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Without Bloodshed (Starbreaker Series Book 1)

Without Bloodshed (Starbreaker Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Matthew Graybosch
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

“All who threaten me die.”

These words made Morgan Stormrider’s reputation as one of the Phoenix Society’s deadliest IRD officers. He served with distinction as the Society’s avenger, hunting down anybody who dared kill an Adversary in the line of duty. After a decade spent living by the sword, Morgan seeks to bid a farewell to arms and make a new life with his friends as a musician.

Regardless of his faltering faith, the Phoenix Society has a final mission for Morgan Stormrider after a dictator’s accusations make him a liability to the organization. He must put everything aside, travel to Boston, and prove he is not the Society’s assassin. He must put down Alexander Liebenthal’s coup while taking him alive.

Despite the gravity of his task, Morgan cannot put aside his ex-girlfriend’s murder, or efforts to frame him and his closest friends for the crime. He cannot ignore a request from a trusted friend to investigate the theft of designs for a weapon before which even gods stand defenseless. He cannot disregard the corruption implied in the Phoenix Society’s willingness to make him a scapegoat should he fail to resolve the crisis in Boston without bloodshed.

The words with which Morgan Stormrider forged his reputation haunt him still.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1336 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press (17 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #306,195 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Graybosch has skilfully merged aspects of rock music, science-fiction, and ancient conspiracies, from both the West and the East, producing a novel which will be enjoyed by both lovers of classic techno-thrillers and animé fans.

After the partial collapse of society, the Phoenix Society arose to hold the new governments of the world to a code of morals. Morgan Stormrider has served the Society loyally for over a decade, dealing out a clean death to any who raise arms against the Society's operatives. Tired of moving from place to place, seeing the worst of humanity, he wishes to retire. But first he must complete one last mission: bring in a newly-established dictator in alive, proving he is more than an assassin paid by a brutal cabal to suppress dissent. But when he is framed for his ex-girlfriend's murder, he is forced to question whether the accusations are true.

Graybosch has created a distinctive world which combines the luxuries of a post-capitalist society with hints of the wreckage of social collapse beneath. The history, both recorded and secret, is carefully embedded, creating a balance between leaving the reader struggling to understand the world and wondering why characters have suddenly broken into detailed exposition of famous events.

The unfolding of conspiracies within conspiracies is similarly handled, giving the reader a sense that events that are not immediately clear are a plausible reaction to secret plots that will be revealed later.

Morgan Stormrider is a well-rounded character, possessing both a complex personality and a life outside of the Phoenix Society; he still believes that killing is a legitimate part of a just society, but now longs for a stable relationship with the woman he loves.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The keyword here is 'more'. 3 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The keyword for this Science Fantasy is ‘more’. That is both good and something of a hindrance. The large cast is well put together with interesting and gritty characters of both genders. The plot is also packed with conflict and many layers of subplots. The problem came with the high level of detail that Graybosch used. Detail is a fantastic tool for bringing the world to life, but Graybosch was in the habit of not giving the reader enough credit. He often stated things that could have been left to the reader to discern and understand on their own. This then created a couple of places where it dragged due to the large cast and detail overload. The range of viewpoints could have been streamlined without harming the plot, but the fact remains that this is a great book that the author should be proud of.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent book avoiding the old tropes and memes. After over 40 years reading scifi I have really enjoyed this story construction and ideas. Fantastic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without Bloodshed, Without a Doubt! 17 Nov 2013
By Dee - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
In a world post Nationfall, the Phoenix Society is the law. The blunt instrument of force keeping the worst of the criminals in check is Morgan Stormrider. He is used by the agency time and again to make their point about keeping order, but lately he has been wondering just who is pulling the strings and if everything is as it has been presented. Until now, with the death of an ex-girlfriend, he's believed in his mission. He's taken the good with the bad in his roll as the bad man's bogey man. Now with his true love in the line of fire and things not jiving with what he knew of his ex, Morgan has taken on a new mission...figure out who is pulling the strings, who murdered his ex, who is yanking his chain and why.

This is a fast paced thrill ride of science-fantasy. The plot, the twists, the revelations, and the parallels to society today make a mash-up of the best of science fiction and fantasy and meld it deliciously with speculative fiction. There is something for everyone here: conspiracy theories, martial arts, action, spying, high tech hackers, aliens that aren't so alien, and weapons that are only dreamed of, yet have kernels of possibility and truth.

