The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
Hardback Edition, 1280 pages
Published 21st March 2011 by Bantam Press
I am known in the religion of rage.
It was always going to be difficult to be fully satisfied with the ending. I had a picture in my mind of how the finale would play out but i think this was wishful thinking. I’m almost reluctant to say i’m slightly disappointed because of the monumental efforts of Steven Erikson to write the greatest Fantasy Series I’ve had the pleasure of reading but i am a fan with an opinion so i was a little disappointed.
From this point on they’ll be spoilers.
The character ‘The Crippled God’ was properly introduced to us in Memories of Ice and over the course of the series he’d show up and wreak havoc and pain on the world but he was never at the forefront. He was more a ‘behind the scenes’ type character just like the Illuminati, hiding in the shadows or in this case his tent. His cameos were a masterstroke as it kept the intrigue alive and he slowly became my favourite fictional antagonist; forget The Man in Black and Sauron and all those other pretenders, the Crippled God was pure poison. So i was genuinely expecting the self titled book to be a showdown between the Malazans and the Crippled God but this wasn’t even close to what happened. In short – the Great Ravens sacrifice themselves to give the Crippled God a human form, the Otataral dragon freed him of his chains, Cotillion killed him to release him from his pain. Only after typing this am i starting to become more annoyed by the ending. It’s the equivalent of Iron Man shaking hands with Thanos and declaring all is forgiven.
Everything before the ending was the usual brilliance i’d come to expect from the series. The battle for the Spire of Kolanse was almost as good as the Siege of Pale. There was a bit of a mid book lull with a bit too much philosophising waffle but all was forgiven once the finale kicked into motion. There also could have been more of Karsa Orlong but if he’s writing a trilogy dedicated to Karsa then i can let that slide. Despite my gripe with the ending i’ll reluctantly accept it. The series was amazing and i doubt i’ll ever read anything else like it.
My score is 5/5
In true nerd style i’m going to put the books in the order of favourite to least favourite
- Deadhouse Gates
- Reapers Gale
- Midnight Tides
- Memories of Ice
- The Bonehunters
- House of Chains
- Dust of Dreams
- The Crippled God
- Gardens of the Moon
- Toll the Hounds
Elevation by Stephen King
Hardback Edition, 132 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
I’m all for Stephen King releasing books on a regular basis but as with ‘Gwendy’s Button Box’ surely he could have saved Elevation for one of his collections of short stories. Maybe Mr King is cashing in on his recent rise in popularity because @ £8.00 i was expecting way more from a single release.
There are elements from the plot of ‘Thinner’ in the story. Scott Carey is losing weight but is showing no physical signs of the ever decreasing scale readouts. As well as his bizarre weight change Scott is also having problems getting along with his neighbours. It’s definitely a unique idea and i’d expect no less from Stephen King; he’s always been way ahead of everyone else in terms of originality, but at the end i was left with a feeling of unfulfillment. From a single release hardback i expected to be blown away but i wasn’t. I was disappointed.
My score is 2/5
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
Paperback Edition, 475 pages
Published 2003 by Faber & Faber
This is the fourth book of 2018 i have picked up after reading articles posted on the Guardian website. I believe the article was top ten fiction books about dictators and because i love a good tale about oppressive regimes with nasty leaders it was an instant must have.
I’d heard the name ‘Trujillo’ before but wasn’t clued up on his status in the history books. For the uninitiated Rafael Trujillo was the leader of the Dominican Republic between 1930 to 1961, when he was assassinated. His most heinous crime is the ‘Parsley Massacre’ , which was the genocidal assault on Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Depending on who you listen to the final death toll is anywhere between 1,000 to 35,000. In my League of Dictators i’d put him between Castro (4th) and Pol Pot (2nd). Stalin is still number 1. (In terms of how evil they were, not because i admire them!)
The book has three separate stories. Story one has 49 year old Uranita returning to the Dominican Republic after 30 plus years of self imposed exile to visit her ailing father, a former member of Trujillo’s inner circle. Over the course of her chapters we’re taken back to her childhood to re-live the horrific reason for her departure. Story two recounts the last days of Trujillo’s reign leading up to his death and story three focuses on Trujillo’s assassins as they sit in their car waiting for him to emerge from his residence.
It’s a brilliant novel and each of the three stories intertwine perfectly. It took a while to adjust to the authors writing style as he flips between past and present with no indication of a time change but you get used to it after a couple of chapters. We’re not given a complete biography of Trujillo but more like snapshots of key meetings and events and a look at the American involvement during his reign. It’s interesting as hell especially if you’re into oppressive dictatorships and how they affect the people living through them. I live in the UK and after reading books about Stalin, Pol Pot and now Trujillo i wonder why people bitch and moan about our government. We should consider ourselves lucky.
One small gripe is a few of the chapters after Trujillo’s death, which are written from the perspective of each of the main conspirators. They did drag and could have been shortened. Otherwise it’s a superb novel and i would definitely read other books by this author.
