Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: "The Death of Dulgath," by Michael J. Sullivan

It’s been too long since I traveled with Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, so it was good to see them again in Michael J. Sullivan’s “The Death of Dulgath” ($14.95, Riyria Enterprises).

Riyria has drawn one of its strangest assignments yet. After three failed assassination attempts, Royce and Hadrian have been hired to protect the Lady Dulgath, who rules over a strange and prosperous land where it never rains during the day and crops never fail.

Well, not protect, exactly. Royce has been hired to find the best way to assassinate her so that the local officials can prevent it.

The Lady Dulgath, though, turns out to be quite a bit more than Royce and Hadrian expect. She seems to have knowledge beyond her years, and she’s also seemingly unconcerned about the attempts on her life.

Add to that the fact that Royce and Hadrian don’t exactly endear themselves to the local public upon their arrival, and you have a very uncomfortable situation for our favorite thieves.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Celebrating 20 years: The top 10 posts and SPFBO thanks

The year was 1997, and I had just logged on to the internet. After a few months of cruising around and checking things out, I came up with some big plans. I'd always wanted to be an entertainment writer and own a bookstore, and the internet put those possibilities in front of me.

On the World Wide Web, I could reach an audience that would appreciate my reviews of heavy metal music and fantasy books like the readers of the newspaper that I was writing for at the time never would. Associates programs gave me the opportunity to have a book and music store without a lot of the hassle of actually running a book and music store. It was the perfect storm, so I thought.

That led to the launch of two sites on the old members.aol.com servers, The Hall of the Mountain King (viewable via the Internet Archive), which served as landing page and music site, and The Bookwyrm (also viewable via the Internet Archive), which housed my book content. In my mind, these two sites would eventually become go-to hubs for content on fantasy fiction and heavy metal. As you can see, that didn't work out quite as I'd planned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: "They Mostly Come Out at Night" by Benedict Patrick

With “They Mostly Come Out at Night” ($3.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback), Benedict Patrick gives us something of a fairy tale that’s more than just a bit Grimm.

Lonan lives as an outcast, blamed for a long-ago incident that was not his fault. His village is terrorized by creatures known as the Wolves, who come in the night. As a result, every home has a basement with a sturdy door and every family is locked behind those doors when darkness falls. The night in question, Lonan shouted to try to warn people about the real culprit, but it was his shouts that were blamed for the violence that took the lives of several villagers, including his father, and severely scarred the love of his life.

He’s not only shunned because of that incident, but because he is Knackless, never having found his gift in life. Now an adult, Lonan is barely tolerated in the village, and only welcomed by a few – his younger sister, the healer Mother Ogma and her invalid house guest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: "Stone Cold Bastards" by Jake Bible

How could I pass up a book called “Stone Cold Bastards” ($15.95, Bell Bridge Books) with a hero that’s a cigar-chomping gargoyle, umm, I mean grotesque, charged with saving humanity from a demon invasion?

I couldn’t, of course. So that’s why the latest from Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Jake Bible leapfrogged to the top of my to-read list.

The situation is dire. The Gates of Hell have opened, and most of the humans in the world are husks, walking around possessed by the demons that escaped. Think “The Walking Dead,” only the zombies are far more malevolent.

Humanity’s last hope may lie in a small sanctuary that was transplanted to the Appalachian mountains years ago. Inside lives a ragtag group of gargoyles and grotesques who woke at the same time demons began spilling into the world. They were imbued by their creators, the Stonecutters, with one goal, protect the wards within their sanctuary from harm. So far, the Gs, as they call themselves to avoid confusion, have held strong, but Hell is coming.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: "Miranda and Caliban" by Jacqueline Carey

Jacqueline Carey fills in some of the gaps of Shakespeare with her latest novel, “Miranda and Caliban ($25.99, Tor), based, of course, on “The Tempest.”

Carey imagines what life might have been like on Prospero’s island during the years of his exile, before the events of Shakespeare’s famous play.

We find Prospero and Miranda living fairly happily, at least Miranda thinks, in an old castle on the island, their everyday needs tended by elementals that the magician has bent to his will. Then Caliban enters their lives.

Prospero suspects he is the son of the witch Sycorax, and holds the key to unlocking the spirit Ariel from the tree where he is imprisoned. He captures the wild boy for the information, but Miranda convinces her father to give her a chance to tame and civilize him rather than using magic to take the information by force. It is the beginning of a friendship that will change the way that we see Caliban.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Review: "Arm of the Sphinx" by Josiah Bancroft

It’s a rough life, but former school teacher Thomas Senlin is finding that piracy suits him somewhat in Josiah Bancroft’s “Arm of the Sphinx” ($14.99, self-published), the follow-up to “Senlin Ascends.”

Senlin, under the name of Capt. Tom Mudd, and his small crew navigate the skies around the Tower of Babel, finding ever more creative ways to rob his quarry and escape what passes for the long arm of the law in the Tower. Still, he searches for a way to find his lost wife, even as her ghost haunts his steps.

He’s learned that she’s in the Ringdom of Pelphia, a tightly-guarded aristocratic port where his ship, the Stone Cloud, was almost shot down the last time he tried to dock. To make matters worse, his crew is running out of places where they’re welcome, and Tom is running out of ideas.

Desperation leads them to the top of the Tower, to a being that many think is a myth – the Sphinx. Edith, now known as Mister Winters aboard the Stone Cloud, knows well that he exists. He created the fantastic mechanical arm that replaced her lost one. She also knows well what making a deal with the creature costs, but Senlin and his crew may have no other choice.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: "The Bone Witch" by Rin Chupeco

Rin Chupeco delivers a promising beginning to an interesting story in “The Bone Witch” ($17.99, Sourcebooks Fire).

Tea’s world is shattered when her brother, Fox, dies fighting a daeva, dark magical creatures that plague the land. She is so distraught at her brother’s funeral that she does something quite remarkable – and dangerous. In her grief, her hidden magic manifests, and she raises her brother from the dead.

That’s how she learned that she was Dark Asha, a necromancer, known and reviled by most of the public as a bone witch. Luckily, an experienced necromancer is nearby when she performs the feat, and rushes in to whisk her away from danger – at least of one sort.

Tea soon finds herself among the world of the asha, a geisha-like society of female magic users. But even among her own, her dark power makes her something of an outcast. It also may allow her to change the world.