Review: Among The Fallen by N.S. Dolkart

Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date:

ISBN: 9780857665713

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: In wake of the battle of Silent Hall, the city of Ardis is reeling, its leaders frightened and disorganized. The remaining oracle of the god Ravennis has resurfaced there and is spreading a new gospel – one in which Ravennis is the new Lord of the Underworld. Narky is swept up in the promotion of his religion, even while the prevailing church of Magor tries to put down its upstart rivals. 

Review: Narky, Bandu and the gang are back in a more “settled” version of Silent Hall. Our traveling companions have mostly split due to various causal events and personal choices. As they find their way through a world influenced by the Gods, they are once again thrust into a series of pivotal events. 

This was another great read in the series, although it lacked the punch of the first due to the loss of the social dynamic of a tightly knit group. I guess that is the evolution of growing up as everyone must part ways at some point. The chapters with Bandu, Phaedra and Hunter were always the most entertaining due to the quests and inherent confrontations. And why is Psander never adequately described if at all?

I really like this writer, despite having politically diametric views. He doesn’t bog down the story line with saturated dialogue or unnecessary phrasing. The movement is not only constant but appropriate to the character(s) being developed. His world is immersive and easy to visualize. I am constantly surprised how a new author can bring a creative world into the light of the written word and unfold a competent and entertaining novel. Really astounding, as it reads like an accomplished author that has been writing for many years. GET THIS!

Review: Hell’s Butcher by Chris Barili

Publisher: Stealth

Publishing Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9780998616803

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.0/5

Publishers Description: Hell’s Marshal Frank Butcher and his ragtag posse are back, this time wreaking havoc on the civilized east coast. Sent to bring back John Wilkes Booth and his gang before they can kill the current US President, 

Review: A novella that never stops or slows down. This compressed format, while enjoyable, limits the ability to make an in-depth subjective and discerning review. What Hell’s Butcher IS, is a lot of fun in a short period of time.

 

Review: A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

Publisher: St. Martins

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780312372941

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.0/5

Publishers Description: To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcnéas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind—the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Review: I am ready for the sycophantic backlash that will soon follow this review. Loins girded and hassock tight as I ply the lanes of verbiage. Nice cover art though.

So…..what is with all the 5 star reviews and none of a lesser? I read that the world building was “Epic!”, “Setting is historically accurate”, “Intricate plot” and “A blending of deep myths and ancient tales”. Fact, myth or folklore? To me this was a fantasy novel drawing on mythos and a surmised historical interaction between people that may or may not have existed in reality or interacted at all.

The characters were the main failing of this novel, which is just about the entirety of it. They just never seemed to grow along with the movement. Take Grimnir for instance. 1,000 year old skraeling killer dude that wends his way through the novel expounding his perspectives as if reading from a LARPing minstrels script. “Faugghh! You piece of Danish Filth will tremble to the marrow as my blood encrusted black clawed-fingers tear out your bleating hymn singing hearts that I roast on fires that sprang from Yggdrasil”. Every time Grimnir (One of Odin’s names) talks, he orates in high-handed heathen fashion, and oh does it wear painfully thin after awhile. Etain also fails to animate the story line as she is constantly dismissing the reality that surrounds her or too quickly forgiving transgressions like murder and torture. 

The name skraeling (as associated with Grimnir as an ancient evil warrior race), was in reality what the 13th century norse named the Greenland Inuits and 11th century North American natives.  While the novel is creative in that it borrows heavily from myth and wraps that myth into history, I found myself flipping through a lot of pages where the dialogue drowned the story line in static exchanges. In the end, the plot was predicated on revenge which is not intricate but rather an easy way to create a salable novel. 

 

 

Review: Our Young Guardians: Seven and Two by Rodi Szoke

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Publisher: Rodi Szoke

Publishing Date: October 2016

ISBN: 9780997565911

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.5/5

Publishers Description: Seven journals were written but only five remain and are hidden, guarded by folk and charms, waiting to be retrieved so their story can be shared. Through the words of one of the children, we follow not only their adventures but also their struggles through adolescence as they become adults.

Review: Our hero, Jonek, longs to be a soldier/warrior and sneaks off to secretly watch the soldiers train. He and his friends stumble upon a maggoty beast that is an emissary of the evil that is coming to their land.

This was surprisingly good. High pace, good character development and constant surprises in magical form abound. The world(s) are epic and have a grand foundation in magic.  At every turn there is this creative inventiveness by the author to infuse new ideas and elements and weave them into the story line. Just when you think Jonek is topped out with surprises he goes and gets a magic lizard under his skin. It was those types of instances that made this novel enjoyable. I could not put it down and chastised myself for not doing so. I should not have liked the rampant use of magic that at times appeared in Deus ex machina fashion but was wholly entertained throughout.

