilted and wooden. However, that is an issue found with most if not all classic books, they have aged, they are dry like cracked parchment and it is simply, a sign of the times and how the English language and writing have changed. Regardless, yes, the writing has dated but the story itself is timeless and The War of the Words is an enjoyable old-fashioned book and a classic of the SFF genre.
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