All things that interest me as a fan of Fantasy. Fantasy themed art, tattoos, video games, books, movies, and anything else that catches my eye;)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Ten Thousand

This one has been on my list for quite some time now, and with comparisons to Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin how could I not give this one a try? Well after finishing book 1 of the Macht trilogy I can say that the comparisons ring true. This is top notch military fantasy overflowing with blood, sweat, and tears.

The Macht are a mercenary group that dwells in the mountains of the Harukush. To put it simply they are like Spartans for hire. They fight in tight formations using spear and shield and are notorious for their ferociousness in battle. The famed Macht have been hired by King Arkamenes, who intends to take the throne from his brother. Two young recruits stumble into the mad ranks of the Macht, Rictus the survivor of a civil war, and Gasca, a young lad looking for adventure. These are the two main characters of the story, but we also get to view the upper echelon of the Macht command through the eyes of one of the generals named Jason. Gasca gets assigned to the front lines of the battle, giving us the perspective of a spear wielding Macht infantryman. Rictus leads a rag tag group of skirmishers whose job it is to scout ahead and survey, and Jason gives us a glimpse into the command center of the army. The ten thousand Macht eventually set sail for war.

When the epic confrontation goes south for the Macht they are forced to retreat, but the only problem is they are a world away from home with very few supplies. The story really centers around this epic retreat, with the enemy forces hot on their tails. From the pursuing army we get a point of view from a prior Macht soldier named Vorus who is in service to the Great King. After his brother’s betrayal, his King has ordered that the very memory of the Macht army be erased. Knowing the strategies of the Macht, Vorus pursues his prior brethren on behalf of his King. Vorus’s chapters were surprisingly well done, and it was interesting to read about the inner conflict he faces when he’s tasked with hunting his brethren.

This is a manly man’s fantasy story right here ladies and gentlemen. While there are a few female perspectives littered throughout the book, at the end of the day this is a story surrounding a group of battle hardened men. What I most appreciated about this book was that Paul Kearney really captured the spirit of a military campaign. The soldiers talking shit to one another, the boredom, the groans and moans, and the whispers of mutiny that can be found in any army all paint a wonderful picture of the realities of being in a campaign.

I think fans of fantasy will have plenty to love here, as well as those interested in military tactics. Grab your spear, stretch your legs, and be ready to march! I have book 2 waiting beside me and I can’t wait to dive back into this sweaty, bloody, brutal world.

Monday, March 10, 2014

300 Rise of an Empire Review

When I first saw 300 it absolutely blew me away. I was about 19 years old when it came out so perhaps I was a bit impressionable, but I can remember leaving that theater wanting to go to war with Persians. It came as no surprise when I heard that they were developing a sequel but there was just one small problem… NO LEONIDAS! Gerard Butler will forever be remembered for his role as the Spartan King, and his performance was arguably the best ever in the entire sword & sandal genre. Well, I hate to say it but his presence is greatly missed in this sequel, and without him it is no better than the average fantasy film.

Although this is pitched as a sequel to the original 300, much of the story coincides with the first film. We get a quick back-story to the Athens side of the house from the perspective of Greek General Themistokles. Xerxes father Darius once launched a campaign against the Greeks and was killed by an arrow from none other than Themistokles himself. The Persians retreat and Darius dies leaving his kingdom to his son Xerxes. This is where we get to meet the Persian commander Artemisia, who encourages Xerxes to become a “God King” and avenge his father. The Persians sail to war and Artemisia leads the Persian Navy. On the other side of the house Themistokles attempts to broker an alliance between Sparta and Athens. The Spartans deny Themistokles and have no desire for a united Greece. So it’s up to Themistokles and his rag-tag Navy to stop the Persian Fleet.

While the story has a good concept, there were too many reoccurring themes in the sequel to offer anything new to the story. Several themes are repeated here and none of them improve on the originals. We have the standard “son on the cusp of manhood who wants nothing more than to prove to his father that he can handle war” story, the “humble group of men who are outnumbered ten to one” theme, and Artemisia’s back-story is your standard, “taken in by the supposed enemy who trains her in the ways of war to become a prodigy.” To top it off there are multiple “war speeches” that unfortunately pack little to no punch.

