Book review: The blood debt

I followed reading the final book in the trilogy the day after reading the second book. Compared to the second one, the PoV shifts are not that numerous or sudden, but that is great part due to the story converging in two places: around Wulfric and around Rodulf.

Rodulf keeps his scheming and takes it to the next level, resulting to multitude of atrocious acts. Adalhaid is finishing her studies with plan to leave the city as soon as she finishes what Aethelman could not, knowing that she’d not be safe remaining around if she succeeded (and would probably not live long if she failed). She has some obstacles in the way, partially due to the headmistress having some aversion to Northlanders.

In the meantime, Wulfric returns from his journey overseas only to end up tangled in a messy webs of politics and traitors. And as it tends to be, he just can’t kill those, no matter how reasonable his suspicions are, without a proof his enemies are not willing to give.

He is lured away from the city on a quest to find a blade worthy of a hero, realizing it’s a trap but having no choice. He gets some insight and understanding on the way and just as he returns, the story seems to be getting to the finale… which it would be, if not for the narrative, as I mentioned in my review of the second book. It is here when it shows as trouble. When you know that some characters will survive, it kills the surprise.

I also though some characters maybe deserved a bit better end (no spoiler to who) and that the ending, shifted several years later, is quite anticlimactic. One would expect that after dealing with an uprising led by traitor, a monarch aiming for peace would do all in his power to have all the schemers, and especially the head, searched and dealt with at any cost, yet it is not the case here.

The good part was in the head Intelligencier (that’s how the inquisitor-like sect is called) who shows compassion for the sake of his family, realizing that despite what many would think not all magic is bad.

Read date: 11.-12.4.2018
Published: 2.10.2017
Goodreads / Amazon rating: 4,25 / 4,2
My rating: 80%
Length: 376 pages (kindle edition).

My final verdict for the book, and the whole series, is that it was great read that sucked me in, but could be much better if not for the spoiler-ish narration.

Also, I guess this will lead to me writing blog posts about some topics I wanted to cover: my thoughts about PoV/narration and my thoughts about what is (or not) good or satisfactory ending.

Book review: Jorundyr’s path

As I mentioned at the end of my review of “Wolf of the North“, I was tempted to get into the sequel right away, but for reasons delayed that. The story was captivating, so I blazed through the second book in two days, but it had its issues.

Given how the first book ended, with Wulfric at the run (both away from Leondorf and towards his revenge), Aethelman with is own goal, Rodulf scheming more and Adalhaid with her own choices to make, there were many sub-stories to follow.

That itself would not be an issue, but how the PoV shifts were handled was troublesome, often changing several times in a single chapter, something that might confuse some readers. Worst, these plot parts were happening at different places, detached enough that just following one character for a while would be enough – there was no hint that they happened at the same time to require these abrupt shifts (except when they converged, of course). Personally I’d guess they were supposed to build suspense but I did not feel it that way.

The book also showed why I don’t like books told in this kind of retrospective with shifts to the narrator retelling the story much later, for one reason: it is easy way to spoilers, which was the case in this book. As enjoyable as it was, since maybe half of the second book, it turned from “how it will end?” to “how it’ll get there”, which is quite a pity.

Read date: 9.-10.4.2018
Published: 30.5.2017
Goodreads / Amazon rating: 4,15 / 4,3
My rating: 80% (with mixed feelings, 70% of it is immersion)
Length: 368 pages (kindle edition).

Book review: The Wolf of the North

So, I finally got to another book that was on my TBR quite soon after I bought my e-reader… two years ago. Needless to say, I am glad I got to it. Another quick and very good read.

The Wolf of the North starts like underdog story with Wulfric being weak and bullied by older boys in the village and having pretty much only one friend in Adalhaid, girl from the same village. He’s quite the opposite of his father, the village’s best warriors who’s quite disappointed by it.

Eventually, Wulfric starts changing and eventually beats Rodulf, the ‘boss’ of his bully gang, to the point that Rodulf loses an eye and his hopes for becoming a great warrior are crushed forever. Probably very well deserved beating that changes both Wulfric and Rodulf.

Wulfric then starts his training while Rodulf and his father take different path, choosing to pursue wealth and political power instead of physical power and skill with blade.

The machinations of those two eventually start a downhill spiral (won’t spoil the details) and the growing greed of those two causes large amount of grief among the other villagers, Wulfric being one of those hit hardest, of which most was quite cold plan.

At this point I’ll stop when it comes to the story. I must say that I felt Wulfric quite relatable, especially when it came to struggling with his feelings and the hard decisions. The story of Rodulf and his father, with their machinations and growing fall to corruption was likewise well done, to the point of being able to cause countless deaths just to reach their goal.

Small downside was that in the early part of the book, there were one or two points where the shifts to the narrator felt a bit weird. Regardless, second book, here I come!

Read date: 4.-7.4.2018
Published: 8.10.2016
Goodreads / Amazon rating: 4,11 / 4,3
My rating: 95%
Length: 326 pages (kindle edition)

Two years with ebooks: favorite highlights

Tomorrow, it’ll be two years since I bought my e-reader. In retrospect, decision I am glad for as it brought be back to reading books while as well saving my precious space. As long as it’s not freezing (currently waiting for winter and spring to agree who rules now) I can carry it around pretty much anywhere – a whole small library if I wanted.

