The Captain’s Log – lord valentine’s castle (Robert Silverberg)

Ahoy there me mateys!  A little while back, I was introduced to Robert Silverberg’s work with his novella the emperor and the maula.  Like I said then, I had absurdly never heard of him.  Now if ye be unaware of the author:

I learned from sandy @ fantasyliterature that Mr. Silverberg has written no fewer than “78 sci-fi novels, almost 450 short stories and novellas, around 70 books of nonfiction, and around 185 novels of, um, “adult fiction,” in addition to having edited over 130 anthologies.”  Talk about prolific!  He is currently 82 years old.  Goodreads says that he has won 5 Hugos and 5 Nebulas.  Also he is a 2004 Grand Master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  Sheesh!

At the time I reached out to the crew for recommendations of what else to read out of his many, many works.  Me matey, calmgrove, said “I’ve really enjoyed his Majippoor novels, all set on a giant planet. The first, “Lord Valentine’s Castle”, is very accessible, but to be honest if you don’t want to read the rest if the loosely linked series you won’t feel too denied!”

I liked the idea that it was a series that 1) if I liked it I could read more; and 2) it was a self-contained story.  Plus a local library had it for free on audiobook.  Decision made!

It turned out to be an okay read.  I didn’t love it but I am glad I read it.  I actually loved the world-building, the characters, and the wonderful set-up.  The titular character, Valentine, was extremely fun.  When ye start the book, Valentine is entering an enormous city in time for a festival.  What ye learn is that Valentine has no memories at all.  They start at the moment the reader meets him – on the hill on day of his arrival in the big city.  Where did he come from?  Why is he there?  He doesn’t know what to do with himself so he joins a juggling troupe!  Fantastic.

There were two major problems for me and unfortunately both are pet peeves.  The first was that it is a travelogue.  I love that ye get to see new places and people but here each are touched on only briefly.  I don’t tend to like books where the characters wander around and nothing really exciting happens.  In this book, the focus is on Valentine’s struggle to remember his past and then his reluctance to believe it.  That reluctance is me second problem.  Valentine waffles and hems and haws about his identity even when it has already been proven to the reader and even other characters in the book.

I do not like wishy-washy characters or angst.  I did understand why Valentine wouldn’t want to take up his old position.  I understood why he might want a choice in his life’s path.  Who wouldn’t?  But I would have liked, after a brief inter-personal struggle, to have seen him embrace his past and then decide how to tackle his future.  Instead, the situation is resolved in almost a laughable way with very little action or suspense.  Also there are convenient people who happen to come along and offer help at just the right moment.  Sigh.

Dreams are also a major part of this book.  They have real-world consequences and send messages to the people.  There are dream readers and dream rulers.  Dreams are tied into the ruling of the government.  According to Wikipedia “The planet is ruled by an unusual tetrarchy: an adoptive Coronal rules in a highly visible and symbolic manner from his palace atop Castle Mount; the previous Coronal retires to become the Pontifex, the head of the bureaucracy in an underground Labyrinth; the Coronal’s mother becomes the Lady of the Isle of Sleep, promoting the morals of Majipoor by sending dreams to its inhabitants; while a hereditary King of Dreams on the distant continent of Suvrael punishes wrongdoers by visiting them with nightmares.”  Again cool concept but I was more than a bit confused how they impacted Valentine’s journey.

I did happen to love Lisamon Hultin, a giant warrior woman mercenary.  She was so fun!  And there was an excellent part dealing with the sea and sea serpents.  I, of course, adored that section.  And truly, I was rooting for Valentine the whole time.  While the plot didn’t excite me, I was glad to have this introduction to Majipoor world.  I am not adverse to readin’ the second book as it seems to be a collection of individual stories set in a larger framework.  Arrr!

