If I call you a cunt: Darkdawn review

If I call you a cunt, it means I’m afraid of you. I call you a cunt, it means you’re someone I should never mess with. The moment I call you a cunt, I would be digging my own grave — because I called you a cunt and because you are a cunt, you can hurt me and there’s nothing I can do but shrivel into a pathetic cretin backed into a corner.

Calling someone a cunt, means I know you can rip off my dick, snap it in two, and shove it up my ass with so much force it will shoot out of my mouth.

If I call you a cunt, it might mean I don’t like you very much, because you’re an existential threat to everything I am.

Cunts have teeth and they bite.

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That’s why our little Murder Bitch, Mia Corvere, protagonist of the Nevernight Chronicle, takes being called a cunt with so much compliment. She even explains it in detail during the early chapters of Book One, “Nevernight.”

She will tear the world apart just to achieve her goal. This is my impression of “Darkdawn,” the final book of the Chronicle, and if you haven’t read “Nevernight” and “Godsgrave,” get the fuck out of here, stop whatever you’re doing – quit your job if you have to (I’m kidding, don’t quit your job. Jobs are precious) – and read the entire trilogy. Because it is such a fantastic read.

Did it end the way I hoped it would end? In a way, yes. Very satisfying and very different how I’ve envisioned it. But still a beautiful book.

Australian actress and book vlogger, Piera Forde, has recently released the “Nevernight” trailer. A three-part webseries that chronicles the first book, or a part of it, at least. She kept some updates on the production and everything looks good so far.

Behold the trailer!

 

HERE BE SPOILERS

SOME BIG SPOILERS BELOW

FINAL WARNING

As some people might have pointed out, Mia’s attitude toward her brother, Jonnen, is a little bit out of character , especially that part where she sings to him. I’d like to defend that part. Ever since Mia was a child, her life was turned upside down. The series of plot twists that happened in the books can’t be too good for her mental health as well. So, with Jonnen right beside her, her mind clawed deep into her memories. To a time where everything was normal. Just Mia, getting prepped to become some lady, Jonnen, probably to grow up into a soldier or into some politician, and with both parents alive. That’s where Mia was dwelling and what she was trying to seek. Some sort of normality, during happier times. At least, that’s my take on it. Bugger off.

After digesting everything, I had to sit back and think for a while. This entire story. The way how I see it, it seemed like a peaceful time. The Republic seems okay and the people love their leaders. Sure, there’s some corruption tossed here and there, but what body of government doesn’t have the taint of corruption, eh?

Were the lives lost during the Republic’s fall worth it to restore the natural balance of day and night? Was eternal sunlight that really bad? I guess, so?

Ashlinn’s death was a punch to the balls. I didn’t feel it served any concrete purpose other than deliver us that bittersweet ending. Tric re-dying only to tell Ashlinn how get back to Mia was another punch to the balls. That’s true love, folks.

The biggest positive change to the world in Nevernight – besides the restoration of day/night cycle – is abolishing the Red Church, cleaning off the bad blood, and rebuilding it. Really, the Red Church assassins were the true villains in the books, and the presented main big bad was just collateral, yeah I mean, he’s a cunt, but the assassin teachers are worse.

In the end, to me, the entire Chronicle is less about saving the world. Mia knows this and had no intention of doing it. She was ready to walk out with a big middle finger to sky. But then the manipulative goddess did some things that led to the Republic sinking down the sea. The “Nevernight Chronicle” is true and true a revenge story.

It’s been one awesome ride. Now I’m looking forward to the “Empire of the Vampires,” which I think, is slated for next year.

Bloody Rose

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Nicholas Eames’ “Kings of the Wyld” was an epic blast. It was a breath of fresh air to have really fun but not sardonic characters and going out in wild adventures. At its heart, “Kings of the Wyld” was a road trip story about reconciliation.

So yes, the fool in me expected something similar in the sequel, “Bloody Rose.”

I was a fool.

Humor my poor analogy – my brain has been in the frying pan for weeks – if “Kings of the Wyld” was “The Hangover” (I liked the movie, okay? Fine! “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” happy?), then “Bloody Rose is “The Breakfast Club” [1] on the road. [2]

There’s adventure, there’s drama, there’s heartaches. It’s everything that made “Kings of the Wyld” a great book and more. I love the characters and each of their respective arcs. Though some part in me wanted to explore them more, instead of going through a few pages or chapters about them. But in the end, it’s really a story about the newest member of the band, Tam. Okay, okay, maybe not, it’s actually really about the band itself and leaning more toward the frontwoman, Rose, because of plot reasons. But it’s also more about Tam learning more about the world. Like, I don’t know, a millennial getting slapped in the face about the real world.

