The Wolves of Midwinter

Friday, June 11, 2010

Warbreaker (Tor Fantasy)

Warbreaker by: Brandon Sanderson Review

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people. By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.  

    Lately, I've been in a reasonably pleasant mood where my mind incidentally becomes overcharged with energy. With this unused energy, I become tense and need some immediate academic outlet to exhume it from my body. In this case, writing a review of a book I had finished six months ago seemed to be the wise choice amongst many other favorable activities. "Warbreaker," has always struck me as being a divergent book when compared to other fantasy novels. First of all, Brandon Sanderson has always won my favor for including strong females who rely on their prowess and wit rather than their beautified bodies. They conceal their personal strength and intrinsic intelligence to manipulate the political happenings set before them. Working incognito allows them to bring forth more lasting results to the political arena because no one's even aware of their secret agenda. Basically, the patriarch of Brandon Sanderson's world cares more about notoriety than bringing about effective, beneficial change to their government. Similar to Elantris and Mistborn, women and men whom work about change in hiding are championed as the heroes of his story.

  Wisely, though  the elements of his characters cannot be purely categorized under restrictive moral definitions. Brandon Sanderson keenly pays attention to the diversified views of his characters without judgment. He allows them the opportunity to freely voice their distinct views on several issues in the book. Even things which should be overtly amoral such as the using the life force of individuals to promote several Gods' immortality appears in the book as a very complicated issue. Dissecting the various views contained in this issue requires careful attention to the various backgrounds and titles a number of characters have. Because these various elements unconsciously influence their current views on a certain issue, like taking advantage of a nation's populace to help the Gods to endure. In other words, they rely upon the life forces or breath of the citizens whom sacrifice that in order to reap heavenly rewards afterwords.

Allegorically, this book reflects the Machiavellian use of religion to assert a ruling class's power over a certain number of lower citizens. In typical fantasy fashion, the metaphysical becomes manifested and helps display this intricate relationship between politics and religion. With regards to my mention of the diverse number of perspectives, there still exists a strong moral message contained in the ambiguity of the nation's politics. As always, a few members are sanitized from the impurities of political conflict. In their arsenal lies intellectual autonomy which helps them to sift through the various layers of complex issues and focus upon universal truths to aid them in their  mission. 

Overall, I love Warbreaker far more  than Mistborn because the story's elements are unconventional and do not use many fantasy archetypes. Additionally, the eventual story lead up to the climax contains some pivotal plot elements. Whereas Mistborn contained many unneeded plot elements that ended up bloating the book with unnecessary scenes which could have been excluded. Actually, this proves that Brandon Sanderson scrutinizes his writing and improves his writing based upon these former mistakes. Though, there still exists a band of mercenaries who are nearly indistinguishable from the ones in Mistborn. Strangely, their personas closely match each other which resulted in my own personal confusion between the two sets of mercenaries. 

Even with these minor drawbacks, the story still remains a personal favorite of mine due to the creativity of the magic system, the witticism, and endearing female characters. I believe a part myself remains slightly more critical of Brandon Sanderson's writing due to my high respect for his meticulousness. He is truly endowed with a gift for writing structured fantasy tales with very interesting characters. Also, his fight scenes are actually necessary and do not exist as interim between the more important scenes of character development. A part of me envies his ability to control a myriad number of story elements and still have a book remain extremely entertaining. Perhaps envy would not be the appropriate word choice here;instead I have great respect for the author's propensity to write novels with well shaped female characters, fascinating political intrigue, mesmerizing action sequences, and personable characters. But most importantly his books are entirely free of any uncomfortable sexual elements and can be easily recommended to  any type of reader.  All the while, the book contains an innumerable number of layers that very few fantasy novels overlook.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Symphonic Metal

     Symphonic Metal greatly confounds people, the concept itself. Typically, people associate metal music with a wholly discordant sound with guttural voices. The orderly structure of this music vanishes entirely or at least they believe so. But the real question these individuals need to ponder is, " why should art abide by preformed structure?" Doesn't the structure of art come from the minds of individuals with a creative bent. In their minds, the disorderly fashion of the music has a structure of being disorderly. By being disorderly, it's offering an insight into the workings of society or the human psyche. All this extrapolation though is spoken in the language of music, an unspoken expression of the inexpressible. Through the minds of diversified listeners, the meaning can be altered, according to their difference in beliefs or ideals. 

