This book took me a few attempts to get into. There is perhaps a slow section around the 20-30% mark which couForcing back the tears to write? Check.
This book took me a few attempts to get into. There is perhaps a slow section around the 20-30% mark which could trip you up. I advise you persevere. I think there are books that you really need to sink into, without any distraction, without putting it down in the middle of a chapter because something or someone demands your attention. If there are such books, this is one of them. So if you've struggled before with it, find the silence and space. Find the time to sink into it. Once you do, you won't want to resurface.
I'm now a Robin Hobb convert. I love her prose (the Skill of which few can hope to equal) and she allows you to slide into her character's skin in a way I've never experienced. Fitz's life briefly became my life; his pain my pain; his loss my loss. And where the first 100 or so pages were a slow burn, the final quarter hurtles on at a break-neck politically intriguing speed.
I am left both eager and afraid to continue. Can a reader take this emotional beating for what is now a 15 book series? I'll let you know when I make it to the end. ...more
Ah the difficult second book. More like the horrendously difficult second-half of the second book - no one warns you about that!
This trilogy is tightAh the difficult second book. More like the horrendously difficult second-half of the second book - no one warns you about that!
This trilogy is tightly knitted in its time frame. It's the Lord of the Rings model, so really one giant story broken into three. I knew where to begin the series. I knew where to end it. That bit in the middle though....
They say that good writing can only come from adversity, and this book was certainly more of a challenge than the first. In part, I believe this was the case because I was growing and learning. I tried to push myself further, dig deeper, edit more critically. I think it was all worth it.
If I can build and improve this much with every book, I'll be a very happy author :)...more
Darnuir made many mistakes. Death is his redemption. Reborn, and secretly raised by humans, this former dragon prince must become the king his past-seDarnuir made many mistakes. Death is his redemption. Reborn, and secretly raised by humans, this former dragon prince must become the king his past-self never was....
It wasn't until early 2017, over a year after publication, that I was able to condense this book into the above pitch. It felt strange to do so, if only because this world and story have been with me for so long. Looking back on the first shaky attempts at Dragon's Blade, I'm not sure what kept me going. God those early drafts were terrible.
I'll likely never write a book quite like this one again.
It was the first book I ever wrote and looking back there is much I'd change if I could wave a magic wand. Hindsight is glorious. But back in the summer of 2015 this was the best I could produce. I sweated, poured in tears and blood, and chased the story that had been forming in my head since I was 9 years old.
The Reborn King is very special because of that.
What has stunned me the most is that other people have loved it too. The effort all seems worth it when you hear that a school kid read this book first and then went on to read the Hobbit - frankly I can think of no higher honour.
I can only hope that years from now, people will still be coming to this story with fresh eyes and find the same enjoyment and passion in it, as I did in creating it....more
I tend to only jump at reviewing when I feel I have something useful to say about a book (or have been asked to review an ARC as is beginning to happeI tend to only jump at reviewing when I feel I have something useful to say about a book (or have been asked to review an ARC as is beginning to happen!). The Path Of Flames is a confidently executed novel and it sets up an epic fantasy saga effortlessly. It's clear why this series has taken off the way it has, so, in the end, what more can I say? Delving into personal niggles isn't really worthwhile either.
Perhaps I can talk about Tucker's style and how it has influenced me. I feel I've grown a lot as an author over the past year with a few key books guiding me towards improving my natural style. Miles Cameron was one of these authors and Phil Tucker is another. The writing is just so damned concrete. Tucker locks himself into a character's head space and keeps us there like few other authors I've read. No abstractions. Little day dreaming. Every thought and action has a purpose to the immediate scene. It's the kind of writing that sucks you in, assuming you're in the right mood to be - I almost missed a stop on the train home to Scotland at Christmas while reading it.
