reviews
William's Reviews

William's Reviews (17)

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy - Book Review
11, Sep


"How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?"

No Country for Old Men is a masterfully told standalone novel by Cormac McCarthy that is rife with symbolism and contemporary issues. Greed, government law, and morals are depicted differently by each character according to their perspective and as such allows the reader to reach their own conclusion.


The characters are brilliant, one of my favourite aspects of this book. Each is unique and the three PoV’s each bring unique aspects to the book. Sheriff Bell represents an older generation that is grappling to come to terms with modern culture. He was the character I liked most, as he was genuinely unselfish, and consistently placed his morals and duty in front of his life. Another is Moss. With him, the saying “Live by the sword, die by the sword” comes to mind. He enters a criminal world after an act of greed and has to face the consequences, while attempting to survive along the way. The last PoV was Chigurh, an amoral murderer tasked with catching Moss. He has no qualms about murdering innocents, fore he cares about no one. A truly terrifying villain.

“People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they don't deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things”

The prose was brilliant, with the writing of McCarthy being so unique and phrased realistically, carrying on in a style relatable to that of the trail of thought. It was some of my favourite prose that I have ever had the pleasure to read, but is hard to describe to those who have not yet encountered his style.

The actual storyline adopted a quick pace as well, with some extremely tense interactions and events between characters. This author toys with your expectations and flips them over so it appears as a realistic story, not as a romanticised novel where the good guys will all win, and order will be restored. That was so interesting as a reader and I hope to see more of it in the future.

“It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.”

No Country for Old Men has made me a fan of this author, so I will definitely be going onto The Road when I have a chance. It is a five star rating, because of the lack of a weakness, and brilliance in every aspect. It was symbolic, but not to the extent that it took away from the story, so I will be contemplating the events that took place in these pages for a long while to come.

5/5 STARS

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb - Book Review
21, Aug

Assassin's Apprentice is a wonderful start to the incredible Farseer Trilogy bt Robin Hobb. In an intricate story with beautiful prose and fantastic characters, Hobb cemented this book as one of my favourites of all time.

"Very little worth knowing is taught by fear"

I read Assassin's Apprentice late last year, and I am so glad that I did. This is the book that introduced me to my now second favourite author ever. I blitzed through three trilogies in this world in less than a month! That is how obsessed I became. 

Hobb's characters are just a pure masterclass. Each has a rare depth, where every action revealed something about them, forming a vivid and interesting cast that deepened my love and connection to this book and series. FitzChivalry Farseer quickly established himself as one of my top five favourite fictional characters. I think that explains part of my adoration for this book.

The plot revolved around Fitz as he grew from a young child to a teenager. It is the first step in his incredible journey where he makes critical decisions that will change his life forever, and haunt him for the rest of his life. The storyline was executed perfectly, with effective world building that immersed me into this book, and intricate plots weaving in and out of focus, leaving me wanting to discover more, and unable to guess what would happen next.

"When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead."

The prose is more descriptive-heavy than dialogue, but still has a fair amount of speech that strikes a great balance. The interactions between characters are written fantastically and on the whole, the prose is poetic and smooth and flawless. It is a literary genius in action.

If you have not read this book, or any Hobb, that needs to change! I cannot stress enough how magnificent this story is. It is a journey that will stay with me for many years, and one I shall read many times over.

5/5 STARS

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) by Evan Winter - Book Review
14, Aug

The Rage of Dragons is one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is a heart-wrenching, mind-blowing tale of love and hatred, of sacrifice and inspiration. But most of all, this is an epic story of vengeance.

"On the days you do not improve, you open yourself to the blade that will gut you, the knife that will enter your heart, and the hatchet or spear that will take your life."

I finished reading The Rage of Dragons this weekend, and the fact that I read this in two days is testimony to how much I loved it!

