Category Archives: Book Review

REVIEW: Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen 1)

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen 1)

by Steven Erikson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

The siege of Pale ends with the devastation of the famed Bridgeburners and the decimation of the Malazan Army’s mage cadre. Stunned by these events, the survivors suspect they have been betrayed by members of their own armies. Tattersail, the surviving mage, enters into a bargain with Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his surviving men to uncover the truth.

On the other side of the world, in the heart of the Malazan Empire, an entire section of the coast, several villages, and an army have been massacred. A young officer, Ganoes Paran, and the Adjutant of the Empress embark on a trail for the culprit that leads them to Pale and to a member of Whiskeyjack’s own squad.

In the city of Darujistan, the last of the Free Cities of Genebackis not conquered by the Malazan Empire, politics flare as some wish to capitulate to the Empire and others seek an alliance with the mysterious Anomander Rake who nearly single-handily stopped the Empire’s siege of Pale. In this city, a young thief named Crokus is about to be a pawn of the mischievous gods of luck while an assassin’s war explodes through the rooftop.

In the city of Darujistan, all these disparate characters meet, converge, and clash as Malazan Book of the Fallen begins.

I have never read a fantasy series like Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. History breathes in his books. You have the feeling that you are in the middle of some grand epic. Characters have rich backstories that would make an interesting series, and this is just the start of one new chapter in their varied histories. Gods, powerful Ascendants, lowly mages, undead warriors, thieves, and more. It is like a D&D campaign on crack.

Erikson pulls all these various characters, dozens of them, with their own goals. Each is a rich character brought to life. They clash, merge, and explode apart in ways you can’t imagine. It is a breathtaking read that keeps you turning until the converging climax.

Thus starts Malazan Book of the Fallen, the annals of the dead soldiers of this vast empire as its activities span the world as they challenge gods, dictators, and corruption within their own nation. This military fantasy is one of the best out there.

You can buy Gardens of the Moon from Amazon!

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Review: Trial of Stone

Trial of Stone (Heirs of Destiny 1)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Three stories intertwined in Trial of Stone!

Peloquin is back with a new story set in his universe that the Hunter and the Night Guild fill. Kodyn and Aisha, members of the Night Guild, are traveling to the City of Shalandra, escorting Briana back to her father after her kidnapping. They also have another goal: to steal the Crown of Pharus.

To achieve full membership in the Night Guild, Kodyn has to prove his worth. He has a bold idea to use his connection with Briana to get his hands on the most valuable jewels of the Shalandrans. Not only will he have to figure out how to steal the crown, but he’ll have to protect Briana from the Gathers, the cult that kidnapped her in the first place.

Meanwhile, Evren, the young thief who helped the Hunter, has been hired by the Beggar Priests to recover a deadly artifact from the hands of the Shalandrans. The church believes that their treasured Blade of Hallor is a deadly weapon similar to the Hunter’s. The church needs it stolen before a prophecy is fulfilled.

Unbeknownst to Evren and his escort, the young lad Hailen has stolen away with them. The ward of the Hunter has powers in his blood. The power of the long-dead Serenii flow through his veins. Evren will have to keep him safe while figuring out how to get his hands on the Blades.

Lastly, Issa, a poor citizen of Shalandra, has snuck into the proving fight to become a Blade of the Long Keeper, a deadly order of warriors devoted to protecting the city. They are sworn to the God of Death, drawing power. If she can survive her trial, then she will earn her position even with her low rank in the city.

She’s up against a horde of youths who all want the same thing. She’ll have to fight with not just her limbs, but with her brain. Quick wits will see her threw as much as strong arms. Will she make it?

These three stories swirl around in this fast-paced, fantasy novel. Andy Peloquin is building on the work of his last two series to have a new series. His world is large enough to hold all manner of interesting stories, and book one is off to a great start.

The story flows fast. The characters are fun. Each plot line has its own goals that, on the surface, seem to have nothing to do with each other. Peloquin guides his story well. Character decisions flow organically, and only a few coincidences get the plot going.

It’s a great, fun story that fantasy fans of all ages can read. No need to have enjoyed his earlier works, though, of course, they will only add color to this exciting tale! If you’re a fan of good fantasy, then check out Peloquin’s work!