Phil is an awesome writer and an awesome person to have on the indie scene. I think that sums it all up nicely....more
What did I think Goodreads? I thought it was creepy, dark and magnificently written. Laura has a twisted imagination and real talent for words. She waWhat did I think Goodreads? I thought it was creepy, dark and magnificently written. Laura has a twisted imagination and real talent for words. She walks the paper thin line between beauty and purple prose but never descends into over-indulgence. It's a writing style that is a little tricky at first to get into, but once you do it's rewarding.
The same goes for the story itself. At first you feel a little lost, bewildered, but this is delicate enough to add to the intrigue and tension without turning you off from reading. Being a novella held in this regard as you know things will start to make sense soon. By about half way I was beginning to see the macabre conclusion fall into place and the ending satisfied my expectations.
The setting has a dream like quality which fits very well with how the character of Blue would likely be experiencing the world. We're never too sure where or when this tale takes place. My guess would be 1950's in a small country town... somewhere. Ultimately it doesn't matter and it's extremely atmospheric.
Task is a 400-year-old golem; a ‘wind cut’ stone war machine who has served countless masters and foughThis is Ben’s best book yet. Plain and simple.
Task is a 400-year-old golem; a ‘wind cut’ stone war machine who has served countless masters and fought their wars. Yet Task was always something more. His very first word, spoken just after his creation, is ‘why?’ This baffles Task’s creator:
“Fourteen golems, and you’re the first to ask ‘why’.”
And this aptly draws Task character.
Yes, he is a war machine, yes he can be brutal, but this golem has a brain inside that head and a better heart than most in his chest. Though beaten down by the magic that binds him to his masters, and very nearly numb to the world after centuries of fighting, when Task is thrown into the middle of the Hartlund civil war he begins to question again: why? Luckily for Task he is befriended by Lesky. She’s a little girl with a whoppingly large foul mouth and plenty of wit besides. Right from the get go you understand what she is all about and her stubborn attempts to befriend Task account for some of the most heart touching parts of this story. Throw in the half-drunken, shell of a legend that is Alabast, a man living in his own shadow, and you’ve got quite the solid trio of POV characters. This was just as well, for the first half of the novel is a slow simmering build towards the explosive end third. It might be a touch slow for some but I felt the characters were interesting and enough on their own to draw me in. There’s a lot to like in this regard.
I said this is Galley’s best book and this carries into the writing as well. Galley has a unique style which some might find rich but I found the prose to be his most refined yet while still maintaining that distinctiveness.
As a standalone story I wonder whether so much world building was required. It’s not overbearing but I wonder if we needed some of those foreign nations and tidbits of history added to the mix. More attention to the people of Hartlund fighting this civil war might have served better, but this is more a pondering thought than a critique. While we get a lot more information on Hartlund later on, it comes close to the end and being spread throughout the story might have helped build the intrigue about certain events which kick started the war.
There is magic in this world (obviously, there is a nine-foot talking golem running around) but it’s low key. Many will enjoy this stripped back, grittier fantasy but those who like a sprinkle of magic will find some as the book progresses. But make no mistake, this is closer to grimdark than epic or heroic fantasy. The civil war (which I like to imagine is modelled off of the English Civil War) is absolutely brutal. There is no glory in it. There are no heroes basking in it. There is only death, incompetent leadership, death, hard living, oh, and death. BUT there is laughter too. Grim laughter but the dark humour is a welcome relief throughout the novel.
If it isn’t clear already, I think the Heart of Stone is more than worth your time and money. If this is your first-time hearing about Ben Galley, then what better book to start on than a standalone story about a wind-cut golem with a tender heart.
(I was lucky enough to receive an advanced review copy of this book)...more
Well that was a truly enthralling read. I admit I wasn’t quite sure at first whether the concept would work BUT IT DOES. Seriously. Think Star Wars X-Well that was a truly enthralling read. I admit I wasn’t quite sure at first whether the concept would work BUT IT DOES. Seriously. Think Star Wars X-Wing pilots swooping around, the quick back and forth, the music swelling and now picture them piloting dragons instead? It’s just that cool.
