Book Review: Walking Into Trouble

Geoff LePard is a popular blogger ’round these parts, and some bloggers have been urging me to read his works for a while. So, when I received a review request from him through my Review Request Page, I knew I had to read it!

That being said, it’s not my usual genre, so hold onto your butts.

The Book

Walking Into Trouble
Author: Geoff LePard
2020
Amazon Link

As a note for people who are thinking about this book: there are a lot of intense sexual implications, innuendo, and scenes. The book is not erotica, but sex takes a front seat of importance in the story. I’d honestly classify this as a “sex mystery,” as the story is essentially about trying to solve problems surrounding who slept with who and when. Those who are triggered by intensely sexual content may want to be aware before reading the book (or, honestly, before reading my review).

Non-Spoiler Review

Walking Into Trouble is in a genre I’m not quite sure I’ve read before. It’s in this liminal space between mystery, soap, and contemporary. It has a very unique structure built around the central backbone of “three men on a long set of walks.” There’s a lot of timeline skipping and many different narrators, but LePard adds each piece of the puzzle in a sensible, understandable way. It’s hard to have a non- or semi-linear plot work out, and he pulled it off here. Another feat was how well he incorporated multiple narrators with this non-traditional plot structure.

The story also leaves you hanging while you wait for the next clue. It gives you red herrings, it leads down misbegotten paths and into deep truths, and it shoves you into desperate situations along with the characters. The problems faced by Chris, Marty, and Peter were very intense, and the combinations of their secret worries threatens to tear their friendship apart throughout the whole book. This constant drive kept the book engaging and held the tension through to the end.

One of the characters I enjoyed reading about the most was Felicity. She wasn’t a main character, but the role she played was essential to spreading just the right amount of rumors without solving anything. Her motivations were always a little cloudy (at least until the end) that you couldn’t quite trust her gossip. I thought she was well done.

Something that was difficult was how sleazy all of the characters (main or otherwise) were. I swear, if one of them contracted an STD, probably all of them would have caught it immediately. I couldn’t really identify with any of the three main characters or Diane because of how much sleeping around was done. All the sleeping around was necessary for the plot to work out (“who the baby daddy” was of course one of the main questions), though, so it made sense as I read. It was still probably the most difficult part of the book for me, and ultimately I think I’m not a big fan of the genre.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I don’t really do spoilers reviews for indie books, so I’m going to complain/whine/chat about something irrelevant.

What kind of walking trail puts you at a different city/town at the end of each day? A trail on which you can just head to a hotel after a day’s walk? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’ve never hiked/backpacked/walked on a trail that worked that way in even the remotest fashion. Is that type of trail an English thing? Or am I just crazy and haven’t found one of those trails in America before?

Or, do they do lots of switcheroos with cars at either end of the day’s hike? However the methodology, the fact that the three main characters would walk for the day and then have *access to a hotel every night* blew my fricking mind. No eating spilled spaghetti off a rock? No bear bags or water purification tablets? What kind of walk was this!?!

Anyway, rant over.

Next week:

It’s time for Secrets of Plants in the Environment, my first non-fiction indie book read!

Book Review: Revenant Gun

I’ve been thinking about reading this series ever since I was suggested it by Brian from Books of Brian and read his review of the last book in the series. I’m 99.7% sure that he’s no longer active, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about his suggestion or post.

The Book

Revenant Gun Read 2021Raven Stratagem
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
2018
Amazon Link

I got this one from my library because I went seeking another book, then saw these and was like, “Heh, now I don’t have to buy them. Suckers.” You can read my other reviews of Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem on the links given. This review will contain spoilers for the earlier books in the trilogy.

Non-Spoiler Review

Just like the rest of the books in the series, this book was just perfectly ok. It’s very out-there, and it’s not even really sci-fi. It’s fantasy in space. *spoiler for previous books* The previous books set up this world such that the government is fractured, so there’s still a lot of room left to play with here. It’s important to note that Jedao died in the first book, but Cheris ate his memories and sort of became Jedao in the second book.