You can buy Trial of Stone from Amazon. Check out Andy Peloquin’s website, connect on Linked In, follow him on Google Plus, like him on Twitter @AndyPeloquin, and like him on Facebook.

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Review: Heart of the Lotus (Children of Stone 4)

Heart of the Lotus (Children of Stone 4)

by Mary R. Woldering

Reviewed by JMD Reid

At the end of the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the Sojourner Marai has been reunited with Naibe and Arriennu. His other woman Deka, however, remains with the violent prince Maatkare who even know makes plans to attack Marai’s new allies.

In Ineb Hedj, the ancient name for Cairo, a new pharaoh makes preparations to ascend the throne while learning just how dangerous the hold priest Hordjedetf can be. The priest Wsekere and his princess consort Khemntie must discover a secret before Hordjedtef can seize the power for himself.

The Children of the Stone shape those they possess towards their own goals. What will happen as the powers of Ancient Egypt clash? What new events will be unleashed? How will new revelations affect the characters in their bid for power, knowledge, and faith?

Woldering’s series continues to show her deep knowledge of Ancient Egyptian, Summerian, and Semetic mythology and history, blending real figures who lived with mystical events. She feels in the gaps left in the recorded history of Ancient Egypt as her character contest with the events that shaped the mythologies for millennia to come.

Heart of the Lotus goes from revelation to tense situations, ending on a powerful moment. Events are moving and the true enemy of all may finally be revealed. Delve into the ancient past, to the beliefs of peoples who, though dead, have shaped our modern world down through the centuries.

A fabulous blend of history and fiction. Lovers of this genre need to check out this indie gem!

You can buy Heart of the Lotus from Amazon!

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Review of The Redemption of Athalus

The Redemption of Athalus

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Athalus, an unrepentant thief, is having a string of bad luck. All his life, Luck has helped him succeed in all his capers. And then he decided to visit the rich cities. Instead of a string of successes, he has one mistake after another.

Frustrated, he returns to the territory he knows best. He’s learned his lesson. Only when he enters his normal haunt, a man named Ghent wants to hire the thief to rob the House at the World and steal a book. Eager for the challenge, and hoping his luck has returned, Athalus agrees.

Only the occupant of the house had other ideas. Esmerelda the Cat has a mission to rehabilitate the thief and turn him into the savior of the world!

The Redemption of Athalus is a book fans of Eddings will love. Athalus is like Belgarath the Sorcerer mixed with Talen, with Esmerelda Aphrodite grown up. It’s a fun read if you like Eddings style, but it is full of Deus ex. The plot may not have the most agency to it, but the characters and their interactions shine. A host of colorful characters are recruited by our thief on his path of redemption and join the fight against the dark god. This could have almost been a book series in and of itself, but Eddings keeps the plot focused. It flows and moves.

If you’ve never read Eddings, I would start with Pawn of Prophecy or the Diamond Throne, but if you’ve read most of his books and enjoyed them, then you have to give this book a try!

You can purchase The Redemption of Athalus from Amazon!

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Review: Belgarath the Sorcerer

Belgarath the Sorcerer

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Belgarath the Sorcerer is the oldest human alive. He’s lived for 7000 years, guiding the fates of men and kingdoms for the day that Garion would come along and defeat Torak and save the world. He has endured hardship and loss in that time.

Now he tells his tale in full.

From his youth as a rural thief fleeing from the constraints of parochial society to the most powerful man alive barging into the throne rooms to berate kings, Belgarath tells it all. He’s a rogue. A scoundrel. He’s at home debating philosophy as he is drinking in a tavern. He has witnessed some of the most pivotal moments of history.

This book is fan service and I love it for that.

There are very little new things to learn here. Sure, you get more details about things you’ve heard, and Eddings is able to fill in some holes. He covers it all. His timeline fits together well. There are a few differences between narrations and what we learn in the Belgariad and Mallorean, but as we see with the followup book, Eddings put deliberate errors in. Belgarath is telling his story his way. The way he remembers it. The way he sees it.

So there might be one or two things different than you expect, but overall, there are no surprises. It is all backstory. It still has some great moments between characters, some touching scenes, and his relationship with Polgara as it develops is a delight to see how they ended up in their current state. It took care to make this book, and it shows.

