The Hammer and the Blade is fun sword and sorcery adventure. Kemp has done something interesting here. This book is quite low brow in its use of vulgaThe Hammer and the Blade is fun sword and sorcery adventure. Kemp has done something interesting here. This book is quite low brow in its use of vulgar descriptions: constantly describing puking and spitting and other bodily functions. Yet in contrast, I had to look up a lot of words when I read this, for apparently Kemp has quite a vocabulary. Maybe he was trying to prove that just because someone has a potty mouth doesn't mean they lack intelligence.
As far as a buddy story, this one succeeds on that level. Egil and Nix are tight. We don't get to find out how they met, and they are quite different. But that doesn't stop them from being very good friends who watch each others' backs and fight at each others' sides. Egil is a hulking man, who uses two hammers and a crowbar as his weapons. He wears a tattoo of an eye on his head, a symbol of the Momentary God. He is reflective and tends towards somberness. Nix is smaller, the body and persona of a thief. He reminds me of the trickster archetype. He is quick and sly, and fond of sharp, slender blades. He grew up in the slums, and part of him doesn't want to leave that behind. It's a huge part of his identity. He doubts that he possesses any sense of morality, but the quest he undertakes in this book will prove whether that's true.
While sword and sorcery can tend towards sexism, Kemp seems to want to subvert this. While most of the main characters are not women, there are more than a few secondary female characters that show a lot of depth and the complexity of the female gender. Nix and Egil are forced to reexamine their views of women and how women should be treated continually throughout this story. I really enjoyed this aspect of this novel. Yes, I am a woman, so it makes sense that this would be a crucial aspect for me. But I like to think that men can also be dismayed at how women can be sidelined, maligned, and abused in most cultures, simply because they are women. I am glad to see that Kemp seems to struggle with this as well.
The action/adventure part of the equation is well done. Plenty of fighting and escapades. Tomb robbing and escaping mystical booby traps. Lots of demon and creature fighting, and some fights between characters of the human persuasion. Some of the scenes got a little gory, but I guess that's to be expected in a sword and sorcery romp. While I didn't like some of the vulgar descriptions, I didn't think Kemp went over the top with the violence.
As far as the sorcery, that was definitely a strong aspect of this novel. One of the characters is a sorcerer whose family has a dark pact with demons for their power. And I do mean dark. This storyline becomes a very prominent thread that place Egil and Nix at some crucial moments of defining who their identities are as people and where they draw their line in the sand. As I read it, I marveled at the extremes people go to obtain and keep power, and usually they end up making someone pick up the tab for their actions and ill-gotten gains. Definitely the case in this book. Glad we had some unlikely heroes around to try to make things right.
I didn't rate this book higher because it was just too vulgar for my tastes. I felt like this was a hindrance for me to dive deeper since I just can't stand vulgarity. It's a personal taste thing here. There were other things to like about this novel, such as the fantasy world-building and the humor and camaraderie between Egil and Nix and a few other characters. It was a fairly entertaining novel despite the fact that the vulgarity was off-putting. I will probably continue this series.
War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book.War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book. He gives out this vibe of the bumbling ineffectual, who could give a flip about anything. However his ability with magics and the arcane is inestimable. A drunk, chain-smoker, and a bit of a lecher. His sense of morality doesn't seem to fit into the boxes that you might usually ascribe characters. However, he does have a sense of honor, just believes in doing things his own way. All in all, hard to pin down and not one to be taken for granted.
The storyline itself is very harsh. It's about war, and the fact that many use war to profit. That's no secret, but seeing it written down on paper emphasizes the wrongness of glorifying in human suffering, causing it for one's own ends. In this case, a dark cabal is stirring up violence to awake an ancient War Lord to bring about the apocalypse, so they can rule. However, that's not going to go over well, not with Constantine on the opposite side (even if he dislikes the fact that he has to choose sides).
