Tough Traveling: Traveling Folk


The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan ofReview Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information.

This week’s tour topic is: Traveling Folk

TRAVELLING FOLK are quite common.  They are of two kinds: Land travellers and River travellers.

These people are merry, colourfully dressed, dishonest, and knowledgeable…they will cheat you, cure your wounds, and hustle you off to the cart of their oldest lady who will tell you something about the future you need to know.

Dreamer's PoolDreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

The traveling folk in this book fit the theme’s description to a T. In the course of investigating a mystery, Blackthorn and Grim track the clues down to a band of roving traders, and are invited into the presence of an old lady who even reveals very important information that helps them in their quest and everything!

Kushiel's DartKushiel’s Universe by Jacqueline Carey

The Tsingano are said to travel the Longo Drom, “The Long Road”. Believed to originate from the kingdom of Bhodistan, they have no permanent home, known for being traveling horse traders. The most prominent Tsingano character in this series is of course Phedre’s best friend the Hyacinthe who styles himself as “The Prince of Travelers”. It is Tsingano women, however, who are known to possess the dromonde, a clairvoyant ability to see into the past as well as future.

The Name of the WindThe Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

Kvothe’s parents were members of the Edema Ruh, a nomadic cultural group with no country to call their own. They’re almost always entertainers, and they travel the countryside in large colorful troupes, performing at towns in exchange for food and shelter.

b8b92-darkwalkerDarkwalker by E.L. Tettensor

The Adal are a society of pastoral nomads, mistrusted and persecuted for their reputation of being thieves and cheats, all because of the actions of a few bad apples. Author E.L. Tettensor drew inspiration from pastorialist societies of northeast Africa, cultures in which raising and driving cattle are the foundation of the economy.  Adali magic, called khekra, also plays a big role in the book, which is also inspired by cultures found elsewhere on the African continent.

0fa5c-theeyeoftheworldThe Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

It’s been a very long time since I read the first book, but I do remember the Tinkers. As such, I’ll let the wiki do most of the talking here. “Tinkers” or “Traveling People” are formerly known as the Tuatha’an. The philosophy, called “the Way of the Leaf” earns them mistrust and disdain from most common folk, who consider Tinkers as habitual thieves and disreputable low-lives who try to lure away children by converting them to the Way of the Leaf.

80500-midnightthiefMidnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

The trade caravans that travel to and from the city of Forge play a role in this series as a good source of information when you need news from far abroad. Having friendly connections to the traveling merchants also gives you access to rare, expensive goods and you never know when you’ll need a quick way to get out of town.

6ca94-redcountryRed Country by Joe Abercrombie

Not quite adhering to this week’s theme, but a bunch of ragtag characters on a journey across the barren plains to an uncharted frontier mountain town in a Wild West style wagon train surely counts as traveling folk right? Even just a little bit?

The Dragon KeeperThe Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb

My one and only entry to the “River Travelers” category in this week’s theme. Instead of settling in the big cities, the Rain Wild Traders have chosen to make their home on the acidic waters of the Rain Wild River, sailing their liveships made of a substance called wizardwood, which are actually the casings of dragon cocoons.

Novella Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Untitled-14The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 2.5 of Kingkiller Chronicle

Publisher: DAW (October 28, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have so much to say about this novella, but to make a long story short: The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a gorgeously written novel, both haunting and whimsical at once if such a thing is possible, and an incredibly detailed exploration into one of the Kingkiller Chronicle series’ most fascinating and mysterious characters. And yet for all of that, I was disappointed and left feeling unsatisfied.

As a lot of reviewers and even the author himself have pointed out already, this book isn’t going to be for everyone. Rothfuss warns readers that without the context of the first two books of the series, you’re going to feel pretty lost. I’d carry that further to say that heck, even if you have read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, you might feel pretty lost. On the one hand, I really appreciate Rothfuss’s caveat – that this book is going to be strange, different, and not going to do things that a classic story is supposed to do – and I admire him a lot for being straight up with us. But on the other hand, I wish he hadn’t plastered both his foreword and endnote with all these “warnings” and “apologies”. This is why I often skip author content like this. I’m not going to deny that getting hit first thing with a line like “You might not want to buy this book” might have biased me somewhat against it right off the bat. It grated me a little, because you’d figure something like that should be my prerogative to decide for myself.

