Joshua S Hill profile
Place of birth: Melbourne, Australia
Now living: Melbourne, Australia
3 favourite authors
- JRR Tolkien
- Steven Erikson
- Brandon Sanderson
3 favourite books
- Lord of the Rings (by JRR Tolkien)
- The Way of the King (by Brandon Sanderson)
- Night Watch (by Terry Pratchett)
3 favourite films
- Casino Royale
- Scott Pilgrim
- Endless Summer 2
If youre a fan of the Elderlings trilogy of trilogies, then youll definitely want to pick this novella up. However, if youre new to Hobb, I would recommend going back to the beginning, as there is enough to persecute a readers mind as to make it frustrating.
If I could find anything to be upset with it is the brevity that is a necessary part of the book. Im too much of a fanboy to want my Tolkien knowledge boiled down to one page summaries. That being said, there is a market for books like this, and anyone with even a hint of love for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit will want to get their hands on this great collection of Tolkien lore.
All in all, the book is a fun little book, maybe good as a gag present or a stocking filler when Christmas comes back around.
As I (we, I doubt I was alone in this one) so easily predicted, the storylines left dangling from the Malazan Book of the Fallen series are being finished off in these extra books. Or maybe this time extended. This book again is centred on the Crimson Guard and fills in a lot of the questions of the history of Kazz and Skinner and the splitting of the Guard. I was again mesmerized by the story and had fun trying to figure where this story fits into the greater timeline, and guessing who the warleader character really was. But most satisfying to me was the trip to Jacuruku we took. After 15 books, (with a combined reading of about 50x), I was also surprised by the complete lack of knowledge I had of the place. It made me think of my childhood memories of deepest darkest Africa and all the mystery and excitement those words had. And I find myself again waiting for the next book as I am completely on the hook when Kazz was told he would find the answers he was seeking in Assail. Assail! Another mystery name where all I can think of is a lost clan of Tlan Imass; I can hardly wait to see where this goes. And you better write it after dropping an Easter Egg like that Mr. Esslemont.
And here we are in the second phase of the Malazan world, The Histories. Ive been anticipating something like this happening since the Books of the Fallen ended and I have to say it, I was disappointed. Not from the content or style. It was good solid Erikson, but I just kept waiting to get caught up in things. It was like I was watching an episode of Mad Men and thinking something is going to happen soon to make this interesting and I will be able to forgive the slow build-up and wont call AMC Studios and ask for that hour of my life back. Unfortunately I was never really satisfied. But unlike Mad Men, I will be reading the next books of this trilogy. I was satisfied enough from the history lesson and origins of the Tiste groups and factions, but thats what it seemed to be to me, a history text book. I dont know the reason and I am disappointed in myself because I have been on the Malazan ride from the beginning and counting the days until the next book came out. But this book failed to grab me and hold me tight. For the first time in years, and never in the Malazan series, I found myself looking at the page numbers and saying in my best 5 year old voice, Are we there yet?
World of Warcraft fans new and old will love this book, and wont need to have read anything that came before. Id even go so far as to say you dont even need to have played the game recently; youll enjoy it regardless.
If youre a fan of Kate Elliott, or authors such as Kristen Britain and Robin Hobb, then Spirit Gate and the whole Crossroads series will be a rewarding experience.
The overarching story is ethereal in the revelation; slow to be realised and slower still to understand the extent. This theme continues into the second book, but the slow build for me is rewarding and enjoyable. If youre a fan of Kate Elliott, or authors such as Kristen Britain and Robin Hobb, then Spirit Gate and the whole Crossroads series will be a rewarding experience.
Whether you have an adventuresome young boy (or girl) or a love of anything Pratchett then you will most definitely relish this book.
Final Reward is easily my favourite non-Discworld story from this anthology, but my favourite Discworld story is most definitely The Sea and Little Fishes. Previously published in the Legend anthology back in the late 90s, this story takes us to the Witch Trials of Lancre and what happens when Granny Weatherwax is insulted. Its a real gem of a story and leaves you wanting nothing more for your life than to go back and read Carpe Jugulem. For any fan of good writing or short stories, this book is a real gem, and a must-have for any fan of Terry Pratchett.
If you cant stand - or dont like your kids - to read a story in which there is plenty of, gritty violent scenes, swearing, questionable characters and sexual relationships then this isn't your book. Abercrombies style is to write a fantasy story in which the characters react like realistic people. Youll never see a teenage-prodigy, heroes are non-existent or in for the cash, and there are plenty of crooked and corrupt characters, just like the real world.
This Guide is simply a must-have for any Discworld fan. You dont even need to be a fan of the previously published reference-style editions (such as the Companions and Almanaks) as youll spend hours scouring the map for hidden gems, reading up on Dibbler and his competition, and understanding the mechanics behind the citys Guilds.
Forged by forgotten science and driven by their eternal duty, the superhuman Space Marines are mankinds foremost defence against a dark and brooding universe. Honed by years of the most rigorous training and equipped with the finest weapons and armour, the Adeptus Astartes hold back the darkness, protecting the Imperium from the alien, the witch and the traitor. Packed with previously unseen illustrations as well as a host of classic images chosen by Games Workshops Art Director John Blanche, this full-colour artbook provides an unrivalled look at the fighting forces of the Imperium.
If you have seen even a single episode of Game of Thrones and wondered how they had constructed even a small portion of what you saw, this book is simply a must-have. As a coffee table book, or to be browsed time and time again in understanding the mechanics behind making an award winning visual masterpiece, Inside HBOs Game of Thrones is a killer read.
Of all the Novella / Novelette size stories I have read recently, Isolation is one of the better ones. Isolation is a prequel of sorts to Partials, centred around the actions of Theta-class Partial Heron (who we met at the end of Partials). Set during the Isolation War, we get alternating chapters between the infiltration of / battle with the Chinese army, and birth / training of new Partials.
Trinity Rising is definitely a step up for Cooper, which is hopefully more a comment on just how good this book is rather than any criticism about her previous efforts. The use of magic, the threat and peril, and the characters in these novels are worth your time, and will bring you much joy in the reading.
This is an awesome concept with awesome characters and that familiar Sanderson style of writing. I feel like with all this awesomeness around the place, the plot never gets a chance to shine through and become a meaningful aspect of the story (see what I did there... yeah I'm probably going to the special Hell they reserve for book reviewers). This would be perfect as an episodic TV Series, and Sanderson has confirmed that he has signed a deal to try and make this happen. An excellent Saturday morning read.
There was one thing that was unexpected. No technology. From the synopsis and the front I actually thought there would be a hint of high-tech technology in there: computers, cell phones and the likes. But there was none... And this allowed the story to become that bit more original, a crime solving novel set in a world where magic, referred to as Art, is the thing to be feared. It was fresh to read about this concept in a book. Straight Razor Cure is a great combination of crime-thriller and fantasy, containing violence, strong language and a very dark setting but all are all well balanced and not over the top.
Prince of Dogs is the perfect second book. It draws you on from the first outstanding introduction to this new universe and drops you off ready and willing for the third. Kate Elliott is a master of her craft, able to leave you breathless and emotionally wrung out with the simple flip of a page.
