Stephen King – The Drawing Of The Three [The Dark Tower #2]

Stephen King – The Drawing Of The Three [The Dark Tower #2]

I found the first entry in the Dark Tower series to be a bit on the unsavory side, although I did enjoy the action sequences in the book. At least the ending of The Gunslinger gave me the much-needed impetus to pick up the second book. So, how is the sequel?

Very good, indeed, if I may say so. Well, even if I may not say so, not many can deny the fact that The Drawing Of The Three is a brilliant piece of writing from Stephen King. The plot picks up from where it left off, with the protagonist, Roland the gunslinger waking up at the shore of what seems to be an endlessly running coast. And he is not alone. He has  “lobstrosities” for company, and very early into the book, Roland has to fight these monstrous creatures off, sustaining grievous injuries in the process. The next day, he finds what is akin to a door at the beach, and opening it leads Roland into the mind of another person who has been destined to accompany Roland in his grim, dark quest for the Dark Tower. Just ka-things.

So, what is ‘Drawing’? It is the act of pulling out a person from his/her world into Roland’s own. And he gets to do it with three people, hence the name of the novel. The people Roland ‘draws out’ are all from New York City, and there seems to be some as-of-yet unknown connection between Roland’s Dark Tower and NYC.

The book has three main parts, each of which is concerned with Roland’s drawing out the destined people, and all of them are unique in their own way. One arc has Roland in the mind of a cocaine smuggler, while another has Roland inside the mind of a woman with split-personality. And the third…well, that’s even more awesome. The action sequences in this book are fabulous indeed, and not only the action, but also the characters are more fleshed out now. We begin to identify ourselves with Roland more than before, and the new characters all have their own motivations in their own worlds.

I had to struggle to finish the first book, but no such experience repeated itself in The Drawing Of The Three. This is Stephen King the way I like him. This is a marvel. I sign off.

RATING : 9/10

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Stephen King – The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower #1]

Stephen King – The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower #1]

I’ve had the first book of The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, for quite some time. I think about four-odd months easy. At last I’ve picked up the novel. So is the first entry in Stephen King’s magnum opus, as he himself often similarly describes the saga?

The novel starts off with the gunslinger Roland in pursuit of a man dressed in black, who might serve to be of key importance in his quest for the Dark Tower, a tower of which he knows little and understands even less, but seeks it just the same. Roland has left behind his own world and dark past to get to Dark Tower, and along the way he makes acquaintance with people who have led similarly dark lives. The novel is set in a wasteland desert with a touch of the good ol’ Wild West feel in it. At the same time, it also gives us a hint of what could very well turn into an epic fantasy-type.

How’s the book itself? The protagonist, Roland, is not a very likable character(yet), but he is believable with his somewhat archaic notions of duty and honor, coupled with a certain ruthlessness. But the book itself felt a bit patchy in its pacing and the overall feel. Parts of it are outright brilliant, especially the action parts, but at the same time other parts felt slow-ish and just generally a wee bit uninteresting. There were moments where I actually thought of leaving the Dark Tower quest for later, but leaving a book incomplete is an action I consider to be sacrilege, so I stuck with it. At least the book ends strongly, and gave me the impetus to pick up the next book in the series.

Overall, I would say the book is good, but not an especially good one. I have read a few of Stephen King’s works, and while he is undoubtedly a brilliant writer, I feel he does occasionally go a bit bonkers in his writing. The Gunslinger suffers a bit more than usual from this, but the action parts are written in a way that’s beyond great. Anyway, for those who want to start The Dark Tower series, you might get a bit put off by this book, but hold on to the series because there are flashes of brilliance here that may spark the flame for the sequels in the series. You will like the book even more if you are a fan of the revolver-toting Westerns.

RATING : 7.3/10

 

DANIEL POLANSKY – LOW TOWN TRILOGY

DANIEL POLANSKY – LOW TOWN TRILOGY

After reading stuff written by Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie, I’d started to notice Daniel Polansky’s Low Town book creeping into my fantasy recommendations list on Goodreads. The summary of the book seemed pretty interesting, too; an amoral, ruthless protagonist, an unforgiving place. Just my kind of book, I felt. And picked it up.

And did not put it down until I was a couple of hours late to bed each night, for the ten days it took me to finish the series. The protagonist, who is only ever called The Warden, is a drug dealer in Low Town; and not just any ordinary drug dealer, either; he is in fact notorious for being the machinery that runs Low Town. In his own words, he is the one that runs Low Town. He stays with Adolphus, his best friend and war-time buddy, and Adolphus’ wife Adeline at their bar, The Staggering Earl. From here, he makes regular runs to different parts of the town, selling his merchandise, bribing the town guards, the works.

