Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Malazan Quotes

Malazan books are full of hidden pearls. Following a recent conversation with a few friends, I'm going to try to collect here quotes and worthy sections that appear in the Malazan books. Please feel free to drop a comment if you have a quote that you want me to add in the list or if you just have something to say.

Gardens of the Moon

"Such tears had been shed before, and would be again - by others like her and yet unlike her. And the winds would dry them all."

"Betrayal was the greatest of all crimes in Rallick's mind, for it took all that was human within a person and made it a thing of pain."

"Kallor said: 'I walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'
'Yes,' said Caladan Brood, 'you never learn.'"

"Out of your depth, Captain? Don't worry, every damn person here's out of their depth. Some know it, some don't. It's the ones who don't you got to worry about. Start with what's right inf ront of you and forget the rest for now. It'll show up in its own time." - Toc the Younger

"When the time for action comes, all doubts must be discarded."

Deadhouse Gates

"Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living." - Duiker

"Names to faces are like twinned serpents threatening the most painful bite of all. I'll never return to the List of the Fallen, because I see now that the unnamed soldier is a gift. The named soldier--dead, melted wax--demands a response among the living... A response no one can make. Names are no comfort, they're a call to answer the unanswerable. Why did she die, not him? Why do the survivors remain anonymous--as if cursed--while the dead are revered? Why do we cling to what we lose while we ignore what we still hold?" - Duiker

"Show me a mortal who is not pursued, and I'll show you a corpse. Every hunter is hunted, every mind that knows itself has stalkers. We drive and are driven. The unknown pursues the ignorant, the truth assails every scholar wise enough to know his own ignorance, for that is the meaning of unknowable truths." - Heboric

"We are all lone souls. It pays to know humility, lest the delusion of control, of mastery, overwhelms. And, indeed, we seem a species prone to that delusion, again and ever again." - Fiddler

"It's our nature, isn't it? Again and again, we cling to the foolish belief that simple solutions exist." - Kalam

"You dream that with memories will come knowledge, and from knowledge, understanding. But for every answer you find, a thousand questions arise."

Memories of Ice


Book Review: Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh

Title: Royal Exile
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Publishing Date: 5 Jan 2009
Paperback: 456 pages
Series: Book 1 of the Valisar trilogy

Summary

The barbarian horde of the Likurian Steppes moved from the east and conquered the Denova Set. Cremond, Barronel, Gormand, Dregon and Vorgaven fell before Loethar’s barbarian army. Penraven, the most powerful kingdom of the Set is the the last one standing, however the end is near. King Brennus of Penraven has to take difficult decisions in order to preserve the life of the only Valisar heir, Prince Leonel.

Don’t Judge A Book By It But...

What I see is a bleeding cape but I would have preferred to see the same soldier facing us. On a second thought, maybe it is representing a bleeding flight... I think I like it. Especially after having seen the cover of the second book, I like what they’re doing with the covers of the Valisar Trilogy.

Review

I hadn’t read any of Fiona McIntosh’s books before and I was pretty excited when I received a review copy of Royal Exile. As I’ve been reading the books of the Malazan of the Fallen series, I’m always looking for interesting books to alternate between two Malazan books. So I was hoping to find an interesting story in Royal Exile. Especially when I read what Robin Hobb had to say about Royal Exile, it raised my expectations for Fiona McIntosh’s work.

Fiona McIntosh’s style is very smooth and easy to get used to. That makes the book very easy to read. The first hundred or so pages, the introductory chapters, went without much excitement. Just when I was getting worried that it was going to be a story full of clich├ęs and not enough action, things sped up and the book gained a steady momentum. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the pages were turning fast with my desire to know more.

I love complex world building in fantasy & sci-fi books. However the world building in Royal Exile is probably done at a bare minimum to keep the story going with some hidden secrets left for the future. I’m hoping to hear more about the Set and its surroundings in the future installments.

My feelings towards the characters in the story have been very mixed. I cared for a few of them. Some others didn’t seem believable enough. In more than one occasion, I scratched my head asking myself "would I or anyone do that in the same situation?" On the other hand, I welcomed the late-introduction of other protagonists, and interesting ones in that, who promise a superior upcoming book. Royal Exile started mainly with a single story thread, however, to my joy, Fiona McIntosh carefully crafted multiple parallel threads in the second half of the book.