Earlier this year I read Kate Elliotts Cold Magic, and fell in love with her writing. She writes with such flawless ease and produces work of such quality that I quickly found myself scouring the internet and bookstores for anything shes ever written. Which was when I came across her Crown of Stars series, completed back in 2006. Coming in at seven books long, and written by one of my now favourite authors, I was sure to enjoy it. But after some Twitterly advice from the author, I bought book one and two, just in case.
Rise of the TaiGethen is a perfect example of why Barclay is one of the best in the business. Without the historical nuance that Erikson writes, Barclay delivers a book that is nevertheless heart wrenching, expertly crafted and immensely enjoyable to read over and over and over again. The Elves trilogy is most definitely worth your time; go pick it up now!
The Dirty Streets of Heaven isn’t the basic battle between Heaven and Hell. Yes, it has angels, Yes, it has demons, but there is more to it. It is a great and awesome book, totally different from the other books Tad Williams has written but he will attract an even broader audience than before due to this. The book is a light and simple read but that doesn’t take away any of the depth normally seen in his works. From its great introduction to its full-tilt gun action and great character/world building The Dirty Streets of Heaven is rock(ing)-solid! All I can say is, “How many nights do I have to tick off for book 2 to be released?”
If you havent had a chance to read any of the Matthew Swift novels by Kate Griffin, then this isnt necessarily the book for you. Its fun, and probably fine for anyone jumping in. But really, its just more proof that you should be reading everything Griffin puts her pen to. Either way, this is definitely a book you should be putting on your shelves.
The Long Earth is very much not a Discworld novel. It has none of the inherent silliness and humour and restricts Pratchetts ability to satirise everything in sight. That being said, the collaboration has resulted in a magnificent story that had me hooked form the first few pages. What more can you ask for?
Whispers Underground is not the best in the series, but it was a book that I didnt put down and read in a whole night. It was fun, and I loved spending time with Peter Grant again, and the world he is only just beginning to understand. Definitely a great read.
The seventh novel in Glen Cooks Black Company series, She is the Darkness, picks right up where Bleak Seasons left off. If youre reading it from the omnibus, its just a flip of a page, and you can convince yourself youre reading one big book. That sometimes makes it hard to review, because a) its a continuing story and b) there wasn't ever any time between reading to separate one story from another.
Glen Cook has the reputation he has today for a reason; hes a marvellous storyteller with an eye for detail that captures the attention rather than bores it, and focuses the attention down onto ground level where the hardest choices are made. Youll be exhausted, emotionally drained, and probably really sad, but Bleak Seasons is definitely worth the read.
Without the high-fantasy of Steven Erikson or the grab for popular attention of J.K. Rowling, Kate Elliott simply must be listed as one of the finest writers of fiction today. Dedicated to telling a story of utterly imaginable truth, there is no author I would rather be reading right now.
This book had me hooked from the first page, and the fact that this is a world where the ice-sheets never receded as much as they had in ours really played to the science-nerd in me. Add in the warped history and languages, characters I wish I knew personally, and a way with words I havent had the pleasure of reading since Steven Erikson, and Kate Elliott is now a contender for one of my favourite authors.
Sadly, there isnt always a constant stream of books by big name authors to keep you reading day in day out. I used to consider this the downside of reviewing books, but I recently found that I was wrong. My pile of books that Ill get to one day became must reads. Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper was the second book that I picked off that pile, and the second book that I found myself unexpectedly enjoying.
The Gathering of the Lost returns the reader to a world of hidden history and shadowed loyalties and keeps you there until well past your bedtime, loving every minute of it.
Kristin Cashore is simply one of the most inspiring writers currently putting pen to paper, and youd be doing yourself a disservice by not picking up Bitterblue.
Comparisons to Jim Butchers Dresden files are inevitable, and though Fated is very clearly in the same vein, its a book with some great ideas of its own that deserves to be read as such. An exciting, involving and enjoyable read, Fated presents a great new voice in fantasy fiction.
Mockingjay is one of the most entertaining, emotionally gripping, and wonderful books I have ever had the pleasure of reading; please, do yourself a favour and read it soon.
You want to read this book. There is no other recommendation I can give than that. No matter your age, sex, or favoured genre, Catching Fire will leave you breathless with equal measures of excitement, heartbreak and anticipation for more.
With a fast paced narrative that deftly balances description, characterisation, action and history to generate impressive forward momentum, Pevel delivers another sure-fire winner to the fantasy genre.
Death comes easily in a Kearney book. Nobody is excused the end of a spear or blade, except maybe Rictus who having read all three books now stands up as the one character who Kearney maybe set apart to survive. Characters that you immediately fall in love with or root-for are left rotting on the ground with very little preamble or memory. The Kings of Morning may not be the greatest in this series of books, but it is an able conclusion to a wonderful story of a nations rise from barbarism.
This book is the final book of four, so no, I dont recommend reading it without reading the other three. But all the books have done their utmost to entertain me without resorting to mindless fantasy tropes, and succeeded each and every time to the point that I look forward to the day not too far from now, I imagine that I get to go back and reread them.
For anyone who has even an inkling of desire to expand their view of Tolkiens work beyond the most popular fictional titles, The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull is an absolute must! It will take pride of place on your shelf in no time, of that I can guarantee.
I love this book, and the moment I finished it I ploughed on into the fourth and final book of the series (Haven). Tracato has kept me up late at night more than once, and diverted my attention from other tasks countless times. From the simpler beginnings in the first book (Sasha) and all the way through to the end of Tracato, I have become more and more impressed with Joel Shepherds ability to tell a story that both captivates, teaches, an horrifies me, and all to my betterment.
Definitely the least favourite of this trilogy, I wouldnt recommend you run out right now and find this no matter the cost. As I said at the beginning, if you have the books and dont have anything else to read, spend a weekend reading them. But dont put too much more into it than that.
Traviss really knows how to write a great story, and though it might not be in the same league as Zahn, Stackpole or Allston, the Republic Commando stories create and set up characters every bit as vivid and mesmerizing as Thrawn and Fel and Horn.
If you can get your hands on an electronic version, or have the paperback version of Survivors Quest floating around your house, definitely make sure you give this a read.
Timothy Zahn is one of the reasons why I read Star Wars novels, and his continuing storyline continues in these books and really makes you live the Star Wars universe. The bad guys are real bad guys, and you love watching them get deeper into trouble. The good guys are good guys, and you are on the edge of your seat as they face trouble and hopefully get out of it.
In Vision of the Future a title that actually does link to parts of the book, and parts which will set up a lot of what is to come Zahn tells one of the best Star Wars stories Ive read. The best way to read it is to read through all the books that Zahn has written, as they all tie into each other. However there is no need to do that as each book stands wonderfully on its own.
I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and deeply set in the Star Wars universe. It is these well written books that really make the Star Wars novels a part of the universe in a way that other properties arent able to manage. The subplots with Lando, the children, the droids and a young plucky mechanic really enrich the story.
