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Daniel Cann

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Sherlock Holmes Gods of War
Sherlock Holmes Gods of War
Price: 5.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Ageing Holmes and Watson battle time, 13 July 2014
The setting of Holmes’ sleepy retirement cottage by the coast is in marked contrast to the mean streets of fog shrouded London, making this entry more interesting. It is also amusing to see two very nineteenth century figures experiencing twentieth century innovations in the car and the aeroplane.

Lovegrove has once again packed his novel with incident and suspense. The purists may shudder at the theatrical cloak and dagger stuff, the disguises and the secret societies, but they forget that these elements were a staple of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original canon. Lovegrove indulges the fantastical to satisfying and enjoyable effect.

It is always a joy to see just how Holmes and Watson will get out of their latest predicament. Their main nemesis now is time – their encroaching old age makes them more endearing and lovable. The stakes are certainly higher when you begin to creak more than you used to!

This is another triumphant return of the consulting detective and his loyal friend, this time given an original and entertaining twist.


In Dark Service (Far Called Trilogy 1)
In Dark Service (Far Called Trilogy 1)
Price: 7.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertains throughout, 7 Jun 2014
Stephen Hunt has produced a well plotted and paced adventure that captures the imagination and entertains throughout. Despite its length, In Dark Service never sags or slows down. Told from many different perspectives, it avoids large info dumps and ciphers. There is a real immediacy and heightened sense of drama that sweeps the reader up.

Once you have bought into the world of technology mixed with the ancient and mystical, this is a real thrill ride. From the (seeming) peace and tranquillity of Northaven, we, like the characters, are whisked away to faraway lands and a very different existence entirely.

Issues of redemption, love, betrayal and coming of age are all addressed. Add steampunk, science into the mix and you have a powerhouse of a novel.

The mines where Carter and his friends find themselves and the working conditions are vividly described, as well as their personal suffering, which has real emotional impact. I was fully invested in the welfare of the characters involved. Just to keep the reader on their toes, Hunt has packed his novel with surprises and misdirection: not everyone is as they first appear. More importantly, everyone is changed by their experiences; they have all gone on their own personal journeys to discover who they really are.

Hunt has a hit on his hands with this, and I am really looking forward to the next in the series.


Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind (Clockwork Heart)
Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind (Clockwork Heart)
by Dru Pagliassotti
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: 24.54

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Steampunk fantasy, 11 May 2014
I confess to not reading the first in this series, so I was playing catch-up. Fortunately the author Dru Pagliassotti’s writing and well constructed Steampunk world caught my imagination. With political intrigue, warring factions, espionage and romance this has a lot going on and a lot going for it.

I advise readers not to worry so much about all the names of the countries and groups vying for power and influence, but rather focus on the central duo of Taya and Cristof. These are two brave and fiercely independent characters up against danger together.

When it really gets going, the action sweeps the reader up. There is an eventful train journey, a dangerous mission and plenty of suspense. If you add the aerial visuals and technology this is a very rewarding read. It does tend to read like a screenplay at times and I would have preferred more action and description to the talking. That said this was enjoyable and creative Steampunk fantasy.


The Northern Sunrise
The Northern Sunrise
Price: 3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this original steampunk adventure, 26 April 2014
Isabel de Rosier and Jacques Revou are two professional thieves who are forced into a final job for Renard Daron and are watched over by Daron’s enforcers: Franseza Goy and Amaury Roche. Hayes has a confident and expressive writing style, the characters are distinct and colourful and the situation they find themselves in is challenging.

I enjoyed the dialogue and banter between Isabel and Jacques, their relationship: professional and romantic convinced, and I was fully invested in whether they would succeed with the biggest challenge of their careers.

It all moves quickly, with a few twists, lots of humour and dangerous problems to navigate. The steampunk technology is exciting and seamlessly fits the story. Interestingly, the background and world this is set in has a distinctly French feel to it, which is a pleasant change. I particularly enjoyed Isabel and Jacques’ attempts to fool the aristocracy. There are chases, duels, romance, airships and a fortune to be won or lost. With this effort Hayes has proved he is a fantasy author to look out for.


Truth and Fear: Book Two of The Wolfhound Century
Truth and Fear: Book Two of The Wolfhound Century
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Surpasses the original, 18 April 2014
This picks up directly from Wolfhound Century, seamlessly capturing the atmosphere and excitement that made Higgins’ first novel in the series so enjoyable.

Lom is enigmatic and hard-nosed, Maroussia Shaumian is feisty and determined; and Lavrentina Chazia is totally ruthless and self-serving. With the towering presence of Antoninu Florian added to this mix, as well as some new faces, this entry is not short on incident and action. Higgins navigates the twists and turns through his wonderfully conceived fantasy world with aplomb, where a totalitarian state coexists with a mythical world.

The focus is on a pursuit: taking the reader through murky streets and vast open countryside, where we see much more of the Vlast. Higgins is excellent at describing his world, making it seem so vivid, despite the more fantastical elements. If the first book was a little uneven and suffered from an abrupt ending, this one gripped me throughout, and the pacing is first rate.

What makes Truth and Fear such a triumph is that it can be read as thriller and fantasy. I cannot delve too deeply into the storyline without revealing too much, so all I can say is this is a rare thing: a sequel that surpasses its original.