But anyway, that’s beside the point. For this review, I’m not going to attempt a description or summary of plot summary, because to be truthful, there really isn’t one. All you have to know is that the book is about Auri, a secondary character from the main Kingkiller Chronicle series. I’ll admit, she’s not my favorite, but I don’t think that had any effect on the experience at all. What did affect me was the story and its plodding pace and its total lack of variation. Auri’s unique way of viewing even the most mundane objects around her as special and magical was fun at the beginning, but like all magic, it starts to wear off after a while with nothing else to drive things along. It’s a silent and lonely world that, while not completely devoid of color or life, gets tedious.

I guess I’m just the kind of reader that the author’s warning “The truth is, it probably just wasn’t for you” describes. And that’s totally okay. I’m into characters, and even though this whole novella pretty much boils down an incredibly detailed account into a week of Auri’s life as she makes her way through the ancient and labyrinthine halls of the Underthing, it didn’t work for me. I had originally thought it would, based on some of Auri’s feelings and behaviors that I can certainly relate to. As someone who has struggled with obsessive-compulsiveness and the resulting endless sleepless nights, some of the descriptions of the abject fear, anger, and anxiety Auri experiences when she feels something is not where it belongs or “out of sync” rings uncomfortably true for me. While I suppose I might count as “slightly broken”, sorry, but this still just wasn’t my cup of tea.

That said, there’s just no way I can write this book off, simply because there’s a so much else to like. The writing was probably worth it alone. It’s exquisite, probably the best I’ve seen from Rothfuss to date. I might not have enjoyed the particular style of storytelling, but if bringing out this side of the author’s writing was the result, then who am I to complain that much, really?

To sum it up, this book reads very much like a love letter to Auri. We know that Rothfuss has a soft spot for her, so I see it as a pet project of sorts. If Auri is a character that intrigued you in the main series, you will find this novella very enlightening. Even as someone who didn’t really care for her, the writing and atmosphere in here took my breath away. Despite wishing I had enjoyed it more, personally speaking I didn’t think this was a waste of my time. The book has its merits, and no doubt has an audience. The opinions will range all over for this one, I’m sure. Whether or not you’ll enjoy it isn’t a question I can answer, though; either you’ll like it or you won’t. Regardless, I’m grateful to the author for sharing this one with us.


Waiting on Wednesday 12/17/14

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that lets us feature upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick:

Unseemly Science by Rod Duncan: May 5, 2015 (Angry Robot)

Angry Robot is on a little break right now, but you can be sure they’ll be coming back with a vengeance once the new year hits. There are so many books to look forward to from this publisher in the first half of 2015. One that I think deserves more attention is this sequel to The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, which I think slipped through a lot of radars earlier this year. A shame, because it was quite good.

Also, get a load of that cover. I love the effect.

Unseemly Science“In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the hanging of Alice Carter, the false duchess, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case…? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…”

Graphic Novel Review: Criminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

the last of the innocentCriminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Genre: Noir, Crime

Publisher: Marvel (December 2011)

Wendy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brubaker and Phillips are known for their off-the-wall noir storytelling, so it is no surprise to see all the noir elements at play in their Criminal series. But volume 6, The Last of the Innocent, adds an unusual visual twist by combining the dark, gritty noir vibe with a bright, cartoony style reminiscent of Archie comics.
Criminals volume 6: Last of the Innocent - | Marvel Comics
The Archie similarities go far deeper than the art, though, as Brubaker spins a story of a man named Riley Richards. Riley has it all, thanks to his marriage to the beautiful, lusty rich girl. But it’s the girl-next-door that he really wants. When the death of Riley’s father draws him back to his backwater home town of Brookview, he begins plotting murder.

Basically, this is a cautionary tale for Archie, warning him that Betty was always the better choice over Veronica. That might seem like just a joke to you, or, if you’re an Archie fan, you might not like the idea of having your favourite characters presented so darkly, but for me, this was a stunning read, particularly because of how the story plays out around Riley’s best friend, Freakout. Freakout is a drug addict, and spends his time either high and constantly eating (sound familiar?), or looking for his next hit. When Riley returns to Brookview, Freakout is on the road to recovery, with an entire year drug free. But what are best friends for, if not to be the perfect alibi for murder?

