Three Parts Dead

Magic lawyers. No, not lawyers who go to court over magic, but lawyers who have magic and use it to make contracts. Gods who are real. Gargoyles. Vampires. Necromancy. A murder mystery. Trying to explain everything this novel has and is just makes my head spin.

So...maybe I should start at the beginning.

Tara is a young Craftswoman (i.e., magic lawyer type) who since being kicked out of the Hidden Schools has floundered about purposeless. Until Elayne Kevarian hires her to help on a case her firm has taken on: to resurrect the dead god Kos. But before they can do that they have to figure out how and why it happened. And they must do this before His city falls into chaos.

Quite the first case for a young woman, no matter how promising and brilliant. While Ms. Kevarian is off on her own errands, Tara is assigned to the grunt work, her only help the young priest Abelard, whose faith is on the brink. Tara goes about her work with determination and finesse. She's in her early twenties, so it's sometimes hard to believe that she always knows what to do. Tara hasn't got much of a character arc, but the story is so plot/setting oriented that it would have been difficult to go very deep.

Abelard and his friend Cat have the most interesting stories and character development of the entire cast. Ms. Kevarian is cleverly drawn as the scary woman you'd want on your side and Professor Denovo is believable as the egocentric "scholar" working as counsel for the opposing clients. But I doubt you'll read this book for the characters, as integrated as they are to the story.

What shines in THREE PARTS DEAD is the city of Alt Coulumb and the magic. Gladstone reveals bit by bit the world that surrounds Tara as she traipses through the streets, interviews people, does her magic, and generally tries to figure out how Kos died. No silly infodumps here, we are whisked from page one right into Tara's story and the events surrounding the death of a god.

For example, Craftsmen: their magic is not unlike the powers that gods possess, but instead of having the magic be their divine body, humans fuel their magic from starlight. They can use it to create contracts, but also to find the loopholes and unravel them--often quite literally. Craftsmen magic is sometimes gruesome, as in the case of necromancy; sometimes it's beautiful as in the Hidden Schools itself which floats above the earth. Sure there's history and how-tos that aren't really explained, but there just isn't time. Here's hoping he includes those unanswered questions in a sequel. (Will there be one? Wish I could say.)

We jump into the story right from the beginning, and despite brief lulls as we learn about the case, the pace never really slows down. The conclusion is an amazing and cool, yet also tidy, wrap-up of what is an often convoluted twist of clues and revelations. Some of the revelations are a little frustrating because information is withheld from us, which doesn't make sense considering the novel's omniscient narrative style--it's kind of hard for a character to not show her hand if you were just in her head. I probably would have let it slide if Gladstone had been more strict about how he switched from PoVs. But it is his first novel after all, and he'll figure it out for next time. He seems pretty smart.

Gladstone's prose is fluid and descriptive, and easy to read despite the density of the different elements of the novel. I loved how weird it all was, the jiving of different ideas and even genres, mixing up urban fantasy with mystery, legal thriller with sword & sorcery, and a little steampunk thrown in for flavor. I would read it again just to see if I can pick out the clues I missed the first go-around, and to savor Gladstone's clever details.

Recommended Age: 15+ there isn't really any risque content
Language: Fewer than 5 instances
Violence: Some
Sex: A kiss and asking about lovers but that's it

You really need to read this fun debut novel. You can find it here:

THREE PARTS DEAD

Cold Days

The last few Dresden Files novels have been a bit hit-or-miss with me. That is a painful admission. For the longest time, Jim Butcher was one of my favorite authors, and the Dresden Files included some of my favorite novels. But then...yikes. To me, some of these last books have just not been good. CHANGES started to put things right again, and GHOST STORY had its moments. But then came COLD DAYS...

...and it was freaking amazing.

I know. I totally faked you out. Unless you looked at EBR's Best of 2012 list and saw COLD DAYS on there, or whatever.

I say this in all seriousness; COLD DAYS is in my top three for the Dresden Files. It's just awesome.

It starts with Harry recovering from the events of GHOST STORY (I know, no spoilers. I get angry emails for every tiny thing, even though YOU SHOULDN'T BE READING THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN"T READ THE PRIOR BOOKS IN THE FREAKING SERIES! GAH!!!! Moving on...).  Harry is the Winter Knight, and that means he is in a really bad position. But in typical Jim Butcher fashion, Dresden has no clue just how bad things are going to get.

