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Jerico

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Ward of the Philosopher: Shader Origins
Ward of the Philosopher: Shader Origins
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction., 21 Oct. 2015
Ward of the Philosopher is an introduction to the Shader series by Derek Prior. I've not read any of these books yet and so I went into this with a open mind, no expectations and absolutely no idea what it was all about. Don't get me wrong, I've read Prior's Nameless series and I know that he can spin a damn good yarn, but this was a new one for me.

The story introduces us to seven year old, Deacon Shader, when his training begins for some higher purpose that is only loosely suggested at within this short piece. We learn lots about him as a child, especially his character and strong beliefs. There is even a bit of action to whet your appetite, both as part of his initial training and as a small skirmish that takes place later on. The main characters are plausible and interesting, and although there are a lot of names to get your head around, it hints at what is sure to be an epic tale.

As mentioned this is a short piece but it sits well on its own and is a beautifully crafted introduction to Deacon Shader, who I've no doubt will be an incredible character. Prior's writing style leads you leisurely along the garden path but never lets you wander away, keeping you captivated and engrossed until the end. Ward of the Philosopher works well as a setup story to the series and has certainly piqued my interest enough to delve into Sword of the Archon, book one in the Shader series.


The Circle of Sorcerers: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book #1
The Circle of Sorcerers: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book #1
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Packed full of magic!, 26 Aug. 2014
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The Circle of Sorcerers is action packed and apart from a slow start that builds upon the background of the world and protagonist, it is full of tension and there is rarely a lull in the pace.

I have always loved to read about mages and systems of magic and this was one of the reasons that I picked this book. I really liked the way in which Brian shows the development and progression in Laedron Telpist's skills and the story of his family, together with his friends who accompany him on his tasks. I don't want to say too much more as there is a lot to give away but the basic premise for this story is the uprising of the church against the collective magic users. Laedron finds himself very quickly thrust into the midst of this struggle and has a lot of growing up to do in a short space of time. His immaturity does show through on occasions which helps with the realism of it all and the author has not taken the easy option of promoting the childlike hero into a typical steadfast character free of the obvious traits that would still be present in a small town lad not used to city life or the greater scheme of things.

As already mentioned after the opening few chapters things speed up nicely and the tale moves along at a captivating pace. There were also a few big surprises thrown in early on that you wouldn't necessarily expect so soon but then that's probably what helps keep the story so gripping at times. I really liked the idea of mages working together in a battle group with knights and how they are trained to complement one another.

I'm expecting a lot from book two and have no doubt that Brian will deliver. There is plenty of scope for story lines and I feel sure that at some point soon Laedron's sister will have a big part to play, though I'm not sure if it will be for good or bad. In summary if you like your magic and mages then you'll enjoy this book, it's a very easy read as well so would probably appeal to the younger fantasy fans out there also.


Thanatos Rising
Thanatos Rising
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear diary, life just got horrific!, 18 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Thanatos Rising (Kindle Edition)
This type of book would not be my normal choice of read but seeing as I enjoyed the Nameless Dwarf Chronicles by Prior, I thought I’d give it a go, especially considering it featured the malevolent, Otto Blightey.

The story follows the memoirs of Harry Chesterton and is set in the present day and age, exploring the big question of what happens after we die and how much of us is left behind. The idea of the soul leaving behind a footprint after it has gone is not a new concept but the way in which this has been written is quite clever and engaging. The method of telling the story by way of memoir was an excellent idea and only helps make the entire experience flow, adding a nice amount of suspense and life to the tale.

Even though it was only a novella there was plenty going on and a real depth to sink your teeth into. The ending was not a complete surprise to me but then maybe that was because I have already encountered Mr Blightey in Prior’s other work and so had preconceived ideas of how this would finish; not that I was disappointed in anyway because of this though. In fact the only let down for me is that I cannot find book two of Harry Chesterton’s memoirs anywhere, so get back to your attic Mr Prior and start digging around, I want to read some more!


Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt)
Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, solid opening for an epic saga, 16 Aug. 2014
Empire in Black and Gold is the beginning of what promises to be an epic saga. Adrian has created his own world that is so full and complete there is no doubt that he spent some considerable time on its development. This is apparent through his writing and the characters that appear, especially when we learn about their background and the history of the land. My favourite feature has to be the fact that the people of the world are beholden to special talents and powers, each one based upon a particular insect - pure genius. He has taken certain aspects of these creatures and moulded the characters around them using the abilities you'd expect, eg. Mantis warriors that fight with great skill and deftness, and Ant soldiers who fight and move as a unit with one mind. You can imagine the possibilities using such a system and in book one we are introduced to a great many races, some of my favourites being the magnificent dragonfly; the crafty, intellectual spider; and the mysterious, magical moth-kinden. He also mentions a few others which I would love to see in the future books.