I kid. I kid! I fucking kid! We cool? Okay.

Look, I don’t think I have anything much else to say but a redundancy of praises. The book has been out for months now, so here’s the spoiler parts.

HERE BE RANDOM POSSIBLY NO-CONTEXT SPOILERS

I’m just glad we got to the adventure part fairly quickly. I mean, it’s going to be obvious one way or another that Tam is going to be part of the band.

That cyclops event was glorious. It’s also a point to remember that stories what everyone knows is very much different behind-the-scenes.

I was curious how their quest will weave into the current Horde, where all other mercenaries are eager to get into. I assumed it was going to be a cliffhanger thing or something really wild was going to happen. And yes, something wild did happen.

Finally, we get to meet the client! Of course the client is sketchy. There’s always something about the client. I bet, she’s a baddie related to the antagonist in “Kings of the Wyld.”

It’s called the “Dragoneater” for a fucking reason.

… And Rose killed that motherfucker like a boss.

Baddie revealed. Called it.

Holy shit, she can keep on resurrecting the dead.

Not only can she resurrect the dead, she has Spider Senses that alerts of her of any incoming danger.

Okay, I can see what’s going to happen here. Tam is going to shoot an arrow straight into Cloud, which is going to pierce through him and kill the baddie.

Okay, that didn’t happen, not technically like that, but something like that, and now I just want to curl up and cry.

Anyway…

The ending was so bittersweet for me. I really like the father-child theme with each character. Tam and the overprotective Tuck. Brune and Cura’s sick fathers. Cloud and his elitist father. Rose and the Golden Gabe from “Kings of the Wyld.” Pardon me while I curl up once more and cry again.

Also, I forgot to mention, Nicholas Eames is a known gamer. He loves “Final Fantasy” and had the galls to include a Tonberry into the “Bloody Rose.” Yes, a fucking Tonberry.

[1] OMG footnotes! Anyhow, maybe “Breakfast Club” wasn’t the best example, considering it kicks off with a bunch of kids getting stuck together in detention. But then again, I guess the essence here is, each of these kids has a story to tell, and we get to know them more one-by-one. Or something, whatever. That’s how I relate to “Bloody Rose,” ‘kay?

[2] Fucking footnotes! Ew! Okay, I just had this realization, only now, that mostly all adventures in fantasy stories are basically road trip stories. Okay, I’m done.

In the Tall Grass (Netflix)

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Stephen King adaptations are on the roll. It, Castle Rock, Doctor Sleep, among plenty others — now “In the Tall Grass.”

I haven’t read the story yet, which should be an interesting comparison once I do. But the movie itself was a straight punch to the nose, breaking it, blood everywhere, and still trying to realign it.

I liked the movie, overall. My initial impression had been something like the “Children of the Corn,” but hell no, it had a much simpler premise, one that got weirder and weirder the farther it went.

There were no jump scares, as I recall. Just good old atmosphere-building eeriness and its nihilistic approach. There really were moments when it felt everything was hopeless. Hopelessness, I think, is one of the scariest experiences ever, because to feel that, is to accept that there is nothing you can do to overcome it.

Had to convince the wife that Stephen King wouldn’t put something truly messed up. The movie kicked me in the shins anyway, pulled my hair up, and ripped off my scalp. Anyone who has watched it would know what the hell I’m talking about. I’ve reeled from the realization.

I really enjoyed how things kicked off really fast. Unlike in many other horror movies where the film crew introduces a bunch of annoying characters that leads to one exposition to another boring extended exposition. “In the Tall Grass” gives you a few minutes with the introductory characters before things get out of hand.

I am now headed to the Valley of Spoilers.

Okay, spoilerville.

I liked the time loop thing. It’s crazy how intertwined the characters’ fates were. I like the idea how Patrick Wilson — with this weird time loop simply kills everyone again and again. It’s surreal how the characters are dead in one scene and then alive again the next.

Travis landing on a pile of his own corpses stunned me. It’s a concept I know I’ve seen elsewhere from a less pretty movie, wish I could remember its title though.

Okay, Becky giving birth and the scene that follows was just fucked up. Just really fucked up. Seriously fucked up. What the fuck? It’s so fucked up. I cannot stress how fucked up it was.

Exiting spoilerville.

This movie won’t win awards but it sure is entertaining.

The Rage of Dragons

“The Rage of Dragons” by Evan Winter rocked my balls so hard I had to lie down, decompress, let the typhoon of emotions settle for several nights, and still I imploded.

