Review: Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan


Publishing Date: January 2012
Publisher: Orbit
Genere: Fantasy
Rating: 4.8/5.0

Publisher Description: The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide, they plan to execute two traitors (Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar) as well as force the Empress into a marriage of their own design. But they didn’t account for Royce and Hadrian finally locating the Heir of Novron—or the pair’s desire to wreak havoc on the New Empire’s carefully crafted scheme.

Review: This is the Grande finale’ of this series and I am saddened by it’s ending. No matter how slow I read, the pages still zipped by.

I must admit that I was on the edge a few times with the character development of Arista. There has been a big shift in character focus as the novels progress away from Hadrian and Royce to whiney Arista. The author makes up for this in his latest prequel installments. There are some minor holes in the story-line development like how did Allie all of a sudden show up at the castle (she was captured by the Goblins) and her adopted fathers role in liberating her. There was a sense that the big picture was a bit rushed and compressed into the story ending.

I am also a bit confused as to the authors penchant for draping every woman in a dress. They sword fight, go on epic quests through ancient cities, travel through rain and snow storms, and slop around in mud in long dresses. The ability to repel down a hole in a long dress is stretching things a bit. Not buying what the author is trying to sell here. There was some lengthy filler, especially sections where Lady Amilia is involved. Again, not a fan of the cover art. It is consistent though.

Other than my nit picking, this was a fantastic finale’ with a culmination of events tied into a logical whole. Great quests reminiscent of Jules Verne with Goblins, Elves, magic and dragons thrown in. Character development is superb, down to the least relevant role. Nimbus was a great character and is suspect at the start for showing up in timely need. And who did Hadrian see in the frescoes at Persepliquis that was so familiar to him? The Epic fight of Champions is really well done, with the exception of being able to log-roll faster than a Warrior Elf can stab/run.

I liked the life teachings the author presents through the monk that addresses; recovery from loss, inner redemption and forgiveness, and staying in the moment where no fears can reside. The monk’s take on “where you are right now, is exactly where you need to be” is wonderful.

This review, like all the others, is my honest assessment. If you had read my other reviews you know that I can be scathing. Trust me on this one, it is a damn fine novel and a great series. I will re-read this series again in another 10 years, unless the author decides to continue. There is some great source material to continue this series in a world that is never settled.

Review: Y by James Campion


Publisher: Gueem
Publishing Date: May 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 1.5/5

Publishers Description: Thus begins the ultimate urban myth which unfold in the pages of y; a satirical romp through the labyrinth of New York City chasing a mischievous band of dreamers into the mystical mountains upon the Hudson.

Review: This is a writer in love with his own prose, attempting to be the next Still Life with Woodpecker. Although it has its moments, the author tries too hard to be constantly witty, ironic and histrionic. You really have to dig deep into the well of patience for the story to unfold as you wade through miles of satiric marsh. Satire is good for short runs, but not good for the long-haul as it becomes strangely insulting with passive-aggressive intent.

The current reviews reflect a growing interest in being the first eclectic retard that “gets it”. There is nothing to “get” in Y. Just another pedantic look into the inverted mind. The cover art does a good job of depicting the lack of content. They really should’ve had Big Bird holding up the letter “y”.

Just skippity do dah this mélange of tripe and winnowed art before you ask yourself, “y did I buy this?”

Review: Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan


Publisher: Oribit
Publishing Date: December 2011 (Orbit)
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.2

Publishers Description: War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists whom are fighting the Imperialists in the south. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce’s suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own grab for power. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian’s past–what he discovers may end their friendship and break Riyria in two.

Review: This picks up where the Imperialists have consolidated most of the Region and subsequent power, with a few holdouts being Melenger and the Nationalists. This has been a fantastic ride so far and this novel delivers as the others have before (which were written later….er….). There is good pace coupled to adventures that keep the reader entertained. The internal dialogue is getting a bit longer from characters that you normally don’t associate with introspection. Although Gwen is covered in the prequels (written later…er…) she gets scant coverage in this installment. This hooker with a heart of gold should have had her experiences expanded into this known universe. But hindsight is 20/20 when the novels were written out of sequence. I am so glad Arista got some pants, literally, and is using her own brand of magic.

The character development is so good that you wish for the exultations of the protagonists and pray for the untimely and unseemly deaths of the vile ones. Through this intense involvement you take it personally when characters you like, die. Really looking forward to Bishop Sauldur’s demise.