I found myself laughing at some of the admittedly coarse humor. But it was very funny. I loved the side joke in which Constantine remarks about the parallel worlds that exist, one in which he has black hair and wears a black coat, and lives in Los Angeles. That might sound familiar to some folks.
Some parts are off-putting, even repulsive. The dark magics are rather disturbing (in the fact that some folks might choose to go down those roads). However, those who like reading fiction about the arcane and esoteric might appreciate this book. There's even a cameo by a descendant of Aleister Crowley. Some stuff went over my head as far as the Hidden World, but I'm okay with that.
I can't give it a high rating because it has a very slow start and the pace was too uneven in parts. Not to mention the fact that the atrocities committed to see the dark purposes of the cabal to fruition didn't sit right with me (even though they make sense for this book). However, it was a good read and I enjoyed it. So it's easily 3.5/5.0 stars....more
This was a very good fantasy romance. I loved the dragons, so majestic and beautiful. The world-building was strong, and the magic awe-inspiring. I woThis was a very good fantasy romance. I loved the dragons, so majestic and beautiful. The world-building was strong, and the magic awe-inspiring. I would like to read more by this author.
Fated is a fantastic debut novel. This is what urban fantasy can accomplish, taking fantasy concepts and giving them a new spin in a modern setting. JFated is a fantastic debut novel. This is what urban fantasy can accomplish, taking fantasy concepts and giving them a new spin in a modern setting. Jacka uses the concept of an age-old war between Dark and Light Mages and sets it in contemporary London. While many will think of Dresden and recommend this to fans of that great series, I don't even think it's fair to compare them outside of the fact that they are both male POV urban fantasy novels with magical protagonists. Jacka writes his own book here, and I loved him for it. Yes, it does have the somewhat smart-alecky, down on his luck magical protagonist, but actually Alex Verus and Harry Dresden couldn't be more different.
While I am not a big fan of witchcraft themes in urban fantasy, I love the idea of modern-day mages and magic-users. This book is for those who like to see the magical battles without all the spellwork and spellcasting along with it. And the one thing that felt so refreshing and delightfully distinct was the fact that Alex is a Diviner. His main ability is to see the future and shift through possible outcomes and choose the best one for his situation. This makes Alex more of a thinking man hero as opposed to a reactive/shoot first and ask questions last hero. His strength is his ability to assess the situation and choose wisely. He will be the first to admit that he's often out-numbered and our-powered by his adversaries, but that just makes me more loyal and root for him all the more. Because of the fact that he has been the punching bag, Alex has a lot of humility and grace for those who aren't strong. I respected his sense of right and wrong, even if he's not exactly what you'd call a Boy Scout.
Luna is an interesting secondary character. I felt for her situation, and I have a feeling that her relationship with Alex will continue to be pivotal in this series. In some ways, they aren't that different. Both isolated and ostracized for being different. They have a strong connection, even just on that level.
I found the storyline very interesting. Alex having to navigate through shark-infested waters of political and physically violent power struggles between Dark and Light Mages. Jacka endows his world with a lot of weight and texture. He takes the urban fantasy genre is a much needed different direction. Instead of treading on the overtrodden territory of vampires, werewolves and even faerie, he focuses on magic users and not the kind you usually see in urban fantasy novels. I found his insights into the social dynamics of Dark Mages quite enlightening and it felt very realistic. Although he doesn't dwell on it, there are some very disturbing and dark (no pun intended) aspects to their concept of power and how it's obtained and used.
This took a while to read because the print in my copy was tiny! But that doesn't mean I was bored. I was too sucked in to feel boredom. Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres, so I do have high expectations, but this one exceeded those nicely. I was drawn into this world whenever I picked up the book to read, and I will definitely read more of this series.