It’s such a fucking good book. The characters are amazing, the magic system is unique, and the pacing had this breakneck speed I feared for whiplashes. But nah, Winter was gentle to step on the brakes every now and then, giving us warm characterization, opening doors for us to like others. I haven’t encountered any character I disliked, so far. Well, maybe one – but that one is so far back, that hardly matters.

The dragon-summoning system is fucking awesome and when you learn more about it, brains will splatter the walls, the hallways, the driveway, everywhere. And you just kind of get, it makes sense, of course, it’s damn brilliant!

Training scenes are incredible. Just, fucking Rank S+ tier incredible. It makes you wince; it makes you want to look away, it makes you uncomfortable, it breaks your jaw in half and leaves it hanging. It is built exactly that way, to let you know how fucking serious and how fucking angry our main protagonist, Tau, is. He’s only a mediocre human being but he’s pissed and he has a goal, and he’ll kill himself over and over to reach it. To butcher VE Schwab (or was it Rin Chuperico?) tweeted, never underestimate the power of spite.

There is a phrase in the book that left a big fire in my heart.

“The days without difficulty are days you do not improve.”

It’s powerful, inspirational, and very true.

There is another quote that rumbled up my feelings but am ultimately, in total agreement with.

“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.”

Powerful. True. But difficult.

Welcome to the Valley of Spoilers

Here I’ll just talk about the stuff I liked, loved, and disliked.

1) Tau discovers he is left-handed. Or so it seems to me. His sword hand, which I presume is the right, gets broken early in the book. So he trains with his left and believes to be even better at it than his other hand. This later evolves into his two-sword style, where he butchers everyone in sight.

2) Tau kills Lekan Onai.

3) The Scale battles. Lots of awesome battle scenes.

4) In the prologue, the hedeni had magic that allowed their people to multiply. Scary.

5) Tau’s intense training. He’s the last to sleep, first to get up, continues to train nonstop.

6) Tau’s intense training intensifies when he gets killed. And then gets killed some more. (If by any chance you are reading this, and if you haven’t read the book, well, this should intrigue you.)

7) The magical tethering between the magic user and warrior, which basically turns them into Smart Hulks or Juggernauts. The two-way system how it works, where the magic user has a limited time for this and will die if the tether isn’t broken, which is determined by the warrior. Dangerous shit going on around.

8 )Dragons are really answering a call, but they aren’t technically “summoned.” And the entire behind-the-scenes is horrifying.

9) Tau losing his mind after the intensified intense training.

10) One of the supposed bad guys isn’t really a bad guy and actually seems like a pretty cool guy.

11) The Trojan Horse.

12) The ending! That ending! That fucking ending!

What I didn’t like: Mentor gets beaten and then impaled, while Tau watches in horror and hopeless to stop it. It’s just an exhausting trope I find, and the most predictable thing ever. One sentence after introducing him, I was like, yup, you going to die.

That sums it up. Amazing book. Can’t wait for the sequel. Go read it if you haven’t yet!

Red-Stained Wings: Review

Received an eARC via NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge.


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“Red-Stained Wings” by Elizabeth Bear.

Over other previous reads, where stories were filled with action and adventure, “Red-Stained Wings” featured almost no epic clashes between warring factions. Sure, there’s a few cannon balls here and there, and a few sorceries pulled up from Wizards’ sleeves every now and then. But it’s a definitely a big change of pace and I’m not complaining about it.

It’s the most character-driven book I’ve read in a while, where we explore each of the main cast as they navigate in their own hopeless and complex situations. “Red-Stained Wings” is proof you don’t need a tome with a thousand pages to give you intricate character-driven narratives. Everything is packed in there, self-discovery, purpose and empowerment, ambitions in every angle. Of course you’ll know who to root for, and at the same time, you kind of develop sympathy over supposed antagonists. Reader’s Stockholm syndrome?

All the characters are rich, fleshed out, and well-developed. There were characters I cared for, those I never wanted to leave their POVs, and a character I love to hate so much, which makes the book all the more better.

In such a tight book, the worldbuilding is amazing. It’s vast and weird. The Cauled Sun provides dim light and heat in the night, and the stars brighten the day. There are strange entities in the world and divine schemes gradually unfold.

Perhaps my favorite parts involved the Gage, traversing through dangerous land. The worldbuilding here explodes, a blast of epic proximity, making it known that there are much bigger things happening than the family drama. Or rather, the true reason behind it all. The intrigue here extends farther and makes insidious twists along the way.

