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Blood & Sawdust by Jason Ridler

Tough and smart at thirteen-years-old, Malcolm knew the illegal fight game like a pro, making bets and staying alive one day at a time. But nothing prepared him for Milkwood: a fat, ugly bastard who could take a beating like a government mule, but never, ever won. So when Malcolm risks his life to discover Milkwood’s secret, he convinces the fighter to stop being a punching bag and to go for broke in the local tournament. Only problem? A beautiful woman called Lash who needs Milkwood for her own purposes, and a fouler creature on her heels known only as Dizzy Colt. But for Malcolm and Milkwood? Hell, it’s just another day of Blood and Sawdust.
Blood & Sawdust is an original take on the tried and tested vampire fiction. We’re not dealing with forbidden love between humans and vampires here or a lone hunter dealing with a vampire coven but instead it’s a coming of age story about two young men overcoming the trauma of their troubled pasts.

The story focuses on Malcom, a streetwise kid and Milkwood, a fat, ugly underground fighter who is beaten to a pulp every night. After Milkwood saves Malcom’s life from vicious assailants, Malcom learns that that there are in fact more to Milkwood than everyone realise. From this point on Malcom makes it his mission to turn Milkwood around and make him the sort of fighter Malcom knows Milkwood can be. However before Milkwood can become the champion in Malcom’s eyes, Lash, a mysterious lady from Milkwood’s past shows up with a monster in her wake.

What makes this story shine is the friendship between Malcom and Milkwood. Malcom helps Milkwood discover what was missing in his life and Milkwood gives Malcom the strength to face his nightmares. The two of them push each either onwards no matter how dire the circumstances are.
With this novel, Ridler has created two endearing characters that will stay with you long after you’re finished with this story.

The inclusion of underground MMA fights give this story extra intensity and a sense of grittiness. The brutal and gory fight scenes are bound to make you wince as Milkwood takes one bloody beating after another and you will come to root for this underdog.

Ridler writes in an engrossing style that makes his characters on the pages come alive and the depiction of a less than perfect vampire is a refreshing change from the vampire fiction out there at the moment. A highly enjoyable read for anyone who is looking for a vampire novel with a different twist.

Blood of the Zombies by Ian Livingstone

Terrible things are happening in Goraya castle…

Insane megalomaniac Gingrich Yurr is preparing to unleash an army of monstrous zombies upon the world. He must be stopped and his undead horde defeated. In this life-or-death adventure the decisions YOU make will decide the fate of the world. Can YOU survive or will YOU become a zombie too?
I’ve been taking a break from writing book reviews. Before I get back into the swing of things, I’ll post a brief review of one of my favourite type of books, the “Choose your own adventures”. For those who don’t know, one of the most popular series of choose your own adventures is Fighting Fantasy by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the same people who are responsible for Games Workshop and Tomb Raider. Blood of the Zombies was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary since the publication of the first Fighting Fantasy novel, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

In Blood of the Zombies, you’ve been kidnapped and sold to a megalomaniac who wants to build an army of zombies to exact revenge of those who mocked him. Now you must find a way to escape from the castle before you too are turned into one of the undeads. The story itself is nothing special, I’ve read better Fighting Fantasy stories to be honest but it has a certain old school charm about it.

I read/played through this on the Android app. What I like about the app is that you can pick a difficulty level to reflect how you might play (cheat) in the real life counterpart. On the easy setting, you have the ability to heal yourself whenever you want, go back to the previous decision and unlock any option even if you do not possess the required item and on the hard setting, you must survive the whole adventure on limited health. Luckily you’re given unlimited bookmarks so you can go back should your decision turn out to be unfavourable or a fight didn’t turn out as you hoped.

The difficulty of the book is tougher than I thought. I started off with the medium setting and kept dying to hordes of zombies so I resorted to the easy setting and cheated my way through. Even though I’ve completed it once on the easy setting, I think it will take a miracle to replicate the same success on the hard setting.

I wish there’s an option to switch weapons so I don’t have to waste my shotgun shells on one or two zombies but luckily in my playthroughs so far there’s been just enough ammo.

This was a great nostalgia trip and it was fun to play through the story despite how difficult it can be. For sure, it will take me a while to complete all of the achievements in the app. PS: before finishing this article, I wanna say thanks to Sarah, a mom & pet blogger, who gave me this book. Let’s visit the latest article on her blog – reviews on best outdoor cat house & shelter!

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.
The Rook is yet another ambitious urban fantasy set in the sunny shores of Britain. It has secret government organisations, conspiracies, surprising twists and quirky characters that by all accounts should have been something that I would have loved. However the thing that bothered me most is the tongue-in-cheek attitude that the author employs in most situations. It would have been brilliant if used sparingly but right now it feels like the author is just showing off how clever he is. I mean if you are a high ranking official in a secret US government agency, would you really act like as if you’re a character in Legally Blonde or Clueless? The answer is no, it just doesn’t fit.

If you overlook that fault, the book is actually pretty fun. The concept of the story and the strength of its characters are both top notch. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Myfanwy Thomas and the gradual revelation of this secret world with its secret government agencies really gets you hooked on the story. It was a delight to read about the inner workings of the Checquy, the department responsible for overseeing the supernatural events both within Britain and abroad.

