Wednesday, 31 March 2021


Loners

D. B. Bray & Wahida Clark


 Some Information about the book
 
Title | Loners
Author | D. B. Bray & Wahida Clark
Publisher | Wahida Clark Presents Publishing, LLC
Pub date | 31st Dec. 2020
Formats | Hardcover, Paperback, ebook, Audiobook (narr. Walt Allen)
Pages | 286
 
About the Book

Jari Rockjaw just wants a quiet life and a homestead to call his own. He has been a bounty hunter in Labrys for over one hundred years. And it’s getting old. Battle after battle, allies lost and gained, he now wants to smoke his pipe in the solitude far from the human cities he despises. An option to do so comes his way when the king of Ekepia asks for a favor. Jari is tasked with destroying the evilest dwarf ever to walk the world!
With Jari’s best mates at his side, they team up for one last mission . . . a mission that will be nearly impossible to pull off.n But just like everyone else, if the juice is worth the squeeze, you take the risk. The only question he must ask himself is . . . Is retirement worth dying for?

Review
Irreverent, anarchic and just bloody good fun.

Welcome to the world of the Loners. A band of merry mercenaries looking for just one thing.

Retirement!

Bounty hunting is a complicated job; some love you, most despise you. But if Jari Rockjaw showed up with a poster, it was your final day on Labrys.

Meet Jari Rockjaw, the Merc with a heart. His trusted companion Betha, a Minotaur with a past she doesn't want to talk about. And then there's Toli Hookhand, whose main pastime is Dwarven lasses asses, and Kala who also has a bit of a past.

This book promised to be such good fun and it didn't disappoint. 

The story revolves around Jari and the rest of the Loners who initially head out to collect the bounty of a bunch of dark elves. However, in order to do that they need to swell the ranks of their party and are joined by Gnok, Jari's cousin. Sinda Rockgut, a beautiful dwarf with a score to settle and Arnak, a turtle humanoid called a Hah - Nu - Nah.

However, things don't go according to plan when they are hired to undertake a scouting mission on behalf of King Zista, to find a particular ne'er do well by the name of Boro Spiderbinder, a raider who has been, well, raiding.

As they lurch from one misadventure to the next, things become slightly more complicated, and Jari and his bunch of Loners find themselves in one impossible predicament after another.

I have to say, I enjoyed this book immensely, from the very moment it opened. It immediately promised mirth as we open with Jari Rockjaw fighting a fire breathing giant snail in his birthday suit.

The characters are all likeable. Jari, as I said earlier is full of heart, but is definitely not perfect, and he is quite happy to fight for a cause. Betha is hard headed, but underneath it all cares for each of her companions and Toli is the impudent comic relief, and there is a full cast of characters along the way that add their little bit to the story.

I also have to mention the setting. Whilst it is a fantasy world, it put me more in mind of a classic western setting for some reason. I don't know if this is because I listened to this by audio, and the narrator, Walt Allen,  reads it with a drawl, but it put me in mind of the Saturday afternoon westerns I watched as a kid. There's lots of scalp hunting, deserts (called the expanse in the book) and general riding about (mainly on battle goats) and I could easily picture Jari as a John Wayne type figure.

The book is full of action, with the pacing starting at full throttle. And it continues at this pace throughout, with D. B. Bray & Wahida Clark never letting their foot off the accelerator all the way through.

So, if you need a book that is fun to read but with a lot of heart, look no further than Loners.
 
Thank you for D. B. Bray for getting in touch and giving me a review copy of this audiobook  in return for an honest review.



Monday, 29 March 2021


We Are Legion (We are Bob) | Denis E. Taylor.

Book Information


Title | We Are Legion (We Are Bob)
Author | Denis.E. Taylor
Series | Bobiverse #1
Publisher | Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency; 2nd edition
Date Pub | 14th April 2017
Audiobook | Audible
Narrator | Ray Porter
Length | 9:56hr

About the book


Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. 

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty. 

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad - very mad.

Review


Sometimes, I need to break from fantasy, and this book was the perfect tonic.

The story is about Robert (Bob) Johansson, a software developer who has just sold his company, making him a pretty rich guy. So, what does he do? He goes to a company to get his head frozen in the event of his death (obviously harking to the urban legend that Walt Disney got his head frozen too!). 