I highly recommend this to fans of urban fantasy, especially those looking for something different!...more
Daggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to retDaggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to return to this life in another form to do that. As I read this novel, I was confronted with my feelings about that inalienable destiny. There are some people that you have in your life that seem only to bring pain and hardship, and the comfort is that when you leave this life, you leave that pain they cause you behind. In this novel, that is not the case. And more importantly, a person cannot run from themselves and the anguish their own actions will deliver them. In some ways, that was a bitter pill to swallow as I read. The blessing in this novel was that one man, Nevyn, which sounds like ‘no one’ has lived through three lives and walks that anguished road with those people who he failed to help the first time. Another integral part of this novel is the Welsh-like feel to their world. I’m not an expert on Welsh language, so if I’m wrong, I apologize. But it felt as though this novel used some of the Welsh language particulars and it felt pretty distinct and authentic to me. I was afraid that the names and the language would be an issue, but it wasn’t. After I read the novel, I read through the glossary, and surprisingly, I was able to discern what most of the terms meant through context.
The Characters: Nevyn and Jill were standout characters for me. I felt deeply for Nevyn. The huge burden of seeing people he had cared for in the first go-round suffer through their Wyrd (destiny) again and again until they got it right. That was tough. I loved that he had followed his own destiny, not without loss or sacrifice, and had used this incredible skills as a dweomerman (magician/wizard) to help people and to fight for the forces of light. In the first life, he made a selfish choice, and it cost the life of a woman he loved. He had vowed to help her find her destiny, and it took him three life cycles to do it. That’s determination. Jill was young but she had substance and a strong heart. One of her choices in this novel gave me heartburn. For a romantic, I was surprised I didn’t want her to follow that path and go in another way. I’m glad that this worked out despite my apprehensions about it. Cullyn was also a compelling character. He had me worried a few times. He was a man who had one heck of a wyrd to work out, and it was a rough one. What I loved is that he was able to overcome that dark destiny through the power of his integrity and love for his daughter. Rhodry was a character that didn’t quite convince me he was worthy of Jill. He was a decent person, a little spoiled, but I didn’t feel he was Jill’s wyrd, at least not in a good way. I guess the author knows better than me about such things. In the first life cycle, it was like watching a car wreck before it happens, I mean literally. That really took me out of my comfort zones. I was actually shouting at the book, saying, “Please don’t do that.” It took some fortification to keep reading after that, but part of me couldn’t let go of this story because like any good fiction novel, it made me ask the central question. “What happens next?” I’m not a believer in reincarnation, but the way things work out for the characters in that life cycle kind of made me glad that it exists in this novel.
Magic and Magical Folks: I loved that Jill could see and interact with the Wildfolk. Especially the cute gray gnome who was often her boon companion and her comfort through her tough young life. I liked this idea that those marked by the dweomer are able to perceive the Wildfolk. It was also interesting how many ‘normal’ folks feared the magic and many more didn’t even believe in it. It seemed strange to me since this felt so real, and their lives were deeply affected by the power of the magic around them. I appreciated how within this landscape of humanity there were pockets of legendary creatures, such as a dwarf metalsmith who gives Jill her silver dagger, and the Westfolk, who are actually elves. I really liked the elves!
My final thoughts: I went into reading this cold. I had never heard of this book until it was recommended on the fantasy group. I saw it at the bookstore and thought, “Why not?” And I am glad I read it. I think the writing was strong, the storyline interesting, although a bit on the tragic side in some ways. It felt intricate and complex and deep, and that appeals to me. The idea of having to work out the consequences of the choices you make in life resonates with me, and for a foundation of a fantasy novel, it works surprisingly well. I think I would like to continue this series to see where Kerr takes this story and the characters next. I recommend it to readers who enjoy epic fantasy. ...more
This one felt a little less focused than Zero Sight, but I still loved it. Shier has come up with a winning series here, with a hero that takes me fulThis one felt a little less focused than Zero Sight, but I still loved it. Shier has come up with a winning series here, with a hero that takes me fully along on his journey. The concepts here are just awesome, and the plotting skillful. There's so much that I love about these books. And to think he writes these books while he's in medical school.... Keep writing!!!!
