Review of The Legion Of Flame by Anthony Ryan

July 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

PENGUIN AUDIO - The Legion Of Flame by Anthony RyanThe Legion Of Flame (The Draconis Memoria, #2)
By Anthony Ryan; read by Steve West
25 Hours 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: June 27, 2017
ISBN: 9780735206700

For centuries the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood – and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed – to fuel and protect its empire. But now a fearsome power has arisen – a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire and for all of civilization.

Executive Summary:
Another solid entry in this series. Here’s to hoping for a good ending with the final book.

Audiobook:
I hate narrator changes. I’m bad with names, so at first I almost didn’t notice the change from Stephen Brand to Steve West. Plus I like Stephen Brand, and he narrated the last four Anthony Ryan books. So Steve West had his work cut out for him because I came into this book heavily biased against him.

I’m happy to report I thought he did a good job. I don’t know why they changed narrators, but Mr. West read with good volume and inflection and he added a few voices into the mix to make for a good audio experience.

Full Review:
This series mixes such a wide variety of themes, it still seems strange that they all work together, but they do. First you have Lizanne, who I always just think of as Jane Bond in my head. Then there is Clay, who’s got a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe to his story. Finally there is sailor Captain Hilemore.

Their narratives are all tied together with Dragon Blood. Added to the mix is Sirius. I don’t recall if he was introduced in the last book as a minor character, but he certainly wasn’t a POV in that. Much like Hilemore in the last book, his story felt mostly disconnected from the other three until near the very end. Unlike Hilemore however, I had a much better idea how his story was going to fit in with the rest well in advance.

I found the start of the book a bit slow. It took me awhile to remember the characters and the details from last year’s The Waking Fire, and even afterwards I didn’t find myself completely sucked in. Once the book got going however I definitely enjoyed it.

Clay’s story started the slowest of the four, although I didn’t find Sirius much better. Even Lizanne who’s definitely my favorite of the series felt like she was meandering a bit before her story got going again.

The world building continues to be excellent. We learn a lot more about the Dragons and the blood blessed, and the nature of many of the mysteries from the first book. Clay’s story in particular reveals quite a bit of interesting details. I really like the world Mr. Ryan built here.

Based on his previous series, I feel like Mr. Ryan’s good at writing both beginnings and middles, but struggles with endings. Queen of Fire felt rushed, and partially spoiled an otherwise perfect series for me.

I hope he takes as much time as he needs (assuming his publisher will let him) to write the final book of this series. I think this book set things up nicely for that. Now I just have to wait and see how it all comes out.

Review by Rob Zak

The SFFaudio Podcast #429 – READALONG: In The Mountains Of Madness by W. Scott Poole

July 10, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #429 – Jesse, Marissa, Mr Jim Moon and Wayne June talk about the Tantor Media audiobook In the Mountains of Madness: The Life, Death, And Extraordinary Afterlife Of H. P. Lovecraft by W. Scott Poole.

