“A stunning conclusion to the Broken Empire Trilogy. Easily one of the best books of 2013 – and a book that’s well worth the wait.” ~The Founding Fields
If I had to make a most anticipated list of Novels coming out this year, Emperor of Thorns would be in the Top 5, there’s no question about it. Mark Lawrence really impressed me with the first two books in the trilogy, both of which I own in hardback – so that I knew that Emperor of Thorns was always going to be a release day-buy for me. This will explain why I was so happy when I was able to get an Advanced Review Copy, so I’d like to start this review with a massive thank you to the kind folks over at Harper Voyager, and the author himself, so we could work something out. And does the book live up to my expectations? Oh, hell yes. It’s easily one of the best novels of the year, and with a year of some excellent books and we’re just over halfway through, that’s certainly saying something.
"To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.
The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart."
This is it, then. The last adventures of Jorg. Whilst I’m somewhat sad that there won’t be any more Broken Empire novels, as noted by the author himself, prequels or otherwise, it’s probably best that it ends at Book 3 rather than becoming an over-bloated series that readers quickly start to lose interest in the longer it goes. However, there is also the danger of a fantasy trilogy ending ‘too soon’ if you get what I mean. But thankfully, Lawrence brings it all to the table with a satisfying conclusion (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it), that really brings an end to this epic tale that will most surely be among the best fantasy works that I’ll read. I loved this trilogy, and I think with each instalment, it just gets better and better.
Emperor of ThornsJorg’s character growth is incredible. He’s a rather unique main character for a story, often coming across as more of a downright villain than an anti-hero, and indeed – written by almost any other author, he would be. But the character himself is still as awesome as ever, and if you’ve enjoyed the last two books – then that’s what you should come to expect. It’s a strong, epic conclusion to the trilogy that really pulls out all the punches, where nobody is safe – and as we’re now all used to the major game players involved, Lawrence can waste no time with setting up future events (of course, no time was wasted setting up future events in the previous books as well), and instead create a compelling story that will draw the reader in, and not let up with the breakneck pace that this book moves along at.
The author’s characters are well created, complex and far from the standard one-dimensional ones that litter poor novels. You’re not going to forget any of them in a hurry, and neither are you to forget The Broken Empire Trilogy anytime soon. It’s immense. Unpredictable. Captivating. A fitting conclusion. However you want to put it, the last adventure of Jorg of Ancrath is his best outing yet. Over the course of the trilogy, Lawrence has made himself a name to watch in fantasy, up there with the likes of Peter V. Brett, Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie & George RR Martin. I can’t wait to see what he throws at the reader next, but it’s one that I’ll certainly be on board for.
THE BROKEN EMPIRE TRILOGY: Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, Emperor of Thorns (less)
“An awesome debut, if you’ve enjoyed the likes of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie - Promise of Blood is a book that you’ll want to get on board for. Unputdownable.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
"The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.
It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king… Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.
It’s up to a few… Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.
But when gods are involved… Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…"
I think if I were to do an award for debut novel of the year, then there’s no question about it – The first book in the Powder Mage Trilogy from Brian McClellan will almost certainly be up in the Top 5. It’s stunning, well crafted, compelling and engaging, with some well written scenes throughout the whole novel with a powerfully built world allowing to enhance the story and create a greater impact on the reader.
Whilst some may dismiss the opening of yet another fantasy trilogy, especially with all the previous trilogies that have come before The Powder Mage, - The First Law Trilogy (Initial three books) by Joe Abercrombie, The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks, and thousands of more fantasy trilogies out there right the way through The Lord of the Rings and beyond – there comes a point where the reader starts to wonder if fantasy has anything new, fresh and exciting to throw at the reader. And I will respond to that question with a firm yes. There’s always going to be new fantasy titles on the market, and Promise of Blood is among the best of the new debuts that I’ve read since my introduction to the fantasy genre, not just in 2013.
The book itself is fairly dark, certainly darker than Brandon Sanderson’s, but it never quite reaches either Abercrombie or Martin levels of grittiness. This is an excellent debut that manages to draw several different things across from a variety of genres – for example, there’s guns and technology here as well as magic. In that category, it very much falls in with the same sort of style of novels as Brent Week’s second series, The Lightbringer, and even to a certain extent the Warhammer Fantasy tie-in novels published by Black Library. Regardless of that however, – you will find yourself hooked in right from the start, and find yourself unable to put the book down as you are dragged on a fantastic adventure that will leave you begging for the next installment in the series, particularly when it comes to the awesome conclusion.
Promise of Blood is an epic read, and it’s one that starts of strong and gets better as the story progresses. The more you find yourself engaged in the narrative, the less you find yourself able to put it down. The world, the magic and everything is very firmly established and there is little room for anything that feels like it could be a “deus ex machina” moment. The characters are strong as well, adding another strength to an already impressive load of them, for the book’s characters are varied, diverse, creative and are, like all the best fantasy novels, flawed. They each have struggles that they must overcome, and the world itself is also quite different to the standard fantasy fare – having the feeling of perhaps a revolutionary France, especially when the King gets booted off the throne in the very beginning of the story, providing a great momentum for things to come.
It’s a complex and compelling debut, and although may not be as good as Abercrombie or Weeks, it’s very, very close. I think the only major flaw here is that the characters aren’t as memorable and engaging as the fantasy favourites – Kylar Stern, Logen Ninefingers etc, but Tamas, Taniel and Adamat are among the better crafted fantasy characters that a reader can be entertained by, and as a result – the book itself still manages to be a very strong read. There’s just one minor flaw that I’ve found that barely detracted anything from the reading experience.
“An excellent collection that gives a great exploration of how varied Urban Fantasy can be, bringing some great stories to the pipeline with some stellar contributions across all areas. Certainly worth checking out, particularly if you’re a fan of the subgenre.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
Rev – Kirk Dougal | I’m an Animal. You’re an Animal, Too – Zachary Jernigan | Los Lagos Heat – Karina Fabian | Savage Rise – Adam Millard | Front Lines, Big City – Timothy Baker | Break Free – Ryan Lawler | Naked the Night Sings – Teresa Frohock | Double Date – Andrew Moczulski | That Old Tree – R.L. Treadway | Dharmasankat – Abhinav Jain | Nephilim – TSP Sweeney | Toejam & Shrapnel – Nickolas Sharps | Green Grow the Rashes – William Meikle | Under the Dragon Moon – Jonathan Pine | Gold Dust Woman – Kenny Soward | Wizard’s Run – Joshua S. Hill |Chains of Gray – Betsy Dornbusch | Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic LA – Jake Elliot | Queen’s Blood – Lincoln Crisler | Beneath a Scalding Moon – Jeff Salyards | Separation Anxiety – J.M. Martin | Blessing and Damnation – Wilson Geiger | Jesse Shimmer Goes to Hell – Lucy A. Snyder
"From angels to vampires, dragons to wizards, Manifesto brings together twenty-three stories full of action, snark, and unadulterated badassery.
Featuring stories from Lucy A. Snyder, Jeff Salyards, William Meikle, Teresa Frohock, Zachary Jernigan, Betsy Dornbusch, and more.
The time has come to make a statement, to define a genre. This is our manifesto. "
Well, Manifesto UF. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy stories, then this collection will be right up your street. With plenty of established authors up there contributing to the anthology such as Zachary Jernigan, whose novel No Return I have read and enjoyed and Teresea Frohock, the writer behind Miserere, whose work I have sadly not got around to reading yet, and even Jeff Salyards – another established author whose work I need to read at some point. Another thing to note here is that the anthology also features the first published short story of fellow Founding Fields review Abhinav, (Shadowhawk), with one of the more unique and interestingly themed-short stories of the collection – entitled Dharmasankat, you can’t really afford to miss this. Normally when I read anthologies I tend to find at least one or two that I don’t like, and whilst they may not have been the most memorable of short stories ever – Manifesto UF proved to be a first for me, in which I enjoyed everything that the anthology had to offer.
Manifesto UFAs I haven’t read that many anthologies lately aside from American Vampire Anthology #1 from Vertigo Comics, this means that I haven’t really had the chance to adjust to the short story format for a while, having read a lot of full novels recently, the closest prose-wise I’ve come to a short story being the serialised reviews of Scars by Chris Wraight each week (look out for a review of Part 7 on Saturday), so as expected it was a refreshing change for me. I don’t know about you but I also don’t normally tend to read anthologies all at once – often I tend to break up the stories so the change in narrative and setting doesn’t really bother me that much. However, most of the short stories tend to flow pretty smoothly together, allowing for a very interesting collection of themed stories that urban fantasy fans shouldn’t pass up on.
Opening with a story simply titled Rev, by Kirk Dougal, the first line “I remember the first time I died”, allows for a very interesting opening hook and I was suckered in from the start. It’s a powerful opener that sets the tone to the stories to come, and delivers a very strong read. Strong highlights as expected include Zachary Jernigan’s I’m an Animal, You’re an Animal Too and Teresa Frohock’s Naked the Night Sings, and whilst the temptation to jump to these stories by familiar authors might be there, it’s better to read the entire collection in the way it was intended as there are really some hidden gems inside, such as Nickolas Sharps’ Toejam & Shrapnel, which is another strong instalment. I also really enjoyed Abhinav’s entry as well – as with an different setting to a vast majority of the other entries, Dharmasankat proved to be a lot of fun to read. Something else that was a standout was Savage Rise from Adam Millard, bringing a slightly darker take on the urban fantasy setting that proves to be a lot of fun.
Tim Marquitz is the editor behind this one, who also brought Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous last year. Judging by the high quality standards provided in this short story, I’ll certainly be sticking around for anything else that Marquitz puts out next year, if he continues to follow the trend of releasing an anthology with multiple authors inside for 2014. This time he’s also had the help of Tyson Mauermann, and with them – come 23 short stories that are really worth your time.
Recommended if you’re an urban fantasy fan looking for a varied take on what the genre has to offer. Certainly one of the most solid collections of anthologies that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and really worth your time.
“There are some series that I wish could go on forever, and The Expanse is one that fulfils that category. James SA Corey delivers another stunning entry with Abaddon’s Gate, and therefore Book Four cannot come fast enough.” ~The Founding Fields
James SA Corey is the penname of Daniel Abraham & Ty Frank, for those people who do not already know – if you’ve been following the series or at least have read the first volume, then you’ll know this by now. Daniel Abraham it seems can turn everything he touches into awesomeness – I’ve really enjoyed his The Dagger and the Coin epic fantasy series, whilst his urban fantasy Unclean Spirits under the penname of MLN Hanover has made me want to read more of that series, although I have not picked it up in a while, which is something that I really need to get around to.
"For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure outside the orbit of Uranus: a gate that leads into a starless dark.
Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them."
We’re back with the crew of the Rocinante, and it’s very interesting to see how the main cast develop over this instalment, with Jim Holden, Naomi and Amos being the main crew memebers, but there’s also strong showing from other returning characters too. Newcomers, such as Bull, Melba and Anna, also present an interesting, fresh look in the series, and we’re starting to understand for the first time for why this series is called The Expanse. It’s big. There are several characters alongside those already mentioned and the book rarely stays from the POV of most characters for long, which can be jarring for readers who favour one character over the other, but Corey has managed to make each viewpoint enjoyable and there wasn’t a dull one. Another point in favour of the Expanse goes to the Space Opera setting itself, it allows the reader to explore a wide variety of concepts and setting so that we never feel like Abaddon’s Gate is simply just a re-hash of Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War, with Corey coming up with new ideas to bring to the table.
