Tuesday 16 February 2016

The Silver Tide by Jen Williams - A Review

What do you do when you have written 2 books of a 3 book series and those 2 books (in this case 'The Copper Promise' and 'The Iron Ghost') are among the best in the fantasy genre. For Jen Williams it seems the answer was simple - ramp it up to 11 and put out the best damn book you can.

The Silver Tide brings The Black Feather Three together for one last adventure - and what an adventure it is. Our three heroes, Sir Sebastian, Aaron Frith and Wydrin, The Copper Cat herself, are hired by pirate captain Devinia the Red, to help get her and her crew to the middle of the Isle of Euriale. Nobody has got to this mystical, magical place and returned but there is rumour of great treasure there and Devinia intends to find it and bring it back. She seems a determined soul - and she should do.....she's Wydrin's mother.

The Copper Promise was an old school Dungeons and Dragons style romp, The Iron Ghost took us to the frozen North. With The Silver Tide we move to the steamy jungles of The Isle of Euriale and, in the second half of the book to places you wouldn't have expected. What TST does, and does well, is tying up everything from the two previous novels, even things that I didn't know needed tying up. The character development is top notch - these are not just characters on a page, these are folks you enjoy, indeed look forward to, spending time with. Even the minor characters are special, effort has gone into the creation of each and every one and the story is even better and stronger for that.

I have been a fan of this series from the beginning and this is a fitting conclusion. The Silver Tide is massive, wide screen, surround sound story telling at its' very best. The battle scenes are epic and well crafted, there are Gods, dragons, dragon kin which are all believable creations and all is set in a realistic fantasy world.

I will try not to drop spoilers here but I feel I do have to mention the final scene. With many fantasy novels (or, I suppose novels in general) the final scene can be where it all hangs. This can be the scene that makes a series memorable or forgettable, that one point where the author gets to where they've been heading since book 1, page 1. I'm happy to say that Jen Williams got this one absolutely spot on. This one got me 'right in the feels' and, I'll be honest, left me with a teary eye - a happy tear or a sad tear? Do you really think I'd spoil your reading enjoyment by telling you that.

If you haven't read any of this series so far then you are in for a treat as you can (from the end of February) read all the series straight through. If you've been following the series then, with this final volume you are still in for a treat and, when you are done I guess, like me, you'll be going back to the beginning to follow The Black Feather Three all over again. This series is certainly going in my 'To Read Over And Over Again Pile'

The only down side to reaching the end is that this really is THE END!! Well, for this series and these characters it is. For Jen Williams it is only the beginning, and a beginning that promises a lot. I'll certainly be there for her next series and I think, after reading these books you probably will too. I guess I'll see you there

So, what do I give it as a rating......? Well, last year I bent the rules a little and gave a book 11/10. I said then, "my blog, my rules" so I'm gonna do it again......

The Silver Tide - 11.5/10

The Series as a whole - I've thought long and hard about this (I've read a lot in my many years, trust me) and this has become my favourite series ever, and for that I award Jen Williams with the Inaugural Ebookwyrm Dragonstar (there is no trophy, sorry Jen)

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Thought's On Jen Williams' Copper Cat Trilogy

So, yesterday morning I finally came to the end of 'The Silver Tide' the final volume in Jen Williams' Copper Cat trilogy. I started out reading these books when the first one (The Copper Promise) had a small article about it in SFX Magazine about two years ago. Long story short I liked the sound of it, contacted the author through social media about the release date and waited till I could download it for my Kindle.

The Copper Promise was all I hoped it would be and more. Here were adventurers, dungeons, dragons, magic, traps, and a vividly portrayed world. From the off the adventures of Lord Aaron Frith, Sir Sebastian and The Copper Cat herself Wydrin of Crosshaven felt like time spent with friends and that is something I don't often get with fantasy fiction. I finished that book and waited for the next, The Iron Ghost.

A year later it appeared and I set into it. If anything this was even better, a new area of the world to explore, new characters added to the mix, new creatures, new magic and all tied in nicely to the previous volume. Finished it, loved it and got ready to wait for the final volume which I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of.

Starting The Silver Tide was, to be honest, a bitter sweet experience. It was great to be in the company of The Black Feather 3 again but there was also the knowledge that 'this is it', the last adventure for Wydrin and co. I didn't want it to be over. With this final volume the scene has changed again, our 3 intrepid heroes are hired by Devinia the Red, a pirate captain (who just happens to be Wydrin's mother) to help get her ship to the centre of the Isle of Euriale, a mystical place that nobody has ever returned from. We go from icy tundra in book 2 to steamy jungle here, another change of scenery that keeps everything fresh. Again, more new characters (and some returning ones I maybe wasn't expecting), new magic etc.......................and then we enter the endgame!!!!!!



I'd hoped for good things for this final instalment but never expected or hoped it would be as good as this. All the hints and foreshadowing are tied up nicely, the battle scenes are beyond epic and the imagery is both vivid and beautiful.

And the final scene, well, let's just say I had a tear in my eye but at the same time punching the air thinking 'BOOM!, that's how it's done!!'

Jen Williams has done an amazing job with this series and I highly recommend it. A proper review will follow soon

Thursday 4 February 2016

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel - A Review

Put yourself in Steve's place.

Steve lives with his parents, sister and new baby brother. The baby brother is 'very poorly' and takes up the majority of his parents time......but what if there is a simple chance that the baby can be 'fixed'. All it takes is a simple word 'Yes!'

What would you do?

A simple enough premise for a very thought provoking and engaging novel. As it starts out we are introduced to Steve, his family and the 'angels' he meets in his dreams. The 'angels' seem to know all about the problems with the baby and have a solution but they need Steve's help. It all seems clear cut but, as is often the case, not everything is. When you add in ' The knife guy' - a creepy, sinister looking fellow that not everyone can see it is easy to judge who is good, who is bad and so on.

No, no, no, no, no.....it's not as clear cut as that, and here are possible SPOILERS so you may want to come back after you've read the book

You still sure you want SPOILERS?!?!?

Last chance.........

Right, the 'angels' in Steve's dreams are actually wasps (of a variety never seen before) and their plan is to grow Steve and his family a replacement for the baby in the hive outside his house. All Steve has to do is agree to open a window when the time comes so the wasps can do the switcheroo. At first it seems a good idea but when he realises what it means for the 'original' version of the baby he changes his mind. Then things really get moving as the wasps don't like that.

"Gripping" is a word sometimes too freely used with regards to books but in this instance I really feel it's the best for the job. I was given this copy, an uncorrected proof, by a friend and started reading at the bus stop 5 minutes later. From then until I finished it 2 days later it itched at me to read just a little bit more, but there were also moments, proper edge of the seat times, that made me feel more like peeking at the next page rather than tearing straight into it. Tense times....

I guess I would bracket this book as mid-teen Sci-Fi but really I'd suggest picking it up whatever your reading preferences as it is a really good read (and, hey, I learnt how wasps make nests, which I didn't know before).

Final word goes to the illustrations - just fairly simple pencil drawings but they really add to the atmosphere.

4.5/5 stars