Thursday, 27 July 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Ravens Mark 1: Blackwing - Ed McDonald

Release Date: 27/07/17
Publisher:  Gollancz


The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall's 'Engine', a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic's bluff.

Blackwing is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.


As an avid fantasy reader, I can't wait to grab a new authors work and see where it takes me whether its a world of extraordinary other humanoids, top notch magic hurling or just plain heroism and there are times when all of them blend together to make something truly spectacular.

Here in this book by Ed, the reader is treated to a principle character who is brusk, cynical against life and of course also drawn by duty to help defend the last bastion of his people. Its well written, has some cracking prose and all round delivered a story that also brought into it elements of danger, political double dealing alongside a desperate stand against those who would see them defeated.

Its real edge of the seat stuff and when added to the possibility of future outings the reader is surely in for one hell of a ride. A cracking debut.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Oswald De Lacy 3: City of Masks - SD Sykes

Release Date: 13/06/17
Publisher:  Hodder


1358. Oswald de Lacy, Lord Somershill, is in Venice, awaiting a pilgrim galley to the Holy Land. While the city is under siege from the Hungarians, Oswald lodges with an English merchant, and soon comes under the dangerous spell of the decadent and dazzling island state that sits on the hinge of Europe, where East meets West.

Oswald is trying to flee the chilling shadow of something in his past, but when he finds a dead man on the night of the carnival, he is dragged into a murder investigation that takes him deep into the intrigues of this mysterious, paranoid city.

Coming up against the feared Signori di Notte, the secret police, Oswald learns that he is not the only one with something to hide. Everybody is watching somebody else, and nobody in Venice is what he or she seems. The masks are not just for the carnival.


The new Oswald de Lacy novel takes the reader to the city of masks, Venice, as out hero takes a break from England on a journey to the Holy Land, only to find himself embroiled in a murder in the fabulous floating city.

As with the other books, the story unwinds at a pace that is a pure joy to behold, its organic and doesn't feel rushed in any way. Our hero is well scripted and whilst plagued with his "mother" for the journey, we get to see a more mature character who has undergone a series of trials due to his history.

As with the other books in the series the prose is solid, the dialogue more than satisfactory but for me its the characters and the way that they change as well as develop that really has me glued. All round another solid release and one that was definteily a lot of fun to read through.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

EPIC FANTASY REVIEW: Gods of Blood and Powder 1: Sins of Empire - Brian McClellan

Release Date: 09/03/17
Publisher: Orbit


Enter a war-torn world where gunpowder and magic collide

The nation of Fatrasta is a haven for criminals, rebels, adventurers and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. As insurrection grows, only the iron will of the Lady Chancellor holds the capital city of Landfall together.

Yet an ancient power as old as time is rising, and the fate of this young nation now rests in the hands of a spy, a disgraced war hero and a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall's present.

Sins of Empire is the bold new epic fantasy from Gemmell Award-winning author Brian McClellan.


A brand new series for Brian as we return to his inventive world with this epic opener. As expected from the author, the writing is high octane blood and fire, accompanied with top notch prose as well as characters that seek to not only survive but help shape the future by their actions.

Its got a cracking premise, has a wonderful overall arc and when added to a writing style that really just burst out of left field is showing why this author is becoming a firm fan favourite due to his playing for keeps attitude. All round a top notch title and one that has left me demanding more. Magic.

Friday, 7 July 2017

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Vega Jane 3: The Width of the World - David Baldacci

Release Date: 09/03/17
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Childrens


David Baldacci is back with The Width of the World, the third book in the Vega Jane series which began with his instant #1 global bestseller and award-winning YA fantasy debut The Finisher.

This is it. Vega Jane's time. Lied to her whole life, she has broken away from Wormwood, the only home she's ever known, and headed off into the Quag in search of the truth. She battles horrors to fight her way through it, with her best friend, Delph, and her mysterious canine, Harry Two, alongside her. Against all odds, they survive - but arrive into a place that's even worse. Not because deadly beasts roam the streets, but because the people there are enslaved and don't even know it. It's up to Vega, Delph, Harry Two and their new comrade, Petra, to take up the fight against savage and cunning new foe - and their triumph or failure will determine the fate of the whole world.


This is the third book in the series and whilst its aimed at the younger reader market, I have to say for me, that this series is like Harry Potter, good storytelling for readers of all ages. It's got a great lead, top notch prose and brings all of David's strengths to the fore as he lets his imaginationn loose.