In this book, characters like Kujen and Inesser become important. They were mentioned a few times before in earlier books, but Kujen’s shadowy evil finally takes center stage as the Jedaos (yes, multiple) combat him. Inesser finally shows up, but she suffers viciously from the “Worf Effect” wherein she’s supposed to be strong for the sake of showing a villain being stronger. Inesser is there simply to show that the newer Jedao is still a Mary Sue, unbeatable character, and that just made her so useless to me. Oh, and that newer Jedao? He’s an unkillable, immortal spaceship/human/alien with every single skill you could ever want. He’s a creation of Kujen and he makes literally no sense to me from a character creation perspective.

I also never really understood why Jedao had to go along with Kujen’s orders. He didn’t have the Kel formation instinct, so he wasn’t biologically bidden to do Kujen’s will except that Kujen could have him knocked out if he didn’t. He was immortal and pretty much all-powerful. Jedao had nothing to fight for, no reason to live, and was pretty much suicidal, so I didn’t see why he worked with Kujen at all.

The character I’ve liked throughout the book, Ajewen Cheris, barely shows up in this one, and even then it’s the Jedao in her head that’s important. The multiple Jedaos thing really got to me, and I didn’t like it at all. Cheris has never been as compelling ever since she ate Jedao’s memories, but she was still my favorite character because her adventure was the most fun.

Despite all my complaints, the book was still somehow fun to read most of the time. It was alright, I guess.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

This book is literally about a bunch of overpowered people flying around in spaceships/aliens trying to kill Kujen, who everyone hates. Even the people who work for Kujen hate him. They make up a bunch of excuses as to why they can’t kill him, most of it due to the Kel inability to disobey orders, and the rest of it to do with the bullshit magic system that isn’t well explained at all. It still feels like an anime where the armies “HAVEN’T EVEN USED THEIR FINAL FORMS!” until Kujen finally bites the dust.

And, the entire time, Jedao is just this absolute teenager’s hero. There’s nothing wrong with him except his ‘craziness,’ which isn’t even clearly insanity. It seems like he gets depressed and makes everything harder for himself, but that’s about it. Cheris as Jedao makes a little more sense because she really cares for people and the servitors, but even she seems like this weird, senselessly powerful thing that can’t be beaten.

After reading all three books, the only thing I’ve learned about battle strategy in this universe is “Jedao can’t be beaten and there’s no use trying.” That’s it. If Jedao is leading you, you’re invincible (at least as far as groups go). There is no point to this. Kujen never had a chance, not once Jedao decided he had to go.

Next week:

I’m just glad this is done and I don’t care what’s coming next, to be honest.

Book Review: Raven Stratagem

I’ve been thinking about reading this series ever since I was suggested it by Brian from Books of Brian and read his review of the last book in the series. I’m 99.7% sure that he’s no longer active, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about his suggestion or post.

The Book

Raven Stratagem read 2021Raven Stratagem
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
2017
Amazon Link

I got this one from my library because I went seeking another book, then saw these and was like, “Heh, now I don’t have to buy them. Suckers.” You can read the first review of the series, Ninefox Gambit, here.

Non-Spoiler Review

At times, I thought this book was way better than the first, but other times I was like “hecks no”. The first chapter, at the very least, wasn’t as mind-blowingly crazy as the first chapter in Ninefox Gambit. The plot was very political and complex, which is always something I can dig, but some of the many issues I had with Ninefox Gambit remained difficult to trudge through in this book. In addition, it just wasn’t as fun as Ninefox, but it did have a more reasonable, better plot that wasn’t just a smash-up of Starship Troopers and Heart of Darkness.

The big issue is still that this just doesn’t feel like sci-fi, but like fantasy. Sure, “science, when sufficiently advanced, seems like magic,” but this just doesn’t even feel like science fiction. They fly around in moths, not ships, which I guess is fine. But everything feels like this vaguely East-Asian flavored space magic. The battle scenes, as a result, read like an anime wherein they’re just shouting names of moves that don’t make sense.

