May 26, 2013

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, I am getting annoyed with they way he interrupts one story to continue another. It's like being in the middle of a REALLY good book and having someone rip it out of your hands and insist that you have to read this book now. It is most annoying when it's a character or storyline I don't really care for doing the interrupting. So he only gets 4 stars instead of 5.

I'll start with the characters I don't care for and get them out of the way. Catelyn Stark née Tully. I have come to the conclusion that except for the Blackfish (who I like) the Tully's are either stupid or insane in some cases both. While it's not her fault that Littlefinger (Petyr Baelish) is obsessed with her, her meddling has cost her husband and son their lives. After Robb broke his betrothal to a girl of House Frey (it was Catelyn's stupid idea to have the marriage take place after the war) and married Jeyne Westerling (her family plotted with Lord Tywin Lannister to have Robb take her maidenhead so he would feel obligated to marry her and cause a rift with house Frey) she advocated having her brother Edmure Tully (now Lord of Riverrun) marry one of the Frey girls to mend the slight. The Frey's accepted the offer of Edmure Tully, but were secretly plotting  with Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton to kill the Starks and their followers (Roose Bolton's bastard Ramsay Snow, was the one who destroyed Winterfell) at the "Red Wedding" when they should have been protected under guest rights. Robb and Catelyn Stark are both killed but Catelyn is resurrected by Lord Beric (stupid man he should have resurrected Robb instead), and is now leading the Brotherhood Without Banners and seeking vengeance on House Frey and anyone else who took part in the Red Wedding.

Sansa (even stupider then her Mother). After her betrothal to Joffrey is broken so he can marry Margaery Tyrell, Margaery's grandmother Olenna Redwyne plans to marry Sansa off to her grandson Willas giving them a claim to Winterfell. Sansa stupidly confides the plan to Ser Dontos who is working for Littlefinger. Littlefinger who wishes to have Sansa under his control tells Tywin Lannister of the plan. Tywin arranges to have Sansa marry his son Tyrion Lannister (The Imp). Sansa is horrified about being married to a disfigured dwarf even though he treats her kindly and agrees to run away with Ser Dontos at Joffrey's wedding to Margaery. Joffrey is poisoned and as he is dying Sansa sneaks out. Her disappearance leads credence to the accusation that Sansa and Tyrion plotted together to kill Joffrey. Sansa is taken by Littlefinger to her Aunt Lysa (who he is now married to).

Lysa who has been in love with Littlefinger since she was a child, poisoned Jon Arryn (her husband and King Robert's Hand), then sent a secret message to Catelyn blaming Queen Cersei. After she see's Littlefinger kissing Sansa she threatens to push her out the Moon Door, but Littlefinger intervenes and pushes Lysa to her death instead.

Now for the characters I like.
Jamie Lannister has finally made it back to King's Landing, but the warm welcome he expected from his sister-lover has yet to materialize. His Father disowned him when he refused to leave the Gold Cloak's return to Casterly Rock and marry. Although Tywin did give him the sword "OathKeeper". Jamie gave the sword to Brienne, the Maid of Tarth and asked her to find Sansa and keep her safe. Without his sword hand Jamie is a fish out of water and fears someone will discover he is no longer able to fight. He helped Tyrion escape because "he owed him" and a Lannister always pays his debts.

Tyrion learns that his first wife Tysha, was what he believed her to be a simple peasant girl. Jamie lied about her being a prostitute he hired for Tyrion on orders from his Father. After he escaped Tyrion used a secret passage to get into the Keep in order to confront his Father. He found Shae in his Father's bed and strangled her for the lies she told at his trial and the mockery she made of his love. After that he found his Father on the toilet and killed him before escaping.

Arya Stark is traveling with The Hound (Sandor Clegane). He realized something was wrong at the Red Wedding and hit Arya over the head with the flat of an ax to save her life. He then started to take her to her Aunt Lysa only to discover the mountain pass was impossible. While they were traveling together they were attacked at an Inn by Polliver, The Tickler and a squire. The Hound was drunk and faring badly in the fight. The Hound was able to kill Polliver and Arya stabbed the squire but The Tickler was set to finish The Hound off when Arya stabs the Tickler in the back and kills him. (She now has Needle back) They ride off but The Hound is badly hurt. Arya dresses his wounds but when The Hound can ride no further she rides off and leaves him. She goes to the Saltpans as he instructed with the idea of taking a ship to the Wall. But due to the recent attacks at the Wall no ship is going there. She takes a ship headed to Braavos, by using the coin that Jaqen H'ghar had given her, along with the Valyrian phrase "Valar Morghulis.". An IMPOSTER Arya has been sent to marry Ramsay (Snow) Bolton.

