Wednesday, 29 June 2016


'A Dark Time Comes. My Time. If it Offends you, Stop Me.' This one line from the book tells you everything you need to know about Jorg. Or this one, 'Hate Will Keep You Alive Where Love Fails.'

I think I understand why this book receives so much hate. Jorg Ancrath is basically the amalgamation of Roose Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones.

I know, it's a little difficult picturing something so grotesque, but Jorg is actually infinitely worse because he is the hero. We all love anti-heroes but, My God, Mark Lawrence really pushed the limits here.

And you can sort of understand the hate, especially from readers that forced their way through all 400 pages of Prince of Thorns because of all the praise the novel has been attracting for the last few years.


Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

Mark Lawrence's debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.


Okay, let's take a closer look at Prince of Thorns. I haven't read a more controversial novel in a long time. And it makes you wonder. What did Mark Lawrence actually want from us? This is neither the hero we want nor the one we deserve.

Yet it is the hero he gave us. Except he wasn't a hero. Jorg is a villain. Which makes you wonder. What sort of reaction did Lawrence want to evoke?

Prince of Thorns is a surprisingly complex story. Written from the first person perspective, it is a coming-of-age tale of sorts (the worst kind) about a boy that bends to the corruption of the world, becoming the vilest of villains in an effort to avenge the death of the only people he ever loved, this while seeking his father's approval and making a name for himself as conqueror, King and Warrior (Necromancer?).

-Why you Must Read Prince of Thorns
Here are three reasons to read Prince of Thorns, and YES, I very much recommend this book:

1). Jorg
In hindsight, Jorg is probably no worse than Bolton or Joffrey (Maybe!). Except he is. Why? Because Jorg knows better. He understands the difference between right and wrong, moral and immoral. And he walks his dark path because he chooses to do so, rejecting every chance of salvation.

For that, you hate him. Yet he wasn't always that way. More importantly, Jorg doesn't have to be that way, and he knows that. And it is in trying to understand his actions, the factors that drove Jorg to become the monster he is, and the elements compelling him to consistently commit atrocities that this book proves so complex.

You cannot like Jorg. And I say that as someone that actually tried. He is a villain, deserving only the most painful of deaths for his many crimes. Which is why you have to commend Mark Lawrence because, as much as you dislike Jorg, you cannot hate him.

Unforgivable as his actions might be. Lawrence finds a way to drive you towards rooting for him, if only for a moment. There is an element of unpredictability as a result because you never know what kind of Jorg you will get with each new chapter, and which emotions he will evoke.

It's a fun, albeit frustrating, rollercoaster ride.

2). Writing Style
I hate the first person perspective. There's something restrictive about that whole approach that irks me, which is why I have made a point to shun almost every book written in the first perspective that I have come across.

But I think Mark Lawrence has won me over because his writing style just works. Simple, elegant, easily comprehensible and evocative. Prince of Thorns is such an easy read, yet not so simple that the author seems to be speaking down to you.

I might go so far as to call Mark Lawrence's writing pleasant. You are compelled to keep reading.

3). The World
Prince of Thorns is set in such a dark and violent world. Certainly, if you are a little squeamish, then this book simply won't do for you. However, beyond the blood and the gore, the book also creates an intriguing universe, filled with mysteries, magic, and political intrigue.

You get just enough of a taste of the supernatural to know that it infuses some aspect of the real world. Yet the magic never really overtakes the realism. The story is still wholly grounded in the natural world, so much so that the supernatural aspects are treated more like a delightful treat you cannot help but look forward to.

There is a twist in this book that I didn't see coming. I thought I knew where we were in history. Then a sudden revelation shattered my expectations and revealed the truth.

-Why You Might Avoid Prince of Thorns
If I am being honest, Prince of Thorns isn't for everyone, and I can see why some people outright hated it.

There are conflicting fantasy novels out there, which thrive on creating morally gray situations within which characters can play. There is nothing morally gray about Prince of Thorns. The book is outrightly dark, and some people might find the depths to which Mark Lawrence descends a little unappealing.

Think about this: Jorg, the primary protagonist, is 14 years old. Now ask yourself if you are comfortable reading about a 14-year-old pillaging villages, eviscerating perfectly innocent peasants, and raping at least one helpless woman during his adventures.

If any of that sounds distasteful, then, yeah, Prince of Thorns will disturb you.

Mark Lawrence created Jorg purposefully for us to hate him, and he succeeded because, outside of the scenes with his father (who might be the foulest character in fantasy history, second only to Bayaz), Jorg is completely irredeemable.