If you are looking for one new author, one new book this year, this is the one! I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially Stunning New Sci-Fi Series 4 July 2014
By the_goddess_isis - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for giving me a copy of this e-book to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. I personally give this book 3.5 stars, but as most rating systems require whole numbers only, I shall give it 3 stars on those sites.

Goodreads Blurb:
<blockquote><strong>"All who threaten me die."</strong>

These words made Morgan Stormrider's reputation as one of the Phoenix Society's deadliest IRD officers. He served with distinction as the Society's avenger, and specialized in hunting down anybody who dared kill an Adversary in the line of duty. After a decade spent living by the sword, Morgan wants to bid a farewell to arms and make a new life with his friends and his music.

Despite his faltering faith, the Phoenix Society has a final mission for Morgan Stormrider. A dictator's public accusations made Morgan a liability to his organization. He must put everything aside, make his way to Boston, and put down Alexander Liebenthal's coup while taking him alive to prove he is not the Society's assassin.

Despite the gravity of his task, Morgan cannot put aside his ex-girlfriend's murder, or efforts to frame him and his closest friends for the crime. He cannot ignore a request from a trusted friend to investigate the theft of designs for a weapon before which even gods stand defenseless. He cannot disregard the corruption implied in the Phoenix Society's willingness to make him a scapegoat should he fail to resolve the crisis in Boston without bloodshed.

However, the words with which he forged his reputation haunt him still.</blockquote>

First and foremost, I must share just how much I love the book's Disclaimer. It is chock full of sarcasm, letting the reader know just what they are getting themselves into. In my opinion the odds of the book being well worth reading go up dramatically when the Disclaimer states, “If you find any allegory or applicability, please consult a qualified professional for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.”

As the first in a series, this book spent a fair bit of time setting up the story for the reader. Yet there was still a solid amount of action and emotion woven into the groundwork of the series. Though Morgan Stormrider is introduced as the central character, the main protagonist, yet the story certainly hasn't completely played out that way thus far. He is certainly central to the plot, it's simply that others are right there with him.

The character building is fairly tight, but given the number of characters I found it a bit challenging to keep track of them all. Unfortunately that problem remained all the way through to the end of the book for me, as I had to backtrack some pages to place a character referred to in the final pages. However if there aren't too many new characters introduced in the sequel I think it will be pretty easy to keep track of everyone and their relationships - as we understand them now. Of the current characters, for the most part they grow before our eyes, gaining depth and maturity as the story unfolds. There are some who remain cloaked in mystery, but the one who remains the most mysterious is the main antagonist. But even this character drops a bomb or two on the readers, one of which lands almost at the very end. The new information caused enough of a stir for me that I have begun to rethink their role as the antagonist.

Set in a world that seems similar to ours, but about 100 years into the future, it appears to have reverted to more closely resemble the old caste system. Everyone has some sort of niche, all of which answer to a higher authority, with the highest for the average citizen being the Phoenix Society. Those within the Phoenix Society answer to the Executive Council, an almost entirely anonymous group of people. A group of people with no contrasting power to keep them in check. We already know what happens in systems lacking true checks and balances, so it seems easy to see where this is heading. . .

Though it took me a little while to get into the story, once I reached that point I was there for good. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but once I got a feel for a few of the main characters and became invested in them I wasn't going anywhere. One thing I really liked, even though I'm still confused about the designation of some characters, was the use of Artificial Intelligence systems (AIs). It seemed all the characters had their own AIs to do all kinds of things for them; anything from ordering food or clothes, to running interference to allow the person they served some privacy. However there may have been some that did not use AIs, for reasons I'm hesitant to even guess at just now. I'll admit I found it interesting how Mr. Graybosch seems to have discovered a way around the ever present fear of AIs outgrowing humans and taking over the world.

The plot is solid, and the arc of the story was smooth and consistently engaging - once my attention had been caught that is. Aside from the sensation of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters, I enjoyed this book. I'm curious as to where this story will go from here, especially after reading the author's Acknowledgements at the end of the book. He referenced certain things that have left me planning what else to pay attention to in the future books of the series.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced dark humor 11 Jan 2014
By Amy Knepper - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I read the last sentence of this book with a chuckle and then a grin. In fact, the entire book was like that: a great puzzling series of mysteries and intrigues involving amusingly sardonic characters.