     The word "symphonic," exudes a feeling of lavish Mozart compositions and lustrous environments. Normally the aforementioned metal fans cower in fear because this music relies entirely on an ordered, mathematical system of music creation. Even worse, the stereotyped listeners of this genre are normally affluent members of society or openly pretentious people. Truthfully, the very concept of musical creation derives itself from the workings of classical music. Consciously or unconsciously, musicians use the techniques of classical music creation when creating supposed works of "chaos." Basically, even chaotic music has some semblance of structure or order. Because any human creation has some base layout to construct upon. Though the following levels may be unwieldy or contain a lesser amount of the initial layer of pure order.

   Enough philosophy, if anything the philosophical content proves that all works of art even the loud metal music must be taken seriously. Back on topic, symphonic metal's unique styling offers a clearer picture of the true complexity and richness of metal music. Beethoven and Mozart, upon hearing symphonic metal music would be speechless because so much of the genre's contribution involves the same technique and system of creation as these two composers.  

    Epica,for example, appears on the surface to be largely unstructured and uninspired. Careful detail would unwrap these assumptions and show them for their falsity. Underneath the surface of chaos, lies a ordered and ingenious mathematical structure. Mark Jansen, the genius behind Epica's music, deceives most listeners by making them believe the music is mostly moronic drivel. Some could go further and say that the use of gutturals are placed there in order to conform to the expectations of metalheads.  Close scrutiny reveal a deeper layer or a battle waged between order or chaos. Simone Simmon's ethereal voice struggles to overdominate the chaotic guttural voice of Mark Jansen. Sometimes Mark Jansen triumphs until the music segues back to Simone Simmons who contradicts the chaos and provides the listeners with a semblance of order. 

Symphonic Metal, the name itself, proves to be a contradiction based on surface level analysis of these respective genres. Remember classical means "order," for most, and metal music provides listeners with the sensation of uncontrollable, unwieldy chaos. Therefore Epica's use of soprano singing and guttural screeches are intentional on the part of the creators of the music. In some ways, they are subliminally informing people of their misconceptions of these genres. If one were to listen and recognize the various layers involved in this music, they would recognize that both genres respectively have the opportunity to be completely ordered or chaotic. Of course, this depends entirely on the mood that the music strives to create. Normally, this mood, as with the workings of music are hard to pinpoint.  

Weirdly, symphonic metal serves a role to pay homage to the rich knowledge of preceding civilizations. The symphonic sound works to preserve the archaic while also combining contemporary, innovative sounds. Gregorian Chants are normally used in order to remind music listeners of their effectiveness of driving powerful emotions through a song. Instead of a weakened emotion, middling through the music, the Gregorian Chants bolsters a certain emotion and makes it more pronounced. 

Various symphonic metal bands engineer their own unique stylization of the genre's most recognized sound. Kamelot, for example, combines the atypical sounds of power metal and symphonic metal then permit Roy Khan voice to fuse them together expertly. Speaking of Roy Khan, an important component of symphonic metal happens to powerful vocalists. Most bands incorporate vocalists with rich operatics to bridge two seemingly divergent sounds. Either it be a mix of symphonic, metal, power metal, Arabic, or other unqiue sounds, the strong vocalists augments the power of the sound and finalizes it. 

Roy Khan stands as the most skilled vocalist of the many symphonic metal vocalists out there. Expectantly, the vocalist reputation remains low due to his genre of choice. Again, people's confusion  over the implications of the genre's name creates a trepidation from the safehold of safe sound. No one really wishes to deviate themselves from the normalcy of safe music techniques. Because the genre has a low reputation and much hate among many metal or classical elitists, tactful musicians are greatly underappreciated. In my personal opinion, Roy Khan can sing far better than many rock vocalists but because his voice involves operatics. People overlook his vocal skills and instead looks for someone who half heatedly sings a very generic rock song.

After reading this article, if you're interested in seeking out more substantial information about this unconventional genre. Please check out the listed bands below  whom I find to be very skilled in their interpretations of this sound. Feel free to comment any critiques or other pertinent comments!!