This series is very close to horror. The golem myth incorporation was really interesting, and of course, I'm always gaga for angels. Some of the violeThis series is very close to horror. The golem myth incorporation was really interesting, and of course, I'm always gaga for angels. Some of the violent elements were disturbing, especially with children being harmed. Nevertheless, this was very good.
Royal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read. I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enliRoyal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read. I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enlightening perspective of the city during and after the Hurricane Katrina devastation. We did get refugees (both human and animal) from New Orleans around that time in the Austin, and also the poisoned air drifted our way, causing a lot of allergy and respiratory issues. Seeing the aftermath from a more distant perspective was painful enough. I can't imagine having experienced it firsthand. Ms. Johnson allowed me to do this in reading this book. New Orleans has such a personality, that it continually establishes itself as a important character in her own right in books. This reader is not jaded at meeting this beautiful ancient dame yet again.
Drusilla Jaco doesn't cede all the attention to New Orleans. She establishes herself as a likable character whose story you want to learn. She's neither too strong, nor too weak. Her strengths and weaknesses balance themselves out, making her a character I want to accompany on an adventure. Drusilla is a wizard, which is fun. Usually the tendency is to make a female UF protagonist a witch, which I feel can be a bit sexist. It could also be that I am not a big fan of witch storylines and witchcraft. I can and do like the idea of wizards a little more, and why can't a woman be a wizard? In this case, she is not just a wizard, but one with a special heritage which comes into play. That was fun to see Drusilla, or DJ, as she is called, come into herself and her genetic inheritance.
As far as other characters, I definitely liked Alex and Jake. Boy howdy, I do not care for love triangles, but this one feels credible. Both guys have a lot to offer, and you do feel torn. I have made up my mind who I want Drusilla to end up with, but we'll see what the series has to say about that. Either way, so long as it doesn't turn into bed-switching (which has become almost an UF staple lately), I'm okay with going along for the ride. Now that Jean Lafitte, he's a character. I find him sexy, but it's in a "I'm so wrong to think he's sexy" kind of way. I mean, he's ruthless and amoral, and he is physically abusive. I'm not feeling that at all. At the same time, he is a cutthroat pirate, so I can't really ascribe 21st century values to him, can I? Yeah, I'm feeling conflicted. At any rate, he's an interesting character. I can't really tell you about one of my favorite characters, who is in fact an inanimate object that DJ calls Charlie. Let me just say that Lord of the Rings fans will find it very cool indeed!
As far as the urban fantasy action, this book is pretty good on that score although it could have used more showing and more description. I did feel that the final confrontation wasn't as exciting and as well-executed as I would have liked. Admittedly, I am a stickler for well-written action scenes, so I tend to grade harder in that area. I did like that Drusilla does get to save the day. It was important for her to be able to do so, even though she did get a bit of help along the way.
Royal Street is a great start to a series that has me excited to read more. I liked the concept and the characters are appealing and have me interested in reading more, including the Grande Dame of New Orleans.
Urban fantasy readers looking for a book that would appeal to both male and female readers should find something to like in this book. I know I did!...more
Did you ever read a book, and enjoy it, where you weren't even sure you really liked the main characters at all? They are people that you wouldn't wanDid you ever read a book, and enjoy it, where you weren't even sure you really liked the main characters at all? They are people that you wouldn't want to be around for more than five minutes in real life. Well that is this book.
Having said that, this was a really good book. I found it fascinating, wildly hilarious, creative, unique, and I have this fond feeling inside now that I've finish it. But along with that, there is a sadness.
Let's talk about this book!