I want you to think of the scope of some of the previous novels. DEATH MASKS. DEAD BEAT. PROVEN GUILTY. CHANGES. Now mash all that stuff into one book. Yeah. That's how COLD DAYS reads. Every few chapters there is a huge revelation and game changer. I kind of wonder if Butcher had this planned all from the beginning, or if it just morphed into this. Either way, my New Orleans Saints hat is off to you, Jim. You crushed this one. Just...wow.

Harry has been gone for a while. Things in Chicago have changed. His friends have changed, and they've all had a rough go of it. I'm not going to lie, I teared up a few times at some of the reunions. The dialog, and even what ISN'T said are nearly perfect. And yet, who Harry doesn't talk to stands out even more dramatically because of all of these powerful reunions. The emotional play here is a very delicate line to walk, and Butcher does it with style.

The trademark humor is here, but under it (and sometimes smothering it) is a sense of tension and unease. Not at Harry's mission this time around--no, we know that Harry will succeed, because he always does--but at what has happened to our beloved wizard. As a reader, I constantly worried about Harry possibly going too far and hurting someone close to him. As a reviewer, I wanted Butcher to take that risk with his characters like he did with Molly's father earlier in the series (And come on, Jim. Get him back in the game already!). Once I realized what was happening (at the same time as Dresden), I thought, "Nah, Butcher won't actually do that...will he?"

Um. The ending is a serious WTF moment.

I've gushed, and I could keep doing it. I mean, the pure amount of awesomeness in this novel has made me regret selling my Dresden collection back in the TURN COAT days. Let me be clear, COLD DAYS isn't perfect. Butcher has a habit of explaining the same things multiple times in the same novel. In detail. Over and over. In detail. Repetitively. In detail. A lot. See what I did there? Or do I need to repeat it? Also, there is one moment that feels like the author is blatantly preaching his personal views on a political(ish) subject. I don't care if authors have certain beliefs. But if you are going to put them in your novel--even if I agree with those views--make it feel natural and in character. Not like the 4th Wall has been torn down by a nuke. Just...no.

Will everyone like this novel? Well, no. That's not how this business works. But my personal faith in Butcher has been 100% restored. I'm dying to see where he takes the next bit of the series, because the entire game has changed. COLD DAYS isn't just a good novel. It's a terrific one. An amazing one.

Go fraking read it.

Recommended Age: 16+
Profanity: Lots, but not in a Military Fiction or Richard K Morgan kind of way.
Violence: Quite a bit this go-around.
Sex: No detailed scenes, but a lot of disturbing (in a messed up way) thoughts from Mister Dresden.

Here's your link:

COLD DAYS

Cuttlefish

A good while ago, I had my first run at buying sushi. I'd sampled it before with friends and such, but had never purchased any myself. Apart from initially mistaking the twirl of wasabi for some tasty guacamole (How? Looking at it from this side of things, I honestly have no idea) it was a great experience. When I was finished, I decided to try the other interesting-looking thing on the plate. The one that looked like marinated flower petals. I found that it was sweet and actually pretty good, but then arose the over-powering taste of...soap? Later, a good friend told me what I had actually ingested.

The connection? My impression of this book in two words: candied ginger.

CUTTLEFISH by Dave Freer is a young-adult story about a pair of kids that spend a good amount of time on a coal-powered submarine. Clara Calland is the daughter of a pair of intelligent scientists. Her father has recently been imprisoned and at the beginning of the tale, she and her mother are on the run from quite a few potentially violent parties that are all intent on acquiring Dr. Calland's recent discovery of a cheap way to make nitrates. (For those of a non-technical nature: nitrates = bombs and fertilizer.) The two of them find their way onto the Cuttlefish, the submarine of note, where Clara first meets Tim Barnabas, a young submariner. Though at first the two clash with each other quite fiercely, as the story progresses they do become quite cordial with one another. Would we expect it to happen any other way? Hardly.

And then it's run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Err. Swim, swim, swim... yeah, you get the picture.