Middle novels in series can be sometimes of a chore to get through. All too often, they are spent setting up the final act, continuing on from the first, and not much really happens. Not so with Abaddon’s Gate, it’s page-turning action all the way through – and even this novel brings a certain sense of conclusion to the book, as the series was originally planned as a trilogy before being extended. I haven’t been finishing novels as quickly as I would like to lately, mainly due to exams (which are now out of the way), but Abaddon’s Gate was one novel that I have been waiting for since Caliban’s War and exam the next day or not, I could not resist staying up slightly later than normal to get as much reading done. So, if I did fail my exam – I blame James SA Corey for crafting such an impressive and mind-blowingly awesome novel.
Seriously. This series has to be among the best of the Space Opera at the moment, up there with the likes of Iain M. Banks & Alastair Reynolds. Corey’s novels keep getting better and better. Whilst I’m no expert in politics, everything seems pretty realistic here, with humanity not being presented as a unified force, which is the problem that I have with such things in other media, Independence Day and Halo being two notable examples, it seems as though we’re never going to put aside our differences at any point. Not even for a big massive alien invasion.
Another thing that I love about this series is the lack of Hyperspace Travel/Warp Drives etc. This is a series not set 40,000 years into the future like the novels of Black Library, and it’s a little closer to home. Technology is still developing, and there isn’t a massive influx of alien races in Star Wars. Fans will be pleased to know that there’s no change here, and Corey continues so that Abaddon’s Gate is still recognisably part of the same series, although it probably isn’t the best jumping on point for newcomers – you’re better off just playing catchup. Whilst it may not be the cheapest option, it’ll certainly be the most rewarding one.
Fans of the series will not need any convincing to buy this book – but I’m going to give this book my strongest recommendation anyway, as it currently stands a contender for one of the best novels of 2013 so far. Count me on board for Book #4 for certain.
“Mark Lawrence follows up to Prince of Thorns with a cracking, compelling, unpredictable sequel that succeeds in almost every way. My new favourite Fa...more“Mark Lawrence follows up to Prince of Thorns with a cracking, compelling, unpredictable sequel that succeeds in almost every way. My new favourite Fantasy novel of 2012.” ~The Founding Fields
You know in my review of The Blinding Knife, I mentioned that I’d found a favourite fantasy of novel of 2012? Well, as it happens, the very next fantasy novel that I read beats a Brent Weeks novel. Something that I’d never thought possible unless the name of that author was George RR Martin, Peter V. Brett or Brandon Sanderson, (I would put Abercrombie in there as well, but I’ve only read the first First Law novel). Lawrence produced an awesome trilogy opener with Prince of Thorns, which I didn’t get around to reviewing (But I loved it nonetheless), and has now followed that up with a dramatic, enthralling and captivating sequel that you will be unable to put down. Mark Lawrence has made it two out of two, and he’s jumped to the top of my favourite fantasy authors list (along with the aforementioned Martin, Sanderson, etc).
"The land burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings fight for the Broken Empire. The long road to avenge the slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the board. First though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and discover how to break them.
A six nation army, twenty thousand strong, marches toward Jorg’s gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds. Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. But King Jorg is not a good king.
Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. But playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game plan."
In any other book, Jorg would be the bad guy. Some of the acts that he commits in Prince of Thorns were enough to put some readers off, as he’s far from the normal “Knight in Shining Armour” that you see in your average fantasy novel. Jorg is flawed, but despite the issues with his character, Lawrence has somehow managed to weave a compelling narrative that will actually leave you wanting Jorg to emerge victorious. You want to follow him, no matter what he’s done. He’s developed as a character over the course of the two books so far, and it will be interesting to see how he changes in the third book.
King of Thorns takes place four years after the ending of Prince. It’s clear that Jorg is older now, but nonetheless still in his teens. He’s not perfect. He will make mistakes. This allows the novel to be more believable, and Lawrence writes a gritty, dark world that readers of George RR Martin will be familiar with. Nobody is safe, and anybody can die. There are no cliches here folks, and King of Thorns provides a very unpredictable read.
“An excellent second act in the Riyria Chronicles. Michael J. Sullivan’s The Rose and the Thorn manages to be even better than The Crown Tower, making this book, and the duology – one of my favourite reads of 2013.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
As soon as I finished The Crown Tower I knew I had to get into the second instalment sooner or later, and thanks to NetGalley, I didn’t have to wait, even if I did end up taking a break in the middle to read a different novel, after all – I didn’t want this series to be over too soon. Fans of the first book, or readers of The Riyria Revelations waiting to see if both novels are strong before delving in will be pleased to know that The Rose and the Thorn is just as excellent as The Crown Tower, and I don’t think Michael J. Sullivan has written a bad book yet with this spectacular second outing (story-wise, not publication wise – this is now their seventh novel) for Royce and Hadrian, allowing for a stunning conclusion that not only wraps things up very well, but leaves readers eagerly wanting to read The Riyria Revelations, whether they have or haven’t already read it. Even though I’ve read all of them, that ending really wanted me to embark on a re-read, especially as it wraps things up nicely, really setting the stage for Theft of Swords.
"TWO THIEVES WANT ANSWERS. RIYRIA IS BORN.
For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception — Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn’t realize is what the two are capable of — but she’s about to find out.
The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords(publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order)."
The characters have always been one of the high-points of this series for me and the main focus of Royce, Hadrian and to a certain extent Gwen DeLancy works wonders for the book, with some great character development that takes the characters from their early days in The Crown Tower to Theft of Swords, and actually proves that this is one of the rare cases where prequels written after the main series actually work. Whilst the first book may have focused on the origin of Royce and Hadrian’s partnership, this fleshes it out a bit more, really developing the key figures that continue to grow as characters over the course of the main Riyria Revelations series.
The Rose and the ThornThe Rose and the Thorn deals with a lot of characters introduced in this sequel that weren’t given as much page time in the first that might prove a bit daunting to readers who have not read the main series, but Sullivan allows for an interesting split on the focus between all of them, to the point where you never feel like there’s too much or too little of one character. The fleshing out of the characters and seeing their origins before the main series really is pulled of superbly, and I think that all people who want to write prequels for their main series could learn something from The Riyria Chronicles, as both novels in this duology are executed with very minimal flaws and easily provide the reader with some of the best fantasy works to hit shelves this year. The Rose and the Thorn will be in the upper half of my Top 25 novels of 2013 for certain, as not only is it a great tale on its own, but it also manages to beat The Crown Tower.
I was slightly surprised at just how different The Rose and the Thorn was from The Crown Tower. More world-building is on display here, but the book still manages to move along at a very fast pace after an initial slow start, where we find ourselves introduced to a completely new character, Reuben Hilfred – whose story seemingly follows a separate thread from the main events until later on in the book when you start to see things coming together, and his tale is an interesting break from the main event of Royce and Hadrian. The plot is strong and consistent throughout, and despite the fact that this may be a prequel, there are several twists and turns that you won’t be able to see coming even if you’re familiar with the Riyria Revelations.
The richness of the setting is great, as is the content of the overall storyline and The Rose and the Thorn proves to be a stunningly executed sequel that as I’ve already stated, resides among the best work that I’ve read all year so far. People who have read book one but not the Riyria Revelations should enjoy it as equally as those who are reading this in chronological order. Let me know if you’re reading this novel without knowledge of what happens in the main series – I’d love to hear if you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have – as so far, I’ve only heard perspectives from readers who have read the Ryria Revelations and your reaction to this as a newcomer would be pretty interesting.
THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES: The Crown Tower, The Rose and the Thorn (less)
“An epic conclusion that reinforces the fact that Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite fantasy authors out there. Jaw-dropping stuff.” ~The Foundi...more“An epic conclusion that reinforces the fact that Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite fantasy authors out there. Jaw-dropping stuff.” ~The Founding Fields
Do not read this review unless you have read the first two novels in the Trilogy, The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension, as there are spoilers for the previous books in this series.
And so it ends. Three books, a lot of reading and a lot of catching up later, Brandon Sanderson’s finale to the first three Mistborn novels and the conclusion of Vin and Elend’s story arc - The Hero of Ages ends with a bang rather than a whimper, and proves why he’s one of the best living fantasy authors alongside George RR Martin and Joe Abercrombie. It’s not often that you read a book with more than 500 pages that you find yourself struggling to put down.
"Who is the Hero of Ages?
To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness—the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists—is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.
Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans!"
I couldn’t put this novel down. I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy novels this year including the entirety of the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and I can safely say that The Hero of Ages is easily among my top 5, due to several reasons. The level of world building and depth that Sanderson puts into this series is a very enjoyable one, and you can tell that he hasn’t made this ending up on the spot. This was planned, and I am really glad to see that Sanderson’s conclusion has met the promise set by the last two books, and given us a series that I’m not likely to forget in a while. And it’s not even over yet. Well, the adventures of Vin and Elend are. We won’t be seeing anymore of them especially after the titanic conclusion that will leave the reader breathless, but a new story by Sanderson set in the future of the Mistborn world, The Alloy of Law, is a novel that I set an aim to myself to read before the end of this year, but now – I don’t really want to.
“A well-researched, well-developed book – The Thousand Names manages to impress a lot. Count me in for Book 2.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
“Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.
To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.
The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.”
I don’t get to read and review enough military fantasy outside of the Warhammer Fantasy Universe and The Thousand Names came as a welcome treat for me, especially as it’s a subgenre that I really enjoy. The book has been receiving high praise for quite some time now, and the book seemed like right up my street, as the start of a series by newcomer Django Wexler. When this book came up on NetGalley I leapt at the chance to request it, and got stuck right in. Here’s what I thought:
To kick things off, let’s look at the main characters who (apart from Janus) share the third person narrative. At first, they might seem like traditional fantasy stereotypes – the honour-bound tough guy Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, the woman-disguising-as-a-man cliché in Winter Ihernglass, and the ambitious and enigmatic Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. With the description I’ve just given you, take away the names and they could be anyone that you’ve seen before in any other fantasy book. However, what Django Wexler does well is that he really fleshes out the characters, making them memorable, flawed, likeable and very interesting to read about. The book has to deal with character development, world building, plot movement and pacing at the same time and it manages to get the characters spot on, handling the clichés so well that they would become clichés if they were written by someone else less talented. And it’s not just the characters that are handled well, either.
The world building on view here is fascinating, but I did have a minor issue with how Wexler handled it, but let’s get the positives out of the way first. The world of Khander is a desert-setting and something that readers don’t often see in fantasy novels nowadays, and could easily be comparable to a Middle-Eastern country a four or five centuries ago if you were looking for an example. The military theme of the book is really enhanced by strong, in-depth research allowing for an interesting background where you’re not thrown off by elements that feel out of place for the setting. And another thing, the setting actually plays a part in the book. I’ve read some books where the setting never seems to slow the characters down, and they never really take into account any of its hazards or how it affects them. This book doesn’t fall into that category, you’ll be pleased to hear – the setting plays an active role in the book as the characters have to deal with the desert terrain which becomes a problem quite often. The culture is explored in some depth here too, but (here comes a problem that I had with the book) we never really get to see the ‘other side’ if you will – aside from a few minor POV sequences that could have been fleshed out a lot better to the point where we could have even had a major character POV. However, All major POVs (think Marcus and Winter) are from the characters on one side of the war, and we never really learn a lot of the other side. Sure, this would have probably hampered the pace and meant more pages, but I’m hoping that Wexler can explore this in future novels.
