Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The First Step

The First Step (A Thousand Li, #1)The First Step by Tao Wong
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Long Wu Ying knew what to expect in life. He'd be a farmer like his father and live a simple life, that was at least until he was conscripted into the army. Due to unforeseen circumstances Wu Ying was offered a spot with the Verdant Green Waters Sect and a life as a cultivator. Now he's entering a world he never imagined and life as a cultivator.

I really wanted to like The First Step, but I honestly found it bland. It reads largely like a rough draft waiting for the finer points to be added. We have the hard working farm boy trope with Wu Ying along with the obnoxious nobles who believe they are better than everyone else. What the story is missing, is personality. Wu Ying for example doesn't have one unless hardworking has become a personality trait and no one told me.

Unfortunately on top of the characters having no personality, the story also lacks descriptive action. The battle sequences are vague and easily forgotten. The author chose to describe fights using form names as though all readers are familiar with them. Perhaps for a reader with more familiarity, it would be more than enough. I found it lacking.

The First Step was unfortunately disappointing for me and I won't be continuing the series.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021


Nolyn (The Rise and Fall, #1)Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nolyn, the son of Nyphron and Persephone and heir to the Empyre has been reassigned after 500 years of exile. Nolyn has been sent to the front lines in war and is certain he's being sent to his death. Fortunately for him he's been assigned to the Seventh Sikaria Auxillary Squadron, an already noteworthy squadron who has a legendary warrior among it's ranks. New legends are beginning in the midst of deception and tragedy.

Nolyn is supposed to be one of three bridge books between Legends of the First Empire and the Riyria Chronicles / Revelations. For those familiar with the mentioned series, there is a lot of familiar occurrences happening. The story revolves largely around the first two half human and half Fhrey people in existence, Nolyn son of Nyphron and Persephone and Sephryn daughter of Tekchin and Moya. The story is largely told from their perspective though there are additional point of view shifts to other characters.

It seems to me that one of the largest themes throughout all the books in this world is history repeats itself, history is forgotten, and history is rediscovered. Nyphron or someone serving him has largely forgotten the contributions of the humans to help him become the Emperor. Humans are second class citizens while the Instarya largely behave like the Miralyth before them. Nyphron has outlawed magic and many have forgotten about its very existence. There are still embers of the past, of a better way, waiting to be rediscovered by all and rekindled.

I enjoyed Nolyn overall, but I largely feel as though I know too much of the world at this point for these books to have the same emotional impact for me. We've seen the beginning in The Legends of the First Empire and the conclusion of events in Riyria Revelations. Seeing the specific events that put things into place is enjoyable, but not quite as rewarding. The events I'd truly love to see more of is Turin/Malcolm/Rex Uberlin vs Trilos. That's the unknown tale in the midst of the familiar and what I'm most curious about at this point. I also realize their battle largely occurs in the shadows and goes unseen. Bringing it to the forefront may not be likely. I want to find out if Trilos is still the thorn in Turin's side in Riyria Revelations or if he's been dealt with before then.

Nolyn is an interesting history lesson and I'm curious to see what happens next.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Desert Prince

The Desert Prince (The Nightfall Saga, #1)The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifteen years have passed since humanity won the war with demonkind. Many believe demons are extinct and that many of the exploits of the saviors of humanity are purely fiction. Things are peaceful and that's the world Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in. The hardest part for them is being the children of legends. Both struggle with the expectations placed on them and do their best to meet them. However one night when both Olive and Darin step off the greatwards, they learn the demons aren't all gone and the world isn't nearly as safe as they thought.

I'm honestly full of mixed emotions about The Desert Prince. Stepping back into the world of the Demon Cycle so soon after the events of The Core seemed to present challenges for Peter V. Brett and I didn't love the way he handled them all.