I have never read an African-inspired fantasy novel before, so was not sure what to expect. Well, I was wrong to doubt. Winter paints the culture in a magnificent manner, quickly creating a depth to the world that I rarely encounter, and then just continued to get better and better.

Evan Winter's prose as masterful. It was an engaging, stripped back style that created a fast-paced story for over 500 pages. The subtle construction of the world and culture did not obstruct the pace or plot at all, but added an extra layer I always hope for in the novels I read.

"For it's in the crucible of hard days that potential becomes power."

Rage of Dragons is a thought provoking story that tackles issues of social hierarchy, attitude to lower classes, and the effects of war on the mind. Whenever I could not hide away to read, I found myself constantly thinking about this novel. About the challenges the characters faced, how they would cope, and what they would do next. That is the sign of a great book!

I have always loved coming-of-age stories, especially when they involve a weapons school, like Blood Song, or Red Sister, it is just awesome. Rage of Dragons has both, and executes it perfectly. The camaraderie between the members of this school was amazing, hilarious and epic!

"Life is nothing more than moments in time. To achieve greatness, you have to give up those moments. You have to give your life to your goal."

One of the greatest aspects of this novel were the battle scenes. They were vivid, immersive and fluid. I felt like I was witnessing the horror of war, and I got goosebumps during the small scale skirmishes that brought to mind the team fights in Gladiator.

The characters are brilliantly written. Within a few pages Winter managed to form a bond between me and some of the characters. He steadily built on this to make me truly love or despise them, through just a few scenes accompanying them. I do not doubt that I shall remember these characters for many years to come.

I have tried to explain my love for this book, and hope I did. It is a must read! I loved every part of it, from the first page to the last. From the prose, to characters, to plot. Just wonderful. I will struggle to wait for the sequel to be released, but I consider myself fortunate that I got to read this magnificent book.

5/5 STARS

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky - Book Review
08, Aug

"That is the problem with ignorance. You can never truly know the extent of what you are ignorant about."

Children of Time is my first delving into the genre of science fiction, and it served as a great introduction. When I began, I found it a bit mind-boggling because of the technical space language and sophisticated technology. But as the story progressed, I soon acclimatised to this aspect and it did not become as demanding or distracting as I first thought.

There were some wonderfully unique aspects to this book, which I have been told cannot be compared to any other sci-fi, because of how different it is. One such idea is exploring evolution, and following the journey of this natural progression with different animals, in this case a number of insect species... It was so fun and novel that it cemented itself as my favourite part of the book.

"Humanity is overated'

It took a while to get into the human PoV, who was on a spaceship that carries the survivors of humanity. This was partly due to the technical part that I mentioned earlier, and also there was not much action to begin with. But when the plot started rolling, this storyline was also fantastic, because of the cultural challenges presented, the fantastic prose, the unique ideas, and many other reasons.

There is a very small cast of characters, which is extremely different to the large scale war band worthy cast. But it served well to strengthen the bonds with the characters that were present, and added another level of depth as more page time was dedicated to these people.

"A life lived entirely at the whim of another is no life at all."

Tchaikovsky's prose is very clever, as it changes depending on what PoV he is with and the characteristics of the person whose perspective he is following. The writing with the spiders is masterful as they become more intelligent due to evolution along with the prose.

The plot cleverly intertwines and separates the PoV's with a steady development that consistently increases the tension until the pivotal climax that was completely unguessable! It was clever, made sense, was intriguing, and had many different aspects. Cannot ask for much more than that really.

So once again, Children of Time was a great introduction to the genre, and I am sure that I will continue onto its sequel at some point, along with other science fiction. So, thank you Adrian!

4.5/5 Stars

Excalibur (The Warlord Chronicles #3) by Bernard Cornwell - Book Review
04, Aug

Excalibur is a magical finale to this Arthurian tale, infused with heroism and tragedy. It swept me from one emotion to the next.

"Tell your father" I said, "That I loved him to the end."

Excalibur is the third and final book in The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It brings about the conclusion of the best Arthurian novels I have ever had the privilege to read.

