Monday 30 July 2012

King's Champion by Cas Peace (a review)

This book carries straight on from part 1 of the Artesans of Albia series, King's Envoy and as such you need to read King's Envoy first to really appreciate what is going on.

We start with the companions in a mad chase away from the dungeons where Major Sullyan has been held captive and during the healing process the Major needs it is found that she will be unable to cross the veils and return to her home realm of Albia.

She makes the decision to offer her help to The Heirarch, the ruler of the realm of Andaryon, in his battle against Lord Rykan, the man who held Sullyan captive. The biggest problem is that women in Andaryan are very much looked down on and the men hold all the power. If Sullyan is to be accepted she has a lot to prove and due to her injuries sustained at the hands of Rykan she may not even survive to the final battle.

Once again, with this second book, Cas Peace shows herself to be a wonderfully gifted storyteller. Her descriptive skills allow you to live the book, not just read it and her battle tactics are as well written as it gets.

But it is with the characters that Ms. Peace really excels. As before Major Sullyan is one of the best and most believable female leads in fantasy fiction but all the characters are really well drawn. Lord Rykan is possibly one of the nastiest, most evil and hateful 'bad guys' yet and his general, Sonten is just plain despicable.

This is a book/series you can get lost in for hours, if not days but be warned, this is an author with the ability to tear at the heartstrings and leave you drained of emotion. This book will move you like possibly no other of its kind.

I predict great things for Cas Peace.

Thursday 26 July 2012

PDF's - a small post.

just a quick word to let people know that I can now accept PDF's for reviews (got a bb playbook and it sawesome

Sunday 22 July 2012

Review thoughts

I know I went through this back in March but I do feel it is worth going over again.

I recieved a tweet this morning asking if I charged for the reviews I do, so anyone wanting reviews - this one is for you.

I cannot and will not accept payment for the reviews I do. This just doesn't feel right to me. If someone says "I'd like to have you review my book and here's £xx" it would stop me from feeling like I have given an honest review. I would always be wondering if people thought the book was, for instance, a 3* book that had bought an extra *.

I review because I love reading - that's the bottom line. If I read a book and really enjoy it the review is just my way of saying "have a look at this.

Now, here's an idea - if you ask me to review for you and you like the review, go do something good. Next time you pass a charity box chuck a £/Euro/Dollar etc in or do something to help a literacy group in your area, something like that.

So, in short, No - I don't charge for book reviews (although if a publisher wanted to employ me as a reviewer, that's a different kettle of cupcakes!).

If you like what I do tell others - it really is a good feeling when you get a tweet or an email saying "You reviewed a book for person x and person x has reccommended you"

Saturday 21 July 2012

King's Envoy by Cas Peace (a review)

This book, the first in a series, is the fiction debut of Cas Peace but you wouldn't know that - the writing and descriptive ability of Ms. Peace are those of an accomplished author.
 The story is set in a land of 5 realms, all different and all seperate but the main setting here are the 4th and 5th realms of Albia and Andaryon.
 At the start we meet Journeyman Artesan Taran Elijah. In an effort to increase his knowledge and further his Artesan abilities he crosses over from Albia to Andaryon but while there he stumbles on a plot (although he is unaware of just what it is). He barely escapes back to Albia with his life, and carrying an artefact.
 Taran and his apprentice Cal try to send the artefact back but are unable to so go to the military for help - and this is where an already good book really picks up!
 At the Manor, where the army are based we meet the characters of Bulldog, Robin and Major Sullyan - characters so well fleshed out you feel like you know them personally. The interaction between all the characters comes across really well and sits comfortably with the reader. Major Sullyan is, in my opinion, one of the best female characters in fantasy fiction today.
 The nasty characters also come across as exactly what they are - the plots, machinations and general downright nastiness all hold up well.
 The magic system is an interesting and clever one but also believable.
 The book ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you aching for book 2 (King's Envoy - available soon).
So, short version - a beautifully told tale with characters you will want to go adventuring with again. An amazing talent with a lot of promise for the future. I will be following the career of Ms. Peace with interest.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Paladins of Shannara by Terry Brooks (a review) and going back to The Four Lands

First off, my review of Paladin's of Shannara: Allanon's Quest -

How did Terry Brooks manage to fit this much story into so few pages?
This book covers the story of Allanon the Druid's quest to find someone of the Shannara bloodline and is set in the time just before and leading up to Mr. Brook's first novel Sword of Shannara.
In and of itself the story is well told and an enjoyable short read but as a prelude to the original story it is oh so much more.
Worth every penny.

