Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Book Clubs => 2011 Fantasy Book Club Reads => Book Club Archives => Fantasy Faction Book Club => [AUG 2011] Tome of the Undergates => Topic started by: jdiddyesquire on August 09, 2011, 02:22:21 PM

Title: Finished - thoughts
Post by: jdiddyesquire on August 09, 2011, 02:22:21 PM
I finished the book last night.  So I don't want to make too many comments for fear of forgetting where things happened when.  I'll say this... the last 100 pages blow the rest of the book away IMO.

After finishing, I'm not really sure what Tomes is or who Sykes is as a writer.  I guess that's to be expected in a debut author.  Parts of it read like the Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore of the fantasy genre, parts read like amateur AD&D, and others read like extremely well written epic fantasy (see last 100 pages).

Look forward to talking to everyone about it when we're all done.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Overlord on August 09, 2011, 03:57:19 PM
I finished the book last night.  So I don't want to make too many comments for fear of forgetting where things happened when.  I'll say this... the last 100 pages blow the rest of the book away IMO.

After finishing, I'm not really sure what Tomes is or who Sykes is as a writer.  I guess that's to be expected in a debut author.  Parts of it read like the Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore of the fantasy genre, parts read like amateur AD&D, and others read like extremely well written epic fantasy (see last 100 pages).

Look forward to talking to everyone about it when we're all done.

Similar feeling with me. I loved the book, but I certainly, even now wonder what it was. I think the fact it is so unique works in its favour to many and as a hindrance to the rest. Is it this or is it that? I guess the answer is that it is neither really.

I mean the Dragonman / Pup bit was just beautiful, but so totally un-like the rest of the book... it was just a bit of everything and I really enjoyed it. I think it shows Sam has a lot of places he can go and areas to explore - I'm looking forward to his 5th/6th-10th/11th books and wondering how he would have evolved by then :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: jdiddyesquire on August 09, 2011, 04:01:00 PM
Similar feeling with me. I loved the book, but I certainly, even now wonder what it was. I think the fact it is so unique works in its favour to many and as a hindrance to the rest. Is it this or is it that? I guess the answer is that it is neither really.

I mean the Dragonman / Pup bit was just beautiful, but so totally un-like the rest of the book... it was just a bit of everything and I really enjoyed it. I think it shows Sam has a lot of places he can go and areas to explore - I'm looking forward to his 5th/6th-10th/11th books and wondering how he would have evolved by then :)

That scene, along with Asper and Daenos, and even Kat and Lenk (although I was thinking - fuck already) to some degree, were all really beautiful scenes.  And some of the other intermediary stuff during the journey to the Iron castle place thing were well done too.

My only real complaint (and it's kind of a big one I guess) was that I dreaded the action somewhat.  The whole 166 page intro fight scene totally exhausted my action quota.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: ChristinaJL on August 10, 2011, 10:06:34 AM
I've finished as well.  Whilst I did enjoy the book (I'd give it 3.5 out of 5 stars), I don't think it was without issues.  For example, hugely drawn out battles in which the characters seemed to stop in the middle and have long conversations.  What was that about?   :D  I thought the characters were pretty interesting, but don't think they were described enough as I didn't get a clear picture of what the dragonman and the rogue looked like.  Some scenes he wrote very well, but others were not so good.  I'm interested to see what direction he takes as a writer, as I think he needs to strike a bit better balance between action/dialogue.  I'm now reading another book by Erikson and it kind of shows up how undeveloped a talent Sam Skyes is, but I guess he has plenty of time to work on his writing.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Vilutheril on August 15, 2011, 01:26:05 PM
I'm also finished now. Although it is certainly not without some flaws I really enjoyed reading this book and can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Like Overlord, I'm quite interested in seeing how Sykes develops as a writer. I think he has a lot of talent that can be refined into something quite great.

In my opinion, the main thing that trips thestory up a little is some inconsistency in pace and tone. However it is a debut novel and it's even possible that this adds to it's unique flavor. It may even be used to it's advantage with a little polishing.