One of the great joys of reading Star Wars novels is finding the next book you get to read is written by Timothy Zahn. With the New Jedi Order books right around the corner for me I had one book left of what is known as the New Republic era; Survivors Quest.
The second in Roger Macbride Allens The Corellian Trilogy, Assault at Selonia picks up three separate storylines as they broke apart at the end of the first book, Ambush at Corellia. The fourth storyline Luke and Lando wife hunting had been separate the whole time, but until now wasnt really worth reading.
Ambush at Corellia, and its subsequent books in the trilogy, is a simple story that is worth it if you havent got anything better to read and dont have to pay too much for the books. Good for those in their tweens and teens, definitely, but a little too good for them to be of much enjoyment beyond those age groups.
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron is really a gem of a book, and if youre at all interested in reading more of the Star Wars universe, this is definitely one of the best places to start. Set so close to the end of Return of the Jedi, its a great jumping on point with a great story and a great writer.
All in all I really enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it to any Star Wars fan. Youll get sucked in and want to see what is going to come next. And I suggest you let yourself, because there is nothing quite like being sucked into a series that you know runs for at least 19 novels.
The second book in Michael A. Stackpoles introduction to Rogue Squadron, X-Wing: Wedges Gamble focuses on Rogue Squadron as they find themselves at the heart of the Imperial universe, as well as at the heart of Imperial machinations.
So here is the Fourth Novel of the Malazan Empire from ICE. It didnt take me long after I started reading to see that this one was different from the previous ones. Stonewielder made me feel that Ian was Steven Eriksons adoring little brother doing his best to imitate his hero. This one makes me think it was ghost-written by Erikson because he was only contracted for ten books, but still had so much to say, but not enough time to write 1000+ pages.
Yes, you need to read Sasha before you read Petrodor. Will you be disappointed? Definitely not. Both books are different in ways that make reading them back to back enjoyable, but leave you with a story that you just must follow. Definitely pick up these two books, because youll be missing out on some of the most fantastic writing.
Overall, yes, I enjoyed the book. Paolini has finally grown as a writer, but that should have happened a long time ago. Yes, I will read future books he publishes; I look forward to returning to Alagaesia and the characters therein. I wish however he hadnt telegraphed his return so obviously, and rushed through the ending leaving so many plot-holes dangling around the place.
If you are a World of Warcraft player, then this book is for you. But even if youve never touched the game, I think that you could really enjoy this book. Its got something for every fantasy fan.
Whether or not youve had the chance to read Sandersons original Mistborn trilogy, I think you should pick this up. You dont need to have read the previous three books to understand this one, nor do you need to have read them to enjoy The Alloy of Law. This book stands on its own, and is a wonderful read that kept me reading well into the early hours of the morning. If youve read the series, then youll love this; if you havent, then I can almost guarantee you that youll want to after having read this.
Finished reading Terry Pratchetts new book, Snuff. Utterly brilliant. We need a new rating system dedicated to him. I had Snuff finished in just over a day from when it arrived. I took it slowly, because you dont want to rush good things like Terry Pratchett. While there is an almost infinite amount of re-readability to Pratchetts works, the first time is always special, and you want to savour it.
And so to and end comes what is arguably the best fantasy series ever written. This is of course subject to personal opinion and fans of Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire and Robin Hobb's trilogy of trilogies (Farseer, Liveship and Tawny) are quite able to put a very strong case forward for their favoured works but few can deny that the quality and ambition of the ten books that make up A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen are unmatched within the genre.
And I would recommend you read the series. Dreams of Steel is simply another example of Cooks ability to write a story that doesnt come anywhere near the grandiose mythic tales of Tolkien and Jordan, while still having all those same elements embedded within the story.
In the end, I was really stoked with reading this book. It did leave me wanting a bit more of an epilogue, but thats just me and my desire to see things fleshed out, never finished, etc. And Id guess that you could probably pick this book up without having read any of the previous Black Company books, though I dont know why youd want to miss out on them.
Shadow Games left me feeling (apart from numb at my inability to write as well as Cook) a deep attachment to Croaker and Lady. They strike me as someone I know, if not as myself and my own partner. I can relate to what they endure, feel, and do. I think thats one of this books greatest strong points; the ability to leave the reader on the page, rather than sitting in a chair or on the train.
I have often felt the need to make the case for franchise books. I have utter faith in some franchises, and know that almost every book they provide us will be of decent quality. Not only in the world they have to work with which is normally always rich and vast but also in the style of writing.
After having read Jonathan L. Howards first Johannes Cabal book, concisely titled Necromancer, I was hooked, and wanted more. Thankfully, I have come along at just the right time to be able to jump straight into the sequel, Johannes Cabal the Detective which is as good a book, if not better, than its predecessor. There are several reasons that I enjoy this book, and I want to take the time to hit on each of them while I have you here.
As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this dangerous, inhuman realm to fulfil a pact ? as this may be all that can prevent the atrocities of a full-scale war with the Twilight people of Qul-na-Qar. Princess Briony, Barrick's twin sister, finds herself in no less danger at the court of Tessis in Syan. When those close to her fall dead from poisoning, she is to learn the true extent of the betrayal surrounding her. Her only option is to flee, as all those in Tessis turn against her? All, that is, except for one important ally. Meanwhile, the assault upon Southmarch has truly begun. Yasammez, the formidable head of the Qar army, has ordered the attack, believing that the pact between humans and Qar has been broken. Unless Ferras Vansen, Captain of the Southmarch Royal Guard, can convince her otherwise, the humans are sure to meet the dark end that has been promised to them...
"Skilfully merges world-building description with intriguing plots ... a sublime piece of storytelling' SFX 'A page-turner full of character, atmosphere and action." Starburst
"This is an epic story which has many twists and turns, which puts the characters in peril time and time again and yet is so gripping you have to continue reading just to know if they will survive." Fantasy Book Review
Books in the Shadowmarch Quartet:
There is nothing bad that I can say about Cooks writing. He writes with the sense of purpose and conviction that you would expect from someone who has seen the worst of humanity, and he writes with the sense of hope of the same: out of the ashes, and all of that. Glen Cook is truly amazing and deserves all the praise that comes his way for the continued trust to reality his writing conveys.
Kristen Britain writes so beautifully that I never want to have to put her books down. I have no doubt that you will find the same when you read her Green Rider series. Make sure you do, and soon.
All in all though, this book once again blew my mind, and kept me reading well into the late night/early morning. You neednt pick up Rivers of London, Aaronovitchs first in this series, but youd regret it by the time you got to the end of Moon Over Soho and found out how good it was.
I have recently had an uncanny good run of books to read and review. One of those books included Eon by Alison Goodman, and so it was natural that Eona would be on that same pile of books for me to read and enjoy.
I dont like lazy writing. I dont like convinced convenience. In the end, if you cant make me understand why something is happening using formulae from the world I live in, then youve screwed up. Using magic or blaming something on the juvenility of teenagers does not cut it.
With the release of Cowboys and Aliens in cinemas quickly drawing nearer, I was pleased to receive a copy of the new release copy of the Trade Paperback from which the movie is derived. Created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written and drawn by a veritable host of talent, Ive been looking forward to the movie since I first saw the trailers hit the internet.
