Tim Scheidler

TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

Sunday Status Update: May 28, 2017

Character update on break this week, due to unforeseen meteorological conditions in the western regions of Arnor.

Jana: This week I read (and then re-read, in an attempt to clarify some details) M.R. Carey's latest novel The Boy on the Bridge, a prequel/companion novel to Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 21, 2017

This week, Peter Pan confronts slightly changed attitudes toward death in children's fiction.

Peter: Children are wimpy these days. I met a few in the park this week, and I went ahead and told them all about my adventures. It was all going fine until I mentioned that I'd killed a pirate. So one of the boys said I hadn't, so I said I had, I really had. The rest of them acted like they didn't believe me, so I went ahead and explained how I stabbed him up under the ribs and he bled out a few minutes later. Then they all got pale and ran off. I don't understand it. In the old days, they would've just said "how ripping" and let me get on with the story.

Bill: This week I read the Vacation Guide to the Solar System, an engagingly informative non-fiction tour of our nearest planets in a unique form... Read More

A Darker Shade of Magic: Well-executed story, intriguing setting

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tim's new review.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I was a big fan of V.E. Schwab’s 2013 novel Vicious, noting in my review how she had overcome the possible burden of overfamiliar concepts (it’s a folks-with-powers-who-have-some-gray-to-them kind of novel) with supremely polished execution. Well, she’s pretty much done the same with her newest novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, which takes many of the usual fantasy tropes and, again, just handles them all so smoothly that you simply don’t care much that you’ve seen them all before.

The basic concept is a nicely focused tweak of the multi-verse model, with a series of parall... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 14, 2017

This week, Red Sonja gets into the hero business.

Red Sonja: This week I killed my first ogre. I didn't mean to. I sort of stumbled into it. I was just contracted for a draugr, but I got the wrong cemetery and when he saw me the ogre must have figured I was there for him. So he came running out screaming bloody murder. Ever seen an angry ogre up close? Ten feet of muscle and slime and bad disposition. I did what any sensible mercenary would do and turned right around, screaming bloody murder myself. Only I tripped over a headstone and fell over, and then when I tried to get my sword around, the ogre got tangled in my scabbard, and he fell over me, and broke his neck against a headstone. The villagers came up while I was going through his pockets and figured I'd done for him out of heroic valor or something, so they threw me a banquet. Sometimes things work out all right. Except for the ogre, obvio... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 7, 2017

This week, Dracula changes with the times.

Dracula: This week, I once again encountered the infernal Van Helsing and his latest crew of mawkish do-gooders. This time, however, they did not find me unprepared! No indeed! For when I returned to my crypt near dawn and found them waiting, I did not despair. I had measures in place. The latest lantern-jawed English hero swaggered toward me with a cross as usual, and as usual I was forced to cower. But as I did, I reached into my coat. You should have seen the looks on their faces when I produced my pistol! They scattered like scared rabbits. Van Helsing himself put on a turn of speed frankly remarkable in a man his age. Most satisfying. Learn from my success, all ye creatures of the night! Vampiric powers are awesome and terrible, but they are at their best when supplemented by Messrs. Smith and Wesson.

Read More

Red Sister: Magic nuns. Need we say more?

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Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence's previous six novels have been interesting and unique in their own ways, but have also formed part of a recognizable corner of the genre. That is, Lawrence's name often appears alongside those of Joe Abercrombie and R. Scott Bakker on lists with titles like "So You've Just Finished A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE — What Next?" This isn't to say that the books set in Lawrence's Broken Empire aped George R.R. Martin, only that they seemed to be riding the same swell of the zeitgeist, by which I of course mean medieval... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 30, 2017

This week, we finally descend to scatological humor. I'm sorry.

Kvothe: I had a bad start to the day. I seem to have caught the disease going around the village, and I ended up stuck on the privy for most of the morning while Bast roamed around outside offering unhelpful suggestions and saying things like "Whew, Reshi, quick! Call the name of your wind! It's off its leash again!" I was about ready to throttle him.