Jon Snow with the help of Brandon's wolf Summer  is able to escape the Wildlings and ride to Castle Black in time to warn them of an attack from the South. Ygritte (his lover) wounded him with an arrow as he was fleeing. Jon found Castle Black left in the hands of raw recruits, the wounded and aged. Donal Noye leaves Jon in command of the Wall when he goes to defend the tunnel. After Donal Noye's death Jon holds the Wall against overwhelming odds but upon the arrival of Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt to Castle Black, he is arrested. Maester Aemon refuses to allow them to hang Jon so Thorne and Slynt send him out to kill Mance. King Stannis arrives while Jon is in Mance's tent. The Wildlings are taken captive or flee and Stannis praises Jon for capturing Mance's son. Samwell Tarly arrives at Castle Black (with Gilly and her baby) and works to get Jon named Lord Commander of the Nightwatch. (Sam is one of the few people who know that Brandon Stark is alive, he helped Brandon and his friends go through a secret tunnel to the North). Ghost finally arrives back at Castle Black and is reunited with Jon.

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May 14, 2013

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Yoren and the boys he took for the Night Watch are pursued by Cersei's men he leaves the Kings Road. They have been sent to kill Gendry (King Robert's bastard). While they are holed up in a deserted fort they are attacked by Lannisters and Yoren orders Arya to take as many boys as she can and flee through a tunnel they discovered earlier. When she realizes the three men chained in the wagon will be burned alive she goes back to free them. After the survivors are captured by Ser Gregor and forced to serve at Harrenhal, Jaqen H'ghar offers to kill three times for Arya to repay the three lives she saved. By naming him she gets him to help her free the Northmen in the dungeon. Lord Roose Bolton (one of Robb's men) takes over the castle, Arya (known as Nan) is made one of his cup bearers for her part in freeing the Northmen. Jaqen H'ghar leaves but gives Arya a coin that will help her find him if she needs him. Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape and head North.

Robb is betrayed by Theon Greyjoy, who attacks Winterfell in order to impress his Father. Rickon and Bran escape with the help of Osha, Meera, Jojen and Hodor. In order not to look incompetent Theon at the urging of Reek (Ramsay Snow) kills the miller's sons and passes them off as Rickon and Bran. Theon sends Reek off to gather men. Everyone believes Rickon and Bran to be dead. Ser Rodrik Cassel attempts to retake Winterfell but when Theon threatens to hang his daughter Beth he hesitates. Ramsey Snow returns with the men, believing them to be allies Ser Rodrik and his men are taken by surprise and defeated. Before he can celebrate his victory Theon is attacked by his supposed ally Ramsay Snow and left for dead. Bran and his followers come out of hiding and find a dying Maester Luwin he insist that Robb's heirs split up. Osha sets off with Rickon and Hodor, Meera, and Jojen head to The Wall with Bran.

Stannis has aligned himself with Melisandre and her "god". Using dark magic he killed his brother Renly, and claimed his men for his own. But when he attacked King's Landing after sending Melisandre away they betrayed him. Tyrion Lannister was hurt holding Stannis' army back but still lives. Joffrey broke his betrothal to Sansa but she is still held prisoner at King's Landing and The Hound has left after being made to look a coward by Tyrion.

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont leads a scouting party beyond the wall to find out what has happened to his Rangers who have gone missing. He meets up with Qhorin Halfhand and his men. Halfhand takes Jon Snow on his reconnaissance of the Skirling Pass, Jon captures a wildling girl (Ygritte) and let's her go instead of killing her. Jon see's through Ghost eyes and Halfhand realizes that the Eagle is reporting back to the Wildlings. He and his men attempt to flee but when he realizes they will be captured he tells Jon he must YIELD and do whatever is asked in order to join the Wildling band. Jon is forced to kill Halfhand.

Daenerys Targaryen and her three Dragons are making their way home, with a ragged band of followers.

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May 5, 2013

Oddkins

Oddkins: A Fable for All AgesOddkins: A Fable for All Ages by Dean R. Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very cute. It looks like a children's book but it doesn't have as many pictures as your typical children's book and has many more words.

When Issac Bodkins passes away before he can recruit a new "magic" toymaker his toys must make a dangerous journey across town to recruit Colleen Shannon themselves. Lead by Amos the bear, Burl the elephant, Skippy the rabbit, Butterscotch the dog, Patch the cat and Gibbons bravely set out. But not only do they have to overcome the weather, mean dogs and ally cats they also have to fight against the evil toys made by the previous toymaker.

Victor Bodkins never cared about anything but money, but when he sees the toys are alive a new world opens to him and he sets out to follow them. When Nick Jagg (who hopes to buy the toy shop and make evil toys) offers him a lot of money he turns him down and throws in his lot with the good toys, who have been grievously harmed by the evil toys.

When they finally reach Mrs Shannon's shop she is able to patch all the toys up except Amos who appears to be dead, but Butterscotch with her loving heart and wisdom hits upon using stuffing from herself and the other friends (like a transfusion) to bring him back to life.