Despite the fact I normally hate prequels, there is just something fun about diving back into the world of the Belgariad once more. Belgarath the Sorcerer and its sequel gave us one last chance to enjoy this fun series. It’s like visiting an old friend.

If you’re a fan of the Belgariad/Mallorean, you have to read this book, but I wouldn’t start here. This will spoil just about everything in those series since it is being written by Belgarath at the end of it. So read those amazing fantasy adventure novels first!

Belgarath the Sorcerer has Eddings wit, good humor, and delightful characters on full display. Writing irascible characters like Belgarath is something Eddings is a master of. The prose flows, the commentary from Belgarath entertains. A fantastic read!

You can purchase Pawn of Prophecy from Amazon!

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Review: Shattered Night (The Extraction List 4)

Shattered Night (The Extraction List 4)

by Renee N. Meland

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In a world where economic collapse has plunged even the U.S. into the third world, Riley, her boyfriend Cain, and her friends are returning from a mission to rescue Olivia from a life of forced prostitution in Italy. Thinking they found a safe place for Cain to recover from his injuries, instead, they find their new home under the control of the sadistic Keagan.

An old enemy of Cain, Keagan is eager to get revenge on the freedom fighter. Riley and her friends are going to have to find a way to survive in a town where all the weapons are in Keagan’s control. Can they buy enough time for Cain to recover before Keagan executes his plan of revenge?

Shattered night is the fast-paced conclusion of the Extraction List! This dystopian, young adult series is a wild read. The plot twists and turns as the fortunes ebb and flow for the heroes. Meland keeps you on your toes while the story keeps you reading.

This is the definition of a page-turner.

The characters are raw and real. The emotions punch you hard. This series is a must-read for fans of the genre!

Leave Me Lost is available from Amazon.

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Review: Skyward

Skyward

by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

It’s hard being the daughter of a coward.

Spensa, a young girl living on an alien planet, wants to be a pilot like her father. An alien race known as the Krell have driven Spensa and her people to Detritus, a planet far from Earth. Three generations back, their spaceship crash-landed here while the incredible orbital debris keeps them pinned on the planet. As a child, her father was among the first to fight back.

Only in the middle of a pivotal battle, he fled.

Living with the stigma of his cowardice, Spensa wants to prove her own worth. She wants to be a pilot like him, but will her society let her? While they espouse equality and merit, will she ever truly be allowed to fight to protect her people?

Skyward is about a young woman struggling to get out from the shadow of her father. It’s a story about pain and loss, hope and duty. It’s a story about the resilience of the human spirit in the worst of circumstances, a tale of belief and faith. Is Spensa like her father? Will she be a coward, too?

Or can she make her own destiny?

This was a fast-paced and engrossing story. Sanderson has penned another excellent tale, this time in the science-fiction universe. It’s not the hardest science, the technology is never explained, but it’s well-written. It’s full of great characters and powerful emotions.

This is a must-read for fans of Sanderson and good stories alike!

You can buy Snapshot from Amazon!

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Review: Darkblade Justice (Hero of Darkness 7)

Darkblade Justice (Hero of Darkness 7)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In Praamis, a series of strange murders are occurring and the king is blaming the Night Guild. Illanna, now leader of the guild, has to figure out what is going on and how to stop it. At the same time, the Hunter has arrived in his goal to destroy all the demons in the world.

Two years after the events of Enarium, the Hunter has found no lead on his daughter, but he is still hunting those demons who wanted to destroy the world. But will his presence in Praamis only make things worst?

Things spiral out of control. Will Illana and the Hunter clash while the real threat escapes their notice?

Peloquin is bringing his two series together once more. The Hunter and Illana are about to cross paths and meet. The stakes are high as they both blame the other for what is going on. This series has Peloquin’s fast-paced and exciting style, mixing characters you’ve grown to enjoy over nine novels and a novella.

If you’re a fan of fast-paced, exciting fantasy, you have to check out Peloquin’s series. He has created a rich world full of the possibilities. I’m eager to see where he goes next with this series!

