Saturday, 18 November 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Ironclads - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Release Date: 02/11/17
Publisher:  Solaris Books/Rebellion Publishing

SYNOPSIS:

Special limited edition science fiction hardcover novella by the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author. Only 1000 copies. Scions have no limits. Scions do not die. And Scions do not disappear. Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad - the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war - but something has gone catastrophically wrong. Now Regan and his men, ill equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironclad-killer out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?


REVIEW:

I've loved spending time with Adrian since he burst onto the scene with Empire in Black and Gold (Book One of "Shadows of the Apt" series.) Since then I've loved each adventure that he's brought to my imagination, allowing me a whole range of creative literal films that are not only wonderfully unique but diverse into the bargain.

Here in this outing, Adrian treats the reader to a modern war where raising oceans have devastated the world and corporate companies profit from warfare where flesh and blood is cheap as well as plentiful, unless of course its one of their sons, in which case, like the knights of old, they're encased in the best robotic armour alongside ordinance that money can buy.

Here, a grunt unit is sent into the warzone to retrieve a lost son of the magnates only to have the situation go not only to hell but become way more complex as matters unfurl. It's addictive writing, the characters within were fun to be around and for me I just loved spending time in this new world.

I hope that more books will follow and as a reader I'd love to see a book with the "pack" as the key characters. Magic.

HISTORICAL CRIME REVIEW: Pale Horse Riding - Chris Petit

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

The war between Amika and Belleger has raged for generations. Its roots lie in the distant past, beyond memory. Sorcerers from both sides rain destruction down on the battlefield, wielding the six deadly Decimates of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, and pestilence.

Prince Bifalt hopes that Belleger's new weapons technology, the rifle, will provide a decisive advantage. But when Belleger's sorcerers are mysteriously deprived of their magical abilities, leaving them unable to defend against Amika, he must set aside his own deep hatred of sorcery and work to solve this new enigma.

Grasping at any chance to save his beloved homeland, Prince Bifalt of Belleger sets out on a hazardous journey across the unmapped wastelands to the east. With Elgart, his last comrade, Bifalt pursues the long-hidden trail of the one object that might be able to turn the tide of the endless war - a book entitled The Seventh Decimate.

The events that unfold force Prince Bifalt to weigh his stubbornness, his patriotism, and his hatred for sorcerers against his sense of loyalty and of what he knows to be right. And as he learns, Amika and Belleger may simply be pawns within an even larger struggle...


REVIEW:

Historical Crime is a genre that I've been getting into quite a bit and whilst most of the time I spend it deep in the past, this time its more recent history, into the depths of living memories most horrific place, 1943's Auschvitz.

The book is well written, the characters rounded and to be honest whilst I deplore the time and politics, the book is well done. The prose is sharp, the dialogue acceptable and whilst I expect more derogatory comments within, it does feel appropriate to the time. Back this up with high octane danger around every corner and all round it was a heart in the mouth read as you're never sure which way things are going to go.

Friday, 17 November 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Great God's War 1: Seventh Decimate - Stephen Donaldson

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

The war between Amika and Belleger has raged for generations. Its roots lie in the distant past, beyond memory. Sorcerers from both sides rain destruction down on the battlefield, wielding the six deadly Decimates of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, and pestilence.

Prince Bifalt hopes that Belleger's new weapons technology, the rifle, will provide a decisive advantage. But when Belleger's sorcerers are mysteriously deprived of their magical abilities, leaving them unable to defend against Amika, he must set aside his own deep hatred of sorcery and work to solve this new enigma.

Grasping at any chance to save his beloved homeland, Prince Bifalt of Belleger sets out on a hazardous journey across the unmapped wastelands to the east. With Elgart, his last comrade, Bifalt pursues the long-hidden trail of the one object that might be able to turn the tide of the endless war - a book entitled The Seventh Decimate.

The events that unfold force Prince Bifalt to weigh his stubbornness, his patriotism, and his hatred for sorcerers against his sense of loyalty and of what he knows to be right. And as he learns, Amika and Belleger may simply be pawns within an even larger struggle...


REVIEW:

I love a cracking fantasy book and whilst I've discovered new authors, there's always something delightful about returning to authors that you've grown up with for that extra special pleasure. Here in this new outing from Stephen Donaldson, the reader is treated to a book that not only brings full rounded characters to the fore but also ones that are made more human by the fact that they have foibles as well as boons. They're flawed like the rest of us and whilst they try to do the best that they can, the way that story revolves demonstrates that choices have consequences and that everyone will have to live with them.

The book in addition to this has great pace, some wonderful twists and when added to a refined writing style that delivers on what made the previous books that he's written so great, all round gives you something not only cracking to settle down with but makes this the start of a series that you can't wait to get the next part to in order to see how things will develop and change. A magical outing and for me, a book that really deserves to be added to any fantasy fan's Christmas list.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: The Eye of Medusa - David Guymer

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher: Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Ever since the dark days of the Great Heresy, the Iron Hands have a long and tortured history. Their years of suffering and war has left them hardened and believing in a brutal tenet: the flesh is weak. Heavily cybernetic, their flesh extensively altered, these warriors of the Imperium are more machine than man, cold in aspect as well as demeanour. Their methods of recruitment are harsh, their rituals arcane, their pride unshakable. So when a world under the protection of the Chapter falls foul of insurrection, the Iron Hands answer with fire and cold retribution. It matters not that Thennos is considered sovereign territory by the Adeptus Mechanicus - the Iron Hands' campaign is one of extermination. But there is something dark lurking within Thennos, a horror that defies the purity of cold logic and the machine, and threatens something more, something ruinous...


