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The Hand of Chaos

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Chaos is everywhere as the Lord of the Nexus orders his servant Haplo and the human child known as Bane to further their master's work on Arianus, the realm of air. But their one time companion Alfred has been cast into the deadly Labyrinth. And somehow the assassin Hugh the Hand has been resurrected to complete his dark mission. More important, the evil force that Haplo a Chaos is everywhere as the Lord of the Nexus orders his servant Haplo and the human child known as Bane to further their master's work on Arianus, the realm of air. But their one time companion Alfred has been cast into the deadly Labyrinth. And somehow the assassin Hugh the Hand has been resurrected to complete his dark mission. More important, the evil force that Haplo and Alfred discovered on Arianus has escaped. As Haplo's doubts about his master grow deeper, he must decide whether to obey the Lord of the Nexus or betray the powerful Patryn...and endeavor to bring peace to the universe.


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Chaos is everywhere as the Lord of the Nexus orders his servant Haplo and the human child known as Bane to further their master's work on Arianus, the realm of air. But their one time companion Alfred has been cast into the deadly Labyrinth. And somehow the assassin Hugh the Hand has been resurrected to complete his dark mission. More important, the evil force that Haplo a Chaos is everywhere as the Lord of the Nexus orders his servant Haplo and the human child known as Bane to further their master's work on Arianus, the realm of air. But their one time companion Alfred has been cast into the deadly Labyrinth. And somehow the assassin Hugh the Hand has been resurrected to complete his dark mission. More important, the evil force that Haplo and Alfred discovered on Arianus has escaped. As Haplo's doubts about his master grow deeper, he must decide whether to obey the Lord of the Nexus or betray the powerful Patryn...and endeavor to bring peace to the universe.

30 review for The Hand of Chaos

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tom Quinn

    The story cycle at last revolves back to the original setting and characters interesting enough to carry the plot out of its unfortunate morass. As awful as it sounds, the best way to enjoy this series is to go straight from Book 1 to Book 5 - you get serviceable summaries of the relevant plot points from the weak installments previous anyway. 3 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim C

    This book is part of a series and must be read in order as each book builds on each other. In this one, the serpents are using the Death Gate as they travel to worlds so they can incite fear, anger, and chaos. This will allow the serpents to thrive. I have really enjoyed this series but I did think this was the weakest book so far. This book was like a first episode of a new season of a television show. Things were wrapped up in the previous episode and now we are setting the table for the upcomi This book is part of a series and must be read in order as each book builds on each other. In this one, the serpents are using the Death Gate as they travel to worlds so they can incite fear, anger, and chaos. This will allow the serpents to thrive. I have really enjoyed this series but I did think this was the weakest book so far. This book was like a first episode of a new season of a television show. Things were wrapped up in the previous episode and now we are setting the table for the upcoming season. That was this book. It was a set up book as we head towards the end of this series and this book did suffer a little. The problem was that this book really put an emphasis on exposition. We get exposition on how the characters are accepting their current situation and this wasn't the most exciting aspect for the reader. Don't get me wrong. It was needed whether it was a character accepting his responsibility for his actions or not knowing what the next course of action to be. It felt real but it went on for too long. That being said, the final act was amazing and really saved this book. I could not read the final pages fast enough. This is the weakest book of this series but it still earned a three star rating. That just states the strength of this series. If the finale of this book is any indication what is in store in the final two books I look forward to them and the conclusion of this series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    This one is so far the weakest link in the chain, but it's still good. It suffers from some pretty unlikeable main characters (an annoyingly precocious and evil child, a gang of evil incarnates, and a suicidal assassin). And there's a rehash of the annoyingly simple Gegs (dwarves) who have lost their innocence but haven't gained much wisdom. The previous books had long stretches of compelling reading (so far Fire Sea is the one I couldn't put down), but this one I could start and stop at will. A This one is so far the weakest link in the chain, but it's still good. It suffers from some pretty unlikeable main characters (an annoyingly precocious and evil child, a gang of evil incarnates, and a suicidal assassin). And there's a rehash of the annoyingly simple Gegs (dwarves) who have lost their innocence but haven't gained much wisdom. The previous books had long stretches of compelling reading (so far Fire Sea is the one I couldn't put down), but this one I could start and stop at will. Alfred is absent in this one, which means the Alfred vs. Haplo dynamic is absent, and that's what makes the whole series work for me. Haplo is not given much to do in this one. Hugh the Hand is back, but he's an empty shell. This one boils down to Haplo vs. the snakes in a chess match, and he's shown a weakness in the snakes that has more to do with character than action, which should foreshadow a future confrontation. This one moved the actors in the series along, without really growing them much.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    This is the book where The Death Gate Cycle changes--Haplo has explored all four worlds created during the Sundering of the original world, and it's time to start putting his Lord's plans for domination into action. However, Haplo is suffering a crisis of faith. He's doing his best to blindly follow Lord Xar, but he has seen too much and experienced too much to believe in the one-dimensional view of the world that Xar is promoting. Haplo is also starting to believe that Xar is misguided and just This is the book where The Death Gate Cycle changes--Haplo has explored all four worlds created during the Sundering of the original world, and it's time to start putting his Lord's plans for domination into action. However, Haplo is suffering a crisis of faith. He's doing his best to blindly follow Lord Xar, but he has seen too much and experienced too much to believe in the one-dimensional view of the world that Xar is promoting. Haplo is also starting to believe that Xar is misguided and just plain wrong, which terrifies him. I missed Alfred in this book but enjoyed the brief reappearance of Zifnab. I also really liked getting to see favorite characters from the first book, how their lives have changed, and how their individual stories contribute to the bigger picture.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This series full of unlovable characters is somehow growing on me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennyfurann

    This book was a little annoying. I don't know why. I think it's Bane. That little bitch pisses me off! This book was a little annoying. I don't know why. I think it's Bane. That little bitch pisses me off!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paola

    I didn't like so much this one because of two main things: 1. There are too many repetitions and explanations about things that the reader already knows. I know that it was the fifth book so maybe, the reader who was reading the serie during its publication could have forgotten some details but it was too much: too many notes and too many repetitions in dialogues. 2. I was he first person who, after the first book, would have Hugh still alive but after 3 books, I resigned myself to it and his retu I didn't like so much this one because of two main things: 1. There are too many repetitions and explanations about things that the reader already knows. I know that it was the fifth book so maybe, the reader who was reading the serie during its publication could have forgotten some details but it was too much: too many notes and too many repetitions in dialogues. 2. I was he first person who, after the first book, would have Hugh still alive but after 3 books, I resigned myself to it and his return was too forced. In the third book, Alfred felt so guilty for resurrecting Bane and he never mentioned about another ressurrection (I don't mean he should have talked about Hugh, a mention about another person could have been enough) so I can't help but think that authors changed their minds and decided that Hugh was a useful character

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gumbo Ya-ya

    Working through this series, a couple of things become increasingly apparent about Weis and Hickman: though they may be accomplished story-tellers, the novel is not a medium that plays into their strength; and, given this, they have clearly improved as novel writers over the course of the series. In fact, it's a little surprising that The Hand of Chaos, the fifth of seven in the cycle, came only 3 years after the first. As for the first observation, the appendices in these novels are the kind of Working through this series, a couple of things become increasingly apparent about Weis and Hickman: though they may be accomplished story-tellers, the novel is not a medium that plays into their strength; and, given this, they have clearly improved as novel writers over the course of the series. In fact, it's a little surprising that The Hand of Chaos, the fifth of seven in the cycle, came only 3 years after the first. As for the first observation, the appendices in these novels are the kind of info-dumps that one finds in role-play game books; they build the depth of the world in a way that is beyond the capacity of even several novels and is often, at any rate, irrelevant to the action and themes of the story itself. This is completely understandable given where Weis and Hickman came from and how they became writers, but it definitely speaks to a failure to fully transition into a more pure novel-writing mode. The information presented in the appendices in the Death Gate novels falls into two categories: that which should simply have been excluded, being unnecessary to the story and even, sometimes, diminishing it; and that which should have been worked into the main text of the story itself, in a more organic fashion. The same could be said for the myriad footnotes throughout the series. In the first category falls most of the information on the Sartan and Patryn magic systems; the attempts to weave the language of physics in general and quantum mechanics in particular falls increasingly flat the more laboured the attempts become. This concept simply doesn't work and the more the authors try to explain it, the more hand-wavingly nonsensical it becomes. It's a fantasy novel, I will accept an unexplained and reasonably arbitrary capacity of some characters to perform actions beyond the constraints of reality as we understand it, but if you are going to try to explain and justify it you had better make sure the whole construct has a rigorous internal consistency. All the stuff about the pre-sundering history falls into the same category; the vagueries of the beginning were fine, trying to explain too much just makes the whole thing fall apart. An example of the latter category is the information about the Brotherhood of the Hand, which could very easily have been included in the story in a more organic fashion and, if it had been fleshed out earlier in the story, could have added a nice thread to the first novel. As to the second observation, the character arcs, though elements of them retain a sense of being a bit arbitrary and undeserved, have gotten much stronger; the characters continue to be more believable in their actions, though external events do often remain a little too convenient, especially when it comes to dumping the characters, who are otherwise incredibly capable and intelligent, into absurd amounts of trouble that they probably should have been able to avoid, at least partially...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Carr