I would easily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys writing by Steven King or Kate Griffin, or anyone who just likes a really well written story set in a real-world Earth with unreal fantastical aspects. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer is simply ingenious and beautifully written with a touch of the insane added in for flavour. Its just perfect.
I cant recommend a book like Corvus highly enough. Kearney writes with knowledge, not only of the craft of writing, but of the craft of war, and history, and military might. He brings a realism to the story that doesnt bore, but rather grips you and reminds you of the bloody mess of war. There are characters who are the pinnacle of honour and those who are the scum of the earth. Youll love and hate, cheer and cry, and be shocked by what happens. And youll love it.
This is the first of 4 books in the Shadowmarch Trilogy (The 3rd book was split into 2). Like all Tad Williams books, this is multi-thread as well as character. In this world, the northern continent seems almost medieval in context, whilst the southern continent, is more like the Persian Empire. With both stories there are similarities such as the different pantheons of gods. There are also the Qar who are known as the Twilight People who once lived in the whole of the northern continent who now live beyond the Shadowline.
People who are familiar with Trudi Canavan need not read further, because this novel will bring everything to the table that we know and love. It offers diverse and interesting characters, who you will come to know and love. Her writing style focuses on these select persons, their thoughts and doubts, their relations and expressions. Wasting no time on long descriptions, youre immediately thrown in the story and world that youre familiar with. Surely, as events unfold and the tension rises, pages will disappear in record time before your eyes!
There is something eminently satisfying about coming across a new author and finding that he is utterly brilliant. That is exactly what happened when I received Ben Aaronovitchs book Rivers of London the other day. I had been looking for books that were similar to Kate Griffins series of books focusing on Matthew Swift, and I came across Aaronovitchs name (thank heavens for Amazon recommendations).
The third book in Kristen Britains Green Rider series is even thicker than the previous book, which was even thicker than the first. Honestly? I love it. Theres nothing quite like holding a thick book in your hand and knowing that, even if youre halfway through, youve still got ages of good story to go. And good story it is. Kristen Britain continues to write so beautifully that it leaves me desiring more and more.
Give me a world where dragons and magic are real but everything else is historically accurate with France of the mid-17th century, and Ill be hooked on the premise alone. Combine that with fascinating characters and a story that really does keep you turning the pages well into the early hours of the morning, and youll leave me a happy man.
If a book is able to leave you feeling at once saddened and emotionally drained as well as leaving you wanting, no, needing more, than in the end the author has obviously done something right. With her third book featuring Matthew Swift as our fearful hero, The Neon Court, Kate Griffin has once again shown just how capable she is of wringing out your emotions while keeping you pinned to your chair, scurrying through each page in the vain hope that things will all work out in the end.
Josh S Hill reviews Leaf by Niggle, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham, three acclaimed modern classic fairie tales included in the collection entitled Tales from the Perilous Realm.
When you review books for a site called Fantasy Book Review youre going to get a lot of stuff that harkens back to Tolkien, or Brooks, or Lewis, or whoever. So its wonderful when you get something that doesnt seem to harken back to anything, or if it does, its Neil Gaiman. Kate Griffin is one of those authors who Im going to be in love with for the rest of my life. Her writing captures London I imagine so well that it feels like Im there, with her and her characters, walking through those same streets.
Weve been waiting four years for the sequel to Patrick Rothfusss hit debut, The Name of the Wind, and weve finally been granted what weve been waiting for. Mostly. The Wise Mans Fear has been long anticipated. Rothfuss has spent many long months rewriting and polishing this book, and it shows in the end product. His grasp and control of the English language, his beautifully written prose and elegant sentences all make for a superb read. Mostly.
Britain has continued writing a series that is at once magical and realistic, simple and intelligent, and at once stereotypically fantasy while still managing to incorporate a very science-fiction style trope that, as with much Britain does, isnt there just for the sake of it or because she thought it was cool, but because it has a noticeable and important impact on the story being told. I was deeply impressed with the duality of the story being told, the manner in which history was conveyed, and the way in which we got to see it happen. Not for one moment did I think Britain was playing with me, the reader, an asking too much of me to follow what she was writing. That, I think, is a great skill.
In the end, we are left with a very good, and somewhat contained, story, but a story that has a lot more to tell if you want it to, which definitely starts apace in book two. I really loved this book, and read through it in under a day, ploughing straight into the second book. Putting the beautiful cover aside, this is a book that you would want on your shelf, as it is a story that is both captivating, intelligent, and excellently wrought in the telling.
Enter the universe of Malazan, where many a story unfolds and strife is easier to find than water in a well. After finishing their business elsewhere, the Malazan Empire finally focuses its eye on the Cult of the Lady, a fanatic religious cult that has spread among the lands of Korelri. Their numbers dwindling, the Stormguard keep up their valiant effort to keep Korelri safe from the abyssal Stormriders, as they have for hundreds of years. Yet while all their attention must remain on defending the Stormwall, Malazan forces are moving behind their back, plotting, conquering.
Hinterland by James Clemens is the second book in the authors The Godslayer Trilogy. I loved the first book, giving it a high score in the 90s, because the story was brilliant, well-paced, and utterly ingenious. This time, I have to be a little bit harsher, I think, though well see how I feel by the end of this review.
But these criticism's are minor. Jemisin has created a well-paced, thoughtful, intriguing book that has unexpected twists. The characters are fleshed out and memorable. If you like solidly built worlds where gods and people mix and enjoy looking at a culture in transition, you will find this book a great read. Ultimately, the series is about change - both intended and unintended - and the role an individual can play in setting in motion or keeping in motion those ripples of the world around us. Book one was fantastic. Book two is superb. And book three promises to be just as good. Jemisin takes her writing extremely seriously (even if the tone of the books at time is very light...) and respects her audience. Her blog (http://nkjemisin.com/) contains several posts about her use of trilogy in an unorthodox manner (different human protagonists in each book) and a character study of one of the gods. As a new author finding her voice, Jemisin is on extremely solid footing and is someone to watch.
I like finding books that I really enjoy. I come away refreshed and happy, knowing that if ever I need to go back and reread a book to make myself feel better to hide myself from the wealth of mediocrity that rocks up on my doorstep each year I have yet another book to read, and from first appearances, Shadowfall by James Clemens is just such a book.
If you like your Star Wars, especially the street-level Star Wars (compared to the Jedi and galaxy spanning war stuff) then the X-Wing series is a must for you. Well written, clever storylines and amazing personalities and characters makes this series one of the best property driven series around, and beyond that, just one of the best series around.
My personal favourite aspects to this book follow on from Michael A Stackpoles previous work in the Star Wars expanded universe, the X-Wing books. Now with Gavin at command, Rogue Squadron is still an awesome read, no matter who is in charge. And whether were looking at the story from Gavins perspective and his job as commander of the squadron, his memories and his stories about Wedge and Tycho, or whether were reading in from Jains perspective as the newest member of the squadron and definitely the youngest, the scenes focusing in and around Rogue Squadron are always my favourite.
