July 2012 Month in Review

And thusly we come to the end of another month.  Last month I lamented because I for the first time all year I didn’t reach 3,000 pages for the month.  Well, this month I definitely made up for it by reading 12 books which came in at 4,369 pages.  That brings my total for the year up to a little over 24,000 in 7 months, so I’m well above my set goal of averaging 100 pages a day for the year.

As for the actual books that I read this month, I had a variety of different books, but they pretty much completely fell into the SciFi/Fantasy category.  I also had a bit of variety with the scores that I gave the books this month, with ratings ranging from the first 10/10 I’ve given a book in two months as well as the first 1/10 I’ve ever given a book.  So let’s stop rambling for a moment and list the books that I read this month.

This month also saw the group read for The Well of Ascension (Mistborn book 2) for which we used a different style of group read.  Instead of asking questions and having everyone post about them, we just had one person post some ideas about the sections and have everyone discuss them in the one topic.  For next month we’re doing the same thing with The Hero of Ages (book 3), which is going to be a lot of fun.

I’m making some headway on my TBR pile, which is always good.  But one thing that might throw a wrench in that was me stumbling upon NPR’s book poll where they’re asking people for their favorite Teen Novels, from which they’ll compile their list of the top 100 Teen Novels (much like they did last year with their top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy novels last year),  I enjoy a lot of YA books, so I’ll probably check out some books from that list, and if nothing else some of the comments on my post about the NPR poll had a bunch of suggestions for books to look into.  Plus I’ve also got my Wheel of Time re-read coming up fairly soon in anticipation of A Memory of Light coming out next January.

Should be a lot of fun in the upcoming months.  As always I’d love any suggestions for books to look into in the future, and I think I’ll once again ask what books currently on my TBR list that you’d like to see reviews for.

Goblin Quest

Ah, I never know how to star these posts.  Do I say for the umpteenth time that I discovered this book through the Writing Excuses podcast?  Jim C. Hines was a guest on the podcast, and after that episode i decided that I eventually needed to check out his books.  That of course was a very long time ago.  In that time, I started to read Jim’s blog on his website, and it’s easily one of the best blogs that I’ve seen online. He regularly posts about a wide variety of topics, and each of his posts are interesting and thoughtful.  Even if you haven’t read his books I highly suggest checking out his blog from time to time.  Anyway, on with the review.

Book Stats

346 pages

Fantasy, Satire

First book in the Goblin series


The main character of this book is Jig, who is a runt even among the lowly goblin tribe that he lives with.  The main difference between Jig and the rest of the goblins is that Jig is quite intelligent.  From the very beginning of the book he questions how goblins typically go about their days – running head first into random adventurers which ends up getting all of them killed.  Jig was a fantastic character and tons of fun to read about.  Jig is the only goblin that we see a lot of in this book, but the other characters that we run into are a lot of fun as well.


The books takes place within the series of caves where Jig lives, as they delve deeper into the caves they run into all sorts of different dangers; hobgoblins, carrion worms, necromancers, and oh yeah, a dragon.


Jig was picked to go on patrol with several other goblins, mostly so they could gamble while they sent Jig off to scout (which in goblin terms basically means he was sent off to die).  As Jig is going through the tunnels he runs into a group of adventurers; two princes, one of which is a mage, a dwarf, and an elf.  By some stretch of luck they decide to use Jig as a guide rather than immediately kill him, so of course they go off in search of the Rod of Creation, a very powerful magical artifact.


I loved this book.  Jig was a great character and it was really interesting to see how he was constantly outsmarting everyone, including the adventurers who capture him.  The book is also really funny as the author takes a close look as a standard Fantasy trope, then turns it on it’s head.  Unlike a lot of the standard Fantasy heroes, Jig isn’t capable of fighting off even the weakest opponent, he constantly has to use his brains to outsmart them.  This book is a lot of fun and is definitely one of the most unique books that I’ve read in quite some time.