    This series sure likes to end its books, while still wrapping up the main plot, with a cliffhanger for the next one. Gosh. Darn. It. Haplo! Precious boy must protect main character buddy! Your character development is So. Damn. Good. It was such a joy getting to come back to the first world from the first book. Seeing the changes in the characters we'd left here and what they've accomplished while we were gone. (Thanks to this style of us readers following Haplo from world to world here). Limbec This series sure likes to end its books, while still wrapping up the main plot, with a cliffhanger for the next one. Gosh. Darn. It. Haplo! Precious boy must protect main character buddy! Your character development is So. Damn. Good. It was such a joy getting to come back to the first world from the first book. Seeing the changes in the characters we'd left here and what they've accomplished while we were gone. (Thanks to this style of us readers following Haplo from world to world here). Limbeck reminds me of Tasslehoff from Dragonlance. Especially with the way his description of the big machine on his world is explained at the end of the book in the Appendixes. I don't always read the extra stuff at the back, but for these books, it's been fun. For sure. (Plus I still can't get over the fact that there's actual music written out for songs that are mentioned in the book. For example, one of the songs chosen this time is written for two flutes and a drum like fjafldjf;dkaf;ja it's beautiful okay? Beautiful.)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Charlie George

    Enjoyed the reintroduction of the popular character Hugh the Hand, thought dead in Dragon Wing (Book 1), but resurrected by Alfred. Haplo begins to stand up and defy his master Xar, blinded by ambition and hatred of the Sartan. He also shames the mensch of Arianus for fighting and hating one another by illustrating their common enemy. In turn, the mensch, including a human mystriarch, elven Kenkari wizards, and the stubborn dwarven leaders Limbeck and Jarre, show Haplo that the only way to fight Enjoyed the reintroduction of the popular character Hugh the Hand, thought dead in Dragon Wing (Book 1), but resurrected by Alfred. Haplo begins to stand up and defy his master Xar, blinded by ambition and hatred of the Sartan. He also shames the mensch of Arianus for fighting and hating one another by illustrating their common enemy. In turn, the mensch, including a human mystriarch, elven Kenkari wizards, and the stubborn dwarven leaders Limbeck and Jarre, show Haplo that the only way to fight the ancient serpents introduced in Serpent Mage (Book 4) is without fear, their lifeblood and sustenance. This book had long tracts of meandering and positioning, and was heading for a dull 1 or 2 stars, but culminated in some exciting and consequential fireworks in the last 50 pages. The various plot lines dove-tailed well, and even characters that I hadn't cared much for performed admirably, giving purpose to their place in the overall story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kaotic

    I've said it a thousand times, and I'll keep saying it. I absolutely love this series. It's the kind of fantasy that I really enjoy, it's intricate, thought out, culturally diverse and in depth, great action, and wondrous feels. The powers that are pulling every races strings in this are quite mysterious and fascinating- the series always leaves you questioning everything you think you know. While you're going through the story you learn so much, yet everything you learn leaves you asking more qu I've said it a thousand times, and I'll keep saying it. I absolutely love this series. It's the kind of fantasy that I really enjoy, it's intricate, thought out, culturally diverse and in depth, great action, and wondrous feels. The powers that are pulling every races strings in this are quite mysterious and fascinating- the series always leaves you questioning everything you think you know. While you're going through the story you learn so much, yet everything you learn leaves you asking more questions and craving more. Seeing as this was a cliff hanger, I can't wait until I start the next one (even though that will be a couple books from now).

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Kinsley

    On the negative side, ugh, more Bane. Too much Bane, and no Alfred. Some of the dialogue is still woefully stilted, and the Assassins Guild is such a fantasy staple as to be overly familiar. But overall, we're really moving forward now in terms of plot, the pieces are all moving into place, and Haplo's personal journey stoll delivers. And the book gets better as it goes along. On the negative side, ugh, more Bane. Too much Bane, and no Alfred. Some of the dialogue is still woefully stilted, and the Assassins Guild is such a fantasy staple as to be overly familiar. But overall, we're really moving forward now in terms of plot, the pieces are all moving into place, and Haplo's personal journey stoll delivers. And the book gets better as it goes along.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jerfus

    My favorite installment so far, at first I was growing weary of the whole Sang-Drax business, dragging my rating between 2 and 3 stars, but once the Kenkari kicked in the whole mythos of the series began growing at an amazing rate and the whole story just went uphill from there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Óscar Montequín torre

    I have thought for the last 3 books that they wrote these series with a sort of a filler feel about it. They feel longer than they should, however, this one finally pushes the plot forward and finally let's you see the whole picture, sort of. Anyway, let's see how everything unravels. I have thought for the last 3 books that they wrote these series with a sort of a filler feel about it. They feel longer than they should, however, this one finally pushes the plot forward and finally let's you see the whole picture, sort of. Anyway, let's see how everything unravels.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    I enjoyed the continuation of the story in this one, but I can't stand Bane. He has a much larger role in this one, and that detracted from how much I was really able to enjoy the book. However, a lot of questions get answered, and a lot of things happen in this book. I enjoyed the continuation of the story in this one, but I can't stand Bane. He has a much larger role in this one, and that detracted from how much I was really able to enjoy the book. However, a lot of questions get answered, and a lot of things happen in this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    astaliegurec