The first portion of the book jumps between the POVs of Clara and Tim in the present, and Clara in the past. Clara's past portions catch us up from her being taken from school by her mother, through an escape or two, to finally arrive on the submarine. The switch between these three POVs was somewhat confusing at times, as it wasn't always readily apparent what part of the story I was reading. After this was over though, I really started to enjoy the story. The world-building was quite well-done. History and detail not only in the world, but in the lives of the characters of interest. There was a great sense of place and tension as the Cuttlefish made its way through first the canals of a drowned London, and then around the isle of England and out into the Pacific. Also, something that I don't think many writers get right, there was a great sense of the ignorant disregard that most young people have for very dangerous situations. I'm not sure what makes kids have this, but Mr. Freer nailed it.

And then came the soap.

Once out into open water, the story became incredibly boring. Tim does his jobs on the submarine, Clara starts to learn of being a submariner herself, and apart from a few forays that, quite frankly, felt rushed in every sense of the word, very little else happened until the end. Where it stopped. Without fanfare or applause. I'm told there's a sequel to this book. They probably should have been combined into one book, because there was absolutely no closure here.

This book is a great example of starting out with immense promise, but then instead of going anywhere interesting with the story or the characters, turning its head and taking a nose-dive back into the morass of mediocrity. A shame really. Those first scenes, with the Cuttlefish darting and hiding within the canals of drowned London were really a lot of fun.

Recommended Age: 14+
Sex: A few mild references
Violence: Very mild fights
Profanity: A few mild words

Still want it? Here's your link: CUTTLEFISH

Red Country

I love Westerns. LOVE them. I grew up reading Louis L'Amour and watching John Wayne movies. When I got older I found I loved the more mature stories in the genre. You know, Unforgiven and the like. Can you even begin to imagine how excited I was when Joe Abercrombie announced his next novel would have Western themes in it? And it would be called RED COUNTRY? If that doesn't scream Western-styled violence, I don't know what does.

In short, RED COUNTRY is the best Fantasy Western I've read.

Right from the start of RED COUNTRY, we are introduced to a couple new characters, Shy South and Lamb. They represent your typical frontier family with past baggage. They live. Survive. Make ends meet mostly. You find out shortly that Lamb isn't Shy's actual father, but he's promised to raise Shy and her little brother and sister.  Lamb is made out to be a coward of sorts, but you know there is more to him than is immediately said.

And then Shy and Lamb return to their home to find it burned to the ground, and Shy's little brother and sister have been taken. This scene not only acts as the inciting incident for the rest of the novel, but it also serves notice that this is a Western Fantasy novel. Everything has that Old West/Living on the Frontier feel to it. Shy and Lamb start tracking the kidnappers, and this journey is 90% of the story.

While the cast here isn't as charming (in a gritty way) as the main characters from, say, THE HEROES, Shy, Lamb and Temple (introduced later, and I personally thought he was an amazing character) all have their moments. I think this is mostly due to these characters growing more over the course of the novel than the already-grown characters in THE HEROES. The character development in RED COUNTRY is a bit more reminiscent of the First Law Trilogy, but without a full trilogy to give us a full picture.  Make no mistake, this novel has some great characters, but we just don't get enough of them in varied settings to see their full growth potential.

When I think of Westerns, I expect a slow burn until an explosive ending. In many ways that theme is carried out--maybe even a bit too far--in RED COUNTRY. The beginning is fascinating, and the ending (including a bona fide standoff!) is explosive...but the middle loses its direction in a couple of places. It's as if Abercrombie was so anxious to show how authentically Western he could make this book, that he did so at the expense of focus and pace. There are a few places that add nothing to the story, and could have been cut completely. In fact, their absence may have made the book a tad better. But the ending, again, makes up for any issues in pacing.

Another nice thing about RED COUNTRY is the absence of women being treated like sex objects. In a previous novel, Shy South would have been objectified and we would have had a few awkward sex scenes. Not here. Her character, and her actions, feel much more grounded and normal. It's refreshing to see Abercrombie portray a female as a strong protagonist without delving into shock value.

I had one other issue with the novel which strays almost into spoilers. I'll try to be as vague as possible, but feel free to skip this paragraph if you want. I may ridicule you forever for doing so, but how bad could that possibly be? Anyways, I had a bit of a problem with how quickly the kidnapped children seemed to just say, "Yay! New family!" In one case, one of the children goes from an attempted escape to Stockholm Syndrome in a paragraph. It's jarring, and it feels forced. I understand the reasons for it, but it just felt rushed to me. In reality it's a minor nitpick, but when books are this good, those nitpicks stand out.