REVIEW:

A tale of the Iron Hands, which takes the reader into their chapter as they seek to exterminate sedition from within a world that the Adeptus Mechanicus consider theirs. Its wonderfully dark and rich as our heroes seek to purefy the world and discover what lays behind it.

Back this up with top notch action, cybernised principle characters alongside a plot with plenty of twists and turns and all round its a book that will not only entertain but also have the reader questioning how much of man must remain to be human. Cracking.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Path to Ascendancy 2: Deadhouse Landing - Ian C Esslemont

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher: Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To do so they join forces with a small band of Napans who have fled a civil war on their own home island. The plan, however, soon goes awry as Kellanved develops a strange and dangerous fascination for a mysterious ancient structure found on the island.
The chaos in the region extends to the metaphysical planes also as a young priest of D'rek starts to question the rot at the heart of the worship of the god of decay. And back in Li Heng, Dassem, now the proclaimed Sword of Hood, finds himself being blamed for a plague which leads him to a crisis of faith - and searching for answers.
During all this, war with the neighbouring island of Nap threatens, recruited allies wonder at Kellanved’s sanity, and powerful entities take more of an interest in the little mage from Dal Hon. Dancer faces a hard choice: should he give up on his partnership? Especially when the fellow’s obsession with shadows and ancient artefacts brings the both of them alarmingly close to death and destruction.
After all, who in his right mind would actually wish to enter an Elder mystery known to everyone as the 'Deadhouse'?


REVIEW:

I love returning to the world of the Malazan and whilst its Steven Erikson that is mainly known for his Decad into the world, his co-creator, Ian also manages to bring the same complexities into his work that delivers pre-Book of the Fallen histories to life.

The characters are top notch, the world wonderfully diverse and complex and all round the reader is delivered a book that is not only richly complex but one of action as well as intrigue that should be used as a blueprint to writing fantasy.

Add to this a tale that really doesn't let up, delivers some wonderful twists and all round give the reader a story that will not only engross them but have them salavating for more. Cracking.

FANTASY REVIEW: Perfect Shadow - Brent Weeks

Release Date: 09/11/17
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

For the first time in print as a special hardcover edition, Brent Weeks's blockbuster novella Perfect Shadow tells the origin story of the Night Angel trilogy's most enigmatic character: Durzo Blint. Also includes the short story, I, Nightangel.

Gaelan Starfire is a farmer, happy to be a husband and a father; a careful, quiet, simple man. He's also an immortal, peerless in the arts of war. Over the centuries, he's worn many faces to hide his gift, but he is a man ill-fit for obscurity, and all too often he's become a hero, his very names passing into legend: Acaelus Thorne, Yric the Black, Hrothan Steelbender, Tal Drakkan, Rebus Nimble.

But when Gaelan must take a job hunting down the world's finest assassins for the beautiful courtesan-and-crimelord Gwinvere Kirena, what he finds may destroy everything he's ever believed in.


REVIEW:

Brent has long been an author that I've sat up and paid attention to, loving each of the books that he brings out as they not only deliver what I want in a fantasy novel but also bring together characters that are not simplistic but complicated human beings in an extraordinary setting. Here fans of the Night Angel trilogy are given a deeper glimpse into the character who would become Durzo in that series and whilst its a prequel, you really need to read the trilogy prior as otherwise you'll have it spoiled due to information contained within.

As with the authors other work its fast paced, has great twists and whilst you know that the hero is never in any real danger in this tale due to appearing in the series, all round it is a wonderful excerpt into the environs as well as a chance to get to see how choice made affect things as a whole. Magic

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Strange Weather - Joe HIll

Release Date: 07/11/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.

One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn't safely under cover. 'Rain' explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.

In 'Loaded' a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it...

'Snapshot, 1988' tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories...

And in 'Aloft' a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero's island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.


REVIEW:

For me, Joe Hill is one of those authors that whilst he can write full length novels, always feels better with the short story. I like the way he puts it together, draws it all up in no nonsense prose and manages to breathe life into the whole piece in such a way that the characters come across wonderfully well without an extra padding in order to get to the meat of the tale.

Add to this a cracking imagination, a good understanding or pace as well as the ability to hit hard and fast with the twists all round made this a pure pleasure to read. Magic.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Shadow of War - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 10/10/17
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive

SYNOPSIS:

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, winner of more than 50 industry awards, including 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards’ Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming at the 2015 D.I.C.E. Awards and the BAFTA for Game Design. In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. This open-world RPG is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience.

Nemesis System Evolved

Players turn all of Mordor against Sauron by leading their personal Orc army created by the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience. The Nemesis System has been expanded with the introduction of Followers, who bring about entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Through Nemesis Fortresses, players utilize different strategies to conquer dynamic strongholds and create personalized worlds with their distinct Orc army.

Pick up the Season Pass to gain access to the Slaughter Tribe Nemesis Expansion, Outlaw Tribe Nemesis Expansion, Blade of Galadriel Story Expansion and Desolation of Mordor Story Expansion.

Beyond Mordor

Players experience the epic scale of the open-world in a number of ways including new regions and gameplay modes, larger environments, enriched visuals, expanded dialogue and more ways for players to create their story.

Enhanced Combat

Harness the power of Talion and Celebrimbor as the Bright Lord with enriched varieties of combat to take down enemies, include duality, the new Ring of Power, enhanced stealth, melee and more.

Enemy Diversity

Defeat Sauron’s deadliest warriors, including new varieties of Orcs, Olog-hai (war trolls), fire-breathing drakes (dragons), armored caragors and many others. Orcs belong to Tribes, which extend their influence and culture throughout the open-world, creating a rich ecosystem of missions, exploration and a dynamic Orc society.

