Book Review: Shadow of the Excile by Mitchell Hogan

 

Publishing Date: October 2018

Publisher: 49 North

ISBN:9781503903227

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Outcast and exiled, the demon Tarrik Nal-Valim has long been forgotten by the world of humans. At least, so he thinks. But when he is summoned as a last resort by a desperate sorcerer, it seems as though his past has caught up with him. The sorcerer is Serenity “Ren” Branwen, the daughter of Tarrik’s former master—and friend. Though she seems cold, driven, and ruthless, Tarrik can tell that Ren has her back against a wall, and he is compelled by ferocious powers to obey her.

Review: So……this….was…really….good. This parsing of verbiage hopefully drives home that point. Tarrik is called and bound by a sorceress, to help protect her while she pursues a hidden quest of her own. This constant movement creates an interesting and varied world and even more interesting characters. The magic is very involved and intricate in approach and varies from person to person.  The only downer is the oft repeated “Hiding shadow blade” reasoning among others. There is no need to re-iterate instances. We are accomplished readers not idiots.

I was holding my breath, hoping beyond hope that the two main characters in this novel would NOT devolve into a romance. And thankfully Tarrik just wants to find ways to break the sorcerers enslavement in order to kill her. Yeah baby! Who knows, maybe down the road something love-buds, at which point I will shjt-can the novel. So enjoy it while it lasts and get it while it’s hot!

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Book Review: Rogue Dungeon by Eden “Hottie” Hudson and J. Hunter

 

Publishing Date: July 2018

Publisher: Shadow Alley

ASIN: B07FKYZFYD

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6

Publisher’s Description: Roark von Graf—hedge mage and lesser noble of Traisbin—is one of only a handful of Freedom fighters left, and he knows the Resistance’s days are numbered. Unless they do something drastic…But when a daring plan to unseat the Tyrant King goes awry, Roark finds himself on the run through an inter-dimensional portal, which strands him in a very unexpected location: an ultra-immersive fantasy video game called Hearthworld. He can’t log out, his magic is on the fritz, and worst of all, he’s not even human.

Review: Ok, this was really good in that there was great movement set in a real interesting world. The entertainment value is really high and I am already begging the author(s) to send me the next in the series.

So why does it work so well? I think the authors really complimented each other. Take Eden Hudson’s wild and creative imagination (that sometimes gets a little carried away) and add Hunter’s restraint and cogent process and you get novel gold. Just too fun to put down. GET THIS!

Book Review: Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland by Michael Eging

Publishing Date:  July 2017

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781532020209

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8

Publisher’s Description: As the Frank kingdom prepares for war, Roland, young heir to the Breton March, has been relegated to guard duty until a foreign emissary entrusts him with vital word of a new threat to the kingdom. Now Roland must embark on a risky journey to save all he loves from swift destruction.

Review: This novel is at once compelling, ridiculous, entertaining and maudlin. Let’s look at the ridiculous.

Roland is written as an animation hero straight out of Disney, only more visceral in presentation. He is stalwart, honest/truthful to a fault, abhors evil, and men flock to him for leadership in battle. He only has one true love and puts others before himself…in all things. It’s like Dudley Dooright made a night deposit at the Disney sperm bank, and out popped Roland. Of course where would Roland be without a sidekick? He gets one on the field of battle by defeating a giant sized Norseman who then swears undying loyalty to him. Of course the Dane is loud and boisterous while hefting a mighty battle ax (yawn). So the tropes are many, as are the fat-rendered cliche’s and every instance where events become near impossible and most dire…..there is Roland to save the day.

Meanwhile Snidely Whiplash……er, uh….Giselon is conspiring to kill the King and take the throne. Giselon also has a sidekick named Muttley, er……an evil Priest (is there any other kind?) who flitters about the edges of the story line sneering his way into your heart.

So, what did I think of it all? I fukin’ loved it. I know, kick me in the balls and throw away my reviewer badge, but dang this was good.  While Roland dashes to the rescue of those less fortunate or able, AND against superior odds, you cannot but help root for the guy. What’s not to like about blonde locks flying, sword cut cutting and slashing it’s way through the evil that conspires to rid the godly anointed Frank King from this earth?

So throw away your inhibitions and righteous indignation in favor of some literary mastication that may seek a purge on the rolling decks of clarity.  Ok, that didn’t make much sense but neither did this novel.

Book Review: A Breach In The Heavens by NS Dolkart

 

Publishing Date: October 2018

Publisher: Angry Robot

ISBN:9780857667403

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.7/5

Publisher’s Description: The End Times have arrived. For over a decade, the sorceress Phaedra has had a single, vital task: to keep the world of the elves separated from humanity’s. But when her world experiences its first skyquake, it’s clear that something is very wrong. Has all Phaedra’s work been for nothing? She’ll need a new plan – and her friends’ help – to keep the worlds from smashing into each other and shredding all of creation.

Review:

First Movement: For about the first 30% of the novel with get all the main characters crying into their cups, or just basically ruminating about life and the God’s. Throw in some inter-personal tension and there you go. Unlike Silent Hall, where you had quests galore and movement tied to character development, this installment treads water like a retarded beagle. I guess now that the characters are settled (and older) they can express their inner blahs in hopes of adding depth. What you really get is a lot of petty recriminations and self-doubting. Not an expected turn of the writing wheel I was hoping for.