Yes, RED COUNTRY is extremely good. Almost every facet of the novel was incredible. The non-traditional Fantasy mashed up with a Western was, dare I say, almost perfectly executed. The way people spoke, acted and thought was spot on. The action scenes were absolutely terrific in true Joe Abercrombie fashion, but they felt completely different from the action scenes of his prior novels.

Saloon brawls, standoffs, the introduction of guns, boom towns, fearsome indigenous tribes (called Ghosts in the novel), street fights, and hangings are all mixed in with Sword & Sorcery tropes. This isn't my favorite Joe Abercrombie novel in every aspect, but it is in some. Joe Abercrombie novels, by now, should be a automatic purchases whenever they are released.

Recommended Age: 17+
Violence: Joe Abercrombie went Unforgiven on us. It's way violent.
Profanity: Lots and lots.
Sex: Talked about frankly, but no super-long, awkwardly descriptive scenes.

Quit screwing around and go buy Joe Abercrombie's novels:

THE BLADE ITSELF
BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED
LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS
BEST SERVED COLD
THE HEROES
RED COUNTRY

11/22/63

Romance? I know. I can hear the tumult of the masses lurching in defiance from here.  Since when does EBR review romance novels?  Answer:  since King started writing them while his publisher was marketing them as otherwise.  There was nothing even remotely romance-related to this book that I came across prior to getting into its pages.  Not on the outer cover, not inside the cover, not in any official summary of the book.  Not anywhere.  In fact, despite everything that made my deductive reasoning lean toward the contrary, I didn't even fully accept that the book was a romance until the very end.  Not until the last sentence of the book.

And did that bother me?  Immensely so.

11/22/63 is another recent offering in Stephen King's literal plethora of novels.  I've been a fan of his for a couple decades now, and in that time I've been a constant reader through the highs and the lows, the weirds and the whats, and the absolute genius that is Mr. King.  My excitement for this novel was no less, and perhaps even a bit more (outside of the Dark Tower novels) than it had been for any other of his books.  In this book, our main character, Jake Epping, a divorced high-school teacher and frequent facilitator of adult GEDs, becomes privy to the existence of a hole in time that connects his "when" in 2011 to a "then" in 1958.  This allows for an eventual connection between Mr. Epping and one of the largest, most impactful events to hit the giant that is America, and even the chance to make a difference by keeping that single event--the assassination of John F. Kennedy on 11/22/63--from ever occurring.

If the premise alone wasn't enough to lock me in, the first few chapters made it a literal improbability that I might not love this story.  The amount of character development threaded through the introduction of Jake Epping and his friend, the severely handicapped janitor, Harry Dunning, was incredible.  From this launching point, Jake takes a test trip to see if changes he makes when going through this time hole will translate to changes in the present day, and then back into the hole again to head for the date most pivotal to the crux of the novel.

The first portion of the novel was nearly perfect, in my estimation, and encompasses the story of the test trip through time and Jake's subsequent return.  It hits you hard early on, moves fast toward the point of conflict, and pays off in a big way.  This section of the book could probably have been retained by itself, marketed as a true-to-form thriller, and it would have done just fine.  Simply amazing.  But all of this was just the ramp-up for the real thrust of the novel:  the drive toward 11/22/63 and saving JFK.  I couldn't wait.

But this was where the novel began to get...difficult.  The inception of the idea that became this novel came to King decades ago, but he ultimately dropped it because of the amount of historical research that he felt he'd need to do in order to do the novel right, and the amount of research that he finally did accomplish is very apparent here.  For so many potential readers, the late 50's and early 60's America portrayed in the novel will be a world as foreign as that of Middle Earth, and King does a very good job of relaying that world to us.  It was here that Jake's drive toward the "end goal" started to get fuzzy. It was a very gradual change, and moved the plot from being focused on Lee Harvey Oswald, the supposed perpetrator in the assassination, to being focused upon the world in which Jake was living.  The research, as they often say, took over the story.  After a good spell of this, the plot moved yet another step away from where it started through the introduction of a love interest, Sadie Dunhill, and Mr. Oswald gradually receded from view until he became something akin to a minor side plot.

Until, of course, the end rolled around, where the main characters are all running their hearts out to make it to the assassination on time, and there's a whirlwind "climax", an explanation of how everything works (including a horrifically blatant plot hole that nearly killed me), and...