I agree that the last quarter of the novel was by far the best. Very well written with exciting and some really touching scenes. :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: iwillreadbooks on August 15, 2011, 11:11:39 PM
I mean the Dragonman / Pup bit was just beautiful, but so totally un-like the rest of the book... it was just a bit of everything and I really enjoyed it. I think it shows Sam has a lot of places he can go and areas to explore - I'm looking forward to his 5th/6th-10th/11th books and wondering how he would have evolved by then :)

That was the most surprising thing about the book. Sam does a complete u-turn and surprised me. I cant quite put my finger on  exactly when I realised that I actually do care about these misfits. Certainly the second half of the book somewhere. I don't think Tome of the Undergates is a great book, but I am glad I stuck with it to the very end. For a while it was very close that the, at times very juvenile, humor of the book would force me to put it down. Then I had a mention from Sam on Twitter saying that he hoped I liked the book and I thought I better not put it down just yet :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Overlord on August 16, 2011, 10:13:17 AM
I mean the Dragonman / Pup bit was just beautiful, but so totally un-like the rest of the book... it was just a bit of everything and I really enjoyed it. I think it shows Sam has a lot of places he can go and areas to explore - I'm looking forward to his 5th/6th-10th/11th books and wondering how he would have evolved by then :)

That was the most surprising thing about the book. Sam does a complete u-turn and surprised me. I cant quite put my finger on  exactly when I realised that I actually do care about these misfits. Certainly the second half of the book somewhere. I don't think Tome of the Undergates is a great book, but I am glad I stuck with it to the very end. For a while it was very close that the, at times very juvenile, humor of the book would force me to put it down. Then I had a mention from Sam on Twitter saying that he hoped I liked the book and I thought I better not put it down just yet :)

I think it is an enjoyable book that seemed to be a simple read that was pretty much set to end and be as it was, but then the ending kind of opened things up a bit and made me think there is a lot more to come. Really think Sam has a lot more to offer as his career progresses and if you put it in the context of being a debut novel, it is even more impressive :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Nighteyes on August 17, 2011, 07:04:45 PM
I would agree with the comments, not a perfect book but very promising. So many questions are left open!who is the voice in Lenk's head?who are the longfaces?what will Asper do about her arm?Will Gariath find any of his kin?why do Schits hate humans?will def stay on board to find out the answers!
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Overlord on August 18, 2011, 12:03:07 PM
I would agree with the comments, not a perfect book but very promising. So many questions are left open!who is the voice in Lenk's head?who are the longfaces?what will Asper do about her arm?Will Gariath find any of his kin?why do Schits hate humans?will def stay on board to find out the answers!

Good summary when you put it like that and shows the scope Sykes has to work with :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: pornokitsch on August 18, 2011, 05:15:50 PM
I mean the Dragonman / Pup bit was just beautiful, but so totally un-like the rest of the book... it was just a bit of everything and I really enjoyed it. I think it shows Sam has a lot of places he can go and areas to explore...

Very much agree. The Gariath episode was so unexpected, and so (weirdly) touching, it blew me away. One of those scenes that made me rethink every other scene in the book, as I had to reappraise the character entirely.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Overlord on August 19, 2011, 08:35:08 AM
I mean the Dragonman / Pup bit was just beautiful, but so totally un-like the rest of the book... it was just a bit of everything and I really enjoyed it. I think it shows Sam has a lot of places he can go and areas to explore...

Very much agree. The Gariath episode was so unexpected, and so (weirdly) touching, it blew me away. One of those scenes that made me rethink every other scene in the book, as I had to reappraise the character entirely.

And also it seems to set him on a completely different path in later books. From being a mindless killing force, he suddenly goes to being a character with a mission that we can respect and relate to. It also exposes a weakness in him that up until this point he seemed not to have.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: pornokitsch on August 19, 2011, 04:11:18 PM
And if Gariath can be a sensitive soul, it makes you rethink all the other characters you've met as well. I really like it. Sykes subverting his own work.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: thedoctor on August 24, 2011, 05:05:22 PM
I share a lot of opinions with you all on this one I think. I had really mixed feelings, but for some reason I really want to read the next book in the series. I am also really looking forward to following Sykes as an author and seeing where he goes. In particular, I want to know a lot more about Dread and the world this is set on. At the moment, my biggest problem is immersion - there are too many things that break me out of the world.

For those who are interested, there is a fairly extensive review on my blog: http://fromafantasyfan.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/tome-of-the-undergates-sam-sykes/ (http://fromafantasyfan.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/tome-of-the-undergates-sam-sykes/)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Overlord on August 25, 2011, 09:17:55 AM
I share a lot of opinions with you all on this one I think. I had really mixed feelings, but for some reason I really want to read the next book in the series. I am also really looking forward to following Sykes as an author and seeing where he goes. In particular, I want to know a lot more about Dread and the world this is set on. At the moment, my biggest problem is immersion - there are too many things that break me out of the world.

