Category Archives: Fantasy

Book Review of “Shadow Swarm”

“Shadow Swarm” was published in 2014 and was written by D. Robert Pease (http://www.drobertpease.com). Mr. Pease has published 7 books. This eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This is a fantasy novel set in a place different from ours. Aberthole Nauile awakens to find himself in a stone sarcophagus. He knows neither who nor where he is. As the story quickly unfolds you find that Aberthole is the king of Nuadaim and he has just been “born” fully grown. He meets the Neglafem who are the guardians of the heir, and who have been watching over him.

Aberthole is still trying to accept that he is a king, when he and the Neglafem are attacked. Illiam the elder of the Neglafem who has just begun to teach Aberthole of this world, is killed during the attack. Illiam’s grand daughter, Elise, helps Aberthole to escape. While she is leading Aberthole away she is taken by the forces of evil. That starts a long battle raging widely across this world to get Elise back. Aberthole recruits others to help him battle the forces of evil that have been enslaving the world.

Aberthole is expected to have great power and be able to defeat the forces of evil, but he knows nothing about his powers. While he fights to overcome the enemy and get Elise back, he is full of self doubts.

He is tormented by the memory of the many who die under his leadership. He also feels he is letting his followers down because he is unable to wield the power they had expected him to possess. What power he slowly masters does not look like it will be enough to overcome the forces of evil.

I thought that this was a good fantasy story. It seems to be compressed into one novel, where the same tale in other fantasy series would be spread out over more. The way the story ends though, there may be follow on novels. I did not particularly like the main character Aberthole. He seemed to lack too much confidence in himself. Other than the violence of battles with sword and spear, I would rate this PG, and I would give the novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book review of “Best Served Cold”

“Best Served cold” was published in 2009 and was written by Joe Abercrombie (http://www.joeabercrombie.com). Mr. Abercrombie has published seven novels thus far. This eBook is available on Amazon.

“Best Served Cold” is set in the world introduced by “The First Law” trilogy, though it is not part of that story line. Several characters do return from those books. While it would be best to read this after the trilogy, it is a stand alone novel. This novel is written in the third person.

The primary character is Monxcarro “Monza” Murcatto. She is a mercenary and leader of the 1000 Swords. After leading them to another victory she, along with her younger brother Benna, goes to see her employer, Duke Orso. They seem to be well received, but then Orso and the other six men with him turn on Monza and brother. She and Benna are stabbed more than once, then thrown over a balcony to fall into the forest far below (no real spoiler as this all occurs in the first 30 pages).

Benna is dead, killed at the hands of Orso and his close followers. Monza is near death and her body is severely broken. She awakens to find most of her broken bones on the mend, brought back by a mysterious man she had never seen before. She swears she will revenge the uncalled for death of her little brother and the assault to herself.

She sets out on a quest to find each of the seven she feels were responsible for the assassination, her heart set on seeing each of them die. Along the way she gathers a small group, some of whom are familiar from the trilogy – Caul Shivers, Nicomo Cosca and Shylo Vitari – as well as some new characters. Monza leads them battling across Styria, leaving bodies and chaos in her wake. You can see some of the characters change as the long bloody road stretches out behind them.

This is a fantasy novel which is full of intrigue, bloody battles and unexpected plot turns. This is a fast paced read – I finished the 640 pages in 21.5 hours. This is the fifth novel of Mr. Abercrombie’s that I have read, and I have loved all of them. “Best Served Cold” is a dark story as the entire focus is on Monza’s revenge, and the body count rises far higher than seven in her zealous pursuit of her victims. I would definitely rate this book R as there is Mature Language, Mature Situations and Bloody Violence. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Tinkerer’s Daughter”

“The Tinkerer’s Daughter” was published in 2012 and is the first book in “The Tinkerer’s Daughter” series. The book is written by Jaramy Gates under the pseudonym Jamie Sedgwick (http://jamiesedgwick.wordpress.com/). Together, Mr. Gates has published nearly 20 novels. The eBook is available from Amazon.

This book is a Young Adult Fantasy book set in a different world occupied with humans, Tal’mar (also known as wood elves), and the Kanters (a race of wild giants). The humans and Tal’mar have been at war for decades. The Kanters, while a threat, have been mostly ignored by the Humans as they are wild and uncivilized.

Bran Vale and his young daughter Breeze live alone and remote from others, in a valley many miles from the nearest village. Bran has been a warrior, and he is called back to duty. Bran has no family, so he takes his four year old daughter to another recluse, the Tinkerer, and asks him to watch over her while he is gone.

Breeze slowly becomes close friends with the Tinkerer, and is interested in his creations. She also rapidly matures, a side effect of being half Tal’mar. Bran has kept Breeze away from other humans as most of humanity has a hatred of them from the long war. Breeze, being a half breed, will be an outcast whether she is with humans or the Tal’mar.

The Tinkerer develops some astounding “steam punkish” gadgets, including simple aircraft. Breeze is put at risk when the local villagers find out she is a half breed. To compound the situation, the Kanters suddenly attack.