At first the letters from Myfanwy’s previous self, felt a bit like the story was told by the voice of god. Whenever the current Myfanwy encounters a conundrum, she would open a letter and, lo and behold, the previous Myfanwy would have written a letter detailing the steps she should take. I would have preferred more showing and less telling but this kind of storytelling grew on me as the story progressed. Many of these self-addressed letters are chock-full of background information that doesn’t move the story forward but I enjoyed reading them nonetheless.

Although Myfanwy comes off a little ditzy at times, she does make a pretty convincing heroine. In fact, she reminds me a little of the early years of Buffy. When it’s time to get down to business there is no holding her back and the new Myfanwy will see it through to the very end.

Despite not enjoying the author’s humour as much, I can’t deny that this is an entertaining novel. A real page turner that shows off just how much skill and wild imagination that the author has. I will of course look forward to the sequel but I just hope that O’Malley can turn down the silliness a tad with the next book.

Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett

The war-torn far-future is laid bare as Brothers of the Snake follows the exploits of the Iron Snakes Space Marines as they battle against the enemies of mankind. First appearing in the pages of Inferno!, the Iron Snakes Space Marines quickly gathered a loyal following and now they make their debut in a full-blown adventure!

What better way to start The Year of Snake then a review of Dan Abnett’s Brothers of the Snake? The first thing you should know is that unlike other Space Marine novels, Brothers of the Snake is a collection of short stories following the Damocles squad of the Iron Snakes Chapter. The format is a little unusual and I had doubts at first but on the whole I thought it turned out pretty great. It’s essentially a series condensed into one book.

The thing I found fascinating is the culture and traditions of the Chapter and how much they have diverged from their progenitors. Since Iron Snakes is such a little known chapter, this book allows Abnett full rein on making this Chapter truly his own. Just like how different the Mortifators are from the Ultramarines, the Iron Snakes too have their quirks. The Chapter’s homeworld is covered by vast oceans and water from the planet is considered sacred. Before each mission, the marines would hold ceremonies to share and anoint themselves with the sacred water. Also instead of working as a company, each 10 men squad operate independently of each other. Usually a few squads are enough to take care of most situations and only in times of crisis will you find the might of the Chapter brought together.

I’ve always been fascinated by the selection and training processes of the Space Marines. I absolutely loved those parts in Mitchel Scanlon’s Descent of Angels and Ian Watson’s Space Marine. So I was thrilled to read about the “cheese run” that the initiates have to undertake and in order to become a full-fledged squad member, the initiates must first best the existing squad members in one-on-one duels.

Even though Priad was promoted to the rank of Sergeant a little too quickly, he did make a brilliant leader. His unwavering sense of honour and selflessness is very reminiscent of the Ultramarines. Despite suffering from heavy losses which resulted in frequent replacement of squad members, the squad never lost the bond between brothers. Abnett brilliantly conveyed the relationship and camaraderie between battle brothers. New members are welcomed into the squad and given plenty of opportunity to prove their worth.

I love the connection between the short stories; especially how the first and last story wrap things up to give a satisfying conclusion. With each story we learn just a little more about this lesser known Chapter.

This a brilliant one off Space Marine novel with epic action and timeless characters. The Iron Snakes definitely deserve more stories devoted to them.

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier—cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place—Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

Myke Cole’s Control Point was one of my favourite debuts last year. It had action, a sophisticated magic system and most importantly characters that you care about. Now with the sequel Fortress Frontier, Cole has done the impossible and produced an even better novel. Not only are we introduced to a new lead character Colonel Alan Bookbinder, which I’m sorry to say has overtaken my love for Oscar Britton, but Cole has also greatly expanded the world as well as enhanced the magic system.

The thing that annoyed me the most in Control Point was Oscar Britton’s indecisiveness. One moment he would root for the US government and next he would condemn them for their actions. For a soldier, he sure doesn’t like to follow orders. However with Bookbinder, you have a true war hero. Cole does a marvellous job painting Bookbinder as a reluctant leader, an unlikely hero that brings people together in times of need. Colonel Bookbinder has never seen any action as he’s been pushing paper his entire career and when the Colonel suddenly finds himself in charge, he does the only thing he can which was to fake it until he made it. In the end the base was saved because of Bookbinder’s decisive actions.

Oscar on the other hand is on the run with his group after wrecking the Forward Operating Base and cutting it off from the Home Plane. While Oscar’s transformation in this book is less spectacular than Colonel Bookbinder, his need to do the right thing and his sense of honour is still very admirable. Even though his character takes a backseat in this book, Oscar still lights up the scene whenever he appears on the page.

In Fortress Frontier we learn that Americans are not the only force to have a presence in the Source. The Sahir Corps, India’s counterpart to SOC has also established a base in the magical plane. Bookbinder’s suicidal trek across the Source to the Indian base allows Cole to reveal all sort of creatures that he has been hiding from us. When you get the book, remember to pay attention to the gorgeous map drawn by Priscilla Spencer.

A sequel that focuses on an entirely new character would put the fear in most authors. Will it confuse the fans? Will this new character hold its weight? With Fortress Frontier Cole proves that he has the skill and ability to pull it off. I’m sure anyone reading this book would come to love Bookbinder in the end.