Look, I appreciate a good pre-war speech like anyone else. It gets you pumped, and it lets you know that there is a lot at stake here, so look within and find your courage! Leonidas in 300, William Wallace in Braveheart, Aragorn in The Return of the King, the list goes on and on. The speeches in 300 Rise of an Empire do nothing to get the audience rooting for the underdogs. The one-liners from the original 300 are sorely missed here, and leaving the theater I couldn’t recall a single one. “Tonight we dine in Hell!” “This is SPARTA!” “Their arrows will blot out the sun! Then we shall fight in the shade!” These classic quotes are absent here and it leaves a longing in the hearts of the audience. The Athenians lack the suicidal willingness for battle, and you can tell by the performances.

While the dialogue is lackluster and the story mediocre, there are a handful of cool parts to be found. The Persians getting trapped in a small cove only to be pounced upon by Athenians from the surrounding cliff sides were a highlight, and the final battle with Themistokles on horseback (at sea) gets you pretty excited. I thought that the visuals were pretty awesome, but those who don’t like the green screen should stay away.

Leonidas and the brave 300 was never going to be topped, I think everyone can agree with me on that. Some stories just don’t really need a sequel, no matter what the fan boy/girl within says. We had a classic stand-alone film with the original 300, but now we have a sad sequel that utterly fails in comparison. Go see it if you want to escape for a few hours, but be prepared to shake your head in disappointment and say to yourself, “RIP Leonidas, you’re surely missed…”  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Lion of Cairo

I have to be honest I was a bit puzzled going into The Lion of Cairo. This book is classified as historical fiction, and while I try to ignore titles I was still unsure what I was in for. Would this novel be based strictly on historical fact? Would there be fantastical elements to it? In the end I was glad to find that a few fantastical elements are sprinkled throughout the story, but it never strays far from its historical foundation. 

Emir of the Knife, a notorious assassin is tasked with protecting a Caliph who is surrounded by enemies on all fronts. He makes his way to the fabled city of Cairo and uses every resource he has to get close to the Caliph. The Caliph is held up by puppet strings by his ruthless and power hungry Vizier. His Vizier plans to poison the Caliph and supplant himself on the throne. One of the concubines happens to hear of this plot and attempts to stop it from happening. Unknown to all, the Vizier forges an alliance with Amalric the King of Jerusalem against The Sultan of Damascus who is headed towards the city of Cairo. 

Within the city of Cairo we also get to meet another sect of assassins led by a necromancer. His right hand man is known as The Heretic, and for me he was one of the standouts of the novel. This villain stole the show for me and the final showdown between The Emir of the Knife and the Heretic was worthy of any summer blockbuster. We get several of these epic climaxes, each one topping the last. 

While I doubt it was Scott Oden’s intention to give us a “Prince of Persia” sort of story, I can’t help but compare it to the video game franchise. Really though, is that such a bad thing? For the younger crowd out there the comparison must be made. This book reads like you’re playing Assassins Creed in a desert setting. This was more Robert E. Howard and less history textbook, so keep that in mind if you’re interested in reading this one.

Reading this book inspired the history buff in me to look up some of the history surrounding Scott Oden’s tale. I was interested in the siege of Ascalon, what a salawar looked like, etc. If you’re a fan of medieval history then you will be glad of heart to find these little historical “shout-out’s” littered throughout the story. If there was a minor complaint then I would say it comes in the form of pacing, and this is more of a preference, some might find the pacing to be perfect. The story really has the feel of an action movie, and because of this I didn’t have enough time to catch my breath and really bond with some of the characters. 

As much as I love the pseudo medieval England that is so prominent in the genre of Fantasy I also enjoy reading about Middle Eastern settings, and if you do too then you will find a lot to like about The Lion of Cairo. Assassins spying on rooftops, creepy Eunuchs, hidden passageways, awesome swordfights, political backstabbing, I mean honestly what’s not to like? 

The novel ends on a cliffhanger and if book 2 was already out, I’d have ordered it weeks ago. So what category does this fall into when all is said and done? Is it historical, fantasy, fiction? My answer is that it’s a fun entertaining read that fans of all genres should enjoy. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Seven Minutes of Developer Gameplay - Lords of the Fallen

So this is some brand new footage of an upcoming action RPG called "Lords of the Fallen". The gameplay looks like a Dark Souls clone, and the style looks a bit like Warhammer and Darksiders. This would appear to be one of the first games to copy the success of the Dark Souls franchise. So far it looks like this one will be exclusive for the next-gen consoles as well as PC. What does everyone think? First impressions? 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dark Souls 2 "Cursed" Trailer

Here's another trailer for the upcoming Dark Souls 2... I'ts getting closer and I can't frekin' wait! Dark Souls was probably one of the coolest games I've ever played, and the sequel is looking pretty damn promising! Anyone else play Dark Souls?