The book itself moves along at a fairly solid pace, even if it does take a while to get going. I know I talked in the above paragraph about adding stuff into the book, but Wexler probably should have taken a few things out in order to trim it down a bit. If we’d have got straight into the good rather than the build-up, this book could have saved quite a number of pages. And of course, with the decision to use clichés, there are a few predictable outcomes that prevent this novel reaching amazing status. However, that doesn’t stop it from being very, very good – and despite its flaws, I enjoyed The Thousand Names a lot, and I can’t wait to see where Wexler takes the reader with future books. The Shadow Campaigns series is certainly something to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing where Wexler can take us with book two, which I will certainly be on board for.
“This is how prequels should be done. Smart, clever – engaging, The Crown Tower is a stellar return to the world of Riyria, accessible for newcomers and veterans of the series alike – one of the strongest novels of the year so far.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
When the news regarding The Riyria Chronicles prequels broke, I was somewhat torn on the decision. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Riyria Revelations novels, the original six-book series by Michael J. Sullivan collected as three impressive omnibuses, delivering us some fantastic lead characters of Royce and Hadrian – but a part of me was somewhat cautious about this before I jumped in reading. Would we be looking at another Phantom Menace, or would we start to get tired of the characters? Or a little bit of both? As it turned out though, I shouldn’t have worried. Michael J. Sullivan’s The Crown Tower opens The Riyria Chronicles in an amazing way – full of confidence, and sets up the opening act of this duology wonderfully well, making this novel as good as the original series, if not more.
"TWO MEN WHO HATE EACH OTHER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE MISSION. A LEGEND IN THE MAKING.
A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.
The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords(publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order)."
The Crown Tower, for all of those who are unaware, tells the first meeting of Hadrian and Royce. They weren’t always Riyria after all, and this novel explores how the two characters met and what circumstances drew them together in a smart, entertaining way, with plenty of interesting things uncovered throughout this novel – made even more interesting when you consider that this isn’t just Hadrian and Royce’s origin too – we get appearances from the rest of the main cast in the Riyria Revelations, such as Gwen – to name just one, allowing for an interesting look into these characters, particularly when those who have read the future books will know exactly how they’re going to develop as the book goes on.
crowntower-2-5And that’s, to an extent – the major problem that I had with The Crown Tower, readers of the book who have read Ryria Revelations before will know which of the characters are going to make it through. We know that they’re going to survive and we know in some cases who’s not going to make it through, which robs some the predictability of the novel. It’s like watching any other prequel series that you’ve seen before, The Phantom Menace and its sequels, X-Men: First Class or Origins: Wolverine, or even The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. You know what’s coming next, you just can’t help it. Which is why, to Sullivan’s credit, he manages to make the elements of the book that we aren’t quite in full knowledge about yet unpredictable, engaging and enthralling. Heck, even the stuff that we do know is coming next is awesome, and told with the experience that Sullivan has gained over the course of his previous series, he’s put out some of his strongest work yet with this book, and it’s really enjoyable to read, as the author manages to make it feel fresh and entertaining.
The book itself fills in a lot of gaps that readers might not necessarily be aware about in the original Riyria Revelations, and it helps us explain how these characters got to this point in the beginning of the first novel, and readers themselves won’t find themselves bothered by the fact that the book may lack unpredictability. It’s great at exploring characters as well, and there’s a clear difference between Royce and Hadrian that we meet here and in the original works – they’re younger, and more inexperienced. Take the opening chapter for instance – as soon as Hadrian gets off a ship, he gets robbed – and comes across as a character who’s really got plenty to learn in future books, almost surprisingly for someone who from what we know has been in a lot of armies, and would most likely have a considerable amount of experience. Royce is almost an exact opposite of Hadrian at the start of the novel, and it’s really interesting watching them develop over the course of The Crown Tower.
Readers of Riyria Revelations will be aware of Sullivan’s skill at creating a page-turning read, and The Crown Tower is no different – I breezed through this novel very quickly and was ready to move onto the second as soon as I finished (although I ended up taking a small break inbetween to freshen things up), and the novel’s size when you compare it with the likes of George RR Martin and Brandon Sanderson will be a welcome relief to those of you who are tired of massive, 1,000 page-length reads.
Therefore, in conclusion – there are plenty of things to love about The Crown Tower. I haven’t seen a negative reviewer for it or its sequel yet, and it’s well worth your time, be you a reader who has experienced the wonderful Riyria Revelations or not, as Sullivan manages to make it appeal to both. This is one of the strongest reads of the year so far, a really solid instalment.
“Inferno is possibly one of the worst books that I’ve read this year, and in fact – one of the few things that I can say it is better than is The Lost Symbol. But only just.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ll admit – I liked Brown’s first two books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. Heck, I even liked the films to a certain extent. But when his third novel, The Lost Symbol came around – it quickly became apparant that this was possibly one of my least favourite novels. So, I was torn on getting Inferno. Could Brown produce a novel that redeems himself from the travesty that I can’t even remember most of the plotline from, and match the books that remind me why I enjoyed his work in the first place? In short, no. He fails to bring anything new to the table and as a result, the book runs along a similiar plotline to the previous books that made his name and doesn’t give us a new approach like Deception Point & Digital Fortress, the latter of which I enjoyed, the former I couldn’t get through.
‘Seek and ye shall find.’
"With these words echoing in his head, eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence.
Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…"
I think the biggest problem about Inferno is Robert Langdon himself, the Harvard Symbologist with his Mickey Mouse wristwatch, and the problem for most long-running thriller series featuring a lead character (James Patterson’s Alex Cross books is another example of this). They don’t develop. The Langdon that we meet in Inferno is virtually indistingushiable from the one that we met at the beginning of Angels & Demons. Heck, for all we know – Inferno could be the first outing for the main protagonist. But it’s not. He remains the same, and you’d think that he’d have some character development after the past few books.
Whilst this could be explained away as it allows the reader to jump on right with the latest book, it still poses a nagging problem for me. And it gets worse – There isn’t even, as far as I could tell, any references to the previous novels. Mainly because Inferno follows exactly the same pattern as his previous books.
Awakened in the dead of night, Langdon finds himself working with a woman with hidden secrets against the authorities and a mystery assassin dispatched by a secret organisation. Sound familiar? Yes. This is every Robert Langdon featuring Dan Brown book that you’ve read before. Whilst he may be sticking to the tried and tested formula that made him famous, I’d like him to bring out something new for a change. Something fresh. If Dan Brown was a video game, he’d be the Call of Duty of video games, and if you’ve read more than one Brown book before then you’ll get my point. The two biggest problems that I had with this book are lack of character development and originality.
And I think there are only two redeeming factors about this book. The first, is that it’s better than The Lost Symbol. Just. The page-turning element is still there, and the thriller portion will keep you turning pages. The second, is the cover, and one of the main reasons why when I was in a local supermarket, I went for this over Run, Alex Cross – the latest Patterson book. On reflection, I probably should have went for the Patterson book. But Brown fan or not, you can’t deny that the cover (UK Version, above left) looks awesome. If only the book could be as well.
Congratulations, Dan Brown. I think you may have just won my award for worst novel of 2013 so far.
THE ROBERT LANGDON SERIES: Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno(less)
Great stuff, loved this just as much as the first. Can't add this to Best of 2012 at the moment due to complications with the computer that I'm currre...moreGreat stuff, loved this just as much as the first. Can't add this to Best of 2012 at the moment due to complications with the computer that I'm currrently using (not my normal one), but I will do so when I can.
“A dark and gritty page-turner. Wendig’s second Miriam Black novel is a brilliant read and just as enjoyable as the first.” ~The Founding Fields
This month just keeps getting better and better for reviewing. Reading wise, I don’t think I’ve read a book that I haven’t liked since James Patterson’s disappointing Nevermore, which means that I’ve now read thirty novels (including graphic novels) in a row which I have each liked to a certain extent. Hopefully this trend can continue in the future. I’m reading the latest A Song of Ice and Fire novel at the moment, so it does look like that it will be. But, I’m losing track of things. Let’s get back to Mockingbird, and I’m going to start this review by saying that it’s fantastic. If that’s not enough to convince you, then by all means – keep reading.
Miriam is trying to keep her ability – her curse – in check.
But when Miriam touches a woman in line at the supermarket, she sees that the woman will be killed here, now.
She reacts, and begins a new chapter in her life – one which can never be expected to go well.
So, a short blurb. Doesn’t reveal much about what’s going to happen in the novel, but at least it doesn’t spoil the outcome. It seems to be a common theme with Wendig’s Miriam Black novels, but that doesn’t stop you from reading them. The well-written and page-turning prose will have you hooked from within the first few pages, and this is really a one-sitting read. As a direct sequel to Blackbirds, Mockingbird proves that Wendig won’t disappoint you with the second installment, and increases your expectations for the third novel in the series – yes, there is going to be a third novel.
Miriam’s strong, unique, dark and twisted personality continues to be enjoyable, and Wendig has mastered her character development well over the course of the books. Although she may not be the most likable person to read about (and that’s an understatement), Wendig still manages to make us want to read more. And read more I did, and I blitzed through Mockingbird in a very quick time (and I’m a fast reader). One of the more interesting parts of this book to read about was Miriam’s stay at a Private Girl’s School, and I couldn’t help thinking “Yeah, that’s going to turn out well”, with a lot of sarcasm. It’s a great read, and there are plenty of twists and turns in here to keep it unpredictable. Wendig also doesn’t rely on the fantasy-elements of urban fantasy to make his novel interesting and varied, as if you went into this expecting werewolves, vampires and other urban fantasy staples then you’re going to be disappointed. But Wendig has proved that you don’t need them to make urban fantasy enjoyable, and has weaved a wonderful tale for us to enjoy. Once you’ve finished reading it, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be sticking around for the third novel.
It’s not just for urban fantasy fans as well, for horror readers will get a kick out of Mockingbird. Well, you should pretty much know this by now as this review presumes prior knowledge of Blackbirds, but if you’re thinking that this novel is going to be a carbon-copy of its predecessor then you’re mistaken. Mockingbird is different. Mockingbird is new, fresh and exciting. One of my best reads of 2012, and Wendig may have just jumped to my list of favourite authors.
Just be warned, when I say dark, I mean dark. There’s a lot of things that some readers may consider too extreme for them happen in this book, but if you’re familiar with Wendig’s work or have read similar novels, then you know what you’re in for. There are several great cinematic moments in this second book, and a great storyline with themes of redemption and revenge in there as well. It’s not the most pleasant read and is far from YA (I bring this up because it has been sighted in the YA section of bookshops elsewhere), but should be enjoyable if you don’t mind your dark fiction, and want to read something that isn’t uplifting or a ‘feel good’ read. I’ve yet to hear anything bad about it as well, which is always a positive thing.