Now the thing about Bob, is that he is also a sci fi nerd as well. He loves Star Trek, Star Wars etc, and after signing his contract to have his head surgically removed from his body if he dies. He then promptly goes off to Vegas to attend a Sci - con. Listens to a fascinating lecture on Vann Neumann probes (self replicating probes) and then leaves. However, it is in Vegas that he comes off worst in an argument with a car. 

Good way to start a story, with the hero of the piece getting splattered in the first twenty pages. However, with the death of our titular hero, this is when the story starts proper, as Bob finds himself suddenly transported to 2133 and finds that he is a new and improved version of himself, well, minus a body and a head and he is in fact a computer simulation of himself. He is Bob version 2.0.

He soon learns that not only has he changed, but the whole world has too. Gone are the political systems that once ruled the world and they have now changed, with the USA has become THE FAITH ENCLAVE, which is basically a theocracy. In addition to this, Brazil has become a superpower, as has the UAE (I think it's that, you will have to excuse my memory when it comes acronyms, I always forget them), which stands for United Affiliation of Eurasia, and China.

As we move on in the story, it soon becomes evident that Bob is the property of the Faith Enclave, and he is in competition with some other A. I. s to undertake a mission of extreme importance. To be one the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.

So, how did I get along with a book whose main character happens to be a sentient spaceship. Well, quite well actually, and this is mainly down to Denis E Taylor's writing.  Yes, the main character is a sentient ship, but he is bursting with a snarky character and Taylor interjects some serious nerdom, making refernce to various bits of popular culture,which works surprisingly well.

Taylor gives Bob a surprisingly human character, and as the story progresses, Bob does become more human, especially when he replicates himself, with each 'copy' being slightly different. Now I thought that this was a good plot device on how to introduce more characters. However, at times, I did find this more and more confusing as more copies are introduced and I kept getting lost occasionally as each chapter flits between a number of the different versions of the original Bob.

In between all this, Taylor manages to ask some big questions, like what makes us human, our concept of self and is AI actually sentient (a la the Turing Test). Which he manages to sneak in without the topics being too overbearing.

The other thing that I found a little bit cumbersome, was the description of space travel and the manoeuvrability of the ships. At times, I found that the inclusion of the differing speeds dragged the action a little, because this was done on each encounter that Bob has whilst in space. It seemed a little bit video gamey, and I was always put in mind of the video game Elite Dangerous.

I also found that the pacing stumbled a little in the second act of the book, as the main focus is on exploration, mining for minerals, obtaining enough materials etc, which became a bit repetitive.

However, the pacing does drag itself up towards the end of the second act and into the final acts, and the book starts to add in other aspects of plot, which helps it lead to it's conclusion.

All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable sci fi book that was full of snarkiness, nods to nerdom and general fun, and yep, I really enjoyed it! Oh and one other thing. I listened to this on audio and I really enjoyed Ray Porter's narration.


Tuesday, 23 March 2021

The Two -  Faced Queen | Nick Martell


Here is a little bit of Info about the book:-

Author | Nick Martell
Title | The Two - Faced Queen
Series | Legacy of The Mercenary Kings #2
Publisher | Gollancz
Pub Date | 25.03.21
Pages | 592


About the Book

The Hollows is gripped in unrest and on the brink of civil war as an insurgency of anarchists rise, and brother and sister vie for the throne in the second novel in the critically hailed Legacy of the Mercenary King series which Brandon Sanderson called “excellent.”

Michael Kingman thought he was going to die by the executioner’s axe, forever labeled as a traitor. Still alive, and under the protection of the Orbis Mercenary company, Michael and his family and friends are deeply involved in the seemingly rival conspiracies that are tearing The Hollows apart. With the death of the King, both the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena are vying for the throne, while the Rebel Emperor is spreading lies amongst the people, and all of them want Michael dead. This is a story of betrayal, murder, and rebellion, and in this direct sequel to the debut novel The Kingdom of Liars, also some hope for justice.

For readers who love the intrigue and widening scope of epic fantasy like Sanderson’s Mistborn and Week’s The Black Prism, you will find your next must-read fantasy series.

Review

The Two - Faced Queen is Nick Martell's exhilarating sequel to his debut The Kingdom of Liars.

I must say when I read The Kingdom of Liars, I was pretty impressed. Nick Martell did a fantastic job, writing an intriguing and well paced plot. He introduced characters that are engaging, if sometimes a little annoying, and endearing. There was intricate world building and a complex magic system.