Monday, January 27, 2014


This is the fourth book I’ve read by Guy Gavriel Kay and he continues to blow me away. This guy can write, I truly truly mean that. Tigana was first published back in 1990 (I was only two!) and has been considered by many to be one of the best stand-alone fantasy novels ever written. While I thought that there were some overly dramatic elements and some minor plot issues it’s almost impossible to fault it due to the amazing prose found within.

The story centers on the eight provinces that make up the Peninsula of the Palm. The eight provinces have been invaded from both the eastern and western fronts. From the east comes Alberico of Barbadior and from the west comes Brandin of Ygrath, both deadly sorcerers hell-bent on conquering the eight provinces. Years ago a crucial battle took place in the land of Tigana and it was there that the Prince Valentin of Tigana mortally wounded the son of Brandin of Ygrath. Grief stricken Brandin places a spell over the land of Tigana. Only those who were born of that land are able to hear it spoken aloud, all others cannot hear the word Tigana. Brandin doesn’t only crush this once powerful empire, but hopes to erase its very memory from the world.

An alliance is formed to oppose these two tyrants and restore the name of Tigana. The main characters include Devin and Catriana gifted singers who stumble into this resistance, Duke Sandre d’Astibar the last of his line, Alessan the last Prince of Tigana, and his faithful companion Baerd. On the island of Chiara we also meet Dianora, a concubine in service to Brandin of Ygrath. Unknown to all on the island of Chiara, Dianora is from Tigana and plots to murder the King, in hopes to undo the spell and restore the name of Tigana once again.

Dianora’s plot was superb and allowed the reader to get an intimate perspective of the Tyrant from the West. Through Dianora’s eyes we see Brandin as a broken man mourning the death of his son, rather than the evil invader. It was interesting to see this change and by the end of the novel you’re not sure who to root for. We also get short passages from the perspective of Alberico of Barbadior, the sorcerer from the east. Although I wanted more passages from Alberico, the ones we do get are dark and dreadful and it gives the story some weight.

As I mentioned above there were a few moments that were a bit melodramatic. Passionate lovemaking at obscure moments, and some silly dialogue are sprinkled into the story, but they never overwhelm the plot. My other minor complaint was that the ending felt a bit rushed, the final confrontation left me wanting a bit more. Much like the land of Tigana, this novel has stood the test of time and will undoubtedly continue to thrill readers for years to come. As far as stand-alone fantasy novels are concerned, you would be hard pressed to find one as rich as this one. If you’re looking for a good introductory book by Guy Gavriel Kay, then I would start with this one. Go read it…NOW!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Duchess of the Shallows

The Duchess of the Shallows came my way through GoodReads after reading some very good reviews. Initially I was a bit skeptical due to the fact that it’s a “self-published” book, but after finishing it I can confidently say that it holds its own alongside some of the best sellers out there. Reminiscent of Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora this is top notch cloak and dagger fantasy. 

Duchess is the last surviving member of her family, and after a tragic accident she is adopted by a simple baker. Given a strange coin she seeks entry into the mysterious Thieves’ guild known as “the grey”. In order to gain entry into this exclusive club Duchess must steal a dagger from one of the city’s most dangerous nobleman. Duchess has a best friend named Lysander who is an “escort” of sorts and he was a great secondary character. Lysander’s group of “ganymedes” put an interesting twist on clich├ęs that we are used to seeing in fantasy. The relationship between Lysander and Duchess was believable and felt very authentic. The plot is pretty straightforward and moves along at a quick and urgent pace. This is all killer and no filler, and the chapters seem to fly by. I finished the book in two sittings. 

The Duchess of the Shallows was written for fantasy fans by a fantasy fan, you can just tell. It has the charm that we all love in a medieval setting. The Imperial City of Rodaas was wonderful and filled with carts and vendors selling their wares, pickpockets sneaking along cobblestone streets, mist raining down, and knives hiding behind every ally. This medieval setting has been done a million times, and yet it still feels new and refreshing, something I wasn’t really expecting. 