One of the interesting aspects of the New Jedi Order series is the revulsion with which the Jedi are treated by the majority of the New Republic. They have their defendants, but they are few and far between, and tainted by being long associated with the Jedi. It leaves them with very little support, either material or emotional, and creates conflicts not just with the Jedi but within the Jedi that make for great reading.
This is a book which will be enjoyed a lot by teenagers, as well as adults, to which it will have a certain resonance, having witnessed the explosion and possibilities of reality TV this last decade. It is a strange phenomenon in modern culture and hopefully this is not its natural conclusion. This book is also followed by two subsequent books, which will be reviewed in the near future.
Im going to write this review with the summary first and everything else second. Why? Because my recommending this book to you comes down to one thing; do you play World of Warcraft? If so, then you will want to read this book, and you will probably really enjoy it. If you dont play World of Warcraft, then youll be utterly lost, bored and confused.
Everything plays out, in the end, as well. While there is a lot of suspicion to be cast around amongst the players orbiting around our two main characters, at least for me, there is no real clue as to who to mistrust and who to trust. It appears as if everyone could have their own agenda, but whether they play to that supposition or assumption or are true to their spoken word is something that will only be told through time. Im not saying that Lowe writes with the same skill and depth of thought as some like Sanderson or Erikson, nor with the same breathtaking quality as the likes of Barclay and Gemmell of old, but in a world where fantasy books are often decried as a dime a dozen, Helen Lowes The Heir of Night is a bright jewel unlooked for, but greatly appreciated.
Which is not to say that the story isnt good; it is. It isnt brilliant, but that comes with telling a story quickly and in a small amount of pages. I ploughed through this book, really enjoying aspects of the world that I already knew about and learning about other parts which I didnt. And in the end, it was fun to read a book that was stereotypical fantasy; orcs fighting humans. All I needed was an elf to walk across the page and I would have been perfectly happy.
Despite being a quick and almost haphazard licensed property book, several of the main characters are rather well fleshed out, making for realistic and tantalizing heroes and villains. The twists are actually twisty, keeping me guessing until the very last page. I was actually surprised at the unpredictability of this book, and would definitely recommend it to any fans of the Warcraft video games series.
This review is probably one of the most verbose and superlative Ive ever written. Maybe because its late and Im tired, but maybe, just maybe, this book is one of the seminal fantasy stories of this generation of writers. Feel free to disagree, but I honestly feel that this book is one of the best that Ive ever had the opportunity, and sheer pleasure, to read.
If you want a good series to read, then Brandon Sandersons Mistborn trilogy definitely seems like a good bet. Two out of three books are spectacular, mixing the metaphysical with political, gripping action with heart wrenching characters, brilliant storytelling with smooth prose.
The Final Empire, the first book in a trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, is a tale of a subjugated people known as the Skaa, and their fight for freedom against a seemingly invincible God known as the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler has ruled this world for a thousand years through his Inquisitors and Obligators. The Skaa who have been subjugated for so long are incapable of fighting back. That is until Kelsier a Mistborn who, along with his crew of Mistings and other talented individuals, begins a rebellion against the Lord Ruler and the Nobility. The Mistborn are a special people who are able to burn metals to illicit different responses. This process is known as Allomancy and Vin, a member of a thieving crew, is enlisted by Kelsier in his crusade to free the Skaa.
There seems so little to say about this book. The story is developing, and that seems to be this books sole purpose. It seems a little more like a companion book or a novella than its own standalone book, but well written nonetheless. The story is captivating, if minimal, the fight scenes are brutal and vivid, if contrived. If you liked the first book, then The Heretic Kings will only make you want to read more of it.
Pevel writes well, there is no doubt about that. I only picked up all the threads within a few dozen pages of the end of the book, and was impressed with the last cliffhanger that made me even more desirous for the second book in the series. The use of historical Paris with fantasy elements like dragons, and the creative way which he has bred the dragons into his universe is magical, and I would recommend this book to anyone.
Good books are hard to come by these days, and so are bad books, funnily enough. Sadly, though, mediocre books are a dime a dozen, and they all seem to find their way to me. If you have a spare three hours and know how to skim and skip through a book, then maybe pick this book up. If its half price. Otherwise, I wouldnt bother.
One of my favourite authors is Terry Pratchett. Theres no secret to that if youve spent even a little bit of time browsing FBR; he notches ten-out-of-ten books regularly, in my opinion, and has one of the keenest minds and greatest storytelling abilities Ive ever had the pleasure to read. Not surprisingly then, Sir Pratchett has done it once again with his latest Discworld novel, I Shall Wear Midnight, the fourth in his Tiffany Aching series, following the trials and tribulations of a girl becoming a witch in a land that doesnt want a witch.
The story itself begins to challenge Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen for depth and scope. The prologue isn’t there just to pamper the author’s desires but really sets the scene for what is to come, so many years later. The technology, armour, weapons and magic of this world bear the standard Sanderson touch, intricately detailed to the nth degree and utterly believable, a combination that many fail to achieve. Maybe the area in which Sanderson achieves his highest praise is in the manner with which he depicts the headspace our characters live in. Not only in their reaction and understanding of the world around them and the manner in which it reacts and has reacted to the continual storms that batter its landscape, but also in how the characters seem to be baffled by concepts that to us are normal, but in their world are foreign. Their bafflement leaves the reader similarly baffled, all too great effect.
What do you get when one of the fantasy genres literary mainstays over the past three decades recommends a book and suggests that he hasnt read anything so enthralling since when [he] first read Phillip Pullman?
The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of 100,000 elves lost to the Garonin. The elf who led that fight, Takaar, is blamed for the losses and has gone into hiding. Now the weakened elf race is tearing itself apart in civil war, human mercenaries have arrived in Calius and are ripping the continent apart. Only one elf can unite the elves. And only one elf believes in him. A young warrior named Auum sets out to bring back the shamed hero and save the elven race.
"I loved this book. I loved the characters and the journeys that they took and are to take, and I love the hints of what will come; things that we'll know of in passing and get to see in full and other things which are totally new. Barclay has managed to return to the world of Calaius and not leave us disappointed. Barclay is back and he might very well be better than ever." Fantasy Book Review
Paul Kearney is really one of the best writers writing at the moment. He is not only technically proficient but hes also wonderfully entertaining, rarely leaving us with a dull moment or place to put the book down to sleep. Hawkwoods Voyage, in whichever form you read it, is a must read, and belongs on the shelf next to authors like Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.
Continuing a series is always a perilous decision for a writer, as sometimes they can simply push the story beyond what was feasible and other times they can create something better. Trudi Canavan has added to her Black Magician trilogy twice now, first with the prequel The Magicians Apprentice and now with the first book in her new series set in the same world, The Ambassadors Mission.
Very rarely does an author manage to leave you heartbroken while still allowing you to have enjoyed the book youve read. Steven Erikson managed it in Deadhouse Gates and Paul Kearney manages it in his book The Ten Thousand. I have just finished reading the book, and feel both dispirited and glad for having read it.