Fortress Frontier is a superb follow up to the series and like its predecessor, full of non-stop action and entertainment. Based on these two outstanding books I have complete faith the Cole will continue to do a brilliant job in the next book Breach Zone.

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden’s faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. All par for the course for Chicago’s only professional wizard. But in all of Harry’s years of supernatural sleuthing, he’s never faced anything like this: the spirit world’s gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble-and not just of the door-slamming, ‘boo’–shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone–or something–is stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc. But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn’t figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself.

The previous two books in the Dresden File series were very episodic. Cases were started, monsters were met, but luckily Harry Dresden came to save the day and everyone went home happy. This monster of the week style does make for some fun reading but I desired more. Many people have said that the third book is the turning point in the series and things will begin to heat up. While this third book still uses the same formula, I’m glad that there are finally hints to a greater story arc.

The majority of Grave Peril deals with the ghosts that are terrorising Chicago. Someone or something is stirring up the spirits and is targeting Harry’s associates. At the same time, the vampires have invited Harry to a masquerade celebrating the elevation of Madame Bianca, who you might remember from Storm Front, to Margravine of the Red Court of vampires. Harry knows that something is up but he couldn’t have guessed the impact of this vampire ball will have on his life.

One of the things I enjoy in this book are the new characters. Michael Carpenter is a Knight of the Cross and battles monster with his giant sword Amoracchius. Like all the magic in Dresden Files, the more you believe in something, the more powerful the magic effect will be. Being a devout Christian, Michael’s faith naturally becomes his armour and when vampires touch him, they will automatically burst into flame. Michael complements Harry nicely and often guides Harry to do the right thing.

Another interesting character is Harry’s faerie godmother, Leanansidhe or Lea for short. Harry had made a pact with her when he was younger and now she has shown up to claim what he owes her. She makes Harry’s life miserable as soon as she comes on the page and I wonder how far she would go to make Harry honour his pact.

My only issue with the books I’ve read is that the world building still feels like your usual urban fantasy setting. The monsters are still rather bland and forgettable. So far, Butcher has done some great work on his leading characters but the villains require much more work. I guess the plot formula doesn’t allow much room to add depth to those characters.

Although this book still hasn’t won me over on the series yet, I appreciate the new direction that Butcher is heading to with this book. The series is definitely improving as it reveals more of the world with each book. The one thing I can say for sure is that it is fun to read these books and I can understand why there is such a huge demand for this series.

Week in Review

Books for 2013


Courtesy of Amazing Photography

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013? io9 has compiled an extensive list of essential reads here. If you’re still stuck for ideas, take a look at Abhinav Jain’s (aka Shadowhawk over at The Founding Fields) most anticipated novels here.

Triumph Over Tragedy


Triumph Over Tragedy is an anthology organized by R.T. Kaelin, author of Progeny and Sarah Chorn ofBookworm Blues for the victims affected by Hurricane Sandy. Around 40 of today’s top authors are involved in this project, so you can expect to find a diverse range of short stories in this anthology. All the proceeds go to Sandy relief so grab your copy today at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

Gender Bending
Teresa Frohock just completed a fascinating experiment on her website. A number of authors wrote a short piece each under a pseudonym and the readers have to correctly guess the gender of the author. Try it for yourself and see how many you can get right.

  1. Bearna by Jamie Sears
  2. The Ballad of Sophie Nu by Dirigible Elephant
  3. The Education of Rebecca Cavendish by Alice Leakey
  4. Untitled by Jackson Harris
  5. Untitled by S.A. Daniels
  6. Untitled by Kyle Schuler
  7. The Hated by A.K. Reid
  8. White Space by T.J. Breckenridge
  9. The Sea-Folk’s Price by Z. Riddle
  10. Meghan’s Bike by Marian Westwood

And finally the big reveal here.

All the D&D audio books you can ever want

Hundreds of D&D adventures are now available for the first time as audio books. Head over to Audible to catch up with your favourite Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms or Eberron series.

Do you like to re-read?
In this week’s Mind Meld, SF Signal asks a number of authors whether they like to re-read and what are some of the books or series that they re-read. Take a look at this interesting discussion at SF Signal

Evolution of Sci-Fi book covers
The Atlantic has an interesting article on the evolution of Sci-Fi book covers from cartoon to pop art and back again. Which style do you prefer more?

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
Rivers of London is Aaronovitch’s fun and humourous take on the urban fantasy genre. It’s got a little bit of everything in it, an unsolved murder; magic; alternate history; ghosts and gods. What this novel did well in is combining all these different elements to create an amusing and fresh look into London. However this very same decision means that the story tries to be a bit of everything and in the end none of it made a big impact on me.

Rivers of London follows probationary policeman PC Peter Grant who is working on the streets of London. By chance a ghost gives Peter insights into a mysterious murder and suddenly Peter finds himself assigned to the only wizard in the entire police force. Peter might not the brightest copper but his heart is in the right place. What he lacks in judgement and experience, he makes up for it with hard work. In one scene, Peter has to intervene between two feuding river gods and Aaronovitch uses Peter’s eagerness and awkwardness to great comedic effect. Peter’s voice in the book matches his character perfectly as it really captures the whole fish out of water concept when Peter finds himself thrust into this alternate London that not many people knows about.