Second Movement: The story line picks up around the 70% mark as the exhaustive backstory runs its course and current events push the characters into action.  The only interesting character through out the novel is Phaedra. She is constantly on the move with entertaining interactions via the “quest”. The others reside in pedantic land, ruminating about life.

Final Movement: This phase of the novel condenses action that should have been spread evenly over the course of the story line.  It is at once surprising in delivery and expected in outcome. When the whole premise of the novel is iterated at length through out, you can only feign surprise at the end reveal. This “no chance at failure” leaves you reading comfortably but lacks the sincerity of unbridled creativity. Where is the chance that events fail to follow a patterned route thereby drawing the hopeful reader in?

Final Thoughts: A great series that ended with a burp. You can still enjoy the writing in this installment as the technical aspects are sound and the characters you have grown to love, still reside within.

Book Review: Salvation’s Fire by Justina Robson

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Solaris

ISBN: 9781781086087

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

Publisher’s Description: The Tzarkomen necromancers sacrificed a thousand women to create a Bride for the Kinslayer so he would spare them in the war. But the Kinslayer is dead and now the creation intended to ensure his eternal rule lies abandoned by its makers in the last place in the world that anyone would look for it. Which doesn’t prevent someone finding her by accident.

Review: We pick up where the last novel left off with a new author. Why they did this, I have no idea but it makes for an interesting take, right?

Well before we get into that, Dr. Catt, “Fishy”, Celestaine, Nedlam and all the rest are back to quest the shjt out of everything. In this case to find out why the Gods have left and to undo their inability to get back.

What we never get is a real cogent and specific why to anything. Like why would you want to bring the Gods back and why is there a convenient God enabling vehicle in the form of Lysandra and Kula suddenly a part of that skimpy picture? A bit too deus ex for me, but what the hay. This haphazard way of continuing a story line will wear you the fuk down to nothing. You will have to swallow so many plot holes that you will shjt chaos donuts.

What was really disappointing was that the characters were thinly developed and Celestaine’s crew were relegated to this sameness that saddled the novel with boring interludes. There are side quests for sure, but they seemed a contrived and additive part of the plot in order to showcase a new character or lend relevance to a thinly developed story line.

Adrian Tchaikovsky really should have continued this series and brought it to grander heights, but sadly was hijacked and killed by the publisher.

Book Review: The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: Tor

ISBN: 9780765395979

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.9/5

Publisher’s Description: In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greateness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit. No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.

Review: So what do you do with a review when you really want to like it for various reasons? Awesome cover art and a compelling story line were just a few of the things that kept me hungry, initially. So where did it all fall down? Read on mates!

IF everyone in your village is kind of split on whether or not you’re a palatine and YOU don’t even know, then everyone probably should give up the collective notion, at least for brevity’s sake. But there is one uber douche in the crowd that is huge and menacing and constantly calls Heloise “your eminence:“. So while I really wanted Heloise to be all that she can be, she fails miserably as a knight by whining in her own juices.

And that brings me to another consistent downer. The constant arguing and bickering between the townspeople. While this may seem to be integral to the story line, it really wasn’t needed. It detracted so much from the character development that at times it seemed regressive. Coupled with Heloise’ constantly reminiscing about a lost love that died in her arms, and you have a recipe for boring….er, soup. At times I was so bored, that as I neared the end of this excruciating read, I was dismayed that all that back story was a stall for another in the series.

There is nothing new under the sun and in this case the story line has been over done. Add in some magic armor and convenient deus ex situations and away we go.

Book Review: Tower of the Arkein by Chase Blackwood

Publishing Date: May 2017

Publisher: Plenary

ISBN: 9781546559177

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Trapped as a slave, facing an impossible decision, Aeden must choose between his friends and his soul… The clock is ticking as the world descends into darkness. He’s been called the Scourge of Bodig, the Bane of Verold, but most know him as the Kan Savasci. He’s one of the most feared men alive. Chaos and war have followed him like an angry shadow. The one problem, as the world faces the wrath of forgotten gods, Kan Savasci is nowhere to be found.

Review: An incredibly fantastic journey of a young slave warrior struggling with his sense of self in a world of epic conflict.  Kind of has a ring to it, eh? I should write jingles for slimy Kirkus. Anyhoo, honor and guilt drive Aeden to avenge his murdered tribe, sacrificing many along the way to that goal. The world building is a grand canvas upon which the story line resides. The shifting religious/political and geographical landscape captures the imagination with a rich cultural history described through the eyes of the characters.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!”.  Aeden’s got this over-the-top infatuation with the Duchess of Bodig.  Page after page, chapter after chapter of love struck puppy panting verbosity. Yah, we get it, Aeden’s got a boner. Another act hard to swallow is Aeden’s age throughout his trials. He has all this vast training and experience as a warrior, killing 10 guards at a go at the age of 15/16? Prior to that he is a Thane warrior/monk/slave/guard and then academic student. Time compression magic? It is rather surprising that towards the end of a lengthy novel with much slashing and questing that he is only just turning 17.

Besides the love turd air drop for most of the novel and the constant backstory guilt coupled with self-recrimination, this was a fun read and well worth the time.