I received The Silent Deal as a free e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. (But I was probably going to read it anyway.)
This is a gI received The Silent Deal as a free e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. (But I was probably going to read it anyway.)
This is a great book! The story is well formed - thoughtful, but with no shortage of action and intrigue - and the two main characters, Viktor and Romulus, have depth and believability enough to carry the story on their own, with a few assists from a collectively interesting supporting cast. From the beginning, it is clear that something is not right in the oppressively cold world of rural 19th century Russia. Oppression is the word for it, for everyday life - it is the rule of law - and the most frustrating aspect of this oppression is that nobody is willing to even talk about it. Viktor and Romulus are unwilling to accept this state of affairs, and so undertake to do everything in their power to expose the truth and bring down the evil that has seized control of their town. They are only poor youths, however, and the enemy they face is powerful and cruelly callous. I enjoyed this read immensely, as a fan of historical fiction, folk tales and fantasy, and the ways that all can combine to form a masterful story. My only minor gripe is the shallow construction of some of the second-tier characters, in particular Ulfrik, Demovna, Charlotta and Evenova. In all I really liked this book and will certainly be looking for the next installment....more
A cool book without enough maps. Seriously couldn't show anything east of Valyria? I know there's a big map of the entire known world - I've seen it oA cool book without enough maps. Seriously couldn't show anything east of Valyria? I know there's a big map of the entire known world - I've seen it online - I'm just disappointed that something like it didn't make its way into this book....more
The best way I can sum this up is "meh". It was ok, and for a free book I guess that's about what I could expect. Standard fantasy fare with very littThe best way I can sum this up is "meh". It was ok, and for a free book I guess that's about what I could expect. Standard fantasy fare with very little to distinguish it from everything else it there. And the end is decidedly not a cliffhanger... the story just stops without really giving any reason to read the next book. So I probably won't....more
I enjoyed reading this book; the concept of the doomed Prince was clever and made me want to see how it would be handled. The Prince consistently findI enjoyed reading this book; the concept of the doomed Prince was clever and made me want to see how it would be handled. The Prince consistently finds himself in the most terrible situations, witnessing the deaths of those to whom he is close and often forced to take a hand in those deaths. There must be a reason for this "Doom", but it is never really elucidated in the text, which leads to the idea that it will be covered in further books. In the end, without knowing the why and how, it is tough to even have an inkling of whether or not those further books will be worthwhile. My biggest issue with the story, though, can be summed up in one word: disjointed. Many authors have spans of time pass between chapters, but in this case it often seemed like more could have been filled in to get a better sense of characterization. And even within the chapters, there could have been more devotion to developing characters instead of inventing umpteen new, confusing evil creatures. Despite everything the author threw at the story, I never got fully invested in anyone other than the protagonist's sister, who seems to have a lot more going on than meets the eye - and even she was given too short shrift for me to be overly eager for the continuation of her tale. In all, a good book, but I don't know if I will be rushing out to get the next one....more
A good book. The illustrations were neat, although not all entirely accurate as the scenes are written, helping with scenes and characterizations wherA good book. The illustrations were neat, although not all entirely accurate as the scenes are written, helping with scenes and characterizations where the descriptions fell short. It just seemed like I never fully got invested in any of the characters, and the ending was less of a cliffhanger than just an unnecessary break in what could have been a fully developed story....more
A really good book. Focuses on two disparate main characters, but they are kept separate enough that there is no confusion. I enjoyed this read immensA really good book. Focuses on two disparate main characters, but they are kept separate enough that there is no confusion. I enjoyed this read immensely....more
