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4.2 out of 5 stars62
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2013
Landon is a pretty average guy. And this story starts with his death.
We follow him to Purgatory, and to the revelation of his destiny. To be a champion for humankind, and be able to wield all manner of magic and bend the world to his will. The downside - he's not fighting for good or evil; he's in fact fighting to make sure there is no outright winner, because if either side wins, humans will pay the price. Which means that both sides consider him the enemy, and he has no allies.

Landon is sent back to earth to restore the balance. The war is currently tipping in the demons' direction, and he needs to find a way to set them back.
This involves angels, vampires, weres and marines.

I downloaded this for free from Amazon a while ago, and eventually got round to reading it. I'll be honest, I wasn't overly drawn to it by the description, and I am always sceptical of high reviews, but thought I'd give it a go.
The first couple of chapters were ok, but I felt like I was reading the book accompaniment of 'The Matrix', which was only compounded by references to the film. I was worried that the rest of the book would continue to rely on established media. And do you know what, it did - but I am going to have to eat my words; because as it went on, the little references to The Matrix, Star Wars, Captain America (and any others I might have missed) were all really funny and made my geek side smile.
As soon as Landon is sent back to earth, he stumbles along from one incident to another, gradually learning what he is capable of and how to control it. He gathers an unlikely team to help him, as we learn more about his enemies.

Balance is a perfect mix of action, adventure, angels and demons. It is a thrilling ride as Landon tries to keep some sense of direction in the war he has been thrown into the middle of. There is magic, sword fights and gun battles, and they are all expertly written, never feeling clumpy or overdone.

So all in all, I turned from a sceptic to being absolutely blown away. It was so exciting that even my usual glass of wine was completely neglected as I was so wrapped-up in reading just one more chapter. I'm not sure how that translates into Amazon stars, but I'm going to give it a 5 without doubt.

I cannot wait to read the rest of the series and see how it all unfolds for Landon.
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on 29 January 2015
Pretty good story, very much in the same vein as Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, though unfortunately not quite up to the same standard.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and it does not suffer from a lot of the problems that the later books in the series suffer from. This is mainly because it is the first book and one of the biggest problems is plot contradictions and holes that appear in comparison to what has been said in this and later books.

Another problem, and this is the major problem of the whole series for me. Un-intelligent, oblivious or just plain stupid characters.

On almost every occasion it is made painfully obvious when there is an up-coming plot twist, and sadly there have invariably been so many clues about the outcome that you get irritated with the characters (particularly Landon) for his inability to avoid ANY of these blatantly telegraphed betrayals, ambushes or other setback.

On the rare occasion when he does see something coming, and on the more numerous occasions when he doesn't, his response is invariably to attempt to bull through with main force. So if you are looking for something with intelligent characters solving puzzles or problems creatively, this is probably not for you. This is a shame, because making the characters just a little more intelligent or not giving the reader so many clues that they have figured out the puzzle at least a chapter ahead would have made a huge difference. Combine that with some more creative solutions to problems and this would be an excellent series. Sadly, as I write this I am mid-way through book 4, and it only gets worse (certainly the lack of intelligent solutions).

The lack of a professional editor is noticeable, but more because the errors when they occur are obvious easy fix mistakes. The most common being people apparently talking to themselves or giving things to themselves. This interrupts the flow of the story as you figure out what is actually supposed to be going on. It is obvious that an attempt has been made to edit, it is just a shame it wasn't more thorough.

These are the main issues that hold it back. I'm not saying that if these were fixed it would be a match for something like The Dresden Files, but it would be fairly close.

Overall this is a fast paced action adventure for holiday/ travel reading or if you just want a bit of escapism without being challenged.
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on 30 June 2013
I can't rate this highly enough. The story and characters gripped me from the start. Really enjoyable. This has a very different slant on life and that beyond it. Get this and you won't regret it !!!!
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on 1 April 2013
Its an amazing book that grips you right from the start, with an interesting take on science and religion it is well worth buying. I enjoyed every page of it!!!!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 May 2015
This was an okay book and considering it was a debut novel for an independent author it was well written and without many errors (that I could see). In spite of that and the fairly strong idea for this book, I felt that it was a little lacking in the development department.

Langdon (still not sure if that's a first, last or solo name) the hero of this book is killed in the early chapters and finds that he happens to be the perfect balance of good and evil to be a champion for the third side in the war, balance. He is sent back to earth with a mission to restore the balance between good and evil but before he can receive any kind of training things go bad and he ends up having to figure it out on his own.

We follow our protagonist from one adventure to the next, all of them happening so often that it started to feel that everyone on the planet was in on this secret battle and they were all out to get him.

To be honest it was a nice idea but there are a few areas I would love to see expanded on and developed more. The relationships could have done with a bit of work outside of life or death situations to allow the characters to have a chance to bond. We could have done with a little bit more time to get to know Langdon's powers before he was thrown in the deep end as the action sequences tended to overshadow his gifts somewhat. Basically I felt we could have done with a little more of everything.

What really made this a 3 star book for this reader though, was the fact that the character is a mixed character in terms of motivation. This time he is fighting on the side of good but there will come a time when the actions he needs to take in order to restore the balance is to fight on the side of evil. That's a hard pill to swallow in a protagonist. It's a nice idea but it is hard to still like someone when he might end up fighting for the dark side.

