Paladin of Souls

I was a bit surprised by the number of replies generated by my review of The Curse of Chalion. Some people obviously enjoyed the book, and they claimed that the sequel was even better. Well, it does appear that our tastes are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, at least where Lois McMaster Bujold is concerned, for it was quite a chore for me to get through Paladin of Souls.

As the old law adage proclaims, there is no point in flogging a dead horse. So I will not elaborate extensively on what I consider this novel's shortcomings to be. But I have to address what, in my opinion at least, was not up to par. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that Bujold just ain't my cup of tea. Which might explain why I can't seem to get into her tales. I have to say, however, that Paladin of Souls receiving the Hugo Award for best novel of the year leaves me extremely baffled.

Lois McMaster Bujold's prose is again above the norm. The narrative flows quite well. Once more, the book reads like a YA novel. As I read most chapters, I found myself thinking back to the days when I was reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books.

As was the case with The Curse of Chalion, the worldbuilding in this one is weak. The fact that Ista spent the major part of this tale traveling around, I was expecting something with a little more depth. Hence, I was disappointed to realize that the worldbuilding still leaves a lot to be desired. Again, the story takes place in a relatively static environment.

The dialogues are a bit better than in the previous volume. But they are juvenile throughout, with some exceptions. In truth, the dialogues are what made me feel as if this was a YA novel. That, and the "all is well that ends well" sort of finish.

The pace is also a factor. The first two thirds of Paladin of Souls are slow-moving. This was not a book that kept me reading past my bedtime, telling myself that just another chapter wouldn't hurt.

The characterizations have improved a little in this volume. But nothing spectacular, mind you. Few characters are truly fleshed out. At the beginning, I thought that it would be interesting to see how Bujold would portray Ista, a former madwoman. But Ista rapidly becomes quite annoying. Unfortunately, there is no character like Cazaril in this one. The supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Again, it would have been interesting to see Bujold work a little more with the rest of the characters. The potential was definitely there with a number of characters: Illvin, dy Cabon, Goram, Arhys, and the twins. And yet, other characters, such as Liss, were particularly irritating. There is very little character growth worth mentioning in this one as well.

Perhaps the most disappointing facet of Paladin of Souls is that the main plot and subplots form another very linear storyline. We are a world away from a multi-layered fantasy epic.

In my opinion, Paladin of Souls doesn't live up to the hype. This is something to read on the plane or at the beach. . . Like The Curse of Chalion, reading this novel left me quite indifferent. I read these two books because I wanted to fully appreciate the ARC of Bujold's The Hallowed Hunt that HarperCollins sent me. But I think I need a break from Bujold before I tackle her latest fantasy installment. . .

The final verdict: 6,5/10


I just checked my web counter, and I have to admit that I was astonished by the stats! Since February 15th, more than 9000 visitors logged on to this weblog, perusing more than 17, 500 different pages!:-)

Many thanks to all of you. It means a lot to me that so many people, from so many different countries, take the time to read my rambling thoughts!:-) I never believed that this blog would ever become so popular.

So thanks again! And I will try to keep up the good work!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (June 21st)

In hardcover:

Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith begins to slip, dropping 8 spots to finish at number 18. This novel has been on the NYT list for 11 straight weeks.

In paperback:

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy makes its return at number 34. This scifi book has now remained on the list for 9 weeks.

Introducing newcomers to speculative fiction

Hi there!

Earlier this week, I received an email from a father who was looking for suggestions for things to read for his teenage kids. He wrote that his son and daughter, age 14 and 16, loved the Harry Potter books and could not get enough of the Lord of the Rings movies. He wanted me to recommend fantasy or scifi books/series that I believed his children would like.

This proved to be easier said than done. Now at 31 years of age, my taste in books (and many other things, for that matter!) has evolved considerably since my teenage years. So here is a list of the sort of novels/series which I enjoyed when I was still in high school.