“Chuck Wendig once again excels with another awesome look into the kickass character that is Miriam Black – delivering a page-turning thriller that is a must buy for any readers who enjoyed the first two books. Wendig has created a compelling read here, and The Cormorant might just be one of the best books in the series yet.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
"Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from “thief”… to “killer”.
Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at. But in her vision she sees her client die by another’s hand – and on the wall, written in blood, is a message just for Miriam.
Before we begin I just want to touch on the Cover Art for the Miriam Black series. It’s something that I don’t normally do – bring up cover art in reviews, but I can’t help but do so here – mainly because all covers in this series have been utterly phenomenal. Seriously – each cover is amazing – and The Cormorant just screams as a must-read. If I saw any of these books in a bookstore having no knowledge of what they were about – I would probably snap them up based on the covers alone. Joey Hi-Fi is an incredible artist and each new cover from him is exceptional. Now with that out of the way, let’s get started with the review.
And it’s a review that I could literally just stop after saying “It’s Awesome.” I mean, what more is there to tell about Miriam Black that hasn’t been said already? Chuck Wendig’s unique, engaging and daring take on Urban Fantasy is not for the faint of heart and if you’re familiar with Blackbirds and Mockingbirds then chances are you will know by now what to expect. Wendig’s writing takes no prisoners, pulling you along at an incredibly fast pace and the end result is always unpredictable. You never feel like you’re getting the same book twice with a Miriam Black novel and you can always count on Wendig to entertain you – three books in and the series shows no sign of losing its quality just yet, instead feeling fresh and exciting and another welcome break from all the standard, run of the mill urban fantasy stories that we’ve seen from female and male authors alike. The Cormorant and the preceding books are different – and if you think Urban Fantasy can’t surprise you then look no further than this series. It’s captivating, engaging – and if you’re reading this review without knowledge of the previous two books then I strongly recommend you buy them as soon as you can. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
In the third installment of the series, Wendig takes Miriam Black to Florida, where she’s trying to stop a nightmarish vision of the future from becoming reality. Of course, it’s never as easy as it sounds – and she’s in pretty much over her head with the Law Enforcement, Gangs and Old Friends. It’s an action packed book that’s very well written with a unique voice, one that’s particularly foul-mouthed. However fans of the series should be by now familiar with Miriam’s swearing and this is something that really didn’t bother me at all, having already gotten used to the character in the past three outings and it was welcome to return to the strong, independent and kickass female character that is the driving force behind the three books so far. It’s always great returning to Miriam’s life, even if Wendig drags her literally through hell and back with a gritty narrative that’s unpredictable far from disappointing.
Each book in the Miriam Black series has been exceptional and The Cormorant is another excellent addition to that list. It’s clever, engaging and unputdownable – I’ve been saying that a lot about Angry Robot’s novels lately but this is very true on pretty much every one. If there’s one thing that can be guaranteed when picking up an Angry Robot novel, it’s that I won’t be able to stop reading it. This was very much the case with The Cormorant - which was helped by its fast pace and short chapters allowing me to speed through the book like I was reading a much more awesome version of a novel by James Patterson. It’s just so good, and I can’t help but heap praise after praise upon this novel.
Chuck Wendig’s The Cormorant then, is another great success from the author. I’ve yet to read a book that I didn’t like from him and each has been very good indeed. I hope that we return to the Miriam Black Universe soon – because I can’t wait to read more. Miriam is a badass and an incredibly strong female character who is just as awesome as the more popular female characters in literature. She certainly can leave an impression on the reader, and is easily one of the strongest parts of an excellent novel. Highly Recommended, but only if you’ve read the other two first.
I think Joe Abercrombie might be one of my Top 5 favourite authors, along with George RR Martin, Iain M. Banks,Brandon Sanderson and JRR Tolkien. This...moreI think Joe Abercrombie might be one of my Top 5 favourite authors, along with George RR Martin, Iain M. Banks,Brandon Sanderson and JRR Tolkien. This was awesome,probably either my first or second favourite read of 2012. Utterly unputdownable.
“An epic, awesome standalone fantasy novel that I really enjoyed. One of gritty fantasy’s best Authors, Abercrombie is right up there with George RR Martin.” ~The Founding Fields
Red Country was the first book that I brought on my Kindle Fire that I got for Christmas, and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s my third Abercrombie novel that I’ve read, after The Blade Itself and The Heroes. And I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t put this novel down, and I was glad that I was reading this on a long journey allowing me to read this in pretty much two sittings – It’s just one of those books that I couldn’t put down. And whilst it may not be my favourite Abercrombie book (The Heroes holds that title), It’s still a very good one and better than most of the stuff that I read that was released in 2012 (all of it apart from Mark Lawrence’s King of Thorns, as it turns out).
Shy South comes home to her farm to find a blackened shell, her brother and sister stolen, and knows she’ll have to go back to bad old ways if she’s ever to see them again. She sets off in pursuit with only her cowardly old step-father Lamb for company. But it turns out he’s hiding a bloody past of his own. None bloodier.
Their journey will take them across the lawless plains, to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feuds, duels, and massacres, high into unmapped mountains to a reckoning with ancient enemies, and force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, a man no one should ever have to trust . . .
There were a few things that prevented Red Country from being as awesome as The Heroes, which I’m going to talk about before I start saying how good this book was. There were a couple of pacing issues that I had with the book, for certain sections I felt dragged out for me. Other than that though, the novel was epic – and even though I don’t read/watch a lot of westerns (despite one of my favourite films being The Magnificent Seven and one of my favourite debut novels of 2012 being Lee Collins’ Western/vampire book from Angry Robot), Red Country was still really epic, as Abercrombie manages to include enough fantasy in this book to make it feel like a fantasy novel rather than a western. Sure, there’s the traditional western cliches thrown in there – bar fights, wide open spaces, wagon trains etc, but Abercrombie’s writing manages to save this book from being very poor indeed, after all – it was billed right from the get go as a Fantasy Western. And I’ll admit that the only reason that I picked this up was because it was Abercrombie.
“A bloody, brilliant book that can be enjoyed by anyone. My favourite historical fiction author writes another strong entry in a great setting and de...more“A bloody, brilliant book that can be enjoyed by anyone. My favourite historical fiction author writes another strong entry in a great setting and delivers a great read that was one of my favourite novels of 2012.” ~The Founding Fields
I need to read more Bernard Cornwell. I know my brother’s a huge fan, owning most of his Sharpe books, and I read and enjoyed the first of that series and have seen the TV show with Sean Bean (which was awesome – and ladies and gentlemen, we have also found something in it where Sean Bean doesn’t die), as well as his novel Azincourt. If 1356 is anything to go by then Bernard Cornwell has still got what it takes, and even though this book wasn’t perfect, the author himself is still the king of historical fiction followed closely in my book by Simon Scarrow, author of the Eagle series. And the best part is about this book is that it can be read without reading the previous novels in the series as well – like I found out whilst I was reading it.
Go with God and Fight Like the Devil. A fascinating hero and the pursuit of a sword with mythical power – this is the remarkable new novel by Britain’s master storyteller, which culminates at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.
Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside east of Gascony.
Edward, Prince of Wales, later to be known as the Black Prince, is assembling an army to fight the French once more but before Thomas can join, he must fulfil an urgent task.
La Malice, a sword of mythical power guaranteeing victory to its owner, is thought to be concealed somewhere near Poitiers. With signs that a battle between the English and the French is looming others are seeking the treasure too, and some – French, Scots and even English – are pursuing their private agendas against Thomas.
But all – Thomas of Hookton, his enemies and friends and the fate of La Malice – become swept up in the extraordinary confrontation that follows, as the large French army faces the heavily outnumbered English in battle.,
Obviously, the novel is set in the year 1356 and deals with the leading up to the Battle of Poitiers, famous for being a battle that I knew absolutely nothing about before coming into this book, and I was glad to see that Cornwell managed to hook me in and keep me there, as well as providing an educational look into the battle with his vivid descriptions, strong characters and a masterful understanding of medieval action.
“A great new voice in fantasy that’s not to be missed.” ~The Founding Fields
I had the opportunity to read Blood’s Pride late last year through NetGall...more“A great new voice in fantasy that’s not to be missed.” ~The Founding Fields
I had the opportunity to read Blood’s Pride late last year through NetGalley – but held off writing the review until closer to the publishing date in the USA even though it had already been released in the UK. But needless to say, Evie Manieri’s debut novel is a strong one, character focused despite having the backdrop of an epic rebellion. If you’re a fan of Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones, I strongly suggest that you give this novel a look into. It’s a promising start to a series with only a few minor flaws.
Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.
Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?
This thrilling new epic fantasy is set in a quasi-Medieval Mediterranean region, drawing together the warrior culture of Vikings, the wanderlust of desert nomads, and the oracles of ancient Greece. Evie Manieri’s Blood’s Pride is an intricate, lush fantasy novel full of taut action, gut-wrenching betrayal, and soaring romance
Let’s start with what I didn’t like about Blood’s Pride. The naming conventions I’m not a big fan of, and the characters themselves are quickly forgettable. That’s really about it, for the rest of the novel is very engaging and very enthralling. I gave it a three stars on my initial Goodreads rating but upon reflection am probably going to boost that up to a 3.5 or a 4 come the end of this review.
“A fun, action packed read that serves as a solid debut – I’m on board for Book Two for certain.” ~The Founding Fields
All too often, I find myself either reading or requesting a book to review purely based on its cover, and Jay Posey’s Three is certainly no exception. I mean – just look at it. Sure, it may fill the bill of a hooded-man clichéd cover, but its design really drew me in, and I was eagerly awaiting the chance to read this book. And when I started it, at first – I was somewhat let down. It wasn’t as enthralling as I thought it would be, and it wasn’t as gripping early on. Until I got to a certain moment in the book, when the pace really got going and the book itself really got interesting. From then onwards – I couldn’t put it down. Three took me on a whirlwind ride through the Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic setting and builds to a fantastic conclusion, with an awesome climax. There are several things that I enjoyed about this novel once I got into it – but I just wish that It had been able to hook me in right from the start.
But that’s pretty much one of the few flaws that I had with Three. The rest of the book is really awesome, and very engaging – and I’m glad that this is the first part of the Legends of the Duskwalker series.
"The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.
But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantel of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise."
Three’s blurb is sharp and to the point, and the same could be said about its dramatis personae. Three as a name works two ways – not only is it the name of the titular character, but also the book follows a cast of three main heroes, Wren a six year old boy with some rather unique abilities, and his mother – Cass, a fighter who depends on drugs to operate – aka a chemic. The lesser cast are mainly antagonists, such as Asher, Dagon and more – most of them being well rounded and interesting. The smaller cast really allows for more time to be spent on establishing the dominant characters, and because we’re not introduced to a new one every other chapter, we don’t get ourselves detracted from the adventures of Wren, Cass and Three.
ThreeThe book itself, despite being set in the future, feels more like a Western at times – despite the clear elements of science fiction terminology and mechanics. Pretty much every place that the characters visit is desecrated and destroyed, really ramming home its post apocalyptic setting. Expect lots of wastelands and ruined cities here – with Three being a book that successfully avoids falling into the trap of info-dumping, allowing for the pace to move along pretty quickly once it grabs you in.
