Wild Wastes

Wild WastesWild Wastes by Randi Darren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a male power fantasy hard erotica. Not as bad as the GOR novels, but definitely problematic in some of its treatment of women, resulting in a longer than normal review from me. I do wish I could do 2.5 stars.

Let us get out of the way the world backstory. You will find more detail on the history of the world on the description of the book then in the book. That is a bit hyperbolic, but other then a few mentions it leaves the history of the world very hazy.

The overall plot of the book, a rebelling province, slaves and an Empire facing change is very loosely written with not a lot of detail. In fact the overall arc of the story serves more as a hanger to rest the interpersonal interactions of Vince and his women. This is not a Game of Thrones but honestly for what the book is about it works mostly.

Vince, the protagonist, and his many women (some whom become his wives) is where it is problematic with both positive and negative issues.

The Pros:
Vince is a ranger who hates slavery. His whole time in the book is him trying to free slaves (most of whom are women). He does free men as well but that is glossed over because the story isn’t about that. The story is more about the “shipping” between Vince and these women of various races.

The women themselves aren’t written badly overall. They excel in various areas including combat, intelligence, wit and magic. In addition, some of the sex scenes are pretty good, some are decent if taken out of context. There is something about his writing that is easy to read, and it went quickly.

Oh and I want to underline that the voice actress who reads the book is awesome.

The Cons:

The women outside of Vince are distinct individuals with strengths, some weakness and do have individual personalities. However the story becomes evident it is a power fantasy because the women do not pass the Bechdel Test, their entire focus for all women are Vince, and their desire to be dominated does have some callback to Gor (although from memory not as bad).

My biggest issue is all the women he chose, no matter their age/occupation/race were virgins. It gave the story a weird slut shaming feel on women. In addition not once during the several sex scenes did he write about Vince performing on the women for their pleasure. All pleasure they had derived, was from his manhood. Personally I feel he would have been a disappointment to any of those women, but like I said this is an erotic male power fantasy, and purely focused on what a typical “guy” would want from the author’s perspective.

I would have been ok if some of the individuals would have been like this, but all of them virgins, wanting to be dominated sexually in various ways by Vince made me uncomfortable. The fact they all wanted to be his wives, not be with anyone else sexually (not even between each other) and have his babies even more so.

Oh, and a side note, one of his wives is half woman (down to the genitals) and then half ant… I wasn’t sure when Vince met that character if the author would go that direction, but of course he did. However, the relationship worked out story wise for me. The biggest issue about that was her ant portion seem to shift size in the story to fit what was needed.

The story started out as a sexy D&D game, culminating in the fight and relationship between his first wife Fess, then rapidly dropping into a purely erotic power fantasy for men. I think the part that bothered me due to connotations the most is that this is being called the “Slave Harem” series.

I am still not sure if I will read the second book, I suspect the answer is yes. However this has made me want to find a more female positive series like this, and if I can’t find one maybe I need to write it.

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The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is for the audible audiobook version.

I saw this book on a very good sale on audible.com and I bought it on a whim. I like Neil Gaiman and while I haven’t read everything of his (American Gods here I come) I have always liked it.

What I didn’t realize with The Graveyard Book was that it was a children’s book. It wasn’t what I was aiming for, but it sucked me in and I don’t regret it.

The writing itself is very good, penned with a cadence that kept my interest. The story of a child growing up in the graveyard presents a lot of surreal imagery, along with the impossible characters and situations.

The most interesting is the story is snippets of Nobody “Bod” Owens childhood from infancy until his teens and the circumstances that befall him during that time.

All I can say without revealing any spoilers, this is a wonderful children’s book that adults can enjoy.

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Blood of Elves (Witcher Book 1)

Blood of Elves (The Witcher, #3)Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is for the audiobook. Possible Spoilers Ahead

I came to this series through the Witcher video games, so I was vaguely familiar the world. I played all the way through Witcher 2 which picks up before this novel, and Witcher 3 which is after this novel. It is because of those video games that I tried this novel out.

THE PROS

What I noticed was the world was even richer in the book. I really like the in depth writing about Geralt, Ciri and Yennifer. Magic made more sense after reading the book, and an appreciation for Geralt was even better. Hearing his thoughts and seeing him interact with Ciri and Yennifer changed a lot of my perspective from the game. I think when I go play the DLC for Witcher 3 it will be even better. I still like hooking up with Triss better than how the book works and I still Yennifer is still cold and distant and I don’t like her, but the infighting between Geralt, Yennifer and Triss makes more sense.

THE CONS

The book itself is will be very slow for most people. Coming from the video game I expected the book to have a lot more action and adventure. It is actually a lot more talking and passive interaction between characters. I don’t think this is bad in itself it was just a surprise and I think it would have been better served to have a quicker pace, or a more ruthless editor.

The writing itself is very dense. The author likes to use in-world languages and then translate them and it throws things off. I realize for “realism” there would be other languages, but this is probably the most extreme situation like this. I grew a bit tired of listening to the author first have a character say something in a language I didn’t know, then translate it and say it again.

I also haven’t figured it out if its so distracting and ponderous because the way the novel itself is written, or if its because it is a translation from Polish, or because it is an audible book of a translation of a book that is already too dense. Either way the writing does lose some of the steam it built in other areas.

Overall I appreciated the book. I will probably still get the second book but I won’t hurry to it. If you can get this book on sale, then I would recommend it, otherwise just play the video game.

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NPCs

NPCs (Spells, Swords, & Stealth, #1)NPCs by Drew Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very enjoyable fantasy adventure.

First, this is for the audible book, and it comes in around 8 hours so it is a good listen.

I knew that the whole hook of the series is a “what would happen if the NPCs in a fantasy world became the adventurer”. I thought it would be a cute little story that really wouldn’t be that interesting. I was wrong, by the end of it I was rooting for the characters and it felt just as good as any of the fantasy epic stories.

The book travels fast, it covers some basics of the world and it does use the whole trope of their being our reality of people who play tabletop games and the world itself. It avoids most of the clichés, and makes you root for the Kobold god for minions.

As for the audio, it is just like the rest of the audio books, the sound is great, the guy who does the voicework is easy to listen to and they didn’t try to do sound effects which I count as a good thing.

Also I just found there are two more books (each longer then the previous) and I am excited about getting them.

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Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, I need to say I love Betty! Absolutely favorite character in this volume.

I have heard about this for a long time. Some of my friends online talked and talked and talked. Others disliked it a lot. I can tell you from my experience that it is an awesome story and I love the Rat Queens.

It makes it crystal clear by reading this how misogynistic our fantasy stories are. The objections I have heard to the story are more to do with the people not liking it is about women, strong women, not just passive healers.

The artwork is pretty good, the characterization is great and the time flew by while I read it. The only con to reading this is that the artist was caught beating his female significant other, which really puts a strain on supporting this series. I don’t know if I would have read the series (both Volume 1 and 2 which will probably have the same review) if I had heard about the artist first, just because I won’t support that.

I have heard the third volume is a different artist and that the writer fired the illustrator. Hopefully it maintains its story and interest along with not supporting abusive people.

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