    In all probability, people who read the first of the Death Gate Cycle books and like it, are going to want to read all of the books in the series (regardless of any flucutation in the individual books' ratings). Ditto for the reverse: if people don't like the first book, then they're probably not going to want to read any of the other books in the series. Thus, instead of individual book ratings, I've rated the whole series and given a short blurb on any specifics for each book. Overall, this is In all probability, people who read the first of the Death Gate Cycle books and like it, are going to want to read all of the books in the series (regardless of any flucutation in the individual books' ratings). Ditto for the reverse: if people don't like the first book, then they're probably not going to want to read any of the other books in the series. Thus, instead of individual book ratings, I've rated the whole series and given a short blurb on any specifics for each book. Overall, this is a very good series. The authors were amazingly creative in coming up with this concept and the books are well-written, extremely interesting, and internally consistent (mostly -- see below for some exceptions). I highly recommend this series of books for everyone. My comments for the individual books follow: Vol. 1 -- Dragon Wing: This book covers the exploration of Arianus: the realm of Air. It introduces us to the two main characters (Haplo and Alfred) and many of the recurring characters throughout the series. It's a well-paced, well-written book that's an excellent representation of what to expect in most of the rest of the series. Essentially, if you like this book, you'll like the other six books. If you don't like this book, then there's no sense in reading any of the others. Vol. 2 -- Elven Star: This book covers the exploration of Pryan: the realm of Fire. Alfred is entirely missing from this book, and Haplo isn't really the centerpiece. Instead, the book is mostly written from the perspective of the mensch and of the newly introduced (and recurring) Zifnab. The one possible weakness in the book is that Weis/Hickman wrote it such that the structure of Pryan itself is more of a mystery than Arianus was in the first book. Vol. 3 -- Fire Sea: This book covers the exploration of Abarrach: the realm of Stone. Once again, both Haplo and Alfred are present. The characters and areas presented in this book are key elements for the entire series. An interesting book, but not a very happy one at all. Vol. 4 -- Serpent Mage: This book covers the exploration of Chelestra: the realm of Water. Both Alfred and Haplo are on this world. But, for the most part, they follow separate plot lines. There's a lot of action taking place throughout the book and Weis/Hickman introduce some actual Sartan (besides Alfred). They also bring in an ancient evil to balance the ancient good introduced in the previous book. The most irritating thing about this book is that it ends in a cliff-hanger. The previous books tied up their worlds' activities fairly nicely. Not so in this book. It ends at a very inconvenient spot. Vol. 5 -- Hand of Chaos: This book returns Haplo to Arianus and the people he met there earlier. Whereas the first four books of the series cover the exploration of the four realms, this book starts the synthesis of the various threads from those books into a movement towards closure. It's a good book, but, unfortunately, it doesn't do anything with Alfred. The previous book left Alfred heading towards a bad end. This book doesn't do anything with that. So, while reading the book, you constantly have this little voice in the back of your mind going "what's happening with Alfred?" Irritating. Vol. 6 -- Into the Labyrinth: This book ranges across just about all of the worlds of the Death Gate. It brings all of the various threads from the other books to a head. Most importantly, it finally does something with Alfred. The unfortunate thing about this book is that it contains a lot of technical errors (or, more specifically, contradictions). For instance, in Dragon Wing, we're told that a person needs to be familiar with an area to use a transportation spell to get to that area. Yet, very close to the beginning of the book, one of the characters uses such a spell without ever having been to her target location. There are also several instances where the characters COULD have used such a spell, but don't. Likewise, there are problems with replication spells. In Fire Sea, Haplo and Alfred use such a spell to replicate enough food for a large group of people. Yet, in this book, no one seems to consider using a replication spell to produce more of some food. But, later on, those same people are using that same spell to replicate weapons. Plus, at one point, Xar uses a spell to just materialize both food and drink for a party. But, if such a thing is possible, why do the Patryns hunt and, apparently, farm in the Labyrinth? Also, the size of the Labyrinth seems wrong. From the previous books, it's taken hundreds (if not thousands) of years for various Patryns to traverse the hundreds of Gates in the Labyrrinth. Yet, in this book, from the very beginning of the Labyrinth they can see the results of things happening at the Final Gate. There's also the problem of how people at the center of the Labyrinth would know anything about the Final Gate. Vol. 7 -- Seventh Gate: This is the conclusion of the Death Gate series. Unfortunately, I didn't much care for it. Basically, it comes across as being pretty sappy. All of a sudden, Haplo and Alfred are best buds and want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Most of the various threads are tied up adequately (if not very satisfyingly). But, the sudden push towards liberal "peace, love, and harmony" is trite. Of the seven books in this series, this one is the least good. Once again, I didn't much care for the tone of this book. But, since it adequately ties up most everything that needed tying up, I'm not going to downgrade the whole series because of that.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Boukje

    This book is an inbetween like the two towers: you have met all the players in the previous book(s) and now they are preparing themselves for the final(s). Things happen, a lot of things happen, a lot of beginnings, a few endings, better, clearer alignment, all in preparation of the climax

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sasifras

    Good. There was a bit of a pokey plot but nothing compared to the slog of The Elven Star. Considering keeping the series when after book 2 and 3, I was going to finish to put it in the free library.