Through Freakout, Brubaker gives heartbreaking look at friendship and loyalty, and forces us to question happiness and the lengths some might go to attain it.

Or the illusion of it.

This is the sixth volume of the series. There are small connections to the other volumes, which you can discern through the cover images of the other books, but the stories within each volume stand on their own.

View all my reviews

Book Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

White Trash ZombieMy Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Zombies

Publisher: DAW (January 2011)

Author Info:

Wendy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Supernatural creatures like vampires and werewolves have been getting the Hollywood treatment lately, turning them into sparkly objects of desire.

Well, zombies need love too!

Unfortunately, there’s that whole mindless, brain-eating, decomposing corpse aspect that makes them less than appealing…

But Diana Rowland fixes all of that! Sort of. Well, there’s still the decomposition. And the compelling hunger. But as long as brains are in fresh supply, the social stigma against zombies can easily be avoided!

Angel wakes up in the hospital with a vague recollection of a car accident and a lot of blood, yet she has no scars, and the strange note she finds leaves no answers. But the note does offer her a way out of her crappy, drug-addicted, domestic abuse life with a well-paying job at the local morgue as a driver. She has no idea who her benefactor is, but vows not to waste the opportunity.

Everything is going well, until she starts getting *hungry* and realizes that the only thing that will satisfy her are the brains of the dead she happens to be surrounded by at her new job. As she comes to understand her new state of undead, a mystery develops around her as bodies start to pile up…

This is, plain and simple, a fun book. Narrated in first person by Angel, it pokes just as much fun at itself and the main character, as it does the zombie genre. Angel’s self-deprecation is endearing and amusing, rather than melodramatic. She accepts her flaws and weaknesses, and, even before growing and overcoming them, she proves her worth.

I was not a fan of the True Blood television series, which is based on Charlaine Harris‘s Sookie Stackhouse books. White Trash Zombie shares a similar urban supernatural vibe, but it doesn’t take itself as seriously, which makes it much more appealing to me. I would love to see a white trash zombie on my television.

Book Review: The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

the genomeThe Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Open Road Media

Author Info

Wendy’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Lukyanenko’s Night Watch, so I was quick to grab this one. I like when authors diversify their offerings. With Lukyanenko, he’s smoothly transitioned from an urban supernatural story in Night Watch, to hardcore science fiction.

Don’t let me scare you with the term “hardcore,” if you are wary of scifi. I don’t often read the genre, but I could easily get into the intricacies of Lukyanenko’s futuristic world where humans have spread far beyond Earth. Humanity has also expanded far into the field of genetic manipulation, right from the embryo.

Alex Romanov is a pilot-spesh. That is, upon metamorphosis, physical changes to his body allow him to easily compensate for gravity and inertia, while his mind has been altered to allow for integrity, honesty, and the utmost loyalty of his crew. He also is unable to love — which proves problematic when he helps a youg fighter spesh through her transformation and discovers there’s more to her than there seems.

When Alex takes a job with a mysterious company and must pull together an unusual crew, things really get interesting as Lukyanenko explores their various specializations (or lack their of), their backgrounds, and their interactions with each other. All of which will truly be tested when they take on their first mission — transporting a clone and his alien charges.

Before I go on, I want to shower some praise on Lukyanenko for not only writing interesting female characters, but for actually dealing with their sex and sexuality — from breastfeeding to menstruation — in completely natural ways within the story. It’s almost as if these things are *gasp* normal.

I am, however, disappointed in the way he, like many other authors I’ve read, tends to focus on racial differences. I appreciate the diversity of the cast of characters, but I find it so annoying to have the black woman constantly described as “the black woman” when their is no contextual reason for it. How often do you read “the white man picked up his sword,” yet “said the black woman” is a constant thing. I suppose I should be blessed that Lukyanenko doesn’t go through the thesaurus of colours that George R.R. Martin does when he’s busy describing the “exotic” folks who are so obviously not white.

Anyway, Lukyanenko introduces an intriguing cast and a few interesting plot devices that promises an exciting second half.