Original Story in Middle-earth

Taking place in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the original story continues with Talion and Celebrimbor, known as the Bright Lord, who must go behind enemy lines to build an army, forge a new Ring of Power and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.



REVIEW:

Having loved Shadow of Mordor, I couldn't wait to return to Middle Earth and see what was next for Talien and Calembrimbor the forger of the Rings of Power. The storyline works wonderfully well and with a humanised Shelob adds more mythos to this already packed world.

Storywise the player continues the quest for vengeance against the Dark Lord and with a new feuding system as well as new ways to establish your own army with sieges all round makes this a game that will not only take you quite a bit of time to do but will also give you many hours of pleasure as the storyline is revealed.

Whilst there is the niggle of you being able to "pay to win" by purchasing bonus boxes, I found that I didn't see the point in that option personally as they can be come by whilst engaging in online vengeance missions. Yes you can make the game easier with these but you cut down your gaming time by quite a lot and make a lot of the fun redundant which is the whole point of playing a game.

All round I was very happy with the new systems in place (which included various Orc tribes which gave specific bonuses alongside a rework of the nemesis system) and when added to cracking storyline, top notch animation with good voice acting, made this a game that I was more than happy to sink many hours into.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

TV TIE IN SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Electric Dreams - Philip K Dick

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Based on the stories contained in this volume, the ten-part anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams is written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex), with Oscar nominated Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Breaking Bad) both executive producing and appearing in the series.

Each episode will be a sharp, thrilling standalone drama adapted and contemporised for global audiences by a creative team of British and American writers. The series will both illustrate Philip K. Dick's prophetic vision and celebrate the enduring appeal of the prized Sci-Fi novelist's work. Other guest stars include Janelle Morae, Anna paquin, Timothy Spall and Benedict Wong.

The ten stories included are:

THE HANGING STANGER, THE COMMUTER, THE FATHER-THING, EXHIBIT PIECE, IMPOSSIBLE PLANET, SALES PITCH, FOSTER YOU'RE DEAD, THE HOOD MAKER, HOLY QUARREL, IF THERE WERE NO BENNY CEMOLI, AUTOFAC and HUMAN IS


REVIEW:

A compendium of Philip's tales that helped inspire the new Channel Four TV series. As you'd expect they're full of observations, accompanied by witty interpretations and for a new reader, is a great way in the mind as well as worlds of the author.

Back this up with solid prose, a good understanding of the human condition and a tale that asks more questions of the reader than it answers, all round goes to show why this author is held in such high esteem by many readers. Cracking.

TV TIE IN POETRY BOOK REVIEW: Doctor Who: Now we are Six Hundred - James Goss

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Harper Design

SYNOPSIS:

With illustrations by Russell T Davies, original showrunner of the new-era Doctor Who, the first ever Doctor Who poetry collection--a charming, funny and whimsical illustrated collection of verse that celebrates the joys and pitfalls of getting older . . . Time-Lord older.

Like many of us, the older they get, the more Time Lords realize how little they understand the universe around them. This delightful collection of poems--the first volume of Doctor Who verse published--offers moments of insight, wit, and reassurance for the maturing inhabitants of Gallifrey (and everywhere else), including such delights as:

THE END

When I was One

I was not much fun

When I was Two

I was barely through

When I was Three

I liked strong tea

When I was Four

I hated a bore

When I was Five

I was really alive

When I was Six

I somehow could never quite fit in to what was expected of me, well, not exactly but that was because things weren't neat and there are no easy rhymes in the universe and scansion, my dear Peri, is a thing that's really overrated and you only have to look at a sunset to realise that creation itself is a poem and oh no wait, got it, of course, Fix! The line needed to end with Fix!

(Or tricks. That's works too.)

When I was Seven

I sent the gods to Heaven

When I was Eight

Kissing was great

When I was Nine

I had forgotten time

When I was Ten

I began again

When I was Eleven

I totally got even

When I was Twelve, I became as clever as clever

And now I think I'll be Twelve for ever and ever*

(*Unless, of course, there is a terrible catastrophe involving explosions, radiation, or heights. And then I guess we'll find out what comes next. But the eyebrows won't be as good.)


REVIEW:

A poetry book based on Dr Who and one that is a bit of a weird book for me as I don't often sit down and read this type of thing. Its a book that for me is designed purely for the fans as an addition to thier collections and whilst its OK, its nothing that really stands out and to a certain degree feels like a cash in. Don't get me wrong, for the fan there are some good pieces in there, but overall, I don't thing it's a book that'll be read over and over again.

Monday, 16 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Sweet Dreams - Tricia Sullivan

Release Date: 21/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mould their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked at an exam - Charlie will step in to your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. As far as she knows, she's the only person who can do this. Unfortunately, her power comes with one drawback - Charlie also has narcolepsy, and may fall asleep at the most inopportune moment.

But in London 2022, her skill is in demand. And when she is hired by a minor celebrity - who also happens to be the new girlfriend of Charlie's lamented ex - who dreams of a masked Creeper then sleepwalks off a tall building, Charlie begins to realise that someone else might be able to invade dreams...


REVIEW:

A story that I've been looking forward to for some time as I remember reading the synopsis in the Orion catalogue and thought wow, so much so, that I made a note on my calendar to keep an eye out for it. What was delivered wa a kick ass story that I loved. It was novel, it had a character I loved to spend time with and whilst she had a great many of her own problems, the overall arc really delivered with a good understanding of pace alongside plot.