Some of the battle scenes are hard to visualize, as no numbers are really given for the Ratibor, Nationalist and Imperialist armies so you have no sense of scale. Arista is on the verge of becoming a whiney twit that almost sunk this installment, but girded her loins in order to prevail. The author’s political leanings seep out into the story-line with veiled referents to conservatives/religion etc. that really doesn’t detract too much from the novel. If anything the world he depicts mirrors todays socialist agenda by the Imperialists. Again the cover art needs a lot of work as it follows the same theme.

Get this series and enjoy your time in Elan.

Review: Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan


Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: September 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.6

Publisher Description: Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late.

Review: In this installment we find our intrepid boyos taking a job that fails to execute only to be cast into another adventure that provokes the idea that I hope this saga never ends. I complained a little about the lack of movement in the last novel i.e. going places, so to my surprise this started out with a bang. You are quickly transported to far away lands with monks, magic users and dwarf prisons.

Character development is detailed enough for new entrants into the novel that never intrudes into the story-line flow and only enhances the novel. The Monk found in the remains of a monastery is a great example of a character that you are soon sympathetic with and wish that only good things happen to him. He also brings a measure of compassion to all things and enables the author to test the depth of kindness of others around him.

The cover is just too smooth and clean to depict characters that rarely bathe and wade through sewers. The second part of the Ryria Revelations is a leap in suspending disbelief. Hadrian and Royce stumble upon a girl named Thrace, in some city, go back to her hamlet to help rid the area of a raiding beast, and somehow all the main characters (Princess Arista, Mauvin and bros, Dwarves, Bishop Sauldur, Seret Knights etc.) show up for a contest in this little town. Another bit of annoyance is that the Ryria know of the Bishops direct involvement in the Kings murder, yet never mention it to Alric.

Despite some story-line flaws in part 2, this was a great read. Get them all.

Review” The Rose and the Thorn by Michael J. Sullivan


Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date:
ISBN: 9780316243728
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.7

Publisher Description: 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, Royce returns to Medford with Hadrian but the two 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.

Review: This novel takes place in the area of Medford and did not have our two hero’s (anti?) traveling much. I was a bit disappointed that they decided to have a base of operations in Medford, as I felt that adventures are best served on the road. Still this second novel in the series takes off right where the last one left us….wanting more. I could not put down this novel. I kept telling myself that I have to get up and should be asleep. I finished these first two in the series in record time, and as I write this review I am half-way through Theft of Swords. The cover art is still sucking with the groomed duo, looking painfully gay.

There is a timelessness about these novels that really makes you yearn for that era. You live it as you read it and are a bit sorrowful that it is not real and can never be. Now I know why LARPERS larp about. Hopefully if I ever get transported back, it would be into this authors imagination as a bad-ass swordsman with no douche-geeks in tights waving paper swords and talking in high British accents.

I plan on reading all of this authors novels. So pull up your tights and sharpen your scissors for the reviews to follow.

Review: The Crown Tower by Michael Sullivan


Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: August 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.8

Publishers Description: Hadrian Blackwater, a warrior with nothing to fight for, is paired with Royce Melborn, a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Hired by an old wizard, 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 prized possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels that the wizard is after, and if he can just keep them from killing each other, they just might succeed.

Review: I originally clued into this author after following another author on Goodreads whom raved about this series. Wow, what can I say. Fantastic, riveting, engrossing, surprising and fascinating. Character, story-line development is really good. Visualizing the scenes is almost like being there. the author inter-leaves a lot of descriptors into every sentence that builds the story in your imagination. The cover art is so-so. Was looking for more grunge and characters that look very different than like twins.

I think you will have a great time with this read. Get it and be amazed!!

Review: Mudlark by Chris Mathews


Publishing Date: July 2013 (archived)
Publisher: Momentum
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Publishers Description: On the outskirts of the city, a young orphan boy, Lark, is forced to scavenge the muddy flats of the river for treasure in order to survive. When he finds a magical box that cannot be opened, his life changes forever. Lark soon learns that he is destined to battle the Capposeign—the corrupt and evil theocracy that rules the city of Perous with fire magic.

