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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

In all of Naggaroth there is no Dark Elf more devious and cunning than Malus Darkblade. Cursed by the ancient and malicious Daemon Tz'arkan, the Drinker of Worlds, Malus has a year to collect five mystical artefacts spread across the Land of Chill. Malus is promised release if all are brought to the Daemon's temple in a year, and oblivion should he fail.

This was the very first fantasy series that I ever bought, im a big Dark Eldar fan but alas they are heavily under-appreciated by Games Workshop and Black Library, but when I saw the cover of the first omnibus I decided that even if I didn't enjoy the fantasy I could still enjoy the Dark Elves.

I was very happily proven wrong and right respectively. The fantasy setting was excellent, not just a typical fantasy with humans, elves and dwarfs. And the Dark Elves were amazing, a culture based around the flesh-trade of slaves and a ritual based around ritual sacrifice and war. Mike Lee has done a fantastic job of creating the world of the Druchii, the Land of Chill Naggaroth and its dark cities Hag Graef, Karond Kar and the Black Arks to name a few.

The characters themselves are each unique and fascinating. The protagonist Malus Darkblade, the bastard son of the Vaulkhar of Hag Graef and a Druchii Seeress, Malus is despised by his family and treated like an outcast. Indeed his name is a testament to this, as to the Druchii a Darkblade is a broken and useless weapon. Yet this does not deter him as he pursues his own glory and power, he cares little for what people think of him and is willing to manipulate people and play long games to achieve his ends, of course he usually makes it up as he goes along but it works out. One of the most interesting things about Malus is, as Dan Abnett put it, he is not the strongest, the smartest or the most powerful. But what makes Malus's greatest asset is that he will never give up, no matter the odds against him, no matter the threat, Malus will always find a way to fight back.

A cast of supporting characters are also present alongside Malus. First of these is his trusty, yet irritable, Nauglir mount Spite. However Spite is much more then just a mere mount in the story, he is the only constant companion, or at least the only welcome one, in Malus's quest. He may not talk but he is no dumb brute, and is likely the best ally Malus could ever have, from ferrying him across the Land of Chill to fighting by his side and even saving Malus's life a few times Spite is a hell of character.

One of the primary characters is Tz'arkan, Drinker of Worlds. The ancient Daemon who possesses Malus in the first novel Tz'arkan is a very well-written character. While at first he can seem like the typical Daemon, cunning, sadistic and manipulative, which he is in strides, Tz'arkan is shown to be wise and like Malus can play long games to achieve his ends, although their definitions of long are quite different.

The action in the novel is very well done. Malus himself is not a master swordsman but he can fight hard and does against a variety of foes in the novel. Be they Druchii, High Elf, Beastmen, Daemons or even plague-ridden pirates there is no foe that Malus will not fight with every ounce of skill he has. From ravenous hordes to conspiracies and ancient prophecies the action in Darkblade is varied and well-written.

The pace of the series is depicted differently in each book. In the series time is against Malus, with only a year to complete his quest at the start he is more free with that time, he knows the clock is ticking but spends little time thinking about it, preferring to stay in the present. However as the series progresses Malus starts to think more and more about the time left until the fifth book where only a few weeks remain, and the desperation that both Malus and Tz'arkan show reflects just how perilously close they are to failure and the urgency that they show in the hunt for the final relics.

The ending of the book was smashing. Abnett and Lee successfully wrap up the first part of Malus's saga and at the same time set the stage for the next part. I originally finished the first omnibus rather quickly but put off reading the second omnibus as I didn't want the series to end, but fortunately I now know that the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade are far from over.

In conclusion the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade is a series that must be read. It is truly a staple of Black Library, and in my view quite possibly the finest fantasy series they have ever released. (Only the Thanquol and Boneripper trilogy is a match for it in my view.) Congratulations and thanks to Dan Abnett for creating Malus Darkblade, Tz'arkan and his infernal quest to recover the five artefacts. And to Mike Lee for creating the world around Malus, his allies and enemies and for bringing life to Malus as more then a one-dimensional comic character. And to Kevin Hopgood for the artwork that gives a glimpse into the world of Malus, and that so eloquently shows the climatic moments of each novel. I give Malus Darkblade a 9/10 as a whole, it has some flaws as every novel does but dont let these detract from the series.

