8326789I was finally able to put aside certain distractions *koff koff DRAGON AGE 2 koff koff* aside long enough to finish off what was supposed to be the third book of my JaNoReadMo: Of Truth and Beasts.

There is a LOT of back story to this one.  See Of Truth And Beasts is the ninth book in the Noble Dead series, third in the second half of the story arch. Yeah. Tad complicated.

Lets start at the beginning shall we?

Now the first half of the Noble Dead saga includes Dhampir, Thief of Lives, Sister of the Dead, Traitor to the Blood, Rebel Fay, and Child of a Dead God.  In Dhampir we are introduced to the rogue/con artist Magiere, her half elven companion in crime/assassin Leesil, and their more-than-he-appears ‘dog’ Chap.  They pose as vampire hunters in the beginning, only to find during their escapades that Magiere is a half breed vampire.  Incredibly long story short, the first six books revolve around this trio as they travel the lands, searching for the secrets of first Magiere’s past, then Leesil’s, then Chap’s.  Along the way they pick up a naive sage named Wynne and discover that an ancient enemy from long ago who almost destroyed the world once is not dead and gone like everyone believed and is, in fact, gearing up for another appearance.

At the end of Child Of A Dead God, Magiere, Leesil, and Chap disappear off into the sunset, leaving Wynne on her own to return to her sage guild with some ancient texts they found in some old castles. And thus begins Act 2 of the Noble Dead, starring Wynne.

Now, when Wynne returns to her guild, she gets a welcome much different than what she imagined.  Instead of being glad she brought back this wealth of knowledge, everything she has learned and brought backs gets squirreled away under lock and key.  She’s denied access to them, and when she tries to voice what she’s learned of this ancient boogie man, she’s denounced as a mentally unstable and witless.  She takes matters into her own hands in an attempt to at least learn what’s going on with her guild and why they’re trying to gag her and discovers -what else?- a hidden conspiracy.

Turns out her guild already knows about what’s coming, and is preparing accordingly.  But they’re idea of preparing is hiding all knowledge of the past from everyone but a select few in an attempt to control…something.  I’m sure it’s explained, but doesn’t make sense.  I think it’s something along the lines of “we’ll squash it all until humanity is ready for it” kind of thing.  And of course that plan never backfires…

So little Wynne goes off once again to learn what she can to try and stop another giant war that could destroy the world.  She’s joined by a vampire named Chane that she met in Act 1 of Noble Dead before he became undead (and I think he’s just a little bit obsessively in love with her), and Chap’s daughter Shade.  Hence the premise of Act 2.  Another interesting trio trying to uncover dark secrets.

So far, Act 2 of Noble dead consists of three books: In Shade and Shadow, Through Stone and Sea, and now Of Truth And Beasts.

Of Truth and Beasts follows along the same lines as the first two books.  Wynne is traveling around with Chane and Shade, trying to learn what she can to save the world.  In Shade and Shadow she stayed close to home, trying to get past the blockades her guild set up just after she got back.  There she learns some things that lead her to a dwarf city in Through Stone And Sea, and now from what she’s learned in the dwarf city, she’s off to the capital city of the elves where she meets some secret allies and not so secret enemies.

As you can probably tell there is a LOT more to all this than what I’m telling you here, but if I were to tell you every little secret of these book, I’d never be done and I’d spoil everything.  The only two other things you need to know about the story that might pique your interest is that Wynne is being hunted by a servant of the ancient evil, and that Chap and Shade have very strong very interesting ties to the Fay.

So long story not-so-short, I liked Of Truth and Beasts despite Wynne and Chane being my least two favorite characters out of everyone we meet.  It was a little bit long in the tooth mostly because the premise and plot hasn’t really changed but that’s to be expected in a series this long.  But the epilogue more than made up for it because my favorite characters from Act 1 come back!   Yay!  And it looks like everyone teams up again in the next installment, Between their Worlds!  Double yay!

The only thing is I’m not sure if I like where the characters are going.  Wynne was so innocent in the beginning, only interested in the pursuit of knowledge, and doing what she feels is right.  And while she still does that, she does to recklessly, impulsively and without regard to consequence for the most part.  And while in the beginning that was fine, it’s not so much now because it hasn’t changed over three books.  She’s still dashing off into any direction she thinks is right blindly and without forethought, then freaks out when things don’t work out before finding another clue and dashing off again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

And Chane is just getting whiny.  He never really wanted to be a vampire, he was turned against his will by the main bad guy of Act 1, so some of this is understandable because he hasn’t been undead very long and is still mostly human in his thought processes.  But he doesn’t move on!  Like a bloody broken record.

He’s constantly bemoaning how horrible, dark and evil the world is and how the only good thing is Wynne and her guild and now he’s going to do anything to protect her; and heaven forbid she gets a paper cut while in the same room as him!  You’d think he let her hand get gnawed off by a hungry rat while he was distracted by a pretty, pretty flower.  But of course now that the guild is showing itself to be so duplicitous he’s crying over the fact that the one shining light in the world is now tarnished, and that his precious innocent Wynne isn’t so innocent anymore and she’s changed and blah blah blah, whine whine whine, angst angst angst.

If it was trying for you to read that here imagine what it’s like to read it for 200+ pages.  I mean the guy is worse than freaking Edward pining over Bella.  Not quite sure how that’s possible, but there you have it.

And while I know some of this won’t endear a lot of you to the entirety of the Noble Dead Saga, you should still pick up at least Act 1.  Those ones I read like I was popping freaking tic tacs.

As for me, I’m doomed.  Once I pick up a series I enjoy, I am loyal from beginning to end, no matter how raw it gets.  Granted Noble Dead hasn’t gotten that bad yet, but as I said: Act 2 < Act 1.

Next on the docket: Beautiful Joe.  A random kids classic I picked up at work the other day.  Seems to be along the same lines as Black Beauty, so I have relatively high hopes for this book.

1562223Based on true events, Beautiful Joe tells the story of a dog that is rescued from the hands of a cruel master who removes his ears and tail in a fit of anger. The Morris family comes to his aid and carefully nurses the dog back to health, giving him the name, Beautiful Joe.

Originally published in 1894, it is told from the perspective of Joe himself, who quickly finds that he is in the company of many other animals that the Morrises have saved from harm. They firmly believe that every creature has the right a to full and happy life. Despite his horrible, early experiences he falls in love with his adopted family and becomes a loyal and trustworthy companion.