'The Legend of Eli Monpress' is a omnibus edition containing the first three Eli Monpress Novels: 'The Spirit Thief', 'The Sprit Rebellion', and 'The Spirit Eater'. Three books for the price of one! A bargain...or is it?
The book starts of with Eli talking to a door and the door talking back. At this point I was pretty sure I might need remove my brain to enjoy the book. Yeah yeah it's fantasy and if I can accept dragons, Darklords and magic I should be able to handle talking doors right? Logically yes but for some reason talking doors just seemed silly and it took me awhile to get over my prejudice. Lucky I did, as everything in Aaron's world has a spirit that is alive and can talk and move itself around.
That's where Eli comes in. He's a wizard, and in this world that means he can talk to and control the spirits. So if he wants a locked door to open, he talks it in to opening. Pretty handy for thief. Eli is joined in his life of thievery by Josef a master swordsman who likes to be beaten and sliced to a pulp before deciding he should quit mucking around and win and Nico a young girl possessed by a demon.
The first two books pretty much follow the escapades of these three and the attempt's of Miranda Lyonette to catch them. Miranda belongs to a group of wizards who call themselves Spiritualists and their job is to make sure wizards don't abuse their power. Miranda is one my main problems with these books. She is probably meant to be a strong willful woman but she just comes off as an arrogant, self-righteous, selfish dumb twit. Every time I came to one of her chapters I groaned and nearly lost all willpower to continue. To be fair though, Eli and Josef share her selfishness and arrogance traits. Eli would rather let the world end(literally) before doing something hes doesn't want to do and Josef pretty much risks the lives of his companions by putting his pride first when he fights.
My other problem is with the plot. It's not the current story that has kept me reading but the back story. The history of Eli, Josef and Nico is more intriguing than their current escapades. That is the only thing that has kept me reading through badly written cartoonish characters, piles of self-righteousness and arrogance and at times silly magic system.
Was it worth reading? Bugger if I know. Will I finish the series? Only if I can get it on the cheap!
Miles Cameron has previously published Historical Fiction under a different name. His love of History and Medieval Warfare clearly shows in what is a pretty good Fantasy debut...not that you could tell from the pretty lacklustre publisher synopsis.
The book focus's on the defence of a fortress by "The Red Knight" aka "The Captain". He's a bastard with a hidden/mysterious past and has bitten off more than he can chew when his simple contract to find and kill a creature of the "Wild" turns into a bloody siege in which he and his men have to decide what type of men they want to be. Mercenary scum, Heroes or a little of both.
"The Wild" is the term used to describe the enemy of man and is basically all undomesticated animals and a collection of Fantasy creatures. Someone has raised an Army of the Wild and they want the fortress. Cue bloody desperate battles, heroic acts, betrayal and a romance or two.
Cameron shares the 'Point of View'(PoV) around a lot. Each chapter contains multiple PoVs. Thankfully each PoV is usually quite short so even if you don't like some of them, in no time you're back to the PoV's you like. The massive amount of PoV's lets you see the action from all sides and works really well IMO. Of course you do get a lot of cliffhangers this way, but heh, you don't really need that much sleep....
For me this book brought to mind Kate Elliott's "Crown of Stars" series(the setting and religion), Mark Lawrence's "Broken Empire" trilogy(The Captain and his Mercenaries) and I think Gene Wolfe(for the prose). Talking of Prose, Camerone at times can be quite archaic in his use of English. At times a wasn't sure if what I was reading was riddled with typos or just some odd attempt at the English language. I'm pretty sure this may turn some people off as I wasn't that impressed with it until I finally got hooked on the story at around page 100. Then it just became a mild annoyance for me. Other than that I can't really find fault with the book and it looks like I'm hooked on yet another great fantasy series.
So yeah, try it!
Nothing new to see here. Harry gets a job, World needs Harry to save it, Harry reluctantly gets the help of his friends, Harry say's OMG I'm so outclassed it's just silly, Harry has a flash of insight and wins the day. That is pretty much the plot of every Dresden Novel to date and given how many copies of these books Butcher sells, it seems to be a winning formula.
For me it's getting a bit old and if it wasn't for Major General Toot-toot and his arch enemy Captain Hook, this book would pretty much be a flop for me. There is finally some movement in the Harry - Murphy relationship but even that kind of fizzles out. The only real new thing in this book is that we finally get to see who the real enemy is.
But really who cares? You're still reading this series either because you're a teenage boy who needs his naked fantasy Fairy fix, you love the characters or you're slightly brain damaged and like reading the same plot over and over.
If you fall into one of those categories then your'll enjoy the book, just don't expect anything to blow your mind.
William C Dietz these days is probably best known for his game novelisations, but before that he wrote a series of books about the 'Legion of the Damned'. 'Andromeda's Fall' is the first book in a prequel trilogy to those books.
It tells the tale of Lady Catherine Carletto a spoiled socialite who has her world turned updside down when her family is killed for being allied to the former Emperor. Forced to go on the run, Lady Catherine joins 'The Legion' and takes the name of Andromeda McKee. 'The Legion' is the future version of the French Foreign Legion.