So, when I saw that the story of The Two - Faced Queen continued in the city of Hollow, I was wondering how Nick Martell was going to expand on something that he had done a pretty good job of building in the first place.

Well, he showed me,didn't he? It turns out that Nick Martell had a whole lot more up his sleeve and The Kingdom of Liars was just the tip of the iceberg.

The story takes place shortly after the events of the Kingdom of Liars and we find him indentured to Dark, the Orbis Corporation Assassin. His mother is no longer a Forgotten and the family are now living in Kingman Keep.

Outside the walls, the rebellion is still encamped slowly strangling the city of Hollow. In addition to this, refugees are flooding into Hollow, making a bad situation worse.

As part of his apprenticeship with Dark, they are tasked to find out where the refugees are from and who leads them.

This sets off a series of events. Firstly, a series of horrific murders lead to the return of a serial killer that has lain dormant for a number of years. The city of Hollow is now in the hands of Serena, The two - faced Queen of the title, who just happens to be Michael's childhood best friend and has set out to kill him because she thinks he killed her father. Oh, on top of that he has to pass his apprentice assassins test.

Just another day at the Kingsman residence then!

Structurally, Nick Martell does not shift much from the first book. Michael is the main character. However, in this book he is not as difficult to spend time with, and Nick Martell does a nice job of retconning book 1, which gives a different perspective of Michael’s behaviour in Kingdom of Liars. Additionally, Michael grows in this book, which I liked a lot. I think the skill that Nick Martell shows in growing his characters organically is clearly evident. Michael seems more like a real person. Yes, he does make mistakes, and at times he does not see the bigger picture, but we see him learning by his mistakes.

Unfortunately, some of the characters that we spent time in book 1 with, such as Kai do not get as much page time as the previous book, but I found that the relationship that grows between Michael and Dark is quite a fascinating one, and made up for the absence of the other characters.

Naomi, is a lot more prominent in the Kingdom of Liars, and we see the after effects of the incident that involved the Crooked Prince. We learn that as well as losing her job, it is also causing her pain to the extent that she has to seek other means in order to control this.

However, a number of the characters get their time in the spotlight. For one the Two - faced queen herself, Serena, who deluded by her grief, relentlessly chases Michael. Symon, the King of Stories, who I have to say I found quite interesting and wished we could have spent some more time with him, although he gets two interludes in the book in order to change the focus from Michael. Most interestingly, however, is Gwen. I have always found Gwen to be a character that I wanted to spend more time with, and in this book we get to do that.

The plot of the book runs at full pace, yes there are some lulls in it, but generally Nick Martell creates a sense of urgency as the book comes to its conclusion. One of the things that I really like about Nick Martell’s writing is that he successfully weaves cross genre plots. In one instance there is the serial killer plot and the race against time to find the killer before they strike again, interweaved with a solid fantasy book of rebellion and unrest.

On top of this, Nick Martell massively increases the world that the characters inhabit. We get more about the magic system and the lore too. And as we spend time with Dark and Michael, we get more information about the Assassins company and get to meet the crew.

In the Two - Faced Queen, Nick Martell successfully weaves a thrilling plot, expansive world building with fantastic characters in a book that you won’t want to put down.











Thursday, 18 March 2021

 

The Fall of Koli | M. R. Carey


Some Information about the book:

Title | The Fall of Koli

Author | M. R. Carey

Series| The Rampart Trilogy #3

Publisher | Hachette UK

Pub. Date | 25th March 2021

Pages | 560

About the book

The third and final novel in the Rampart trilogy - a breathtakingly original series set in a strange and deadly world of our own making, from the author of the million-copy-bestselling The Girl With All the Gifts

Review

And here we are, the final book in Mike Carey's The Rampart Trilogy, ‘The Fall of Koli’

The Ramparts Trilogy has been an enthralling, exciting and distinctive series from start to finish and when I received an advanced reading copy (tips his hat to Netgalley and Orbit, well, Little Brown Hat group here in the UK) I was ultra-excited.

The Book of Koli was the first book that I ever reviewed and also the first post on the site. Obviously, I was giddy with excitement when I first reviewed that Book of Koli, and I feel like I have been on a journey with this series. Well effectively, I have! From the Yorkshire wilds to the destroyed south coast of Ingland and back again.