Talked about on today’s show:
a biography (not the novel), who would make that mistake, W. Scott Poole, The Extraordinary Afterlife Of H.P. Lovecraft, the writing style, some reservations, a very interesting book, S.T. Joshi, Michel Houellebecq, current thoughts about Lovecraft, have we all fallen into a trap?, there must be something wrong with him, first biography, I Am Providence, primary materials, letters to the editors, here’s Lovecraft’s vision, man, Lovecraft’s childhood, why do we care so much, a forerunner, his mom and his wife, everybody hears about Lovecraft’s mom: he’s hideous looking, the L. Sprague DeCamp biography, a strange man with an ugly lantern jaw, Stephen King, progressive and interesting, an open minded woman, his politics, cautiously taking issue, Lovecraft’s racism, history, a crock of bull, dismissing the man of his time argument, science, eugenics, racial theory, phrenology, condemns overly harshly, divorcing the work from the creator of it, celebrating his creativity without celebrating his politics, what if Rembrandt was a wife-beater, a conservative, his grandfather, a pedestal, we all get our politics from our parents and our family, unusual and extreme, not a happy fact, commonplace views, The Birth Of A Nation, bringing Lovecraft away, strange and creative, humanizing, they weren’t terrible mad women, playful, reading Shakespeare, annoying the neighbours, psychoanalysis, they must be psychopaths, a wax cylinder, Lovecraft’s singing was like a fox terrier being strangled, cats and ice-cream, good evidence, an admirable person, an only parent, every kind of toy, chemistry sets and magazine subscriptions, school as torture and punishment, she sounds awesome, expand your mind in different ways, he’s filling in gaps with a lot of speculation, really interesting new evidence, non-standard childhood behavior, starting a detective agency after you’re playing dungeons and dragons style wargames, .22 pistol, tailing suspicious looking characters all over Providence, an absurdly early age, Sarah Susan Lovecraft, conclusions, this book is so 2016/2017 with suppositions, hard to argue with facts, beyond precioucious, Mr Jim Moon’s rubbish detective agency, toddlers with automatic weapons, gun control, football, every male was given a badge that ranked them beta or delta, fuck you society!, ugly vs. striking, William Hope Hodgson, going with it and going against it, amateur journalism and reading pulp magazines, why my sympathy resonates with Lovecraft in his stories, he’s interested in school, Teddy Roosevelt, Kermit Roosevelt, war was masculine, WWI was a mistake, pulled some strings, a strange sickly twilight individual, a walker and rambler vs. mad recluse, go for a walk and read books, social anxiety and mild depression, most of the people Jim knows, the subtitle, becoming H.P. Lovecraft, the stories themselves, August Derleth and Cthulhu plushies, Hypnos, Hypnos tattoos, very funny, a sarcastic take on the hipsters, THE answer, the secret history of why today is the way it is today, Gary Gygax comic book biography, Little Wars by H.G. Wells, war-gaming, the great grandfather of modern gaming, he’s not really a fantasist in most cases, Wells’ stamp, Doctor Who could not exist without The Time Machine, Lovecraft’s marriage to Sonia Greene, she bank rolled amateur journalism (their version of blogging or podcasting), The United Amateur, she comes off pretty well as a wife, he comes off pretty badly, a raconteur, carousing, a dynamic person, the teenage daughter, Lovecraft’s stepdaughter, some beautiful poetry, I’m after him, completely unemployable, he’s a rich man who has come down in the world, Lovecraft’s main attempt to make money was to revise other people’s writing, Marissa can make a living, Wayne can make a living, one ad in Weird Tales, rewriting, 100,000 letters, Ted Chiang, unwilling to compromise, manual labour, his job-seeking letter, 17th furniture was the peak of furniture design, no normal customer, mattresses mattresses mattresses, extraordinarily striking, he can’t grant his wife a divorce, his own worst enemy, he didn’t want a job, 14-18 hours a day, get yourself a Sonia, never ate in a restaurant, alone in their cave, not the normal thing, was H.P. Lovecraft a gay man?, his only woman kisser, time spent, some gay friends, his first love was books and writing, M.R. James, there might might be some very racy letters we’ll never see, asexuality, an old flame, we shouldn’t go there, he’s like most people, relationships are difficult, completely open-minded, he had the opportunity with R.H. Barlow, dwelling, everybody was in love with Lovecraft, it’s great to spend time with a brilliant mind, a 14 year old fan, Jesse’s students, interesting ideas, talking about art or sports, really normal, spending time with heroes, letters back and forth, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, kind of a leap, getting together in physical space, we think he’s fascinating, trying to explain the fascination, a name to conjure