Overall though it is quite a good book. I don't think I'll be delving into the sequel quite yet but someday I might give this series another go.
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on 17 January 2014
Balance is the first novel in the trilogy by M R Forbes, it tells the story of Landon who is killed while protecting a chalice as a museum guard. He then finds himself drawn into the eternal conflict between Heaven and Hell, but not on either side, he's tasked with helping to mainain the balance (although rather conveniently the balance is currently tipped towards evil). He is a rare creature, that of being a perfect balance between human, angel and demon.

He's new to the business and the first lesson is to discover what he capable of while at the same time trying to restore the balance. The book draws a good balance between the discovery of this new world (or perspective on an old one if you prefer) and action. I preferred the discovery parts of the story, mainly because I usually enjoy peoples' different takes on theology and metaphysics and this story has some interesting ideas that are well presented.

The action works well and keeps the story going to a decent conclusion while leaving the way open for the rest of the trilogy. There's a good blend of characters, although they do stray a little into being caricatures for the different sides of the war, although not by too much.

I do have one issue with the book though and that was that it needed another edit pass, removal of all the unneeded 'coulds' was the main offender. It wasn't enough to really hamper my enjoyment, but it was noticeable. Overall though, this was a fun read and worth checking out if you like your classic good vs evil stories, albeit with a new vibe in this case.
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on 19 October 2013
Balance (The Divine, Book One)

I'm not sure what I expected when I ordered this book on Kindle. The sample was good enough to warrant purchasing the complete article, but frankly, it hadn't grabbed me as much as other samples have done. So you can imagine my surprise (and pleasure) when I discovered I was half way through and it was way past my bedtime! The story just keeps getting better.

Landon is a cross-breed of human, angel and demon - who has to die before he can do what he was born to do!

This story doesn't follow the usual good versus evil line that many authors fall into - it focuses on the dividing line between the two - creating balance, that grey area in between that exists in life but which very few people attribute any importance to, or lucid awareness of. Landon's unique skill to see both sides gives him the power to ensure neither side gains the upper hand, often with painful repercussions for those involved.

Torn between a gorgeous but dangerous vampire and a beautiful, seemingly innocent angel, Landon is thrown into a world he has little knowledge of and is given very little time to adjust, never mind do what he was born/died to do. His secondary goal - learning to survive (at least for another day!)coupled with the monumental expectations of the denizens of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory result in a story that's fascinating, filled with natural human doubts and a strength of character so rarely exploited by "new" authors.

I won't share any spoilers but the way this book ends leaves the reader with no option but to buy the second one - which I've just done! An awesome read!

I'm always looking for new authors and MR Forbes is on my list. Go on, try it, you won't be disappointed.
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on 1 March 2014
One of the best things about the expansion of self-publication is the opportunity to read new authors who may have struggled to be published through traditional avenues. Not because their books are less interesting or well-written than published authors, but just the struggle of trying to be seen among so many aspiring writers.

I searched via Goodreads and Amazon for urban fantasy novels featuring a hero rather than yet another derivative kick-ass heroine or romance thinly disguised as fantasy and M R Forbes popped up on the search. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy stories that feature a well-rounded, three-dimensional heroine, but sadly the popularity of The Hunger Games has spawned way too many spin-offs with dull characters and even duller plots. And don't get me started on the romance.

Enter M R Forbes. Intriguing plot? Check. Good, well-rounded characters? Check. Well-written? Check. There were a few typos (rather than grammatical errors) that an editor would have picked up but I want to emphasise these were minor and in no way detracted from the enjoyment of reading a great story. I liked the twists and turns, the uncertainty of motivation, and most of all, the moral ambiguity.

Authors who independently publish do it the hard way and if you enjoy urban fantasy with a little humour thrown in, then do give this book a go.
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In just three weeks, in a busy, busy life, I've read everything M.R.Forbes has written bar one, that I'm reading now. Quite possibly one of the best writers I've encountered this year and the last.

If you like Debra Dunbar, you'll love this series (and vice versa). However, her work is more romantic and action; here we have action and character with twisty turny hard to predict characters first and only a small amount of romance here and there.

The Diucrucis is a marvellous notion and the reader may well find themselves questioning the nature and role of God in the world thus described.
Who is truly evil becomes an ever increasing puzzle over the entire series of these books and you may be surprised at who you root for at various times.

Expect treachery everywhere but look out for unexpected redemption.

Great writing, original archetype weaving, clever writer.

Thank you!
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on 9 May 2014
Landon advances through the levels like a fantasy roleplaying character on nitro. The concept is a bit of a rehash of stuff that's been done before, albeit in a new take. Fun, exciting, a lot of rich action - and there's some great bitsof truly original imagination in there - it's an easy read. I'd love to see Forbes's writing style mature, his plot and characters realised in more depth, and really wish he'd kept this series in his back pocket until he'd done that as I think it had more to offer. Actually I think Forbes in general has more to offer, not sure I'll take up the rest of the series, but I'll defintiely keep an eye out.

Having said that - great to see an author launching themself on this platform successfully, keep writing!
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