Monthly Archives: January 2020

assassin’s apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is probably the 3rd time I’ve read this book in the last 10-15 years. It was the first ever book by Robin Hobb that I read and that hooked me on her as an author. She writes in a fabulously fluid and descriptive way that makes her characters jump into life and carries you along with the story. It’s a style of writing that makes you want to just keep going and is responsible for a couple of later than planned nights while reading this book!

The story itself is nothing new in that it’s a young boy, abandoned and alone taken into the royal family, trained to help them and growing into a pivotal role. It’s very character rich with many people to keep track of but Hobb’s style makes it so much easier as you get to know the characters without being bogged down with unnecessary details.

Apart from Hobb’s style of writing there are some stand out elements to her story. She isn’t afraid to hurt her characters and definitely doesn’t portray them in perfect light. The relationship between Fitz and Burrich is so well told as is Fitz and Chade. Fitz goes through an awful lot for what is essentially a young boy.

The Farseer Trilogy is followed by The Liveship Traders which is an even better story but the Farseer story is essential to setting your base for this fantastic world Hobb creates.

under the knife

For quite a number of years now I’ve had a lot of little lumps called lipomas in various parts of my body. Some of them are larger than others and they grow very slowly over time. About 9 years ago I had two removed, one from each arm, as they were getting quite big and I really didn’t like them as they were very noticeable. Recently I’ve had a number of them develop along the edge of my ribs and one in particular was quite big. As a group they could become quite uncomfortable at times and I asked the doctor last year about having them removed.

Today was the day. I had hoped to have them all removed but the surgeon only wanted to remove the large one that was causing the most discomfort to minimise the size of the wound and avoid complications as they are essentially harmless. He explained that the distribution pattern reflected the track of a nerve which they have formed along and the large one pressing on the nerve was the source of the discomfort.

Surgery itself was pretty quick taking just under 30mins but the 3hr delay due to the late arrival of the surgeon was a real pain in the arse especially as I only had a light breakfast and didn’t sleep great last night due to nervousness about the procedure leaving me quite stressed, hungry and with a thumping headache.

The whole surgical procedure was quite a weird experience. The main pain was the anaesthetic needle, similar to the dentist, but very quick acting as there was barely any break between the needle and the cutting which made me very nervous. There was lots of pressure from the prodding and squeezing as well as the stitching of the wound but there was a sharp burst of pain in the middle, like an intense burning sensation, that was due to pressure on the nerve which was very unsettling.

I was able to see the procedure due to reflection in the overhead lamps but I couldn’t watch it – I don’t even like to watch blood being taken in the doctor’s! I did sneak a peak when they were cleaning up and it’s a deep enough and wide enough wound. 4 stitches later and a dressing and it looks very insignificant!

The surgeon appeared quite stern but I was pleased when he introduced himself, shook my hand and explained what was going to happen. I think he fancied himself as a comedian too. The procedure involves squeezing the lipoma out from below the skin to allow removal and I heard him say “here comes the baby, head first, now the legs and pop!” I might have appreciated it better if it wasn’t my ribs he was pressing down on!

Home straight away afterwards with a stop for lunch. Aftercare is simple enough – paracetamol and ibuprofen plus no lifting or strenuous exercise for a while. Stitches out in 10 days and hopefully an all clear report in approximately 2 weeks on the biopsy of the removed tissue which is done as standard on all lesion removals.


Blowfly (Kay Scarpetta #12) by Patricia Cornwell.

From Goodreads:

In Blow Fly, Kay Scarpetta stands at the threshold of a new life after her work as Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner has come to a jarring end. At the close of The Last Precinct, she knew she would have to leave Richmond if she were to find any peace. She feared that she was about to be fired by the governor. More alarming, she was hounded in the media and in the courtroom, for what some claimed was her involvement in the murder of a deputy police chief. So Scarpetta packed up her belongings and set out for the warmth and solace of the Florida sun.

She is settling into a new life as a private forensic consultant and is deep into a case that has left colleagues in Louisiana profoundly disturbed. A woman is found dead in a seedy hotel, dressed to go out, keys in her hand. Her history of blackouts, and her violent outbursts while under their spell, offer more questions than clues about the cause of her death. Then Scarpetta receives news that chills her to the core: Jean-Baptiste Chandonne – the vicious and unrepentant Wolfman, who pursued her to her very doorstep – asks to see her. From his cell on death row, he demands an audience with the legendary Dr. Scarpetta. Only to her will he tell the secrets he knows the authorities desire: the evidence that will bring a global investigation to a swift conclusion. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her colleague Detective Pete Marino are left to wonder: After all the death and destruction, what sort of endgame could this violent psychopath have in mind? And could this request be somehow related to the Louisiana case?

Her friends and family by her side, Scarpetta must unravel a twisting conspiracy with an international reach and confront theshock of her life – a blow that will force her to question the loyalty and trust of all she holds dear.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

At times this was a really well written and very entertaining story but then there were sections that defied understanding and seemed written by a completely different author. One stand out example is the aftermath of the Polish hotel scene and Lucy’s correction of her mistake. First of all Lucy doesn’t make mistakes and then her reaction and correction is completely out of character.

The return of an old character isn’t new in fiction writing but how it’s dealt with in this story is quite bizarre, the change in character and demeanour and the depiction of his master plan is clunky and jumps all over the place creating confusion for the reader.

On the positive side I was pleased to see Marino and Lucy take centre stage for most of this story. Kay is brought in and out, sometimes in random and confusing ways, but other characters are given much more attention. It was also good to see some of the story from the point of view of the bad guy but I would like to have seen the Bev and Jay relationship given more attention.

The ending though is terrible! Another reviewer described it as if the author had to go home early and asked her secretary to finish it off for her which is exactly what it feels like – rushed and incomplete and completely unfulfilling.

My rating is 3🌟 but it could easily have been a 2. I’ll probably read book #13 but I don’t think I’ll be in a rush.

the painted man

The Painted Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V Brett

From Goodreads:

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings riseβ€”demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wardsβ€”symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is my second time to read this book. The first was a couple of years ago but for some reason I didn’t go on to read the rest of the series. I don’t understand why as this is an excellent book and the best fantasy story I’ve read for quite a while.

There is a solid core of well defined main characters aided by interesting minor characters. Together they are used in a really good way to create the back story of the main characters and bring them together.

It’s a far from predictable story without being too shocking, just the right blend to keep the story believable but still interesting.

Looking forward now to reading the rest of the series.

metric century

Turned up for the Club Sunday morning spin yesterday determined to keep my momentum going now that I’m back on the bike and back out with the Club again. Nearly shit a brick when they announced it was to be a 100km spin!

I did plan to do a 100km this month but not for another fortnight or so. I didn’t think I had the legs to complete the distance and definitely didn’t think I had the legs to stay with the group over that period of time. But, I did and I did!

It wasn’t all roses though. At times I was really struggling. Every hill I was fighting just to stay with the other guys and I drifted off the back a number of times and had to dig deep to catch up.

The route was a new one for me heading around by Lough Derg, Pettigo and Laghey returning home via Barnes Gap. It’s a road I’ve looked at a number of times but never actually cycled until yesterday. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been in Pettigo before either.

Great route and a big personal milestone as I haven’t cycled 100km since November 2018.

click the image to view on strava
coffee stop in laghey