Which got me remembering where all the magic of fantasy fiction started for me. As a youngster, way back in the distant past of the early eighties I remember going to the library and seeing the cover of Sword of Shannara (a boy, a man and a dwarf with a cauldron in the foreground if I remember rightly) and being totally enthralled. I just had to know the story behind it.
I also remember the disappointment of not being able to finish it (it was pretty terrible if i recall correctly). Still to this day I have not managed to get to the end of it.

For some reason as soon as the next book in the series (Elfstones of Shannara) came to my attention I whipped it up and to this day it remains one of my favourite fantasy books of all time. It was probably because Mr Brooks had stopped retelling Lord of the Rings and was now doing his own stuff. The characters in this book and the place names all seemed to have a proper sense of the magical and the storytelling was all I wanted and more.
This was followed by another favourite (Wishsong <I'll drop the "of Shannara" now - I'm sure you get the drift>) - another trip into another part of The Four Lands and more wonderfulness.

After a while Mr. Brooks started a new series with the title Heritage of Shannara comprising of 4 books - Scions of , Druid of and Elf Queen of - which I loved, and Talismans of, which I never finished.

More series followed but much as I loved the lands and peoples of these books I've struggled to get into the books. Now though, having read the 40 page short story that serves, more or less, as an extra 1st chapter to Sword  of Shannara I feel the urge to return to The Four Lands again, to visit the Silver River, to stand in the shadow of  the Druid's Keep at Paranor, to be once again entranced by the people and places with the odd names. After 30 years, maybe it's time to finish Sword and move on through the series, time to put on the old travelling gear and head on down to Shady Vale..........
I may be a while ;D

Sunday 8 July 2012

Perchance to Dream by Peter Lukes (a review)

An enthralling mix of science fiction and fantasy with a touch of horror and romance thrown into the mix. This book draws heavily on the ideas of The Matrix and Inception but is not a clone by any means.
The story starts with Officer Manuel Corr of the Boston Police Sub-Net Division starting his shift. He travels in what is though to be the dreamworld but officers have been going under and not coming back.
It turns out all is not as it seems, there is a lot of corruption and mis-trust. Not everybody is what or who they seem.
The story, the first part of a series, reads well and keeps you on edge right to the end. When Officer Corr first steps into the dreamworld there is a sense of wonder that rarely lifts.
Take a chance on this book - it really is all that and more.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Tangled Ties to a Manatee (by Kalen Cap) - a review

A book with as many view points as this takes a bit of getting used to - but not much. This is a very confidently written story covering several plot strands - a criminal scam, an enviromental centre used as a scapegoat, the undercover detective trying to decide if the centre is a cult  threat ....... and the manatee of the title, pregnant in a zoo.
The characters are very well written (even the manatee) but where, in my eyes, this author really deserves praise is in the characters of Jerry and Caroline, two "developmently challenged" young people. Jerry is really the main lead for the story and he is portrayed in such a way that you really care about him and his life. Kalen Cap really catches the behaviour and interaction between Jerry and Caroline (and the other young people in the home) in an accurate and believable way. I came away from this book with a big smile and a feeling I'd just spent time with friends.
As I said at the beginning, this book, with its' many multiple view points may seem a bit hard to follow at first but as the characters meet, paths cross and the story unfolds you hardly notice and the story flows smoothly to a satisfying end.
Kalen Cap - definately one to watch.