Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: Bones of the Dragon: Dragonships of Vindras by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

The dynamic duo of Dragonlance and the Death Gate cycle are back together again but with 50% more Vikings! Bones of the Dragon's cast of characters is obviously styled after the Nordic tradition which I find entertaining as who doesn't like a good Vikingish tale.

Publisher's Summary

Skylan Ivorson is a sea-raider of the Vindras, an undefeated champion of the Torgun clan, and eventually the Chief of Chiefs of all Vindras clans, an honor he truly feels he deserves as one who has been blessed by Skoval, the god of war. But sometimes a blessing is a curse in disguise.

Skoval and the other ancient gods are under siege from a new generation of gods who are challenging them for the powers of creation.... and the only way to stop these brash interlopers lies within the mysterious and hidden Five Bones of the Vektan Dragons.

It will be up to the Vindras, the dragon-goddess's champion, to undertake the quest to recover all Five. The fate of the Old Gods and the Vindras' people rests on their recovery, for this is not only a quest to save the world - it is also a quest for redemption.

Filled with heroes and heroines young and old (as well as human and non-human), spanning locales of exotic adventure in a magic-forged world, this is a series that fully illustrates the mastery of world-building and storytelling that has made Weis and Hickman into the best-selling fantasy co-authors of all time.


Of the early reviews of this book most mixed to negative it seemed. In general I found the book pretty entertaining. I liked the setting and the Norsey feel of the place. My major complaint pertains to the main character Skylan. Now I know the big thing these days is to have a flawed hero and if the main hero of a fantasy novel is just a good guy fighting evil and triumphing over great odds the book will be ravaged by the vengence seeking fandom. But as written Skylan is both an idiot and an ass and the constant thought of "well now he can't be that stupid can he" kept pulling me out of my enjoyment of the story. That said it has the possiblity of going on to be a world(s) hopping adventure like Death Gate which I'd really like to see but unless the character of Skylan is given a mental upgrade I can't see wanting to follow too far.


Again since I listened to it on Audiobook I'll give a thought on that front. I thinkStefan Rudnicki does an above avarage job of reading this story. Doesn't make me like Skylan any more though.

The road to hell is paved...

with nothing apparently as I haven't posted again for months. Reviews to follow I promise.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Catching up

Soooo... what have I been doing for the last year? Well besides the before mentioned life duties I have managed to squeeze in some reading and listening, just not a whole lot of writing. So lets see what I did get to.

Reading well I masochistically decided to read some old Dungeons & Dragons based novels to see if they are as bad as I thought they'd be. I read the Icewind Dale Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore. Not horrible but obviously written as if it were a campaign journal from a D&D campaign. I've also read the first two books and am finishing the third of Douglas Niles' Moonshae trilogy. This trilogy feels a little more like a story than a game recap but still not exactly Hugo material. Also read the City of Towers the first novel in the Eberron setting. Again readable and somewhat enjoyable.

Listening: Haven't done as much of this as I'd have liked. I listened the the Chronicles of Narnia. Since they started making the movies I thought I should at least know of them. Pretty decent young adult fare, can't believe I didn't read them when I was younger. I also listened to the first three books of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea cycle and thought they were wonderful. The writing is so evocative that it paints clearly on the minds canvas, even when sitting in traffic). Since they are audiobooks I should comment on the narrators as well. "A Wizard of Earthsea " was narrated by Harlan Ellison who I did not care for one bit and manage to detract something from the inherent beauty of the written narrative. The The Tombs of Atuan was read by Gabrielle DeCuir and was considerably better than Ellison's reading. The The Farthest Shore was read by Scott Brick, enough said. (Just in case it isn't enough said, Scott Brick is fantastic).

Enough of an update for now but I will have a few more things to add later.

Oh where has the time gone

I'd love to say I was in a coma the last year or so or perhaps on a top secret government mission but I haven't been. I mostly been working, playing and trying to raise two young kids. So time to read started to dwindle and listening time in the car for audio books dwindled as well as I didn't want my four year old listening to most of what I was listening to. In that time there was little to write and so the blog fell by the wayside and for that I'm sorry.