"This tale of Arthur, my Lord, my friend and the deliverer of Britain."

Excalibur was utterly brilliant, just like its predecessors. It is the finale of a story that has immersed me into the lives of the characters and sent me on an emotional rollercoaster, from euphoria to misery.

This book contained the largest scale conflicts of the trilogy, with numerous wars taking place and great battles deciding the fate of the country. One of the best duels I have had the pleasure to read was in this, as I am sure any previous reader will remember! It was mesmerising, the tension and description moulding together to make the scene truly incredible. I will remember this duel for many years to come.

Cornwell's prose, as expected, was as marvellous in this instalment. It just glides perfectly from one scene to the next, painting a vivid representation in his flawless manner. His humour is witty and perfectly used with Merlin, who makes dry and sharp comments that made me laugh out loud.

"Only a fool wants war, but once a war starts then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy, and it is that savage joy that inspires our bards to write their greatest songs about love and war."

So many acts of heroism were performed that had me physically grinning. And then there were the despicable actions that had me weeping as characters I have grown to love were mistreated by those whose ambitions were insatiable. Some of my most loved and hated characters in fiction are in this book! I will genuinely miss Derfel and Arthur.

While Excalibur had its fair share of tragedy to say the least, it was also made complete with moments of bitter satisfaction and heroic deeds that softened the blow, but not enough to stem the tears and state of mourning that ensued. This antithesis of emotions formed a truly unique reading journey that has placed Excalibur as one of my top ten books of all time.

"So, in the morning light, where they flapped in the drying wind, the bear and the star defied the Saxons."

Excalibur and the series on the whole was a wonderful, brutal, heart-wrecnhing, beautiful story about friendship and loyalty. I wept at multiple points and was left in shock at how much my emotions were manipulated during this read.

But now I must say farewell to this novel and all its contents. So goodbye to Derfel and his inspiring loyalty, Merlin and his wisdom, Galahad and his kindness, and of course, Arthur, the Lord and saviour of Britain.

5/5 STARS

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss - Book Review
30, Jul

The Name of the Wind was a mesmerising journey that was utterly enjoyable!

 

"When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind."

 

This was my first time reading The Name of the Wind, and I had high expectations when I started. Wow, were those hopes reached and surpassed!

The impressive aspects of this book are countless. From unique characters, to interesting plot and fantastic world building. There was no weakness or piece that was lacking. This was a masterpiece!

 

The Name of the Wind is a large novel that numbered over 700 pages in the edition I read. But despite its size, there was no dull moment for me. There was constantly something happening. Be it character development, or a plot twist, or historical content. I was left wishing the book was even longer, so do not let the size phase you!

 

"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts."

 

When I started reading this book, I was instantly struck by the incredible prose of Rothfuss. His style of writing is so smooth, and fluid, and poetic. It was wonderful to read and glide from page to page with the constant enjoyment I received from his writing.

 

One of the strongest aspects of the book was the characters. It follows the story of one character who is reminiscing about his past, Kvothe. So there is a lot of time and development dedicated to him, which quickly established him as one of my favourite characters of the fantasy genre. The rest of the cast was also great with a wide range of personalities, from the crazy but hilarious Master Elodin, to Simmon, one of Kvothe's friends.

 

It's like everyone tells a story about themselves in their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

 

The plot was interlined with major and minor events that created a great balance, allowing the tension to build as character development took place and I became more and more intrigued. This was another marvellous part of the story that was never weak and was always leading onto something better.

The Name of the Wind is one of my favourite books of all time. It has one of the best writing styles I have encountered. Had excellent characters throughout. An immersive plot. What more could you ask for? I would change nothing in this book!

 

5/5 STARS

 

Enemy of God (The Warlord Chronicles #2) by Bernard Cornwell
24, Jul

Enemy of God was an immersive journey that transported me into the Dark Ages to experience this incredible Arthurian tale.

