Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Obsidian and Stars

Obsidian and Stars (Ivory and Bone, #2)

Obsidian and Stars is the second book in the Ivory and Bone series, and picks up right after the events of the first one. Mya and Kol have survived the battle with Lo and the renegades and are preparing for their life together, but tragedy strikes and changes the clans forever. In addition, Mya's brother Chev decides to marry her younger sister Lees to Morsk, threatening the relationship Lees and Roon have. Lees resolves to run away with Roon, and Mya feels she has no choice but to take Lees herself, so that she'll be safe, while Kol talks to Chev. The story thus involves Mya and Lees fleeing to an isolated island, where they encounter people from another clan and other dangers. 

This was a solid follow up to Ivory and Bone, only this time the story is told from Mya's point of view.  I liked Mya in this one, I thought perhaps I might have trouble with her POV since it took me a while to warm to her in the first book, but that wasn't a problem. Her and Kol are solid but if there was one thing I didn't like, it was the angst over things like leadership  of the clans and the way forward. I can't say too much about that without spoilers, but suffice to say that the tradition of throwing everything but the kitchen sink in the way of our heroes is alive and well! I seriously wanted them to stop mewling over things and just deal. 

Having said that, I have little else to complain about. This was a fast read and I blew through it just like with the first one. This is set during the prehistoric era or perhaps the Ice age, it's not really spelled out, but it's clearly in that vein and so it's a little disconcerting when the people behave remarkably like modern people. Other than the fact that they use spears and hunt mammoths, they could be the protagonists in a YA story of another era. This probably sounds like a criticism also but while it's not what I was expecting (I mentioned this in my review of the earlier book as well) I still liked this story a lot. 

The sequences on the island are pretty thrilling- you have fights against other clans, natural disasters and even waterfalls. There's an action packed battle on a clifftop, and in general this one has more action. I liked the sense of exploration too as Mya and Lees find themselves alone at sea and then on an island with more dangers than they were planning for. I thought this would be a story of the two of them alone against tough odds, but surprisingly many of the supporting cast show up early on, so we get to see more of characters like Seeri and Pek, as well as Kol of course and a new face that adds something to the mix. 

There's a nice examination too of leadership and customs, and the sacrifices one must make. Mya and Kol have to wrestle with their own desires versus their responsibilities to their clan, and if those two things can be reconciled. Here again is where some of the angst came in, but at the same time it really allowed the author to explore the character of these two. The characters here are quite compelling and while, again, I'm a little skeptical that Ice Age clans were this sophisticated, this is a thrilling foray into a savage world, and a fun read. 

Game of Thrones: Patchface

A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

One of the more misunderstood characters in A Song of Ice and Fire is Patchface, the fool who capers and cavorts for the amusement of Stannis' court. Patchface was originally brought to Westeros by Stannis' father, Lord Steffon Baratheon, and was the only survivor of a shipwreck that took the life of Steffon, along with his wife and the entire crew. The tragedy of it is that their ship broke up within sight of home, in Shipbreaker Bay, and that Stannis saw the ship go down. In fact that's one reason that Stannis gives for his dismissal of the Seven as worthy of his worship. The thing is though that Patchface went down with the ship, and was only recovered days later when he washed ashore. What happened to him under the waves- for days? 

This post will have spoilers for the books. 

So Patchface is a character that I did not really appreciate until I became familiar with fan theories and speculation. The first couple times I read the books I thought oh he's weird, must be something there, and moved on. I now have a much greater appreciation for Patchface and the role he plays in predicting (quite accurately) a lot of very important events. Throughout the series, whenever we see Stannis (and his daughter Shireen) there is often Patchface as well. First of all, why is he called this? It's due to the facial tattoos that cover his face- green and red squares- as per the custom in Volantis, the slave city he's from. 

When he washed ashore and was found his skin was said to be cold and white. A rumor among fishermen was that "a mermaid had taught him to breathe water in return for his seed." Regardless of whether that's true, there are a lot of theories, including that he may have been saved by the Drowned God and returned to life and land for some unknown reason. Whatever happened to him, he now issues rhymes that seem to be prophetic. Here are some examples.  