  19. 4 out of 5

    MMF

    There are a lot of good things about Hand of Chaos. Haplo continues to develop. I like the Kenkari. I applaud the return of Bane the devil child. As well as Limbeck and Jarre. Also, randomly, I like the side character Trian. I'm sort of ambivalent about the return of Hugh the Hand from the dead. On the one hand, what he turns out to be is pretty interesting, and... I like the guy. I also really, really appreciate that his relationship with Iridal doesn't go anywhere beyond –– his admiration of he There are a lot of good things about Hand of Chaos. Haplo continues to develop. I like the Kenkari. I applaud the return of Bane the devil child. As well as Limbeck and Jarre. Also, randomly, I like the side character Trian. I'm sort of ambivalent about the return of Hugh the Hand from the dead. On the one hand, what he turns out to be is pretty interesting, and... I like the guy. I also really, really appreciate that his relationship with Iridal doesn't go anywhere beyond –– his admiration of her. He cares about her but is intentionally keeping her at a distance, and it works well that way. I do not like Iridal. Iridal is really sort of terrible. Instead of having proper strengths and weaknesses, she just seems to go from being swooning and helpless to massively powerful. Her abilities are just never USEFUL in a sensible way; they're either worthless, or a quick deus ex machina. Iridal is also evidently a complete idiot. - spoilers follow - She spends the whole book being completely, nay willfully blind to the fact that her son is not a sweet, innocent little boy. Despite OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE. She even knows enough to hide the fact that she has a means of talking to him because she knows everyone would suspect Bane of being up to something terrible. That is DEDICATED denial. Up until the last gosh darned minute, she throws herself blindly upon his mercies and envisions a peaceful family life for the two of them in the High Realms. This is after he has led her, personally, into a trap, had her drugged and imprisoned, and used her as leverage to convince Hugh to kill the King and Queen. All that she thought was just fine. But then at the eleventh hour when she appears just as Hugh (intentionally) blows the assassination, and Bane picks up a sword and attacks the King himself... she just outright murders the little bastard. Suffocates him to death, in fact, and says it's "fitting" because the real prince that Bane was swapped for as an infant suffocated in the poor atmosphere of the High Realms. I mean... really? After all that? A complete turnaround in a matter of seconds. Because she saw him attack someone with a sword in a fit of childish idiocy (seriously, even if the attack had succeeded, there's no way Bane could have been crowned as he wanted considering everyone saw him do it, and he announced his motive as he did. Sinistrad's spell was no longer in effect, so there's no reason the nation shouldn't turn on him, and there were multiple people who knew the truth that he wasn't the true Prince...). With her magic, Iridal could have just stopped him, contained him, something like that. Yeah, he's a messed up (terrible) child who's been influenced by some powerful and not very nice people, but... it just doesn't make sense. It's so stupid. Yeah, you lost an entire star just for Iridal, book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Some surprising twists in this one & also left me wondering what happened to some of the characters in a predicament at the end of book 4. The journey continues.