Check out this interesting article on the Tor.com website about the novel.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Valentine, a wanderer who knows nothing except his name, finds himself on the fringes of a great city, and joins a troupe of jugglers and acrobats; gradually, he remembers that he is the Coronal Valentine, executive ruler of the vast world of Majipoor, and all its peoples, human and otherwise…

Valentine’s journey is a long one, a tour through a series of magnificent environments. Fields of predatory plants give way to impossibly wide rivers, chalk-cliffed islands and unforgiving deserts. The prose is unrelentingly dreamlike—no accident given that on Majipoor, dreams rule the minds of great and humble alike.

Originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in four parts: November 1979, December 1979, January 1980 and February 1980.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robert Silverberg – Author

To buy the book go to:

lord valentine’s castle – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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The Captain’s Log – the poppy war (R.F. Kuang)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I heard about this amazing book from a review by me crew member, Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum.  It is getting five-star reviews by tons of me crew.  Split into three distinct sections, this story follows a war orphan named Rin.  Very briefly, the sections are 1) school testing ; 2) magic training; and 3) war.

This be a story that grows darker as ye read.  At the beginning, the book almost feels like a YA book where ye cheer young Rin on.  But as Rin matures, so does the book’s tone.  School is a place of bullies, lectures, and hard lessons.  And then war comes and it is graphic and unflinching.  But the world-building is lovely and the detail impeccable.

Me only small quibble is that the last part of magic training and the first part of war dragged a little for me.  Other readers did not seem to have this problem.  I do think that if ye can handle the darker subject matter then ye should give this a go.  I certainly want the next book!

Side note: Isn’t this cover fabulous?

Check out me crew members reviews of this one:

Melanie @ metotheany’s review – “And ultimately, this is a story about a girl who has been given nothing but pain in a world that constantly reminds her that she is lesser. And she overcomes every single hurdle and becomes not only what the world said she couldn’t be, but she becomes what she wanted to be. Like, this book is powerful, empowering, and a love letter to all girls that are told they can’t do something daily.”

James Lafayette Tivendale’s review – “I can safely say that this will be the finest debut of 2018 and I’d be surprised if it isn’t one of the top 3 books of the year full stop. Spectacular, masterclass, brilliant, awesome… All the complimentary buzzwords you can imagine don’t quite do The Poppy War justice for how amazing it is.”

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

To visit the author’s website go to:

R.F. Kuang – Author

To buy the book go to:

the poppy war – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – zoo city (Lauren Beukes)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This be one of me reads in me May BookBum Club Challenge where the theme be “around the world: a book by an author who is from another country.”  This author be from South Africa.  I was reminded of this book’s existence from me recent look at me NetGalley Rejections – Part Two.  I had requested it back in the day and was denied.  So what better time to read it then for this challenge?

The blurb starts with “Zinzi has a sloth on her back.”  A women who is bonded with a sloth?  Ummm yes!  So this is a fantasy book with a gritty atmosphere, awesome protagonist, and lyrical writing.  It also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel back in 2011.

The magic in this world is weird and awesome.  So basically, if ye commit a crime then ye be bonded with an animal familiar.  If yer animal dies then ye get dragged to the Underworld i.e. hell.  So of course the people who have these animals are at the bottom of the social ladder and be pariahs.  Because obviously if ye have an animal it is proof that ye be bad.  But a positive to yer animal is that ye be granted a magical power.  There is no rhyme or reason to what animal or power a person gets.  Zinzi has a sloth and the ability to find lost things – keys, wallets, people.  It is her ability to find people that causes her so much grief in this story.

Zinzi doesn’t normally do missing person cases because of the complications involved.  But her debt to her ex-drug dealers is skyrocketing, she hates being a part of the 419 scams they give her, and this might be her ticket out of debt and into more freedom.  I have to admit that I adored both Zinzi and her Sloth companion.  Yes Zinzi made mistakes.  But I couldn’t help but root for her anyway.

