I ♥ Fantasy: Sykes & Rothfuss

It’s been while since I’ve written a post on my favorite reads and since I know a few of you who actually take my reading advice, I figured I’d catch you up. This edition is dedicated to the fabulous first timers.

Tome of the Undergates by Sam SykesTome of the Undergates: The Aeons’ Gate Book One by Sam Sykes. My brother found this book in the dollar bin at his library and their loss has certainly been our gain. When he finally got around to cracking this sucker open he was pleasantly surprised. Then, like a good bro, he passed the goodness on to his favorite (and only) sis. I’m amazed to say that this fast-paced, well-written, creatively-detailed adventure is Sykes’ first book. It’s about an unlikely team of mercenaries who are paid by a priest to retrieve a very special tome. The tome has accidentally fallen into the hands of demons and with it they plan to open the gates of hell. The fate of the world hangs on a cowardly thug, a priestess with a limb of death, a young wizard, a dragonman, a female feline/human hybrid, and their dwarf leader who seems to have a split personality. Their journey sweeps you up from the very beginning and by the time you’ve read all 486 pages you won’t know where the time went. The cliffhanger ending with definitely leave you jonesing for more and luckily Sykes has provided us with just that. Aeons’ Gate is a three-part series with Black Halo and The Skybound Sea following. From what my brother has said, the other two books are not as good because our merry band of misfits gets broken up so the enjoyable banter is lacking. Nevertheless, he still rates them fairly high. Tome of the Undergates is a 5 star read from the Hazard clan so for the fantasy lover who enjoys interesting characters and a fair smattering a carnage, you can’t go wrong.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from page 440:

…Lenk brought the axe down again. “I’m having difficulty understanding women.”
“Ah, yes.” Denaos scratched his chin. “The eternal question on two legs that only gets more annoying with every passing thought.” His hand drifted lower, scratched something else. “Fortunately for you, I’m something of an expert on the subject.”
“No doubt, ” the rouge replied. “What do you want to know?”
“I suppose…” Lenk’s hum hovered in the air as he leaned on the hatchet’s handle, staring contemplatively out at the forest’s greenery. “Why?”
“The best place to start,” Denaos said, nodding. “Well, to understand women, you must first understand their place in the world. And to that end, you must first know how they came to occupy this world alongside us.”
“The theories vary from faith to faith, but here’s how it was explained to me.” He cleared his throat, sitting upright as though he were some scholar. “The Gods first created man and gave to him their gifts. From Daeon and Galataur, we received the art of war. From Silf, we received the talent of deception. And from Khetashe, as you know, we received the urge to explore.”
“Go on.”
“But there was a difficulty. Mankind lacked purpose. There was no reason to go to war, no reason to lie, no reason to wander far and wide.”
Denaos shrugged and lay back. “And then the Gods created women and suddenly everything made sense.”

Okay, now on to the pièce de résistance: Patrick freakin’ Rothfuss! Holy s#@t, there’s just no way it’s humanly possible to write two back-to-back books this awesome the first time around. How? How Rothfuss? I want to know. This is literary crack. Do yourselves a favor and immediately get your hands on The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One and The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two by Patrick Rothfuss.  Just do it, you’ll thank me copiously by giving me your first-born (no thanks, that won’t be necessary). This is a double Hazard 10 out of 5 stars (if that were possible). I finished The Name of the Wind about a year ago and The Wise Man’s Fear probably three months ago and now I’m practically peeing myself waiting for the third installment. I’m not even going to try to explain the plot but you can preview the books in the links I’ve given you.

Funny story. Last week, me and two of my co-workers were discussing the books we’ve read recently. Alex mentioned that he just finished the best book and Erin expressed the same sentiment about one she had just finished. Come to find out, it was the exact same book: The Wise Man’s Fear. We all had gotten ourselves completely hooked independently. Now Alex keeps asking me if I know when the final installment, Doors of Stone, is coming out. For now it remains a frustrating mystery. We all agreed that if the wait is much longer, we may have to read the series again just to tide us over. You have to check out the review of Doors of Stone by the author himself on Goodreads. It’ll make you chuckle.

Speaking of books that have left us wanting more, the sequel to Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is just days away from being released. Come March 4th, Words of Radiance will be in my excited little clutches. Words cannot describe my anticipation. I literally called in sick to work because I couldn’t put The Way of Kings down. Yup, I’ve got a problem and I suspect it’ll get worse before it gets better.

Last but not least, for those Ender’s Game fans out there, I begrudgingly watched the movie last night and was over the moon to see that they stayed true to the book (at least as much as a movie can). And just like in the book, I was crying like a wee baby by the end.


I ♥ Fantasy

My brother has been showing me no mercy in the book department. This past August he gave me about ten more to read and he calls me every week to see how far I’ve gotten. Geesh! He’s a machine, I’m not. I have zero chance of matching his literary prowess, which means I will never be in his good graces. Oh well, I do what I can. The last book I read was Patrick Rothfuss’ first in his Kingkiller Chronicle series: The Name of the Wind. Clutch the pearls, this was a five-star read! Right up there with Robin Hobb’s Farseer series and any in Brandon Sanderson’s immaculate catalog. This is a mind-blowing feat when you take into account that this is Rothfuss’ first novel. He’s just getting warmed up! I can’t wait to read more from him. Click on the cover photo and it will take you to a reading sample so you can get hooked too.

