Category Archives: Fantasy

Fantasy reviews

Jonathan French: True Bastards (Review)

book cover of The True Bastards

Fetching was once the only female rider in the Lot Lands. Now she is the leader of her own hoof, a band of loyal half-orcs sworn to her command. But the hoof she inherited is on the brink of collapse.

Tested to the breaking point by the burdens of leadership, Fetching battles desperately to stave off famine, desertion and the scorn of the other half-orc chieftains, even as orcs and humans alike threaten the Lots’ very existence.

Then an old enemy finds a way to strike at her from beyond the grave – and suddenly only one faint hope for salvation remains.

Review

The Lot Lands series i suspect may be a little marmite for some people to pick up… I mean its Half Orcs riding hogs (no not a harley… a hog a very big pig… with horns to hold on to), as a story its rude, violent and chock full of profanity… and under that is an amazing story that you also come to understand needs all that profanity and violence… i mean would you expect Sons of anarchy or Deadwood to be a great TV series without the nudity and the violence and the swearing?? (No… its relevant to the characters and the situation)… Book one Grey Bastards had me laughing out loud and riveted to the page, it really was something new.

True bastards though felt like a deeper more personal story as Fetching struggles to carve out a new lot for her band of Half orcs, not just battling the harsh land, and enemies on every front, but also orc chauvinism, personal demons and a magical illness… into that mix comes her past and a terrible adversary… She must face her own demons and seek alliances with traditional enemies… she must turn the whole of the Lot Lands on its head to survive.

The whole story is just brilliant, it will engage you from the very first page and drag you along through the hunger, the violence the intrigue and the camaraderie, it will make you a member of the hoof or leave you in the dust….

This is a series that gets better with each book and i have high hopes for the next book, Jonathan French is a fresh new voice with lots to say…

Very Highly Reccomended

(Parm)

Series
Lot Lands
   1. The Grey Bastards (2015)
   2. The True Bastards (2019)
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Mark Lawrence : Dispel Illusion

 

book cover of Dispel Illusion

Dispel Illusion (The third book in the Impossible Times series)

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

Review

Somehow Mark Lawrence always manages to surprise me, having reviewed books for about 30 years you do find at times that you get a little jaded with the same ideas reworked, but there are still authors out there who manage to write something new and surprising, something that has you guessing, that challenges the mind, that entertains and takes you on a journey out of your own head. Mark Lawrence seems to manage to do this with every single book he writes, and Dispel Illusion is right up there with the best he has written.

The book challenges your understanding of time and space and paradox, whilst at the same time pulling you into the simple world of friends and love. Impossible times has all the hallmarks of a major TV series, there is so much in it that at times i felt that the book was just skimming the surface of possibility for the series, the multiverse, the avoidance of paradox and the use of D&D to explain and navigate some of the key elements of the plot was just genius.

This final book in the series had me guessing all the way to the end how the author would tie up the story, how we could have a satisfactory ending, one we could enjoy and believe, and he managed it beautifully…

With all the heavy and detailed books i read in Historical fiction and Fantasy, its been amazing to read a series that is highly entertaining, incredibly complex with time travel and paradoxes and also at the same time so simple and easy, real life friendships and love that we can all relate too… its one of my fav series and one for everyone to read because its genre free….

Very Highly recommended

(Parm)

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Garth Nix: Angel Mage (review)

Garth Nix

Garth Nix's picture

Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing ‘Hail the Conquering Hero Comes’ or possibly ‘Roll Out the Barrel’. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a trunk full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

Despite a wheel literally falling off the Austin, Garth survived to return to Australia and study at the University of Canberra. After finishing his degree in 1986 he worked in a bookshop, then as a book publicist, a publisher’s sales representative, and editor. Along the way he was also a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving in an Assault Pioneer platoon for four years. Garth left publishing to work as a public relations and marketing consultant from 1994-1997, till he became a full-time writer in 1998. He did that for a year before becoming a part-time literary agent in 1999. In January 2002 Garth went back to writing full time again, despite his belief that full-time writing explains the strange behaviour of many authors.