Bill: In the lull between rough drafts and final papers, I managed to get a decent amount of reading done this week. I just finished Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne, a lovely, warm, and lyrical book that I’ll be highly recommending. I also finished two YA non-fiction works: 10 Rout... Read More

The Wheel of Osheim: A triumphant conclusion

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The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

There were times during the course of the trilogy when I really found myself wondering where THE RED QUEEN'S WAR was going. There were certainly elements that I was sure would get resolution — the ongoing specter of magical doom and the titular monarch's conflict with the Lady Blue being prominent amongst them — but I admit that I wondered whether the plot would coalesce around these elements or whether it would simply dangle from them. I'm happy to say that my fears were totally unwarranted. The Wheel of Osheim (2016) is not only the best book in the trilogy, it's probably my favorite Mark Lawrence novel to date. It's clever, funny, expertly crafted, and even exceeds its predecessors to demonstrate an elegant plot as well.
... Read More

The Liar’s Key: A fun second novel

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The Liar’s Key
by Mark Lawrence

For better or for worse, The Liar’s Key (2015) — the second novel in Mark Lawrence’s RED QUEEN’S WAR series — is in large part just a second helping of the first book. Readers who enjoyed Prince of Fools will probably find a lot to enjoy this time around as well. Those who might be reading this review in the hopes that I’ll tell them that this one is so much better will probably be disappointed.

Not to say that The Liar’s Key is a bad book by any means. Indeed, it’s rather a good one, filled with the same char... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 23, 2017

This week, we swing at some low-hanging fruit again. Yep. Time for the obligatory Hobbiton pipe-weed joke.

Frodo: We've always been fond of our pipeweed here in the Shire, but lately it's been getting out of hand. Barrels of it are constantly being shipped out, the plants seem to be taking over every garden, and the smell of it gets into everything. I mean, really, people, can't we have some moderation? Now we have tourists coming through just to smoke our "Longbottom Leaf" and play bongo drums, because apparently Longbottom Leaf is illegal in Gondor for some reason. I suspect Gandalf's big mouth is the reason we have so many newcomers, but whenever I ask him about it he just giggles, puffs on his pipe, and ask if I have any snacks. Getting so tired of this.

Bill: This week I read two excellent books. Th... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 16, 2017

This week, Batman confronts his worst nightmare.

Batman: This week there was no crime in Gotham City. None whatsoever. Must confess to a feeling of... emptiness. Strange. Lack of crime should feel like success. Spent the week wrapped in activities I had always imagined I would one day undertake in my retirement. I watched several films I had been meaning to see. I went with Alfred to the golf course, just as I was forever promising I eventually would. I even picked up my oboe for the first time in years. It was... it was...

It was terrible. When the new crime-free Gotham was revealed to be a fiendish mind control plot by the Scarecrow, I was inexpressibly relieved.

Bill: I’m moving into crunch time at the end of the term, as well as facing a play deadline, so not a lot of reading this week (or probably the next few). I did... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 9, 2017

This week, Robin Hood addresses the fact that Hollywood has labored for nearly a century under the delusion that he is Ivanhoe.

Robin: New wanted posters this week. Always an exciting time. My bounty price went up again, and ah, how the glades rang with laughter when the men saw how highly the sheriff prizes us! But there were also some minor... issues. This time, you see, an accounting of my deeds was appended to the main poster, which would have been a merry thing, save that they were not in fact my deeds. My poster states that I am a crusading knight recently returned to England, that I have been wrongfully disinherited, that my childhood sweetheart and fair lady has been spirited away by a loathsome nobleman, and that I have made common cause with outlaws in order to rescue her and put the land to rights. Also that I am affiliated with King Richard somehow.

This is all ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 2, 2017

This week, Red Sonja performs the long-standing heroic duty of saving a princess.

Red Sonja: You don't run into a lot of fat princesses. I don't know why. It seems like it'd be the sort of life that would predispose a woman to putting on some extra weight, what with the pampering and the gourmet meals. But the princesses I've seen have all inclined toward the skinny side, if anything. They usually have lots of blonde ringlets, too, and big blue eyes. And they always seem to be looking beseechingly toward something in the middle distance, which gets very annoying when you're right in front of them waiting for instructions. This week, a king hired me to rescue his daughter, and sure enough, when I burst into the inner chamber covered in ogre guts, raw sewage, and what I'm pretty sure was unicorn puke (don't ask), there she was all wasp-waisted and golden-haired. She'd somehow contrived not to be messy, which w... Read More

Prince of Fools: A slick, well-crafted buddy adventure fantasy

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Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince Jalan Kendeth is the black sheep of the family. A self-confessed untrustworthy scoundrel and coward who has taken every advantage of the life of luxury that comes with being royalty, he is perfectly content with his life as it is and has no plans to change or inclination for greater things. However, when he crosses paths with a courageous Viking named Snorri, Jal discovers that he may have been destined to stand against an undead evil. Snorri is returning north to rescue his family and, despite his unwillingness, Jal is bound by mystic forces to accompany him.

