“JCS keeps improving with every novel he writes. This is an example of why you shouldn’t dismiss self-publishing – it can provide some great novels, s...more“JCS keeps improving with every novel he writes. This is an example of why you shouldn’t dismiss self-publishing – it can provide some great novels, such as this one.” ~The Founding Fields
There’s badass, and then there’s Adam Caine. Seriously. Adam Caine is probably among my top 10 most badass fictional characters that I’ve read, among the ranks of Judge Dredd, and more. Ghosts of Earth was a welcome return to the universe of the Nineteen Galaxies, and I will be very interested in reading future books, particularly if they keep improving like this one has been. It’s got everything a military-sci-fi fan could want, influenced by the likes of Dan Abnett and the rest of Black Library among others, Ghosts of Earth is a great piece of fiction that I really enjoyed.
"The Core are conquerors, wiping out worlds and civilisations without hesitation on their path to victory. For twenty years, they have been preparing the way for their hordes of warriors; manipulating others to do their dirty work.
Many are willing to bow to them, or treat with them.
But there are a brave few that will stand in their way.
Can Adam Caine and his trusted allies stand and fight? Or will they be lost in the coming conflict?"
Like The Legend of Adam Caine, size is something that you have to get used to with this book. It’s huge. Although not as big as its predecessor, it’s still quite a large book, and like I discovered, it’s certainly not going to be any light reading particularly with its many interlinked plots, characters and themes that allow for a complex and enthralling read. It picks up ten years after the events of the first novel and expands events from the epilogue, expanding the world that we were first introduced to in the novel to even greater levels, and keeps us entertained right the way through.
The world building is great – JSC really manages to help us understand the universe that we’re in and manages to do so in a way that doesn’t involve excessive info-dumping. It’s fast paced, and the action is well written with mostly mature prose that has improved from The Legend of Adam Caine a lot. JSC makes sure that the tension is consistently high, and there’s never a dull moment.
Whenever you pick up a book by an author who you’ve never heard of, you don’t really know what to expect when you go into it. Is it going to be a good read? Is it going to be a bad one? With Eric Brown though, I’ve heard a lot about him and his work before, and most of it good. The author is prolific, with fifteen novels already published (not including children’s books), and has also been a reviewer and an editor. I’ve been interested in picking up Brown’s novels for a while now, but I finally decided to take the plunge with the standalone novel Guardians of the Phoenix.
The main character of Guardians of the Phoenix is Paul, and when we kick off this novel, we see him as a youngster living with an old lady in what was once Paris, where we meet him struggling to survive in an age where mankind as a whole is also struggling. Brown writes a grim, dark outlook on humanity’s future and although the author doesn’t go into more detail about what happened during the Great Breakdown, its lasting effects are clear. This is a world that nobody would want to live in given the choice.
I came to Guardians of the Phoenix with perhaps greater expectations than I should have had, as I was ultimately disappointed by the novel. Guardians of the Phoenix didn’t really grab me and draw me in as much as I wanted it to. It’s predictable, with a simple plot, the main character is uninteresting, and the storyline just failed to grab me. I even had to put it down at one point – although that was partly due to a much more appealing book turning up on my doorstep while I was reading this novel. (James Swallow’s Fear to Tread, in case you’re interested.)
The pace is fast, sure, and Brown includes a lot of cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter to keep you reading, sending the reader on a bit of a roller-coaster ride throughout the course of the novel. The author has also included some great descriptions of the deserted European world, which is one of the book’s redeeming features.
However, for every good point, there seems to be a bad one. A plot hole which kept bugging me throughout this novel is the poor explanation that the author gave for how the entire world’s water dried up – it didn’t really quite feel believable, which was a shame as this is one of the core aspects of Guardians of the Phoenix’s plot.
But Guardians of the Phoenix isn’t a complete waste of time – if it was, I would never have finished it. It’s a coming of age tale that has an interesting start, and Paul (whilst uninteresting), does develop over the course of the novel. And If you’re someone who struggles to keep up with a novel that contains loads of characters, then you should have no problem with Guardians of the Phoenix as it switches between a small cast of heroes and villains to keep the pace fast and give you different viewpoints of the overall storyline.
The novel itself is also action packed, and there are plenty of encounters that ensure that there is always something going on, no matter if is the first or the last page, which is one of the few things that kept me reading.
Overall, Guardians of the Phoenix is a mixed read that unfortunately will leave the reader disappointed, and one that I felt could have really benefited from being longer, which would have allowed the author to perhaps sort out the plot-hole and make the characters more believable and interesting.
However, I am willing to give another Eric Brown novel a try though, as I’ve heard his other novels are a lot better than this one. Are there any Eric Brown fans out there who want to recommend a novel to me that’s better than this one? (less)