Well anyways I'm going to take another run at it and hopefully my attempt and blog rebirth isn't snuffed out by piles of poopy diapers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Well things haven't been moving as smoothly as I'd like here in blogland. I haven't had nearly the amount of time I'd have liked to read this past month. In fact I've only been able to finish my audiobooks as of late. The good news is that I've had lots of extra time in the car lately so I finished the audio recording of Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon in record time. I'll post my review hopefully tomorrow or Monday. 'Til then...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Review - The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks

And so my foray into the early works of Terry Brooks comes to an end...

"The Wishsong of Shannara" is the third title in Terry Brooks' Shannara series and I think the best the three.

In "Wishsong" the druid Allanon once again drags the poor Ohmsford family out of the quiet hamlet of Shady Vale on a quest to save the four lands from utter destruction, this time brought about by a magical book.

The tone of Wishsong is decidedly darker than the first two books of the series and there is less of a feeling of the inevitable triumph of good. There is also slightly less of the pervasive self doubt that appears to be a genetic defect in the Ohmsford line. Don't get me wrong it is still there but it comes across less whiny this time. The story is fairly good, and seems pretty well paced. It is a little heavier in tone than the first two books and I might raise my parental warning to PG-13 (or 15).
As for the audio. I really do like Scott Brick reading this novels. He has a pleasant, easily understood voice, and doesn't overact when switching character voices. Let me clarify this last point. He does use different accents and voice timbre to signify changes in speaker giving each a unique voice. He doesn't however engage in my personal audiobook pet peeve and voice female characters in some ridiculous falsetto. Scott Brick is a 9+ in my book. Wishsong....
Rating: 7.9

Monday, November 12, 2007

Review - Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks

My audio catching up on old novels continues.

In Elfstones of Shannara we move forward about 50 years from the happenings of the Sword of Shannara. A new and greater threat looms over the four lands and once again the Ohmsford family is there to greet it. Demons, once banished from the world by ancient elven magic have started to break free from their eternal prison and are poised to destroy the races. The Ellcrys, an ancient and magical tree, which is the only thing holding back the Demons is dying. The only way to stop the ravaging Demons is to save the tree. It falls to Wil Ohmsford to help escort an elven girl named Amberle to bring about the rebirth of the tree and save the world. With the help of the magic elfstones and the Druid Allanon, well heck they might just make it.

I found "Elfstones" to be a decent novel but after finishing the second book and starting the third I'm starting to be annoyed with a few aspects of Terry Brooks' early writing. For one names are rarely used in dialogue. It's always "elven girl" or "valeman" or "elven king". The second is the self-doubting characters. Granted you want characters who have genuine human frailties and fear and self doubt are natural. That said, considering the Ohmsford line is the heroic protagonists in all of these tales you'd think they'd be a little less whiny and a little more capable. There are basically 2 chapters in this book (one with Wil and one with Amberle) where they do nothing but whine that they can't do what is needed to be done. (and then of course do it).

One other thing that always bothers me is that none of the Ohmsfords ever learns how to use a weapon of any sort they are always completely reliant on whoever is with them or the elfstones. I mean come on. Aragorn and Boromir taught the hobbits how to use swords can no one teach an Ohmsford?

The story here is decent, the setting is very good, but the characters are only ok. The parts of the tale revolving around the elven defense of their homeland are much more entertaining than the Wil/Amberle quest. That said I would recommend the book for younger fantasy fans it's a decent stroy, one I probably would have really enjoyed more at 15 -16 years old. Parental rating: PG

Rating: 7.0/10
Kendall makes a good point in the comments. I should have mentioned a little on the quality of the audio since I was listening to the book and not reading it. I'll do so here rather than bury it in the comments. The unabridged audiobook was produced by Books on Tape and is available for downloadable purchase at The story is read by Scott Brick who after listening to nearly 50 hours of his reading does an excellent job. He has a strong voice and uses subtle inflection changes when switching characters rather than a lot of contrived and fake sounding voices. The audio quality itself is excellent. Audible allows you to download in one of four audio quality formats. I would always choose four (the highest), I have no desire to listen to subpar audio and the only savings for listening to lower formats is bandwidth and disk space which is cheap.