The book undoubtedly had some good parts. The theme of the characters learning who they are is a prominent one. Olive was born as an intersex individual and assigned the sex of female because the alagai hora believed it provided her a better chance of survival. Olive has fully visible, and by Leesha's belief, working male and female parts. This presents a challenge as the world has been told Olive is woman. She has to hide her male parts and often must stay away from the eyes of others. It leaves her feeling isolated and unsure of herself. Darin has limited control of his powers and every morning is like fire on his skin as the sun rises. People expect to see the Deliverer Arlen Bales in Darin, but he is quiet and withdrawn. He doesn't like to fight. Both Olive and Darin fear they are disappointments.

Some other strong parts are every prominent Demon Cycle character is mentioned outside of Ragen and Briar. Most are seen if only for a short while. Doing that helped Brett balance making the book accessible to a new reader as well as involving those who read the Demon Cycle. The fighting is intense and crisp. Much more sharusak, hand to hand fighting, is seen than magical attacks.

Unfortunately there were quite a few negatives for me, most prominently being this story is young adult through and through. This was hard for me as I loved the Demon Cycle, so seeing things be handed over to the children was challenging. Still after finishing the book, it's hard to imagine the heroes of the prior series even needing the help of the children to succeed. While the characters learning who they are is a good thing, it's also a significant aspect of young adult stories.

As a reader who read all the Demon Cycle books and novellas multiple times, having the point of view shift to the first person point of view of Olive and Darin was frustrating. It's like seeing the Demon Cycle from the kids table. We are getting a new perspective, but from the young teenage protagonists as they learn about their world. The kids, especially Olive, learned new things that were large aspects of the earlier books. I get it's helpful for the new reader, but I just wanted to skip those parts.

I didn't like the strange mix of passivity and privilege displayed by Darin and Olive. Due to the world being so safe, Darin seems more content to hide in a shady spot than to learn anything about Demon fighting. Olive is being pushed into being a duchess and focused entirely on female things, despite the fact she has a world changing secret hiding in her bido. Olive is largely unprepared for the real world while Darin is running and hiding from it. I don't love either of them as protagonists, but I find Darin slightly more intriguing.

The Desert Prince isn't what I expected, but out of my love for the world I'm sure I'll continue in the series.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

World Serpent Arcanist

World Serpent Arcanist (Frith Chronicles, #5)World Serpent Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Volke is reunited with his friends with the Frith Guild, the Second Ascension are seeking to bond with god creatures. The Frith Guild is determined to locate the person meant to bond with the World Serpent and beat the Second Ascension to it. Meanwhile Volke is training himself, an apprentice arcanist, and preparing for the possibility that the next battle may be his last.

The World Serpent Arcanist was a good book. I was hoping for another book like Plague Arcanist that was truly intense and dropped many of the young adult elements the series has gripped tightly to. Unfortunately that's not the case as young adult romance drama takes up a good bit of time...that and traveling.

Regarding romance; the romance in the book is definitely one of its major drawbacks. The first few books were normal enough for young adult where Volke liked Atty, Illia liked Volke, Zaxis liked Illia, and no one knew who Atty liked. This was all perfectly normal. Now Zaxis and Illia are a couple and things keep getting stranger outside of them. Volke is basically catnip and practically every young woman is a cat. I'd call it a James Bond situation, but Volke is basically helpless and doesn't know what to do. These young women skip past appreciation for Volke's help and nature and go straight to love. From my vantage only one character's affection seems real enough to make it past the honeymoon phase. All the unreal romance makes me cringe and roll my eyes at times.

This book was far more introspective as Volke is concerned with what's most important to him. He's always willing to lay his life on the line for what's right. He sacrifices what could be the easy and happy path in order to protect others.

I felt this book was a bit more crowded and no one character got enough page time. With Volke being reunited with the Frith Guild and the crew of the Sun Chaser being around nearly everyone fell to the wayside. Evianna may have been the next most prominently featured character. Master Zelfree came up often, but Volke's initial team and the Sun Chaser crew felt largely like after thoughts.

The World Serpent Arcanist was interesting and I'm hoping the series gets even better moving forward.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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