Garth currently lives in a beach suburb of Sydney, with his wife Anna, a publisher.

 

book cover of Angel Mage

 

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than 19, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

It’s a seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. Four young people hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, a glory-seeking musketeer; and Dorotea, icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet but do not suspect their importance. And none of them know just how Liliath plans to use them, as mere pawns in her plan, no matter the cost to everyone else….

Review:

I have to admit to never having read Garth Nix before, so i wasn’t sure what to expect, what i did know was that Christian Cameron recommended his writing (which is a good indicator) so i got stuck into Angel Mage..

I had my doubts about this book, to begin with while i was impressed with the scope of the magic system and the world, i felt that the info dumps to bring the reader up to speed over shadowed the characters, i didn’t gain any warmth for them, i wasn’t invested in them, not until the 4 main characters started to coalesce together, then they started to come alive, and the story blossomed.

As a whole its a good slid story, a clever magic system , but i didn’t love it… I felt the good story and good characters were marred by complexity…info drops. That said, im saying this in comparison to some really great books….im glad i read it… and i would read more set in this world, i think the foundations have been built for some truly excellent stories….especially the musketeers…who doesn’t love a musketeer tale!!

(Parm)

 

 

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Miles Cameron: Bright Steel (Review)

Image result for miles cameron

Miles Cameron is a fantasy novelist who currently lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a military veteran and has a degree in Medieval History.

His debut novel (The Red Knight), first in The Traitor Son novels, was one of the most acclaimed fantasy debuts of 2012 and nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar award. It is followed by The Fell Sword.

He also writes highly acclaimed historical fiction under the name Christian Cameron.

book cover of Bright Steel

Every war comes down to the flash of bright steel, even when the air is full of magic . . .

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to rip the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they must succeed on every front or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together? And can he and his friends overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces? Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is . . . ?

Review

The end of another stunning trilogy/ series.  Miles / Christian Cameron as you all know is my favourite writer, he is the smartest man i know and i’m lucky enough to call him a friend… but id still call him out if the plot was bad…. fortunately it never is because he has an easy going authentic style that draws you into his world and his characters. When you add in his huge depth of knowledge in history, fighting skills, arms and armour and geo politics and so much more you start to understand why what he writes feels so real, he imbues his writing with more than imagination, he adds in the real, what does it feel like to fight in armour, how do you use a sword or a bow, what logistics are involved in moving an army etc… all this is something the author has done in real life, so every tale is an education as well as an adventure… but carried but so subtly that you don’t notice that you have been subtly educated, you’re to swept up n the grand scale and world of the story.

Bright steel brings an end to his latest series, a tale where once again the dungeon master has woven us into a new time, a new world, a unique magic system, a set of new nations and protagonists. Once again he has made us fall in love with new people in new worlds, showing the horror and futility of war as well as the beauty and skill of the swordsman and the camaraderie of the soldiers. men and women fighting side by side heroism and arrogance on all sides, political maneuvering at a small and nation level… that winning is never the end, only the start of something new, as is losing…what ever the outcome the world keeps turning, but can you influence or change the way it turns?

With the last 2 series as Miles Cameron i believe that the author has cemented himself as one of the key authors in the fantasy genre (along side his mastery of the Historical Fiction genre), his world building is second to none, but more than that his ability to create a world spanning plot that is both intricate and also realistic is something few authors can accomplish, his tales have the complexity and breadth of authors like GRRM, but he keeps the plot tight and fast and easy to read, avoids getting windy about side plots, whilst teasing us with a myriad of tales that could still be told. We stick with our reluctant hero Aranthur and his group of “Cold iron” and follow as the plot unravels to reveal the bad guys and the mysteries of the world, its magic and its politics, until the story is told to a satisfying conclusion…. yet at the same time leaving you wanting more of the side tales and sub plots, to have those tales of other key characters payed out as well, to enjoy time with those favorite characters.

I’d struggle to say which of his series i loved the most…. i believe Masters and Mages was the easier read, because the scope of Traitors Son was just beyond compare, making GRRM look unambitious… but both series share that same engaging reality and amazing people.