I would kindly ask all of you to add your own suggestions by leaving a comment. Between all of us, perhaps we can come up with a more comprehensive list of titles that will enable newcomers to fall in love with fantasy and scifi as much as we did!:-)

My suggestions:


The Dragonlance Chronicles

- Dragons of Autumn Twilight
- Dragons of Winter Night
- Dragons of Spring Dawning

The Dragonlance Legends

- Time of the Twins
- War of the Twins
- Test of the Twins

The Second Generation
Dragons of Summer Flame

The Darksword Trilogy

- Forging the Darksword
- Doom of the Darksword
- Triumph of the Darksword

The Rose of the Prophet

- The Will of the Wanderer
- The Paladin of the Night
- The Prophet of Akhran


The Icewind Dale Trilogy

- The Crystal Shard
- Streams of Silver
- The Halfling's Gem

The Dark Elf Trilogy

- Homeland
- Exile
- Sojourn

The Legacy
Starless Night
Siege of Darkness
Passage to Dawn


The Belgariad

- Pawn of Prophecy
- Queen of Sorcery
- Magician's Gambit
- Castle of Wizardry
- Enchanter's End Game


Dragon Prince

- Dragon Prince
- The Star Scroll
- Sun-Runner's Fire

Dragon Star

- Stronghold
- The Dragon Token
- Skybowl

The Curse of Chalion

I have to admit that it was with reluctance that finally decided to read Lois McMaster Bujold's first attempt at fantasy. Very few authors can make the jump between fantasy and scifi, and maintain the high quality for which their books are known in their genre of predilection. Stephen R. Donaldson is one writer who has managed to do that. L. E. Modesitt, jr. is another. But for some reason, I had nagging doubts concerning Bujold.

The advance praise received by this novel was eloquent. Defying comprehension, it was somehow nominated for best novel for both the Hugo and the World Fantasy Awards. And yet, after nearly 5 years, very few "mainstream" fantasy fans have read this book. How could something supposedly so good be so little known?

I have read nothing but rave reviews for Bujold's scifi novels. And I am persuaded that she deserves the praise. However, how The Curse of Chalion ended up on the final ballot for those aforementioned awards is, in my humble opinion, quite a mystery. It's not that The Curse of Chalion is a bad book. Far from it. But it is nowhere near as good as they try to make it sound.

Lois McMaster Bujold is a gifted writer. Her prose is above the norm in today's market. The narrative flows quite easily. But I found the dialogues lacking throughout the novel. Several times while I was reading, I continued to tell myself that this felt like a YA (Young Adult) book. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, given the immense market for such novels and series. To me, however, most facets of this tale did not live up to the hype that surrounds this author.

The worldbuilding is particularly weak and leaves a lot to be desired. This is not a work that resonates with much depth, I'm afraid. Hence, after reading books by Neal Stephenson, R. Scott Bakker, Robin Hobb and Katherine Kurtz, the universe contained between the pages of this volume left me wanting for a lot more. Contrary to what someone called a «beautifully layered world,» I found that the story takes place in a mostly static environment.

The pace is also a major factor. The storytelling is at times sluggish, making you wonder what the author is trying to convey. But that is not true for the entire novel. For the most part, The Curse of Chalion reads easily. Too easily, to tell the truth.

The characterizations are nothing special. Cazaril is the sole three-dimensional character. It would have been interesting to see Bujold work a little more on the rest of the characters which populate this tale. The potential was definitely there, but seldom exploited. With just a little more effort in that particular area, the book would have been much more enjoyable. As it was, no character but Cazaril underwent character growth that is worth mentioning. For the better part of the book, it felt as if I was reading a Forgotten Realms novel. . .

The main plot and the subplots form a very linear storyline. This is no multi-layered fantasy epic. Personally, I prefer convoluted plotlines and a lot of mystery. But I am aware that there is a multitude of readers out there who will find The Curse of Chalion satisfying because it has an easy-to-follow storyline. But for a novel that was nominated for both the Hugo and the World Fantasy Awards, I was expecting a little more than this linear storyline. . .

The curse and how it affects the royal family and those close to them was interesting. Although, again, I believe that there was potential for more. For me, the most interesting facet of this tale is how Cazaril is God-touched and how it has repercussions throughout the book.

All in all, not a bad book. It's just that The Curse of Chalion doesn't live up to the hype. My biggest disappointment is that nothing stands out, nothing shines through. Reading this novel has left me totally indifferent. . .