Overall Grade

A very unique book that is a ton of fun to read, I’m anxiously looking forward to the sequels.


Firefly: Series in Review

So this is my final post talking about Joss Whedon’s Firefly.  Well, not quite final, there is still the movie to talk about, but we’ll save that one for later in the week.

As always, links to all of my other posts about the show can be found here.

Firefly Series Thoughts

So I’ve reached the end of Firefly, and I loved the show.  The characters were all a lot of fun – and not just the main characters, many of the side characters who may have only been in the show for one episode were also quite interesting.  The show told several very interesting stories, and it set up a lot of intriguing questions that they didn’t have time to explore in the show.  As the show ends I’m still really interested in exactly what they did to River as well as why they were experimenting on her.  I also really want to know more about Shepherd Book’s background, there were a lot of things about him that were never explained in the show, and I really want to know more about his past.

So now we get to the strongest part of the show, the characters.  Interesting stories can do a lot for a show/movie/book/whatever, but strong characters are what make fiction memorable over time.  There are 9 major characters in the show – Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Wash, Kaylee, Inara, Simon, River, and Book – and they all have a lot going for them.

Mal is the main character of the show and gets the most development in the series.  He cares greatly about the members of his crew, and is willing to do whatever needs to be done to protect them.  But while he’s caring with the people he’s close to, he is ruthless when he needs to be with his enemies.  There’s also a lot going on between him and Inara, which is hinted at early on but then addressed more directly in the last couple of episodes.

Zoe is one of the more active characters, especially in the early episodes, unfortunately, as the show went one she seemed to fall a little flat for me.  The show left some hints for conflicts with her in later episodes, but unfortunately we never got to see what comes of it.

Jayne is pretty much the hired muscle, not terribly intelligent, but violent enough to back up Mal and Zoe with whatever needs to be done.  There are a couple of scenes that show a slightly deeper side of Jayne (specifically the ending of Episode 12 when he starts to tear up).  He’s also the center of Episode 7, which was a lot of fun.

Early on I said that Wash was probably the weakest character in the show.  I’m going to revise this slightly, he isn’t a really weak character, but was overshadowed by the rest of the cast.  Much like Zoe, there were some signs of where they were going to go with his character had the show continued, but they never got to them.

Kaylee is my favorite character in the show.  For one she was very different from the rest of the cast.  She was always upbeat and happy, and was a welcome change from the more serious members of the crew and the darker nature of some of the episodes.  It was also a lot of fun to watch her and Simon throughout the show.  Their relationship was one of the more pervasive elements of the show, and I thought it worked out really well.

Inara is an interesting character; I mentioned that it’s interesting that she’s the most respectable member of the crew to society as a whole.  Along with that she had a lot of interesting interactions with the other characters.  Obviously she cares a lot about Mal, but it was also really interesting to see her interaction with Kaylee in various episodes, she really does care about the other members of the crew.

Now we get to the characters that joined the crew during the course of the show.  Lets start with Simon because I listed him first in the character roll call.  Simon is the nerdy outcast member of the crew.  It’s obvious that he cares about his sister, just as it’s obvious that he likes Kaylee but also suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome.  On his own he’s not a terribly deep character, but his interactions with Kaylee really help him out a lot.

River is the most intriguing character in the show.  Obviously the Alliance did some strange experiments on her, and we start to find out part of what they did throughout the course of the show, but we never learn why or exactly what she is capable.  I’m sure that the movie goes more in depth with her story, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Book is probably the deepest character in the show, and I really want to know a lot more about his background because there’s a lot going on with him.  While I fully believe that he’s a preacher, he obviously has his own take on things throughout the show, and the writers did a really good job of making you curious about him.

So lets recap all of this; amazing characters, interesting stories, and a unique setting.  So why did the show only last one season?  There are a couple of reasons.

