Tag Archives: fantasy

Sebastien De Castell : Knight’s Shadow (Review)

Sebastien De Castell's picture

Sebastien De Castell

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.

Knight’s Shadow (2015)

(The second book in the Greatcoats series)
A novel by Sebastien De Castell

untitled

Buy the book from Goldsboro Books (signed Limited)

Falcio val Mond is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom and then began fighting among themselves.
The horrifying murder of a duke and his family sends Falcio in a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland.

Greatcoat’s Lament is a dark swashbuckling tale of idealism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers’ corruption. It is the second book in the Greatcoat’s series that began with Traitor’s Blade.

Review

In 1844 Alexandre Dumas wrote the Three Musketeers, in 2014 / 2015 Sebastien de Castell wrote Traitors Blade and Knights Shadow. Never have I wanted to compare any book to The Three Musketeers, one of the stories I attribute to my love of history and my love of heroic fiction too, where I gained that love of seeing flawed heroes win over extreme odds.  I’m not sure even after all these years of reviewing I can adequately express how much I enjoy this series new series. But I will Start with something at the end of the book, the author acknowledges the boost provided to him from his publisher at a time when book two was holding all the terror a second book does, but I personally think also coupled with the success of book one, it must have been a daunting prospect.

I’m a firm believer in talent coming through no matter what it is your skill/ Talent is. In the case of Knights Shadow it comes through in spades, extra spades in the case of this second book, Traitors Blade (in my best of 2014 Blog) was a comfortable and splendid 384 pages, a tidy book for a debut, but book two Knights Shadow is an epic 624 pages, and it needs each and every one, by the end you are exhausted but still wanting more, and whatever Jo Fletcher said, well it worked a treat.

Our group of intrepid, very real and down to earth Greatcoats are once again in it up to their necks, book two continues directly from book one, the relentless pace is still there, but what comes to the fore in book two is the more of the soul of the great coats and what the Kings plan might have been. We have learned so much about Falcio, Kest and Brasti and we will learn more about the depths and drivers of the new arrivals but most of all we get to feel why our key characters are who they are.

Most especially Falcio, his journey in this book is chronicled covering every possible emotion. The author really puts this character to the test, yet as a reviewer who just hates spoilers I cannot give any insight except to say that coupled with the writers talent for writing dialogue, his situational and emotional awareness means that when reading this book you are right there experiencing all the pain , emotion and exhaustion that Falcio does. I was a wreck at the end of this book, and not just because I could not put the book down until the early hours. Sebastien De Castell manages to wring every heart wrenching moment and ounce of anticipation from every scene, his fight scenes contain dark humour, explosive action and a great awareness of the art of sword fighting, all of which has you hanging on the edge of every page. (there are also some truly laugh out loud moments in this book).

This really is an exceptional book and series, and I apologise for any additional pressure added to the author for book three and the very high expectation I have. This is going to be a very very hard book to topple from my number one spot for this year, whatever comes out this year this book is clearly going to be a stand out title.

 Buy the book, buy the series… you will not regret it.

 (Parm)

Series
Greatcoats
1. Traitor’s Blade (2014)
2. Knight’s Shadow (2015)
Traitor's BladeKnight's Shadow

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Sebastien De Castell

Robin Hobb Fool’s Assassin (2014) (The first book in the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy series)

Robin Hobb

hobb

A pseudonym used by Megan Lindholm

 

 

Robin Hobb is a confirmed believer not just in research, but in attempting to experience the things she is writing about. When, at the age of ten, she moved with her family from California to Alaska, it shaped her as a writer more than any other experience in her life. In the early stages of her writing career she established herself as an author under the name ‘Megan Lindholm’, creating such fine works of modern fantasy as Wizard of the Pigeons, Harpy’s Flight, The Windsingers, and The Reindeer People. In 1992 she decided to embark upon something of greater epic scope. To mirror that change, she chose a new name, ‘Robin Hobb’ under which she has, to the present day, written three trilogies: the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies. She is Voyager’s fastest-selling author in backlist and has now sold over 1 million copies of her paperbacks