"So many dead. Their footsteps will not stir a rush on the floor nor frighten the mice that live in the monastery's thatched roof."

Enemy of God is the second book of The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It continues the unique historical perspective about the origins of Arthur and his band of loyal warriors.

Enemy of God reached the lofty heights of its predecessor and continued to grow past it. This wonderful, thrilling, heart-wrenching, tense novel contains all of the brilliant aspects of the first in the series. It continued to captivate me with the brilliant characters and plot and action and unique take on the Arthurian tales.

"For this is his tale, the tale of our dear warlord, our law-giver, our Arthur."

Enemy of God is from the perspective of Derfel Cadarn, as was The Winter King. He reminisces on his experiences of Arthur, whom he accompanied through his struggles and shared the failures and successes of. Derfel has cemented his position as one of my favourite characters of all time with his loyalty, daring, determination and kindness.

Cornwell continues to write with that magical prose of his that guides my eyes from page to page as I accompany the characters the characters through their adventures. Each scene is so vivid and fluid, and there was not one dull moment. Rather, each page was consumed with an interesting event, description or character.

"Fate is inexorable."

The plot continues to develop brilliantly and had me laughing out loud once again. I deeply despise certain characters and cherish others, just what I want from any book that I read. This novel was filled with unexpected twists, extremely satisfying moments and times of despair. I was weeping at one point of the book, I am sure any former reader of the series will remember what scene I am referring to, and think of it with sorrow.

The gritty realistic world is developed as before, with Cornwell's historical knowledge leaking into every page with intricate details that add a much sought after depth, and create a vivid experiance.

"It's only when you're lost and frightened and in the dark that you call on the Gods, and they like us to call on them. It makes them feel powerful, and that's why they like us to live in chaos."

I strongly advise any lovers of historical fiction, or the stories of Arthur to read this. You will not be disappointed!

5/5 stars

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1( by Bernard Cornwell - Book Review
20, Jul

The Winter King is a realistic portrayal of the Arthurian tales that is executed in a perfect manner, being both brilliant and immersive. One of my favourite books of all time!

"The bards sing of love, they celebrate slaughter, they extol kings and flatter queens, but were I a poet I would write in praise of friendship."

If you love stories consisting of memorable characters you love and despise, fantastic storytelling, stunning action sequences and moral lessons, then you will adore this historical retelling of the chronicles of Arthur.

The Winter King is the first book in The Warlord Chronicles that is a unique take on the story of Arthur set during the dark ages. I have always loved tales of this variety, with Arthur and the round table, and this is no exception. It is the best book I have read that incorporates this as the main concept, because of a fantastic balance of character development, plot and action.

"Fate is inexorable."

Cornwell chooses certain aspects from the tales and adapts them to create a plot that cannot be predetermined by the reader, so the story is told is a new, unique, immersive journey. He produces this book in a masterful style overflowing with intriguing plots and fantastic characters.

The sole point of view is Derfel, who was born a Saxon, but raised a Briton in the Kingdom of Dumnonia. He features as the main character and recounts the past in the style of an omniscient narrator, as he records his experience both prior to Arthur and with Arthur. He is a man who values loyalty and kindness, and proves it many times. It is hard not to fall in love with him as the story progress and you discover his faults and virtues, and how he treats all around him.

“How much of our earth has been wet by blood because of jealousy! And at the end of life, what does it all matter? We grow old and the young look at us and can never see that once we made a kingdom ring for love.” 

The prose of Bernard Cornwell is superb and flows brilliantly, with a perfect amount of description and action. It is fluid and smooth, making it an easy job to consume quickly as the plot constantly develops in a manner that disallowed any boredom.

The setting is in the south-west of Britain in the Kingdom of Dumnonia during the Dark Ages. It is a gritty place presented realistically and vividly, with a mixture of strongholds both large and small, along with outlying villages that are poorly prepared for imminent attacks.