The final verdict: 6.5/10


Since there is an ever-growing number of people who visit these parts, and since no one wants to waste time perusing every post I've written thus far, here is a little index of what's been happening since the beginning of the year.:-)


- The Book of Words trilogy (J. V. Jones): Book review (My very first. . . And worst!)
- Children of Amarid (David B. Coe): Book review
- The Outlanders (David B. Coe): Book review
- La Crème de la Crème (part 1): A list of my all-time favourites
- Eagle-Sage (David B. Coe): Book review


- Fall from Grace: David Eddings article
- Shadowmarch (Tad Williams): Book review
- Things that make you go hmmm. . .: Terry Goodkind article
- La Crème de la Crème (part 2): A list of my all-time favourites
- Ship of Magic (Robin Hobb): Book review
- Close but no cigar: A list of runner-ups that almost made it to my all-time favourites' list
- Mad Ship (Robin Hobb): Book review
- Around the World: Budget traveling article
- Ship of Destiny (Robin Hobb): Book review


- Top 5 Ongoing Fantasy Series: Poll results
- The Runes of the Earth (Stephen R. Donaldson): Book review
- Europe's Low-Cost Airlines: Budget traveling article
- Favourite Fantasy Authors of All Time: Poll results
- Tad Williams Interview: Interview
- The Silences of Home (Caitlin Sweet): Book review
- Best Fantasy Series of All Time: Poll results
- Hostels around Europe: Budget traveling article
- Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson): Book review


- L. E. Modesitt, jr. Interview: Interview
- So you want to be a book reviewer?: Article
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Matthew Stover): Book review
- Favourite Fantasy/Scifi Characters of All Time: Poll results
- The Confusion (Neal Stephenson): Book review
- Amazon's synopsis for Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams: Synopsis
- The System of the World (Neal Stephenson): Book review
- Darth Vader's Blog


- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Soundtrack review
- The Darkness that Comes Before (R. Scott Bakker): Book review
- Check them out!: Websites of interest
- Best Fantasy Artists: Poll results
- Best Fantasy/Scifi Stand-Alone Novels: Poll results
- The Warrior-Prophet (R. Scott Bakker): Book review
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Movie review
- Fool's Errand (Robin Hobb): Book review
- The Contiki Experience: Budget traveling article
- Golden Fool (Robin Hobb): Book review
- R. Scott Bakker Interview: Link


- Fool's Fate (Robin Hobb): Book review
- The Great Ladies of Fantasy: Poll results
- It's Only Temporary (Eric Shapiro): Book review
- In the King's Service (Katherine Kurtz): Book review
- Tad Williams Interview: Link

More to come. . .;-)

Accepting questions for a Robin Hobb Interview!

Yes, that's right!:-) I have secured an interview with Robin Hobb! As always, please feel free to submit your questions to me. As I did with my previous interviews, I will select the most interesting ones to comprise the Q&A!

Like the Tad Williams interview, a portion of the Robin Hobb interview will be posted online as soon as it's finished. And the full Q&A should appear in the next issue of Gryphonwood Press Magazine.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (June 14th)

Not much to report. . .

In hardcover:

Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith hangs in there, maintaining its position from last week at number 10. This movie adaptation has been on the NYT list for 10 weeks.

The full Tad Williams Interview

Many of you may remember that I posted a portion of my interview with New York Times bestselling author Tad Williams last winter. The full interview will become available online on June 15th.

Here is the link:

Many thanks again to Mr. Williams for graciously accepting to do that informative interview with me.:-)

In the King's Service

I have been a big fan of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series for years now. She is probably the mother of historical fantasy, and no one can write a tale using a medieval setting quite like her. Over the last 3 decades, Kurtz has created some of the most memorable characters (good and evil) that I have ever come across.

In the King's Service will please Kurtz's many fans, even if the book is not her best work to date. But I would not recommend it as a starting point for newcomers. As a matter of fact, the book sets the stage for what is to come and new readers, unfamiliar with both what occurs before and what will take place two generations hence, will indubitably be lost and quickly lose interest. And since the Deryni series is such a grand historical tapestry, it would be a shame. For those interested, be sure to check for info about the series and other Kurtz novels.

This prequel to Kelson's adventures covers a lot of ground. It sweeps across many years and a plethora of characters, preparing us for the many conflicts to come. Several plotlines will appear quite familiar to fans: Mearan rebels, Torenthi incursions into Gwynedd, the Church's hatred toward Deryni, and a king desperately attempting to protect his lineage. In the King's Service bridges many of the gaps in the Deryni timeline.

