Review of The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson

It was an unexpected arrival, but book mail is always welcome at la casa de martes.  I started reading The Bard’s Blade in part due to comparisons to The Wheel of Time.  As it happens, I had just started a reread of The Eye of the World.  I am afraid The Bard’s Blade suffers in comparison.  And for other reasons.

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January 2020 Month-in-Review

I am going to keep this very short because I did very little reading in January, and even less blogging (only seven total posts in January).  I only finished one book.  Although that does understate things a bit: I have been working on several heavy books I didn’t finish but made progress on.

There is one excited bit of news: I finally started a reread of The Wheel of Time and, despite any promises I made to myself when I did, I promptly wrote a post.  I am sure more are to follow.

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Rereading The Eye of the World, chapters 1-12

I really wanted to start a reread of The Wheel of Time.  It was one of my 2019 Bookish Resolutions.  I also really wanted to do a blog series following my reread.  If Every Day Should Be Tuesday search results have taught me anything, it is that me writing about The Wheel of Time is what the people want.  Realizing I needed to spend less time across my two blogs, not more, made me kill that idea.

So on January 15 I embarked on a reread of the series, taking solace in the fact that it would come with no writing requirement.  And here six days later is my first post on my reread.

So we will see how this goes.  I make no promises.  I will certainly cover more book and write less than I would have otherwise.  I won’t stick to a regular, weekly schedule.  This might be the last one you see.  But the spirit compels me to write on it.

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Review of The Rise of Skywalker

I was busy, sure, but it says something that I only made it to see The Last Skywalker last week.  At this point I am pretty sure I had seen The Force Awakens in theaters three times.  That does not, though, mean The Rise of Skywalker is a bad movie.  It is a good movie and a solid coda to both the new trilogy and the big 9-movie trilogy of trilogies.  But it does suffer from Disney’s lack of an overarching vision for the new trilogy and it is oddly lackluster.

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Looking Back on the Star Wars Movies

I watched all ten of the then-existing Star Wars movies last year in in-story order (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Solo, Rogue One, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi).  Notably, this was my first time seeing Solo and my first time watching The Phantom Menace and The Last Jedi after seeing them in the theater.  Some quick thoughts now that I have seen The Rise of Skywalker (a quick review of which is to follow tomorrow).

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December 2019 Month-in-Review and Year-in-Review

Welcome to 2020!  Let’s take one last look back at 2019.

I announced a couple of months ago that I would be taking a slight step back from blogging.  True to my word, I only published eight posts in December.  That is a sustainable pace (some months may run closer to the four posts I published in November), but I am gratified that I didn’t succumb to the blogger’s curse of falling off the Earth entirely.  I also cut way back on my social media use (only 39 tweets in December!).  My work and family life show no signs of slowing down, so the lighter pace should be expected to continue through 2020.

Family-wise, no-angel is almost two years old.  She is roughly the scale and build of a left tackle and serves as the enforcer for the yard boss in her daycare class, intimidating even the kids from the next class up.  I am gratified to see that she is book-curious, even if she cannot yet read and only knows the numbers “2” (in the proper order) and “5” (viewed by her as more of a free agent).  Last night I tried to take a toy from her in an effort to wind down bath time, and she curled away and said “No, mine!” in a Gollum voice, so I think reading The Hobbit to her in the womb is paying dividends.  We hosted both sides of the family for Christmas and survived.  We are taking no-angel to Asia for a big family vacation this summer, which will (1) be a chance to stay locked in a very small area with a toddler for 12+ hours and (2) be no-angel’s first chance to meet the Aussie wing of my wife’s family.

Professionally, 2019 was odd in some ways.  I endured a few setbacks.  Well, not really setbacks, but a bit of running in place.  Wasted effort.  Nonetheless, I feel great about my career at the moment.  I am working extremely hard, but I am being rewarded for it and the potential for the future is there.  I am more fulfilled professionally than I have ever been.  I can’t say that I am in the least stressful place I have ever been, work-wise, but it is mostly good stress, and the despised boredom and lack of apparent opportunity that defined my professional life in my 20s is gone.

Part of the fundamental changes to my blogging is not paying attention to stats, which push a blogger toward regular and repeated posting.  But I did check in as I prepared this post, and I am gratified to see blog views at Every Day Should Be Tuesday were still up over 2018 despite my publishing far fewer posts.  This month I will post a little more here than I have been.  I look forward to participating in Vintage SF Month again and have several vintage SF books sitting on my shelf that have been read but not reviewed.  I am going to pick one more vintage SF book to read this month, although I probably won’t review it before January 31.  It will probably be a Jack Vance or Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  I will post bookish resolutions for 2020 in the next few weeks as well.

no-angel picked Swift and Zelazny books for Vintage SF Month

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Bright Steel by Miles Cameron

Miles Cameron has now written two of my favorite fantasy series published this millennium.  Bright Steel is the final book in Cameron’s Masters & Mages trilogy (I previously reviewed Cold Iron and Dark Forge).  It absolutely stands with The Traitor Son Cycle.

The two series are excellent but very different.  The Traitor Son Cycle draws heavily from Arthurian myth.  Masters & Mages is Cameron’s take on the Chosen One trope.  Masters & Mages is more accessible at the beginning, although, like The Traitor Son Cycle, this is very much not entry-level fantasy.  Gabriel has a strong arc in The Traitor Son Cycle, but it is character (and plot) focused.  Aranthur gets a more traditional arc, starting as a callow farm boy and ending the series as one of the most powerful and puissant men in the Empire.  Both series have a post-medieval setting that strongly resembles are own, but in The Traitor Son Cycle the Constantinople analogue is about as far east as we get and guns are a very new thing; in Masters & Mages the Constantinople analogue is about as far west as we get and rudimentary guns are established, including personal firearms (making it flintlock fantasy).  Both feature monsters, huge battles, intricate worldbuilding, and world-threatening foes.

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