The only problem I have is that this author does not have a publishing deal. GET THIS!

Review: Kokoro by Keith Yatsuhashi

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Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: April 2017

ISBN: 9780857666192

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publishers Description: On the planet of Higo, without the guidance of the Great Spirits, its people are descending into religious civil war. Baiyren Tallaenaq, Prince of Higo, is exiled after causing the death of his mother.
Freed from his responsibilities and the looming war, he steals their greatest weapon – a giant, sentient, armoured suit – and uses it to open a Portal to a world he never knew existed. A world called ‘Earth͟’…home of a magical young woman called Keiko.

Review: I am not sure what happened here. Where Kojiki was streamlined, Kokoro was laden with too much of, well everything. Characters, names and places and back history, all inter-leaved with constant over the top action. This process rendered the story line indiscernible and vague and subsequently lacked the detail required to visualize. 

 The cliché’ presented the form of Juno, really put me off this novel. Selfish, myopic (to the point of blindness), demanding but oh so hot and uber smart, Juno. Running from her bad CONSERVATIVE daddy who happens to be a US Senator and armed services committee chairman and into the mountains of China on a dig. Political bias. A big buzz kill no matter what side of the fence you’re on.  Well, while Juno flounces around demanding everything from everybody because she is an entitled little brat you get the sneaking suspicion early on that because the Heartstone is connected to her, that she is…SPESHUL!!!! YAY! Fug. Yup, speshulness rears it’s ugly head in this sequel in the form of spit and vinegar, hottie archeologist, Juno! See, she wuvs a pwince and he wuvs her so dang, hold on to your hotpockets cause here come the shjts. 

 Although this did not meet my expectations, I kinda knew that a great follow up to Kojiki was wishful thinking.

*UPDATE* I just received a complaint from the author filed to his publisher. The publisher (author) requests that my review be removed as I did not grasp the main theme of the novel.  The author could have made a lot of headway contacting me directly to explain my review. This has happened in the past and I am no stranger to re-reading novels with additional information and HAVE changed my reviews to reflect this.

Review: Empress of the Fall by David Hair

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Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9781784291013

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.3/5

Publishers Description: Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war.

Review: Not sure what to make of this. This novel was a roiling mass of naming conventions that is very hard to track unless you are familiar with the author’s world. This becomes an issue when it clouds the storyline. I get that this is a faction vs. faction vs. (etc.) novel that hints at replicating Game of Thrones, but it really needed an induction of simplicity in order to bring character focus and world building clarity.

I really liked everything about Ril. He was the only character that was built wonderfully with the movement. The rest of the players were somewhat muddied as they traipsed around a diminished storyline. Epic and I mean EPIC movement was utilized to balance the deficiencies in the novel.  There is no grand quest, or side quests for that matter that could have brought the world into focus and provided opportunities for character development and a gradual build to the finale. Yet, everything seemed compressed, almost rushed in order to “fit” all that the author had to say. Still, very good writing that is in need of serious storyline editing.

 

 

Review: Pirate Queen: Book of the Navigator by H.N. Klett

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Publisher: Raven Rock Press

Publishing Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9780997969917

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Rating: 3.7/5

Publishers Description: Hailey Heartstone’s life is swept into a storm of peril after she stumbles upon an ancient talking book, the book of the legendary Pirate Queen. Once unlocked, its dangerous power thrusts her into a world full of deadly mists and phantom pirates intent on recovering what once was theirs. Kidnapped from her family, Hailey must face true fear as she is forced into a journey to protect the power that she found and seek out those willing to help her save all that she loves before it is too late.

Review: I could have sworn that this novel was written by a woman as the perspective is spot on when viewed through Hailey’s eyes. Hailey is special, but that’s ok here because the pirate book tells her so and yet she still wanders around in disbelief. Hailey, like most heroines, are written as being at once really smart and dumber than a bag of hotdogs. Why this is so, is mainly to build the plot and embellish the story line. It really is not needed when you have a strong protagonist, yet some feel it is necessary in order to develop the supporting characters.

This was a fun and imaginative romp through a world imbued with sinister royalty, good pirates, ancient tech and an airship! This novel was not only creative but highly entertaining. “So why you no give 5 stars!!”. You will know it when you read it, but Orin’s demise was not needed as it halted the movement and destroyed a good chunk of the plot. Additionally there were numerous grammatical errors. 

I will definitely get the next in the series.