Reccomended Symphonic Metal Bands:
Within Temptation
Stream of Passion
Leaves' Eye
Sonata Artica
Symphony X
X Japan

 Recommended Video Links

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver)


I Am Not a Serial Killer is the story of John Cleaver, a 15-year-old sociopath who works in a mortuary, dreams about death, and thinks he might be turning into a serial killer. He sets strict rules to keep himself “good” and “normal,” but when a real monster shows up in his town he has to let his dark side out in order to stop it–but without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he’s trying to kill.


       Upon gaining detailed information about Book Expo America, I immediately latched  onto the name "Dan Wells," because the name had a certain feeling of familiarity. Wracking my brain for the source of this association, I summoned thoughts related to "Brandon Sanderson." And then drew the final connecting thought that Brandon Sanderson had been referring to this book on occasion upon his blog. And for some reason the title "I am not a serial killer," greatly interested me because the book seemed to be a person's weak defense of not being a serial killer. Even when the proof of nearly five grisly murders were incontrovertible. Especially since the DNA found on each of these cadavers matches the main characters. How then could the main character assert such a fallacious point when the scientific facts shows he was not only disrespectfully handling these bodies. He had caused their immediate deaths in manners that are unheard of to those with strong consciences. 

   Disregard the past few sentences because this summation comes directly from my hypothesis about the book's storyline. Differently, the story actually acts as a combination of a science fiction novel, a psychological thriller, and a CSI related crime show. Strangely, the book can work as all three simultaneously and still compel us effectively to continue reading. Strikingly, the author utilizes my favorite brand of humor to allow the sensitive, death related material to be approachable. He uses a unique brand of sarcasm spiced with a good heaping of intelligent black humor. 

    Weirdly, with this character's neurosis voice driving the story. The beginning scenes of gruesome,bodily dissection are actually readable and strangely interesting. Effectively, at the beginning, the character's state of mind becomes enmeshed with ours. Soon enough, we're indirectly facing some irrational fears of whether or not we are developing symptoms of a severe dissociative disorder. This could perhaps slowly develop us into effective serial killers who are tactful with murder and not skilled with realizing the moral ramifications of these actions. Just as the main character creates binding rules for himself to restrict the inner beast's effects. We begin self analyzing ourselves for any negative influence this story may have upon our precious psyches. Because like every great psychological thriller like "Seven," Dan Wells frightens us with the possibility we may be reciprocating some of the main character's behaviorism. Similar to a hypochondriac, I was self evaluating myself for any potential signs of serial "killerism". 

Towards the middle half, the story slowly develops into a science fiction story of Alien proportions. Some of the earlier psychological intrigue  is toned down in order to effectively bring in this new story element. Compared with the beginning, the styling of the writing seemed to greatly change. And though, the main character seemed to constantly be deeply developed. Some of the profound psychological content that originally drew me into this book partially vanished at this point. Mind you, I greatly enjoyed the second half of the story for very different reasons than the first. But a part of myself wishes, the author could have plunged further into the character's conflict while still driving the exterior story. Again, the task of balancing these two story elements can be a near impossible task. Dan Wells definitely handles these deftly though the internal story itself does become slightly weaker when the story segues into the second half . 

Even with this minor drawback, I am still waiting with bated breath for further ventures into this well designed universe. More importantly, I'm stoked for the possibility the story could involve some really neat developments with the main character in further stories. Additionally, I hope Dan Wells continues to incorporate humor effectively with these horrific scenes.  Because one of the story's strengths of precise comic relief greatly leavens the uncomfortable tension felt around serial killer related plots. Law and Order normally involves this sort of material with highly moralistic characters who are unable to form smart puns that enable them to handle tough, emotional situations. This story however did not deeply disgust me because the humor eased the reader into a very dark place. Once in it, we could safely travel through it because we empathize with the character and attempt to understand him.  In this safely handled world, we can begin to uncover things which formerly we faced with too much trepidation. Comic Relief in this story wraps us snugly in a security blanket but also strengthens the deductive skills of our mind. By the end, you'll understand the many psychological angles involved with the simple statement of "I am not a serial killer." 

