Monday, June 15, 2020

The Ruin of Kings, by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1)

This novel explores a rich fantasy world, complete with dragons, magic, quests, and prophecies. It is also confusing as hell, with characters that switch bodies, get resurrected or are seemingly immortal, a narrator that makes comments and footnotes as the story unfolds (and is himself a player), and a storyline that jumps back and forth in time with each chapter. I was hooked when I read the blurb on the back: "Then again maybe he isn't the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the empire. He's destined to destroy it." A lot of promise in that statement, and as the main character (Kihrin) isn't really likable as most stereotypical heroes there seems to be some weight to the premise. Sadly, the outcome is muddled, almost as if Lyons couldn't decide what to do. Hard to follow, but I think I'll give the next book in the series a chance.

First Sentence:
"Tell me a story."

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny

A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2)

The second in the Inspector Gamache series brings back many of the same people from the first novel and introduces several more. The mystery here wasn't nearly as interesting this time around—the big reveal with the letters was pretty obvious—but the characters are why we keep reading. We get a peek into Gamache's past, which seems to be an overarching story that is told across the books; a bonus for people that read them all in order, but I suspect a detriment for anyone first picking one up later in the series. Penny's style is laid-back but engaging, with a lot of literary references thrown in throughout: Georges Simenon, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the Old Testament all figure in to the narrative. (And don't think this means the book is too haughty; Casablanca and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer make an appearance as well.) A pleasant read and a nice diversion.

First Sentence:
Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift.

Friday, June 05, 2020

The Gray Man, by Mark Greaney

The Gray Man (Gray Man, #1)

This book reads like a bad action movie. No real plot other than save the captured princess (here the princess is played by twin girls) while racking up a huge body count all across Europe. The hero is an assassin with a heart of gold: "Court Gentry was the Gray Man simply because he believed there existed bad men in this world who truly needed to die." Two thirds of the way through, Gentry has a gunshot wound in his leg, a broken rib, a severely swollen wrist, deep lacerations on his knees and the bottoms of both feet, fallen off a mountain, and received no medical attention for any of these injuries. Seemingly cornered, he manages to perform a standing leap to grab a rafter, pull himself into an attic, and crawl through a small vent to safety. He later takes a vicious stab to the gut requiring stitches (delivered without anesthetic in a moving car which he was driving) and a blood transfusion. This all sets the stage for a huge gun battle where Gentry shoots his way into a fortified castle to confront his enemies. The Gray Man is part Jack Reacher, part Jason Bourne, and part Batman, but possessed none of the depth of those characters. This is a series, but not sure I'll read any more. Not bad, but not good either.

First Sentence:
The first gunmen arriving at the crash site were not Al Qaeda and had nothing to do with the shoot down.

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