With the Fall of Koli, Mike Carey masterfully brings the Ramparts Trilogy to its inevitable conclusion. Filling the book with the shocking truth of the cataclysm, epic battles and new beginnings.

I have to say that I adore this book. Just being back with Koli and everyone else gives me a warm feeling. As soon as I started reading I was smiling at the brilliance of this book. 

From the moment that it starts, there is a feeling of inevitability. We know that something is going to happen, we know that it is going to end, we know that questions will be answered. We’re just not sure how.

The story starts immediately where the last book ended, with our little dopey boy and the rest of the crew finally finding out what the ‘Sword of Albion’ is. This is the signal that Koli and the gang have been following since the first book. However, when they do get to the end of their quest, nothing is what it seems. Is it ever? After their boat nearly sinks, they are lifted to safety to the ship that they were heading towards.

The ship is populated by a crew of three. Paul, his wife Lorraine and their child Stanley. It’s not long before we learn that there are some strange happenings on this ship. Paul is a brutal man that barely hides his fervour for corporal punishment, Lorraine seems to be a doting mother, but there seems to be an underlying tinge of vileness to her and Stanley fluctuates from being a sociopathic little boy to someone who is almost begging for friendship. Something is not quite right here, and Carey builds on that feeling of disquiet until it reaches its crescendo midway through the book.

On top of that, it is obvious that the gang are not guests but in fact are prisoners that are only allowed to stay on board until they have completed the tasks that their ‘hosts’ have set for them. There is an insidious feeling permeating the whole of the first part of the narrative and whilst Carey does inform of the things that are wrong by drip feeding little bits of information it seems to add to the atmosphere. I must say that when Koli and the gang are on the ship, it plays out like a gothic horror novel with that feeling of wrongness enveloping the scenes that are set there.

However, whilst events are playing out with Koli, Cup, Monono Aware and Ursala, there are similarly climactic events occurring in Mythen Rood with Spinner and the Peacemaker, the faceless entity that resides in Half Ax and is demanding the return of what he sees is his property. All of the technology that is in the possession of the people of Mythen Rood

There are two stories at play in the Fall of Koli, and with that there are two main protagonists, Koli and Spinner. Throughout the book, Carey effectively weaves these two stories together, leaving each separate story at the end of a cliff-hanger, switching to the other viewpoint and then returning back to conclude it. I tell you this is so amazingly done, and it leaves you wanting to read each story as quick as you can so that you can return to the one you just left.

I love the style of this book, this cutting to each story to increase  the sense of urgency, and when the stories do converge, Carey masterfully increases the momentum of the book by maintaining those separate viewpoints and decreasing the length of time that we spend with each protagonist. Utter genius! 

It has to be said that the writing in Carey’s book is just amazing. He carefully subverts language which results in it taking on a whole new meaning, for instance, when Spinner is telling the Story of Snow Wight, or paying a courtesy to others. This really blew my mind with the utter brilliantness of it. In addition to that I love that there are instances of broad Yorkshire vernacular. It was like seeing mi own thorts on't page.

It is similar with the characters in the book. You immediately rekindle your relationship with the characters. Koli is wide eyed and hopeful, Cup is hard and unforgiving but loyal, and Ursula is as distant as she was throughout the first two books. However, it is always with Monono that I feel that he excels. You would think that with all that is happening in the book there would not be time for character growth, but somehow Carey manages it, particularly with Monono.

Whilst the book centres primarily on Koli and Spinner, Carey intersperses the viewpoint of Monono and we get some chapters that are told solely from her perspective. This gives a valuable insight into her and how she functions, and how she grows. You would not think that there would be any room for her to expand, but Carey manages to give us a whole new perspective on her.

I have to say that The Fall of Koli is a phenomenal ending to a series that I have loved. Carey masterfully closes the series in such a satisfying way it left me bawling my eyes out.


 



Monday, 15 March 2021

Some facts about the book
Title: Faery: The Tiend
Author: Igo Rab
Publisher: Self published
Publishing Date: 20th Sept 2019
Pages: 113

Description

"Away with us to a faraway land, I will take you by the hand.
And by the hand you will come with me,
To all the terrible things you'll see."

When Milo followed a Faery called Asrai to her world, he had hoped adventure and wonder. But he soon learns that there is something sinister behind his adventure. It is the time of the Tiend and a sacrifice must be chosen. Finding himself between an age old ritual of sacrifice and a desire to save his new friends, Milo must decide what he must do to survive. Will he fight with his captors to destroy the evil that consumes the world of the Faery or will he turn and flee?