The Blood Knight really kept me hooked and continued to reel me in. The happy ending for Leoff and what lies ahead for him is truly engaging and unique, and I was more than pleased with the survival of him and his two charges. The lack of main character deaths is a little bemusing considering the frequency with which they dropped off in the first book, but the passing of time between books 2 and 3 is minimal, I think, so I might be worrying over nothing. The book is really very good, as is the series as a whole, and Im very tempted to just jump straight into the fourth and final book.
Every now and again a book comes out that deserves all the hype that it is getting. A lot of the time a book will come out that doesnt deserve any of the hype its been getting. And probably more often than we like to admit, a book comes out that doesnt get any hype whatsoever and is absolutely breathtaking.
Finding myself into book three of a series that Ive failed to review book two is always a bit mysterious. Normally Im really good at remembering, but somehow I just forgot with Greg Keyes second book in his The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series.
Greg Keyes is a great author, and in this the first book of his quadrology the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, he really brings you into the story, makes you fall in love with characters and thrills you with a story that has you on the edge of your seat for a lot of the time.
There isnt anything quite as lovely as a fresh idea, I said when I reviewed Peter V. Bretts first book, The Painted Man, and I was spot on, which is always nice. Reading a lot of fantasy it is hard to always find a book that comes along with a new idea, something that, even if its been done before, is done in a new way.
As the savage Clone Wars rage unchecked, the Republics deadliest warriors face the grim truth that the Separatists arent their only enemyor even their worst. In the Grand Armys desperate fight to crush the Separatists, the secret special ops missions of its elite clone warriors have never been more critical or more dangerous. A growing menace threatens Republic victory, and the members of Omega Squad make a shocking discovery that shakes their loyalty. As the lines continue to blur between friend and enemy, citizensfrom civilians and sergeants to Jedi and generalsfind themselves up against a new foe: the doubt in their own hearts and minds. The truth is a fragile, shifting illusionand only the approaching inferno will reveal both sides in their true colors.
As the Clone Wars rage, victory or defeat lies in the hands of elite squads that take on the toughest assignments in the galaxystone-cold soldiers who go where no one else would, to do what no one else could ... On a mission to sabotage a nanovirus research facility on a Separatist-held planet, four clone troopers operate under the very noses of their enemies. The commandos are outnumbered and outgunned, deep behind enemy lines with no backupand working with strangers instead of trusted teammates. Matters dont improve when Darman, the squads demolitions expert, gets cut off from the others during planetfall. Even Darmans apparent good luck in meeting a Jedi Padawan vanishes once she admits to her woeful inexperience. For the isolated clone commandos and stranded Jedi, a long, dangerous journey lies ahead, through hostile territory brimming with Trandoshan slavers, Separatists , and suspicious natives. A single misstep could mean discovery ... and death. Its a virtual suicide mission for anyoneanyone except Republic Commandos.
When I am asked to pick my favourite Terry Pratchett book, The Fifth Elephant is always on my mind as a contender. Granted, its a contender insomuch as the Rock would be versus Ali, but its still in there! There are books that follow that outshine this book, but only in the way that one star outshines a slightly smaller star.
Ive made it clear that the earlier Discworld books by Terry Pratchett arent as good as the latter. But when does early become latter? It happens with book number twenty, Hogfather, and continues into the twenty first novel, and the fourth City Watch story, Jingo.
It’s no secret that Terry Pratchett is probably one of my favourite authors. Ever since dad made me read Mort I’ve read pretty much every book he’s written in the Discworld, and a few others. I quickly found though, as I read on, that one of my favourite character veins was the Night Watch series of books, starting with Guards! Guards!
In the third instalment of Terry Pratchett’s City Watch storyline, and the nineteenth novel overall in his Discworld universe, Pratchett introduces yet more ethnic groups into the City Watch and provides us with the most unlikely of replacements for Ankh-Morpork’s Patrician.
When you read a second book of a series, it’s really the do-or-die book. It’ll either be great, draw you in and promise you that they’ll all be of a similar quality or higher, or it will be less than the original and suggest you shouldn’t pick up the third.
When two great authors get together youre likely to get something special. Right? No, not really. In fact, if were being honest with ourselves, more often than not instead of combining the best of both authors, collaboration will more often than not combine the worst of both authors.
Rarely will I not make it through a book. I can count on one hand the amount of books that have failed to see me make it to the last page. Even if I dont like the book, Ill try and finish it in case I miss something. And really, it has to be a poor book to put me off from being able to push through. Think about it, I made it through Brisingr!
It comes as a real pleasure to be able to recommend a book so highly as Kristin Cashores latest book, Fire. A book described as a prequel-ish companion book to Cashores first book, Graceling, Fire is a beautiful and wonderful story that every fantasy reader should read at least once.
It took me a remarkably long time to finally pick up Raymond E. Feists wildly popular Magician. It was a poor lapse in judgement based solely around the fact that the lead character was another orphan and his name was Pug. Poor reasoning, I know, but there we have it nonetheless. That being said, I did finally pick it up and subsequently ploughed through Silverthorn and then A Darkness at Sethanon.
One of the greater joys in my life is when I can look on my many bookshelves and see numerous books that I havent read yet, and that I want to read next. Ive got five of Janny Wurts books sitting on my shelf. Ive read two of them, and Im a third of the way through the third. Sadly, Wurts books are not an example of books that I am looking forward to read.
David Gemmell is one of those beloved authors whose name has been written in stone as a fantasy author that has to be on a serious fantasy fans shelf. I dont begrudge that at all, because its mostly true. But its true in the same way that the Original Series of Star Trek has to be on a Trekkies shelf, even though it isnt the best TV ever made.
Lets just get this out of the way straight off the proverbial bat; I am a sucker for a good thief story. Its why I like the Oceans movies so much, and why I loved Scott Lynchs first entry in his the Gentleman Bastard series. Lynch returned after The Lies of Locke Lamora with Red Seas Under Red Skies and kept us tied to our ... wherever we were reading with this book, and made us once again love and pity our hapless anti-heroes, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen.
Were back with the Malazans marching into the Wastelands to meet up with their allies the Burned Tears and the Perish to head into territory where they believe they will have the final confrontation with the crippled god. But an uneasiness seems to have taken hold of the Malazans as their leader, Adjunct Tavore has grown even more distant and unfocused while crossing the Wastelands. This is added to by the feelings of betrayal from the sensitives in the ranks. Definitely a different view of the Malazans to see them so unsure of themsleves.
It has taken me a little while to work up the courage to write this review. Terry Pratchett has always managed to write a book a year for the last little while, and as a result has provided me with a sure-fire birthday present for my father; no questions asked. This year was no different, and when I got my copy of Unseen Academicals in the mail I was stoked.
Rating a book is inherently dangerous. Well beyond the normal trials of dealing with authors who believe theyre the next Tolkien but are lucky to know how to spell Tolkien, its the really good authors that provide the greatest problems. For example, I finished my review for the Bonehunters by Steven Erikson over a week ago. At the time it was a 10 out of 10 book. I still believe it is. However, what happens when the next book is just as good?