Something else that bothered me in this book was that one of the main characters, Mikodez, had a trans-man brother who he often had sex with. I don’t mind the trans part, no matter what you may think about North Carolinians, but the brother part? Got me. Reeeeally got me. Not a fan of incest, not a fan of “my brother’s hard cock” type of thing. Hard nope. Had to put the book down for quite a while after that part, even if it was brief.

Lastly, the book didn’t really focus on the main character of the first book in the way it did in the first book. The narrator-focused characters were all new, and they all had their own interesting flavors, but Cheris as she was presented in Ninefox Gambit was one of my favorites.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The story of Raven Stratagem was that General Jedao abducted a Kel Swarm by hijacking the Kel’s heirarchical structures. The Kel have something called “formation instinct,” which means they can’t disobey orders without significant discomfort or death. Because of Jedao’s standing, he couldn’t be disobeyed by anyone other than non-Kel or failed Kel, so he kicks them off the ship.

Everyone figures out that Jedao plans to bring down the hexarchate government by making people love him, and a bunch of people defect from the hexarchate because Jedao’s a smug bastard. But no one can figure out how Jedao intends to make his splinter faction work for good.

That is, at least, until they realize that it’s just Cheris pretending to be Jedao. She’d eaten his memories in Ninefox Gambit, and most of Raven Stratagem led you to believe that she’d been killed or completely possessed by Jedao. Cheris, as she was presented in the first book, was perfectly powerful for her position. She had to fight Jedao as well as her enemy, and that was probably the most tense part of the book. Here? Cheris with Jedao’s skills was way, way too overpowered. Mary Sue all to heck. She didn’t have the same characterization at all, and she may just as well have been Jedao. The only difference I could detect between Cheris in Raven and Jedao in Ninefox was that Cheris was nice to servitors and good at math. That’s just added powers, nothing else.

Next week:

One left! Sure, it’s a tad bit longer, but it’s the last one and then I’ll be done!

Book Review: Ninefox Gambit

I’ve been thinking about reading this series ever since I was suggested it by Brian from Books of Brian and read his review of the last book in the series. I’m 99.7% sure that he’s no longer active, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about his suggestion or post.

The Book

514kzejr15lNinefox Gambit
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
2016
Amazon Link

I got this one from my library because I went seeking another book, then saw these and was like, “Heh, now I don’t have to buy them. Suckers.”

Non-Spoiler Review

First, I really enjoyed reading this. I think it was becuase the tension was always high, and I thought it felt like a lot of good modern sci-fi. There were concepts I liked – like the Black Cradle form of immortality – and Cheris was a great character to follow. The fact that the book was enjoyable as long as I shut my brain off means that I did like reading it at times. However, there were elements that I typically don’t like.

On the back of the book, one of the reviewers said this book is “Starship Troopers meets Apocalypse Now – and they’ve put Kurtz in charge… An unmissable debut.”

That was probably too accurate.

This book felt a lot like Starship Troopers, which I found to be just OK. And Apocalypse Now is a bit too on the nose. This book was basically a mashup of those two stirred together with the worst science fiction I’ve ever read. I have no idea why the author even thought it a good idea to go with a far-future feel rather than high fantasy, because the “calendrical” stuff was more like magic than science. When there needed to be any explanations of what was going on, the pages would explode with a wall of word salad that would confuse anyone. The word salad was there to confuse you and distract you from the fact that no, none of this makes any sense whatsoever. It’s magic fueled by religion, no science anywhere, no matter how much math they say is involved.

The villains never, not even once, made any sense. I never got the feeling that they presented any real danger, because even the intercepted messages from Vh indicated they were always losing. The twist at the end about who Shuos Jedao really was not only didn’t take me by surprise, but it felt like a total letdown because I couldn’t agree with him on many aspects.