Review

This is a middle grade fantasy adventure that has its roots in Celtic Mythology. And thank you to Igo Rab for getting in touch.

I have to say from the start that this book impressed me immensely. Now I know that I am not the target audience for this book. However, the sign of a quality writer is to be able reach past  the target audience and be able to reach a wider readership, and this book certainly does that.

The story revolves around the main character Milo, who is a child that comes from a difficult background. His mother is the main caregiver and his father works away from the home. However, when his father does come home, his visits are interspersed by arguments with his mother and you get the impression that he is not a particularly good father. As a reader, we are immediately thrown into the middle of one of these situations, described through the eyes of Milo.

Additionally, his grandfather has just died and his mother is making plans to attend the funeral whilst organising care for Milo with her brother, who is going to stay at Milo's house.

It is when his uncle comes to stay that the story begins to unfold. We learn that his uncle is regarded as having some form of mental health difficulties and he finds it hard to attend his father's funeral. During the first night of his uncle's stay, Milo is visited by a faery called Asrai and is enchanted to follow her to the land of faery in order to fulfil the mysterious tiend, a price that has to be fulfilled every seven years, and in order to fulfil this Tiend, the faeries take human children so they don't have to send their own.

Faery: The Tiend is a fantastic little book. I like what Igo Rab does in this book. Now obviously, as an adult reading a book directed at 9-13 year olds, you try to put yourself in the position of the target audience. However, that isn't possible. I have have been older longer than I have been younger. 

The book is an excellent gateway into fantasy with realistic characters, solid world building and an engaging plot.

The main character is Milo, a ten year old, socially awkward, bullied kid that as I said, comes from a family that is under stress. What I think is particularly commendable with Igo Rab's writing is the fact that Milo's character doesn't change when he gets to the land of faery. Even though he is the hero of the book, Rab doesn't give him a heroic persona, he doesn't gain magical powers or superhuman strength, he stays exactly the same, a young boy with anxieties, doubts and weaknesses, which works well and makes Milo really relatable.Whilst he is in the land of faery, he just retains his human qualities.

In addition to that, the rest of the characters that surround Milo are all fully realised on their own right.

You have to mention the Celtic Mythology here. The book is steeped in it, from the land of faery itself to the Queen of Faery and Mab.

The other aspect that I found to be of exception is the fact that Igo Rab never talks down to the audience. Never once does Igo Rab try to sanitise the danger or threat. There is death in the book, and whilst yes, it isn't gruesome, it is present thus giving that realistic edge.

With Faery:The Tiend, Igo Rab has written an insightful and we'll crafted tale of heroism, friendship and inner strength.






Thursday, 11 March 2021

Book Tour | Legacy of the Brightwash by       Krystle Matar

 March 11th 2021


Hello Fantasy Book Nerds

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar. The tour has been organised by the fabulous Storytellers on Tour. So far there have been some fantastic bloggers involved in this tour and I hope you can check out their reviews too.


Now before we get to the review, I just want to mention that the cover art for the book is done by Brad Bergman who has done a fantastic job of capturing the tone of the book, both the industrial aspects of a victorian era and the fantastcal elements of magic. Added to that, the typography fits the whole aesthetic, adding that finishing component.

So if you are not familiar with the book, here is a bit about it.

Book Blurb

Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong?

Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack.

Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions.

Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her?

Why was he the only one who cared?

Review
Krystle Matar's debut has been garnering much attention in the book community of late, with everyone raving about how good this book is. So, when you come to a book that has had so much positive attention, there is a little trepidation, hoping that as a reviewer, you are going to find the same positive aspects of the book

However, after finishing the book, I can see why there have been so many positive reviews of 'The Legacy of the Brightwash'. It is an exceptional debut that brings something that I have not seen previously to the fantasy genre, and I have to say that Krystle Matar has done something that I didn’t quite expect. She surprised me! Now, let me tell you, I have been reading fantasy since I was a teen, so without giving my age away, that is a pretty long time, and one of the downfalls of reading fantasy for an extensive amount of time is that you tend to see the echoes of other authors or the influence of such and such. However, I didn't get this with Legacy of the Brightwash.