Fool’s Assassin (2014)
(The first book in the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy series)

robin hobb fools assassin

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe

Review

Reviewing one of the giants of the genre is always difficult, if you don’t like the book or even find the slightest negative you can expect to be flamed to a crisp by the fan base. Fortunately I really enjoyed the book, if i had anything negative to say it would be that it was slightly longer than needed, any lesser known author would not have been given the latitude to express the depth of emotion or description and would have been pushed to go for more pace. BUT: that comment cannot detract from what is another exceptional book by Robin Hobb. Of all her books, books i have loved each (except the Soldier son series), this new one feels different, like coming home after years away, finding all your old family and friends a little older and wiser, but still the same deep down.

The whole book (all 640 pages) is a deeply emotional ride, a voyeuristic view into the emotions and diaries of Fitz and his orbiting family and friends, Robin Hobbs talent is telling it in a deeply compelling and non invasive style. I read this emotional roller-coaster of a book over several days, reading long past 1am each night, when i knew i had work the next day, i just could not put the book down. Unlike many fantasy books there are no great battles, no great mission, this is life, life in a tough world full of intrigue, assassins and dark history, all of this breeds paranoia, paranoia at life, family, motives both your own and those of others. Its this depth of writing , character exploration and plot that makes Robin Hobb such an exceptional writer, someone who can write a book that will effect the reader so much that days later the plot and its characters are still spinning around your head and leaves you not only wanting the next book but also to read this one again.

I miss Fitz, Bee and the rest of the family already, a year before the next book seems like an eternity (odd considering its been so long since we last saw or heard from Fitz)

very highly recommended

(Parm)

 

Farseer

1. Assassin’s Apprentice (1995)
2. Royal Assassin (1996)
3. Assassin’s Quest (1997)
Words Like Coins (2012)
The Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice / Royal Assassin / Assassin’s Quest (omnibus) (2013)
Royal Assassin / Assassin’s Quest (omnibus) (2013)
Assassin's ApprenticeRoyal AssassinAssassin's QuestWords Like Coins
The Farseer Trilogy:  Assassin's Apprentice / Royal Assassin / Assassin's QuestRoyal Assassin / Assassin's Quest
 Liveship Traders
1. Ship of Magic (1998)
2. The Mad Ship (1999)
3. Ship of Destiny (2000)
The Liveship Traders: The complete trilogy (omnibus) (2012)
Ship of MagicThe Mad ShipShip of DestinyThe Liveship Traders: The complete trilogy
 Tawny Man
1. Fool’s Errand (2001)
2. The Golden Fool (2002)
3. Fool’s Fate (2003)
The Tawny Man Series Books 2 and 3: Golden Fool / Fool’s Fate (omnibus) (2013)
The Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool’s Errand / Golden Fool / Fool’s Fate (omnibus) (2013)
Fool's ErrandThe Golden FoolFool's FateThe Tawny Man Series Books 2 and 3: Golden Fool / Fool's Fate
The  Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool's Errand / Golden Fool / Fool's Fate
 Soldier Son
1. Shaman’s Crossing (2005)
2. Forest Mage (2006)
3. Renegade’s Magic (2007)
The Soldier Son Trilogy Bundle (omnibus) (2012)
Shaman's CrossingForest MageRenegade's MagicThe Soldier Son Trilogy Bundle
 Rain Wild Chronicles
1. The Dragon Keeper (2009)
2. Dragon Haven (2010)
3. City of Dragons (2012)
4. Blood of Dragons (2013)
Rain Wilds Chronicles (omnibus) (2014)
The Dragon KeeperDragon HavenCity of DragonsBlood of Dragons
Rain Wilds Chronicles
 Fitz and the Fool Trilogy
1. Fool’s Assassin (2014)
Fool's Assassin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Robin Hobb

Mark Lawrence: Prince of Fools (review)

Mark Lawrence

lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled.His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments.

