Book Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)

 

 

 

 

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ladies and gentlemen, filthy boys and snarky gals! Presenting… Blackbirds, a book that reads out like a charm!

Okay, it doesn’t. It actually reads out like a derailed train set on a collision course. It’s a grim, super fast-paced story set in an even grimmer world, where each character is more flawed than a Nepali politician. Not the least of whom is our protagonist, Miriam Black.

But. It only makes this book so much more interesting.

Coming back to Miriam Black… What a superb character she is! Probably one of the most awesome female protagonists I’ve read in years. In fact, she is one of the major reason why I so much loved the book.

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My version of Miriam! (based on an image I found on the internet)

The story is okay for me. But it’s the narration that tops the chart. I’ve always been a fan of Chuck Wendig’s writing style and that no-nonsense, kick-in-the-guts, fist-in-the-teeth attitude in his voice. I came to Blackbirds expecting all of that, and, of course, I wasn’t disappointed.

If you love a witty thriller with a touch of fantasy, set in a dark world, full of low-life villains and filthy-tongued heroes, this book is most definitely for you.

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Book Review: A Dance with Dragons (ASOIAF #5)

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet another book, and yet another series of plots and politics, murders and masquerades, honor and hidden intentions, duty and death.

Lords, Ladies, and Free-folks! A Dance With Dragons and George R.R. Martin do not fail to deliver on the promises of the past.

It is just as riveting as any of its predecessor, with strong characters, intriguing plot lines, simple language, and just the right touch of reality. The only major disadvantage of this book should be its size. I mean, yes, every fan wants his favorite book to never end. But… see, he doesn’t actually want it to never end. Duh.

But there was nothing the author could have done about it (at least, not in the fifth book). After weaving an epic tale that covers such a large set of characters, geography, political boundaries, Houses, and even Religion… there was no way this was going to be short.

Anyway, instead of following up on the events of the fourth book, “A Dance…” picks up from where the third book left us (and takes us a little forward from the fourth book). Only this time, the story is told from the viewpoint of a different set of characters. It tells of the epic saga of Quentyn Martell, the cunning journey of Tyrion Lannister, the struggle of Queen Daenerys, the conquest of Euron Grejoy, of the land-beyond-the-wall, and of forgotten tales of half-heroes, and the half-tales of forgotten heroes!

There still are many gaps… incomplete stories… for the author to fill in, and fast. The book is not without flaws. Some things, and a very minor ones at that — like the overuse of the expression “Words are winds” (and important people dying up like roaches!) — really irk me.

Many long-held questions still go unanswered. But many other plots finally fall into place and has now begun to take shape. You can almost form a vague and dim outline of the end that is soon to follow.

But who are we kidding? This is A Song of Ice and Fire. Even the most unimaginable of things may happen. And that is the only absolute certainty.

On to the HBO Series now!

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Book Review: A Feast for Crows (ASOIAF #4)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is no real review. Because the story is not yet done. I’m just jotting down the feeling that came after I read the last word of the fourth book.

A Feast for Crows is also a feast for the readers. Though the hunger goes unsatisfied as the book follows only the events of King’s Landing. You can tell that this is just a bridge… a setup for A Dance With Dragons, which, hopefully, looks to be the real feast.

That, however, doesn’t mean that this volume fails to delight the reader. It is beautifully written, as always, and some of the chapters really leave you biting your nails. Yes, there are no Red Weddings, Tyrion’s trail scenes, and the likes, but mayhaps GRRM never intended them to be. We are rightly impatient over the story of our favorite characters Tyrion, Daenerys, and Snow, but we must accept “A Feast…” for what it is — a well deserved pause in the saga and a build up to the moment when the winter finally comes!

Can’t wait to gobble up A Dance with Dragons!

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Book Review: Low Town by Daniel Polansky

Book: Low Town (First of its Name and the First in the Series of the Same Name!)

Author: Daniel Polansky

Genre: Noir/Fantasy (i’m told)

First thing’s first. (For those who’ve read the book; if not, kindly skip to next para) Low Town is a flawless, smooth read. But I can’t shake off this feeling that how closely it reads out like a game console. You know what I mean. Just think about it. The Earl is the place where the game is saved (where Warden returns every night to rest). We get information/messages from Adolphus (while Warden happily chomps at his food) and we set out on various mission for the day according to that. We meet various people who interact with us and help up gather up bits and pieces of the whole story. We solve one mystery at a time and learn something new about the world with every small mission and by the end of the game we are so confident of our abilities that we are ready to take on the main boss. Only, the main boss turns out to be someone else — and someone very close.

Just a feeling. Whatever.

Low Town is one quirky read. You’d think after reading the likes of Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie you’d get the hang of the grimdark side of things.

Nay, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Low Town.

Low Town is a thrilling detective story done in a fantasy setting. It is a tale of disgraced hero (who only wants to peacefully sell his drugs) against the cruel law enforcers, selfish crime lords, immoral sorcerers, and useless nobles.

Firstly, I must take time to talk about the protagonist. Because he. Is. Simply. Awesome!

Meet Warden, ex-army and intelligence agent, who has fallen from grace and now is an infamous narcotics dealer. That in itself is one hell of a character trait to not get intrigued into. Add that to his charisma and you have a gem of a read. He takes the story to the whole new level. He’s funny. He’s quirky, smug, snappy, realist… and just plain smart. He reminds me of Mark Lawrence’s Jorg! Hell, I daresay that they are somewhat at par.

The story takes flight when a child is found murdered in the street, severely abused. One way or another, our poor hero gets thrown into the midst of things and before you know it he must now either solve the case of this children-kidnapping/killing or be prepared to be blamed for it. Luckily, he had been one hell of an agent before his fall from the ranks. His contacts as a drug dealer didn’t hurt either.

With every page, Polansky takes us an inch deeper into the secrets of the Low Town (and what a marvelous Worldbuilding this is!) and of our hero. Each page grips us more than the last. It only gets juicier when other-worldly creatures and sorcerers start playing their part and the whole story unfolds as an exhilarating adventure.

I have given it a solid five stars with only pitfall being that I could easily second-guess the culprit of the whole crime. Nevertheless, a rewarding journey!