Legacy of the Brightwash is a mixture of crime novel and fantasy set in the Victorian City of Yaelsmuir, that seemed to me to be a mixture of Victorian London, but also brought to my mind a Canadian frontiership.

I like this world that Kyrstle Matar has built in the book. I like it a lot! It’s harsh and unforgiving, but additionally Krystle Matar has built it with such precision that she knows every blade of grass in the world. On the one hand she will show the disparity between the opulent ruling classes and then switch to the hand to mouth environment of the poor of the city. It is such a well constructed environment. So well constructed that you can smell the spices of the sausages in the market that Tashue and Stella eat when they visit the market place in the book, to the sweat and blood of the fighting pits.

And that brings me to the characters. As you can guess, the two main characters are Tahsue and Stella. However, there is a full supporting cast in the book and at times we follow their point of view, like Ishmael or Tashue’s son, Jason, but the main points of view revolve around Tashue and Stella. I have to say that Krystle Matar does not waste a single character in the book. Each individual is fully fleshed out and seems like a real person. In all honesty, all the characters were so well crafted that they simply walked off the page and took up residence in my imagination.

The plot of the book is excellent. Like I said,it’s a mixture of crime drama and fantasy, and to be honest this works immensely well. The story starts with the washed up body of a dismembered child on the banks of the Brightwash of the story. It seems that dead bodies washing up on the banks of the river are not particularly uncommon and the girl is treated the same as the regular flotsam and jetson that is generally washed up. Initially, there is a crowd watching the proceedings, but you get the feeling that no - one actually cares, even the local constabulary, that is until Captain Tashue Blackwood of the National Tainted Registration Authority takes charge of the investigation, even though it is not his job, against the advice of his lieutenant, Kazrani.

This leads him to investigate the death of this young girl, and he becomes involved in an investigation that could lead him to the higher echelons of the Dominion, the cruel and oppressive government of Yaelsmuir.

On top of that, Tashue is railroaded into the political machinations of local politician in his run for mayor which leads him to become involved with femme fatal Illea Winter, who along with Tahue’s former military commander, Nathaniel Wolfe believes that Tashue’s exemplary mitlatry background would help bolster the career of Illea’s husband.

You get the feeling that when we start the book, that whilst Tashue is an individual that can take care of himself, he is a bit of a bystander in his own life. He seems to go where the situation leads him, but he has no real convictions. He seems a bit lost, and it is not until he becomes involved with Stella that he actually starts to come to life.

Phew, that’s enough for one book isn’t it. But not for Krystle Matar, because she introduces one of the most interesting aspects of the book that really intrigued me.

Obviously, this is fantasy, and any good fantasy needs some magic. And Krystle Matar does something quite interesting with the magic. Whilst at this precise time, the magic system is not particularly intricate. However, the Dominion uses the magic of the tainted (the magic users of the book) as the literal battery of the Dominion Empire, powering engines and vehicles etc. People who use magic are seen as subhuman and if they do not register as magic users are thrown into jail, much like Tashue’s son Jason. In addition to this, they are forced into breeding programs or if they are free, they are monitored to make sure they are following the rules that are assigned by the Dominion. Throughout the story, people with magic are treated awfully, and the vile attitudes of the Dominion are so pervasive they seep into the foundations of the city. I mean, there are obvious real world connotations in this aspect of the story. However, Krystle Matar handles this with care and sensitivity, without failing to highlight the brutality and the hypocrisy of these attitudes.

Now my final point to make, is the romance. Yes, there is romance in the book, and it can get quite steamy at times. Let me tell, generally, when it comes to romance, I will generally run the other way. However, I didn’t mind this aspect of the story and it adds to the depth of the characters.

I think you can guess I like this book, I like this book a helluva lot and it is definitely up there as one of my favorite books of the year. I simply cannot believe that this book is a debut, as Krystle Matar’s writing is so accomplished it is ridiculous. There is such a depth to her prose! Goodness knows what she is going to do next but I will be jostling my way through the multitude of admirers to get to the front and get my copy.

Author Info

Krystle Matar has been writing for a long time, but things got serious when Tashué Blackwood walked into her life, an amber-eyed whirlwind.

When she isn’t arguing with him or any of his friends, she parents and farms. She has a lot of children and even more animals and one very excellent husband.

She is currently working on lots of stories set in the Dominion. She expects to exist in this universe for a while.

