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Youngs (UK)

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The Skull Throne (The Demon Cycle, Book 4)
The Skull Throne (The Demon Cycle, Book 4)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2.0 out of 5 stars Puts the sag into saga, 22 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The author has gone down with a bad case of saga-itis. What started as an excellent couple of novels has gone severely off-plot and degenerated into a soap-opera of secondary characters, many of whom get trivially killed off thus removing whatever buy-in the reader has developed to their plotlines and destroying any re-readability of the book. The Demon Cycle would have made an excellent trilogy if it had remained true to the initial storyline but has turned into a saggy Game of Thrones clone - a real shame as the author is undoubtedly talented.


Promise of Blood: Book 1 in the Powder Mage trilogy
Promise of Blood: Book 1 in the Powder Mage trilogy
by Brian McClellan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and refreshingly different, 21 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having read more than a few hundred fantasy/military novels over the years it was a rare pleasure to come across a book offering a refreshingly different variation on these themes. The mix of 19th-century technological innovation co-existing with wizardy is developed well both as background and core theme, with the magic users coming across (with limited exceptions) as realistically self-centred individuals, arrogant in their power above the common people and resulting place in society.

Naturally, being a novel, there are existential threats involved - a interacting mixture of supernatural and realpolitik - but these flow plausibly from the situation rather than being bolted on to provide artificial tension. The culinary god Adom is an unusual and brilliant creation.


The Crimson Campaign: Book 2 in The Powder Mage Trilogy
The Crimson Campaign: Book 2 in The Powder Mage Trilogy
by Brian McClellan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent mid-trilogy sequel to excellent start, 21 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Continues the refreshingly-different story seamlessly from the Powder Mage. The plot continues to evolve in a pleasantly convoluted fashion with the four main themes moving along at a good pace in parallel.


(Pack of 5) W H Marriage - Canadian V Strong Wholem Flour 1500 g
(Pack of 5) W H Marriage - Canadian V Strong Wholem Flour 1500 g
Offered by Superfood Market
Price: £13.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Good bread every time, 21 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent bread making wholemeal flour. Gives consistently good results when other brands fail.


Fool's Assassin (Fitz and the Fool, Book 1)
Fool's Assassin (Fitz and the Fool, Book 1)
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloooooowwwww......., 21 Nov. 2015
The style is reminiscent of pre-Edwardian novel - vastly over-decorated prose burying the story in heaps of slowly moving extraneous detail. Apparently some people like this stuff, but if you enjoy a good read with a plot that hooks you in and then goes somewhere before you feel yourself visibly aging, then go read something else.


Lurch FlexiForm 85010 Loaf Tin 30 cm Brown
Lurch FlexiForm 85010 Loaf Tin 30 cm Brown
Price: £19.90

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smooth and stable, 24 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The tin has a smooth bottom and the sides don't bow when it's filled. Works very well for large loaves and cakes.


Echopraxia (Firefall)
Echopraxia (Firefall)
by Peter Watts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big ideas let down by a poor plot, 24 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Echopraxia (Firefall) (Paperback)
The book mentions lots of big current ideas about the development and possible future of intelligence, however they're largely raised in passing rather than integrated properly to form a solid plot. One gets the feeling that the author started with a pile of concepts they found fascinating and then structured a "road trip" novel so they could all get a mention. It was interesting as a look-up list of further reference reading, but left me quite unengaged with the characters (who are gradually killed in various pointless episodes) and quite uncaring about the disjointed ending. It's a pity really as the author is obviously talented and thoughtful, but too keen on cramming ideas in at the expense of writing craftmanship - and we're past "Golden Age" SciFi when this was deemed okay.


OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mixer
OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mixer
Price: £15.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly designed, 21 Jun. 2015
This is a really well designed mixer. Works well and fantastically easy to clean - simply snaps apart into rins-able sections and re-assembles in a couple of seconds.


