Posts in category 'books'

  • Review: The Way of Kings

    Review of The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1.0) by Brandon Sanderson (9780765326355)★★★★

    The first of a two part pentology, The Way of Kings is slow burn high fantasy that mixes standard tropes with a deeper mystery to create something fun and compelling enough to justify the investment. #books (https://b-ark.ca/YsGa0A)

    Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

    It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

    One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

    Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

    Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar's niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan's motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

    The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

    I was a bit reticent to begin The Stormlight Archive, if only due to the massive investment I knew it would entail. Sanderson is a prolific writer, and the volumes in the Stormlight Archive are… substantial. And there’s going to be ten of them. Oh, and he’s only just finishing book four now. So, as with The Expanse, I knew I’d find myself waiting.

    However, given I absolutely loved the first Mistborn trilogy, I knew I would probably enjoy Sanderson’s writing and world building, and it’s been a while since I’ve been hooked by a large scale, high-fantasy series (and before you ask, no, I haven’t started A Song of Ice and Fire… someday!), so I decided to take the plunge.

    The Way of Kings is a long, slow burner that, I think, is better thought of as a set of four interwoven novellas–Kaladin and the Bridgemen, Adolin and Dalinar, Jasnah and Shallan, and Szeth–set against the backdrop of a grand mystery of the past and a prophesied cataclysm to come. This structure means the book requires a bit of patience from the reader, as rather than taking us through a single character journey Sanderson must set up and execute multiple plots simultaneously. However, I found the overall setup sufficiently interesting, and the final third compelling enough, that I’m definitely going to be continuing on to book two.

    Continue reading...
  • E-Books... They Don't Suck!

    So, in my on-going search for ways to justify the purchase of my PDA, I’ve decided to try and read my first e-book on the thing, specifically “The Da Vinci Code”.

    Okay, quit laughing. I’m entitled to read a little pulp from time to time, too, ya know. So piss off! And, hey, it can’t be as bad as Decipher. No, seriously, it really can’t. If an author tried to write a book worse than that, I’m pretty sure his/her own lower intestine would reach up and strangle him/her, Douglas-Adams-style.

    Anyway, surprisingly enough, the experience has been remarkably positive. I absolutely love real, physical books as much as the next guy (actually, probably more… I have this really nasty habit of “stopping in” to book stores and walking out with two or three new items to add to my collection. Which would be fine if paperbacks still cost $5, rather than the current going rate which is upwards of $10… frickin’ wallet rapists), and still think that the classic paper book provides a superior overall reading experience, although that’s probably at least in part due to nostalgia. But I have to admit, this whole e-book thing might not be so crazy after all.

    Now, going in, I knew that e-books have some problems:

    • Eye fatigue.
    • Difficult to see in bright-light conditions.
    • Poorer “random access” facilities.
    • Less durable (for obvious reason).

    In my case, the first two were my major concerns, especially given my poorer vision. But, as it turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought. The screen on my TX is clear and readable. The brightness controls make it pretty usable in a variety of light levels (though reflection is an issue). And as for the other issues, well, I can deal with them. Plus, e-books have a few advantages:

    • Smaller pocket-print, thus easier to carry around.
    • Easy to read one-handed, or even no-handed with autoscroll.
    • Ability to adjust fonts, colours, etc, to suit the reader.
    • Can carry around a whole collection of books easily.
    • Very easy to just power on and read. The reader automatically remembers where I was and opens directly to where I left off.
    • Works in dark environs. I could read while Lenore’s sleeping, if I wanted.
    • Allows me to easily read material from resources like Project Gutenberg without having to print stuff off.

    As for actual software, I really can’t say enough good things about PalmFiction. Unfortunately, the only things the author can say are in Russian, so you kinda have to fumble a bit with it. But once you do, wow! The feature set is incredible!

    • Reads txt, PalmDoc, Word files, RTF, and others, and can even read compressed files.
    • Can display the text using anti-aliased fonts converted from TTF sources.
    • Supports any screen orientation, so you can read left- or right-handed.
    • Can display in true full screen on hi-res devices. No wasted screen space!
    • Does a great job of word wrapping and hyphenation.
    • It’s FREE.

    And there’s probably many more features I neglected to mention. Truely an awesome program, and far better than trying to read PDFs using PalmPDF.

    On a separate but related note, the next e-book on my list is a Russian work called The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. ‘course, I was originally planning to read The Golden Calf by the same authors, as recommended by Arkadi, our resident Syberian. However, the folks at that site haven’t completed the translation, and the last thing I want is to be left hanging halfway through. ;)