As I said above, I spent most of the book trying to decide if I even liked these people, except for Alice. She was the only character I liked 99% of the time. And the 1% of the time I didn't like her, I could understand her actions. The other characters, I just felt like they needed to stop playing around and take something serious for once. Although I felt protective over most of them, and I didn't wish them ill (except for wanting to slap some of them hard), I didn't like their ways of dealing with life. It seemed as though everything was a lark, drinking way too much, taking drugs, sleeping around, playing emotional games with other people. Ugly ways make for ugly people, and that kept hitting me like an off note in an otherwise melodious piece of music. Kind of like Dorian Gray, ultimate hedonism, but without the darkly cruel, ugly edge of narcissism that Gray had. Yeah, there is a bit of a Gossip Girl/Cruel Intentions kind of vibe in some of their doings, The Rich, Bored Mean Kids and their Antics, and I hate that sort of thing. Let me put this way, if this wasn't a book about magic school students, I think I would have shucked it. But the magic part, well that was too brilliant to let go. And I admit, they did make me laugh many times. As for Quentin, the main character....my feelings are decidely complex.
To me, Quentin is a brat who needed a good spanking, a good wake-up call (which he gets in spades, but I'm not 100% sure if it really worked). He is one of those people who scream "Wasted potential." He has opportunities handed to him on a silver platter, and he can't seem to step up and take things as they truly are and be a man. Alice told him so well what I was thinking, essentially to get over himself. I think it helped...some. The verdict is still out. I have high hopes that Quentin will rise to the potential he has, because I can see it shining inside of him. Do I expect great things from him? Well, it's not fair to put those expectations on people, but I expect a lot more than he's given in life. Alice hit on it, his real problem. He is so miserable, and he is bent on being a miserable person. And that is one thing that truly annoys me, a person who likes being unhappy and wants to drag others to their unhappy party. His unhappiness gave birth to a self-destructive bent that he barely managed to keep control of, and it was painful watching him continue in his vicious cycle.
As I said above, I found the concepts of a magic school and how it was handled here utterly fascinating and made for quite an enjoyable read. I know it's been done before, but I like the way it was done here. It brought back memories of my academic days (undergrad and professional school), how it kicked my butt hard and I wondered why I didn't just crawl in the gutter somewhere and die, but I didn't. I just kept on trucking. I especially liked the part in Antarctica. That was just brilliant. I mean....Breakbills South in Antarctica. Rather like the fourth year residency. Just awesome.
The metafiction element of the Fillory books and how they are one of the very few things that Quentin holds sacred, and how they relate back to the story of Quentin and his friends from Breakbills was an element that made this story resonate. Another part I really liked. The satire and the respectful but also irreverent (I think) homage to Narnia hit a chord with me since I love the Narnia books. Seeing how a set of jaded early twentysomethings might view that magical world as opposed to young, sheltered children was quite interesting. And there are some very naughty and quite hilarious jokes thrown in that had me laughing.
The humor was great, and equally well-done was how well the author managed to work in some pretty harrowing and disturbing aspects. The part with the Beast made my hair stand on end. Just freaking weird and scary. And who the Beast turns out to be made it even more unnerving. And the dangerous potential for magic use on the wielder. In my opinion, no story about magic is complete without this. I admit I liked that the Physical kids (as they were called) turned out to be rather woefully underprepared for Fillory. It felt refreshing, although it turns out that their magical skills definitely come to their aid when needed (for the most part). I felt that all the plot elements tie in very well in this story, with elements that are introduced in the very beginning coming full circle in a way that feels balanced for me as a reader.
