Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: "Priest," by Matthew Colville

The second book in my journey through the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off finalists was enjoyable, but not quite as compelling as my first read.
In “Priest,” Matthew Colville introduces us to Heden, a sort of warrior priest.

Heden is sent by the bishop of his church to investigate a murder among a reclusive order of knights. The knights should be protecting a nearby city that is threatened by an army of urqs (read orcs), but they’re frozen and guilt-ridden by the death of their captain. Heden must try to unravel what happened and get the order back on track to have any chance to save the people.

“Priest” moves along at a very fast pace. In the early going, though, you can almost hear the dice tumbling in the background. I kind of cringed every time Colville used the word “campaigner” because it gave me more of the D&D feel. I’m a former gamer, but I really don’t like my books to feel like the storyline of a campaign.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Review: "The Sword of Shannara" by Terry Brooks

I’m sure most of us have “those books” – the ones that friends and people whose opinions we usually agree with love, but we just can’t get into. One of those for me has always been Terry Brooks’ “The Sword of Shannara” ($7.99, Del Rey).

I first heard other fantasy fans raving about it when I was a teenager, and I picked up the whole original trilogy at a local used bookstore. It’s been 25 years or so, and I’ve never finished the first book or even cracked the ones that came after.

I’ve tried. At least four or five times over the years, I’ve started the book, but I’ve never gotten very far. It just didn’t pull me in.

With the new Shannara series set to air on TV, I thought I’d give it one last try. I’d either finally finish the book or just give up on it completely. Well, I finished it, with very mixed feelings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: "What Remains of Heroes" by David Benem

Though I wasn’t chosen as one of the blogs for Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, I committed on my own to at least give all 10 finalists a chance, hoping that one of them would blow me away.

My plan is to read the samples available on Amazon for each book. If by the end of that sample, the book has grabbed me, I’ll buy it and keep reading. If not, I’ll pass on it.

Since it was one of the highest rated so far, I opted to start with David Benem’s “What Remains of Heroes,” and it was an excellent choice to begin the journey. Not only did the sample grab me, but I bought the book and mowed through the first third in the same sitting.

Benem gives us three primary characters, all of whom are about to have their lives drastically changed in a world teetering on the brink of a potentially catastrophic war with evil sorcerers known as the Necrists.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: "Owl and the City of Angels" by Kristi Charish

It was the odd title of Kristi Charish’s “Owl and the Japanese Circus” that first caught my attention last year when I was browsing for new reads. I picked it up and found a quite enjoyable adventure tale with shades of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider.

The second volume in the series, “Owl and the City of Angels” ($18, Simon & Schuster) due out Oct. 5, is, if anything, more fun.

We start with antiquities thief Owl in Egypt, working on an assignment for her dragon boss, Mr. Kurosawa. Well, sort of. The dragon gave her a choice of artifacts to retrieve for him, but Owl decided she could get both, and make a personal stop along the way, too. Not a good idea.

Things go south when riots break out and the International Archeological Association (IAA) deploys an army of agents to try to capture Owl, ironically, for thefts that she didn’t commit.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Review: "The Liar's Key" by Mark Lawrence

The opening volume of Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen’s War trilogy, “Prince of Fools,” didn’t grab my attention immediately in the way that his debut, “Prince of Thorns” did. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t as engrossed as I had been in his first three books.

Lawrence quashes my doubts about this story, though, in the second volume, “The Liar’s Key” ($26.95, Ace).

Following his reluctant adventures in “Prince of Fools,” Prince Jalan Kendeth has found something of a home among the Norsemen in Trond. He’s running an inn … sort of … and in general being the same ne’er-do-well layabout that he’s always been. A tryst with the local Jarl’s daughter changes that, though, as Jalan is chased out of town and ends up in the last place he wants to be – on a boat again.

He flees with the same man he arrived with, Snorri ver Snagason, who now owns an artifact known as Loki’s Key, which gives him the ability to unlock any door. But it’s not just any door that Snorri wants to unlock. It’s the door to death itself, which he thinks will allow him to bring his family, murdered by the Hardassa, back into the world.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: "Monster Hunter International" by Larry Correia

I’ve got a friend who has been trying to get me to pick up Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunter International” ($7.99, Baen) for a while now. Looking at the description, it didn’t seem like the kind of thing I’d like. Boy, was I wrong.

Correia had me from the fantastic first line of the book: “On an otherwise ordinary Tuesday evening, I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth story window.”

As it turns out, the incompetent jackass in question was a werewolf, and his encounter with the beast earns Owen Pitt, Correia’s main character, an interesting offer.

Owen is a big guy with a penchant for violence. Unable to live up to his war hero father, Owen took up illegal pit fighting to make ends meet until an incident in the ring caused him to do some soul-searching. In response, he took the most boring and plain job that he could think of – accounting. He didn’t count on a werewolf boss, though.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review: "Fool's Quest" by Robin Hobb

In her second installment of The Fitz and the Fool, “Fool’s Quest” ($28, Del Rey), Robin Hobb surprisingly keeps the same deliberate pace she set in the first volume.

Though at the end of “Fool’s Assassin,” the action seemed poised to ratchet up, Fitz spends much of the second volume dithering, second-guessing himself and hesitating. Despite that, though, the book still manages to be compelling.

We pick up where the first volume left off. Withywoods has been attacked while Fitz is away at Buckkeep tending the Fool, who he himself had seriously wounded at the end of the first volume. His daughter, Bee, has been taken, though Fitz is unaware of that as the book begins.

The Fool continues to try to push Fitz toward his mission of vengeance and destruction against those who tortured and broke him, while at the same time, family and friends are trying to push Fitz toward taking a more public role in court. Revelations are made, Fitz tortures himself as he’s wont to do, and Bee’s fate, and perhaps the fate of much more, stands in the balance.