The first is something that I mentioned early on in my discussion of the show, the theme song.  It definitely does grow on you as you watch the show, and it’s thematically very appropriate for the show, but on it’s own it’s not terribly good.  Why am I picking on the theme song so much?  Simple, it’s the first gate to get into the show.  If I hadn’t heard anything about the show, and was just flipping through the channels to watch something on TV, the theme song definitely isn’t going to grab me and make me watch.

The second thing that really hurts the show for the casual audience is the setting.  Even as someone who reads a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, it’s weird.  Most of the time it’s not that big of an issue, but there are a couple of episodes where the combination of SciFi and Western is just too weird.  The best example of this comes from Episode 13 (Heart of Gold).  There’s a scene in Heart of Gold where Ranse is attacking the house where Mal & Co are defending Inara’s friend.  As Ranse is comingup to the house, he’s driving a hovercraft while all of the people following him are riding horses – that’s just a little too strange, even for me.

So all in all, I loved the show and I wish there had been more to it, but on the whole I understand why the show had a hard time catching on with a wider audience.

So there are my thoughts about the show as a whole, what do you think?

Top 100 Teen Novels

While perusing other posts under the books tag on WordPress, I came across a post talking about an NPR summer poll.  Last year they looked for the 100 Greatest Science Fiction/Fantasy books according to readers, and this year they’re looking for the 100 Greatest Teen Novels.  (For those interested, the top 100 SciFi/Fantasy list can be found here.)

The website for the poll can be found here.  This is a pretty exhaustive list of 235 books culled from nominations by various people.

Go vote, then come back here so I can talk about what I picked and a couple of questions I have about the list.

Done voting?  Ok, good.  here are the books I voted for:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
  • The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles

(If you’re interested in any of these books, I have reviews for all of them except The Hunger Games and A Separate Peace.  Links can be found under The Total Score page found at the top of my blog.)

Yes, I know that I only voted for 9 books and you’re allowed to vote for up to 10, but there wasn’t anything else on the list that was really jumping out at me as one of the best teen novels ever.

But as I said, I have a couple of questions on the list, some of which they kind of explain, but I still don’t agree with.  For example, where is Ender’s Game?  They said they didn’t include it because of the violence, yet The Hunger Games is on here, and I’d argue that it’s more violent than Ender’s Game.  I was also really puzzled by a couple of the books they had on there.  For example, The Lord of the Rings and Dune are both on their long list.  I must admit I’ve never actually read LotR (again, this is on there but no Ender’s Game?) but I don’t think it really qualifies as a teen book.  And Dune?  A teen novel?  I just read the book in May, Dune is not a standard teen novel.  I don’t care about their reasoning that it’s kind of a “rite of passage” for teen readers, it’s not a teen novel.

Anyway, those are my thoughts about the list, what do you think about it, and for that matter, what did you vote for?

Tome of the Undergates

This is yet another book I heard of through the Writing Excuses podcast.  Sam Sykes was a guest on the podcast a couple months back and they had an interesting discussion of sensory writing.  After listening to that podcast I picked up Sam’s first book – Tome of the Undergates – a while ago and just now read through it.  There were some flashes of very good writing in the book, but as a whole it didn’t work out for me.

Book Stats

486 pages


First book of The Aeons’ Gate series


There are 6 main characters in the book, and one interesting thing that the book does is start after the characters have all met.  The characters are all adventurers or mercenaries of one type or another, and at the beginning of the book they find themselves escorting a priest on a journey where they find themselves on a ship about to be attacked by pirates.  White it was interesting that the book started this way, I think it ultimately made the characters seem a little flat.  Because you don’t know anything about their backgrounds until much later in the book, they come across as stereotypes of the fantasy genre.  There were some moments where the characters were interesting, but to me they were too few and far between to be effective.


A fairly standard pseudo-medieval fantasy world, albeit one inhabited by several different species that you encounter throughout the book.


The characters are all escorting Miron, a priest who has a powerful book in his possession.  Naturally, the boat that they’re on is attacked by pirates (who are also accompanied by frog men, one of the kinds of demonic opponents they fight throughout the book) who end up stealing the book.  From that point on, the book follows their quest to recover the book and return it to Miron, in exchange for a hefty sum of gold of course.