with, a funky coffee house, a bowler hat and a tattoo with Lovecraft’s face, why Lovecraft plays a huge role as a totemic symbol, buying books with his name on the side, sex toys, Savage Sword of Conan, the Lovecraft influenced stories of Robert E. Howard, how did Mr Jim Moon discover Lovecraft, The Hound, Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, Trail Of Cthulhu, the role playing game, hitting thew jackpot, battered old paperbacks, Wayne’s dad was an SF reader, a stationery store’s upstairs, a metaphor of some kind, half-way up the ladder, Cool Air, it gave me chills, becoming obsessed with Lovecraft, what was in the used bookstore, do you think his writing style sets you up for that?, one of those writers, a bigger thrill everytime, like Shakespeare, into the flow, richer and richer, At the Mountains Of Madness, a gift card for Chapters, filed in the biography section, Scott Danielson, damn it!, the audiobook is missing the back-matter, Necronomicon fake-lore, good essays about Lovecraft by Angela Carter and Colin Wilson, the Chaosium Necronomicon, related short stories, The Adder by Fred Chapel, corrupting neighbouring books, why “In” in the title, forgotten perfectly, Lovecraft’s dad: ‘the chamber maid has insulted me and strange men are raping my wife’, sanitarium, he was “noisy”, the treatment was enemas every second day, damaged genitals, Poole’s theory, syphilis, Guy de Maupassant, in the background of Lovecraft’s psychology, bringing the sexual horror to the surface, high on morphine, not a friendly way to go, talking insensibly, high on opioids, that’s fucked up, drugs, who knows?, lose yourself in some good comic books because life is fucking horrible, the core of Lovecraft’s philosophy, Lovecraft thought about suicide, so polite, he hasn’t learned enough about geology yet, not the coward’s way out, Howard’s suicide, a lot more depressive, powerful and beautiful, The Thing On The Roof, getting right into the action, the requisite ending, in touch with that horror, why worry about getting married when you’re worried about how mortal you are, a lot of sympathy, marriage instead of suicide, what’s missing, what was Lovecraft doing all those years when he wasn’t writing?, astronomy, running clubs, becoming something, the eighth biography?, there’s something going on, he’s pointed to a lot of things, some much at odds with the myth of Lovecraft, he’s maladjusted, he’s anti-social, seven weeks of blackberry picking, Winnie the Pooh, more to the man, off the hip astrology, the intentional fallacy, a secret autobiography, what makes a weird tale, a whole other side, chit chatting with friends, walks and get-togethers, a different picture emerges, did you come here to praise him or bury him, a hatchet job, sour grapes, de Camp, he finds other people’s writings, that’s not great, get a handle on a whole life, it feels like we get to know him, a person we can know, incredibly like having a friendship, where did this mythology come from?, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race by Thomas Ligotti, people don’t like them, you have to do that, death is waiting for each and every one of us, existence is horrible, taking a step-back from you, reputation and mythology, absolutely an athiest, a pessimist, an atheistic existentialist, they don’t like it, an academic, a course on Lovecraft, what was H.P. Lovecraft’s philosophy?, material, atheism, cosmicism, racism, Cthulhu plushie racist, a quick bit of googling, it’s everywhere, something you have to get passed, tentacles, I like coffee, Freudian symbolism, who have you been dating?, chimera, the irony is bigger, I Am Providence, now he’s dirt, the fortune he was heir to and then lost, made it’s money from whaling, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, compromise, working at a gas station, humiliating, his worldview, bemoaning the decline of the aristocracy, pledged allegiance to King George, an unrepentant Tory, The Rats In The Walls, why we’re so interested in the man, writing true, making hay out of trends, the flavour of the week, no skin of his nose, rejected, he could suffer any indignity, a beautiful tragedy, it could have been a lot worse, he was so generous, the lord dispensing wealth, he was giving out what he wished he had recieved, mentoring, Robert Bloch, a life-line in the amateur press, fan letter, highfalutin poetry, the marketing came after by his fans, my point for Wayne, I could make Wayne so much money, he needs a Patreon, Audio Realms is out of business, the complete H.P. Lovecraft one book a month, some sort of barrier, it’s like you can’t lower yourself to that, he’s just lazy, you’re still alive, you’re killing me, At The Mountains Of Madness is a big job, that book is an expedition, Poole makes an argument that Prometheus is a retelling of At The Mountains Of Madness, Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, a massive debt to Lovecraft, a link still unexplored, a thing podcast, thing it, them, they!, the mysterious pronouns in dark places.