Overall, it was a fun read, but I really think it felt more like an anime than it should have. There were lots of “formations” and weird names of ships and formations that made me think someone was going to shout “HADOKENNNNN!!!!” any second. However, the problems I had with the book were too big to really overcome, and the walls of word salad put it over the edge.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I thought the plot of the book was mostly ok. Kel Cheris, a soldier, is strangely good at math and is manipulated by a spy into becoming anchored to an undead general (i.e. she hears a voice and sees a shadow no one else can). The mechanisms of that were interesting, but like all the other “sci-fi” elements in this book, it was bullsh*t and full of word salad. They made a big deal out of Jedao being insane and a traitor, but one too useful to put to death for good.

Anyway, they got her attached to General Jedao and they went and basically whipped up on their enemy. Kel Nerevor was a rival with Cheris for a while, but then became suddenly subservient when beaten in calendrical sword dueling, then was captured and not heard from again. I was sorely disappointed in that whole sequence.

As mentioned in the non-spoiler review, the bad guys never felt like a real threat. Cheris kept feeling down when her men would get killed, but there were weird soldier-focused-viewpoints that showed they didn’t care because they were Kel, the disposables. Even when the amputation gun (it was magic, don’t let this book fool you) came up, I was like “This is trumped up because the enemy shouldn’t have waited until they were invaded to do this.” The weapons escalated in a nonsense fashion that I found anime-like.

Toward the end, Jedao and Cheris are backstabbed by their government, and Cheris eats his soul in order to become Jedao+Cheris combined. It’s revealed that Jedao became a traitor because he didn’t like the government, and I was like, “Uh, duh.” The “twist” was both obvious and had only been a twist because Jedao hadn’t told Cheris before. I hate twists that shouldn’t be twists, twists that are just because one ally wouldn’t tell the other person what was going on.

Anyway, it ended with a resolution to go after the immortal leader of the hexarchate/empire, and I was like, “This is Ancillary Justicejust not done as well.”

Next week:

Well, there’s another book in this series, and I’m just crazy enough to keep going despite the first being just fun without much reason behind liking it! Onward to Raven Stratagem!

Reading List – September 2021

Though I think he’s not been blogging for a while, I have thought about Brian from Books of Brian and his review of the Machineries of Empire series. I’ve decided to go ahead and explore these books and see what he liked about them.

Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire Trilogy

An innovative set of books, this trilogy explores a brand new universe from the mind of a new author. I’ve read that there’s supposed to be a lot of east Asian inspirations in these, and I think that will be pretty cool. I don’t know much else about them, so it’ll be exciting to jump in and find out more!

Divider

Do you have a suggestion? Comments? I’m currently filled up for my review slots on the blog this year, but you can always submit a request for potential reviews on Goodreads and Amazon!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: Tehanu

I’ve hated the entirety of this series so far, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment (or am stuck due to a sunk cost fallacy).

The Book

Tehanu read 2021

Tehanu
Author: Ursula LeGuin
1990
Amazon Link

Whatever, if you want to see me whine about the earlier books in the series, you can see A Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore here if you want. But you shouldn’t, because literally no one agrees with me that these books aren’t good.

Non-Spoiler Review

Short version: I hated it.

Long version: This book did have the advantage over the others that it wasn’t so plot-ambitious that it glanced over too much information. Zooming in on Goha/Tenar/Arha’s (yes, the one from Tombs of Atuan) feelings was a good way to go. This book didn’t feel as nonsense-mythological or like a story out of the Bible. The narrator focus was also the main character, a change from earlier.

But, like in Tombs of Atuan, nothing that main character did really mattered. The entire book is about how Goha keeps running around trying to not get raped or beaten, trying to keep this 6-year-old child from being raped, beaten, and burned AGAIN, how all of the female characters are raped and beaten for being female, and how male characters like King Arren and Ged/Sparrowhawk are the only ones who effect change.