Ta da!  I'm a romance novel!

At which point in time, I wanted to throw the book to the dogs, but I had already finished the dang thing and even the thought of doing such was supremely unsatisfying.  I'd been tricked!  Duped!  I thought I'd gotten myself into a great novel.  I thought I'd found a winner.  But instead, the novel ended up being nothing like what it had purported itself to be at the beginning.  The really irksome part of all this is that even books that are horribly written with crappy characters and wandering, pointless plots will end up being the same book that they started out being.  So why not this one?

If this book had ended the story that it started, it probably would have been amazing.  Of this I have little doubt.  If the book had begun the way that it ended, I would have never picked it up.  Again, of this I have little doubt.  Instead of either of these, what I got was a horrible mish-mash of awesome sauce and an are-you-kidding-me switch-a-roo that left me more frustrated than a single father chasing his black-marker-weilding three-year-old sextuplets through the Church of the White Nun.

One of my least favorite reads of the year.  By far.

Recommended Age: 16+
Sex: Frequent references, most quite mild for King, does detail the early moments of one scene
Violence: Very violent and gory in parts
Profanity: Infrequent, but consistent. Pretty low-key for a King novel, but it IS a King novel in this regard.

A Memory of Light

This is easily the most difficult review I have had the opportunity write.  I start it off much the same I way wrote the review for the previous WoT book.  It's difficult to write a review solely on A MEMORY OF LIGHT, without considering all that has come before.  Opening the cover of this book, and reading those first words, all the way to finishing the last words and closing the book, has been been an inevitability hurtling (sometimes crawling) at me for 17 years or so.

Drafting reviews for this book has been a frustrating experience. \ It would wobble back and forth between reviewing the series, and reviewing the characters.  Neither of those things are up for criticism anymore which, in my opinion, is the largest failing of our review of TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT.  I can't review the characters.  They have nearly as much of a history of existence as I do.  I can't review the series.  Those books have already been reviewed and the plot analyzed that some could get degrees on the subject.  Plus, and let's be honest, at this point in the series you'll read the book (or not) regardless of what we say.  I can't review Brandon's writing.  Number one, it isn't all his writing.  Number two, his writing stands on its own now.  Brandon can take a weekend, vomit some words into a manuscript, send it to Tor, have it be published, and it will still be awe-inspiringly professional.  This is Jordan's finale, not some weekend project.  Brandon took his care with this.  It isn't just professional, it's carefully crafted.

So, in my mind, there is only one thing left to review.  Only one topic left to discuss.  Its role as a finale to the biggest fantasy series of our time.  This is not going to be an impartial review based on story-structure, pacing, characters, plot, and content.  The book itself is going to be polarizing, and that's simply unavoidable.  With it being the end, there will be emotions running high, and many will love it.  Many will hate it.  And the reasons for both will be myriad, some more concrete than others. In fact, calling this a review may be a tad misleading.  There's too much baggage (good and bad) to review it the way I would another book.  So instead I'll do what I think all reviewers should do with the book.  Talk about how it felt.  How I experienced the end of the series.  If you've been paying attention, you can see I've already been doing that.  This, here, is just pointing it out for those of you who are slow to catch on.

Reading this book carried a weight with it.  Even the most mundane moments in the book were a fairly emotional experience.  And then there were the moments that hit me right in the feels.  Of those, there were more than just a few.  As a reader of the series I felt the end of an era rushing towards me, just as the characters felt the end of an Age roaring at them.  The writing here is good, but the emotional "meta" carries it into something more.  The characters don't think they will ever see each other again, same as we know we will never see them again.

It's actually funny.  Steve and I would lambaste this series for hours together, through post after post on forums, or even in our reviews here.  Over 20 years the series has been going, sometimes with huge gaps between books, with us wanting the next book, and the conclusion sooner.  We just wanted it to end so we could call it a day (twenty+ years) and move on.  We wanted the series to be finished, and that had become priority number one.  Now that it's over, and hopefully avoiding too much melodrama, I wish I had enjoyed the moment a bit more.  The Wheel of Time series is over, and these characters, for better or worse, that have been such a part of my, our, literary life are done. Frustrations aside, the series shaped much of fantasy writing today, and instilled a love for the epic fantasy genre in me, and to countless readers around the world.  To have that story finally come to an end is bittersweet.