Add to this great prose and good pacing which when blended with a lead heroine that you can't wait to spend time with all round brings elements that make a title hard to put down. Really give this series a go and be the one to share it with your young reader, you'll be pleased you did.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

EPIC FANTASY REVIEW: The Sunsurge Quartet Book 1: Empress of the Fall - David Hair

Release Date: 09/03/17
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books


The Emperor is dead - long live the Empress!

Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power - but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war.

The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father's kingdom being plundered - but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire.

In the East, Sultan Salim, peacemaker and visionary ruler, faces his greatest challenge as his people demand an invasion of the West in retribution for the Rondian Crusades

And lurking in the darkness, orchestrating both the power struggles and the inevitable conflicts, is a shadowy group threatening to destroy civilisation itself.

Once more, Urte stands on the brink of cataclysm.


Having read David's Moontide Quartet I was pretty excited to return to hs world for the beginning of a new series. As you expect it is filled with a lot of the same things that made his previous series so enjoyable, great characters, solid prose and of course a huge plot leaving you wondering if its going to be possible to fit it all in.

Add to this huge epic combat sequences alongside a lot of political double-dealing maneuvering and all round its a book that really does give. All round its a cracking start and whilst a number of people may think that the book takes its time to get going, please remember that when you're dealing with epic fantasy a lot of the first title is set up to get all the details out of the way so subsequent offerings deal purely with the situation that the cast find themselves in. Always read the second part prior to deciding if the series is not for you and if you wait long enough you could well get it at bargain prices. Magic.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Pathfinder Tales: Gears of Faith - Garbielle Harbowy

Release Date: 04/07/17
Publisher:  Tor US


Keren is a sworn knight of lomedae, proper and disciplined in every way. Her girlfriend, Zae, is the opposite - a curious gnome cleric of the clockwork god, who loves nothing more than the chaos of her makeshift hospitals. When a powerful evil artifact is stolen from a crusader stronghold, both knight and gnome are secretly sent to the great city of Absalom to track down the stolen bloodstone. Sure, they may not be the most powerful or experienced members of their organizations, but that's the whole point - with legendary champions and undead graveknights battling at every turn in their race to recover the stone, who'll notice one young knight and her gnome? All they have to do is stay alive long enough to outsmart a thief capable of evading both gods and heroes.


I love books that take me on a journey so I was more than happy to delve back into the Pathfinder series with this the latest offering. Here in this book the reader is presented with two principle characters who clearly love and have an establshed relationship with each other. They're well thought out, work well and each adds their own individual spiritual as well as personality strengths into the story. They're likeable, well worth spending time with and all round helped give the reader people to care about.

However that said, there are other problems with the story. Firstly I though the pacing was a little bit off, its lulls didn't really do much and as to the higher octane action sequences they never really got out of second gear. Add to this some poor choices with prose and when added to a tale that spends more time setting things up for quite short sequences all round left me feeling flat. A great shame.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

MYSTICISM REVIEW: Calling Us Home - Chris Luttichau

Release Date: 09/03/17
Publisher: Head of Zeus


From one of our most respected shamanic teachers, a blueprint for happiness which interweaves practical teachings, history, anecdote and ancestral wisdom. Alongside consciousness, meditation and mindfulness, shamanism, with its vision of the interconnectedness of all life, is undergoing an unprecedented revival in the western world. With personal stories from the author's 35-year study of shamanism and the earth-wisdom teachings, and clear, practical tools, this book offers a path leading to the transformation of ourselves, of our reality and consequently the course of our lives. It is a life-changing message from the heart of shamanism.

Chris Luttichau shares his teachings on shamanism and earth-based spirituality in workshops and ongoing training groups through the Northern Drum Shamanic Training Centre. He also leads wilderness expeditions.


In a world where we seek to believe in what we can see and feel, there are times when it feels that you want to connect back to older days, when we connected more to the earth through mysticism.

This book by one of the leading names in the field helps bring it to the modern reader so that the information is not only there but accessible in a way that makes sense. It allows you to delve more into yourself and discover your inner peace as well as aiding you relax through escapism of the modern world.

All round its well written, easy to follow and if you're open it gives you that chance to find a way to "speak" to those who have gone before. Definitely an interesting read.