Royal Exile is a well-written, easy-to-read book. Its plot is captivating despite the shallowness of the world building and of most of its characters. The first book of the Valisar Trilogy is a promising one and I, for one, am looking forward to read the second book.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free e-Book: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

For a limited time, you can download an electronic copy of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson from Barnes & Noble for free.

About the Book

In James Patterson's blockbuster series, fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time...like when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare—this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb—now her betrayed and greatest enemy—that her purpose is save the world—but can she?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Barnes & Noble's new eReader

Last week when I heard about Barnes & Noble's upcoming color eReader, I was very skeptical. It's just the video below didn't really convince me. No offense but it felt like a salesman pitch disconnected from the reality. I guess time will tell...



However, what seems to be true is that their new eReader is pretty good looking. Yesterday, in a Gizmodo.com article, we had the pleasure to see their new device:



Its look will probably evoke a Kindle or an iPhone. It also looks like it has a bottom LCD part that is indeed in color however the main screen is the regular gray-scale e-Paper screen (EPD display). That's how much color we're going to get for now, I guess... On the other hand, having two screens may prove a useful feature. It opens up a bunch of possibilities. Especially if they can achieve a truly responsive menu then they would satisfy a lot of users.

Regarding the price, it's said that it's going to be cheaper than the Kindle. It would be amazing if that's true because I would not expect this device to be cheaper than $300 normally.

And finally, I'm not sure what kind of formats will be supported by the Barnes & Noble eReader however I hope ePub is in the list.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

Title: Deadhouse Gates
Author: Steven Erikson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bantam
Publishing Date: 1 Oct 2001
Paperback: 959 pages
Series: Second of ten novels of the epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book Of The Fallen.

Summary

In and around the Seven Cities, the wind blowing from the holy Raraku Desert carries the warnings of a rebellion brewing in the whole continent. As Sha'ik unlocks the Whirlwind and sends her followers out on a holy war, the continent becomes a very dangerous place for the Malazans.

Don't Judge A Book By It But...

I must admit that I love Steve Stone's artwork on the covers of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and Deadhouse Gates is no exception. The warriors spawned by the whirlwind in the desert and the hounds announce a captivating book.

Review

We were in Darujhistan when we turned the last page of the Gardens of the Moon. However in Deadhouse Gates Erikson brings us to the Seven Cities, on a different continent.

As soon as I decided to read Deadhouse Gates, the first question that came to my mind was: "Will I read about the same characters in this book?" Well... If you're asking the same question then let me tell you that the only characters from the Gardens of the Moon that we encounter in Deadhouse Gates are Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar and Kalam. The story of the first three is told in one of the story threads as Erikson masterfully manages four main story lines in parallel. We find the charismatic Kalam in the second story thread. The third thread is about a trio who just fell into slavery: Felisin Paran, a noble teenager (whose family name should be familiar), Heboric, an excommunicated priest of Fener the Boar God, and Beneth, a brute. The last main story thread revolves around the imperial historian Duiker (whose name was mentioned in the first book) who accompanies the Seventh Army in a perilous journey. Contrary to Gardens of the Moon, though, the characters in each story thread in Deadhouse Gates are most of the time separated by very long distances.

From the first page to the last, Deadhouse Gates progresses as a runaway train that imprisons the reader's attention. The parallel story lines are well crafted and have well balanced weights. These stories pull the reader in different directions, most of the time in different parts of the continent. Furthermore, Erikson continues his world building without overwhelming the reader. He's not afraid of showing gore and blood, and he proves that he is one the best fantasy writers to describe martial action and battle scenes.

I also noticed two things after reading the second book of the series: There is not any deep romance in Erikson's books, at least not in the first two books of the Malazan book of the Fallen. And Erikson seems to be just like George R. R. Martin in that no protagonist is safe in his books. There's something good about being caught off guard that way but it's also sad to see one of your favorite characters disappear.

All in all, in Deadhouse Gates, Steven Erikson raises the bar one more notch. It was an incredible read and I'm definitely thirsty for more. My mind is already set on Memories of Ice. I can't wait...

Rating: 9.5

Quote

"Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free on-line reading: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Color of Magic (Discworld 1)

You can now read Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic on-line using HarperCollins Publishers' Browse Inside site.