This was a different sort of fantasy book from the ones I typically read.  Rather than focusing on an epic sense of scope and following the adventurers over the course of a long adventure, the book takes place over the span of 4 or 5 days.  I’d probably label the book as more of a heroic fantasy than epic.

The problem with this is that the book just didn’t work for me.  The characters felt very flat, and the entirety of the book seemed to focus on their fighting, which doesn’t work very well in a book.  One of the thoughts that I had while reading the book is that it would probably make a very good movie, because it’s so visually oriented.  Books don’t generally do visually oriented stories very well, they do much better with stories driven either by character emotion or by philosophical ideas.  There are a few sections of the book where Sykes tries to focus more on character emotions – specifically he sets up a couple of potential love interests – but I didn’t think they were handled very well.  There are a couple of other scenes throughout the book that show a lot of potential depth, specifically in the last 40 pages of the book both Gariath (the dragonman) and Asper (the healer/priestess) had scenes that were very intriguing and showed a lot of depth to their characters.  Unfortunately for every scene that succeeded like this, there was another scene that felt like it tried to do this but came across as a ham-fisted train wreck.

Overall Grade

There were flashes of a great story in this book, unfortunately they’re mired in questionable plotting and poor characterization.


Firefly Watch: Episode 14

And we finally come to the final episode of Firefly.  I have to admit that I got more and more upset as I ran out of episodes to watch.  When I first started going through the show, I was watching two episodes a night (and then writing my thoughts after each one, which I kept in a Word file before posting them here) and I decided to cut back and only watch one episode a night, in large part to make it last longer.

Having said all that, I do have two more posts planned dealing with Firefly, I have a post lined up as a review of the movie, Serenity, which is set about 6 months after the end of the final episode (it basically would have been the end of Season 2 of the show had there been a Season 2).  I’m also planning a post wherein I give my thoughts to the series as a whole, including some of my thoughts as to why the series was cancelled when everything about it is so well done.

But those posts will be up next week, for now this post is simply my thoughts about Episode 14, links to all of my other Firefly posts can be found here.

Firefly Episode 14 – Objects in Space

I loved this episode, but then again I’ve loved all of the episodes of the show that have dealt with River’s backstory.  This episode opens with a short section that follows River and gives a brief example of what she’s really hearing when everyone talks.  She’s able to slightly read people’s minds, and they get this across by having the opening scene shift between the conversation that people are actually having and what River hears, which is quite well done, until she ends up with a loaded firearm at the end of that sequence and freaks out the rest of the crew.

At this point Kaylee tells everyone what happened with River at the end of Episode 10.  Then the fun kicks in when a bounty hunter who is after River gets on board the Serenity.  I was a little annoyed at how easily he got on the ship, especially after the same basic thing happened in the last episode, but beyond that this was a brilliant episode.

When Jubal Early is an interesting character, and they have small hints that he’s just a little off.  While he’s a little weird, he’s also a very good bounty hunter.  He knocks out Mal and then locks all of the crew quarters, then ties up Kaylee before knocking out Book and holding Simon at gunpoint while he searches for River, the guy is efficient if nothing else.  They hint that he’s a sociopath, when River is talking to him she talks about how he used to torture animals, and throughout the episode he talks to and about people like they’re objects.  Both are signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder, and I’m very pleased that they got them right.  (A while ago I did a series of posts talking about Sociopaths in our Culture that was divided into three parts.  The link to part 1 is here.)

Of course River is kind of elusive and hard to find, and then of course she comes on over the speakers in Serenity and says that she’s become one with the ship.  This is great because we’re not exactly 100% sure what River can do, and it’s played out very well when she’s messing with Early.

Sadly, this is the last episode of the show.  Obviously they intended to do a lot more with the show, but it was cut short.  Next up is the movie that follows the show – Serenity.  I’m looking forward to it, and I’m very curious as to what plot lines they choose to close up and which ones they don’t have time to get into.