Heart of Granite is set in a future earth where alien DNA has been taken to grow giant lizard type creatures which humanity now uses to wage war. The Heart of Granite (or the HoG) is in fact an enormous lizard behemoth akin to a mother ship. The most famous soldiers are the drake pilots who fly in the pouches of drakes (essentially dragons) and command them through a mental link. They are the cream of the crop, live glamorous sex filled lifestyles but aren’t expected to live for long. Either they will die soon in combat or the Fall will take them, an illness shrouded in top level secrecy whereby drake pilots become so addicted to the connection to the drake they go insane. We follow Max Halloran, the best of the best, and his squad called Inferno-X. The story focuses on them for the most part, weaving a tight narrative around Max and the squad dealing with the Fall and all of its repercussions. There’s a ton of action and plenty of heart in the Heart of Granite.
What struck me the most when reading was just what a confidently written book it was. Barclay has been writing for many years and perhaps the freedom of a fresh genre and series, along with all that experience, allowed him just to knock this one out almost effortlessly. The writing is crisp and clean, and you’re never overloaded with information nor given too little, allowing the plot to thump along on the beat of a drake’s wings. There seems to have been a crusade against dialogue tags but it works just fine and actually made me bolder in removing many during my own editing. Having the majority of the action take place between the com chatter of the pilots works extremely well too, giving a picture more quickly and clearly than keeping track of complicated drake movements in your head.
I’d be nit picking for criticisms. Barclay sets up a simple tale of the drake pilots and hits it right on the head, forgoing a lot of information that might have fleshed out the wider context. Yet as the plot works just fine without knowing that context it isn’t an issue, although some insight into the different warring blocs, in particular the ‘Mafs’, who are the enemy of the Heart of Granite, would have been welcome. I was also slightly confused with the chain of command from the top brass. It became clearer by the end but there were several characters that seemed to have authority of some description and I think that muddled in the middle, but that might just be me. I suspect there is more in store for this series so I’ll get to know all I want in good time.
For now I’d definitely recommend this as a very enjoyable, funny, action packed read. ...more
Well serve me up a shark steak on a plate rimmed with an alchemical glow. What a read (well listen).
Now, it could be that I've finally come out of theWell serve me up a shark steak on a plate rimmed with an alchemical glow. What a read (well listen).
Now, it could be that I've finally come out of the slump I've been having for the past year. Since finishing my own book I had this irksome feeling when reading that I couldn't just enjoy books as a reader. I was over thinking everything and this prevented me from just falling into a story like I used to. Thankfully that seems to be over and The Lies of Locke Lamora really dragged me in.
The narrative voice was witty and entertaining, the world building was seriously in depth and I felt the build of Locke and the Gentlemen Bastards as a crew was very believable. You are never in any doubt that these guys are in sync and can pull off crazier capers than Danny Ocean rocking a pewter drag with Kelsier.
However, and this is just a small 'however', like many books, The Lies of Locke Lamora's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. That indulgent witty style of narration is humorous but it can get the flow bogged down. The flash back scenes to the training of the Bastards with Father Chains (my favourite character) are some of the best parts but they do interupt Locke's battle with the Gray King. I found this a particular problem after about the 50% mark where Locke finds himself trapped in a barrel floating downriver. HUGE CLIFFHANGER and then two flashbacks plus a one of POV chapter...it just slowed things down too much at a pivotal moment. There were some additional world building interludes about a war between the whores of Camorr and the criminal elite and something about a ball game that flew right over my head.
I might also pick at the over powered abilities of the Bondsmagi but plenty of stories don't follow a rigid magic system and work out wonderfully (see Neil Gaiman). I could go on at length about it but it wouldn't change my mind that Lynch fully deserves his position amongst the greats.
I listened to this one and it was a delight to hear play out over a few weeks. I found myself going to the gym more just to stick it on and that is a definite plus. I fully understand the hype now. It is a book in which the characters far outshine the plot though and that can split readership. It won't be for everyone but nothing is.