Usually I do the first Top Ten Tuesday of the month, but this week’s prompt interested me more. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where each week you write a list of ten particular books.
This week’s theme is: the last books you abandoned reading.
I don’t usually like to use my blog as a place to complain about bad books, but hey, when the need arises. I will say, however, that I don’t actually dislike all the books on this list. Many I have abandoned for literally no reason and perhaps putting them on this list will get them un-DNF-ed.
This list contains: fantasy and sci-fi.
Shaman’s Crossing – Robin Hobb
Synopsis: Young Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a second son. Traditionally in Gernia, the firstborn son is heir to the family fortunes, the second son bears a sword and the third son is consecrated to the priesthood. Nevare will follow his father – newly made a lord by the King – into the cavalry; to the frontier and thence to an advantageous marriage, to carry on the Burvelle name. It is a golden future, and Nevare looks forward to it with relish.
I started reading this as a HUGE fan of Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings universe. She’s definitely one of my favourite authors when it comes to character building, for example. This book… did not exactly match up to what I expected.
First of all it is long; the detail is meticulous. I mean I still have no idea what the point or plot is. The universe is also a little too patriarchal, without a reasoning/explanation for why given early enough for me to go ‘okay this will develop as part of the plot.’ Perhaps this series gets better as it goes on, but I’m not that dedicated.
Half a War – Joe Abercrombie
Synopsis: The final book of the Shattered Sea trilogy. (Book 1: Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.)
This series is the first I’ve read from fantasy fave Joe Abercrombie. I enjoyed the first book after I was encouraged to stick with it, and the second was actually better. But this one… I didn’t even google the ending because I just don’t care. One of the most annoying this is that each book introduces new character narratives, and ostensibly this is fine, but I really liked the characters from book two and they didn’t really get a look in during this one.
Also, the plot of this book revolves around war – as you might guess from the title. But my standards for books about war are like, The Poppy War level.
The Painted Man/The Desert Spear – Peter V. Brett
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Arlen lives with his parents on their small farmstead. As dusk falls upon Arlen’s world, a strange mist rises from the ground; a mist that promises a violent death to any foolish enough to brave the coming darkness, for hungry corelings – demons that cannot be harmed by mortal weapons – materialize from the vapours to feed on the living
I’m including book one and two of this trilogy here, because I can’t remember how far I’ve read as I got a double-edition. It starts out relatively promisingly. Sure, the protagonist is a farm-boy-chosen-one type, but that’s not necessarily bad if it’s done correctly. (Spoiler alert: it’s not done correctly.) The world presented here is interesting enough – demons, wards, feuding nations etcetera. And then you read more.
Firstly, this is the kind of book where every woman has to be described in great physical detail, i.e. whether or not the narrator finds her attractive. Second, the chosen one thing goes a bit far, where farm boy abruptly levels up and becomes Most Powerful Man in Kingdom. Third, there are a whole bunch of racist tropes when our Powerful Man Hero encounters a ‘desert tribe.’ Hard pass.
Night Angel Trilogy – Brent Weeks
Synopsis: For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist. For Azoth, survival is just the beginning. He was raised on the streets and knows an opportunity when he sees one-even when the risks are as high as working for someone like Durzo Blint.
Yeah I’m including the whole trilogy here. I have read the first book, but it was a bit of a struggle. A lot of it felt very rote, but it ended in a plot-twist, so I decided to read the second. Mistake! The second book was exponentially worse. My Goodreads review of this book says all I want to say, but there are spoilers there so I can sum it up: unoriginal and misogynistic.
Lots of reviewers on GR have made very good points about the madonna/whore dichotomy that is the only way women in this book are characterised, but characterisation as a whole is pretty bad. I liked exactly one character in this series and well, have a guess what happens to him.
A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir
Synopsis: The second book of the Ember Quartet. (Book 1: Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels. But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy.)
Ah, a rare book on this list that I don’t hate! I have read the first one and actually, I’m 41% through this one according to my Kindle. But it’s been abandoned for a while, and it’s because I’m just not the hugest fan of teen fiction, and it might be YA this book felt very teen-y to me. The world building I enjoyed, and I appreciated it was something new in fantasy, with some good character development throughout, but I think it just isn’t my cup of tea. That said, I would like to finish it eventually and I’ve already got the third book…
The Lions of Al-Rassan – Guy Gavriel Kay
Synopsis: The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan – poet, diplomat, soldier – until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.
Another Kindle abandonment! I downloaded this immediately after finishing Tigana, so enamoured was I with that book. This didn’t interest me nearly as much. Mostly I think it’s because the plot is just so convoluted; did the above summary give you anything? Although this book bends towards fantasy, it’s also transparently based on a period in history, which I sometimes find off-putting. I also was not a fan of the writing style.
Although the singular elements should all draw together for a compelling narrative, I just found I was bored. I didn’t really find many of the characters interesting. Also, this book is about war, and as we’ve already established, I don’t usually like that.
Forging Hephaestus – Drew Hayes
Synopsis: Gifted with metahuman powers in a world full of capes and villains, Tori Rivas kept away from the limelight, preferring to work as a thief in the shadows. But when she’s captured trying to rob a vault that belongs to a secret guild of villains, she’s offered a hard choice: prove she has what it takes to join them or be eliminated.
To be honest, I’ve no idea why I abandoned this book. I got it on, you guessed it, Kindle, and it’s quite a fun story about villains (it’s more superhero genre than fantasy). Although the book has a serious tone, it reads quite light-heartedly. Although I hope to finish it, the last time I read it was two years ago, and I know I won’t be doing so anytime soon. That’s that!
La Belle Sauvage – Philip Pullman
Synopsis: Malcolm Polstead’s Oxford life has been one of routine, ordinary even. He is happiest playing with his daemon, Asta, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage. But now as the rain builds, the world around Malcolm and Asta it seems is set to become increasingly far from ordinary.
I read a few pages of this, decided I should try and remember what occurred in the original trilogy, watched the BBC adaptation instead of rereading anything and promptly forgot about this book. Since then, I’ve not had any plans to pick this book up again, especially in light of some of the negative reviews I’ve seen as the series continues.
Dune – Frank Herbert
Synopsis: Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
I wrote about the upcoming movie for this book and how I planned to finish it, but… idk. I opened it again but I felt like I would have to restart it from the beginning, as I’ve kinda lost the thread of what was happening. That’s not surprising, considering I abandoned it years ago. This list classifies it as officially abandoned I think. But a sci-fi classic? I’ll maybe read it one day. (See, I want to!)
Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
Synopsis: Battle Royale is a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence, and one of Japan’s bestselling – and most controversial – novels. As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, a group of high school students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when thy break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one remains.
This is another book I don’t dislike. The only reason I stopped reading it was because I needed to do some research into Japan first – there’s a lot of exposition within the first few pages that was honestly quite confusing (for me). However, I was actually really enjoying it. I’m going to be honest – as much as I want to read this book, it is very long and my reading list is always refreshing with newer releases so. That’s why it’s on this list.
Well! This list was not very encouraging to write, especially as a look at the fantasy fiction genre. However. There are so many good books emerging in that genre these days, and hey, it’s fun to have a little rant sometimes!
Have you read any of these books? Do you recommend me trying to un-DNF them? Did your TTT show fantasy up as poorly as mine has? Lmk!