Just don’t expect the book to grab you in almost instantly though – I wasn’t enthralled in from the get go. It took a while for everything to fall into place for me, but the book certainly got more interesting later on, and as a result – I was glad that I stuck with it – for the ending certainly pays off. Another flaw that some people might have with Three is that there’s also a lack of world building – the world isn’t really fleshed out. Whilst this may bother some, I didn’t find it as that much of an issue. We don’t really know how the world came to be a post apocalyptic setting and neither do we know why there are certain people with special powers. Some people may find this more of an issue than me, however.
Jay Posey’s debut is pretty solid despite the aformentioned issues. If you’re a fan of gritty, dark, fast paced and action packed books - you’ll love Three. It moves along at a breakneck pace and doesn’t let up. Three is a badass lead character with loads of promise and undergoes interesting development over the course of the novel – and if you’re a fan of this sort of setting and concept, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty impressive, so I can offer my recommendation behind it. Count me in for Book Two, though – particularly if the cover’s as awesome as this one.
“An explosive follow up to Dead Harvest, two out of two for Chris F. Holm, urban fantasy fans will love this. Sam Thorton is a protagonist to be recko...more“An explosive follow up to Dead Harvest, two out of two for Chris F. Holm, urban fantasy fans will love this. Sam Thorton is a protagonist to be reckoned with.” ~The Founding Fields
The first novel in The Collector Trilogy was released earlier this year, which I loved. So, when the second novel was avaliable for an eARC download from Angry Robot, I eagerly snapped up the chance and almost as soon as it appeared on my IPod I began reading, and couldn’t put it down. If the third novel in The Collector Trilogy rounds off the series nicely and continues to be as good as the first two, then I honestly believe that Sam Thorton will be up there battling with the likes of Harry Dresden, and other similar male protagonists of the urban fantasy genre (although, Dresden and Thorton both come from different backgrounds, and aren’t quite as similar as I made them out to be).
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.
Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.
Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.
For those of you who haven’t read Dead Harvest yet, don’t worry, you don’t have to. Chris F. Holm does a great job of catching the reader up with what happened last time in a way that doesn’t affect the breakneck pace of the book. You won’t feel lost at any point during the book mainly due to the fact that it sticks to Sam’s first person narrative all the way through, allowing you to get a clear view inside the Collector’s head. As well as being a pulp urban fantasy novel, The Wrong Goodbye also doubles up as a road trip, the car involved being a Cadillac. This makes the story more interesting and enjoyable, adding something fresh that I haven’t seen in an urban fantasy novel before. (Alex Verus stuck in London, and Dresden stuck more or less in Chicago.)
The novel is fast paced, and continues the style of Dead Harvest that for those who have read that book will be familiar with. The characters in this novel are believable, and the action is pretty much non stop after the flashback to introduce a new character to our tale, Danny – who is more important to the plot than you will initially think. Chris F. Holm writes in a way that will keep you turning the pages, and if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down. I loved The Wrong Goodbye even more than I enjoyed Dead Harvest. It’s what The Dark Knight was to its prequel - more explosive, more epic, and a lot more enjoyable even though both Begins and Dead Harvest were still good in their own right.
“Whilst not living up to its full potential, Heartwood is nonetheless a solid book. However its biggest strength is also its greatest weakness, as the first novel in the Elemental Wars is all about worldbuilding and as a result everything else suffers.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
"Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for the Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Heartwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.
After the Veriditas, or annual Greening Ceremony, the Congressus takes place. The talks do not go well and tempers are rising when an army of warriors emerges from the river. After a fierce battle, the Heartwood knights discover that the water warriors have stolen the Arbor’s heart. For the first time in history, its leaves begin to fall…
The knights divide into seven groups and begin an epic quest to retrieve the Arbor, and save the land."
I’ve read lots of Angry Robot novels now and it’s rare that you’ll get to see a miss from them. I think I’ve enjoyed pretty much every novel from the publisher that I’ve read aside from maybe one or two that haven’t stayed long enough in my memory. Where does Heartwood come into this though? Does it fall into the hit category or the miss category? It certainly sounds like an interesting read, after all – who doesn’t love a bit of knights in shining armour fantasy every now and again? As it turns out though, Heartwood is difficult to place in either category. I’m going to say that in parts, Freya Robertson’s first Angry Robots book novel is amazing, but in other parts – it doesn’t quite hit the mark. I’ll discuss the positive parts of the book first, however.
The biggest strength of Heartwood is its vivid attention to world building. The world that the characters inhabit is fully fleshed out and fully detailed over the course of the novel, and the reader gets to learn about several things, certainly more so than your average fantasy novel. The first seventy pages or so are pretty much devoted to fleshing out the world before the plot actually kicks into gear, but it’s at this point you have to stop and ask yourself – when is there too much worldbuilding? Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? The answer in Heartwood’s case of course is a resounding yes, because although I liked the fleshing out of the world, the rest of the novel fails to meet the standards that Robertson has set herself with her strong world building and detail. This as a result has made more than one reader that I know not get through the book, but I was able to keep going anyway. It’s almost possible that Heartwood was just not the right sort of book for me despite the appealing aspect that fantasy brings to the table – and I’m sure that there are people who will and have enjoyed this novel more than I will.
To give you a detail of the extensive attention that Robertson has paid to the world building, let’s look at the countries that the world is divided into. Each have their own unique culture and features that are in some ways, less subtle than others. For example there’s one country, the inhabitants of Wulfengar are essentially evil. They’re all generalised under one banner – all women must serve the more dominant men etc and whilst stereotyping sometimes does help the reader get a better picture of what’s going on not all of it is done, and for the most part the world building may be good, and as mentioned before, it’s one of the novel’s saving graces – it’s just places like this where it doesn’t always hit the mark. Positive angles of the world development include elemental magic, with the purpose of knights being designed to protect a holy tree that holds the world together. There are several parts where the action scenes throughout the novel are quite good as a result, but there’s never really anything that really elevates this novel from a decent read to a spectacular one.
Of course, with magic – you always have to be wary of deus ex machina, and that is something that in parts, Heartwood suffers from. It’s used as way of speeding up resolutions and doesn’t always work, robbing the story of perhaps would it could have been if magic hadn’t played a good role. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good magic system in the veins of Brandon Sanderson, who always pays careful and deep concentration to them – but it doesn’t really work when the magic is used to wrap up elements of the plot as smoothly as it does here. And then there’s another problem that the book suffers from – the characters. They weren’t really engaging and captivating and I never felt compelled to root for any of them with the same support that I’ve rooted for other, more realised characters in the past. I finished the book recently and none of the characters created any lasting impression on me as a reader, which is a real shame considering some characters who are so well rounded that I never once forget their names.
There is still an audience for this book, however – despite its many flaws. I think another achievement of Heartwood that despite the fact that there’s more flaws than positive elements that I’ve listed above, it still remains a fairly strong read despite this. Whilst it’s nothing too special or even good, it’d be undeserving to label Heartwood as a bad book. I’ve read bad books before (Dan Brown’s Inferno and Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire) and Heartwood certainly doesn’t fall anywhere near those standards. It’s probably just not my cup of tea – even if I did enjoy parts of the world building and some elements of the storyline. And I’ll admit that I am interested in picking up the second book when I can as well – hopefully now that the worldbuilding is out of the way Robertson can improve on this book’s failings and create a better second act. Therefore it comes with a very cautious recommendation.
“A wonderful third novel shows that Peter V. Brett can live up to expectations and provide a thrilling read that makes it a strong contender for best novel of the year already.” ~The Founding Fields
I’m a huge fan of Peter V. Brett’s The Demon Cycle, having been hooked on reading it a couple of years ago when I discovered the first two novels on a buy-one-get-one half price deal in Waterstones. The cover art looked awesome and they really stood out amongst the crowd, so I quickly snapped them up and devoured them – really enjoying the books. And then, the waiting began. So naturally, when this book was eventually published recently, it wouldn’t be too long before I managed to get a copy. The day that I got the book request from NetGalley approved didn’t just make my day, it made my week. I almost instantly started reading The Daylight War, and well, loved it. As I’ve mentioned in the quote, I’d even go so far as to call it one of the best novels of 2013 already, it’s certainly up there.
On the night of a new moon all shadows deepen.
Humanity has thirty days to prepare for the next demon attack, but one month is scarcely enough time to train a village to defend themselves, let alone an entire continent caught in the throes of civil war.
Arlen Bales understands the coreling threat better than anyone. Born ordinary, the demon plague has shaped him into a weapon so powerful he has been given the unwanted title of saviour, and attracted the attention of deadly enemies both above and below ground.
Unlike Arlen, Ahmann Jardir embraces the title of Deliverer. His strength resides not only in the legendary relics he carries, but also in the magic wielded by his first wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose allegiance even Jardir cannot be certain of.
Once Arlen and Jardir were like brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies prepare, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all: those that lurk in the human heart.
The book opens with a flashback, like The Desert Spear before it, only this time, rather than focus on Jardir, we’re focusing on Inevera, nearly thirty three years before the current events of the series, and we get to see her life as a child. However, we don’t spend as long with Inevera as we did with Jardir and soon we’re back with the promised couple, Arlen and Renna. It’s interesting to see that Renna is starting to follow Arlen on his path, despite the fact that she is meant to be the only person keeping Arlen in the world of men rather than having him thrust into the world of demons. Leesha gets a pretty heavy chunk of the book as well as her character is expanded upon much like the rest of the dramatis personae that we have seen grown over the course of the series so far. Renna Tanner gets a bigger role to play in this book than in the previous novels, and her character really develops here as she struggles to make herself able to keep up with Arlen, who is now more focused and in control of everything than he’s ever been, and it’s really interesting to read just how much he’s changed as a character since The Painted Man (or The Warded Man in the USA), as well as other characters who have undergone various developments.
As from what one might suggest by the title, the action sequences and the pace are increased in this book from the previous novels. Peter V. Brett has managed to capture the ability to hook the reader in and keep them turning the pages, and I was not be able to put this down although I did have to keep an eye on the charge of my Kindle Fire at times. The great thing about reading this novel on the Kindle Fire was that I could take it anywhere without carrying a massive hardback book around, therefore I was able to quickly load it up and start reading whenever I had a spare moment. A few may have complained about pacing issues in previous novels, but I think Brett has nailed it here. The Daylight War’s action scenes are nicely handled, as well as the book’s plot. And it ends on a cliffhanger as well. A very, very awesome cliffhanger that had to force me to put the book down for a few moments and think, “Did that just happen?” It’s a serious gamechanger in the series and proves that nobody, not even the main cast is safe.
And you won’t see it coming, which is especially good as many stories with Chosen One cliches are predictable and quite dull in places. This one isn’t though, as Brett weaves a powerful tale with a strong narrative, and whilst I may have initially believed this series to be a trilogy, I’m glad to see that there are more than three volumes. There isn’t any real drawbacks with this novel as a whole that I found, although I know that others have different opinions to me and have indeed read at least one negative review of this book. But for me, The Daylight War will most likely be the book to beat for 2013, and it truly is a terrific read.