For those who are interested, there is a fairly extensive review on my blog: http://fromafantasyfan.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/tome-of-the-undergates-sam-sykes/ (http://fromafantasyfan.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/tome-of-the-undergates-sam-sykes/)

Certainly seemed to end 'right' so to speak. Hound summarised things better than I can, but so many questions left open that you feel a need to find out what the heck is gonna happen next :)

I've heard book 2 has a similar marmite effect on people ;)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Ken on August 26, 2011, 04:38:55 PM
I was quite surprised by the ending, it wasn't how I would expect the first book to end but I'm intrigued enough to read the second book. Despite the slow start, I came to enjoy the book a lot, even the arguments! It's not perfect but I think there's a lot of potential in this series.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Noona on September 02, 2011, 08:36:10 PM
Finished - ok, so it's technically September, I tried!
I really liked this book, I actually liked it right from the start and it grew on me from there. I loved the writing style, the blending of such beauty (the above-mentioned scene with Gariath and the pup, and a few other descriptions of scenery and things that I noticed) with such vulgarity (see more or less everything Denaos says!) I thought was really well done. I agree with some comments that visualising some things like the omens was quite difficult at times but it didn't bother me much and I imagine that is something that will get better in later books. I enjoyed the sense of humour running through the whole book, I think fantasy often takes itself quite seriously and it's nice to read something that can make a bit of a dig at the whole adventurers and companions thing.
Looking forward to Black Halo coming out in the mass-market paperback in February. :D
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: DBASKLS on September 03, 2011, 07:20:49 PM
Finished last night. Overall I didn't enjoy it. However, it did get better in the closing chapters but not enough to make me want to continue the trilogy.

I'm reading a couple of other books on my pile before starting the September book.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Autumn2May on September 05, 2011, 04:23:34 AM
I finished this yesterday and I loved it!  I will do a more in depth post tomorrow when I'm not falling asleep at the computer. :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Overlord on September 05, 2011, 12:37:33 PM
Good to see so many people have enjoyed it... I have three copies of Black Halo... I feel a competition coming on!!! ;P
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Ken on September 05, 2011, 01:14:52 PM
Good to see so many people have enjoyed it... I have three copies of Black Halo... I feel a competition coming on!!! ;P
I hope it's open to International members! :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Autumn2May on September 05, 2011, 04:32:43 PM
Good to see so many people have enjoyed it... I have three copies of Black Halo... I feel a competition coming on!!! ;P
I hope it's open to International members! :)

Ditto!
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Autumn2May on September 05, 2011, 07:11:29 PM
Okay awake and done with modding duties! :)

This book was great!  The characters being the best part.  They reminded me of my D&D group, except Sam's characters show some sympathy for each other on occasion (my friends are sadistic when they play D&D).  I liked how each character seemed stereotypical at first but the longer the story went on the deeper each person became.  All of them had outward flaws that annoyed the other characters, but all of them had inward flaws that no one else knew about.  And those were the parts of them that guided the character's decisions rather than their more obvious and annoying traits.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when all the main characters survived the book.  And while I realize that they could end up being offed in the next one, I do like that they get a chance to developed further, as I really want to know more about each of them.

The fact that the story took place on a boat, then an island was a neat twist.  Most epic fantasy is set in the woods, the mountains, or in cities.  There are some points where boats are involved, but it's usually not a main part of the book.  It was kind of nice to have a new set of terrain based problems and evil baddies to read about, rather than the basic tropes.

Also, the Omens sound really creepy and I'm glad they are made up. :o  Their description actually creeped me out more than they Abysmyths.

I'm going to write a more complete review for the site, but I wanted to get my thoughts down here since I never seem to finish book club in time. :D  And now I need to somehow acquire a copy of Black Halo, because I need to see what happens next! :)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: lazyrhino on September 18, 2011, 09:04:14 PM
Finally finished this last night.

I've had only 20 pages to go for the last week and a half and just couldn't force myself to finish it (I read the first two Mistborn books instead).  I think if I hadn't just received Nights of Villjamur in my mailbox I may never have finished it.  I didn't want to start a new reading club book without having finished the last one though.

Anyway, my comments mirror most of those already expressed in this thread so I won't repeat them.  I won't be picking up the sequels to this but would be open to trying Sykes again once he starts a new series and gains more experience.  He is certainly unlike anything I've ever read before (I've never read Abercrombie so those comparisons don't work with me).

Although I can't say that I enjoyed the book, I am glad that I read it.  It is for exactly this exposure to works that I wouldn't normally choose for myself that I wanted to join this book club.  I wish that I had enjoyed my first one but hope to have better luck in the future.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Jeryn on September 28, 2011, 06:47:26 PM
Finished the book this week and posted my thoughts on my blog at richardmbray.wordpress.com:

---

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as thoroughly disappointed by a book as I was by TOME OF THE UNDERGATES.