For me, a great story and one that I hope will generate other future outings for our heroine. Magical.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: The One that Got Away - Annabel Kantaria

Release Date: 24/09/17
Publisher: HQ

SYNOPSIS:

Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…


REVIEW:

A book has to have a good few elements to make it work, firstly it has to have a solid story mixed with a good understanding of pace, it has to have full described characters to you fall in love with and care about and for me, it has to be delivered in such a way that whilst certain elements within may be fantastical, it has to be believable.

A book can to a certain degree get away with two out of the three, but for me, the cardinal sin and one that really makes a book a struggle for me, is when I can't stand the characters. After all, if I can't form a bond with them, why should I care about thier fates or what their own actions have wrought within the tale?

This is the problem with this book for me. Yes it has a good story arc, the pace is delightful and of course the twists and turns make it a car crash read as you wait to see what moves and counter-moves each of the principle players to do get their own way, however because they're so detestable, it was more a case of "Meh, why should I care about these two, they deserve each other."

All round, it is on a technical scale a solid offering, but for me, its more of a middle of the road title that won't stay with me for too long as a lot of what occurs within has been done before. A shame really as I really wanted so much more.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Guild Hunter 10: Archangel's Viper - Nalini Singh

Release Date: 28/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel . . . or human . . .

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy grey underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman - it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalised by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerise her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head . . .

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself - because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening . . .

No one is safe.


REVIEW:

Nalini has a huge following for her Guild Hunters series and when she returns to characters that readers have come to love throughout the books and seems to be giving them exactly what they want, it should have been a title that would not only have made them very happy but something that should have been a firm fan favourite for years to come.

However, whilst she did deliver a story, the book never really took off and left me feeling, as a long term reader, that I was cheated and that certain events were forced almost as if the characters just didn;t want to play. OK, so the overall arc is OK, but when you're not giving whats expected until a very late stage and even then its almost an heavy handed after thought then all round it leaves it feeling very jarring. Sadly for me, its not going into my favourite list of the author and for many others, its going to be more of a meh when asked about it. A great shame.

Friday, 13 October 2017

SCIENCE FICTION MURDER MYSTERY REVIEW: The Man in the Tree - Sage Walker

Release Date: 13/10/17
Publisher: Tor Books US

SYNOPSIS:

Humanity's last hope of survival lies in space...but will we even get there?

Helt Borresen is an Incident Analyst. What that means is that aboard the seed ship Kybele, he is the closest thing that the organization has to a security officer. But he doesn't think that it'll be a big part of his job, as all the candidates have been carefully screened.

Why the need for a seed ship? Because our planet is toast and the colonists that leave our world are the best shot that we have for our species to continue.

Everything is set...and then someone is found hanging dead just weeks before the launch. Fear and paranoia spread as the death begins to look more and more like a murder. The authorities want the case settled quickly and quietly so as not to cause panic.

And Helt is the one to prevent a murderer from sabotaging the entire mission.


REVIEW:

If you love murder mystery in a sci-fi setting then this is a book for you, with top notch prose, good twists and of course a lead protagonist that steps off the page whilst delving deep into personal matters that make him question things as personal conflict intervenes with his investigation into the murder aboard his ship.

Its well thought out, brings some interesting characters to the fore and all round delivered a title that I very much enjoyed. All round a great book for me and one that has now added Sage to my TBR list.


Thursday, 12 October 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Iskari 1: The Last Namsara - Kristen Ciccarelli

Release Date: 12/10/17
Publisher: 

SYNOPSIS:

Destroyer. Death bringer. Dragon-slayer. I am more weapon than girl.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard.

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy . . .

THE LAST NAMSARA is an extraordinary story about courage, loyalty and star-crossed love, set in a kingdom that trembles on the edge of war.


REVIEW:

I'm the type of reader who is often found in fantastical kingdoms and worlds where mystical creatures live and magic is in abundance so when I get the chance to try a Young Adult title that will help get the love out there for the younger reader I jump at the chance in order to help pass on my love of reading to my nephews and niece. (So that when I'm old, they'll know the right sort of books to buy me. LOL)

So I had high hopes for this although to a certain degree the blurb sounded pretty generic and I thought was something that I'd read before in titles such as McCaffrey's Pern series. I finally picked up the book and settled down awaiting to see what would occur. The story pretty much went the way I expected and whilst there were quite a few elements that worked well, the whole thing was centred more around two characters placing them in a fantastical setting and following a certain linear path. That's not to say it wasn't well done, it was, but for me, there was no surprise and when you also throw in supporting cast that felt pretty flat I was left a little disappointed with the overall book.

All round it was OK, and the parts that I liked were well done, however for me there were other avenues that needed to be explored so I'm hoping that in future outings the writing will have not only improved but that the character development continues with fuller fleshed out cast members.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch

Release Date: 28/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

A brand new novella in the PC Grant series!

There's something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call.

It's PC Peter Grant's speciality . . .

Only it's more than going 'bump'. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter - making the follow up interviews rather difficult.

So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition.

Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.


REVIEW:

I've been a huge fan of PC Grant since the first novel Rivers of London back in 2011, and whilst its always a hard wait between novels, I love it when you get little extra treats like novella's that whilst perhaps not a full length story, give the reader a hit of what they've been hankering for.

Within this novella, PC Grant faces a tough challenge, solving a case where a short time after the encounter people have forgotten all about it. Its definitely going to be a challenging case for our detective and one that more tha piqued my interest upon reading the synopsis.