My score is 4/5
9: Gerald’s Game
Jessie could hear the back door banging lightly, randomly, in the October breeze around the house.
Gerald’s Game was the first full novel by Stephen King that i read. Up until then i had only partaken in his short story collections, namely Everything’s Eventual which contains my favourite King short story – The Road Virus Heads North. It is utter genius.
Gerald’s Game is up there with his best ideas for a story. The plot is pretty simple; an adventurous couple indulge in a sex game which ends with the husband dead and the wife tied up and helpless on the bed. The majority of the book is spent inside the wife’s head as she slowly descends into a nightmarish madness and when it comes to the messed up rambling internal dialogue i most associate King with, Gerald’s Game is at the top of the pile. Throw in visions from her messed up childhood, possible intruders lurking in the dark and a very hungry dog with a taste for human flesh and you have a complete horror masterclass.
Some nightmares never completely end.
1Q84: Book 2 by Hakuri Murakami
Paperback Edition, 400 pages
Published 2nd August 2012 by Vintage
If you haven’t read Book 1 and don’t wish for the plot to be spoiled then look away now.
Book 2 picks up immediately after the end of Book 1. Aomame has been given the mission of killing ‘the Leader’, the head of a cult and probable child rapist. It would mean relinquishing her life as she knows it but this doesn’t phase her. Our other main character, Tengo, is still caught up with Fuka-Eri and her bizarre story, Air Chrysalis, which is finally revealed to us in all of it’s weird glory.
As with Book 1 not a great deal happens but the events that transpire are crucial to the plot. Aomame spends the majority of Part 2 with ‘the Leader’ in a lengthy scene the likes of Tarantino would love to get his hands on. We also discover a little more about her past as well as Tengo’s who spends a good chunk of his Part 2 with his estranged father. As before there is plenty of sex, food preparation and talk of religion. There were a couple of occasions where the sex becomes uncomfortably pornographic but i guess it’s relevant to the story.
Book 2 is far superior to Book 1. We’ve gone through the foundation laying and character building and we’re now onto the crux of the story. The writing is even more amazing and just flows so effortlessly from page to page.
My score is 4/5
But sometimes the sounds – like the pain – faded, and then there was only the haze.
I re-watched the 1990 film adaption recently and it’s aged pretty well. It is currently the only Stephen King adaption to win an Oscar, which was for Kathy Bates portraying the worlds worst nurse, Annie Wilkes. I think it’s hard to transfer King novels to the big screen because his stories usually contain a great deal of weird internal dialogue, which provides the majority of the dread atmosphere. How are you supposed to effectively capture a characters crazed, nightmarish ramblings? The likes of Thinner, Dreamcatcher, Gerald’s Game, A Good Marriage, 1408, Apt Pupil and The Stand are all pretty poor films. I believe Misery stands out because the story is very visual; a crippled man, isolated in the middle of nowhere during a snow storm, confined to a bed in the house of an unhinged women doing her best to keep him injured. It makes for a brilliant horror film.
The book is also superb. King writes as if you are in the room with Paul Sheldon going through the mental and physical torture inflicted upon him. His condition becomes so desperate you start to wonder how he stays alive and you genuinely fear for him every time Annie pays him a visit.
I am in trouble here. This women is not right.
Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson
Paperback Edition, 1280 pages
Published 1st September 2010 by Bantam Press
There was light, and then there was heat.
After a slightly underwhelming Toll the Hounds i am so glad that Book 9 returns the series to its grandiose best. According to Wikipedia Dust of Dreams is 10,000 words less than Book 8 but it sure as hell seems longer; not in a bad way but more in terms of density. The who’s who of races are included: there’s K’Chain Che’malle (who kind of reminded me of Slithe from Thundercats) T’lan Imass, Jaghut, Barghast, Tiste Liosan and i believe a first proper outing for the Forkrul Assail. It certainly sounds crowded but Steven Erikson is such a genius of a writer that everything flows and culminates effortlessly.
We’re back on the continent of Lether with Adjunct Tavore, the Queen of Cool, and her exiled Malazan army the Bonehunters. The Tiste Edur have been defeated but there is a new unknown enemy to the east in a place call Kolanse. In the foreword Erikson does warn you that this is Part 1 of the finale of the series and not to expect resolutions. This could be seen as highly annoying but for me it just added to the mystery and compelled me to keep reading. Although plenty happens there is still a feeling of vagueness to the story and we only receive very subtle hints of the world ending danger lurking in Kolanse.
As well as the Kolanse story there is a large chunk of the book focused on the White Faced Barghast, now led by the swash buckling sword artist Onos T’oolan, in their attempt to reclaim land from the tribes of Lether. This provides the majority of the books action with a few fairly brutal skirmishes and one really horrific sexual assault scene, which, dare i say, is really well written.
It’s difficult to review Dust of Dreams as it’s Part 1 of 2 so there is no definitive ending by which i can judge the book by. I can only hope that The Crippled God will be one hell of a finale.
My score is 5/5 all day long!