For those (like me) who are already die-hard Mark Lawrence fans, Prince of Fools, the first book in the RED QUEEN'S WAR series, is just what we expected — pure awesomeness and then some. But for those of you who found Jorg of Lawrence’s BROKEN EMPIRE TRILOGY Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 26, 2017

Character update will return next week.

 

Bill: This week I finished Tad William’s The Heart of What Was Lost, which I liked a bit more than Kat, and Scott Westerfeld’s fast moving and enjoyable (more for story than the visuals) YA graphic Spill Zone. Outside the genre I read Heretics: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy, by Steven and Ben Nadler, an engaging graphic introduction to Seventeenth Century figures such as Descartes, Hobbes, and others. I also finished Fleda Brown’s strong collection The Woods are On Fire: New and Selected Poems and Tracy Chevalier’s novel At the Edg... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 19, 2017

This week, the Beast pitches what is basically a superhero revenge movie.

The Beast: This week, I kidnapped an old man and then performed a prisoner exchange for his daughter. It all seemed reasonable at the time, but I'm beginning to think it may not have been my finest moment. Only, honestly, how else am I going to spend time around a young woman? This curse seems designed to make me fail. I have to make a human woman fall in love with me while I'm a sort of bison/bear thing? What is that? What, I'm just supposed to happen on a woman who not only suits me personality-wise but is also into bestiality? It's absurd. I'm beginning to think I should just use my Beastly superpowers to track down this enchantress and make her lift the curse.

Actually, why haven't I thought of that before? It's not like it's just me who's suffering -- my entire staff was turned into doodads, and they didn't eve... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 12, 2017

Character update on break this week.

 

Bill:This week was a pretty good week quality-wise. I finally got around to Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, and I’m still mulling over my feelings on it—it’s a very smart, stimulating book in lots of ways, but also flawed and at times I felt trying a bit too hard on its plotting. I liked it, admired it, not sure if I, in middle-school parlance, “like-liked it. On the other hand, I loved The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel, by Dominic Smith, even it the ending was a bit weaker in comparison to the rest of this beautifully constructed and often beautifully written novel that moves back and forth between the 1600s, 1950s, and 2000s. Finally, I also quite enjoyed Meg Howrey’s The Wanderers, which follows a trio of astronauts as t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 5, 2017

This week, Supergirl deals with more woes over being an alien.

Supergirl: This week the "illegal alien" thing reared its ugly head again. This was, oh, Friday? Thursday? Anyway, I was downtown to buy new clothes (when you're constantly ripping off your outer layer to leap into action, you go through a lot of them) when I ran into an invasion of lizard people from the earth's core. Only, you know, not a full-blown invasion really, more just like some lizard people dared some other lizard people to go up and steal a McDonald's sign. They seemed to think it was a surface world religious symbol, and you know, not inaccurate, exactly. So I did my usual intimidation routine -- grab one, fly him around a bit, drop him back with his friends -- and told them to get lost. They got lost. They usually do.

Only then a bunch of guys in suits came running up and said they'd been looking for me, and said I nee... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 26, 2017

This week, the bat signal fails.

Batman: Field report for November: Grew angry with Commissioner Gordon earlier this week. Was sitting in cave going over notes (and trying to ignore video game noises -- never should have let Robin take a Playstation 4 into the cave) when Alfred entered and drew my attention to an ongoing firefight between Joker's men and the GCPD. He had heard about the matter on the radio. The radio! Was deeply concerned, fearing that my systems had failed to note the bat signal. Instead learned that there in fact was no bat signal. Set out at once, defeated henchmen, saved officers in peril. Confronted Gordon later that night, demanded to know reason for lack of contact.

"Uh," he said, "it's... a clear night, Batman."

"What?"

"It's clear tonight. No clouds. Doesn't happen often, I'll grant you, but when it does... well... you ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 19, 2017

This week, Frodo encounters an orc sympathizer.