As usual the writing is crisp, the prose wonderfully addictive and when you throw into this good pacing all round gives me a story that I was sad to finish. It was everything I hoped for with some great moments within taking the reader through a range of emotions and all round is making is a title I'll be rereading again soon to see what I missed on my original read. Cracking.

Monday, 9 October 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Age of Dread 1: Mageborn - Stephen Aryan

Release Date: 05/10/17
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Thousands died when mages sundered the earth and split the sky.
It was a war that devastated entire kingdoms.
Now one man believes eradicating magic is the only way to ensure a lasting peace. He and his followers will do anything to achieve his goal - even if it means murdering every child born with the ability.


REVIEW:

Returning to Stephen's world set ten years after his original Age of Darkness Trilogy, we are thrown into a chaotic world where those born with the "ability" to weild magic are murdered in hopes of keeping the fragile peace established after the events in the original series.

As with the first set, its well written, the characters are fun to be around and when thrown in with solid twists, some great story plotting alongside characters I want to spend time around and I have to say that I was more than pleased with this title. Add to this solid prose and of course dialogue that works wonderfully well all round gives me a great beginning to the new trilogy. Magic.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Deadlier - Edited by Sophie Hannah

Release Date: 05/08/17
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

100 of the best crime stories written by women, selected and introduced by Sophie Hannah.

From Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier, to Val McDermid and Margaret Atwood, women writers have long been drawn to criminal acts. Here, award-winning author Sophie Hannah brings together 100 of her favourite examples.

Deadlier includes prize-winners, bestsellers and rising stars, so whether you take your crime cosy or hard-boiled, this big, beautiful anthology will keep you reading long into the night.


REVIEW:

A cracking set of crime short stories from female authors across time as picked by crime author Sophie Hannah and to be honest I love to read stories from various time periods to not only see how the craft has developed but also given the opportunity to read some cracking outings without having to spend a pretty penny on older titles.

Its full of genre famous names from those of yesteryear alongside modern ladies seeking to hack as well as slash thier way to the top bringing top talent to the reader. The book was wonderfully rich, was wonderful to dive into and savour each revelation in short story format during lunch breaks or even long journeys. All round a top notch title and one that whilst its great to have in Hardback as you'll be delving in time and again, with the thickness and weight may be better suited to a digital read. (Unless of course you want a bludgeoning weapon on hand for anyone interupting your reading time. LOL) Magic.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Mephiston: Blood of Sanguinus - Darius Hinks

Release Date: 21/09/17
Publisher: Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

The shrine world of Divinatus Prime has become lost to the light of the Astronomican and no ship can piece its veil. Only the Lord of Death himself, Blood Angels Chief Librarian Mephiston, has any hope of discerning the fate of this once pious world. After enacting a powerful blood ritual, Mephiston and an honour guard of his fellow Blood Angels reach the stricken shrine world to find it seized by a religious civil war. Each faction fights for dominance of a potent artefact, the Blade Petrific, said to be wrought by the Emperor Himself. Yet there is more at work here than a mere ideological schism, for Mephiston believes Divinatus Prime could offer answers to how he became the Lord of Death by resisting the Black Rage, and possibly even a way to end the curse of ‘the Flaw’ in all Blood Angels.


REVIEW:

I've loved Darius' writing for a number of years and for me, he's an author who really helps the reader get into the mindset of the characters within his stories. Here in thei 40K offering, the reader spends time with Blood Angels Chief Librarian Mephiston. As befitting the world into which its set, the story is dark, has some cracking twists and when added to choices made by the principle character reflect events and change, its a tale that really helps demonstrate that all choices have consequences.

All round a top notch story which when backed with top notch pose and dialogue that just skips off the page, all round makes this a title to really get behind. Cracking.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Oversight 3: The Remnant - Charlie Fletcher

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

'The Oversight is most dangerous when most reduced. There are many dead and gone who did not remember that.'

The Oversight of London has been sworn for millennia to prevent the natural and the supernatural worlds from preying on each other.

Now at its lowest ebb, with its headquarters destroyed and its last members scattered far and wide, this secret society will battle for survival and face the harshest foe it has ever met: itself.

'Exciting, exhilarating, scary and moving in equal measure, The Oversight is a teeming world of dark deeds and dark magics, brilliantly realised' - M. R. Carey on The Oversight


REVIEW:

Having read the previous two titles in the series I have to say that this final outing in the Oversight Trilogy left me feeling pretty damn flat. the characters didn't reach full potential, various plot points felt ignored and threads from the other two titles left the book feeling fairly flat, almost as if the author had either forgotten about them or that they just weren't required and thus dropped to help Charlie hit his deadline.

All round, whilst the writing is still as addictive as usual and the plot points that were addressed satisfying having lost so much made me feel that there is more to come rather than this was the end. Sad to say I was disappointed and hope that Charlie will return at some point to give me (and other readers) some conclusions to these open air threads.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Space Marine Battles: The Eye of Ezekiel - C Z Dunn


Release Date: 07/09/17
Publisher: Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

In the grim future of the 41st millennium, the Imperium is beset by alien races that wish nothing more than to defeat, enslave or devour humankind. Most numerous among these foes are the orks, inhuman brutes that cannot be underestimated. When the Adeptus Mechanicus invokes an ancient pact with the Dark Angels, Ezekiel, Grand Master of the Librarians, must lead the 5th Company to liberate the planet of Honoria from a vast ork army. Even reinforced by the regiments of the Astra Militarum, the Dark Angels face a tremendous challenge, and the Adeptus Mechanicus appear to have their own reasons for becoming involved in this conflict…


REVIEW:

I love a story where two seperate enforcers of humankind fight together on a world against a common foe as well as each other as hidden agenda's rear thier ugly heads. This tale from the Black Library brings it all to the reader with cracking characters, top notch action sequences and maneuvers not only on the battlefield that seek to turn the tide but also politically as our human defenders seek to out do each other.

