Book Review: Embassytown

China Mieville is a smarter man than me.

I say that all the time, but it seems like every time a read one of his books I am taken aback by just how much. With most writers I feel like, craft aside, if I had the time I could come up with a story equal to most of what is out there today. Maybe not on a prose level, but on a plot level, sure.

With Mieville, that is never the case. And Embassytown is no exception.

This sci-fi novel is about the power of language, of truth, of friendship. It’s a thing of depth and beauty that left me with a hollow ache of longing to see those alien vistas. At times difficult, that difficulty was always rewarded.

I can safely say the portrayal of the alien Hosts was one of the most ‘real’ presentations of an alien I can recall having read. The human dynamics were painfully real at times as well. The cultures felt lived in, which is an incredibly difficult aspect to manage.

This book is not for everyone. If you love words, and the ideas behind them, then you will enjoy this book. Its cerebral sci-fi, dense in meaning at the expense of conventional action.

China Mieville is a smarter man than me.

Pick up proof of that here:


Bonus Episode: Book Buzz Part 1

The guys are on their break, figuring out how to polish this podcast for you fine folks, so they dug into the vault to bring you part one of their rundown of the 51 greatest fantasy novels ever written. At least as according to Buzzfeed.

Link to the article:

Book Review: Kings of the Wyld

This book is a damn treasure.

One of the many things I have to thank the Reddit Fantasy community for is turning me onto this amazing book. It get a fair bit of hype there, and even won its award for best debut novel, a well deserved prize.

The premise, a world where mercenary bands are treated as and act similarly to rock and roll bands, sounds a bit silly at first. And this book could have quickly descended into Pratchett-esque levels of tomfoolery. But the strength of this book comes from it’s heart and deep, deep belly laughs.

Following the exploits of Saga, the land’s greatest band long since retired, as they try to get the band back together, this story is filled with compelling characters. The plot itself, while spelled out in its goals early on, will leave you constantly guessing. And the frequent moments of humor are perfectly accented by the very real risk, and losses that are experienced.

I can not recommend this book highly enough. Do yourself a favor, and pick up a copy here:

Week Fourteen Book Battle Podcast!

The guys talk about what fantasy world they would most like to live in, as well as which one they would least like to. There’s also the usual chatter about what killer books they have been reading.

Episode 14: A Life

The guys talk whiskey news, beard charity work, dream of buying 400 dollar bottles of booze, and do a deep dive on A Death by Stephen King.

Book Review: The Southern Reach Trilogy

I came to discover Jeff Vandermeer due to his steampunk writings. So when I saw that a book of his was being turned into a movie I was instantly intrigued. I didn’t have time to read it however before seeing its big screen adaptation, but the movie hooked me so much that I left the theatre and went and bought Annihilation.

To be clear, this is a cerebral sort of horror series. It won’t be for everyone, but for those who love mystery threaded with horror elements, this will fast become one of your favorites. If Lovecraft were alive today, he might write something like this.

I did enjoy these novels, though will admit that at times they dragged in places. The second half of Authority in particular stands out to me in that regard. I feel that book could have been about a quarter shorter, and would have been a much tighter, more enjoyable read for it.

This series had possibly the most terrifying scene I have read in many, many years (in Authority), one so scary I hated that I read it right before bed. I read a lot of horror, so that is a pretty resounding endorsement for the chill factor I would say.

The third book, Acceptance, ties up many of the various threads and mysteries, while at the same time creating that many more. It is the kind of series that lends itself to fan theories and deep dives, and I look forward to making the time to reread it.

All in all I recommend these books to anyone who loves horror and obscure, possibly unanswerable mystery. You are not going to get the answers you want, and the answers you do get lead to more questions. But in the end, it is so worth it.

Here is a link to all three books, if you want to go to where the strangling fruit lies:

Short Read, Tall Glass: A Death

Short Read: This week we bring to you a tale by the master of horror, Stephen King. It should come as no shock that it is a grim tale.

Tall Glass: As per the story, you should take a ‘plug’ of whiskey. We recommend a shot of Larceny.

Read it here:

Pick up a collection of his shorts here: (this collection contains Mrs. Otto’s Shortcut, one of my all time favorites).