Book Description

Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestsellers in England, where they have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett's maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins--with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kindle International Edition

It had been rumored for a while and today came the official announcement: Ladies and gents! Amazon Kindle 2 is now internationally available in 100+ countries (but bizarrely not in Canada - anybody knows why?).

As of today, you can pre-order it from the co.uk site for $279 and Amazon will begin shipping them on 19th October. Even though the device is current sold from the .com site, a UK store is forthcoming. Currently the list of UK publishers whose books are available to Kindle 2 users include Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Faber & Faber, Hachette, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, Penguin, Profile Books, Quercus, Simon & Schuster and Wiley. It looks like the talks between Amazon and Random House are ongoing so Random House is not currently on the list. The number of available titles is supposed to be more than 250.000.

According to The Register, the Kindle international edition seems to be using GSM technology only. If this is true, the Kindle International may not be working everywhere in the world. Furthermore, the UK coverage map resembles 3's network, even though the operator denied having an agreement with Amazon.

What's this fee of $1.99 per book about?

Since the announcement, there has been a big debate about the international prices, especially about the $1.99 that the international users are supposed to pay per book downloaded. It turns out that this fee is payed only by the US Kindle users buying books outside the USA. International users won't pay that fee even if they use their Kindles outside their registered countries. I'm sure, that's precisely the reason why the international titles' prices will range between $11.99 and $13.99 rather than %9.99 like in the US. It looks like the extra fee is bundled with the book price for the non-US customers already.

As you can guess, it was all about releasing the Kindle 2 well before the holiday season. Q4 has always been the busiest quarter for Amazon so they wanted release the device early in October. Is that a half-baked solution? Will there be a lot of confusion about where to buy it and for how much? We'll see it pretty soon. In the meantime, competition is good for us, the consumers. I believe Sony's e-readers are better devices but we'll see if Amazon can break Sony's market dominance outside the US.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Free e-Book: The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore

Suvudu are giving away 2 more e-books in various formats:

The Demon Awakens
by R. A. Salvatore

The Demon Awakens is the first book in the first DemonWars Saga trilogy by R.A. Salvatore. The book is also the first out of seven books in the combined DemonWars Saga.

Blurb

In The Demon Awakens, bestselling author R. A. Salvatore creates an astonishing new world for readers to explore—and an intrepid hero to lead the way: Elbryan Wynden, who must confront the dark tides of destiny in his epic search for justice and peace...

A great evil has awakened in the land of Corona, a terrible demon determined to spread death and misery. His goblin armies and fearsome giants ravage the settlements of the frontier, and in the small village of Dundallis their merciless attack leaves behind two shattered orphans: Pony and her lifelong friend, the youth Elbryan. Taken in by elves, Elbryan is raised to become a formidable ranger—a fateful role that will lead him into harrowing confrontation.

Meanwhile, on a far-off island, a shower of gemstones will fall onto the black sand shores. These heaven-sent stones carry within them an incredible power—the key to all that is good in the world and all that is evil, and it is up to one young monk to liberate them from the corrupt monastery that harvests them. Pray that they don't fall into the wrong, clawed hands...

Starfist: First to Fight
by David Sherman and Dan Cragg

"Marines, we have just become a low-tech deep recon patrol..."

Stranded in a hellish alien desert, stripped of their strategic systems, quick reaction force, and supporting arms, and carrying only a day's water ration, Marine Staff Sergeant Charlie Bass and his seven-man team faced a grim future seventy-five light-years from home. The only thing between his Marines and safety was eighty-five miles of uncharted, waterless terrain and two thousand bloodthirsty savages with state-of-the-art weapons in their hands and murder on their minds.

But the enemy didn't reckon on the warrior cunning of Marines' Marine Charlie Bass and the courage of the few good men who would follow him anywhere—even to death...

E-Book Universe

I came across a diagram prepared by technology news site techflash: The diagram, entitled E-Book Universe, shows the companies involved in e-book business, various readers, online libraries and various technologies. The relationships between the entities on the diagram are of type:
  • Reading Device
  • Wireless Provider
  • Mobile App
  • Content Provider
  • Acquisition
I think it's great to try to capture the significant part of the booming e-book industry in one diagram.

Thursday, October 1, 2009