  21. 4 out of 5

    kingshearte

    This book took me a long time to get into. I'd say it was around the last third of the book where it stopped being a chore to read. Much as there definitely is some good stuff in this series, I'm seeing that it does suffer from the self-indulgence that I dislike about fantasy. This series should be shorter, and could be without losing anything integral to the story or the emotions meant to be generated by it. But anyway. I was happy to have Hugh back (although I really hope they explain his resur This book took me a long time to get into. I'd say it was around the last third of the book where it stopped being a chore to read. Much as there definitely is some good stuff in this series, I'm seeing that it does suffer from the self-indulgence that I dislike about fantasy. This series should be shorter, and could be without losing anything integral to the story or the emotions meant to be generated by it. But anyway. I was happy to have Hugh back (although I really hope they explain his resurrection more at some point. He hasn't been resurrected as a mindless corpse like most of the dead on Abarrach, but he's also not a lazar. He's basically just him, the way he was before, and I hope they explain why that is.), and I enjoyed the further developed dynamic between him and Iridal. I hope that goes somewhere good, although Hugh's pretty screwed up at this point, so an actual relationship may simply not be in the cards for him. I guess we'll see. As a matter of fact, I was happy in general to be back on Arianus, as I have to say it's my favourite world in this series, and peopled by my favourite characters. Ultimately, though, this book really was boring for most of it. I've started the next one, and it's slightly more interesting so far, but I do hope it doesn't take half the book or more to really catch my interest. And I wish that Weis & Hickman had a better copy editor. The spellings of several things have changed from book 1 to now, and that irritates the crap out of me. I get how that could happen, with two authors, and several books between when the words were used, especially in the time they were writing this, when spell check wasn't as good, and maybe adding words to your dictionary wasn't possible or whatever, but seriously? This is why you get an editor, and this is a huge part of what the editor's job is. Bad editing drives me probably even more crazy than bad writing. Anyway, I have two more books in this series, which I will read, and I'll keep reading Kay, but I think I might be just about ready to back to declaring myself not a reader of fantasy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    (view spoiler)[Hugh the Hand returns! You have to wait for almost half the book to be over, but he's back! (hide spoiler)] Very welcome indeed, as is the series' return to Arianus, the most vividly imagined of the 4+ realms of the Death Gate Cycle. Of course, that may be because Weis and Hickman made a killing in a similar realm in Krynn. Anyway, now that we, the readers, have had a primer on the four new Sartan worlds (view spoiler)[and that the gate between them is now open (hide spoiler)] , we n (view spoiler)[Hugh the Hand returns! You have to wait for almost half the book to be over, but he's back! (hide spoiler)] Very welcome indeed, as is the series' return to Arianus, the most vividly imagined of the 4+ realms of the Death Gate Cycle. Of course, that may be because Weis and Hickman made a killing in a similar realm in Krynn. Anyway, now that we, the readers, have had a primer on the four new Sartan worlds (view spoiler)[and that the gate between them is now open (hide spoiler)] , we now know the form that the great villain of the story takes (and, sort of thankfully, it's not Xar, the Lord of the Nexus). Haplo's journey from villainous lackey to anti-hero to actual hero continues, and, truly, reaches a true cross roads as he is to take the child-prince Bane from the Nexus and back to Arianus in order to complete the next phase of Xar's plan to "save" the four realms. This installment had a nice flow as we are reintroduced to old friends like Limbeck and Iridal, and new characters like the Door, Book and Soul. Weis and Hickman also set up some interesting dilemmas for the principal characters, where they truly won't be able to have their cake and eat it, too. They must choose where to possibly succeed and where to absolutely fail. There's a bit of silly, spontaneous lovey-ness in this tome, too, but it does play a little better than some of the rest (Anne and Stephen is, by far, the best one of these), and given one character's long solitude, makes some sense. There is a building action here that, while Hand of Chaos tells a complete story, sets the stage for the final couple of novels and sets the stakes much higher than anything that's come before. I'd rank this as being on par with, and perhaps even a little better fleshed out than, Dragon Wing. I've already started on "Into the Labyrinth..."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Having visits each of the four realms in the previous four books, we now return to the first world, Arianus, world of air. We also now start to see things begin to spiral towards the inevitable climactic conclusion. The plot has definitely been advancing along the way, with this book we start to delve into the plot in a serious way. This series has certainly taken a lot of twists and turns along the way, and is ending up in quite a different direction than I'd first anticipated. It's not a bad d Having visits each of the four realms in the previous four books, we now return to the first world, Arianus, world of air. We also now start to see things begin to spiral towards the inevitable climactic conclusion. The plot has definitely been advancing along the way, with this book we start to delve into the plot in a serious way. This series has certainly taken a lot of twists and turns along the way, and is ending up in quite a different direction than I'd first anticipated. It's not a bad direction, though. This is not your typical kind of epic fantasy. There aren't a lot of large-scale battles or epic fights. Rather the plot kind of advances and a methodical fashion based off of several fascinating and memorable characters. It doesn't have characters or worldbuilding on the scale of a Robert Jordan, but there are definitely a lot of mystery and ancient secrets here that keep you wanting to discover more. The most frustrating thing to me is probably how often most of the characters fail at what they are trying to do. Maybe this is intended to inject a sense of realism, but after the characters get captured and knocked unconscious so many times, it gets really old. One might understand having one character, Alfred, who is clumsy and constantly fainting. But when the main character, who was originally purported to have godlike powers, never manifests much of anything that would be considered impressive by most fantasy standards, and is constantly getting thwarted, it really gets annoying and makes me want to start reading through faster. Part of this is caused by introducing an evil opposition that is so powerful, all the main characters' powers seem like children's. There are inklings, though, that things are about to change and that the characters are stronger than they may seem at first. I am hoping that is the case and that the last two books will really end on a strong note, tying up all of the loose ends in the plot. Overall this is a really good series, and I would highly recommend it to fans of epic fantasy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    Yay, a return to a familiar world and characters! Of course, a year has passed and our beloved mensch have undergone some dramatic personality developments as a result of the past year's events. Also very cool was being able to visit new parts of a familiar world (Skurvash, Kenkari, Tribus Empire). This was another 'bridge' book, very much a continuation of the ones before and after...which isn't a big issues for someone (me) who is determined to read the whole shebang. Surprisingly, I missed Alfr Yay, a return to a familiar world and characters! Of course, a year has passed and our beloved mensch have undergone some dramatic personality developments as a result of the past year's events. Also very cool was being able to visit new parts of a familiar world (Skurvash, Kenkari, Tribus Empire). This was another 'bridge' book, very much a continuation of the ones before and after...which isn't a big issues for someone (me) who is determined to read the whole shebang. Surprisingly, I missed Alfred, who I never really felt much of a connection to. This book had so many converging/concurrent plots with characters diverging off into different adventures that I had difficulties at time picking up the previous thread and remembering where one had left off when we returned to it. And, re:the dragon-serpents. I get that they are evil personified, evil born from within all of us. I get that. I like that. But what about balance and counterpoint? Where's the personification of the good that we all hold too? A note upon further consideration of this entire series - one of its feats is not just character development, but of so many characters. Usually in a story with such a large, varied and diverse cast of characters, it's hard to keep track of who's who and why. Somehow, Weis and Hickman easily surmount this obstacle, and even the secondary/ancillary characters are familiar and known.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Grayson Lawrence