Red-Stained Wings” by Elizabeth Bear comes out on May 28, 2019.

God of Broken Things: Review

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I got an ARC through Angry Robots via NetGalley.


 

Cameron Johnston has done something exciting: Take one ability that is often associated with a villain, and give it to the main protagonist.

This is why I enjoyed the first book, “The Traitor God,” which kicked off as a sort of “fantasy-noir” where our hero, Edrin Walker, investigates the savage murder of his friend. He’s what the world calls a, tyrant, because of his ability to tamper with the mind — including, but not limited to, taking away your free will and altering memories. That book was a blast and I thought I had Book 2: “God of Broken Things” all figured out.

The book wasn’t a slowburn. It kicks you straight in the balls, launching a series of action-filled scenes. The pace flows smoothly with a balanced set of character engagements, worldbuilding, and epic fight scenes.

“God of Broken Things” still feature Edrin Walker as the main protagonist, sorting out his problems one at a time. I never got a good grasp on how strong he really is. Yes, he can control people, bend them to his will, alter memories, and basically anything involving the mind. I thought I understood it. But I didn’t. This book explores why people like Edrin are called tyrants and why others fear them.

It’s a test of patience and morality, no matter how stretched thin. And, normally I don’t need to relate myself to the main hero to enjoy a story, but I’ve actually built this connection with Edrin. Cause I swear, if I had mind controlling powers, there’d be an apocalypse by the end of 2021.

A writing tip from a different author said, the simpler the plot the more developed characters need to be.

Along with this book is the introduction of a large bizarre new cast that Edrin decides should tag along in his newest adventure. Some of these characters are hard to like, some are funny and weird. We don’t get to explore their origins, but each one gets a spotlight, a time when they shone, and enough background to get to know them. They grow on you as you go farther into the book. None of them are too complicated, but are filled with life, you’d wish you’d had enough time to just hang out and grab a few drinks with. (If you don’t mind the risk of getting stabbed in your sleep, that is.)

In “God of Broken Things” we get to go beyond the city of Setharis, where the first book took place. We enter province territory, where things aren’t as advanced in the city, where the folks rely on old traditions than modern studies. It’s also something I happen to relate to, I get to hang out with all sorts of people who believes in every possible superstition. It’s just something embedded culturally that people on these lands continue to hold on to and fight for things they find sacred.

By the end of the book my jaw was hanging really low. It was an incredible journey, something I really enjoyed. So, when Johnston confirmed that Edrin Walker’s story is actually a duology, I felt a little crushed. And yet, that ending felt so perfect that it made sense. I would have loved more books centering on Edrin Walker. But I get it. You liked “The Traitor God”? Pre-order “God of Broken Things.” Had mixed feelings about “The Traitor God”? To hell with that, this book is infinitely better.

“God of Broken Things” comes out on June 11, 2019.

The Long Night: Battle of Winterfell

The night is dark and full of spoilers.

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After waiting for two years and then another two hours in two weeks, we have reached the culmination of 20-something years of anticipation. And you thought “Avengers: Endgame” was the biggest thing happening.

For “Game of Throne” fans, and most especially, fans of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, this is the very thing we’ve been waiting for since the prologues of both the book and the show. I realize I’m repeating myself. That’s fine. Let’s try a no-filter, no-edit post.

In any case, it was a difficult watch for me, being stuck in work, fearing the boss will call out my name and I’d have to pause and scoot from my cramped space. The people from downstairs have TVs on and watched it together, but, joining them didn’t feel right. Not because I’m an anti-social turd (I am) but because I felt it needed some sort of cinematic experience.

And the Lord of Light be praised. The boss had left the premises. Bought some snacks, and switched off the lights.

First thought was, damn, Ghost is back. Dragons and horse riders have been stomping that we forget all about direwolves. He later disappears again. He is called “Ghost” after all. Though I wonder what role he’ll have in the actual book. As I recall, he never really left Jon’s side. Last time that happened, Jon was turned into a pin cushion for knives.

Bran wanders off to do his thing. And this bit I enjoyed because it gives us a hint that in book format, this entire battle sequence might also take place in Bran’s perspective as “The Three-Eyed Raven.” It would be amazing and epic in so many ways. Normally, all these big battles in books are told in a limited POV or were dictated as glorious stories to POV characters who weren’t present in the battle itself. But when Bran wargs into the ravens, for the first time in the books, we will have almost all POV characters in a single chapter.