Mallon® 40CM Inflatable World Globe Teach Education Geography Toy Map Balloon Beach Ball
Mallon® 40CM Inflatable World Globe Teach Education Geography Toy Map Balloon Beach Ball
Offered by Malloom®
Price: £1.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Globish, 12 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's an inflatable globe as described. Quite nice apart from the fact that the main seam doesn't quite line up so countries lying across it are missing a few square miles.


The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Last Chronicles/Thomas Covenan)
The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Last Chronicles/Thomas Covenan)
by Stephen Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Ruins of the Earth: The Worst Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, 12 May 2015
Firstly let me say that I've previously been a great fan of Stephen Donaldson - I thought the first two Chronicles of Thomas Covenant were amongst the best fantasy novels (of a thousand or so) that I've read. However this is a deeply flawed and disappointing sequel. I've now trudged, in ever deepening gloom, through all four books and, as they're effectively a single seamless tale, this review covers the whole sequence rather than any individual book.

Basically, the whole thing is simply tedious. The characters continually restate the plot and their relationships to each other - presumably intended to increase tension, but after a few dozen occurrences it just becomes mind-numbing padding. The worst instance is a single conversation at the start of the 3rd book that lasts over 120 pages, but there seem to be repetitive internal monologues of angst and inadequacy every few pages. There are still some flashes of brilliant writing, but one is so exhausted by the preceding drudgery that the pleasure of finding them is quite numbed. It would be a much better novel for being half the size - 3000 pages is far too long for the events it contains.

One gets the impression that much of the plot was based on a tick-list of characters aimed at bringing back the complete crowd-pleasing cast of
haruchai, stonedowners, ramen, ranyhyn, giants, lords, sand-gorgons, forestals, ur-viles, elohim, lurker, cavewight, raver, waynhim etc from every previous book. With the breaking of various laws it seems that even death is no barrier to having at least a walk-on part - even the illearth stone makes an appearance. About the only thing I didn't spot is repeated use the phrase "roynish barking" which previously seemed compulsory whenever the urviles appeared. It seems more like a cram-everything-in fan-fic homage to the originals rather than the work of the same author.

The time-travel element seems completely out of place with the tone of the other novels and is presumably there to allow the author to complete the tick-list of characters and enable more exposition regarding the origin of the lands various features and historical characters. Linden's various excursions to the past seem largely aimed at demystifying the back-story to the original books - quite deflating really since they fit much better with the fantasy setting as myths rather than step-by-step explanations of how things came to be. We really didn't need to know the story of the Guardian of the one tree, how Berek discovered Earth power, why the viles went bad etc - such things may be of interest to true Covenant completists but to those of us simply looking for an excellent story they're extraneous.

There are far too many deus ex machina episodes, often involving powerful pop-up characters who appear unheralded to offer some wisdom or perform a function then are disposed of once their role is over. Some use of these devices is generally acceptable in fantasy since the author needs to construct a background without a real world to provide context, but they are over-used ad nauseum here to the point where the main characters actions often seem to have little point because someone/something will drop in to either create or solve a problem for them. The ur-viles are a particularly ominpresent get-out-jail-free card, apparently tailing around after the main cast invisibly then uncloaking whenever a problem is seems unsolvable. One particularly delating occurrence is when, after being told for a couple of thousand pages how unstoppable sand-gorgons and the skurj are, both are wiped out cleanly in a paragraph by Covenant shouting mystic words. A similar things occurs earlier when the unbeatable demondim are demolished instantly by a pop-up character, and at various points both the escorting haruchai and giants are nearly wiped out only to have unexpected save-the-day reinforcements drop in apparently out of the blue. The cumulative effect of all these excursions from plot continuity is to remove any sense of buy-in one might have regarding the fate of the characters - leaving residual warm-feelings from the first two trilogies and gritted-teeth determination as the only reasons to finish the saga (when, alas, the finale continues in the same "Eh? What happened there?" disappointing vein).

If I had Linden's time travelling ability then I'd create my own caesare and send a "don't read these books" message to myself. The conclusion of the 2nd Chronicles was one of the most powerful endings in the fantasy genre and really needed no sequel - especially not one that falls so far short of that standard.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2016 12:32 PM GMT


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