This was a very well-done novel. My major issue was how unlikable and cynical the characters were at times. That might not bother some, but I don't have a lot of tolerance for that whole, "I'm so bored and jaded with life" kind of vibe, so it wore on me. At times, the narrative voice was a little bit too smug and nastily pretentious (I can't stand cultural snobbery) for me. Also, way too much drinking and carousing for me. I don't know how Elliot still has a liver the way he drinks. And Janet, well, I would have given her a few slaps for her nasty behavior, thank you very much. Even with these unpalatable elements, I can see where Grossman is going here. He's turning the childhood fantasy series on its ear, and he spins this story deftly for those who enjoy fantasy and the process of experiencing how an author can take these elements and craft a fascinating story that you can sink your teeth into. I just want to see more character evolution than I saw here. I need to see that Quentin is a mature, wiser, more emotionally healthy person for what he's experienced. I'm definitely reading the next book, and I hope I can find it on audiobook again, because this kind of story begs for a skilled narrator like I had the pleasure of listening to with The Magicians....more
This was a breath of fresh air book. I've read some disappointing books lately, and I needed a good one. Plus I was pining for a good UF read. I lovedThis was a breath of fresh air book. I've read some disappointing books lately, and I needed a good one. Plus I was pining for a good UF read. I loved the easy writing flow, the funny dialogue, and the wonderful, self-deprecating hero, Sam. Although this was released as a YA book, I think it easily could have been marketed as an adult UF novel. I believe the older readers will enjoy it as much as teen readers because there is a lot to like in this book.
McBride keeps her world-building simple, but simple doesn't mean lacking. She has an interesting reality here, with people born with magical abilities, specifically necromancers. Sam is one, but he doesn't know it, because being one is quite dangerous for him. His normal, rather boring, letdown life explodes into one of extreme danger and dread as he becomes exposed to a very dangerous, cruel, and evil enemy. Along the way, he becomes aware of a supernatural world with its own rules. He finds out that there are a lot of creatures out there that he didn't even know existed. That is one thing I love about UF--the normal is really far from normal when you take a close look around you.
Sam is the everyman that you like and feel protective of. He has a rough journey in this book, but he weathers it all with grace and takes a lot of crazy stuff in stride. I respected him for that. I also liked his friends, specifically Ramon and Brooke. I liked Brid too. She is pretty darn kickbutt. Sam's mom is a sweet lady, and I would like to learn more about Sam's longlost uncle. He seems cool.
I think McBride has all the right ingredients in this story, but it doesn't add up to 'formula', but instead a fun, enthralling, sometimes scary and thrilling, and very enjoyable read. The quote on the cover by Sherman Alexie is so true. This book is both scary and funny, and a good balance of both. I am a big fan of snarky dialogue in books, and she does it well. I loved all the pop culture jokes. They were hilarious! I was quite impressed with how McBride reveals the menace of the villain and his heinous acts without going overboard. Poor Sam and his friends are truly in jeopardy, but you manage to catch your breath with some good laughs along the way.
I was very satisfied with this book, and even if it's a one-shot, I am still happy. If she continues the series, I'd be even happier, because I do see some threads that I would love to be explored further. Although McBride does a good job of making this a self-contained read that stands on its own (cliffhangers are a freaking enormous pet peeve of mine), I could easily see her going back and writing more in this world.
I do recommend Hold Me Closer, Necromancer to UF fans of all ages. I think they'll enjoy it.
Retribution Falls took me on a journey where I was continually required to reevaluate everything-- from the story itself, the world in which it takesRetribution Falls took me on a journey where I was continually required to reevaluate everything-- from the story itself, the world in which it takes place, and not the least, the characters. Great worldbuilding, and surprisingly multi-faceted characters who seemed to be archetypes, but proved to be much more. It was complex, intriguing, and ultimately very enjoyable.
When I read a really good book, it's hard to write a review, because my words don't measure up to what I have read as an example of good writing. But,When I read a really good book, it's hard to write a review, because my words don't measure up to what I have read as an example of good writing. But, I do my best. Let me make it clear that I'm hardly a critical scholar when it comes to fantasy. Before I added this to my epic fantasy shelf, I checked out the definition of epic fantasy. As I read the description of epic fantasy elements, I ticked off a mental checklist, and this book fits all the descriptions of epic fantasy. Of course, as I said, I'm not an expert, but I felt that Mr. Hamerton wrote a story that took what was expected in an epic fantasy read, and did it very well, writing a story that mattered to him and captivated me as I read.