For other book suggestions, visit these posts:

I ♥ Reading

I ♥ Fantasy


I ♥ Reading

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) I recently finished book 1 in The Farseer trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It was a fantastic read. My brother is sending me the next two and I can’t wait to dig in. He says that they are right up there with the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson–which I think is pure perfection. Needless to say, I’m in for a treat. If you haven’t read the Farseer or Mistborn trilogies, get on it! My best gal, Emily, read the Mistborn excerpt I included in my I ♥ Fantasy post and she was instantly hooked. Not being able to put the books down, she ended up reading the entire trilogy in 1.5 weeks. So don’t just take my word for it. Emily is way more rational and has much better taste than I and she even loved it (hugs and kisses Em!). I will keep you posted on how the Farseer trilogy compares.

I’m almost finished with The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe and let me just say that I really enjoy his writing style. My bro (who read about 60 books last year) gave one of his books a perfect 10 on his scale and I’m not surprised. Gene can spin a yarn. Here are a few excerpts from the book that have resonated with me thus far:

From page 8 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe:The Shadow of the Torturer (Book of the New Sun, Vol. 1)

We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin… Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life–they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.

From pages 132 & 133 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe:

I have said that I cannot explain my desire for her, and it is true. I loved her with a love thirsty and desperate. I felt that we two might commit some act so atrocious that the world, seeing us, would find it irresistible.

From page 133 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe:

No intellect is needed to see those figures who wait beyond the void of death–every child is aware of them, blazing with glories dark or bright, wrapped in authority older than the universe. They are the stuff of our earliest dreams, as of our dying visions. Rightly we feel our lives guided by them, and rightly too we feel how little we matter to them, the builders of the unimaginable, the fighters of wars beyond the totality of existence.

The difficulty lies in learning that we ourselves encompass forces equally great. We say, “I will,” and “I will not,” and imagine ourselves (though we obey the orders of some prosaic person every day) our own masters, when the truth is that our masters are sleeping. One wakes within us and we are ridden like beasts, though the rider is but some hitherto unguessed part of ourselves.



I ♥ Fantasy

For most of my life I observed the mantra that nothing was worth reading unless it was true. However, thanks to my brother, I’m now a reader of fantasy books. A few years ago he sent me about twenty books that I was all but forced to read. He would call me every week to check my progress and to quiz me to make sure I wasn’t cheating. If I hadn’t read enough to his satisfaction, he would grumble under his breath–vocalizing his disappointment in having me for a sister–and then quickly retreating off the phone. I realized then that this was his way of bonding with me and so I decided to stop fighting it and enjoy. Once I gave in, I realized that I gained far more insight into life, and myself, by reading fantasy than I ever did from non-fiction.

The Emperor's SoulThree days ago I received another package from my brother containing Brandon Sanderson’s novella The Emperor’s Soul and Robin Hobb’s first novel in the The Farseer series, Assassin’s Apprentice.  I read The Emperor’s Soul in a day, which will make my brother proud. I’ve found Sanderson’s books to be nearly impossible to put down once you dig in. While I was reading, there were a few paragraphs that I felt compelled to share. They illustrate my point that the fantasy genre is very much grounded in reality and can offer unexpected insights into the world in which we live or remind us of important fundamental truths long forgotten. Strangely enough, it also illustrates the general point of my previous blog posts. Lasting impressions are made by telling a good story. It’s not about cramming in as many facts as possible. We want the experience darn it.

Page 105 of The Emperor’s Soul

“People,” … “by nature attempt to exercise power over what is around them. We build walls to shelter us from the wind, roofs to stop the rain. We tame the elements, bend nature to our wills. It makes us feel as if we’re in control.”

“Except in doing so, we merely replace one influence with another. Instead of the wind affecting us, it is a wall. A man-made wall. The fingers of man’s influence are all about, touching everything. Man-made rugs, man-made food. Every single thing in the city that we touch, see, feel, experience comes as the result of some person’s influence.”

“We may feel in control, but we never truly are unless we understand people. Controlling our environment is no longer about blocking the wind, it’s about knowing why the serving lady was crying last night, or why a particular guard always loses at cards. Or why your employer hired you in the first place.”

Page 98 of The Emperor’s Soul

There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person’s life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn’t take one step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn’t led you better.

So let me encourage you to take a break from non-fiction and pick up something different but equally insightful. Here is my must-read list just in time for you to request them from Santa:

Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 1)♥  The Tales of Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card (This is the series that got me hooked on fantasy)

The Ender series by Orson Scott Card (A classic! I even cried a few times.)

The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (It’s freaking amazing!)

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Just in case you never wanted the Mistborn world to end.)

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (If there is one book to get, this is the one! There is a lot of jumping around at first but stick with it. Halfway through, you will be glued to it. You will call in sick from work just to finish it.)

The Drowned Cities and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (I hear The Wind Up Girl is even better.)