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Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

First of all, I actually listened to this book and didn’t read it- I get crazy bored at work and listen to books to preserve sanity. This is my first experience with Terry Goodkind and overall, not a terrible experience. I liked that this was a looooong book, since I was hoping to make it last through a whole work week. The story is rather generic, and seems to struggle with a child-like friendship theme popping up all over the place. This probably isn’t a series I will run out and buy because, you know, it’s so good I need the audiobook, the ebook, and the actual book….. I really just rent the audiobooks from the library (YAY FREE LISTENS!). And the overall cheesiness level. Wow. I won’t even go there.

Anyhow, on to the characters and storyline.

Richard Cipher, our main character and Sword of Truth wielding hero is a likeable guy, if a bit naïve at times. Actually, I think he’s just plain stupid at times, which is combined with the fact that no one *cough KAHLAN* explains the ins and outs of life and dangers in the Midlands. The simple truth that he really KNOWS NOTHING about the Midlands is the cause of basically all of the problems he has in this book!!! YOU KNOW NOTHING RICHARD CIPHER, and that is sad because you’re the Seeker.

Kahlan Amnell is a lovely, mysterious woman that Richard rescues from assassins and then promptly falls irrevocably in love with. Later we find out that she’s this super powerful, more- important- than- kings- and- queens being known as the Mother Confessor. She has this weird magic that makes people into drooling veggies that live only to please her. This power is used on criminals to make them tell the truth and as a threat to the rulers of the Midlands to keep things real.

The goal in this book is to find a way to defeat Darken Rahl, a super powerful wizard that is taking over the Midlands and will eventually take down the boundary and invade Westland too. He’s trying to find and open the boxes of Orton, which are bejeweled boxes of great magic. These boxes (or one of them anyway) will give him even more power with which he can destroy the world or some roughly equivalent evil. Okay, so maybe the plot is deeper than that, but it’s not my job to spoil the entire book- that’s Wikipedia’s job.

I probably wouldn’t recommend these to my friends since they don’t read much anyways, but I would recommend these to people who are teenagers, bored, or want generic fantasy with some weirdly intense scenes. This book is really just junk or filler while waiting on a better book to release.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

First published in 1999, Gardens of the Moon dramatically opened what would end up being the ten book Malazan Book of the Fallen. This is the story of the Malazan Empire, its soldiers, and others who would influence its history.

I won’t delve into specifics, since it would take *ages* to do so. GotM follows the actions and events surrounding members of the Bridgeburners (Malazans) and several people from Darujhistan (not Malazans) as well as others who are in a bit of a grey area. There are SO many different characters that it’s a bit overwhelming at first, Erikson seems to have realized this so he included the Dramatis Personae which tells you who stands where.

The Malazans are planning to invade Darujhistan, which is the last city to remain out of Empress Laseen’s grasp. Darujhistan is a wealthy, beautiful city and has lovely little blue gas lamps to light it up once night falls. The Bridgeburners, an elite squad, are sent in to make contact with the assassin’s guild, covertly work to undermine the city’s defenses, cause chaos etc. Seriously, this story is so complex that you really have to read it to understand.

Erikson developed a pretty cool system of magic- the mages use warrens to harness their magic. Each warren has its own aspect- fire, sea, sky, healing, death etc. Most of the warrens have a god or ascendant that sort of rules them. The warrens can also be used to travel hundreds of miles rather quickly. On the down side, sinister beings lurk in the warrens and if they happen across you, you will never be seen again. Or at least your body won’t be around.

The pantheon is also really unique- as far as I can tell, many of the gods/ascendents were mere mortals. In Gardens of the Moon it remains a bit foggy as to how they became gods. This becomes a little more clear as the series progresses. Each member of the pantheon is aspected towards a certain warren. For example, Hood is the god of death and his warren aspect is Hood’s Path. There is an incredible amount of what seems to be irreverence from every character in this book. Its quite amusing, really.

Overall, I would recommend this book to any fan of fantasy type books. Gardens of the Moon is a little hard to get in to at first because its complex and a bit confusing. If you keep reading and use the handy little guide in the back and the Dramatis Personae, you’ll see where everything fits together and it becomes really enjoyable.

Congo by Michael Crichton


Set in the 1970s, Congo follows the journey of Karen Ross, Peter Elliot, and Amy (a gorilla) deep into the jungle of the Congo. Karen, a brilliant computer programmer for a company that investigates the location of natural resources, is sent to investigate the death of a field team and continue their work. Peter, who is a primate language researcher, takes his subject Amy into the Congo in hopes of understanding her upsetting dreams and to study her communication with wild gorillas. Ross, Elliot, and their companions (“Captain” Munro and Kahega and friends) are in a situation much more serious than they realize.

This story starts off with a rather shocking event- the ERTS field team is attacked by an unknown entity and most of them are immediately killed. Most disturbing is the manner in which they die- their skulls are crushed with great force. An unfocused image of the attacker is captured and it appears to be an ape-like creature. Crichton has a way of capturing the reader’s attention almost immediately and holding it through the entire story.

There is a feeling of urgency during their journey to the location of the murdered field team. Karen Ross must also beat an opposing team of resource contractors to the site, which contains a rare type of diamond. At the same time they are also facing the perils of angry hippopotamuses, cannibals, and armies. Needless to say, there are no dull moments.

Ross et al. arrive at the site to find what she expected- an overgrown, abandoned city. During the following nights, they encounter the killers of the field team. Turns out it wasn’t a mystical creature, but a new species of gorilla that was trained to kill by the long gone inhabitants of the derelict city.

Following this, a gorilla war (no pun intended) ensues, diamonds are found, a volcano erupts, and both Karen Ross and Peter Elliot go home with varying degrees of disappointment.