But, believe it or not, that is what makes Prince of Thorns work. As terrible as you think Jorg might be, there are people out there who are actually worse. As such, Prince of Thorns boils down to a battle of the vilest.

From my point of view, Prince of Thorns is a must-read because it is so drastically different from most fantasy novels out there. Even if you hate every second of your experience, you are better off forcing yourself to slog through Prince of Thorns. There's something to appreciate.

Admittedly, I found Jorg’s ridiculous levels of competence in almost all fields a little irritating. That he seemed almost too capable is the one issue I have with Prince of Thorns.

+RATING: 8/10, this is the closest book to Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy that I have read.

The finale really surprised me, mostly because I was dreading certain Fairy Tale-esque situations. But to my surprise, my fears were unfounded because Lawrence’s finale is actually quite solid. There was a point near the end, during a particularly decisive battle, when I was prepared to throw my book away if Jorg won through sheer force of will. 

Sunday, 19 June 2016


It feels like we have been waiting forever to get to this fight. It's been months, if not years, since Ichigo got his new Zanpakuto. The logic of waiting for so long before throwing him into battle is beyond me. 

I mean, sure, he did fight that one time, before they went to the soul palace but he hardly delivered on the promise of explosive power we have been expecting since Ichigo finished his training.

I am not a fan of Ichigo. I think he is the blandest, most generic, least interesting hero in Shonen history. And I have said it before. Bleach would have been better off if Rukia was the protagonist.

Yet, precluding the fact that the manga suffers every time Kubo tries to push Ichigo to the forefront of the story, Ichigo's powers have been the highlight of many of this manga's worthwhile arcs.

Watching Ichigo go bankai that first time agaist Byakuya was the peak of the Soul Society Arc. His raging transformation during the Ulquiorra fight was inspired, and even the fullbring form had the sort of flare that made bleach a little more interesting.

Yet, we have to be realistic here. Ichigo's powers, while they look cool, are the dullest the series has to offer, at least in terms of functionality. Every new transformation is simply a chance for Ichigo to show us a bigger Getsuga Tenshou, or a Getsuga Tenshou shaped like a cross, or another variation of that same old boring attack.

Even the Final Zangetsu Form came down to a massive black Getsuga Tenshou. So, really, who went into this arc looking forward to seeing Ichigo go Bankai?

Who among the many Bleach fans still reading this manga actually cares about seeing Ichigo's new Bankai? I suppose he will get a cool new look, maybe, but I don't think the revelation will be anything as interesting as what we got with Urahara or even Komumaru.

Up to today, people are still complaining about the way Madara Uchiha went down in the final arc of Naruto. I don't understand those complaints. Madara Uchiha was hyped as an unstoppable monster. And, at the and the day, neither Sasuke nor Naruto actually defeated him.

From my perspective, his sudden defeat was a complement to his strength.

Ywatch is well on his way to becoming another Madara, his revelation that he not only sees all the possible futures but that he can change them making his nearly unbeatable. But you have to wonder why he never brought that particular ability out when he was, for instance, fighting Yamamoto.

Considering how easy it would have been to end that battle, why waste his soldiers like that? For that matter, why bother with a lot of the fights he has faced up to his point, when he could have so easily secured his victory?

+Ywatch VS Ichigo
I have to say, this fight has me intrigued. Ichigo losing his bankai before he could even put it to good use caught me off guard, and so did Ywatch's immediate offensive, essentially tearing Ichigo down before he could even muster his strength.

Kubo needs to do more of this, keep us on our toes. Of course, this is where things usually go downhill. Because you know Ichigo is going to reveal some silly excuse that somehow allows him to resist Ywatch's abilities.

Don't get me wrong. I am not planning to automatically shoot down any explanation we get next week about Ichigo's counter offensive against Ywatch, not if it makes sense and Kubo executes it perfectly.

In other words, I know we're getting an asspull next week. But I am holding out hope for Kubo to surprise me. For the moment, Ichigo is down. In any other manga, that slash he took to the chest should have ended the fight.

That is one gripe I have always had with Bleach. The idea that they can take excessive beatings and lose oceans of blood, only to go bankai and start fighting back as if their previous damage was no longer an issue. No where has it ever been stated in Bleach that a power up means the automatic regeneration of all wounds and hurts.

Logically speaking, Ichigo getting a powerup next week shouldn't make any difference. He should be in no shape to fight back, regardless of the magnitude of his new powers. But Bleach doesn't really know logic. 

+RATING: 6/10, a decent chapter, surprisingly entertaining. 