Product Description

Fools

 

Buy from Amazon

From the critically acclaimed author of THE BROKEN EMPIRE series comes a brilliant new epic fantasy series, THE RED QUEEN’S WAR.

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other.

Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, and dragged against his will to the icy north.

In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice.

Experience does not lend Jalan wisdom; but here and there he unearths a corner of the truth. He discovers that they are all pieces on a board, pieces that may be being played in the long, secret war the Red Queen has waged throughout her reign, against the powers that stand behind thrones and nations, and for higher stakes than land or gold.

Review

I consider myself to be a fortunate individual, I’m often sent books to read and review. I always hope to repay that trust of a review copy with something to say about the book. I’m not a critic however and will not review a book I didn’t like, which means not everything I’m sent gets added to the blog (just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean it will not be amazing to someone else, eg, many love Harry Potter, me…cant stand them). So when I actually ask (well beg) for a book I really hope it’s a book I’m going to love, because otherwise it feels like a total let down to those lovely PR ladies.

All that preamble though is just background and flannel to wrong foot you, having read the Broken Empire series I was 99.9999% sure that this book was going to be excellent and that I would love it. Well having just finished it today I’m now 100%. I described it on twitter with its limited characters as “Prince of Fools is excellent: humour, Vikings, fighting, magic, Vikings, fighting, more humour, lots more fighting. Love it” .

That small description is it in a nutshell, The book centers on Jalan Kendeth a Prince of the realm, and a total utter coward, the author has done a wonderful job of transporting Harry Flashman from Victorian England to his own fantasy world, having read many attempted and failed copies of the humorous flashy it was wonderful to see someone finally pull off a witty, sniveling coward, but one with hidden depths…..when he has to save his own skin.

Enter his enforced partner and total opposite, the Northman Snorri, a big blonde viking, as brave as Jal is cowardly, a man haunted by loss. The pair are forced on a journey, one for the survival of his family and the other for the saving of his own skin. Wrapped in magic the 2 head north into the ice-bound wilderness……

If you have read any of the Broken Empire books you will already know Mark Lawrence is an excellent writer, combining a precise style with a clever depth of invention and world building (did you read his author bio? he is a bit smart), if you have not read any …well why not, go buy them now and this new book because its got Vikings, axes, swords, fighting, zombies …well undead but close enough.

Overall a highly entertaining, thrilling journey, funny, dark and fulfilling, for me one of the best fantasy titles I have read in quite some time. I have laughed out loud and wiped a damp eye, this story has it all.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

Broken Empire Web site Link

1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Prince of ThornsKing of ThornsEmperor of ThornsMark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle
Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
Prince of Fools

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mark Lawrence

Sebastien de Castell: Traitor’s Blade (The Greatcoats) review

Author

Sebastien de Castell ,

Author Web site

Sebastien de Castell had just finished a degree in Archaeology when he started work on his first dig. Four hours later he realized how much he actually hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist. His only defence against the charge of unbridled dilettantism is that he genuinely likes doing these things and that, in one way or another, each of these fields plays a role in his writing. He sternly resists the accusation of being a Renaissance Man in the hopes that more people will label him that way.

Sebastien lives in Vancouver, Canada with his lovely wife and two belligerent cats.

Book description

Paperback Published 4th Sept 2014, click to buy.

traitors blade

 

(Published March 6th 2014)

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

Review

There must be something in the water or maybe the good clean open air of Canada at the moment, this is yet another author able to turn out something amazing. (others being Christian Cameron and CC Humphreys, two of my personal fav authors.)

Traitors Blade is something new in the fantasy genre, at least for me (im not as widely read in fantasy as i used to be). To get a fantasy using Timeslip, something normally reserved to thrillers worked fantastically, introducing back story and tension at the same time. This book is neither character driven or plot driven, its a wonderful blending, the author getting that fine balance between driving forward the story, and the characters voices and narrative. The story is packed with humour, emotion, banter and great character camaraderie. I’m sure that some of my enjoyment is due to the dry, self deprecating at time sarcastic voice of Falcio first Cantor of the Greatcoats and his companions.