 So, as always, thank you for visiting the site and if you want to look at the others and what is coming next on the tour, here's the schedule


 


Monday, 8 March 2021

 


About the Book:

Title: The Unbroken
Author: C. L. Clark
Series: Magic of the Lost #1
Publisher: Orbit
Pub. Date: 25th March 2021
Print Length: 528 pages

Synopsis

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet's edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren't for sale.

Review

Love, Revolution and colonialism.

So I have literally just finished reading The Unbroken, and I have to say my thoughts are mixed on this one. There is quite a lot to like about this book, and these things outweigh some of my reservations about the book. 

As with many books by an author that I am unfamiliar with, my interest was piqued by the gorgeous cover art by Tommy Arnold. I love the way that the cover captures the desert setting of the book and the inner strength of Touraine pushing against both sides of the conflict that she is placed in the middle of. 

The story takes place in Qazal. A country that is viciously governed by the expanding empire of Balladaire. 

It’s main characters are Touraine, a conscripted member of Balladaire's armed forces, stolen as a child to be used as a frontline soldier in the ‘Sands’ regiment of the army. The children are ‘educated’ from an early age, with their belief systems and personalities modified to believe that they are fighting their former home for the greater good. 

The other is Luca, the young monarch of Ballardaire who is sent to Qazal in order to quell the rebellion and prove her ability to rule Balladaire to her uncle, who is currently the regent and does not want to relinquish the power of the throne.

The Unbroken is quite an interesting read. It is based in a North African setting with the Balladairans resembling the French empire of the late 19th Century. Now, I found this to be quite an original premise and not one that I had seen in a fantasy book before. Clark does an amazing job of building an extensive and believable world that lies outside a normal fantasy setting. She catches the vibrancy of the country that she is describing, even though the country of Qazal is a suppressed country. She also captures the cruelties of the ruling classes and the poverty of the people. She regularly highlights the disparity of the situation, showing the nihilistic attitudes of the nobility on the one hand, with lavish balls and the like, and the abject poverty of the people that are being oppressed.

Additionally, she shows the dehumanisation of the Sands (the regiment of the army that is made up of the conscripted nationals) and theQazali people, regularly peppering the book with descriptions of the casual cruelty that is metered out to  both the everyday people that live there and also to the ‘Sands’.

The basis of the plot revolves around Luca’s obsession with her obtaining her rightful place as leader of the Balladairan throne.However, Luca wants to step away from the normally brutal methods that have not worked and actually wants to negotiate with the rebels. In order to initiate this plan she needs an intermediary to go between both parties.  

This is where Touraine comes in. 

At the very beginning of the book, Touraine foils an assassination attempt on the Princess’s life. Thus gaining her some favour with the princess who grants her a boon for her valour. When Touraine is disgraced in an incident later in the book,she calls in the Boon and the princess sees her chance to set her plans in motion by employing Touraine as her personal emissary.

What ensues is a story of two  individuals that come from vastly different backgrounds learning about each other and the feelings that grow between the two, as well as learning about different cultures and wrangling with the political machinations of both the Empire and the rebels.

Like I said there is a lot to like about this book. The setting, the romance between Luca and Touraine, the political wranglings and the effervescent plot that takes you in lots of different directions.

However, I did find it a little hard to get into at first, and I found it difficult to relate to the characters initially. The pacing at the beginning of the book revolves around a lot of plot building. And at times, I found that this hampered the pacing for me, thus adding to my difficulty in relating to the story. 

However, when we get to the second half of the book, the pacing picks up and I have to say it leads to a pretty climactic conclusion that had me turning pages at a rate of knots as I wanted to find out how the book will end. 

On the whole, I enjoyed the book despite my initial difficulties with the pacing and I eventually related to the characters.

I have a feeling that C. L Clark will be a fantasy writer to keep an eye on, and will go from strength to strength.


Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Book Tour | The End of Dreams by Marcus Lee

March 2nd 2021

Hello Fantasy Book Nerds

It's my turn on the Blog Tour for The End of Dreams by Marcus Lee . The tour has been organised by the fabulous Storytellers on Tour. So far there have been some fantastic bloggers involved in this tour and I hope you can check out their reviews too. Today, Beneath a Thousnd Skies  and Out of This World SFF Reviews  are also reviewing The End of Dreams as well, so if you want to have a look at these other fantastic reviews follow the link.

