Ty Johnston: life on the written page

Home to fantasy, horror and literary fiction author Ty Johnston

Friday, August 18, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 27 -- The Swords of Lankhmar

by Fritz Leiber

Started: Aug. 8
Finished: Aug. 18

Notes: I was fortunate enough a few months back to stumble upon this first edition, as well as several others, during a foray to quite possibly the best used book store I've ever encountered. "Best" at least for fans of sci-fi and fantasy from the 1960s through the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, this book store is going out of business before year's end. On the plus side, the owners have informed me they still have plenty of stock in their warehouse. Which means I'm visiting every few weeks to see what they've got that's of interest to me, and so far I've found quite a lot. Anyway, it's not impossible I've read this novel or parts of it in one collection or other, but I don't believe I have.

Mini review: Rats, rats and more rats! Yes, an army of rats invades the fabled city of Lankhmar, and its up to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to do something about it in their usual rambling, sporadic, even comical manner. I still don't remember having read any of this before, though the Gods of Lankhmar seemed familiar, yet maybe they've shown themselves in more than one tale. Sword and sorcery fans will find much here to love, though I was a little disappointed at how much time Fafhrd and the Mouser spent apart from one another.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 26 -- The Hero, The Sword, and The Dragons (The Chronicles of Dragon: Book 1)

by Craig Halloran

Started: Aug. 6
Finished: Aug. 8

Notes: This is another one from an indie fantasy author who has done fairly well over the last decade. I not only like to read authors new to me, but I also like to study their writing style, to see how they do what they do.

Mini review: An easy enough read and somewhat fun. In this world, young dragons have the form of humans and only begin to grow their scales once they reach a certain level of maturity, and the main character here is such a dragon. In fact, he's the son of the most powerful dragon in the world, a dragon who protects the world and its races. Unfortunately for that main character, he has a tendency to rashness and has not grown his scales as of yet. Some interesting ideas with decent writing, but overall this felt a bit generic to me. However, the material was good enough I might be willing to give the author another shot at some point.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 25 -- A Quest of Heroes: Book 1 in the Sorcerer's Ring

by Morgan Rice

Started: July 30
Finished: Aug. 6

Notes: This prolific indie author has done quite well during the past decade. I've heard some good and some bad, but figured I would read at least one novel to decide for myself.

Mini review: A village boy shows signs of having magical powers, lands himself in the king's Legion, is told by a powerful wizard hints of his destiny, and becomes embroiled in courtly intrigues. I can't say this was awful, but I also didn't see much here to recommend. The writing is fair, reminding me somewhat of teen or young adult fantasy (and maybe that was the author's goal), but my major complaint would be the main character who is so ignorant of practically everything that's going on in his world that he sometimes comes off whiny. His biggest fault, however, is how he never opens his mouth when he should, and far too often he allows others to dictate his actions. Too often he reacts instead of acts. And, oh my gosh, the fantasy tropes pile up faster than perhaps anything I've read this side of Etragon. That's not all bad, however, as many casual fantasy readers love those tropes. Not for me, but not the worst I've read.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 24 -- Redwall

by Brian Jacques

Started: July 22
Finished: July 29

Notes: I read a lot of fantasy in the early '80s, but by the time this came out in 1986, I had mostly switched to horror, so I missed this one back in the day. However, it has proven popular enough that numerous follow-up novels have been written in this world, so I figure the author must have been doing something right. Mice in a fantasy setting doesn't seem like it would be my thing, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Mini review: An abbey of mice are put to siege by an army of evil rats while one mouse goes on a quest to find lost ancient sword! And it kind of works. At least if you don't think too much about the details. The writing is not bad, the story fairly interesting, the characters mostly fun (or devious), so I have to say this one way okay. I didn't enjoy it enough to intentionally seek out its many sequels, but I wouldn't sneer if someone gave me one or if I ran across some cheap copies in a used book store.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 23 -- Lucifer's Odyssey

by Rex Jameson

Started: July 17
Finished: July 21

Notes: For some of us, you have so many books stacked up and so many e-books, you don't even remember why you picked a particular novel for reading. Honestly, this is the case here, but I always like trying authors with whom I'm unfamiliar, so here goes.

Mini review: The writing here wasn't bad, but the story didn't work for me. Any time an author takes huge liberties with major  religious characters, in this case Lucifer and Jehovah, I'm not offended, but I do find it kind of silly. Demons dressed as bikers stealing a space shuttle so they can get back to their domain? That lost me right there, and it's quite near the front of the story. I'm not saying this is bad, just that it wasn't for me. Others might find something of interest here, as the tale does get into universe and dimension hopping and massive schemes across multiple planes of existence, etc., but it eventually boils down to courtly intrigue and warfare, and not even all that subtle courtly intrigue and warfare.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 22 -- Tales from The Yawning Portal

published by Wizards of the Coast

Started: July 16
Finished: July 16

Notes: This is a gaming book for Dungeons & Dragons, basically a collection of seven fan-favorite RPG adventures over the decades. Some of these go back to the late 1970s, while others are only a few years old. All of them were originally made for earlier versions of D&D, but each has been updated for the latest, Fifth, edition. I've read and played a few of these adventures, but the rest are new to me. It should prove interesting to see how the older gaming modules have been updated.

Mini review: This was actually pretty fun, looking back at some old adventurers and seeing how much had been changed (or not) for modern D&D. For those who play the game, there's even an appendix section in the back which provides stats for monsters and magic items which appear in this collection.