Part of this was because of my expectations. The good people at Fantasy-Faction.com gave Sykes’ Aegons’ Gate series glowing recommendations, describing the book as a cross between Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. Lynch’s ‘Gentlemen Bastards’ series has a chance to become one of my favorite fantasy series of all-time, so that’s pretty high praise. ‘Gentlemen Bastards’ is the funniest fantasy series I’ve ever read, and the first book in the series is simply tremendous with a plot twist that still knocks me on my ass more than a year after I read the book. Abercrombie’s ‘First Law’ series is just a notch below ‘Gentlemen Bastards’ in my eyes, with painstaking character development mixed in with all the action so that the books — and the series itself — become a character study of the protagonists. It’s really unlike anything else I’ve read in fantasy.

So when the forum members at Fantasy-Faction.com, who to the best of my knowledge have no reason to lie to me, tell me it’s a cross between these two fantastic authors, it was enough to convince me to go ahead and order the first two books in the series.

Now, in ordering these books one of the first things that stood out to me was that in every blurb I saw reviewing or previewing the book, Sam Sykes wasn’t merely referred to as Sam Sykes, he became “25-year-old Sam Sykes,” so we were all aware that he was a young phenom with a long future in the publishing industry. But after reading the first 400 pages, I had no reason to believe that this book was actually written by a 25-year-old. Maybe a 14-year-old. Maybe.

Through the first 400 pages, the plot goes like this — our five antihero companions are all on a boat that gets attacked by pirates and a sea monster. These five companions, who all come from different races and backgrounds, hate each other, and they bicker constantly. They don’t trade witty insults like the characters from Scott Lynch’s novels, and they aren’t charming antiheros like Nicomo Cosca from Joe Abercrombie’s books. They just bicker like 12-year-olds, with most of the insults centered around racist comments and criticisms of one another’s intelligence, courage and personal hygiene. And it goes on and on. The plot continues so that the sea demon steals the Tome of the Undergates and the priest onboard hires them to get it back. So the five antiheros go to the island where the sea creature is hiding, find a whole army of demons hiding in the caves on the island, and decide to sneak into the caves to try to get it back.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, ‘But that doesn’t sound like 500 pages’ worth of plot.’ Well, that’s because it’s not. The rest of the book is filled with the five main characters arguing amongst themselves. Occasionally Sykes makes reference to some dark past in each characters’ backstory, but mostly they just argue unimaginatively as Sykes hops from perspective to perspective within the same scene, a pet peeve of mine.

The main character, who, by the way, seems to be a Legend of Zelda rip-off (he’s a long-haired, lithe young lad named Lenk), spends most of his time either lusting after one of his companions (despite the fact that through 487 pages there is not a single tender moment between the two — they’re constantly fighting, both verbally and physically, and in the final scene between the two she climbs on top of him to stab him in his sleep, but instead they have sex) or talking to a murderous voice inside his head. He gets separated from his companions and then (I’m not making this up), gets bitten by a demon shark. As he struggles to free himself, his hand miraculously touches the satchel containing the Tome of the Undergates and he grabs it. He also grabs a sword while he’s under the water getting his leg bitten by a shark, and he kills it. For the next 50 pages or so he seems to forget that a shark was chewing on his leg as he fights more bad guys, then at the end he remembers again and everyone decides to hang out on the island for a few more days. Miraculously, despite a huge battle, none of the main characters are killed.

Strangely enough, after the bulk of the book is totally preposterous with no attention to character development whatsoever, Sykes spends the final 50 pages developing each of the characters and setting things up for what could possibly be a decent second book. To be honest, if I hadn’t already bought it (It’s called BLACK HALO), I probably would have just skipped it altogether, but I do hate to have an unread book on my shelf, so I’ll probably get around to it eventually. I’m just not holding out much hope. The first 400 pages had already burned me out.
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: Autumn2May on October 07, 2011, 09:37:48 PM
Finally finished my review for Tome.  Here it is. :)

http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/tome-of-the-undergates-2 (http://fantasy-faction.com/2011/tome-of-the-undergates-2)
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: eclipse on October 05, 2013, 01:28:25 PM
Finished Master Sheraptus Abysmyth Throne was a bit disgusting eek  :o

I'm undecided to carry on  with the series or not it had things I liked and didn't like

Liked Lenk's Inner voice,The longface society, I want to find out more about Denaos back story and  I  want to see where Gariath Goes now his had a vision from the elder stone

Disappointed with the Lenk kat romance or whatever it is  :) , not enough of Dread and the advantages/disadvantage of magic ,battles lasting a bit too long for me,wanted the Quillian and Kat hostility to carry on not vanish when there get off the ship and I found asper boring/annoying until I found out about her Killer arm (weird)

I think I will try to get book two from the library if it's there
Title: Re: Finished - thoughts
Post by: eclipse on July 20, 2016, 05:54:38 PM
Three years later starting Black Halo!,Thank god for this topic just what I needed to refresh my memory  ;D
Did you ever finish  the series @Nighteyes (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=272)?