"The shadows come to dance, my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord," he sang, hopping from one foot to the other and back again. "The shadows come to stay, my lord, stay my lord, stay my lord."

This could be a reference to the shadow babies that Melisandre gives birth to.  

"Fool's blood, king's blood, blood on the maiden's thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye aye aye."

This seems to refer to the Red Wedding, with Edmure chained and Greatjon Umber captured as well. 

"Under the sea, men marry fishes." Patchface did a little dance step, jingling his bells. "They do, they do, they do." 

This one's a little less clear. Personally I think it refers to the Deep Ones, the hybrid creature that are said to mate with human women, as referenced in the World of Ice and Fire book.  

"The crow, the crow," Patchface cried when he saw Jon. "Under the sea the crows are white as snow, I know, I know, oh oh oh."

A reference to the Others or the wights? Or maybe a prediction that Jon will die.  

Melisandre is unnerved by Patchface. That creature is dangerous. 

Frankly if Melisandre is worried about him then I may be terrified of him! But I think even as Melisandre seems to misinterpret her own visions, I think she's missing the point about Patches too. The jester clearly seems to have some awareness of what is happening and I think as the series progresses we're going to see more and more of that. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

River of Teeth

River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1)

This one just wasn't for me. In spite of the awesome premise and the moody cover, I just couldn't get into the story. It's about a group who get together for a caper (it's not a caper- it's an operation) into the swamps of Louisiana to clear out the feral hippos that are making a mess of the place. Winslow Houndstooth has a contract from the federal government to do this, and he assembles a crack team of mercenaries- like him they all have secrets or other agendas- but Houndstooth himself has another reason for going into the marsh. He wants revenge against the man who wronged him.

This is a novella so there's not a lot of room for character development, but even given that there's a romance that feels way rushed. I didn't really care about any of the characters that much, and for a book that is billed as having lots of hippo mayhem I didn't see that much. Sure there's a bloody encounter here and there but this was mostly talking. I read it to finish it but I wasn't ever really wowed by the story.

A big part of the appeal here is, of course, the crazy hippos. They're wild and pretty dangerous, and the wranglers ride hippos themselves. Apparently there was a plan to introduce hippos as an alternative meat source in the 1890's but it never went far, so the author is going from a historical seed of truth, and taking it in a different and violent direction. I just never connected with the story. If this appeals to you I would say give it a shot, as your mileage may vary, but it just wasn't my thing. 

Tuesday Tagline #48

Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone, #1)

All the numbers add up to one killer... herself. That sounds ominous... 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7: Dragonstone

Image result for game of thrones S7

So Game of Thrones has returned for a shortened season seven. It's been a long wait, with the show starting about two months later than usual, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait. A lot of things are in play as we get to the endgame here, not least of which is the fact that we are beyond the books now. Book readers no longer have the advantage of knowing how things will turn out . For the next seven weeks I'll be sharing my thoughts on each episode, comparing and contrasting with the books, and just basically fanboying out along with everyone else. There will be spoilers for each episode and potentially the novels as well.  

So we start out with Arya pretending to be Walder Frey, hosting a feast for his male family members. It was obvious what was happening but no less satisfying, to see most of the Frey family taken off the board in one fell swoop. This is a much more simplified version of what's happening in the books, the Brotherhood Without Banners has been hanging Freys left and right but here they seem to have a different destiny. As we see later in the episode, the Brotherhood (along with The Hound) are heading north, to confront the threat there. I think that's an interesting route to take with them- the idea of the Brotherwood fighting alongside Jon and Sansa is very appealing. 

There were a lot of great moments visually in this episode- a fine beginning to the season. The army of the dead marching south was pretty awesome, and they have- giants! The greatest moment for me was the arrival at Dragonstone- very impressive. They did a great job with Dragonstone by the way- and the shot of the dragons flying ahead to wheel and cavort around the towers was one of the most impressive shots I've seen on this show ever. I think they absolutely nailed it with Daenerys' arrival, and it was especially gratifying for me since the Dragonstone segments in A Clash of Kings were some of my favorites.  