Publisher's Note: Though there's a side note on my blog, if you found this review informative and deftly written. Also if you liked the unconvential humor involved and would love for my styling of reviews to cover your novels. Feel free to email me at narniafanatic(at)gmail(dot)com. Right now, I'm facing an arduous struggle to find creative energy to write those reviews with the knowledge of the paltry views this blog attains. But be assured, I will comply by any requirments posed on me. Thanks for your interest in "A Bibliophile's Reverie.

Additionally, thanks to Book Expo America for providing me with an actual copy of this novel. This fact does not interfere with the quality and honesty of the above review. Rest assure, Fantastyfreak shares his honest, unbowderlized feelings about any books covered on this blog

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


    For any blog readers of the review below, please aid in me ameliorating the below problem: unchangeable white background. Inexplicably, the white background used to mean your post would happen to have no distinct background. Instead the original background for the overall blog would be your background. Google decided to implement some changes to the Blogger system and greatly cause great pains to bloggers across the world. Right now, I have no idea on the methods of eliminating this problem due to blogger's unworkable formatting system. I apologize for the annoying white background in the below post. Please feel free to throw metaphorical eggs at Google's failings in terms of "enhancing" the blog experience.  You overcomplicated an easy process with unneeded changes. Penance for this great crime, Google, involves keeping Pac-Man as a constant force on Google.
The Fiddler's Gun (Fin's Revolution)

The Fiddler's Gun by: A.S. Peterson
Revolution. Secrets. An Unforgettable Adventure.
America is on the brink of war with England, and Fin Button is about to come undone. She’s had it with the dull life of the orphanage, and she’s ready to marry Peter and get away from rules, chores, and a life looked after by the ever-watchful Sister Hilde. But an unexpected friendship forms between Fin and the fiddle-playing cook, Bartimaeus, which sets her on a course for revolution.
With Bart’s beloved fiddle and haunting blunderbuss as her only possessions, Fin discovers her first taste of freedom as a sailor aboard the Rattlesnake. She’s hiding some dark secrets, but there are bigger problems for the crew—they are on the run from the Royal Navy, and whispers of mutiny are turning the captain into a tyrant.
When Fin finally returns home, will she find Peter still waiting, or will she find that she’s lost everything she once held dear? 


     Note!!!! Before segueing into the review part of this blog post. I wanted to thank Rabbit Room Press and A.S. Peterson for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Receiving this free copy or other free copies for earlier book reviews will have not bearing on the promised authenticity of these reviews. Every review posted on here is authored by my own hands with the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Hopefully, you will not begin spreading false rumors about Fantastyfreak's fabricated views on promoted books. Believe me, this review site still exists as a place to honestly share my feelings about books.

THE TRUE REVIEW: Instead of adopting the piratical vernacular for this review, I'll be maintaining the  original, pretentious tone instead. Before ever settling down to read this book, I felt largely ho hum about the book's potential to  be good. First of all, pirate books or other sea faring books produce negative feelings in me due to the relentless amount of bland sea related books offered through the public school system. Therefore, how can any right minded person expect me to look at this book with glee when Moby Dick nearly detonated my rationale? Replace supposed excitement with dread and you have my exact response to the predicted subject matter of this book! In summary, it became a rebellious female pirate on the sea versus the old, deceased man at sea.
   Fortunately, this book happens to be absent of characterless whales, incomprehensible natives, curmudgeonly men at sea, forced philosophical subtext, and chapters that explore the color white. Basically, A.S. Peterson caters his story to actual readers who are savvy for adventure, well developed characters, and subtle meaning.  For those who desperately need strong female characters to make their lives complete. "Fiddler's Gun," stars a strong, dynamic female who happens to have an equal amount of strengths and weaknesses.

    Her struggles seemed believable and more importantly, relatable. Even if we ourselves have never been confronted with any actual life and death struggles or fights of epic proportions. A.S. Peterson's firm handling of the characters, specially Fin's, permits us to empathize and fully participate with the events of the story. With these very interesting characters, boring sea related subject matter becomes thrilling.