Frodo: This week, some young hobbit turned up at my door wanting to talk about my book. I mean, it hasn't been published yet, but Sam talks. So I let him in and we started chatting, but over time it became obvious that what he really wanted to talk about was orcs. "Only, Mr. Baggins," he said, "I've been thinking and all. Innit the truth that orcs are really just elves?" So then I had to correct him and point out that no, in fact, orcs are elves who were taken and tortured and ruined by the Dark Lord. "Well, yes," he said, "but that just means they're still elves underneath it all, right?" I said I supposed so, though I must say the conversation was making me uncomfortable by then. "So Mr. Baggins," he went on, "I just mean to say... if all them orcs were just tortured elves 'n all... don't you feel bad that you and your lot killed... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 5, 2017

This week, Legolas finds himself a newly minted politician. Spoilers for Lord of the Rings.

Legolas: Journal Entry 3450397: Still in Gondor. Ever since our crazy suicide mission inexplicably succeeded, I've been deluged in letters from home telling me to use my influence with the new king to make sure the wood elves get a good deal out of all this. I'm also supposed to mention the stellar contribution that we made to the war effort, which... I mean, did we? I remember Gandalf saying something about fighting in other lands, but it's funny how we never seemed to run into any Orc armies heading off to Mirkwood or wherever. So far as I can tell, my father and his kingdom basically sat on the sidelines, golf-clapping whenever Gondor looked like winning. Knowing that makes it rather hard to start arguing a generous trade agreement or whatever. Maybe I'm not cut out for this... Read More

Lud-in-the-Mist: Unconventional and terribly lovely

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Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

I find myself in something of an awkward position with Lud-in-the-Mist, which is in part why it’s difficult to review. The fact of the matter is that while Lud-in-the-Mist is unequivocally an excellent novel, it is not always an enjoyable novel, and there is a large population of readers out there who may find it close to nauseating.

Lud-in-the-Mist is Hope Mirrlees’s only fantasy novel, and indeed the only one of her three novels for which she is remembered (and that, for the most part in recent years, because Neil Gaiman has put in a goo... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 29, 2017

This week, Batman again.

Batman: Field report for January: joined the Justice League in an interstellar war against the New Gods. Confronted their cosmically superpowered leader myself, stared him down. Returned to Gotham following the crisis' resolution, and was promptly knocked out and taken captive by Two-Face (a deranged lawyer with no particular combat expertise). Naturally I escaped, but I must admit that sometimes my life seems bizarrely dichotomous, as if my Fate is written by a completely different hand when I'm in Gotham. Perhaps some kind of psychological complaint is to blame? Maybe I subtly let down my guard while at home. Must watch for this. Final note: have at last determined the method whereby Wonder Woman avoids wardrobe malfunctions in combat. Very surprising. Had expected some kind of adhesive inside the bustier, but it seems that... [remainder of entry unreadable due to heavy rent ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 22, 2017

This week, Ayesha.

Ayesha: Week 148,893. As my prophesied love Kallikrates still apparently hasn't seen fit to get reincarnated and return to me, I once again had to come up with my own amusements this week. So I decided to fake my death. I gathered my people together, climbed up the side of the mountain, made a great big speech about existential despair and the human condition (totally wasted on my audience), and jumped. Four hundred feet onto solid stone. Well, it took them a while, but eventually they decided I was really dead and they ought to decide on a new leader. Some of them wanted democracy, and some wanted a monarchy, and it was all very fascinating, really. Of course, eventually some big lout decided to make himself king on the spot and started punching, so I had to get up and blast him. Then, of course, it was back to the usual awe and horror and religious fan... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 15, 2017

Character update on break again. Next week. Next week.

 

Bill: This week was a smorgasbord. Genre-wise, I read Bradley P. Beaulieu’s With Blood Upon the Sand, his good-if-not-quite-as-good follow up to the excellent Twelve Kings in Sharakhai; and John Scalzi’s Miniatures, which didn’t leave much of an impression, though a few stories were cute enough. In the graphic story vein I read Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur written by Frederic Brremaud and illustrated by Frederico Bertolucci, a wonderfully vivid wordless day in the lives of a few dinosaurs. In the literary fiction category I was held by the first two-thirds of Karan Mahaj... Read More

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