Some Changes and a Warning

When going through the list of blogs I follow, I came upon this post by Morgan over at The First Gates.  He relates the story of a blogger who was sued for use of an image on her blog.  This leads to a very big question and gets into some questionable copyright lingo.  The biggest question as it relates to this blog is what qualifies as fair use when posting an image to a blog?  The answer is tricky.

The basic ideas behind the fair use exemption to copyright law can be found here at Wikipedia.  The problem with this is that it’s very fuzzy as to what qualifies as fair use.  But the most troubling problem from what I’ve read is that there is no set standard for any particular type of media, each case can be looked at individually.

Here’s where that becomes a problem, and how it relates to this blog.  I post pictures of the covers for every book I review.  I’ve obtained all of these images by doing a simple Google search.  When I first started the blog, it was a fairly minor issue.  I only had a couple of reviews up, and very few images.  The problem now comes from the fact that I’ve got somewhere around 160 different book reviews up – all of them with images of the book attached to the post.

My very vague understanding of the copyright and fair use laws means that this could end up being a problem.  If you figure there are 160 book reviews, that amounts to quite a few different authors, artists, publishing companies, graphic designers, etc. who could possibly raise a fuss about the images being on my blog.  Now, my blog has a fairly small audience, and the thought of it getting notice from a major publisher and then being pursued by them beyond a simple DMCA notice and being asked to remove the image is admittedly quite small.  However, the odds of it occurring increase with each review that I post and each image that I attach to those reviews.

So what does that mean?  Well, for starters it means I’m going to go through and remove every image that I have attached to my blog at the moment.  I’ve received no warning about this, but the last thing I need is some new lawyer who just passed the Bar trying to win an easy case by going after my blog.  All of the content of my blog other than the pictures will remain unchanged as I spend the next several days going through my history and editing out the pictures.

One thing that I learned fairly early on in the creation of my blog is that posts look better with an image included.  It’s gives you something to look at as opposed to just staring at a wall of text, and displaces some of the monotony of constantly looking through a series of posts.  I’ll continue to try and include images, but in the future I’ll make sure that they’re all either in the public domain or they have a Creative Commons license that allows them to be shared.

I understand that the actions that I’m taking are a little extreme (just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you), and I’m not suggesting that everyone follow the same course of action.  I am however suggesting that you read Morgan’s post as well as those he links to and take what they say into consideration.  I know that personally I do this because I enjoy talking about the books that I read (or whatever else crosses my mind) and I like the interaction that I get with people through this blog.  However, the potential (however unlikely) legal and financial ramifications of this is something that I can’t overlook.  I’ll still be blogging, but as regards to using images in my posts I’ll be a lot more careful about what I use.

Firefly Watch: Episodes 12 and 13

We’re quickly coming up to the end of Joss Whedon’s Firefly.  Links to the rest of my posts about the show can be found here.

Firefly Episode 12 – The Message


Once again, a wonderful episode.  It’s come to my mind as I’ve been watching the show and writing up my thoughts about each episode that I’ve been heaping a lot of praise on, well, everything about the show.  Which if you’re not too familiar with the show might lead to some questions about why the show was ever cancelled, I’ve given it some thought, and I’ll talk about it during my wrap up of the show, which will come after two more episodes.  Yeah, I’m quickly running out of show.

Anyway, this episode set up a really interesting premise.  Mal & Co are at a space station picking up some supplies and they receive a large package, with a coffin and a corpse of a man Mal and Zoe knew from the war against the alliance.  He has a small message recorder asking to be taken back to his homeland to be buried alongside his family.  When they’re chased after by police who are after the body, they become a little curious about why, and then the fun starts when the corpse wakes up.

It’s become kind of standard for the show, so it’s not at all surprising to see the double-crossing that goes on all the time.  But it’s well done enough, and I’m watching one episode every night, if you were watching one episode every week, you probably wouldn’t notice the repetition quite as much.  This episode also has a tear-jerker of an ending, which is a welcome surprise since the show has mostly focused on the action and humor moments.