While I did enjoy Peter as a character, what failed to impress me was the plot for the book. The first half is wonderful as we follow Peter around, discovering a whole new side of London that few people knew about. We learn that Newton is not only responsible for defining the laws of motion but also that of magic. Instead of building on top of this foundation, the second half focuses on the crime investigation aspect of the novel, which was so dry that I needed a re-read to remind myself how the crime was solved.

Although I wasn’t that impressed with the plot, I did find Peter’s narration charming and the interaction between Peter and Inspector Nightingale more than makes up for the disappointments. I think the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series is a bit like the Dresden Files in that it gets better as the series progresses and with each novel sucks you a little further into its world. Rivers of London remains a fun book to read and I’m interested to see how Peter will end up in the later books.

Reading Resolutions for 2013

According to Goodreads I read 102 books last year, of which around 90 of them are actual books and the rest are comics and audio books. So for 2013, I’m going to aim for a little more at 120 actual books which means I will need to read between 2 to 3 books per week. Pretty doable I think.

I’ve been buying plenty of books during the holiday sales and while my “to read” pile is growing ever larger, I hope this year would be a productive year and I’ll make some progress in clearing the pile. So here’s my target for 2013:

Ps: before starting, I want to say thanks to Sarah, a mom blogger, who gave me many ideas for writing. Let’s visit her blog’s latest article – www.kidfriendlyhome.com/best-outdoor-cat-house-shelter-reviews/

Series to Finish

 

  • Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – It’s been a while since I finished the first two books but I can never bring myself to finishing the series.
  • The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – Loved the world building in the first book and can’t wait to see how everything will end.
  • Bel Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley – Another great series with fascinating settings and also love the unique magic/science system.


Series to Catch up on

 

  • Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  • Horus Heresy by Various authors
  • Legend of Drizzt by R. A. Salvatore
I love these series. Even though there are a lot of books in these series, I hope I can catch up with the latest release this year.

Series to Start

 

  • Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  • Space Marines Battles by Various authors
  • Newsflesh by Mira Grant
  • Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

These are all great series that I wanted to read last year but for some reason or another I didn’t start them. I already have the first book in Demon Cycle, Farseer Trilogy and Shadows of the Apt sitting on my Kindle already and I hope to tackle them soon.

Series to re-read

 

  • Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

I loved this series when I was younger. I would love to revisit the books and see if I understand the concepts better now that I’m older.

Any Others?
I’m sure I haven’t covered all the books that I want to read, so what else do you think I should be reading this year?

2012 Recap and My Best Ofs

2012 came and went just like that. Christmas and New Year celebrations are finished and we’re still alive, still waiting for an apocalypse to come.

At the beginning of last year, I set myself some challenges. I wanted to read more than 50 ebooks, well I certainly read more than that but only managed to write up 37 reviews. I wanted to read at least 10 self published novels and in the end I have 16 reviews written.

I’m not good at ranking things. It depends on my mood and my feelings at that moment in time. So here is a list of the best books I’ve read in 2012. I’ll keep it simple by picking only 5 debut novels and 5 non debut novels. The following lists are ordered alphabetically by the authors’ names.

Debut Novels

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

A brilliant, high-octane action novel that explores the implications of magic in the modern world. How would governments react if any civilian has the potential to become a weapon of mass destruction and is the regulation worth the sacrifices? Review

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible, but if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

Take some monsters; a kickass female lead; place them in a western setting; mix well and you get a fantastic adventure that you would not be able to put down. Review

Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

Another amazing debut from Angry Robot Books. A tale of heaven and hell with a damned soul in between. This is one story that I would love to see translated on to the big screen. Review

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. Born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora dodges both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains, neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected family of orphans “Gentlemen Bastards.” Locke grows to lead, delightedly pulling off one outrageous trick after another, infamous as the Thorn of Camorr—no wealthy noble is safe from his sting. But the Gray King is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game—or die trying

I know this has been out for many years but I only got round to reading it in 2012. In Lies of Locke Lamora Lynch creates a vibrant, living world with every little detail accounted for. This book is filled to the brim with culture, history and lore. The Blade Itself is another book with great world building that I read in 2012 but in the end I picked LoLL because the story is more self contained. Review

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: Will she find the psycho or die trying?

On one level this thrilling story tells of an unsolved murder with an urban fantasy twist but on another level, it is also a statement for the unfair treatment of minorities. Definitely my surprise hit of the year.Review

Non Debut Novels

 

Eisenhorn Omnibus by Dan Abnett

Inquisitor Eisenhorn is one on the most senior members of the Imperial Inquisition. With his warband he scourges the galaxy in order to root out heresy. When that heresy is found to infiltrate the hierarchy of the Imperium and the Inquisition itself, he must rely on himself alone to deal with it – even if it means making deals with the enemy. All three books of the Eisenhorn trilogy along with two short stories and Eisenhorn’s case book and compendium are included in one big volume.