Zinzi has to find the missing person while dodging murder charges, finding clues, and trying to survive in the slum.  For me the unique world-building and characterizations are what made the novel.  The plot was okay but had some holes, some unanswered questions, some predictable plot twists, and a less-than satisfactory ending.  But I adored Zinzi and the world the author created.  I believe this be a stand-alone but I wouldn’t mind more stories set in this world.  And I do believe I love the author’s writing style enough to give another novel of hers a try.

Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to read this delightful “around the world” novel.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.

Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.

Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Lauren Beukes – Author

To buy the book go to:

zoo city – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

April 2018 – “Short and sweet – read a book that’s under 200 pages!”

The Captain’s Log – the tangled lands (Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias S. Buckell)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have loved Paolo Bacigalupi ever since I read the windup girl.  So when I heard that he had co-written a book, I knew I had to pick it up.  Just be aware that this is not one complete story but rather four interrelated short stories set in the same world.  I am glad that me matey, Millie @ milliebotreads, warned me of this so I was prepared.

That said, I absolutely loved this book.  The world and its magic is so very fascinating. Brambles are taking over the world and destroying everything in their path.  They are spread by the use of magic and they kill.  The solution seems easy.  Just stop doing magic.  And yet folk can’t seem to help themselves.  A little spell to stop a sickness.  A charm to fix physical defects.  A magic bridge to span a river.  The bigger the magic, the more the brambles grow.  Every spell hurts.  The four stories talk about the consequences of the brambles in various walks of life.

The four sections follow 1) an alchemist, 2) an executioness, 3) a child of Kahim, and 4) a blacksmith’s daughter.  Personally, stories 1 and 4 were me favourite.  The alchemist story set up the world in a wonderful way and I was highly invested in what would happen.  The blacksmith’s daughter had unexpected turns throughout that kept me guessing.

All of the stories had unresolved endings and yet were satisfying.  That be unusual for me.  I would love to have further adventures of both the alchemist and the blacksmith’s daughter.  I would also love to have more stories set in this amazing world.  It was a quick read and I couldn’t put it down.  I want more!

Check out me crew members reviews of this one:

Millie @ milliebotreads review – “Uhm, this book was SO GOOD. I didn’t take a single note because I was too busy reading. I read the majority of the book in one sitting and was tempted to cancel my plans the next night so I could finish it! I don’t even know what to say!”

Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum’s review – “Other than taking place in the world, the four these stories here are unlinked or can be read separately, and yet, a common theme does run through all of them. The concept of family features strongly in each tale, not to mention a central figure who sacrifices a great deal in order to save a family member.”

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them.

To visit the authors’ websites go to:

Paolo Bacigalupi – Author

Tobias S. Buckell – Author

To buy the book go to:

the tangled lands – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for these Authors

Paolo Bacigalupi – Broadside No. 17

The Captain’s Log – full fathom five (Max Gladstone)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So in previous times, wendy @ the biliosanctum set me on a series of adventures that led to me reading the first book in The Craft Sequence, three parts dead.  I absolutely loved it.  The second book was two serpents rise.  That was not nearly as good as the first but I adore the world and certainly wanted the next book.  Like the others, I read this one without reading the blurb first.  No real spoilers aboard but read at yer own peril . . .

This installment turned out to be much better than the last.  It was also a companion novel featuring a new city and new characters.  The difference in this book was that some characters from the other two books appeared in this one!  It was fun to have the books tie together in a fashion.

This one takes place on the island of Kavekana.  It is not run by a god or a deathless king but by a business entity.  The conglomerate creates idols for use in business transactions for those who don’t want to worship in other cities.  The idols don’t have feelings or true consciousness but can “die” in business deals gone wrong.  Kai is one of the creators of the idols.  When she witnesses an idol about to die, she dives into danger hoping to prevent its’ demise.  Instead she ends up severely injured and has jeopardized the business.  For her botched attempt, she is moved to another department until the company can decide her future role.  Everyone thinks she has gone crazy.  Is she or is there a bigger game at play?