Friday, 17 June 2016


The first thing you notice from this chapter is the time. The chapter kicks things off by giving us an overview of the last couple of weeks, possibly even months in Britannia. We get no real mention of the Seven Deadly Sins, or even Meliodas for that matter.

This is an interesting tactic because it all but confirms Meliodas' death. This isn't the first time a shonen manga has killed a major character.

However, most of those shonen manga like to spend the next few chapters after the death exploring its impact on those individuals closest to the character in question, possibly even taking steps to reverse the death.

If Meliodas was going to come back, if Elizabeth was going to revive him, she would have done it in this chapter. Or at least the first seeds of his revival would have been planted this week. Yet, the author is content to show us the passing of time, and the devastating consequences of allowing the Commandments to run loose

And that tells us one thing: Meliodas really is dead.


This chapter emphasized the fall of Britannia and something tells me that the surrounding lands haven't fared any better. The world of the Seven Deadly Sins is being scarred irreparably. The death and destruction we see in this chapter are unprecedented.

I like the fact that the chapter took the time to briefly to showcase the consequences of Meliodas' death. Britannia didn't go down quietly but it none the less went down. I don't think any of us expected the kingdom to actually survive an assault from the commandments, but the manga was smart to actually showcase Britannia's efforts to fight back.

Watching the commandments absolutely decimate every notable Holy Knight in Britannia’s ranks only raises the stakes, because we now know for sure that the land is doomed.

No one can stop the ten commandments.


More than the material destruction, chapter 178 worked to highlight the transformation of the society. With neighbor turning against neighbor, and friends sacrificing one another to the demon tribe for a few more months of life, this is the sort of storytelling you only normally see in Magi.

Entire communities have begun to crumble, either giving in to the demands of the commandments out of fear or outright worshiping them as deities. This is indeed a brave new world. 


Not that all hope has been lost. Well, all hope has indeed been lost, but we end the chapter with a flash of rebellious activity. People are still fighting back. King Arthur still lives and it looks like he isn't alone.

Even without the Seven Deadly Sins, the land isn't undefended...though, who are they kidding? The sins couldn't beat Galan at his weakest. What chance does Arthur really stand? The lad could barely hold his own against Hendrikson.

Actually, Arthur is barely holding his own against the sorts of demons the Seven Deadly Sins have shown they can decimate with little effort, and they still lost to the Commandments. This fight is one-sided. Everyone is going to die. The earth is doomed.

+RATING: 6/10, this was mostly an okay chapter. Mildly entertaining rather than exciting. But that isn’t a bad thing. We need this sort of downtime after the excitement of the last few weeks.

What are the chances that Meliodas is actually dead? It would be an unexpected turn of events if Meliodas actually stayed dead and Arthur became the primary character.

Then again, Arthur isn't especially interesting, though only because we don't really know him. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016


It takes a special kind of writer to make a book like this work. Not to say that there's anything wrong with The Way of Kings. But, titles like Best Served Cold and King of Thorns are easy draws because they aim to stand apart from the crowd.

They  endeavor to upend expectations and transform cliches. The Way of Kings reads a lot like any other round the mill fantasy novel. And it should be just another round the mill fantasy novel. Yet, it doesn't take you long to realize that there is something truly special about this book.

More than the unique concept, and the twists and turns (of which there weren't many to begin with), this book thrives because of Sanderson's writing, his approach to storytelling elevating what might have been an average fantasy tale to something memorable.





Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.

One such war is about to swallow up a soldier, a brightlord and a young woman scholar.

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

 The weakest element of this book is its large cast of characters. I suppose it's a little too early to judge this book when it is only the first in the series. Yet, the times we were thrown out of the main story to some far-flung part of the world, to meet characters that didn't really matter to the primary plot at that moment annoyed me.

But that is hardly a weakness because even those detours, short as they were, managed to keep things entertainment, even though they felt irrelevant.

+Why the Way of Kings Works?
If you have never read Sanderson's work before, this is a great place to start. This might be my favorite of his books, for two primary reasons:

1). The action is especially notable in this book. I have never appreciated Sanderson's approach to describing action. Mistborn, in particular, revealed Sanderson's weakness in this area. The author tries a little too hard to build as vivid a picture of each scene, so much so that it slows the flow of events.

The fact that the action in this book works so well, forcing my imagination into the magical world of Shardblades is a testament to Sanderson's ever-growing skill level.

2). There is a simplicity to the magic in this book. Rather than Sanderson's usual approach of breaking the magical system of his books down into its technical elements, I think I prefer what he did here, only providing readers enough information for them to understand what was happening during the book’s fantastical moments.
It's a personal preference. Sometimes I like my magic to be just that: magic. I do not need a scientific analysis of its individual components.