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As many of you are surprised, the death toll was significantly lower. Well, as far as main POV characters are concerned. I think the real bloodbath will happen later, during the battle with Cersei and Euron Greyjoy. The opening sequence foreshadows that giant-ass crossbow, and I keep wondering who’d be the receiving end of it.

The death of Dolorous Edd was full of disks. Not only is it such a cliché but it’s so boring. Edd deserved a more epic last stand than that. Defending his friendship Samwell Tarley is a good cause, I guess. But it could had been handled better. Like, facing a swarm of wights and getting overrun like a river, would had been awesome and sad to watch.

Lyanna Mormont is dead. Squashed, literally, by the hand of an undead giant. But “Game of Thrones” loves putting little girls in harm’s way and let them do something badass. Lyanna takes him down. Nothing like an obsidian knife plunged straight to the eye. Since making her appearance in the show, she’s been nothing but a badass. She will be missed.

Now that she’s gone though, I suppose, when all of this is over, Jorah Mormont would find his place back in… oh wait. Yeah. Never mind. I’m going to need a minute to let that part sink in. I don’t drink beer. Do you guys drink beer? I might as well have one.

As my friend put it: “At least Sam gets his sword back.”

Low blow “Mark,” low blow.

That tiny bit between Jaime and Brienne fighting hordes of undead side-by-side was too epic. As someone from Twitter pointed out, they are each using Valyrian-steel swords forged from Ned Stark’s own “Ice.” In a way, you can put it that past Warden of the North is still protecting Winterfell in some form. In that regard, we actually get little from them, save for a few shouting, desperate screaming, and fighting a hopeless battle. Since HBO is doing a more straightforward narrative, I figured these two are safe at least until the next big battle – possibly at King’s Landing.

Between Jaime and Brienne scenes, we see glimpses of Podrick and Gendry here and there. I’ve nothing to fear about them dying. HBO’s narrative dictates those two will serve a few more important purposes. Specifically, Podrick has watched Tyrion’s back once in a while, like the Battle of the Blackwater, and Ser Bronn—a good ole favorite—is out on a mission to take out the Lannister brothers. It’s an interesting thing to look forward to.

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Everyone in the show was expecting the crypts to be the safest place to be. Everyone watching the show, knows that those hiding might as well be on the frontlines of war. Arya passing an obsidian dagger to Sansa is the biggest giveaway. But things went smoothly. A few people are dead and we didn’t really spend too much time there. All things worked out, for better or for worse. I was expecting some dead Starks to rise up and somehow be Winterfell’s much needed backup, “The North remembers” after all. But still, it’s a moment between Tyrion and Sansa, and it was beautiful to watch. “You were the best of them all,” Sansa said, about Tyrion being the best of her three husbands.

Ser Davos Seaworth is alive and kicking. We don’t see much of him doing any killing. As stated again and again, he’s survived two big battles with zero combat experience. Let’s see if that luck holds out until the end of the series.

Theon’s redemption arc ended with his last stand against the Night King. I was wondering if it were possible that he survived and at least, do some sort of damage, even a minor one just to distract the Night King from whoever defeats him. Turns out nah. The Night King is the embodiment of death, after all, and he’s killed a dragon with a giant Popsicle, so of course this guy knows how to OHK.

Of course we all wanted more of an epic showdown. We wanted for Jon Snow to fight the Night King. We wanted him to lose a little, just enough time probably for other Valyrian-steel sword wielders come as backup.

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No, none of that happened. Instead, Arya soars into the air and manages to OHK the Night King, in a single fell swoop. Was it anticlimactic? Yes. Was it disappointing? Not really, not much.

I love how Tor.com puts it that, “no one” can defeat the Night King, and “Well, a girl is no one, after all.” Well put guys.

I was satisfied for the most part. Even when the episode itself was dark, I felt it was really meant to be that way. For starters, it gives sense to the term “The night is dark and full of terrors.” The enemy is in the dark and we are unprepared for it. Can’t comprehend what’s happening? That’s war. It’s vicious and it’s random. Also, it’s dark so they could mask the not-too-awesome graphics. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are a treat, but coming off from “Avengers: Endgame” people will notice visual differences. I’ve got some people comparing the Battle of Winterfell with The Battle of Helms Deep, which doesn’t compute. Clearly the bloodbath in Winterfell was better.

I suppose I’m just a little weary from hive-mind bosses. Where, defeat the leader and everything goes to normal. I’ve felt it was something cheesy and a cheap way for the protagonists to get out of trouble. We’ve seen such things multiple times, like the first “Avengers” film.

Still, the next three episodes are looking really good and exciting. Can’t wait for next week.