The Magic System
Interesting, and very complex. The magical system was one part science, one part high mathematics (those parts had me scratching my head a bit), one part spiritual, and one part philosophical. At times, it went a little over my head, but that’s okay. I like to feel that I don’t have everything all figured out when I read a book. I liked that the magic had rules to it. The magic couldn't come out of nowhere. It had to have a source, and the source could be depleted. In essence, even the most powerful wizard or magic-user could be magicked out. There was balance, although the ‘dark lord’ character, Cabal the Darkmaster, wanted to take that balance and shift it so he controlled all the magic available, so he could rule over all the lands. Thankfully, the good guys are fighting to keep that from happening.
The main character was a young woman named Tabitha Serannon. She was an endearing person, seemingly normal and not overly endowed with any particular strength, or so it seemed. Her gift was not something she thought greatly of. Her talent for music, and a good voice. If anything, it was a way to provide a living for herself, and it made her happy. Her mother was a Lightgifter (essentially a type of good magician with the power to heal using the force of light), and she one day hoped to follow in her footsteps, finding her parents’ simple life as farmers not to her taste. As always, the yearning for adventure becomes a double-edged sword, and this young woman goes through a baptism of fire that is as believable as it is stirring. Although she has a bit of prodding along the way from a enigmatic figure named Twardy Zarost, otherwise known as the Riddler, nothing comes easy to this young woman. Through it all, I found her to be an engaging, likeable heroine. There is also Garyll Glavenor, the most formidable warrior in the land, the Swordmaster, who commands the Swords, an elite guard of warriors who protects the kingdom of Eyri. Love blooms between the couple, a love that is put to the test over the course of this book, each thinking they are not good or right enough for each other, and that life leads them in different directions. There is also Ashley Logan, an apprentice in the LIghtgifters who also will face a very harrowing experience in this novel. And Mr. Hamerton gives us a truly harrowing villain in Kirjath Arkell, a Shadowcaster who is given the job of retrieving the lost ring coveted by the Darkmaster. You can guess where the ring ends up. Mr. Hamerton brought these characters to life, and I felt their pain and suffering as they fought an epic battle against the forces of dark, with the power to overwhelm them from the inside out.
Mr. Hamerton creates his own world that has a medieval feel. There is an added dynamic, in which the world is partitioned based on the deleterious effects of a power-mad wizard. Most people don’t seem to know this save the eight wizards of the Gyre, who go through some incredible changes to keep this secret and to maintain a delicate balance.
I’ll try to keep this from becoming too much of a book report and keep it simple here. The most dominant theme here is that each person fights an intimate battle against evil. Evil is a slippery slope. It starts out as a selfish need or thought that can lead to corruption. Each character in this book fights that battle, and some fight to the depths of their soul against succumbing to evil. It was very painful to see what some of the characters that I grew to love as I read this story went through, how they suffered, and their struggle against the effects of an evil that had worked its way throughout the kingdom. Although this message could seem fatalistic, I don’t take it that way. In fact, there is hope in knowing that we do have a choice. It might not be easy, but we can choose to do what’s right. We might fall, and fail ourselves and others, but that doesn’t mean the war is over. We pick ourselves up again to fight the next battle. So there is always hope, in the end.
I want to thank Mr. Hamerton for the opportunity to read his book. Fantasy is one of my all-time favorite genres, but I am expanding my palate, trying to decide what I like in the various subgenres. So his offer to read his book was definitely one that I wanted to take him up on. Additionally, I like discovering gems in the literary world. Books that don’t get a lot of exposure, but are wonderful reads. This is definitely one of those books. His writing was lovely. There was an ease and a beauty to Mr. Hamerton’s use of language. He showed a poise in his use of language and the writer’s craft. I was completely engaged with this story, even to the point where it hurt physically to read some parts. When the story took a very dark turn, I didn’t despair, because I felt that I could trust Mr. Hamerton to bring to fruition a story that had a shining heart, which was what stood out to me from the beginning, despite some of the very dark elements. To be honest, I felt that this book was scratching the surface as far as potential for further stories, as there were elements that were left unresolved. But, I was satisfied at the progression and the conclusion of this story.