Sure this novel isn’t as gritty and dark as a lot of other stuff out there, but it makes up for it by its charm and simplicity. This is the first self-published book that I would totally recommend to other fantasy fans, especially those who enjoy a good thief tale. Check it out and support these two authors, they have something good here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Art of Eclipse: The Well and the Black Sea

There is a really cool Kickstarter going on right now and I just wanted to give everyone a heads up who hasn't heard of it yet. Two of my favorite artists Justin Sweet and Vance Kovacs are collaborating and making their very own art book. Follow this link to find out more!

Click here for the Kickstarter Link!!!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mage's Blood by David Hair

Mage’s Blood by David Hair propelled itself to the top of my TBR pile after hearing several promising reviews from some of my most trusted fantasy bloggers. The story was described as a bloody crusade between two sides set in a dark medieval world with heavy hints of Arabic culture, and even a comparison to R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing saga was made. “Crusade, dark, bloody, medieval, clash of nations” okay fine, here’s my money. Sounded like it was right up my alley and for the most part I enjoyed the first book in the Moontide Quartet, but unfortunately these dark themes demand mature characters, and the worst thing about Mage’s Blood is the undeniable young adult vibe found within.

Many other people have complained about a slow start and while I can see where they are coming from, the first few hundred pages were the best for me. The book lacks a character glossary, (something that I think is going to be essential for book 2) so I had to resort to the old school method of writing down the character names and what their role in the story was. I think I had over 40 characters within the first hundred pages. This isn’t a book that can lie around for a few weeks and then be picked back up again; you might find yourself a bit lost.

The West clash with the East after a magical bridge is constructed that connects two separate continents of Yuros (west) and Antiopia (east). This magical bridge is known as the “Moontide Bridge” and it only surfaces once every twelve years. Two crusades have already happened in the past and the third is about to take place. The nation of Yuros has been plagued with civil war but is still considered the stronger of the two nations due to the fact that they caused significant damage during the previous campaigns.

On the western side of the world (Yuros) we get multiple POV characters and also get an inside view into the political decisions that surround the upcoming crusade. Alaron Mercer is studying to become a Mage and we get to see his final months of study at the famed Mage’s school. After stumbling across an old man who has lost his memory, Alaron and his two friends attempt to unravel the man’s mysterious past, only to find that they have set in motion events that cannot be stopped. Also on the western front we get to meet Gurvon Gyle a Magister of great power. His POV chapters were some of the best but unfortunately his chapters get the least amount of screen time.

Over on the eastern side of the world we get a slew of characters and this is where David Hair excelled in his world building. Combining elements of Indian, Arabic, and even a bit of Chinese culture we get a glimpse into a very rich world. Camels, vast desserts, traveling caravans, and mysterious assassins are aplenty here. If you enjoy a touch of exotic flair in your fantasy then there is a lot to appreciate here.

The first character we get to meet in Antiopia is Elena Anborn, a female mage. Oftentimes the argument of gender tends to come up within the fantasy literature community, and David Hair gives us a great female lead in Elena Anborn. Other than a stereotypical love triangle situation, her story was very refreshing and I feel confident in saying that she has been the best female POV character I’ve read since Arya from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Ramita Ankesharan is a lowborn citizen from the southern desserts of Antiopa. She is destined to marry a young man named Kazim Makani, who lives in the same village as her. Ramita is set to marry Kazim and live happily ever after until one day a mysterious Mage comes to claim her as a wife. The Mage entices Ramita’s father with riches beyond his imagination. Ramita’s father decides to break off the marriage between his daughter and Kazim, much to Kazim’s dismay. The storyline here is Kazim trying to get Ramita back, and Ramita eventually falling in love with her mysterious husband.

This being David Hair’s first foray into “adult fantasy” he succeeds on multiple levels, but unfortunately the majority of characters are young adults and with that comes whiney teenage angst. Alaron’s storyline turns into a Hardy Boys novel, and Ramita and Kazim’s storyline is something stolen from an ABC family teen sitcom. Another issue I had was the unnecessary changes to modern words for no apparent reason other than this being a fantasy novel. Fucking becomes rukking, Satan becomes shaitan, etc. The magic system here is cool at times, but ultimately disappointing due to the fact that the mages have limitless power. A good magic system needs to be grounded in rules, and these mage’s seem to have no limitations.