THE DEMON CYCLE: The Painted Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War. (less)
“Gritty fantasy has a new and enthralling addition to its ranks. If you’re a fan of Joe Abercrombie or George RR Martin, then this is one you’ll want to have under your radar.” ~The Founding Fields
I first came across this book after hearing about it on Civilian Reader, and upon finding out that it was pretty cheap on the Kindle Fire (only £1-ish), I decided to snap it up and give it a try. After all, I love gritty fantasy, but with so many already established names in the genre, what new things could Scull bring to the table that we haven’t already seen before? I was interested to find out, and I ended up tearing my way through this debut tale. However, it’s not without its flaws though, and I’ll explain what they are towards the end of the review.
"This is a world dying.
A world where wild magic leaks from the corpses of rotting gods, desperate tyrants battle over fading resources, impassive shapeshifters marshal beasts of enormous size and startling intelligence, and ravenous demons infest the northern mountains. A world where the only difference between a hero and a killer lies in the ability to justify dark deeds.
But even in this world, pockets of resistance remain. When two aging warriors save the life of a young rebel, it proves the foundation for an unlikely fellowship. A fellowship united against tyranny, yet composed of self-righteous outlaws, crippled turncoats and amoral mercenaries. A grim company, indeed…"
As expected, The Grim Company is the opening volume in a new Fantasy trilogy, which bears the same name as its title. If you’ve any doubts about it being a weak addition to the already established ranks of dark fantasy then you should put them aside, for Luke Scull has crafted a debut tale that will keep you hooked right the way through, with a strong story, interesting characters, a harsh outlook on the world and a very interesting plot. Whilst this may not be the most original debut ever, The Grim Company’s biggest achievement is easily making you feel like you’re not reading an Abercrombie-knock off. The book is firmly its own novel.
Character wise, Scull delivers some tried and true archetypes such as Davarus Cole, a man who believes that it’s his destiny to be the leader, the most awesome character of them all and lead the people against the evil that oppresses them. However, Cole is actually not all that likable, and comes across as a bit of an arrogant prick at times, with a warped view of how things should work and often ignores what is happening right in front of him. We also get the likes of Eremul the Halfmage, a sorcerer spared by the evil ruler Salazar that followed a purge which left other magic users in disarray, Brodar Kayne, a man who was once Champion of the Shaman and is now in hiding from his former master, among others, who are an interesting cohort that, along with the plot of overthrowing the lord ruler can sometimes echo Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire, but obviously with a gritter tone.
If you were put off by Abercrombie’s novels or are one of the few people who don’t like A Song of Ice and Fire, then The Grim Company will probably not be your cup of tea. Even though the book comes across as too cliche from the description that I’ve just given you and the blurb, especially with the evil leader being named Salazar, you’ll find that Scull is in familiar territory, he knows what waters he’s treading in as do you. The book also benefits from being action packed, engaging and truly a page-turning read, and once you’ve started, you won’t stop. There are however, as mentioned earlier – a few shortcomings that prevent The Grim Company from matching the likes of Abercrombie and company.
The author tries to get across a very grim setting in his book, but sometimes, the dialogue comes across as awkward in places. It also doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, for we’ve seen everything in The Grim Company before. There’s nothing that screams new and original, however – if you want a fun read from one of the hottest debut authors of 2013, The Grim Company will probably be your best bet. I was considering giving The Grim Company a slightly lower rating at the start of the review, but I’ve decided that I’m actually struggling to find that many flaws in the book as I attempt to pick it apart in this review.
“An awesome novel that is one of my favourites so far this year. For those who thought that Christopher’s Empire State would be the best of his novels, then think again - Seven Wonders is much better. Reads like a superhero comic book in novel form. Unmissable.” ~The Founding Fields
Empire State was one of the novels that I read towards the end of 2011, and the only reason why it wasn’t included in my Best of 2011 list was because it was well, an Advanced Review and the actual publication of Adam Christopher’s first novel is due in 2012. So, Empire State was the first novel on my Best of 2012 list, before the year had even started – I was completely blown away by it.
And now, with Seven Wonders, Adam Christopher’s second novel that is not a sequel to Empire State, but a new novel that could potentially be the start of its own series, Christopher has managed to blow me away yet again - Seven Wonders has just become one of my favourite novels of 2012, making it two out of two. Seven Wonders is probably going to be high on my list for best novel of 2012 as well, competing with Empire State and several other novels that have been released. It was that good.
Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura – a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl.When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team Seven Wonders aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be… The blurb tells you the basics of the plot, but in reality, Seven Wonders will take you completely by surprise if you go into it expecting something along the lines of the aforementioned blurb. Sure, that’s included in there as well, but you get a lot more action and awesomeness than you bargained for, and I’m going to say something here – the actual plot is a lot better than what the blurb makes it out to be, and that made me enjoy the novel even more. It’s fast, action-packed and reminds me to epic graphic novels such as Watchmen, only in prose form. The plot’s complicated and with several twists and turns, you never know where you’re going to end up.
If you want to read some superhero fiction that isn’t a graphic novel/comic book, then Seven Wonders will be the perfect place to start. It can be read as a standalone and is not a sequel to Empire State (that’s Christopher’s next book, Age of Atomic), and its ending allows the opportunity for a sequel (which you won’t think is possible until you get there). The prose is fantastic and there isn’t a dull moment, with the author managing to keep you reading throughout. With praise heaped upon it by authors such as Greg Rucka (Alpha, the Punisher), Mike Carey (The Unwritten, X-Men) and Phillip Palmer (Hell Ship, Artemis) and more, Seven Wonders is one that you will not want to miss out on.
The characters are many and varied, and in this book Christopher includes more superheroes than you’ve ever seen in one novel before, using up any names that haven’t already been thought of, which characters such as the Dragon Star, Aurora’s Light and many more being included to ramp up the tension and create some epic scenes that will keep your eyes glued to the page (or the screen, if you’re reading an eBook version of this like I was), with development happening throughout the novel. The main focus is split equally between the Seven Wonders, the superhero group that are the main ‘heroes’ of the novel, as well as Tony Prosdocimi, who starts off as your average Joe living in a city filled with the extraordinary, who allows the reader to get an interesting perspective to superheroes, one that we don’t often see in the comic books. (Or at least, the ones that I’ve read anyway). I should point out that Tony’s transformation and the journey that he takes is an epic, action-packed one full of twists and turns, and by the end of the novel his virtually unrecognisable from the character that he was at the beginning.
As well as the superheroes and Tony, we’re also given the POV of the main super villain, the Cowl – and his accomplice, Blackbird. Both are the main villains for the first half of the novel and Christopher has even allowed for the Cowl to develop as a character over the course of the novel, and he, like Tony – undergoes a massive journey throughout the book. Blackbird is also an interesting character to look at, and she is also a key player (perhaps even more so than the Cowl himself) in Seven Wonders.
The world building of Seven Wonders is fantastically created, and set in the fictional metropolis of San Ventura, Christopher has fully fleshed out the city including various locations such as Wonder Tower (the Seven Wonders HQ) that get visited over the course of the novel, and has managed to do this without bogging down the story.
“Very dark, very gritty and very atmospheric. Wolfhound Century is also a book free of genre constraints, allowing for a great original and entertaining read. Top Notch stuff by Peter Higgins.” ~The Founding Fields
Every so often you come across a book that is impossible to fit into a single genre, and Wolfhound Century hits that spot perfectly. It seems like a weird combination of alternate history, fantasy and the good old noir crime fiction as well – set in a world that is similar to 1940′s Russia. If you were looking for one of the most imaginative books of the year so far, then you’ve come to the right place.
"Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist — and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police.
A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists.
Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head."
The strongest aspect of Wolfhound Century is clearly Higgins’ worldbuilding. He’s captured a gritty world with one of the darkest tales that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and I’ve read Warhammer 40,000 fiction – the setting that first coined the term grimdark. (I think). Don’t expect any heroes here, for Higgins’ characters are well developed, three-dimensional and very interesting, and Higgins has made them feel realistic enough to fit in the totalitarian state that he has created as a backdrop, and never does a character feel like he or she shouldn’t belong.
Whilst the book has a larger cast of characters than just the man mentioned on the blurb, Investigator Vissarion Lom is the story’s key man, summoned by a high ranking police official to catch a terrorist at the bequest of the head of the secret police. Lom is a great character and he manages to carry the book through the dark corners that Higgins takes us. It becomes clear that one of the main themes in this book is fear, fear of the Secret Police, and this is one of the many reasons that helps connect Wolfhound Century to its 1940′s Russia setting. The pace is fast, and if you enjoy Wolfhound Century then you won’t be able to put it down, for the chapters are almost James Patterson-level short in places, allowing that “One More Chapter” thing to really kick in even though you know you have to get off the bus soon (If my bus stop was not the last stop on my journey, I would have missed it – I was that engrossed in Wolfhound Century), allowing for a great read.
The writing style of Peter Higgins is fantastic and if Wolfhound Century is anything to go by then I will stick around to see more of what Higgins puts out – he’s a great writer and has really captured the fact that fantasy doesn’t have to be set on a completely invented world nor in our own reality to be enjoyable – alternate history/fantasy is a much under used genre that I am now wishing to explore in more depth to see if there are other books like Wolfhound Century out there.
This could very well end up being in my list of Top 25 books of 2013, and it’s certainly going to be one of the weirdest novels that I’ve read this year - Wolfhound Century is engaging, enthralling and this is a ride that you’ll want to get on board for. Fans of noir, classic spy thrillers, and fantasy fans will want to get on board on this book and whilst its dark tone may not be for everyone It comes with a high recommendation from me.
“An awesome, fun read allows for another strong debut of 2013.” ~The Founding Fields
The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu is a very interesting book, and right from the start you will find yourself drawn into the strong narrative and the interesting characters. It’s a story that has been inspired from sci-fi and comics, however whatever your tastes are you’ll find something to enjoy in this book. It’s an entertaining, funny and page-turning read, and with a few problems aside, The Lives of Tao is a very strong debut novel and I will certainly looking forward to be reading more of Wesley Chu.
"When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.
He wasn’t. He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…"
The characters in this book are all fun and enjoyable to read about. Roen is a compelling, rootable lead character and when he wakes up to start hearing voices in his head, it’s interesting to see how he reacts. Only the voices aren’t him sinking into insanity. It’s Tao, an alien, and he finds himself drawn into a war between two sections of rivals in the alien species – Prophus and Genjix, in a style that reminded me of Desmond’s journey in Assassin’s Creed, only that the animus is actually an alien life form in his head rather than a machine, and the Prophus and Genjix can be compared to the struggles of the Assassins and the Templars.
If’ you’re looking for a book that manages to balance humour and seriousness then Chu gets it just right here. There are several amusing moments in this book particularly in the opening sequence, where we see how Tao came from his former host to Roen, and needless to say – the transition from Edward to Roen is somewhat unexpected for the alien involved, as he’s used to sharing the same bodies as people like Ghengis Khan, and it’s very interesting to see Roen’s journey even if the journey of nerd to an experienced fighter is not one that’s all too original.
The characters Roen and Tao are a pivotal point to this story and it’s very interesting watching and learning how they get on with each other, especially as initially they both don’t like their newfound roles. Especially as going from an experienced, well-trained Edward, to a guy who can barely walk up stairs without running out of breath is more than a bit disheartening for Tao, made even more so when they eventually meets up with similar Prophus.
