Friday, September 19, 2014

Legend of Drizzt: "The Third Level," read by Greg Grunberg

I hit the first bump on my audiobook journey with the third tale of this collection, “The Third Level,” read by Greg Grunberg of Heroes and Alias.

The story focuses on one of Drizzt Do’Urden’s arch-enemies, the thief and assassin Artemis Entreri. “The Third Level” tells of Entreri’s early years in Calimport and his meteoric rise from a teenage street thug in a poor neighborhood to a lieutenant in Pasha Basadoni’s thieves guild.

The story establishes the cunning and commitment of the young Entreri, and gives us a few glimpses of both the life that led him down this path and the ruthless man that he will one day become.

I always liked Entreri, as his mind seemed just as sharp as his blades, and I looked forward to the times when he locked horns with Drizzt because they always made for some magnificent combat scenes – one of R.A. Salvatore’s greatest strengths.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: "Hollow World" by Michael J. Sullivan

I almost didn’t want to read Michael J. Sullivan’s “Hollow World” ($15.95, Tachyon Publications).

Don’t get me wrong. I love Sullivan’s work. His tales of the Riryia are some of my favorite fantasy discoveries of recent years – the kind of rousing, old school adventure tales that brought me to the genre in the first place. Now, he suddenly shifts to science fiction, a genre that I don’t read often and am very picky about what I do read.

But the Riryia tales were too good for me not to give “Hollow World” a go, and, oh man, wow.

Ellis Rogers leads an unhappy life. He’s stuck in a loveless marriage and has been since the suicide of his son, a tragedy that he’s still trying to cope with. Now, he’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is looking at six months if he’s lucky.

During his years of misery, Ellis has secretly built a time machine in his garage. With the news of his impending death, he decides to go against his character, throw caution to the wind and crank up the machine for a trip 200 years into the future. He misses slightly.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Review: "Scourge of the Betrayer" by Jeff Salyards

When I was about 20 pages into Jeff Salyards’ “Scourge of the Betrayer” ($14.99, Night Shade Books), it seemed like a book I might abandon. After reading the final page of the story, I’m still kind of wondering how I feel about it. If nothing else, it’s an interesting approach to storytelling.

We view the action through the eyes of Arkamondos, a scribe that has been hired by a group of savage Syldoon warriors to chronicle their actions. Arki isn’t sure exactly why these rough-edged soldiers need a chronicler, and he knows nothing about what their mission is or where they might be headed. He knows, though, that it won’t be dull. And he’s right about that.

That’s really about the best that I can do for a plot synopsis. Any other details that I let you in on would kind of spoil the way that the book is set up, and that’s something I try hard not to do.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Random Rants: Ten life-impacting books

I was tagged by a friend this week in the Facebook thing going around that asks you to name 10 books that had a big effect on you. I don’t usually participate in those sorts of things, but I thought this was an interesting question.

If you know me, you know that when you ask me about books that have affected me in some way, I can’t just give you a title. I must provide some sort of explanation. So, knowing that would go way beyond the average Facebook post, I decided to do it here instead, where I’d have all the room I need.
Of course, staying  true to my metal roots, my list goes to 11.

Feel free to add your own books in the comments, too.

1. "Green Eggs and Ham," by Dr. Seuss. I chose this one, but it could have been any of Dr. Seuss’ books. They were read to me from a young age by my mother, then I read them over and over on my own. When my son was born, I read them to him almost from birth. Without Theodor Geisel, I would not have the love of reading that I do today. He has to be No. 1.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Legend of Drizzt: "Dark Mirror," read by Dan Harmon

My journey into audiobooks continues with the second tale of The Legend of Drizzt, "Dark Mirror," as read by Dan Harmon.

After he was absent from the first story, this second tale of the collection focuses on R.A. Salvatore's famed dark elf.

Drizzt is out of Mithral Hall on a journey to visit the lady of Silverymoon when he comes across the tracks of a band of ogres hauling human prisoners.

Drizzt begins to track the monsters only to encounter the men from a local village, ill-prepared to face their foes, but determined to get their families back. Among those men, though, is a brash leader by the name of Rico, who talks of teaching the ogres a lesson even as Drizzt urges the men to let him steal their prisoners away without a fight.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: "The Crimson Campaign" by Brian McClellan

“Conventional wisdom” often holds that the second book of a trilogy will be the weakest, as it’s usually a bridge between the beginning bang and the big conclusion. So much for conventional wisdom.

Brian McClellan’s “The Crimson Campaign” ($26, Orbit) is the rare middle book that not only lives up to the first, but surpasses it.

In “Promise of Blood,” McClellan introduced us to an intriguing magical system with his powder mages – wizards who burned black powder to fuel their magic. In “The Crimson Campaign,” that novelty has worn off a bit, but McClellan one-ups himself with exceptionally compelling drama.

The book opens with the Kez army gathered en masse at the Adran border, as Field Marshal Tamas attempts to hold them off with a much smaller army. Tamas believes that his son and war hero Taniel Two-Shot is in a coma after a massive explosion resulting from Taniel shooting, and supposedly killing, the god Kresimir. In reality, Taniel is trying to drown his sorrows with a drug known as mala.

Meanwhile, Inspector Adamat, employed by Tamas to root out traitors in his alliance, is dealing with his own issues. A powerful man known as Lord Vetas is holding his family hostage, and he’ll be forced to attempt a daring rescue with a handful of Tamas’ men, while also maneuvering his way through the political wrangling in the capital city of Adopest.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Legend of Drizzt: "The First Notch," read by Felicia Day

R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’Urden stories were once among my favorites, but I really haven’t thought about them in about a decade. The last few I read seemed to be really losing steam, and I drifted away.

It’s funny that, of all things, it would be Ice-T that would bring me back around to Salvatore and Drizzt. A few months ago a blog post from the rapper/actor got some attention online with him cracking wise about being hired to read a Dungeons and Dragons book and the issues he encountered. We didn’t know at the time that it was for the audiobook version of “The Legend of Drizzt,” a collection of Salvatore’s short stories about his drow hero. 

I’ll be honest. I’ve only tried an audiobook once before and didn’t really care for it. One of the joys of reading a book for me is, well, reading. But once upon a time I felt the same way about e-books, and now I read about four or five e-books for every physical book. So, who knows?