Servant of the Shard by R.A. Salvatore

I’m happy that these characters have their own series as they’re too interesting to just be left as side characters.

3/5 stars
Hardcover, 348 pages.
Read from January 2, 2019 to January 8, 2019.

I said to myself that I wasn’t going to touch this series and just stick with the ones about Drizzt but I couldn’t help myself. Especially with how the Neverwinter series went, I just had to know more about these supposed bad boys Jarlaxle and Artemis.

This novel takes place while the companions are all still together and instead of following Drizzt and his crew you see what’s happening on the other side with Jarlaxle and Artemis. This story shows what happens to the infamous Crystal Shard when it lands in Jarlaxle’s hands. Artemis has found himself within the company of drow, a precarious situation, but he has learned much about how this aggressive race of elves work and think. He is also aiming at robbing a highly guarded sword with which he hopes to have the help of his questionable ally, Jarlaxle. Jarlaxle, however, has found himself in a bit of bind as he doesn’t realize that the precious Crystal Shard is manipulating him. To make matters worse, Bregan D’aerthe, his own family, is trying to turn on him. Both Jarlaxle and Artemis have managed to be successful in their assassinating and scheming endeavours because they never trust anyone but in order for the two of them to come out of this situation alive, they’re going to have to address some of their trust issues.

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Artemis and Jarlaxle by WhiteElzora on Deviant Art

This book was exactly what I expected. The characters are consistent with what I have read in the Drizzt books. I’m also happy that these characters have their own series as they’re too interesting to just be left as side characters. It’s intriguing to see Artemis as a parallel to Drizzt and reading this book helps define Artemis’ character further within Drizzt’s story, especially in the Neverwinter books. Artemis has his own moral compass, it’s just not aligned the way Drizzt’s is, which of course, Drizzt comes to see in the Neverwinter books.  Having read those books first, I am curious as to what happens between Jarlaxle and Artemis at the end of this trilogy as the Neverwinter books allude to an event. I enjoyed reading about these two rogues and look forward to reading the remainder of the trilogy.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

“It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 240 pages.
Read from November 26, 2018 to November 27, 2018.

Published in 1968, this novel is one of Ursula K. Le Guin first ventures into children’s literature. She never intended to write children’s literature but thanks to her persuasive publisher this classic fantasy piece exists. Ursula was not only a pioneer in fantasy and science fiction but she also managed to create accessible and YA novels that were also pieces of literature.  I’m not sure how this author went under my radar as she is a highly acclaimed author but I’m glad I’ve found her.

This story the classic coming-of-age story of a young wizard named Ged. Ged has a natural talent for magic which is what gets him away from his poor upbringing and into a prestigious school to hone his magical skills. However, Ged is overly confident and he makes a mistake that will affect him for the rest of his life. After learning the hard way the cost of power, Ged must find a way to deal with the Shadow that he has released upon the world and come to realize that you are defined not by your mistakes but how your rise to overcome and learn from them.

“You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.”

 

Ged’s trials are what makes this book timeless as the message the story provides to youth is essential, especially when the majority of kids are terrified of making mistakes. The book also emphasizes kinship and friendship with others and with animals and the choices it takes to be brave. That, and what kid doesn’t want to read about winning over dragons and beating their own shadows? This book is exciting enough to appease any youth reader and insightful enough to satisfy any teacher or parent. In a way, I am surprised that this series doesn’t have more a cult following as I imagined it reading like the Harry Potter of its day.

What is also pivotal in this book, especially considering its date of publication is the colour of Ged’s skin. Ged is described as dark-skinned and is not Caucasian, despite the cover art on most of the earlier published books. Imagine the ethnic minority readers this would have spoken to in the late 60s, and even today, who might have never had a character to admire or look up before that looked like them. Ursula became known for pushing boundaries on gender, race, environmentalism and more in some of her other works adding that exceptional element of brilliance to her writing.

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Image by Charles Vess

While I have heard that this novel isn’t necessarily Ursula’s best work it laid the foundation for a phenomenal series and I know for me, it has made me want to read her more well-known adult novels and series. I would highly recommend that this book and its series be added as an essential to any fantasy-readers list and for those that love YA. This book is perfect for almost all ages making it a great book to re aloud to children or for those kids reading on their own.

 

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

I will not be pursuing the trilogy further. I will, however, watch the next season of the TV show when it’s released as I feel like the show took the original ideas of this story, tidied it up, and in general did more justice to the interesting concept and world that this author created.

1/5 stars.
Hardcover, 584 pages.
Attempted from January 16, 2019 to February 12, 2019.

I just can’t… this book is poorly written and highly disorganized and I found it strain from the first page to get involved in this book. The first book in this trilogy has a more engaging story and clearly had a heavier hand in editing whereas the author ended up ruining the story for me by being allowed to write so haphazardly. You have a large number of characters thrown at you from the first page which make them hard to invest in as well as making the story hard to follow. The main plot of finding a witch to help Diana and the Ashmole 782 gets lost in the mound of unnecessary characters, Matthew’s ridiculously excessive past and accolades, as well as cringe-worthy romance and sex scenes. All of the aspects I was interested in from the previous books were not apparent in this novel as it turned into a poorly written romance. I managed to make it nearly halfway through the book and all of its details without drowning in it.

I will not be pursuing the trilogy further. I will, however, watch the next season of the TV show when it’s released as I feel like the show took the original ideas of this story, tidied it up, and in general did more justice to the interesting concept and world that this author created. If I were in a less hassled state of mind I might have had the resilience to finish this book and find more redeeming qualities but for now, it’s being added to the very, very small pile of books that I could not finish.