Its well written and I loved the way that Mr Dunn brought the double dealing to the fore despite the devastation that warring amongst themselves could bring should they divide and fall to the greenskin menace. Finally throw into the mix a good variety of twists and all round I was a more than happy reader.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Vaults of Terra: The Carrion Throne - Chris Wraight

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

In the hellish sprawl of Imperial Terra, Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Erasmus serves as a stalwart and vigilant protector, for even the Throneworld is not immune to the predations of its enemies. In the course of his Emperor-sworn duty, Erasmus becomes embroiled in a dark conspiracy, one that leads all the way to the halls of the Imperial Palace. As he plunges deeper in the shadowy underbelly of the many palace districts, his investigation attracts the attention of hidden forces, and soon Erasmus and his acolyte Spinoza are being hunted – by heretics, xenos, servants of the Dark Powers, or perhaps even rival elements of the Inquisition itself. They eventually discover a terrible truth, one that if allowed to get out could undermine the very fabric of the Imperium itself.


REVIEW:

A cracking novel set on throne world from Chris Wraight which goes to show that whilst the rest of the Imperium think that its a shining beacon of the Emperors might, that the reality for those who live there is that its a dog eats dog world where death is cheap and human life even cheaper.

Its well written, has great prose and as we get to follow the principle characters get to see how thier life experiences not only changes thier points of view and actions but helps give strength where the other is weaker. Back this up with a seriously kick ass plot, top notch dialogue alongside being characters that the reader can associate with all round makes this a book that is a pure joy to read. Can't wait for more of this duo's adventures.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Legends: Shrike - George Mann

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Vaunted warrior of the Raven Guard, Shrike has ascended the ranks of this most mysterious and deadly brotherhood all the way to Chapter Master. He is a legend amongst his battle-brothers, one that began humbly enough in the wilds of Kiavahr. Shrike has fought and bested many foes, but one in particular, the Ork Warlord Gorkrusha, dogged him throughout many campaigns. From veteran to Shadow Captain, Shrike clashed with his old nemesis time and again, determined to bring about a final reckoning and bloody vengeance to the greenskin.


REVIEW:

Another Space Marine Legends novel that takes the reader through the vaulted ranks of the Raven Guard from Novice through to Chapter Master and whilst it had potential to give the reader something pretty epic to enjoy, I felt more than a little let down as I really couldn't get to grips with the principle character.

Yes the story had some cracking elements, the battles against mankinds foes enticing but for me, when I can't get to grips with a character I tend to feel that I don't really care for thier fate.

All round a bit of a loss for me and a book I won't be returning to at any time soon especailly with other better Legends books out there.

Monday, 4 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION AUDIO BOOK REVIEWS: Warhammer 40K: Champions of the Eternal War - David Guymer, Ian St Martin, Josh Reynolds and Scions of Elysia - Chris Dows

Release Date:   2017
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

A Warhammer 40,000 audio drama collection Enjoy three full-cast audio tales of heroes and villains from the Dark Millennium: the doughty Iron Hands warleader Kardan Stronos, the sinister blademaster Lucius the Eternal, and the mischevious Space Wolf Lukas the Trickster. This is the first time on CD for these three tales of adventure, mayhem and (with Lukas) mischief from some of Black Library's finest authors - and all are full-cast dramas, with music and sound effects for a truly immersive experience. Heed now three tales of the Champions of the Eternal War... The Calculus of Battle by David Guymer As the defenders of Varasine battle a tyranid invasion, Warleader Kardan Stronos and the Iron Hands come to their aid, measuring the Chapter's cold logic and strategy against the cost in human lives. The Embrace of Pain by Ian St Martin When blademaster Lucius the Eternal is challenged by a champion of the Death Guard, he accepts without hesitation... but could a daemonhost of Nurgle, or the voices inside his own head, be the undoing of his Slaaneshi curse? The Art of Provocation by Josh Reynolds When orks amass on Polix Tertius, Lukas the Trickster decides to play a dangerous game. Risking the ire of the Wolf Lords, he turns his attentions to the planetary vox, and begins to broadcast... Running time approx. 60 minutes. Performed by John Banks, Antonia Beamish, Robin Bowerman, Cliff Chapman, Steve Conlin, Jonathan Keeble, Toby Longworth and Luis Soto.


REVIEW:

If you have a journey to do, whether its for work or for pleasure, there are times when you either can't take a book to read with you or you tend to feel ill whilst looking at the page. Well for me, this is where I love to have my MP3 player loaded with not only music but audio books and for me I love the way that Black Library brings these titles to life in such a way that they transport you to that time and place.

As with the other tales from the publisher, this one blends top notch story telling alongside magical voice acting and when added to the library of what has gone before really makes it something unique to sit back and savour. All round another cracking addition and one that will get quite a lot of use from as I'm being sneaky and introducing my nephews to these titles with a lot of positive results.




