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It’s been a while since I’ve published anything here. I’ve been busy, with life and with finishing my story, as well as updating the official website, sage-eyes.com. In order to consolidate, I’m moving this blog over there. It has a lot of information about the book I’m writing and about me. I will still be coming up with blog posts, hopefully with more frequency, and hope you check it out and comment!  Also, my book has a trailer, take a look!

Hope to see you at sage-eyes.com! Thanks for everything!

 

Earth Afire (The First Formic War, #2)Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book, along with Earth Unaware, is an interesting read, but not so much for the characters, but for the situation. It is interesting reading about plausible technological advancements and their usage, like mining asteriods for metal in deep space. Some of the technology isn’t as believable as other, like the gravity laser that can disrupt the gravity of any object, like a planet. Mini Death Star, right there. But none of the ships can go faster than the speed of light, including the aliens, so that’s a refreshing change from a lot of science fiction. It begins with a family of deep space miners who see the alien vessel coming to earth and want to warn people about it, but because of technology limits as well as bloated bureaucracies, plus the radiation the alien ship emits, no one gets the message until the aliens are nearly there, and no one believes it until the aliens actually do come. Once they do come and start invading, no one can agree with each other and it just becomes a big mess, which the aliens take advantage of, to an extent. It’s like politics today. The characters didn’t really feel strong to me, just representative of different factions on Earth, trying to cooperate for a common goal. My biggest complaint would be about the aliens, the formics, or better known as the buggers by those who have read the Ender books. There wasn’t much description of them, but I was hoping for something more original. Basically, they are ant men, who swarm in hordes but don’t seem to be that smart, despite advanced technology. The comic book versions don’t get props for original design, either. But the book still makes an interesting read, especially since Ender’s Game is coming out as a movie soon.

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Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage, #1)Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This new book bears some similarity to Brandon Sanderson’s books, which makes sense since he studied under that author. Personally, this book flowed well, but there were some parts that dragged a little. When not paying close attention, I sometimes got confused between two of the protagonists’ names, Tamas and Taniel, father and son. Props for having an old man as one of the protagonists, instead of just a young cast. In fact, another protagonist, Adamat, is middle aged. So males of different ages are represented well, but there’s not really any female voice (Except Nila, who only appears in a few scenes and doesn’t do much). The magic system could be explained better, as well. There are three types of magic users: Privileged, who are powerful but traditional sorcerers; Knacked, who have special attributes like perfect memory or going around without sleep; and Powder mages, who get high off gun powder, go into trances, and can control bullets and fire off gun powder, but the book doesn’t explain much about how they came about or why the privileged consider them abominations. The book starts out good, with the nobility all being executed for their corruption. It might have been better to show why they deserved execution, but it was easy enough to imagine. Unlike most fantasy, this setting is a bit more modern, somewhat victorian, with guns playing a big part. It is an interesting debut, I will be looking for further books when they come out, and hopefully some of my questions will be answered. Overall, a promising debut, with some pacing and length issues, but mostly enjoyable.

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Image So normally this blog is for things dealing with fantasy. Of all the superheroes, Batman and Iron Man are the most plausible, relying on technology more than superpowers. But they are still fantastic (as in related to fantasy, not necessarily wonderful). Heck, Iron Man was with the Avengers, which includes Thor, the Norse God of thunder, and they fought aliens. Of course this is fantasy. And the enemies in Iron Man 3 were more fantasy based than previous entries, even if they were still supposedly based on technology.

I saw it yesterday when it came out, being a fan of most comic book movies, and liked the first two. This one doesn’t disappoint. I don’t want to get too critical on this, since there are going to be a wide range of opinions on the movie, whether it was better or worse than the previous two. I think it is about the same, maybe a little better. The last fight was certainly more climatic than Iron Man 2, where fighting Vanko in the end went really quick. This time, the villain just refuses to die. There are some interesting twists, although it does feel like on one plot point, they give away too much near the beginning. But another twist with the Mandarin really changes things. Seeing Tony Stark use his head to solve things like in the cave of the first movie is nice, although a little prolonged. For supposedly being more focused on the relationship with Pepper Potts, she seems to be absent for large parts of the film. The movie is dark, but Tony lightens it up with his humor. My biggest complaint would be that the first third of the film feels disjointed, especially the messages from the Mandarin, which don’t seem to relate to the rest of what we’ve seen so far. Overall, though, these issues don’t bog it down, and it is enjoyable. It might even be my favorite of the three. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 4.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)
by J.R.R. Tolkien