Shipped of to the Legions training planet for Basic Training, Mckee is forced to adapt to her new life. "Basic Training" Legion style is being dropped into a hostile environment and given a few pointers. If you live, you pass. Miraculously Mckee not only survives but comes out of it being promoted to a Lance Corporal.
Shortly after basic, her Legion Unit is shipped of to help put down a rebellion on another planet. What follows is a serious of battles in which Mckee distinguishes herself while dodging Assassins that are hunting her. She also manages to rise through the ranks.
Dietz writes good Military scifi, it's easy to read, not to complicated to follow and it keeps you entertained. The problem I had with this book was that it just felt to damned familiar. It's not good when you continuously get the feeling you've read this before. It's been awhile since I have read his 'Legion' books, so I can't say if the plot is to similar to them or if it's from something else. Either way twas not good. I also couldn't stomach Mckee's meteoric rise through the ranks. Sure Battle Field promotions happen but recruits with hardly any training don't get promoted over experienced soldiers no matter how much promise they show.
All in all a solid book but not highly original.
As per the synopsis 'Zero Point' follows the events taking place on Earth, Mars and Argus Station.
Serene Galahad one of the few surviving Committee members of the Earth Government seizes control of what is left of the Government apparatus and uses it to wipe out her only remaining competition and a fair chunk of Earth's population. You'd probably thinking she just a evil dictator at this point but the truth is she's just a tree hugger. Where 'The Departure' was Asher seemingly taking a swipe at the European Union, 'Zero Point' takes aim at the Greenies. What's more important, The planet or humans? Serene comes down on the side of the planet or perhaps that's just her justification for being a physco bitch.
While Serene is creating paradise on Earth, Var is struggling to remain in charge on Mars as the scientist there struggle to survive cut of from Earth and knowing that Serene will be coming after them sooner or later. There's a plot to overthrow Var and she has to decide whether to stay in power and be hated or give up power and more than likely die in the not to distant future.
Meanwhile on Argus Station, Saul has his own set of problems. Some surviving loyalists to the ex Chairman are out to get him. Plus he not as omnipotent and omnipresent as he thought he was. He ends up getting a major headache from it which leads to turmoil on the station.
I really enjoyed this book a lot more than the first mainly due to the fact that there wasn't as much descriptive detail and for me was a lot easier to read. If you enjoyed the first book, I see no reason why you wouldn't be happy with it.
'King of Thorns' digs it hooks into you from the first few pages. It starts out with Jorg sitting in the ruins of his Castle. That's the first hook as you'll want to know what the hell happened. The 2nd hook is a little box that has something inside it that Jorg fears. You might think that's a good thing and a clever bit of writing, but for me it annoyed the hell out of me as I was more interested in the first hook than the second.
The story of the box and what it contains is told via flashbacks to four years earlier. Jorg and his band of brothers go on a trip to try and find help for Gog, who is losing control of his ability to make fire. Along the way he makes a side trip back home and that is where the box comes into the story. It's pretty bloody obvious from that point on, on what's in the box yet we have to wait until the very end of the book to know for sure. The whole time I was mentally yelling "Open the damn box already!". The other adventures he has during this field trip left me either bored and kinda skimming to thinking "yeah right!". The only part of it I really enjoyed was Jorg's time with his grandmother and his thoughts about Gog.
The other hook of why he's sitting in ruins is what I kept wanting to get back to. It all happens on his Marriage day. Yep that's right, Jorgy boy get's married! No more raping for him.....maybe....
Unfortunately his Marriage day happens to be on the same day that his castle comes under siege from the Prince of Arrow who wants to be Emperor and has to go through Jorg to do it. Jorg's forces are out numbered 20-1. Lucky for him the the besieging army seems to be lead by a bunch of nincumpoops. Despite the ineptitude of the attacking army I still enjoyed most of the what happened apart from how it ended. Seriously Mark?? WTF? You mention a thing in passing earlier and then at the end old Jorgy boy has what he needs to win, and you just say "oh yeah, although I didn't write about it, Jorg picked up something on the way back from his little field trip". Doesn't cut it with me, totally lame!
'King of Thorns' for me showcased Lawrence's strengths(characters and dialogue) as well as his weaknesses(worldbuilding and plotting). I didn't enjoy it as much as 'Prince of Thorns' but twas still a good read and I look forward to seeing how Jorg becomes Emperor.
'Blood Song' is the first book in the 'Raven's Shadow' series by self published author Anthony Ryan. I've always been of the opinion that if an author/book is good enough then it will get picked up by a publisher and therefore anything self published is likely to be crap and not worth my time. The few sample's I've tried in the past year have done nothing to change my view. When I looked at this book on amazon my bullshit meter started beeping loudly when I saw that of the 239 reviews, 219 of them were 5 stars. In comparison Joe Abercrombie's 'The Heroes' only has 110 reviews of which 60 are 5 stars. Being the cynical slightly jaded Fantasy I am, I was thinking Mr Ryan and his friends and family have either been really busy or there's some sort of self publishing lovefest going on. At a guess and not wanting to besmirch Mr Ryan's good name, I'd say the later and that expectations of a self published book are so low that when one really shines it gets a boost when people rate it and this book does shine IMO.