Release Date: 2017
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

An Astra Militarum audio drama The 158th Elysian regiment of the Imperial Guard make one of their infamous drop assaults - in their home system. But when disaster strikes, it falls to Sergeant Zachariah to save the campaign from failure. The Elysian Drop Troops are a unique force within the Astra Militarum, and Chris Dows captures the dizzying, vertiginous nature of the way they fight so well, it'll make your head spin. The Elysian Drop Troops are famed throughout the Astra Militarum for their rapid deployment tactics, utter fearlessness and expertise at grav-chute assaults. The 158th Elysian are once such regiment, ordered to pacify piratical warbands at large in their native system. But as the campaign commences, disaster strikes, the regiment's inexperienced and arrogant captain the cause. Only through the ingenuity of Sergeant Zachariah is a victory salvaged, but at a terrible cost. Running time 57minutes Written by Chris Dows Narrated by John Banks


REVIEW:

Another cracking MP3 story from the Black Library that transports you into the bleak 40th Millenium as mankind struggles to survive against its many foes. Beautifully written with cracking vocal talent alongside an arc that just keeps giving all round makes this a wonderful piece of narrative audio that will more than entertain.

Finally throw into the mix a cast that you want to spend time around and for me, its a title that will more than entertain on other future journeys. Cracking.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Horus Heresy: Sons of the Forge - Nick Kyme

Release Date: 18/11/16
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Charged with a solemn duty by the primarch himself, Forgefather T’kell of the Salamanders prepares for what may well be his final journey. Along with a chosen few of the Legion’s elite Firedrakes, he must bear the last seven of Vulkan’s greatest weapons away to the secret vault known as the Wrought, putting them forever beyond the reach of treacherous enemy and well-intentioned ally alike. But word has already spread of these legendary artefacts, and there are many who would see T’kell’s endeavour fail for their own gain – the Salamanders must remain true, no matter what horrors they might face...


REVIEW:

Getting to see an origin story is one of the things I love about diving back into the Horus Heresy and to be honest its one of the reasons you have to read Nick Kyme's Sons of the Forge as the reader accompanies Forgefather T'Kell on his journey to hide the artifacts of the Salamander Chapter that future generations will attempt to reunite.

Its a cracking story, high octane action, top notch prose and of course the reader gets to the see the effects of this mission play out amongst his unit. Add to this a story arc that works wonderfully well for the misfortunes of 40K and all round I was a more than happy reader. Another cracker and a must for Salamander fans.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Dante - Guy Haley

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Dante is Chapter Master of one of the noblest but most troubled Chapters of Space Marines in the Imperium: the Blood Angels. From the time of his birth in the rad-scarred wastes of Baal Secundus, he was destined for glory and strife. From his apotheosis to Scout, to the hive cities of Armageddon and the alien menace of the Cryptas system, Dante has waged war against all the enemies of the Imperium. He has witnessed the divine, and struggled against the darkness within all sons of Sanguinius. Longer lived than any other Chapter Master, this is his chronicle, his great and storied legend.


REVIEW:

As a fan of the Warhammer 40K universe I love spending time with the primarchs and learning of how they elevated to thier positions and whilst I've just enjoyed Azrael, I found this one by Guy to be richer for me. I loved the way that we danced through the heroes history, as battles took their toll alongside the curse of the Blood Angel line.

Its wonderfully rich, brings a great sense of history to the fore and when added to top notch battle sequences alongside cracking lulls to allow you to gather your breath all round makes this a book that will remain a firm favourite of mine for quite some time to come.

A magical outing and one that I hope is followed up upon as I really can't wait to see what happens for not only Dante but the Blood Angels chapter.

Friday, 1 September 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Legends: Azrael - Gav Thorpe

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

The Dark Angels Chapter sprang from the First Legion of Space Marines to fight and die at the Emperor's side. But over ten thousand years, even the most staunchly loyal warriors of the Imperium can fall from grace, and the Dark Angels guard their own murky secrets most carefully - only Supreme Grand Master Azrael knows them all. A legend among Space Marines, he has fought for centuries and ever at the forefront of battle. Now, with the enigmatically alien eldar as his uneasy and unlikely allies, he must tread the fine line once more between the pursuit of victory, and keeping the Chapter's past safely buried...


REVIEW:

I love a story that takes readers on a journey with the legendary heroes of the Space Marines, however for me, this short tale could have been extended wonderfully by enriching the heroes past with exploits that helped make him a stand out candidate for the post of Supreme Grand Master.

Yes we had some solid flashbacks to him as a normal human but for me, its the choices made and heroism demonstrated as a space marine that should have been the key for this book. Thats ot to say its a bad book, far from it, the writing is crisp, the prose sharp and the battle sequences work wonderfully well. However for me, I really wanted a bigger build up to his elevation and hope that subsequent titles will do that.

All round cracking fun.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Kill the Father - Sandrone Dazieri

Release Date: 10/08/17
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

The twisty and darkly compelling thriller and RICHARD & JUDY BOOKCLUB PICK that will keep you up all night.

'The rock cast a sharp, dark shadow over a shape huddled on the ground. Please don’t let it be the boy, Colomba thought. Her silent prayer didn’t go unanswered. The corpse belonged to the mother.'

THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP HIM IS THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY...

Dante Torre spent eleven young years in captivity - held by a man known only as The Father - before outwitting his abductor. Now working for the police force, Torre's methods are unorthodox but his brilliance is clear. When a young child goes missing in similar circumstances in Rome, Torre must confront the demons of his past to attempt to solve the case.

Paired with Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, all evidence suggests The Father is active after being dormant for decades, and that he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante ...


REVIEW:

When it comes to crime novels these days, a lot of people tend to point to the Scandinavian influx that demonstrates how it can be done well blending landscape as well as culture to create something wonderfully haunting, but I have to say that one nation to keep a careful eye on are the Italians as this wonderfully translated title from Sandrone will prove as he brings his blend of crime to the english speaking world.