Now obviously no one comes to EBR to read a review that's written like this, all about feels and such.  So in the interest of giving people what they want, as well as actively trying to avoid the length of the last two WOT reviews we did, here are a few of the more critical thoughts I had on the book.

Finishing up TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, I realized it was a checklist book.  Business.  Getting things done to set this book up properly.  Still, as I mentioned way back then, the checklist eventually seemed small when all was said and done.  This book, though a finale, has a similar checklist feel to it.  There are so many plots and threads to a story of this magnitude that needed an end, and a lot of that didn't get resolved until the end.  Some of the resolutions being superb, and others...just okay. When I say "okay" don't think I mean disappointing, just that some were better (or much better) than others.  Yes, it might have something of a checklist feel to it, but it's a checklist I gladly put marks to. These are all of the things we have been waiting for literally years to see resolved.  And frankly, it was a lot of fun to start a segment of reading and realize, "Yes!  Here it comes!"

When I first started reading the series I always thought the last book would be called Tarmon Gai'don, and it very well could have been.  This entry weighs in at 909 pages, and the last 500+ of those pages are the war, with multiple battle scenes being depicted even before that.  It would be very easy to get tired of the constant battles, but it doesn't happen.  Brandon transitions quickly enough, and injects enough character and heart into the war events to make it a personal affair.  Sometimes it borders on the wordy side, but we knew that was to be expected, and one scene never overstays its welcome. There are also moments where the "Pattern" just makes everything super convenient--but again, we all knew that was to be expected. Killing Trollocs does become a little old though. It just seems like we are past the point of that being interesting. Especially when multiple characters make short work of multiple Fades.  The book does bounce around a lot during all of this, and it does get difficult to remember exactly which army is doing what (there are 4 battles going on simultaneously across the continent, and multiple armies in each).  If you've read R. Scott Bakker's THE THOUSANDFOLD THOUGHT, it has that same way of jumping around, just with more detail and longer scenes. The action sweeps forward and carries the reader with it, so we don't get caught slogging through nit-picky descriptions of army maneuvers to keep the clarity.  That would have been a boring book.  Still I can see this as something that will detract from the experience for some readers.  Especially those who read slower, knowing that you still have hundreds of pages of similar action going on.

Similar in structure to the above, are the series' trademark feuds.  It is the exact same experience as the actual battles, but on a smaller scale.  There are a number of feuds.  They are interspersed throughout the book, and make up a large portion of the content. Some will like this, some won't.

Speaking of trademarks.  The Wheel of Time is renowned, loved, and hated, for character immortality.  It's not likely someone will die, and if they do, well barring balefire, they come back. Constantly.  This changes a bit with the last book.  You know if someone dies, as far as we care and can be concerned they are dead.  So deaths had a lot more oomph to them, and there are obviously a lot more deaths here than in previous books.  A ton more.  Some will be surprises.  Some are actually main characters.  But, I personally, still don't feel there was enough.  I don't necessarily want to see the world burn, but for all the descriptions about how horrible and trying and difficult of an experience it is for the characters, I wanted to see more characters fail/fall, so the successes meant more. It's a similar complaint I have about the The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings.  In THE EYE OF THE WORLD, it is very obvious that Jordan wasn't just inspired by it, but he modeled some of his story after it.  That emulation dissipated as the series went on, but if TEOTW is Jordan's THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, AMOL is his THE RETURN OF THE KING.  So much so in places that I actually stopped reading and sat thinking about the similarities.  In fact, this has to be my largest complaint of the book itself.  In writing this, I originally pointed out the similarities--there was over a dozen of them that were incredibly strong, with many more that are more subtle--but in the interest of potential spoiler prevention I edited them out.  Let's just say it was way more than I liked.

Now, as to how it felt as a conclusion.  I'm completely satisfied.  The ending didn't drag on forever. Actually, it almost had an abrupt feel.  I expected a lot, A LOT, of falling action in WoT form.  But the ending snuck up and the book was closed before I knew it.  There are still questions hanging after the end, but the story, the plots we have been chasing, and the conflict we have observed, were completed.  No one I know thought it could be done.  It was too big.  Too much needed to happen for one book.  But somehow Brandon did it, and he did a fantastic job of it.  When I finished the book, I even sent Brandon a text, essentially letting him know I had joined the masses of Brandon worshippers for a minute (just one, though).