This was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and I can see why his work comes so highly recommended. His command of language - word choice, imageryThis was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and I can see why his work comes so highly recommended. His command of language - word choice, imagery and pacing - underlies an artistry all too rare in modern literature. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fairy tale, nearly timeless and just as dark as anything from the Brothers Grimm, but with a human sentimentality that gives depth to every character and every setting. The unnamed narrator is a middle-aged man who returns home for a funeral, only to find himself drawn irresistibly back toward a dark period of his childhood - one that he barely remembers until he makes his way to an old farmhouse, the home of the three most important women he will ever know. The tale he remembers is twisted with ancient fantasy as violent as it is sensuous, one in which he becomes entwined with sacred earth-magic and his life and soul come under attack from an evil force that nearly tears the entire world apart. Nostalgic and haunting, this book is a perfectly short read for anyone who ever hearkened back to a not-so-perfect childhood and got the feeling that there may indeed have been monsters in the closet. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads....more
Seriously good. Even though the mythology is familiar, it foes not come off as an overtly Christian book. The characters are very believable, especialSeriously good. Even though the mythology is familiar, it foes not come off as an overtly Christian book. The characters are very believable, especially the main character, whose struggles with alcoholism are quite the interesting departure for a fantasy protagonist. Definitely look forward to the next books....more
A tumultuous ride through a grim, harsh world. The gunslinger himself is a gritty, tortured soul who is driven across the wasteland that is left of hiA tumultuous ride through a grim, harsh world. The gunslinger himself is a gritty, tortured soul who is driven across the wasteland that is left of his world in pursuit of a mysterious man in black. Much of the backstory remains unknown to the reader(and, it seems at times, the author); this leaves meat on the bone for the rest of the series, but makes everything feel disjointed and underthought. Which brings me to my main gripe with this book: I read the original, un-re-edited version of the novel, not knowing that this was an important distinction, only to discover online that Mr. King has since done heavy revisions. Now, normally I wouldn't begrudge an author the chance to smooth-out some edges, tighten things up, even throw in some extra foreshadowing. But this is a completely different story - events have changed, motivations have changed and even a character's secret identity has changed. (view spoiler)[In the original, there is no mention of the number 19, Alice is never cursed by madness, and she is shot (while she screams for Roland not to shoot) quickly and callously while Sheb uses her as a human shield. And the man in black is not Marten, in the original, just a priest who used to know them both - He brought Marten's body to Roland, years ago. (hide spoiler)]I was thrown off when I discovered these discrepancies, and it only served to enhance the unfinished aura around the story. Hopefully there will be enough catch-up at the beginning of the next book, so I can get the story straight as it is now. ["br"]>...more
This is an excellent rendition of what I call "Dude Fiction". Criminals and seedy underworlds, seen through the eyes of a hard-nosed detective with aThis is an excellent rendition of what I call "Dude Fiction". Criminals and seedy underworlds, seen through the eyes of a hard-nosed detective with a troubled past. And on top of that you get swords and horses, magic and castles, damsels in distress and the occasional smart-aleck comment. Perfect for the red-blooded guy who likes his noir with a healthy dose of swashbuckling fantasy.
I have read comments decrying the shallowness of the female characters, but I cannot figure out what these readers were expecting. In truth, if you are looking for strong women, or even a bit of equality of presentation, then this is certainly not the book for you. But I would argue that this book is set up purely as a male fantasy, in much the way that many "Chick Lit" books feature male characters who are drawn no more deeply. Women objectify differently in their fantasies than men do, but they objectify just as badly, so there is no reason to get up in arms over a guy writing a book for guys about a guy doing guy things. You mean to say that a cocky, self-proclaimed sword-jockey/private investigator in the prime of his life with relatively loose morals might find women, in general, as objects of sexual desire? Say it ain't so! The shame! Yes, most of the females are either helpless or disfigured, and all are treated badly, but so are most of the men and children and animals as well. This is not a soft and pretty world that Bledsoe has created, and that fact lies at the heart of the fantasy.
Is it as deep and far-reaching as Tolkien, Jordan, Martin or the like? No, but it does not aim to be and should not be judged as such. Eddie Lacrosse is fun to read about, and is more than able to carry the book and apparently an entire series. I will definitely check out the rest of the books.