This episode does two things really well when looking at it from the character development perspective.  It continues to show Mal as a very deep character, one who is loyal to his crew and everyone he’s worked with in the past, but not beyond making tough decisions quickly when they need to be made.  Mal is the kind of Captain that people would run through a brick wall for, and it shows – both from his actions as well as the fact his crew has risked their lives to save him.

The other part of this episode that I enjoyed was the furthering of the romance between Kaylee and Simon.  I think it’s been done well, and it’s definitely been a lot of fun to watch.  It would help if Simon would stop putting his foot in his mouth, but it’s well within his character to constantly do so.

I’m also once again very impressed by Book, I said after the first episode that I thought he had the most room for growth as a character, and while he hasn’t changed much as a character, he has definitely proven himself to be the deepest character and one of the more mysterious (after River of course).

Firefly Episode 13 – Heart of Gold


I have two very separate thoughts about this episode.  On one hand, the characterization is once again absolutely fantastic.  On the other hand, more idiot plotting, I hate idiot plotting.

This one begins very simply, Inara gets a call from a friend (Nandi) who was formerly a companion asking for help.  Of course Inara asks Mal to help, and being the standup guy he is, he decides to take up the job.  The basic premise is that one of Nandi’s girls has gotten pregnant, and the father wants the child.  Mal & Co are called in to help protect the baby.

I have two big problems with this episode, both of which come from the gunfight towards the end of the episode, so obviously if you haven’t seen it this will spoil the ending.

The first problem, as Ranse and his boys are coming up on the bordello; Jayne shoots the person who was manning the turret on Ranse’s hovercraft.  Just shoot Ranse, he’s the only one who has a legitimate reason to be storming the premises, and he’s the one who rounded up everyone else and got them to attack Nandi’s bordello.  If he dies, it’s over.  This irritates me all the time.  Don’t piddle around and draw things out, get the job over with.  Ranse dies, everyone else calms down, nobody else has to suffer.  But if we do things the simple way, we don’t have the emotional moment at the end with Inara and Mal (which this episode does set up very well).

The other problem that I have with this episode, Wash and Kaylee are going back to Serenity so they can fly around and disrupt the attackers who are all riding horses.  When they get into the ship, they’re immediately fired upon by more of Ranse’s people who have gotten into the ship ahead of them.  Lets think about this for once second: you have an interstellar transport ship and you DON’T LOCK THE GORRAM DOOR?!  Aside from that, your plan has them getting there minutes before they have to take off?  Shouldn’t they have been there hours before they expected the skirmish to begin?  Wash at least should have been there if not Kaylee as well.

Idiot plotting aside, this episode does a great job of exploring Inara and Mal’s relationship – or lack thereof.  It’s kind of obvious that there is something between them, if for no other reason than the fact that Inara tolerates Mal’s behavior far more than she really should.  Along with this, there was another very interesting story seed planted in this episode.  While they’re working to set up the ambush, Zoe and Wash are arguing about having a child.  It’s obvious that they’ve had the discussion several times before, and they both have very valid arguments for their specific sides.  Unfortunately, both of these story seeds come in the penultimate episode of the show, which means I doubt they have time to explore either of them very much from this point on.  Which is unfortunate.

A War of Gifts

After finishing up The Color of Magic a couple of hours ago, I definitely needed to read something to cleanse my palette a little bit.  So I picked up A War of Gifts, which is a short novella set during the time when Ender was at battle school.

Book Stats

196 pages (It’s a fairly short Novella, about 20,000 words according to an estimate I found online.)

Science Fiction

Novella set in the Ender series, you could read it anytime after Ender’s game, but it was written after Shadow of the Giant


I’m not going to go into a standard review for this one, it’s got the kids from Battle School, and it takes place in Battle School.