Because I think it is fun, I put some in the last WoT review, and because it's from these moments that the origins of this website were stirred, I want to include a little bit of Steve and I texting about the book as we read through it.
***
S:  So far it's not too bad.  Kinda explainy, but that's WoT for you.  I like the "holy crap, the end is here" feel so far.  You get far yet?  I assume so, you read faster than I do.
N:  Yeah.  Finished it today...
S:  What did you think?  No Spoilers!
N:  I actually quite liked it.  I liked the resolution.  I didn't expect that.
S:  Huh...  That's not the reaction I expected from you.
***
N:  Writing the review right now.
S:  Right on.  Thanks.  I'm halfway through.  Surprisingly entertaining.
***
There is no reason to include the content rating.  Swearing is done in WoT-verse language, and with (sometimes) hilarious effect in Elayne's case.  Sex is non existent in detail, and only referenced in passing.  There is a ton of violence.  An entire book of warfare worth of violence to be exact.  But it isn't graphic.  Hmm.  I guess I just included the content rating.  I guess a little bit of Jordan rubbed off on me, here at the end, and I just kept writing.

Thank you Robert Jordan for beginning something that created so many wonderful beginnings.  I may have moved on from adoration since I started your books, but now you hold my respect.  Tai Shar Malkier.

Thank you Brandon Sanderson for closing the Third Age and bringing the Dragon's Peace to fruition.

The Best of 2012

So, the end of 2012 totally snuck up on us here at Elitist Book Reviews. One minute we were looking at all of our most anticipated novels for 2012, and the next they were all on our collective bookshelves.

And man, did we have some great reads this year. We haven't even had time to post reviews for all of them yet--don't worry, they are coming.

So, here is our list of favorites for the year. They aren't in any particular order, and we cheat wherever we want (if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying hard enough).

BEST OF 2012:

CALIBAN'S WAR - JAMES S.A. Corey - Review
THE KING'S BLOOD - Daniel Abraham - Review
SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER - Jeff Salyards - Review
MONSTER HUNTER LEGION - Larry Correia - Review
THE BLINDING KNIFE - Brent Weeks - Review
RANGE OF GHOSTS - Elizabeth Bear - Review
THE COLDEST WAR - Ian Tregillis - Review
KING OF THORNS - Mark Lawrence - Review
RED COUNTRY - Joe Abercrombie - Review
THE DUSK WATCHMAN - Tom Lloyd - Review
THE DAEMON PRISM - Carol Berg - Review
ASSASSIN'S CODE - Jonathan Maberry - Review
THE DIVINERS - Libba Bray - Review
PARTIALS - Dan Wells - Review


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

FORGE OF DARKNESS - Steven Erikson - Review
EXPEDITION TO THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON - Mark Hodder - Review
THE PROVIDENCE RIDER - Robert McCammon - Review
LEGION - Brandon Sanderson - Review
THE HOLLOW CITY - Dan Wells - Review
COLD DAYS - Jim Butcher - Review


WORST OF 2012:

11/22/63 - Stephen King - Review
NOCTURNAL - Scott Sigler - Review
ANGEL - Nicole Marrow - Review


THE BEST COMING IN 2013...

A MEMORY OF LIGHT - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (Actually we've already read it. look for a review on January 8th, 2013)
ABADDON'S GATE - James S.A. Corey
THE TYRANT'S LAW - Daniel Abraham
REPUBLIC OF THIEVES - Scott Lynch (PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE!!!!!!!!!!)
PROMISE OF BLOOD - Brian McClellan (Already been read, actually. Awesome.)
NO RETURN - Zachary Jernigan
THE GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES: WARBOUND - Larry Correia
FRAGMENTS - Dan Wells
THE BLOOD MIRROR - Brent Weeks
Stormlight #2 - Brandon Sanderson
SHATTERED PILLARS - Elizabeth Bear
GRAVEYARD CHILD - M. L. N. Hanover
FROST BURNED - Patricia Briggs
EXTINCTION MACHINE - Jonathan Maberry
EMPEROR OF THORNS - Mark Lawrence

And yeah, we could keep listing anticipated reads. I mean, good grief, there is an unbelievable amount of stuff coming out.

What were your favorite reads? What are you looking forward to?