When an author approaches me to review his/her book, I am always crossing my fingers, hoping that I will enjoy the book and give the author some good exposure. After The Riddler’s Gift, I am happy to say that I loved this book, and I would recommend it to fantasy readers. From a layperson’s perspective, I would consider this good quality fantasy, and I doubt that many readers would find much at all to be disappointed about herein. I would guess it would be quite to the contrary, instead. At any rate, I know I enjoyed it immensely, and now I am waiting to read the forthcoming book(s) in this series. ...more
Fast-paced, hard-hitting, and quite disturbing. Connolly pulls no punches with this latest in his very hard-edged magic noir series. I hope that somehFast-paced, hard-hitting, and quite disturbing. Connolly pulls no punches with this latest in his very hard-edged magic noir series. I hope that somehow he is able to continue this series.
Confusing at times, but fantastic. Very gritty and even darker than the first book. Not for the faint of heart, indeed. Ray is my hero, even at his thConfusing at times, but fantastic. Very gritty and even darker than the first book. Not for the faint of heart, indeed. Ray is my hero, even at his thuggiest! I have no qualms against giving this book 4.5/5.0 stars. Reviewed for Bitten by Books: http://bittenbybooks.com....more
It's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroineIt's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroines I've ever read about, both in adult and young adult literature! How much crap can one girl go through? As I listened, I kept thinking how morose this story was. But I had to keep listening. Hoping that Plain Kate would find joy and a place to call home.
This is a novel that shows the destructive effects of prejudice in an interesting way. In this book, anyone who is different or odd has to be a 'witch.' Everyone is so busy blaming everything that goes wrong around them on witches (who are more than anything just anyone who sticks out), they don't even have the sense to go after the real cause of the problem. Even those who are outsiders don't show nearly the amount of tolerance that they should. That makes for a very bitter pill to swallow.
What I loved about this story, what kept me reading was Kate. It was not easy to walk alone, and to keep walking after all she had lost. But she does. And I admire her for that. Also her cat, Taggle. Talking about a scene stealer. I loved him. The author knows cat behavior very well. I would laugh at Taggle's antics and what he would say. He's charmed so that he can talk, but he expresses himself in very much the way I can imagine my cats talking. I definitely give the author brownie points for that.
Although it's never stated, the setting is very Russian. Even the folkore gives this story an indisputible Russian stamp. Russian elements always work for me!
The tone of this story was hard to handle at times. It's very grim in a way. There are spots of brightness and joy like a ray of sunlight shining through a cloudbank. But for the most part, this story has a very downcast feel to it. That sadness that permeated this story grabbed at me. I was glad that Taggle was there for needed comic relief. As an optimist, I looked for evidence of hope for Kate, another thing that kept me reading, even when one event had me sobbing out loud. I mean really crying. I was thinking how much can this one person suffer?
Although definitely the most depressing young adult book I've read in a long time, Plain Kate was a very good book. It's not one of those books that you put down with a smile, though. Instead, you feel a sense of moody reflection. If only to convey how ugly prejudice is, this book succeeds on that point. Substitute any class of people for the 'witches' as the persecuted group and you have a powerful story told in an imaginative way, and the lesson will get transmitted to an audience who I hope will take this lesson very seriously. I think that one should think hard about these issues. Thinking clearly might help a person to see that hatred of others because of their differences is just wrong. And a world that condones that kind of injustice makes for a cold, cruel world for all of us. If I have to read a book that's not so sunny and happy to get that message, I guess that's a good thing in the end....more