However, The Lives of Tao is not perfect, and there is perhaps one main flaw that I found with this book, and that was the time jumps, which became annoying at times and in some cases the pacing as a whole wasn’t entirely as clean as it could have been. Like a James Bond film we find ourselves thrown in right at the deep end, but whilst it works for a spy movie it doesn’t really work for a book where we’re only first introduced to the new characters and all the new terminology. Thankfully, over time – it does come easier to the reader though, and as a result the flaws in this book don’t have a very big impact.
“Wow. Wendig keeps impressing with every book he puts out. The Blue Blazes is superb.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ve read all of Chuck Wendig’s books for Angry Robot so far so I was really looking forward to see where he would take the reader with The Blue Blazes, and he didn’t disappoint. I loved every second of this book, and was unable to put it down, having polished it off in a couple of sittings. The way that Wendig draws you into the world with his narrative is stunning, and once you’re in, you won’t be able to let go – he’s got the pacing factor sorted, for this book is one of those “One More Chapter” type reads as I quickly found out.
"Meet Mookie Pearl. Criminal underworld? He runs it. Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it. Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job. But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…"
Mookie Pearl is far from your stereotypical urban fantasy hero. He’s foul mouthed, as is Wendig’s writing style, and whilst he might not be one of the most likeable characters ever, it doesn’t stop him from being a damn good main character, and we’re sympathising with him from the start, with pretty much everything falling into pieces around him. You know you haven’t got the best of family relations when your own daughter tries to overthrow your criminal underworld, and it certainly isn’t helped with an increase in odd supernatural happenings. Nora, Mookie’s daughter, also gets a fair chunk of the POV and is another great addition to the book, providing a very important role to the plot. Both characters, among others, also are given various motives, flaws, weaknesses and development to show that they’re human. Looking for perfect characters in The Blue Blazes? You won’t find anyone that fits the Mary Sue description commonly associated with fanfiction, but can also be applied to creator-owned work here, let me tell you that now.
The book itself is, as per the Miriam Black series, very dark and gritty. It’s a horror show of the best kind, pulpy – pageturningly fun. The world is explored in such a way where you’re given enough to keep you going and not get too confused. Fans of Wendig can expect more of the same, although his writing style has changed a bit from his previous Angry Robot books. Shorter sentances are more common, with one sentence paragraphs allowing for a greater, more intense atmosphere in action sequences. It’s a technique that works incredibly well, and really helps add to make the book more page-turning. Another thing that should be taken into account here is that the imagination on display here is wonderful. Those of you who haven’t read Wendig’s work before – expect something that will completely surprise you, drawing you in and leaving you begging for more.
The theme and the setting come across incredibly well. All the dark places under New York City are filled with all kinds of things, painting a vision of the underworld City that Never Sleeps as truly horrific, with everything becoming monster-ized here. Nothing is predictable about this book, and that makes its creation even more mind blowing.
Especially if you’re an urban fantasy fan who is convinced that you’ve seen everything. Trust me. The Blue Blazes is different, fun, engrossing and one of the best urban fantasy books that I’ve read yet. It certainly currently holds the titles for the darkest. I can’t wait for the Miriam Black book, which I’m really looking forward to, and I think Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits, his work for Abaddon - might have just been moved higher up my To Read list, especially as a Goodreads reviewer has described it as Neil Gaiman’s American Gods meets Supernatural, both of which I’m a massive fan of.
Awesome book, really enjoyed it and can't wait for the third book. Great research, world building, pace & characters. An early contender for Book...moreAwesome book, really enjoyed it and can't wait for the third book. Great research, world building, pace & characters. An early contender for Book of the Year 2013.
FULL TFF Review (with link):
“An awesome second novel proves that Myke Cole is more than just a one-hit wonder. Expect Fortress Frontier to be one of the best novels of 2013.” ~The Founding Fields
I loved reading Fortress Frontier. The first book in the series, Control Point, was good – it made it onto my Best of 2012 list after all. But Fortress Frontier is better, and I can stress that if you’re not reading Myke Cole at the moment then I highly suggest that you drop whatever you’re reading right now and go out and buy a copy of Control Point if you haven’t read it already and read that. And then come back and read this review. Trust me, you won’t regret it. If the words X-Men meets Black Hawk Down hook you at all then you shouldn’t need further convincing. But if you’re reading this review and liked the first book, then you’ve probably not only brought the second book already but have probably already read it. But there was no way I was going to pass the chance to review this book up – particularly because at this rate, it may turn out to be one of my favourite novels of 2013, even if we are only in February.
"The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers–summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.
Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.
Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world,Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier–cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.
Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place – Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…"
Fortress Frontier introduces us to a new character as Cole decides to split the narrative between Alan Bookbinder and Oscar Britton. I liked this approach as it not only gave us a chance to read about magic from a different perspective, but also explore more of this wonderfully built world. I couldn’t help but notice how much different Bookbinder is to Britton, and it was really interesting reading this book and comparing the characters as they go on. Whilst this book doesn’t exactly start immediately after the events of Control Point, it takes us back to the latter section of the events in the first book it examines them in a new light, and really gives a different perspective to characters who we were limited to seeing from Britton’s perspective in Control Point.
This is one of the fastest paced stories that I’ve read recently and Fortress Frontier really is one of those “Just One More Chapter” books. Cole has captured the ability of James Patterson, Suzanne Collins and company when it comes to writing page-turners, but the good thing here is that not only is the Shadow Ops series better than any of the previous authors works so far, it also has a great premise of things to come. When you’re reading a book you can often tell how much effort has gone into the creation and development of the world and this series in particular is no exception. For readers who wanted to see how countries other than America reacted to the Great Awakening then you will get the chance to do so here – for the level of world-building supplied in Fortress Frontier is outstanding. Cultures are explored here in such a way that the pace never seems to slow down to a crawl.
I’d like to talk about the characters for a moment. Although Oscar Britton does have an important role to play in this book, Alan Bookbinder is a key character here too and the novel itself spends as much time developing him as he discovers his latent abilities as it explores the adventures of Oscar. An interesting comparison to make here is that Bookbinder doesn’t have the training as Oscar – he’s an “army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut,” as the blurb explains. This thus shows us another interesting difference between the two characters and it’s really nice to see their different approaches to certain elements. Like Control Point, Cole has used his military knowledge to great effect, writing some great action scenes and giving a great insight into how the military tick following the Great Awakening. It almost makes me wonder what would have happened to this series if Cole didn’t have a military background – how different would these series be? Would we even have a Shadow Ops series?
The middle book in a trilogy is often very difficult to write and many a trilogy has been let down by its second act – but Fortress Frontier is among the second books that raise the game even further, much like Mark Lawrence’s King of Thorns did last year, and really gives the reader something to look forward to in terms of the final book in the trilogy. Breach Zone is a book I’m going to be doing my best to read as soon as possible – I’ve just got to remember to request it from NetGalley this time. Because this is one of the books that I’ll be eagerly looking forward to read in 2014, and I just wish that I didn’t have to wait that long for the third act.
This book is awesome. Seriously, if you haven’t brought it already, I suggest that you make Fortress Frontier your next book purchase. This is one heck of a whirlwind ride and right now, Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series is quickly becoming the best that military fantasy has to offer. Top notch stuff.
A great book by an author at the top of his game. Fortress Frontier is a second installment that ups the ante and allows for a great read. And if you get the UK version, it has a great cover art too.
“A great, fast paced and fun novel that puts a new spin on the “Gods Are Real” storyline that fans of the Percy Jackson series and other similar titles will love.”" ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
Okay, let’s get this straight right off the bat. Every so often, a cover sells me on a book. I picked up Douglas Hulick’s Among Thieves because of its cover, and many others were purchased on that basis. And the main reason why I requested The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond to review was because of that Cover – it’s just awesome, isn’t it? Plain and simple in a thriller-kind of way, whilst allowing for the hint of the otherworldy. Whilst it sadly isn’t perfect, the novel itself allows for some great development, and action, all moving along at a lightning fast pace. If you enjoyed Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, or Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant, or other similar titles, then you’ll find something to enjoy here. The Woken Gods is a great read, and one of the finest Strange Chemistry novels that I’ve read so far.
"The more things change…
Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke all around the world.
The more things stay the same…
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school because of an argument with her father.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun that governs mankind’s relations with the gods. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way home, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, a young Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous Egyptian relic. The Society needs the item back, and they aren’t interested in her protests that she knows nothing about it or her father’s secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary Sumerian gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz–whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn’t? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it. From the author of Blackwood comes a fresh, thrilling urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan."
The book is told mostly through the eyes of seventeen year old Kyra Locke, who is – as to be expected, the main protagonist of this novel and takes up most of the page time. Her character develops strongly and unlike certain Young Adult novels that I’ve read in the past that I’ll not mention here, is actually likeable and rootable, coming off as a pretty strong female lead who gets plenty to say and do, as well as being fleshed out. Her character is easily the most well defined of the novel, but others, such as Osbourne Spencer, nicknamed “Oz” – also mentioned in the blurb, get plenty to do and say here – even if some of them such as Kyra’s friends, Bree and Tam don’t get much depth to them. Kyra however, is of course the standout – and Gwenda Bond’s novel is great for readers who want an awesome young, female protagonist.
The Woken GodsThe setting is pretty interesting – whilst some authors who go down the whole “Gods Are Among Us” route choose to adopt to one Pantheon or draw inspiration from multiple Gods, Bond isn’t afraid to get stuck into the whole lot, meaning we get a wide element of characters, with the Egyptian Pantheon being the most notable one here. But the richness of the world that the author has created for us brings up a whole new problem – there needs to be more worldbuilding. It was one of the main problems that I had whilst reading this novel was that there wasn’t enough of it, and I felt that given the concept it needed to be fleshed out a lot more.
Of course, as is common with pretty much a vast majority of Young Adult novels these days, expect romance. Whilst it’s there, it takes a while to develop, rather than happening instantly – allowing for a large focus to spent on moving the plot forward and there is little let-up in the brisk pace that this novel moves along at. I mentioned earlier that this will appeal to readers who enjoyed Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson and/or Skulduggery Pleasant, and that’s largely because it handles pace just as well as those novels have done. It’s original and doesn’t fall into the trap of being a clone of Percy Jackson only with a female protagonist, which is what I feared at first when starting this novel.
Another slight problem, but not a major one that didn’t bother me (although it may bother some) as I’d encountered it before, namely in James Patterson’s novels, the switch from Kyra’s first person narrative to third person to other characters. Whilst this may have been done to advance the plot in ways that Kyra’s chapters could not, I would have rather Kyra be the sole POV character if it was told in first person, rather than having a split.
Overall then, The Woken Gods is a pretty solid read with some strong themes and several key elements running through it that help it stand above the average crop of Young Adult novels that we get thrown at us by so many authors nowadays – providing something that’s fresh, unique and interesting, even if the lack of more worldbuilding/discovery harms it a bit. Kyra’s character is strong and awesome, and when this book hits shelves next month, you should certainly pick it up if you can. Young Adult readers will love this one.
“An awesome book that provides great entertainment and a lot of fun, with Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson proves that he can write in a variety of genres extremely well, and create captivating and enthralling stories each time around, as he provides a treat for fans of not only fantasy and science fiction, but also fans of comics. And for fans of both - Steelheart surely is a winning combination.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
"There are no heroes.