The first book starts off with a series of child-killings in Low Town. The Warden gets embroiled into the matter by being the discoverer of one of the dead bodies. And goaded by Adolphus’ wife Adeline, he begins to carry out his own investigation into the matter. This is how the series starts off. Plot-wise, all the three books are independent enough to give the impression that they could be read in any order whatsoever. But these books are not really about the plot, as such. They are more about character development and the changing relationship dynamic between The Warden and others.

Though the series is labeled as fantasy, you won’t really find much sorcery in these books; you could say that only about 5% of the series would actually have sorcery in it. But whatever sorcery there is, is pretty badass. The series is one of those gritty, dark fantasies which have sort of become the norm these days. But the specialty of this series, is that it feels more like a detective-noir type book than anything else, with its drug dealers, unscrupulous guards, and a world which is in general an unfair place. And the dry, deadpan humor throughout is the best part.

Even if you are new to fantasy, you will most probably like the books if you are a fan of crime-mysteries. And for fantasy veterans, so to speak, Daniel Polansky will be a breath of fresh air, with his witty humor and gritty writing.

RATING : 9.2/10

Daniel Polansky – She Who Waits (Low Town #3)

Daniel Polansky – She Who Waits (Low Town #3)

The first two books in the Low Town series were brilliant depictions of a cruel, unforgiving world of The Warden and his domain, Low Town. So, how does the series get tied off by Polansky in this final entry to the series?

She Who Waits is set about 3-4 years from the events of its predecessor. In this final book, Low Town is getting more and more unstable, to the point that the Warden predicts a full-scale war to erupt between the different crime syndicates in the town. And with the Old Man’s Black House making its own play, The Warden doesn’t expect the place to last longer than a few weeks. The Warden intends to make a clean break from Low Town with Adolphus, Wren and Adeline in tow, to some far-off place where Wren will actually have a future in becoming a competent practitioner of the Arts. Also, a rash of brutal, chilling murders have been recorded in Low Town, with one of The warden’s neighbors also becoming a murderer in the same vein. On top of this, a new drug called red fever[named after the infamous plague which killed off a majority of the inhabitants of the empire during The Warden’s childhood] is making the rounds in Low Town…

While the first two books were gritty and brutal, they feel like starters when placed in front of this book. The first two books build up to this entry, and here is where the emotional payoff hits pay dirt. This book is more emotional than the first two books combined. The Warden is not a good guy, as we all know by now already; he just wants to do right by his best friends and Wren, who he now thinks of as his own son. A remnant of his past returns to Low Town, and The Warden is determined to close the chapter on that matter.

The book is brilliantly written, and is even better than its predecessors, a significant feat as the readers of the Low Town trilogy will recognize. If you’ve started the Low Town series, do not hesitate to finish it, although you probably won’t need my encouragement after being two books in.

RATING : 9.4/10

Daniel Polansky – Tomorrow The Killing (Low Town #2)

Daniel Polansky – Tomorrow The Killing (Low Town #2)

The first book of Daniel Polansky’s Low Town series was a refreshing change from what I’ve been reading these last few months. So, how does the second Low Town book fare in comparison?

Tomorrow The Killing is set about three years after the first book. The Warden is approached by his old commander, General Montgomery, to find his missing daughter. The daughter has made it her objective to find out the secret behind the death of her brother, Ronald Montgomery, a man who was well-celebrated and greatly popular among the soldiers for his actions during the war. About an year and a half after the war, Ronald was found dead near a brothel, but his sister believed that her brother was killed as a part of some cover-up. Now the Warden has to scour the streets of Low Town to find the girl, before Low Town lays claim to her life too.

This book excels in the same way the first book did; the dry humor and sarcasm are served to the readers in liberal doses. The novel is not so much about the mystery, but about Low Town itself. In this way, the sequel is similar to the first book. The narrative really flows, and there is no place where the book ever feels like a drag. But the greatest part of the sequel is the exploration of the Warden’s relationships with Adolphus and Wren. We are also treated to some slices of the protagonist’s wartime experiences, which are brutal and gritty.

All in all, a worthy successor to the first book. The bleak, oppressive atmosphere created by Daniel Polansky will truly grip you to the end of the book, and will most probably compel you to obtain the final book in the trilogy too. At least, it had that effect on me.