I've always been greatly disappointed by the score of current writers who expend their efforts in crafting overly complex worlds, and populating these worlds with stale characters.How can these writers expect readers to have a need or desire to return to their fictional realms? Especially since their books resemble How To Plunge A Toilet? manual guides. The goal for these authors is to disguise their ineptness with character formation with complicated mechanics. Some writers excessively pack their books with pointless fight scenes, overwrought description, or lame magic systems. By page ten of these books, we become perturbed with the writers and wonder if they even care about real human emotions. Or do they really believe we are a bunch of lego figures who blindly follow their archetype storyline? At page 10, unnamed male hero fights in about ten useless ways. In the end, he successfully defeats around two hundred Orc's singlehandly. Neither the orc's or the hero himself are given any interesting dialogue besides moronic one liner's.

The perpetrators of the overwrought prose describe trees, rock formations, or other useless physical traits for twenty pages. For some reason they believe really wants to read these descriptions because who cares about story when your writing is nearly scientific with it's formations. Some writers even recycle the same trite wind description with every book. In some instances the characters do not even appear till after the wind has been justly described. Within the Wheel of Time books, the wind descriptions are a reoccurring force that pays no importance in the books other than to amaze readers with fanciful wind descriptions.   

Reversely,A.S Peterson  engineers his fanciful prose to amplify the flow of the story rather than impede it. Normally, poetic prose stalls the readability of the book and the transitions between important story events as mentioned above. More impressively, A.S. Peterson meticulously places the correct word without overusing a certain word. This truly shows A.S. Peterson's skill level with story telling, not manual writing. Unlike the previously mention mistakes, he uses these mistakes beneficently and greatly improves the cohesiveness of the story with them.

Strangely, I finally figured out that these books were described as being "Christian," novels. Yet, these books are far too intelligent  to even be considered a mainstream Christian novel. A better comparison to draw would be to compare these to Jeffery Overstreet's recent fantasy series. Because his books deviate from the normal pathway of most Christian books and becomes in many ways, a misfit in the Christian fiction genre. 

 A.S. Peterson's own book features a strong female character who is not devilishly used to criticize strong, capable female characters. In some, respectfully unmentioned Christian fantasy series, female characters are deviously used in order to promote unsound arguments about the ineptitude of women. Basically at the beginning, we are glad for the presence of a strong female character. Until at the end, she spontaneously loses all her strength and develops damsel in distress syndrome. The misogynist Christian writer laughs manically and then informs the reader that God intervened and stopped this women from being an individual. He magically makes the sanctimonious male hero appear, save her, and reeducate her all the while about the proper duties for women. "EXCUSE ME PRINCESS! If you dare defy me or surmount my power, I'll minimize your efforts with superficial readings of the bible. Now God commands you to go back in the kitchen and to make your saintly husband a sandwich." 

In reading this book, I have regained some hope in the future of the Christian publishing company. Offered in this book was an edifying message about finding personal strength in yourself and not through the illogical drivel from other individuals. Fin was a well shaped character who used her strength to overcome various challenges in attempts to stand for righteous things. Thankfully, this female character was not used to show sexual freedom of females through promiscuous habits. Because, I certainly cannot stand female characters who act whoreish than name themselves strong, capable women. Refreshingly, the female character, as with Maria V. Snyder's characters, was placed to spread a universal message that knows no gender limits. In this book, there is no hidden political message except the potential strength for one individual to rely upon to untangle one's self from challenging circumstances.  

The only fault I found in the pages of the book was the slower pace in the middle during the endless description of pirate raids. Though, A.S. Peterson quickly alleviated that problem by producing some needed drama to propel the story towards the "end" direction.  Enough said, I highly recommend this book because it's certainly a treasure in the Young Adult section. I really wish for readers of any kind to check out this story that appeals to any human being that desires a richly written adventure story. Forgo CGI laden films this summer and read this book instead!

Again, thanks A.S. Peterson and The Rabbit Room for this free copy. I have found a new publisher to depend upon for deftly written novels! Now, I'm off to listen to my favorite podcast, "The Hog's Head," to hear the interview between Travis Prinzi and A.S. Peterson. Anyone desirous of intelligent conversation about Harry Potter and The Hunger Games should definitely check this site out. (If link's not working above, access