The basic premise of the story is that a deeply religious boy named Zeck is sent to Battle School.  He refuses to take part in any of the war games because war is against his religion.  However, when some of the other kids celebrate a Dutch holiday similar to Christmas, Zeck objects on the grounds that it’s an outward show of religion, which is forbidden on Battle School.  This leads into a larger question of where the line between religion and culture is (hint: it’s really blurry).  The story also deals with some fairly deep religious questions, and just like the rest of the books in the series, Card does an excellent job of showing just how well Ender understands people.


This was a really quick read that addresses some deep issues of spirituality in the face of war.  I thought it was handled excellently, and Card really based everything upon the characters.  He shows some of the folly of blind faith, but also shows how having faith can strengthen a person through difficult times.  Both as a story in the Ender universe and on it’s own as a warning about taking fanaticism too far this was a wonderful novella.

Overall Grade

A very quick and enjoyable read.


The Color of Magic

One of the most well known and beloved of Fantasy series is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.  To date, there are 39 books in the series, and the books don’t have to be read in a specific order because they each tell stories about different people who live in Discworld.  The Color of Magic was the first Discworld book originally published in 1983.  This is also the first Discworld book that I’ve read, and it’s going to be the last.

Book Stats

210 pages


1st book of the Discworld series.


Discworld is a very strangely set up planet, it’s completely flat, and it rests upon the backs of four giant elephants.  What do the elephants stand on?  Why a giant turtle drifting though space of course.  The very basis of the world for these books shows that they’re going to be humorous books, or at least that was the author’s intent.  On the actual planet, the setting is a fairly standard pseudo-medievel European fantasy.  There are a a lot of magical elements in the book, and they seem to follow their own rules as they go along.  As weird as it is, the setting is the strongest part of this book.


There are two main characters in the book, the first is Rincewind a semi-trained wizard who was kicked out of wizardry school because he opened a forbidden book and the book lodged a spell into his brain.  The spell that is stuck there is the only spell he knows, but he has no idea what it does, making him a horribly incompetent wizard.  The only marketable skills that Rincewind is able to use are his skill as a translator and his skill at running away, both of which he does on a regular basis in this book.  The other main character is Twoflower, a tourist from a secluded continent who is on vacation exploring the rest of Discworld.  Where Rincewind is cowardly, Twoflower is stupidly optimistic and overly trusting of everything he sees in the world.


Ostensibly the plot was the story of Rincewind guiding Twoflower on his vacation through Discworld.  In truth the plot is a mash up of non-sequitar story elements, many of which never get resolved throughout the course of the book.  The book is split into 4 sections, each of which tells a different story about what Rincewind and Twoflower went through.  The biggest problem is that in none of the stories are they actually responsible for getting themselves out of trouble.  It’s either accidentally accomplished while Rincewind is running away, or it’s done through the actions of some of the gods who watch over the Discworld, or it’s a complete deus-ex-machina where the solution to their problem happens when their bodies are shifted to another dimension and they find themselves on a plain rather than falling aimlessly to the earth.


One of the things that I’ve heard about the Discworld books is that they get better as the series goes along, all I can say to that is that I certainly hope so, because this book was absolutely terrible.  It was a combination of poorly told jokes, excessively explained worldbuilding (Where he constantly stops and explains in either paragraph form – or in footnotes a couple of times – something about the world that doesn’t matter to the plot.  It’s nothing more than lazy storytelling and a way to try and tell a cheap joke.), and constantly introduced story threads that never resolve.  The ending of the book is also garbage, because it doesn’t really end, it just sort of stops.  One of the main aspects of the story as it’s being told is the question of what the spell that Rincewind knows actually does, you never find out.  It’s constantly brought up that he might use it in a life or death situation – because who knows, it might do something helpful – but the one time he actually tries to use it he’s abruptly saved just before he can finish casting it.

The only decent thing I can say about this book is that it’s letting me do something on my blog that I haven’t done before – give a book a 1/10.

Overall Grade

Nothing in this book worked for me, the only thing that reading this book accomplished was to convince me to never pick up another book in the Discworld series.