I was so enraged by the repeated rape threats and constant fear that these characters experienced that I made the mistake of reading the afterword. This thing was considered feminist – how? It’s about ladies being useless and getting raped. There isn’t hope, not really, not when all the problems are solved either by men or non-human women who can turn into dragons. Women who are given the opportunity for different (a.k.a. male) power always turn it down. The characters ask themselves, pretty directly, what women’s power is: the answer is basically “We don’t know, but we assume it’s something.” There’s nothing shown, nothing had, nothing proven that women have other than suffering and death. The only reason I’d call this feminist is it mentions menstruation, which I usually only see in feminist literature.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Like I said above, the main character never really does anything, but things are done to her. In the very beginning, the wizard Ogion dies, and she’s able to stay in his house because people haven’t quite decided who’s going to inherit it (though Ged is supposedly that person). Goha is considered a good placeholder, even when she takes in a 6 year old that has been beaten, raped, and thrown in a fire. Everyone thinks the child is a monster, and three people (the relatives who originally raped the little girl) constantly chase Goha and want to kill and rape the two to death as punishment. Goha never saves herself, just runs around while men like King Arren save her.

Even Ged, whose magical powers had been taken in The Farthest Shore, was able to fight off the rapists when Goha just locked herself in a closet. Goha did think about how vulnerable Therru was after locking herself in the closet, but luckily Ged was around to stab them with a pitchfork. Justice was only sought because Ged made it happen, because male constructs got things accomplished.

Worst of all: a mage in Re Albi’s castle put Goha under a mind control spell. She ran from Re Albi while the spell was weak, since rapists were coming after her and Therru, but she was lured back. Upon coming back, she became senseless and unable to understand language while the mage tied her up like a dog and kicked her “in the breasts.” It was nonsense suffering.

One could argue that Goha did have an effect by keeping care of Therru. This made Therru like her, or perhaps Goha helped the burned child live long enough to show that she was really a dragon. It was completely, 100% bullshit. I saw it coming from a million miles away, and despite being a dragon, Therru was still mostly helpless throughout the book because she is female.

In the end, Ged is all that really matters as he moves into Ogion’s house.

Next week:

I’m starting a new set of books. You can read my reviews of Tales of Earthsea and The Other Wind on Goodreads, because apparently I can’t put things down once I start them.

Book Review: The Farthest Shore

I should have given up after book two, The Tombs of Atuan, but I must be some sort of masochist to believe in the sunk cost fallacy enough to read book three in this series.

The Book

Earthsea The Farthest Shore read 2021

The Farthest Shore
Author: Ursula LeGuin
1972
Amazon Link

Whatever, if you want to see me whine about the earlier books in the series, you can see A Wizard of Earthsea and Tombs of Atuan here if you want. But you shouldn’t, because literally no one agrees with me that these books aren’t good.

Non-Spoiler Review

It might be because I pushed and suffered through the first two books, but I just can’t come up with an excuse for this one.

The narrator, Arren, was never actually the main character. Arren was briefly described as the son of the king, and he was constantly told he was important, but I never figured out why he was important. This book was like reading The Great Gatsby in terms of how the narrator differs from the main character, except it feels like there’s no reason to do so. Arren wasn’t built up hardly at all, and Ged had not changed from the end of A Wizard of Earthsea. You didn’t watch a fall or even a massive character change in either of these people. It wasn’t a good Bildungsroman, nor was it a good epic destiny story. There was allegory (not telling about it because spoilers), but even then it fell flat for me.

Like in the two previous books, Ged/Sparrowhawk is so overpowered that I never feared for anything. There was no tension whatsoever for me. I never cared.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot was the same useless plot as the first book where they had to travel all over the world to meet some dark force, learn its name, and tell it its name so as to defeat it.