It’s almost daunting to write a review of this. Even though this is considered the beginning of modern fantasy and kicked off the genre and a bunch of copy cats, this isn’t, in my opinion, the best fantasy ever. Especially the books, the way they’re written. In reality, I feel the movies are better. Part of it is because Tolkien was more focused on his world, mythology, and language than he was on the actual story and characters. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great story, epic, and affected me profoundly the first time I read it, even though I was in the sixth grade. A few years later, when the movies came out, I read them again, understood them better, but since then, haven’t had the desire to read them again. They were a chore to read. So much history crammed in, songs, and other things to detract from the main story. Other parts were unnecessary, like the razing of the Shire, which I think was wisely taken out of the movies, as it was anticlimactic. The characters were flat, either almost perfectly good or perfectly evil. Even the races were stuck in their roles, the elves all good, the orcs evil, etc. It wasn’t until later that I realized this is a story about the world created, the language used, the mythology of middle earth. Tolkien was more involved with the setting than the characters or the story. The story serves more as a tour of middle earth than anything else. Still, the story is interesting and epic, and Frodo defeating Sauron was an intense moment in fantasy literature. It served to inspire and mark me, help me come up with my own fantasy world (which I don’t think copies his very much). So while there are flaws, buried underneath it there is a pretty good story and a well developed world.
The Seventh Gate by Margaret Weis

The Seventh Gate (The Death Gate Cycle, #7)
by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman

So I’m going to rate the whole series. I’ve been reading these books for some time now, between other books. There are seven in total, quite a long series. It has an interesting premise. There are five races: humans, elves, dwarfs, sartan, and patryn. The first three are roughly the same strength, while the latter two are supposed to be much more powerful and consider themselves demigods, if not gods outright, but they are bitter foes, the sartan supposedly good and the patryn supposedly bad. A long time ago, the sartan, fearing the patryn, used their magic to lock them up in a labyrinth, their prison, and to divide the world into four elements, earth, water, fire, air. Each world would emphasize one of these elements, so in the air world, there are floating continents, but little water. Supposedly, the resources would be shared between the worlds and everyone would be happy and in paradise, the sartan watching over the lower races. But then they disappeared and left the humans, elves, and dwarfs by themselves, having to duke it out for their resources. The books begin with one patryn, Haplo, who had broken free from the terrible labyrinth, being sent out to explore these worlds and find out what happened to the sartan. At first, the books explore the cultures and how each race adapted to their environments, which is a bit interesting, there are some unique ideas, but later on it gets a little complicated, with evil incarnate trying to disrupt everything. Early on, Haplo find Alfred, a bumbling sartan, and even though they are enemies, are forced to work together. For most of the series, Haplo is an antihero, the villain who is going to conquer everything, but then he slowly is converted to good, and builds a relationship with Alfred. Unfortunately, I felt that relationship was altogether too abrupt, with them becoming pals in the sixth book. It was more interesting with the tension between them. The last three books felt like they lost their way, once they stopped describing the worlds. And while the worlds and cultures were interesting, they felt underpopulated. I didn’t feel there were great cultures to be explored, just a few squabbling nobles to try to represent them. The elves, humans, and dwarfs were all so similar, it didn’t feel necessary to have them. I don’t mind these races, but only when there is a reason to have them, something unique about them. The characters were mostly filler, and I didn’t really care about the lower race characters. Even Haplo and Alfred didn’t feel well rounded. And every leader of the people was stupid, something I would call lazy writing if I couldn’t compare them to the leaders in the government today (just kidding). The ending wasn’t great. The wizard Zafnib just called attention to the fact that these were books and dated them, using cultural references from the 80’s and 90’s, although some of the jokes were funny…at first. Anyway, they had an interesting premise but weren’t executed perfectly. Reminiscent of the Dragonlance books, but in a less predictable setting.

The First Law Trilogy
by Joe Abercrombie

** spoiler alert ** This has some spoilers, so if you really want to read through the series, don’t read this review.So everyone seems to like these books because they turn the fantasy world upside down. There’s the usual tropes, the quest, with the prince, the barbarian, the warrior princess, and the mage, off to find some mysterious artifact that will stop some dark lord. Fairly familiar, except that everyone is a jerk and they never find the dumb artifact. Theres also a crippled torturer who is supposed to gain sympathy. So there are some interesting twists, and if I were to judge this on the first book alone, without having read the others, I might have given this a higher score. It was intriguing, and you want to find out what’s next. Are things going to get better? No. That’s the problem. Maybe I judge books too much on their ending, but if they don’t end satisfactorially for my, then I’m not happy, even if it was good up till then. The noble is a self righteous jerk. The warrior girl is blind to everything but her own revenge, which she never gets. The mage looks at everyone else as inferiors and tools. The barbarian is the most sympathetic, but he’s pretty much just along for the ride. The torturer is just that: he tortures people. Just because we get to see his point of view doesn’t make him good or sympathetic. He does some bad things. And the ending is a total let down. It feels like someone played a prank on me. I read three books just for this? So back to the first point. It turns the fantasy genre upside down. I think the genre needs to look at itself now and then and not just follow blindly what others, like Tolkien, have done. But making the whole thing pointless? That turned me off. If you like gritty, you might like this, I know there are many who do, but if not, don’t bother.

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