We are introduced to King Donal, Brion's father and Kelson's grandfather. In order to fulfill his dynastic needs, the king must often utilize his powers and influence in a ruthless way. It's interesting to see the Camberian Council watching and pulling the strings behind the scenes. We also have the opportunity to see younger versions of a multitude of characters that were introduced in both The Chronicles of the Deryni and The Histories of King Kelson, such as Brion, Nigel, Kevin McLain, Jared McLain, Patrick Corrigan, and many others.

The book is more or less centered around the life of Alyce de Corwyn, who will give birth to one of the most important characters in the entire Deryni saga: Alaric Morgan.

Kurtz's excellent grasp on the workings of medieval church and the inherent conflicts between church and state continue to make the Deryni series so special. As always, the novel contains a richness of details, as well as beautiful and vivid worldbuilding. I will eagerly await the release of the sequel, Childe Morgan.

The final verdict: 8/10

It's Only Temporary

Having received a review copy of Eric Shapiro's latest novel, I promised that I would read it and post a review for it before it was released. It's Only Temporary is published by Permuted Press (

The premise of the story is rather cliché: a giant meteorite is about to cause the end of the world. But Shapiro elected to write a different take on this old and overused theme. The book describes the story of how Sean, a young adult, decides to spend his final hours on this earth. Hours before the doom of humanity, Sean wishes to be reunited with his lost love.

It begins as a story which explores the repercussions facing a young man deprived of his future. But it rapidly degenerates into something I can't quite put into words.

The entire novella is written from Sean's POV. At the beginning, the narrative illustrates how society as we know it is unravelling around Sean. The book is only 100 pages long, so the pace is quite brisk.

But such a fast rhythm has one major drawback. The author doesn't have the chance to "flesh out" the characters and the world that is going mad. A few mad glimpses are all that we are offered. Which, in the end, is the reason why I was never able to get into the story.

Moreover, the story takes a spectacular turn for the bizarre in the second half of the book. Indeed, it becomes something akin to an acid trip gone bad. As Sean drives away from home to join his former girlfriend Selma, the story becomes at times absurd.

It sure looks like this novella was written for a younger audience. And since I'm not part of Generation X, I couldn't get fully into it. Lots of profanities, violence, etc. Having said that, I think that the right public would enjoy this novella. Younger guys, however, probably not girls. I'm convinced that many high school teenagers and undergrads would undoubtedly enjoy this wild ride through a surreal reality. With the appropriate marketing, this book could perhaps be successful.

Since I have nothing to rate it against, I can't mark It's Only Temporary the way I usually do. . .

Knife of Dreams Press Release

This is an excerpt from Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams press release:

«With over 12 million copies of The Wheel of Time series sold in North America, Tor will be publishing Knife of Dreams with an announced first printing of a million copies. As part of its $750,000 National marketing campaign (more details below), Tor will be promoting the Knife of Dreams with an Internet Hunt where participants will have the opportunity to navigate through twelve sites by solving a series of riddles. The solution to each riddle will lead to the URL of the next site.»

In all honesty, Jordan has little need of such an enormous marketing campaign. And that internet hunt is ridiculous. Jordan possesses the biggest cult following in the genre. The last 3 volumes of The Wheel of Time made their debut at number 1 on the NYT list, and New Spring: The Novel made its debut at number 3 and remained on the prestigious list for 20 weeks. With performances such as these, investing 750, 000$ in a marketing campaign is too much. Knife of Dreams will be an international bestseller regardless of such a vast campaign.

I believe that Tor Books (and the fantasy genre, for that matter) would be better served if the publisher had decided to use a portion of that money to market other authors in its already impressive roster. Writers such as L. E. Modesitt, Jr., David Farland, David Drake, David B. Coe, Charles De Lint, Jacqueline Carey, Elizabeth Haydon are just a few of the names that come to mind. They don't benefit from immense marketing campaigns, and some of them definitely deserve much more exposure than they are getting.

In the long run, it would have been a better investment to put a little of that money to support the work of many other Tor authors. . .

The Great Ladies of Fantasy

The results are in!