But instead, the book suddenly becomes this strange Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, complete with a Sherlock Holmes clone and a Watson to solve it. The change is so abrupt and disappointing, that, what promised to be a great read, suddenly left a strange taste in my mouth as Alex tries to piece together the mystery and protect his crew before the detective does. Only, despite the story being told from Alex’s point of view, the reader isn’t allowed into his thought processes anymore, as he leaps from conclusion to conclusion, none of which make sense.

Everyone on board his ship has motive, and, based on the great character and political issues introduced at the start, I had such high hopes for where things were going to go. But the switch in tone is jarring and the detective work is just plain silly.

Still, I liked the beginning of the book well enough to recommend that much!

With thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Lootz: Mogsy’s Book Haul

‘Tis the season when the upcoming new year’s books are starting to come in. More have arrived this week after I already cataloged this post , but first we have the exciting titles that were received in the previous few weeks that deserve attention:
Book haul 13

Master of Plagues I was thrilled when this arrived! This book is of course the sequel to the amazing fantasy/mystery Darkwalker,  which I recommend highly. I can’t wait to meet up with Nicolas Lenoir again in book two. My thanks to Roc Books!

The Whispering Swarm - I’ve yet to read anything by the esteemed Michael Moorcock, but I know the launch of his first new trilogy in ten years is something of a huge deal. Book one of the Sanctuary of the White Friars series looks really good, and I’m excited for The Whispering Swarm to be my first Moorcock book. My thanks to Tor Books.

Echo 8 - Also courtesy of Tor is Echo 8, which you might remember seeing me feature in one of my Waiting on Wednesdays during Sci-Fi November. I’m looking forward to reading this novel of romance and science fiction from Sharon Lynn Fisher.

The Traders’ War - A while ago, I received The Bloodline Feud from Tor Books, an omnibus that collects the first two books of Charles Stross’s The Merchant Princes series. Not long ago, the publisher kindly also sent me The Traders’ War, which collects books three and four.

City of Eternal Night - Courtesy of Orbit Books came this sequel to Kristen Painter’s House of the Rising Sun. I’ve already read this second book of the Crescent City series and in case you missed it, you can check out my review here!

Edge of Dark - Last year I read and reviewed The Diamond Deep, a compelling work of social science fiction by Brenda CooperWhen Pyr asked if I would be interested in reviewing an upcoming book by the author, I enthusiastically said yes. Edge of Dark is the start of a new series, so it’ll be great to be able to jump right in. My thanks to the publisher.

The Wide World’s End - Also from Pyr comes this third book from James Enge’s A Tournament of Shadows. I’ve read the first book but haven’t gotten to the second yet, but I’ve been intrigued by this “prequel” series featuring the author’s celebrated character Morlock Ambrosius.

World of Ice and Fire

I also bought a little something for myself. On Black Friday, I got a coupon and used it on The World of Ice & Fire, snagging this beauty of a book for about $17. I can’t believe I’d contemplated getting this one in audiobook or ebook format. I can safely say now that that would have been a mistake, as I’m admiring the embossed cover and gorgeous illustrations within this ENORMOUS volume. A must-have for A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones fans, this was an amazing addition to my collection of art books, and so worth it especially at the price I got it at.

Now the digital pile:

54168-goldenson  Owl and the Japanese Circus  The Heresy Within  The Prophecy Con

Golden Son - All I can say is *hyperventilate* *hyperventilate* *hyperventilate* As soon as I got that email saying Golden Son was finally available to request on Netgalley, you can bet I clicked that REQUEST NOW button so fast you’d think it was going out of style.

Owl and the Japanese Circus - Also from Netgalley, I finally got approved for this book after a long time of waiting (that’s what I get for requesting around Thanksgiving week!) I’m reading this now and it’s a lot of fun so far!

The Heresy Within I got an email about Ragnarok Publications’ new titles in January earlier this week, informing me that the upcoming second book of Rob J Hayes’ The Ties That Bind series is available for review. I’m curious about this grimdark series but haven’t read the first book, so naturally I went and got it.

The Prophecy Con - My audiobook purchase of the week. Gotta put that $10 credit I earned from Audible back in November to good use, after all — and I’ve still got more to spare. I loved the first book of this fantasy heist series, and I can’t wait to read this sequel.

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