Besides Kai, there is also a spunky street urchin named Izza that is the other main point of view.  I loved the interplay of all of the women in this book.  Also while there some elements of Kai’s relationship with her ex in this novel, it serves a function in the plot and does not overtake the story.  In general, I found the machinations of the idols and the business to be fascinating.  This novel weaves the characters and their wishes and aspirations together in a very powerful mix.  Gladstone yet again takes the novel in directions I wasn’t expecting.

I will be reading the fourth book at some point and, no, I won’t be reading the blurb for that one either.  Wish me luck.  Arrrr!!!

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai tries to save a dying idol, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Max Gladstone – Author

To buy the book go to:

full fathom five – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

three parts dead – book one (Captain’s Log – Urban Fantasy)

two serpents rise – book two (Captain’s Log – Urban Fantasy)

Captain’s Log – the curse of chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I be readin’ a lot of adult sci-fi and YA so far this year and had a hankerin’ for some fantasy.  I was goin’ to read the paladin of souls but discovered just before I was about to read it that it be a book 2 of a series.  So I picked up this book 1 instead.  This was me first foray into this author’s work, and I be hooked.  I can’t believe I missed enjoying her novels before.  I will certainly be readin’ the second book.

This was a slow-burning, delicious world-building, character-driven story.  The main character, Cazaril, is a broken woe-filled man with absolute horrible luck.  He is only in his 30s but seems ancient and weather-worn.  When met, he is on a desperate journey to throw himself on the mercy of his former employer in an attempt to find a job, any job, wherein he may work and try to obtain some measure of peace.

Of course peace is not what he gets.  Instead he is pulled into a horrible situation he wants no part of.  Politics, gods, curses, magic and impossible odds.  Anything else I can say about it would only be a diminishment of how completely awesome it is.  Seriously, ye have to read it.

Check out these other effusive reviews by me crew:

zeezee @ zeezeewithbooks

brad @ goodreads

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Lois McMaster Bujold – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the curse of the chalion – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – spellwright (Blake Charlton)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So this book is a bit of a conundrum.  Ye see I normally write me reviews immediately after finishing a tome.  I like to put me thoughts in me log right away as it helps me process what I read.  And yet this novel was read months ago and I am still struggling with pinning this one down.  Me rule be to review every book I read so I figured come hell or high water, today be the day.

The Good:

  • extremely fun magic system.  magic spells are written out in luminous text using parts of the body.  it is an odd system but totally works.
  • a main character, Nicodemus, who has failed to live up to his golden child destiny.  they thought he was the chosen one and then gave up on him.
  • Nicodemus has dyslexia, a major factor in why he has disastrous consequences when using his magic.  woven into the story and magic in a beautiful way.  the author has dyslexia too so #ownvoices.
  • a spellcaster named Shannon who is the mentor of Nicodemus but is just plain awesome.  easily me favourite character in the book.
  • golems.  very cool constructs.  kinda want one.
  • dragons. ’nuff said.

The Not So Good:

  • the pacing.  so very hard to get into the story.  the world building is intriguing and kept me going but parts of the story were a slog.  wanted to abandon ship multiple times.
  • Nicodemus is annoying.  very much sympathize with his situation.  he is just so bitter and angry and not in the sarcastic clever witty way.  he is a hot headed fool.
  • Nicodemus cannot breathe without looking for his mentor, Shannon’s, approval.  totally get why this is part of the story but urg.  in combination with the previous note, makes me want to wring his neck.
  • evil beings for the sake of evil.  perhaps there is a greater reason then the usual.  but this book didn’t explore it.
  • dragons.  well this trilogy claims to have dragons which be part of why it was begun.  i got a dream dragon.  huh?

So there it be – me thoughts.  I like the world building and magic quite a bit.  The main character and pacing irk me.  So do I want to read the next in the series.  All these months later and I still be unconvinced.  So has any of me crew read this series and want to tip the ballast one way or the other?

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Blake Charlton – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

spellwright – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List