Review: I review novels multiple times prior to publishing. I create the first within about the first 5-8 chapters, conduct another if the novel moves away from the initial assessment, and then a final. My initial review was all praise due to a great story-line filled with action and interesting characters. Scenes were very well crafted to help build your own set of vivid visualizations. About midway through, there was the beginning of long-winded scenes where page after page was spent on constructing the details of planned events (assemblies, 3 element/resistance meetings etc.). If the author would have reduced the amount of finite descriptors, this would have been a great read. There are some “moments” of infernal dialogue that were thankfully short.

The author has a wonderful creative logic pathway seldom seen in most novels. There are some perspective shifts that are a bit annoying, where you feel a bit removed from the characters as the story plays out. The cover art is fantastic. Really evokes emotion tied to the main character, Lark.

I initially rated this novel 4.5, then after my second review it went to 3.5. The authors “about” page at the end was disappointing in that it deviates from the simple biographies we are used to. I am not sure that the author’s sexual orientation is relevant (perhaps only to her) and that anyone seriously cares. I find it is more palatable and easier to digest a novel without being bludgeoned by an authors egocentric identity.

If you have a lot of time on your hands and don’t care if your bored stiff reading pages of filler, then get this novel as it has it’s moments of brilliance.

Review: Hot Ice by Gregg Loomis


Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: September 2013
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 3.2/5.0

Publishers Description: Though not on the government payroll, Jason Peters kills for Uncle Sam. NARCOM is a private corporation that does what the CIA doesn’t have the nerve to do, and Peters is its best operative—until the job gets the best of him. He completes his last mission and happily retires to Italy, swearing to his girlfriend that he’s through with his deadly past. He has just settled into a peaceful life when NARCOM comes knocking.

Review: One reviewer stated that this novel was neither a mystery or a thriller and I would have to agree. Everything that occurs is evident and no surprises to the story line exist. The plot is fairly straight forward and the overall character development was weak. His hot girlfriend is always stating the same thing over and over “Violence stops when we choose to be non-violent” adds a tired air to the whole story-line as does his inner-dialogue on terrorists whom killed his wife. The author does provide very good scene development so visualization is a snap. Tough trick that. The cover art is lame-o. Is that Iceland?

The author talks about rifle accuracy and the need to get a uniform crimp on the bullet. Not true. A uniform brass neck diameter that seats the bullet is more important to accuracy than crimping. The only way to get a uniform crimp is to develop necked brass that you make concentric by trimming the outside of the neck to uniform thickness. Then get a case fired neck die made to your specific crimp specifications and your good to go. Weighing bullets as the author states is a fairy tale and belongs in an urban dictionary. If the shooter is going to those lengths for accuracy, they will be selecting bullets that perform (Berger, Sierra, Hornaday, Nosler) by their Ballistic Coefficient. The higher the BC the less drift the bullet has downrange.

It is easy to find flaws in any novel, if that is your bent. I assure that isn’t mine. I merely point out what I see and make the call. Despite a few technical and development flaws, I had a fun time reading this novel. The author is a creative story teller, there just needs to be some refinement. If your on the fence with this one just jump and have a good time.

Review: The Undead Hordes of Kan-gul by Jon F. Merz


Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: September 2013
ISBN: 9781451639162
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5.0

Publishers Description: Ninjas and zombies! Book 1 in a new series, the Shadow Warrior saga. A young ninja in a fantastic land of dreams and nightmares must face an army of zombies to save a beautiful sorceress.

Review: This was a fun read, not to be taken too seriously. This was an uncorrected proof so there were a lot of grammatical/syntax/spelling errors throughout. The cover is weak. The undead hordes described in the novel are not skeletons but rotting corpses in varying stages of decay. The cover art depicts the last scene in the novel, where the skin gets fried off the undead, hence the skeletons.

The story-line was fun and the novel kept up at a real good pace with plenty of action and good character development. The authors prose doesn’t flow very well due to an over-abundance of verbosity. Scenes that involved the characters communicating with each other was over-done with useless information. IMO this weakens the characters. Sometimes the action is self-explanatory and requires no filler. There is an inordinate amount of logical progression and story-line errors. Hopefully during the final editing process this gets cleaned up.

I really expected more magic and Ran’s ability as a Shadow Warrior to verge on the fantastical. His abilities are a bit more down to earth while Kanchos’ seem to be a tier above. Not sure why the author gifted a secondary character with more skill than the hero. Although the author expresses (through Ran), his need to hide his Shadow Warrior past, it is not alluded to that he does so while fighting.

Even with all the errors that reside in this uncorrected proof, I had a good time. By September when this becomes available to the masses, it should be edited enough to pass muster.