Friday 26 May 2023

Perilous Times - Thomas D Lee


As soon as this book  came to my notice it became a must read. Some of my earliest story memories are of The Knights Of The Round Table and their adventures so every time a re-telling comes along, there I am. Thankfully Perilous Times, the debut novel of Thomas D Lee didn't disappoint.

 One of the core points of Arthurian legend is that in Britain's hour of need Arthur and his knights will return to do what is needed to save the day and as this tale sets out it quickly becomes obvious that there have been quite a few hours of need already. Now though the country is struggling with Climate Change, fracking is happening all over, Essex has been sold . . . the list goes on and this looks like it could be a quest too far for Sir Kay and Sir Lancelot.

As well as the knights the main character here is an eco-activist, Mariam and while she seems a bit 'lost' in the magnitude of the task ahead at times it's cool to see her grow and learn just how strong she can be.

The reworking of the legends around Arthur and co works for the most part even though some of the Knights maybe are not quite as you remember them - but hey, it's been a thousand or so years, people change.

There is a lot to enjoy in Perilous Times - humour, adventure, cracking story telling, the Britain we get here is not the Britain of today but it's maybe not far off. There were some areas of the story that felt a bit preachy but those were few and far between and didn't spoil it at all.

4/5* For a first novel this is really good. I'll be keeping an eye on this author in the future for sure

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review, all thoughts and comments are my own and not influenced in any way.

Friday 19 May 2023

The Fury of Kings - R S Moule


'In the shadow of Eryispek—a mountain said to have no summit—a dark power is stirring. Storms rage in the frozen heights. Unexplained disappearances shake the kingdom below. And old enemies are sharpening their swords…

Andrick the Barrelbreaker first led an army at sixteen.

His victories secured the throne of Erland for his brother and shattered the rebellious noble houses in the West. Decades later, a fragile peace still holds.

But when the king’s only son is murdered, Erland is plunged into crisis. The new heir will stop at nothing to secure his claim. The king, maddened by grief, stalks the halls and hidden passages of his keep, growing more unpredictable by the day.

As war and magical disaster loom, Andrick must decide between protecting his family and marching out to serve a brother he barely recognizes.

His children must also choose their destinies.

Training in the practice yard every day,
 Orsian dreams of fighting beside his father. Now, for the first time, he faces the brutal reality of battle.

Pherri is haunted by very different dreams—of figures struggling up the mountain, of a voice more chilling than the wind, of blood on the snow. Only she can resist the darkness that waits on the slopes above…'

It can be detrimental at times to be compared to the likes of Feist, Martin and Gwinn (seems every other book that comes out namechecks at least one of these) but sometimes that new author or series can live up to the hype. Thankfully Moule's The Fury of Kings (TFoK) is one of those that does. 

Set in the land of Erland, watched over by a seemingly topless mountain this could be any fantasy setting but there's something about the way Moule sets a scene that makes it that little bit more real. As it is the start of a new series there is quite a slow and steady start to the book (which is something I personally like) but once it gets going the hooks are in and the pages almost turn themselves. Watching the story unfold through the eyes of the different character viewpoints, both adult and child, works well and, thankfully, the magical element is there but not in a "here's a problem, here's a spell, problem solved" way. Each character brings their own thing to the table and the story is richer, stronger for that.

So, did I enjoy it? I most certainly did, just my cup of tea and I cannot wait for the next part.

I'm going to give it 4/5* just because I am expecting even better from the author as the series progresses so I need to be able to give later books more stars to acknowledge that but it is certainly Highly Recommended. 

Seriously . . . go buy this now, you know it makes sense 

Friday 12 May 2023

The Monk - Tim Sullivan


To find a murderer, you need a motive . . .

DS George Cross has always wondered why his mother left him when he was a child. Now she is back in his life, he suddenly has answers. But this unexpected reunion is not anything he's used to dealing with. When a disturbing case lands on his desk, he is almost thankful for the return to normality.

The body of a monk is found savagely beaten to death in a woodland near Bristol. Nothing is known about Brother Dominic's past, which makes investigating difficult. How can Cross unpick a crime when they don't know anything about the victim? And why would someone want to harm a monk?

Discovering who Brother Dominic once was only makes the picture more puzzling. He was a much-loved and respected friend, brother, son – he had no enemies. Or, at least, none that are obvious. But looking into his past reveals that he was a very wealthy man, that he sacrificed it all for his faith. For a man who has nothing, it seems strange that greed could be the motive for his murder. But greed is a sin after all...

This was my first interaction with DS George Cross and his team and, to be honest, as a character he took a bit of getting used to. It cannot be easy writing someone like this, a person obviously on the spectrum and in a leadership role but Sullivan manages to pull it off. Cross comes across as rude at times and quite abrupt but it's clear from early on that his team work well around him and between them all they get the job done.

The case this time is the brutal beating and murder of a monk, Brother Dominic, who's body is found in woodland near Bristol. It is a case that needs Cross and team to unravel the previous life of the victim before he took Holy Orders and that is a job in itself.

With a good bit of the story taking place in and around the Monastery this was a different kind of scene than I am used to but it certainly came across well. Seeing Cross looking on the monastic lifestyle as something that would appeal to him also rang true (I work with people on the spectrum and know how much the world can be invasive to them at times). So, yes, Mr Sullivan, a job well done here.

The mystery itself is a twisty one with a few moments that wrong-footed me and I enjoyed it a lot - enough so that I am in the process of looking up the four previous books in the series (mid series is never the best place to start but this book did work ok on its own).


Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the tour and providing the review copy (all views are my own). Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers (below)

Thursday 4 May 2023

Herald of the Black Moon - Stephen Deas


'The Wraiths have raised an army of the dead. An army of the living is marching on the throne. Caught in the middle, Myla is supposed to be spying on a sorceress who can read minds. Things are not going well.

Far away, Seth and Fings are trying their hardest to have nothing to do with any of this. All Fings has to do is not steal anything. All Seth has to do is not meddle with Forbidden Magics. All they have to do is lie low. And for once, it’s all going swimmingly. Until, that is, Fings sees a face he thought they’d left behind in the ashes of Deephaven.

As Seth’s past catches up with him and Myla unravels the true nature of the Empire’s new Princess-Regent, the trio converge on the dead city of Valladrune. Armed with sinister secret behind an old war, they once more hold the fate of the Empire in their reluctant hands.

If only they knew what the heck to do with it.'

So, here we are then, the end of the road for Seth, Myla and Fings. Their world seems a little bigger and a whole lot more broken. Myla is up to her neck in espionage, Seth is closer than ever to 'the dark side' and Fings is . . . well, Fings is just being Fings, wanting everything to be right and just as it used to be. It's fair to say there is a way to go before he gets even a sniff of his happy ending. 

I don't know how it happened but this series passed me by untill this third and final book. In a way that's disappointing because I would have been in this world with these characters a lot sooner but on the plus side (thanks to those lovely people at Angry Robot) I got to binge the series in one go. I think the things that stood out for me most with this series was the characters and their conversations, how Deas makes them feel real, not just words on a page. It's the difference between caring about a character and wanting to go give them a hug, tell them it'll all be fine. It's a thin line in character development but Deas absolutely nails it.

I can safely say this is one of the best series I've read in a while and one I will be going back to for a leisurely re-read before much longer.

Highly recommended, go treat yourself today.

Many thanks to Angry Robot for inviting me onto this tour and supplying me with the series copies (all opinions are my own). Also, check out the other posts on the tour (below)