You can buy Darkblade Justice from Amazon. Check out Andy Peloquin’s website, connect on Linked In, follow him on Google Plus, like him on Twitter @AndyPeloquin, and like him on Facebook.

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Review: Higurashi Eye Opening Arc 3

Higurashi Eye Opening Arc 3

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yutori Houjyou

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Shion has gone insane. After learning of Tomitake and Takano’s murders the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival, Shion realizes the shadowy forces in Hinamizawa that have been enacting the curse the last five years have struck again, punishing the two for trespassing in the temple’s sacred storeroom, Shion realizes she’s in danger, too.

With Keiichi, Tomitake, and Takano, she also broke in. Her paranoia sending her into action, she uses her stun gun to disable her twin sister Mion and her grandmother, the head of the Sonozaki family. Believing all these murders and disappearances happened on the orders of her grandmother, including the disappearance of the boy she loved a year before, Shion is set to get answers.

But her elderly grandmother’s heart didn’t survive being stunned. Left with only her sister for answers, Shion will do anything to find out what happened to Satoshi and protect herself. But her actions have consequences. How many more people will die?

We are seeing just what happened in The Cotton Drifting Arc. All the weirdness, the manic behavior from Mion, the inconsistencies in Shion’s story, now make sense. Shion was behind it all, swapping roles, manipulating Keiichi and the village to provoke the true killers. Only it leaves so much tragedy behind and draws out a surprising confrontation.

This volume is delivering on what the Answer Arcs promise. We’re peeling back the mystery and learning that those we thought knew what was going on may be as baffled as we are. That there is something else lurking in the heart of Hinamizawa that needs confronting.

Another bloody scenario is playing out. Will Keiichi, Mion, Rena, Rika, and Satako survive this time, or will we see the same results as last time?

The art is gorgeous. It captures Shion’s madness. The story flows as we see her scrambling to react, trying to control the craziness bubbling out of her. All her years of resentment at her family for being shunned, for being put aside for Mion, are exploding out of her.

It makes for great reading!

Higurashi continues to excel as a horror/mystery graphic novel series! You have to check out this unique story!

You can buy Higurashi Eye Opening Arc 3 from Amazon.

To save the skies, Ary must die!

If you love the works of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, R. Scott Bakker, and Steven Erikson, then check out first ever Fantasy novel is out!

You do not want to miss out on this awesome adventure!

You can buy or burrow Above the Storm today!

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Review: BERSERK Volume 26

BERSERK 26

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Though Guts and his companions have saved the village, the surviving trolls have carried off Casca and Farness. Fearing for his insane lover, Guts leads his small party into the trolls lair, a place of death and birth. In the depths, they will face horrors and discover what happens to the women kidnapped by the trolls.

As Guts battles to save Casca, his rage and passion attracts unwanted attention. One of the Godhand comes. Drawn to the place where new life comes at the death of the mother, Slann rises. Promising temptation and death, will Guts be able to defeat her.

Will he be able to resist her offer to make his own sacrifice?

As Guts and his forces battle, Griffith has dispatched forces on their own mission. He cannot abide the interference of Schreike’s mistress. Even if Guts can win the day, will he have the strength to face what comes next?

BERSERK explodes with action. The story compels you forward through the desperate struggle to save Casca, to the manifest of the succubus Slann. As the realities merge together, the Godhand can form bodies to appear. Hints at their true plan appear even as Guts is offered the same choice as Griffith.

The art is gorgeous and revolting all at the same time. Mirua’s art manages to show sensuality birthed from obscenity. It perfectly captures the essence of Slann and the true nature of the Godhand. Griffith’s current form may be beautiful like he was before his sacrifice, but does that mean the soul inside him isn’t as revolting as the entrails from which Slann forms her body?

The backstory peels back more and more in this volume. The action is intense. Never has Guts been weaker than this, battered and wounded from his scores of battle. How much longer can he continue to swing that massive sword of his?

Fans of fantasy need to check out BERSERK! It is a deep and layered story.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 26 from Amazon.

To save the skies, Ary must die!

If you love the works of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, R. Scott Bakker, and Steven Erikson, then check out first ever Fantasy novel is out!

You do not want to miss out on this awesome adventure!

You can buy or burrow Above the Storm today!

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