Its haunting, it has top notch twists and perhaps best of all characters who are so flawed that you'd swear he'd swiped them from real life. They have foibles, they have their weaknesses but its this human part that makes them so believable. Back this with a good amount of investigative detail and all round I was a happy reader. Yes it lost it a little towards the end and could have been tied up a bit neater but all round, for a debut novel I have to say I was more than impressed. I'll be keeping a careful eye on future outings for our duo Torres and Caselli and of course expect in time for them to have thier own TV show. Magic.




Thursday, 24 August 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Worldmaker Trilogy 2: Heartland - Lucy Hounsom

Release Date: 24/08/17
Publisher: Tor

SYNOPSIS:

Kyndra has saved and damned the people of Mariar. Her star-born powers healed a land in turmoil, but destroyed an ancient magic – which once concealed them from invaders. Now Kyndra must head into enemy territory to secure peace.

She finds the Sartyan Empire, unstable but as warlike as ever. It’s plagued by dissident factions, yet its emperor still has the strength to crush her homeland. The Khronostians, assassins who dance through time, could help Kyndra; or they might be her undoing. And deep within the desert, Char Lesko struggles to control his own emerging powers. He’s been raised by a mercenary whose secrets could change everything – including the future and the past.

But when Kyndra and Char meet, will their goals align? Kyndra must harness the full glory of the stars and Char has to channel his rage, or two continents will be lost.


REVIEW:

THE Second book in the Worldmaker Trilogy and whilst its been a while, I was looking forward to getting back into Lucy's world to see what would happen next for not only characters that we've come to love but also new additions to the world.

What happens is a book that to be honest took me quite a while to get into. It felt convoluted to start with almost as if it didn't have a clear direction into which to head, which when added to a fairly slow middle did leave me feeling that I was having to struggle through to get to the good stuff. Thats not to say that its a bad book as a lot of the elements within are handled wonderfully but when I get these lulls that seem to take the wind out of the readers sails, it makes it harder to keep going despite knowing that the author knows how to deliver (as is evident within the first outing.)

It is a solid enough book in the end but I do feel and was left wondering if this was more of a filler expansion to lead up to something huge for the final book, almost as if some of these elements were added to help fulfill the contract.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Gais Valerius Verrens 8: Glory of Rome - Douglas Jackson

Release Date: 05/08/17
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

77AD. Gaius Valerius Verrens is an honoured member of Emperor Vespasian’s inner circle, but the enmity between him and Vespasian’s son Domitian means that, even in Rome, danger is never far away. Meanwhile, in the outer reaches of the Empire, in Britannia, trouble is brewing.
The governor, Gnaeus Julius Agricola is preparing to march his legions north and Valerius is Agricola’s chief legal adviser and deputy governor. It's the opportunity he seeks to move his wife and son out of reach of Domitian’s wrath. But Britannia is where Valerius cut his military teeth and whetted his sword - and he will soon discover that the ghosts of his past are never far away and are more dangerous perhaps than Domitian.
The massacre of a Roman garrison and suspicious death of the legate of the Ninth Legion throw Agricola’s preparations into confusion. Now his eyes turn west to Mona, the Druids Isle, where the Celtic priesthood still harbours hopes of ridding Britannia of Roman rule. But to deal with the druids and their savage Ordovice protectors Agricola needs a soldier he can trust at the head of the ‘unlucky’ Ninth. Only one man in the province has the experience and the ability . . .
So a reluctant Valerius must put aside his scrolls and pick up his sword once more and march beside the eagle of the Ninth. It’s only as he stands on the shoreline opposite Mona that he understands any glory his new legion wins is likely to be fleeting and tainted - and that he has placed his family in deadly peril.


REVIEW:

I love spending time with historical figures and for me, whilst I can often be found throughout the pages of history, I tend to most often be found during the roman period with authors like Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden, Anthony Riches and of course Douglas Jackson

So it'll come as no surprise that with this latest outing (Gaius's Eighth) that I am once again back in the glorious days of Rome. His books all have solid plot, top notch dialogue and a good amount of twists but for me, its his characters that have me returning time and again. I love the way that even supporting cast have a history and our main character continues to change and develop as the events he is subject to mold and shape him. A truly cracking read and if you haven't started this series yet please go back and start from the first as otherwise you'll be missing a real treat.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Age of Assassins - RJ Barker

Release Date: 03/08/17
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince's murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire land.


REVIEW:

As many know I'm the type of reader that enjoys taking a punt on a new author as you know that what arrives is going to be something new, unexpected and at times utter thrilling as you're never sure which way things are going to go.

Here in this title, author RJ Barker brings a lot to the table. Solid world building, intriguing principle characters and of course a kickass plot that should the magical elements been dropped would have fitted well into any historical setting.

Its definitely quirky, has a lot going for it and was a very hard title to put down. Back this all up with good dialogue and solid plotting alongside murder, mystery as well as mayhem and it'll more than satisfy any fantasy reader. Cracking.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Ravens Mark 1: Blackwing - Ed McDonald

Release Date: 27/07/17
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall's 'Engine', a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic's bluff.

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.


REVIEW:

As an avid fantasy reader, I can't wait to grab a new authors work and see where it takes me whether its a world of extraordinary other humanoids, top notch magic hurling or just plain heroism and there are times when all of them blend together to make something truly spectacular.

Here in this book by Ed, the reader is treated to a principle character who is brusk, cynical against life and of course also drawn by duty to help defend the last bastion of his people. Its well written, has some cracking prose and all round delivered a story that also brought into it elements of danger, political double dealing alongside a desperate stand against those who would see them defeated.

Its real edge of the seat stuff and when added to the possibility of future outings the reader is surely in for one hell of a ride. A cracking debut.