I went into this novel thinking it could be the next great “Grimdark” fantasy series, but instead it falls short but it does fit nicely into most epic fantasy. Fans of Brandon Sanderson, and Peter V. Brett should find A LOT to love about this book, but if you’re looking for the next Steven Erikson or R. Scott Bakker keep looking, and let me know when you find it! The novel stands at about 686 pages. (US hardcover edition)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

King of Thorns

I know that a lot of fans are going to think I’m batshit crazy for not enjoying King of Thorns, especially considering the fact that I love the whole “grimdark” scene. This is the subgenre that I’ve grown up with, and I adore it and I hope that it never goes away. I’ve braced myself for the hate coming my way, so come on fanboys/girls hit me with your best shot! 

The strange thing about this series is the marketing behind it. Everything about it really screams “Game of Thrones/Medieval Fantasy” at least it did to me. Having finished King of Thorns I can’t help but look back and feel slightly deceived. Now sure it has swords, castles, adventure, hooded bad asses, and all of the other things you might expect in a fantasy novel, but it also takes place in a “post apocalyptic” setting, which isn’t ever mentioned in any synopsis. I can appreciate what Mark was trying to do here, take fantasy into a territory that some of us might not have encountered before. I’m aware that Mark isn’t the first author to feature modern technology in a quasi-medieval fantasy setting, but this was one of the first books within the genre where I’ve encountered this theme, and I gotta say… I couldn’t stand it… 

Jorg wearing a wristwatch, wielding a colt pistol, “ancient secrets” given to him by a computer program, references to DNA, (cleverly called ‘dena’, this being a fantasy book and all) and the icing on the cake… A scene in which a bard is playing a song on a harp called “Merican Pie”. With book 1 I tried to ignore these references but this second time around I just wanted to scream, especially at that damn “Merican Pie” part. Dialogue bounces from a wonderfully written medieval style to quotes like, “The world eats good men for breakfast” which made me want to roll my eyes. Once again there are scenes where Jorg is just plain cheesy, there’s no other word for it. It gets so bad that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Jorg flick a cigarette into a trail of gasoline and then walk away in slow motion as it explodes behind him, which might just happen in book 3 for all I know. I have no intention of reading book 3, perhaps I’m resistant to change but I’m not digging this genre blend. Gandalf had a staff, not a shotgun! IS NOTHING SACRED?!?!!?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Escapement

This whole novel felt like a really bad M. Night Shyamalan movie. You remember the movie The Village that came out a few years ago, where the twist ending revealed that the creatures threatening the villagers were really just people dressed up in costumes? (Sorry to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it sucked anyway) You either loved that ending or like me, you felt betrayed by sneaky ol’ Shyamalan for tricking you. Well that’s kind of how this novel was for me. The whole time I was thinking the ending was going to make up for all of the slow buildup, (remember books 1 and 2 are 600+ pages) but man was I wrong. I hate to report that book 3 of the Engineer Trilogy was just as disappointing as book 2. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to close a book. Some people might enjoy this one, especially those who have any interest in detailed accounts of siege warfare, or the anatomy behind medieval weaponry. If those two things don’t really tickle your fancy, then I’d suggest you avoid this trilogy entirely.

What bothered me about this concluding novel was the promise that something major was going to happen. In books 1 and 2 we saw great conclusions that were shrouded in mystery and these cliffhangers led me to believe that all of my questions would be answered in book 3. When the novel comes to a close you can’t help but feel disappointed, even cheated. Several characters that played such crucial roles in books 1 and 2 come across as unimportant and their story arcs seem to just flat line. Now I wasn’t asking for a huge shocker of an ending where the bad guy reveals himself to be the main characters father, but to see everyone essentially just “go home” felt like a huge middle finger from Parker.