The main character is Morgan Stormrider, bad-ass extraordinaire. When his girlfriend gets murdered and his bandmate thrown in prison for it, he has to navigate a series of elusive enemies and friends in order to find out what happened. Morgan's story unfolds through the viewpoints of a large ensemble of characters, from power-hungry goddess type characters to hardcore police chiefs.

The world-building in this story is great. The science fiction elements were both believable and interesting for a future world. The fantasy elements blended quite well. In a way, the book reminded me of the great Greek myths: strange, overseeing gods and goddesses who manipulate the hero into doing their bidding (some of them even share the names of the gods and goddesses, which is a fun bonus).

Another reviewer mentioned Easter Eggs. This book is full of them. I'm sure I missed 75%, but still felt smart about the others I got. If nothing else, this is a great adventure story for geeks and metalheads. It blends elements of sci-fi, mythology, fantasy, video games, and music into a mystery/adventure/romance. Added bonus: the women in this book are actually women, and there are several of them in various positions of power. These are smart women, and one of the most bad-ass female characters I've ever seen. Graybosch gets bonus points from me for making that happen.

The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is that I was often bogged down with the sheer number of characters and the constant shifting of viewpoints. I had a hard time keeping track of all of the characters, but kept pace with the 5 or 6 main ones. I think the story could have been a little tighter if some of them had been combined. Otherwise, this is a fun read.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Graybosch is one of my favorite authors to follow on Google+. That did not change the way I chose my rating, and I can honestly say this book fits well with other 4-star books I've reviewed.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite Science Fantasy Series 30 Nov 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been waiting for the first Starbreaker novel to come out for awhile. When it did, I was not disappointed.

Set in a near-future world in the wake of Nationfall, this book combines great sci-fi elements—cool new tech, a slightly futuristic setting—with many fantasy themes. Swords have come back into fashion as commonly-used weapons, as a means of honor as much as murder. The lower focus on guns, and the return to such a classic weapon as the sword, gave some real character to the setting.

Speaking of setting, it was masterfully done in Without Bloodshed. None of the "future" tech was over the top—in fact, I found myself perfectly imagining these exact kinds of technological advances becoming popular in real life. The first thing that springs to mind are these implants people have. It's some kind of device connected with your brain, and it allows you to text, make calls, and communicate with a personal AI assistant, all controlled directly by your mind. Reminds me so much of how cell phones are used nowadays, and this jump felt completely natural. And the book is filled with other little cultural references, which added greatly to the sense of realism.

At first, I have to admit I found the story a little disorienting. It felt almost like this was the second book in a series. There was so much background to each of the characters, and it didn't immediately explain it all. I thought I would find that confusing, but the more I read, the more I found the opposite to be true. Not knowing kept me interested, not confused. The narrative gave me just enough information to hold my curiosity and interest.

Truly, this is one of the few books I found myself frequently thinking about when not reading it. I had to know more!

The name, Without Bloodshed, is very fitting for the first in the Starbreaker series. From nearly the first page, they build up the name character—Morgan Stormrider—as a ruthless, government-employed killer. A hitman whose name strikes fear into those who hear it. This story is all about testing Morgan, and a big part of it involves dealing with a very difficult situation without killing. It works beautifully, and helped me connect with Morgan and his inner conflict. But Without Bloodshed is not without action—there was plenty of tension, and a few memorable and cinematic battles.

I would absolutely recommend picking up Without Bloodshed. Now, if you'll excuse me, I plan to go read it a second time!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, if you like good things. 13 Jan 2014
By Nikki - Published on
Full disclaimer: I work with the publisher of this author, thus I don't usually review authors- BUT I'm making an exception. I LOVE this book for several reasons, most of all it's the kind of story I've been waiting for; the kind I can obsess over, with no sign of overdone werewolves or vampires in sight.

It's an action-packed story with depth, and some very, seemingly scientifically sound (though I'm no expert) advances in technology, while still demonstating an appreciation to older weaponry such as samuri swords. If choosing one thing, the most unique aspect of the book is that I didn't have a set vision of the characters, in a good way. I kept switching in my mind between an anime and a life action, and had just the right amount of description to adjust the characters in my mind as I saw fit. If you like the idea of sci-fi, japanese themes of weaponry, and/or a very sarcastic, sexually open side character, you should read this immediately.
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