The last time I read The Wheel of Time was in anticipation of A Memory of Light. The culmination of the series was a big deal for me. I discovered The Wheel of Time shortly after The Shadow Rising (book 4) was released, which means I waited over twenty years for the series to finish. I was a kid when I started reading it and a man when the series concluded. In the interim I lost two immediate family members, graduated from high school, college, grad school, and law school, got my first job, got my first real job, got my first promotion, changed careers twice, lived in four states. The Wheel of Time was a constant through all of that. It may be the only reason I read fantasy today—for the better part of a decade I would not have read any fantasy but for a new Wheel of Time book every two or three years. It was the excitement that the book would be finished that turned me back toward fantasy permanently.
As a kid, I reread the books obsessively, rereading each at least once in anticipation of the next book. Later I would read the newly published book once and leave it at that. Once I even *gas* went months after publication before buying the newest book. A hectic life since A Memory of Light kept me from a full reread. I got married, became a father, changed careers again, and lived in two more states. Oh, and started two blogs. My desire to write reread posts here was part of the delay. Rereading four million words and writing about them is a much bigger commitment.
John Maddox Roberts is probably my favorite of the Conan pastiche authors, but Conan the Rogue isn’t my favorite of his Conan books. It is a fun book, and the concept of Conan as the greatest rogue of all in a city of rogues is a good one, but it gets bogged down at times in the execution and can feel a little too generic outside of the baroque, film noir-esque plot machinations.
Warm weather, breweries, getting out on the water, camping—is it any wonder I didn’t get much reading or blogging done in May, even with the semester ending? I’m looking forward to more summer reading, but it was a great month.
I took some time after the semester ended for some projects around the house, digging a French drain* at my house and ripping out the existing landscaping directly around my mom’s house. Of course I didn’t get either project finished as quickly as I thought I would, or get to the other projects I had planned. I bought a kayak but haven’t taken it out yet. The highlight and capstone of the month was no-angel’s first camping trip, her first rafting trip, and her first time touching a fish. She was an absolute trooper and had a BLAST.
Buehlman had me at “stag-sized battle ravens.” That alone was enough to make me jump at an ARC of The Blacktongue Thief when offered one by the publisher. And we do indeed get a giant warbird (if not quite so much as we might hope or dream), but The Blacktongue Thief is so much more than that. There is epic fantasy-scale worldbuilding with pulp sensibilities, magic and mayhem, death and despair and hope. It is already on my short list for best books of the year, and would be even if I actually had time to properly keep up with my reading.
I haven’t done one of these in a while. And I technically didn’t wait–I finished my advance review copy of The Blacktongue Thief a few days ago. It is you who can’t wait, because I can already tell you that The Blacktongue Thief would be on my best-of-the-year list at the end of the year if I still did that sort of thing.
April was one of those where-did-it-go months. There are months I stay busy, know I’m not reading, and fret all month about it. April was almost over before I realized with shock I had only finished two books (I squeezed out a third on the last day of the month).
I paid similar scant attention to the blogs. I got a decent amount up but didn’t realize until the end of the month that I had posted three reviews to Hillbilly Highways and zero to Every Day Should Be Tuesday. At least I didn’t buy many books.
They are being quiet about it, but Amazon has given the greenlight to season 2 of its Wheel of Time show, despite season 1 still shooting, let alone not having aired. Shooting of season 2 is to start immediately after season 1 finishes shooting. This makes a lot of sense. There are advantages to continuous shooting, especially given the pandemic-related disruptions to shooting season 1 that led to a long gap in filming. But this also signals faith by Amazon executives in the existing work.
It is finally here: something I didn’t know I needed until I watched it. I had written off Justice League and the DCEU. I probably never would have watched the Snyder Cut of Justice League but for Godzilla vs. Kong, my primary impetus for signing up for HBO Max.
I can thank David French for casting the Snyder Cut as the final chapter in a Superman trilogy. That led me to first watch Man of Steel and the Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition. It was my first time watching Batman v Superman in full and in its Ultimate Edition form. It was my first time watching Man of Steel period. I did watch the awful theatrical cut of Justice League.
The bottom line is that the Snyder Cut is really damn good, if not perfect. It is a vast improvement over the theatrical cut. And it does in fact form a coherent trilogy.
Is that a light we finally see at the end of the tunnel? March got off to a good start. The state has me classified as a frontline essential worker, but I wasn’t expecting to get my first dose of the vaccine very early in March and leave the month fully vaccinated. My mom is fully vaccinated too, which has me feeling a lot better about things. I ate inside a restaurant TWICE in March, which is twice as many times I did in the entire previous year.
Ruin and Rising brings Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy to a close. I was in at the ground floor, reading the first and second books right around the time they came out. I inexplicably waited until now to finish the trilogy. Many, many other people did not. Bardugo’s works, all set in the same world, have proven wildly successful and will soon appear as a Netflix show.
The unwashed masses, for once, have got it right. The worst thing that I can say about Ruin and Rising is that it doesn’t quite clear the very high bar set by the first two books.
Siege and Storm is the second book in The Grisha Trilogy and the follow-up to Bardugo’s very promising debut, Shadow and Bone. Rest assured there is no sophomore slump. The second act of a trilogy can be the high point (see: The Two Towers, The Empire Strikes Back) or, most commonly, can lull as the story segues from its opening to its climax. Siege and Storm is an example of the former. In fact, I commented in my review of Shadow and Bone that it was very much a traditional Campbell’s Hero Journey (albeit with a female protagonist), and Siege and Storm bears great resemblance to that most Campbellian of stories—The Empire Strikes Back of Star Wars.