    In the book, Haplo is tasked with turning on the Kicksey-Winsey. Meanwhile, Lady Iridal and Hugh the Hand, with the help of the Kenkari Elves, are going to rescue Bane from the Elves. The dragon snakes are wreaking havoc down on Drevlin. This is all happening on the world of Arainus. At the end of the book, Hugh the Hand is tasked with killing Haplo. I chose to read this book because mainly, I didn't have another book to read so I found the series at a thrift store and couldn't put it down. Wh In the book, Haplo is tasked with turning on the Kicksey-Winsey. Meanwhile, Lady Iridal and Hugh the Hand, with the help of the Kenkari Elves, are going to rescue Bane from the Elves. The dragon snakes are wreaking havoc down on Drevlin. This is all happening on the world of Arainus. At the end of the book, Hugh the Hand is tasked with killing Haplo. I chose to read this book because mainly, I didn't have another book to read so I found the series at a thrift store and couldn't put it down. What really works in the book is how everything is woven together so well. There are 4 main worlds that the series takes place in, but there is also the Labyrinth and the Nexus. there are 5 races that we know of and some other unknown entities in the worlds. There is a group of characters for every world and a few characters that transverse through all the worlds. It is all woven together seamlessly. There is really nothing for me that doesn't work, besides some parts were pretty boring but almost all books have boring parts. My impression of this book and the series is that it is a must read series. It is my favorite series. If you like science fiction, really complex story lines, and lots of diversity in characters, then you will really enjoy this series and I highly recommend it. There is little offensive material, just some smoking and alcohol use, and a few cuss words here and there. Other than that, this is a pretty clean book

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This fifth installment was most difficult to digest for me, in sheer length and what felt to me as "we're a bit lost", aren't we? They could have made this shorter. A lot shorter, maybe, not sure. Hard to judge. I’m a quick reader, luckily, and I also have a knack for sensing when I’m getting additional, but not necessarily vital information, so I often quick-read over such passages. Even if I do miss vital information this way, it doesn’t bother me much. This is the kind of epic I willingly sin This fifth installment was most difficult to digest for me, in sheer length and what felt to me as "we're a bit lost", aren't we? They could have made this shorter. A lot shorter, maybe, not sure. Hard to judge. I’m a quick reader, luckily, and I also have a knack for sensing when I’m getting additional, but not necessarily vital information, so I often quick-read over such passages. Even if I do miss vital information this way, it doesn’t bother me much. This is the kind of epic I willingly sink into and see where it takes me. Still, The Hand of Chaos demanded some focus and discipline to keep reading and not skip too much. On a graph, this would be the lowest point, that was least able to hold my attention and interest. What was interesting though is that this book brings us back to the first world and slowly begins to bring all the threads together. Major plus, Hugh the Hand returns in this one. We also receive more background on Xar and Samah, the two badasses from the Patryn and Sartan people. Why do they do what they do? It's difficult to like either one, might I add, but they can be understood and they were there at the very beginning of it all (you'll understand when you read it). It's hard not to relate to victims of war: fear, revenge, control, power... these aren't strange motivators, although perhaps not always the best ones. And of course, people who are bent on such things are easily manipulated through fear.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Arminion