Should you buy this book?. The answer is a resounding Yes!. But this is just the end of the beginning, and as Malus himself put it, our journey is over.. now the hunt begins!.
 

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Overall not bad, though by the same token having read this review I felt that there were some things you could have left out, and other things you could have tossed in, that would have me claiming it be far better.

I'm talking about the spoilers, after all whats the point of me getting the series when you have revealed or even ruined the novels for me? Things like Malus gathering a fleet in the second book, or Melakith personally riding into battle in the fifth, or the transformation of Yasmir being hinted throughout the series. These are things that the reader is meant to discover in the novel, so you spoiling that discovery defeats the purpose.

Now it might just be me, it might not, but I do know that I think this whole review could have been so much better without the spoilers.


Something else I felt that took away from your review, are the little descriptions at the start of each of the novel titles. I know for a fact that, at the very least the first two, are copied almost word for word. To see someone going the distance and providing a little pre-bit for a novel, thats awesome; but for them to essentially take it from the book with no changes is not so much. You made this long, fairly decent review only to have it pulled down by something stupid like this.



Throughout the review there were a few little things that got me, like the reiterating of certain things that really did not need to be mentioned as many times as you chose to. Things like the transformation of Yasmir, yeah I get that throughout the series there are hints to this but you really only needed to mention that she is changing once, let the readers discover how and where it takes her. Theres also Hauclir; I think you mention three or four times his being the comic relief at times. Really, one or two times is enough, I don't need the fact shoved down my throat again and again and again.


Last thing I am going to touch on would be that there are some bits where rather than their being to much there was to little. Like when you go about the retainers; yeah you mention them but really only go into any sort of detail with Hauclir. If you can't get much out of the others without spoiling way to much then how important to the series were they? Or the last two members of Malus's family; alright I understand that they are not important but at least tell us what they do? I mean fuck, what are they a pair of vagabonds? Royalty in the Empire?


Interesting to note, the series as a whole got a 9.75/10, and yet from the average score this should be lower; very strange.



All that aside, when I read this and took out the spoilers and copied bits, for me it went from about seven and a half pages to a full five or six. Your right, its pretty damn long, better than that the spoilers and copied bits make up a relatively small portion of it which is even better. The things I didn't like aside, good job Lord of the Night. I may only have one review here under my belt, and writing as a whole is not my passion, but this is definitely much better than a few of the other reviews I've looked through and definitely does not put me off from reading the book. So overall good job.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
In truth with the spoilers I dont think I put anything in that you couldn't learn from the synopsis at the back or the author's foreword at the beginning, Mike Lee actually talks about Yasmir in the beginning, though he actually says what she becomes so I cut that. The part about the fleet was too much ill admit.

And I see what you mean about the reiteration. As for spoilers im trying to cut down on those but sometimes I feel some are needed,

With the retainers I went into detail only with Hauclir as he is the only one who plays a major role, Arleth Vann has his plot but Hauclir is a major player throughout most of the series. And Silar Thornblood is present but largely remains behind to run Malus's house, day to day affairs that sort of thing. And the last two of Malus's family, Bruglir and Isilvar. I could have put what Bruglir was, my mistake on that, but I didn't say anything about Isilvar because it would be a huge spoiler.

And I altered the score a little bit ago. I gave it a 9/10, I felt the extra three quarters was being too generous.

Thank you. I am trying to improve my review work, my next review will be Brunner the Bounty Hunter by C.L Werner. I intend to have the omnibus finished by Saturday, or tomorrow at the very earliest.
 

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In truth with the spoilers I dont think I put anything in that you couldn't learn from the synopsis at the back or the author's foreword at the beginning
Hold on let me think of two or three things you can't get from the synopsis of any of the books.

Book two, the corsair fleet to get relic number two and you the reader being able to re-read this one (after you learn of Yasmir's transformation) to see subtle hints as to Yasmir.

