Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore

“Fie these gods! What beings are these who would play so cruelly with the sensibilities of rational, conscientious mortals?”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 352 pages.
Read from December 2, 2020 to December 9, 2020.

Chugging along the Drizzt-train with book 30 of the Legend of Drizzt series and the last book in the Companions Codex (#1 Night of the Hunter, #2 Rise of the King). I never imagined I read this far into the series but here I am. Overall, it was great to have the companions back in the Companions Codex but I wasn’t satisfied with the plot in this trilogy of books but I have high hopes for the Homecoming trilogy that comes next.

The orcs, under the influence of the dark elves, continue to attack cities and break the hundred-year-old peace treaty once instilled by King Bruenor himself. Drizzt, Cattibrie and Bruenor must find a way to rally and bring the dwarves together and finally reveal that he is King Bruenor reborn. Separated from the trio after an attack, Regis and Wulfgar, decide to try and find their way to the Citadel by means of the Underdark, an extremely risky endeavour. Meanwhile, the dark elves are scheming and Tiago is getting frustrating with the instruction from his superiors and can’t let go of his obsession to kill Drizzt. Joined by an extensive list of supporting characters (too many, in my opinion) the companions and are working together to stop the Darkening and help stop the rampage and domination of the orcs in the North.

While I enjoy some of the supporting characters in Salvatore’s stories I also find that there are way too many and often detract from the main plot. I struggle to remember the names and their backstories because I wasn’t all that interested in them to begin with and generally just patiently wait for the story to come back to the companions or Jarlaxle, especially in some of the last few books. The plot lacks focus and isn’t as concise as some of Salvatore’s other books. The book is still enjoyable, however, and satisfying my Drizzt needs. I’m very much looking forward to the next three books in the series.

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

“For a long time, she held a special place in my heart. I kept this special place just for her, like a “Reserved” sign on a quiet corner table in a restaurant. Despite the fact that I was sure I’d never see her again.”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 224 pages
Read from November 26, 2020 to December 2, 2020

I just realised that I am four books shy of having read everything by Murakami (23 books according to his website). If that doesn’t show that he is my favourite author then I don’t know what does. No matter what book I pick up by Murakami, regardless of the plot, each book brings me back to the same feelings; comforting, welcoming, and familiar.

South of the Border and West of the Sun is a love story and while much of Murakami’s work have love stories in them it isn’t always the main focus. This one was an exception. Hajime is an only child and he’s a bit hung up on it as he feels that only children are different. During his childhood, he makes a friendship with a girl with a lame leg called Shimamoto. Shimamoto also happens to be an only child and the two of them find a friendship that carries them into adolescence as they spend their time listening to music and talking about the future. The two of them grew apart as they got older, as adolescent friendships often do. However, even when Hajime reaches middle age, is married with children, a successful business owner with a seemly ordinary and happy life, he cannot stop thinking about Shimamoto and what could have been. Shimamoto predictably reappears in his life, igniting a passion in Hajime that he can’t ignore and will risk everything for.

As a reader, Hajime’s obsession becomes your obsession as you anxiously anticipate what will happen when Hajime somehow reunites with Shimamoto. That doesn’t, however, make it any less heartbreaking when his wife finds out what he’s been doing.

“I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for falling in love with another woman. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong.”

The book itself is a testament to the power of memory and nostalgia, as well as the risks and rewards of indulging in them. The story is also very much about childhood and the dissatisfaction that comes with becoming an adult and the endearing power of first love.

“…..the sad truth is that certain types of things can’t go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can’t go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that’s how it will stay forever.”

This book, however, lacked the pull that most Murakami books have for me as perhaps it was too love-centred or that I was generally more interested in Shimamoto and her life and thoughts than Hajime’s perspective. I’m usually not bothered by the male-centeredness of most Murakami novels or the lack of real characteristics he gives his female characters as the protagonist’s story feels universally relatable to me. I’m not saying that this character wasn’t, I just found myself more interested in Shimamoto this time around.

It’s a safe book for first-time Murakami readers but it’s definitely not his best. The book itself is still very much a Murakami novel and I still found enjoyment in it.

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

If watched or read the book, what are you thoughts on them? Did you enjoy one and not the other? Or did you like/dislike them both?

3/5 stars.
ebook, 416 pages.
Read from September 8, 2020 to September 10, 2020.

You know, the problem with not doing book reviews within the same week that you read them is that the ones that don’t make an impression then become hard to write about because you forget about them. Eh, my bad. Let’s see what I can pull together for this review.

Cursed is an interesting take on the story of King Arthur. Nimue is of the fey people and is an outcast in her own community due to her mysterious and uncontrollable powers. When the fanatical human religious group called the Red Paladins begin exterminating her kind, Nimue’s mother sends her off with a mysterious sword with strict instructions to bring the sword to Merlin, a fey who is considered a traitor to his kind. Merlin has been working beside the human king and seems to have lost his powers so he takes to drink (a lot) and tries to fool others into thinking he is still powerful. Yet Merlin can sense something is stirring within the magical realm and feels a deep connection to the sword. Nimue is assisted by a human mercenary named Arthur who helps her escape the Paladins in her journey to deliver the sword. Throughout the journey, Nimue becomes the voice and figure of hope for the fey people as she wields the sword and uses her magic to combat the Paladins. The Paladins call her the Wolf Witch and they want her head but Nimue is resistant to this heroic role that she has been thrown upon her as she now finds herself responsible for the fate of her own people.

Nimue is supposed to represent the average underdog but she was not the heroine I was hoping for. I was often disappointed with how she handled herself in situations and there were a few very stereotypical YA tropes that took place within her character, the plot, and Nimue’s relationship with Arthur. Conceptually I enjoyed this book, it’s a great idea, but it wasn’t as exciting as I was anticipating. For one, and sorry to Frank Miller and his fans, the artwork wasn’t what I was expecting and it felt really disjointed from the story and writing and added absolutely nothing to the plot for me. When I picked up this book I was actually expecting a graphic novel as I knew that Frank Miller was apart of it, I didn’t actually know it was a novel. The images felt like they were meant for a completely different plotline and that perhaps Frank Miller was not the best choice of artist for this story like somehow a YA novel shouldn’t be paired with one of the most violent graphic novel artists? The artwork wasn’t even all that prominent even, just a few images thrown throughout the book. It’s like the publishing company knew that by having Frank Miller put in a couple of images the book would do better.

I didn’t hate the book but I was disappointed with it. It had the potential to a really engaging and unique take on a classic story. I watched some of the TV show on Netflix and felt the same there too. It was interesting but engaging so I didn’t even bother to finish the season but at least I finished the book.

If you watched or read the book, what are your thoughts on them? Did you enjoy one and not the other? Or did you like/dislike them both?