Posts Tagged ‘Swords and Sorcery’

A Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron

January 4, 2017 - 7:08 pm No Comments

A Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron

a review by Michael R. Brush

This is the fourth book from Miles Cameron and one can only gape at the cover – the artwork and the enticing title make you want to pick up this comfortably hefty novel. Indeed once within the covers and reading away, I was reminded of three greats – L. Sprague de Camp, H. P. Lovecraft and a liberal dosing of Edgar Allan Poe, most notably his three tales which featured the investigator Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. With all that behind him, I think I have to explain why I only gave A Plague of Swords three stars out of five.

It kicks off with an interesting Prologue where we encounter a Beastie which made me feel it was made to make us recoil in revulsion – well done that it is, once you start to wonder why it is the way it is, some of its power to disturb is gone. Unfortunately a lot rests on this. Then we are thrust into the main narrative without any break – we come upon the main characters recovering from what seems to be the immediate aftermath of a battle. There is, however, no recap or helpful list of Who’s Who, which would have made carrying on less daunting. The maps, good as they are, do not extend to one of ‘The continent’ where a great deal of the action takes place.

Indeed, one has to also wonder about what period this fantasy is set in, given the amount of technical terms and details (by the time I was a third of the way through I had read ‘in full harness’ enough to last me for a trilogy – and nowhere are we actually told what that means, I assume it means wearing full plate armour and the context would seem to bare me out, so why not use different descriptions?) The almost same place names – Venike for Venice, Rhum for Rome, are just too close to being anything other than mildly annoying. Even though I found them only mildly tedious, it is a fairly constant irritant – for me it is better to stick with what we know or go the full hog and change them entirely…

Unfortunately, Cameron allows this sort of detail to slow the novel down and it becomes a hotchpotch of parts rather than a novel which seamlessly interweaves the style of the best writers (L. Sprague de Camp and the Others). This is tragic as when Cameron let’s himself go, he does write fast paced action narrative engagingly. He demonstrates this in parts throughout the book, right up to the end where the novel ends in something, for me, of a whimper rather than the promised collision of grand forces. It was written almost hypnotically good, yet a whimper, is I’m afraid, a whimper.

So, perhaps I should say why I’m giving A Plague of Swords three stars out of five, after all that. Firstly, this is Cameron’s fourth book and I’m sure that his fans will love it just as much as his earlier books. He did grip my attention with his writing, which is no mean feat, even if he didn’t always keep it. Thirdly, the sea battles were nothing short of what the front cover promises and scenes, and writing, such as that are their own rewards. Finally, the panoramic scale of this undertaking is huge and he does hold it together – it promises that the next book will take up directly where this left off and if you enjoy this volume, I wish you all the best with his next

Fight Like a Girl edited by Roz Clarke and Joanne Hall

October 30, 2016 - 11:46 am No Comments

Fight Like a Girl edited by Roz Clarke and Joanne Hall

Authors- Roz Clarke, Kelda Crich, KT Davies, Dolly Garland, KR Green, Joanne Hall, Julia Knight, Kim Larkin-Smith, Juliet McKenna, Lou Morgan, Gale Sebold, Sophie E Tallis, Fran Terminiello, Danie Ware and Nadine West

Published by Kristell Ink, Grimbold Books on 6th March 2016

249 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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This book has a good selection of stories for fantasy and Sci-Fi lovers, each story set in different land or time, but one thing in common, each story had a woman that was not afraid to kick some ass. Every woman had a story to tell whether they were a sword for hire, a mother, a soldier or just fighting to survive, they had to act on their wits and they were there to prove that there is nothing wrong in fighting like a girl.

So not to go on for ever I am going to review the stories that really grabbed my attention.

The Coyote by KR Green: Set in dystopian Brighton, Kai is a young girl with a very good sense of hearing. This talent had helped through many a scrape. A member of the Circlet, Kai, is a highly trained fighter and is on a mission to try and bring peace to the Buddhist community. Throughout, this short story was full of action, with Kai relying on her hearing to get the mission done, this made it an intense read.

Vocho’s Night out by Julia Knight: Vocho and Kacha are brother and sister, working for the guild, they are hired to protect a mysterious cargo. After a failed attempt to steal the cargo, they work together to find the real reason why they were hired. Like most siblings they are in competition with each other to be the best and as both are experienced sword fighters this does get interesting. I found this story to be a fun read, and the ending was comical. This has been a good introduction to the Duellists trilogy which I now want to read.

Fire and Ash by Gaie Sebold: Riven is a soldier who is suffering with PTSD. The last of the Dancers, a renowned troop she lost all her colleagues in one epic battle. Not wanting to go on any more with her life, she prepares to die until a ring changes her mind. Whilst reading this story, I felt really sorry for Riven with everything she went through, but whilst on this journey her character changes to determination, she gets stronger and you are willing her to survive and to learn to live.

A quick mention about the cover, when I saw this I had to smile to myself as when I was little girl I used to have a book of paper dolls to dress up and I wish that my dolls had outfits like these on the cover.