If Jack Bauer was born in the 41st millenium then he would be Eisenhorn. Even branded as a rogue agent, Eisenhorn will go to any length to bring down the enemies of the Imperium. A classic Warhammer 40k story. Review

Seasons of War by Daniel Abraham

The poets and their magical andat have protected the cities of the Khaiem against their rivals in Galt for generations. Otah, Khai of the Winter City of Machi, has tried for years to prepare his people for a future in which the andat can no longer be safely harnessed. But his warnings have been ignored, and now it’s too late. A ruthless, charismatic Galtic general believes he has found a way to strip the andat of their power. If he is wrong, Galt will be destroyed. If he is right, the Khaiem will fall. Only one thing is certain: conflict is inevitable, and Otah and his old friend and enemy the disgraced poet, Maati, must fight a desperate battle to protect their cities from slaughter. These two men, bound together by shadow and betrayal, will bring the world to the edge of a cataclysm unlike anything either side had imagined. For if the cost of war is high, the price of peace may be unimaginable …

It’s rare to find a book that can be so beautiful yet so sad at the same time. The final two books in the Long Price Quartet shows how amazingly talented Abraham is at his craft. I know some people struggled with the first book due to its pace but the entire series is well worth the effort. I still need to write down my thoughts for this book.

Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons…

One of the most outstanding 40k books I’ve read. This story is not just about the first war for Armageddon but also the aftermath of that war when the Inquisition has to purge all taint from the survivors. This story is ultimately about characters doing their best to survive in the grim dark future. ADB is among the very best in creating characters that you truly care about. Review

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

My first exposure to Sanderson and what a real treat this was. This was everything I could have hoped for and more. Now I see why so many people hold Sanderson in such high regards.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

The book reads like a Tarantino movie and grabs you from the very beginning with its enigmatic protagonist Miriam. If you are looking for a dark, gritty urban fantasy then this one is for you. Review

The Burning Bush

After Dante Bottelli’s slaughter of Vamp-owned Mixbreeds, Lanore and Zulu execute a well-planned attack that hits Dante where it hurts the most—his pockets. But their attack triggers a chain of unfortunate events, and allows Detective Rivera to blackmail Lanore.

Rivera forces Lanore to investigate his case, the Burning Bush Murders. Someone’s been tying girls to bushes and setting them on fire. Lanore must find the killer, or Rivera goes public with his information.

Meanwhile, Dante won’t take his defeat without a fight. He counterattacks and the Santeria habitat, as well as Lanore’s and Zulu’s lives, are changed forever.

I read the outstanding Fire Baptized, the first book in the Habitat series, back at the beginning of the year. I was impressed by Wright’s ability to weave both mystery and supernatural genre so effortlessly together and was also captivated by the lore and mythology of the world she created. The second book builds on top of this strong foundation and introduces the reader to even more of Santeria’s history. What I also liked are the inequalities and struggles of the mixbreeds are brought to the forefront and are now a focal point of the story.

The Burning Bush begins shortly after the events in Fire Baptized and Lanore is once again caught up in a murder investigation. This time, Detective Rivera has charged her to look into the death of a rich girl who was found stuck to a burning bush in the the middle of the police station forecourt. Little did she know her investigation would dig up the sordid past of one of the most powerful Supenaturals in Santeria. To make matters worse, her relationships with Zulu and Meshack are getting even more complicated and there are elements within the Rebels who want to see her dead.

This was another good read. I really like how Wright incorporates the theme of inequality into her stories. In her world, the Supernaturals lost a war with the humans and are left to live in caged cities known as Habitats. However not all Supernaturals are equal and the lowest of them all are the Mixbreeds who are born without any power and are used as playthings by everyone. The Mixbreeds are looked down upon and deemed not able to achieve anything in their life. When they do work, they have to take on the most unpleasant jobs that no one else would do. No one in the society cares for Mixbreeds except for Lanore, Zulu and their MFE who are demanding fair treatment for the Mixies.

The plot is just as strong as before with a good mystery to keep you hooked from beginning to the end. More of Santeria’s background is revealed in the story but you never felt overwhelmed as Wright perfectly balances the pace of the book with just the right amount of world building. The introduction of Zulu’s half-sister Cassie was a good choice as her character brings a playfulness to the story and offsets some of the grimness of the world.

The only thing that I thought was a little too much was the romance in this book. In Fire Baptized, the book is primarily urban fantasy with a dash of romance but in The Burning Bush, the love triangle just got way out of hand at times.

All in all, The Burning Bush is a solid follow up to the Habitat series. If you enjoyed the first book then you would not be disappointed by this. It’s always a pleasure to read a story where the author has obviously invested much time and effort in creating a world with rich, diverse background and history. I look forward to reading the next chapter in the Habitat series.

Other books in the series

Think of a Number by John Verdon

Recently retired after a prestigious career with the NYPD, homicide detective Dave Gurney is pulled back into service when an old college friend receives threatening letters from a murderous sender who has an uncanny ability to read a person’s thoughts
Dave Gurney is a retired detective who has solved some headline-grabbing cases in his career. One day Mark, an associate from Dave’s past shows up with an intriguing puzzle for him to solve. The puzzle involves a letter that asked Mark to think of a number and when he opened the attached envelope, he discovered the very number he was thinking of. Dave reluctantly agrees to help Mark with this curious case and shortly afterwards, his friend is murdered in the most bizarre way. Now Dave must figure out what is the connection between the letter and his friend’s death.