Bran is at the Wall and maybe we'll see his reunion with Sansa and Jon next week? Speaking of Jon and Sansa, they're not exactly seeing eye to eye, and their dispute over what to do about the Umbers and Karstarks made things a little uncomfortable. Littlefinger, of course, enjoyed that. It was nice to see Alys Karstark though, as I liked her in the fifth book. Of course her story is going to be somewhat different here, but it was nice to see her and the Umber heir declare their fealty. As uncomfortable as the dispute was, it was gratifying afterwards to see Jon and Sansa talking. If they can keep it together...

 Did anyone else love it when Sansa had exactly no patience for Littlefinger? I love that she's a player in the game now, and no longer his to manipulate. And the fact that she's learned from Cersei... I think Baelish had best watch himself.  

The only real weak spot for me this week was the Cersei/ Jaime conversation. I've never approved of the casting for either of them though, and there was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't feel right. Cersei has lost three children and is just over it? Not buying that. And touching back on the Brotherhood Without Banners for a sec- how about the character development there with the Hound? I thought him burying the dead mother and child was a nice callback to A Feast For Crows, where many fans suspect the gravedigger is really Sandor. A little Easter egg for book fans there! He and Thoros had a nice moment. 

Biggest revelation for me: there is a mountain of dragonglass under Dragonstone. We know this of course from A Clash of Kings, as I believe Stannis may have even had men mining it, but I think this might be the first time it has come up on the show. How convenient that Dany is there now. 

Random Thoughts

Does anyone else think the Greyjoys built their thousand ship fleet and then sailed it to Kings Landing awfully quickly? This show though lately has had a hard time with plausible travel times. Just go with it I suppose. 

Speaking of the ironborn, what do you suppose Euron has in mind for his gift to Cersei? 

The North Remembers. Nice. 

Who are the soldiers Arya encounters? I didn't think it was too smart for her to hang with them, but she seems pretty confident. My prediction... if she gets in trouble with them, Nymeria and her wolf pack will come to the rescue. 

Sam is not having a glamorous time at the Citadel. 

The moment when Thoros has the Hound look into the flames, and he saw the Wall and the army of the dead- well done. 

Shall we begin? 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunday Post #203

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

So last week was interesting. The week itself was fine, but last weekend we lost power- and internet- several times. Last Thursday storms rolled through, downing trees and lots of people were w/o power. Not us though. We had power all day Friday until about 7:00- then it went out. Poof. They quoted three days to restore. 

Well it only took about a day but before and after the outage the internet kept going down as well. I blogged a little on Saturday, woke up Sunday to... no internet. Like for the third time in three days. Not sure what's going on, but internet service has been awfully spotty lately. 

So I mentioned last week that I got some ARC's from ALA courtesy of It Starts At Midnight and one of them was One Dark Crown. So I started that bad boy this week and... finished it. Wow. Same with The Secret History of Us.    

What else did I do. Let's see, I reviewed Ivory and Bone and will have Obsidian and Stars this next week. I posted a Jon Snow discussion post (Game of Thrones is back on Sunday) and I also shared some flash fiction- On The Run Part III.  

Ivory and Bone (Ivory and Bone, #1)Obsidian and Stars (Ivory and Bone, #2)One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns, #2)

Song of the week


The 39 Steps  (Richard Hannay, #1)


A Map for Wrecked GirlsThe Secret History of Us


Here's a clip from Atomic Blonde.  


I like the background ambience plus the idea of looking out at the stars while you sleep.  

Dakotas Fanning is great in this. Warning it is graphic. Wanna be scared?   

Cosplay of the week Captain Irachka Cosplay  

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

The Den


Contract Artwork | Matt Gaser

I really like this look at an underwater complex  

A futuristic cityscape

futuristic sci fi city 3d model by Tim Shaw