Important advantage, even though I am not too regular in using it, is highlighting passages I find interesting, whether they are funny, inspirational or otherwise remarkable.

So, to “celebrate” my two years of e-reading, I’ll share some of my favorite highlights. Since there’s many of them for the two years, this time I’ll focus on the funny ones and leave the serious and inspirational for some other day.

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3/2018 Writing update

Last time I posted something about my writing progress was in December 2017, when I finished the first draft of the prequel to my story, created by expanding the former prologue. That thing is now in some kind of second draft as I made some changed of varying size. Yet, that is not what I want to mention now.

At this point, I am in fifth draft stage for the actual first book. Well, fifth. I have no clue how to number them, no clue what usually tends to be considered another draft and not just the same one with a bunch of correction, but I’ll call it fifth anyway.

First draft was quite self-explanatory. Second was just a bunch of minor changes and adding the first version of the prologue. Third made some changes, but was mostly about clarification and again, mostly small things. I rewrote some paragraphs, but very rarely changed a whole page, let alone a chapter. The prologue had the most of it as it was still under some development.

Then I saw the struggle and decided to separate the prologue into a to-be prequel (or book #0,5 as I call it). That was finished in a month at some 39.000 words, after which, again ignoring any rational sense of progression, went to finish the first draft of second book (yes, while first is still in development). I did that in Christmas writing rush and eventually finished it (at 233.000 words) mid-January, and it lays untouched since as there will be enough time to work on it later.

After that, I went to fourth draft on the first book. This was mostly changing the beginning to make up for the removed prologue and rewriting the beginning to account for the decision. More smaller changes happened, more rewording, cutting parts that were too lengthy even to me and adding information that was missing, some of it on feedback from my trusted alpha reader. I also replaced some more placeholder names with (hopefully) final ones.

The biggest thing was that I admitted that in some scenes, either the main characters are a bit too overpowered without having a reason for it, or their opponents not good enough, which called for some changes as well. They were small, but got me to think about it more.

And so I come to current situation, the fifth draft. For the first half, nothing seemed to change much from the fourth one. More edits in varying intensity, some of the longest chapters split in two, one or two renamed… until I reached chapter 28 or so. It continues where the problem with being overpowered was. I realized some battles were really drawn out without any decent suspense and realized that I had to change my approach to those parts.

The solution I came up with the last two days is quite radical. Two battles (one battle and one skirmish in fact) are to be completely removed and the actually interesting parts to be used a bit differently at the other moments, which will have me change a bit when one character appears and in the end lead me to completely rewriting at least five chapters, with ‘collateral damage’ in form of smaller changes to many more. I hope that with this decision, the remaining battles will be much more interesting.

it also made me to review some other things when it comes to the enemies and their power, something I can’t talk much about for now. All I can say is that I hope that different demon species will be actually different, instead of being continuous grayscale and some of them blending from one to another to make it confusing even for me, eventually enough that I had to make side notes (that should’ve given me the hint much earlier).

It pushes me back even more compared to my original plan to have the first book done in 7/2018. I could not imagine what a journey this will be when I started in 7/2015…

Current status of “Project Eternity”

Book #0,5: Second draft at ~39k words. Currently expected release date: Late Q4/2018 in best case, realistically Q1/2019 if everything goes well.

Book #1: Fifth draft in progress. Fourth ended at ~239k words, peak was 244k before I started cutting, no idea where it will move when I am done with fifth, expecting drop to maybe 225k. Expected release: Late Q4/2019 in best case – quite some pushback from my original hope of 21.7.2018… good thing that I have no real deadlines.

Book #2: First draft done (at ~233k words), though the amount of typos, misspells and other is disgusting and there will be a lot of polish to do even though work on #1 taught me much along the way. I am optimistic with being still able to aim for the original plan in 7/2021.

Book #3: Just a few notes and rough idea for the storyline. Original ETA of 7/2025 still sounds feasible.

By the way, I have some ideas for the names of the individual books and name for the series is decided, but I am not ready to share them yet.

Book review: Tower Lord

Sequel to Blood Song, Tower Lord follows the story of Vaelin Al Sorna and his fellow brothers of the Sixth Order. The first book ended with failed oversea invasion which caused the small group that was together until then to be separated, which also changed how the story is told, switching between multiple points of view: Vaelin, Princess Lyrna, Reva and Frentis ‘the climber’.

Before I get to the story itself, I think I should say that the change made the second book a bit more enjoyable to me for some reason.

Vaelin, after the end of first book, decides he had enough of war, especially as the one he fought in was forged from lies and greed. He spent five years in enemy’s prison, lost some of his friend and for the others, had no idea where they were, if they were even alive – which he does not know.

When he finally returns home, he’s sent to be Tower Lord of the Northern reaches, hoping that to be a calm time spent away from the wars, greed and lies. Continue reading

Book review: Blood song

For my latest read, I chose something more known, Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. The book follows Vaelin Al Sorna since being left at the gates of Sixth Order as ten-years-old boy through his training and eventually through series of conflicts.

I’ll try to be unspecific to avoid spoilers and for that reason, say very little about anything that goes in second part of the book.

Continue reading