Book Review: Chaosmage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #3) by Stephen Aryan


Publishing Date: 2016

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Review: Ooooh, zombies.

This series did not follow a set of stories based on one theme with a grande culmination at the end. This was the same world both spatially and temporally but with a new story and characters each time. There are still some characters from other novels that take a back seat in this installment. For a finale’ this was pretty good.

What is not to like? Medieval zombies created from a parasite and manipulated by magic to become something sinister. Flesh mages that burn the life out of people and assume their identities while creating emotional havoc and feeding on the outbursts of anger/lust/hate. Wow. Also, Finn’s sword makes an appearance (yay!).

I am going to hope that this world continues with Balfruss…..someday.

Book Review: Bloodmage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #2) by Stephen Aryan


Publishing Date:

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.9/5

Review: Again with the bad cover art.

This installment resides in the same world, during the same period with different characters other than a few. Talandra is back in a supporting role along with Vargus. If you are into Palace intrigue, spies and the brutal underbelly of a city, then this is for you. There are still battles yet they take on a personal edge as our heroes are at the forefront of most.

I was entertained despite a lot of truncated scenes. This “Bam!, Boof! we are done and everything is resolved, so let’s move on” type of writing leaves much to be desired. Like poignancy’s gift to a well developed story line. Did I care about Fray, Munroe or Goraxx? Not really. As main characters they never developed to the point where their loss might affect your ability to buy the next in the series. They were just average in development and shallow in depth. Even Choss, whom was the pivot point for most of the action, was not to be missed should he catch a fatal steel bolt through an eye.

Lack of character development, when there is plenty of movement, usually spells disaster for most novels as there really is no excuse to not imbibe them with depth. Sacrificing characterization for the sake of raw entertainment renders the story line mundane. Mathew Riley’s novels encompass the same ideals and always leave you a little empty.

Let us hope that Chaosmage pumps the brakes a bit and allows for depth to be built.


Book Review: Battlemage (The Age of Darkness Trilogy #1) by Stephen Aryan


Publishing Date: 2015

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Review: That cover art is crap, period.

Our list of characters are few and I like that. Much easier to follow the story line without muddling it up with inventive names. Balfruss is a Battlemage. Vargus is a soldier. Talandra, a spy-princess. What they all have in common, besides fighting for their Kingdom, is loads of honor and impeccable virtue. Ho Hum.

Princess Talandra is a lesbian (of course) and a devious spymaster. She wends her way through the story line compromising the enemy in desperate fashion. As characters go, she is the least interesting and the most irritating with all of her “Kingdom before self”-isms. This constant virtuosity just wears you the fuck down. Initially, Balfruss is a bit of a douche and comes off quite the elitist with a side of high brow thrown in (he just gives and gives you know). Even Prince Charming couldn’t lift his dick. Yet he evolves as a character as the movement crescendos. Vargus made this novel a real delight. Exacting vengeance for a township wronged by bandits right from the start, he continues to kick-ass while being grounded in good sense and fair play. A complex character that hints of an ancient life of conflict.

The sword forged from a meteorite never makes an impact in the story line, which was odd since there was some time spent yapping about it. The novel is well written and the story line, engaging. I plan to follow through to the next in: “Bloodmage”.

Book Review: Lady of the Lake (Witcher #5) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Publishing Date: 1999

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.4/5

**Spoilers Ahead**

Review: In this installment, we continue to follow Ciri as she develops into her destiny. Most of the novel is spent on battle scene enactments while wading through the blood and muck. Initially there is scant attention paid to our heroes which is rather odd. The battles make no sense other than to leave the impression that the Nilfgardians are losing. The battle enactments should have been relegated to the sidelines and the ensuing vacuum filled with character development, via the quest.

This felt fairly rushed and not lent the patient consideration that it deserved. When all the characters that you have taken this long journey with are summarily dismissed (killed), there is certainly an emotional vacuum that ensues. I have always had a problem with authors who invest so much into a character, only to kill them off. This “striving for poignancy” is often used as a vehicle to lift the main characters and resolve the story line. Stepping on the backs of the supporting caste, in my opinion, is not the way to go about it. BTW, Dandelion should have been killed but now we have to suffer through his idiocy one more time.

We will see if the story line is corrected in “Season of Storms” but I doubt it as this is a stand alone novel. As it is, this “finale'” went off with a whimper.

Book Review: Tower of the Swallows (Witcher #4) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Publishing Date: 1997

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.8/5

**Possible Spoilers Ahead**

Review: Well Ciri has joined a band of ruffians whom rob from the rich in order to dress themselves in flamboyant fashions of the times. Ciri is now a 14 year old lesbian having sex with an older woman. Yay! She gets a rose tattoo on her crotch and enjoys killing a little too much. Besides scratching my head in befuddlement at Ciri’s sudden transformation, Geralt has become this boring malcontent with heaps of lassitude. The only interesting characterization are the traveling dwarfs, a vampire and Yen, yet these appearances are brief and wane in the spotlight.

The biggest plot fail in this installment is the sudden development of Ciri as lesbian pit fighter, where various armed bad assess are thrown at her either singly or in groups. The fuking idea that a VERY young girl not only possesses the skills of a master but can wield those skills in death matches against full grown battle hardened men, is ridiculous. Hey, but that’s showbiz. I forgot the number of times Ciri said “DON’T MAKE ME DO THIS!!!!” . Her personality skips around from well learned sorceress to petulant child and back to feared and battle scarred hot nymph. There is absolutely no consistency in her development, which becomes harder as the story line narrows. Who is she ultimately going to become? A head-shorn, sword wielding. lesbian pirate? A rumpled and demure princess with a penchant for siblicide? An all knowing mage that utilizes her power for uniting the Nordlings under one banner? Personally I think she will become part owner/operator of a tepid alehouse that serves goat meat stew and pickled anchovies.

The weirdly inserted story telling type narration is back again with POV shifts between Dandelion and the Third Person.  The movement and world building are still very good and capture the imagination in a vibrant visual process.

At the end of the read, you will find that you still cheered for everyone to get out of the shjt and dole out that righteous retribution on those that have wronged.


Book Review: The Time of Contempt (Witcher #2) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Publishing Date: 1995

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8/5

Review: This follows the Blood of Elves” story line with Ciri growing in command of her abilities with Yen as her tutor.

Rendered in exquisite detail, the visual landscape is what sets this novel apart from the others. The side stories that support the main story line, as well as the supporting characters really bolster the novel in a compelling direction.  The plots of Kings and Wizards creates a unique friction as you don’t know who is for or against our heroes. There are some deaths that are a minor fail, as so much emotional content was invested in them. Their deaths detracted more from the novel than creating a reactionary response, like justified vengeance via martyrdom.

You’re in deep now, so no turning back. Next up: “Baptism of Fire.