The story itself opens with the retelling of an old battle, introducing us to some of the main characters who are fighting against the ever advancing wasp-kinden empire. It then takes you to present time where an ageing beetle-kinden scholar is trying to warn others of the coming black and gold tide at the same time as preparing his students for a war that he believes is inevitable.

There is some lovely descriptive writing that paints a colourful picture of the author's world and yet isn't too intense or mundane. The characters are rich and full, with plenty of history and a nice amount of development written into the parts that they play. I enjoyed the realism and struggle attached to each one and the relationship building was excellent, including some well devised hostilities between races.

All in all this is a solid grounding for what I am hoping is going to be a very good tale with so many prospects that the pickings will be rich indeed. If you like your epic fantasy then you'll really enjoy this one.


Disconnect: Book One of the Divided Worlds Trilogy
Disconnect: Book One of the Divided Worlds Trilogy
Price: £2.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating from the start, 15 Aug. 2014
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Imran has done really well with the first part of the Divided Worlds trilogy. Many books can take a while to get into but I was grabbed immediately by the beginning of Disconnect. I liked the idea of the sci-fi setting based in the "underworld" and a young lad trying to scrape a living by scavenging the waste that falls from the "overworld" where life is much easier and only the upperclass reside. An excellent premise and some great scene setting for what started and continued to be a captivating novel.

The author has captured the secret struggle of the friendship between two teenagers who live worlds apart, all of which is illustrated nicely throughout the ongoing relationships with the only friends they truly had before - their own droids. This was built upon superbly and formed the basis for Zachary's drive and motivation. There were some quality twists that added to the protagonists tale and Imran has tailored these seamlessly together providing a smooth and thrilling ride throughout.

The accompanying characters only added to the depth of Zachary's story and as I said before I thought the whole scavenging idea was brilliant. The best supporting character had to go to Zach's droid, Patch. It was interesting to see the bond that had been built between droid and human, one that I'm sure will likely play a pivotal role in future sequels. That together with the ongoing struggle between class systems and a very evident morality issue that starts to become clearer later on in the story, makes for a cracking read.

The story is set on one of Jupiter's moons but you don't need to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this book, it has all of the ingredients for a gripping, fantastic and thought-provoking read. I have already bought book two and I can't wait to start it.

You have to give Disconnect a go, you won't be disappointed!


Coraline: 10th Anniversary Edition
Coraline: 10th Anniversary Edition
Price: £3.79

4.0 out of 5 stars You'll never look at a button the same again!, 20 Mar. 2014
I was given this by a friend and told it was worth a read. I must admit I’m not normally one for reading children/teen fiction but after having consumed Gaiman’s Neverwhere with a voracious appetite I thought this deserved a go… and I wasn’t disappointed.

Coraline, or should I say Caroline as all the neighbours call her, is a tale about a young girl trying to find things to amuse and fill her day during the school holidays whilst mum and dad continue to work in their respective offices at home, almost oblivious to their daughters boredom. She is a self-proclaimed explorer and as you can probably guess this lands her in a chilling alternate reality where she must save lives and rescue herself before her sanity trickles away and she becomes trapped in her ‘other’ house with some rather creepy ‘other’ parents. But life’s not all set against her, she does have a rather haughty and aloof companion in the form of the stray cat and a protective charm courtesy of Miss Spink and Miss Forcible. Will she escape? Have a read and find out!

I loved the simplicity of Gaiman’s language and although it was clearly written for a younger age I think there is more than enough to entertain most adult minds. I finished the book in about three hours and really enjoyed it. There is an eerie edge to the tale and subtle twist of dread added to the mix that keeps you frantically turning the pages wanting to know if young Coraline saves the day. This is certainly a story that would have your children throwing all of their buttoned-eyed toys out and is well worth a read.


The Primarchs (The Horus Heresy)
The Primarchs (The Horus Heresy)
by Christian Dunn
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately quite average, 18 Mar. 2014
I was looking forward to big things with this collection of novella's featuring Lion El'Jonson, Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus and the Alpha legion twins but not all of the stories had me gripped throughout and I was even slightly disappointed with a couple of them. I'm not sure if part of the reason for this is the great expectation one has when it comes to reading about the magnificence of a Primarch, but then this of course will always be somewhat of an inevitability.

The better of the four tales was The Serpant Beneath featuring the Alpha legion and a typically clandestine approach to a particular problem nestled within their own ranks that required their attention. There was plenty of action and more than enough going on to keep your attention. In fact, if I hadn't had paid enough attention then it could quite possibly have become slightly confusing!