I’ve wanted to read Think of a Number for a while. The premise seemed amazing, a brilliant yet retired homicide detective versus a cold blooded killer who can apparently read other people’s thoughts. It’s like Sherlock versus Moriarty, a battle between two brilliant minds! However what started out as an intriguing mystery began turning sour as the story evolves into a standard plot of a broken villain with a sob story. I would be happy if you tell me the killer is just deranged but don’t tell me he ended this way because he witnessed his mother’s death when he was younger and now he’s on a revenge trip.

Dave is supposed to be this brilliant detective but instead of revealing this through his actions in the story, we are repeatedly told how brilliant he is through different characters who have worked with him in the past. There are plenty of moments where you question what exactly makes him brilliant when all he does is use the answers the side characters give him. I mean how clever can you be if you follow the culprit down to his secret lair?

Even though the plot didn’t live up to my expectation, not all of it was bad though. I thought Dave Gurney was a pretty well developed character. Dave may not be everything that he is supposed to be but he does come across very well as a worn out cop with plenty of baggage through his years in the force. Rather than about the crimes themselves, this book is more like a wake up call for Dave Gurney. The mystery is just a vehicle to help Dave make a decision on what truly matters in his life.

The pace of the book is a little slow, especially the beginning chapters of the book, yet I think it suits the sombre mood of this book.

It’s not a must read series for me but I’m still interested in reading the second book Shut Your Eyes Tightsome time in the future.

Week in Review

I was hoping to get another review out before the end of the week but got a little sidetracked. Anyway let’s see what’s been happening this week.

Scott Lynch on Zamira Drakasha

One of the funniest reads this week, Scott Lynch explains to his hater why Drakasha is a middle-aged black pirate and also a single mother of two.

You know what? Yeah, Zamira Drakasha, middle-aged pirate mother of two, is a wish-fulfillment fantasy. I realized this as she was evolving on the page, and you know what? I fucking embrace it.

Why shouldn’t middle-aged mothers get a wish-fulfillment character, you sad little bigot? Everyone else does. H.L. Mencken once wrote that “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” I can’t think of anyone to whom that applies more than my own mom, and the mothers on my friends list, with the incredible demands on time and spirit they face in their efforts to raise their kids, preserve their families, and save their own identity/sanity into the bargain.

Shit yes, Zamira Drakasha, leaping across the gap between burning ships with twin sabers in hand to kick in some fucking heads and sail off into the sunset with her toddlers in her arms and a hold full of plundered goods, is a wish-fulfillment fantasy from hell. I offer her up on a silver platter with a fucking bow on top; I hope she amuses and delights. In my fictional world, opportunities for butt-kicking do not cease merely because one isn’t a beautiful teenager or a muscle-wrapped font of testosterone. In my fictional universe, the main characters are a fat ugly guy and a skinny forgettable guy, with a supporting cast that includes “SBF, 41, nonsmoker, 2 children, buccaneer of no fixed abode, seeks unescorted merchant for light boarding, heavy plunder.”

I just love Lynch’s attitude in his responses to the questions. I wonder how much longer I have to wait forRepublic of Thieves to come out.

Make sure to read the full entry over at Lynch’s Live Journal.

Fantasy Faction’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2013

Fantasy Faction released their readers’ choice for 2013 this week. Do you agree?

10. Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton
9. The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan
8. Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
7. Highprince of War by Brandon Sanderson
6. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
5. Sworn In Steel by Douglas Hulick
4. Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
3. The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks
2. A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
1. The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

From the list, I’m most looking forward to Republic of Thieves and Sworn In Steel. I’ve already read the ARC of Fortress Frontier and all I can say for now is that you can expect to find more of what you loved in Control Point in this book.

Create a School Contest

Since I’m talking about Myke Cole, you now have another chance to win a copy of the ARC of Fortress Frontier. All you have to do is create a new magic school, this can be serious or funny and send it to him. See this blog post for more details on entry requirements.

Updates on Older Books

If you are a fan of Shadows of the Apt series, Adrian Tchaikovsky just announced the reissued coversfor The Scarab Path and The Sea Watch.

Also if you enjoy a bit of Forgotten Realms, Wizards of the Coast has now made ebook versions of R. A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt available globally.

You are the Hero Kickstarter

Another Kickstarter project that is worth backing. This is simply a must have for anyone that has ever read/played the Fighting Fantasy books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. You are the Hero collects the 30 year history of Fighting Fantasy from its humble beginnings to its worldwide success. Written by Johnathan Green with interviews of the creators, the artists and other contributors, this book is bound to please all the fans.

The project has just reach its half way goal point with 20 days remaining. Be sure to back this projectbefore the time runs out.

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

 

Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible, but if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve last done a book review and I’ll get things started again with the long overdued review of Lee Collins’s The Dead of Winter. Another brilliant debut from Angry Robot’s amazing 2012 schedule. If you love supernatural stories then you’re in for a treat with this one.

The Dead of Winter stars Cora Oglesby and her husband Ben who specialises in hunting things that even the most hardened hunters are afraid of. Think of them as a Western version of Supernatural’s Sam and Dean Winchester if you will. Like Dean, Cora has a quick to anger temper and prefers action to words, whereas Ben is a more laid-back, thoughtful fellow. Despite how different they are, they do make an incredible pair and have a long history of monster slaying behind them. So that is why the marshal agreed to let Cora investigate the unnatural deaths of two local hunters in Leadville. But things are never this easy and soon they discover what is really lurking around in Leadville.