The Greatcoats being the books/ authors fantastic creation, both the Armour they are named for, and the ideals and reason for their being. The enemy, the Dukes of the kingdom, put me in mind of the opposite of King John, where the dukes brought the King to heel and signed the people charter (Magna Carta) in Traitors Blade the king was the driving force for good and change, for the people, and the dukes are the petty tyrants.

This is yet another book this year that is in the category, “Left me with a book Hangover”, ie left me thinking about it for days afterwards, the style, the plot, the characters, and most of all wishing for the next book in the series. In finding and publishing Sebastian de Castell and Traitors Blade Jo Fletcher Books have given the genre a real treat, and i hope something new for years to come.

I want to join the Greatcoats, and ride with them again…. i honestly urge you to also Join them Buy the book

Also to find your greatcoat name, use your maternal grandmothers maiden name and your primary school. (mine is Carter St Joseph)

Highly recommend this one

(Parm)

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Filed under Fantasy, Sebastien De Castell

Brandon Sanderson: Steelheart (Review)

The Author

brandon

Brandon Sanderson is an American fantasy author. A Nebraska native, he currently resides in American Fork, Utah. He earned his Master’s degree in Creative Writing in 2005 from Brigham Young University, where he was on the staff of Leading Edge, a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine published by the university. He was a college roommate of Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings. He has been nominated twice for the John W. Campbell Award.

“It’s Brandon Sanderson Jim, but not as we know it …”

Publisher’s synopsis:
steelheart
“Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners.  A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge”

Review: (Guest review by Jane Carter)
Steelheart is the latest from the pen of Brandon Sanderson, an incredibly prolific author and one who’s books I am eager to read.  Previous works such as the Mistborn series and Elantris showed an imagination and creativity that has put him at the top of the fantasy tree, and those particular books are in my personal top 10.
Steelheart is a superhero novel and the start of a new series, and I believe it is fair to class it as Young Adult (YA).  I’ve scoured the publicity around this release and whilst I can find no suggestion that the publishers themselves make any suggestion of this being YA, the majority of reviewers seem to lean this way – and I agree.  Not that I see this as a problem at all as I have read many most excellent YA books, often finding the label superfluous – The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey for example is one where I would have been happily oblivious to the YA positioning.  In this case however, finding the comments about it being YA was something of a relief, in a “ah, it makes sense now!” type way.  Not because there is anything wrong with this book – I enjoyed it – but it certainly wasn’t quite what I was expecting from Sanderson.  The intricacies and depth I expected weren’t quite there for me.  The danger for YA books is that often it can result in a watered down approach, with basic characters and fortunately that is not the case here.  To make a movie analogy, this would definitely fall into the “action” genre – it’s fast-paced and action-packed which makes it an easy read, and you could actually see it being easily transferred to the big screen.  The characters having special and unusual skills is in keeping with Sanderson’s creative ideas that made Mistborn and Elantris so exceptional and that is still apparent in Steelheart, with the bad guys having skills such as abilities to turn anything inorganic to steel (hence the title of this first book), or create elaborate illusions.   There’s no great depth to a lot of the characters – not yet anyway, there are certainly hints of more to come – but that doesn’t mean anything is missing as they are still well written and for this type of story it’s not always necessary to have great swathes of detail and back-story.  The plot is well paced and there’s no unnecessary waffle, overall a fun easy read – although I have to agree with another reviewer on the city name: “Newcago” instead of Chicago?!  Would have expected more from Brandon Sanderson – and that possibly summarises why this one didn’t totally hit the spot for me, a victim of Sanderson’s previous success in that I had such high expectations.
Other titles by this author
Elantris (2005)
The Emperor’s Soul (2012)
ElantrisThe Emperor's Soul
Mistborn
1. The Final Empire (2006)
2. The Well of Ascension (2007)
3. The Hero of Ages (2008)
4. The Alloy of Law (2011)
Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set (omnibus) (2009)
The Final EmpireThe Well of AscensionThe Hero of AgesThe Alloy of Law
Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set
Alcatraz
1. Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians (2007)
2. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones (2008)
3. Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (2009)
4. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (2010)
Alcatraz (omnibus) (2012)
Alcatraz Versus The Evil LibrariansAlcatraz Versus the Scrivener's BonesAlcatraz Versus the Knights of CrystalliaAlcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
Alcatraz
Wheel of Time (with Robert Jordan)
12. The Gathering Storm (2009)
13. Towers of Midnight (2010)
14. A Memory of Light (2013)
What the Storm Means: Prologue to the Gathering Storm (2009)
Wheel of Time Boxed Set IV: Crossroads of Twilight / Knife of Dreams / Gathering Storm (omnibus) (2011)
By Grace and Banners Fallen: Prologue to A Memory of Light(2012)
The Gathering StormTowers of MidnightA Memory of LightWhat the Storm Means: Prologue to the Gathering Storm
Wheel of Time Boxed Set IV: Crossroads of Twilight / Knife of Dreams / Gathering StormBy Grace and Banners Fallen: Prologue to A Memory of Light
Stormlight Archive
1. The Way of Kings (2010)
2. Words of Radiance (2014)
The Way of KingsWords of Radiance
Infinity Blade
1. Awakening (2011)
2. Redemption (2013)
AwakeningRedemption
Steelheart
1. Steelheart (2013)
Steelheart
Rithmatist
1. The Rithmatist (2013)
The Rithmatist
Novels
Warbreaker (2009)
Firstborn (2010)
WarbreakerFirstborn
Omnibus
Legion / Emperor’s Soul (2013)
Legion / Emperor's Soul
Novellas
Legion (2012)
Legion and The Emperor’s Soul (2013)
LegionLegion and The Emperor's Soul
Short Stories
The Hope of Elantris (2007)
The Hope of Elantris