This turned out to be a very interesting poll. Indeed, many people commented that they knew very few female fantasy writers. Moreover, several were ashamed to admit the fact. Hence, I have elected to include the top 20 authors that received the most votes during the survey. May this list provide you with new writers to discover!:-)

As always, please feel free to comment!;-)

1- Robin Hobb
2- Ursula K. Le Guin
3- J. K. Rowling
4- Janny Wurts
5- Patricia A. McKillip
6- Marion Zimmer Bradley
7- Lois McMaster Bujold
8- Jacqueline Carey
9- Anne McCaffrey
10- Margaret Weis
11- Melanie Rawn
12- Diane Wynn Jones
13- Katherine Kerr
14- C. S. Friedman
15- Kate Elliott
16- Robin McKinley
17- Katherine Kurtz
18- Mary Gentle
19- J. V. Jones
20- Jennifer Fallon

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (June 7th)

Nothing new, I'm afraid. . .

In hardcover:

Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith is down 3 positions, ending the week at number 10. The book has remained on the NYT list for 9 weeks.

In paperback:

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy drops 12 spots, finishing the week at number 32. This novel has been on the list for 8 weeks.

Douglas Adams' The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is up 6 positions, ending the week at number 27. The book has remained on the prestigious list for a total of 4 weeks.

Short Shaman's Crossing Excerpt

Thanks to Jay (, here is a short excerpt of Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing. He got it from a rep at UK/Voyager:

When young King Troven assumed the throne of Vania thirty years after a two-hundred year war with Landsing, he was determined to restore her greatness, not through waging another assault upon their traditional enemies, but by looking in the opposite direction and colonising the wild plains and steppes to their east.

Over the next twenty years, cavalry forces manage to subdue the rolling plains formerly wasted on nomadic herders and tribesmen. Troven's campaign restores the pride of the Varnian military and to reward them, Troven creates a new nobility that is extremely loyal to their monarch.

Beyond the grasslands lies the current frontier of Varnia, the heavily forested Barrier Mountains, home to enigmatic Specks: a dappled, forest dwelling people, unable to tolerate the heat and full sunlight of the plains. The new settlers find the Specks slightly dim-witted and overly placid, and yet strangely difficult to control.

There are tales that they are 'blood-drinkers' and their nature worship of ancestral trees has presented difficulties for those who wish to harvest the forest's exotic timber. They also harbour strange diseases, so prolonged contact with the Specks is judged both fool-hardy and disgusting.

Nevare Gerar is the second son of one of King Troven's new lords. Following in his father's footsteps, a commission as a cavalry officer at the frontier and an advantageous marriage await him, once he has completed his training at the King's Cavalry Academy.


I have been tagged by Patrick Dubreuil at to play a little game, so here are my answers:

NUMBER OF BOOKS THAT I OWN : Probably between 500 and 600. I don't bother counting anymore, I'm afraid. And I give books away every year, in addition to donating some to libraries. If I had kept every book I've ever owned, I would probably have close to 2000 books in my collection.

LAST BOOK I BOUGHT : Well, during the last week of my vacation, I stopped by Chapters and bought a bunch of them: THE YEARS OF SALT AND RICE by Kim Stanley Robinson, NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman, AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman, THE AMBER SPYGLASS by Philip Pullman, PERDIDO STREET STATION by China Miéville, and THE SCAR by China Miéville.

LAST BOOK I READ : FOOL'S FATE by Robin Hobb. As I mentioned in my book review, taken as a whole (Hobb's 3 trilogies) this tale ranks among the best fantasy series of all time.

FIVE BOOKS THAT MEAN A LOT TO ME : Honestly, for a guy who reads as much as I do, it is simply impossible for me to answer this one in a manner that would even remotely scratch the surface of what I am attempting to convey. . .

1- Reading Weis and Hickman's DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES and LEGENDS during my first year of junior high. I wasn't even good enough to read in English back then, and needed to keep that French/English dictionary close by. This is the tale that introduced me to the fantasy genre. And the rest, as they say, is history!

2- FINGERPRINTS OF THE GODS by Graham Hancock: This quest for an as-yet-unidentified civilization was a pure delight to read. Hancock's books are always thought-provoking, and the amount of research that goes into each one is nothing less than staggering. I love his work.