The book starts out with a Prisoner, Vaelin Al Sorna aka The Hope Killer, the most hated man in the Empire being escorted onto a boat headed for a duel in which he is expected to die. His escort for the voyage is a Noble of the Empire and renowned Historian. Being stuck on a boat is a bit boring so the two get chatting and Vaelin starts to tell the "True" version of the events leading up to his capture an imprisonment. In that way many will compare it to "The Name of the Wind"(tNotW), but where as that is told in the first person PoV, 'Blood Song' is told in the third person. Kinda odd that. Another comparison to tNotW will be Vaelin's early years training to be a Brother of the Sixth Order in which he must past yearly tests to continue his training.
The Brother's of the Sixth Order are a Warrior Brotherhood who are one of six orders dedicated to serving the Faith which is basically a religion that doesn't believe in gods, but does believe their souls go to a nice place after they die. The Orders also serve the Unified Realm which is the name of Vaelin's homeland and consists of four realms which were recently Unified under the rule of King Janus.
Most of the book follows Vaelin and four of his Order brothers through a series of tests as they train to become full brothers. I really enjoyed this part of the book as the five of them came to grips with what being a Brother of the Sixth really means and I especially appreciated Ryan focusing on how taking another persons life affects people differently. To often our fantasy heroes don't blink an eye or really think about the fact that they just killed someone. Along the way Vaelin is faced with attempts on his life, learn's about "The Dark"(magic), caught up in a dark conspiracy and forced into the manipulative world of King Janus where he is forced to decide between his Faith and Loyalty to the King.
'Blood Song' was without a doubt a captivating "I can't put this book down" read for me. It's not perfect but the flaws for me were minor and really only related to the layout/format of the book. The prose won't set the world on fire and some may find the story a bit simplistic at times, but I say screw those snobs, a compelling story is what counts with me. It definitely deserves 5 stars compared to any other self published book I've read or tried to read and when compared to other books it's firmly in the above average category. All the publishers/editors that rejected this book really need to give themselves a stiff uppercut to the chin.
Ryan has recently signed with a publisher and this book will be released sometime next year. Get in now and read it for $2.99 while you can!
'Whispers Underground' continues PC Peter Grant's architectural romp around London. This time focusing on the London underground. The Folly gets a new apprentice in PC Leslie May and the two of them team up to try and solve a murder that occurred in the Tube System as well as continuing the search for the "Faceless Man" from the last book. Throw in some half fae, magical markets, an over eager FBI agent, some sexual tension and magic battles and you have the recipe for another great book from Aaronovitch.
I really enjoyed the first 2/3rds of the book, it was everything I've come to love about this series. Fast paced, witty, learning about London and Police work. Unfortunately though the last third was a bit of a mess and really a bit of a let down for me. The plot just round down without much of a climax and Aaronovitch was intertwining the Faceless man plot with the Murder plot. That really didn't work for me and the result was that 'Whispers' was more like a middle book of a trilogy than a self contained serial novel.
Don't get me wrong, I still really enjoyed, but it wasn't as good as 'Moon over Soho'.
'Earth Unaware' is the novelisation of a Graphic Novel written by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. It is the first book in a prequel trilogy to 'Enders Game' and tells the tale of the First Formic War. It focuses on the Family Mining Ship El Cavador, its young Engineer Victor and their encounters with a Corporate Mining ship and an Alien Starship as it heads for Earth. What comes first? Self preservation? Family? Corporate secrets? Earth? These are the questions that the characters face throughout the book.
I went into this book not expecting much. It's been years since I'd read a Card book and although I'd enjoyed his work the continuous negativity that's directed towards him on the net these days had overshadowed my memories. I was pleasantly surprised by what I got. From the beginning the book had an oddly familiar feel to it like I'd read it before. Kinda strange but in a good way. It also had a strong sense of anticipation throughout that made it hard for me to put down. I just wanted to keep reading to see what would happen. The heroism and humanity shown by the characters makes this a feel good book and for me a damn good one. I'll be buying it!
This review is based on an eARC received for free from Tor.
'The Dragon's Path' the first book in the 'Dagger and the Coin' pentalogy put this series onto my favourites list. 'The King's Blood' moves it all the way to the top. Abraham builds upon what he started in 'The Dragon's Path' to deliver a feast of great characterisation and a plot that keeps you captivated from start to finish.
What I love about this series is that Abraham isn't trying to do something new or edgy, but writing a series full of all the things that make fantasy great. In that way it's a lot like Jordan's 'The Wheel of Time' for me. That's the end of the comparison as where Jordan's overall plot it basically a good versus evil story, Abraham disposes of the evil bad guys and just has people. Not grey, not white, not black, just plain old people doing what they do because it's who they are. Some of the characters do despicable things and some hold views that you won't agree with, but Abraham lets you decide on whether to like or hate them. For me, I love them all.
I could waffle on about what happens in the book, but the best thing I can say is just READ THIS SERIES!!! If you love all that is good about Fantasy, READ IT!! If you love great Characters, READ IT!! If you love compelling storytelling, READ IT!!
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