There is plenty of excitement and eventually a view into Breeze’s past as the story evolves.

I found this to be a very enjoyable novel. There was a good plot. I did feel that the first third of the book was better than the rest, almost as if there was a rush at that point to get the book completed. Some of the supporting characters were pretty simplistic. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Book Review of “Haven: A Stranger Magic”

“Haven: A Stranger Magic” was published in 2013 and is the first novel by D. C. Akers (http://dc-akers.com). This is the first book in the “Haven” series. Mr. Akers has published three books. This eBook is available on Amazon and is currently free to download.

I obtained this novel for free through http://ebookshabit.com. This story is a Young Adult Fantasy told third person. The story is set somewhere in Texas, though the exact location is never identified. The story surrounds Samuel “Sam” Dalcome and his sister Sarah. Sam is 13 while his sister is a in High School. The story begins just a few days before school is to let out for the summer.

Sam is having a recurring nightmare. Then one night he wakes up and looks out of his bedroom window to see a man standing across the street in the shadows watching his room. As Sam watches he is amazed to see the man disappear.

Sarah has experienced some strange occurrences around her when she gets angry. She is troubled with her life and scared by what has happened around her.

I enjoyed this novel, but at only 136 pages it ended far too quickly after a little over two hours of reading. It does little more than introduce you to the characters, and start to set up the plot when the story abruptly ends. It only succeeds in wetting the appetite for the sequel “Haven: Revenge of the Viper” which is much longer. I give this novel a 4 out of 5, withholding a higher rating because of the abrupt end.

Book Review of “Last Argument of Kings”

“Last Arguments of Kings” was published in 2009 and is the third book in “The First Law” trilogy by Joe Abercrombie (http://www.joeabercrombie.com/books/). Mr. Abercrombie has published 8 books. This eBook is availed on Kindle.

This trilogy is set in a non-earth world similar to medieval-era Europe, where there are knights and wizards. The story is set in the Union. To the north the Union is bordered by the barbarian Northmen, and from south the Gurkhul Empire threatens. The same basic characters appear in this novel as in the first two. The story is told third person from the many principal player’s points of view.

The king has died leaving no heirs. The Open Council must now vote on the new king. Everyone is surprised when at the last minute First Mage Beyaz reveals that there is a bastard son of the King. He is named king, but he inherits a shaky throne as the Gurkhul Empire has invaded and Adua is at risk. Beyaz is at the new king’s side giving guidance, sometimes too much guidance in the king’s mind.

Jazal dan Luthar reunites with Ardee West. She is far below his class, but he thinks he has deep feelings for her. He is regularly sleeping with her, but still unable to commit to her. Superior San dan Glokta who was asked by Collem West to look after Ardee, confronts Jazal and tells him he must either marry Ardee, or get out of her life.

In the far north the battle with the Northmen continues. Colonel Collem West is in the thick of it along with Logen Ninefingers and a band of Northmen. Together they develop a risky plan to bring the war in the north to an end.

Superior San dan Glokta finds more treason in the capital. He also finds himself now with two masters – Arch Lector Sult as well as the banking house of Valint and Balk. He cannot continue to satisfy them both and finds himself in increasingly desperate situations.

Ferro Maljinn feels betrayed by Beyaz. She has not been able to take her vengeance on the Gurkhul as he had promised. And she hates the city of Adua, as well as all of the “pinks” that live there. She feels others are watching her and Beyaz is using her.

All is brought to a climax with the city of Adua under siege, but that does not stop the intrigue within the walls even as the city teeters on the brink of being overrun. There are battles and intrigue, twists and turns as the trilogy comes to a conclusion.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first two and give it a 5 out of 5. I thought is was well written and kept up a fast pace. All of the principal characters have their strengths as well as their flaws. Most of the major story threads are wrapped up at the end of this novel, but there you are left with more to be learned.

Book review of “Before They Are Hanged”

“Before They Are Hanged” was published in 2009 is the second book of the “First Law” trilogy. The book Joe Abercrombie’s (http://www.joeabercrombie.com/books/) second novel and the eBook is available on Amazon.

This trilogy is set in a non-earth world similar to medieval-era Europe, where there are knights and wizards. The story is set in the Union. To the north the Union is bordered by the barbarian Northmen, and from south the Gurkhul Empire threatens.

The same characters appear in this novel as in “The Blade Itself”. Inquisitor San dan Glokta is sent to Dagoska near the border with the Empire. He is to take charge and hold the city against the threatening troops of the Empire. He is also charged with finding out what happened to his predecessor, Superior Davoust. There is danger both from outside the fortress walls as well as from within.

Meanwhile, Captain Jezal dan Luthar, Logen Ninefingers, and Ferro Maljinn follow First Magi Beyaz to the edge of the earth to find a hidden relic. They encounter many challenges along the way, and those that return are not quite the same people who left Adua on their quest.

Collem West has been promoted to Colonel and is in the far north with Lord Martial Burr to drive the invaders from Angland. Not only must he fight the invading Northmen, but also generals Kroy and Poulder of his own army.