+Why you Should Read the Way of Kings Part I?
If you are new to the Stormlight Archive Universe and you cannot decide whether or not this book is for you, let me give you a couple of reasons why you should give it a chance:

1)     Simplicity
Large as the first volume might be, The Way of Kings is a very simple read. Sanderson never tries to talk down to his readers or speak over their heads. This isn't Malazan where every chapter requires you to keep a dictionary close by.

The writing is simple and the descriptions concise and to the point. This is the sort of novel that engages you immediately and refuses to let you go, particularly because of how easy it is to read. At no point does the reading process become a chore.

2)     Characters
 The Way of Kings Part I is very character-centric. In any other author's hands, this might have been another average fantasy tale about magical knights and apocalyptic battles. What keeps you glued to the plot in this book is the characters.

Sanderson's characters compel you to care about them. Kaladin, Dalinar and Shallan are highly compelling individuals, each with their own distinct personalities, goals and challenges.

Kaladin is a slave, wrongly accused of murder, seeking to survive in the harsh environs of the shattered planes. As his mind edges him closer to despair and suicide, he finds solace in the plight of his fellow slaves, men sent to the field with the explicit purpose of dying for the war but who Kaladin promises to save.

Dalinar is a High Prince, a Shardbearer, the strongest soldier in Alethkar and the last true knight among the Light Eyes. Plagued by dreams of days long past, when the Radiants walked the earth and did battle against the Void Bringers, it is up to Dalinar to decode the secrets behind these dreams and the seizures they cause, secrets that could save his King, the land and the rest of the High Princes from their pride.

Shallan is girl pushed to the edge of desperation. With her father dead, the weight of her family’s debt falls upon her shoulders, driving her to seek out an apprenticeship with Jasnah, renowned scholar and sister to the late King. What she seeks isn’t Jasnah’s tutelage but her soulcaster, a powerful tool with which she might save her family from their imminent destruction.

At no point in the book do these characters meet, and neither do their stories intersect directly.

Yet, the shift from character to character never feels jarring, especially Kaladin and Shallan who are continents apart but both of whose disparate stories prove just as easily compelling.

This cast drives the story and they keep you invested, even when their actions and reactions frustrate you. You cannot help but cheer for them when they fall (which they often do). Even Shallan, whose tale is very philosophical in nature, her character wins you over, even as she is brought to the point where you have to question the morality of her objectives.

3)     The Alien Landscape
 The Way of Kings Part I is highly fantastical, set within a world that is wholly alien to our own. Difficult as it might be to integrate into the story within the first few chapters, it doesn't take long for the book to win you over and for Sanderson to envelop you within a world of storms and stone, where plants are nearly sentient in the way they interact with their surroundings, where cities and kingdoms are carved right out of the earth.

The Way of Kings Succeeds in transporting you to a new realm. I personally resisted somewhat in this area. Books set in realms that are a little too alien just don't work for me. I like worlds that a familiar. It is easier for my imagination to go along for the ride. But Sanderson won me over, and he will win you over.

Roshar is a harsh landscape. You feel this in every scene and that makes the conflicts all the more engaging.

4)     The Fantastical Conflicts  
There is something very animated about the conflicts of The Way of Kings. This is a world where knights can summon magical swords with the wave of a hand, where soldiers can leap great bounds and break mountains, where special blades can extinguish souls and shatter landscapes.

5)     Rich Descriptions
 Sanderson is meticulous in his crafting of the world of Roshar, generous in his efforts to fill it with lively cultures, mythologies, and religions, allowing his realm to feel like a living, breathing world. A place that can exist. It takes a master artist to create such rich and full designs. It is difficult to not admire the world Sanderson worked so hard to design solely for the purposes of your enjoyment.

Admittedly, there were one or two characters whose presence confused me. Even discounting the random jumps we made to other parts of the world, Dalinar's son in particular made no sense to me, seemingly relevant to the plot at one point, then vanishing soon after, never to be heard from again.

But he was interesting enough while he was around, so I can probably forgive his absence, that and the many pages wasted on Shallan's philosophical arguments with Jasnah. Interesting as they were in some places, they ran a little too long in others, though they added a sense of authenticity that I appreciated.

As far as first books in a series go, The Way of Kings Part I was amazing. Kaladin was the sort of hero you love to support; broken, yet determined to rise despite everything- and I mean everything- always going against him.

Dalinar was the one smart man in a kingdom of idiots, and you have to sympathize with the progressive warrior who only wanted to bring change to a kingdom seemingly determined to destroy itself.