The Bonehunters sees us rejoining the Malazan Fourteenth Army, under the command of Adjunct Tavore Paran. Shaik is supposedly dead, the army of the Whirlwind in tatters, and the last survivors making for the refuge fortress city of YGhatan under the leadership of Leoman of the Flails.
Monza is a cut throat heartless commander general of the Thousand Swords; a lethal group of mercenaries. That is until her gainful employer Grand Duke Orso decides to murder her and her brother. Throw Monza's body from his mountain terrace to the forest floor below before confirming that she was indeed dead proves a mistake Duke Orso will live to regret. Broken to pieces Monzcarro Murcatto surprisingly does not die and is put back together in quite good fashion by a mysterious bone thief. Once she has her wits back about her and body in semi decent working order there is only one thing that burns in Monza's mind.
Thus begins yet another epic fantasy story, written by Russel Kirkpatrick. Id been really excited to read this book for a long time, and finally found myself desiring once again to read epic fantasy. So with this on my shelf, there was nothing stopping me. That Ive finished it at all, I think, speaks more to my strength of will rather than Kirkpatricks storytelling ability.
As happens from time to time, I have recently found myself ignoring the copious amount of fantasy books on my shelf. Sometimes it all just gets too much, and I have to revert to my Star Wars novels. However at the completion of Darksaber, I decided to make myself a pile of books that I was to read. On top, was Alison Croggons The Riddle.
As an avid World of Warcraft player, this day was inevitable. I do not dislike licensed properties, and one look at my library will convince you of this. A love of sci fi and fantasy has seen my library take shape thanks to large donations to Star Trek, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Naturally, my money would eventually end up lining the pockets of the Warcraft creators, beyond that of my gameplay.
Trudi Canavans Black Magician Trilogy lived up to all the hype my girlfriend lent it. From the first book I was spellbound, and only for the span of about 20 pages in this last book did I ever find that spell waning. Suffice it to say, Trudi Canavan can write.
The second book in Trudi Canavans The Black Magician trilogy continues on from the first flawlessly, almost as if there should not have been a break. Sonea has decided that staying at the Guild is in the best interests of all she cares about, and is not entirely as distrustful of magic as she had been starting out in book one.
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret that, if revealed, will mean certain death.
I find myself more and more encountering books to review that are invariably part of a series. Whether it be a trilogy or a Feist-ian epic, it varies. The point remains, I find myself suckered into reading all the books. And I believe that that is a telling review of the books that I read. That, when finishing one book, I am desirous to read the rest.
When my girlfriend informed me that I would be reading Alison Croggons The Gift and subsequent sequels, and would enjoy it, I found myself under a modicum of pressure. What if I werent to like it? What if Croggon has the same writing abilities as a cockroach named Paolini (was that too low?). I was a little worried, and the first part of the book didnt engender me with much confidence.
With a style that mimics Tolkien in its scope and detail, but with its own air of mysticism and depth, Curse of the Mistwraith is Janny Wurts entry into the Wars of Light and Shadow. Probably best known for her random collaboration with Raymond E. Feist, Wurts began introducing readers to the Wars of Light and Shadow in 1993. Since then another seven books have been released, with two more scheduled to be released over the next few years.
I havent had much experience with Young Adult Literature, as I was one of those kids who skipped over that genre because it was for kids. However I was recently sent Graceling by Kristin Cashore, and spent two lazy afternoons this past weekend reading what turned out to be a really enjoyable book.
When Steven Erikson first started writing the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, tales of how it had been conceived were genuinely fun to read. Two friends Erikson and his best friend Ian C. Esslemont created the universe for their own role playing game. From there, Erikson desired to tell more stories, and set out to write what is turning out to be one of the greatest fantasy stories ever devised.
The perfect killer has no friends. Only targets. For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the citys most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, hes grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death.
"Should you read this book? I am not going to be giving this to people for presents anytime soon, but maybe lack of serious writing talent is not a hindrance to an enjoyable book for you. Its your choice. Either way, Weeks had serious potential, and one can only hope that it gets better in the books to come." Fantasy Book Review
When you put your mind to considering some of the greatest writers of the English language, it is a source of continuing pity that Isobelle Carmodys name is not up there along with some of the greats like Tolkien, Lewis and Hemmingway. Though some of her work has been criticized, writing science fiction, fantasy, childrens and young adult literature, Carmody is probably most well known and praised for her work on the Obernewtyn Chronicles.
Following on from his successful introduction of the character Moist von Lipwig, Terry Pratchett decided that he would bring the ex-con artist back in an attempt to restore the Ankh-Morpork Mint. In short, Pratchett once again gets an entire book to have his way with the utilities and the running of a city.
For a long time, Terry Pratchett focused very intently on several groups of characters. He would often return to Sam Vimes, the Witches, Death or Rincewind. However over the past several years he has invested time in planting new characters into his Discworld, and one of the greatest inclusions without a doubt has been Moist von Lipwig.
When James Barclay told me that he was working on a seventh Raven book, I was ecstatic. Life had another marker for me to plan towards, just like the days when I had Lord of the Rings movies and DVDs to divide my year into irregular thirds. But I knew that it was going to be a farewell book; a completion to one of the most action packed, well written and rollicking adventure fantasy series there had ever been.
When an author decides to interweave multiple stories together into a larger story, a lot of talent is needed to back up such an ambition. Some authors pull it off with an ease that leaves you breathless, and staggered at how several books later everything is tied up neatly. Other authors leave you giddy with confusion.
Every now and again I am surprised by a book that turns out to be entirely genuine and entertaining. Many books come to me with the foreknowledge that they are such, and many more simply fail to live up to hype. So when I picked up Sasha by Joel Shepherd at my Borders the other week, I hoped that the blurb would come through as being at least somewhat decent.
When Harper Collins sent me Australian author Jennifer Fallons most recent book, the conclusion to her The Tide Lords series, The Chaos Crystal, I was pleasantly surprised by my interest. I requested the previous three books, and have just completed the first book, The Immortal Prince.
When friends hand me books to read, I am always suspicious of whether the books will be any good. Maybe it is my own great arrogance (or maybe one of many), but I just figure that unless they are of a special few I am the better judge of books. Thankfully, twice this theory has fallen by the wayside.
Following in the wake of its predecessor, Shout for the Dead continues James Barclays magnificent step away from his impressive Raven series. No longer are we watching masses of enemies being slaughtered. This time were in for a political ride akin to the latter days of the West Wing (I love Barclay, but Im not giving him political prowess similar to Aaron Sorkin).
With his Raven series, James Barclay made himself a cult hero. With the Ascendants of Estorea, Barclay stepped away from the action adventure realm and settled into a very fantasy style book. More character focus and interestingly enough styled after the Roman Empire, Cry of the Newborn the first in the series makes for an interesting introduction to a new realm for Barclay to play in.
When there grows a significant span of time between reading books in a series, sometimes the books will acquire a certain measure of unfounded love. You forget just whether the book is any good or not, and tend to give it the benefit of the doubt; because if nothing else, youre looking forward to the forthcoming book, right?