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A.J. Smith: The Black Guard (Long War Book 1) Review + Q&A

The Author

aj smith

AJ Smith has been writing stories set in the lands of The Long War since he was at university. Defining the world and adding detail became an excellent distraction from his degree (which was in psychology, philosophy and sociology) and has remained equally distracting ever since. Interestingly, the maps came first, and then the world and its characters began to take shape in the writing. Since graduating, Tony has been working with troubled children in a high school in Luton and has had various articles related to counselling and youth work published. Fantasy fiction has always been his own version of therapy and a place where he can make up what happens next rather than waiting for the real world to decide.

Book Description

Buy it on kindle for the bargain 99p

Buy a signed copy £20

Buy Hardback from Amazon £15.99

 

Black Guard

The city of Ro Canarn burns. The armies of the Red march upon the northern lords. And the children of a dead god are waking from their long slumber… The Duke of Canarn is dead, executed by the King’s decree. The city lies in chaos, its people starving, sickening, and tyrannized by the ongoing presence of the King’s mercenary army. But still hope remains: the Duke’s children, the Lord Bromvy and Lady Bronwyn, have escaped their father’s fate.

Separated by enemy territory, hunted by the warrior clerics of the One God, Bromvy undertakes to win back the city with the help of the secretive outcasts of the Darkwald forest, the Dokkalfar. The Lady Bronwyn makes for the sanctuary of the Grass Sea and the warriors of Ranen with the mass of the King’s forces at her heels. And in the mountainous region of Fjorlan, the High Thain Algenon Teardrop launches his Dragon Fleet against the Red Army. Brother wars against brother in this, the epic first volume of the long war.

Review

2013 seems to be a year for Début fantasy novels for me, and they have all been fantastic books so far (Luke Scull, Stella Gemmell, Nathan Hawke), so how does the Black Guard stand up against those other débuts?