As I said in my review for Evil for Evil, Parker excels with standalone novels, so if you’re interested in giving K.J. Parker a shot, then try The Company or The Folding Knife, but steer clear of this one. (Sincere Apologies to any M. Night Shyamalan fans)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Evil for Evil

Oh K.J. Parker… No other author has frustrated me so much! Book 2 of the Engineer Trilogy by K.J. Parker picks up right after the events in Book 1. After the revelations seen in Devices and Desires I was eager to see what else was in store for the characters. Unfortunately the second novel in this trilogy is a perfect example of the dreaded “middle book syndrome”. Sadly this seems to happen all too often in fantasy literature. The trilogy formula is almost expected in many ways and while I have absolutely no problem with lengthy series, this second entry felt completely pointless. Now sure there was some character development, and some of the motives that were once unclear are slowly revealed by the end, but for all intents and purposes this book just really didn’t feel necessary.

I won’t go into the plot because unless you’ve read book 1 you would be completely lost. If you made it through all of Devices and Desires, then I suppose you might be interested enough to continue with book 2, but know that a lot of the action doesn’t really happen until the last 150-200 pages. Also, the climax in book 1 was a lot more rewarding than the conclusion we see in book 2, my opinion of course.

I’ve begun to notice a trend with K.J. Parker’s trilogies in that the middle book is almost always the weakest entry. The Scavenger Trilogy had one of my all time favorite endings and is responsible for my appreciation of Parker as an author. The second book was the worst of all three, and the same can be said for The Fencer Trilogy and it looks as if this trend might continue with The Engineer Trilogy. Oddly enough, Parker hasn’t written a trilogy since this one and now writes stand-alone novels, which I think is where Parker’s strengths lay.

This was one hell of a slog and the 680 something pages felt like a serious chore. Seriously at one point, Parker dedicates a good two and a half pages describing someone attempting to thread a needle and stitch something. The ONLY reason I will be continuing is in hopes that Parker will once again pull out an EPIC conclusion as he/she did in The Scavenger Trilogy. If there is one thing I’ve learned while reading K.J. Parker, it’s that you need to be patient. I know it sounds like I’ve done nothing but trash this book, but there is also some sort of curiosity that pulls you along and makes you want to continue. You get the feeling that Parker is keeping a secret from you and you are really curious as to what that secret is. I know something shocking is going to happen at the end of book 3, and for all I know I might look back on book 2 and see how it was necessary for the conclusion of the story. This is probably the least accessible entry written by Parker, and sadly I just can’t recommend it unless you’re a huge fan of the writer. Book 3 next!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Devices and Desires

Imagine for a second that the current A-list writers in fantasy literature are in high school. Joe Abercrombie would be the jock, Patrick Rothfuss would be the theater kid, Scott Lynch would be the sketchy guy who might steal your girlfriend, Steven Erickson and R. Scott Bakker would be the hipsters with black glasses, and K.J. Parker would be the smart one who is college bound and belongs to the fencing team. This is the way you need to approach K.J. Parker!

Let me say that I’m a fan of K.J. Parker, not a diehard fan by any means, but I’ve read most of the author’s work and I even have a signed limited edition of Purple and Black. Since I’m familiar with Parker’s style I knew what I was going into when I first cracked open this 635 page book. Parker writes in a very academic style, at times it can feel as if you’re reading something official, similar to a textbook. This “academic” style is both a blessing and a curse. This attention to detail really gives the story an authentic feel to it, but at times it can feel ponderous and downright boring. This book was by no means one of the biggest books I’ve ever read, but at times I felt as though it would never end. I’ll try to give a detailed synopsis of what the story is about below.

Ziani Vaatzes is an engineer living in a country known as Mezentia which is a Republic that sets strict guidelines for their citizens. Mezentia is a very technologically advanced society; they have advanced weaponry that sets them apart from their neighboring countries. Their engineers must adhere to strict guild guidelines when it comes to building of any kind. To alter this technology is not only considered taboo, but can result in exile or even death. Ziani Vaatzes finds himself sentenced to death for breaking this rule and altering a piece of machinery. After escaping, Ziani makes his way to Civitas Eremia which is a country far behind the technological curve of Mezentia. Seeing an opportunity to take revenge on his prior country, Ziani decides to share his engineering secrets. This is the overall plot in a nutshell, but we also get to see the perspective of the Mezentia nation through several other characters. This allows us to see the motivation of both countries.

The story takes place in a fictitious world, with unique fantasy based names but other than that there is no fantasy to be found whatsoever. Fans of magic, otherworldly creatures and heroes of epic proportions will be disappointed in this book. All things considered it really feels like historical fiction than fantasy, so keep that in mind if you’re considering giving this one a shot. The story centers on several main characters, but also has multiple sections reserved for obscure minor characters. This was refreshing because we have the key plot characters moving the plot along, but you get breaks in between to see what’s going on behind the scenes of the main storyline. World building isn’t one of Parkers strengths, its characterization that really sets Parker apart.