There is i’m sure more to come from this world, as there is from Traitor son cycles world…. but Miles/ Christian also loves to bring something new to the table, the man seems to have an inexhaustible imagination.

This is again a series that belong on the Collection Shelf of any reader, Fantasy or Historical fiction, it doesn’t matter… its just writing and imagination at its best. A must buy/ Must read series.

(Parm)

Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2012)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2012)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
Traitor son cycle series: Books 1-4 (omnibus) (2018)
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Masters & Mages
1. Cold Iron (2018)
2. Dark Forge (2019)
3. Bright Steel (2019)
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Series
Alan Craik (as by Gordon Kent)
1. Night Trap (1998)
aka Rules of Engagement
2. Peace Maker (2000)
3. Top Hook (2002)
4. Hostile Contact (2003)
5. Force Protection (2004)
6. Damage Control (2005)
7. The Spoils of War (2006)
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Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
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Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
6. Rage of Ares (2016)
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Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
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Chivalry
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
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Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven (2015)
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Tom Swan and the Last Spartans
1. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part One (2016)
2. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Two (2016)
3. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Three (2017)
4. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Four (2017)
5. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Five (2017)
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Commander
1. The New Achilles (2019)
2. The Last Greek (2020)
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Novels
Cauldron of Violence (2000) (as by Gordon Kent)
Washington and Caesar (2001)
The Falconer’s Tale (2007) (as by Gordon Kent)
God of War (2012)
A Song of War (2016) (with Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
Tudor Knight (2019)
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Nicholas Eames: Kings of the Wyld & Bloody Rose (Review)

Nicholas Eames's picture

Nicholas Eames was born to parents of infinite patience and unstinting support in Wingham, Ontario. Though he attended college for theatre arts, he gave up acting to pursue the infinitely more attainable profession of ‘epic fantasy novelist.’ Kings of the Wyld is his first novel. Nicholas loves black coffee, neat whiskey, the month of October, and video games. He currently lives in Ontario, Canada, and is very probably writing at this very moment.

book cover of Kings of the Wyld

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help–the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together. 

(Review)

 

 

 

book cover of Bloody Rose

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side. 

(Review)

Ok so i may seem a little late to the table with these two books, but that’s because i wanted to read them when i could really enjoy them, to spend time on them, and am i so glad i did, this is a truly excellent new series. Its been a long time since i’ve read anyone who reminds me so much of James Barclay (an author who deserves to have been sooo much bigger). The characters and new , fresh, funny, a team dedicated to each other over and above any mission or cause, friends and family come first, even if you need to cross the most dangerous land and battle an entire horde to get there….

What won me to these books is the easy comradeship, the conversation and the gallows humour, i chuckled all the way through these books and i read them both twice, something i almost never do, there is an easy reading qulity to these while containing complex and very real characters.

There is no need to analyse every person or place in this review….. simply if you love reading go buy these books, they are awesome , Nicholas Eames has with 2 books jumped onto my MUST read pile and must collect book shelf.

beyond Highly recommended … you would be mad not to buy these

(Parm)

 

 

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David Wragg: Black Hawks (Review)

David Wragg's picture

Dave Wragg really got into writing stories just as he finished English GCSE, then took about twenty years to get back to it. In the meantime, he studied software engineering, worked in global shipping and technical consultancy, and once spent a year in the Foreign Office ‘hiding in the basement’.

He currently does Software Odd Jobs around central London. In his vanishingly rare free time (when not working, writing, or enjoying the fruits of parenthood), he tries to consume as much digital entertainment as possible, as well as reading genre fiction and enjoying the odd board game. Some of them are very odd indeed.

Dave lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, two small daughters and two smaller cats.

book cover of The Black Hawks

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.

(Review)

I was sold on this book as soon as i saw the cover, because you certainly do tell a book by the cover, why else do you pick it up in the first place!!? The art work on this one is just brilliant.

When i started to read it i had a wobble, it felt a little slow, but i think may have been more my issue getting my head around the society and the hierarchy, because the story starts with a punch and keeps on going until you’re either a fan or a bloody pulp.