There is more intrigue, sword play and magic in the second installment of this tale.

This is the third novel by Mr. Abercrombie that I have read, and it is every bit as good as the first two. I like the way he develops the characters, each has their strengths, but is carrying their own demons as well. The pace of the novel was good, never letting the reader get bogged down.

Over all I give this novel a 5 out of 5, and highly recommend it for those who like fantasy quests.

Book Review of “Half a King”

“Half a King” will be published in 2014 (July) and was written by Joe Abercrombie (http://www.joeabercrombie.com/). This is the first volume of the planned Half a King trilogy and is Mr. Abercrombie’s seventh novel. This novel is available on Amazon.

Yarvi is a boy with a misshapen hand who is studying for the ministry – a combination of advisor, priest, chemist and healer. Because of his deformed hand he has never been much of a warrior and has been an embarrassment at his father’s court.

He is suddenly thrust into the role of king when his father and older brother are killed. As soon as he is crowned king, he leads a raid against the land he believes was responsible for the death of his father and brother. While on the raid he is betrayed and an attempt is made to assassinate him. While he escapes his assassins, he is left behind, captured and made a slave.

He is bought and becomes an oreslave on a dilapadated merchant ship. He makes a few friends as well as a few enemies with members of the crew. Yarvi plans an escape and hopes to take his few friends with him, but it will be a long journey home.

At this point he only lives to return to Gettland and fulfill the oath he made to avenge his father and brother.

The story covers several months as the ship voyages around the Shattered Sea, and Yarvi is finally able to flee from it. A great deal happens, but telling more would give spoilers.

I found this to be a very enjoyable story (rated 5 out of 5). The only complaint that I have is that it could easily have been stretched well beyond it’s 352 pages. I look forward to the next two books in the trilogy.

Book Review for “Soldiers Live”

“Soldiers Live” published in 2000 is currently the last book in the Black Company fantasy series by Glen Cook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Cook). The viewpoint has switched back to Croaker after he and several others were revived from the stasis they had been trapped in at the Fortresss with no name on the Glittering Plain. While Croaker and Lady have also been revived, the role of Captain of the Company has remained with Sleepy.
The Company crossed the Glittering Plain and arrived at the gate to the Land of Unknown Shadows at the end of “Water Sleeps”. In the four years that the Company has spent there it has grown and is now a well trained and heavily armed army. The time comes for them to return to the land from which they had fled and finish with Taglios, Soulcatcher and Kina.
Croaker takes a side trip to Khatovar, but it is far from what he was expecting. The Company does return to Taglios and eventually takes the city. Soulcatcher is taken and Mogaba removed. Along the way several members of the Company are lost. Tobo does find his way to grow into a powerful wizard and becomes involved with a young sorceress that was picked up in Croaker’s visit to Khatovar.
Overall I was very satisfied with the apparent wrap-up to this series that covers several decades with the Company. I found this to be another well written, good saga. I recommend this series to anyone.

Book Review of “Attack of the Geek”

“Attack of the Geek” published in 2014 was written by Michael R. Underwood (http://michaelrunderwood.com). This is his third novel to be published.

This book is a “Ree Reyes side-quest” as the author puts it. It is set in the “urban fantasy” world he created with his first novel “Geekomancy.

Having not read the first two books (“Celebromancy” being the second) it was hard for me to step into the world these books are set in. It is an unusual world set in contemporary society, but one where anything fantasy or science fiction from print, TV or movies, as well as games, is possible for those with the ability.

Imagine a world where a mixture of Star Wars light sabers, Star Trek phasers, swords from the Trilogy of the Rings, and just plain magic spells are all possible. That gives you an idea of the chaotic nature of this world.

Once I adjusted to the strangeness, I did find the story engaging and well written. These novels are not going to be for everyone, but for those who do accept them they will be an enjoyable read.

Book Review of Glen Cook’s “The Water Sleeps”

“Water Sleeps” published in 1999 is the 10th book in the Black Company fantasy series by Glen Cook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Cook). The viewpoint has switched to Sleepy who has taken over as the Company Annalist, and the de facto Captain. Fifteen years have passed since the end of the prior book.

Sleepy and Murgen’s wife, Sahra, keep the company together and hidden in Taglios. They organize guerrilla tactics to harass Soulcatcher, the one remaining Shadowmaster and a long time enemy of The Company. Sleepy then leads the remaining Company members from Taglios, heading towards The Glittering Plain and the fortress with no name.

They have developed a plan to rescue the Company members who had been trapped there in a stasis at the end of book #9, “She is the Darkness”. Along the way we find out that Murgen’s son, Tobo, is part of a prophecy for the Nyueng Bao. He is also considered the future of The Company by Company wizards One-Eye and Goblin.

Besides evading Soulcatcher they also have to battle a more subtle threat from Kina who is still trying to bring on the Year of the Skulls so that she can be woken.

I found this to be well written and a continuing good saga. I recommend this series to anyone.