There is little action throughout the story, but when it comes it comes swift and brutal. The last 200 pages really have a nice flow and slowly we start to see things fall into place. Initially Ziani’s motivation seemed clear, but after several revelations it becomes unclear as to what side Ziani is on. Much like the machinery throughout the book, we see gears fall into place and once the machine begins to run then we see how everything falls perfectly into place. The whole novel works its way up to a crescendo and once the final pages turn it left me hooked and eager to know what happens next.

Although I personally enjoyed the book, I know for a fact that a lot of people would hate it! There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of traditional fantasy fans will find this book tedious and extremely slow, but if you hold on and stick it out, the reward is great. Derealization seems to be a constant theme throughout the novel, many characters seem to step out of their body and observe the situation through an analytical point of view. This results in many characters feeling stiff and almost inhuman.

All in all I can’t say that this was my favorite book by Parker, but considering this was book 1 of a trilogy I can say that I’m defiantly intrigued enough to keep going. Fans of medieval weaponry and political intrigue will find a lot to appreciate, but fans looking for an action packed story will be disappointed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pirate Latitudes

I finished this book in two sittings and I have to say that it was the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time! This was also the first novel I've ever read by Michael Crichton, and I can see why so many of his books have been adapted to film. This book reads like an action film and I mean that as a compliment. No scene is wasted and the plot moves along at a very fast pace. Most of the story is centered on Captain Charles Hunter who is a privateer working in Port Royal in 1665. A number of sidekicks join his crew and they were all awesome in their own way. After hearing about a Spanish ship full of treasure docked on a notoriously dangerous island known as “Matanceros” Captain Hunter sets sail determined to ride the Spanish of their gold. 

From the second the ship sets sail the action doesn't stop until the last page. Seriously I think Crichton fit everything into this book except for mermaids. Dangerous cannibals, hurricanes, a phenomenal chase scene on the high seas, an island raid, a daring prison escape, and even an appearance from a Kraken. If you have a fondness for pirates, sailors, and nautical mischief then you will absolutely adore this book. As I said I finished the book in two sessions but it can easily be knocked out in a day. It was surprisingly violent at parts, but this book is about pirate debauchery so that should come as no surprise. A perfect book to take with you on a lengthy flight, Pirate Latitudes was an awesome read!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Tyrant's Law

Picking up right where “The King’s Blood” left off, The Tyrant’s Law continues the tale of Cithrin, Marcus Wester, Kit, Geder and Clara. This was by far the weakest entry in The Dagger and the Coin series, and I was a little shocked due to the fact that I enjoyed the first two books so much. 

Geder steals the show for the third consecutive time with this entry and there is no doubt that he is destined to become the villain of the series. His chapters were my favorite throughout the book and Abraham does a great job with his progression from clumsy ruler to paranoid tyrant. Unfortunately Cithrin, Marcus, and Clara were a little less enjoyable this go around. In the previous entries Cithrin was similar to Arya from George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. She has gone from the likeable tomboy to a person of political power and I thought this transition made her chapters feel sluggish. 

Marcus has been a favorite POV next to Geder, but his arc in The Tyrant’s Law felt confused and unnecessary. The story starts to have a bit of a “Dungeons & Dragons” feel to it when Marcus journeys with Master Kit to “fetch a magical sword that can defeat the Spider Goddess”. I was excited to read about this journey as it was set up in book two, but after having seen its completion I can’t help but feel disappointed. 

The impression I had reading the first two books of this series were that Daniel Abraham’s writing felt confident. You could tell that the plot had been carefully laid out and nothing felt out of place or unnecessary. The Tyrant’s Law feels like a transition book and not a whole lot of plot progression happens, and that’s why it feels out of place compared to the first two. Truthfully it was a bit of a chore to read at times and I didn’t have the same sense of suspense and worry I had in the previous entries. Thankfully there is a really good cliffhanger at the end of the novel that convinced me to not completely abandon the series. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Abraham needs to introduce another character, someone to spice things up a bit. I’ll check out book 4 when it comes out, but I defiantly won’t be pre-ordering it.