The other three tales certainly had their enjoyable moments but I also found parts of them a bit of a slog. I wanted to hear more about Ferrus Manus and Lion El'Jonson, and although their stories plunged them both into dire danger with plenty of adrenaline fuelled fury, there didn't seem to be that same depth that I found in the other two novellas. The Reflection Crack'd offered a little more but I did find the build up a touch slow considering it is only a novella. The interaction between Fulgrim and his followers was very good though and McNeill painted a very nice back drop of concern that ran through Fulgrim's Captains prompting an excellent finale.

All in all, if you want to read about pure, unadulterated God-like Primarchs, you may be disappointed, however the saving grace of McNeill and Sanders writing should keep you reading until the end.


No Man's World: Black Hand Gang
No Man's World: Black Hand Gang
by Pat Kelleher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Life in the trenches just got complicated, 10 Jan. 2014
This is an interesting book and the author seems to have done some extensive research into WW1 and the Pennine Regiment. I enjoyed the beginning of the story very much and Kelleher paints a very vivid picture of life in the trenches and the camaraderie that abounds. It is also broken up nicely by interludes of letters from the sweetheart of the main character, Atkins. The premise of the regiments 'shift' to an alien world has shown an intriguing use of one of the many conspiracy theories of the time and has plenty of legs for future books.

I did struggle when I was about halfway through the book and it took me a little longer than normal to finish. I can't quite put my finger on why this was though as the story continued with its path of action and pace. After some further thought I can only put it down to not really enjoying the storyline of the antagonist, Jeffries. His character was interesting and wicked enough, however his overriding motives seemed a little stretched beyond belief, which in itself was not unbelievable but just didn't ring true enough with me. The other part I struggled with was the alien race they encountered, the creatures they nicknamed the Chatts (after the lice that infested their clothing in the field). I found the parts of the story that explored them were a touch boring and slow.

The end of the book picks the pace up again and the action of a rescue mission grabbed my attention back. The edition of a tank crew and RA spotter plane that ended up on the alien world with the regiment was a nice little touch as well and Kelleher has used them well in the story. In fact his detailed description of the tank and the trooper's thoughts on first seeing it was brilliantly executed. Also the way he writes about their integration within the new world is very well done and quite colourful, in all of its horrific detail.

All in all, I liked the book and will certainly pick up the second at some point in the future. The inclusion of the alien race of Urmen and the relationship with their Chatt master's did save the day though, sparking sufficient interest and piquing my curiosity enough to want to continue the Pennine's tale.


Gideon's Angel
Gideon's Angel
by Clifford Beal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, 27 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Gideon's Angel (Paperback)
1653: Two plots to kill Cromwell. One to restore the King. The other to set the devil on the throne.

I didn't need to read any further, that did it for me, and the fact that Clifford Beal was sat on the opposite side of the table to sign Gideon's Angel was just a bonus. I've never read any of his work before but the plot sounded epic and then I learnt that a young musketeer named d'Artagnan featured within as well. I couldn't wait to pick this book up and read on.

Gideon's Angel is a superbly written piece of fiction set within the seventeenth century and a time when England was recovering from the bloody civil war. He paints such a vivid picture but at the same time dispenses with the long descriptive text that could have bogged the story down and lost its momentum. The characters are so alive that they almost jump from the page and I could imagine that I was there with them, living the adventure. Also the story gives a slight hint of the strained political struggle between democracy and monarchy, where Charles II and his royal court find themselves as guests in France biding their time to return to English soil.
I particular liked the part when Treadwell arrives in Devon and visits old haunts where he meets up with his steadfast companion, Billy Chard. Beal writes a good villain as well but on that I won't say anymore as I don't want to give anything away.

All in all this is an excellent tale that has it all and you won't be disappointed. Beal has been added to my list of favourite author's and I can't wait to read some more of his work. Incidentally, if he's listening, I'd love to read about a young Cromwell and his rise to power amongst the `Roundheads' that preluded the war!


Behemoth
Behemoth
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Book two and the pace picks up nicely, 13 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Behemoth (Kindle Edition)
After a good but moderately slow start to the series, Behemoth certainly met my expectations and picked up the pace nicely. I really enjoyed the battle scenes where technology met Darwinist genetics in some mighty clashes which I felt were missing in the first book.

The story threads of Alex and Deryn became more entwined in Behemoth and I found her less irritating than in the first book. There is some good character development with them as they both seem to grow in confidence and find their places in the coming war. Also the introduction of a couple more faces to the mix certainly helps to keeps the story flowing nicely, adding the odd twist here and there.

I thought that the standard of illustration continued and the portrayals of some of the major events are great to see. I'm certainly looking forward to the final instalment with Goliath and can't wait to see how things end.


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