The Winter King is a definite five star review in my opinion due to it being written in one of my favourite writing styles I have encountered, and the incorporation of some subjects I am most interested in.

5/5 STARS

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman - Book Review
17, Jul

Norse Mythology was a wonderfully written retelling of the Norse tales that reminded why I love the Viking stories of old.

"Seldom do those who are silent make mistakes."

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman was the retelling of a number of Viking tales, ranging from the most well known, to some more minor stories. From the beginning of time, to the prophecy that will be Ragnarok, the ending of the world. 

It was a highly enjoyable read that reacquainted me with some stories that had faded in my memory. There were many tales of humour, such as Thor dressing up as a woman to be a bride, and also those of despair.

The prose was wonderful, as is expected from such a brilliant author as Neil Gaiman. It is just smooth, intelligent and effective, with a balanced amount of description and action. One of my favourite authors to read for their writing style.

"Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane? Have you ever wondered why some people make beautiful songs and poems and tales, and some of us do not?"

The stories this book consists of revolves around three main gods. Odin, Thor, and Loki. While most of the other gods and creatures of Norse Mythology are still present, the main focus of each story is these characters, so their personalities are firmly established. Odin the wise, calculating and brutal at times. Thor the strong, greatest warrior of the gods and main defender of Asgard. Not always the most intelligent. And then Loki the trickster, cleverest of the gods and the cause of their most severe problems.

"The first thing I think is, it is Loki's fault. It saves a lot of time."

The tales within this novel travel and involve each of the nine realms at some point, with a telling or their origins and some of their most famous and dramatic moments. It focuses mainly on Asgard and Midgard as the former is the home of many gods, and Midgard is Earth, where we live!

Every aspect of this book was well executed, with intriguing tales, great prose and developed characters. The only fault I could identify is that there was not a definitive unique adaptation of the Norse tales, rather a similar retelling of previously known stories.

For me this book was a four star read that anyone who enjoys the prose of Gaiman will enjoy. It is not a large novel, so can be scythed through rather quickly, but lovers of mythology will still find much enjoyment within the satisfyingly developed stories that are involved.

4/5 stars

One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) by Mark Lawrence - Book Review
14, Jul

One Word Kill is an immersive, unique and fun journey is a constant series of emotions.

"It's always a shock, when you've been hit by a calamity, to see the world go about its business with perfect indifference."

One Word Kill is the first book in the Impossible Times series by Mark Lawrence. It has many similar aspects to Stranger Things, as it is set in the 1980s, and the central characters are teenagers who love D&D.

What a brilliant read!

The prose was incredibly fluid and smooth, just as it was with every other book by Mark Lawrence I have read. The journey from page to page was easy, and time did not come into account as I read from one chapter to the next. It created the perfect tone, with humour embedded perfectly throughout, without distracting from the serious scenes created. 

The plot was fantastic and a lot happened considering the small page-count of this book. Each event that took place was clever and developed the plot to another level, and led on to another chapter of unexpected scenes. During this, there was a significant amount of character development that was brilliantly portrayed through decisions in pivotal moments, and their actions rather than thoughts.

"Simon looked at the world differently. He was the sort to notice the number plate of a car hurtling toward him. The rest of us would be busy getting out the way."

It is partly because of this that the characters were my favourite aspect of the novel. The dialogue and interactions expanded them further, and the D&D sessions were just wonderful. Immersive, hilarious and interesting. Each person was established with their own set of realistic characteristics that were consistent and succeeded in either making me love them, or hate them.

"If you've no intention of obeying, then why not agree?" 

One Word Kill was an absolute five-star read, no question about it. There was constant enjoyment oozing from every page. I was invested in the lives of these characters and found myself thinking about them during my daily activities. I felt fear, excitement, satisfaction and sorrow, it truly was a flurry of emotions. I look forward to reading Limited Wish, and then Dispel Illusion that comes out later this year.

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