Like The City by Stella Gemmell it took me a little while to get into this book, maybe its the risk of a début author landing such a hefty tome in my lap, at 640 pages its a serious expression of trust from the publisher Head of Zeus, and an announcement that they think they have a real winner on their hands, and for me a big time commitment with so many great books out there.

So how did it shape up? For me, I felt the style was on the epic fantasy scale, Brandon Sanderson, Tolkien style. Where my personal preference is more Gemmellesque. But at the same time the characters are very much to my liking, they are realistic, likeable and natural rather than the average OTT fantasy drone. So has AJ Smith hit his own niche part Gemmell part Sanderson? I’m not 100% sure, I don’t think I read enough fantasy these days to be totally sure, I need more maybe when I see book 2?

The story however is very clever even though it takes a bit of time to get there, but when it does get going it keeps you turning the pages at a rapid pace, so much so that you will hardly realise the size of the book, and when the book ends it leaves you slightly bereft, needing more and knowing while there will be, its not going to be for at least a year.

There are clear signs in the book and writing of a true fantasy geek (not an insult) a man who has spent time becoming passionate with his genre and then building a world in his mind. Its that passion and desire to get his world down on paper I think that slows down the first third of the book, but it really is called for, that description pays off, that world building is key and I feel we will reap more rewards from it as this series continues.
In Summary read this book, you will find a book of subtle writing skill, with deep, careful world building and colourful real characters, written in a style all of his own.
I for one recommend this book and look forward to the next book in the series.

(Parm)

Questions & Answers

1) Why Fantasy?

I’m always thinking “what happens next”. With contemporary stuff (and the real world) there are hundreds of things telling you what should or must happen next. With fantasy, there are admitted tropes and accepted rules, but on the whole you can do what you like. What happens next is entirely dictated by the world laws you’ve created.

2) Was this the first world, or are there some lost hidden gems that have not seen the light of day?

The world is massive. There are nations and empires – some pretty extreme – still to be discovered by men. I’ve got a truck-load of maps from roleplaying games and short stories that explore some weird-arse places to the east of Tor Funweir. Volkast to the north and Jekka to the east are at least as big as the lands of men.

3) Give us some background on your fantasy geekage (yes… go on admit it… it will make you feel better)?

I’m all about geek-chic, baby!

I’ve been roleplaying for years – Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Cthulhu, D&D – being a geek is just embracing a need for escapism. I say to you, my brothers and sisters, freak freely.

4) What led you into writing?

It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s the only thing I do that doesn’t make me feel like a should be doing something else. Weirdly, I only started writing fantasy a couple of years ago – although the world was already in place from roleplaying and my pathological love of drawing maps. Before that I tended toward surreal black comedy. I always wrote short stories and thought that, when I “worked out” how to write a book, I’d write loads. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to write more fantasy and non-fantasy.

5) Who is your fav author (to read)?

Big question. It’s largely mood dependent, but Douglas Adams, Michael Marshall Smith and H.P Lovecraft are probably my favourites.

6) Can you give us a some book two hints?

It’s called The Dark Blood. It was finished straight after The Black Guard and I’m nearly done with the third one – called The Red Prince. I write pretty quickly (much to my editor’s dismay).

As for hints: Rham Jas goes on a killing spree with an old friend. The battle for Ranen continues and we see more of the dark denizens of the world.

7) If you could have written any book in history which would it be?

Pretentious answer: Das Capital by Karl Marx.

Truthful answer: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

In a different life: Anything by Christopher Hitchens.

 8) In your own words sell The Black Guard…..

I have five children who are starving and I’m massively in debt… please give generously (None of this is true).

I want people to become immersed in the world. I hope that it grows and grows from page one, unveiling sections of the world and plot as it goes. It’s the first part of a (probably) four book series and they should all build from this, giving the world more depth and the reader more immersion.

If there’s not a kind of fantasy called “Immersive Fantasy”, I want to invent it.