I received my copy of this book for free through Goodreads First-Reads. Thanks....more
A Touch of Magic is a good story about a boy learning to use magic in a land where magic is an outlawed, executable offense. Brought up to fear and loA Touch of Magic is a good story about a boy learning to use magic in a land where magic is an outlawed, executable offense. Brought up to fear and loathe magic, Randall is surprised and confused to feel the touch of something beyond his world while he is fighting at his small town's apprenticeship fair. Shortly thereafter, he is approached by a man who claims to be a sorcerer and says that he wants to take him as an apprentice. The last thing that Randall wants is to follow a madman in his seditious criminal pursuits, but the man bribes Randall's father and the matter is settled. For his part, though he resists this change in his life, Randall cannot quell his sense of intrigue surrounding the sorcerer's magic, and he wants to know more about it. At the sorcerer's isolated home, Randall works hard and applies himself, maturing physically and developing a knack for several forms of magic. But everything falls apart when Randall returns home with the sorceror and finds trouble waiting.
What follows are a series of adventures, through which Randall finds out more about himself and his abilities than he had ever expected, and on which he meets an interesting and amusing cast of characters who aid, use and abuse him on his way. And just when Randall finds the will and means to escape, honor and vengeance turn his head back toward home.
The magic system is well thought out, and the idea of its illegality is very thought provoking. Randall himself is a well-developed character, starting small and myopic and growing in both stature and awareness. He makes realistic decisions and finds himself in situations that are believable in his world.
The other characters, unfortunately, and Randall's world itself, are very shallowly drawn. There are nuggets of interesting quirks, nothing explored enough to leave an impression. (view spoiler)[Randall never gets more than a few dozen miles from home, it seems, never seeing more than a tiny slice of his country, which is only one of many in his world. I was especially bothered by the impish donnen. I didn't get the point of his existence, other than as a convenient plot expedient. Nothing was explained about him and I am left with nothing but questions. What exactly is a donnen? Why did he follow Randall? Was he the sorceror resurrected? Are these questions for a sequel? Is there a sequel? In the end, I must repeat that I just didn't get it. (hide spoiler)] However, each at least serves the purpose of spurring Randall on to his next breakthrough or achievement.
A nice book; suitable for any age and anyone interested in a quick and thoughtful fantasy read.
I received my copy of this book for free through Goodreads First-Reads. Thanks.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This came highly recommended, but it took a good third of the book before I began to realize why. The beginning is quite monotonous and repetetive, esThis came highly recommended, but it took a good third of the book before I began to realize why. The beginning is quite monotonous and repetetive, especially with heavy-handed foreshadowing, where the constant intrigue has very little action to back it up. The main piece of action doesn't even happen on-stage, but rather is recounted by the characters. However, when the story gets rolling, the intrigue finally comes into focus, and the real action begins. All I can say is stick it out and it will eventually be worth the effort....more
This is a well-intentioned book that starts off with a great premise, but loses itself by the time it's halfway over. A man finds himself on the hillsThis is a well-intentioned book that starts off with a great premise, but loses itself by the time it's halfway over. A man finds himself on the hills outside of a major city at the edge of the known world, with no memories of anything except his own name. Whomever he is, his innate charisma and physical skill gain him friends and eventual employment with a traveling juggling troupe. His dreams are haunted by images which seem to point both toward his unknown past and toward a dire and perilous future. And when his friends begin having the same dreams, life gets very strange.
This part of the book was fun to read, with enough action to supplement the excellent world- and character-building, and I was really beginning to get into the story. But everything after the Isle of Sleep seems contrived and all-too-easy. The characters stagnate and even the action is basically fore-ordained. (view spoiler)[From the voyage to the overland trek, at this point Valentine can do no wrong, even as he lies to the 'gatekeepers' in Labyrinth. Did anybody really think, after so many pages spent getting to the heart of that maze, that the Pontifex was going to say 'no'? All Valentine has to do is one of his new-found sending things and everybody is putty in his hands, so there seems to be no question of his eventual success. Of course each town falls to him without bloodshed, of course he manages to basically bull-rush his way into his castle with a smaller, less-trained army, and of course he defeats his nemesis simply by being there. Really? (hide spoiler)] All that is missing is the 'happily ever after'. It left me disappointed and wanting more tension, or at least a small sense that one of the main characters' lives might possibly be in some sort of danger.
This is why the book slid to 3 stars - a nice dive, but serious deductions on the landing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more