When I first started reading Demonstorm, I was under every impression that it was Barclays final say in the world of the mercenary band known as The Raven. The ending of the book definitely gives that opinion as well, continuing Barclays well worn killing off of his characters. But before the end comes, Barclay manages to pull off one of the greatest escapades I have ever read. It is exciting, thrilling, and as much as any fantasy book can be entirely believable.
One of the underlying threads that have raced through James Barclays The Raven series has been the ever building conflict between the four colleges of magic on Balaia. Shadowheart sees the climax of this collision. Not surprisingly, the dark college is the one to strike, but thankfully the reader is not necessarily forced into taking the good guys side.
One of the greatest and most often committed faults of English literature, specifically of the fantasy genre, is the emotional attachment to characters by their authors. Though budding and experienced authors alike may start out with all intention to realistically treat their characters as they should, more often than not, by the end of the story, everyone has miraculously survived.
One thing that is always tinged with a measure of trepidation is the treatment of children in a fantasy world. A measure of reality must always be held in one hand while you attempt to watch over them. For as much as you would love to see them always come through unharmed, happy, and well, it is just not how it would have played back in the middle ages and before.
In a true example of why James Barclay is one of the best modern day fantasy writers, Noonshade continues on his Chronicles of the Raven series, and sees the story continue and his talents grow. Barclay sets this book literally half an hour after Dawnthief is finished, and never misses a beat. I came to these books late, and was able to read all six one after the other, and I have no idea how people managed without that luxury. Barclay is an author you just do not want to ever put down.
Every now and again you come across an author who manages to write unlike any other. This is not something that will happen often, and Ive personally only ever come across a handful (Tolkien, Pratchett, Hobb and Erikson). But one author who manages to write such a compelling story that you never want to put the book down is James Barclay.
There isnt anything quite as lovely as a fresh idea. Whether were talking about a new way to cook pork or a book, its the same; a new idea is everything. But you dont always come across new ideas, especially when were talking about fantasy novels. One need only look at the ruckus caused by authors like Terry Brooks or Christopher Paolini to see what Im talking about.
Authors that rely upon convenience to make their story work will always have a hard road ahead of them. It does not always mean that the book is bad or not worth reading, but you will often reach the last page and feel a little cheated. One such author who is guilty of this contrived convenience is Fiona McIntosh. And while I wont dwell on any of her other books, Royal Exile, her latest published book and the beginning of a new trilogy, bears all the hallmarks of what came before: stories with great potential, but that are let down in the mechanics.
One thing that seems to be lacking in fantasy stories these days is a variety of magic within a series. By this I mean that, in most series the type of magic being used will be pretty much the same in each book. Lord of the Rings relied upon Gandalf and his staff, Wheel of Time sees the One Power grow minimally and in Barclays Raven series its uses are strict and controlled.
Maybe in an attempt to separate his work from comparisons to Lord of the Rings, Terry Brooks took a step I have rarely seen in a fantasy series in his second installment of the Shannara series, by letting time pass. More often than not, when a second book in a fantasy series is released, it is a direct continuation of book one. For Brooks, his story is generations long and will, eventually, span millennia.
One of the more frustrating assertions to come from the so called literary critics are claims that so and so author is copying so and so. They use this derogatory critique as a way to deprive the author of any originality in their storytelling. And while I cant speak for every book that has received this critique, I can speak for Terry Brooks Shannara Trilogy.
It happens far too often that books that are not worthy of wide recognition achieve it, and those that are worthy of it only achieve success in smaller amounts. It is a never ending source of frustration for fans of those books and authors, for they see actual talent being ignored in place of flashy and insubstantial books that do nothing but cater to the lowest common denominator.
One of the things that I have found as I have read fantasy book after fantasy book, is that life is different in those books. Of course it is, ya daftie, I hear you cry, but bear with me. I obviously know that life is different, thats why I read them: when you are a freelance writer, you look for any chance possible to jump out of the real world. But you have to remember that if a bit of the book is different, then it is all different from your reality.
When a new series begins, often you will expect book two to be better than book one, and so on. It makes sense. The writer will get better as they go on. Sadly, life is not always so neat, and there will be writers, like Terry Pratchett, who go out of their way to break the mould. This is what happened when Pratchett wrote The Wee Free Men, the first in a quartet of books but simultaneously the 30th book in his lovingly created Discworld.
One of the great character templates in literature is the often dim-witted, often humorous sidekick who is allowed a moment of center stage wisdom. If done poorly, it can be nothing short of horrible. But when it is done well, there is seldom anything that can beat it. And in a series of more than 30 books that are all pigeon-holed into the fantasy/comedy genre, Terry Pratchett has made attempting this template into an art form.
Battleaxe starts us off in the world of Achar, where the Acharites devoutly worship Artor the Plough God. This is strikingly expressed through the Acharites fervent hatred for trees, forests, etc, and thus the peoples though originally related through their ancestors that live within those forests. It is a brilliantly unique premise, and one that works well for Douglass as the series continues.
Whenever someone new comes to review books, there is always going to be a measure of consternation at their choices for best books. It gets worse when you narrow it down to genre, because then not only have you narrowed down the people, but in a most perplexing mathematic equation their passion for those books increases.
I was totally mystified, baffled and downright confused when I hit up Wikipedia to find that Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, a book that I had just finished and thoroughly enjoyed, was nothing more than an adaptation of a television series. That might sound like I have a measure of distaste for adaptations, and you would be right. But since I didnt know that at the time, it doesnt count, and thus I will attempt for this review (and, in reality, everywhere else too), attempt to ignore the fact this book did not start life out as a book.
In what is one of his most celebrated works, up there along with Sandman, Neil Gaimans American Gods is one of the best books of its genre. The real dilemma presented us however is understanding just which genre Gaiman was writing. This is not a negative opinion of his writing ability, suggesting that he doesnt seem to have any idea what he is doing. Just the contrary, American Gods manages to broach several genre barriers all the while making it look as if Gaiman was creating his own genre.
In what can really only be called a tour de force by an author who is arguably the greatest living English novelist, Terry Pratchett has pulled out all the stops for his latest book, Nation. Pratchett is best known for his Discworld series of books, which stretch across a monstrous 36 books (of which the majority does well to score below 7 out of 10). However this time around, Pratchett has stepped off the Disc and into a parallel universe to our own, with honorable mentions to Einstein and Isaac Newton.
The Black Company by Glen Cook is the first book of the nine that make up The Black Company series. First published in 1984 this book was responsible for taking the fantasy genre and turning it on its head with his introduction of realistic characters and its complete disregard for fantasy stereotypes and the age-old battle of good versus evil.
The Magician's Guild is set in Imardin, where every year the magicians amass in order to rid the streets of the homeless and miscreants. The magicians believe themselves untouchable behind a magical shield but when Sonea, who is upset by the behaviour towards her friends and family, throws a stone that passes through the shield, the entire city is shaken. It is at this point where Sonea comprehends her own power and the magician's worst fears are realised ... there is an untrained magician loose in the city, one who could destroy both herself and the city.
A Clash of Kings, book two of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is the follow-up to George R. R. Martins A Game of Thrones.
As warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ... and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyong the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.