The only real difference between this book and the first one is that there’s a clear Christ-figure allegory in Ged. Like I mentioned above, I do think I figured out the allegory in this story and why LeGuin chose any of the plot elements she does. In The Farthest Shore, Ged pretty much dies, comes back, has Arren pretty much tell about their successes, then flies off on a dragon (symbol of ascension, I’d say). It also makes sense, because in A Wizard, Ged “suffers death” in the form of splitting his soul in two, then in Tombs of Atuan “was buried” because it literally took place in a tomb, then in The Farthest Shore “rose again on the third day in accordance with scripture.” The dragon, as well, was there at something called the making, so I assume this nigh god-like creature may have been a symbol of a flaming chariot or something like that. I also am not convinced this was planned in A Wizard of Earthsea, because that allegorical link feels weak sauce.

Ged’s supposed to be this all-knowing, super-wise wizard brosef, but he feels insufferable to me. I can’t stand his whining about how magic upsets the balance of things, about how wizards should do things by hand anyway, and then endangers children in order to defeat immortal wizards.

I didn’t read the afterword. I’m now of the opinion that authors should never try to explain things, because these afterwords just kind of piss me off.

Next week:

It doesn’t matter anymore. Why am I doing this to myself.

Book Review: Tombs of Atuan

Honestly, I’m not really sure why I can’t let go of the sunk cost of buying these books. I wasn’t a fan of the first entry in the series, and I find it rare that series improve after that. However, I’m hopeful that this one won’t be as mythological in feel and might show more than tell.

The Book

Tombs of Atuan 2021 read

Tombs of Atuan
Author: Ursula LeGuin
1972
Amazon Link

The first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, wasn’t my jam. I don’t know what to say here because I explained it all in the intro.

Non-Spoiler Review

I found this entry to the Earthsea series a lot better than the previous one. Rather than telling a lot of little tales building up to a single, momentous occasion, LeGuin tells a more compelling story about a single person’s experiences. The character of Ahara is much fuller than that of Ged, the dialogue is better, and there’s much more of a developed feel as to how the book works. The beginning of the book was pretty good, building up the Tombs of Atuan and how the evil, Nameless Ones demanded a nameless priestess.

The back end, however?

No. Straight up no.

*Minor spoilers?* When the main character ceases to be the motivating presence behind the plot, and when she becomes pretty much useless, the story fell apart for me. LeGuin spent so much time creating a wonderful story with tension and depth, but then it completely fell apart at about halfway through. The ending for the main character didn’t feel terrible, but it’s neither happy nor is it fulfilling. The deaths that occurred felt useless and bland, especially as they all happened off screen.

Though I liked it better than the first in the series, it was only by the smallest margin.

2/5 Discoball Snowcones

2 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I hinted above that the back end was awful, and it was.

Ged, the hero from the first book, showed up about halfway through this book and stole the show.

Not only is he still the overpowered Mary Sue from the last book, he’s supposed to be basically infinitely wise and trustworthy. Ahara learns her name from him, and I found that disgusting – the whole premise was that the Nameless Ones had eaten her name, and by allowing her to have one that Ged just pops up with, her power is stolen. Ever after Ged tells her her name, Tenar, Ahara is pretty much useless. Even when she helps Ged out of the tombs where he is trapped, she cries and becomes a lump except when he tells her what to do. He fends off the gods that Ahara had worshipped and served her whole life.

So they escape, but Ahara is useless because she only knows the tombs. Ged figures out that Ahara has a great treasure sought by the whole world to bring peace, and he pretty much forces her to go to an island and present it to their king.

THEN HE ABANDONS HER even though she begs him to teach her sorcery. What he doesn’t tell her, and what is established in the first book, is that women are worthless so he can’t teach her sorcery. Ged just destroyed what had been a compelling story by coming in and “solving” the problems in the worst possible way.

Also, don’t read LeGuin’s explanations or afterword. Just don’t.

Next week:

I judge The Farthest Shore, or Book 3 of the Earthsea Cycle. Why the heck did I obligate myself for this torture? I pray the next one’s better.

Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

Years ago, I had some friends who said many of the ideas in Harry Potter could be found in the much older Earthsea Cycle books by Ursula LeGuin. Though I can’t find the purchase I made back then, rest assured that buying all 6 at the time cost something like 1.5x the first book, A Wizard of Earthsea. 

