Shiver me timber and splice the mainbrace, pirates be Tough Travelling this week!

Every Thursday Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn takes us a roaming through some of the tropes of fantasy.  This week the topic be pirates:

‘PIRATES range the seas in force, though most of them operate individually…The sole qualifications are that they must be rough and ruthless, which a penchant for dressing gaudily.’


1. The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Much feared his daring and sword fighting abilities precede him.  However, there’s more to Roberts than at first meets the eye????  I won’t give it away here though.



2. The Sky Pirates from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.  Captain Shakespeare sails his vessel around the skies illegally collecting lightning until one day he collects two unsuspecting passengers instead.



3.  Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch.  In which our two Gentlemen Bastards turn to the high seas and try to find their sea legs.  They are unwittingly captured by Captain Zamira Drakasha and taken on board her pirate ship.

4.  Anvil of the World by Kage Baker.  A fantasy tale packed with action and so much wit.  Blending fantasy with murder mystery and pirates.  Smith, a retired assassin  takes on the role of caravan master.  Lets just say a lot of trouble ensues.  False names, butterflies in glass, Lord Ermenwyr – who is literally one of the funniest characters ever, not to mention a duel of fatally verbal abuse.  The pirates only play a small part in this story and I can’t remember what they were called!  I was thinking Gilders???

That’s it for me this week.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler (No1 of the Shadow Campaign

Just finished reading The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, the first in the Shadow Campaign series.  I really enjoyed this and think it’s a really strong start to what promises to be an excellent series.

The Thousand Names mixes military action with fantasy.  This is fairly new to me.  I don’t read a lot of books with this level of military action in them – of course reading fantasy you frequently encounter battles and skirmishes some on a fairly epic scale but I can’t recall reading a book that was based on military characters with the entire focus of the book using that platform as a setting.  This was really well down though and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Not to give away too much or to overcomplicate this review.  The book revolves around a campaign to reclaim a city – at least that’s what we’re led to believe at the outset.  The last of the Vordanai army remain stationed at an outpost in the land of Khandar. After the prologue we pick up with this army as they are introduced to their newly arrived from overseas Colonel who has brought fresh recruits and a strong intent on marching them all to the City of Ashe-Katarion to reclaim the throne for the rightful prince.  The City is currently controlled by The Redeemers – a fanatical religious faction, the Khandar auxiliaries (who were previously trained by the Vordanai army) and a tribe of desert warriors called the Desoltai and led by the Steel Ghost (a man who most believe is impossible to kill).

I won’t deny that this book is a slow burner – particularly in terms of the fantasy aspects which are very discretely woven into the story – but it builds a strong vision of the world without being overly wordy and places the main focus on character development.

For me the two main characters really make the story.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a really good supporting cast here as well but the story is narrated in alternating chapters by Captain Marcus D’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass.  These two couldn’t be more different!  Winter is actually a female – masquerading as a male character to escape her past.  She’s managed to survive so far, in fact she’s become a more than competent soldier but she’s not particularly well liked, which isn’t surprising as she has a massive secret that prevents her joining in with her colleagues for the majority of the time and makes her appear lofty or plain stuck up.  Marcus has been placed in charge of the outpost until the Colonel arrives.  He’s also very capable and lives by a basic set of standards.  He stands by his friends, he is steadfast in the face of danger, he will dutifully serve his colonel and will try to do the right thing.  If I had to choose I would say that Winter’s chapters were marginally more gripping – but this could simply because of the web of deceit she’s caught up in and also her story tends to be a little more focused on the fantasy side of things.  Both characters have interesting back stories that very much dictate their actions.

There is undoubtedly an element of smoke and mirrors going on with this story, a few surprises, a touch of folklore all mixed up with a healthy dose of political intrigue which becomes more heightened with the arrival of the Colonel.  Simply, is the real aim of the colonel to march his men to reclaim the City or are there darker plans afoot?

In terms of criticisms, I suppose some people may find this a little slow moving, personally I enjoyed the set up and character building so was quite happy.  Also, as previously mentioned a lot of the story revolves around military drills and skirmishes – again, I enjoyed this and found it interesting, particularly as the characters seemed to find themselves in increasingly more life threatening situations as the story progressed.

This is a well written and intriguing story, it has an old fashioned military feel with muskets, bayonets and cannons mixed up with a fascinating fantasy element that I’m keen to read more about.

Here are the two covers if you want to check out which is your favourite.  I like both although I think the green background with the character in black is more dramatic.

A break from books???


Nah!  Just a break for today’s post!  The topic for discussion this week over at the Broke and Bookish is ‘other types of story’ – in other words tell us about your top movies or tv series.  Well, I don’t really watch a lot of tv – but that’s simply because I’m disorganised and so I will forget to watch one week to the next!  And, also, I don’t want to become tied to staying in every week on a certain day at a certain time because I have to catch the next in series.  I do watch quite a lot of films though.  In terms of series we usually buy a full box set and watch them in one long haul! I’m going for five tv series and five movies just to be fair and have picked things that I can watch over:

  1. The Sopranos – we bought the box set of this and watched it virtually night after night until we’d seen the lot.  It was pretty amazing watching the family grow up in this way!  I loved this series, so well made and such great characters and dialogue.
  2. Trueblood – okay, I can’t deny that there’s a bit of eye candy going on right here which definitely has a certain appeal!  Eric – pwoah!  Sorry, it had to be said.
  3. Dexter – I actually didn’t fancy this series when it first started.  I sort of took umbrage at the thought of a serial killer who worked in the police.  However, yes, I can admit when I’m wrong.  I watched a couple of these, almost begrudgingly and then I was hooked.  I’ve only watched up to the end of series 5 so should really watch the rest.
  4. Flight of the Conchords – this is another series that we bought the box set – I love Jemaine and Bret, probably not everyone’s cup of tea but had me in stitches.
  5. Breaking Bad – again, didn’t know what to expect of this and decided to give it a shot.  It sort of reminds me a little of Dexter in that every episode you’re a little on edge – will they/won’t they come undone!
  6. The Shining – onto movies – how can you possibly narrow it down to such a small selection?  Anyway, I only recently read the book and without doubt it’s better than the film.  But even saying that I still think this is an excellent film.  It scared the you know what out of me.
  7. Lord of the Rings – I had to go there – I’m having all three included as one.  Brilliant book and great adaptations plus Aragorn.
  8. The Life of Brian – Monty Python, this is just one of those films that is totally quote worthy!  So many good lines.
  9. Pan’s Labyrinth – this film is dark, creepy, brutal, harsh, scary and brilliant.
  10. Star Wars – the first three!  And I do mean the first three – not the later three films that now are known as 1, 2 and 3!

That’s it for me.  I know I could come up with a LOT more but 10 is it!  Do you like any of these??  Which would you swap?


The Maze Runner by James Dashner, readalong week No.5

This is week 5 of our Maze Runner readalong.  See below for details of schedule and other bloggers taking part.  Only a few more chapters remain now!


Do you think Thomas purposefully getting stung by a Griever was a smart idea or stupid?   I don’t know whether I’d call it smart but I guess it was a way to find out what the others went through and maybe get some answers.  It’s curious that Thomas’s experience has been different from the others – I wonder if he is more immune given his other mental abilities and if that is the case it would suggest that maybe he has more a grip of what the real answers are?  He certainly still seems determined to leave the Maze unlike the others who have been through the changing.


Do you think Teresa was the only girl who went through the special training? Or why weren’t more females thrown into the Maze? It’s possible there are more.  I think Thomas and Teresa’s mental abilities obviously single them out in some way.


In Chapter 44, Teresa suggests that she and Thomas were lovers or knew each other intimately before entering the Glade. Do you think the other boys knew each other before the Glade? Thomas reveals later in the section that they were all orphans raised for this experiment. Did they know each other growing up? Do you think those relationships survived the mind wipe?  I think it’s possible that they all knew each other.  That may be why they go through the Changing they recognise each other?  It’s as though the changing eliminates some of the memory loss somehow – and maybe plants something else instead?  I think it’s possible that Thomas and Teresa were in a relationship, it is possible however that the relationship was brother and sister – which could explain why they have the connection?


So there is some big bad disease in the outside world called the Flare that makes Alby so desperate to stay in the Maze he burns the maps and is down to chill out with the uber fun Grievers. How bad could this Flare disease be? Do you think Alby is overreacting, or is there something extra terrible about the Flare? What could it have done to the outside world to be so apocalyptic and awful that Alby wants to stay in the Maze?  The flare definitely sounds like something world changing!  At first I wondered if it was some sort of bio warfare gone horribly wrong?  Or maybe a mass outbreak of some new bug strain.  Perhaps Thomas and Teresa have been through the disease and survived which is why their minds are different?


I never thought of any of these characters as particularly smart. Does it strike anyone else as not very believable that these guys are all so super elite that they were co-opted by Science? Particularly Thomas, whose head we’re actually inside and who supposedly designed the maze.  Apart from Thomas and Teresa I’m not sure that any of the others were put into this experiment for their super smarts.  I was sort of thinking they were put there as some form of social experiment just because they were orphans and so nobody to object about how they were being used?  Thomas and Teresa obviously have this mental connection but other than that I wouldn’t say either of them come across as particularly smart at the moment!


Why is Newt so negative to Thomas’s code breaking?  There is no better option so why does Newt resist so much?  I think Newt is a much more basic, down to earth, brass tacks type of character who prefers doing something as oppose to thinking about it or trying to come up with a different way of thinking.


I’m curious about the words found in the maps and what they mean? FLOAT CATCH BLEED DEATH STIFF PUSH  I tried thinking of all sorts of different concepts for these – are they anagrams – do you take the first letter of each word and see if that makes an alternative word, etc, etc.  None of these ideas came up with anything else.  The only other thing I could think of is that it refers to the disease (The Flare) – maybe the germs float, you catch the germs, you bleed. you die and go stiff – push?  Don’t know – perhaps you come back as some sort of undead or zombie?

I’ll just have to read on and find out!


Chapters 1-9     Read 27-April through 10-May. Submit Questions by 10-May. Post by 17-May
Chapters 10-19     Read 11-May through 24-May. Submit Questions by 24-May. Post by 31-May
Chapters 20-29     Read 25-May through 7-Jun. Submit Questions by 7-Jun. Post by 14-Jun
Chapters 30-38     Read 8-June through 21-Jun. Submit questions by 21-Jun. Post by 28-Jun
Chapters 39-51     Read 22-Jun through 5-Jul. Submit questions by 5-Jul. Post by 12-Jul
Chapters 52-End     Read 6-Jul through 19-Jul. Submit questions by 19 Jul. Post by 26 Jul

Other Participants to check out:

Fan Art Up..

Posted On 10 July 2014

Filed under Book Reviews
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Fan Art Up is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha at Not Yet Read.  Details here.



This week – I’ve read Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer and The Martian by Andy Weir my doodle is inspired by one of those books!  This is only for fun – I’m not an artist at all but if you step over to Tabitha’s there are some lovely pieces to check out!


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