    Another great book in the series. The first part is amazing; not only do we go back to Arianus, to see some old characters from the first book, but we also find things about the great machine, Kicksey-winsey. We also get some hints about other worlds from Zifnab (yes, he makes an appearance in this book but thankfully, a pretty short one). Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the second half of the book that much as it turns from a mystery to a political novel. We have all these various factions and ch Another great book in the series. The first part is amazing; not only do we go back to Arianus, to see some old characters from the first book, but we also find things about the great machine, Kicksey-winsey. We also get some hints about other worlds from Zifnab (yes, he makes an appearance in this book but thankfully, a pretty short one). Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the second half of the book that much as it turns from a mystery to a political novel. We have all these various factions and characters all plotting against each other and I found it rather boring. It was just a history and political bickering of ONE world, which to me seemed a little pointless in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, the pace picks up near the end, so it's not so bad. It was especially great to see some familiar characters again, like Hugh the Hand for example. Also, is it me, or does Haplo spend an awful amount of time captured and/or in prison in these books? I expected better for such a "demigod". Still, he shows some neat tricks in this one too. The serpents seem to be great antagonists so far, but they kinda suffer from the typical villain syndrome: they do too much monologue and not enough action. Also, their power seems inconsistent. In one minute they are extremely strong, in another, a dwarf with a home-made ax can defeat them. So in the end, I enjoyed this book, but unfortunately not that much as the previous one, so only four stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Masterful. The authors further expand the world established in Dragon Wing, introducing the reader to elves of the Tribus Empire and new factions such as the Brotherhood of the Hand (assassins guild), Kenkari (spiritual elves), and the Unseen (death squad of the elven emperor). Each of these factions have significant histories and multiple agendas, and their introduction only makes the world that much richer of an experience. It's clear to me that this must have been where Weis or Hickman built t Masterful. The authors further expand the world established in Dragon Wing, introducing the reader to elves of the Tribus Empire and new factions such as the Brotherhood of the Hand (assassins guild), Kenkari (spiritual elves), and the Unseen (death squad of the elven emperor). Each of these factions have significant histories and multiple agendas, and their introduction only makes the world that much richer of an experience. It's clear to me that this must have been where Weis or Hickman built this universe from. It is so much more complete and fleshed out than any of the other books. The history is deeper (there are more footnotes in the two books set on Arianus than any other), the characters more complex, and the plotting is taut and barrels on at a breathless pace. As Haplo continues to become more "good," he still remains a badass (one of the final scenes in the elven dragonship is an example). But, more to my liking, we have a return of Hugh the Hand, who is probably the best character in whole series. Despite being an unmagical "mensch," all who meet him - demigod, wizard, or ordinary person - accord him respect. I would take a series built around him; he's one of the best characters Weis & Hickman have ever created (unfortunately, I don't think the series ends on a note that will ever allow that).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Eggert

    Agree with many of the others who thought this book was a ponderously paced. I read the first 4 of the series in 3-5 days each. This book took me six weeks because I grew disinterested in: all the scenes without Haplo most of the scenes with (view spoiler)[Limbeck (hide spoiler)] The lack of Alfred bumbling through everything (Never thought I'd say that.) Haplo's inactivity during his appearances in the storyline Bane's non-development as a character (view spoiler)[and I'm over the Dragon Snakes / Sa Agree with many of the others who thought this book was a ponderously paced. I read the first 4 of the series in 3-5 days each. This book took me six weeks because I grew disinterested in: all the scenes without Haplo most of the scenes with (view spoiler)[Limbeck (hide spoiler)] The lack of Alfred bumbling through everything (Never thought I'd say that.) Haplo's inactivity during his appearances in the storyline Bane's non-development as a character (view spoiler)[and I'm over the Dragon Snakes / Sang-Draxx before they even started (hide spoiler)] . The bogged-down pace about 30% into the book cost it a star. Once (view spoiler)[Hugh the Hand (hide spoiler)] reenters the picture, the book became very interesting again. I truly wish we could explore more of his back-story. It wasn't until late in the book that I understood how this piece was supposed to advance the overall story arc at all. By that point, the book had shifted gears and was really moving at a good clip. Spoilers of things I liked: (view spoiler)[Hugh the Hand! The Kir Monks The Keepers of the Door, Book, and Soul, once I learned more about them. The Brotherhood of the Hand. Understanding more about the Kicksey-Winsey. The Unseen's camo ninja-clothes. Another hint that the Dog is actually Haplo's conscience/soul. The fact that Bane couldn't successfully steal Haplo's soul. Bane's Dead. Again! Yay! (hide spoiler)]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katinki

    Copied from Dragon Wing. Review is for entire series. Re-read The Deathgate Cycle is one of my favorite series ever. Everything about it - all 7 books - are just... high fantasy perfection. - The world (or rather universe) is amazingly unique, stunning in set up and description, and terrifically told. - The magic and its use is top notch. It's one of few series that really go into HOW the magic of the world works. - The characters are all highly memorable, including "Dog", the secondaries, the Copied from Dragon Wing. Review is for entire series. Re-read The Deathgate Cycle is one of my favorite series ever. Everything about it - all 7 books - are just... high fantasy perfection. - The world (or rather universe) is amazingly unique, stunning in set up and description, and terrifically told. - The magic and its use is top notch. It's one of few series that really go into HOW the magic of the world works. - The characters are all highly memorable, including "Dog", the secondaries, the villains, the monsters, etc. And the primary protagonist, Haplo, is one of my favorites ever. Maybe my very favorite. He's everything I'd ever want in a protag - strong yet kind, "good", complex, and so easy to get behind and pull for. He's a bad ass, too. - And the plot is perfect and perfectly executed. Everything about this series is just... yeah. I can honestly think of no negatives. Unless to say that I'd like another 7 books. I'll just settle for re-reading, which it handles just fine. This book was just as good today as the first time I read way back in like... idk... 1991 [ETA: probably like 1993 for HoC] or so. You won't get a much higher recommendation out of me than this.

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