Book five, Melakith riding into battle atop his dragon as the Dark Elv's fight a force a whole magnitude greater than them in numbers.



Mike Lee actually talks about Yasmir in the beginning, though he actually says what she becomes so I cut that.
And this is a perfect example of something in a good review. Whether because he talks about it early or late, you the reader eventually become aware of the fact that the author speaks of a certain spoiler but make damn well sure to leave it out of the review.

Looking at/back on reviews and most books this is what I want to see. Its a good thing to bring up, that you the reviewer know its a spoiler and willingly choose to leave it out and not ruin it for potential readers.

The part about the fleet was too much ill admit.
Yes, it is a decent example of subtle spoiler. In the book it doesn't seem like much but in truth it gives much away.

And I see what you mean about the reiteration. As for spoilers im trying to cut down on those but sometimes I feel some are needed,
Personally, for me the point of a review is to pull people into reading a book or keeping them from wasting their time (most of that I think I could credit Ploss with from earlier today.) Its not about revealing anything from the book beyond a select few things. (To use my own review as an example, without reading Ravenor you do not outright know the names of his retinue)

Having said that and compared to some of your other reviews, yes there is no doubting that you have cut down on spoilers.

With the retainers I went into detail only with Hauclir as he is the only one who plays a major role, Arleth Vann has his plot but Hauclir is a major player throughout most of the series. And Silar Thornblood is present but largely remains behind to run Malus's house, day to day affairs that sort of thing.
This might just be my opinion or feelings, but I pointed this out more because I feel that if a character is important enough, you will be able to give more than just the barest of idea's about the character or they will be far more prominent. If you have one character present in only one of a series of novels, or who does next to nothing (truth be told) then he/she/it is honestly not worth mentioning.

And the last two of Malus's family, Bruglir and Isilvar. I could have put what Bruglir was, my mistake on that, but I didn't say anything about Isilvar because it would be a huge spoiler.
And that I feel is more of the challenge in reviewing a novel. To be able to convey in your own words, without giving to much away, about certain aspects or characters of a book or series.

And I altered the score a little bit ago. I gave it a 9/10, I felt the extra three quarters was being too generous.
Yeah a little sorry about this one; I figured you might like the book, which could add to or take away from your decision of overall score, but personally I believe that if you are reviewing a series it should be from averages of the individuals. (If a trilogy reads as 8/10 each time, you should not be seeing a 9/10 overall, it clearly did not earn that rating.)

Thank you. I am trying to improve my review work, my next review will be Brunner the Bounty Hunter by C.L Werner. I intend to have the omnibus finished by Saturday, or tomorrow at the very earliest.
I have really been on the fence about this one, so expect something from me damn near after you toss it up here on Heresy.
 

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I like people doing reviews, i cant do it since mostly dont have time or proper words to express what im feeling about it.

One thing to note or suggest is that you should also put some longer word on author himself and writing style. Most reviews are 99% story itself and there is nothing wrong with that, but some books even though story could be great are painfull to read if author cant pace it real well. And please avoid spoilers

I have only read first 2 books of Malus and they were real good in fantasy standards, atleast alot better than Mike Lee's Fallen angels novel.
 

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You know I read both books over the summer, along with the Sould Drinker Omnibus, Both Space Wolf omnibus' and the first book of the Horus Heresy. Of the BL titles I read this summer I felt Malus was by far the best character of all. He was the best "anti-hero" that I have seen in a long long time. He may be the best actually, he had no redeeming qualities. He did what he did and didnt sit around feeling bad or remorseful about it later. If he did feel "remorse" it was because he didnt inflict enough pain and suffering, or because he was the one being used. He wasnt trying to be a hero, and the writers never let you for get it. He loved only one being himself. Every thing and every one around him was a means to and end. I really enjoyed both of these books and look forward to the next.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There is a single short story at the beginning, it shows Malus' hakseer cruise, which is a coming of age right for Dark Elves of noble houses. It also shows how he meets Lhunara and Silar Thornblood.
 
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