In The Mountains Of MadnessTheExtraordinary Afterlife Of H.P. Lovecraft by W. Scott Poole

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #074 – Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

July 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #074

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

Goblin Market was first published in 1862.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #428 – READALONG: Burglars Can’t Be Choosers by Lawrence Block

July 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Podcasts 

Podcast
Lawrence Block's Burglars Can't Be Choosers
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #428 – Jesse and Maissa Bessada talk about Burglars Can’t Be Choosers by Lawrence Block.

Talked about on today’s show:
1977, a Matt Scudder book: A Walk Among Among The Tombstones, cut-up women, he most brutal book Maissa’s ever read, sex, comedy and mystery, a treasure hunt, little gems, is that ever cool!, the 2 cassette audiobook (heavily abridged), just under six hours, it percolated along, coffee drinking, word humour and word play, why I love to read Lawrence Block books, 11 books in the series, 4 short stories, percolating dialogue, an Agatha Christie style mystery, Lawrence Block is an excellent narrator, you’re intellectually engaged, turning the horror of crime into a cozy murder mystery, a magician, sleight of hand, false directions, The Purloined Letter, the Blackstone Audio afterword, maybe I’ll try crime, everything you see on the page is Block’s brain, sparkling personality, Bernie doesn’t age, his burglar charms, Ruth Hightower, you can call me Roger, subsequent books, a front for a burglary business, Block’s dialogue and writing, the whole back end, seeing things we’re not allowed to see, what is happening?, the psychology of the character is a mystery to himself, Carolyn the lesbian poodle groomer, Carolyn is the Watson to Bernie’s Sherlock, it always was a parody, that love of books, contemplating a life of crime, Robin Hood, what kind of dog?, maybe a stuffed dog, no shedding, it’s obvious who the murderer is, carefully set like a jewel, a lot is unconscious, Ruth’s the murderer, suspects, some lurker in the shadows, how small New York is, it fits to Agatha Christie neat, that’s the genre, he’s playing totally by the Hal Clement rules, Mission Of Gravity, Two If By Sea, putting all the evidence before us, a particular hobby horse, The Burglar Who Liked To Quote Kipling, Kipling, The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, Piet Mondrian, baseball, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, The Burglar In The Library, locked room murder mystery, The Burglar In The Rye, The Burglar Who Counted Spoons, told in first person, Like A Thief In The Night, A Bad Night For Burglars, from this character’s point of view, fitting in to one area of art or collecting, this is the theater one, everybody’s an actor, everybody in the book has another name or a hidden identity, Lauren, the 85 bucks, a burglar code of ethics, “I never believed in overlooking cash”, choices, the cop costume, which one is the real burglar?, they totally switch, Wesley Brill, playing “the heavy”, he’s lost his skill, this is the book where he gets his skill back, writing fiction is a kind of magic, losing the magic, Lawrence Block is always retiring from writing, staying in hotels, breaking into his own hotel room, writers who write for a living, Bernie’s lifestyle is Block’s lifestyle, going through a divorce, moving to California, an amazing soup of goodness, he’s a soup fiend, he’s also the “Man In The Middle”, Russian dolls, why isn’t this book much better known, Burglar (1987), gender swapped, Bobcat Goldthwait, too much in the words, it would make a great comic, imagery, exposition is not great for comics, a Hercule Poirot ending, Penguin Audio audiobooks, Richard Ferrone’s narration, Recorded Books, masks, Roger Armitage, they’re lying to each other, call me “Wes”, John Wesley, oh there you are!, fake names, really recognizable, how you know someone, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, The Maltese Falcon (1941), two guys looking for the bird, the rara avis, the pear shaped man, a pre-telling, Ms. Brill by Katherine Mansfield, an ESL teacher in France, creating an internal life, an active imagination, moth powder, his yacht, a fried whiting, a flounder, a fox stole, honey cake, Maissa misread it, Reading, Short And Deep, Julie Hoverson’s narration of Ms. Brill, a little box room, Lawrence Block were you inspired by Katherine Mansfield’s story…?: No., a brill is a fish, the ermine toque = fur hat, knocked on the nose, everything is reflecting everything else, without even having read it, echoes of brill, Goldilocks, archetypes, Bernie assumes Ruth has a husband, Ellie, cheating, the ultimate woman, Darla Sandoval, he hasn’t cheated…yet, his cop costume, you don’t even need those burglar’s tools, a break in as a sexual thing, the ability to open locks, modelling a life on Bernie Rhodenbarr, locks and keys, how many passwords, one password, power and speed, a ream of keys, access, keys are responsibilities that weigh you down, physically and metaphorically, memorization, having lockpicks, lockpicking, water my plants, his burglary life, Mrs. Hesh, power is attractive, like sexual triumph, tumblers finishing, he doesn’t want it to be too clear, on the tip of understanding, “I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you all here”, Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, a true consulting detective, Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe is a cogitating machine, perfect recall, fine living, food, a reveal, parceled out, we get all of the story, The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle getting bored of the form, we are Bernie’s Watson, The Silver Blaze, he totally cheated us, cheating, honest cheating cops, the person behind everything, the second gun, triggering, a real play?, second cabbie, James Garner, “Sound Of Distant Drums”, phrases, things that suggest, suggesting rather than saying, a certain feeling, Block is a master manipulator, you flinched, he charmed me out a lot of money, playing a role from the very beginning, he’s an actor, really great, incredibly enjoyable, examining the furniture, shaking out the books, so much in there, intellectual exercise, whodunit?, if you want to know about Watergate now’s the time to read about it, wait twenty years, a good mystery novel gives you all the facts, I feel like Ray Kirschmann, we were totally cheated, a bed is a bed is a bed, no bed of roses, set apart from our world, everybody smokes, no internet, cellphones, computers, answering services, the world has been transformed, visiting a simpler time, sexism of the period is quaint, slightly askew.

POCKET BOOKS - Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block

Posted by Jesse Willis

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