One of the other things I need to mention is that if you want to read the first book in the series, Kings & Daemons. It is currently on sale at the whopping price of 99p


Now before we get to the review, I just want to mention that the cover art for the book is done by Jaqueline Abromeit, who has done all three of the covers for The Gifted & The Cursed. I think that this one is my favorite of the three (although they are all brilliant) and this captures the tone of the book

So if you are not familiar with the book, here is a bit about it. 

Book Blurb

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.
 
However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.
 
Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.
This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide.
 
Review 

With The End of Dreams, Marcus Lee's The Gifted & The Cursed comes to a close. 

When it comes to the last of a series of books, we know that there will be an inevitable conclusion and the series will end. It's always bittersweet when we get to the final chapter of a series. On the one hand, you want to see how it all ends. Will good triumph over evil, or will there be a twist of events that will somehow change the outcome and give us an unexpected ending that we didn't see coming. There are a multitude of ways things can end, but end they will. And so it comes with The End of Dreams. 

However, whilst the ending is important, it is not the be all and end all. The most important aspect is the journey to get there. Therein lies the joy! And, oh, what a journey this is.

The book starts immediately from where we last left our main characters. Taran, Rakan and Yana are escaping from the fortress of Tristan's Folly. Whilst Maya is fulfilling her obligation to Tristan that she made to keep Taran alive. 

It's pretty fair to say, that at this present moment in time, mostly everyone is not happy about the current situation that they find themselves in. Well, except for Yana, who is quite happy that things seem to be going according to plan. In that Maya is off with Tristan and she has time to see her wily plans of making Taran her own come to fruition. 

In amidst this, Taran has made the stupendously wise decision to continue to wear the amulet of the Witch King and repress all his emotions pertaining to the current state of his relationship with Maya. You know that isn't going to end well, don't you! However, Rakan tells him this and he completely ignores this advice. Suffice it to say, Taran walks a pretty dark path, believing that the most appropriate way to deal with the Witch King is be like the Witch King.

Meanwhile, Daleth is currently holding up, injured as a result of the events at Tristan's Folly. However, he is not entirely idle in his God given right to dominate the whole world and suck off its life energy so that he can live forever and sets off a series of plans so that his victory can be orchestrated.

Maya, on the other hand has decided that although she is not in the best place, what with Tristan wanting to get his wicked way with her (in more ways than one), she feels that the best course of action is to defy Tristan at every given turn and also make the best of her situation by doing what she does best, caring for others and thus telling them the truth about Daleth and his army.

I think that tells you enough about plot without giving too much away.

I have loved this series as whole and with each book, it has gone from strength to strength, and the End of Dreams is no exception. Marcus Lee delivers plots and subplots, weaving each one delicately to reach the final ending of what for me is a memorable series of books. 

Again, he shows inexplicable skill in mounting tension, introducing new characters and subsequently completing this journey.

What I like about, Marcus Lee's writing is that he wears his heart on his sleeve. He loves epic fantasy in all it's forms. He is able to write about romance without it turning into mawkishness, he can write about other relationships, such as Rakan's care for his son and make it believable and he can satisfy even the bloodthirstiest of readers like me. That's a pretty good balancing act to perform if you ask me and he does it with style.

Now we have to talk about characters. Marcus Lee writes fantastically believable characters that are worth getting attached to. From Maya, with her beguilingly innocent view of the world to the despicable Tristan. Yes, I say Tristan, because whilst Daleth is the big bad, he's a smidgen less odious than Tristan, who I virtually hissed at every time he entered the stage.

One last thing that I have to mention, is that surprisingly, amongst all the plot and the characters, Marcus Lee manages to squeeze in some pretty awesome world building with the introduction of the Horse lords, which to me, reminded me of a mix between the Rohirrim, the Mongol Hoardes and the Knights of Solamnia and I thought were a welcome addition to the book.

So, we come to the close and I must say that this is a satisfying ending to a memorable series.

Author Info

Writing hasn't always been a serious hobby for me ... but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I'd like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it's my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.
 

So, as always, thank you for visiting the site and if you want to look at the others and what is coming next on the tour, here's the schedule
 

 



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Welcome to my website. Hopefully, you are all like minded individuals here and are interested in the fantasy genre. Mostly, I will be reviewing books that I like. It might not always be fantasy, there might be some horror or science fiction.

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