The main character has a hint of Mark Lawrence and the reluctant Jal, but when doing the right thing is needed Chel goes forward not in the opposite direction, there is certainly a hint of Nicholas Eames bloody rose, with Chel like Tam learning new skills from the highly trained mercenaries, with dark humour, fast violence and a cynical view of their world. These guys fight dirty, fight hard and fast and run away when they need to, this is a business not a quest.

I loved the characters, no matter how dark and devious they got there was always something new about them, the story brought something new to the table which i think gets harder every year. When you add in cannibals, assassins, back stabbings, lies and misdirection… you end up with an awesome mix.

Highly recommend this book, its great fun and really fast….

(Parm)

 

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Chris Humphreys: Smoke in the Glass (review)

Smoke in the Glass: Immortals’ Blood Book One (Immortal’s Blood)

Smoke in the Glass: Immortals' Blood Book One (Immortal's Blood) by [Humphreys, Chris]

A thrilling new dark fantasy series about immortality, war and survival, from the bestselling historical author Chris (CC) Humphreys

Three lands, peopled by humans and immortals. In Corinthium a decadent endlessly-lived elite run the world for profit and power. But when a poor, honest solider dies, and is reborn, everything changes. In wintry Midgarth, where immortals are revered as deities, one of them has realized that something – or someone – is killing the gods. And in Ometepe there is only one immortal, for he has murdered every other. Until one woman gives birth to a very special baby.Yet there is a fourth, hidden land, where savage tribes have united under the prophecy of ‘the One’: a child who is neither boy nor girl. Now they plan to conquer the world. Unless a broken soldier, a desperate mother and a crippled god can stop them…

Review

Chris Humphreys is an excellent writer (under the name CC Humphreys), every book i have read has been a pleasure and added to the amazing group of authors from Canada. So when i heard about Smoke in the Glass and that it was his first Fantasy title i was somewhat excited…. But somehow with that excitement waning i found myself about 15 pages in thinking…”who is this? it doesn’t feel like the writing i’ve experienced before.

There is a very good reason for that….. this is a whole new world, with some very complex lands and civilizations and on rereading i could see where the author had been trying to impart as much detail as he could without it being just an info dump, it was an unexpected style .. very quickly after that realization the story started to develop and i could see how the author was building its peoples and lands and magic, all with more than one underlying plot, who are the beings who bestowed immortality? why is it so random who becomes immortal? why does someone want to tear down the natural order? can the Elite be tumbled? and so much more.

like me many will assign similar (real) nations/ myths to the lands described. My Fav character so far is Luck, who has some of the Imp Tyrion about him, and who doesn’t love the imp.

After my initial jitters with the new style from this author i found myself quickly lost in the story’s rich tapestry, the characters as with all of this authors books are amazing, he has the ability to make them very real and very personable and before you know it you have become attached to them on a emotional level. wrapped around all of that comes a very new and original landscape, and a story-line that will certainly stand out from the rest, I’ve no idea what length the series arc will have but it has the potential to be an epic and long series if the author wanted it. Normally i would say a book from this author is very character led, and it is… but then its also plot driven and magic driven… it just has so many original ideas that what he has ended up with is a very exciting and interesting plot, great people and great lands… and what will be a hugely exciting series.

The hardest thing for this book will be fantasy readers taking the leap, trying a new author in their genre… and they really should, i’ve known a couple of other authors make this leap and their amazing books sink unknown… lets try and make sure this one doesn’t, id like to see how it pans out… and also if you have not picked up Gates of Stone add that to your list also… as readers we always want something new and exciting… these books both are, so pass the word.

(Parm)

Series

French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2003)
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Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
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Runestone Saga (as by Chris Humphreys)
1. The Fetch (2006)
2. Vendetta (2007)
3. Possession (2008)
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Captain Coke
1. Plague (2014)
2. Fire (2016)
Plague / Fire (omnibus) (2018)
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Roxy Loewen Mystery
1. Chasing the Wind (2018)
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Novels
Vlad (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
The Curse of Anne Boleyn (2015)
The Hunt of the Dragon (2016)
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