Every single person who manifested powers—we call them Epics—turned out to be evil.
Here, in the city once known as Chicago, an extraordinarily powerful Epic declared himself Emperor. Steelheart has the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, no explosion can burn him. He is invincible.
It has been ten years. We live our lives as best we can. Nobody fights back . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans who spend their lives studying powerful Epics, finding their weaknesses, then assassinating them.
My name is David Charleston. I’m not one of the Reckoners, but I intend to join them. I have something they need. Something precious, something incredible. Not an object, but an experience. I know his secret.
I’ve seen Steelheart bleed."
As long term followers of The Founding Fields will know, Brandon Sanderson is probably one of my favourite authors. I’ve loved his Mistborn Trilogy and really enjoyed both The Rithmatist and The Alloy of Law. Whilst Elantris wasn’t as powerful as the previously mentioned books it was still a fairly strong read, and I really need to get around to reading Warbreaker and The Way of Kings judging from what I’ve seen from these respective novels. Sanderson manages to bring something fresh and original to the table each time he brings out a new book, and I’m quite happy to say that my most anticipated book for the second half of the year really did not disappoint, as Steelheart delivered on its high expectations, which was a relief – as I’ve been disappointed by various books in the past before by good authors because the books did not live up to the value of anticipation that had been built up around them (I’m looking at you, Dan Abnett’s Pariah). Of course, given Sanderson’s track record, I shouldn’t really have had any worry that this book was going to be any less than superb, and after finishing reading it – I can safely say that it stands as strong contention for among the best five novels that we’ve had this year so far.
SteelheartLike The Rithamtist, Steelheart is another Young Adult book by Sanderson and it’s just as engrossing and as awesome as his previous attempt. It’s essentially a post-apocalyptic book set on Earth in the near future populated with superheroes. However, unlike Superman, Batman etc - Steelheart has a darker twist on the superhero genre, and is in some ways, more realistic than the portrayal of them in comcis, after all – the temptation to abuse your power is always there and with Sanderson’s so-called “Epics”, he continues to expand on these characters and makes a point that with powers, not everybody would use them for the right means.
If you’re a fan of Sanderson like myself then you’ll know what to expect from this book. As usual, the world-building is pulled off with creativity and imagination, establishing how the Epics work and what makes them tick. Without a magic system, a rare change from Sanderson’s other works, we’re instead presented with a variety of gadgets and technology that mostly lean towards one goal – taking down the Epics. As there are no superheroes fighting for the force of good in this nightmare (and don’t expect the main character to gain powers either), the weapons and high-tech gadgets are ways of defeating the enemy that Sanderson manages to execute pretty well, to the extent that nothing feels like a get-out-of-jail free card, and they all feel like they fit the tone of this reality very well indeed.
One problem that I have with Steelheart is that the characters aren’t as fleshed out or as well developed as I would like them to be, with the only major memorable character apart from Steelheart himself is David, the main character who narrates the story through his perspective and his perspective alone. First person perspective is common in Young Adult books and this is the first time I believe I’ve seen Sanderson handle this method of narrative, which he manages to pull of pretty well for the most part. Sanderson fleshes out David well, making him a more than just a one-dimensional character. He’s also a great lead character as well, and never feels like the male equivalent of a Mary-Sue. For the most part the Epics are interesting and varied as well, with their names being pretty cool as well – and whilst some feel awkward, that’s only because they were designed to be.
Whilst the plot may seem similar to The Final Empire, Sanderson’s first Mistborn book, only in a different setting, you’ll be pleased to know that he handles it pretty well, making it seem fresh and not just a re-hash. It’s also a pretty unpredictable read, unlike a vast portion of young adult books that I’ve read before. You don’t know what’s going to happen next and this is a world where nobody is safe. Each chapter had me on the edge of my seat and I really couldn’t put this book down as I was reading it, with Sanderson handling the pacing of the book very well, without any moments that feel out of place or odd.
Sanderson’s Steelheart then, is a success. I can safely label it as one my favourite books of the year, and it’s one that everyone, even people who have never read a Sanderson book before, will have a fun time reading. It’s page-turning, awesome and captivating – and I really can’t wait to see what Sanderson brings to the table for the next volume in the series. You can certainly count me in for that.
“How do you make vampires more original? You put them in the Western genre. Collins has created a stunning debut here that is sure to entertain.” ~The...more“How do you make vampires more original? You put them in the Western genre. Collins has created a stunning debut here that is sure to entertain.” ~The Founding Fields
So, The Dead of Winter. What a heck of an enjoyable read, and Angry Robot continue to impress me with another stellar debut. The storyline is unique and engaging, and it moves along at a brisk pace. This is the first novel in the Cora Oglesby series and it did not disappoint - I loved every second of it.
"Cora Ogelsby and her husband, Ben, hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist.
When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious, bloody deaths out in the badlands, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if she is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, Cora must first confront her own tragic past."
Let’s start with discussing the characters. Cora and Ben are at the core of the novel and are the most developed characters here. Collins manages to make Cora a strong, lead character that is not one-dimensional, and he manages to have the novel lead a lasting effect on the characters involved, as well as the reader. An interesting choice by Collins was to make Cora and Ben a married couple, rather than a pair of lone assassins, which I found to add an interesting element to the story. With She Returns From War coming soon as the next book in this series, you can count me in as a reader of that for certain. I enjoyed almost everything about The Dead of Winter, to the extent that there’s only one thing that I had an issue with (which I’ll touch on later).
The book itself is essentially written in two halves, and the first of which deals with the introduction of Cora and what a normal job would be like for her, whilst the second kicks things into gear and after developing Cora as a strong character and allowing the reader to fully understand her as a character, we’re thrust headlong into the action in the second half, and Collins’ pace doesn’t relent. It’s action-packed, and written with confidence and very entertaining.
“Swamp Thing proves that Snyder can write well outside of Batman with a stunning opening volume to the new series which I will be following for sure.”...more“Swamp Thing proves that Snyder can write well outside of Batman with a stunning opening volume to the new series which I will be following for sure.” ~The Founding Fields
Swamp Thing: Raise Them Bones was the second volume of DC’s New 52 that I purchased for trade paperback after the success of the first volume of the Teen Titans: It’s Our Right To Fight, and now that I look back on it, I realise that I could not have picked a more different series. Even though Scott Snyder has worked on Batman, Raise Them Bones is a whole different beast to any DC, and indeed – Marvel comic that I’ve read before. And did I enjoy it?
Yes. I enjoyed it a lot.
"In the 40-years since its debut, Swamp Thing has been graced with some of the best writers in comics from Len Wein to Alan Moore and now, as part of the DC Comics—The New 52, ‘American Vampire’ scribe Scott Snyder brings his talents to an all new Swamp Thing series set in the DC Universe.Following the events of ‘Brightest Day,’ Alec Holland has his life back…but the “Green” has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it’ll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!This hardcover collection includes issues 1-7 of the monthly series."
For starters, I have not read any Swamp Thing related title before, and until I saw this series on Comixology I did not even know that Swamp Thing existed. After some thought and some good feedback from regular sources, I ended up picking the first issue up digitally. And I wasn’t that impressed with it, mainly because I was left wondering what the hell was going on.
So I was essentially taking a huge risk with Raise Them Bones. And did it pay off? Yes, yes it did. The first issue was much clearer when read with the other six contained within this volume, and I really got into the great atmospheric tone created by Snyder and artist Paquette alike. Although the series was a bit confusing to start off with, Snyder does a great job at establishing the series for new readers and by the end of the graphic novel I wasn’t too lost. I knew about the Rot and the Green, the two warring factions, I knew about Alec Holland, and I knew about Abigal Arcane and her younger, evil half brother William. Everything sort of fell into place in the last few pages, and I was left thinking – “Holy Crap. This is brilliant.”
“Wow. A fast-paced, adrenaline-thrilled, page-turning debut. Myke Cole has delivered one of the most interesting first novels of 2012, and I cannot wait for the rest of the series.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ve been wanting to read Control Point by Myke Cole ever since I heard about it at the beginning of the year. It made one of my most anticipated debuts for 2012, and I was annoyed when it was pushed back to August for a UK release. However, when I received a copy through twitter, It wouldn’t be long before I started reading, and as it turned out, I’m glad I did. Control Point is military-fantasy at its best, and is one of the better first novels of 2012 – one that should not be missed.
All over the world people are ‘coming up latent’ – developing new and terrifying abilities. Untrained and panicked, they are summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze.
US Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton has always done his duty, even when it means working alongside the feared Supernatural Operations Corps, hunting down and taking out those with newfound magical talents. But when he manifests a rare, startling power of his own and finds himself a marked man, all bets are off.
On the run from his former colleagues, Britton is driven into an underground shadow world, where he is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known … and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.
I was completly blown away by Control Point, I had high expectations going into this novel as a result of the praising reviews that it received when it hit the USA, but those expectations were beaten when I read Control Point. I just loved every second of it, and couldn’t put it down. I only had one issue with Control Point, but apart from that, everything scored top marks for me.
Oscar Britton is an interesting character to work with. Whilst Cole could have given the character some cooler magical talent like control of the elements, he instead decides to stick him with Portomancy. If you thought that was a dull, boring power, think again – the action scenes, particularly when Britton masters his powers, are intense, awesome and easily some of my favourite scenes in the novel, and I can’t wait to see more of this power being used, it was really interesting to read, and I can imagine this being part of a very enjoyable movie. When you combine the use of the magical ability with Cole’s amazingly well-written action-scenes, you know you’re in for something special here. I was blown away by how well Cole manages to write action scenes, and these were some of the highlights of this novel for me.
The pace is fast, brutal and relentless all the way through – once you go into Control Point, you won’t be able to put it down. It also helps that Myke Cole has served in the army, so you get an accurate description of many military aspects, and this adds to the realism of the novel, even if it’s urban fantasy. Or rather, I should say, military fantasy. Guns and Sorcery is what we’re dealing with here, and as far as I’m aware, Cole is the only author that I’ve read that has used combined the military aspect of the modern-day world with the urban fantasy element, and if there are any other military-fantasy novels as good as this one, I’m going to have to give them a look into. Similarities can be drawn with the X-Men universe in the division between magicals/mutants and the normal humans, and it’s interesting to see Cole’s take on it.
One of the many strong points that Myke Cole’s novel offers us is its world-creation. The setting is essentially our world, but with added magic. You get a realistic look as to how the government would react to something like this, as well as a brief insight as to how other countries also reacted to magic, and it’s a nice touch to see that not all react in the same way. There’s little information dumps in Control Point, and this allows the novel to maintain it’s breakneck pace, and yet – you still won’t find yourself lost at all.
The only real issue that I had with Control Point was that I found the book to be lacking in the development of characters, but don’t let that issue put you off. The rest of the novel is written brilliantly well, and the next book, Fortress Frontier, is going to be on my list of highly-anticipated novels for next year after this resounding debut novel. The premise is likely to draw many people in, and Peter V. Brett, author of The Painted Man and The Demon Spear, pretty much summed it up as X-Men meets Black Hawk Down. That is essentially what Control Point is, and Cole has succeeded in creating a fascinating novel that I hope many readers will enjoy as much as I did.