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May 4, 2013

Under the Eagle

Under the Eagle (Eagle, #1)Under the Eagle by Simon Scarrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Macro might have been outraged when Cato the new recruit is given the rank of Optio (making him his second in command) by Vespasian due to his patronage by the Emperor Claudius, but Cato soon proves his worth to Centurion Macro.

First he saves Macro's life when Macro is wounded in a German Village on what was suppose to be an "easy" assignment. Then he agrees to teach Macro to read so Macro can keep his rank.

Unfortunately when Cato's eye is turned by the slave girl Lavinia, Flavia (Vespasian's wife) takes full advantage. Using their assignation as a way to set up Vitellius. Luckily Cato escapes undetected and Lavinia names Vitellius as the man she was meeting in the tent.

Because of their bravery in Germany Macro and Cato are sent to escort Narcissus (Emperor Claudius' right hand) to Gaul to help quell the mutinous legions. When they are attacked en route Macro and Cato manage to save Narcissus life and capture the attackers.

Once they reach Britian Macro and Cato receive a mysterious assignment from Vespasian they are to follow a map to a certain location and retrieve a chest that was left there by Caius Julius Caesar 96 years before. Vespasian names them deserters after they leave and leaves strict orders for them to be brought to him immediately if they are spotted. Once they find the chest Vitellius arrives with some men and attempts to take it away from them. They manage to fight Vitellius off and start back to camp. En route they capture Vitellius who informs them the Britons are on their way to attack. They release Vitellius who is supposedly on his way to warn the 2nd. Frightened off by some scouts from the second he flees to the 14th. Macro and Cato hide the wagon with the chest and start back but due to their wounded are making poor time. Macro sends Cato on ahead to warn the 2nd. Thanks to Cato's warning Plinius was able to hold the end of the column long enough for the 14th to rescue them. When the 14th arrives the Britons flee and Macro and his remaining men are able to kill their Chief Togodummus. Officially Vitellius is named a hero. Macro tries to bring charges against him but Vitellius reveals to Vespasian that not only is he the Imperial Spy (trusted by Narcissus) but that Flavia is the traitor he was sent to look for. If Vespasian reveals Vitellius attempts to steal the chest he will name Flavia as the traitor she is.

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May 1, 2013

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved the book!!!!!!

Sansa Stark is a spoilt brat, I don't like her at all. When she betrays her family and lies abut what Prince Joffrey did she pays a high price her wolf Lady is slaughtered on the Queen's orders. Lady deserved a better owner. Sansa doesn't learn her next betrayal will cost her Father's men their lives and in order to save her Eddard Stark will falsely claim that Joffrey is the true King.

Eddard Stark is an honorable man. Too bad his honor coast so many lives. He has a secret involving his bastard, Jon Snow. He refuses to reveal Jon's mother's name. It also seems a bit odd that such an honorable man would father a bastard. We learn that his sister Lyanna was very beautiful, that Prince Rhaegar was in love with her and that he died defending the woman he loved. Lyanna died in the mountains of Dorne and before she died she begged for "someone's life" and extracted a promise from Eddard "Ned" Stark. I believe that Jon Snow may turn out to be the son of Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna. Eddard would have been forced to lie about this to prevent Lyanna's betrothed King Robert Baratheon (the unsurper) from killing the child. He ordered all of Prince Rhaegar's children murdered. When Eddard discovers Queen Cersei's secret he goes to her in order to save the "royal" children, because he knows Robert will kill them once he is told the secret. This leads to Eddard's execution after King Robert dies.

Jon Snow is my favorite character, his wolf's name is Ghost. Jon was sent to "The Wall" since Catelyn (Eddard's wife) refused to let him stay at Winterfell. He has risen high in the ranks and has made many friends and enemies.

Arya Stark is another favorite. Before she left for court Jon gave her a sword Needle. She was forced to set her wolf Nymeria lose in the forest to prevent the Queen from having her slaughtered after Nymeria saved Arya from Joffrey. Joffrey hates her and wants her dead. Her dancing master gave his life in order for her to escape when the King's men came for her. She has been successfully hiding from everyone until her Father's execution when she is discovered by Yoren of the Night's Watch. Her part of the story ends with her discovery. I am hoping that Yoren will help her escape from the city.

Robert Stark leads a successful battle against the Lannisters to avenge his Father and is name King of the North and King of Winter. Jamie Lannister (Queen Cersei's twin) is his prisoner at the end of the book.

Daenerys is supposedly the last Targaryen and the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. She has an elderly relative on the "The Wall" that she doesn't know about. The Brotherhood of the Nightwatch foreswear their families when they join. The Starks have their wolves and Daenerys has her 3 Dragons.

This book revolves around the Lannister's trying to kill off King Robert before their secret can be discovered and place Prince Joffrey on his throne. Jon Arryn (The King's Hand) discovers the secret and is poisoned. King Robert then ask Eddard Stark to be his hand, determined to uncover the truth about Jon Arryn's death he accepts.

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