Shallan grows on you with time. Considering the setting of her storyline- a Library- you would never expect to get the level of excitement she delivered, her fears over her family's dire situation, the betrayal she knows she has to enact, even her burgeoning relationship with the local priest working to make her one of the more interesting characters in the book.

This book ends in a way that leaves you wanting more. I picked up Part II the moment I finished the first one, and the second part is already proving to be every bit the explosive read the first one was.

+RATING: 9/10, I cannot recommend this book enough.

+HIGHLIGHTS: Kaladin's relationship with his bridge crew made this book for me. You felt his struggle to survive and his determination to give his new friends hope. And his past was just as engaging. You knew things were heading towards a tragic end, but you didn't know how it would all play out.

Shallan's decision at the end of the book, and the reasons why she did what she did, left me feeling a little cross with her.


Wow. These chapters...Nanatsu no Taizai is amazing. Two months in a row. This manga has been releasing solid chapter after solid chapter for two months, each chapter somehow far more exhilarating than the previous one.

And then we get these two chapters. I cannot believe they actually went there. And the brutality with which they did...I mean, Wow.

Four Things of Note happened here:

1). Revelations
First, we learned the truth about Meliodas, primarily the fact that not only was he a member of the Ten Commandments but that he led the group, standing as the strongest and most ruthless of the bunch. More importantly, he betrayed his comrades, taking two of them out in the process.

Most of us probably figured this particular secret out ages ago. Most us can probably figure out why Meliodas betrayed his team. And naturally, everything points towards Elizabeth. But, that aside, getting confirmation about this assumption adds depth to Meliodas, primarily the fact that his defection brought eventual destruction to the demon tribe as a whole.

Additionally, we can sort of understand why the Goddess Clan wanted Ban to kill him. As heir to the Demon King, they probably have a few old grudges to settle with Meliodas.

2). Merascylla
I was a little tired of seeing the commandments die and respawn, primarily because it nullified the efforts and achievements of the characters that defeated them. However, Merascylla's return was worth it, if only to give Ban the opportunity to kill her.

That entire scene couldn't have been staged any better, with Ban sneaking into the heart of an enemy that could obliterate him with a sneeze and BRUTALLY killing Mera. It must have taken two or three panels for Ban to completely twist Mera's neck around, before proceeding to tear out and destroy all seven of her hearts.

It is worth pointing out what this kill means to Ban. Mera's death also means the end for King's sister (her name escapes me). Think about that. Not so long ago, Ban was ready to kill Meliodas to get her back.

And now that he has her, he, without a second though, sacrificed her to save his captain. That shows a lot of personal growth and emotional strength.

3). Estarossa
This will go down in history as the most memorable moment in the Nanatsu no Taizai manga. Meliodas' death.

It isn't the fact that we just saw the story's hero die here which sets this whole scene apart, but rather how he died.

Think about the strength it took for Ban to walk onto this battlefield, to expose himself to enemies he couldn't possibly hope to defeat, to kill Mera for the sake of Meliodas, knowing that he was damning his beloved once more.

Then think about the fact that he basically stood there and watched as Estarossa killed his captain, best friend and the man for whom he had just sacrificed King's Sister. You could see the struggle in those panels, Ban's realization that even with all the skills and abilities he had amassed over the years, he was completely powerless to stop Estarossa from killing his friend.

You have to appreciate Estarossa's cruelty here. HE could have at least shown some semblance of struggle as Ban fought to pull him away from Meliodas' lifeless body. But No. Ban might have as well been a rag doll for all the attention Estarossa paid him as he drove those seven daggers into Meliodas' seven hearts. 

4). Ban
Is Ban Dead? Am pretty sure Estarossa vaporized him. I mean, we know he's immortal but can he actually come back from that?

I don't know. I hope so. Otherwise, the team is down two members. 

Britannia is royally screwed. The Goddess clan is nowhere to be seen. The Fairies clearly spent their strength 3000 years ago because they are hardly a challenge, outside of their King. The humans...well, if the seven deadly sins couldn’t defeat a single Commandment when he was running on fumes (Galan), then the Holy Knights and humanity, in general, doesn't stand a chance.

+RATING: 10/10. Poor Elizabeth. Meliodas could only watch as her previous reincarnation perished at the hands of the comrades he betrayed. And now it is Elizabeth's turn to weep over Meliodas' dead body.

The author needs to be very careful with next week's chapter. Short of an earth shattering yet strangely logical explanation, Elizabeth suddenly reviving Meliodas will throw this manga into Fairy Tail territory. 

Was that Gowther in the flashback, standing with the Commandments?