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Mark Lawrence: Emperor of Thorns (Review)

Author

lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled.His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments.

Product Description

emperor

Lawrence brings his highly acclaimed epic fantasy series – The Broken Empire – to its devastating conclusion.

The path to the throne is broken – only the broken can walk it

The world is cracked and time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne no matter who stands against me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

Review

“There are very few fantasy writers out there who can produce something this rounded, so complete, so powerful and action packed”

2013 is the year of fantastic books, i set myself the challenge of reading 100 books, thinking that i would have to cast around for some fillers titles to be able to read that many. How wrong i was, i think i have found over 250 books i want to read this year, which means i have had to be selective about who gets my time.

I have been a big fan of both Mark Lawrence the writer and Mark Lawrence the man, a person who gives so much in his writing and also as a charitable person. He has inspired me to do more and look for more ways to help others. (thank you Mark).

So this is the end: and that fact made me think of the Doors

This is the end 
Beautiful friend 
This is the end 
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end 
Of everything that stands, the end 
No safety or surprise, the end 
I’ll never look into your eyes…again

Can you picture what will be 
So limitless and free 
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand 
In a…desperate land

Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain 
And all the children are insane 
All the children are insane 
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

There’s danger on the edge of town 
Ride the King’s highway, baby 
Weird scenes inside the gold mine 
Ride the highway west, baby

Ride the snake, ride the snake 
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby 
The snake is long, seven miles 
Ride the snake…he’s old, and his skin is cold

The west is the best 
The west is the best 
Get here, and we’ll do the rest

The blue bus is callin’ us 
The blue bus is callin’ us 
Driver, where you taken’ us

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on 
He took a face from the ancient gallery 
And he walked on down the hall 
He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then he 
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he 
He walked on down the hall, and 
And he came to a door…and he looked inside 
Father, yes son, I want to kill you 
Mother…I want to…fuck you

C’mon baby, take a chance with us 
C’mon baby, take a chance with us 
C’mon baby, take a chance with us 
And meet me at the back of the blue bus 
Doin’ a blue rock 
On a blue bus 
Doin’ a blue rock 
C’mon, yeah

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill

This is the end 
Beautiful friend 
This is the end 
My only friend, the end

It hurts to set you free 
But you’ll never follow me 
The end of laughter and soft lies 
The end of nights we tried to die

This is the end

 In so many ways this made me think of Jorg and this final book. (and it was surreal that it kept coming on when I had the iPod on random song search)

The bitter-sweet conclusion that leads to no more.

And what and end, a series that has had a set path and an author brave enough to end a successful series and do it on a high. (Yes Mr Robert Jordan i am think of you as the total opposite). This series will take its place in amongst the all time greats of fantasy series.

Mark Lawrence has created a lead character that has had a meteoric growth across the series, but a series that was designed around that growth. A man who is … well a bloody nasty git, rather than a good guy or anti hero, just a total SOB. But he is not just that he is so much more on top, you need to read to see how inspired the writing is, how real it makes Jorg. When you mix it the breakneck speed of the story and the over all plot, all the side characters and a world so real you can see hear smell and touch it… well it makes for a true example of fantasy writing.

As should be expected each book has improved on the last, an author who doesn’t learn from the last book is stagnating (well i think so). The big boys of the genre need to watch their backs, because if Mark Lawrence has more ideas up his sleeve this good then he will not only become a man to be reckoned with, he will becomes the man to emulate. For any new writers in the genre you should be looking to emulate this guy, he is damn good. He writes the story without fear of audience, editor, market or competition, he just writes pure quality fantasy.

What ever comes next sign me up now as a reviewer, test reader, buyer, what ever. I just know i will be buying a signed hardback to go with every book in this series.

thank you Mark for a wonderful 3 years of Jorg.

Very Highly Recommended

(Parm)

Broken Empire

Prince of ThornsKing of ThornsEmperor of Thorns

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