I must be honest: I had not read anything before by these authors and I have kept asking myself why not.  Each story was well written and celebrates women. Now every time I hear you fight like a girl, I will know that it is a compliment as if I or any other girl fights like the girls in these stories then they will be strong, resourceful and not take any nonsense.

A great collection of stories that will keep your interest from the first word

The Shadow and the Sun by Monica Enderle Pierce

October 25, 2016 - 2:01 pm No Comments

The Shadow and the Sun by Monica Enderle Pierce

Published by Stalking Fiction on 22nd April 2016

263 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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Halina is the bastard daughter of King Vernard, renowned for her conquest on and off the battlefield, her father thinks she is the one to get Gethen onside to defeat his enemy, the king of Besera.

Gethen is a Shadow Mage, a powerful necromancer and brother of the king of Besera. Living on land owned by King Vernard, places himself in a difficult position. Gethen has more serious problems as his powers are fading and an evil entity has escaped the Void. Gethen thinks this is the cause of the war and when Halina arrives at his door, tries to convince her to help him.

At the start of the book Halina’s character was very fiery, due to her background and she did not get close to anyone. She fought on the battle field like a woman possessed, and only taking men to bed for the pleasure not for the comfort. Her actions made me think that she was afraid to get hurt. Grethen and Halina’s relationship started off as a bit cat and mouse but they both thought they were the cat. They mistrusted each other and both thought the other had an ulterior motive. Throughout the book you could sense Grethen chipping away her exterior armour, and it was obvious that they had feelings for each other but did not know how to act on it.

The relationship aside, this story was exciting and full of action making it a quick read. The story flowed smoothly and whilst it had a lot of minor character it was not a confusing read, unlike a lot of medieval fantasy book. The scenes with magic added tension to the book and it was interesting to read the history behind Grethen’s magic.

I am hoping there are more books in this series. If you like your sword and sorcery or medieval fantasies than read this book

Triad by Guy Estes

October 16, 2016 - 7:07 pm No Comments

Triad by Guy Estes

Published 9th June 2015

329 Pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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Aleena, Anlon and Baezha are all chosen ones, each having their own family and all brought up differently. Aleena and Anlon’s major skill was as warriors and Baezha was magic.

Whilst the majority of the book concentrated on Aleena and her troubles, I liked how the author incorporated the other characters into the story. Even as a small girl Aleena had her troubles and as she got older the troubles got worse.  Aleena’s journey made her grow into a strong caring woman who learnt to embrace her chosen path.

Anlon reminded me of a spoilt younger brother who wanted everything handed to him on a plate. He blamed everyone else when he made the wrong decision.

Living as a nomad for most of her life, we don’t know much about Baezha in this book and I hope we get to know more about her in book 2.

This book was full of adventure and action, the fight scenes where graphic but that is to be excepted when the battles are against the chosen ones. The story was a flowed smoothly and you are drawn to the characters. There are a number of mystical characters in this book and that just makes Aleena’s journey more exciting and dramatic.

What surprised me is that book did not have a cliff hanger and I enjoyed how the author ended the book, leaving it open for further books.  My only complaint were the quotes at the beginning of the chapters which to be honest I skipped over. A good start to the series and will look out for further books

Into the Darkness (Cathell Book 1) by AM Rycroft

September 2, 2016 - 8:43 am No Comments

Into the Darkness (Cathell Book 1) by AM Rycroft

Published by Mighty Quill Books on 19th July 2016

414 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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Aeryn Ravane is a sell-sword, a bodyguard for hire. She decides to honour her adopted father by finishing the quest that he had started. According to legend a sword by the name of Aric would rid their land of a curse. Aeryn’s quest starts at the Black Cavern and this is where she comes across the her soon to be travelling companies. Theo is a young street thief, but it is not till further on in the book that we find out her real intentions of being in the cave and the other unlikely companion is the ghost of Tynan. As soon has she removes Aric from the cave, it releases an evil god who was trapped by a curse going by the name of Harbinger. To save the land of chaos Aeryn and her unlikely companions have to track him down and defeat him.

From the moment I started this book I was drawn into the adventure of Aeryn. Aeryn although very skilled with the sword, doubts herself and can come across quite aloof. Theo is your typical street child, orphaned at an early age she has learnt to survive on the streets by any way possible even if that way involved stealing and Tynan is so sure of himself and his magic, that it is comical, you can just see him flaunting himself around town and gets quite put out if no-one recognises him. You would think that this unlikely partnership wouldn’t work, but it does. The work really well as a team and slowly you can see that Aeryn has got a caring nature towards Theo.

If you like your epic fantasies, then read this book. The action is paced throughout which makes it an exciting read. Even at quieter time in the story are not boring as the way as the descriptive writing by the author made you feel that you were with her for every step of Aeryn’s journey. The minor characters were interesting and I was surprised when a vampyre was writing into the story, but this added even more depth and you got to read more about Aeryn’s past. The final battle was intense as you had no idea what to expect.

 The difference between the special edition and the original is that the special edition has some short stories at the end. A really good read and would love to read more of Aeryn and Theo’s travels.