The Liquidator
The Liquidator
Price: 2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original idea and highly enjoyable, 9 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Liquidator (Kindle Edition)
I read the John Gardner James Bond continuation novels as a teenager, so thought I would give this 'pre-Bond' effort a try. Well, despite being very much of its time (1960s), this was a lot of fun. Boysie Oakes is a very human and interesting central character. I enjoyed the twist that he was not all he initially appeared to be.

The action and plotting are first-rate, and this is packed with incident, femme fatales and shady characters. If you enjoy thrillers and want a change to the norm, then I highly recommend this.


The House on Poultney Road : based on a true ghost story
The House on Poultney Road : based on a true ghost story
Price: 1.53

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Failed completely on it's early promise, 9 April 2014
I had high hopes for this one, expecting something similar to the television dramas ‘Marchlands’ and ‘Lightfields.’ Despite the good set-up this just dragged. The characters had no depth, the conversation and dialogue was forced and unconvincing. I found it very hard to relate to any of the characters and for a ghost story (or any story) that is fatal.

There are a few decent chills along the way, but ultimately, this is un-engaging and painfully pedestrian. What should have been a thrilling ‘family in peril’ saga became a long-winded and plodding account of eighty years of much of the same. It’s a terrible pity and I hate to be so scathing, but this failed completely on its early promise.


The Quorum
The Quorum
Price: 5.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhibits all the ingredients that make a Newman novel so enjoyable, 14 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Quorum (Kindle Edition)
Kim Newman does Faust! Like most Newman novels, this takes on a well-known horror theme and gives it a twist. The Quorum does not disappoint, with its mischievous humour and satirical look at the 1970s through to the 1990s. Newman manages to capture the bleakness of the seventies, the greed and short-termism of the eighties, and the introspection and angst of the nineties.

The main protagonists that form the Quorum include Mark, Mickey, Michael and Neil. The three M's all enjoy success and good fortune as long as Neil suffers. The narrative jumps between the present day and the past as the story unfolds. Some will enjoy this technique, whilst others may find it a little jarring. Personally, I managed to follow the story and appreciated the obvious care and detail that Newman has put into this. He clearly relishes the minutiae of the world's he creates, and his knowledge of film, television and popular culture in general, are enviable.

The character of Sally Rhodes, the private investigator, is another inspired creation, joining the pantheon of strong heroines in Newman's catalogue. Through her we learn more, including some very unpalatable truths. As I read on, all I could keep thinking was "Poor Neil." He really does suffer while his so-called friends prosper.

This is a cautionary tale, told with the usual wit and creative flair of one of horror's best contemporary writers. For Newman fans this is a must read. It's not his best, but it exhibits all the ingredients that make a Newman novel so enjoyable and memorable.


On the Steel Breeze
On the Steel Breeze
by Alastair Reynolds
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars imaginative, intelligent, with stunning visuals, 8 Dec 2013
This review is from: On the Steel Breeze (Hardcover)
This is imaginative, ambitious and visual science fiction, with clones, robots and elephants (yes, elephants). It has an interesting and enigmatic central character in Chiku who is your typical strong, feisty heroine often found in space operas.

With an array of landscapes, terrain, life forms and obstacles to explore, there is plenty going on and going for this novel. It is at times quite hard to grasp, especially early, but the concerns and issues eventually raised in this universe are relevant to our own future. The characters here are facing tough decisions with far-reaching consequences.

I did find some of the jumps in the narrative a little jarring; the plot frequently moves several years ahead, and, despite the superb ideas and concepts shared, the novel could have done with some trimming. It really does drag in places, which is ironic as it is about people hurtling towards disaster!

On the whole, this is an intelligent novel, with strong dialogue and stunning visuals. It says much about the importance of tolerance in order to survive. It is though let down by its pacing and length. I am sure most fans of the genre will enjoy it, but I felt it could have been better.


Proxima
Proxima
by Stephen Baxter
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining and convincing sci-fi, 25 Nov 2013
This review is from: Proxima (Paperback)
I found this an ambitious science fiction novel which was both intriguing and thought provoking. With its strong opinionated characters, exotic planet, and healthy helping of mystery, this had me hooked.

Yuri in particular was an enjoyable anti-hero, the archetypal fish out of water, who nonetheless manages to cope in very trying circumstances.

What makes this all enjoyable, is the way author Stephen Baxter manages to contrast the human flaws and concerns against the backdrop of technology and science. He makes the reader understand how small and insignificant we all are.

He also contrasts the densely populated colonies of Mars and Mercury and an array of space stations with the desolate, remote natural world of Proxima.

Underlying everything is the very primal struggle for survival. The colonists stranded on the planet go through a terrific ordeal which Baxter never trivializes or glosses over. This is a group with very human needs and opinions on how they cope. The ensuing debates and internal conflicts all convince.

This is a riveting novel, and for all its many dramatic plot strands, it holds up well, achieving a high level of gravitas. The future Cold War between the super powers of the UN and China resonate, as does the territorialism and competitiveness. Baxter has managed to create a plausible future, in fact, like a lot of great sci-fi writers, he could in fact be talking about our current world as much as his imagined future one.


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