And I never read any of those sequels.

Since I have a hard time not reading things I buy, I decided to re-read A Wizard of Earthsea so I could continue the series without being lost.

The Book

A Wizard of Earthsea, 2021 read

A Wizard of Earthsea
Author: Toni Morrison
1968
Amazon Link

I’ll go ahead and be honest that when I read this book the first time, I wasn’t a fan. Not in the least. There was a reason I didn’t read the other books in the series despite them being short. I’m here now to see if that original feeling holds up.

Non-Spoiler Review

Compared to my first read-through a couple years ago, I’d say this book wasn’t as bad as I’d originally thought it. It’s still filled with telling rather than showing, and I just don’t like LeGuin’s style in this book. It feels like classic YA, something written between a fairy tale and an adult fiction. Because of this “telling” problem, the book contains a lot of completely disconnected explanations of the different islands on Earthsea. It was enough that I have completely forgotten them and would need them re-explained in the next book.

The dialogue was terrible, though I think it achieved its goal of feeling mythical or biblical. However, if I want to read something as boring as The Bible, I’m probably going to want to read The Bible since it is way more impactful on life, culture, politics, and (for me and a group of other people) salvation.

Ultimately, A Wizard of Earthsea is a Bildungsroman about a main character I don’t like. He’s truly a Mary Sue type character, one with powers far beyond those of any other character or creature in the book. (Other clear Mary Sues in a popular book include Paul from Dune, Ender from Ender’s Game, and General Jedao from Machineries of Empire.) I’ve never been a fan of Mary Sue characters, and this part of Wizard kept me from becoming invested.

The other characters were bland, and the female characters so sterotypically vapid that I didn’t even want to think about them.

The only redeeming qualities of this book, in my humble opinion, are the influences on fantasy and YA as arts. I can see its obvious importance in the formation of books like Harry Potter, and I can see how it connects from the seminal Lord of the Rings series (which I also need to re-read).

2/5 Discoball Snowcones

2 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot of the book wasn’t terribly focused. The big enemy was a shadow that Ged/Sparrowhawk created in an attempt to summon a spirit from the dead. In order to defeat the spirit, he must find its name.

One of the things I remember from my first read is the name is freaking easy to guess. Since the shadow chases him forever before he turns around to chase it, and because it looks just like him, it should be well-known that the shadow’s name is Ged. The endless traveling around these islands and having conversations with the locals felt so pointless when the end result was obvious.

I don’t really want to read the sequels, but stupid me, I’m going to keep on with it because I spent money, dammit.

Next week:

All right, I’m going to keep on with The Tombs of Atuan. Blegh.

Reading List – August 2021

You know what people mistakenly believe in their heads? The sunk cost fallacy.

And here I am, giving in to it. Once upon a time, way back in 2016, I had some friends suggest A Wizard of Earthsea, the first book in Ursula LeGuin’s highly influential YA fantasy series. I saw on Amazon that you could get all six of the Earthsea Cycle books for the price of like 2.5 books or something like that, and I was like, “Well, if my friends suggested it, that probably means they’re worthwhile. I might as well take this deal!”

And so I read A Wizard of Earthsea.

And I hated it.

And I talked to my friends, who said “Oh, yeah, it’s not that we liked it – it was just highly influential, so you should read it to understand the state of fantasy.” And yes, it was influential. And yes, its main character was brown, which was almost unheard of in English literature at that time period.

I died a little, but I put the books away… until now, because I spent money on this! AND I WILL NOT OWN UNREAD BOOKS!

Ursula LeGuin’s The Earthsea Cycle

LeGuin originally wrote A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968. Given the time period, you already know it’s going to be a little screwed up, but I’m pretty good at forgiving people who write within their own historical time frames. I’m also really hoping that I’ll be more interested in them now, and that they’ll not seem so unreadable.

Also, I’m only presenting four of these books – A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu here on the blog. Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind will only be available on my Goodreads page.

See my old reviews here