RATING : 9.1/10

Daniel Polansky – Low Town (Low Town #1)

Daniel Polansky – Low Town (Low Town #1)

It’s been some time since I’ve read the Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence, where the reader had the fun of following a delightfully amoral youth in his quest for vengeance and more. Ever since, I’ve been noticing the Low Town book creeping into my recommendations list in Goodreads. At last, I got to pick up the novel and delve into Low Town. So, is the book worth it?

The plot has a sort of low-fantasy setting, with the story being more of a grim noir-type stuff, than the regular fantasy series we often encounter in the course of our reading.  It is a sort of crime-mystery, but is not a conventional kind of book.

So, the story. The novel follows a middle-aged man called The Warden, a war-veteran and an agent of the Crown, now disgraced and making a living as a moderately successful drug dealer. One unfortunate day, he stumbles across the body of a little girl, who’s clearly been raped and tossed aside into a dilapidated section of the city. However, the issue was not just the rape, it was also the way in which the murderer covered his tracks; even the scryers[magic guys] couldn’t detect a whiff of evidence on the corpse. Circumstances force the Warden into performing an investigation into the matter on his own.

This is how the cookie begins to crumble, so to speak. The story is narrated in first-person from the POV of the Warden, and is it fun to read. The Warden is a person of no morals, and this could be no more evident in his actions and thoughts.  For a sample of the Warden’s thinking, look at this :

” I awoke with a headache that made my swollen ankle feel like a hand-job from a ten-ochre an hour hooker.”

Most of the book is sprinkled liberally with dry, oddball humor like this. Needless to say, you’ll grow to love the protagonist, what with his drug-peddling and pissing people off, and all. His companions are interesting characters as well, notably Adolphus his war-time buddy and present owner of The Staggering Earl, a bar and inn; and Wren, a street urchin the protagonist picks up on his visits to the seedy underbelly of Low Town. But the best of all, is Low Town itself; Daniel Polansky has not just set the story in a fictional town, but he has in effect created a sort of character altogether. A living, breathing place, is Low Town.

So, is the book worth it? Hell yeah it is. This is not a typical good vs evil type of fantasy. If you’re fans of Mark Lawrence’s works, or even dark crime-fiction in general, you’ll love this book. In reality, this is the kind of book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, and am I glad at finding this…

A brilliant first book by Daniel Polansky. I’m going to rush through this series for sure, if the follow-ups are as good as this.

RATING : 9.2/10

Incidentally, the novel has released with the title ” The Straight Razor Cure” in Europe.

MARK LAWRENCE -THE BROKEN EMPIRE TRILOGY

MARK LAWRENCE -THE BROKEN EMPIRE TRILOGY

I haven’t put up any reviews in the last few days. Not without reason, though. For the Broken Empire trilogy has completely taken over my life till now. This will be my first of many more reviews on books that I’m gonna do.

The plot follows the prince of a kingdom Ancrath, one of the hundred pieces of the former empire, and now it is referred to as the broken empire. This empire is situated in Europe, with Vyene as its capital (and heart of the empire). The events chronicle the Prince Honorous Jorg of Ancrath’s journey from an age of, what, ten years, I think?

Anyways, the prince is not a good guy, a trope that seems to have afflicted the fantasy genre like the biblical plague (or is it bubonic? I fail to remember…). The prince, in fact, is a jerk, and not in that lovable kind of way we’re used to. He’s the “kill them, rape their women, set fire to their huts” kind of man. Not the traditional goody two-shoes guy, by any chance. In fact, he is a most ruthless person, willing to sacrifice anything and everything for his success, no holds barred. And his companions are just as ruthless as him, his “road-brothers” he calls them.

qme

Describes Jorg to a T.

When a chance encounter with a foreign prisoner results in Jorg leaving the comforts of the Tall Castle, his home, for a journeyman lifestyle with his road-brothers, little does he know how far his travels would take him, or what atrocities he would perpetrate. What he did know was that he would not rest until he avenged his mother and brother, who were brutally murdered by one of his close relatives. But relation wasn’t something that was going to stop Jorg from revenge. This is how it starts off, the trilogy, but soon it evolves into something much grander in scope. Suffice to say the series gets amazingly crazier as it rockets on forward.

What I’ve noticed from this novel is that Mark Lawrence can really write. The story flows on without any breaks, and his writing style, Jorg’s narrative, is probably famous among his readers for cutting straight through bullshit, like a hot knife through butter. He doesn’t waste any words in unnecessary descriptions, and his story really strikes true to the reader. There isn’t much world-building as such, for those of you who love epic fantasies like Malazan, but the plot is dark as hell, and it really sinks its thorns into you (hehe)and will drag you in. All that black humor will do it to anyone, after all.

Highly readable. Loved this series.

RATING : 9/10

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