I really enjoyed the pacing and structure of this book. The first half serves an introduction to help you familiarise yourself with the characters and demonstrates just how effective and ruthless Cora is at her work. Once you reach the second half though, that is when the real meat of the story begins and you are exposed to a world bathed in rich lores and myths. Even though we’ve read these vampire stories hundred of times before, Collins still made it interesting and thrilling. I even managed to pick up a term for vampires that I never knew before!

A lot of credit goes to how well Cora is written. She is a conflicted character torn by a tragic event in her past. Cora wants to settle down to an easy life once she has made enough money but circumstances drive her to continue her journey on the road. Her character and attitude truly reflects on all the crap she has been through in her life. I can’t wait to see how she will evolve after the events in this story.

The Dead of Winter is a fantastic Supernatural tale set in Western setting with plenty of action and quirky humour. Definitely not to be missed and it makes a wonderful addition to your (virtual) bookshelf. Did you know that Collins was discovered because of Angry Robot’s Open Door Month? I’m just glad they did not pass on this gem.

Cora’s tale will continue in She Returns From War, which will be published in February 2013.

Apologies for lack of updates

Sorry I haven’t been updating this blog as much lately. I just got married, went on a honeymoon and got plenty of work to catch up. Also the Autumn sale at Steam didn’t help much either.

I’ve got plenty of books that I need to write a review for and I’m planning to do something new for my blog. So you should see more posts in the coming days. In the meantime, here’s a picture of a baby kangaroo to tide you over until my next post.

Week in Review

Week in Review is a feature that I am bringing to my blog. In this feature I will be posting links to articles or happenings that I found interesting in the past week.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

So I’d start off with one of the most anticipated Urban Fantasy title of the year, which is Jim Butcher’sCold Days. It’s been getting great reviews left, right and centre. I read that Butcher even managed to drop the word “Vajazzle” in the story as well. My 1 year blogversary winner, Cherry Mischievous, called this asatisfying and compelling read. I’ve only just read up to the third book in the series and still have a long road ahead of me to catch up but I look forward to the journey.

Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories

Next we have the Kickstarter project from Bradley P. Beaulieu, author of The Lays of Anuskaya series. The goal of this Kickstarter is to collect Beaulieu’s various short stories into a single collection. For as little as $5, you can get a digital edition of this collection as well as an e-copy of The Winds of Khalakovo. If the next stretch goal at $3000 is met, then an e-copy of the second book, The Straits of Galahesh will be added to all backers. If you’re looking for some interesting fiction to sink your teeth into then be sure to back this project.

Cover Reveals

The folks at The Founding Fields revealed the cover for Chris F. Holm’s third Collector novel, The Big Reap. A superb urban fantasy/pulp crime series about soul collectors, angels and demons. Head over toThe Founding Fields for a Q&A with Chris F. Holm on the third book.

Fantasy Faction also revealed a cover this week. It’s the UK version of Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War, the third book in his Demon Cycle series. This is another gorgeous masterpiece by artist Larry Rostant. The blue is so eye-catching don’t you agree?

2012 Goodreads Choice Awards

The winners of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards were announced this week. Every year I look at the nominees and realise how much more well read I need to be. There are just too many good books out! The book that caught my eyes the most in the winners list is a book that I wouldn’t have discovered if it wasn’t for the Goodreads awards. It’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This looks like a fascinating book that details the contributions introverts have made over the years and the relationships between extroverts and introverts.

Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

I get many hits on my blog looking for awesome book covers and many of them land on the image ofLorgar and Angron fighting back to back which ADB revealed earlier in the year. Well now you can finally read all about this epic story in the next chapter in the popular Horus Heresy series. Visit Black Library to pre-order this book today.

Fulgrim by Graham McNeill

Graham McNeill takes the reader to the 31st millennium, when humanity is at the peak of its powers. As the Great Crusade, led by Warmaster Horus, continues to conquer the galaxy, Fulgrim, the god-like Primarch of the Emperor’s Children Space Marine Legion, leads his warriors into battle against a vile alien foe.

From the blood of this campaign the seeds are sown that will lead this proud legion to treachery, taking them down the darkest of paths to corruption. Leading up to the carnage of the Dropsite Massacre on Isstvan V, this is the tale of Fulgrim’s tragic fall from grace.
Fulgrim is one action packed book with everything that you could possibly want in a Warhammer 40k novel. Primarchs, Xenos, Chaos Daemons and big battles. For me, this was an excellent book only slightly let down by not having a character that I can connect to.

McNeill does a good job describing the changes in Fulgrim as he is slowly corrupted by Chaos but due to the immense plot, not enough time is spent exploring the struggles that the Primarch goes through during his transformation. There are a few characters in the story that are not touched by Chaos but once again not enough focus was spent on them, so I could care less when they died.

What worked exceptionally well for me were the epic battles. McNeill pens with loving details the brutality and horrors of war. The book opens with the raid on Laeran temple where scores of Emperor’s Children are killed but Fulgrim pressed on just to prove that his legion has what it takes to complete the impossible.

