Ahoy there mateys! Though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do recommend books to each other. Books the first mate introduced to me included xom-b, holes, and the perks of being a wallflower. He and I both read the following:
house of assassins (Larry Correia)
We listened to and talked about the book and I enjoyed his viewpoint so I
ordered asked him to write a review. So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew. Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks. Hope you enjoy!
Side note: While I try to post no spoilers, this be a review of book two so read at yer own peril . . .
From the Captain:
This series was a recommendation by me First Mate. I loved book one back in 2016 and was excited for the next one. I read the paper version of book one. The First Mate listened to both books on audio book and was enthusiastic (to say the least) about the narrator Tim Gerard Reynolds. So before reading book two, I decided to revisit book one on audio. The First Mate and I listened to book one together. He was completely right. On me first read, I called it “A fluff book with a little bit of depth.” What the hell was I thinking? The story is fantastic and even better because of the narrator! Plus it was lovely to listen to the book in segments and discuss it with the First Mate. So there was no question about book two – audio book indeed!
And I loved, loved, loved book two. Though it be hard to say which book I enjoyed more. I continue to love Ashok Vadal, Thera, and the Librarian. Though the assassins and bad guy priest were kinda stereotypical to me on first read, the audio books fixed that problem. And book two took them in non-stereotypical directions that I certainly couldn’t have anticipated. Gutch continues to be hysterical. Jagdish continues to be an excellent counterpoint to Gutch. Seriously I love these characters!
Plus this book was hopping. The pace seemed blisteringly fast and I would actually shake me fist in rage every time a chapter ended and it was time to stop listening for the night. I had to know what was happening next. That said, the gaps between listening to the book didn’t even matter as soon as I heard the voice of Tim Gerard Reynolds. Instantly transported to where I left off. He is a wizard with a magical voice.
While book one was more linear in plot flow, book two did jump around a bit because of the POVs being separated. But I loved it. And the ending! Talk about suspense. I actually think both books ended so very well. The arc of each book was tied up but the last page left a big question that makes the wait for the answer cause almost a physical ache. I need book three. Now. Arrrrrr!
From the First Mate (some book one spoilers):
First of all, if you’re someone who loves audiobooks, or someone who occasionally dabbles in them, or someone who’s been never really taken to them, or someone looking for their first introduction to audiobooks, look no further. Tim Gerard Reynolds narrating Larry Correria’s “Saga of the Forgotten Warrior” may be the best marriage of narrator and material that I’ve ever encountered. Correia is a very good writer, but Reynolds adds so much to the overall work that I wouldn’t even consider enjoying these books in any other way. Reynolds has so many voices, such delightful accents, an utter mastery of timing and inflection, a way of imbuing in the most minor of characters with life that, well, I can’t sing his praises more highly.
“House of Assassins” follows directly from the ending of the first book, tells a self-contained adventure of its own, and progresses the overall narrative of the series. Correria does a fine job of making all of these elements work in their own right. We get a much deeper look into the magic system of the world, more glimpses into the murky history, tons of political intrigue, battles galore, and even a good helping of comedic stylings mostly from Gutch.
Ultimately, this novel seems to be about how our various characters deal with personal loss. Ashok is dealing with the loss of Angruvadal. Sikasso the loss of his arm. Devedas the loss of his brother. We learn what Thera lost and how that drives her. We learn what each does to try to live without something that was integral to their very being.
“House of Assassins” is slightly longer than “Son of the Black Sword” and yet it feels quite a bit shorter. I would have bet vital parts of my anatomy that it was shorter prior to looking it up only to find out that they were practically the same length. Partly this is due to the fact that the narrative simply doesn’t spend as much time with any one character as much as the first book did. Correia has expanded the list of characters to the point that a few of them only appear in a chapter or two. Also because there are so many storylines going on at once, the timescale is considerably compressed when compared to the first novel. We’re with the characters this time for a matter of weeks instead of almost a year.
I finished “Son of the Black Sword” lamenting the fact that Correia didn’t put his own spin on epic fantasy in the same way that he did on Lovecraftian horror with his Monster Hunter books. After this second book, I feel that I was in error. He has certainly put his own spin on it, and at this point I’m looking forward to another novel in this series far more than I am for his other series.
Highest recommendation to fans of epic fantasy.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel (shortened because of spoilers):
Ashok Vidal was once a member of the highest caste in all of Lok. As a Protector, he devoted his life to upholding the Law, rooting out those who still practiced the old ways and delivering swift justice with his ancestor blade Angruvadal. None was more merciless than he in stamping out the lingering belief in gods and demons among the casteless. His brutality was legendary and celebrated . . .
But there is much more at risk in the continent of Lok. Strange forces are working behind the scenes. Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword are caught up in a game they do not fully understand, with powerful forces allied against them.
Ashok no longer knows what to believe. He is beginning to think perhaps the gods really do exist.
If so, he’s warned them to stay out of his way.
They would do well to listen.
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