3- DIGITAL FORTRESS, DECEPTION POINT, ANGELS AND DEMONS, THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown: Last year I spent nearly 4 months touring traveling around Europe. All in all, I visited 14 different countries during that span of time. And if anyone ever tells you that traveling by train is a lot of fun while in Europe, you have my permission to hit him!;-) Hell, I was on the verge of opening my veins by my 3rd or 4th train ride. What was initially meant to kill time sort of became an intrinsic facet of my entire traveling experince. I read Brown's four novels on the train and loved every minute of it. I know there are a lot of haters out there, but this author definitely knows how to write a story that will keep you turning those pages. ANGELS AND DEMONS simply blew me away. So much so that I did not want to reach Strasbourg (Sorry, Ulrike!!!). Those books were pure, unadultered fun!;-)

4- THE WHEEL OF TIME by Robert Jordan: For my money, still the best fantasy series of all time. I've been on this since 1992 and can't quite believe that it's still going!!! I love this series so much because it's the only thing that somehow can excite me in a way that almost makes me feel like a kid again. And at 31 years of age, this feeling is priceless. Only Star Wars could also make me feel this way. And now that it's more or less officially over, this saga of titanic proportions is all I have left.:-) How bad am I!?! Well, when a new volume comes out, I put everything on stand-by and become a recluse. Don't try to get me out until I'm done with the book. I will never forget when I told my then girlfriend Edith that when the new Jordan novel would come out, she wouldn't hear from me for a couple of days. She thought I was kidding, and was quite shocked to realize that I wasn't. She made quite a scene (as women are prone to do!!!), and something had to give. So I called in sick at work in order to finish the book!;-)

5- TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay: To put it simply, this novel just might be the best fantasy book I have ever read.:-)

New Poll: Best Female Fantasy Writers

Hi guys!

Well, since many of you encouraged me to do another survey, here it is!;-) As I mentioned before, I had officially run out of ideas. But some people submitted suggestions, and this is one of them. Personally, I am persuaded that Robin Hobb will easily take the cake. But it will be interesting to see who else will make the list. . .

As always, feel free to vote here or own your regular message board. I'll compile the results in about a week!

Fool's Fate

Because of the high quality of the previous two volumes, and because this series is also linked with both The Farseer and The Liveship Traders trilogies, it is with very high expectations that I plunged into this final volume of The Tawny Man trilogy. And this novel lives up to those expectations, and then some!:-) Fool's Fate is a terrific read!

Not only does this book mark the stunning conclusion to an excellent series, but it is also the culmination of an incomparable saga.

The characterizations are once again top notch. The deeply involved humanity that characterizes each character is quite predominant. Robin Hobb is a truly gifted author in that regard. She captures the true essence of each emotion, positive or negative, like no other writer in the field today. Moreover, all the characters remain true to themselves till the very end, in their choices and their actions.

All major characters return. Plus, there is amazing character development throughout the book. I don't want to include spoilers because this final volume contains several emotionally charged scenes. And each and everyone of them is executed masterfully.:-) Although I always knew that Burrich, Molly and Nettle would somehow make appearances, I was pleased to see Patience and Lacey, even if they don't play major roles. The developing relationship between Prince Dutiful and Elliania is well-done. And the addition of Thick is also interesting.

We finally catch a glimpse of the Out Islands, which is also a treat.

Fool's Fate is full of intriguing plots and subplots, and it ends with unexpected final revelations. It brings this series to a satisfying end, but leaves the door open for a lot more. There is a bittersweet sense of completion, however. I was so sorry to see this series come to an end. . .

Mrs. Hobb has somehow managed to raise the bar even higher, which is quite a feat. Those 9 volumes are a great achievement, an outstanding work of fantasy. And as the final chapter, Fool's Fate is compulsively readable. Taken as a whole, this wonderful saga deserves its place among the best fantasy series of all time. Deserves the highest possible recommendation.

The final verdict: 10/10

This Week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 31st)

In hardcover:

Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith remains at number 7 again this week. This adaptation of Star Wars Episode III has been on the NYT list for 8 weeks.

In paperback:

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy drops 4 positions, ending the week at number 20. This marks the novel's 7th week on the prestigious list.

Douglas Adams' The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is down 5 spots, finishing the week at number 33. The book has been on the list for 3 weeks.