Next we have the joint attack with the Iron Hands on the Diasporex, a nomadic group consisting of humans and Xenos. This part makes me realise what a bunch of arses the Space Marines are. All the Diasporex wanted was to be left alone but both Primarchs decided to make an example out of them just to show what happens when humans decide to live with aliens.

After this, Fulgrim is sent to explore the Perdus Region. There he meets with the Eldar Farseer, Eldrad Ulthran who tries to warn Fulgrim about Horus’s betrayal to the Emperor. However the Eldar realises it was already too late, for Fulgrim is already under the corruption of Chaos. Here we have another great scene where Fulgrim gets dirty and do some hand-to-hand combat with an Eldar Wraithlord and Avatar.

At the final battle on Isstvan V we see the final corrupted transformation of the Emperor’s Children and they no longer resemble the proud legion they once were. In their pursuit of perfection, they have allowed themselves to be experimented and changed into an army that lusts for newer and higher stimulations. Fulgrim realises too late what he has done and when he seeks for release, his body is overtaken by a Chaos Daemon who uses the new body to deal a deathblow to Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands.

This book contains plenty of disturbing imagery of Chaos and gives you a really good feel of what Chaos is truly like. Despite the lack of character progress, this book makes it up plenty by the amount of action packed into the story that can satisfy any 40k fan.

Awesome giveaway from Night Shade Books

I just came back from holiday and saw this amazing Thanksgiving giveaway from Night Shade Books waiting for me in my inbox. For this month, Night Shade Books is giving away three incredible works of fiction for FREE!

Here is how it works:

Email happythanksgiving@nightshadebooks.com and you’ll  receive an auto response from us with a username, password and link to our download site where you’ll be able to download the .epub or .mobi files of some of our most exciting and appropriately scrumptious titles:

Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio

The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been eighteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over—and terrorizing—the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Hetrodynes’ return.

At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach—and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all.

From Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the Hugo, Eagle, and Eisner Award-nominated webcomic Girl Genius, comes Agatha H and the Airship City, a gaslamp fantasy filled to bursting with Adventure! Romance! and Mad Science!

 

The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams

There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon’s law…but now the pattern is running over the Emperor’s own arms.

His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon’s agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor’s only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court’s stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an ageing imperial assassin, the Emperor’s Knife.

As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who saw a path in a pattern once, among the waving grasses – a path that just might save them all.

 

Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

Liam never knew who his father was. The town of Derry had always assumed that he was the bastard of a protestant — his mother never spoke of him, and Liam assumed he was dead. But when the war between the fallen and the fey began to heat up, Liam and his family are pulled into a conflict that they didn’t know existed.

A centuries old conflict between supernatural forces seems to mirror the political divisions in 1970’s era Ireland, and Liam is thrown headlong into both conflicts! Only the direct intervention of Liam’s real father, and a secret catholic order dedicated to fighting “The Fallen” can save Liam… from the mundane and supernatural forces around him, and from the darkness that lurks within him.

Cover Art! Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

Myke Cole just released the UK cover art for Fortress Frontier, the second book in his Shadow Ops series. This is another amazing piece from Larry Rostant. Gorgeous isn’t it? In case you missed it, you can also see the US version of the cover below.


I just finished reading the sequel and all I can say for now is that there’s more of everything that you love in the first book. There will be a more detailed review closer to the book’s launch date in three months’ time. In the meantime, check out the blurb for Fortress Frontier:

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier—cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place—Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

Tales of the Far West edited by Gareth-Michael Skarka

 

Imagine: A fantasy world, but not one based on Medieval/Dark Ages European culture and myth, but rather on the tropes of the Spaghetti Western and Chinese Wuxia. Add steampunk elements. Mix well.

A fantasy world that mixes the inspirations of Django and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon… The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and House of Flying Daggers… Fistful of Dollars and Fist of Legend.

A fantasy world that’s explored through a book series, a constantly-updated website, a tabletop role-playing game, comics, artwork, webseries and much, much, more.

This is FAR WEST.

In Tales of the Far West, Skarka brings together a number of today’s top writers to create an anthology like no other. In this collection you will find that elements of Wuxia and Kung Fu are brilliantly mixed with Western and Steampunk to create a slick and unique world.

By far the best story of the anthology is Scott Lynch’s entry, “He Built The Wall To Knock It Down”, which truly captures the essence of what this collection is trying to achieve. The story is told from the point of view of the scribe, and tells of his relationship with his master who saved the scribe when he got a little too cocky when trying to expose a cheat at a poker game. The story follows journey of the two of them as the scribe tries to learn the lessons his master has to teach.

The other entries that I also enjoyed includes “Purity of Purpose” by Gareth-Michael Skarka, “Railroad Spike” by Ari Marmell and “The Fury Pact” by Matt Forbeck, these stories are shorter but just as thrilling and leaves you wanting for more.

The stories in this collection are just the beginnings for a role-playing game that is still in development so I know much of the background hasn’t been worked out yet. However I wish the stories here are more interrelated like in the Wild Cards series so I can get a fuller sense of how the world is and who the players are.

This anthology contains some brilliant stories and have created an interesting world for the upcoming RPG. It’s well worth the money you pay even if you are getting it for Scott Lynch’s story alone.