The Hardcore Diaries is my first taste of Mick Foley’s writing and I found it enjoyable reading. Foley has a conversational style of writing that is easy to follow, even with not to perfect grammar like tense changes, especially as he’s describing what he’s best known for actions within the squared circle. Although the book’s main theme of storyline conception to completion is fascinating and Foley’s emotional roller coaster connected is great, I found his side stories fun, enjoyable, and humbling additions. Though Foley’s repeated references to a porn star and chair shots to the head do get a little tiring close to the end of the book, overall I usually glossed over them. Given this is my first Mick Foley book, I very interested to read his first two biographical efforts which seemed to more regarded than The Hardcore Diaries.
Cinda Williams Chima’s The Demon King is a fantastic first installment of the Seven Realms series. The first appearances of the two primary protagonists of the book introduces the reader to the various levels of society that inhabit the Queendom of Fells and how they interact with one another in a vivid way that makes the reader want to know more not only about the characters but the world. Both main protagonists, Hans Alister and Princess Raisa, are well rounded and believable individuals which helps throughout the story, the secondary characters art still somewhat flat with the exception of Amon Bryne who is a little more fleshed out thanks to being only other point-of-view of the book. A minor complaint is that many of the plot twists are very much telegraphed, however considering my reading experience and being outside the target age group, this particular complaint shouldn’t dissuade others from reading this book. The best compliment I can give this book is that several times I lost track of time while reading because it was so engaging and at the end it made me want to see what happens in The Exiled Queen.
The climatic last third of Joe Abercrombie’s Last Argument of Kings, is a fantastic sequence that the reader cannot help but read in one sitting. After the first two book’s of The First Law trilogy this confluence of events is exactly what the series deserved in it’s final volume, however leading up to this literally climatic battle there was a congestion of happenings to begin the book that while not frustrating just took too long to get through that made the volume feel longer than it was. Abercrombie’s characters lost none of their originality or well-roundedness throughout the book, however in a few instances they seemed to accept things or do things that seem literally out-of-character. Like that previous two volumes, Abercrombie seemed to telegraph basic fantasy tropes then paid them off in surprising and unexpected ways though as stated before some of them happened at the beginning of the book and felt longer to get through then seemed necessary once you finished the book. The ending of Last Argument of Kings is without a doubt a very thought provoking one, especially in the character of Bayaz who is the embodiment of the saying “history is written by the victors.” Though I was a tad disappointed with the pace of the first 375 or so pages, the last 260 pages through are what makes The First Law Trilogy great and so if you’ve read the first two books, The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged, then you have to read this book to see how all the story arcs play out.
I have read Alison Weir before, her biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her overview history of The Wars of the Roses, and have found her enjoyable. However, I was disappointed less than 30 pages into this book and it never improved. I read Princes in the Tower to contrast a biography of Richard III by Paul Murray Kendall, unfortunately instead of well thought out case for Richard III has the murderer of the Princes, I got Sir Thomas More 2.0 and arch villain of Shakespeare.
I give credit to Weir for the information written in Chapters 18-19 & 21 relating to the events that occurred after Bosworth and the discovery of the skeletons that are most likely the Princes and medical exams performed on them. This later part of the book, save for Chapter 20 which will be written about below, is it’s redeeming quality.
However, the rest of the book just made me clinch my jaw and bare through the essential retelling of More with interesting Weir inventions. One of the reasons can be found in Chapter 20 about Sir James Tyrell’s confession about murdering the Princes, a confession that wasn’t published. Weir stated that because Tyrell had held positions under Henry VII, the first Tudor believed that the confession would implicate him in the Princes’ murder. However, Weir also states that Henry VII’s “interviewers” also questioned John Dighton about Tyrell’s story and he confirmed it, why is this significant? Dighton was one of the two men Tyrell hired to murder the Princes. Dighton was then let go while Tyrell, who had been arrested in relation to another conspiracy, was executed and afterwards Henry VII told his top officials he knew what happened to Edward V and his brother. If Henry VII was so concerned about a confession given by someone he had given appointments to, why was Dighton who Henry VII never rewarded allowed to walk away instead of signing a confession have it published before being executed and while keeping Tyrell separate to his own fate?
Weir hoped readers wouldn’t catch the problems of her arguments, but this one example shows why I gave this book the rating I did.